Saturday, January 28, 2023

Local News

Today's News

Mental eval ordered for DQ man accused of capital murder      01/27/23
 
MADISON COUNTY – A De Queen man accused of killing three family members in Madison County in 2021 has been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is capable of standing before a jury trial.

According to court records, the Circuit Court of Madison County ordered the mental health evaluation last month for 25-year-old Hunter Chenoweth of De Queen. Chenoweth is accused of killing his mother, 51-year-old Tami Lynn Chenoweth; his stepfather, 59-year-old James Stanley McGhee; and his sister, 26-year-old Cheyenne Chenoweth. All three were found deceased inside a home in Madison County on Feb. 23 of 2021, according to the Arkansas State Police.

The evaluation will determine if Chenoweth, who has pleaded not guilty to the three counts of capital murder, is capable of appearing in court for a jury trial.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Chenoweth’s case. Chenoweth’s attorneys filed a motion early last year seeking to prevent the death penalty as a possible sentence in his case. Chenoweth asked the court to hold a hearing to present evidence suggesting that prosecutors are denying him the opportunity to enter a plea and thereby avoid the death penalty. The motion described the lack of a plea deal from prosecutors as “abritrary, capricious and standardless.”

That motion was defeated and the Madison County Circuit Court upheld the prosecution’s intent to seek the death penalty. The notice of intent originally filed by prosecutors states the murders for which Chenoweth has been accused were committed in an “especially cruel and depraved manner.”

Chenoweth’s defense was unable to prove its claim that nothing in his case distinguishes it from other cases in which the State of Arkansas has agreed to a plea bargain for a sentence of less than death. A further defense motion sought to proclaim the death penalty as “cruel and unusual” and prohibit it as a sentence in Chenoweth’s case.

The court order filed last year denied Chenoweth’s claim and makes him eligible for the death penalty upon his conviction. Defense attorneys then filed a notice of intent to raise lack of criminal responsibility as a defense due to mental health issues.

Chenoweth has been repeatedly scheduled to appear in court for a jury trial over the past year and a half. However, the trial has been continued on several occasions due to incomplete reports from the Arkansas State Crime Lab. The jury trial is now on hold pending completion of the mental health evaluation.

Water restored, but boil order continues for some SCRWA customers      01/27/23

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Rural Water Association completed work on a broken water main on Thursday, restoring water service to affected customers although they remain on a boil order.

Crews worked for approximately eight hours on Thursday to repair the main break and restore water to homes located west of De Queen. The current boil order is impacting water association customers in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W are also included in the boil order.

The boil order impacting these homes will remain in effect until late next week, according to the Sevier County Rural Water Association.

Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.

Benefit this Saturday at Williamson Church for Mrs. Bobbie Sexton      01/27/23

HORATIO – A benefit pancake breakfast will be held at the Williamson Community Church this Saturday, Jan. 28 from 7-11 a.m.

The benefit breakfast will also include a community yard sale. Spaces are available by donation. Bring your own items to the sale and plan to stay.

All proceeds raised will go to support Mrs. Bobbie Sexton with medical expenses.

Williamson Community Church is located at 555 Central Road near Horatio. For more information contact Bro. Jimmy Roden at (870) 832-4358 or (870) 582-2983.

Fish fry fundraiser this weekend in support of Pauley Cemetery      01/27/23

CERRO GORDO – A fish fry fundraiser is scheduled for this weekend to help raise funds for the Pauley Cemetery in Little River County.

Plates will be served between 4-6 p.m. at the Cerro Gordo Fire Department this Saturday, Jan. 28. Cost is $10 per plate. An auction and pie walk will begin at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

Extension Service to host Best Care classes      01/27/23

Submitted by Sevier County Extension Agent Janet Cantrell

Don’t miss out on all the free training opportunities and resources available to childcare professionals in Arkansas! All childcare training programs are offered free of charge by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in partnership with the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education and the Professional Development Registry (PDR).

So, what are the top 5 reasons to participate in Best Care? Training classes are registered with PDR & Supports Better Beginnings, training is offered face-to-face and ONLINE, new curriculum is developed every year, Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available, and it is free to our local childcare providers.

The 2022 course topics will be offered in a face-to-face atmosphere that equal to 10 Best Care hours. The lessons include, Body Positivity, Good Nutrition Counts on Basic Math Skills, Importance of Immunizations, Literacy in Early Childhood, Money as you Grown, Guidance, Kindergarten Readiness, Engaging Children in Physical Activity, Observation in Early Childhood, and Professionalism.

We also continue to offer Best Care Connected, which is five hours of online training, and Guiding Children Successfully is 30 hours of self-guided study and available online. If you prefer to use the self-guided hard copy of the Guiding Children Successfully, it is available at your local county Extension office.

The 2023 Best Care professional development training has been scheduled for Saturday, February 25 from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M in a classroom setting in the Howard County Extension Homemakers Educational Center at 425 Second Street (behind the courthouse) in Nashville, AR. This is an all-day event and participants are asked to bring their own lunch. Light snacks will be provided during the day.

The deadline to register is February 17. For more information about The Best Care classes for early childhood professionals, contact Sevier County FCS Agent, Janet Cantrell, at (870) 584-3013 or email at jcantrell@uada.edu.

Mayor Jeff Brown
State Representative DeAnn Vaught
State Senator Larry Teague
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
US Senator John Booman
US Representative Bruce Westerman

Previously Reported

Main break forces service outage, boil order extension for some SCRWA customers      01/26/23
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Rural Water Association is informing those customers currently under a boil order that the system will see another loss of service today, as well as an extension to that boil order.

The water provider announced Wednesday evening that a water main break occurred on the west side of De Queen and will need to be repaired today.

The same area that has been affected since Monday will be without any water service for approximately eight hours today while the main break is repaired. Water will be shut off to affected homes beginning between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Thursday morning. Affected customers are those concentrated west of De Queen, in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W will also be impacted by the shut off.

The boil order impacting these homes will remain in effect until late next week, according to the Sevier County Rural Water Association.

Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.

Foreman native Tracy Lawrence receives CRB Humanitarian Award      01/26/23

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Country Radio Broadcasters Association has named Foreman, Arkansas native and country music star Tracy Lawrence as the recipient of the 2023 Country Radio Seminar Humanitarian Award. In a statement, the C.R.S. Awards Committee said that we commend Tracy for his deep and personal commitment to his causes. Tracy’s contributions go far beyond simply lending his name or influence. He has devoted his personal time, talents, and resources over a significant period of years. The results of his initiatives have improved lives in his community. 

Lawrence was selected for his strong level of personal commitment in his efforts toward addressing multiple aspects of homelessness, including his “Mission: Possible” platform that has raised more than $2 million. Lawrence also returned to his hometown of Foreman annually in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s for a benefit concert that raised thousands of dollars for local charitable projects. During the benefit concert run, he brought numerous other country stars with him to perform in Foreman such as Kenny Chesney, Tracy Byrd, and more. 

The C.R.B. Artist Humanitarian Award was created in 1990, and honors a country artist whose philanthropic efforts have significantly improved the effectiveness and impact of the causes they support. The award will be presented to Tracy at this year’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee next month. 

Cossatot River to host pee-wee football interest meeting tonight      01/26/23

WICKES – The Cossatot River School District will host an interest meeting this evening to discuss the possibility of forming a pee-wee football team ahead of the 2023-2024 school year.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. tonight at the Cossatot River High School cafeteria. Superintendent Dr. Tyler Broyles said the idea of the meeting is to offer an informal opportunity for Cossatot River parents and students to share their interest in launching a pee-wee football program and to gather more information on the process.

“We’re starting our football and volleyball programs later this year, but pee-wee football, as with any sport, is so crucial to the success of your older teams,” Broyles explained. “We’re going to hold this meeting to gauge that interest and get an idea of how a pee-wee team might go for the district.”

Broyles said the district’s goal is to create a pee-wee football program for Cossatot River students in grades three through six. The program would kick off alongside the junior varsity program at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Coach Dakota Barrett will host Thursday’s meeting to provide some general information on launching the pee-wee football program and he’llbe available to answer any questions from those in attendance. Another purpose of the meeting is to gather names of anyone interested in coaching a pee-wee football team for the next, and inaugural, season at Cossatot River School District.

“The upcoming third through six graders are invited to attend along with anyone else interested in being part of the program,” said Broyles. “It’ll be an informal event, and hopefully we can get a number together of who’s interested. Coach Barrett and our athletic director have been working on this just to be able to answer some questions about what pee-wee football might look like, what league we’ll be in, what uniforms might look like, etc.”

Broyles said older students interested in the district’s junior high football program are also invited to attend and ask questions.

Cossatot River School District announced last year its plan to launch a football and volleyball program beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.

“We got quite a bit of excitement early on,” said Broyles. “Just for junior high football alone, we had over 50 boys in grades seven and eight sign up in interest. That’s a great start.”

Broyles added that the volleyball program had between 70-80 girls express their interest in joining the junior high team.

“That’s just interest and you can expect some of that to taper off, but to have numbers like that, that’s a big plus,” he said.

Broyles said the district is launching into the fundamental aspects of creating a new sports program, such as ordering uniforms, building schedules, finding schools to play and building more interest.

“We’re going to give it our best shot and see how it goes,” he explained. “We’re going to see if it’s viable and try to give our students even more opportunities in the district.”

Cossatot River is the only Class 3A school in its conference without a football team, and one of only a couple of teams without a volleyball program. It is also the third-largest school in the conference.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DQSB hires new assistant principals for De Queen High School, Junior High      01/25/23

 

 

DE QUEEN – Some administrative changes are coming to De Queen Public Schools beginning next school year after the school board named two new assistant principals Monday night.
On Monday, the board approved the hiring of Ryan Hanney as the new De Queen Junior High Assistant Principal and Jarrod Fannin as the new DHS Assistant Principal for the 2023-2024 school year. Hanney will fill the position vacated by Jeff Holcombe who was named the new DJHS Principal and Fannin will be working alongside the DHS administration team of Audrey Chandler and Murray Neely.

Jarrod Fannin will move into his new position during summer preparations for the 23-24 school year and is looking forward to his new role.

I am incredibly grateful and excited in my new role as Assistant Principal of DeQueen High School. I look forward to working in partnership with Mrs. Chandler and Mr. Neely in leading the staff and students of DeQueen High School. DeQueen High School is a great school and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.”

Principal Audrey Chandler said “Coach Fannin will do an outstanding job at De Queen High School and that his leadership, character, and integrity will be an asset at DHS.”

Hanney added he is also excited for the new position.

Mr. Hanney stated, “I am super excited to be able to work with Mr. Holcombe as his Assistant Principal. I am very grateful for this opportunity and want to thank all of those who have helped me during my time here at De Queen. I am looking forward to serving in this new role and all of the new opportunities that will come with it.”

DJHS Principal Jeff Holcombe praised Hanney as a perfect fit for the Jr. High students, staff, and as his assistant principal beginning next school year.

The hiring of Coach Fannin as a DHS vice principal will leave open the position of Leopards head football coach next school year. Superintendent Jason Sanders said the search is now on for the next candidate to serve as head football coach for De Queen. Sanders said school officials are looking both in-house and outside the district for candidates. He added that a hiring announcement could be made as early as the school board’s Feb. 21 meeting.

Fannin is the fourth Leopards head football coach to serve in that position over the past five years.

Cossatot River School District switches to remote learning for Wednesday      01/25/23

WICKES – Cossatot River School District has closed all of its campuses today due to inclement weather and the possibility of hazardous road conditions this morning in parts of Polk County.

Students are advised today will be a remote learning day for Cossatot River School District.

The Cossatot Senior Citizens Center is also closed today due to the weather.

We’ve not received notices of any other closings. De Queen, Horatio, Dierks, Foreman and Ashdown Schools are all in session today.

Sevier County RWA boil order remains in effect      01/25/23

DE QUEEN – And a reminder that that boil order remains in effect for some customers of the Sevier County Rural Water Association following repair work to the system on Monday. Affected customers are concentrated west of De Queen, in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W are are also under a boil order at this time.

The boil order will remain in effect until samples are tested and cleared by the Department of Health.

Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.

Leopards, Panthers trade wins in Tuesday night basketball action      01/25/23

DE QUEEN – The De Queen and Ashdown senior teams split a pair of 7-4A Conference contests at the Coliseum Tuesday night with the Lady Leopards claiming a 39-23 victory, while the Panthers prevailed in boys action 59-29.

The Lady Leopards jumped out to a 22-7 halftime lead and cruised to the 39-23 win. Belle Lindsey, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way in limited action with 17 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Allison Dockins chipped in with eight. Zamariyah Rhone led Ashdown with five points. With the victory, the Lady Leopards improved to 13 and 6 on the season and 4 and 3 in conference play as they stay in the hunt for a regional tournament berth.

The boys contest was tied at 11 late in the opening quarter. But the Ashdown boys went on a 20-0 run to put the game away as the Panthers defeated the Leopards 59-29. Kaiden Winfrey paced the Panthers with 12. Michael Allen scored 10, and Xzavier Brown added nine. For the Leopards, who lost their seventh straight game and fell to 5 and 13 on the season, Sam Graham scored seven. Monroe Barnett and Manny Hernandez added six each.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First day “a success” for Sevier County Medical Center      01/24/23

 

 

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center opened its doors to patients on Monday and officials with the new hospital said the day could not have gone better.

After years of planning and construction, the $24 million, 15-bed facility is finally open to patients with a broad range of medical services. The hospital also includes the first 24-hour emergency care facility in Sevier County since the 2019 closure of the De Queen Hospital.

Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House said Monday’s opening was like Christmas for her and her staff.

“I was like a kid on Christmas Eve [Sunday night],” said House. “I couldn’t wait for us to see our first patients, it was such a long time coming. It was a blessing to be able to see the look on our patients’ faces when they got here and just to know we could take great care of them right here at home. It was amazing.”

House said that, as of seven o’clock Monday night, the hospital had seen a dozen patients.

“So far, we’ve seen 12 patients in our ER and submitted four of them,” said House. “I can really say that things went really smoothly. And I’m surprised to say that, because on your opening day there’s always hiccups, always unexpected items. But things went smoother than we ever anticipated. And that is because we have such a great team here that has been practicing and preparing for this day for a very long time.”

The hospital saw several delays to its opening date due to issues ranging from vandalism at the construction site in early 2022 to a shortage in construction materials and workers. However, House said the opening delay allowed her and the hospital’s staff more time to practice operations ahead of the opening date. That, she said, ensured the hospital’s first day was a successful one.

“Today I can see where it made all the difference in the world,” said House on Monday. “It was like a well-oiled machine. Even our computer systems worked better than we thought. Overall I’d give it a 100 percent success.”
House said she has received concern from some members of the community regarding the hospital’s billing procedures. The hospital is currently awaiting enrollment in commercial insurance programs and networks as well as inclusion into the government-funded Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. House said the hospital will work with customers to keep costs at a level comparable to what they would pay at a medical center already in one of those health insurance networks.”We’re going to take care of our customers and they’re not going to have any more out-of-pocket expenses for their medical services right now than they would if they were in-network,” House explained. “We understand that the community cannot pay full prices for those services right now. We’re going to be adjusting those charges and doing what we have to on our end to make sure they’re not paying any more than if they were in network.”House said the hospital will eventually be included in those networks. First, however, the hospital has to be in operation and show a certain level of use by patients.”We have to have a certain number of in-patient stays that last at least 48 hours before the Medicare surveyors can come in and survey us for our initial Medicare number,” said House. “That will take several weeks for that to happen. Medicare will go back and reimburse us from the day of that survey and going forward. We’re going to be very cognizant of what we charge our patients in the meantime because we don’t want them to feel they’re paying any more out-of-pocket here than they would at another hospital.”

Officials with the new hospital have previously credited voters in Sevier County for overwhelmingly approving the sales tax increase in 2019 to fund the Sevier County Medical Center. Now, they say the public can help ensure the hospital’s viability by simply relying on it for many of their medical needs.

“Everyone in the community has been accustomed these past three or four years to going outside of our community for their emergency services as well as routine MRIs, CTs and lab work,” said House. “They don’t have to do that anymore. They can get those services right here with the state-of-the-art equipment we have right here.”

Find out more about the new Sevier County Medical Center by visiting seviercountymedical.com or by calling (870) 642-6420. The new hospital is located on 960 Highway 71 North, just several miles north of De Queen.
 
DQ School Board hires Fannin, Hanney as vice principals     01/24/23
 
DE QUEEN – Some administrative changes are coming to De Queen Public Schools beginning next school year after the school board named two new assistant principals Monday night.
 
On Monday, the board approved the hiring of Ryan Hanney as the new De Queen Junior High Assistant Principal and Jarrod Fannin as the new DHS Assistant Principal for the 2023-2024 school year. Hanney will fill the position vacated by Jeff Holcombe who was named the new DJHS Principal and Fannin will be working alongside the DHS administration team of Audrey Chandler and Murray Neely.
 
Jarrod Fannin will move into his new position during summer preparations for the 23-24 school year and is looking forward to his new role.
 
I am incredibly grateful and excited in my new role as Assistant Principal of DeQueen High School. I look forward to working in partnership with Mrs. Chandler and Mr. Neely in leading the staff and students of DeQueen High School. DeQueen High School is a great school and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.”
 
Principal Audrey Chandler said “Coach Fannin will do an outstanding job at De Queen High School and that his leadership, character, and integrity will be an asset at DHS.”
 
Hanney added he is also excited for the new position.
 
Mr. Hanney stated, “I am super excited to be able to work with Mr. Holcombe as his Assistant Principal. I am very grateful for this opportunity and want to thank all of those who have helped me during my time here at De Queen. I am looking forward to serving in this new role and all of the new opportunities that will come with it.”
 
DJHS Principal Jeff Holcombe praised Hanney as a perfect fit for the Jr. High students, staff, and as his assistant principal beginning next school year.
 
The hiring of Coach Fannin as a DHS vice principal will leave open the position of Leopards head football coach next school year. Superintendent Jason Sanders said the search is now on for the next candidate to serve as head football coach for De Queen. Sanders said school officials are looking both in-house and outside the district for candidates. He added that a hiring announcement could be made as early as the school board’s Feb. 21 meeting.
 
Fannin is the fourth Leopards head football coach to serve in that position over the past five years.
 
NWS issues advisory ahead of slight chance for winter weather across area tonight      01/24/23
 
DE QUEEN – The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory ahead of a slight (ok, very slight) chance of winter precipitation for the listening area Tuesday night.
 
Tuesday is expected to be a wet day with chances between 90 and 100 percent for rain. Forecasters with the National Weather Service say colder weather Tuesday evening could result in that rain turning into some winter precipitation for the region of Southwest Arkansas and Southeast Oklahoma later on this evening.
 
Currently, the chance for that rain turning into snow for De Queen and the surrounding area is 20 percent. Not great, but still a chance.
 
The Winter Weather Advisory will go into effect at 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and remain in effect through 6 a.m. Wednesday morning. The advisory includes the cities of De Queen, Nashville and Mineral Springs in Arkansas as well as Idabel and Broken Bow in Oklahoma.
 
Forecasters with the National Weather Service say snow accumulations of one to two inches are expected widespread throughout the region – despite the 20 percent chance of winter precipitation in De Queen. Up to three inches of snow accumulation is possible in northern McCurtain County. Winds could get as high as 35 mph.
 
Commuters can plan on slushy roads late today becoming more slippery with falling temperatures overnight. Forecasters predict a minimal impact late today but conditions could linger through the evening commute and become more hazardous toward daybreak on Wednesday with air temperatures around the freezing point.
 
Temperatures are expected to be above freezing when the snow starts falling. Warm ground temps could impact bridges and overpasses with a slush which will freeze up overnight making conditions much worse, according to the National Weather Service.
 
Drivers are advised to slow down and use caution while traveling this evening, overnight and into Wednesday morning. Any snow, slush and ice accumulation should, however, quickly dissipate later on Wednesday morning. Wednesday’s high is 46 degrees.

 

Boil order in effect for some Sevier RWA customers      01/24/23

 

 

DE QUEEN – A boil order remains in effect for some customers of the Sevier County Rural Water Association following repair work to the system on Monday.
Service to a number of water association customers was temporarily shut off on Monday to allow crews to repair a faulty water line valve. Work was completed later that day, but due to the loss of system pressure a boil order is now in effect for some customers.
 
Affected customers are concentrated west of De Queen, in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W are are also under a boil order at this time.
 
The water provider was required to submit water samples to the state Department of Health for bacteriological testing on Monday. Officials say this could take at least several days. The boil order will remain in effect until samples are tested and cleared by the Department of Health.
 
Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.
 
Again, the boil order is currently in affect for water association customers located in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud, Crooked Roads and for homes along Highway 70W west of De Queen.
 
We’ll keep you up to date on when that boil order is lifted.

 

Ashdown Community Auction set for Feb. 11      01/24/23

 

 

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Community Foundation will present the 11 annual Ashdown Community Auction next month.h
The event, which is held in partnership between the Domtar Community Advisory Team and the Ashdown Community Foundation, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Ashdown High School. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the main event kicks off at six.
 
The event will include a live auction, silent auction, penny auction, baked goods, prize raffles, concessions and much more. Organizers say the event will feature fun and activities for the whole family.
 
Auction items up this year include electronics, sports memorabilia, firearms, coolers, grills, trips, gift certificates and more.
 
Since the auction was first held in 2012, organizers have raised over $554,000 to beautify and improve the downtown Ashdown area and city park. More than $100,000 was raised in 2022 alone.
 
Money raised during this year’s auction will go towards improvements for the downtown area and Ashdown City Park. Anyone with ideas on beautification or improvement projects is asked to contact a committee member to share their thoughts.
 
There are multiple ways people can help with this year’s auction. They can donate items as well as services such as lawnmowing and babysitting, and – most importantly – they can mark their calendar and make plans to attend this one of a kind event.
 
Anyone with questions or seeking more information are encouraged to contact any Ashdown Community Foundation committee member. This includes Ronda Pounds, who can be emailed at .pounds@ipa.net
 
Lockesburg City Council to convene tonight      01/24/23
 
LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council will meet in regular session this evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockesburg City Hall.
 
Items on the agenda include a discussion on a grant for the city water tower, reducing council salaries, by-laws for the Lockesburg Volunteer Fire Department and several other items. The meeting is open to the public.
 
De Queen City Council to meet in special session for 2023 budget item      01/24/23
 
DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council is meeting in special session tonight to appropriate funds to the 2023 budget for projects that were not completed in 2022. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall and is open to the public.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sevier County Medical Center now open      01/23/23

 
 

DE QUEEN – Today is a long-awaited and much-anticipated day for Sevier County with the opening of the region’s newest hospital.
The Sevier County Medical Center officially opens its doors to patients this morning at 8 a.m. The cover over the emergency room sign will be taken off and the first patients will be admitted today to the brand-new, state-of-the-art county-owned hospital.The opening has been delayed on several occasions, but the wait is finally over.

The 15-bed Sevier County Medical Center offers a broad range of medical services including general procedures and patient rehab services. In addition, the facility will provide the first 24-hour emergency care unit in Sevier County since the closure of the De Queen Hospital in the spring of 2019.

The county-owned hospital is overseen by a board of governors with further accountability established through the Sevier County Quorum Court. Construction of the $24 million facility was funded through a one-cent sales tax approved by voters in late 2019.

Last month, the hospital was awarded a $6.25 million federal grant through the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Those funds aided in the purchase of equipment and other start up costs ahead of today’s opening date.

Sevier County RWA shut off today, boil order will go into effect      01/23/23

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Rural Water Association is informing some of its customers of a planned water outage and boil order beginning today.

Officials with the water association say work to replace a faulty water line valve is scheduled to begin Monday morning. The work will require water to be shut off to a number of water association customers. Affected customers will be those concentrated west of De Queen, in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W will also be impacted by the shut off.

Water will be shut off to affected homes beginning 8 a.m. this morning. Customers in these areas are advised to fill up several containers of water, at least several gallons, ahead of the shut off. Work is expected to be complete later today.

However, officials say the water provider will be required to submit a water sample to the state Department of Health for bacteriological testing. This could take at least several days. A boil order will go into effect following the resumption of water service. The boil order will remain in effect until samples are tested and cleared by the Department of Health.

Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.

Again, this shut off and boil order will begin this morning at 8 a.m. We’ll keep you up to date on when that boil order is lifted.

Charissa Audrey Pradana is 2023 Miss DHS      01/23/23

Miss DHS 2023 – From left, 2023 Miss DHS Charissa Audrey Pradana, People’s Choice winner Penelope Sims, Second Runner-up Jaide Tatum, First Runner-up Wendy Victoriano, Ashley Hernandez, Presley Parson and Miss Congeniality Lizaneth Gutierrez (photo by Saul Felipe/De Queen Public Schools).

DE QUEEN – Congratulations to Charissa Audrey Pradana, who was named 2023 Miss DHS during the annual pageant Saturday night.

The ceremony took place Saturday night at the DHS Auditorium and included a field of seven contestants. Charissa earned the Miss DHS title while first runner-up went to Wendy Victoriano and second runner-up to Jaide Tatum.

Penelope Sims was named People’s Choice and Miss Congeniality went to Lizaneth Gutierrez.

The Miss DHS Pageant is hosted each year by the De Queen High School Junior Class.

De Queen Rotary Club launches 2023 Boulevard of Flags program      01/23/23

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Rotary Club is once again launching its year-long program to promote pride in the United States while also raising money its community projects.

The local Rotary Club is inviting businesses and homes in De Queen to participate in the annual Boulevard of Flags program. Through this program, local businesses and homes can show off their love for the red, white and blue by having American flags placed on their property by club members. The flags are removed and stored between designated holidays, which include Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. The next scheduled holiday is Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 20.

