OPENING DAY. Customers visit Hawkins Variety Store Monday in Murfreesboro.
By John Balch
“Diamond John Huddleston probably stood right here.”
DeWayne Gray is standing in the middle of Hawkins Variety Store thinking about the local legend who is credited with finding the first Murfreesboro diamonds in 1906. “It’s really quite amazing when you stop and think about it.”
Huddleston’s glittering find set off a “diamond rush” and subsequent construction boom in the Pike County town. By the summer of 1909, the Owens-Stelle Building was completed on the corner of the Murfreesboro town square. The building has housed Hawkins Variety Store since 1943, operated then by Buel Hawkins’ parents. Buel and his bride, Sarah, took over the business when he returned from the war in 1945 and ran the business until the Hawkins leased the building and the Hawkins brand to Gray – with an option to buy. (Gray also owns the connecting Stelle portion of the building, which now houses Southern Specialties Fine Jewelry, as well as the old Hawkins furniture store, also nearby on the square.)
“There is a lot of history on this corner,” Gray said back in early October as he and his wife, Francy, worked late into the night toward a November reopening date.
The store was officially opened to customers Monday, Nov. 17, putting an “old but new” spin on the business that clings in many memories and the local history books. (An official grand opening was planned for Hawkins Variety Store on Saturday, Nov. 22.)
DeWayne, 48, has always known Hawkins. His mother used to take him there as a kid to buy school supplies, and of course, sodas and candy. The business was always a town hub where one could pay electric and gas bills and even use the Western Union.
“It had everything back then,” he recalled.
Well, almost everything.
Long ago, Buel Hawkins adopted the store’s longstanding slogan, which was written across the top of the building: “We have almost everything…if you will help us find it.” The slogan may be gone from the building front, but it still applies to DeWayne and Francy’s plans and is featured prominently on the store’s T-shirts.
“We’re trying to bring back the old Hawkins memories and memorabilia,” DeWayne said of the decision to undertake a major restoration of the building. “I’ve always loved this old building and I could see the potential and historic value of the building.”
DeWayne and Francy briefly stepped away from Hawkins when they leased the building and the Hawkins brand to Chris and Theresa Sharp. The Sharps operated the business with a more modern approach until Theresa lost a short battle with cancer. The Grays took back over in April of 2014 and have been deep in restoration ever since.
“Hawkins is an institution and a destination,” DeWayne said. “We want to keep it that way.”
The store has likely seen just as many visitors as the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Back in the day, Buel Hawkins had the walls lined with license plates from all 50 states and postcards from around the world. It was a tourist destination but also functioned to serve the townspeople.
“Our idea is to create a real working store, like an old general store, but avoid becoming a tourist trap,” said DeWayne, who again used the phrase “old but new.”
The “new” Hawkins now offers Blue Bell ice cream, a soda fountain, specialty food and sandwiches, and gourmet Columbian coffee, but also has a “kitchen corner” with houseware and cast iron items as well as a toy section like the “old” Hawkins. A loft area has also been renovated and Francy has plans to offer the space for events. There will also be a bridal registry.
In the front corner, the old Coca-Cola machine Buel himself installed years ago still offers a cold “little bottle of Coke” to visitors. “That’s even part of the history,” DeWayne said of the vintage vending machine.
DeWayne has always had an eye for history. At 18 years old, he became the youngest member to ever serve on the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the state’s heritage and history. He was also the first president of the Pike County Archives and History Society, which he helped found in 1986.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the historical aspect of things,” DeWayne said. “I’m a big fan of historic restoration.”
There is plenty of historic aspects for DeWayne and Francy at Hawkins Variety Store. Before the building became the store’s home, it was the home of the Whitten Drugstore, and later the Oscar Baber Drugstore. The back four rooms of the building also once housed the office of Dr. W.D. Alford. There was a coal-fired water heater, hand pumps for the water and a well that was uncovered in 2011 when the back area’s floors were replaced. There was even a room likely used for surgery, well lit by sunlight from high windows that also offered some privacy.
While working to restore a glass door in the back portion of the building where Buel’s office used to be, DeWayne was scratching away several coats of paint when he noticed some words underneath. Like an archeologist discovering an ancient fossil, DeWayne slowly discovered the words “Dr. Alford. Office” on the glass.
“More history,” DeWayne said as he smiled and pointed the door face he could have easily rushed right through and effectively erased some history. Above the doors in the back portion of the building are hinged transoms that were used for ventilation.
DeWayne and Francy have also chosen to bring a part of Buel’s history to the forefront. Tucked away back in Buel’s old office space was a massive safe, which DeWayne said dates back to the early 1900s. The safe, which is still functional, was so huge that when it was rolled into view out by the main counter, it’s wheels left a indention track in the store’s wooden floors. The plan is a for a minor restoration, but not too much.
“It was hidden away but it needed to be up here where everyone can see it,” DeWayne said.
The Grays have attempted to keep everything as it was originally – from door knobs and latches, to the pine floors, to the cracks in the fading green paint on the walls, which have been sealed in time.
“We’re trying to leave everything old, but clean,” DeWayne said with a laugh. “Keep the history, but keep it clean.”
A portion of the original windows installed in 1909 still let the sunlight in the front of the building despite being covered for decades with what DeWayne later discovered was “horse hoof glue.” He has spent many hours standing high above on a ladder removing the glue, and he is still not finished.
“That about killed me,” he said.
The restoration of Hawkins Variety Store is an ongoing process and DeWayne and Francy are not sure when it will ever be complete. They know history can sometimes be a slow process.
“It’s our passion and we want to make sure it’s done right,” DeWayne said.
HISTORIC PLANS. DeWayne and Francy Gray of Murfreesboro with an old photo of the Owens-Stelle Building, the home of historic Hawkins Variety Store.
BACK IN EARLY OCTOBER work was well underway on the major restoration of Hawkins Variety Store in Murfreesboro.
On Thursday, Nov. 20, the Pike County Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will be giving flu vaccines at the Pike County Health Unit, 15 Caddo Drive in Murfreesboro from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. It is important to get a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus changes from year to year. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this season.
If you have insurance, the ADH will ask your insurance to pay for the cost of giving the vaccine. If you do not have insurance or your insurance company does not pay, the vaccine will be available at no charge to you.
Schedules for dates and times of flu clinics, which will be held in each county, can be found on the ADH website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
“We want Pike County residents to stay healthy this flu season, and getting a yearly flu vaccine is the best line of protection,” Irene Chambers Pike County Health Unit Administrator said. “We encourage everyone to come to the clinic to get their flu vaccine.”
People of all ages can get the flu; but certain people are more likely to have serious health complications if they get it. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who live in nursing homes.
“Last year’s flu season was the worst in Arkansas in terms of flu deaths in the last three decades. This is a reminder that flu is not an illness that should be taken lightly,” said Dirk Haselow, M.D., State Epidemiologist at ADH. “Many Arkansans have lost loved ones to the flu. Before you decide to skip the flu vaccine, think about those who care about you or count on you.”
The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. For those who do not like shots, the flu mist is another option. The flu mist is recommended for anyone between the ages of two through 49 who does not have asthma or other problems that might weaken their immune systems.
There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. They include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or to eggs, or a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. People with a non-life-threatening egg allergy may be vaccinated but need to see a doctor specializing in allergies.
The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it and then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year and practice good hand washing.
A Pike County man who killed three family members in July of 2013 pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of capital murder and was sentenced to a lifetime behind bars without a chance for parole.
Timothy Allen Hill, 44, of Billstown entered the guilty plea for the shooting deaths of his estranged wife, Dana Hill, 33; his mother-in-law, Julie Hartsfield, 54; and his wife’s niece, 9-year-old Autumn Hartsfield, all of Waldo. The three were killed the evening of July 13, 2013 at the Hills’ home off Highway 301 in the Billstown community of Pike County. Dana Hill had not resided at the home for some time and the couple were apparently going through a divorce which had not been finalized.
Timothy Hill, who initially pleaded innocent to the deaths, was unshaven, heavy-set and dressed in bright orange prison garb when he appeared before Judge Charles Yeargan in Pike County Circuit Court Monday. Hill was accompanied by his attorney, Rowe Stayton, and his parents sat in the front row of the courtroom. Hill spoke clearly in response to Judge Yeargan’s questions and answered “guilty” to all three capitol murder charges.
One side of the courtroom was filled with members of the victims’ families. Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir said the family members had approved the plea agreement prior to the court session. “I, along with the family, think justice was certainly served today,” Chesshir told The Nashville Leader Monday afternoon.
The three victims were killed by gunfire from a SKS rifle and, according to information filed on the case, the killings were “premeditated and deliberated.” Hill told authorities the night of the shooting that he had taken his two young sons to his parents’ nearby house, knowing his wife was on the way to the home.
Julie and Autumn Hartsfield were both shot while still buckled in seat belts as they sat in a car parked outside the Hill resident. Dana Hill was killed in the bathroom of the home. Julie Hartsfield and Dana Hill died at the scene while Autumn Hartsfield died from her injuries after being air-lifted to a Hot Springs hospital.
Dana Hill had went into the bathroom after arriving at the home. It was at this time, the defendant retrieved his SKS rifle and went outside. “(Hill) stated that he shot the car that his mother-in-law was sitting in and that he knew that she was in it. He further stated that he was mad at her because she was trying to turn his two boys against him,” according to case records.
“It’s my opinion that (Hill) knew exactly what he was going to do,” Chesshir told the newspaper. “He took the kids to his father’s house so they wouldn’t be there to witness what he had planned.”
During Monday’s court appearance, Hill said he was in a “rage” at the time of the shootings and that he and Dana Hill had been arguing.
Investigators found six bullet holes from an SKS rifle in the right front passenger’s door and two bullet holes near the right rear door of a BMW car registered to Dana Hill. Autumn Hartsfield was sitting in the backseat of the car, still buckled in a seat belt.
Dana Hill died from a single gunshot while sitting on the floor of the home’s bathroom. “It appears Dana Hill had locked herself in the bathroom. Timothy Hill had fired one round into the door lock to open the locked door. The doorknob lock was still in the lock position,” according to a case affidavit.
Timothy Hill had told investigators that he “meant to shoot his mother-in-law but did not mean to shoot his wife. He did not know why he did.” The suspect also said when he located his estranged wife in the bathroom that he pointed the rifle at her and asked her “why?” and the gun went off.
Timothy Hill also claimed he did not know that the little girl was in the vehicle when he shot his mother-in-law. He continued to contend Monday during the court appearance that he was unaware that the child was in the car.
Hill had undergone extensive mental evaluations since his arrest, and in February of 2014, the court ordered he stay at the State Hospital and receive mental health treatment until he was deemed ready for trial. He was found competent to stand trial last December but case files noted he was suffering from major depression.
During his time in the Pike County Jail, Hill was involved in a fight with another prisoner, Andrew C. Barrett of Amity. The fight resulted in Hill having to undergo major reconstructive surgery for a broken jaw and treatment of multiple lacerations.
The incident happened in the jail’s general population cell “pod” and was described as an “unarmed fight.” Hill was initially transported to Howard Memorial Hospital where he was stabilized and then transported to a Hot Springs hospital for surgery.
Since Hill was in county custody at the time of the fight, the county had to pay his medical bill, which totaled approximately $50,0000.
Howard Memorial Hospital continues to prepare for the arrival of a new physician.
CEO Debra Wright said Dr. Said Javed is expected to open his practice in early December. Wright told the hospital board last week that the immigration attorney has sent Dr. Javed the packet of information necessary to schedule an interview with the U.S. embassy in London to obtain permission to come to the U.S.
“The interview should be granted quickly, but it may take three to four weeks for their decision,” Wright said.
Recruitment continues for another physician. An interview will be set for a doctor who will be available to start working in Nashville next summer.
Dr. Mgoz Idilenna Wilkins plans to open her practice here in 2016 upon completion of her residency. “Dr. Wilkins sent a very kind e-mail offering her condolences regarding Dr. [Bob] Sykes’ death,” Wright said.
Dr. Javed’s practice will be located in the medical office building on the HMH campus. The office is being prepared for his arrival, and a staff is in place.
The hospital is looking at plans to construct another facility to accommodate the expected arrival of additional doctors in the next couple of years.
Wright said there could be advantages to constructing the office building and a geriatric behavioral health facility simultaneously.
Sealed bids were submitted by two contractors for the geriatric building. Both were above budget, Wright said, but Altech’s proposal “was the more favorable of the two due to availability to begin the project and the construction timeline.” She said a follow-up meeting will review architectural specifications and determine how to reduce costs.
Wright and the architect met with Altech to determine if the geriatric and office facilities could be done at the same time. If the projects come in within the budget, work could begin in early January and be completed within six to eight months.
CNO Alesha Collins said Britni Fannin has been named patient care unit director. She is currently the HMH case manager and will remain in the role until a new case manager is hired and trained, according to Collins.
Collins has been elected to the Arkansas Organization for Nurse Executives board. “I am excited that it will be a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow as a nursing executive and help push nursing back in the right direction in relation to professional practice standards,” she said.
The medical staff approved the hiring of Vickie Posey Reynolds as the new registered dietician for the hospital. She has worked at HMH in the past and moved back to the area. She succeeds Rose Hoening.
Howard Memorial recorded a profit of $26,652 for September, according to CFO Bill Craig. The month had been budgeted to show a loss of nearly $47,000, resulting in a favorable variance of nearly $73,600, Craig said.
Outpatient visits, emergency department visits and surgical cases were all above budget. The inpatient average daily census of 2.4 patients was below budget, Craig said.
The hospital has 138.7 days cash on hand, compared to a target of 100 days. Accounts receivable are 27.6 days, compared to the target of 45 days.
The honor roll for the first nine-week grade period has been released by Nashville Elementary School.
ALL A: Cesar Aguilar-Hernandez, Elizabeth Billingsley, Adam Bostic, Jose Bretado Jr., Lauren Carver, Shyanne Christian, Dalton Coffman, Addison Cox, Angel Cruz, Dabne Cuellar, Madison Daniel, Hayden Davis, J. Landon Dyer, Mykensie Ewert, Noella Ferretiz, Martin Garcia, Miller Goff, Kristen S. Green, Nevaeh Green, Anna C. Gunter, Kristen Hendry, Haylie Hill, Ashlyn Hipp, Emma Hutchison, Nicolas Iacovelli, Savanna Jackson, Sophie Kuykendall, Juliet Marcelino, Daleigh Morris, Kelly Pace, Sophie Padgett, Evett Padilla, Sabina Pina, Arely Pioquinto, Kaydence Reisinger, Perla Rios, Martisa Rosas, Kaydence Schroer, Kyleigh Scoggins, Alex Sullivan, Oliva Tedford, Wiley Washburn, and Riley Webb.
All A and B: Obed Aguilar, Anthoney Ballstrose, Rachel Barton, Richard Barton, Jonna Boone, Alicia Bustos, marian Campos, Jackson Carter, Tyler Castro, Colton Cox, Kiara Cruz, Lorrine Davis, Emanuel Del Carmen, Garrett Ewing, Marisol Ferretiz, Dylan Finley, Kelvin Flowers, Waydon Funderburk, Taniya Golston, Hayden Goodson, Makenzie Graham, David Gutierrez, Jewelie Harris, Ayanna Hendrix, Makayla Hill, Brooklynn Ireland, Brayden Kerschner, Trista Lansdell, James Leedale, Zaid Lorenzo, Joevonnie Martinez, Devon Mays, Elvonte Mays, Felix A Mendiola, Mia Mendiola, P Remington Miller, Cassondra Nolen, Andrew Peebles, Kaivonna Perkins, Journey Pope, Blake Rhodes, Jennifer Santamaria, Alliyah Sillavon, Tracee Sims, Aiden Smith, Jaycee Spoo, Janiya Starr, J’Kha Stewart, Jonah Stinnett, Alana Swopes, Jonathan Vancamp, Sergio Vazquez-Rodriquez, Amayrany Violante, Bayden Walton, Zion Wells, Justin Wescott, Sha’mya White, Weston White, and Elizabeth Worley.
All A: Zackary Barton, Maci Bishop, Charlie Bissell, Lillian Burton, Tiffany Byers, Isai Camacho, Maggie Campbell, Ashley Chambers, Katie Cochran, Heavyn Collins, Alayna Cook, Audri Couch, Isabella Dixon, J. Riley Dodd, Jonah Fant, Edwin Flores, Turner Futrell, Tyler Garner, Madison Gray, Lawson Green, Ethan Gunter, Andrew Harrison, Peyton Hilliard, Avery Hood, Jenna Hostetler, Alizea Hutchinson, Shelbie Kirchoff, Hayden Linville, Andrew McCain, Aslynn Miller, Jennifer Perez, Ivette Pizarro, Ella Ragar, Brittan Ray, Athziry Rocha, Haley Rosenbaum, Calob Scott, T Hunter Serrano, Ellen spigner, Treyton Spurling, Mattison Steele, Katherine Talley, Wyatt Talley, Mason Turbeville, Haeden Walker, Emma Watts, Kinsey Westfall, Lauren Whisenhunt, and Steven Wright.
All A and B: Julia Hernandez, Gissel Alcocer, Jasmine Alfaro, Natalie Alfaro, Syndy Almazan, Emily Avalos, Cesar
Barajas, Masea Billihngsley, Morgan Billingsley, Aiden Chapman, Chandler Chapman, Rebecca Connell, Summer Cox, James Dewalt, Noel Dunham, Maylin Escamilla, Dianaliz Flores-Martinez, Ke’anay Flowers, Isai Fong-Pineda, Mason Free, Nicolas Garcia, Braydon Gilstrap, Elijah Harris, Tramillion Henderson, Royce Henthorn, Aaron Hernandez, Adrian Hernandez, Jasmine Hernandez, Matthias Hibberd, Kammie Hill, Tanner Hunt, Tyler Jones, Crimson Lovewell, Tayanna Manrrique, Alex Martinez, Oliver Murillo, Randy Murillo, Moriah Newton, Jer’sean Norris, Hayden Patrick, Alberto Pioquinto, Kenya Polite, Cameron Reese, Heather Rhodes, Justice Rosenbaum, Kaley Rosenbaum, Camrun Stewart, Joshua Sweeden, Denise Tapia, Honesty Taylor, Lillian Thomas, Sidney Townsend, Jasmine Wakefield, Sylas Ware, Brennon Warren, Zakarreya White, J. Garrett Willard, and Madison Woodruff.
All A: Lindsey Aylett, Annabelle Bowman, Misael Cardenas, Jonathan Claiborne, Hayden Clay, Quitavious Collier, Kara Connell, Aly Dixon, Yaira Escamilla, Braden Funderburke, C. Thatcher Furr, J. Kelley Howard, Caroline Kesterson, Anna Linville, Isaiah Martin, Jacob Martin, Matthew McGilberry, Macy Morris, William Pope, Kasia Ragland, Anna Rhodes, M. Connor Stone, Sara Sweat, Brooke Thompson, Chloe Wakley, Victoria Whisenhunt, Ahniya Williamson, and Kasius Williamson.
All A and B: Diego Barragan, Tyler Beene, Tyler Beene, Tyler Berry, Raven Bradshaw, Dalton Brown, Jayda Bryan, Gilberto Bustos, Alexis Byers, Tanaya Coburn, Austin combs, Ashley Davis, Lashonna Dawnta-Cooper, Joshua Deaton, Caiden Erwin, C. Wheeler Eudy, Jonathan Fike, Slade Furr, April Garcia, Jamia Gilliam, Tyler Gordon, J. Mac Green, Jalyn Hendrix, Lamia Hendrix, Nikobie Janes, Chastin Johnson, Bethany Jones, Kash King, Kailey Laxton, Markus Leedale, Jayden Marlar, Nicholas Matheny, Itzel Medina, Jennifer Medina-Frias, Jessica Medina-Frias, Noelia Morales, Juan Moreno, Brooklyn Nutt, Katelyn Pace, Kimberly Pineda, Olman Pineda, Litzy Pizarro, Jayden Pope, Raegan Porter, De’Vay Ragland, Marcos Ramirez, Quinlan Reed, Karleigh Reeder, Maya Richard, Braden Ross, Diana Rubio-Hernandez, William Ryan, Joselyn Sanchez, Jasmyne Shelton, Anna Smith, Isbella Smith, Eren Soto, Lawrence Theoboldt, Trinity Tipton, Landon Tollett, Beverly Vang, Rogelio Vazquez-Violante, Marcus Wester, Ty Wiliams, and Coleman Zimmerman.
A Kirby seventh-grader died from injuries sustained Monday afternoon when she was hit by a vehicle after getting off the school bus, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Jazmin Hernandez, 12, died at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock where she was air-lifted following the accident.
The accident happened on Highway 70 around 3:25 p.m.
ASP Trooper Benjamin Harrison reported an eastbound Kirby School District bus was stopped and unloading students with all its emergency lights and signals activated at the time of the accident. A 2001 Ford Explorer failed to yield to the bus and struck Hernandez as she crossed the highway.
The trooper’s initial report did not include who was driving the Explorer but the ASP later issued a news release identifying the driver as Dwight L. Moody, 88, of Delight. Moody’s 84-year-old wife was a passenger in the Explorer.
An investigative report prepared by the ASP was submitted Wednesday to Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir of Nashville who is currently reviewing the report. Chesshir is expected to meet with the Hernandez family Monday.
A proposal to build a new maximum-security state prison has drawn the interest of several counties and cities, including Pike County, looking to be the location of the $100 million facility.
Pike County was among the 16 entities which have submitted paperwork to the Arkansas Department of Correction to become the home of the proposed state prison, according to Dina Tyler, ADC spokesperson.
Along with Pike County, those answering “request for expression of interest-site evaluation” questionnaires before the Oct. 24 deadline include:
Scott County, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, Cross County Chamber of Commerce, City of Arkadelphia and Clark County, White River Planning and Development, Newport Economic Development Commission, City of Marshall (Searcy County), City of Pindall (Searcy County), City of Augusta, Mississippi County Economic Development, Prescott-Southwest Arkansas Development Alliance, Hempstead County Economic Development Commission, City of Camden, City of Booneville and Prairie County.
Tyler told The Nashville Leader Monday afternoon it is “entirely possible some (paperwork) could have been mailed Friday” and had not yet been received, but would be accepted if they are postmarked by Oct. 24.
Pike County Judge Baker said Monday he was assisted by the West Arkansas Planning and Development District in filling out the questionnaire, which seeks information about the county’s labor and proposed site profiles, environmental considerations and infrastructure, such as distances to the nearest interstate, major highways, major airports and higher educational facilities.
Judge Baker said he also included a letter detailing the proposed benefits for the five surrounding counties and letters from the mayors of Glenwood and Murfreesboro stating the cities’ intent to provide water and sewer services to the proposed sites.
The new jail proposal will require at least 400 acres of land. The proposed sites in Pike County include privately-owned and corporate lands north of Murfreesboro in an area commonly known as the Valley of the Kings as well as land in Glenwood located in the Glenwood Industrial Park.
“We’ve done what was asked of us, now we’re just waiting to hear back from the state,” Baker told the newspaper Monday.
Tyler said “there is no real timeframe” concerning picking the home for the new jail and since there has been no decision reached about how to fund the proposal, “They don’t have to rush.”
The Arkansas Legislature will determine how to fund the proposed jail. The next session does not start until January. “So, if (the Legislature) decide to fund it, that could be any time toward the end of the session” in March or April.
The new 1,000-bed prison is expected to create at least 250 new jobs with an hourly salary of $12.75, and have an expected annual operating budget of $38 million. The Arkansas Board of Correction has stated in the past that the new prison will house some of the most difficult inmates in the state and extra space will be set aside for at least 200 single-cell isolation units. The proposed jail would also allow for the site to be expanded to 2,000 beds.
