That’s how Dr. Syed Javed describes his new medical practice in Nashville.
Dr. Javed opened his office in the Medical Office Building on the Howard Memorial Hospital campus earlier this year. His arrival in Nashville marked the completion of a recruitment effort which began more than one year ago.
Dr. Javed graduated in 2004 from Keyber Medical College in Peshawar, Pakistan. He worked in two internships, the first in 2005 in medicine at Government Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, the second in 2006 in surgery at the same facility.
He completed his residency in 2013 at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, in family medicine.
Dr. Javed is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
“I’m blessed to be here,” Dr. Javed said of his practice in Nashville. “These are wonderful people, very welcoming. The whole town will go the extra mile” to help.
Dr. Javed’s journey to Nashville took him from Pakistan to Toledo to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and to the United Kingdom before he came to Arkansas.
Along the way, he was on scholarship at Houston. He worked under a published physician who specialized in stomach infections and became a mentor to Dr. Javed.
“I still look up to him. He thought I should train in the clinical aspects of medicine.”
Dr. Javed said his residency brought a major change in his life. “I wanted to learn about international work,” he said. He learned from his travels and “became a better person.”
During his year in the United Kingdom, “I was fascinated by the free health care there. I practiced there. I was familiar with English culture. Then I decided to go back to the United States.”
Dr. Javed applied for the position at Howard Memorial. “We interviewed each other. My ideas matched theirs on primary care. I believe in holistic care. Everything else is secondary.”
HMH and Dr. Javed completed the necessary paperwork for him to practice in Nashville, and he arrived in February during one of the rounds of wintry weather in the area.
Dr. Javed’s interest in medicine goes back to his childhood. “My father was an Army guy. He considered the medical profession very sacred. It’s a good way to earn a living in the best way, touching human life. This is a big responsibility which God has given us. We are the chosen ones. We must be careful in delivering patient care,” he said.
Dr. Javed has a brother and a sister. “All three of us aspired to be doctors. Dad told us that was the best profession we could have. We knew we had to study. We faced hardships and financial constraints. We worked while others were having fun, but we saw the light on the other side.”
Today, Dr. Javed’s brother is in Australia, and his sister is in the United Kingdom.
The family members get together when they can “and have a good time.”
Dr. Javed’s wife Saira is a radiologist in training. “She’s been an inspiration in my life. She’s helped in the most difficult times. She’s an ideal companion and friend. God has been really kind to me.”
Dr. Javed said his Nashville practice is “going well. I look forward to more patients. I love them. They become part of the family.”
People in the area need quality healthcare, Dr. Javed said. “I encourage a healthy lifestyle. That’s the main thing. I see the result of healthcare and it encourages me so much.”
Dr. Javed said he is “blessed with a wonderful team” at his Nashville office. “We try to make an impact.”
As a family physician, Dr. Javed wants to “provide a holistic approach to the patients and their families. Preventive health care is important to address. Colonoscopies, mammograms, vaccines, smoking cessation, not abusing alcohol, lowering cholesterol, all are important. Once we do that, we know where to go from there. We’ve ruled out a lot. It’s a systematic, organized focus. Even if there are positive results, we know where to start.”
Prevention is important, according to Dr. Javed. “We follow the latest guidelines. They are set by research-based medicine. I believe if we address the preventive part of healthcare, we can save emergency visits and improve the patient’s well being,” he said.
Dr. Javed said he attempts to “guide patients to what’s right and let them decide themselves. I want them to listen to me. We will walk hand in hand together and cross bridges together.”
Dr. Javed has “no problem in deferring to a specialist. The moment I feel I need help, I will get other doctors and learn from those things. If I refer a patient once, I know what to do the next time.”
Practicing in a smaller town instead of in a large city has advantages, according to Dr. Javed. “People know you. People recognize you. People respect you. That keeps us going. You pretty much have a lot going on.”
When he’s not at the office, Dr. Javed’s free time still involves a healthy lifestyle. “I work out regularly to stay in shape. I do cardiac stuff. When you speak to patients, you need to be in good shape to make them believe in you. You earn their trust so they can identify with you.”
The family doctor should be able to become a friend and “encourage patients to have a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Javed said.
Dr. Javed enjoys water sports, including skiing and snorkeling. He’s tried sky diving and “loved it.”
Mountaineering and hiking are also among his favorites because of the opportunity to be “close to nature,” he said.
In addition to outdoor activities, “I read a lot, apart from medical journals. I watch movies. I like the more inspirational movies where I can learn a lot.”
(Update: The lawyer who represented three former Pike County employees involved in this federal case contacted The Nashville Leader via email Wednesday afternoon to announce that the case has been unofficially settled for $19,500. “This case is not officially settled yet since no settlement agreement has been signed. But, we agreed on the amount of $19,500 at the settlement conference,” said attorney Nick Windle.)
By John Balch
The federal civil rights complaint filed by a female inmate against three former Pike County employees was unofficially settled last week. But, the amount of the settlement has not been released, and may not be, according to Pike County Sheriff Charlie Caldwell.
The complaint was filed by Tina A. Morgan of Malvern against former sheriff, Preston “Pep” Glenn, and former jail employees, Kenny White and Paul Cowart. The case, first filed in the United States District Court, Western Division of Arkansas in 2011 and later revised and re-filed in 2012, was scheduled for a bench trial on April 16. The trial date was cancelled when both parties reportedly agreed to a settlement during a hearing held March 31 in Texarkana.