The annual cost is $50 per flag. A discounted rate of $40 per flag is available for veterans and active military personnel, or with the purchase of 10 or more flags.

Proceeds will be used to support the De Queen Rotary Club’s community projects. Registering businesses or homes are asked to indicate whether the flag will be placed on concrete or asphalt, or in the ground.

For more information, contact Tammy Huddleston at 584-2550. The deadline to register is Feb. 10. Registration forms will also be available on our website. Checks can be made payable to De Queen Rotary Club and mailed to De Queen Rotary Club, P.O. Box 122, De Queen, AR 71832.

Lady Leopards post big conference win Friday night      01/23/23

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Lady Leopards took a big step toward securing a regional tournament berth with a huge 47-40 victory over Camden Fairview Friday night at the Coliseum in action heard live on #1 Country 92.1. Meanwhile, the Leopards had a very determined effort come up short in the boys action, as the visiting Cardinals prevailed 64-53.

The Lady Leopards jumped out to a 27-20 halftime lead, and controlled the second half enroute to the 47-40 victory. Belle Lindsey led the way with 22 points. Dayton Newberry added 15. The De Queen girls improved to 12 and 6 on the season. More importantly, the Lady Leopards evened up their conference mark at 3 and 3 as they strive to secure a spot in the upcoming regional tournament at Warren.

A depleted Leopard squad fought gamely before falling to highly regarded Camden Fairview 64-53. The game was tied at 17 early in the second quarter before the Cardinals depth allowed them to open up a double digit lead. Sam Graham, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way with 20 points and nine rebounds. Manny Hernandez chipped in with 15. Monroe Barnett added nine. The Leopards, who are still looking for their first conference victory, fell to 5 and 12 on the season. 

CRSD hosting interest meeting for pee-wee football      01/23/23

WICKES – The Cossatot River School District will host an interest meeting Thursday evening to discuss the possibility of forming a pee-wee football team ahead of the 2023-2024 school year.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Cossatot River High School cafeteria. Superintendent Dr. Tyler Broyles said the idea of the meeting is to offer an informal opportunity for Cossatot River parents and students to share their interest in launching a pee-wee football program and to gather more information on the process.

“We’re starting our football and volleyball programs later this year, but pee-wee football, as with any sport, is so crucial to the success of your older teams,” Broyles explained. “We’re going to hold this meeting to gauge that interest and get an idea of how a pee-wee team might go for the district.”

Broyles said the district’s goal is to create a pee-wee football program for Cossatot River students in grades three through six. The program would kick off alongside the junior varsity program at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Coach Dakota Barrett will host Thursday’s meeting to provide some general information on launching the pee-wee football program and he’llbe available to answer any questions from those in attendance. Another purpose of the meeting is to gather names of anyone interested in coaching a pee-wee football team for the next, and inaugural, season at Cossatot River School District.

“The upcoming third through six graders are invited to attend along with anyone else interested in being part of the program,” said Broyles. “It’ll be an informal event, and hopefully we can get a number together of who’s interested. Coach Barrett and our athletic director have been working on this just to be able to answer some questions about what pee-wee football might look like, what league we’ll be in, what uniforms might look like, etc.”

Broyles said older students interested in the district’s junior high football program are also invited to attend and ask questions.

Cossatot River School District announced last year its plan to launch a football and volleyball program beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.

“We got quite a bit of excitement early on,” said Broyles. “Just for junior high football alone, we had over 50 boys in grades seven and eight sign up in interest. That’s a great start.”

Broyles added that the volleyball program had between 70-80 girls express their interest in joining the junior high team.

“That’s just interest and you can expect some of that to taper off, but to have numbers like that, that’s a big plus,” he said.

Broyles said the district is launching into the fundamental aspects of creating a new sports program, such as ordering uniforms, building schedules, finding schools to play and building more interest.

“We’re going to give it our best shot and see how it goes,” he explained. “We’re going to see if it’s viable and try to give our students even more opportunities in the district.”

Cossatot River is the only Class 3A school in its conference without a football team, and one of only a couple of teams without a volleyball program. It is also the third-largest school in the conference.

Panthers win two against Malvern        01/23/23

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Panthers hosted the Malvern Leopards in girls and boys action at Helen Parker Gymnasium on Friday night.

The girls game was a battle between two teams hungry for their first conference win.  Ashdown came away with a hard fought 40 to 33 victory.  The game was tied up at 28 after 3 quarters.  The Panthers put the game away with a dominating 4th quarter with some key free throws by Zamariyah Rhone.  Rhone led the Pantherettes with 19 points and Lakenya Williams pitched in with 14.

In boys action, Malvern came out on a mission and led 15 to 7 after the first quarter. Ashdown had a strong second quarter and led 22 to 21 at half.  The second half was evenly played until late when Ashdown pulled away with a 54 to 42 victory.  TJ Matthews led the Panthers in scoring with 15 points, Kaiden Winfrey had 14 and Antonio McDuffie had 9 points.

Ashdown goes on the road Tuesday to battle the DeQueen Leopards.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sevier County RWA announces temporary shut off for some customers      01/20/23

 

 

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Rural Water Association is informing some of its customers of a planned water outage and boil order beginning Monday.
Officials with the water association say work to replace a faulty water line valve is scheduled to begin Monday. The work will require water to be shut off to a number of water association customers. Affected customers will be those concentrated west of De Queen, in the Chapel Hill community as well as along Johnson Bridge Road, Brooks Road, Well, Waldon, Dunn, Dogtown, Red Bud and Crooked Roads. Homes along Highway 70W will also be impacted by the shut off.
 
Water will be shut off to affected homes beginning 8 a.m. Monday morning. Customers in these areas are advised to fill up several containers of water, at least several gallons, ahead of Monday morning’s shut off. Work is expected to be complete later that day.
 
However, officials say the water provider will be required to submit a water sample to the state Department of Health for bacteriological testing. This could take at least several days. A boil order will go into effect following the resumption of water service. The boil order will remain in effect until samples are tested and cleared by the Department of Health.
 
Affected customers are advised to briskly boil water for drinking or cooking purposes for at least one minute.
 
Again, this shut off and boil order will begin Monday morning at 8 a.m. We’ll keep you up to date on when that boil order is lifted.
 
Horatio First Assembly ministry aims to help with home repairs      01/20/23
 
HORATIO – A local ministry is planning to host a fundraiser next month to help raise funds and awareness for its mission to help local folks who need a little help repairing their homes.The Horatio First Assembly of God Church Men’s Ministry Kingdom Warriors will present the fish-fry fundraiser on Feb. 4. The fundraiser kicks off at 11 that morning and continues to 2 p.m. or until the fish runs out. The event will be held at the church’s J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall at the corner of Blackhawk and Hazard Street in Horatio.Ricky Hendrix, one of the ministry’s members, said the group’s mission is to provide help for those who cannot afford repairs to their home.”What we do is, we go out to the community and if someone needs some work done and they can’t afford to have it done, our men will go out there and help get it done,” said Hendrix.Past projects included roof and floor repairs, replacing sinks and broken doors and installing small AC units. The ministry was put on hold the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Pastor John Gutierres said the church plans to get back out there and help those who can’t afford repairs to their home.Pastor Gutierres said volunteers with general knowledge of minor home repairs are greatly needed. He stresses that you don’t have to be a member of the church to come lend a hand.”We’d love to have anybody who’d like to donate their time and their labor and knowledge of plumbing, electrical,” said Pastor Gutierres. “Most of these jobs are so small that a big contractor doesn’t have time to do it. Most of the time the people we help have the materials, they just need some help with the labor.”The ministry also provides help to those outside of the Horatio First Assembly church family. Pastor Gutierres said the ministry will do its best to assist anyone in Sevier County who needs help with home repairs.”They don’t have to be a member of our church,” said Gutierres. “We’ve helped people all over the community. We do it on a one-by-one basis and see what we can do to help.”Everyone is invited to help the ministry’s cause by coming out and to the Feb. 4 fundraiser. Plates will be offered at the fundraiser by donation. Delivery will be available for orders of five or more plates. Pastor Gutierres said the meal will include all the fixings. The church received several thousand pounds of catfish donated by a member.For more information on the ministry, the Feb. 4 fundraiser or to volunteer your time to help, or if you know someone who could benefit from the ministry’s home repair mission, call (870) 832-5471, (870) 584-8051 or (903) 563-4236.Horatio First Assembly can also be followed on Facebook. 

 
DHS Pageant this Saturday      01/20/23

 

DE QUEEN – The De Queen High School Junior Class will sponsor the annual Miss DHS Pageant this Saturday, Jan. 21.The pageant begins at 7 p.m. in the DHS Auditorium. This year’s contestants include Charissa Audrey, Penelope Sims, Jaide Tatum, Wendy Victoriano, Ashley Hernandez, Presley Parson and Lizaneth Guiterrez Quintana.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legacy Academy to host Blue Darters Salute     01/19/23

 
 

DE QUEEN – Legacy Academy will host two nights of great high school basketball in Lockesburg this week in senior high action.
Thursday night at 5:30pm in Lockesburg the Lady Warriors and Warriors will host Mineral Springs. Friday night at 6pm both senior teams will host Eagletown.

Friday nights’ games will also feature a Blue Darter Salute, honoring the history of Lockesburg’s Blue Darter history.

2023 Arkansas Tourism magazine now available      01/19/23

The 2023 Arkansas Travel Guide is now available at Welcome Centers and tourism locations across the state. You can order a print edition or view the guide online at arkansas.com/publications.

Arkansas is full of unique destinations for visitors of all ages. This guide aims to help travelers easily discover all there is to do in The Natural State, from outdoor recreation like hiking, biking and floating, to exploring museums and attractions found nowhere else.

Featuring photography and content meant to educate and inspire, the guide is designed to encourage travelers to discover their own adventures in The Natural State.

The 2023 edition features a magazine-style format that showcases images and content in dynamic layouts. Topics include Arkansas’s natural attractions, museums, arts destinations, mountain biking, live entertainment, historical sites, dining and much more.

Written and designed by Arkansas Tourism and CJRW, the travel guide is published annually.

For more trip planning ideas and inspiration, go to www.arkansas.com.

Sevier County Chamber Banquet set for Feb. 23      01/19/23

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce is going Vegas-style with this year’s Chamber Awards Banquet. The themed event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 23rd, at 5:30 p.m., located at the De Queen High School Cafeteria.

Prior to presenting chamber business and community service awards, officials will host the banquet’s annual silent and live auction featuring items donated by the chamber membership. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. to allow time to mix, mingle and bid. Enjoy smooth jazz music, a 50/50 Raffle, food, a photo booth, door prizes and more. Food service will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets for the banquet are $30 each. Seating is limited and chamber officials encourage those interested in attending to reserve their tables ASAP. Businesses or organizations reserving a table are eligible to enter the event’s table decorating contest. The max height limit for those table pieces will be set at 15 inches. More details on the contest can be obtained when making a reservation.

The silent auction has always been a very successful fundraiser for the Chamber, and we are asking for your donation to ensure its continued success,” said officials in a press release. “A member of the Board of Directors will contact you about any items or services you may wish to donate for our silent auction.  You may also email that information to the Chamber if you already have something in mind.  As always, we appreciate your support of this vital community organization and our Annual Membership Banquet.”

Want to be a Chamber Banquet Sponsor? This year we have sponsorship opportunities, but spaces are limited, so contact the chamber of commerce soon. The deadline for sponsorship is Jan. 31 .

For more information, call the chamber at (870) 584-3225 or visit the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page or visit www.seviercountychamberofcommerce.org.

Cossatot Friends of NRA banquet set for March 11      01/19/23

DE QUEEN – The Cossatot chapter of the Friends of the NRA organization will host their annual banquet this spring.

The banquet is scheduled for March 11 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen High School cafeteria. As in previous years the event will include a variety of raffles and giveaways with proceeds to support the Friends of NRA and its causes.

The 2023 Friends of the NRA Gun of the Year is a Springfield Armory SA-35 9mm with NRA-designed grips.

Ticket prices are $35 with couples tickets for $60. Table sponsorships start at $500.

For more information contact Monte Bartek at (870) 279-5439 or Amanda Barnett at (870) 642-6225.

Organizers invite everyone to attend the Friends of the NRA banquet and continue a legacy of fighting for the future of the Second Amendment while enjoying a night of auctions, raffles, firearms and fun.

The Friends of the NRA is a fundraising program that fosters community involvement, raises money and gives 100 percent of the net proceeds to qualified local, state, and national programs. Learn more at friendsofnra.org.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sevier County hospital to open Jan. 23     01/18/23

 

 

DE QUEEN – Officials with Sevier County’s new hospital have put a date on the medical center’s opening day: Monday, Jan. 23.
The Sevier County Medical Center will open its doors to patients that morning at 8 a.m.Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House said the hospital received its final pharmacy licensure and is now receiving delivery of its needed medications ahead of the Jan. 23 opening date. The opening has been delayed on several occasions, initially due to vandalism at the construction site in 2022 that was compounded by shortages in construction material, construction workers and nurses. Other delays were a result of licensing processes and a minor issue with the hospital’s nurse call system when it was inspected in December.

 
Once it opens next Monday, the 15-bed Sevier County Medical Center will offer a broad range of medical services including general procedures and patient rehab services, as well as the first 24-hour emergency care unit in Sevier County since the closure of the De Queen Hospital in the spring of 2019. 
 
That year, Sevier County and three employees of the De Queen Hospital filed a lawsuit against the hospital’s owners, Jorge Perez and his brother, Ricardo Perez, both of Miami. The suit alleged financial mismanagement on behalf of the owners.
 
Jorge Perez also faced claims of fraud in a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen Blue Cross & Blue Shield health insurance plans. In all, Perez closed 10 of the hospitals owned by his company, Empower Group of Florida, in 2019. In April of that year, Perez filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization for the De Queen Hospital. That request was later dismissed and the hospital was placed into receivership.
 
Sevier County officials then launched a plan to construct a new hospital. That included approaching voters with a request for a one-percent sales tax increase to fund construction of a new medical center. According to Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the hospital’s board of governors, at that time the hospital was little more than an idea on paper.
 
The county-owned hospital is overseen by a board of governors with further accountability established through the Sevier County Quorum Court. Dr. Cole said a founding goal of the new hospital is to avoid the fate of the old one. He said, after 20 years of bad hospital ownership – including jail time for the De Queen Hospital’s last owner – the board of governors began the process with transparency and accountability as top goals.
 
Now, the wait is just about over.

 
De Queen man arrested on rape charge     01/18/23
 
DE QUEEN – A De Queen man is facing a rape charge after he was arrested last week for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor over a period of several years.
 
According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, investigators met with the victim, a minor, on Jan. 10 to take a report on the alleged abuse. The victim reportedly told investigators that the suspect, identified as Scott Worley, had repeatedly abused her over a period of three to four years.
 
The investigation led to the arrest of Worley on Jan. 10. Worley, age 47, was arrested following a traffic stop on Robinson Road. He was transported to the Sevier County Jail and charged with the felony offense of rape.
 
The formal filing of charges is pending review by the prosecutor’s office.
 
DHS Pageant set for this Saturday     01/18/23

 

DE QUEEN – The De Queen High School Junior Class will sponsor the annual Miss DHS Pageant this Saturday, Jan. 21.The pageant begins at 7 p.m. in the DHS Auditorium. This year’s contestants include Charissa Audrey, Penelope Sims, Jaide Tatum, Wendy Victoriano, Ashley Hernandez, Presley Parson and Lizaneth Guiterrez Quintana.

 

Friends of NRA Banquet set for March 11     01/18/23
 

DE QUEEN – The Cossatot chapter of the Friends of the NRA organization will host their annual banquet this spring.
 
The banquet is scheduled for March 11 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen High School cafeteria. As in previous years the event will include a variety of raffles and giveaways with proceeds to support the Friends of NRA and its causes.
 
The 2023 Friends of the NRA Gun of the Year is a Springfield Armory SA-35 9mm with NRA-designed grips.
 
Ticket prices are $35 with couples tickets for $60. Table sponsorships start at $500.
 
For more information contact Monte Bartek at (870) 279-5439 or Amanda Barnett at (870) 642-6225.
 
Organizers invite everyone to attend the Friends of the NRA banquet and continue a legacy of fighting for the future of the Second Amendment while enjoying a night of auctions, raffles, firearms and fun.
 
The Friends of the NRA is a fundraising program that fosters community involvement, raises money and gives 100 percent of the net proceeds to qualified local, state, and national programs. Learn more at friendsofnra.org.
 
Leopards fall to Magnolia in Tuesday night basketball action     01/18/23
 
DE QUEEN – The De Queen senior teams traveled to Magnolia Tuesday night and dropped a pair of conference contests. Magnolia’s girls pulled away late for a 52-40 win, while the state-ranked Panthers blew out a depleted Leopard squad 67-14.
 
After falling behind 15-7 early, the Lady Leopards battled back to tie the game at 20 at halftime. The game was tied at 37 early in the fourth quarter before the Magnolia girls went on a 15-0 to pull away for the 52-40 victory. Belle Lindsey, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the De Queen girls with 23 points. Belle hauled down seven rebounds, had five blocked shots, and a steal. Allison Dockins added nine points. The Lady Leopards fell to 11 and 6 on the season and 2 and 3 in conference play. 
 
The defending state champions from Magnolia raced to a 49-6 halftime lead, and cruised to the 67-14 victory over the Leopards. Manny Hernandez led the De Queen boys, now 5 and 11 on the year, with six points. 
 
Bell Lindsey hits 1,000 high school career basketball points     01/16/23

 

Congratulations to Belle Lindsey of De Queen High School, who has racked up more than 1,000 points in her three years as a Lady Leopard. Tuesday, she was presented with a trophy basketball to celebrate the accomplishment.
 

Leopards fall to Scrappers in Friday night basketball action     01/16/23
 
DE QUEEN – The De Queen senior teams suffered through a rough night Friday at Scrapper Arena. The Lady Leopards dropped a 73-22 decision to the defending state champions, while the Scrappers pulled away from the De Queen boys to post a 76-42 victory.
 
The girls contest was over shortly after the opening tip as the highly-regarded Nashville girls raced to a 29-2 lead, and cruised to the 73-22 win. Belle Lindsey led the Lady Leopards with 19 points as the De Queen girls fell to 11 and 5 on the season, and 2 and 2 in conference play.
 
The boys action was close for a while, before the Nashville depth proved to be too much to overcome as the Leopards were missing two injured starters: Manny Hernandez and Nathan Patterson. The game was tied at 20 early in the second quarter, but the Scrappers pulled away for the 76-42 victory. Cooper Young led De Queen with 14 points. Sophomore Sam Graham, our McDonalds Player of the Night, scored ten points and grabbed four rebounds. The Leopards fell to 0 and 4 in league play, and 5 and 10 overall.
 
De Queen Public Schools recognizes board members during appreciation month     01/16/23
 
DE QUEEN – January is National School Board Appreciation Month and officials with the De Queen School District are taking a moment this month to recognize the role and contributions of De Queen’s elected school board members.
 
School officials are expressing their gratitude to the board and its service both within and outside the school district. De Queen’s five school board members include Board President Dr. Kenneth Martin, Skip Bell, Sandy Huntsberger, Barry Reed and Tony Soto.
 
Members to the school board are elected to the position to oversee and provide community-level guidance to the operations of the school district. The position is unpaid.
 
Sandy Huntsberger
 
Sandy Huntsberger is a graduate of De Queen High School. After high school, Sandy attended and graduated with honors from Wadley School of Radiologic Technology, and the Dallas Institute of Ultrasonography. Her early working career was spent in the medical profession as an American Registered Radiologic Technologist (ARRT) in radiology, CT, Ultrasound, and MRI at St. Michael’s Hospital in Texarkana.
 
She retired from the medical profession in 1996 after the death of her first husband so that she could devote her time to raising her girls in De Queen. Sandy has been a very active supporter of the De Queen School Systems since her oldest daughter started Kindergarten in 1994. Since that day, she has volunteered countless hours to serve this school district in every capacity imaginable. She was elected as a Board Member and has dedicated the past 28 years of service in that capacity, as well as gaining recognition as a Master Board member through consistent involvement in Continuing Education for Board members and leadership growth.
 
Mrs. Huntsberger is the owner of Southern Home Furniture in De Queen.
 
She has two daughters, Callie Miller-Efird, a graduate of DHS and Ouachita Baptist University with a degree in Speech-Language Pathology, and Morgan Miller, a DHS graduate who graduated from UALR and UAMS with a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology.
 
Dr. Kenneth Martin
 
Dr. Kenneth W. Martin, the eldest of three sons born to Colonel Ted and Marilyn Martin, was raised in Dumas, Arkansas. He grew up farming with the family operation that included fish, cotton, rice, and soybeans. He graduated from Dumas High School in 1989. He then attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello until being accepted into the Louisiana State University of Veterinary Medicine.
 
After graduating with his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 1996, he worked as a veterinarian in Monticello. It was then that he married his wife Jennifer in 1997.
 
In 1998, they purchased De Queen Animal Hospital and became busy members of the De Queen community. They have four children, three of whom are DHS graduates, and one currently attending De Queen Public Schools.
 
Dr. Martin and his family are members of De Queen First Baptist Church where he is a Sunday school teacher. The Martin family is also active in De Queen Athletics and the Leopard Booster club.
 
Felix “Skip” Bell
 
Felix “Skip” Bell was born and raised in Lockesburg, Arkansas. He graduated from Lockesburg High School in 1973. He attended Southern Arkansas University after high school, and then graduated from Texarkana Community College in 1980 with an associate’s degree in nursing.
 
He has been married for 45 years to his wife, Barbara. He has two daughters, Kendra and Kimberly, and one son, Colton. He is presently employed at Howard Memorial Hospital. He is active at Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church in Lockesburg. He serves on both the Sevier County Museum board and the city park committee at Lockesburg.
 
Mr. Bell has been a member of the De Queen School board since 1995 and recently began serving on the new Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors.
 
Tony Soto
 
Tony Soto began serving his term on the De Queen Public School Board in 2021. Mr. Soto is a De Queen High School Alum who was an All-State Cross Country and Track athlete and graduated with the class of 1999.
 
The following year, he furthered his education at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. Mr. Soto continued his education at the University of Arkansas, Arkansas Tech University, and Henderson State University.
 
On September 18th, 2000, Mr. Soto enlisted in the Arkansas Army National Guard and is still actively serving today. During his time in the guard, Mr. Soto has been on deployment to Iraq on two different occasions for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Horn of Africa for Operation Enduring Freedom.
 
Barry Reed
 
Barry Reed was appointed to the Board as the Zone 5 representative in November 2019 to serve the remainder of the term of a member who resigned and was elected to a full term in March 2020. He has lived in De Queen since 2005 and employed at UA Cossatot since 2006.
 
Mr. Reed is currently the director of UACCC’s Ashdown and Lockesburg campuses. He has three sons, two of which are graduates of De Queen High School, and his youngest is currently attending De Queen Public Schools. Mr. Reed enjoys outdoor activities, sporting events, coaching youth sports, and researching historical events. He has served as a youth sports coach in local programs since 2006 and also served on the board of the Sevier County Youth Baseball Association from 2010 to 2020. Mr. Reed is currently serving as President of the De Queen Athletic Booster Club and is an active member of the De Queen Church of Christ.
 
Prior to moving to De Queen, Mr. Reed taught junior high and senior high Social Studies in the Russellville School District and was also a 1997 graduate of Russellville High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History Education from Arkansas Tech University (2001) and a master’s degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas (2019).
 
Mr. Reed states “it truly is an honor to serve on the board and have an opportunity to support the District’s top-notch faculty, staff, and administrators as they provide a rigorous, meaningful education to our children that will equip them to be successful productive citizens.”
 
State Rep. DeAnn Vaught appointed asst. speaker pro temp of Arkansas House     01/16/23
 
The 2023 Regular Session is now underway.
 
The session began on Monday, January 9 when members of the 94th General Assembly took the oath of office.
 
The House then elected Matthew J. Shepherd of El Dorado as the Speaker for the 94th General Assembly. He is the first person in state history to be elected Speaker for a third term. State Representative DeAnn Vaught, who district includes Sevier and Little River Counties, was named this session’s assistant speaker pro temp.
 
On the second day of the session, the House and Senate convened for a Joint Session. All constitutional officers took the oath of office and upon swearing-in, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders gave an address outlining her legislative priorities. The priorities mentioned include tax cuts, improving literacy, and improving public safety.
 
The House also adopted the rules for the 94th General Assembly. Changes in the rules from the previous year include adding language that incorporates bill filing deadlines and fiscal impact statement requirements for legislation related to state-sponsored health benefits and scholarships.
 
The deadline to file constitutional amendments is February 8.
 
The legislature will not convene today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The House will reconvene on Tuesday, January 17 at 1:30 p.m.
 
You can watch all committees and House floor proceedings at arkansashouse.org

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sevier Chamber announces date, theme of 2023 banquet     01/12/23

 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Chamber of Commerce has announced the date and theme of its annual Membership and Awards Banquet.
The chamber of commerce will present the event on Thursday, Feb. 23 and will be Vegas themed. The chamber said that nomination forms and other details will be released in the near future.

The annual event is held to recognize outstanding businesses and individuals in Sevier County as well as highlight the chamber’s roles and activities in the community. Awards range from Large and Small Business of the Year to Citizen of the Year and a recognition of the year’s top teachers at De Queen, Horatio, Legacy Academy, UA Cossatot and the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

Hochatown appoints mayor, holds first town hall     01/12/23

Hochatown Mayor Dian Jordan (Photo by Anne Mary Orr)

Submitted by Shellye Copeland/Hochatown Historical Society

HOCHATOWN – The newly-incorporated town of Hochatown now has its first mayor.