The new prison, which is expected to take up to three years to build, could assist the state with overcrowding issues. Senator Larry Teague wrote in the past that “prison overcrowding is an issue that legislators and the Correction Department have had to cope with for years.” He noted that an earlier special session resulted in an additional $6.3 million a year to open 60 more prison beds.
“The Arkansas inmate population is more than 17,000 and growing,” Teague recently stated. “One reason for a recent growth spurt is that prison officials tightened parole policies. Now, inmates who are out of prison on parole must comply with stricter rules about reporting to parole officers and attending court-ordered drug treatment and counseling.”
An Department of Community Correction report noted the state’s prison population increased 17.7 percent in 2013 and was the highest single-year jump in state history. The national rate showed a 2.2 percent increase in the number of prisoners last year.
Chairman of Arkansas Board of Correction Benny Magness was recently quoted as saying the state prison system has projected a growth of “an average of 35 (prisoners) per month, and we’re actually growing at 50 per month. By 2017, we’ll have 19,144 prisoners. By the time we could build a new prison, we’ll be 4,000 beds in the hole. If that doesn’t change, we’re sinking.”
Teague said one possible source of funding the new jail, if approved by lawmakers, would be an increase in license plate fees, which would create revenue to finance a bond issue.
Delinquent real estate taxes aren’t anything new for deputy collector Olena Morris in her 34 years in the courthouse.
But collections for 2013 taxes which were due Oct. 15, are lagging about a half-million behind. The county is charged with collecting almost $8 million this year. The gap between the amount due and the amount actually collected is “a whole lot more than it’s ever been,” Morris said Monday.
The difference in 2013 was about $300,000.
The gap is typically narrowed the most when property owners try to renew their driver’s licenses. They must pay their taxes before they can renew the license.
Of the real taxes collected, 88% goes to schools. In addition, via state sales taxes Arkansas collects a “Homestead Credit” which comes back to the county to be distributed to schools, library, county roads and county general funds. That amount for 2014 is $989,431.22.
Property taxes charged for recent years include:
2013 — $6,467,482.32
2012 — 6,228,482.93
2011 — 6,262,601.10
2010 — 5,847,650.223
2009 — 5,717,895.18
The gap between collections and charges was a topic last week at the October meeting of the County Judge Kevin Smith said that the gap was an item for some concern, although he wasn’t really worried. “We’ll get the money.”
County Judge Kevin Smith said that the gap was an item for some concern, although he wasn’t really worried. “We’ll get the money.”
JP Brent Pinkerton, who represents Nashville District 1, said that the delinquent taxes would most likely have an effect when 2015 budgets are formed. Pinkerton, a JP for 18 years, has been on the quorum court’s budget committee for most of those years. He said he knew that the lagging money would come in eventually. “It’s more of a cash flow problem.”
County Treasurer Sherri Mixon said that she had already begun collecting information to be used in forming the next budget.
For Nate Steel of Nashville, the campaign for Attorney General which began on the lawn of the Howard County Courthouse is in the home stretch.
With the Nov. 4 General Election less than a week away, Steel says the campaign is “going very well. I’ve been humbled by the support we have received from all over the state, from both individuals and businesses.”
Steel, a Democrat, announced his candidacy on July 10, 2013.
Since then, “It has been a roller coaster,” Steel said of the campaign. “I’ve said several times that you find out who your friends are when you take on a state-wide effort like this. My community has been unbelievable. From my immediate family, to my co-workers, to those in local government and area businesses, I’ve been amazed and humbled by the outpouring of support. I couldn’t be more proud to be a Scrapper.”
Steel’s background includes a lengthy list of family members who have held numerous legal and political positions going back for decades. In his campaign, family members have “played just about every role, from helping keep my home and office together in my absence, to every campaign duty imaginable. I am blessed to have such committed family. Not just parents and my sister, but cousins, aunts and uncles; it’s been a group effort.”
Steel said the most enjoyable part of the campaign has been “meeting people and discussing policies that make a real difference in our communities. It’s always interesting to meet new people from around the state. Their experiences are not all that different from ours in Howard County, but I love to hear how they’re dealing with issues. You can learn a lot from that.”
On the other side, the least favorite aspect has been “without question, fund-raising. Unfortunately, raising the funds to buy ads is a necessary part of the process, but there is nothing worse than asking friends and colleagues for help.”
The campaign has placed Steel on the stage with a number of legendary political figures in Arkansas, including former President Bill Clinton, who has made two campaign swings through the state on behalf of Democratic candidates.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people through this process, and President Clinton is certainly one of them. The one thing that jumped out at me during the process was that he is the last Southwest Arkansas native to be elected Attorney General. That was in 1977. So, as I told the crowd in Hope, I think it’s our turn again,” Steel said.
Steel’s opponents include Republican Leslie Rutledge and Libertarian Aaron Cash. The three met in a debate last July at the Arkansas Press Association convention in Hot Springs. Because Cash is a third-party candidate, Rutledge is generally considered to be Steel’s chief opponent.
Much of Rutledge’s campaign has been spent promising to fight “federal overreach.”
Steel says the “job of the AG is to enforce the law and protect people. There is no Republican or Democrat way to do that, just good and bad ways to do it. The main differences in this race are our experience and focus. Ms. Rutledge’s experiences and mine are vastly different.”
Steel said he came straight back home after law school at the University of Arkansas “and worked in my community, both as a lawyer and as a volunteer with several organizations. As a prosecutor in Howard County, I handled felony cases and saw a little bit of everything. Ms. Rutledge practiced in Little Rock and Washington, D.C. There is nothing wrong with those differences in experience, but they have certainly led to different areas of expertise and focus. While I plan to concentrate on state issues, from our prison overcrowding problem to child support and veterans’ issues, Ms. Rutledge focuses on national politics. I would imagine that is a result of our differing experiences in Nashville, Ark., and Washington, D.C., respectively.”
During the campaign, Steel has received endorsements from law enforcement organizations in Arkansas and from the National Rifle Association, the Arkansas Education Association and the Arkansas Realtors, among others. “Regardless of party or part of the state, the encouragement and support has been overwhelming, and I couldn’t be more grateful,” he said.
Steel began the last full week of the campaign by voting Monday at the Howard County Courthouse. From there, “The calendar is booked with events all over the state, including Fayetteville, Rogers, Little Rock, Jonesboro, Batesville and El Dorado, just to name a few.”
Steel said he “knew that Nashville would play a big part in this campaign; that’s why I made my formal announcement at our courthouse. I’ve always believed that Nashville is a special place, and traveling the state has just reinforced that.
“What has been surprising is how the people of Nashville have taken such a personal stake in this race. I’ve heard from people that never cared much for politics, but they’ve looked at what’s at stake, and they’ve heard my opponents, and they just want to help,” Steel said.
“I meet people all over the state who tell me they had a friend from Howard County who reached out to them and encouraged them to help me. That means more than I could ever say. By far, the biggest downside of a victory in this race will be spending so much time in Little Rock, away from the community that I love.”
PINK OUT DAY FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS. At Mine Creek Health & Rehab participants included, from left, Sheila Milam, Jeana Medlin, Nicole Aylett, Jessie Bowers, Nicole Brock Tab Randle, Karen Whisenhunt, Janice Jones, Candy Upton, Monica Brown, Twila Curry, Dee Dee Smith, Jana Witherspoon, Kathy Rogers, Shree Gentry, Cristal Young, Mike Hays, Debra Lewis, Melody Ester, LaTonya Franklin, Ebony Hopkins and Quisha Morgan.
Hotly contested races for federal, state and area offices will be settled by Arkansas voters between now and election day, Tuesday, Nov. 4. Early voting is now underway at courthouses in Howard and Pike counties.
Because of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling last week, voters will no longer have to show a photo ID. The court ruled that the state’s voter ID law was invalid.
Races, with names in the order they will appear on the Howard County ballot, include:
U.S. Senate — Mark Pryor, Democrat; Mark H. Swaney, Green Party; Tom Cotton, Republican; Nathan LaFrance, Libertarian.
U.S. Congress, District 4 — Rep. Bruce Westerman, Republican; Ken Hamilton, Libertarian; James Lee Witt, Democrat.
Governor of Arkansas — J. Joshua Drake, Green Party; Asa Hutchinson, Republican; Mike Ross, Democrat; Frank Gilbert, Libertarian.
Lieutenant Governor — John Burkhalter, Democrat; Christopher Olsen, Libertarian; Congressman Tim Griffin, Republican.
Secretary of State — Secretary of State Mark Martin, Republican; Susan Inman, Democrat; Jacob D. Holloway, Libertarian.
State Treasurer — Chris Hayes, Libertarian; Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan, Republican; Karen Sealy Garcia, Democrat.
Auditor of State — Brian Leach, Libertarian; Representative Andrea Lea, Republican; Regina Stewart Hampton, Democrat.
Commissioner of State Lands — Mark A. Robertson, Democrat; Elvis D. Presley, Libertarian; Commissioner John Thurston, Republican.
State Representative District 19 — Justin Gonzales, Republican; Jeremy Ross, Democrat.
State Representative District 4 — DeAnn Vaught, Republican; Rep. Fonda Hawthorne, Democrat.
Among area races is the one for mayor of Mineral Springs where candidates include Bobby Tullis and the incumbent, W.H. “Sonny” Heatherly.
The City of Murfreesboro will also have two contested races including for mayor and the South Ward Position 2 on the city council. Mayoral candidates include Rodney Fagan and Soledad Woodall. South Ward Position 2 candidates are Mary Jean Barbre and Jeff Walls.
There will also be a race for Pike County Justice of the Peace District 7 seat between Kenneth Crow, Democrat and David Sirmon, Republican.
The Pike County town of Daisy will also have a contested race for the Recorder/Treasurer position between Hortense Young and Jennifer Cogburn.
There are five ballot “issues” where voters may cast “for” or “against” votes.
Issue 1 — An amendment empowering the General Assembly to provide for Legislative Committee review and approval of state agencies and administrative rules. The issue would actually reduce the powers of the office of the governor and give more to the legislature.
Issue 2 — An amendment allowing more time to gather signatures on a state-wide initiative or referendum petition only if the petition as originally filed contained at least 75% of the valid signatures required.
Issue 3 — An amendment regulating contributions to candidates for state or local office, barring gifts from lobbyists to certain state officials providing for setting salaries of certain officials, and setting term limits for members of the general assembly. The issue actually lengthens the time in office a politician may serve.
Issue 4 — The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment (statewide sales of alcoholic beverages). There would be no more ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ counties.
Issue 5 — An act to increase the Arkansas minimum wage (raising the minimum wage from $6.25 per hour to $8.50 in three increments ending Jan. 1, 2017).
Early voting began Monday of this week for the General Election of 2014.
The early voting takes place in the Howard County courthouse annex in the hours of 8-6, Monday through Friday, beginning.
Early voting will end Monday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m., and polling places in the county will be open the following day, election day, from 7:30-7:30.
The early voting site will be open on two Saturdays before the election, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, from 10-4.
Subcontractors’ bids on Phase 4 of the Nashville School District’s building project will be opened Thursday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. in the board room, Superintendent Doug Graham told the school board Monday night.
Doyle Howard Construction of Delight, the contractor, is advertising for subcontractors’ packages, Graham said. After bids are opened, Graham will call a special board meeting “to approve or deny the job.”
If the work is approved, “We’ll start during the Christmas holidays,” Graham said.
The project includes enclosing a large part of the Nashville High School courtyard and constructing a cafeteria at the school.
The work at high school marks the final phase of the district’s $15-million facilities improvement program. The remainder of the project has been completed and includes a 7-classroom addition at NHS, renovation of the existing high school building, a new cafeteria and media center at junior high, and Scrapper Arena.
The board hired Howard Construction earlier this month after terminating a contract with Crawford Construction Co., the contractor for the other building projects. The budget for the high school work is about $2.8 million, and the closest the former contractor came was about $3.2 million.
Board members took care of several routine items during their 25-minute meeting. They elected officers for the next year, including Randy Elliott, president; Miles Mitchell, vice president; and David Hilliard, secretary.
Graham reported that the district’s operating balance at the end of last month was $3,652,000.
The board approved a revised personnel policy on employee insurance, replacing a policy adopted last summer. “This was just released by the Arkansas School Board Association,” Graham said, and reflects changes in the state’s school employee insurance program.
“It will probably be amended again by the legislature after the first of the year,” Graham said. “We have no choice but to get it in the book and wait on the session” in January.
Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell gave an update on the district’s ACSIP Plans and Assurances.
“We volunteered to be in a pilot program for ACSIP,” Kell said. About 50 school districts statewide are participating in the pilot program.
“This involves more teamwork, both in the district unit and school building units. We meet twice monthly and about four different times with the state for training on the new aspects,” Kell said.
Graham said preliminary reports indicate that Howard County tax collections “are low so far. We hope they pick up. Distribution will be sometime between now and November.”
The board hired the following: Tracey Upton, special ed aide; Jennifer Cox, custodian at primary; Lyndol Hoen, cafeteria; Jennifer Smith, custodian.
Queen Kristyn Self was crowned during ceremonies held Friday at Rattler Stadium. Self is pictured with escorts Alex Kennedy and Conner Watson. More pictures can be found on The Nashville Leader’s Facebook page.
Sept. 5 — John Moore of Shreveport, La., filed a report with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department regarding government documents that were forged bearing his name as the lessor. The documents were in the possession of the US Department of Agriculture office located in Nashville. The documents were a lease agreement certification statement for emergency government assistance. The USDA office in Nashville told investigators that Brian Eudy had requested an application and a lease agreement form on May 16, 2014. He returned a week later with the program application and lease agreement bearing the signature of John Moore.
This case is being investigated by Howard County Sheriff’s Investigators David Shelton and John Eric Glidewell.
Brian Steven Eudy, 36, white male, of 175 Possum Hollow Road Dierks, turned himself in on Friday, Oct. 17 and posted a $25,000 bond for his release.
Oct. 16, — the Howard County Sheriff’s Department received a call from Jim Hood at 1747 Mt. Pleasant Drive north of Nashville. He stated that he was mowing at his son’s residence and noticed a dark colored Chevrolet truck come from behind the house at a fast rate of speed. Deputy Timmy Floyd and Investigator John Eric Glidewell responded to the call. When officers arrived they observed tire tracks where the vehicle had sped away and noticed several items that came from inside the residence sitting in the yard behind the house. Deputy Floyd stayed at the residence taking the report while Investigator Glidewell attempted to locate the suspect vehicle. Investigator Glidewell met a dark green Chevrolet truck traveling at a high rate of speed traveling north on Mt. Pleasant. Investigator Glidewell radioed Deputy Floyd and advised him to have Hood look at the vehicle when it passed by the residence. Hood advised officers that was the vehicle he had seen earlier coming from behind his son’s residence. Investigator Glidewell stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Christopher Jarmin, 29, white male, of 160 Ramage Road, Nashville, and the passenger as Dustyn Dowdle, 25, white male, of 2706 Hwy. 26 East, Delight. Officers found several items in the back of the truck that had been stolen out of the Hood residence. Both subjects were arrested and transported to the Howard County Jail and charged with Residential Burglary and Theft of Property. Bond has been set at $50,000 for each.
Oct. 17 – at approximately 7:45 p.m. Deputy Travis Turner was patrolling on Hwy. 27 south of Nashville. he made traffic stop on a Ford Mustang for speeding. The driver, James Wright, 28, white male, of Texarkana, Ark., did not have his driver’s license with him. He was reportedly very nervous while talking with the deputy, who then obtained consent to search. While patting Wright down he found a bag of marijuana and a bag of methamphetamine. Wright was arrested and transported to the Howard County Jail and is being charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance: Marijuana and Methamphetamine. Bond has been set at $25,000.
Ebola paranoia has spread to Nashville and a recent public outcry and threats have prompted a mission trip to the West African county of Senegal to be postponed.
A handful of members of the Ridgeway Baptist Church of Nashville were set to join members of a Hot Springs church for a medical mission to Senegal on Nov. 6. But, over the last two weeks, the public concerns about the mission and the possibility of missionaries bringing the deadly virus home to Arkansas had become increasingly threatening. Mission organizer, Dr. Jackson Porter of the Hot Springs church, announced Friday that the trip had been delayed.
“I could see for the greater good, this had to be sacrificed,” Porter told the Hot Springs newspaper in an article published Saturday. He said he did not want the one mission to jeopardize the other numerous planned church missions. “It’s not something I want to do, but there was just so much push-back. There were threatening implications”
Porter was also quoted as saying the public’s reaction was fueled by a recent article in The Nashville Leader about the churches’ plan to proceed with the mission trip despite the then-presence of the Ebola virus in Senegal. The article was posted and re-posted on social media and the public outcry soon flooded the Nashville’s church’s Facebook page and even involved concerned calls to Nashville Mayor Billy Ray Jones.
“One every minute,” is the rate of calls Mayor Jones said he fielded last week as the issue continued to spin on social media. “The town is obviously pretty worried.”
The comments posted to the church’s social media page ranged from polite requests to reconsider the mission to name-calling and threats of pulling children from the church if the mission was to take place.
Bro. Larry Sherman of the Nashville church told The Nashville Leader Monday that some church members have endured threats to their physical well-being and the church building has also been the subject of other threats.
When Mayor Jones and church authorities officially announced Friday that the mission been delayed, a Ridgeway Baptist Church member posted on the church’s Facebook page that the decision was reached because of the public’s “hatred and vitriol” had caused members of the mission team “to be concerned for their safety, not from travel, not from Ebola, but from their neighbors and so called friends. For that reason, and no other, this trip has been postponed.” The poster also said God was “not happy” about the situation.
Once the postponement was announced, the public again took to social media where they thanked the church for reconsidering and listening to the public concerns.
Dr. Porter also noted in the interview with the Hot Springs newspaper that on the day he had to announce the mission had been delayed the World Health Organization had declared Senegal has an “Ebola-free country.”
The 2014-15 school year marks the beginning of the fifth year of the South Pike County School District. We are operating three campuses, Murfreesboro High School, Murfreesboro Elementary, and Delight Elementary. All students and teachers operate under the same district policies which are guided by the model policies produced by the Arkansas School Board Association.
All campuses of the South Pike district are fully accredited by the Arkansas Department of Education. We are meeting the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which is in place as a technology and internet safety measure. This includes blocking or filtering internet access for all users, helping to prevent users from accessing material that is harmful to minors. Also, all users are required to sign usage agreements which give the guidelines for usage, and have, or will be instructed in the safe and ethical use of the internet, including but not limited to social networking. Students are advised that they enjoy no expectation of privacy in any aspect of their school computer use.
We currently have 693 students enrolled. Of these, 104 are at the Delight Elementary, 281 are at the Murfreesboro Elementary, and 308 are at the Murfreesboro High School. We have a total of 43 classified employees, and 69 licensed employees. All employees are working under a unified salary schedule and personnel policies.
Under Arkansas’ ESEA Flexibility Waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, both elementary campuses and the high school have been placed on “Needs Improvement” status. While the district’s status currently requires no corrective action under the ESEA Waiver, we have a combination of specialized classes, computerized activities, after-school tutoring, and a partnerships with the Learning Institute, E-Instruction, and Virtual Arkansas as interventions to help in the effort to raise test scores.
Title I funds are being used to provide services above and beyond those required for all students on both elementary campuses, as well as technology supplies and software. Title II is being used for class size reduction and technology for classrooms. NSLA funds are being used to fund after school tutoring/remediation centers and to purchase much needed technology upgrades to advance learning. All these topics are covered in our ACSIP plan which is prepared by our federal programs coordinator, Tanya Wilcher.
South Pike County School District is an equal educational Title VI and Title IX school district. No student in the district shall, on the grounds of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability be excluded from participation in, or denied benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity sponsored by the district. Our Equity coordinator is Tanya Wilcher and our Homeless liaison is Kathaleen Cole.
The district is currently in the process of improving the Murfreesboro Elementary playground. We have increase the size of the play area, and are adding new play equipment that will increase our ability to serve all students. We are also in the process of adding technology devices to ensure our readiness for state-mandated digital testing and improve the ability to teach and learn. We are purchasing new bleachers for the gymnasium that will be installed during the Christmas Holidays. We are also researching the feasibility of a renovation to the gymnasium, which would add HVAC and additional seating. Also, a partnership project through the Department of Education’s Facilities Division is being pursued to attain new HVAC units for the high school.
At this time, Mrs. Tanya Wilcher will report on both elementary schools and Federal Programs, followed by Ms. Kathaleen Cole reporting on the high school. At that time our annual Report to the Public will be concluded.
Elementary Principal Tanya Wilcher
Murfreesboro & Delight Elementary School
Report to the Public
Our enrollment this year at Murfreesboro Elementary is 282 students.
We have 43 students in kindergarten.
43 students in 1st grade classrooms
42 students in 2nd grade classrooms
37 students in 3rd grade classrooms
28 students in 4th grade
45 students in 5th grade
44 students in 6th grade
Our enrollment at Delight Elementary is 104 students.
We have 16 in Kindergarten,
15 students in 1st grade
18 students in 2nd grade
13 students in 3rd grade
14 students in 4th grade
18 students in 5th grade
10 students in 6th grade
Murfreesboro & Delight Elementary have been labeled as a Needs Improvement Schools. These categories are based on the Arkansas Benchmark Exam scores.
K-6th grades are implementing the Common Core standards for the third year. The Benchmark test is still testing students on the old Framework standards. Teachers are having to implement many programs and interventions this year on both campuses to help fill this information gap that has been caused with the state changing our teaching standards but not changing the achievement testing yet.
K-6th grades are implementing DI Reading on both campuses. We are seeing many improvements and more students excelling in reading.
Both campuses are using the computer labs and different intervention programs with all our students. All students rotate through the computer lab weekly to help with remediation and enrichment for K-6th graders in Math & Literacy & Science. The students are also being taught keyboarding which will be used on the new state computerized testing that begins this school year.
We will be starting the after school tutoring on both campuses this month. Tutoring this year will target the students that did not score proficient or above on the benchmark or is below level in reading.
Accelerated Reader is used on both campuses to encourage all students to read more.
We are encouraging parents to stay actively involved with their children’s academic success. We are still using an online gradebook program, HAC. Parents have access to their children’s grades online. If a parent needs their access code to get in, they may call either office to get it.
We are trying a new schedule on the Murfreesboro campus this year with our 5th & 6th graders. Math & reading classes are 75 minutes long and Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts are being split into 3 smaller classes for 45 minutes every other week. This is enabling the teachers more individual time with each group. The 3rd & 4th graders are being team taught this year with two teachers at each grade level but all students K-4 participate in DI Reading from 8:15-9:45 each morning.
Our 5th & 6th grades are still getting to experience PE twice a week. One day a week they are with Ms. Traci Jones implementing the standards for PE and one day a week they are with Coach Steve Martin getting to participate in off season drills to introduce them to the sports that will be available to them in Jr. High school.
We are using NSLA money & Title I money to implement a one-to-one Ipad ratio for 5th & 6th graders on both campuses. All teachers on both campuses also have an Ipad and the ability to be mobile while they are teaching. We are trying to enhance our teaching by utilizing all the advancements of technology that are available for them.
Murfreesboro & Delight Elementary collect box tops each year. M’boro Elementary raised $2508 last year and Delight Elementary raised $1038 by having students collect these and bring to school. This money is used for prizes, programs, and incentives for the students. We would love to encourage everyone in the community to collect box tops and turn them in to the schools.
Murfreesboro elementary used money they raised from last school years fundraising to expand our back playground. We are in the process of adding a swing set and a dome jungle gym. We are hoping to raise enough money this year to add some additional equipment on the front playground also.
All teachers are fully certified and are highly qualified in their teaching area.
Both Campuses are fully accredited and are a school-wide Title I school.