Morgan, who is currently an inmate in the state prison system, spent eight months incarcerated at the Pike County Jail in 2009-2010. During that time, she contended her constitutional rights were violated when she was sexually harassed and coerced into exposing herself to male inmates and jailers, according to case information.
Morgan alleged that state-assigned inmates known as “309s” were regularly allowed into the jail’s female holding pods and were allowed to engage in sexual acts with the female inmates. The 309s would also give female inmates treats in exchange for exposing themselves, she said.
The plaintiff further alleged when she initially informed Glenn of the situation that he failed to put safeguards in place and did not make any changes in policies and procedures. Morgan also stated she informed Glenn on three different occasions, and another female inmate also allegedly made a complaint about the activity. Morgan claimed to have documented the incident dates on a homemade calendar and also saved physical evidence.
White’s and Cowart’s alleged involvement includes accusations that they made requests of a sexual nature over the jail’s intercom system and also continued to allow the 309s access to the female holding pod. The two former jailers are also accused of developing a signal using flashlights for the female inmates to “let them know it was time” to perform lewd acts. Morgan contended if the inmates did not perform that items such as ice cream, food and cigarettes would be withheld as punishment or that the items would be used for coercion.
The Arkansas Department of Correction eventually became aware of the alleged conduct involving the state prisoners and the Act 309 inmate program was discontinued at the Pike County Jail the summer of 2011. The state prisoners are housed at a county level throughout the state to increase the number of state prison beds, reduce costs of incarceration and assists sheriffs with manpower. Counties are paid to house the state’s inmates.
Morgan initially requested that part of her judgment involve the removal of Glenn, Cowart and White from their positions, a sentence reduction, and “monetary gain for mental damages.” Her request for judgment was later revised to include a total of $4 million for mental and monetary damages.
Sheriff Caldwell confirmed Monday that the case had been settled, but said he was advised by the county’s legal counsel not to release the settlement amount. He also said the legal counsel told him the amount would be exempt from disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
The three county defendants were represented by Nick R. Windle and C. Burt Newell. Neither attorney responded to phone calls or emails from The Nashville Leader.
The Nashville Leader has submitted formal Freedom of Information Act requests to Sheriff Caldwell and Pike County Judge Dewight Mack to release the settlement terms. Judge Mack, who took office Jan. 1, said Monday he has no knowledge of the case or the settlement terms. Ninth Judicial District West Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir also said Monday he was not aware of the settlement terms or whether their disclosure was exempt under the FOI Act.
Sheriff Caldwell told this newspaper Tuesday morning that attorney Newell had contacted him and advised him not to respond to the newspaper’s formal FOI Act request seeking the settlement terms.
Update: Windle responded to an earlier email Wednesday afternoon, after the newspaper went to press. He said neither he or Newell advised the sheriff to ignore the FOI request.
Windle wrote in an email: “I’m guessing (Caldwell) confused my statement that settlement negotiations are confidential with the settlement amount being exempt under the FOIA and this was the basis of any ignoring of an FOIA request if, in fact, this is what occurred. So, no one advised Sheriff Caldwell to ignore an FOIA request and if this occurred, it was the result of miscommunications between myself and Sheriff Caldwell.”
“It is this newspaper’s opinion, and also the opinion of the Arkansas Press Association’s legal adviser, that the settlement amount and terms in this case involved public funds paid to the county’s insurance policy for the settlement; and therefore, they are not exempt from disclosure under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act,” Leader editor John R. Schirmer said Tuesday.
Morgan’s attorney, Jon Beck, told this newspaper Monday that the terms of the settlement had been agreed upon by all parties involved, but the official paperwork had not yet been signed. He did say that Sheriff Caldwell had already met Morgan’s “demand” to put policies in place at the jail to protect inmates from similar situations his client was subjected to during her incarceration. Beck also would not disclose the settlement amount and said he would try to consult with his client this week to get her permission to release the amount.
“I’m sure she would have no problem letting you know the amount, but I need to make sure as a courtesy,” said Beck, who added his client was “pleased” with Sheriff Caldwell implementing written policies “to safeguard against future misconduct.”
Last week’s hearing was attended by Caldwell, Glenn and Cowart. White was excused from the hearing for health reasons. Morgan monitored the hearing through video conferencing, according to her attorney.
Cowart, who became a full-time jail employee July 1, 2010, submitted a letter of resignation on Aug. 16, 2010. He cited “personal reasons” for his departure and Glenn said at the time that Cowart was not required to forced to resign.
White, a longtime county employee who also served several terms as county coroner, resigned in September 2013 and has since moved to Northwest Arkansas.
Glenn left his elected office before his term was complete after being defeated by Caldwell in the last election cycle. Glenn took a job with the South Central Drug Task Force before leaving that post to work in another area of law enforcement.
The second of the year’s three major fund-raisers for the Howard County Children’s Center may be the most important yet.
Tim Freel, administrator of the center, said that proceeds from the annual Rotary Club telethon on May 6, would go to meet the local share of a grant request to build a bridge across Coleman Creek, west of the HCCC campus. The bridge and a road would connect the HCCC campus to Nashville’s west bypass and facilitate construction of a new pre-school building. The building would also house a therapy center for the center’s clients.
Freel spoke about the center’s hopes for a bridge grant Thursday at the kickoff planning meeting for the 18th annual Telethon. The telethon will be broadcast from the HCCC campus from 7-10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6.
Last year, the telethon raised more than $53,000 which the center can use for capital improvement projects at the campus.