On Jan. 10, the first meeting of the town trustees for newly incorporated Hochatown was held at the Chapel of the Pines Church. During the meeting, the Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Dian Jordan, PhD, as the town’s first official Mayor and accepted a donation from long-time resident Vojai Reed for one year of free office space to house the first official Hochatown Town Hall.

The position of Mayor in Hochatown’s form of government is an honorary position and only designates the president of the town trust itself.  The actual day-to-day business and administration of the town will be conducted by a town manager, to be appointed later.  Dr. Jordan is a native of the area and has owned multiple tourist-related businesses over the past two decades.  She was a key participant in the incorporation effort.

 

Mrs. Reed, a trailblazing professional bass angler, who until recently owned and operated Vojai’s Winery in Hochatown, offered the trust free office space near the former winery as a potential location for the first town hall.  The trust will establish the initial town hall in the building located on US Highway 259 near the Steven’s Gap entrance into Broken Bow Lake.

In other business, the trust voted unanimously to establish several committees which will aid in the governance of the small town.

A presentation by the firm of Hillborne and Weidman regarding possible revenue options for raising operating capital was heard but no action was taken. Discussion regarding potential tax collections by the municipality were forwarded to the Taxation Committee for further deliberation, while administration of requests for annexation and future plat approvals was forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Committee. The trust also took no action after a brief discussion regarding the possible hiring of attorneys to assist with the continued efforts toward establishing a local municipal government.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Trust will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Chapel of the Pines. It is set to begin at 5 p.m.

CACA to host Masquerade Ball in February     01/12/23

KING – The Cossatot Arts and Crafts Association is inviting art fans and others in the community to a Masquerade Ball next month at its art center in King.

The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 the night of Saturday, Feb. 11 and is being billed for those 18 and older only. Events include dancing and other entertainment, finger foods, a memory photo booth and more. The event will be held in the Cossatot Arts Center located on King Schoolhouse Road just south of Gillham.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $40 for a single ticket or $75 for a couple. Those attending are asked to come in formal attire.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Reba at (318) 953-1918 or Nancy at (479) 216-1537. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.cossatotartsandcrafts.com.

Summer interns sought for AGFC     01/12/23

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is accepting applications for summer internships until March 31, 2023. These internships, funded by sales of the AGFC’s Conservation License Plates, let students gain hands-on training and experience needed to compete for a future career in conservation.

Many students are interested in careers in wildlife management, fisheries, wildlife health and conservation education, but often lack the hands-on experience to stand out from the crowd of applicants. Internship not only helps the students in this department, but also gives the agency an opportunity to recruit for possible job vacancies.

Internships are available across the state in conservation education, wildlife management, fisheries management, and wildlife law enforcement.

To qualify for an internship, an applicant:

-Must have a declared degree in the conservation field.

-Must have 60 hours of college credits earned by the time the internship begins.

-At the time of application, must be a college student, graduated within the previous 12 months, or currently be enrolled in a post-graduate program. Graduates must have completed education no earlier than June 2022 to be eligible for the summer 2023 internship window.

-Must have a 2.5 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Selected interns will be responsible to coordinate with their college or university to obtain course credit for their work.

Visit https://jobs.agfc.com for more information on the internship program and a list of openings for 2023.

Arkansas Big Squirrel Challenge this weekend     01/12/23

Deer seasons may be winding down in Arkansas, but don’t put away the hunting gear just yet. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hosting the second annual Big Squirrel Challenge statewide Jan. 13-14.

This year, the event has expanded to include a few more weigh-in stations. The closest to us is the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center, located on 1685 County Road 35 north in Columbus and just an hour from De Queen.

Participants can start hunting at noon Jan. 13 through 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until weigh-in at noon Jan. 14. Each team of two individuals can bring their biggest three squirrels to be weighed (field-dressed with skin on). Squirrels will be weighed from noon until 1 p.m. Jan. 14. And prizes will be given out to the heaviest three-squirrel bag in four categories.

Youth teams may consist of two hunters under 16 years of age or one hunter under 16 years of age and a mentor 16 or older.

No registration is required to participate, and teams will get their squirrels back after the weigh-in, so they can enjoy a good supper, regardless of their results in the event.

Medals will be awarded to the top two teams in each division at each location, and Gamo air rifles will be awarded to the statewide overall top team in each division.

For more information visit www.agfc.com.

 
Jeff Holcombe to be next DJHS principal     01/11/23
 
Jeff Holcombe, a 27-year veteran of education, will be the next DJHS principal beginning with the 2023-24 school year.

DE QUEEN – The De Queen School Board met in a special session Monday, Jan. 9 and approved the hiring of Jeff Holcombe as the new De Queen Junior High principal for the 2023-2024 school year.
Holcombe will be replacing Bill Huddleston who will be retiring after serving 13 years as DJHS Principal and 36 years with De Queen Public Schools. Holcombe has been working alongside Huddleston as the DJHS Assistant Principal and is currently in his 15th year as a school administrator. He is also a DHS Alum who has served as a teacher and counselor during his 27 years as an educator. The longtime Leopard says his new role will be a dream come true.

Holcombe said he looks forward to leading De Queen Junior High School beginning for the 2023-2024 school year. He added words of praise for Huddleston, who he described as a great boss, mentor and friend. Holcombe has served as Huddleston’s assistant principal for the previous 13 years.

Becoming principal is a 30-year dream, Holcombe said. He addd that the work that teachers do is greatly appreciated and that he is honored to help them continue the success they have had educating kids at De Queen Public Schools.

Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is thankful for Bill Huddleston’s many years of leadership and service to De Queen Public Schools. Sanders added that the school is fortunate it didn’t have to look very far to find its next Junior High Principal. Holcombe, said Sanders, is a quality person, an excellent communicator and cares about kids.

Friday is deadline for Arkansans to help in broadband funding push     01/11/23

DE QUEEN – The Arkansas State Broadband Office is urging all Arkansans to verify the newly published federal broadband map by this Friday, Jan. 13.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new national broadband map showing high-speed internet availability across the country. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will use this new map to guide the distribution of funding for building broadband infrastructure through the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. To make sure that Arkansas receives its maximum available funding, and that funding reaches areas of the state that need broadband the most, all Arkansas residents and businesses are being asked to visit the new map and verify the information is correct.

The three-step process is simple:

  1. Visit broadbandmap.fcc.gov and type in your address.
  2. Verify your address’ location. If it’s wrong, submit a location challenge.
  3. Validate your available internet speeds. If it’s wrong, submit an availability challenge.

By taking these three steps, Arkansans can do their part to help get funding to the areas that most need broadband infrastructure. Residents and businesses are strongly encouraged to submit their challenges by Friday, January 13, 2023.

The NTIA will use the new federal map to determine state funding allocations for the BEAD program by June 30, 2023. All challenges must be submitted by January 13, 2023, to impact the distribution of BEAD funding.

After verifying or challenging the information listed on the new federal map, residents and businesses can help in this effort by spreading the word about this map and helping others to complete this process. The more who participate, the more input the FCC has to create an accurate and reliable map to direct funding.

For additional information and direction regarding the challenge process, residents and businesses are encouraged to visit broadband.arkansas.gov/verify.

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught sworn in on Tuesday     01/11/23

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

Monday afternoon, I took the oath of office to serve as the State Representative for District 87! I want to thank you all again for this honor!! I was appointed to be the House Rules Chairwoman and Speaker Assistant Pro-Tempore. I am so excited about this new journey! I will serve on Education Committee, Ag Committee, ALC, and Rules Committee. 

After the swearing-in, the House elected Matthew J. Shepherd of El Dorado as the Speaker for the 94th General Assembly. He becomes the first person in state history to be elected Speaker for a third term.

After an address to the House, Speaker Shepherd announced the chairs and vice chairs for committees. You can find the lists of committee assignments which include the names of chairs and vice chairs at arkansashouse.org.

On Tuesday, the Joint Budget Committee will meet at 9 am. The House will convene at 10 am and then at 10:30 am, the House and Senate will convene in the House Chamber for a Joint Session. During the Joint Session, all constitutional officers will be sworn into office and the newly elected Governor will make an address.

The House streams all committee meetings and House floor proceedings at arkansashouse.org.

Leopards split wins at Coliseum against Hope     01/11/23

DE QUEEN – The De Queen senior teams split with Hope Tuesday night in the Coliseum with the Lady Leopards winning easily 60-32, while the Hope boys pulled away from the Leopards in the fourth quarter to post a 63-41 victory.

The Lady Leopards played a brilliant first half with only one turnover and no fouls as the De Queen girls raced to a 43-11 halftime lead and cruised to the 60-32 win. Allison Dockins was outstanding with 26 points to earn our McDonalds Player of the Night award. Dockins knocked down six three-pointers and grabbed three rebounds and three steals. Belle Lindsey scored 14, and Dayton Newberry added 12. The Lady Leopards improved to 2 and 1 in conference play and 11 and 4 overall.

The Leopards had a tough time on the boards as the Hope boys pulled away late for the 63-41 victory. The Leopards trailed by ten points going into the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats finished the game on a 17-5 run. Nathan Patterson led the Leopards with 18 points. Sophomore Sam Graham added nine as the De Queen boys fell to 5 and 9 on the year.

Ashdown falls to Magnolia in Tuesday night basketball action     01/11/23

ASHDOWN – The Ashdown Panthers hosted the Magnolia Panthers in girls and boys action Tuesday night at Helen Parker Gymnasium. Magnolia defeated the Ashdown girls 47 to 22.

The game was close early but Magnolia went on a run before halftime to go into the locker room with a comfortable 22 to 6 lead and never looked back. The leading scorers for Ashdown were LaKenya Williams and Kaitlyn Jones with 6 points.

In boys action, it was a battle of the undefeated in conference play. Ashdown came out hot early and led 30 to 21 with 4 minutes left in the first half. Magnolia went on a 21 to 10 run to go into the locker room with a 2 point lead.  Magnolia put the peddle to the metal in the second half and defeated Ashdown 86 to 57 behind 27 points by guard Nevi Tell.

The leading scorers for Ashdown were Kaiden Winfrey with 22 points while Justin Brown had 13 and Antonio McDuffie pitched in with 10 points. Ashdown falls to 2 and 1 in conference.

Both teams travel to Camden Fairview on Friday night with the pre game show beginning at 5:30 on 102.1 The Good Path.

 
Sandra Dunn is first female county judge in Sevier history     01/10/23
 
Passing the gavel – Sandra Dunn was appointed as interim county judge by the Sevier County Quorum Court on Monday. She is the first woman in Sevier County’s history to hold the office. She is pictured next to outgoing interim County Judge Dick Tallman, who was appointed following the passing of Greg Ray last year.

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court made history on Monday after it appointed the first woman to ever hold the office of county judge in Sevier County.

During Monday afternoon’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court, justices of the peace unanimously announced their pick of Sandra Dunn as the next interim county judge. She will replace Dick Tallman, who was appointed as the interim office holder following the passing of County Judge Greg Ray in late August of last year.

Tallman’s resignation was accepted during the meeting and his tenure officially ended at 11:59 Monday night.

Tallman, who served as county judge for 16 years between 1994 and 2010, agreed to the interim appointment through the remainder of Ray’s 2019-2023 term. Tallman said he was honored to serve out the term, despite the tragic circumstances that brought him back to the office.

“I kinda felt like it was my duty to at least offer,” said Tallman. “Greg was so well thought of and the whole county was in shock. I thought, at least I knew something about being county judge and could take over and finish his term. As it turned out, we’ve got the right person [in Sandra Dunn] to fill in the next term as county judge. I’m so proud I was able to help and just hope I didn’t mess anything up in the last four months.”
Dunn will be the first woman to ever hold the highest elected position in Sevier County. She previously served as the elected county clerk for Sevier and for the last few years as the administrative assistant to Ray and then Tallman.

Tallman said the county could not have asked for a better person to serve as interim judge through Ray’s 2023-2027 term.

As Dunn was appointed to the position, rather than elected, state election law will prevent her from seeking reelection in 2026. Her term as interim county judge will officially expire on Dec. 31 of that year.

Following the quorum court’s decision on Monday, Dunn thanked justices of the peace for the opportunity and said she was honored by their trust in her for the position of county judge.

In his parting message as interim county judge, Tallman reminisced on his friendship with Greg Ray. Tallman’s two terms as county judge bookended Ray’s time as county judge. Tallman knew Ray before he was county judge, having endorsed Ray for his 2010 run for office. But Tallman also saw the work Ray had done for the county after he returned to the county last year following the tragic passing of Ray.

“Greg was the road foreman and took that job not long after I got out of the military and ran for county judge,” said Tallman. “He was road foreman the whole time I was county judge and for the two of us it was a partnership to do the best for the county. I don’t meet anybody that doesn’t rave about Greg Ray. Everyone loved Greg Ray. And they should. He was very energetic, always did the best he could for the county and was always looking for something better to do for the county. I was very proud of him.”

We’ll be bringing you more on this story later this week, particularly an interview with Sevier County’s new judge, Sandra Dunn. 
Officials say SCMC opening expected this month     01/10/23

DE QUEEN – Officials with Sevier County’s new hospital say the facility is possibly just days away from opening and only awaiting delivery of its needed pharmaceuticals, which are expected to arrive this week.

Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House said on Monday that the hospital received its final pharmacy licensure and is only waiting on the delivery of its needed medications before opening its doors.

You can’t open an ER and have someone come in with a seizure and have no medications to give them,” said House. “But we have 118 people on board right now and we are ready and waiting to serve the public.”

House hesitates to say the exact day the hospital will open, given the unexpected opening delays in recent weeks. But she feels confident the hospital will open this month.

“I’m going to say by mid-January we’ll be open,” she explained. “I hate to put a specific date out there, but it’s going to be as soon as we can receive those medications and get them in our system. We are so very close.”

The recent delays were largely the result of licensure requirements and resolving the relatively minor issues that would arise from the opening of such a complex facility like a medical center.

“When the state department of health came down [in December]to look at our facility, what we found is that our nurse call system had malfunctioned,” explained House. “It could have been a power surge that caused the problem, we’re not sure. But it took two weeks to fix. From what I can tell, there probably hasn’t been a brand-new, start-up, full-service hospital like ours [in Arkansas] in 40 years. This is the first time it’s been done in this state in many, many years. It has been a learning experience. But I think, through COVID, going through a pandemic, the nurse shortage, everything else this process has encountered, we’ve done very well.”

Once open, the 15-bed Sevier County Medical Center will offer a broad range of medical services and will provide the first 24-hour emergency care unit in Sevier County since the closure of the privately-owned De Queen Hospital in the spring of 2019. 

Want to learn more about your family history? Let SARA help     01/10/23

WASHINGTON – History may not have been everyone’s favorite subject in high , but there’s one way to get more personally involved in the topic these days: the history of your family.

Americans have shown a growing interest in genealogy in recent years. As demonstrated through booming services like MyHeritage, 23andMe and Ancestry.com, Americans want to know more about themselves by researching their family history.

For the aspiring genealogist in our corner of the state, there is perhaps no resource as important as the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives (SARA). Melissa Nesbitt is the archival manager of the agency, based in Washington. Specifically, that is Washington, Ark., the Confederate-era capital of Arkansas now home to Historic Washington State Park.

When it comes to researching family history, Nesbitt encourages Arkansans to include the regional archives as part of their journey.

That’s exactly our mission, to preserve history through the collection of materials and artifacts that tell not just the story of our area, but its people as well,” explained Nesbitt. “You might be able to find out a lot about your own family by using the resources we offer.”

Founded in 1978, SARA offers a variety of research resources within its 12-county region, which includes Sevier and all surrounding Arkansas counties. Those resources include primary documents such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, newspapers and broadsides. Books and other print resources also help create a general Arkansas history reference library.

Among SARA’s collections is the Robert B. Waltz Photograph Collection. This collection boasts more than 2,500 images of people and places around Southwest Arkansas dating back to the 19th century. Research services and staff are also available to help guide patrons on their hunt for genealogical information.

Nesbitt stresses the importance of genealogy not just as a way to learn about history, but to discover your own personal connection to Arkansas’ past.

Genealogy is so important because it shows the history of how one generation connects to the next by looking at specific people, places and times and how those events led to what we see around us today,” she explains. “It can also help us understand our own family history or other families’ histories and how it all connected to create who we are now.”

Nesbitt adds that there are a number of tips to keep in mind for the beginner genealogical researcher.

Start with yourself and your immediate family and then move on to older generations,” she says. “Connect with an archivist, like those here at SARA, who can help you research specific times and locations. And use the vast amount of online resources available to help expand what you consider as records, such as voter registrations, property information, etc.”

Finally, Nesbitt encourages Arkansas genealogists to record all the information they collect for future use.

For more information on beginning your journey into genealogy here in Southwest Arkansas, visit www.archives.arkansas.gov or contact SARA directly by calling (870) 983-2633. Arkansans are also welcome to visit the archives in person by making an appointment. The Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives are located at 201 AR-195 in Washington.

DQ man arrested for battery, false imprisonment     01/10/23

GARLAND COUNTY – A De Queen man is in custody after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend and holding her at knifepoint during an altercation in Garland County over the weekend.

According to an arrest affidavit from the Garland County Sheriff’s Office, 20-year-old Kaleb Chapman was arrested on Sunday near Kirby following the incident. He has been charged with a felony count of false imprisonment as well as a misdemeanor charge of third-degree domestic battery.

Authorities allege Chapman assaulted his 21-year-old girlfriend during a domestic dispute in which he allegedly held her at knifepoint and threatened to kill her. The incident reportedly began over text messages Chapman found on his girlfriend’s phone.

Chapman reportedly physically assaulted the woman before the two left the home in a vehicle. Authorities said the victim was able to call 911 after she escaped from Chapman during a stop he made in Kirby. Officers with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office apprehended Chapman a short time later.

Authorities said the victim has signs of injuries to her head and leg from the incident.

Chapman was handed over to deputies with the Garland County Sheriff’s Office and transported to the Garland County Jail.

 
Saturday accident claims life of Dierks man     01/09/23
 
DIERKS – A single vehicle accident claimed the life of a Dierks man over the weekend.

According to the Arkansas State Police, 50-year-old Jerry Dale Jones was traveling eastbound on Highway 278 in Howard County Saturday morning when his 2011 Buick Enclave left the roadway, truck a tree and overturned.
The accident occurred around 9 a.m., according to the preliminary crash report. Jones was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigating State Trooper Ernesto Echevarria reported road conditions as clear and dry at the time of the accident.

Sevier County Quorum Court expected to appoint next interim judge today     01/09/23

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet this afternoon to declare a vacancy in the office of Sevier County Judge and announce who will serve in that position for the next four years.

Interim Sevier County Judge Dick Tallman is expected to resign today, opening up the office for another appointee to serve through January of 2027. Tallman was originally appointed to the position in September following the unexpected passing of Sevier County Judge Greg Ray. During his appointment process, Tallman said he would serve in the position until another individual could be appointed for Ray’s 2023-2027 term.

Ray was running unopposed for that term when he passed away in late August of 2022. As the filing period had ended, the quorum court was left with one option: appointing someone for the remainder of Ray’s 2019-2023 term as well as the his term that would have began earlier this month.

The next election for the office of Sevier County Judge will be held in 2026. State election law will prohibit the individual appointed today from running in that election.

The quorum court met last week in executive session to review several resumes it had received for the office. Sevier County justices of the peace are expected to announce their decision today.

Also scheduled for today’s meeting is a report from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. David Boone Ministries, which administers several senior citizens centers in the county, is also expected to provide an update.

The quorum court will then appoint a delegate to the Arkansas Quorum Court Association for 2023 as well as vote on the appointment of Dr. Ken Erickson to the Sevier County Airport Board.

A final item on the agenda includes providing an 8.5 percent pay increase to county library employees. All county employees, save those with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office who received a sizable mid-year raise in 2022, were provided the raise beginning this year. However, library employees were reportedly and inadvertently left out of the broad pay increase. The quorum court is expected to remedy that oversight today.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Leopards fall to Arkadelphia during basketball action at De Queen Coliseum     01/09/23

The Arkadelphia senior teams spoiled De Queen’s first action at home in the Coliseum since November Friday night. The Lady Badgers nipped the Lady Leopards 51-50, while the Badgers rolled past the Leopards 74-46 in boys action as heard live on your #1 Country 92.1.

The girls contest was close throughout with De Queen leading Arkadelphia 13-11 after the opening quarter, while the Lady Badgers took a 23-22 lead at the half. Arkadelphia opened up an eight point lead in the fourth quarter before the Lady Leopards battled back. De Queen executed a nice play to get a good look at a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer, but the shot fell just short as the Lady Leopards dropped a 51-50 heartbreaker.

Belle Lindsey led De Queen with 22 points. Dayton Newberry, our McDonalds Player of the Night, scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. 

With the tough one-point defeat, the Lady Leopards fell to 1 and 1 in conference play, and 10 and 4 overall.

In the boys contest, the Leopards came out red hot and raced to an early 19-10 lead. But the Badgers used their size and quickness advantage to pull away for the 74-46 victory over the De Queen boys.

Cooper Young led the Leopards with 17 points. Nathan Patterson and Manny Hernandez added nine each.

The Leopards fell to 0 and 2 in the league, and 5 and 8 overall.

The De Queen teams will host Hope Tuesday.

Panthers split wins against Scrappers     01/09/23

The Ashdown Panthers played host to the Nashville Scrappers at Helen Parker gymnasium on Friday evening.

In Girls action, Nashville defeated Ashdown 58 to 6.  Nashville came out with a great pressure defense that the Panthers could never master.  Nashville was led by Kyleigh Scoggins 20 points all in the first half.  For Ashdown Lakenya Williams led the Panthers with 3 points.

The boys had an exciting game that was typical of the Panthers and Scrappers rivalry.  Ashdown led 25 to 20 at halftime with stifling defense.  The Panthers went on to win 53 to 45 behind 23 points by Kaiden Winfrey and 12 points by Shamar Easter. 

The Panthers put the game away in the 4th quarter by outscoring the visiting Scrappers by a score of 20 to 13.  For Nashville, Kyle Whiteman finished with 27 points.  

Ashdown hosts Magnolia on Tuesday night which can be heard on 102.1 The Good Path with the pre game beginning at 5:20.

Begin 2023 right with subscription to Arkansas Wildlife     01/09/23

Start 2023 with fresh information about the Arkansas outdoors by subscribing to Arkansas Wildlife, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission magazine produced right here in The Natural State.

Arkansas Wildlife features articles and news about places where you hunt, fish, camp, bird-watch and boat – no doubt you’ll discover some new ideas for getting out and enjoying the state.

The magazine is published every other month and includes a 13-month calendar issue that’s released July 1 with hunting dates for deer, turkey, waterfowl and all the other game species pursued by Arkansans.

What’s the catch? It’s a small one – a one-year subscription (five 36-page issues with no advertising plus the calendar issue) is $12. Order two years for $20 or three years for $25. That’s a bargain. Arkansas Wildlife makes a great birthday, Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift. Know someone who loves the Arkansas outdoors but lives out of state? Keep them posted with Arkansas Wildlife.

Subscribing is easy – visit arkansaswildlife.com.

 
J.D. Vaught to be posthumously inducted into Arkansas Ag Hall of Fame     01/06/23
 
Jessie “J.D.” Vaught

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame will induct five new members this spring to honor their service as leaders in Arkansas’ most important economic sector.
The Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame seeks to recognize individuals who reflect the “broad and diverse impact of agriculture across Arkansas,” said Hall of Fame committee chair Debbie Moreland of Roland. The Hall of Fame began in 1987 to promote awareness and honor those who helped local communities and the state prosper. This year’s inductees up the organization’s number of honorees to 181.

This year’s inductees will include one man well known in Southwest Arkansas for his contributions as a farmer and to his community as a whole: the late J.D. Vaught of Horatio.

A pioneer in contract livestock production, Vaught adapted early in both chicken and swine production and used technology like performance records and artificial insemination to improve purebred Charolais (early 1970s) and Angus cattle (1980s).

He built chicken houses in the early 1960s and a contract hog facility in the mid-1970s, produced poultry from 1964-1999, and was a partner in Poultry House Cleanout Service from 1968-74.

Vaught was a member of the Arkansas Farm Bureau state board of directors from 1991-99, a Sevier County Cattlemen’s Association officer and was instrumental in founding regional pork producer associations and the Grannis Trail Riders.

He owned and operated a 400-acre family farm from 1963 until his death at age 82 on Dec. 26, 2022. In early November 2022, Vaught had 150 cattle and 520 swine sows. He served on the Horatio School Board for more than 20 years and was a founding member of the school’s Ag Booster Club.

He and his late wife of 50-plus years, Linda, loved the life of agriculture and raised four children.

The other four inducettes include Arkansas Century Farm owner/operator and philanthropist Ellis Bell of Forrest City; Arkansas State University professor of agricultural economics Bert Greenwalt of Jonesboro; innovative rice farmer Chris Isbell of Humnoke; and veteran cotton farmer and industry leader Steve Stevens of Tillar.

Sevier County Fair Association hosting Second Annual Drawdown fundraiser    01/06/23
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Fair & Rodeo Association is gearing up to present its second annual Drawdown fundraising event next month.
The fundraiser has been scheduled for Feb. 11 beginning at 6 p.m. in the De Queen High School cafeteria. Tickets are $100 each and will include a steak dinner for two with all the fixings.