High School Principal Kathaleen Cole
REPORT TO THE PUBLIC
The High School has 311 students in attendance. We hired four new teachers this year. ALE Teacher, Ms Stephaine Cox, high school English Teacher, Stephaine Cross, Nicole Martin, and Mac McCrea, science teachers /coaches.
High School has just gotten in IPADS for students to use in various classrooms. Teachers have been trained in operating the IPADS using programs that will benefit the students. The programs consist of 360, Edmodo, Remind 101 and You Tube. (Educational)
Murfreesboro High School is currently offering 27 different classes through Virtual Arkansas. Several students are taking classes from Cossatot as well.
The district also has a new web site up in order to keep the public inform about the school’s events. Teachers are creating classes and organizing web sites. The calendar on the district’s home page lists major events. Important events are featured in a yellow bar flashing underneath the slide show. The web site is an on-going project with changes and updates made almost daily.
The district’s parent involvement plan is located on the web site along with other items of interest to parents.
Student Council is involving our community in recognizing and honoring community members through the Veteran’s Day Assembly that will be held on November 11, 2014.
The Student Council also sold Pink-out t-shirts to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
FCCLA attended national competitions in San Antonio this summer and Bethany Briley won a gold medal in public speaking and Addison Womack won a silver medal for our chapter on our community service project on wellness.
FCCLA presently has 57 members. FCCLA and our Community Service Project fundraiser has been for the Ronald McDonald house, donation $150.00.
FBLA attended their fall conference Wednesday, October 8, 2014 with 25 members joined and 24 in attendance. The next conference will be in February, 2015 in Hope.
South Pike County School District
Report to the Public
In Arkansas, schools are evaluated by their students’ performance on tests in Grades 3-8 in the subject areas of mathematics and literacy. End-of-Course tests in Algebra I, Geometry and 11th Grade Literacy are also used to assess student learning. The 2013-14 school year was the last for Benchmark and End-of-Course assessments. We are transitioning to the PARCC test which reflects the Common Core Standards. See the attached handout with scores for each campus.
SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT STATUS
South Pike County is a “Needs Improvement” district. Designation as “Needs Improvement” means that the school is not a Needs Improvement Priority School, Needs Improvement Focus School, or Exemplary School and that the school did not meet its Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) in performance or growth for the all-students group and the Targeted Achievement Gap Group (TAGG). The majority of the schools in Arkansas currently have this designation. After school tutoring and remediation have begun on all three campuses. Teachers and students are also working on student Academic Improvement Plans (AIPs). It is important to remember this status was determined using the ACTAAP testing system which measures the Arkansas Frameworks not the Common Core Standards that were being taught as required by ADE.
In order to make improvements, all schools in the South Pike County School District are giving target test to gauge what our students have learned. Both elementary schools are developing their own test and we are beginning to give the test electronically. At MES, students are taking the test on IPADS or in the computer lab. This will be phased into DES over the coming months. MHS is working with The Learning Institute (TLI) to facilitate target tests. The math department has given their first test entirely online. This is being filtered into other disciplines. This is to better prepare our students for the PARCC assessment which will be administered entirely online. Our math, literacy and science teachers use current lesson plans to create an assessment map that is followed throughout the year. The data received from the assessments helps the teacher quickly identify academic strengths and weaknesses. Once those areas have been identified, teachers can then begin to enhance the student’s knowledge of necessary skills, rather than spending time on skills already mastered. All of our literacy, math and science teachers worked during the summer to implement this target testing program and it is evolving throughout the year.
Work has begun on student Academic Improvement Plans (AIPs). All students who do not score proficient or advanced need AIP’s and are to be remediated. Both elementary schools are beginning after school tutoring programs for those students needing remediation. At Murfreesboro High School, students are using a web-based program to complete remediation requirements. Students are able to access the APEX program wherever there is Internet access. If students do not have access to the Internet at home, they are staying after school with certified teachers to work on remediation. Students are welcome to stay after school for tutoring purposes as well.
Trial dates have been set for a Pike County man accused of killing three people in July of 2013.
Timothy Allen Hill, 44, of Billstown is set for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 3 with a Nov. 20 trial date. He is charged with three counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of his estranged wife, Dana Hill, 33; his mother-in-law, Julie Hartsfield, 54; and his wife’s niece, nine-year-old Autumn Hartsfield, all of Waldo.
The three were killed the evening of July 13, 2013 at the Hills’ home off Highway 301 in the Billstown community of Pike County. Dana Hill had not resided at the home for some time and the couple were apparently going through a divorce which had not been finalized.
Hill is being represented by Rowe Stayton and Dana Stone of the Stayton & Associates law firm.
Hill has undergone extensive mental evaluations since his arrest, and in February of 2014, the court ordered he stay at the State Hospital and receive mental health treatment until he was deemed ready for trial. He was found competent to stand trial last December but case files note he was suffering from major depression.
Capital murder is a Class Y felony and carries a punishment of life without parole or death.
The three victims were killed by gunfire from a SKS rifle and, according to information filed on the case, the killings were “premeditated and deliberated.”
Julie and Autumn Hartsfield were both shot while still buckled in seat belts as they sat in a car parked outside the Hill resident. Dana Hill was killed in the bathroom of the home. Julie Hartsfield and Dana Hill died at the scene while Autumn Hartsfield died from her injuries after being air-lifted to a Hot Springs hospital.
Timothy Hill told authorities that prior to the shootings he had taken his two young sons to his father’s nearby home and then went back home. “He knew that his wife was coming to get the two boys,” according to an affidavit of arrest prepared by Arkansas State Police Investigator Hays McWhirter.
The suspect said Dana Hill went into the bathroom after arriving at the home. It was at this time, he reportedly retrieved his SKS rifle and went outside. “(Hill) stated that he shot the car that his mother-in-law was sitting in and that he knew that she was in it. He further stated that he was mad at her because she was trying to turn his two boys against him,” stated the affidavit.
Investigators found six bullet holes from an SKS rifle in the right front passenger’s door and two bullet holes in the right rear door of a BMW car registered to Dana Hill. Autumn Hartsfield was sitting in the backseat of the car, also still buckled in a seat belt.
Dana Hill died from a single gunshot while sitting on the floor of the home’s bathroom. “It appears Dana Hill had locked herself in the bathroom. Timothy Hill had fired one round into the door lock to open the locked door. The doorknob lock was still in the lock position,” according to the affidavit.
Timothy Hill had told investigators that he “meant to shoot his mother-in-law but did not mean to shoot his wife. He did not know why he did.” The suspect also said when he located his estranged wife in the bathroom that he pointed the rifle at her and asked her “why?” and the gun went off.
Timothy Hill also claimed he did not know that the little girl was in the vehicle when he shot at his mother-in-law.
During his time in the Pike County Jail, Hill was involved in a fight with another prisoner, Andrew C. Barrett of Amity. The fight resulted in Hill having to undergo major reconstructive surgery for a broken jaw and treatment of multiple lacerations.
The incident happened in the jail’s general population cell “pod” and was described as an “unarmed fight.” Hill was initially transported to Howard Memorial Hospital where he was stabilized and then transported to a Hot Springs hospital for surgery.
Since Hill was in county custody at the time of the fight, the county had to pay his medical bill, which totaled approximately $50,0000.
Howard Memorial Hospital’s auxiliary gift shop, Pink Avenue, will host an open house for the public on Oct. 14, from 6-8 p.m. in the HMH lobby.
The open house will feature new items as well as a “trunk show” of HADAKI bags and travel pieces.
“‘Come see what’s new at Pink Avenue’ is a phrase we’ve been using a lot lately,” explained Susan Wingrove, director of volunteer services. “We have really made an effort to have something that will fit everyone’s taste and budget and we’ve added so many new items, including clothing and men’s products.”
According to Wingrove, that’s the motivation behind the open house and the trunk show.
“So many times, people forget that we’re up here on the hill. We have drastically changed our inventory since the gift shop’s grand opening five years ago and we think it’s important to get the word out that our merchandise is not only trendy, but it’s extremely affordable.”
Wingrove said that many people have the misconception that the gift shop is too expensive or only carries home décor, but instead, she says the store carries everything from bath products to easy pick-up quick gifts, gourmet snacks to baby toys.
With the holidays just around the corner, seasonal items are arriving daily. “Our hospital has always tried to offer modern care with home-town convenience, and that’s also the concept behind the gift shop. We have the brand names that top department stores carry but at half the price, and we’ve discovered several new lines, like HADAKI, that have the designer look but are an affordable option.”
A representative from the HADAKI line, which is a New Orleans based company, will be at the show to answer any questions. The line has offers handbags, luggage, diaper bags, and unique travel pieces.
In addition to the trunk show, which will feature merchandise on-hand as well as a catalog for special gift orders, the open house will have samples of all their new food items just in time for the holidays.
“While we love being able to offer gourmet treats that are all made in the United States, even some in Arkansas, we’re mostly just excited by how delicious everything is!” Wingrove said. “We’ve got pecan pie-in-a-jar that is mouth-watering, and it sure makes baking a whole lot easier.”
The Pink Avenue open house is free to the public, but Wingrove explains that if the guests will call HMH and let her know they are coming, she will make sure they get 10% off their total purchase.
“We just want to get our community in the door so that they can see what the employees at HMH already know: that we’re a great place to shop.”
The American Legion post at Mineral Springs will host its first Veterans Day parade on Saturday, Nov. 1.
Tuskegee Airman Post 332, has invited organizations and groups to enter floats and vehicles in the parade. Each entry should be decorated with an identifying logo or slogan, according to a news release from Post Commander Robert Forbes.
The parade will start at the city park. Participants should be ready to line-up at 8:30 a.m., and the parade will start at 10.
Despite the presence of the Ebola virus in the West African country of Senegal, a medical mission by a local church will proceed as planned.
Members of the Ridgeway Baptist Church of Nashville, along with members of the First Baptist Church of Hot Springs, will travel to Senegal on Nov. 6 for the mission, according to Larry Elrod of the Nashville church.
“We feel very confident about going,” Elrod told The Nashville Leader Monday. “We just feel this is what God wants us to do and He hasn’t done anything to tell us not to go.”
Ridgeway members scheduled to take part in the medical mission are Elrod and his wife, Fayrene, and Judy Carlyle, Stephanie Feltenberger, Jennifer Kilcrease and Stacy Garner. Two members of the Hot Springs church and one person from Russellville are also scheduled to participate as well as a couple from Paris, France. Another person actually from Senegal, West Africa will also join the mission.
Elrod, who will take his third mission trip to West Africa in November, said there has certainly been a “period of awareness” since the Ebola outbreak, adding that he expects the screening process “coming and going” to be extensive.
The group will fly out of Little Rock into Charlotte, N.C. then to Washington, D.C. before departing for Dakar, Senegal’s capital city.
“(Officials) will certainly be taking temperatures at all posts,” he said, adding that persons with a fever over 101.7 degrees can be expected to be moved to a different location for further assessment.
All mission participants will be required to be inoculated for yellow fever and a series of shots will also be offered.
Just this week, federal health officials said the U.S. is currently weighing whether to institute extra screening at U.S. airports where travelers from Ebola-stricken African nations may be arriving. It has been reported that “clear-cut screening” is currently underway on the exit ends of the travels.
Currently, there is no cure for Ebola, but an experimental drug, ZMapp, helped the American health workers who caught the virus while working in Liberia. However, the supply of the experimental drug has been depleted.
On Aug. 29, West African news agencies reported that Senegal had confirmed it first case of Ebola despite closing its border with Guinea. A college student is currently quarantined in a Dakar hospital. Senegal is the fifth country in the region where the virus has spread.
The virus has killed 3,400 people in West Africa with Liberia being hit the hardest with more than 2,000 deaths. There are also more than 3,000 reported cases and the virus “continues to accelerate,” according to a report from the World Health Organization.
Ebola symptoms typically appear eight to 10 days after infection. Early symptoms include a high fever, muscle aches and chills, which are similar to the early symptoms of the flu. The virus then progresses to severe vomiting and diarrhea, with a possible rash and painful cough. The WHO reports some patients near death bleed from their eyes, mouth or other orifices as they begin to bleed internally.
Ebola is described as a “RNA virus,” which means every time is copies itself, it makes one or two mutations.
Ridgeway Baptist is continuing to raise funds for the mission trip. Elrod said the church is currently conducting a “Bags for Cash” drive where an agency buys bags of old clothing and shoes by the pound.
“It’s a good way to get rid of some of your old stuff but will also raise money for the mission trip,” he said.
For more information about the mission trip or how to make a donation, visit the Ridgeway Baptist Church’s Facebook page or contact Elrod at (870) 845-8814.
Did you get a ticket for making a “J-Turn” in downtown Nashville? Don’t worry, all is forgiven. The Howard County District Court began a new policy for dealing with first-time J-Turn offenders, last week. If the cited driver makes an appearance in court, the fine will be forgiven unless there is a similar violation within three months. Any driver who does not wish to appear in court must forfeit bond of $125. The policy is the idea of the Nashville police department, District Court Judge Jessica Steel-Gunter told The Nashville Leader, Friday. She said she had met with Nashville Mayor Billy Ray Jones, Police Chief Dale Pierce, and her court’s chief clerk, and decided to go along with the suggestion to give offenders another chance because of a lack of awareness of the city ordinance. This week, in the The Nashville Leader’s district court docket report of last Thursday’s court session, there were four drivers whose citations were “taken under advisement” for three months. They were given no fine. All four drivers were present for court. The four were among a number of drivers who received J-Turn tickets during a recent two-day period of increased enforcement of the ordinance. The ordinance bans J-Turns in the four blocks of Main Street between the Nashville Post Office and the railroad tracks, commonly known as the Central Business District. On Sept. 25, 2012, the Nashville City Council passed Ordinance No. 920 making the traffic maneuver illegal and providing penalties.
On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 23, officers from three different law enforcement agencies simultaneously executed two search warrants on Pike County’s Rock Creek Road, resulting in the arrest of two men on multiple drug and firearms charges.
Arrested were Windell C. “Tom” Mann, 49, and Robert S. Wilhite, 37. The men are reportedly kin to each other.
Mann is charged with possession of a controlled substance (Schedule II and III prescription medications) with purpose, possession of drug paraphernalia, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and maintaining a drug premise. Wilhite is charged with possession of a controlled substance (marijuana), possession of drug paraphernalia and maintaining a drug premise.
Agencies involved included the South Central Drug Task Force, Pike County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The arrests were the result of a year-long SCDTF operation and investigation.
During the searches of the two men’s residences, officers confiscated $555,818 in cash, more than 1.5 pounds of marijuana, various prescription pills, scales and paraphernalia used in connection of the distribution of narcotics and 45 firearms.
Members of the Ridgeway Baptist Church in Nashville are currently raising funds for a mission trip to Senegal in West Africa on Nov. 6. Last week, church members (at left) Larry and Fayrene Elrod and J.T. Carter sold barbecue plates for the cause. In line for the meal were Misty Wilson and Chaughn Rogers.
The second annual Cruisin’ for a Cure benefit will be held at the Nashville City Park on Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The event will include a car, truck and motorcycle show as well as bingo, face painting, music and pulled pork sandwich plates prepared by Mike Erby and the Red River Credit Union Relay for Life Team.
All vehicles – “anything that moves” – are welcomed and awards will be handed out at 2 p.m.
For more information, contact Donna Clemons at (870) 200-2895.
South Pike County School District’s former band director pleaded guilty in Pike County Circuit Court Monday to stealing more than $3,000 from the district.
Robert W. Tucker, 37, now of Carl Junction, Mo., pleaded guilty to a felony theft of property charge which stemmed from an investigative audit conducted to review his handling of district funds during his time as band director. He was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay the school back $3,079 plus $3,160 to the Arkansas Legislative Audit to cover the cost of the investigation.
Tucker, who pleaded not guilty to the charge earlier this year, was charged two years after the audit discovered he had taken and exercised “unauthorized control” of monies from band fund-raising activities.
Tucker was hired in June 2011 and resigned in February 2012 after being suspended for using profanity in the classroom and pending the outcome of an investigation in to “financial irregularities” discovered by school officials.
During Tucker’s paid suspension, Superintendent Roger Featherston sent him a letter that requested a written explanation “including as much evidence as possible” concerning funds for the band’s T-shirt and beef jerky sales. A second letter was also sent to Tucker again asking for explanation, but Tucker never replied to the letters and he submitted his resignation on Feb. 24, 2012. He and his family left Arkansas two days later for his home state of Michigan.
According to information filed on the case, the audit determined $2,912 was unaccounted for along with unauthorized disbursements of $167. “Unaccounted-for funds included $984 in T-shirt sales and fundraiser proceeds of $1,928 in beef jerky sales,” according to the audit. The unauthorized disbursements included $66 for “groceries and dog food” and a reimbursement of $101 without adequate documentation.
Tucker told an investigator in August 2013 that he had “received a letter from the State of Arkansas and he was under the impression that this was all a misunderstanding and that the school district was to blame.” He also stated he had reimbursed the district for the personal items he “inadvertently” purchased using the school district’s Walmart credit card. Featherston disputed Tucker’s claim and told the investigator that Tucker did not follow school district procedures and had not reimbursed the school for any of the unaccounted-for monies.
Tucker’s handling of the privately-funded Rattler Band Booster’s account was also part of the initial investigative audit but no charge was brought in relation to his use of a booster debit card to purchase personal items and food in the amount of $126.37. The day he left for Michigan, Tucker paid the band boosters back with $184 cash.
In May 2012, Tucker disputed the findings of the audit when he was contacted via Facebook. He told The Nashville Leader that he gave away close to a $1,000 worth of band T-shirts to office personnel and teachers. He added there were still band T-shirts in the band hall when he left.
“(The T-shirts) were never a fundraiser, although they tried to call it that,” Tucker wrote in response. “It was an expense, and I’m sure that the number of shirts I gave away will match the missing funds.”
As for the $1,928 unaccounted-for funds, Tucker replied, “I told the investigator to do an audit of the instrument room now, and put it against the inventory at the beginning of the year. I purchased a large number of instruments and they should find many instruments that were not there at the beginning of the year, at least 8-10 instruments were purchased, and that would show you where the missing $1,900 is.”
Tucker also questioned whether the instrument comparison inventory was ever conducted. “I requested the instrument inventory comparison months ago, and have seen no evidence of it being completed.”
When questioned during the audit, Tucker said he had used the money from the fundraisers to pay cash for band instruments at various pawn shops and yards sales and “did not think to get a receipt for them.” Tucker also stated that the school had done an inventory and it was proven the district had 15 or 16 new instruments he had purchased.
The recent death of an elderly Pike County woman is currently under investigation by the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, according to Pike County Det. Sgt. Clark Kinzler.
The investigation involves the death of JoAnn Hembey, 72, of Delight, who died the night of Sept. 13.
Medical personnel were called to a home on the Caddo Gap Road after a call from Hembey’s son, Dustin Hembey, 35, who reported his mother had fallen and hit her head and he had found her unresponsive. Medics on the scene reported the patient’s injuries “were not consistent with the nature of the call.”
Dustin Hembey told authorities he had been in the home’s bedroom that night when he heard a sound like his mother had fallen in the living room. Case information states JoAnn Hembey is actually Mr. Hembey’s grandmother. He also told investigators he found his mother on the floor and that he had picked her up and moved her to the bedroom where he placed her oxygen mask on “because she was not breathing.” The patient was later air-lifted from the scene.
Kinzler said the home was secured and Dustin Hembey filled out a statement and signed a consent form to search the home. During the search, Kinzler found a .22 rifle stacked in the corner of the home with two air rifles as well as ammunition on the nightstand in Mr. Hembey’s room.
The discovery of the firearm in the home resulted in the arrest of Dustin Hembey, who has been “convicted multiple times of numerous felonies,” according to case information. He made a first appearance on the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm on Monday, Sept. 15 in Pike County Circuit Court.
During court proceedings, Mr. Hembey’s bond was set at $250,000 and a mental evaluation was ordered after an outburst in court about his desire not to return to prison.
CELEBRATING CONSTITUTION DAY. The students and staff of the South Pike County School District celebrated Constitution Day on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The United States Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, pursuant to legislation passed by Congress, requires educational institutions which receive federal funding to hold an educational program pertaining to the United States Constitution on Sept. 17 of each year, commemorating the signing of the document on Sept. 17, 1787. Pictured during the event reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is Dalton Manlove.
FIRE AT FURNITURE CORNER. Firemen from Nashville and surrounding fire departments battle the blaze which heavily damaged Southwest’s Ivan Smith Furniture Friday night in downtown Nashville.
GETTING READY TO RE-OPEN. Ivan Smith will temporarily relocate to the former Charlie's Thriftway building following Friday night's fire.
By Louie Graves
A firewall between building sections kept the Friday night furniture store fire in Nashville from consuming more of the business site and merchandise.
As it is, Southwest Ivan Smith Furniture expects to open in temporary quarters Friday of this week.
Workmen were already at work Monday preparing the former Charlie’s Thriftway building on South Main to be the temporary home for the business. Customers needing to make payments should contact the Ivan Smith store in hope where Nashville salesperson D’Ann Rogers has temporarily located — phone 777-8681. That store is located on North Hervey St.
Nashville store manager Wanda Carter speculated that the business would operate out of the temporary headquarters for six months or more. She said that about one-third of the inventory was lost, but the firewall prevented more damage. “The firewall was amazing,” Carter said.
The firewall was installed in when the building was built first as a service station and automobile dealership. Upstairs was a roller rink.
In 1945 its history as a furniture began with owners Nathan Coulter, Joe Ball and Carl Freel, all now deceased. Later the business was owned and managed by Don Coulter, son of one of the founders, and was purchased in 1994 by Ray Blakely.
Blakely kept an office in the building after the sale to Ivan Smith. He told ‘The Leader’ he had moved almost all of his personal items, tax records and pictures from the store only about 10 days before the fire.
“Many thanks to all the firemen,” he told the newspaper.
Coulter said he watched the fire from across the street, and it was an emotional experience. “It’s saddening to watch part of your life for more than 50 years burn up.” Nashville Fire Marshal Jerry Harwell said that six area volunteer fire departments helped fight the blaze which apparently began in a shallow attic over the second floor of the original “Furniture Corner.”
Fire Marshal Harwell said that the fire call was received at 9 p.m. Trucks arrived at the scene, about four blocks from the fire station within five minutes. Firemen were on the scene until about 8:30 the following morning; then returned for about 45 minutes when the fire briefly rekindled just before noon Saturday.
Harwell said that the firewall and the building’s superior construction helped preserve the building and contents.
Harwell added his thanks to assisting fire departments and to the ambulance service.
Thanks were also offered by store manager Carter. “We want to say ‘thanks’ to all the area fire departments for coming out. They all did a phenomenal job.” She also thanked the community “Many of them turned out to witness the fire and offer support. Many of them cried with us, too.” She said that the public could expect a fire/smoke sale soon.
Four days after the Murfreesboro City Council voted to place a four-way stop sign on a main thoroughfare, Mayor Travis Branch vetoed the stop sign.
The council’s decision to place a four-way stop at the intersection of 13th and Woodlawn was made on Monday, Sept. 8. Branch exercised his power to veto the decision on Thursday, Sept. 11.
“Due to the overabundance of objections from the public in regards to the placement of a stop sign on 13th and Woodlawn streets, I have decided to officially veto this decision of the City Council,” Branch wrote in a letter on file at the Murfreesboro City Hall. “I believe this to be a hindrance to the local farmers and ranchers who regularly use this thoroughfare to enter the city from their properties. Until this matter is revisited by the council, I believe this to be the correct recourse in this matter.”
The council had agreed by a 4-2 vote to place the stop sign at the intersection after hearing from residents Tony and Sam Rather, who live in the area and said they witness vehicles traveling at high rates of speed on a daily basis. The posted sped limit on 13th Street, which leads to the Murfreesboro City Park, is 25 mph. The sign would have been at the halfway point between the intersection of Maple and W. 13th and the park.