The center is in its 44th year, and involves the pre-school for both ‘regular’ and developmentally-disabled children; adult life skills classes; a recycling center; and adult living facilities.
The Nashville Rotary Club is nominally the sponsor for the event, and Rotarians have traditionally served as masters of ceremonies, as well as serving on the HCCC board of directors.
There will be an emcee change for the 2015 telethon. Jimmy Dale, the Rotary Club president and HCCC board member, said he needed to cut back his on-air involvement in the telethon. Freel said he would check around to find someone who could make the emcees a three-person team.
In addition to broadcasting on KNVL-TV stations, the telethon will be carried live on the CCCUA radio stations which have broadcast towers in Nashville and De Queen.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS. Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his followers gather at the foot of his cross in this scene near the end of the annual Way of the Cross procession at St. Martin Catholic Church in Nashville. The role of Jesus was played by Luis Navarrete of Nashville. The event was one of several Easter-related worship events in the area during Easter week.
Howard County Sheriff Bryan McJunkins has reported the arrest of Nick C. Stoicu, 39, of California in Howard County Thursday morning a little after midnight.
Stiocu had warrants for serious drugs and weapons offenses from Polk County, and was a person of interest in a res]cent homicide in Logan County.
Authorities from Polk, Logan, and Sevier counties have been trying to locate Stoicu over the last several days. Howard County deputies Travis Turner and Timmy Floyd received some information that Stoicu was at a residence on Tollett Road. Deputies went to the house where Stoicu was to be and Turner went to the front door and Floyd went to the back door of the house. When Turner knocked on the door, Stoicu ran out of the back door and Floyd was able to grab Stoicu and arrest him.
Polk County will extradite Stoicu today from our jail and transport him to Polk County. Stoicu has a $125,000 bond on their warrants.
The Nashville School District will add four days to the school calendar for the current academic year to make up for four missed snow days in February and March.
Make-up days include May 29, June 1, June 2 and June 3, according to Superintendent Doug Graham. “Our policy is to make up the days at the end of the year,” Graham said, if the missed days come after the winter break in February.
“Winter break isn’t guaranteed. The end of school isn’t guaranteed. Spring break is guaranteed” under state law, Graham said. The district’s spring break remains intact March 23-27.
The discussion of the make-up days came during the Nashville School Board’s March meeting Monday night. The board voted to approve the district’s calendar for 2015-16 which basically “mirrors the 2014-15 calendar,” Graham said.
The same policy for make-up days will be in effect for the new academic year: “The first two days missed will be made up on Feb. 11 and 12 . All other days will be added to the end of the year.”
South Pike County School District
The following are the seven days that the South Pike County School District will utilize as make-up days:
1. April 24 (which had previously been changed from April 27)
2. May 25 (Memorial Day)
3. June 1
4. June 2
5. June 3
6. June 4
7. June 5.
Superintendent Roger Featherston said there were 14 more people that voted for Memorial Day than the next closest choice. “The Arkansas Department of Education has given us a waiver to use that day. There has been some legislative talk of forgiving some days statewide, if that happens we will gladly accept that forgiveness.”
REGIONAL QUIZ BOWL CHAMPS. Murfreesboro High School’s Quiz Bowl team will advance to state competition next month after winning the recent Southwest Regional Quiz Bowl Tournament at Hope. The MHS team posted wins over Ouachita, Spring Hill, Dierks, Cutter-Morning Star and Mountain Pine. Team members include (front) Sutton Balch (tournament Most Valuable Player), Destiny Legate, Kayla Ashbrooks, Anna Corbitt; (back) Jake Faulkner, Austin Kimberlin, Conner Watson, Riley House, Andy Arnold and Zack Eckert. The team is coached by Sandra Elliott.
A part-time Glenwood police officer was arrested on March 11 for allegedly threatening to kill an neighbor, according to information from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department.
Lavoyce Wilder, 47, who resides on Wilder Road in Amity, was arrested for misdemeanor terroristic threatening in connection with an incident in January involving a neighbor, Clarence Douglas Hale. The neighbor claims Wilder pointed a gun at him and threatened to “shoot him between the eyes” while he was working on property Wilder said he owned.
Hale recorded an exchange with Wilder in which the officer can reportedly be heard making at least two threats. Wilder has denied Hale’s claim, but did tell authorities there has been “constant issues” between the two neighbors concerning property line disputes.
Wilder turned himself in to authorities on March 11 and posted a $480 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Pike County District Court on April 10.
A Glenwood radio station reported last week that Glenwood Police Chief Randy Reid said Wilder had requested a leave of absence until his April court date.
The death of a Delight man Saturday night is currently under investigation by the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, according to Detective Clark Kinzler.
Bubba Nash, 45, was pronounced dead around 10:20 p.m. Saturday in an Arkadelphia hospital. Kinzler said Nash had been with friends when he started convulsing near his home on Highway 19 South in Delight. The friends called for medical help and Nash was transported to the Arkadelphia hospital.
Pike County Investigator Wayne Epperly said he is currently awaiting a toxicology report to determine the cause of death.
A Kirby man is expected to make a full recovery after being injured while removing a rifle from his gun safe, according to Detective Kinzler.
Eric Conner, 37, was removing a loaded .270 rifle from the safe when the weapon discharged. The bullet hit the inside top of the gun safe and fragmented, hitting Conner in the face and shoulder.
Conner was transported to a Hot Springs hospital with “moderate injuries,” Kinzler reported.