Besides supporting a great cause in the Sevier County Fair & Rodeo Association, the event will also include another major highlight: a chance at a $5,000 drawdown prize. There will also be additional door prizes, raffles and other chances to win. And to help increase the chances of winning, only 140 tickets are being sold for this year’s event.

So don’t delay, contact any fair board member to get a ticket ASAP. You can also reach out to the Sevier County Fair & Rodeo Association through its Facebook page.

Arkansas to host second Big Squirrel Challenge Jan. 13-14    01/06/23

Deer seasons may be winding down in Arkansas, but don’t put away the hunting gear just yet. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is hosting the second annual Big Squirrel Challenge statewide Jan. 13-14.

Eric Maynard, assistant chief of education for the AGFC, says the event is a great way to keep the fun going after a morning in the woods chasing squirrels with a shotgun or .22 rifle.

This year, the event has expanded to include a few more weigh-in stations. The closest to us is the Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Nature Center, located on 1685 County Road 35 north in Columbus and just an hour from De Queen.

Participants can start hunting at noon Jan. 13 through 30 minutes after sunset, then hunt again 30 minutes before sunrise until weigh-in at noon Jan. 14. Each team of two individuals can bring their biggest three squirrels to be weighed (field-dressed with skin on). Squirrels will be weighed from noon until 1 p.m. Jan. 14. And prizes will be given out to the heaviest three-squirrel bag in four categories.

Youth teams may consist of two hunters under 16 years of age or one hunter under 16 years of age and a mentor 16 or older.

No registration is required to participate, and teams will get their squirrels back after the weigh-in, so they can enjoy a good supper, regardless of their results in the event.

Medals will be awarded to the top two teams in each division at each location, and Gamo air rifles will be awarded to the statewide overall top team in each division.

For more information visit www.agfc.com.

Special youth modern gun hunt this weekend in Arkansas    01/06/23

Modern gun deer season is over, but hunters under 16 will get an late crack at a deer this weekend during the Arkansas special youth modern gun deer hunt.

The special hunt will take place this Saturday, Jan. 7 and Sunday, Jan. 8.

Only hunters six- to 15-years-of-age may harvest deer during the modern gun youth deer hunt. Youths who have not completed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult at least 21 years old. Mentors may not hunt any species during the hunt. Youth who have completed hunter education may legally hunt on their own at their parent or guardian’s discretion.

Again this year youth hunters will need their own unique Customer Identification Number to check their deer upon harvest. The CID number is free to obtain and will remain with the hunter throughout their life. Anyone who already has purchased a hunting license or applied for a permit hunt of any kind has already been issued a CID number and will use that to check their deer.

Deer may be checked online at www.agfc.com, by phone at 877-731-5627 or through the AGFC’s smartphone app (which is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store). The app even allows a hunter to check a deer without a cell phone signal.

Visit www.agfc.com for more information on the modern gun youth deer hunt.

Obtain a free Customer ID number at that website by clicking the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” button at the top of the page and creating a new customer profile for your youth hunter.

Closure schedule for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day    01/06/23
 
DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be closed on Jan. 16 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
City officials are informing De Queen residents of the trash schedule for the week of Jan. 16:

Monday’s trash will be picked up on Tuesday;

Tuesday’s trash will be picked up on Wednesday;

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The City of Ashdown, the Little River Courthouse and the Sevier County Courthouse and Landfill will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 16 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

 
De Queen set for a 2020 Census recount     01/05/23
 
DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council launched into its first meeting of the new year with a discussion on a number of issues, including a Census recount for De Queen and the possible regulation of porta-potties in the city limits.

During Tuesday night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council, Mayor Jeff Brown announced he successfully petitioned the U.S. Census Bureau to perform a recount of its 2020 Census for De Queen. Brown said he and other city officials were dismayed over the previous Census, which showed a decline in De Queen’s population of around 600 people – or nearly 10 percent.

The count, he said, was far from accurate.

“I know that’s not correct and I think everyone in De Queen knows that’s not correct,” said Brown. “So last Wednesday, I got on the phone with the U.S. Census Bureau and got us successfully signed up for a census recount.”

“Our census came in for 2020 at 6,105, which is down 500 or 600 folks and that’s just not accurate,” Brown added. “We’ve got to get an accurate count. Tax dollars, federal funding, is directly tied to that count. Funding for infrastructure, money we direly need.”

City officials estimate De Queen’s true population is closer to 10,000 and could be as high as 12,000. Brown said the lack of rental units and homes for sale within the city – despite several years of housing development within De Queen – is evidence that De Queen’s population has only grown since the 2010 Census.

Brown said more details on the Census recount and how it will be conducted will be shared in the months ahead.

In other business, Brown said he and City Attorney Erin Hunter are crafting an ordinance to present to the city council that would regulate the use of porta-potties within De Queen. Their frequent use around town, Brown said, is becoming an eye sore.

“I got to noticing porta-potties around town that have been there for extened periods of time,” said Brown. “Porta-potties are not meant to be used as permanent bathrooms. Construction sites, festivals, events, that’s understandable. So we’ve got our city attorney drawing up an ordinance to present to the council to regulate the time a porta-pottie can actually be set out in the city.”

Brown said he plans to introduce the proposed ordinance during the council’s February meeting.

During Tuesday night’s meeting the council also approved contracts with four local entities: the UA Cossatot Economic Development Office, Sevier County Museum, Sevier County Humane Society and the De Queen Senior Citizens Center. All four entities, Brown said, perform valuable services for De Queen. Those range from helping reduce the number of stray animals by offering low-cost spay and neuter clinics for pets belonging to De Queen residents, to preserving Sevier County history and developing additional economic opportunities for the city.

The council then approved an ordinance setting future meetings of the city council at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. These meetings are open to the public.

Esteban Ochoa was expected to discuss the topic of soccer field in De Queen. However, Ochoa was not in attendance and the issue was not discussed.

Finally, the first city council meeting of  the year was of special note for its newest council member, Kimberly Jarrell. Jarrell was elected to the seat unopposed after its former alderman, Dr. Jason Lofton, declined to seek reelection in 2022.

Jarrell said she hopes to assist the city in developing strong job opportunities for young residents who feel they otherwise must leave De Queen to pursue a successful career.

“This first year I’m going to sit back and learn from the other council members,” said Jarrell. “I want De Queen to be the city I grew up in, to come back to that for our future generations. So that our future generations come back. As a teacher for 17 years, I want our young people to come back and not feel like they have to leave. That means a good town to live in with good job opportunities.”

The next meeting of the De Queen City Council is set for Feb. 7 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall.
Portion of Chapel Hill Road to be closed for bridge replacement     01/05/23
DE QUEEN – Sevier County Interim County Judge Dick Tallman has announced that a portion of Chapel Hill Road will be closed beginning Monday, Jan. 9.

County officials say the closure will go into effect to provide for the replacement of a bridge on Chapel Hill Road.

This portion of Chapel Hill Road will be closed until further notice.

Follow important safety guidelines while enjoying the outdoors     01/05/23
 
LITTLE ROCK — During the cooler months in Arkansas, there are many opportunities for outdoor fun, such as hunting, camping and riding all-terrain vehicles. While enjoying these activities in the Natural State, it’s important to follow safety guidelines to avoid accidents and injuries.
Jesse Bocksnick, extension 4-H outdoor skills coordinator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said safely operating guns and ATVs can minimize the risk of accidents.

Accidents happen — we can’t be 100 percent safe all the time,” Bocksnick said. “But the main thing is to practice good, safe operation of ATVs and safe gun handling so that when an accident does happen, we can minimize it and it’s just a scare – not a tragic story that we talk about years later as a teaching tool.”

Proper firearm handling

When it comes to safe gun handling, Bocksnick said three elements are key: muzzle control, action open and trigger control.

The muzzle is the part of the firearm where the bullet exits the gun. Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times can help prevent accidents or minimize the damage of an accident.

Every year it seems like somebody gets hurt with an ‘empty gun,’ and that’s because they think it’s unloaded, and it’s not,” Bocksnick said.

The action on a gun is the part where the ammunition enters the chamber and is then extracted when the gun is fired. By keeping the action open, the user indicates to others that the gun is unloaded until it is time to shoot.

When that action is closed, nobody knows if there’s a bullet in the chamber,” Bocksnick said. “You just assume that it’s loaded. We assume that all guns are loaded all the time – it just keeps things safer that way.”

Trigger control means “you keep your finger off the trigger until your sight is on the target,” Bocksnick said.

A lot of folks, especially young folks, when you hand them a firearm, the first thing they do is wrap their hand around the grip and they’ve got a finger on the trigger,” Bocksnick said. “We don’t want to do that.”

For adults who are excited to introduce hunting and shooting sports to the young people in their lives, Bocksnick said it’s important to brush up on safety skills, as many adults develop poor safety habits over time.

People are usually excited about training young folks and getting them out there,” he said. “It’s a family pastime, and they want to pass that tradition along to their family members, but sometimes they have unsafe habits, or they don’t realize how unsafe they actually are with a firearm. When they’re talking to kids and teaching them the basics of hunting, sometimes they may skip over or take for granted some of those basic firearm controls.”

When training youth on proper firearm handling, Bocksnick said another issue is handing off firearms to young people too soon.

If they can’t physically work the action, hold the gun up, or handle the recoil, they’re too small,” he said. “You need to wait until the next year, or maybe the year after that. I see a lot of parents push kids too fast. They want them to be that hunting buddy so badly that they give them a little too much responsibility for their age.”

ATV and UTV safety

Riding ATVs and UTVs, or all-terrain and utility task vehicles, can be a fun way to explore the outdoors. But these vehicles can be very dangerous for riders if not handled safely.  

Bocksnick said that for ATVs and UTVs, the “number one thing to remember is to wear a helmet.”

It is the single most important piece of safety equipment that a person – adult or youth – can wear,” he said. “It must be a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.”

It is also critical to follow the age recommendations of the vehicle’s manufacturer, Bocksnick said.

Most ATVs and UTVs are 16 years old and up,” Bocksnick said. “Just because a youth can steer a machine or push the throttle doesn’t mean they are capable of driving that machine. ATVs are ‘rider active’ machines that require the operator to use their body weight and active movement to properly ride the machine and make it handle properly. With UTVs, if a youth cannot sit in the seat properly with their back against the seat, buckled in, and reach all the controls, they are too young.”

Bocksnick said a common misconception about UTVs is that they are safe for children because they have a roll bar or rollover protective structures. But youth must be buckled in and using the seatbelts or harness systems for these protective measures to work.

Unfortunately, ATV and UTV accidents are a major cause of head trauma, death and major injuries in the state among youth,” Bocksnick said. “Youth riding machines they are not old enough for, not wearing helmets, or carrying passengers on ATVs increases this problem exponentially.”

Hunting and campfire safety

During hunting season, many people get injured from their deer stands. Becky McPeake, extension professor and wildlife specialist for the Division of Agriculture, said scouting for the proper deer stand location before the hunt is important.

Find a tree which is strong enough to support your weight,” McPeake said. “Sometimes the tree nearest an opening is smaller in diameter, and it is tempting to use that tree, but don’t. Be safe.”

McPeake said being in good shape is also key to successfully navigating a deer stand, as it takes physical strength to get in and out.

If there are physical limitations, ground-hunt to be safe,” she said. “You can build your own blind using natural features or purchase a tent blind.”

Wearing a harness is also an “essential safety feature” for those using deer stands, McPeake said.

Use a climbing rope, climb a little higher than your stand, and slip into the stand,” she said. “Then, use a rope to lift or lower your supplies and your unloaded firearm, and clip yourself in the tree once in place.”

Be sure to get plenty of rest and stay awake while in a deer stand, and let others know when heading out for a hunt.

Tell your family or friends when you go hunting and when you expect to return,” McPeake said. “Leave them a map of where you will be hunting, since cell service sometimes doesn’t work in remote locations.”

While hunting, camping or simply spending time in the backyard, campfire safety guidelines should also be followed to avoid injury or an out-of-control blaze. Creenna Bocksnick, extension 4-H camping coordinator for the Division of Agriculture, said the first step to a safe campfire is checking the fire regulations in one’s area.

Some locations don’t allow for open flames, and seasonal burn bans also need to be considered,” Bocksnick said. “Campers also need to remember general fire safety concerns: burns, keeping flammable liquids and materials away from the fire, and not leaning or stepping over the fire.”

Bocksnick said people should also pay close attention to their surroundings for other potential fire hazards, including “dead trees above their fire that can fall, tinder on the ground near their fire that can catch on fire, and tree roots under their fire that can also catch on fire without them knowing.”

People camping in a wilderness setting should also aim to “leave no trace” of their presence at the campsite after leaving.

Campers should build, douse and cover remnants of their fires so that the next person doesn’t know they were there,” Bocksnick said. “They should also not put items in the fire that will not completely burn and turn to ash during their stay.”

For more information about the 4-H shooting sports program and Arkansas 4-H ATV safety, visit the Arkansas 4-H Outdoor Skills website or contact Jesse Bocksnick at jbocksnick@uada.edu.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

 
De Queen set for a 2020 Census recount     01/04/23
 
DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council launched into its first meeting of the new year with a discussion on a number of issues, including a Census recount for De Queen and the possible regulation of porta-potties in the city limits.

During Tuesday night’s meeting of the De Queen City Council, Mayor Jeff Brown announced he successfully petitioned the U.S. Census Bureau to perform a recount of its 2020 Census for De Queen. Brown said he and other city officials were dismayed over the previous Census, which showed a decline in De Queen’s population of around 600 people – or nearly 10 percent.

The count, he said, was far from accurate.

“I know that’s not correct and I think everyone in De Queen knows that’s not correct,” said Brown. “So last Wednesday, I got on the phone with the U.S. Census Bureau and got us successfully signed up for a census recount.”

“Our census came in for 2020 at 6,105, which is down 500 or 600 folks and that’s just not accurate,” Brown added. “We’ve got to get an accurate count. Tax dollars, federal funding, is directly tied to that count. Funding for infrastructure, money we direly need.”

City officials estimate De Queen’s true population is closer to 10,000 and could be as high as 12,000. Brown said the lack of rental units and homes for sale within the city – despite several years of housing development within De Queen – is evidence that De Queen’s population has only grown since the 2010 Census.

Brown said more details on the Census recount and how it will be conducted will be shared in the months ahead.

In other business, Brown said he and City Attorney Erin Hunter are crafting an ordinance to present to the city council that would regulate the use of porta-potties within De Queen. Their frequent use around town, Brown said, is becoming an eye sore.

“I got to noticing porta-potties around town that have been there for extened periods of time,” said Brown. “Porta-potties are not meant to be used as permanent bathrooms. Construction sites, festivals, events, that’s understandable. So we’ve got our city attorney drawing up an ordinance to present to the council to regulate the time a porta-pottie can actually be set out in the city.”

Brown said he plans to introduce the proposed ordinance during the council’s February meeting.

During Tuesday night’s meeting the council also approved contracts with four local entities: the UA Cossatot Economic Development Office, Sevier County Museum, Sevier County Humane Society and the De Queen Senior Citizens Center. All four entities, Brown said, perform valuable services for De Queen. Those range from helping reduce the number of stray animals by offering low-cost spay and neuter clinics for pets belonging to De Queen residents, to preserving Sevier County history and developing additional economic opportunities for the city.

The council then approved an ordinance setting future meetings of the city council at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. These meetings are open to the public.

Esteban Ochoa was expected to discuss the topic of soccer field in De Queen. However, Ochoa was not in attendance and the issue was not discussed.

Finally, the first city council meeting of  the year was of special note for its newest council member, Kimberly Jarrell. Jarrell was elected to the seat unopposed after its former alderman, Dr. Jason Lofton, declined to seek reelection in 2022.

Jarrell said she hopes to assist the city in developing strong job opportunities for young residents who feel they otherwise must leave De Queen to pursue a successful career.

“This first year I’m going to sit back and learn from the other council members,” said Jarrell. “I want De Queen to be the city I grew up in, to come back to that for our future generations. So that our future generations come back. As a teacher for 17 years, I want our young people to come back and not feel like they have to leave. That means a good town to live in with good job opportunities.”

The next meeting of the De Queen City Council is set for Feb. 7 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the De Queen City Hall.
Special youth modern gun deer hunt scheduled for this weekend     01/04/23

Modern gun deer season is over, but hunters under 16 will get an late crack at a deer this weekend during the Arkansas special youth modern gun deer hunt.

The special hunt will take place this Saturday, Jan. 7 and Sunday, Jan. 8.

Only hunters six- to 15-years-of-age may harvest deer during the modern gun youth deer hunt. Youths who have not completed hunter education must be under the direct supervision of an adult at least 21 years old. Mentors may not hunt any species during the hunt. Youth who have completed hunter education may legally hunt on their own at their parent or guardian’s discretion.

Again this year youth hunters will need their own unique Customer Identification Number to check their deer upon harvest. The CID number is free to obtain and will remain with the hunter throughout their life. Anyone who already has purchased a hunting license or applied for a permit hunt of any kind has already been issued a CID number and will use that to check their deer.

Deer may be checked online at www.agfc.com, by phone at 877-731-5627 or through the AGFC’s smartphone app (which is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store). The app even allows a hunter to check a deer without a cell phone signal.

Visit www.agfc.com for more information on the modern gun youth deer hunt.

Obtain a free Customer ID number at that website by clicking the “Buy Licenses/Check Game” button at the top of the page and creating a new customer profile for your youth hunter.

Looking back on 2022’s weather     01/04/23

DE QUEEN – As your official reporting station for the National Weather Service, we took a moment to compile a weather summary for not just December and 2022.

First off, the month of December 2022 saw its hottest afternoon on Dec. 29 with the mercury reading 74 degrees. Just a few days earlier, on Dec. 23, the month saw its coldest morning at just four degrees.

Looking at the year in total, the hottest afternoon occurred on July 9 with 105 degrees. We topped the century mark 18 days in 2022 for the hottest recorded weather.

The coldest morning of the year was on Dec. 23 with that bonechilling four degrees.

Rainfall for the year equated just over 49 inches. That’s the least amount of annual rainfall received since 2012, when we recorded just under 39 inches.

Leopards, Lady Leopards split wins at Malvern     01/04/23

MALVERN – The De Queen senior teams traveled to Malvern Tuesday night to open up conference play in action heard live on your #1 Country 92.1. The Lady Leopards rolled to a 55-20 victory, while the Leopards lost a tough one 50-49.

The Lady Leopards raced to a 41-8 halftime lead and cruised to the 55-20 victory in their conference opener to improve to 10 and 3 on the season. Belle Lindsey led the way with 28 points. Dayton Newberry poured in ten, and Allison Dockins added nine. The tough De Queen defense held winless Malvern to 14% shooting from the floor, and forced 14 Malvern turnovers. 

The Leopards and Malvern were tied at 15 at the end of the opening quarter in the boys contest. Malvern opened up a double-digit lead, before the De Queen boys had a furious fourth quarter rally to eventually take a one-point lead on two different occasions. But Malvern made the plays in the final seconds to pull out the 50-49 victory on their home floor. Nathan Patterson, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way with a double-double, scoring 17 points, hauling down 10 rebounds, and recording a steal and an assist. Cooper Young and Garrett Matthews added 10 points each. The Leopards fell to 5 and 7 on the year.

The De Queen Teams finally return to the Coliseum for their first home games since November when they host Arkadelphia for key conference matchups Friday night. 

Panthers take on Bobcats in Hope     01/04/23

HOPE – The Ashdown Pantherettes and Panthers went on the road to battle Hope in the opening of the conference season. 

The girls lost to the Hope Bobcats 41 to 30.  The Pantherettes battled hard and hung tough through 3 quarters but the height and length of the Bobcats was too much for Ashdown.  The leading scorers for the Pantherettes were Lakenya Williams with 8 points, Zamariyah Rhone with 7 and Karielle Forbes pitched in with 6 points.

In the boys game, it was an up and down high intensity close contest that was tied at halftime and at the end of the 3rd quarter.  The Panthers went to a zone in the fourth quarter and that slowed down the Hope offense and the Panthers got a big road victory by the score of 58 to 52. 

Kaiden Winfrey led the Panthers with 20 points while Justin Brown had 13 points and Antonio McDuffie scored 10 points all in the second half.  The Panthers host Nashville on Friday night which can be heard on the Good Path with the pre game show beginning at 5:30.

 
Sevier County elected officials, deputies sworn in Tuesday morning     01/03/23
 
Sevier County Clerk Renea Bailey swears in the new quorum court. From left are Greg Wright, Scottie Morris, Callie Efird, Angie Walker, Roxie Stephens, Walter Smith, Roger Whitmore, Michael Barnes and Kenneth Currence.

DE QUEEN – Sevier County’s new quorum court was sworn in alongside other elected officials during a ceremony Tuesday morning.

The ceremony included the swearing in of the quorum court, county coroners, deputies of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, full-time elected officials and constables.

The Sevier County Quorum Court includes four new members beginning for the 2023-2027 term. The new members include Callie Efird, Michael Barnes, Walter Smith and Scottie Morris. Returning justices of the peace are Roger Whitmore, Roxie Stephens, Angie Walker, Greg Wright and Kenneth Currence.

All were sworn in by newly-elected county clerk Renea Bailey.

Efird comes to the quorum court after defeating incumbent David Wright in the 2022 election. Barnes successfully challenged Earl Battiest for the District 1 seat on the quorum court. Walter Smith replaces Evelyn Keels, who was specially appointed in 2021 and not able to run again. Keels was appointed following the death in 2021 of her husband, Charles Keels, who was a long-serving member of the quorum court.


Sevier County Clerk swears in the current term of deputies – full time, reserve and auxiliary – with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office.

A similar process brought Scottie Morris to the quorum court. He replaced Marilyn Archer, who was also specially appointed after the death of her husband, Mike Archer, who served more than two decades as a justice of the peace.

Morris said he hopes his service on the quorum court will bring more representation for the residents of northern Sevier County.

“I just felt like it was a good community effort for me to get involved and represent the citizens of northern Sevier County,” said Morris. “I’m just about as far north in Sevier County as you can get. I want to be the eyes and ears for our county judge, the county sheriff and represent our citizens. I think the quorum court has been in good hands and I want to see it kept that way. I’ve got some big shoes to fill. Mike Archer did a good job and I hate that he’s not here anymore. But I think there’s no where better to live in Southwest Arkansas than Sevier County and I want to help keep it that way.”

Morris recently retired after 37 years with Southwest REA, including as the local district manager.

Both Efird and Barnes said they hope their youth helps bring new ideas and prespectives to the quorum court.

“Honestly, I think that was my motivation for running,” said Efird. “There was nothing personal about the race. David Wright served here two decades and I’ve got some really big shoes to fill. I just believed it was time for change. I Also believe that this county has a lot of good potential and we’ve headed in that direction the last few years. I do want to thank all of my constituents for their vote and support, that means a lot to me. I was really nervous about running, especially after our great county judge passed away because he was a big influence.”


Sevier County Clerk Renea Bailey is sworn in by interim county judge Dick Tallman.

“When I decided to run, someone told me that you got to strive for change if you want it,” said Barnes. “And if you want to complain, you need to vote or seek office yourself. I hope I can offer a youthful perspective to the county, with me and Callie being the youngest members on the quorum court. I’m appreciative to everyone for giving me the chance to be on the quorum court and try my hand at making a difference for our county.”

Barnes is a detective for the De Queen Police Department while Efird is a teacher serving with the De Queen-Mena Educational Cooperative.

Finally, Smith said he hopes his past experience in local government and as Sevier County’s OEM coordinator will serve the residents of Sevier County well on the quorum court.

“I’m excited to take Charles Keels’ place on the quorum court but I’m sorry the way this seat became open,” said Smith. “I’m looking forward to working with the new justices of the peace, we’ve got a lot to learn. One of our big projects is the budget. I’ve got some experience with that, having been on the city council in De Queen for six years and having done my own budget in OEM.”

“I was really looking forward to working with Greg Ray, we were really close,” said Smith. “That didn’t work out. I thought a couple of times I would just withdraw my name from the election, but I realized that’s not what Greg what have expected from me. He would have wanted me to run and be a part of this organization.”

Following the swearing-in ceremony, the quorum court launched into its first meeting of the year. The first item was setting the date and time of future quorum court meetings. Following a brief but relatively contentious discussion, the quorum court voted 5-4 to keep the current schedule of meeting at 2 p.m. on the second Monday of each month.

The four justices voting against that measure included Efird, Barnes, Wright and Walker.

During the discussion, Barnes said he hoped to move the meeting to Monday evenings to allow more people a chance to attend and speak up at future quorum court meetings.

The quorum court then went into executive session to review three resumes it has received for the position of interim county judge. No decision was made following the session, but quorum court members anticipate making a public announcement regarding their choice during its next meeting on Jan. 9.
That meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Jan. 9 in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

 
De Queen City Council meeting tonight     01/03/23

DE QUEEN – The De Queen City Council and other city officials will be sworn in during a ceremony scheduled for 5 p.m. this evening at city hall.
The only new elected official to be sworn in tonight is Kimberly Jarrell, who is replacing Dr. Jason Lofton on the city council following his decision not to seek reelection in 2022.

The city council will host its first meeting of the year following the swearing in ceremony. Items on the agenda include a discussion by Esteban Ochoa regarding soccer fields.

The council will also vote on several routine January items, including setting the date and time of future council meetings and resolutions regarding contracts between the city and various local entities. Those groups include the UA Cossatot Economic Development Office, the Sevier County Humane Society, Museum and the De Queen Senior Citizens Center.

The meeting is open to the public.