The Rathers had cited the safety of children at the park and in the surrounding neighborhoods and elderly drivers as the reasons for needing the stop sign.
The Pike County Quorum County voted Monday night to sell the former Pike County hospital building and land by auction after learning the North Carolina company that has owned the hospital has relinquished ownership back to the county.
Judge Don Baker recommendation the building and two acres of land be sold with the Quorum Court having the final say on whether to accept any offers.
“I’ve had all of the hospital I ever want,” Baker said, adding an auction would determine if anyone was interested in buying the building.
The facility, which has been closed since November, 2009, had been under the ownership of Kare Partners, a company based in North Carolina. The company purchased the hospital in 2012 from New Directions Health Systems, which purchased the hospital from the county in 2010. The hospital was involved in years of turmoil, including a failed lease agreement and mismanagement, before it was shuttered by the Arkansas Health Department in 2009.
Kare Partners had a plan to reopen the facility in 2013, but failed to do so, which resulted in Kart Partners, doing business as Pike County Operations, LLC, having to relinquish ownership back to the county.
The company claims it has spent $244,775 in operating the hospital since October, 2012 including $28,857 in building repairs and maintenance. The company also claims it lost $263,955 during that time, according to an undated letter from Kare Partners to Judge Baker and Quorum Court members.
The agreement between the company and Pike County stated that if the company failed to “provide medical services for a continuous two-month period prior to January, 2015 then it was required to relinquish ownership of the hospital to Pike County.”
The arrangement includes the contents of the building with the exception of various items that total $3,000, which the county is also expected to recoup, and all involved assets.
Quorum Court members voted 9-0 to sell the building and land at auction and also gave Judge Baker the authority to find an auction company to handle the process.
Kare Partners opened an urgent care clinic in Murfreesboro in early 2013, which was also a failure. An arm of Kare Partners, Compleat Rehab, opened a rehabilitation clinic in Glenwood in November, 2013, which is still in operation but has been sold.
Pike County will join the five other Arkansas counties that have so far expressed a desire to become the home of a new proposed $100 million state prison.
The Pike County Quorum Court approved a resolution Monday to submit an “expression of interest” to the Arkansas Department of Correction to have Pike County considered for the 1,000-bed maximum security correctional facility. Thus far, the other counties jockeying for the prison are Jackson, Mississippi and Lawrence counties and a joint effort by Columbia and Ouachita counties. Mississippi County is the county so far that has actually submitted a proposal. More counties are likely to apply before the Oct. 24 deadline.
Judge Don Baker said the prison, which will be constructed and operated by the ADC, is expected to have an annual budget of $38 million and could create more than 250 jobs. The 1,000-bed prison will also be “expandable to approximately 2,000 beds.”
Baker also said the facility will require at least 400 acres, which the county will have to donate. He said he has three locations in mind within the county that could be used to house the prison and added he hopes the property owners will be open to the idea of donating the land.
Baker said he already has the West Central Planning and Development District working on issues related to making the proposal and that he plans to get with the county’s mayors to further discuss the matter. He said the prison would require water and sewer services, which would be provided by the cities.
The Nashville School Board Monday night voted 4-0 to terminate the district’s contract with Crawford Construction and re-bid the courtyard and cafeteria project at Nashville High School.
Superintendent Doug Graham said the district will “go to others who expressed interest” in the project and “try to get Phase 4 within budget.”
Crawford was the contractor for the first three phases of the district’s facilities improvement project, including seven new classrooms at NHS, new library and cafeteria at Nashville Junior High, and Scrapper Arena.
Phase 4 is to include enclosing about two thirds of the NHS courtyard and constructing a new cafeteria. The original bid came in at $4.8 million, Graham said during a board workshop Sept. 4, and was scaled back. The second try produced a bid of $3.4 million, which Graham said was “still too high.”
Graham and architect Craig Boone of Architecture Plus met with Crawford four weeks ago to see if any other cuts could be made. The result was that “$3.3 million was the figure with the reductions. We cut back and only saved $100,000,” Graham said. That amount is still above budget for the project.
“Crawford has hammered the subcontractors. I don’t know if they will come down any more. If we re-bid, subs might not be interested in it again,” Graham said at the workshop.
Graham and Boone said the bid might get down to $3.2 million, which would still be about $400,000 above budget.
Graham said at the workshop that he was “terribly disappointed” in the $3.3 million figure. He asked board members to consider the matter and make a decision at Monday night’s meeting.
Graham and Boone said at the workshop that the quality of Crawford’s work on the other three phases of the project was excellent. “The quality Crawford requires [from subcontractors] is high,” Boone said.
If the district is unable to get the project within budget, Graham said Monday night that a stand-alone cafeteria in the parking lot for the old gym is a possibility.
The stand-alone facility would not require a firewall between it and the existing building, which drove up the amount of the other bids from Crawford.
State partnership funds will pay $500,0000 to $600,000 on the high school project, Graham said at the workshop. Partnership money also helped pay for the arena and the other work at high school and junior high.
In other business Monday night, the board approved the district’s budget for 2014-15. The budget projects $18,487,950 in income and $14,885,095 in expenses. The projected operating balance on June 30, 2015, is $3,602,858.
At the board workshop, Graham presented a budget with a balance of about $3.9 million. He said that the amount was lowered after cuts in state funding for the district were announced.
The budget does not include funding for all juniors to take the ACT in March. Graham said at the board workshop that he was considering removing the free ACT in order to save money. He said that of about 140 juniors who take it, about 40 don’t want to be there.
He said the March test is not given on a national ACT day and is not accepted for scholarships.
Removing the test will save about $5,100, according to Graham.
The budget does include catastrophic insurance coverage for students above the amount already provided in the district’s insurance policy.
The board voted 4-0 to approve the new budget.
Board members voted Monday to approve the special education budget for 2014-15. The board also approved 2012-13 retired expenditures for equipment no longer in use. The list included 90 items, Graham said. Some other unused equipment was sold early in the summer at the district’s sidewalk sale.
Earlier in the year, Graham discussed the possibility of outsourcing the district’s food services program. “If we were going to do it, we would need to submit a letter of intent in October. I’m not ready at this time to recommend the letter of intent based on [budget constraints] and upgrades in our food services program,” Graham said Monday.
The board accepted resignations from Casey Parker, food services; and Roger Chandler, primary school custodian.
The board hired Joe Jordan as full-time custodian at junior high.
Prior to the regular board meeting, the district presented its annual report to the public. The one-hour session included presentations by building principals Shirley Wright, Latito Williams, Deb Tackett and Tate Gordon, GT coordinator Kristi Cox, Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell and transportation director James “Bunch” Nichols.
The district’s total enrollment as of Monday was 1,903 students, a drop of 33 from the three-quarter average last year, Graham said.
The decline means a loss of about $210,000 in state funding for 2015-16, Graham said.
Next week’s Leader will include the report to the public.
Board members present Monday night included president Mark Canaday, Randy Elliott, David Hilliard and Monica Clark.
The numbers have all been calculated for student enrollment at UA Cossatot and once again, it is a record-setting semester.
Brenda Morris, Registrar and Director of Institutional Research at Cossatot, announced at the close of the census date, the college’s enrollment stood at 1584 compared to 1575 from the same semester in 2013. Although this number represents only a slight increase, predictions across the state had UA Cossatot staff prepared for a slight decline in enrollment.
“I am thrilled with the enrollment numbers,” said Maria Parker, UA Cossatot’s Vice Chancellor for Academics. “A record enrollment is truly a group effort. From the business office to advising, and many people in between, we are proving that we care about student success. We also have a record enrollment of high school students taking advantage of the opportunities we offer. This means more students than ever will graduate from high school with college credit – either in University transfer classes or from a technical program. These students are already familiar with the college atmosphere and studies show, they are more prepared to succeed and graduate.”
Hispanic student enrollment has also had another increase at UA Cossatot. The enrollment is now 22% Hispanic students. Part of the college’s strategic plan has been to increase recruiting efforts within the Hispanic demographic. Fall semester in 2013, Hispanic enrollment was 19%. “We are especially proud of this increase,” said Parker. “We feel our student population should reflect the demographics of the community. We have worked to make students from all walks of life feel comfortable at UA Cossatot.”
The Nashville School District’s 2014-15 budget and Phase 4 of its building were the topics for a school board workshop Sept. 4.
Superintendent Doug Graham discussed a number of budget-related matters with board members and asked for their input. He also updated the board on a recent snag in completing the district’s $15 million facilities improvement project.
Employee insurance received considerable attention during the workshop. “The elephant that nobody can figure out how to eat is employee insurance,” Graham said. “Nobody knows how to pay for it.”
School districts statewide are facing increased demands on employee insurance while often receiving funding cuts from various sources, Graham said.
The state legislature has held two special sessions to provide “a band-aid on insurance,” Graham said. However, a long-term solution to the problem remains elusive.
The district has lost funding for professional development, after-school programs and other areas, he said. The state increased foundation funding by around 2 percent, which offset some of the losses but did not affect money for insurance.
Locally, Graham said the district is looking at several relatively small cost-cutting measures and asked the board’s opinion. One possibility is to save about $5,000 by not providing an ACT exam for every junior at NHS, which has been done for three years.
“It’s not given on a national ACT day. It’s not accepted for scholarships. We have 140 students who take it, and about 40 don’t want to be there. If they pay their own money and go on a Saturday to take it, they usually do better,” Graham said.
“When we started the free ACT, it sounded like a good idea.”
Another area is a proposed emergency notification system. The plan would cost about $1.50 per student, Graham said. The district already uses Remind 101, campus websites and social media to inform parents and students, he said.
He asked the board to examine the free ACT and emergency notification system and said the issues will be put up for votes at the board’s Sept. 15 meeting.
Graham said he did not include a new school bus in the proposed budget, saving about $80,000 “Even if we order one, it will come from next year’s budget. It will arrive after July 1.”
Graham said he will ask for a new bus for the next academic year.
The district will have less spending in some areas where needs have already been met, Graham said. One-to-one laptop computers have been purchased throughout the district. There are enough laptops for state-required online testing in the spring, but there are not enough for every student to have one to take home, Graham said.
Budgets from building principals have been reviewed and are “pretty close” to the amounts requested, according to Graham.
Textbooks are available in all subject areas for all students, Graham said. Last year, the district spent more than $100,000 on textbooks. Teachers are relying less on textbooks and more on other resources in their classrooms, but there is “not a reason in the world that teachers don’t have a text if they want one.” Technology is supplementing and in some cases replacing traditional texts in many classrooms.
Graham asked the board to look at the overall budget and be ready to vote at the next meeting.
The remainder of the workshop was spent discussing the high school construction project. High school has already seen the addition of seven classrooms and renovation of the 1967 building. Phase 4 includes a new cafeteria and courtyard enclosure.
The original bid came in at $4.8 million, Graham said, and was scaled back. The second bid was $3.4 million. “That’s still too high. We want to see if there’s any low-hanging fruit that we can take out of the equation.”
Crawford Construction has been the contractor for the other phases of the facilities project. Graham and architect Craig Boone of Architecture Plus met with Crawford two weeks ago to see if any other cuts could be made. The result was that “$3.3 million was the figure with the reductions. We cut back and only saved $100,000,” Graham said. That amount is still above budget for the project.
“Crawford has hammered the subcontractors. I don’t know if they will come down any more. If we re-bid, subs might not be interested in it again,” Graham said.
Graham and Boone said the bid might get down to $3.2 million, which would still be about $400,000 above budget.
“Does it scare me to pull money from our operating balance to finish the project? Yes,” Graham said. “If the board thinks it’s a fair price, we’ll go on and we’ll manage. The other option is to send out a request for bids and see if we can get it cheaper.”
Boone said Crawford has done “an excellent job. The way they do business is the way to do business.”
Graham and board members agreed that Crawford’s other work at the high school, junior high and Scrapper Arena has been excellent.
Graham said he is “terribly disappointed” in the most recent figure of $3.3 million.
He and board members discussed ways to close the gap between the bid and available funds. Possible savings include the $80,000 from not buying a new bus in the current academic year, $100,000 from not having building fund expenses at other campuses, and “we can cut from others.”
Boone said there is “always somebody to do the job cheaper, but you may get what you pay for. The quality Crawford requires [from subcontractors] is high.”
State partnership funds will pay $500,0000 to $600,000 on the high school project, Graham said. Partnership money also helped pay for the arena and the other work at high school and junior high.
The Murfreesboro City Council continued its effort, Monday night, to control traffic in and around the city with the result being another four-way stop sign.
The council voted 4-2 to make the intersection of Woodlawn and W. 13th a four-way stop. The intersection is at the half-way point between the four-way interesection of Maple and W. 13th and the Murfreesboro City Park.
Council members Betty O’Neal, Debbie Shukers, Karen Hopper and Chris Sharp voted for the new stop sign while Dana Stone and Jason Allmon voted “no.”
Mayor Travis Branch also voiced his opposition to the new stop sign, calling 13th Street and “main thoroughfare” and stating the stop sign would be too far from the city park to make a difference in traffic by the park.
“I’d like to exhaust all other options before we put a stop sign out there,” the mayor said prior to the vote.
The idea for the stop sign was brought to the council by residents Tony and Sam Rather, who live in the area and witness vehicles traveling at high rates speed on a daily basis. The posted speed limit on the street leading to the city park is 25 mphs.
“They are going too fast to read the speed limit sign anyway,” Tony Rather said.
The Rathers cited the safety of children at the park and in the surrounding neighborhoods and elderly drivers as the reasons for needing the new stop sign. They also noted the new four-way stops around the school have become effective tools in slowing traffic.
Last month, the council voted to make four intersections near the school four-way stops. Those locations included Third and Haislip; Second and Haislip; Third and Owens; and Third and Brewer. In the past, the council has also approved “speed bumps” for the lengths of Kelly and Maple streets.
O’Neal made the motion, seconded by Sharp, to create the new four-way intersection. Sharp said the intersection would create an inconvenience but would “serve the better good.”
The Rathers were also on Monday’s agenda to request a clarification about a city ordinance concerning the city’s removal of limbs and debris. An ordinance on the books states that if a home or landowner hires a contractor to cut or trim trees on their property then it becomes the contractor’s responsibility to remove the limbs and debris.
Tony Rather said the ordinance creates a “flawed system” and is “prejudicial” toward the elderly. He said he recently volunteered to cut a 92-year-old neighbor’s trees for free following a storm. The limbs and debris he placed by the roadway for the city to pick up remained there for six to eight weeks. He said he was told when he called City Hall to request a pick-up the city would not pick up the limbs or debris.
Mayor Branch said there had to have been a miscommunication about the Rathers’ particular situation but stood by the city’s ordinance. Had the city personnel known the work at the neighbor’s home was volunteer and unpaid, Branch said the city would have eventually picked up the debris and limbs.
Branch, who noted the city only has two street department workers, also stated about the city’s large-item pick-up, “It’s a time management deal and these two people are behind. They’re overworked and underpaid.”
The mayor also said he would be in favor of doing away with the large-item and tree disposal. “I think large-item pick-up and tree disposal is ridiculous. You have no idea how much money we spend on that in a day’s time.”
He added, “We’re doing the best we can do” but also acknowledged, “I have no idea how to fix it.”
The council took no action on the issue and Branch issued an apology to the Rathers for the miscommunication.
In other business, the council took another step toward implementing planning and zoning within the city by voting 6-0 for an ordinance which establishes a five-person P/Z commission. The commission will consist of two council members and three members of general public. Who will serve on the commission will be determined at a later date. The topic will be back on the council’s agenda next month.
Also Monday, the council voted to table an ordinance that would re-establish a park commission.
In related business, park bookkeeper Lynn Gleba attended the meeting for clarification of her job duties in light of the recent changes and dissolving of the park commission and subsequent ball commissions.
Mayor Branch said her duties will remain the same. Gleba asked that since the city has put pee football and basketball under the park’s control, in addition to baseball and softball, would she and Park Director Terry Jackson be compensated for the extra work created by the additions.
When Branch asked Gleba, as the park’s bookkeeper, if there was enough money to support the pay raises, she said “yes.” The mayor then asked her to submit a pay-increase proposal for her and Jackson at the October meeting.
It was also reported during the meeting that the city’s cable provider, Vyve Broadband, is raising rates, effective Oct. 1. Limited with expanded video services rates will increase by $5 per month; HBO will be increased to $19.95 per month and Showtime rates will increase to $18.95 per month.
The council also approved Recorder/Treasurer Penny Lamb’s financial statement, which included the following beginning and ending department balances for July:
Speaking Up. Launa Simmons of nearby Langley implores the U.S. Forest Service to make up its mind about restoration of the facility during a Camp Albert Pike rally Saturday morning.
By Louie Graves
They love the place, and want it back.
Almost 200 persons, ranging in age from knee-high to bent-over, rallied in a shaded loop at Camp Albert Pike, Saturday morning, to express displeasure at the lingering closure of the popular facility by the U.S. Forest Service.
There has been no camping or overnight parking since June 2010 when a freak flash flood swept through the narrow valley and took the lives of 20 campers. Lawsuits are pending in federal courts.
The rally was no disrespect to the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy, said one of the first speakers, Launa Simmons of Langley. She apparently echoed the feelings of most gathered under the trees — she wants some action from the forestry service.
“I implore the forestry service to make a decision,” she said, and added that it restoration of access to the camping spots was not in the site’s future, then turn it over to the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Department which has had such success at such area places as Daisy State Park, the Crater of Diamonds, Pioneer Washington, and others.
If the forestry service wants to keep the facility, there are many ways to warn campers of possible flooding, she said.
First to speak was Kay New of Magnolia, who was the recognized organizer of the rally. “I love this place, my kids grew up here; we came every summer.”
The speakers noted that the forestry service was not keeping the place clean or mowed, and that restrooms were boarded shut. One person at the event told a reporter from The Leader that the forestry service had only mowed the rally site the day before the event. “They’re not keeping the place up,” he said.
Before, during and after the speaking, persons wandered up to a concrete table which served as headquarters for the rally. They could look at pictures and sign a petition to be given to the forestry service. Organizers are also using “social media” to gather support and petition signatures. There is a “Facebook” page.
While the rally was going on, a thin blue trail of campfire smoke drifted through the trees. Less than 50 yards away, children were playing in the cold Little Missouri River shallows. The end of the rally and lunchtime were about to coincide.
There is still a lot to love about Camp Albert Pike.
Even when she was placed on a plane without knowing her destination, Molly Sirigiri knew that she would eventually return to Nashville.
Sirigiri was back in her classroom at University of Arkansas Cossatot last week after being returned to her home in India following a mission trip. Sirigiri and members of local churches spent July 1-8 in Guatemala working with an orphanage.
When Sirigiri’s plane landed at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on the return trip, she was detained for about 24 hours because of visa-related issues. She was then placed on a plane without being told her destination and sent to India through Munich, Germany.
Officials from CCCUA, the University of Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor, Sen. John Boozman began an effort to return her to Nashville as soon as possible. Their work paid off when Sirigiri landed at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock Aug. 22 and came back to Nashville, where she reported for work at Cossatot Aug. 25.
Sirigiri and Cossatot Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole discussed the experience last Thursday during a break from Sirigiri’s teaching duties in the college’s biological sciences department.
“There was not a doubt in my mind” about coming back to Nashville, she said. “I’m glad to be home. I was blessed to be around such amazing people.”
Dr. Cole said he also never doubted that Sirigiri would be back. “I was just worried about the speed,” he said. Classes started Aug. 18.
When Sirigiri was detained in Houston, she contacted Dr. Cole, who immediately began making contacts aimed at returning her to Nashville in a timely manner. “Our efforts stretched all the way to India,” he said. “So many were concerned about her return. We worked as a team.”
Sirigiri has taught at Cossatot for four years, according to Cole. “She’s an award-winning cook. She’s entering the county fair. She’s a great member of her church [First Baptist, Nashville]. She chose to work here,” he said.
Dr. Cole recalled that Sirigiri came to Nashville on a bus from South Carolina to interview for a job. “We loved her and hired her immediately. She’s been here ever since. This was just an unfortunate thing that happened. The best result has occurred. Untold people were making calls on her behalf. I know her church was.”
Now, Sirigiri has a new travel visa. “The United States and India worked together to get this done in expedited fashion,” Dr. Cole said.
Both senators’ offices started their work as soon as they heard of the problem in Houston, according to Dr. Cole. “It was a bit of a surprise. Everything was very rapid. Before the senators reached her, she had boarded and was taken back to India.”
Once work on the U.S. end was completed, the focus shifted to India, where a holiday kept Sirigiri from getting her visa during a weekend.
Sirigiri said her parents in India were “amazed about the e-mails and contacts I received. They said, ‘You are blessed to have so many caring people.’ They are super excited and happy.”
Sirigiri had the necessary visa to come to the United States. The problem arose when her travel visa did not allow her to re-enter the U.S. if she traveled to a country not contiguous to the United States.
Her H1B allows her to stay in the country and teach, Dr. Cole said. “It’s a very special thing to possess. It shows she has special skills. Only 60,000 are available. The applicant has to show amazing credentials. It’s a prestigious visa. Her travel visa was the problem.”
Sirigiri didn’t let the unexpected journey back home overshadow the mission aspect of her trip. “We helped with lots of things” at the orphanage, she said. “I have no regrets about making the trip.”
Sirigiri said she talked to Robbie McKelvey at CCCUA “almost every day.” She is the school’s division chair.
“Robbie’s whole focus was Molly,” Dr. Cole said. “She’d be excited after hearing from her. She’d tell us, ‘I just talked to Molly.’ Somebody was always in touch.”
Kelly Plunk, UA Cossatot human resources director, and Crystal Sims, biological science instructor, were instrumental in processing Sirigiri’s return and covering her academic duties, Dr. Cole said.
Sims “took care of her classes in her absence,” Dr. Cole said.
Sirigiri teaches Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, micro biology, general biology, and nutrition and diet. She has about 100 students, Dr. Cole said.
UA Cossatot Biological Science Instructor Molly Sirigiri returned to Nashville over the weekend and was back in her classroom Monday.
Sirigiri has lived in Nashville for four years while teaching on the Howard County Campus of UA Cossatot.
Sirigiri joined a group made up of members of First Baptist Church in Nashville and other churches for a mission trip to Guatemala on July 1.
The group completed their project within a week working at an orphanage.
Upon flying back into Houston July 8 on her way to Little Rock, Sirigiri learned the particular type of visa she was issued allows her to travel outside of the U.S. border but will not allow her re-entry.
She was flown back to her native India where college officials, University of Arkansas System officials, and U.S. officials began working to speed the necessary paperwork for her to return to Nashville and her job.
“Molly is a special person to UA Cossatot,” said Dr. Steve Cole, UA Cossatot chancellor. “Not only is she a teaching rock star for us; but more importantly, she is a vital part of her church and community. The best possible result came from this, and that was her quick re-entry back into the United States.
“We owe many thanks to not only our U.S. Senators and the UA System but also to Kelly Plunk, UA Cossatot human resources director, and Crystal Sims, biological science instructor, who were instrumental in processing her return and covering her academic duties,” Cole added.
Sirigiri flew to Little Rock Friday, landing at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport at 11:30 p.m. Joe and Beverly Starr met her at the airport and brought her to Nashville.
“I am thankful to be back in Nashville and teaching,” said Sirigiri. “I am very thankful for people I consider my family in the United States.”
Sirigiri attended services Sunday morning at First Baptist Church, where Pastor Kevin Sartin introduced her to applause from the congregation. He said that he is thankful for her return to Nashville.
At Cossatot, Sirigiri teaches a full course load of general biology, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology.
“This is a good deal,” Cole said of the conclusion to Sirigiri’s journey. “It took a lot of people to make it happen.”
A Nashville man who admitted to shooting two dogs which were allegedly chasing a neighbor’s cow changed his plea, last week, to guilty of the misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals.