Jason Williamson, assistant principal at Nashville Junior High School, has been named to the Governor’s Council on Common Core by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The 16-member panel will study the use of Common Core in Arkansas’s public schools. Members are from every corner of the state and were selected from more than 700 applicants. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin will be the chairman of the group.
“My interest came when I received an e-mail from the Arkansas Association of Education Administrators,” Williamson said Monday morning. The association encouraged administrators to apply for the council, he said.
“I got the e-mail on a snow day and called Mrs. [Deb] Tackett,” the NJHS principal. “She was supportive,” he said.
“I got my resume together and filled out a questionnaire online,” Williamson said.
He also submitted a paragraph about his interest in serving on the council. “I talked about understanding and having an open mind. I said we need great resolve, commitment and patience.”
As the father of two young children and as an administrator, Williamson said every educator “has a server’s heart.”
Wiilliamson received a phone call last week that he had made the first cut in the selection process. “I interviewed last Tuesday. They wanted to make sure that I hadn’t done any political writing about Common Core or any slanted opinion.”
Following the interviews, the names were placed in front of Hutchinson. “It was his call,” Williamson said.
From there, the governor’s staff conducted background checks. Last Friday, Williamson received a call from Hutchinson’s office then from his communications director.
With more than 700 applicants for the council, Williamson said he is “blessed” to have been selected. “God just blessed me.”
Williamson said Superintendent Doug Graham “pushes this school district to be in the forefront of what’s going on. We piloted the new ACSIP review. We’ve done AdvancED and the standards review. We piloted PARCC testing a year ago. We piloted the Teacher Excellence and Support system. If there’s something out there that is new or looked at to be good for kids, our superintendent wants in it.”
The district has “a supportive administrative staff. I work with a really talented group of people. They are supportive and have given me a lot of help over the last year and a half. I am appreciative of their support,” Williamson said.
Williamson said he hasn’t received a schedule of the council’s activities. He expects members to meet during the spring. Hutchinson said earlier that the group’s report would be due in the fall.
“The main thing for me is to continue to have an open mind about what’s good for kids in Arkansas and giving these young people opportunities to be successful,” Williamson said.
Tackett said Williamson’s selection to the council “is an honor for Jason and for Nashville. We have a representative from our community to share some of our views and comments good and bad.”
Williamson is going into the process “with an open mind. He’s knowledgeable enough to be a good representative of our district,” Tackett said.
From now until May 22, Nashville and schools throughout Arkansas are participating in the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessment which is aligned with Common Core standards.
Tackett said NJHS is “continuing to have school” during the testing.
The tests are administered online. Tackett said Technology Director Bryce Petty and Assistant DIrector Zach Winton have been invaluable in the entire process. “They have been real troupers,” Tackett said.
The Howard County Relay for Life Kick-Off will be held Saturday, March 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the vacant lot beside Diamond Bank in Main Street in Nashville.
The kick-off will include a memorial service for Bill Fritts, beginning at 10:30.
In case of rain, the memorial service will be moved to The Source furniture store across from the post office on Main Street and the kick-off event will be rescheduled.
Donations are currently being solicited for a concrete bench to be place at the Nashville City Park in Fritts’ memory. The kick-off event also kicks off the fund raising for the Relay for Life event at the city park on June 5.
The kick-off event will also include a bouncy house, barbecue, funnel cakes, popcorn, face painting and more.
There are currently 16 registered teams for the RFL event and there is plenty of time for more teams to join before the April 1 deadline. Call any committee member for more information.
This year’s event slogan is “Life is Good,” which will be featured on bumper stickers, signs and T-shirts.
The March planning meeting of the Relay for Life has been set for Tuesday, March 10 at UA-Cossatot at 6 p.m.
Two Nashville people were killed this week in separate traffics accidents in Howard County.
A Nashville woman died Wednesday, Feb. 25 after she lost control of her SUV and crashed on Highway 371 west of Highway 355.
Shara Ann Lawrence, 64, died in the accident, according to the Arkansas State Police. Lawrence was driving too fast for conditions when she lost control of her 2002 Ford, travelled across the centerline and collided with a 2002 Chevrolet truck driven by Joseph Trembley, 32, of Lockesburg.
Lawrence was ejected from her vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene by Howard County Coroner John Gray.
The accident happened around 11 a.m. ASP Trooper Mason Glasgow reported there was ice on the roadway and ice and snow was falling at the time of the accident.
The ASP preliminary report did not indicate whether Trembley was hurt in the accident.
On Thursday, Feb. 26, David Elvin Parker, 41, of Nashville, died when his 2006 Suzuki SUV flipped into Dillard Creek northeast of Mineral Springs.
Parker was traveling westbound on Dillard Creek Road around 5:23 p.m. when he drove through the guardrail and hit a concrete embankment. The impact caused the SUV to overturn and come to rest upside down in Dillard Creek.
Parker was pronounced dead at scene, according to a ASP report filed by Trooper Chris Short. The trooper noted the roadways were wet at the time of the accident but the weather was clear.
WARNING SIGN. One of the signs along Howard Street warning about the approaching intersection of the Highway 27 bypass and Collins Road.
By John Balch
Patrick Lamb has a disturbing video on his camera phone.
Shot in one take at the intersection of the Highway 27 bypass and Collins Road in Nashville, Lamb said the video is a chilling explanation of why dozens of accidents happen, and will continue to happen, at the intersection.