2023 to bring lower corporate, state income tax for Arkansans     01/03/23

Arkansans will see lower taxes in 2023.

Starting Jan. 1, a corporate tax rate reduction went into effect, along with a decrease in state income taxes.

The rate change was passed in 2021 and it will show up on next year’s tax returns.

This year, the state income tax decreased to 4.9 percent. It’s expected that after the 2023 tax returns Arkansans will save more than $295 million dollars.

Scott Hardin is a spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration said this is the lowest income tax rate Arkansas has had since the state implemented a state income tax.

Legacy wins Genoa Holiday Classic, more local basketball starts tonight     01/03/23

GENOA – Three days of basketball equaled three victories for Legacy Academy’s senior boys, who played in the Genoa Central Holiday Classic tournament last week. The Warriors defeated the Horatio Lions in the championship game to win the tournament trophy. Legacy was the smallest school in the tournament and the only boys team to play through the entire tournament undefeated. The Lady Leopards won the girls side of the tournament with an undefeated appearance in Genoa.

The Legacy-Horatio game was a hard fought championship competition with excellent effort made by both teams. Horatio led 44-43 with 1:13 left in the ballgame when Ethan Gallagher stole the ball from the Lions on an inbound. A final steal by Gallagher again on Horatio’s last inbound sealed the game.

Ethan Gallagher led all scorers and rebounders in the game with 23 points. He hit all of these in the second half of the game. Gallagher also provided the Warriors 14 rebounds. Eli Mitchell gave the Warriors 10 points, 5 rebounds and took 2 charges. Manolo Vazquez contributed 9 points and 5 rebounds. Horatio’s Samuel Gideon led the Lions with 16 points, including 4 three pointers. Trey Mason followed with 13 points and 13 rebounds. 

Area teams have a full schedule of basketball for the first week of the new year. Legacy’s senior and junior boys will host Trinity Christian today while the De Queen Leopards and Lady Leopards travel to Malvern to open up conference play. Greg Revels and Toney Stowers will have the play-by-play of the senior action starting at around 5:45 right here on Your Number One Country. Meanwhile, the Ashdown senior teams travel to Hope today. Following a junior varsity game at 5 p.m., Jim Cross will have the play-by-play of the senior action starting at around 5:30 on 102.1 The Good Path and on the KILX app.

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught weekly update     01/03/23

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

As we approach a new year, with new goals for the next legislative session, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the progress made in 2022.

In 2022, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a historic tax cut, increased pay for law enforcement officers, and directed millions in surplus funds to improve safety in Arkansas schools. 

In an Extraordinary Session held in August of this year, the General Assembly passed Act 1 and Act 2. Those acts are identical pieces of legislation that reduced the income tax to 4.9% and made that rate retroactive to January 1, 2022. The legislation also lowers corporate income taxes from 5.9% to 5.3% on January 1, 2023. In addition, it aligns Arkansas law with the federal depreciation schedule which will provide relief for business owners by accelerating the depreciation of their assets and allowing for an easier calculation of their tax bill.

Act 1 and Act 2 also grant a nonrefundable income tax credit of $150 to taxpayers with income up to $87,000 and $300 to couples filing jointly with income up to $174,000.

In this special session, the General Assembly also passed Act 3. This act set aside $50 million from the revenue surplus for the purpose of funding a school safety grant program. 

In March of 2022, the 93rd General Assembly convened for the 2022 Fiscal Session. During this session, the General Assembly passed a $6.02 billion budget. The budget outlined a $70 million increase for elementary and secondary education.

The budget also included increases for the DHS Division of Children and Family Services, county jail reimbursements, and state police.

The General Assembly also directed one-time surplus funds to be used for prison expansion and one-time stipends for law enforcement officers.

The majority of House members will return for the 94th General Assembly. There will be 26 new members. The 94th General Assembly will include 82 Republicans and 18 Democrats. There will be 26 women and 74 men.

The 94th General Assembly will convene at noon on January 9. On the first day of the session, all members will be sworn into office. House members will then formally elect the Speaker of the House. The Speaker will then make remarks and announce the chairs for House committees. On the second day of the session, the House and Senate will convene for a Joint Session. On this day, all constitutional officers will be sworn into office and the newly elected Governor will make her first address as Governor.

The House streams all committee meetings and House floor proceedings at www.arkansashouse.org.

 
SCMC receives state hospital license     12/29/22
 
DE QUEEN – The brand-new Sevier County Medical Center is one big step closer to opening after it received its license from state health officials following an official inspection on Wednesday.
The opening of the hospital was put on hold earlier this month after the hospital was unable to pass its initial inspection due to some minor issues involving the facility’s nurse call system. However, on Wednesday state officials completed their inspection and found the hospital in top-shape and ready to open.
The official first day is now just awaiting receipt of the hospital pharmacy’s DEA number, according to officials. Plans are to open the hospital the first week of January.

The new facility is a history-making addition for Sevier County. The county lost the privately-owned De Queen Hospital in April of 2019 after its owners, Jorge and Ricardo Perez of Miami, Fla., were indicted on charges of financial and healthcare fraud.

Sevier County officials then launched a plan to construct a new hospital. That included approaching voters with a request for a one-percent sales tax increase to fund construction of a new medical center. According to Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the hospital’s board of governors, at that time the hospital was little more than an idea on paper.

The county-owned hospital is overseen by a board of governors with further accountability established through the Sevier County Quorum Court.

The hospital was constructed on an 18.5-acre site located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. Hospital officials chose this location based on federal statues regulating the location of critical access hospitals. These types of hospitals are required to be at least 35 miles distant from each other.

Leopards post two big wins during Wednesday basketball action in Genoa     12/29/22

GENOA – The De Queen Leopards and Lady Leopards posted big victories Wednesday in the Genoa Central Holiday Classic as heard live on 102.1 The Good Path. The Leopards rolled over Gurdon 82-50, while the Lady Leopards advanced to the championship round with a 67-38 win over Springhill. 

After a cold shooting performance in the opening round Tuesday following a two-week lay-off, the Leopards came out red hot Wednesday. The De Queen boys shot 55% from the floor, including connecting on 7 of 11 shots behind the three-point arc as they blew out the Go Devils 82-50. Manny Hernandez paced four players in double figures with 17. Cooper Young and Nathan Patterson poured in 15 each. Sophomore Sam Graham added 14. The Leopards improved to 4 and 6 on the season. 

The Lady Leopards came out equally hot scoring 45 first half points enroute to the 67-38 victory over the Lady Bears. Allison Dockins was named our McDonalds Player of the Night with 17 points, six rebounds, three blocks, and two assists and steals. Belle Lindsey led all scorers with 25, including 22 in the first half. Laura May Harp and Lorel Morphew led the rebounding charts with seven each. The De Queen girls improved to 8 and 3 on the year.

Here’s our broadcast schedule for the final day of the Genoa Central Tournament Thursday on your #1 Country 92.1 with Toney Stowers and Greg Revels:

1:30 Airtime/ 1:45 scheduled tip-off in the boys consolation final between De Queen and Genoa Central.

4:00 Airtime/4:15 scheduled tip-off in the boys championship between Legacy Academy and Horatio.

Immediately following at around 5:30, girls championship between De Queen and Gurdon.

Ethan Gallagher posts season high during Wednesday basketball action in Genoa    12/29/22

GENOA – Legacy Academy’s senior boys advanced through Round two of the Genoa Classic Tournament by defeating the Spring Hill Bears in a nail biter finish.

The Warriors came on strong out the gate outscoring the Bears 17-9 in the first period. The Bears warmed up in the second period and answered by outscoring the Warriors 22-14. This sent the teams to the locker room tied 31-31 at the half. The remainder of the game was just as close with the Bears outscoring the Warriors 21-20 in the third quarter. Throughout the fourth quarter the teams exchanged the lead but with two minutes to go in the game the Bears took their largest lead of the contest by 5 points.

With 36 seconds left in the game Ethan Gallagher blocked a shot, took the ball and sprinted the court to tie the game 69-69. After a missed shot in the next possession by the Bears, Gallagher secured a critical defensive rebound and passed the ball down the floor. With 10 seconds to go #11 Eli Mitchell provided the Lockesburg team their winning basket. 

Gallagher scored his season high of 49 points for the Warriors and provided 19 rebounds, while Eli Mitchell gave 14 points and 5 rebounds. Manolo Vazquez gave the Warriors 7 rebounds. #11 McGuire led Spring Hill’s scoring with 22 points. Legacy will play in the championship game on Thursday at 4:15pm. To reach the championship they defeated De Queen before beating Spring Hill.

In a tournament upset Horatio came out of the consolation bracket defeating Genoa Central. Legacy and Horatio will face off in the championship.

De Queen will play Genoa Central in the consolation bracket for the third place title.

 
Hochatown elects initial town trustees     12/28/22
 
HOCHATOWN, Okla.- Organizers behind the area’s newest municipality are beginning to put the “town” in Hochatown.

On Tuesday, Dec. 20, local Hochatown residents gathered at Chapel of the Pines Church for a Town Meeting to elect the newly incorporated town’s first Trustees and Town Officers.

A total of 75 residents cast ballots during the two-hour meeting, which was  conducted by attorney Lizbeth George and presiding officer Chad Sargent, utilizing guidelines  defined by the Oklahoma Town Meeting Act. 

Open nominations yielded 13 eligible candidates for the five trustee seats, as well as one  candidate each for the positions of Town Clerk and Town Treasurer. Because the nominees for  Clerk and Treasurer were both unopposed, those two seats were filled by default. Helen  Harden was confirmed as Town Clerk alongside Charles Ward as Town Treasurer. Following  these declarations, the 75 residents in attendance submitted secret ballots with the names of  the five candidates that each voter preferred for the Town Trustee positions.

After the ballots  were counted and audited, it was determined that Chad Sargent, Dian Jordan, Todd McDaniel,  Howard Haggard and Janet Cress will serve as the initial Hochatown Town Trustees. All seats  filled during the town meeting will serve unexpired terms until the first official municipal  election is held on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023.

The first meeting of the newly elected town trust is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.  A public notice announcing the location, time and agenda of the first meeting will be  distributed as soon as that information is available. 

Hochatown trustees:

Town Clerk Helen Harden 

Town Treasurer Charles Ward 

Town Trustee # 1 Chad Sargent 

Town Trustee # 2 Dian Jordan 

Town Trustee # 3 Todd McDaniel 

Town Trustee # 4 Howard Haggard 

Town Trustee # 5 Janet Cress

Leopards, Lady Leopards split wins at Genoa Classic     12/28/22

GENOA – The De Queen senior teams split first round contests Tuesday in the Genoa Central Holiday Classic in action heard live on your #1 Country 92.1. The Lady Leopards turned back Nevada County 62-49, while the Leopards fell to Legacy Academy 50-43.

The Lady Leopards led the Nevada County Lady Bluejays 15-14 with time winding down in the opening quarter. Lorel Morphew connected on a three-quarters court heave at the first quarter buzzer to spark an 18-0 run and the De Queen girls were never threatened the rest of the way as they posted the 62-49 win. Belle Lindsey, our McDonalds Player of the Night, poured in a season high 33 points. Lindsey also was credited with seven rebounds, four steals, a block, and an assist. Morphew and Dayton Newberry added 11 points each. The Lady Leopards, now 7 and 3 on the year, meet the Spring Hill Lady Bears in the semifinals Wednesday at 5:30. That contest can be heard on 102.1 The Good Path and on the KILX App.

In the boys contest, De Queen jumped out to a 14-6 lead, before running into serious foul trouble. The Leopards were whistled for 15 first half fouls and Legacy Academy used the free throw line to get back into the contest and the Warriors eventually upended the Leopards 50-43.

Cold shooting plagued the De Queen boys coming out of the Christmas break. Manny Hernandez led the Leopards with 15. Nathan Patterson added 12. Ethan Gallagher led all scorers for the Warriors with 18. Freshman Eli Mitchell scored 11, and Manolo Vazquez added nine. Legacy Academy improves to 15 and 2 on the season as the Warriors advance to the Genoa Central Tournament semifinals Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Leopards, now 3 and 6 on the year, battle the Gurdon Go Devils in the consolation bracket Wednesday morning at 11:15. Airtime with Toney Stowers and Greg Revels is set for 11:00 on 102.1 The Good Path and on the KILX App.

Legacy Warriors perfect record against Sevier County teams     12/28/22

GENOA – Legacy Academy perfected their record today against Sevier County schools by defeating the De Queen Leopards in senior boys’ basketball action in the first round of the Genoa Christmas Classic tournament. The Leopards fell to the neighboring private school from Lockesburg 50-43. It was the first time the school’s have played each other. Legacy advances to play Springhill in the next round, while the Leopards move to the Consolation bracket and face Gurdon. All three of Sevier County’s high schools are in the tournament and played today. Horatio lost to Springhill Tuesday afternoon and also moves to the consolation bracket. 

De Queen started the game strong. After winning the jump ball, The Leopards outscored the Lockesburg club 11-6 in the first period. The Warriors found their stride in the second period where they nearly doubled the Leopards in scoring by putting 19 points on the board to De Queen’s 10. Legacy led at the half by four points with a score of 25-21. Legacy maintained their lead after the half but saw it cut down to three points. At the beginning of the fourth the Leopards tied the game temporarily but Legacy never let up and retook the lead and won by seven with a final score of 50-43. 

Legacy’s Ethan Gallagher was the high scorer out of both Sevier County teams and led with rebounds. He had 18 points and 24 rebounds for a double-double. Eli Mitchell gave the Warriors 11 points and 8 rebounds, followed by 9 points from Manolo Vazquez, and 7 from Ozzy Tolendano. Layne Schroer helped the Warriors out with 12 rebounds and 5 points. 

Manny Hernandez led scoring for the Leopards with 15 points, while Nathan Patterson had 12, and Cooper young 7. Patterson led the Leopards in rebounding with 9 boards. 

Law enforcement agencies launch campaign against New Year drunk driving     12/28/22

Police agencies in Arkansas are partnering with the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind drivers of the dangers of drinking and driving, especially during the upcoming New Year’s holiday

The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign is an initiative where drivers are more likely to see a heavier police presence as they drive during the holidays. According to NHTSA, this is because there is often a rise in drunk-driving deaths during the Christmas and New Years’ holiday period.

NHTSA data from 2020 shows that there have been:

  • 209 drunk-driving related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods in 202
  • 851 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes in December of 2020
  • 11,654 people killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020

Authorties are also reminding drivers that “even buzzed driving is drunk driving” and that drivers should designate a sober driver before participating in holidays and seasonal festivities. 

Law enforcement agencies have suggested the following tips for holiday driving:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use a ride service, or call a taxi or a sober friend to get home safely.
  • If available, use your community’s sober ride programs like Uber and Lyft.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact your local police department.
  • If you have a friend who is about to drink and drive, take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.

Local New Year’s closings     12/28/22

DE QUEEN – Christmas is over this year but the holiday season continues with the celebration of the new year this weekend. New Year’s Day is Sunday, Jan. 1.

Area government offices as well as some banks and businesses will be closed in observance of the New Year’s holiday. That includes the Sevier County Courthouse and landfill, the Little River Courthouse and city halls in both Ashdown and De Queen. These offices are expected to reopen to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Residents of the City of De Queen are reminded the municipal trash schedule for the week of Jan. 2 will be as follows:

Monday will be picked up on Tuesday;

Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday;

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The Sevier County Water Association will be closed Jan. 2 to observe the holiday, as will we here at Your Number One Country Studios.

 
MCSO seeks public help in missing person cold case     12/27/22
 
Eric Haley has not been seen since July 31.

IDABEL, Okla. – The McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office is renewing an appeal to the public for its assistance in located a McCurtain County man missing since the summer.
The sheriff’s office said it is still seeking the whereabouts of, or any information relating to, Eric Haley. Haley was last seen leaving Catfish King in Idabel, Okla., on July 31.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office said foul play is suspected in his disappearance.

Anyone with information on Haley’s whereabouts is asked to contact the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office by calling (580) 286-3331.

 
De Queen Lions Club provides eyeglasses to children in need     12/27/22

DE QUEEN – Local school officials are reminding parents who might need a little help this time of year that one local group is helping to make a difference by providing eyeglasses for children.

The De Queen Lions Club hosts several community causes in Sevier County, and few as longstanding as purchasing new eyeglasses for local children in need. Parents can receive some help by filling out a simple one-page application form. If parents and their child qualifies, the Lion’s Club will gladly fulfill the need by purchasing a pair of eyeglasses for the child. The glasses are provided at absolutely no cost.

Parents can utilize the program by contacting the school nurses office at either De Queen or Horatio Public Schools.

Closures for New Year’s holiday     12/27/22

DE QUEEN – Christmas is over this year but the holiday season continues with the celebration of the new year this weekend. New Year’s Day is Sunday, Jan. 1.

Area government offices as well as some banks and businesses will be closed in observance of the New Year’s holiday. That includes the Sevier County Courthouse and landfill, the Little River Courthouse and city halls in both Ashdown and De Queen. These offices are expected to reopen to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Residents of the City of De Queen are reminded the municipal trash schedule for the week of Jan. 2 will be as follows:

Monday will be picked up on Tuesday;

Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday;

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The Sevier County Water Association will be closed Jan. 2 to observe the holiday, as will we here at Your Number One Country Studios.

Turn that old Christmas tree into a new habitat for fish     12/27/22

Once the wrapping paper has been thrown away and the last drop of eggnog has been consumed, few people have a use for that evergreen tree that graced their home during the holiday season. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a new job for those leftover trees: fish habitat.

The AGFC has drop-off locations across the state to let your old Christmas tree have a second life as underwater cover. The small spaces and dense cover offered by fresh Christmas trees make excellent nursery habitat for small fish as well as great places to fish.

Anglers are welcome to remove trees from drop-off locations to create their own fish attractors. Tying the trees to cinder blocks with parachute cord is a popular option to weigh the trees down. Sandbags also are a popular option. By the time the bags and cord deteriorate, the trees will be waterlogged and no longer need the weight to stay on the bottom.

The small branches will deteriorate quickly, so it’s best to sink the trees in groups. The trunks of the trees will last much longer, offering some woody cover long after a single tree’s attractiveness wanes.

Trees should be clean of all ornaments, lights and tinsel before they are dropped off. Artificial Christmas trees should not be used as fish habitat, either.

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

Southwest Arkansas

Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point

Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area

De Queen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

 
Arkansas Cooperative members asked to limit energy use     12/24/22
 
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas ask members to immediately limit the use of electric service through the next 24 hours to ensure that members will continue to receive at least a minimum of electric service. Additional appeals may be necessary.

According to Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, this is an emergency situation and that rolling electrical outages are possible, unless electric consumption is reduced immediately. He said because of the extremely cold weather and the unusually high requirement for electricity, Arkansas’ electric cooperatives and other regional utilities have reached a point where demand for electricity has exceeded the supply. The central and eastern areas of Arkansas are particularly impacted at the current time, and it is possible conditions may worsen statewide.
This is an unprecedented time, and we urge electric cooperative members to immediately reduce the use of electrical requirements by turning off or not using non-essential lights and electric appliances, especially electric water heaters, clothes dryers, and dishwashers and to turn heating thermostats to lower settings,” he said.
Lachowsky emphasized that public cooperation is essential until the electric power issue has passed. If reductions are not sufficient to permit continuity of service, it may be necessary to begin temporary interruptions of electric service in specific areas across the state.

Cooperative representatives are also directly contacting large industrial and commercial members asking their cooperation as well. The interconnections of electric systems frequently make it possible for one system to secure additional electricity from neighboring systems. However, the present extreme cold weather is widespread in this region, making additional electric power very limited. Thus, conservation of energy is important to help insure a restoration of complete electric service. The cooperatives will continue to keep the public advised of further developments concerning cutbacks of electric power.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides various services to the distribution cooperatives; and AECC, a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to more than 600,000 members, or customers, in Arkansas and surrounding states.

 
Lockesburg Methodist open to those who lose heat, power during subfreezing weather     12/22/22

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg Methodist Church has announced that it will offer a warm place to stay for those in the area who lose heat or power during the approaching subfreezing cold front.

The church will open its Jackson Culp Fellowship Hall over the coming days and into the holiday weekend for anyone suffering from loss of heating or power. Temperatures are expected to drop as low as five degrees Thursday night – and -12 with the windchill – so access to a warm place to stay will be vital.

Anyone seeking shelter over the next several days is asked to contact Sandra or Bruce Jackson by calling (870) 584-8177 or (870) 582-2471.

Build some habitat for the holidays     12/24/22

Once the wrapping paper has been thrown away and the last drop of eggnog has been consumed, few people have a use for that evergreen tree that graced their home during the holiday season. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a new job for those leftover trees: fish habitat.

The AGFC has drop-off locations across the state to let your old Christmas tree have a second life as underwater cover. The small spaces and dense cover offered by fresh Christmas trees make excellent nursery habitat for small fish as well as great places to fish.

Anglers are welcome to remove trees from drop-off locations to create their own fish attractors. Tying the trees to cinder blocks with parachute cord is a popular option to weigh the trees down. Sandbags also are a popular option. By the time the bags and cord deteriorate, the trees will be waterlogged and no longer need the weight to stay on the bottom.

The small branches will deteriorate quickly, so it’s best to sink the trees in groups. The trunks of the trees will last much longer, offering some woody cover long after a single tree’s attractiveness wanes.

Trees should be clean of all ornaments, lights and tinsel before they are dropped off. Artificial Christmas trees should not be used as fish habitat, either.

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

Southwest Arkansas

Millwood Lake – Cottonshed, White Cliffs Recreation Areas and the Millwood State Park ramp on the point

Dierks Lake – Jefferson Ridge South Recreation Area

De Queen Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

Gillham Lake – Any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers boat ramp

Track Santa this Christmas with help from NORAD!     12/24/22

He’s making a list and checking it twice. 

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus and his reindeer have a busy night of delivering presents to children all over the world. 

But when will Santa reach the United States, and when will he fly over your state or neighborhood? You can use several popular Santa trackers this year, including ones from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and Google, to keep up with Saint Nick’s journey as he travels from the North Pole. 

If you want to estimate when exactly you should leave out milk and Christmas cookies, here’s what you need to know. 

To estimate when exactly you should leave out milk and Christmas cookies, here’s what you need to know. 

NORAD has been tracking Santa Claus every year since 1958. But NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command started tracking him in 1955.  

The organization says it uses radar, satellites and jet fighters to follow Santa’s route. Though they don’t know exactly when Santa will arrive at your home, he starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west, going to the South Pacific, then to Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America.  

NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots,” NORAD confirms on its website.  

Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum,” they add.  

The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center will be “fully operational” at 4 a.m. MST on Christmas Eve, with approximately 750 Canadian and American military personnel and civilians volunteering to spread Santa’s cheer. You can visit their website to keep up with Santa, or you can call a volunteer at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado. 

  • Amazon Alexa customers can also use the NORAD Tracks Santa Skill, which allows users to ask “Alexa, where’s Santa?” 

Check out NOARD’s Santa Tracker here:

www.noradsanta.org/en/index.html

 
City of De Queen asks residents to follow a few tips ahead of subfreezing temps     12/22/22
 
It’s about to get cold in Southwest Arkansas – real cold. The National Weather Service said the mercury will drop to four degrees Thursday night, and as low as -8 with the windchill. De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown is asking everyone to help prevent frozen water lines by following a few simple tips. Most importantly: leave some water running during those subfreezing temps.

DE QUEEN – The listening area is about to see the coldest temperatures it has received all year and officials with the City of De Queen are asking everyone to take a few steps to ensure Christmas doesn’t come and go with messy and costly repairs from burst water lines.
As of Thursday morning, the National Weather Service is expecting the thermometer to drop down to a frigid five degrees Thursday night. That’s not counting the windchill, which could cause that value to drop as low a bone-chilling negative 12 degrees. That’s right, -12 degrees.
Southwest Arkansas hasn’t seen temperatures that cold since February of 2021, when up to a whopping foot of snow fell in the region. It also brought temperatures as low as negative five. Those subfreezing temperatures were extremely rough on local water services that are prone to frozen lines, said De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown.

That was the last time we had temperatures like this and it did a number on the city’s water system,” said Brown. “It wasn’t the city’s lines, it was houses and we had never seen that before. Think of it this way, the biggest line in the city is a 12-inch main. We had around a hundred houses, all with 1-inch lines, have busted lines because they froze up. That means we were losing water out of the equivalent of a 100-inch water main. We were losing water faster than we could make it.”

The City of De Queen is stressing that everyone help prevent a repeat of 2021 by following a few simple steps. That includes ensuring your house is heated, covering up those outside faucets and, most vitally, leaving some water dripping from your inside faucets.

We’re trying to get the word out to cover up those outside faucets. If your house is a pier and beam house, try and cover up those open spaces to protect the lines under your house,” Brown added. “Leave some water dripping. At my house, I leave a small stream running in the kitchen and in the bathroom. Our water is not real expensive in De Queen. I would rather pay an extra $10 on my water bill than pay a $250 plumbing bill.”

Allowing faucets to drip during below-zero temperatures will help prevent lines from freezing. A dripping faucet will also help prevent lines from bursting due to excessive pressure if they do freeze. It’s a simple step that can save hundreds or thousands in messy and costly repairs.

Brown said city crews are nonetheless ready and waiting to help any city resident who experiences a burst water line over the next few days. Anyone who needs their water shut off during the holiday weekend can contact the City of De Queen’s emergency water department phone number by calling (870) 584-7891.

It’s Christmas weekend, but we’re going to be at the ready to help in an emergency,” said Brown. “If you need to call to get your water shut off, call that emergency number. Somebody will answer and get that shut off. I got the water department, sewer, street, police and fire ready to help during this weather. Just please do what ever you can do to help prevent those frozen lines in the first place.”