Michael J. Graves, 56, accompanied by his attorney brother, Danny Graves of Nashville, entered the plea Thursday in Howard County District Court. He was fined $500 plus costs and a no-contact order was issued for the dog’s owners. Court documents noted Graves has already paid all restitution in full concerning related veterinarian bills.
The guilty plea was accepted as a “deferred adjudication” and the charge will be dismissed after one year if Graves has no other violations.
The incident for which Graves was charged happened May 17 when he shot one dog in Kyle and Kimberly Slayton’s yard on Staggs Drive. The Slayton’s teenage daughter was outside near her vehicle when the shooting occurred. She told officials she heard a gunshot close to the house and then saw Graves parked nearby pointing a pistol toward her dog in the yard between two houses.
When the daughter yelled at Graves to stop shooting, he exited the vehicle and yelled “your dog was chasing my cows.” The dog was apparently wounded and ran into the woods in the backyard. The Slayton’s dog survived but the other dog shot by Graves ran off and died. That dog belonged to the James Conant family, also living in the neighborhood.
Graves told a Howard County deputy that he had been sitting on his front porch of his home on Corinth Road when he heard some dogs barking in a field belonging to Jerry Christie, who was out of town and reportedly had asked Graves to watch his herd. Graves went to the area and noted two dogs — one brown and the other a German Shepherd that belonged to the Slayton family — were in the field.
Graves admitted he shot both dogs in Christie’s field but the German Shepherd ran off toward the Slayton home. Graves said he then chased the dog and found it standing between two houses on Staggs Drive and “tried to shoot it again,” according to an incident report.
Insistence on a jury trial backfired for a frequent visitor to the courtroom defendant’s table, last week.
Louis E. Richard, 51, black male, 216 Graves Chapel Road, Lockesburg (Mineral Springs) turned down the prosecutor’s plea offer of 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), and put his fate in the hands of Howard County jurors, last Tuesday.
He was on trial for a class C felony, forgery in the second degree, two counts, with enhanced penalty as a habitual offender. Richard has been convicted in nine felony trials previously in Howard County, and he still faces another felony charge, related to theft of an air conditioner from a church. That charge was filed in July.
On the bench for Richard’s trial was Judge Tom Cooper.
Jury selection was complete by mid-morning Tuesday and opening statements began before noon.
The jury adjourned for only 45 minutes at 4 p.m., returning with a guilty verdict. Then they took another 25 minutes to decide upon his sentence — 25 years on each count, to be served consecutively for a total of 50 years in the ADC.
Wednesday was the regular day for criminal court in Howard County and Judge Charles Yeargan was on the bench. He ordered two failure-to-appear warrants for defendants who missed court dates.
It was the second missed court date for Rebecca Dawson, 47, white female, Nashville, who had been scheduled for a probation revocation hearing. She is charged with failure to meet the terms of a 2012 conviction for controlled substance fraudulent practices. When arrested she will be denied bond.
Also missing a court date was Justin King, 18, black male, Texarkana, Texas, who was due to appear on a class D felony charge for possession of a controlled substance Schedule II. When arrested he will be denied bond.
Following receipt of a mental evaluation, one defendant was declared not guilty by reason of disease or defect.
Linda Leedale, 33, white female, 725 Dillard, Nashville, who was represented by the public defender was subsequently found not guilty by the judge. She had been charged with class B felony residential burglary, and two misdemeanors, aggravated assault and resisting arrest. She was present in the courtroom, Wednesday.
Not guilty plea
Courtney Martin, 31, black male, 1306 S. Main, Nashville, is charged with a class C felony, possession of meth or cocaine with purpose. The charge is enhanced by proximity. He will be represented by the public defender. Pretrial motions will be heard Dec. 10.
Another frequent visitor to the county’s criminal courtroom was Orlando Dosia, 28, black male, 415 Compton, Nashville, who was facing charges of possession of meth or cocaine with purpose, class C felony, enhanced by proximity. He pleaded no contest to an amended charge which dismissed the proximity enhancement. He was sentenced to 10 years in the ADC, forfeiture of $835 cash in his possession, and court costs. He was given credit for jail time already served. Part of the cash forfeiture — $220 — goes to his mother.
The judge ordered review of one case, and granted continuances for five others.
The 38-year-old gymnasium on the Murfreesboro campus will get some much-needed attention this school year in the form of new bleachers.
The South Pike County School Board voted last week to replace the old wooden, retractable bleachers with new plastic retractable bleachers. The project is expected to cost approximately $91,000.
The gym, built in 1976 in honor of Dr. G.J. Floyd, was the subject of lengthy discussion during the board’s August meeting held on the Delight campus last Tuesday. The board heard a report from Superintendent Roger Featherston after a visit from a Little Rock architect firm who weighed the cost of a renovation versus building a new facility.
Featherston said an extensive renovation of the gym could cost close to $2 million while the cost of building a new 1,500-seat “upper middle of the road” gym could reach a $4 million price tag.
“I just don’t feel like we are going to be able to do a new gym any time in the foreseeable future,” Featherston told the board. To raise the funds for a new gym would require a raise in taxes and Featherston said requesting a millage increase would be a “hard sell” due to the state of the economy.
The funds to complete the bleacher project will come from the district’s building fund, which currently has a balance of approximately $191,000. Installation work could start over the Christmas break and possibly be completed for the remainder of the basketball season.
The bleacher project can be completed separately if the district decides to make further renovations in the future. The plan for an overall renovation would have included the new bleachers as well as adding 500 seats to a “horseshoe” area where the lobby is currently located. The renovation would have included a heating and air conditioning unit.
In other business last week, the board continued to discuss the district’s technology needs. Last year, the district entered a lease program that put iPads in the hands of fifth and sixth graders on the Murfreesboro campus. The iPads arrived last year with less than three weeks left in the school year.
If a plan and the needed funds cannot be generated to include the fifth and sixth graders on the Delight campus, the board and Featherston said they were in favor of taking the iPads out of the hands of the Murfreesboro fifth graders and giving them to the Delight sixth graders.
The board also continued discussion about how to expand technology to the high school classrooms. Featherston said the district currently cannot afford to implement a district-wide technology program and suggested the district start implementing “incrementally” on the high school campus. He also suggested the district “start pulling some triggers” to make it happen instead of just talking about it each month.
Board member Steve Conly again expressed his concerns about the district’s lack of technology during the meeting. “If we (consider spending) $1.9 million on a gymnasium, I don’t understand why we can’t figure out a way to have computers in kids’ hands,” he said, adding it is his belief that technology affects every student on campus whereas a gym doesn’t necessarily involve every kid.
Featherston countered Conly’s statement by saying a new or improved gym could be a draw for the district and help boost the student population, which in turn could generate more state revenue which could be used for funding technology programs.
Conly called the situation a “push and pull” and requested technology stay in the “forefront” of discussion about the district’s future.
“It’s kind of like the gym, you can sit around and talk about it for a year or two or three or you can just do it,” Conly said. “But, on the other hand, we can’t break the school because of it.”
An iPad lease program or a similar program for the entire South Pike County student population could cost approximately $150,000 per year. That overall figure does not account for the iPads already purchased for the elementary.
Also last week, the board accepted the recommendation from Featherston to deny a transfer of four students to the Kirby School District. The students were not named during the meeting but were mentioned by the ages of 16, 14, 12 and 9. The vote to deny the transfers was 7-0.
Enrollment for South Pike County is down by about 15 students this school year but the kindergarten in Murfreesboro has been “maxed out,” according to Elementary Principal Tanya Wilcher. As of the board meeting date, there were 100 Delight elementary students, 288 Murfreesboro elementary students and 314 high school students.
The board also discussed the importance of families signing up for the free/reduced lunch program and how that even if families don’t qualify the district can use the data to secure federal funds.
After the meeting, Featherston issued the following statement concerning the importance of the federal program:
“We are asking each family with children in school to fill out and return the free/reduced lunch applications. First of all, the limits have gone up, so some that have not qualified in the past, may qualify now. Secondly, the school receives funding based on the percentage qualifying for free/reduced lunches. If we reach 70 percent qualifying, it is very beneficial to the school economically. We reached that percentage last year for the first time, so we need everyone to turn their paperwork in for us to have a chance to meet it again.”
A group “Save Camp Albert Pike” will hold a rally this Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in hopes of getting the U.S. Forest Service to re-open the campgrounds to overnight camping.
The popular site in the Ouachita Mountains has been closed to overnight camping since 2010 when a flash flood swept through the site and killed 20 people.
The U.S. Forest Service has since reopened the area to day use but after victims’ families filed lawsuits the area has steadily fallen in to a state of disrepair.
The group’s Facebook posted a draft of petition the group is planning to present to officials in hopes of having the area re-opened to overnight camping.
“We want the National Forest Campground Albert Pike opened for overnight camping. In 2010, a flash flood hit Camp Albert Pike killing 20 people. Because of this natural disaster, the campground has ben closed to overnight camping and the improvements that were being made to the campgrounds, using our tax dollars, has been halted with no sign of beginning again. During the last four years, the park has been allowed to run down and be overgrown with weeds. The sections that have been opened for day up are being being kept up. Trash is everywhere, the one restroom that is open for use is not being maintained or kept clean.”
The rally will be held at Loop B at 11:30 a.m.
Rally organizer Kay New recently said in a television interview, “We’ve waited for four years to give time for healing. We don’t mean to be disrespectful to the people who died there, but there are a lot of living people missing out on enjoying that place because just a few want it to stay closed.”
A Pike County jury took less than one hour to convict and sentence a Smackover man on the charge of internet stalking of child during a trial held Friday.
The jury, made of up of 10 men and two women, found Chad A. Squyres, 36, guilty of the felony charge and sentenced him to 10 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. During the trial, Squyres argued entrapment and a misunderstanding related to his arrest after he drove his employer’s 18-wheeler to Pike County to meet someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl.
On Oct. 30, 2103, Squyres knowingly used a computer online service, internet service or local internet bulletin board to seduce, solicit, lure or entice an individual that the person believes to be 15 years of age or younger in an effort to arrange a meeting with the individual for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse; sexually explicit conduct or deviate sexual activity.
Squyres was charged on Nov. 13, 2013 after he arrived in Pike County behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler to meet with a subject whom he had chatted with through an online account established and maintained by a Pike County law official.
During a week’s worth of chatting with the online subject, Squyres was made aware that the subject was only 15, but he still sent the subject an explicit picture and eventually made arrangements to meet the subject in Pike County.
After his arrest, Squyres told officials he thought the online chats and eventual meeting were part of a “role playing game” and that the online subject was actually older than 15.
DISABLED. Reuben Ellis Stapleton’s white GMC truck after wrecking out near Dierks on Highway 70.
A Pearcy man is in custody in Howard County and facing felony charges following a three-county chase Monday afternoon, according to Pike County Detective Sergeant Clark Kinzler.
Reuben Ellis Stapleton, 41, was arrested following a high-speed pursuit which began in Garland County and ended in Howard County. The pursuit involved officers from six agencies including sheriff’s department from Garland, Howard and Pike counties, the Arkansas State Police and the Glenwood and Murfreesboro police departments.
Stapleton is facing felony charges in Garland, Pike and Howard counties.
The incident began around 3 p.m. on Monday, which was also the first day of classes for area schools. ASP Trooper Kyle Jones advised the pursuit started in Garland County and reached speeds in excess of 75 mph on Highway 70. An attempt to stop Stapleton with “spike strips” before he entered Pike County resulted in one tire being disabled, but the pursuit continued.
Pike County officers joined the pursuit when it entered the county and Chief Deputy David Shelby was able to get his patrol unit in front of the suspect’s GMC truck.
“The suspect made multiple attempts to hit Shelby’s vehicle, but did not slow down,” Kinzler wrote in a press release. Another deployment of spike strips was requested at this time as the pursuit headed toward Kirby. Kinzler also requested the local schools be notified and students be held as a safety precaution.
Outside of Kirby, another attempt to stop the suspect with spike strips failed and the pursuit turned on Highway 70 toward Daisy.
“In Daisy, the suspect recklessly passed a school bus that was currently unloading students,” according to the release. Officers then backed off “in order to reduce pressure on the suspect because of the extreme danger of the situation.”
After safely going around the school bus, which had by this point pulled over, the pursuit proceeded into Howard County where a third attempt with spike strips was made to stop the vehicle. Shortly after, the suspect vehicle wrecked prior to entering Dierks. It is unclear if the vehicle’s disabled tire or a “PIT” move by a pursuing officer caused the wreck.
Stapleton stated he had fled because he did not want to go back to jail and that he knew the Garland County officer was going to arrest him for driving on a suspended license. He was transported to the Pike County Sheriff’s Department where a test confirmed he was intoxicated, resulting in a citation for driving while intoxicated.
There will contested races on the November General Election ballot in the city of Murfreesboro and the towns of Daisy and Delight.
Rodney Fagan and Soledad “Solly” Woodall will face off in a race for the Murfreesboro mayor seat. Fagan is making is first run for the mayor’s seat while Woodall is making her second run, having finished third in the voting in a three-way mayor’s race in 2010.
Murfreesboro’s South Ward Position 2 seat on the city council has also drawn two candidates – Mary Jean Barbre and Jeff Walls.
In Delight, two candidates have filed for the Position 3 seat on the city council. They include incumbent Chris Goodson and Michelle Delaney.
There will also be a two-way race for the town of Daisy’s recorder/treasurer position. Incumbent Hortense H. Young will face challenger Jennifer Cogburn.
Municipal candidates filing unopposed include:
South Ward Position 1
West Ward Position 1
West Ward Position 2
North Ward Position 1
North Ward Position2
Rebecca Ann Frazier
Douglas E. Cochran
Helen Francis Frazier
No candidates filed for Daisy’s Position 1 council seat
North Ward Position 2
Mark C. Voan
South Ward Position 2
No candidates filed for any of Antoine’s five council positions or the recorder/treasurer seat.
A class Y felony rape charge was amended to first degree sexual assault, which is a class A felony charge, and the defendant pleaded ‘no contest,’ Wednesday, in the regular day for criminal court cases in Howard County.
Adam Dean, 35, white male, 285 N. Blue Bayou Road, Nashville, changed his plea in return for the amended charge. He was sentenced to 18 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) with five years suspended. He must also register as a sex offender.
The nolo contendre, or no contest, plea actually has the same effect as a finding or plea of guilty.
On the bench Wednesday was Judge Charles Yeargan.
One other defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced.
Scott Bradley Kirkland, 34, white male, giving a Mineola, Texas, address, was charged with a pair of class D felonies — possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He sentence was five years on each charge in the ADC with two years suspended. The terms will be served concurrently.
Trial dates were set for six defendants who entered not guilty pleas.
Jessica Deeann Melton, 33, white female, 501 Holly Ave., Dierks, faces numerous charges, including DWI, with three prior DWI convictions in five years, endangering the welfare of a minor, and driving on a suspended license. She will be represented by the public defender. Her bond was set at $2,500 and a date of Nov. 12 was set for pretrial motions.
A not guilty plea was given by Ronald W. Brown, 49, white male, 121 S. Pine, Nashville, facing multiple charges including: possession of methamphetamine, class D felony; possession of marijuana, misdemeanor; possession of drug paraphernalia, class D felony; and three vehicular misdemeanors. He will be represented by the public defender. Pretrial motions will be heard Nov. 5, with a Nov. 18 trial date set.
Amelio Jordan, 23, black male, Hope, pleaded not guilty to a class Y felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. A trial date of Dec. 9 was set.
A $5,000 bond was set for Timothy Thompson, 41, white male, 2536 Hwy. 371 S., Lockesburg, charged with theft of property. A date of Nov. 18 was set for pretrial motions.
Katie Nicole Ashbrooks, 22, white female, 663 Green Plains Road, Dierks, pleaded not guilty to two class D felony counts of breaking or entering, and a misdemeanor charge of second degree criminal mischief.
She and a companion allegedly broke into a concession at the Dierks football stadium.
Charged along with her was Ricky Gene Alexander, 23, white male, 1143 Parsons Road, Newhope.
Ashbrooks’ bond was set at $5,000, and bond for Alexander was set at $15,000. Alexander is charged with two counts of breaking or entering. They both have a date of Nov. 12 for pretrial motions.
The fate of the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce will be decided during a public meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 21 at the Murfreesboro City Hall.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The following is the text of a letter sent out this week to chamber members:
The time has finally come to make a decision about the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce.
Do you want a chamber of commerce in our city?
For the last two years we have had three dedicated Board members who have tried to keep things moving as best they could. It is too much work and responsibility for so few people to continue handling by themselves.
This meeting will decide the fate of the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce. We need new members, as well as some of our more experienced members who have helped to make our Chamber a success in the past, to sign up for the Board and to become involved in the daily activities of the Chamber. If this doesn’t happen, steps will be taken to dissolve the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce.
This is an unfortunate decision that has to be made and it is only fair for the Chamber Members and members of this community to make it.
HOUSE FIRE IN MURFREESBORO. On Tuesday, July 29 around 8:30 p.m., the Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department was dispatched to 1233 North Maple Street to fight a house fire. Homes on the north and south sides of the structure were also threatened by the fire but were spared by the department’s efforts. The fire was brought under control around 9:40 but firemen remained on the scene until 2 a.m. to extinguish “hot spots” due to the pier and beam construction of the home, according to Fire Chief Alan Walls. The home is owned by Sheila Hale and was occupied by Michael Calley, who reported he had been cooking and had left the kitchen when the fire started. Calley also reported the home was uninsured and there had been some electrical problems throughout the home.
The process of returning a Cossatot Community College University of Arkansas teacher to Nashville has taken another step forward.
Visa paperwork for Molly Sirigiri, 33, has been approved by U.S. authorities, CCCUA Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole said Monday.
“The paperwork process was expedited, and it went through,” Dr. Cole said. “We’ve done what we can do. It’s been approved on the U.S. side.”
Sirigiri, a native of Hyderabad, India, was denied re-entry into the United States July 8 following a church mission trip to Guatemala. She was detained at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as the mission group was en route from Guatemala City back to Little Rock.
The next day, she was placed on a plane and sent to India by way of Munich, Germany.
The University of Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. John Boozman have been working since then to secure her return.
CCCUA filed form I-907 July 17 and paid the premium processing fee to speed up the process, Dr. Cole said.
Sirigiri “will have to go to the embassy in India now” to gain approval of her visa, Dr. Cole said. “The ball is in India’s court. We’re waiting on them. I talked to her Thursday, and she said she was going today [Monday] to file. We hope she will be here by the start of the fall semester.”
Pryor and Boozman “are keeping close watch on it. They’re doing what they can,” Dr. Cole said. “So far, things have gone smoothly. It was quicker than I thought it would be.”
Sirigiri teaches biological sciences at the college. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 18.
“We have a Plan B if she’s not here when we start,” Dr. Cole said.
Other teachers covered Sirigiri’s classes during the summer after she was returned to India.
The Nashville City Park has been working hard this past year to hold events and make updates so that the park would be as useful as possible. According to Freddie Horne, chairman of the park commission, all of the committees are just finishing up the 2013 grant.
The 2013 grant provided the funds that the park commission needed in order to update the baseball fields and bleachers, remodel a backstop, build a basketball court beside the skating park, and begin replacing all of the wooden light poles with metal ones.
It was recommended by maintenance that the park begin to replace the light poles when inspectors noticed the woodpeckers drilling holes all the way through them causing them to weaken and become more likely to fall. The transformation should be complete with the 2014 grant.
The Ronny Woods Wildlife Trail was completed recently after delays due to all the rain during the summer. Now the park is in the process of finishing the Ronny Woods pavilion.
This was the fourth year the park has sponsored summer trips for kids. “This program is a great way for kids to get involved and stay active this summer,” says Horne. For a small fee kids ages 12-16 have been able to go on trips including a survival class at DeGray Lake, hiking, cooking lessons, and going zip lining at Rowdy Adventures.
Horne has many updates and events planned for the 2014 grant. The park commission plans on getting fencing built around the new basketball court in order to keep rebounds from rolling down the hill. The park commission plans on building two pavilions over the next year. The first one will be built between the soccer fields and the skating park. The other one will be much larger with lights and running water. It is being made possible by Regions Bank.
By the baseball and softball fields, the park commission plans on building batting cages for teams and the public can practice. The park commission also plans on doing some updating on the electrical work on the fields.
Over the last year Nashville City Park has lost close to 200 trees because of weather. Because of this, the park commission is bringing in the forestry service to help the commission come up with a 3-5 year plan to replace the trees and keep the natural atmosphere that the park commission strives for.
“We have a 25-year plan for the park. Every year we will revisit it, talk about what we have done that year and what we want to get accomplished the next year. I really like having a long-term plan because it keeps us on task and keeps us thinking of more ideas,” says Horne.
Many of the major events are over for the year. However, on Sept. 13 the park is hosting a day called “Pack the Park.” Early that day there will be a car show and a blue grass concert, followed by the 5k run for the cancer society.
Trophies will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age division. All participants will receive a ribbon.
Entry forms are available at the extension office in the courthouse; the chamber of commerce office; both Nashville newspapers; Nashville High School; First State Bank; and Dr. Robert Gunter’s office in Dierks. Entry forms, complete with a $10 entry fee, must be returned no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27. For more information contact Tim Pinkerton 451-9619.
The overall winner will advance to the Southwest District Fair in Hope, and to the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock. Previous overall winners will not be able to compete unless they advance to another age division. Contestants must be a resident of Howard County or the Nashville trade area.
A political rally in Nashville, Saturday, Aug. 9 will attract some of the top names in Democratic party circles.
The rally is for Jeremy Ross, candidate for District 19, Arkansas House of Representatives.
Among those who attendance has been announced are: U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, who is a candidate for re-election; former Congressman Mike Ross, now a candidate for Arkansas Governor; Nashville’s Nate Steel, candidate for Attorney General; and former National FEMA administrator James Lee Witt, now a candidate for the Fourth District U.S. House of Representatives. Other candidates may also attend.
Ross, a resident of Hollywood in western Clark County, is the Democratic party nominee to succeed Nate Steel in the Arkansas Legislature.
The event will be at Fisherman’s Cove Restaurant on Hwy. 27 N., Nashville, from 2-4 p.m. The public is invited.
An unusual class B felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor, and two sisters pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, Wednesday, in the regular day for criminal court here.
Nina Wynn, 20, white female, and Brooke Wynn, 26, white female, both showing an address of 303 S. Jones, Nashville, had originally been charged with accomplice to unauthorized use of another person’s property to facilitate crimes. They allegedly were party to anonymous ‘tips’ to police resulting in a traffic stop of the estranged husband of another sister.
In June, the other sister, Jayme Layne Almond, 30, white female, Nashville, pleaded guilty to trying to make police believe her estranged husband possessed contraband allegedly in order to discredit him in a child custody case. After a police investigation, she was charged with being an accomplice to unauthorized use of another person’s property to facilitate crimes, class B felony; and filing false reports with law enforcement agency, class D felony. Soon after Almond was charged, the sisters were also charged. In her June court appearance, Almond also pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband into the jail. She pleaded true to failure to meet the terms of her probation on a conviction of second degree forgery, a class C felony. Her sentence was 10 years in the ADC with two years suspended, on the first count; six years in the ADC on count 2; on her two probation revocation cases she was sentenced to six years in the ADC. All sentences are to be served concurrently.
Wednesday morning, sisters Nina and Brooke Wynn were both fined $1,000 to be payable within six months.
Six other defendants pleaded guilty to felony charges and were sentenced by Judge Tom Cooper.
Holly Stewart, 44, white female, Nashville, pleaded guilty to a class D felony charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to three months of probation and was fined $1,000.
Courtney Thomas, 23, black male, 404 Browning, Mineral Springs, was sentenced to three years in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). He was charged with a D felony, being a felon in possession of a firearm.