In the video, Lamb is stopped at the bypass intersection, facing west on Collins. When he pans the camera to the right, there appears to be no oncoming traffic, and Lamb can be heard saying, “Ok, I’ll go now.” A split second later, a fully loaded log truck appears from behind his vehicle’s narrow blind spot – the area where the passenger door frame joins the front of the car.
No part of the long log truck became visible until, Lamb said, “It would be too late.”
Lamb said he is among the many Sand Hill neighborhood residents who wince every time the sound of sirens down the hill is followed by a phone call. He said the frequent accidents at the intersection “set off a panic” and a chain-reaction of neighbors checking with neighbors. Many times the calls are personal, and Lamb himself lost a cousin at the crossing in November of 2008.
According to data Lamb received from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, there were 22 crashes at the crossing from 2000 to 2011, including three fatalities and numerous injuries. (A fourth fatality was reported in 2011 and involved a fleeing motorcyclist that collided with a Nashville police SUV. The collision was not related to the crossing.)
In 2006, there were five wrecks, resulting in one death and 12 injuries. There have been many more since 2011 with the latest accident happening last week and resulting in serious injury.
Lamb said most of the wrecks happen when drivers are attempting to cross the highway to Howard Street or turn left and pull into the path of southbound vehicles.
Lamb said he knows from experience that from the Collins Road side the angle of the intersection combined with the curve of the road to the north and the landscape play right into vehicles’ blind spots. Over the years, he and his family have developed ways to make sure the southbound traffic is clear. Lamb calls his move the “pigeon look” where his head moves back and forth for clear looks beyond the blind spot.
“There are blind spots on all vehicles,” said Lamb. “So, I don’t think this is something you’re going to fix with rumble strips or a ‘dangerous intersection’ sign.” He does know it would be very difficult and expensive to rebuild a safer intersection, and he is not looking for that to happen.
“A stop sign is the only solution, in my opinion.”
Lamb said he has heard the arguments about roadway regulations that prohibit stop signs or lights on highways or bypasses. But, he noted, there is a stop sign at the railroad tracks on Nashville’s west bypass and there is a four-way stop sign where that bypass meets Highways 371 and 278.
The intersection already has the attention of local officials. Nashville Mayor Billy Ray Jones said intersection has been “studied and studied” and he is not convinced a stop light or stop sign would be the right solution.
Mayor Jones said he thinks the same surrounding landscape and stretch of curved roadway that now make the intersection dangerous could possibly cause more issues if a traffic signal or sign is installed.
“You may be creating something worse than you’ve got right now,” said Jones, who said he has “passed along” information about the intersection and is awaiting due diligence.
That due diligence has reached the district level, according to Jason Efird, Howard County’s resident engineer with the state highway department. Efird said the intersection was brought to the attention of the district office in Hope last week and a chain of command through the state highway department will begin, if warranted, in regards to research, reviews and determinations.
Efird noted that once a traffic device is installed – whether signs or lights – it becomes property of the entity in which it resides.
Lamb indicated Friday afternoon that he may take the issue before the Nashville City Council and the Howard County Quorum Court in the near future.
The Arkansas State Police are currently investigating the death a Nashville man who committed suicide in the Pike County Jail the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 23.
ASP Criminal Investigator Pete Penney said William D. Sayre, 25, of Nashville, was found unresponsive in the jail. Penney would not comment on why Sayre was in the Pike County Jail or the cause of death.
A Pike County official said Tuesday morning the body has been sent to the State Crime Lab for an autopsy and the matter has been turned over to the ASP.
A Clark County official said Tuesday Sayre was being held at the Pike County Jail in an incident under investigation at the Clark County Jail.
Sayre, who was a Clark County Jail employee and a member of the Arkadelphia Police Department, was arrested with another jail employee, Robert L. Williams, 28, of Arkadelphia on Feb. 14 for second-degree battery following an investigation conducted by Special Agents of the ASP Criminal Division at the request Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Blake Batson.
The investigation stemmed from an incident on or about Feb. 9 when Sayre and WIlliams are accused of the battery of a Clark County Jail inmate, according to the ASP.
DIERKS FCCLA OFFICERS. (Front) Kaitlin Kitchens, Vice President of Public Relations; Kaydra Ayers, President; Lillie Woodruff, Vice President of Programs; (back) Kelsey Pickett, Parliamentarian; Kyla Kompkoff, Treasurer; Charlotte Cothren, Secretary; and Adriana Walston, Parliamentarian.
By John Balch
“Everything that they do in here, they are going to use in life,” said Dierks High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Advisor Adriana Hogg as she wrapped up FCCLA Week with 38 of her 56 chapter students.
FCCLA is described as the “ultimate leadership experience” with a mission to “promote personal growth and leadership development through family and consumer science education.” Its members focus on “multiple roles of family member, wage earner and community leader” to develop life skills through “character development; creative and critical thinking; interpersonal communications; practical knowledge; and career preparation.”
Hogg, a 1999 graduate of Dierks High School, can recall the days when FCCLA was known as Future Homemakers of America (FHA) and catered more to female students. “Things have changed,” she said. “Now, you have both men and women working. So, we try to get just as many male students involved as we can.” The Dierks FCCLA Chapter currently includes close to 20 male students.
“Our main focus is still family,” Hogg said. “But, now it includes more career, leadership and community involvement.”
It was a busy week – and a busy year so far – for the Dierks FCCLA, according to President Kaydra Ayers, a senior who has participated in FCCLA since 9th grade.
Ayers said the week started out with a project that allowed students to bring their own sodas to drink during first period. The students had to donate $1 to the FCCLA before they were allowed the privilege to drink the soda during class.