It’s also absolutely vital during this period of subfreezing temperatures to ensure outside animals have a warm place to shelter and access to ice-free sources of water. Cold-sensitive plants will also need to be brought indoors or otherwise protected from the potentially damaging temperatures.

It may not look like Christmas this weekend, with no wintry precipitation expected this weekend, but it’s going to feel a lot like it. The cold front coming in Thursday morning will see the mercury drop quickly and those colder temperatures will stick around for a few days. Temperatures will remain below the freezing point throughout all of Friday and Saturday’s high is only expected to be 33 degrees. Things will begin to warm up slightly on Sunday – Christmas Day – with a high of 42. Highs will gradually increase through next week but lows will remain well below the freezing point.

But expect it to be literally freezing the next couple of days. Currently, the National Weather Service has issued a Hard Freeze Watch in effect through noon on Christmas Eve. A Wind Chill Watch is also in effect for the listening area through 6 p.m. Friday night.

Again, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to run a little water from your faucets over the next couple of days to help keep your water lines from freezing. It’s a very simple precaution that can save thousands and thousands of dollars in costly and messy repairs.

Lockesburg Methodist open to those who lose heat, power during subfreezing weather     12/22/22

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg Methodist Church has announced that it will offer a warm place to stay for those in the area who lose heat or power during the approaching subfreezing cold front.

The church will open its Jackson Culp Fellowship Hall over the coming days and into the holiday weekend for anyone suffering from loss of heating or power. Temperatures are expected to drop as low as five degrees Thursday night – and -12 with the windchill – so access to a warm place to stay will be vital.

Anyone seeking shelter over the next several days is asked to contact Sandra or Bruce Jackson by calling (870) 584-8177 or (870) 582-2471.

De Queen Public Schools issues statement in regard to approaching weather     12/22/22

DE QUEEN – Area school districts are issuing statements on weather conditions for the rest of the week in relation to bus schedules.

The De Queen School District issued the following statement on Wednesday:

Starting Thursday, an arctic blast will bring the coldest temperatures we have experienced in several years. While there is a small chance of winter precipitation, the biggest concern will be the extreme cold with windchills below zero expected for Friday morning and in the single digits for Friday afternoon.

Our regular bus routes will be running, but we have directed our bus drivers to take extra time at each stop so that students can stay indoors as long as possible. As a result, buses may be running a few minutes behind normal stop times. Please ensure that your children have plenty of warm clothing and we encourage you to keep them indoors until the bus arrives.”

Arkansas State Parks introduces Club 52 program     12/22/22

Arkansas State Parks is introducing Club 52, a rewards program that encourages people to visit all 52 state parks. Club 52 is an extension of the Arkansas State Parks Passport Program, which helps guests document trips to state parks by receiving a stamp (or stamp rubbing) in an Arkansas State Parks Passport. Club 52 members get their passports stamped when they visit a state park and earn rewards for visits of five parks, 25 parks and 52 parks.
 
Club 52 is free and open to anyone who wants to “Get Out to Get In,” as the program’s slogan states.
 
Club 52 is a fun way to explore Arkansas state parks and make your own adventure,” said Shea Lewis, director of Arkansas State Parks. “Whether you have been to a park before or this is your first visit, Club 52 gives you another way to mark your journey.”
 
A free passport can be picked up at an Arkansas State Park visitor center. Passports can be stamped at a visitor center, or a rubbing of the stamp can be made in parks where there is not a visitor center. To redeem rewards, Club 52 members can take their passport to an Arkansas state park visitor center during normal business hours (call before) and have staff check their passport stamps.
 
With five park stamps, guests receive a Club 52 sticker. With 25 park stamps, the reward is a set of Club 52 playing cards. Those who collect 52 park stamps receive a Club 52 T-shirt. Stickers and playing cards can be redeemed immediately. T-shirts will be ordered and mailed to the member. Stamps must all be in one Arkansas State Parks passport and cannot be combined in different passports.
 
There is something for everyone to experience at our state parks,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “Club 52 gives an extra incentive to discover something special at each park while making memories to last a lifetime.”
 
Arkansas State Parks encourages Club 52 members to share the excitement of their journey by uploading photos and videos at ArkansasStateParks.com/passport and on social media using the hashtag #ARStateParks.

Celebrate the New Year with a First Day Hike Jan. 1     12/21/22

Arkansas State Parks is encouraging Arkansans to start the new year on the right foot with First Day Hikes on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023. Led by America’s State Parks, First Day Hikes encourage everyone to celebrate the new year with time spent outdoors, focusing on healthy habits and lifelong memories.

This nationwide annual tradition targets the first of January and the start of a new year to promote year-round recreation and healthy lifestyles that can be experienced locally in state parks.

For KDQN News Director Patrick Massey, the First Day Hike has become a family tradition. He wants personally to join the Arkansas State Park system in inviting more families to join in and inaugurate the new year by exploring one of the many wonderful natural attractions our great state has to offer.

Visitors to Arkansas State Parks can participate in the initiative by taking a self-guided hike or going on a ranger-led hike on the first day of the year or “First Weekend” (Dec. 31- Jan.2). Participants can get a free sticker commemorating Arkansas State Parks’

centennial this year in one of two ways: going on a guided hike at a state park on Jan. 1 and receiving the sticker from the park or completing a self-guided hike at a state park and logging their miles at ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes.

Visitors can find scheduled guided hikes, tips to recreate responsibly, what to bring and how to share your First Day Hike photos and/or videos at ArkansasStateParks.com/FirstDayHikes.

Cossatot River State Park, located just up the road from De Queen, will have a 2-mile hike on the Harris Creek Trail, from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 1 Queen Wilhelmina State Park, a little further up Highway 71 and just outside of Mena, will have two different hikes. The first will be the 1-mile hike on the Spring Trail from 10-11 a.m. The second will be the 1.3 mile Lover’s Leap hike from 2-3:30 p.m. This is a gorgeous trail. It’s short but challenging, and will definitely be worth the effort.

Participants can also use #ARStateParks and #FirstDayHikes to share on social media.

Please note, a few park locations are closed on the Jan. 1 holiday but will reopen on Jan. 2.

Dam removal near Dierks Lake opens new opportunity for fish potential on Saline River     12/21/22

Dams have been instrumental in infrastructure development in our area, from flood control to water resources to simply allowing easier travel over riverways.

However, ccording to Tim Burnley, Stream Habitat Program supervisor for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, it’s not good news for all Arkansans. And specifically our water-based residents. Many manmade low-water crossings, bridges and dams can impede the movements of fish to spawning areas, especially smaller fish species. Thanks to a partnership with Weyerhaeuser, one such dilapidated low-water crossing was removed to help promote fish movement and improve safety for recreational floaters and anglers in southwest Arkansas.

The crossing, which was on the Saline River below Dierks Lake, not only presented dangers to those on the water, but was in such poor condition it was unsafe for vehicular traffic as well. The blockage caused by the structure also caused a major restriction for stream species along that stretch of the river and the feeder creeks to it in the watershed upstream.

Thanks to an EPA-319 grant through the Natural Resources Division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, we were able to remove this crossing that acted as a dam and rehabilitate the banks on either side,” Burnley said.

Native shrubs and trees were planted and riprap was placed to prevent shoreline erosion along the old roadbed and restore the riparian area.

As part of this grant, all potential fish passage barriers in the Lower Little River watershed will be surveyed and prioritized, and at least three additional barriers will be removed,” Burnley said. “Weyerhaeuser’s Southern Environmental Team was able to visit the construction site. They also visited several other barriers in the watershed and watched as a barrier survey was conducted leading to a productive discussion. Projects and partnerships like this one are vital to conserving our waters and protecting our native species for years to come.”

The barrier removal opened up at least 25 river miles of connected habitat below Dierks Lake to native aquatic species, and many more miles can be restored through continued work on the watershed.

 
International child abuse investigation leads to arrest of SWAR man     12/20/22
 
DE QUEEN – An international investigation into a child pornography case has resulted in the arrest of a Southwest Arkansas man accused of sexually assaulting a child and distributing the act on film.
According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, investigators with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security contacted members of the Howard County Sheriff’s Office in late November in reference to a case originally investigated in London, England. In that case, a suspect had been arrested in London on charges related to possession of child pornography.
Agents with Homeland Security were reportedly able to identify a potential victim in that video as a resident of Southwest Arkansas. During questioning of the potential victim, investigators say they were able to determine the individual was not the victim but rather the perpetrator of the illicit act and material.

Authorities then placed the suspect under arrest and identified him as 20-year-old Marcus Wester. Although Wester was stated as a resident of Nashville, court records show him residing in Horatio. It was at a home in Horatio where Wester was arrested by local authorities before being transported to the Sevier County Jail.

The arrest affidavit states Wester admitted to sexually abusing an underage male on numerous occasions at various residences in Sevier, Howard and Polk Counties. He then allegedly sent recordings of the acts to the suspect arrested in London, England, through his Playstation 4.

A rape charge was filed against Wester in the Sevier County Circuit Court on Dec. 13. Upon a conviction, the Class Y felony carries a sentence of 25-40 years, or life imprisonment.

Wester is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on April 6, 2023.

In a statement regarding this case, Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry said those who commit acts of abuse against children will be found and prosecuted. He also praised the law enforcement agencies that worked together during the investigation and arrest.

Listening area set to receive some bonechilling, subfreezing temps     12/20/22

DE QUEEN – The listening area is bracing for a chilly lead up to Christmas Day this weekend. That’s because it’s about to get cold. Really cold.

In fact, the National Weather Service is expecting the thermometer to hit its coldest point of the year this week. That’s thanks to a strong cold front entering Arkansas on Thursday that will see temperatures drop to the single digits.

Forecasters predict a low of just four degrees Thursday night. It’s been a wet and warmer-than average December, but that will come to a quick end just a day after the official start of winter on Dec. 21. The cold front is expected to move so quickly that Thursday will begin with a high of 40 degrees before dropping to less than half that by the afternoon.

Thursday night’s low of four degrees will be a blisteringly cold one. Temperatures are expected to gradually raise in the following days and into next week, but the region can expect a few days without above-freezing temperatures. Christmas Day will see a high of just 37 degrees.

It’s absolutely vital during this period of subfreezing temperatures to ensure outside animals have a warm place to shelter and access to ice-free sources of water. Cold-sensitive plants will also need to be brought indoors or otherwise protected from the potentially damaging temperatures.

In addition, it’s important that steps are taken to prevent freezing and possible bursting of water lines. Exposed pipes should be wrapped, drained or allowed to drip slowly if a faucet is attached. In-ground sprinkler systems should be drained and above-ground pipes covered to protect them from freezing.

Most importantly, allow water to drip from inside faucets, especially the faucet furthest from the home’s supply point. Allowing faucets to drip during below-zero temperatures will help prevent lines from freezing. A dripping faucet will also help prevent lines from bursting due to excessive pressure if they do freeze. It’s a simple step that can save thousands in messy and costly repairs.

Homes with pipes prone to freezing should also open cabinet doors to allow heat to access portions of the home’s water lines. 

Join the Brew Crew for Classic Chevy Christmas Open House in Ashdown today     12/20/22

ASHDOWN – Come join us, the Morning Brew Crew from here on KDQN Live as we help celebrate the Christmas Open House for the brand new Classic Chevrolet in Ashdown.

Festivities kick off at 12 noon and continue through 6 p.m. tonight at Classic Chevrolet, located at 640 S. Constitution Avenue in Ashdown.

We’ll be there from 1-3 p.m. with the Number One Country Treasure Chest quite filled with cash and prizes. Santa is expected to come by between 3-6 to meet with kiddos. Other events include tours of the new dealership and its services, complimentary food and giveaways. So again, make sure to come on by from 12-6 p.m. today to help welcome the new Classic Chevrolet in Ashdown.

 
SCMC awarded $6.25 million in assistance through ARPA     12/16/22
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center is set to receive a significant boost to its operating capital after a state legislative committee provided final approval for a $6.25 million grant for the new hospital on Friday.
The Arkansas Legislative Council met Friday morning to discuss a number of state projects seeking financial assistance from the federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA). One of those items was the $6.25 million in assistance funds for the opening of Sevier County’s new hospital.
ARPA was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2021 to provide emergency grants, lending and investment to entities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds provided to the hospital will not have to be paid back.

Despite objections raised during a subcommittee meeting held earlier last week, legislators approved the assistance package for the Sevier County Medical Center (SCMC). Two state senators raised issue over the way in which requests for ARPA funds reached the state’s steering committee. Arkansas Senators Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) and Sen. Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) said a better system was needed to determine how ARPA funds should be allocated.

Nonetheless, the full legislative council approved the SCMC’s $6.25 million request Friday morning. The assistance totals right at a quarter of the entire cost to build the $24 million hospital. The request was initially forwarded through the Arkansas Department of Commerce.

State Senator Jimmy Hickey, Jr., and State Rep. DeAnn Vaught advocated for the assistance funding and were vital in securing its approval on Friday.

Hospital officials told lawmakers the funds would be used to pay for equipment vital to the services the SCMC will offer. On Monday hospital officials told the PEER subcommittee that, without those funds, initial SCMC services would be limited unless additional money is borrowed.

LRCO murder suspect to receive mental evaluation ahead of trial     12/16/22
 

ASHDOWN – A Little River County man suspected of killing his girlfriend’s son during an altercation earlier this year has been ordered to undergo a competency test to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

According to court records, 65-year-old Walter Duermit, Jr. will undergo the competency test following a motion filed this month and approved by the Little River Circuit Court. The motion was filed by Duermit’s attorny, Clayton Tinkes of Ashdown.

Duermit was scheduled to stand before a jury trial this month but that has been postponed pending the results of the test.

Duermit was charged with first-degree murder following an incident on July 26 of this year. That night Little River County deputies were dispatched to a residence on Little River County Road 170 after receiving a report about a fatal shooting in the home. Dispatchers were informed by a woman on the phone that her boyfriend had shot and killed her son.

When deputies arrived they secured the scene and identified the boyfriend as 65-year-old Walter Duermit. The victim, 37-year-old Joshua Yeager, was found deceased inside the home.

Duermit was then arrested for the offense of murder and taken to the Little River County Jail.

The arrest affidavit states Duermit allegedly admitted to shooting Yeager following an altercation at the home. Duermit reportedly told investigators that Yeager was unarmed when he retrieved a gun and shot Yeager once.

Upon a conviction, the Class Y felony offense of first-degree murder carries a sentence of 10 to 40 years or life imprisonment.

Arkansans urged to complete broadband survey     12/16/22
The Arkansas State Broadband Office is urging all Arkansans to verify the newly published federal broadband map.

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new national broadband map showing high-speed internet availability across the country. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will use this new map to guide the distribution of funding for building broadband infrastructure through the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. To make sure that Arkansas receives its maximum available funding, and that funding reaches areas of the state that need broadband the most, all Arkansas residents and businesses are being asked to visit the new map and verify the information is correct.

The three-step process is simple:

  1. Visit broadbandmap.fcc.gov and type in your address.
  2. Verify your address’ location. If it’s wrong, submit a location challenge.
  3. Validate your available internet speeds. If it’s wrong, submit an availability challenge.

By taking these three steps, Arkansans can do their part to help get funding to the areas that most need broadband infrastructure. Residents and businesses are strongly encouraged to submit their challenges by Friday, January 13, 2023.

This local mapping verification effort is important as the state moves into its next phase of broadband infrastructure buildout, beginning next year,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “Not only does this process impact the amount of funding Arkansas may receive, but it may also impact which areas of the state remain eligible for funding.”

While the new federal map is similar to previous broadband availability maps, there are several important differences. Previous maps used Census blocks, but this new map uses address-level data, which provides a more specific and accurate look at broadband availability. The new map also offers a way to verify the data through the challenge process.

This is an opportunity for local communities to be empowered and have a voice in national and state broadband mapping efforts,” said Glen Howie, State Broadband Director. “Any Arkansan who is unsatisfied with the availability or quality of their internet service should challenge the new federal broadband map as soon as possible. The time to act is now.”

The NTIA will use the new federal map to determine state funding allocations for the BEAD program by June 30, 2023. All challenges must be submitted by January 13, 2023, to impact the distribution of BEAD funding.

After verifying or challenging the information listed on the new federal map, residents and businesses can help in this effort by spreading the word about this map and helping others to complete this process. The more who participate, the more input the FCC has to create an accurate and reliable map to direct funding.

For additional information and direction regarding the challenge process, residents and businesses are encouraged to visit broadband.arkansas.gov/verify.

Lady Leopards runners-up in Nashville Bankers Classic basketball tourney     12/16/22

NASHVILLE – The De Queen Lady Leopards were defeated by the Acorn Lady Tigers Saturday 43-38 in the championship contest of the Nashville Banker’s Classic senior tournament.

Acorn jumped out to a 15-10 lead after the opening quarter, and never relinquished the lead. De Queen was plagued by cold shooting as the Lady Leopards connected on only 28% of their shots from the floor. Meanwhile, Acorn shot a blistering 58%.

Lorel Morphew, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way with 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a blocked shot. Belle Lindsey added 12 points as the Lady Leopards fell to 6 and 3 on the season. Acorn also won the boys championship of the Nashville tournament, defeating Smackover 43-35.

The De Queen teams will resume action after Christmas on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at the Genoa Senior Tournament.

Sevier County, City of De Queen holiday closings schedule     12/16/22

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be closed on Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday  Dec. 26 for the Christmas Holidays.

 

The trash schedule for the week of the Dec. 19 will be as follows:

 

Monday and Tuesday will remain the same.

Thursday will be picked up on Wednesday.

Friday will be picked up on Thursday.

 

The trash schedule for the week of the Dec. 26 will be as follows:

 

Monday will be picked up on Tuesday.

Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

 

The Sevier County Courthouse will close at 12 noon this Thursday, Dec. 22 and remain closed until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27. The Sevier County Landfill will be closed this Friday and Saturday and will re-open to the public with regular hours on Monday, Dec. 26. All solid waste satellite stations will be closed this Saturday, Dec. 24 and re-open on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

The Sevier County Courthouse and landfill will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 2 in observance of New Years.

 
Lace Lane Festival of Lights is tonight     12/16/22
 

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

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

The Festival of Lights will be held tonight and tomorrow night from 6-8 p.m. both evenings. Everyone is invited to come see the lights, meet with Santa and take photos. There will be gifts for the kids as well.

Homeowners along Lace Lane put a tremendous amount of effort decorating in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It all started more than two decades ago when Thomas and Donna Sweeten began transforming their property into a dazzling array of Christmas lights and decorations. From a dragon in a pond to a full choir, a variety of nativity scenes and over 100 Santa figures, the scene is something everyone can enjoy.

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

If you can’t make it to the Festival of Lights on Dec. 16-17, no worries: the lights are up now and will be available for viewing through Christmas and the New Year.

Memorial Missionary Baptist Church hosting Christmas meal giveaway on Saturday     12/16/22

DE QUEEN – A De Queen church is gearing up to present its yearly effort to address food insecurity during the Christmas holiday season.

Memorial Missionary Baptist Church will host its annual Christmas meal giveaway this Saturday, Dec. 17 beginning at 11 a.m. The event will continue at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church until all meals are given away. The church is anticipating it will provide 450 meals ahead of Christmas this year.

Anyone in need of a meal is welcome to drive by and pick up a prepared plate on Dec. 17. Memorial Missionary Baptist Church is located at 802 E. Vandervoort Avenue in De Queen.

For more information, or for questions, contact Joanie at (870) 584-8275 or Mandy at (870) 584-6463.

Lady Leopards advance to Nashville Classic championship contest     12/16/22

The De Queen Lady Leopards went on a 20-4 second quarter run to open up a 40-18 halftime lead, and the De Queen girls cruised to a 63-35 victory over the Nashville junior varsity Thursday night in the semifinals of the Nashville Banker’s Classic. The Lady Leopards advance to the championship contest Saturday at 5:00.

Dayton Newberry, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Dayton sank all six of her free throw attempts. Belle Lindsey was also in double figures with 14. Laura May Harp added nine points. 

The De Queen girls, now 6 and 2 on the season will battle the 16 and 1 Acorn Lady Tigers for the Nashville Banker’s Classic championship Saturday at 5:00. Airtime with Toney Stowers, Greg Revels, and Joe Blaze Bush is set for 4:45 on 102.1 The Good Path and on the KILX App.

 
Progress moves forward on possible $6.25 million in hospital assistance     12/15/22
 
DE QUEEN – On Wednesday a legislative panel of the Arkansas House of Representatives signed off on a nearly $94 million package that would fund a number of project’s in the state, including a $6.25 million grant to assist the opening of the Sevier County Medical Center.
The plan, which would be funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, was initially submitted by the Arkansas Department of Commerce. A total of 14 grant proposals are included within in, mostly for broadband-related projects.
The funding request is awaiting final approval by the full Arkansas Legislative Council, which is set to convene this Friday.

If approved, the funds for the Sevier Couny Medical Center would be used to help the new hospital open, purchase equipment and operate in the months ahead.

The Sevier County Medical Center is not yet officially open to the public. Work remains on a number of final details, including communication systems within the hospital as well as some final licensure, documentation and inspection requirements. However, officials state the plan currently is to open the hospital’s doors by the end of the year.

Arkansas Attorney General honors 2022 Sevier County Officers of the Year     12/15/22

LITTLE ROCK – Congratulations to two local law enforcement officers named as the 2022 Officers of the Year for Sevier County through the office of Arkansas Attorney General.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge hosted the 20th annual Officer of the Year awards and recognition luncheon at the Benton Event Center, where she honored Arkansas State Police Corporal Ernesto Echevarria and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wildlife Officer Tyler Hill as the Sevier County Officers of the Year.

In a statement, she said both Corporal Echevarria and Wildlife Officer Hill are tireless servants who work to protect Arkansans. In addition, she said she could not be more grateful for their dedication as public servants in Sevier County.”

For the eighth consecutive year, Attorney General Rutledge has honored Officers of the Year from all 75 Arkansas counties, in addition to statewide and regional winners.

Alligator gar trophy permits available through Dec. 31    12/15/22

Anglers interested in hooking into Arkansas’s largest sport fish can apply for a 2023 Alligator Gar Trophy tag until Dec. 31.

Many Arkansas anglers travel all the way to the Gulf of Mexico each year in search of trophy fish like tarpon and sailfish. Most don’t know they are passing up a similar opportunity right here in The Natural State.

Alligator gar, the second largest species of freshwater fish in North America, occurs in many of Arkansas’s large rivers. The species frequently grow longer than 7 feet from tail to snout and can weigh more than 200 pounds. The largest fish ever caught in Arkansas was an alligator gar in the Red River that weighed 241 pounds, over 100 pounds more than the next largest Arkansas catch, a 116-pound blue catfish that once held a world record.

Although the species is much less prevalent than it historically occurred, big gar are still swimming in rivers throughout Arkansas and many other southern states. The largest alligator gar on record weighed an impressive 327 pounds and was caught in 2011 in Mississippi.

Anyone may fish for alligator gar on a catch-and-release basis , but a trophy tag (AGT) is required to keep an Alligator Gar longer than 36 inches. It takes decades for these fish to reach these trophy proportions, and harvest must be managed if the gar population is to remain healthy in Arkansas waters.

Interested anglers can enter the free online drawing through Dec. 31 for one of 200 Alligator Gar Trophy tags for the 2023 season. Applications are available under the “Fishing License” section of the AGFC’s online license system at https://ar-web.s3licensing.com.

The drawing will take place the first week of January 2023.  Applicants will be notified of the results by email.

Leopards Cross Country, Football athletes honored at sports banquet    12/15/22

DE QUEEN – A number of De Queen High School cross country athletes were honored this month during the teams annual Fall Sports Awards Ceremony.

Cross country honors were hosted by Coach Dennis Chaney and the Leopards Cross Country team.

Cross country awards include Jakrys Munoz, Rookie of the Year, and Jan Carlos Aguilar, All-state and Team First. Gustavo Garcia received All-Conference, All-State and Team First. Juan Madonado received All-Conference, All-State and Runner of the Year.

Randy Rodriguez was also named to All-Conference and All-State. William Peppers received All-Conference and most improved.

Other All-Conference runners on the Leopards team include Adrian Martinez, Jorge Delgado, Cruz Ortega and Rodrigo Garcia.

On the Lady Leopards team, Litzy Hernandez and Adriana Montiel were both named All-Conference and team First. Allyne Hernandez, Megan Buendia and Alexa Monroy were all named to the All-Conference team.

The 2022 Leopard Football Awards included All-Conference Honorable Mention and the Heart of a Leopard award to Garett Matthews.

Ulysses Coto was named an All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Tye Lindsey was named the Offense MVP while Trey Brown received Defensive MVP. Both were named to All-Conference alongside Micah Gibson, Cole Binkley, Jacob Olalde and Jonathan Bahena. Logan Chandler was named most improved.

Leopards out after loss against Acorn Wednesday night    12/15/22

NASHVILLE – The De Queen Leopards led after the opening quarter 14-12, before Acorn’s Tigers took control to post a 68-55 victory Wednesday night in the semifinals of the Nashville Banker’s Classic in action heard live on your #1 Country 92.1. 

Cooper Young, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led De Queen with 19 points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals. Nathan Patterson scored 13. Manny Hernandez added eight.

The Leopards fell to 3 and 5 on the season and are off until the Genoa Tournament after Christmas. 

Meanwhile, the Lady Leopards return to Nashville Thursday night to meet the Nashville junior varsity squad in the girls semifinals at 6:00. Airtime with Tony, Greg, and Joe Blaze is set for 5:45 on your #1 Country 92.1. 