James Rodgers, 31, black male, 9876 Hwy. 278 W., Nashville, pleaded guilty to a pair of class D felony charges — breaking or entering, and theft of property — an accompanying misdemeanor charge was dismissed in return for the plea. His sentence was four years in the ADC on each charge, to be served concurrently.
Justin Newton, 28, white male, Nashville, was charged with possession of cocaine or meth with purpose, fleeing, carrying a weapon and resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 12 years in the ADC with two years suspended. Two of the counts were dismissed.
Robert R. Forbes, III, 26, black male, Mineral Springs, was facing a class A felony charge of possession of meth with purpose, class D felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and class C felony maintaining a drug premises. His sentence terms were 12, 4, and 6 years in the ADC, to be served concurrently.
A guilty plea to class D felony third degree battery was given by Aljuawan Cole, 23, black male, 330 S. Pine, Mineral Springs. He was sentenced to six years of probation, was fined $1,000 and must attend anger management classes.
Continuances were granted to six defendants. Mental evaluations were ordered for two, and charges were upgraded to ‘habitual offender’ for two more.
Not guilty pleas
Trial and pretrial motion dates were set for two defendants who gave not guilty pleas.
Oliver A. Martinez, 19, white male, 212 Bush, Nashville, is charged with first degree terroristic threatening, a class D felony. Pretrial motions will be heard Sept. 3, and he was ordered to have no further contact with the alleged victim.
Scott Bradley Kirkland, 34, white male, pleaded not guilty to a pair of class D felony charges — possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. Pretrial motions will be heard Sept. 24.
Trucks with a big “NPW” painted on the doors are making frequent trips to a big hole in the ground in southwest Nashville.
Two and sometimes three city crews are hauling storm debris five days a week to the site near a Tyson facility and a SWEPCO substation a short distance off the Highway 27 Bypass. A steady blue curl of smoke rises from burning debris piles at the site.
Mayor Billy Ray Jones said that it might take as long as two weeks to recover from last Wednesday’s violent storm which down trees and large limbs, and caused electrical and cable outages for hours. Workers from the city park, water department and street department have helped, he said.
Residents need to stack debris at roadside. City crews will not go on private property to pick up the tree limbs.
The mayor said that two tree service companies affiliated with SWEPCO are also using the dump site.
Howard County crews have been hauling debris to a site near the airport. A spokesman said that the growing pile would be burned at a later date. Crews have made many trips to leave debris at the site, and face several more weeks in the cleanup.
A spokesperson from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said Monday that department crews will continuing working for several weeks to remove storm debris from the state right-of-ways. The debris will be picked up along the highways when personnel are not working on other AHTD projects. Currently, there are no roadways that are blocked or unsafe, according to the AHTD spokesperson.
All storm debris is being transported to the Upper Southwest Regional Solid Waste Management District.
The storm left nearly 2,000 SWEPCO customers without electricity for up to two days, and the storm which rolled in unexpectedly fast from the north struck Sevier County even worse. As many as 26,000 electric customers in the Four States Area were without electricity for varying lengths of time. Out-of-state crews were brought in to help with restoring power.
The late afternoon storm had straight-line winds of up to 70 mph, downing trees and snapping large limbs. Rains were heavy and lightning strikes were fierce. Several residences were heavily damaged by falling trees or large limbs.
CAMP MEETING TIME. Worshipers gather in and around the tabernacle at Ebenezer Campground July 22. The annual encampment was held July 18-24.
By Molly Freel
Ebenezer Church camp was held July 18-24 out past Center Point on Highway 278 North.
Although it is a Methodist-based camp, Ebenezer has been hosting groups of people from all different denominations since 1822.
Families get together and camp in bunk houses, campers or tents and fellowship together for a week. All of the bunk houses and the tabernacle were built by hand. Because of storms and vandalism most of the camp has been redone over the years.
During the week campers hold two services every day. The first service is at 11 a.m. and the second is at 8 p.m.
Every two years a different evangelist comes to do the preaching. This year the camp invited Rev. Carlton Cross.
Cross is pastor at Salem United Methodist Church in Benton. He also hosts and preaches revivals and other camps throughout the year.
In order to prepare for the many sermons he delivered this last week, Cross has a simple way of doing things. “I don’t write my sermons. I don’t use notes or manuscripts. I simply pray all week and rely on the Holy Spirit to give me the words when I get up to speak his word,” said Cross.
Kelly Wright of Ashdown has been going to Ebenezer for his entire life.
“This will be my 39th year at camp. Even though we only get together once a year, some of these people are more like family than friends to me,” said Wright.
His family plans on keeping this tradition as they get older. “I hope that my kids will grow to love this place just like I did at their age.”
Wright talked about how he and his three best friends were known as the “four horsemen” back in their youth. They would go ride their bikes and run all over the campground. Now they take up the offering every service, a tradition the camp started when the boys were only eight years old.
Ebenezer has four trustees who take care of the camp and make the big decisions about how to take care of it. They include Virginia Hardin, Jerry Kennedy, Jimmy Locke and Tommy Lee.
There are, however, meetings once a month where everyone who is a member of the camp gets to have a vote on choices being made. In order to become a member, all a person must do is spend one night at camp.
Ebenezer is the oldest camp meeting that is held in Arkansas. It is still known as the most rustic in the state as well.
Rusty Jones, the host pastor for the camp, says that he has been coming for 50 years. “My favorite part of this place is just being tucked away with no phone, no news, and no distractions from the world. I get to fellowship with all of these people around me and grow in my faith,” said Jones.
The last night’s service goes a little differently. The members from camp all share stories about what they have gotten out of the week and some of the memories that they hold onto from years past.
Then everyone packs up and says their “May God be with you’s” and heads back home to anxiously wait to see each other the next year.
Members of the Howard Memorial Hospital board reviewed the preliminary floor plan for a proposed medical office building to be constructed on the HMH campus.
CEO Debra Wright presented the plan for the 7,955 square-foot facility from architect Mark Bailey for the board’s consideration.
Total cost of the project is estimated at about $1.4 million, according to Wright.
The cost includes the purchase of 2.834 acres of land from the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation at a cost of $50,000 per acre for a total of $141,700.
The building is projected to cost $150 per square foot for $1,198,250. The architect’s fee will be 6 percent of the construction cost for $71,595.
Other expenses not included in the estimate are topography survey, soil testing, legal survey expenses, landscaping and sprinkler system.
The plan includes four doctors’ office with three examination rooms each, a waiting area, space for cardiac rehab and 300 square feet of shell space for an additional service at a later date.
Board member Dr. John Hearnsberger suggested a couple of changes in the design of examination rooms based on doctors’ preferences.
Board members approved a motion authorizing Wright to more forward on the building project. Overall approval will await final plans, financing and other factors.
In other business at the board’s July 22 meeting, members approved a new GI endoscope from Fujinon Endoscopy. “This is state of the art for endoscopy,” Dr. Hearnsberger said.
The unit will replace a 5-year old Fujinon device. The lease on the current unit will expire Sept. 30.
Physician recruitment continues at HMH. Wright said that Dr. Syed Javed has submitted his application for an Arkansas medical license and has forwarded all of the information requested by the immigration attorney for his J1visa waiver and the H1-B visa. Dr. Javed is expected to open his practice later this year in the current Medical Office Building on the HMH campus.
Dr. Mgoz Idilenna Wilkins has signed a revised employment with HMH and will open her practice in Nashville Aug. 16, 2016, after completing her family medicine residency.
“All of the comments I’ve heard about her are positive,” Wright said. “She sent us a card saying she is excited about this opportunity.”
Dr. Wilkins will also be located in the Medical Office Building and will occupy the third of the three offices in the facility, where Dr. Brian Oge also has his office.
Dr. Rianot Amzat “has decided to interview with another facility before making a final decision,” Wright said. The interview is scheduled for later this month in the Philadelphia area, where Dr. Amzat has family members. Dr. Amzat has signed an offering letter to begin her practice in Nashville in the summer or fall of 2015.
“The recruiter plans to follow up with me as soon as she receives feedback from Dr. Amzat. I told the recruiter that we need a final decision by the end of August,” Wright said. “Since HMH paid the recruiting fee to Merritt Hawkins upon her signing the offering letter, the recruiter knows how important it is to have a 2015 resident under contract. If it is not going to be Dr. Amzat, she will need to present other candidates to HMH to fill this position.”
The hospital has finalized the purchase of lot 7 from the HMH Foundation for the construction of a geriatric behavioral health building. Bailey has been waiting on preliminary plan approval, Wright said. Once approval is received, Bailey can finalize the mechanical plan design and submit the full set of plans to the state for final approval.
The geriatric program will be called Compass Behavioral Health. The name was chosen in a contest among hospital employees. Eddie Beene and Matt Huskey submitted the winning entry.
CFO Bill Craig presented the financial report for June. The hospital recorded a loss of $31,617 for the month. Inpatient average daily census was 13 percent above budget in June, Craig said. Outpatient visits and emergency department visits were also above budget.
There was a 2 percent drop in the hospital’s reimbursement percentage for Medicare for outpatient services based on the May 31 interim cost report. Surgical cases were 14 percent below budget for June.
NEW LOOK FOR NHS. An architectural rendering shows the proposed cafeteria and other improvements at Nashville High School. The school district is awaiting final approval from the state facilities division to begin the construction project.
By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville School District is awaiting final approval from the Arkansas Department of Education’s Facilities Division on the last phase of the district’s facilities improvement program.
The district has submitted a revised plan for enclosing the courtyard at Nashville High School, renovating the kitchen and cafeteria, constructing a stage, and making other improvements, according to Superintendent Doug Graham.
A previous plan was about $400,000 over budget. The revision fits the budget for the project, Graham said.
“We’re still moving forward,” Graham told the school board last week. “It’s slow. I hate that it’s taking this long. We’re moving as fast as they’ll allow. I’m confident that if the facilities division says it’s a go, we’re in budget and ready to break ground.”
Graham said it will be a “board decision on which part of the year to disrupt once we get approval. Do we start now, Christmas or in the spring?”
Even if construction had begun in the summer, “Part of the year will be disrupted,” Graham said.
In other business at the July 21 meeting, Graham said the district should consider making a change in the district’s Golden Age athletic passes. “Now, anybody 65 or older can get a Golden Age pass for activities,” Graham said. “There needs to be consideration to raising it to 68 or 70. We’ve had 10 passes to start with go to 300-400 Golden Age passes now. We may want to consider raising the age. That’s food for thought.”
Graham asked board members to determine their constituents’ opinions about 65, 68 or 70 for the passes. “If we raise it to 70, we will still honor the passes” already issued,” Graham said. “If you get any feedback, we’ll discuss it in August.”
As plans continue for the 2014-15 academic year, the board approved bids on milk and bread. The milk bid went to Highland Dairy, Perry Rice. The bread bid went to Flowers Baking Co. of Tyler, Texas. Both companies had the bids for 2013-14.
The board accepted the resignation of bus driver Deriel Romine.
The board hired John Rekowski, high school custodian; Jerry Harris, half-time bus driver; and Karen Kell, full-time bus driver.
The board approved a resolution that the September school board election be conducted by absenteen ballot and early voting at the county clerk’s office only. There are no other ballot issues to be submitted to district voters. The resolution asks the county board of election commissioners to open no polling places on election day.
BIG CHECK FOR RELAY FOR LIFE. Diamond Park Speedway held a special night of racing June 28 to benefit the Howard County Relay for Life. The event raised $2,463. Accepting the check from speedway representatives Joe and Lauren Hoen (at left) are Halton and Joanna Howard, who is the local Relay for Life event chairman.
Efforts to secure the return to the United States of a Cossatot Community College University of Arkansas biological sciences teacher continue, according to Dr. Steve Cole, CCCUA chancellor.
Molly Sirigiri, 33, a native of Hyderabad, India, was denied re-entry into the United States earlier this month following a church mission trip to Guatemala.
She was detained at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as the mission group was en route from Guatemala City back to Little Rock. Officials at first said she would miss the evening flight to Little Rock July 8 but would be on the first flight to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport the next morning.
Instead, Sirigiri was placed on a plane for Munich, Germany, about 24 hours after landing in Houston. From Munich, she flew to Mumbai, India. Authorities did not tell her the plane’s destination when she boarded in Houston.
The Indian Consulate at Houston told the mission team that it “appears as though she was pending approval of an H1B visa and was not eligible for revalidation as she was not arriving from contiguous territory with an absence of less than 30 days. In lieu of deportation, she was permitted to withdraw her application for admission and returned to India. This will allow her to have her visa approved and return to the U.S.”
Dr. Cole said that the process to return Sirigiri to the United States is underway. “As her employer, we filed the premium processing fee” with the Department of Homeland Security, he said. “The employer has to pay it” for a visa enabling her to return to her job at CCCUA.
Premium processing of Sirigiri’s visa paperwork will expedite the process, officials told Dr. Cole.
“We filed a form I-907 July 16. By the end of the month, we should know yea or nay. We think it will be yea,” Dr. Cole said. There is a 15-day response time on the application.
“We’re hoping she’s on a return flight to be back here by Aug. 18” when classes start, Dr. Cole said. “Our instructors have covered her summer classes,” and the school has a plan if there’s a delay in Sirigiri’s return.
A University of Arkansas attorney is helping with the Sirigiri case. So are the offices of Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. John Boozman.
Sirigiri has taught at CCCUA for the past three years.
The Pike County Quorum Court took action on two matters Monday night in hopes of persuading a Texas investment group to purchase the sawmill in Glenwood and stimulating the local economy.
The court voted to authorize a $25,000 payment to the Southwest Arkansas Regional Coalition (formerly the Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority) to be used to expedite a permit process in case a group of Texas investors decide to purchase the former Bean Lumber Company. The name of the investment group has not been made public and the court approved the payment without inquiring about the investors’ identity.
Darwin Hendrix, a member of the regional coalition, told the court Monday that there are three environmental permits involved with the sawmill – an air permit, a storm water permit and an overall discharge permit. The air and storm water permits are still valid and can be transferred to a new owner, but the overall discharge permit has expired and has to be reapplied for in a lengthy process, according to Hendrix.
The $25,000 approved Monday will be used to pay for attorney fees and pay back assessment fees, but more importantly, according to Hendrix, will be a strong show of faith that Pike County is serious about reopening the saw mill. He also described the Texas group as being “serious investors.”
“If it doesn’t open, you know, it’s just money that’s gone,” Hendrix said. “But, still, I think it shows our interest. It will show Caterpillar that we are interested in keeping that sawmill and we appreciate what they’ve done, and it shows the new investors that we’re progressing around here and we want to get things going.”
Caterpillar, doing business as the Florida-based FCC Equipment Financing, purchased the Bean Lumber Company and its assets in October of 2011 for $4 million. The purchase included 43.44 acres of real estate in Glenwood.
Hendrix has said in the past that Caterpillar has been a “good corporate citizens” in maintaining the Glenwood facility. The company could have scrapped the mill but Hendrix said officials decided to maintain the facility because they realize the importance of again making it operational.
Hendrix added that Caterpillar has spent “in the six figures” to maintain the facility since it was purchased in 2011 and now the company is not interested in putting any more money into the facility until “they have a buyer on the dotted line.”
One point of contention concerning the possible purchase of the sawmill involves a massive “fly ash” pile located on the property. The pile reportedly covers two to three acres and is two to three stories high. The removal of the ash pile, which is a wood waste byproduct, could cost at least $1 million to remove.
Hendrix said Monday the issue with the ash pile is being examined and that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality may allow it to be covered to keep storm water and the nearby Caddo River from washing it away.
The vote to approve the $25,000 was approved by a 9-0 vote.
Also Monday, the court voted to enter a tax abatement agreement with Great Southern Wood, the company currently operating the old sawmill’s treating plant. The plant, described by Johnny Plyler as a cabinet shop, makes step stringers and 2”x2” ballasts. The plant serves Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana and parts of Alabama and Tennessee.
Great Southern Wood currently employs 44 people and an expansion project is expected to create 18 more jobs at a rate of pay of $12 per hour and a $450,000 annual payroll. The estimated cost of the project is $765,650.
The tax abatement agreement will allow the State of Arkansas to reimburse Great Southern Wood the local and state sales and use taxes involved in the total project cost. The estimated tax reimbursement would be $15,000 to $20,000.
Plyler said the city of Glenwood would lose some tax revenue but said it was a “win-win situation” to trade off the tax reimbursement for more jobs and a $450,000 annual payroll.
The tax abatement agreement could also benefit the county in courting the unknown Texas investors looking at the sawmill. Plyer said the cost to purchase and get the sawmill running again is approximately $11.3 million.
Bean Lumber Company was once one of Pike County’s largest employers. The company closed in 2007 but restarted in 2008 before financial troubles forced the business to shutdown again. The company once employed 125 workers at the mill and created hundreds of more jobs for area logging companies.
Earlier this year, Hunt Forest Products of Louisiana, backed out of buying the sawmill.
GLASGOW, Scotland – When the 2014 Commonwealth Games get underway this week, a former Mineral Springs Hornet will be there to coach one of the United States’ top collegiate divers.
Andy Scott, the son of Royce and Barbara Scott of Nashville, coaches diving at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and will attend the games with sophomore Maria Zarka, a two-time NCAAA diving champion. Scott is in his fourth season at Kenyon College where he has been twice voted the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year. He has coached Zarka to a national title in three-meter competition and a third-place finish in one-meter competition.
The Commonwealth Games’ opening ceremony was held July 23 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scott and his diver will participate in diving events July 30-Aug. 2 at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.
Scott is a 2000 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in education and biology at OBU before receiving his master’s degree in physical education from Springfield College.
At OBU, Scott was a four-year letterman diver and was a one-meter and three-meter NAIA All-American diver in 1997. He was a two-time conference champion in 1999 and was named the Arkansas Male College Diver of the Year in 1999 and 2000.
Scott helped establish a diving program at the University of Incarnate Word, an NCAA Division II institution in San Antonio, Texas where he coached three All-Americans and four NCAA national qualifiers. He also coached at Incarnate Word High School.
The former Hornet has also coached at Springfield College and Duke University, a NCAA Division I school where he is credited with doubling the size of the program. At Duke, he coached four NCAA zone championship qualifiers and while at Springfield he coached two NCAA Division III All-Americans, including the 2002 NCAA Division III Female Diver of the Year.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to to work with such a talented athlete,” Scott said in a release from Kenyon College about Zarka. “You never know in diving how things will work out because each individual dive in each meet has so many variables, but (Maria) has been consistent in everything she’s done from day one and it has paid off.”
If Zarka, a native of Kaneohe, Hawaii, advances through the preliminary rounds and places high enough in the finishing order, she could open the door to possibly competing in the 2015 World Championships, the 2016 World Cup, and maybe the 2016 Summer Olympics.
(All information for this article and the accompanying photograph were used with permission from the Kenyon College Sports Information Department)
Billy Farris, 72, of Bingen, was presented his Vietnam Service Medal and National Defense Medal last week by Howard County Veteran Services Officer Milton Puryear. Farris, an Oklahoma native, served in the Navy from 1959 to 1962 with two WestPac Cruises aboard the USS Hancock CVA19, a carryover aircraft carrier from World War II. Farris’ job on the Hancock was to “re-service, reload and relaunch” the attack aircraft.
An investigation involving former Pike County sheriff, Preston “Pep” Glenn, has concluded and will result in no charges being filed despite a special prosecutor’s belief there was criminal activity and a major lapse in record-keeping during Glenn’s time as sheriff.
Ninth West District Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir provided The Nashville Leader with a copy of a two-page letter, dated July 10, 2014, addressed to Judge Charles Yeargan from Arkansas State Police Special Prosecuting Attorney Jack McQuary concerning the special investigation’s conclusion and outcome. The newspaper intends to file an Arkansas Freedom of Information request with the Arkansas State Police for additional information when the case is officially made available.
State police spokesperson Bill Sadler stated in an email Monday, “The case file is being transported to Little Rock later this week. Upon receipt, I will begin the redaction process and keep you apprised of an availability date.”
McQuary stated in his letter he believes there was “criminal activity concerning accounts of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department” under Glenn, but there is not enough evidence to “prove the case to the highest burden in our judicial system.” McQuary also noted that the case “truly causes me anguish” and he felt the need to explain the decision not to file charges.
Glenn had worked for the county since 1999. He was hired as a full-time deputy in 1999 and took office as sheriff on Jan. 1, 2009. Glenn left office before his term was complete after being defeated in the last election cycle by current sheriff, Charlie Caldwell. Glenn took a job with the South Central Drug Task Force, then left that post to work in another area of law enforcement.
The letter also noted that “proper accounting procedures now appear to be in place” at the department under Sheriff Caldwell.
The following is the entire text of the letter to Judge Yeargan from McQuary:
Please accept this as the State’s official notice that the investigation based upon audits of the Sheriff’s Department during the tenure of ex-sheriff Preston Glenn, has come to an end. The investigation was thoroughly conducted by the Arkansas State Police and centered not only on the information brought forward by Legislative Audit, but also into information as the investigation progressed. As you are quite aware, Prosecutors, in order to file charges against someone, must present to the judiciary probable cause for that person to be arrested, then must prove the charges against that person beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction. Prosecuting Attorneys must question themselves throughout the entire process of filing charges and actual prosecution of individuals.
In this case, do I believe there was criminal activity concerning accounts of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department? Yes. Is there enough evidence to prove this case to the highest burden in our judicial system? No.
Ordinarily, I understand that a “cut to the chase” decision by the Prosecutor, as to whether charges are to filed or not, is all that is needed at the close of an investigation, but this case truly causes me anguish and I want to explain my decision not to file charges in this matter.
This investigation began based upon irregularities found in an audit by Legislative Audit of the State. “Irregularities” does not aptly describe what this investigation found. The Sheriff’s Department, under then Sheriff Preston Glenn, and in most instances, prompted Glenn, lacked any accounting concerning the acceptance, collection of, and spending of monies coming into or out of the Sheriff’s Department. It is precisely the lack of records and controls that keeps the State from being able to file charges in this matter. There is evidence of the then sheriff endorsing checks submitted to Pike County for taxes, from citizens, and cashing them at a local grocery store. There is evidence of missing funds that were seized as part of a criminal investigation being “found” by the ex-sheriff in a personal file cabinet after he left office. There is evidence of the ex-sheriff writing check for supplies, but instead of writing the checks directly to the merchants, he would write the checks to himself, endorse and cash them at the grocery store and then, according to Glenn, he would purchase what the check was intended to purchase to begin with. There was a huge lack of receipt keeping for purchases made. There was a huge lack of record keeping. There was also evidence of some money returned, after Glenn left office, that he had “found” that belonged to a specific account and it turned out it was more money than what could be determined missing from the records of the account. There was also an account set up through a vending machine in the Sheriff’s Department which the record keeping was so poor, one could never determine if money was stolen. Vending accounts are supposed to be run through a county’s general fund and should never be controlled by independent departments.
The State’s investigation is as complete as can be, with the records are they are. With the return of monies by Glenn, after leaving office, the State cannot determine if any money is missing due to lack of accounting procedures. With the investigation complete and with no charges being filed, the file is now open under the Freedom of Information Act. The file will be stored with the Arkansas State Police. The public should know that proper accounting procedures now appear to be in place concerning the Sheriff’s Department of Pike County.
Attorney General candidate Nate Steel of Nashville.
By John R. Schirmer
HOT SPRINGS – Nate Steel of Nashville, Democratic nominee for Arkansas attorney general, squared off with Republican Leslie Rutledge and Libertarian Aaron Cash in a debate Friday morning during the Arkansas Press Association convention.
Steel differed with his opponents on several issues, including the role of the attorney general in dealing with the federal government.
Rutledge said she would “take action to oppose Obamacare [the federal Affordable Care Act]. We’re in a real crisis with an overreaching federal government. Obamacare hurts communities. I’ll go after the federal government when necessary. I’ll use the office of attorney general to oppose the feds when necessary.”