“We raised around $90,” Ayers said. The funds went straight to the Jed Harper Foundation, an organization set up by the family of a young Mount Ida cancer victim.
“(The foundation) helps families in need at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and puts money in the hands that need it most,” said Hogg.
Tuesday, the FCCLA students visited the local nursing home to visit residents, some who never have visitors and some who were eager to depart with some of their vast knowledge.
“That was definitely an eye-opener,” said Ayers. “I didn’t realize how touched they would be just by us coming to visit with them. They were just so excited for a bunch of high school kids to come spend some time talking to them.”
Wednesday was “Wear Red Day” to promote the national color of FCCLA. Thursday was “Career Day” where students were encouraged to dress up as the professional they hope to one day become. Friday wrapped up FCCLA Week with all the members wearing their matching blue shirts.
Many months went in to preparing for the week-long event, as well as other past and future projects. “It’s been a lot of fun, but it has been a lot of work,” said Ayers, who added she has used “countless experiences and situations” from FCCLA to prepare for life after high school.
Projects ahead for the Dierks FCCLA include the annual STAR Event competitions where the young students start to research and prepare projects and presentations. The older students, such as Ayers, will assist the students in the projects.
“The STAR Events are the educational aspect of FCCLA,” said Hogg, who has been the FCCLA advisor during all seven years of her employment at the Dierks School District. “It really helps the students prepare for college because it teaches about research and preparation and then presenting their work.”
When the weather warms, the FCCLA will head to Dierks Lake for a clean-up project.
“We always try to focus on what we can accomplish for our community,” Ayers added.
The current Dierks FCCLA officers include: Kaydra Ayers, President; Kaitlinn Kitchens, Vice President of Public Relations; Lillie Woodruff, Vice President of Programs; Kelsey Pickett, Parliamentarian; Kyla Kompkoff, Treasurer; Charlotte Cothren, Secretary; and Adriana Walston, Parliamentarian.
Participating students include: Tyler Parker, Breanna Bohon, Kortny Fitzsimmons, Alyssa Ward, Laci Wright, Emily Whisenhunt, Laci Christopher, Crystal Webb, Katie House, Blair Garner, Katelynd Fennell, Hilda Sanchez, Blake Bradshaw, Jarett Fox, Grant Strasner, Blayn Turner, Destiny Nutt, Taylor Hill, Karley Stapp, Heather Franklin, Hannah Ellis, Miranda Mack, Lexi Simmons, Brayden Kirby, Dalton Vaughn, Jay Garrett, Brian Stuard, Dylan Tucker, Karla Chavez, Daniela Marquez, Abby Bogan, Aaron Bridwell, Sydney Icenhower, Breanna Gosnell, Brenda Bolanos, Cassidy Godfrey, Caleb Dunn, Coralee Kelly, Luke Tollett, Melanie Kesterson, Kaylyn Brasel, Austin Whisenhunt, Jed Morrow, Erin Pollman, Haili Fallis, Alison Kitchens, Cameron Brewer and Colton Strode.
Forty-seven years to the day after being listed as missing in action in Vietnam, SFC James William Holt was honored Saturday at a memorial service at the WPA Gym in Historic Washington.
Vietnam veterans from throughout the United States attended the homecoming service, which was organized by Vietnam Veterans of America #278 in Texarkana, Texas.
Holt was born Sept. 19, 1941, in Hot Springs. He attended school in Nashville from first grade through the ninth grade, then moved to Hope and graduated there.
Holt’s family includes his sister, Mary Emma Spigner of Nashville; and his brother, George Holt of Hope.
“Forty-seven years is a long time, 47 years of being missing in action,” Charles Jones said at the memorial. “He left that room and went into another where there is no pain, no war. Jim Holt isn’t missing but is in heaven with God.”
Holt was lost Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1968, at Lang Vei in Vietnam. (See related story, page 5A.) The military listed the cause of casualty as “artillery/mortar/rocket.” He was declared missing in action, and his remains were not located for decades.
George Holt was notified Dec. 15, 2014, that his brother was classified as dead. Testing of DNA samples from George Holt confirmed that James Holt’s remains had been located.
“I really knew something was up four years ago. The Department of Defense at Jackson, Miss., contacted me the second time for DNA. The first was in 1985 in Oklahoma City. Why were they taking another? I knew they had found something.”
George Holt learned that small fragments of bone had been located, and the DNA matched his. Later this spring, he likely will go to Hawaii where the bones were sent and join the return to the United States. SFC Holt will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, with the date to be determined.
Family members experienced “relief. We finally knew what happened” when they learned of the identification, George said.
The homecoming service at Washington included the posting of colors by an honor guard from the ROTC department at Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University. Iraq veteran Matthew Butler sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and World War II ex-POW Billy Walker explained the POW/MIA table located near the lectern at the WPA Gym. “This table honors the missing men. Never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation’s call.”
Vietnam veteran Johnny Gentry read a list of Arkansans who are still missing in action. Nationwide, there are 3,344 MIAs from World War I, 73,515 from WWII, 7,858 from Korea, 126 from the Cold War and 1,636 from Vietnam.
Veteran Don Ruggles recounted the story of Lang Vie, an account which told of Holt’s heroism in the battle. Retired Col. Paul Longgrear had earlier discussed the attack with George Holt, telling him that “If not for your brother, I wouldn’t be here.” SFC Holt is considered “a legend” by U.S. Special Forces soldiers today, according to Longgrear.