 
Sevier County Quorum Court passes 2023 budget, sets meeting for interim county judge selection     12/13/22
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court passed the county’s 2023 operating budget on Monday, funding county operations for the next fiscal year.

The budget totals just over $12 million for 2023 and addresses a number of issues county officials say are important for the following year.

That includes an 8.5 percent pay increase for all county employees outside of the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and the Sevier County Jail. The decision was made to exclude sheriff’s office and jail employees from the countywide raise because of a mid-year, $2 per hour raise those employees received in 2022. Those employees will instead receive a three-percent cost of living adjustment.

The issue of higher wages for county employees has been one in the sphere of public discussion for months. Sandra Jackson, a concerned citizen who resides near Lockesburg, initially raised the issue earlier this year on behalf of a number of Sevier County citizens who felt county employees deserved better wages.

Justice Earl Battiest said it was that discussion, along with inflationary pressures and the higher wages offered through the private sector, that prompted the quorum court to approve the 8.5 percent pay increase. Battiest said county employees not only deserved the wage but needed it as well due to current economic factors in the nation. He also said sound financial stewardship on behalf of the quorum court and county departments over the years ensured the generous pay increase would not financially harm the county.

“Because we’ve been good stewards over the years, and our focus on leaving the county better off each year, it allows us to do things like this raise,” said Battiest. “With inflation, and the competitiveness of the private sector, this is something we had to do. It’s also a matter of telling county employees they deserve it. But they also need it given inflation. One of the questions everyone first asked is, can we afford it? And yes, because we’ve watched our money in the past, we can afford this and it’s not anything that’s going to hurt the county the next year, five years or 10 years down the road.”

Following Monday’s meeting of the quorum court, county employees are also set to receive a $600 bonus to be paid for through money remaining from the county’s American Recovery Plan Act allotment. This fund was established by President Joe Biden in 2021 to help local governments recover from the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Battiest and fellow Justice Angie Walker explained other expenditures in the 2023 budget would focus on updating and renovating existing county facilities, including the Sevier County Jail and Courthouse.

“We’re doing some upgrades at the jail and some upgrades to the sidewalks at the courthouse,” said Walker. “We also have a roof we’re replacing at another facility. To be honest, nothing spectacular, just normal county business.”

“The county is so big, and we have so many employees, that, with something like the jail, it’s not hard to spend $100,000,” said Battiest. “You can end up spending a lot of money just doing what you have to do so some things, like cosmetic improvements, have to come last on the list.”

Like many counties in the midst of a record period of inflation, Sevier County’s 2023 budget is a largely conservative one. Walker and Battiest said the budget focuses on necessary expenditures rather than new, costly capital projects.

“We craft that into our budget every year, to be conservative and leave the county in good shape each year so we’re not having to scrounge for pennies to meet the budget,” said Battiest.

“Our goal has always been to be fiscally responsible to the voters,” Walker added.

In other items of county business decided on Monday, the quorum court established an organizational meeting for Jan. 3 of next year to begin the process of choosing who will serve as the next interim county judge. That appointee will serve through the next four year term until the next countywide elections are held in 2026. The quorum court plans to fill the vacancy on Jan. 9, following the resignation of current interim county judge Dick Tallman.

The process of selecting an interim county judge was required following the passing of Sevier County Judge Greg Ray in late August.

Monday’s meeting also marked the last for several justices of the peace, including Earl Battiest and David Wright. Both were defeated in the recent election by challengers Michael Barnes and Callie Miller, respectively. Outgoing justices also include Marilyn Archer and Evelyn Keels. Both were appointed by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2021 following the passings of their husbands and long-standing Sevier County justices of the peace Michael Archer and Charles Keels.

The two other new justices of the peace will include Scotty Morris and Walter Smith. Both ran unopposed during the 2022 election and will serve on the quorum court positions held by Archer and Keels, respectively.

The meeting ended with gifts for the outgoing justices of the peace as well as a thanks from county officials for their service to Sevier County during their time on the quorum court.

Battiest took a moment following Monday’s meeting to share his thoughts on 14 years as a Sevier County justice of the peace.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege and I really appreciate the opportunity to do this all these years,” said Battiest.

“I have learned a lot and I have earned a deep respect and affection for the county and the county employees. I wish them all the very best and I thank everyone for working together, having great decorum and being able to come together and work together. Not that we’ve always agreed or didn’t butt heads, but to me that’s the way it’s supposed to be. In a democracy you don’t always agree on everything, but  you try to meet in the middle and compromise and try to agree on something. And we always did. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The new quorum court will officially take office on Jan. 1.

Trey Brown is 2022 Rotary Cup recipient    12/13/22
 
Trey Brown, pictured center alongside Leopards Head Football Coach Jarrod Fannin and his assistant coaches, was named the 2022 recipience of the De Queen Rotary Cup.

DE QUEEN – The Rotary Cup has been presented annually to the Most Valuable Senior on the De Queen Leopards football team since 1936. Past winners of the award represent top students and athletes spanning over eight decades at De Queen High School.

At Monday’s noon meeting of the club, “The Voice of the Leopards” Jay Bunyard presented the award for the 2022 season to linebacker/fullback Trey Brown. He’s the 87th all-time recipient of the Rotary Cup.

A co-captain on the team in 2022, Brown led the team in tackles with 92. For his career, he was credited with 174 tackles and 12 tackles for loss. He rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns this season. He was named to the All-5A South Conference first team as a junior and as a a senior.

Brown also excels in the classroom with a 3.50 grade point average, and made a 25 on the A.C.T. Test. He’s active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society, and serves as Vice President of the Show Choir, where he also received the Director’s Award. The son of Cliff and Kisandra Brown, Trey plans to go to college after graduation in May, and major in Computer Science and minor in business.

Besides performance on the football field, The Rotary Cup is also based on character, leadership, scholastic achievements, and participation in other school activities.

Leopards teams win both contests Monday night    12/13/22

DE QUEEN – The De Queen senior teams advanced with impressive opening round victories Monday night in the Nashville Banker’s Classic Senior Tournament. The Leopards edged Mineral Springs in overtime 63-60, while the Lady Leopards defeated Cossatot River 45-34.

The Leopards and Mineral Springs were tied at 52 at the end of regulation. The Leopards outscored the Hornets 11-8 in overtime to post the 63-60 victory. Manny Hernandez, our McDonalds Player of the Night, led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds. Cooper Young pitched in 16. Nathan Patterson, who missed the last three games with a foot injury, added ten points in his return to action. With the win, the De Queen boys improved to 3 and 4 on the season. The Leopards return to Nashville to meet the Acorn Tigers in semifinal action Wednesday at 8:45.

In the girls contest, De Queen jumped out to an 8-0 lead to set the tone and led coast-to-coast for the 45-34 victory over Cossatot River. Belle Lindsey led the Lady Leopards with 21. Allison Dockins chipped in with nine. Lorel Morphew added seven. For the Lady Eagles, Landri Richardson scored 16. The Lady Leopards, now 5 and 2 on the season, return to Nashville for the semifinals Thursday evening. Cossatot River’s girls fell to 6 and 7 on the year.

Cossatot River to send six to FCCLA state contest in 2023    12/13/22

WICKES – Six Cossatot River students will be advancing to the state FCCLA competition next year after receiving top honors at the regional contest this month.

On Dec. 7, at total of 10 Cossatot River High School FCCLA members presented projects at the Region 6 FCCLA STAR Events that took place at National Park College, in Hot Springs. Six of the members will be presenting their projects in April at the State STAR Events during the Arkansas FCCLA State Conference.

The results of Region 6 FCCLA STAR Events are as follows:

-Jennifer Arce received a Silver Medal for Interpersonal Communications

-Sabera Land received a Silver Medal for Career Investigations

-Mairany Marrufo received a Bronze Medal for Focus on Children Level 2

-Breonna Cecil and Johana Gutierrez received Bronze Medal for Chapter in Review Display

-Maria Salgado received Bronze Medal for Fashion Construction

-Lyniya Treadway and Elizabeth Turnbough received Bronze Medal for Focus on Children Level 3

-Montana Higgins received Bronze Medal for Repurpose and Redesign

-Alexis Brown received Bronze Medal for Entrepreneurship

Jennifer Arce, Sabera Land, Mairany Marrufo, Breonna Cecil, Johanna Gutierrez and Maria Salgado will be advancing to compete at the State STAR Events during the Arkansas FCCLA Conference in April.

 
New airport mural welcomes visitors to SWAR     12/12/22
 
Submitted by Suzanne Babb, Create Bridges and Tourism
Suzanne Babb, member of Create Bridges and Tourism, and airport board members Susan Fitzsimmons, Chief Scott Simmons, Dr. Randy Walker, and Judge Dick Tallman

If you are traveling down highway 70 west of town, you may notice something new at the J. Lynn Helms Sevier County Airport. Recently, a mural encouraging tourism in southwest Arkansas has been painted on one of their buildings. In the picture, a plane pulls a banner stating “Welcome to the destination hub of SW Arkansas” and it flies over a lake featuring a bass, a canoe, hills and to the side a canon, and a diamond.

Each of these elements represents points of interest for travelers to our area, from local lakes to diamond mines and historic sites. The mural is an invitation for folks to stay Sevier County and enjoy day trips in any direction from here.
The artwork was painted by Darlene Taylor, has been made possible by a grant through Create Bridges, an initiative for Sevier, Little River, and Howard counties aimed at strengthening the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors. Many thanks to the Airport board for allowing the use of their building to promote tourism for Sevier County.

Through the grant, another mural has been planned for the county, and should be in progress soon.

Portion of Mineral Road closed Monday for culvert replacement     12/12/22

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Judge Dick Tallman has informed us that a portion of Mineral Road west of Gillham will be closed from 9 this morning to four this afternoon for a culvert replacement. Anyone taking this road on their daily commute should consider another route.

De Queen teams split wins at Centerpoint    12/12/22

CENTERPOINT – The De Queen senior teams split on the road at Centerpoint Friday with the Lady Leopards posting a come-from-behind 41-35 victory, while the Leopards fell to the Knights in boys action 56-39 in action heard live on your #1 Country 92.1.

After falling behind 19-10 early, the Lady Leopards went on a 15-0 run to get back into the contest. Then, it was “game on” the rest of the way as the De Queen girls prevailed 41-35. Belle Lindsey, our McDonalds Player of the Night, posted a double-double with 26 points and ten rebounds. Lindsey was also credited with six steals, two assists, and two blocked shots. Allison Dockins scored six, and Lorel Morphew added five. The tough Lady Leopards defense forced 27 Centerpoint turnovers. The De Queen girls improved to 4 and 2 on the season.

In the boys contest, Centerpoint came out hot while the Leopards suffered a tough shooting night. Centerpoint raced to a 19-2 lead, and went on to defeat the Leopards 56-39. The Knights shot over 60% from the floor in the first half, while the cold Leopards saw only 25% of their shots go down. Cooper Young led the Leopards with 17 points. D.J. Morris added eight points. After falling behind big early, the Leopards couldn’t get closer than ten points the rest of the way as the De Queen boys fell to 2 and 4 on the year. 

First ever Southern Arkansas bear season opened Saturday     12/12/22

Beginning this past Saturday and for the first time in modern history, Arkansas hunters will be able to legally harvest a black bear in parts of southern Arkansas where it has been traditionally prohibited. While the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is excited about this milestone in conservation and opportunity for hunters, there are a few key points to remember to get the most out of the hunt and ensure it remains a fixture in Arkansas’s outdoors. 

Black bear season for Bear Zones 3 and 4 is Dec. 10-16, but may close earlier than Dec. 16 if the quota for the zone is reached.

We’ve set the quota at 25 bears for Zone 4 and five bears for Zone 3,” Myron Means, AGFC Large Carnivore Program Coordinator, said. “Hunters need to call the wildlife hotline (800-440-1477) before their hunt to check the harvest number and make sure the quota hasn’t been reached. I’ll be updating that hotline every day at noon and every evening at 6 p.m. The season will end  in the respective zone if the quota is reached or Dec. 16, whichever comes first.”

Hunters may use modern guns, muzzleloaders or archery equipment, and the statewide limit is one bear per season. 

Hunters successful in killing a bear must immediately check their bear through the AGFC’s mobile app, website or call 877-731-5627 to report their harvest. Just as with deer, once a bear has been checked it does not need to be tagged unless it leaves your possession (left at deer camp, taxidermist, processor, etc.). If a hunter cannot immediately check the bear, they must make their own tag with ink, including their name, date and bear zone of harvest. They may check the bear within 12 hours of harvest.

All successful hunters will also be required to submit a premolar from the bear. The AGFC’s bear team will mail them a packet including bags for the premolar and a hair sample with instructions on how to complete the process. 

The premolar submission is required, but the hair sample is optional; however, getting us a hair sample is very helpful in our research and continued monitoring of the population,” Means said. 

Means says the warm weather may have more female bears out feeding instead of denning up, and hunters should avoid shooting any female bears with cubs. 

It’s legal to shoot one, but those cubs are the future of the population and they will den with their mother for an additional year,” Means said. “If you can tell that it’s a female, honestly it would be best to let her pass. We worked on a video to help hunters tell the difference between boars and sows, but obviously if a cub is with the bear, it’s a sow.” 

Means also cautions that there are some research bears in south Arkansas that he’d prefer hunters pass on shooting. As part of the new season, biologists and staff have outfitted a few female bears with special satellite-tracking collars to give detailed information about their movements throughout the year, including hunting season. So far 13 of the dedicated 15 collars have been placed. 

Again, it’s legal to harvest a collared bear, but we really would prefer people give them a pass,” Means said. “These bears are giving us some very valuable information about the population and hunting season, and this is new territory that we really want to get some good data to help continue these hunts and keep our bear population healthy.”

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet this afternoon     12/12/22

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet today to discuss a number of items of county business, including setting the timeframe for how and when the county’s new interim county judge will be selected.

Justices of the peace are expected to set an organizational meeting in January to declare and fill an anticipated vacancy in the office of Sevier County Judge. During the quorum court’s November meeting, Interim County Judge Dick Tallman officially announced he would resign from the position effective Jan. 10, 2023. His resignation will leave an opening for the next four year term, scheduled to begin Jan. 1 of next year.

Tallman previously served as the elected county judge for Sevier County between 1996-2010. Tallman was appointed by the Sevier County Quorum Court in September following the passing of Sevier County Judge Greg Ray in late August.

As Ray was running unopposed for the office, state law required the quorum court to appoint an individual to fill the position of county judge for the 2023-2026 term. In November, the quorum court announced it would host an organizational meeting to go through resumes it receives for the office. According to the plan announced last month, the quorum court plans to officially declare a vacancy on Jan. 9 and appoint the next interim county judge that day.

The next election for the office of Sevier County Judge is scheduled for the fall of 2026.

The agenda for next Monday’s meeting also includes a financial and construction update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. Justices of the peace are also expected to vote on the confirmation of Jamie Godwin to the Sevier County Library Board.

Other items on the agenda include a request to approve COVID pay bonuses for county employees. The quorum court will also vote on an ordinance establishing the county’s 2023 operating budget as well as several other financial-related matters.

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

Legacy Academy hosts homecoming     12/12/22

Submitted by Legacy Academy

Legacy Academy’s second ever Homecoming on Friday evening was a great success. Homecoming Queen was senior Dori Bartek, and the Homecoming court was senior maid Trinity Cox, junior maids Maddie Lowrey and Jenifer Smallwood, sophomore maids Oaklee Lofton and Rayne McDonald, and freshmen maids Skylar Alexander, Josie Martz and Lilly Tucker. Each of them was accompanied by her father or a father figure in their lives. The day was a celebration of inner beauty, which comes from God, and a wonderful day for our girls and their moms to spend together.

The day started with them considering what it means to display their inner beauty and God’s love for each of them. This was followed by a special time with their mothers, who shared heartfelt messages with each of them, before they enjoyed a beautiful lunch put together by all of the moms.

The afternoon was spent preparing their hair and make-up prep for the showpiece event. The nine ladies walked onto the court with their escorts and were introduced to the audience. Their hopes for the future, favorite scripture, and best school memories were all shared, which reflected the personality, character and values of each lady in our court.

Our ladies then enjoyed a great evening watching basketball games against Umpire and Bloomburg, with all three Legacy teams victorious on court. It was an excellent day celebrating our values and the Homecoming team did a great job putting the day together.

 
Lockesburg native honored for service as Prairie Grove police officer     12/08/22
 
Andrew Gibson (Photo courtesy of Washington County Enterprise-Leader)

By Lynn Kutter, Washington County Enterprise-Leader
PRAIRIE GROVE – Prairie Grove police officer Andrew Gibson had drawn his service weapon before but had never used it until he returned fire to protect a fellow officer after responding to a domestic dispute call on May 4, 2021.
Gibson has been commended several times for saving the life of officer Tyler Franks, who was shot several times by the suspect and lost a leg due to his injuries. Franks was able to return to the department for a short time before deciding to fully retire in June.
Gibson grew up around police officers so it was natural for him to gravitate toward that as a career.

However, he said he was ready to quit law enforcement after the shooting. He worked through it and today, still is a patrol officer with Prairie Grove.

Gibson, who is from Lockesburg, graduated from De Queen High School in 2007 and earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 2011 from the Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas.

His father was 50 years old when he became a police officer. He had lost his job and then entered into a new profession. In all, his father had 23 years in law enforcement, 13 with De Queen Police Department and the rest as an auxiliary deputy with Sevier County.

“I saw them (police officers) as the go-to people in the community, but they were regular people,” Gibson said. “We all knew each other.”

Gibson worked 2½ years with Department of Community Corrections in parole and probation in south Arkansas when he said he got the “police bug” and applied to be an officer with Fayetteville Police Department

“I wanted to use my degree that I worked hard to get,” Gibson said. “Parole and probation are a lot different than police work. In the police department, you are in a vehicle patrolling as opposed to being in the office for parole and probation.”

He said he applied at Fayetteville at the suggestion of an adjunct professor.

Gibson began working for Prairie Grove Police Department in December 2020 as a night shift patrol officer and has more than eight years of experience as a patrol officer. He recently changed to working the day shift.

Gibson and Franks were the first on the scene May 4, 2021, responding to a call about a domestic dispute at a house on West Thurman Street. They initiated contact with the suspect, Nickolas Colbert, who was in a bedroom behind a closed door. Franks decided to go into the room and kicked through the door, Gibson said.

“His foot was planted back on the ground, and shots started blasting,” Gibson said. “I see him flying backwards onto the ground, and in a split second, I am able to realize what I need to do. I see the suspect holding the firearm. Franks could still be in danger, so I decide to take out the threat.”

Gibson said while he was firing, Colbert closed the door, causing a lull in the confrontation. He said this gave him time to grab Franks by the wrist. With Gibson pulling and Franks lunging, Gibson was able to get him away to safety.

Two Farmington officers, Jacob Stine and James Cavin, also were on the scene and they provided cover for them, Gibson said.

Gibson said they were able to apply two tourniquets to Franks’ left leg. One tourniquet came from Franks’ cargo pocket and the other from Cavin.

“Whoever you are working with, you must know where the tourniquet is on them,” Gibson said, explaining how he knew where Franks kept his tourniquet. “It was a muscle memory type thing.”

The most intense part of the call probably lasted only 10 seconds and Gibson said he didn’t feel scared during any of it. However, after he watched the video and heard his voice, he realized he was “terrified” and he thought the suspect was probably dead.

Later when he heard on the radio that the suspect had been arrested, Gibson said he was shocked to hear he was still alive.

He was relieved, he said, that both Franks and the suspect survived.

Since the shooting, both Franks and Gibson have received awards for their bravery that night.

Gibson has been somewhat surprised by all of the honors he has received. He said he figured he would be recognized in some way but was not prepared for the amount of the recognition.

Both were honored as the 2021 Officers of the Year by the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police during a dinner on Sept. 29, 2021.

They received a Law Enforcement Commendation Medal from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and recognition from the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.

In addition, Prairie Grove Police Department awarded Gibson the Medal of Valor, the highest award given by Prairie Grove police, for his actions on May 4, 2021, which resulted in saving Franks’ life. Franks received the Officer of the Year award for his actions on that day.

The criminal case also has come to a close, and Gibson said it was a “huge relief” for it to be over.

In a plea bargain, Colbert pleaded guilty Aug. 9 to attempted capital murder and first-degree battery of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty in Washington County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge Joanna Taylor sentenced Colbert to 30 years at the Arkansas Department of Correction on each charge and ordered the sentences run consecutively for a total of 60 years.

“I have kept up with it and was uneasy there would be some little hiccup, but the prosecutors office did a phenomenal job,” Gibson said, adding he fully anticipated it would be three years down the road before the case would be all resolved.

The shooting has given Gibson a new perspective in many ways.

“I saw how quickly things could change,” he said.

He’s more clear minded and asks more questions now when responding to what could be a higher risk situation.

“Best case – everything is fine. Worst case – I am prepared.”

He said the shooting “definitely” made him question whether to stay in law enforcement. His wife has been his greatest fan and they’ve been making progress together. The night of the shooting he had peer-to-peer counseling and he was set up for more counseling.

Gibson considers himself a problem solver which is why he likes being a police officer, he said. He likes solving problems for people.

“When somebody calls the police with a problem, I like to go to that person to help them with their problem, whatever it is,” he said.

His problem solving skills spill over into his personal life because he also likes do-it-yourself projects. He and his wife live near Beaver Lake with a couple of cats. Other hobbies are riding a four-wheeler, geology and looking for rocks. He said he likes to fish but is not very good at it.

Gibson expressed his gratitude to anyone who was on the scene that night of the shooting and to the dispatchers handling the radio traffic.

“It was a major relief seeing all the blue lights and seeing everyone coming in. That was a big burden off my shoulders.”

He said he’s proud of his former partner, Tyler Franks, and is happy his family is doing so well.

City of De Queen holiday closing schedule     12/08/22

DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be closed on Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday  Dec. 26 for the Christmas Holidays.

The trash schedule for the week of the Dec. 19 will be as follows:

Monday and Tuesday will remain the same.

Thursday will be picked up on Wednesday.

Friday will be picked up on Thursday.

The trash schedule for the week of the Dec. 26 will be as follows:

Monday will be picked up on Tuesday.

Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

The City of De Queen will also be closed on Jan. 2,2023 in observance of New Year’s Day.

The trash schedule for the week of Jan. 2 will be as follows:

Monday will be picked up on Tuesday.

Tuesday will be picked up on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday will remain the same.

HWSP Christmas and Candlelight begins tonight     12/08/22

WASHINGTON – Historic Washington State Park is gearing up to host its annual Christmas and Candlelight historic event this weekend.

Park staff will line the streets with candles to provide a natural and historic Christmas look. Decorations, music and more will help set the mood for a historic Christmas experience. The homes of Historic Washington will be adorned with period decorations and thousands of luminaries will be lit during the evening hours.

The park will host its 36th annual Christmas and Candlelight on Dec. 9-10. Candlelight tours will be held from 1-8 p.m. both evenings. Music will be played in the churches and the the 1940 WPA Gym starting at 5 p.m. Williams’ Tavern Restaurant will also be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a Christmas buffet. Carriage rides will be available and the gift shop is scheduled to be open.

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

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

 
Authorities seeking missing Sevier County woman     12/08/22
 
Kayla M. Stephens (nee Vanhoutan) was reported missing on Dec. 6.

DE QUEEN – Authorities are continuing to seek the public’s assistance in locating a Sevier County woman reported missing this week.
According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, authorities and family members are searching for 40-year-old Kayla M. Stephens, maiden-name Vanhoutan. According to a report taken by the Sheriff’s Office from members of her family, Stephens was last seen in a 2003 black Chevrolet pickup truck bearing Arkansas tag USAJDD on Oct. 30 in Horatio.
Her last known location was meeting her boyfriend in Ashdown for lunch that day. Authorities say Stephens has not spoken to her family since that date. Family members filed the missing persons report this week.
Stephens has been described as a 40-year-old white female, standing five-foot seven-inches and weighing approximately 165lbs. She has brown hair and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information on Stephens whereabouts is asked to contact the sheriff’s office by calling (870) 642-2125.

Tonight is second and final night of Lions Club auction fundraiser     12/08/22

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Lions Club will host the second and final night of its two-day fundraising auction beginning at 5 p.m. this evening.

Tune in to #1 Country 92.1 to bid, buy and support the Lions Club during it s annual two-day radio auction fundraiser.

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

One of the hot items up for auction this year is a football autographed by Sam Pitman. Other items include appliances and grills, kids toys, cooking ware, home décor, Christmas decorations and much, much more.

Memorial Missionary hosting annual Christmas meal giveaway     12/08/22

DE QUEEN – A local church is gearing up to present its yearly effort to address food insecurity during the Christmas holiday season.

Memorial Missionary Baptist Church will host its annual Christmas meal giveaway on Saturday, Dec. 17 beginning at 11 a.m. The event will continue at Memorial Missionary Baptist Church until all meals are given away. The church is anticipating it will provide 450 meals ahead of Christmas this year.

Anyone in need of a meal is welcome to drive by and pick up a prepared plate on Dec. 17. Memorial Missionary Baptist Church is located at 802 E. Vandervoort Avenue in De Queen.

For more information, or for questions, contact Joanie at (870) 584-8275 or Mandy at (870) 584-6463.

No chance for a white Christmas in SWAR     12/08/22

The National Weather Service says Northwest Arkansas has a small (10-25 percent) chance for a white Christmas this year. The rest of us can expect more rain and above-average temperatures.