In response to Rutledge’s statement, Steel said he is “as frustrated with a lot of actions as anybody else. But I don’t think the solution to an overreaching federal government is an overreaching attorney general. We have so many problems at home. It would be a huge disservice to have the attorney general focused on the federal government. My primary focus will be on Arkansas and Arkansans.”
Rutledge said Attorney General Dustin McDaniel “didn’t join the Hobby Lobby fight. I’ll fight for Arkansas values.”
Steel said Hobby Lobby is a private company. “The state was not a party to the case. This involved a private company.”
Cash said the AG should “focus on Arkansas. If you’re fighting the feds on an issue, you’ll lose. It’s a waste of resources.”
While Steel and Cash agreed that the attorney general’s primary role is to focus on Arkansas, they differed on legalization of marijuana.
Cash said he is in favor of legalizing marijuana. “We need to stop focusing on non-violent drug offenders and focus on violent offenders. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. People die from prescription drugs. They die of drug overdoses. They die of alcohol. I don’t think the federal government should tell us what to do. Prohibition didn’t work. We will cut the cash flow to the drug cartel by legalizing marijuana. It doesn’t kill. Enforcing marijuana laws is a waste of tax dollars. I don’t smoke marijuana, by the way.”
Steel said he opposes legalization of marijuana. “Drugs are at the core of many problems. No one is in the Arkansas Department of Correction for simple possession of marijuana. It’s not contributing to prison overcrowding. I don’t think we should open the floodgates of more crime in our communities. It wouldn’t create any benefit, only harm. There would be no benefit small towns.”
Rutledge also opposes legalization of marijuana. “It’s a gateway drug. The last thing we need to do is keep families form having money for their children. I’ll defend and enforce the law as attorney general.”
Steel said that drug offenses are at the core of many prison sentences. “I’ll combat drugs in general and work with the federal government” to deal with the problem, he said.
The candidates were asked if they would defend laws which conflict with their personal views.
“I’ll be an objective attorney general. I won’t do what the party says to do. I’ll enforce the law whether I agree with it or not,” Steel said.
Rutledge said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “likes to play God as attorney general. I won’t be like that. I support pro-life and man-woman marriage. If there’s a law I don’t favor, I’ll represent the state” regardless.
All three candidates voiced support for the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. “I promised my newspaperman Louie [Graves] never to touch the FOI. It’s an important tool. I’m a strong proponent of open government, and I’ll staunchly defend the FOI.”
Rutledge said she would “protect transparency in government. Citizens need to be able to ask how their money is spent.”
Steel said that he will have a legislative package ready if he’s elected AG. “After the election,I intend to have a package in January. Having legislative experience [as state representative] is critical to getting that package of bills passed. We need an attorney general ready on Day 1 to get the package passed.”
Rutledge said the role of the attorney general is “to help write good, clean laws. I’ll use my experience as counsel to [Gov. Mike] Huckabee to talk to the legislature about the laws the pass. We need to work with the legislature, not against, to fix laws.”
Cash said he doesn’t plan to have a legislative package. He said immigration laws that tear families apart should be reformed. He said Arkansas has the second highest meth problem in the nation and promised to deal with it. He also said he would work on parole problems.
On the subject of open-carry firearms, Rutledge described herself as pro-Second Amendment. “Whether we agree with open carry or not, the law allows open carry.”
Steel said it is “up to the courts to interpret the law. I’m a strong defender of the Second Amendment. I’ve voted on behalf of gun owners. We have to strike a balance between the Second Amendment and danger to others. I’ll listen to law enforcement and work to have a fair, clear statute.”
Cash said he is also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
In closing statements, Cash said he is “running on individual liberty. People are tired of the two-party system.” He described the AG as the “manager of a large law firm. The AG doesn’t have time to evaluate what every employee is doing. The AG is a manager and works with the state’s lawyers to take care of cases.”
Steel said the state is in “a critical time. We need all hands on deck. We have a parole crisis. Children are being victimized. We need an AG ready to work on Day 1 with law enforcement and not have an eye on D.C. politics. There’s not a Democratic or Republican way to do that. I’ll have a partnership in place in how we enforce the law. I’ll be an objective, fair and tough attorney general.”
Rutledge said she hears constantly about how “overreaching the federal and state government are. We need an AG with the right experience to take them head on.”
GUATEMALA MISSION. Kristy Vines (front) of Nashville visits children at Casa Aleluya during a recent mission trip to Guatemala. A group of 30 from Nashville worked on various projects at the orphanage near Guatemala City. See more pictures on The Nashville Leader's Facebook. page.
By Molly Freel
“Satan did everything he could to steal our joy and to steal our mission and we never let him. Through it all everyone stayed focused on what God had planned for us to do.”- Kristy Vines
Tuesday, July 1st, 30 students and adults from First Baptist Church of Nashville and other area congregations began their journey to Casa Aleluya in San Bartolome, Guatemala. As the church van drove the curvy roads to Arkadelphia, the group encountered the first trial of the trip, a flat tire. Quickly, they pulled into a shop and got a mechanic to put them on a new one so that they wouldn’t miss their flight out of Little Rock.
Once the group landed in Guatemala City, a bus shuttled them to Casa Aleluya orphanage where they would be spending their week helping fix up and redecorate in order to get ready for an inspection.
“At first I really didn’t want to go, but once I was there I loved it. I really got a blessing out of this experience and am more thankful than ever for my family, friends, and community,” said Braden Hood.
Casa Aleluya is a Christian-based orphanage run by Mike and Dottie Clark, who are originally from Louisiana. The orphanage had 480 children when Nashville’s group arrived and even more by the time that they left.
Kids that live in Casa range in age from infant to early 20s. At Casa Aleluya children are given food, shelter, education, love, and given the opportunity to hear the gospel. Primary and elementary students went to school from early morning until lunch, while junior high and high school students went from noon till dinner time.
In the mornings the Nashville mission group worked on various projects. The men helped to pull weeds, rewire some of the electrical appliances, help get rid of mold, and put up new walls.
Meanwhile, the women of the group were holding down dorm rooms, cooking, and redecorating dorms. Terri McJunkins was head of a remodeling of junior high girls dorm rooms. She had collected comforters and quilts while in Nashville to take with her for this project.
“My favorite part of the whole trip was getting to see the girls’ faces light up when they went into their rooms after they were completely redone,” said Jenna Hendry.
In the afternoons the group would play and love on the kids that were in the orphanage. “They can’t always give as much attention to the kids as they would like to since there are so many of them. Thats where we come in. We go love on them and show them that Christ’s love is worldwide,” said Kaylie Efird.
The group of 30 stayed in a large room that had bunks. They were with another group from Washington state.
Along with helping get tasks done for Casa Aleluya, the Nashville team members had to take care of themselves. Beverly Starr was in charge of the kitchen and getting everyone fed.
“I didn’t do it by myself. Every day three people came and helped me prepare for that day’s meals. They were all so willing to help and did such a great job,” said Starr.
“On the last day as I was saying my goodbyes, one of my girls came up to me and said, ‘I’m not going to cry this time because I know you’re coming back.’ This let me know that they trusted me enough to know I’d come back to see them,” said Vines.
Many people that went on the mission trip had been to Guatemala before and had the opportunity to see some of the same kids that they had years before. However, quite a few got to experience Casa Aleluya for the first time.
“After seeing the presentation from last year’s mission trip, I wanted to be part of this team, to learn about Casa and see what I could do to help out with the children and Casa,” said Dale Patrick.
Molly Sirigiri, a teacher at CCCUA Nashville, went on the trip as well. However, on her way home she was detained in Houston. Originally being from India, Sirigiri’s visa didn’t allow her to leave the country. However, when applying and getting a passport to go to Guatemala the officials didn’t tell her that.
After being held in a room like a prisoner for over 24 hours, the officials sent her back to India. Thankfully, Sirigiri is in good spirits and is already working to get back into the United States and keep on teaching.
“Satan did everything he could to steal our joy and to steal our mission and we never let him. Through it all everyone stayed focused on what God had planned for us to do,” said Kristy Vines.
After surviving a flat tire, earthquake, deportation, a stomach virus, and a storm preventing them from getting home on time, the First Baptist group finally made it home with full hearts and feeling accomplished on July 8.
“I think everyone should experience a mission trip. Most people in America take for granted having food, shelter, and a family that loves them every day. Casa provides all of those needs to them. And to go over to another country it is really an eye opener to how lucky we really are here in our little town of Nashville,” said Kaycee Patrick.
HOT SPRINGS – The Nashville Leader won top honors in its division from the Arkansas Press Association Saturday afternoon at Embassy Suites in Hot Springs.
The Leader received first place in APA’s general excellence competition. The award was presented during a luncheon at the conclusion of APA’s summer convention. First place in general excellence is the newspaper equivalent of a state championship.
General excellence is based on the results of individual contests in writing, photography, design and coverage. Entries were published in 2013 and were judged by members of the Tennessee Press Association. The Leader competes in the medium weeklies division.
Including general excellence, the Leader received 17 awards in APA’s Better Newspaper Contest. They include five first-place awards, seven second place, two third place and two honorable mention.
First place awards and judges comments where available include the following:
News story – John R. Schirmer for “Indelible date: Nov. 22, 1963.” The story was Secret Service agent Clint Hill’s account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Hill spoke Oct. 30 at Arkansas State University. “Best writing and story flow,” the judge said. “I grew up with the assassination and still found plenty to keep my interest here.”
Best beat reporter – Schirmer for sports beat. “Complete coverage. Very well written. Good job,” the judge said.
Humorous column – Louie Graves for “1.4% disaster.” The judge said, “I laughed and laughed, and I reckon that’s what this category is all about.”
Headline writing – Emily Alexander for “About 10,550 kids called her Mrs. K.” The story was about the retirement of Jimmie Lou Kirkpatrick as Nashville Junior High secretary.
Coverage of health/medical – Louie Graves, John R. Schirmer, Emily Alexander, John Balch and Jana Copeland. The entry included six stories related to health and medical topics. “Great variety of reporting, and I like how your photos/layouts added to each story,” the judge said.
Second place awards include the following:
Sports news story – Schirmer for “MS resident avoids injury in bombing.”
Humorous column – Graves for “Flame in my ear.” Graves won first and second place in humorous column.
Single feature photo – Schirmer for “Cool treat,” a picture of Halton Howard eating a sno-cone at last year’s Relay for Life. “‘Rascally’ little boy brings brightness to serious subject,” the judge said. “Love the cap.”
Single sports action photograph – Schirmer for “Going after the ball.”
Picture page/photo essay – Schirmer for “Two in a row,” the Scrapperettes’ second consecutive state softball championship. “Stong entry, especially the shots showing emotion,” the judge said.
Coverage of education – Schirmer, Graves, Alexander, Ashley Starr- Thompson and John Balch. “Covers schools like dew on grass. Nice column by Louie tracking local Merit scholars,” the judge said.
Coverage of tourism – Alexander, Graves, Copeland, Schirmer and Balch. The judge said, “Particularly liked your photos of your events.”
Third place awards include the following:
Best sports page – Alexander and Schirmer.
Best special issue/section – Alexander, Schirmer, Tracy Denny-Bailey, Pam McAnelly. Farm Family of the Year.
Honorable mention awards include the following:
Single news photograph – Balch for “Arrival on Good Friday.”
Single sports feature photograph – Schirmer for “After the game.”
“We are especially pleased with the general excellence award,” Schirmer said. “It is based on all of the factors that make up a newspaper, including the way that a paper covers its community.”
The Leader received first place in general excellence for the second time in the past four years.
SILVER MEDAL. The Dierks FCCLA competed in the National competition in San Antonio, Texas. The team won the district competition in December of 2013 and competed in the state competition in February 2014. They received first place in state and advanced to the national competition where the students competed with other students from all over the United States. The girls received a silver medal at nationals in their event called Life Event Planning. The event was a research project over planning and accompanying financial challenges to execute their event. This is a great accomplishment for the Dierks FCCLA, according to FCCLA Advisor Adriana Hogg. Pictured (from left) are Hogg, Kourtney Fitzsimmons, Alyssa Ward and Cassidy Godfrey.
YOU PICK ‘EM. Kent Eatmon, 7, of Delight collects an ear of honey select corn at Caddoan Gardens in Murfreesboro.
By John Balch
The tomatoes are not quite ready and the cucumbers are just starting to bloom, but it won’t be long before the new Caddoan Gardens will be ripe for the picking.
The “you pick ‘em” garden is located at the Murfreesboro tourist attraction, the Ka-Do-Ha Indian Village, and offers a wide variety of vegetables and herbs to the locals as well as visitors. The two-acre garden will also include a farmers market and tours.
Houston Snow of Delight is the garden’s caretaker, according to the Indian Village manager, Karen Bush. “He’s the man with the plan. The master gardener.”
Snow was busy Monday morning trying to beat the heat of the day, collecting zucchini and yellow squash. A few rows over, Brenda and Kent Eatmon, also of Delight, were looking over the honey select corn for a few ears to take home. Brenda said she has a garden but did not plant any corn this year.
Snow said the goal of the garden is to be as organic as possible, opting for practices such as companion planting instead of insecticides to control the bugs. But, sometimes you’ve got to what you’ve got to do (Sevin Dust) to save the plants in the case of an infestation.
In an effort to maintain a healthy bee population, Snow, who keeps bees at home, does not apply the insecticides until after the bees have retired for the night. In the cool of the morning, fresh blooms open to reveal an inviting, dust-free interior.
“We need the bees,” said Snow, who added that his herb garden at home attracts at least six different types of bees. He hopes the herb garden at Ka-Do-Ha will do the same.
Besides zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and corn, the garden is full of very tall sunflower plants, rows of okra, blueberries and black berries – which are ready to put on thanks to all the recent rains – a variety of peppers, watermelons and cantaloupes.
Snow is also experimenting with raising various gourds and kiwi.
“I read where (kiwi) will grow in this zone, so I’m giving that a try,” he said.
Bush said the garden is billed as a “you pick ‘em” garden but Snow comes in most days and collects what is ready to be picked.
“We realize some of the elderly folks can’t get out there and pick,” Bush said. “So, we will pick for them, if requested.”
The garden is located at 281 Kadoha Road in Murfreesboro.
Tuesday afternoon, Molly Sirigiri of Nashville was on her way home from Guatemala, where she was a member of a local mission team which spent a week working at an orphanage near Guatemala City.
Less than 24 hours later, she was on her way back to her home country of India after being sent by authorities at Bush International Airport in Houston.
Sirigiri, a native of Hyderbad, India, is a member of the biological sciences faculty at Cossatot Community College University of Arkansas in Nashville. She attends First Baptist Church of Nashville and decided months ago to go on the Guatemala trip, along with members of FBC and other congregations in the area.
Sirigiri’s paperwork was acceptable to get her from Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Little Rock to Bush International to Guatemala City on July 1.
She made it back from Guatemala City to Houston at 3:55 p.m. July 8, and that’s where the trip ended.
Sirigiri was held in Houston. Other members of the mission team were first told that she would miss the flight they were on back to Little Rock but would be allowed to return Wednesday.
Those in the group tried to find out what had happened, but to no avail. Wednesday afternoon, Sirigiri was allowed to tell one of the team members that she was about to be put on a plane for India by way of Germany. That was the last contact with her.
The flight to Munich left Houston at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday. From Munich, Sirigiri was to fly to New Delhi, India.
Sen. Mark Pryor’s office has become involved in the case, along other government officials and agencies.
UPDATE: Trip organizers say that a report on the incident says that Sirigiri was issued a visa in 2009. Apparently, the visa is only good for her to be in the United States. It does not allow her to travel outside of the U.S.
If for any reason she does leave, the visa is void and she is not allowed re-entry.
When Sirigiri traveled to Guatemala, she was not allowed re-entry. She will be allowed to reapply for her visa in India, where she is scheduled to arrive July 11.
The Nashville people who organized the trip were told that Sirigiri’s work at Cossatot Community College/UA will be able to help her get back to the states faster because that’s the reason she is here.
Sirigiri has her luggage and all of her belongings. The airlines are responsible for making sure she has food.
People in Nashville offered to wire her money, but her immediate needs are being taken care of.
Unanswered questions about the incident remain, including why Sirigiri wasn’t given an explanation when she was detained, and why she wasn’t notified that the visa appears to have been one-way.
Master Kraft Construction & Supply Company Inc., a business which has operated in Nashville for more than half a century, will close its doors later this month.
The company’s equipment and office contents will be sold at auction on July 16 by Blackmon Auction. The company’s building will be marketed for an extended time before it, too, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The company is currently not accepting any more business orders, according to a spokesperson.
Master Kraft specialized in a wide variety of construction-related items and services during its 53 years in business, including sheet metal work, welding, fabrication, industrial maintenance, sandblasting and concrete work. The company currently employs 20 workers but once employed close to 40 laborers.
Leon Parker first opened the company, known then as Parker’s Metal, in 1961 on Nashville’s Main Street. The business moved to its current location on Highway 27 North in 1975.
Master Kraft originated from deep roots that began long before the business opened, according to a company press release. Parker quit the eighth grade to pursue a business in the sheet metal industry. He first worked in an Arizona copper mine’s sheet metal plant and also attended refrigeration school to continue learning about the various industries.
“Once Parker obtained a significant amount of firsthand experience and knowledge of numerous trades, he moved his family back to the place they’d always called home in hopes of beginning a business of his own,” according to company history.
Parker integrated his family into the Nashville business and “believed in providing customers with the finest quality work at a fair price and prided himself on hard work, integrity and Christian values.”
Parker passed away in 1995 and his daughter, Elizabeth Crawford and her husband, Donald, took over the company. Crawford had had plenty of experience working with her dad and she adopted his stern work ethic.
“My dad was a great man who put his whole heart into Master Kraft,” Crawford said. “I learned at a very early age all the tools of the trade.”
Crawford recalled with a laugh how when she first started working for her dad that he kept all the company books and paperwork in shoe boxes. “It was quite a chore to get it all straightened out, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
Crawford is now preparing to close the company that encompassed much of her life.
“I’m so thankful to have been in business for 53 years,” she said. “I’m eternally grateful for all out loyal customers and vendors. While a part of me is sad to see my father’s legacy end, I’m truly looking forward to retirement.”
Howard County Judge Kevin Smith issued the following statement after learning of the closing: “It is always sad to see a business that has been here in Howard County close after 50-plus years. I am sure it has been a difficult decision for Master Kraft. We will miss Master Kraft and their involvement and in their service to our community. We wish all the best to the employees and families that this closing will affect.”
Nashville Mayor Billy Ray Jones echoed Judge Smith’s sentiment, stating, “I hate any business closing around here. Maybe someone will come along and pick up the pieces and move on.”
Janet Carson, horticulture specialist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and host of “Gardening from the Gardens” television segments on KATV, will present the program, “Continuous Color in Your Garden All Summer Long” at the Howard County Extension Homemaker Educational Center located on North Second Street behind the courthouse in Nashville.
The program will take place on Tuesday, July 15, beginning at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend this free program, hosted by the Howard County Extension Homemakers.
Carson has worked with the Cooperative Extension Service for more than 20 years and was instrumental in initiating the Master Gardener program in Arkansas. She has been featured on several AETN programs and radio programs with timely programs on gardening and landscaping.
For more information, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517.
School board position filings ended at 12 noon, Tuesday, and a number of candidates are seeking to fill the re-instated board at Mineral Springs.
Candidates by closing time were:
Zone 1 – none
Zone 2 – Dorothy J. Vaughn
Zone 3 – Zemeria Cecelia Newton, and Violet Kay Thornton
Zone 4 – Mike Erwin
Zone 5 – D.E. Ray and Robert Hawkins, Sr.
Zone 6 – Jaimie Gail Jackson, and Joann Walker
Zone 7 – William Dixon, Jr.
Of the candidates, Erwin, Walker and Dixon were serving on the board when it was dissolved last year by the state department of education.
There is a contested race for the open seat at Dierks. Incumbent Barry Stuard is challenged by Brad Garner.
At Nashville, incumbent Mark Canaday is the lone candidate.
The election will be Tuesday, Sept. 16.
There will be three contested races in the Kirby School District during the annual school election.
Incumbent Mike Putz will be challenged by Bruce Stewart for the three-year Kirby Position 6 seat while Randy Stewart and Ronnie Whisenhunt will face off for the three-year Position 7 seat, which is currently held by Dewayne Mack. For the three-year Position 7 seat, currently held by Lynn Tolleson, Mark Foshee and Clay Krump will be on the ballot.
In the South Pike County School District, appointed incumbent Joe House of Delight filed unopposed for Zone 6’s five-year seat. No candidate filed for the Zone 3 seat, which is currently filled by Chris Sharp, who was appointed to the position. If no one files for the position and Sharp is reappointed, the seat will be up for election again in 2015; otherwise, it is a five-year term.
Only one candidate filed for the two seats up for election in the Centerpoint School District. Incumbent Dale Sutton filed for the five-year Zone 3 seat. No candidate filed for the Zone 4 seat, which is currently held by Kirk Pittman. Both zones are five-year terms.
Stand Up for America attracted hundreds to the Nashville City Park July 4 for an evening of music, patriotism and fireworks.
Local entertainers performed for about one hour before Michael Hix and Holla of Dallas took the stage at the Nashville City Park.
The Texans sang for almost two hours before the fireworks began, offering music from the 1960s-‘80s, along with more recent country tunes.
Wendy Haddan introduced Mayor Billy Ray Jones, who welcomed the crowd as the program began, followed by Rev. Kevin Sartin with the invocation.
The color guard from Little Rock Air Force base posted the colors as Jenny Westbrook sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
After that, emcee Loren Hinton introduced a host of local singers, including Hailey Nunley, Greg Nunley, Don Porterfield, Jacee Martin, Ethan Kuntz, Hunter Burton, Savannah Halter, Kinley Martin, Allie Westbrook, Joshua Kuntz, Robin Wilson and Abby Furr.
The annual salute to veterans recognized servicemen and women from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The veterans stood as the songs for their branches of the service were played.
Hix and his musicians wrapped up the entertainment, and the fireworks display concluded the evening.
Stand Up for America sponsors included Husqvarna, Wal-Mart, York Gary Autoplex, Tyson Foods, Dr. Glenn Lance, AEP/SWEPCO, First National Bank, Jan-Eze Plating, Ivan Smith Furniture Co., McDonalds, REA/Co-op, Lisa Chandler Insurance, First State Bank, Red River Federal Credit, Dr. Don Sitzes, The Print Shop, Woodruff Pawn, Little Red School House, Regions Bank, CCCUA/Nashville, Centerpoint Energy, R & J Supply and the Home Improvement Center.
The Legislature met on Monday, June 31, at 4 p.m. for a special summer session to deal with school employee insurance, prison beds, and the lottery.
Sen. Larry Teague of Nashville said that the session ended on Wednesday July 2, at 12:15 a.m. with a result of three new bills passing.
The first bill had to do with teachers’ insurance and the changes that were going to be made for the 2015 school year. Teague says that now spouses of teachers who are offered insurance from their own job will not be allowed to be on teachers’ insurance. Lap band and other weight loss surgeries will no longer be covered by the insurance policy that the school is providing.
Teague said that the biggest change that the Legislature passed is that part-time workers such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers will no longer be offered insurance through the school system.
Teague did not vote for any of these things to pass. He believes that there is no reason to exclude part-time workers from the insurance that they already have. “The truth is if we are getting an adequate rate for insurance, then it shouldn’t matter; and we aren’t getting an adequate rate with a shortfall projected into this year and it’s just ridiculous. In my opinion it’s time to draw the line, get adequate rates with enough built in to build up some reserves and move forward.”