As Betty Robertson sang “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” Vietnam veterans collected MIA bracelets with Holt’s name on them. Some in the audience had worn the bracelets for decades.
The bracelets were presented to the family.
Gen. Jack Lloyd spoke next, saying that “today is the day that James Holt went missing. He gave his life. Here we are, 47 years later. I was a young sergeant who was part of a rescue effort at Lang Vei.
“I give tribute to our Air Force brothers and sisters. On this day 47 years ago, clouds were hanging low. It was unsafe for helicopters to fly. Air Force F-4Cs came in under those clouds and saved the remnants of the special forces there. This was truly a team effort among the branches. When it comes to living and dying, you’re an American,” Lloyd said.
The program ended with the firing of three volleys, “TAPS” and the presentation of the American flag to George Holt and the family by the ROTC Honor Guard.
Holt received numerous awards, including the Silver Star Medal, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal. In 2013, he was inducted posthumously into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame. An effort is underway to upgrade the Silver Star to the Distinguished Service Cross.
UA BOUND. Nashville Scrapper LaMichael Pettway signs with the University of Arkansas Feb. 4. The group includes (seated) Tricey Pettway, LaMichael Pettway and Michael Pettway; (standing) Virginia Hawthorne, Margaret Cooper, Shawn Cooper, Ty Pettway, Shrone Hawthorne, Samuel Fellows, Shera Hawthorne and Shaundell Scott.
SE OKLAHOMA STATE. Nashville Scrapper Lucas Liggin signed with Southeastern Oklahoma State. At the Signing Day event are (seated) Misty Jamison, Lucas Liggin and Travis Liggin; (standing) Melinda Bennett, Michael Jamison, Jeanette Smith, Tristan Jamison, Pauline Kitchens and Kelly Helms.
HARDING. Nashville Scrapper Braden Hood signed Feb. 4 with Harding University. At the Signing Day ceremony are (seated) Candy Hood, Braden Hood and Jimmy Hood; (standing) Tony Pate, Barbara Pate, Cathy Rogers, Caleb Rogers, Sid Steel, Avery Hood, Marti Steel, Ann Hood, Jeff Hood and Jim Hood.
‘REDDIE’ FOR COLLEGE. Murfreesboro High School Rattler senior quarterback Alex Kennedy signed a letter of intent last week to play football for the Henderson State University Reddies. Kennedy is pictured with his parents, Alan and Shawna Kennedy, and Rattler coaches (back from left) Marc McRae, Jeff Jones and Chuck Lowery (not pictured is coach Steve Martin). During the 2014 season, Kennedy, who was a two-year starter at quarterback, hit 113 of 230 passes for 1,661 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also rushed for 226 yards and eight TDs. Kennedy has also received an academic scholarship to attend HSU.
SCRAPPER MVP. Scrapper senior Lucas Liggin (right) displays his trophy and plaque after being named the 2014 Most Valuable Player Saturday night at the Rotary Club Football Banquet. Rotary president Jimmy Dale (left) made the presentation to Liggin.
By John R. Schirmer
Senior linebacker Lucas Liggin was named the Most Valuable Player for the Nashville Scrappers Saturday night at the conclusion of the 71st Rotary Football Banquet. Rotary Club president Jimmy Dale made the presentation. The club has sponsored the banquet since 1944.
Liggin recorded 86 total tackles for the Scrappers during the 2014 season, including 56 solo and 30 assists. He made two tackles for losses, had one hurry and two pass deflections. Liggin also handled punting duties, with 10 punts for 385 yards. His longest was 47 yards, and he kicked two inside the 20-yardline.
Liggin will sign a national letter-of-intent today (Feb. 4) to play college football at Southeastern Oklahoma State in Durant.
Dale said Rotary has been selecting an MVP for 57 years. “We’re proud to do this. For 57 years, this has been the highlight for the Nashville Football Banquet. It’s always been very important.”
The first recipient was James Turbeville, who became a doctor, Dale said. Honorees include one father-son duo, Don Cooley and Todd Cooley. One player received the award twice, Allan Ray.
The selection process involves discussions with coaches, fans, the chain gang, “the community that watches the job performance,” Dale said.
“There are two basic criteria. The first is that the player’s actual value to the team is outstanding. The second is the general character, loyalty, disposition and effort displayed by this individual,” according to Dale.
“This year’s recipient has been exemplary in his unselfishness. He agreed to play in a different position, and he played both ways,” Dale said before announcing Liggin’s selection.
Liggin was selected by his teammates as one of three Permanent Team Captains. The others are Brady Bowden and Braden Hood.
He received the team’s Outstanding Defensive Linebacker Award and was named first-team All-District 7-4A.
Liggin’s selection marked the conclusion of a night of accolades for the Scrappers, who won the District 7-4A championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. They finished the season with an overall record of 10-2, 6-1 in district.
Position awards included the following:
Outstanding Defensive Lineman – Braden Hood. Coach Jerry Baker said Hood’s leadership was “exemplified by the trust his teammates put in him” as Permanent Team Captain. “He’s very special. I’m a lucky man to have coached him,” Baker said.
Hood will sign today with Harding University.
Baker thanked the school and community for supporting him after “I had a little incident,” an injury which occurred in practice and which resulted in hospitalization and physical therapy. “I learned what a great place I’m fortunate enough to live in. [Former Coach] Billy Dawson invited us, and I’ll always be indebted to him. I love you and thank you for this opportunity. The outpouring of concern and love for us from the coaches and community has been extraordinary. I’m genuinely appreciative of this place,” Baker said.