DE QUEEN – The National Weather Service has issued a report anticipating what parts of the nation can expect a white Christmas. No surprise, Southwest Arkansas is not on the list.

After all, a white Christmas in our corner of the state would be flabbergasting at best and perhaps a little terrifying at worst. Down here in Southwest Arkansas, we’re used to some rather mild Christmas mornings. And wet, too. Back in mid-December of 2015, we received around nine inches of rain in under two days. That forced the Highway 71 bridges between Ashdown and Texarkana to be closed due to flooding from the Red River.

This year, Northwest Arkansas can expect a small, 10-25 percent chance of a white Christmas according to the National Weather Service. The rest of the state, however, can go ahead and settle in for a Christmas with above-average temperatures.

For it to be considered a White Christmas, the National Weather Service says about an inch of snow must be on the ground. Locally, we can be sure that’s not going to happen. The last time such a thing occurred was in 2000. That was the winter of the infamous ice storm that devastated the entire region, shutting down power and services for some residents for weeks. That is nothing anyone wants to see happen again, surely.

Much more likely is a Christmas with exactly what we’ve seen in Southwest Arkansas these last few days – temps in the 50s and 60s, rain and probably even much more fog. According to the National Weather Service, you can count on that more or less over the next seven-day forecast.

And, if the last two years can be seen as a trend, then we might expect some snow in February. During that month last year, we recorded a foot of snow in De Queen and bone-chilling temperatures as low as minus-five.

AGFC hosting stamp art competition     12/08/22

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is inviting artists from throughout the state to participate in this year’s expanded Arkansas State Quail and Turkey Stamp Art Competition. Artists will have the opportunity to submit up to three original pieces of artwork split however they wish between images of quail conservation and turkey conservation.

Winners of each category will receive $2,500 in prize money and have their work displayed on the 2023 Northern Bobwhite Conservation Stamp and 2023 Eastern Wild Turkey Stamp. First and second runners-up will each receive $500 and $250.

Clint Johnson, AGFC quail program coordinator, says the art created in this competition has fueled thousands of acres of habitat enhancement work, directed by the AGFC’s quail and turkey programs. Last year, turkey stamp sales generated $97,355, while quail stamp sales accounted for $45,900. The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Arkansas State Chapter also provided $45,501 from fundraising efforts.

AGFC staff have planned 10 projects, enhancing roughly 2,500 acres, using these funds.

A full outline of the contest, including details of the technical guidelines and a link to the submission portal, is available at https://historiccanehillar.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/QuailTurkeyStampProspectusWeb.pdf.

Contact David Collins at david@historiccanehillar.org for more information.

 
City of De Queen to focus on infrastructure in 2023     12/07/22
 
DE QUEEN – The City of De Queen will be funded for another year after council members approved the city’s 2023 operating budget Tuesday night.

The $11.5 million budget is a fairly conservative one, say city officials, focusing mostly on basic funding of the city’s various departments. The city is anticipating expenses in the amount of $11.3 million, leaving a positive difference of around $250,000 by year’s end.

That, said De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown, is critical given the inflationary pressure on vital products like fuel, asphalt and construction materials.

“The price of things like pipe, chemicals for the water treatment plant have doubled over the past year and you can’t go without them,” said Brown. “It’s tough right now, we’ve never seen inflation hit us like this, and we’re just trying to do the best we can.”

Brown said the city will fund several major projects next year include a street paving project for Coulter Drive and a bridge replacement over Wilson Creek.

The Coulter Drive project will include repaving the street along its entire length – from Rockefeller to Treating Plant. The city is set to receive some assistance from the state to help cover the estimated $650,000 cost of the repaving project.

“The city is receiving $300,000 in state aid and they’re projecting it will cost as much as $650,000,” said Brown. “We will have to cover everything over $300,000. We’re hoping the bids come in less than they’re projecting, but asphalt is so expensive right now, it will not surprise me if it costs $650,000 to repave that one road.”

Brown said the state is also providing an 80/20 matching grant to replace the six culverts over the Wilson Creek. The project is estimated to cost approximately $1,000,000 with the state covering 80 percent of that total.

“We’ll be on the hook for the other 20 percent of that, so we’re thankful to get some help from Little Rock for that,” Brown explained.

Another infrastructure project includes replacing the city’s lift station on the corner of College Drive and Collin Raye Avenue. Brown said the station has struggled to meet city needs and will be replaced next year.

In other city business Tuesday night, the council confirmed Hunter Frachiseur as the newest volunteer member of the De Queen Fire Department. Brown said the city is also waiting on final approval for a grant application to fund a $1.3 million sewer line upgrade for Pilgrim’s processing facility in De Queen. The city has also applied for a grant to rehabilitate the municipal water tank on Magnolia Street.

Brown also provided an update on construction for the new pavilion and outdoor recreation area next to City Hall in downtown De Queen. Located on the former site of the Ennis Plumbing building, the site will include space for musical performances as well as benches and tables for the public to use. Currently the concrete pad has been laid and is awaiting installation of the other features.

Finally, council members set the day for the first council meeting of 2023 as Jan. 3. City officials will swear in two incumbent and one new council member – Troy Cravens and Jeff Holcombe, and Kimberly Jarrell, respectively. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. on Jan. 3 is, like all council meetings, will be open to the public. 
SCQC to meet Dec. 12 to advance timeline for next interim county judge     12/07/22
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet Monday, Dec. 12 to discuss a number of items of county business, including setting the timeframe for how and when the county’s new interim county judge will be selected.

Justices of the peace are expected to set an organizational meeting in January to declare and fill an anticipated vacancy in the office of Sevier County Judge. During the quorum court’s November meeting, Interim County Judge DickTallman officially announced he would resign from the position effective Jan. 10, 2023. His resignation will leave an opening for the next four year term, scheduled to begin Jan. 1 of next year.

Tallman previously served as the elected county judge for Sevier County between 1996-2010. Tallman was appointed by the Sevier County Quorum Court in September following the passing of Sevier County Judge Greg Ray in late August.

As Ray was running unopposed for the office, state law required the quorum court to appoint an individual to fill the position of county judge for the 2023-2026 term. In November, the quorum court announced it would host an organizational meeting to go through resumes it receives for the office. According to the plan announced last month, the quorum court plans to officially declare a vacancy on Jan. 9 and appoint the next interim county judge that day.

The next election for the office of Sevier County Judge is scheduled for the fall of 2026.

The agenda for next Monday’s meeting also includes a financial and construction update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. Justices of the peace are also expected to vote on the confirmation of Jamie Godwin to the Sevier County Library Board.

Other items on the agenda include a request to approve COVID pay bonuses for county employees. The quorum court will also vote on an ordinance establishing the county’s 2023 operating budget as well as several other financial-related matters.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Salvation Army Bellringing Campaign underway, volunteers needed     12/07/22

With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, local shoppers are hearing a very familiar and seasonal sound: the sound of ringing bells.

That’s right, the 2022 Bell-Ringing Campaign of the Salvation Army is now underway in De Queen and across the nation. Area resident should be ready to see the familiar red kettles and hear the ringing of the bells. The first volunteers set up on Black Friday.

It’s been a challenging couple of years, but financial assistance is still being provided through the local Salvation Army unit. The Salvation Army distributes thousands of dollars to individuals and families each year to help with needs for food, gas, medications, utilities, rent, fire recovery and more. That makes the Salvation Army one of the major sources of aid in our community. The local unit also recently donated over $1,000 in items for victims of last month’s tornado in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. So much of that support is only possible through donations made during the Bell-Ringing Campaign.

Volunteers are needed to ring bells through Dec. 24. Groups, businesses, churches, clubs, friends, as well as individuals and/or families are all welcome to participate. Groups that include children are especially effective. Needed are both those who have rung before and those who will be ringing for the first time.

The sole location this year for bellringing is Walmart in De Queen.

To schedule a time to volunteer, call the De Queen Salvation Army Store by calling (870) 642-3463.

Prime times are filling up so it is important to act quickly to get a group or individual name on the list for pickup and returning supplies.

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

Bellringers have remarked that volunteering is a guaranteed way to provide a sense of one’s life blessings; create a feeling of well-being in knowing the effort helps feed, house and warm local residents; gain a sense of humility by those who stop to donate; and the fun of seeing friends and acquaintances while ringing.

Call to experience this, and for those who can’t serve as a bellringer, remember to say thanks to those who do and make a donation in the kettle. It’s one of the things we all can do to make Sevier County a better place to live.

Leopards named to 5A South All-Conference team     12/07/22

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Leopards placed six football players on the 5A-South All-Conference Team, and another three players on the second team. De Queen athletes named to the first team all-conference include: Trey Brown, Micah Gibson, Tye Lindsey, Jacob Olalde, Jonathan Bahena, and Cole Binkley. 

Senior linebacker Trey Brown led the team in tackles with 92, and also rushed for two touchdowns. Senior linebacker Micah Gibson was credited with 16 tackles, and rushed for 203 yards as fullback. Senior slotback Tye Lindsey led the team in rushing with 626 yards, and two scores. 300-pound senior tackle Jacob Olalde anchored the offensive line.

Junior cornerback Jonathan Bahena was credited with 44 tackles and 12 passes defended. And sophomore quarterback Cole Binkley led the Leopards with six rushing touchdowns.

Named second team all-conference were Garrett Matthews, Donavan Ester, and Ulycess Coto. Senior safety Garrett Matthews was second on the team in tackles with 58, and led the team with two fumble recoveries.

Junior cornerback Donavan Ester was credited with 33 tackles, and led the team with two interceptions. Ester also had a 57-yard punt return for a touchdown. Sophomore safety Ulycess Coto was third on the team in tackles with 51.  Coto was also second on the team in rushing with 259 yards. 

Area schools hosting Christmas concerts, plays     12/07/22

The Horatio High School Band will present its 2022 Christmas Concert this Thursay, Dec. 8. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the High School Auditorium. Performances will be held by the Beginning Band, the Eighth Grade Band and the High School Band.

The Ashdown High School Panther Theater will host the play, Into the Woods, this Saturday, Dec. 10. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Ashdown High School Auditorium. Cost to attend is $5. The public is invited to attend. An additional showing of the play will be held this Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m.

 
Parents charged with corpse abuse following death of baby     12/06/22
 
DE QUEEN – Felony charges have been formally filed against two Southwest Arkansas residents suspected of improperly disposing of a newborn child that did not survive birth.
According to court records, 20-year-old Matthew Hallmark of Lockesburg has been charged with abuse of a corpse following the death of his baby son in November. The mother, who authorities say is a 17-year-old juvenile, was also charged with a similar offense. She will reportedly be charged as an adult, but until then authorities are declining to release her name.
Both Hallmark and the mother were formally charged with abuse of a corpse in the Sevier County Circuit Court last week. In Arkansas the offense is a felony and can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received a report on Nov. 7 regarding a baby being born at a home in Lockesburg. After further investigation, authorities discovered the baby, a boy, did not live and was disposed of. Deputies and Investigators with the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office located the baby in a nearby dumpster.

An autopsy by the Arkansas State Crime Lab on the baby boy is currently pending.

Winners of 2022 De Queen Christmas Parade     12/06/22

Winners of Lockesburg Christmas parade     12/06/22

LOCKESBURG – The City of Lockesburg has announced the winners of the 2022 Lockesburg Christmas Parade.

Winners by category include:

Religious

First place – Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church

Second place – Grace Country Church

(No third place)

Business/Commerce

First place – M&S Trucking of Lockesburg

Second place – Sevier County Housing Authority

Third Place – Legacy Academy

Organizational

First place – Goin’ Showin’ 4-H

Second place – No Name Gang (Wayne Smith)

Third place – Tex-Ark Car Club (Wanda McWhorter)

Kecia Wolf named president of Southwest REA     12/06/22

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Kecia Wolf has been promoted to president and CEO of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Texarkana. Wolf will be the first woman to serve as president and CEO of the cooperative, but also the first woman president and CEO to represent a cooperative on the statewide boards of the generation and transmission cooperative Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Inc.

In a press release, Wolf said she is honored to be selected as the cooperative’s new president and looks forward to serving its members and employees.

Wolf joined Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative in 2009 as an accountant. She was then promoted to controller and has served as the vice president of finance and accounting, member services and personnel since 2014. Before joining the cooperative she worked as an accountant for four years. Wolf is a member of several organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Wolf earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration with honors from Texas A&M University at Texarkana. Wolf also earned her associate degree in electric power and technology from Bismarck State College in North Dakota. She is a graduate of the Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program, a CPA and a certified key account executive. She also graduated from the Leadership Texarkana Program in 2019.

KCS Holiday Express in Ashdown today, Mena tomorrow     12/06/22

ASHDOWN – A reminder that the 2022 KCS Holiday Express will be making a stop in Ashdown this afternoon to allow families an opportunity to board and tour the festive six-car Christmas themed train.

The Holiday Express will stop at Main Street and U.S. Highway 71 in Ashdown at 4 p.m. today. The train will make its last stop in the region tomorrow in Mena, also at 4 p.m.

As in previous years, the KCS Holiday Express project will continue its tradition of charitable giving to The Salvation Army. Over 21 years, the charitable component of the KCS Holiday Express project has raised well over $2.6 million.

The KCS Holiday Express is free to the public at all of its stops.

Winners of Sevier County Chamber tamale cookoff     12/06/22

 
400 people turn out for Sevier County Medical Center grand opening     12/05/22
 
Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center Board of Governors, and Lori House, the hospital’s CEO, spoke during Friday’s grand opening to unveil the new hospital. (Photo courtesy of Sevier County Medical Center)

DE QUEEN – Sevier County will soon open the doors of its new hospital after more than three years without one.
Sevier County officials, community leaders, healthcare professionals and members of the public joined together on Dec. 2 for a grand opening ceremony officially inaugurating the new Sevier County Medical Center. The $24 million, 15-bed facility includes a 24-hour emergency room, several patient wings and a state-of-the-art medical equipment suite.
Tours of the facility interior and campus grounds were provided. Officials also announced the hospital’s community room would be named after Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, who passed away in late August.
Greg was an instrumental factor in the entire process of completing this hospital,” said Dr. Steve Cole, chair of the Sevier County Medical Center board of governors. “We thought it would only be right to name one of our most important names in honor of his memory and commitment to this project.”
Hospital officials described the new facility as a history-making point for Sevier County. The county lost the privately-owned De Queen hospital in April of 2019. That year, Sevier County and several employees of the hospital filed a lawsuit against the hospital’s owners, Jorge Perez and his brother, Ricardo Perez, both of Miami. The suit alleged financial mismanagement on behalf of the owners.

Jorge Perez also faced claims of fraud in a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen Blue Cross & Blue Shield health insurance plans. In all, Perez closed 10 of the hospitals owned by his company, Empower Group of Florida, in 2019. In April of that year, Perez filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization for the De Queen Hospital. That request was later dismissed and the hospital was placed into receivership.

Sevier County officials then launched a plan to construct a new hospital. That included approaching voters with a request for a one-percent sales tax increase to fund construction of a new medical center. At that time the hospital was little more than an idea on paper.

“This started as little more than an idea and a few notes,” Cole explained. “But we knew in Sevier County that we could not just sit idly by and go without a hospital. “One of the first things we had to do was ask county voters to approve a sales tax to fund a new hospital. And they did. Eighty-six percent of voters voted in favor of the tax.”

The county-owned hospital is overseen by a board of governors with further accountability established through the Sevier County Quorum Court. Dr. Cole said a founding goal of the new hospital is to avoid the fate of the old one. He said, after 20 years of bad hospital ownership – including jail time for the De Queen Hospital’s last owner – the board of governors began the process with transparency and accountability as top goals.

We wanted everyone to know that we’re serious about having a good hospital, one that is overseen by a trusted group of people and one that will be both financially viable and address the healthcare needs of our community,” Cole stated.

The hospital was constructed on an 18.5-acre site located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71. Hospital officials chose this location based on federal statues regulating the location of critical access hospitals. These types of hospitals are required to be at least 35 miles distant from each other.

The Sevier County Medical Center is not yet officially open to the public. Work remains on a number of final details, including communication systems within the hospital as well as some final licensure, documentation and inspection requirements. However, officials state the plan currently is to open the hospital’s doors by the end of the year.

Little River Chamber to host Ashdown Christmas parade tonight     12/05/22

DE QUEEN – It’s going to feel a lot like Christmas in Ashdown this evening. The Little River Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Ashdown Christmas parade tonight beginning at 6 p.m.

The Little River Chamber of Commerce is also hosting several other free community events in the upcoming days. That includes Breakfast with Santa and the annual Ho Ho Parade this Saturday, Dec. 10. Breakfast with Santa begins at 8 a.m. at the Ashdown Church of Christ and the Ho Ho Parade will follow immediately after at the Little River Courthouse.

All area little ones are invited to meet on the courthouse lawn with their decorated bikes, cars, wagons and scooters. Prizes will be awarded in first through second place. No gas-operated carts are allowed.

The chamber is also hosting musician Josh Wilson on Thursday, Dec. 22 at the Ashdown High School Auditorium. Josh will present Noel, an acoustic Christmas experience. Cost for tickets is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Doors will open on Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. with Josh to take the stage at seven.

For more information on all of these events, contact the Little River Chamber of Commerce by calling (870) 898-2758 or by emailing director@littlerivercoc.org.

KCS Holiday Express making area stops this week     12/05/22

ASHDOWN – The 2022 KCS Holiday Express train will return to the area for the first time since the start of the pandemic in 2020. This year, the festive, six-car holiday train with intricate displays inside and out will bring Santa Claus and his elves to visit children and families in 20 communities in eight states, including here in Southwest Arkansas.

In addition, the KCS Holiday Express project will continue its tradition of charitable giving to The Salvation Army.

This year’s schedule includes stops in Texarkana from 5:30-8:30 p.m. this evening; in Ashdown at 4 p.m. this Tuesday at Main Street and U.S. Highway 71; and Mena on Wednesday beginning at 4 p.m.

Over 21 years, the charitable component of the KCS Holiday Express project has raised well over $2.6 million.

For all but two of the last 21 years, the KCS Holiday Express train has stopped in 20 or more communities in five or six states between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At each stop, visitors can board the train, meet Santa and his elves and tour the inside of three cars of the festive six-car train. These events return in 2022 after not occurring the previous two years.

The KCS Holiday Express is free to the public at all of its stops.

De Queen Lions Radio Auction is tonight     12/05/22

DE QUEEN – The annual De Queen Lions Club radio auction will be held this evening, and again this Thursday, Dec. 8 starting at 5 p.m. both evenings. Tune in to #1 Country 92.1 to bid, buy and support the Lions Club during it s annual two-day radio auction fundraiser.

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

One of the hot items up for auction this year is a football autographed by Sam Pitman. Other items include appliances and grills, kids toys, cooking ware, home décor, Christmas decorations and much, much more.

HWSP Christmas & Candlelight this weekend     12/05/22

WASHINGTON – Historic Washington State Park is gearing up to host its annual Christmas and Candlelight historic event this weekend.

Park staff will line the streets with candles to provide a natural and historic Christmas look. Decorations, music and more will help set the mood for a historic Christmas experience. The homes of Historic Washington will be adorned with period decorations and thousands of luminaries will be lit during the evening hours.

The park will host its 36th annual Christmas and Candlelight on Dec. 9-10. Candlelight tours will be held from 1-8 p.m. both evenings. Music will be played in the churches and the the 1940 WPA Gym starting at 5 p.m. Williams’ Tavern Restaurant will also be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a Christmas buffet. Carriage rides will be available and the gift shop is scheduled to be open.

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

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

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught weekly update     12/05/22

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

Returning House members and newly elected members are now preparing for the upcoming session.

The 2023 Regular Session will begin on January 9 at noon.

The pre-filing period for bills and resolutions began on November 15. So far, 16 bills have been filed in the House and 3 have been filed in the Senate. You can review all the bills filed at www.arkansashouse.org.

The House Organizational Meeting previously scheduled for November 17 has been rescheduled to Monday, December 5, 2022, at 9:00 am in the House Chamber.

During the meeting, newly elected members will draw for seniority and all members will select their seats for the 94th General Assembly. After seat selection, the committee selection process will begin. 

The vast majority of legislation considered during a legislative session begins in a standing committee. There are 10 standing committees in the House. Each standing committee consists of 20 members including 5 members from each of the 4 House district caucuses.

 Selection for the House Budget Committee, Arkansas Legislative Council, and Legislative Joint Auditing will take place after standing committee selection. 

The next day, December 6, newly elected members will begin orientation. For the 94th General Assembly, there will be 26 members serving their first term in the House. The legislative institute will review everything from parliamentary procedures to balancing the state budget so that every member is prepared on day one of the session.

At the beginning of each legislative session, the House and Senate meet separately to organize and adopt temporary rules for the respective bodies. Then on the second day of the session, we will meet in a joint session in the House Chamber to hear an address from the newly elected Governor.

The House streams every committee meeting and House floor proceeding live on our website. We will also be streaming the organizational meeting on December 5. In addition, the recorded meetings are archived and searchable by key terms on our site. 

 
Grand opening today for Sevier County Medical Center     12/02/22
 
DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Medical Center will host a grand opening ceremony today to officially inaugurate the new and much-anticipated hospital.
Officials and dignitaries will gather at the hospital, located several miles north of De Queen on Highway 71, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The grand opening will include tours of the brand new Sevier County Medical Center for the public as well as a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce.
Special guest speakers are also scheduled and refreshments will be served during the event. Hospital officials are welcoming the entire community to come out and welcome the brand new $24 million facility.
Sevier County voters approved a one-percent sales tax increase several years ago to fund construction of the new hospital following the closure of the De Queen hospital in 2019.
The facility was scheduled to open earlier this year but construction delays forced officials to postpone the opening to December. The hospital is scheduled to officially open next week.
Holiday events this weekend in Sevier and LRCO     12/02/22
 
DE QUEEN – This Saturday communities across Sevier County will be hosting their parades ahead of the Christmas holiday. The day will begin with the annual Christmas parade hosted by the City of Horatio at 1 p.m. through main street in Horatio.
Horatio’s parade will be followed by the City of Lockesburg’s Christmas parade at 3 p.m. Following the parade, the city will host its first annual Christmas at the Park at the Ida Margret Coulter Stone Park. Tickets for people’s choice may be purchased at City Hall for $1. Children’s activities at the park will include a train ride, free hot chocolate and a showing of the Polar Express movie. Santa will be set up at Southern Bancorp for pictures. Parade prizes will be presented at Southern Bancorp following the parade.
Area residents are invited to wrap up the day with the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas parade around the Sevier County Courthouse square in downtown De Queen. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. with vendors and activities around the square. The parade will begin at 6 p.m.
Santa will be appearing alongside the lighting of the Courthouse before the parade. Chamber officials say with everyone’s help this will be a Christmas parade to remember in our community.
In other area Christmas parades, Foreman will host its parade this Saturday beginning at 6 p.m. The Little River Chamber of Commerce is hosting that parade as well as the annual Ashdown Christmas parade on Monday, Dec. 5 beginning at 6 p.m. as well. For more information contact the Little River Chamber of Commerce by calling (870) 898-2758 or by emailing director@littlerivercoc.org.
Also, tonight, De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown will host the city’s second annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen. The event begins at 5 p.m. and everyone is invited to come by for the lighting of the Christmas tree at Herman Dierks Park. Hot cocoa and other refreshments will be served.

Former Mena teacher charged with sexual assault     12/02/22

MENA – A former Mena High School teacher is in custody on sexual assault charges following an investigation into an alleged relationship he had was a student.

In a press release issued by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, authorities state 43-year-old Michael Andrew Philpot was arrested on Thursday on a single count of second-degree sexual assault. The release states Philpot was allegedly engaged in an “inappropriate relationship” with a Mena School District student.

Philpot was a teacher at Mena High School but resigned on Nov. 29, according to district officials.

An investigation into the allegations began on Monday after the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the Mena School District of a possible inappropriate relationship involving a student. The Polk County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is assisting in the investigation alongside the sheriff’s office.

Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer said the investigation is ongoing and that no other details can be made public at this time.

This is an ongoing investigation and as such I can’t comment further on the specifics. But, I would like to thank the Mena School District, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and my deputies for their hard work on this case. They did a great job putting this together,” Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer said in the statement.

Youth, veterans duck hunt is this weekend in Arkansas     12/02/22

Even though duck season is on pause for most hunters, there’s still a great way to get some use out of your waders and calls during the Special Youth and Active Duty Military and Veteran Waterfowl hunts Dec. 3.

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

During the two special hunt days scheduled for the 2022-23 season (Dec. 3 and Feb. 4) only hunters 15 and younger, members of active-duty military or military veterans may harvest ducks, geese and other waterfowl. However, an additional person may come along on the hunt to serve as an observer or mentor. Mentors may video the hunt, call ducks and work dogs to retrieve ducks, but may not carry a firearm or assist with shooting. 

Shooting hours and bag limits are the same as regular duck and goose seasons. Veteran hunters, as well as youth hunters may hunt on wildlife management areas from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset these two days and any shell restrictions on WMAs are lifted during these hunts.

Visit www.agfc.com/waterfowl to learn more about duck hunting seasons and duck-hunting opportunities in The Natural State. 

 
Lace Lane Festival of Lights scheduled for Dec. 16-17     11/30/22
 

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

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

The Festival of Lights will be held Dec. 16-17 from 6-8 p.m. both evenings. Everyone is invited to come see the lights, meet with Santa and take photos. There will be gifts for the kids as well.

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

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

If you can’t make it to the Festival of Lights on Dec. 16-17, no worries: the lights will be up for viewing through Christmas and the New Year.