The next bill that was passed was for money to be moved around in order to be able to open 600 more prison beds in the state. Right now there are 2,900 backlogged prisoners in the state so officials are hoping that this gives prisons a little bit of relief though they know that this isn’t a permanent solution, Teague said.
Lastly, the Legislature passed a bill to keep the Lottery Commission from installing keno and other computer monitor games until March 2015. At that point the Legislature will probably reconsider a permanent ban on keno and monitor games.
Teague said that for the most part the three-day session was pretty uneventful except for a “hiccup with the budget committee” that he is in charge of. There were some wanting to move money around in order to increase prison guards’ pay, but the bill wasn’t included in the session.
READY TO START. Che Gordon, new District Conservationist for the Mike Creek Soil Conservation District, was welcomed and introduced Thursday night, June 26, at a dinner honoring the 2014 Farm Family of the Year. With the new official is his wife, Kimberly. They both have ties to Delight.
The Mine Creek Soil Conservation District’s new conservationist can count on the fingers of one of his sizable hands the number of Delight High School grads he knows who started off to become agri teachers but eventually found careers in other fields.
That number is remarkable, he says, from his vantage point which is also connects Delight to agriculture.
Chu Gordon is the new District Conservationist for the Mine Creek Soil Conservationist, succeeding Clint Ramsey who served here for 24 years before his retirement.
Gordon and his wife, Kimberly, were present Thursday night at a conservation district event which also honored the Mark and Karen Kitchens family, Howard County’s Farm Family of the Year.
Gordon is a 1993 graduate of Delight High School, who went on to get his bachelor and master of science degrees in agriculture from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He began his career with various soil conservation districts in 1997 as a student trainee in Missouri.
He went on serve as a conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Services offices in Hope, covering Hempstead and Nevada counties; Lewisville, covering Lafayette and Columbia counties; North Little Rock, covering Pulaski and Saline counties; before finding his way ‘home.’ Now he’ll be working in both Howard and Pike counties.
Thursday night at the farm family steak cookout at the spacious horse barn on the farm of district board chairman Mark Millwood, Gordon said that he and his wife, Kimberly, and son, Connor, age 2, were looking to purchase a home in or near Nashville.
Kimberly has her own connection to Delight where she attended schools through the seventh grade before moving to Houston. She has relatives living around Delight. Her maiden name was Silva. She is a CPA working for a Little Rock firm, and she said that she would be able to do her work for her firm from home.
Gordon’s family owns 410 acres of Pike County land along the Little Missouri River. He is a cattleman with his father.
Members of the district’s governing board and spouses were present, including chairman Mark Millwood, Kirk Bell, Joe Martin and Cotton Cothren. Board member John Jamison was unable to attend.
Also present were district staff members including water quality technician Jana Gills, who was observing her birthday, district technician Tanner McAlister, and district manager Louise Morris.
The annual Stand Up for America celebration will be held Friday, July 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Nashville City Park.
The evening will include a patriotic program, a Texas singer and a fireworks display.
The featured entertainer will be Michael Hix of Dallas, Texas. Hix is a pop, rock and soul singer, producer, actor and emcee. He has performed across the United States for the past 15 years.
Hix has opened and performed with Cher, Bret Michaels, Sara Evans, George Jones, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn, among others. He recorded his first album, “Green Light,” in 2011 and is preparing to record his second album.
For 10 years, Hix produced, emceed and performed in a weekly variety show entitled Arlington Live in Arlington, Texas.
The admission price will increase from $1 to $5 for adults at the Stand Up event.
Chamber of commerce manager Mike Reese said the scheduled entertainment was well worth the increase in admission price. Reese said Hix and his seven-piece band specialize in pop hits from the ’60s-’80s. “I think you’ll be pleased with his high-energy show,” Reese said.
Admission for children ages 3-12 will be $3; adult tickets are $5, and up front reserved seating with seats provided will be $10.
“We have tickets for Stand Up available here at the chamber. Avoid the line at the
ticket booth at the park and buy your Stand Up tickets early,” Reese said.
Reese said he thought this would be the 25th gala since it got its “Stand Up” name. A Fourth of July event has existed here for about 35 years, he speculated.
As usual, a part of the show will be dedicated to local veterans of military service. Concessions will also be available. Reese reminded event-goers to bring lawnchairs but not coolers.
The schedule includes:
6 p.m. – gates open
6:30-7:30 – patriotic show
7:30-9:30 – Michael Hix show
9:30 – aerial fireworks display
The city park is located at 1301 Johnson St. in Nashville.
CHURCH RECOGNIZED. First Baptist Church of Nashville received two awards Sunday morning, June 29, from the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. First Baptist was recognized for being in the top 6 percent of churches its size for giving to the denomination’s Cooperative Program. The church was also ranked 24th overall out of 1,523 ABSC churches in Cooperative Program giving. Debbie Moore (right) of the state convention made the presentation to Rev. Kevin Sartin, FBC pastor.
GUATEMALA MISSION TEAM. Thirty-one area residents left Tuesday morning, July 1, for Guatemala, where they will work with the Casa Aleluya orphanage near Guatemala City. The team includes members of several area churches. They will return to Nashville July 8. The group includes (front row) Steve McJunkins, Terri McJunkins, Beverly Starr, Molly Sirigiri, Dale Patrick, Brad Vines, Kristy Vines, David Carver, Miesha Carver and Denise Graves; (second row) Sara Renfrow, Kala Sparks, McKayla Vines, Kaylea Carver, Jackie Martinez, Kaycee Patrick, Ruth Organista, Sadie Prejean, Malisa Kennedy, Hannah Vines and Maddie McJunkins; (back row) Caleb Newton, Joel Hendry, Braden Hood, Trey Scott, Andy Graves, Jenna Hendry and Kirby Kell. (Not pictured: Kaylie Efird and Jennifer Wright)
By a 7-2 vote the Nashville City Council has authorized Mayor Billy Ray Jones to apply for a grant to buy part of the former Nashville Crate Company property and turn it into expanded site for the city shop.
The resolution seeks a grant of $55,000 to buy the property. Howard County, which has its shop adjacent to the Nashville shop, would buy another chunk of the former crate manufacturing site for its own shop use.
Voting against the resolution were Aldermen Matt Smith and Mike Milum.
The city will seek the funding from the Arkansas Rural Development Commission.
The city may take steps to limit the use of a narrow bridge over Mine Creek by heavily-laden feed trucks making their way to the Pilgrim’s mill. Possible steps to be taken include police presence to issue tickets, or a metal frame limiting the height of truck trailers which can access the bridge. The city recently performed repairs to the bridge, and Public Works Director Larry Dunaway and Mayor Jones said that heavy trucks rattled the structure and will shorten its life. The trucks’ other access to the mill is less convenient.
Aldermen approved expenditure of $30,000 to extend sewer improvements another 1,000 feed down the east side of the city. Dunaway told the council that the city already had purchased the pipe, and had no hope of returning it. The use of the pipe to renovate the sewer is expected to pay off in storm water runoff relief.
Code enforcement officer David Johnson discussed a zoning change for a stretch of South Main and possibly a block of Bell Street where the zoning, Highway Commercial, prevents rebuilding of homes in a mostly residential area. The city will pursue making the change.
Present for the regular meeting for June were Mayor Jones, counsel George Steel, City Clerk Liz McDaniel, PWD Dunaway, Police Chief Dale Pierce, Financial Officer Jimmy Dale, and council members Milum, Smith, Freddy Brown, Nick Davis, Monica Clark, Jimmie Lou Kirkpatrick, Kay Gathright, James Parker, Carol Mitchel and Andy Anderson. Also, alderman-elect Donna Harwell.
MEDICAL PROGRAM. Ali Barfield of Nashville and Derek Hill of Dierks are among the area students who participated in the MASH program June 16-23 at the UAMS center in Texarkana.
By Molly Freel
Ali Barfield, an upcoming junior at Nashville High School; and Derek Hill, an upcoming senior at Dierks High, were both accepted into the MASH program held in Texarkana.
MASH (Medical Applications of Science for Health) gives students a two-week glimpse into the lives of doctors and what they do. This year the MASH program hosted 24 students from June 16-27.
During this two week-week time period which ran from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day, the students get to become CPR certified, learn how to stitch wounds up, put casts on people, become first aid certified, get to work in the ER, and observe surgeries.
They are based at the UAMS center in Texarkana and go out to Wadley Regional Medical Center and Christus St. Michael Hospital for observation and on-field experiences.
For Barfield, the program has already been life changing. “Going into the program I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a physical therapist or an RN. From what all I have seen and learned, it has helped me to make my choice. I’ve observed that RNs are everywhere and constantly doing something, so I think that’s what I see myself doing in the future.”
Barfield said that her favorite part about the program so far is getting to work in the ER. “It’s so fast paced that you never get bored,” she said. She also expressed how much she enjoyed watching surgeries and getting to see how the doctors take something that is so broken and fix it.
Barfield said that they even got to help deliver a baby from a dummy that talks to you!
Hill’s reasoning for getting into the program was to get a general idea of different types of medical occupations. “So far the program has been really fun. I like how everyone is always willing to share their knowledge of professions,” he said. Hill plans on becoming either a sports doctor or an athletic trainer in the future.
Both Hill and Barfield say that they would suggest this program to other students.
Any student that is a sophomore or junior with a minimum 3.0 GPA may apply.
With at least the possibility of four new physicians moving to Nashville by 2017, Howard Memorial Hospital is looking for ways to provide office space for them.
Dr. Syed Javed will open his practice in Nashville later this year in the Medical Office Building on the HMH campus.
Dr. Rianot Amzat has signed an offering letter to begin her practice in Nashville in the summer or fall of 2015.
Dr. Mgoz Idilenna Wilkins has signed an offering letter and is reviewing an employment agreement to practice in Nashville.
Dr. Catie Ross, salutatorian of the class of 2005 at Nashville High School, has graduated from UAMS and is in her family practice medical residency at Jonesboro. She will complete her residency in 2017 and “will talk to us about coming back,” hospital CEO Debra Wright said at the June 24 board meeting. Dr. Ross is the daughter of Dr. John and Patricia Sayre of Nashville.
The Medical Office Building will accommodate three doctors. Dr. Brian Oge is already located there, and Dr. Javed’s practice will be in the facility. Dr. Amzat will occupy the final office at the Medical Office Building.
Wright discussed the possibility of another office project on the hospital campus. “We need room for four providers and an additional 1,000 square feet for outpatient services,” she said.
The current office building has 4,890 square feet. The projected facility would be about 7,500 square feet in order to house an extra physician and the outpatient clinic.
Wright asked the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation board about building the new office space during a meeting last month. The Foundation built the current Medical Office Building.
“Board members said they would rather the hospital board handle the next building project,” Wright said.
The cost of the project will be about $1.2 million, according to Wright, including the purchase of land from the Foundation and the cost of constructing the building.
Board member Paul Britt, who also serves on the Foundation board, said the Foundation “has $490,000 in debt responsibility for now. If we accept the responsibility to build a $1.2 million facility, it will stretch the Foundation’s ability to provide equipment and funds for the hospital. It would be better for the hospital to build the Medical Office Building.”
Britt said HMH has about $4.5 million cash in the bank, which is “$1.5 million more than what had been projected. That would pay for the building. The money belongs to the taxpayers of Howard County. We would be putting it back into health care.”
Architect Mark Bailey was scheduled to visit the hospital campus to look at the possible site for the building.
No action was taken on the proposed building.
In other business at last week’s board meeting, Arkansas’s private option health insurance program continues to benefit HMH, according to CFO Bill Craig. “The private option has been a good deal for our hospital,” he said. “Fewer uninsured patients mean more money for the hospital and in the emergency department.”
Howard County has 1,101 residents who have been approved for the private option, according to figures from the Department of Human Services.
May was “a very good month” for outpatient services and the emergency department, Craig said. Outpatient visits were at 112 above budget, and the emergency department was up 67 visits.
May was the “fourteenth consecutive month for us to meet our cash on hand goal,” Craig said. HMH has 124 days of cash on hand, compared to the target of 100 days.
However, the hospital experienced a shortfall of 2.6 patients per day, leaving the inpatient average daily census at 37 percent below budget. “That’s more than $100,000 in cash collection,” Craig said.The hospital lost about $57,200 for the month.
One credentialing item was discussed last week. Carmen Hoffmeyer, a registered nurse, was appointed to the wound care team.
Britt’s tenure on the board concluded at the June meeting. He has served since 2008. “It’s been a learning experience. I hope I’ve made a difference and have done something that’s made healthcare better.”
Board chairman Brenda Ward presented a plaque to Britt.
A 23-year-old Winthrop man was sentenced to time in the state prison Monday after pleading “no contest” to the charges of Internet stalking of a child and possessing drugs after he was taken into custody.
Roy Lynn Scott entered the plea Monday in Pike County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to a total of five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
According to case information, Scott was arrested by Pike County authorities after he engaged in online activity, which included “explicit sexual chats,” with a person he thought was a 15-year-old girl. He also had emailed the subject a explicit picture and later arranged to met the girl, who was actually a Pike County lawman posing as a child on a social media account.
When Scott was arrested in March, he was taken into custody and was being booked at the county jail when authorities found him to be in possession of five pills, commonly known as Xanax. Scott had steadily maintained he was not in possession of any contraband during the booking process. The drugs resulted in the charge of furnishing, prohibited articles in a detention facility.
Scott was sentenced to five years on each charge with the sentences to run concurrently.
Also Monday in Pike County, Rodney D. Shields, 42, of Glenwood pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of a firearm by a certain person. He was sentenced to three years of probation, fined $1,500 and ordered to forfeit his weapon to a Glenwood pawn shop.
Dalton Ray Jordon, 22, of Nashville also pleaded guilty Monday to the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $2,000 plus court costs.
GRAND OPENING. Family and friends gather Friday morning for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Ronny K. Woods Wildlife Trail. The group includes (front row) Donny Woods, Nikki Cherry, Donnell Woods, Blane Woods, Sue Woods and Mayor Billy Ray Jones; (back row) Freddie Horne, Dale Patrick, James Reed, Deb Kinkade, Bobby Keaster, Zona Woods, William Woods, Kathy Impson, Shawn Woods, Kirsten Bartlow and Brandi Woods
By John R. Schirmer
Family and friends of the late Ronny Woods joined Nashville city officials under a tent Friday morning to dedicate the Ronny K. Woods Wildlife Trail at the Nashville City Park.
One by one, speakers told of Woods’ efforts on behalf of the park and the entire city.
At the end of the program, twin brother Donny Woods presented a check for $10,000 to the Nashville Park and Recreation System to complete a pavilion next to the wildlife trail.
“The plans for the Ronny K. Woods Memorial Trail include … a pavilion that will enhance the use of the trail. Many friends and park lovers have made contributions toward the completion of this pavilion. To ensure that the pavilion is timely completed, the Woods family is honored on this occasion to present to the Nashville Park and Recreation System our contribution in the amount of $10,000,” Donny said.
Park director Nikki Cherry, park commission chairman Freddie Horne and Mayor Billy Ray Jones accepted the donation on behalf of the city.
Earlier in the program, Cherry said Kirsten Bartlow from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission was instrumental in obtaining a grant of $88,400 for the wildlife trail. Cherry said that Ronny Woods “holds a special place in our hearts. He wasn’t just on a board; he actually worked. He helped acquire the property.”
Mayor Jones said that if Nashville “had two or three Ronnys who did half of what he did, the community would be way better. He gave his time unselfishly. This is a small thing we can do for Ronny.”
Horne thanked those who had helped with the wildlife trail from its planning until completion. He listed a number of individuals and organizations, and he said the Rotary Club of Nashville donated $500 toward the project.
Project designer Ken Eastin of Eastin Outdoors Inc. said the walking trail will have “a great role in the community.”
Then it was Donny Woods’ turn. “Ronny loved Nashville, and he wanted to be involved. He and I often discussed how blessed we were and how good the people of Nashville have been to us. We both felt that we had an obligation to give something back to the community that makes it a better place to live, work and raise families.
“When Ronny got involved with a project, he gave it everything he had. If he told you he would do something, you could count on it being done. If there was an event going on in the park, he was going to be present and accounted for.”
Organizations in which Ronny was involved included the Chamber of Commerce, KNVL-TV, the Howard County Children’s Center, the Rotary Club, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Nashville Volunteer Fire Department and Immanuel Baptist Church of Nashville. “He left his handprints in so many places and in so many ways that it is hard for me to go anywhere in this community and not be reminded of him,” Donny said.
When Ronny became a member of the park commission, he immediately began to refer to the park as “his park,” Donny said. “The park was a place he and I spent more time together, walking the trails, than any other place with the exception of our office. It was quality time spent together rehashing the events of the day, making plans – both personal and business. The park was a place of relaxation and a place where we tried to improve or at least maintain our health as many others do.
“Today, when I visit the park, I see him everywhere and I remember the good times and the sharing that we had here.”
Ronny was instrumental in securing a large part of the land for the park, his brother said. The land was needed for the park’s continuing growth.
“Another individual who deserves proper recognition with respect to the acquisition of this additional land is the late Sen. Jim Hill, who was instrumental in assisting the park in acquiring the land for the purchase. Sen. Hill was a great supporter and friend of the park. The soccer field complex below us carries his name today,” Donny said. Hill’s wife Charlotte attended the dedication.
“Ronny would be humbled to know that the new wildlife trail bears his name. This will be yet another handprint that will be a continuous reminder of how much he loved the park and our community. It will be a personal reminder to me that it really was ‘his park’ after all. Thank you, park commission, for this beautiful tribute to Ronny’s memory. Our family is grateful and overwhelmed at the generosity of Ronny’s many friends and park lovers and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission who have made this memorial a reality not only to honor Ronny’s memory but to provide a place of enjoyment for the community,” Donny said.
Following the program, park staff provided guided tours of the wildlife trail.
The annual Stand Up for America celebration will be held Friday, July 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Nashville City Park.
The featured entertainer will be Michael Hix of Dallas, Texas. Hix is a pop, rock and soul singer, producer, actor and emcee. He has performed across the United States for the past 15 years.
Hix has opened and performed with Cher, Bret Michaels, Sara Evans, George Jones, Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn, among others. He recorded his first album, “Green Light,” in 2011 and is preparing to record his second album.
For 10 years, Hix produced, emceed and performed in a weekly variety show entitled Arlington Live in Arlington, Texas.
Admission is free for children under 3. Tickets are $3 for 3-12 years old and $5 for 12 and older.
Special seating is available for $10.
Stand Up for America will conclude with the traditional fireworks show following the concert.
The city park is located at 1301 Johnson St. in Nashville.
An on-and-off relationship between a Nashville man and woman ended at 11 a.m., Saturday when the former boyfriend pumped three small caliber handgun bullets into the woman, killing her.
The victim, Pamela Harris, 44, black female, was with perhaps as many as a dozen other persons outside a small structure at 1300 S. Main St., when the shooter, Gary Dwayne Swift, 44, black male, drove up. She quickly got in her car and attempted to leave, but Swift approached and shot through the open window. She jammed the accelerator and the car jumped, striking a vehicle ahead of her, then veering off across the street to strike a house.
Harris was taken by Howard County Ambulance Service personnel to the emergency room at Howard Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead by County Coroner John Gray.
Swift fled the scene in his own vehicle, but was later located by a manhunt in a wooded area in the Ozan-Clow area. Police from Howard and Hempstead sheriffs’ departments, the Arkansas State Police, Mineral Springs Police and Nashville Police Department assisted in the hunt for Swift which ended about an hour after the shooting.
Swift is due to make his first court appearance here Wednesday. He has been charged with three felonies: murder in the first degree, terroristic act, and felon in possession of a firearm. His bond has been set at $500,000.
Police were called to provide extra security outside the ER at the hospital after a crowd gathered there.
The 42nd Pine Tree Festival will be held Aug. 1-2 in Dierks and will feature a carnival, games, competitions, live music, bull riding and a “no holds-barred freestyle bullfight.”
More than 40 food and craft vendors will be on hand for the two-day event.
Friday, Aug. 1 will include performances by Harmony, The Cowboy Church Band and The Midnight Hurricanes. Saturday, Aug. 2 will include the annual festival parade through town and will be capped at 8 p.m. with the sanctioned bull riding and bull fighting.
Admission to the bull-riding event will be $10 for adults 13 and up and $5 for ages 7-12 and free to those 6 and under. The event is sanctioned and books will open Sunday, July 28. The entry fee is $80 and there will be $5,000 added money. For information about the bull-riding event, call Sharon Autry at (903) 846-5151.
Admission to the Friday night concerts will be $1 with a chance to win a $250 door prize. Saturday night’s door prizes will include two shots at $500. Drawings will be held at 7:30 nightly and you must be present to win.
There will also be a carnival at this year’s festival and individual ride tickets or armbands will be available.
This year’s Pine Tree Festival is being sponsored in part by Weyerhaeuser, Rich Mountain Electric, city of Dierks, Diamond Bank, First National Bank, First State Bank, York Gary Autoplex and Gentry Chevrolet.
There will be an official festival kick-off event on Friday, June 27 from 12 noon until dark at the Dierks City Park.
During the kick-off event, the Dierks Chamber of Commerce members will be selling T-shirts and concert tickets. They are also inviting residents to set up and bring items that they would like to sell including yard sale items, farm produce and vehicles. There will be no fee to set up a booth.
For more information about the kick-off event, contact Jerry Mounts at 870-557-7298.
Rev. Don Jones, who has been the pastor at Cross Point Cowboy church for the last eight and a half years, has decided it is time for his retirement from the church.
He had been involved in Western Heritage ministries and had seen them develop around Texas and Oklahoma areas.
After a great deal of prayer, Jones decided to approach the Little River Baptist Association about starting one here in Nashville. They agreed that it would be good for the community, and in January 2006 they began interest meetings.
In March 2006 the Cowboy Church held its first service in the Nashville Livestock Sale Barn where 29 people attended. Now Jones says that the church averages around 230. For two years the church held services at the sale barn, but it is now located on Highway 371 West of Nashville where members have a bigger building with classrooms and an arena for play days.
Cross Point holds one service on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and offers aged categorized classes on Wednesday nights.
The church also holds many play days where kids and adults can come and ride horses, bulls, rope, and be a part of many other activities.
Right now they are holding a cowboy Bible camp which is similar to Vacation Bible School. According to Jones, “The difference is that they incorporate sportsmanship through arena time. The kids get to ride horses and learn to saddle them as well.”
Jones said that choosing to retire from the Cowboy Church was one of the hardest decisions of his life.
“It wasn’t easy and it had nothing to do with the people. Originally I was just supposed to be the start-up pastor, but eight and a half years later I’m still here. I just felt God telling me that it was time to step down and for them to begin looking for new leadership,” he said.
Jones said that he doesn’t think it will be a quick process for the church to find a new pastor because it has to be someone with a western heritage mindset, but that members have formed a search committee and are beginning to look for new leadership.
Cross Point Cowboy church of Nashville was the first one done through the association in Arkansas. There are now 20 throughout the state.
Jones has been the Little River Baptist Association missionary for 23 years. Now that he is retiring from the Cowboy Church, he plans on spending more time focused on the association.
A Howard County teen was killed and two others were injured in a one-vehicle wreck Thursday, June 19 east of Umpire, according to the Arkansas State Police.
Jaime Garcia, 15, of Athens died in the wreck. Khristian L. Ratliff, 14, and Sebastian S. Ratliff, 16, both of Newhope, were injured.
The wreck happened about 9:11 a.m. on Highway 84. Sebastian Ratliff was driving a 1996 Toyota Camry east on Highway 84 when the vehicle veered into the westbound lane. The driver overcorrected and the vehicle left the roadway and struck an embankment.
Garcia was ejected from the vehicle and later died at a Hot Springs hospital. The Ratliffs were also transported to Hot Springs with undisclosed injuries.
ASP Trooper Ernie Echevarria reported weather and road conditions at the time of the accident were clear and dry.