“To you young adults, you’ll look back and see how lucky you are to be here at this time. Seniors, I appreciate you. You’ll be missed. You’re an extraordinary group of young men.”
Outstanding Offensive Lineman – Kirby Adcock. Coach D.J. Graham said Adcock’s father, the late Max Adcock, “was our number one fan. He saw every practice, every snap, every game. He motivated us and gave us pep talks at lineman night. I told him he needed to be here Jan. 31” for the banquet.
“He said, ‘I’ll be there,’” Graham said.
Adcock died Dec. 17, 2014. Dawson officiated at his memorial service. “We have a special guest here tonight, Mr. Max Adcock,” Graham told those attending the banquet.
Graham said the Scrappers snapped the ball 358 times for 2,490 rushing yards. They averaged seven yards per carry and recorded 23 rushing touchdowns. The Scrappers put up 281 passes, with the offensive line yielding only six sacks, Graham said.
“We like to talk about Scrapper Moments. For me, one was the first game at Hope when we had 23 rushes, 252 yards for 11 yards per carry. Another was at Ashdown, when we were down 15-0. Two of the sacks we gave up were in that game. After that, our five men up front took the game up a notch. We had total physical domination and won 31-15.”
Outstanding Receiver – LaMichael Pettway. “Division I players don’t come along very often,” Coach Paul Ernest said of Pettway, who was recruited by a number of schools. He first committed to Ole Miss before choosing Arkansas. Pettway will sign a national letter with the Razorbacks today.
Ernest thanked Dawson and his family. “It means a lot to have them in my life. Luke sent me home two to three hours early every day. He did all our Hudl statistics and video. Ernest thanked Superintendent Doug Graham and the district’s administrators, students and teachers. “I love being a Scrapper. Every day is a beautiful day. I love seeing you every morning.”
Outstanding Defensive Back – Brady Bowden. Coach Brian Bearden said the award is “based primarily on consistency. We had a great group of guys in the secondary – tall and fast. Brady is the model of consistency.”
Outstanding Special Teams Player – Billy Stewart, who was absent Saturday night.
Outstanding Defensive LInebacker – Lucas Liggin. “He faced a little adversity early on,” Coach Brad Chesshir said. “He was moved to a position he’d never played. He was one of the most coachable players ever. He has high character.”
Outstanding Back – Leonard Snell. He moved from a defensive position to starting quarterback, Ernest said. “He did a great job. He got better every day. By the end of the year, he was a very good quarterback.”
Outstanding Offensive Practice Player – Curtis Myers.
Outstanding Defensive Practice Player – Justin Summers.
Coaches reviewed All-District and All-State honors.
Pettway and Stewart were named Class 4A All-State.
Pettway was the District 7-4A Back of the Year.
First Team All-Conference included Stewart, Liggin, Pettway, Hood, Snell, Adcock and Chas Scott.
Second Team All-Conference included Darius Hopkins, Terell Grundy, DeaJeon Armstrong, Corey Cooper, Brady Bowden, Winland Ogden and Ashton Nelson.
Honorable Mention All-Conference included Austin Goodson, Trey Hughes, Trace Hamilton, Dillon Honea, Joel Thurman and Troy Thomas.
Bearden was master of ceremonies for the evening. He served as director of offseason and other aspects of the football program after Dawson accepted the head coaching position in Russellville Dec. 30.
Before he introduced the program, Bearden said he wanted to “thank the people in this room. These 27 years [of Scrapper coaching] have been unbelievable fun. You’ve helped get me through a lot of hardships in my life.”
One of Bearden’s sons, Cameron, died last spring. “I got through things like that with faith, family and friends. My friends and family are one and the same, especially you kids. When you lose one of your own but get to go to school every day, it helps,” Bearden said.
“We love you too, Coach,” one of the players said from the crowd.
Bearden thanked a host of individuals who helped with the football program, including Luke Dawson, a freshman at Ouachita Baptist. “He helped with our stats and video from the goodness of his heart. We’ll miss that rascal.”
Bearden introduced the coaching staff and also introduced Billy and Karen Dawson. “I want to personally tell you and your whole family, thank you for being my friends.”
Bearden briefly reviewed the season, noting that expectations for the Scrappers are always high. “When you live with high expectations, it’s a sunny and cloudy thing. It’s sunny because expectations are very lofty. It’s cloudy because if you don’t reach all of them, there’s a misconception that you’re not a success. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’re champions,” Bearden said of the Scrappers, who finished the season ranked among the top six teams in Class 4A by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“We’re disappointed if the season doesn’t end the way we want it to, but we’re successful and champions. I’m really proud of you guys,” Bearden said.
Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols concluded the banquet. “There’s not a better group of guys anywhere in the state than those sitting right here. As we say in Nashville, Ark., ‘Once a Scrapper, always a Scrapper.’”
NEW COACH INTRODUCED. Scrapper Coach Michael Volarvich and his family were introduced Friday night. The family includes son Gavin, wife Lauren, daughters Mischa and Aubrey, and Coach Volarvich.
By John R. Schirmer
Michael Volarvich swapped red and gray for orange and black last week as Henderson State’s offensive coordinator was named the new head coach for the Nashville Scrappers.
The Nashville School Board hired Volarvich on a 5-0 vote during a 10-minute special meeting Thursday afternoon. The new coach was introduced to fans Friday night during halftime of the Scrapperettes’ win over Fountain Lake at Scrapper Arena.
Monday afternoon, Volarvich met with the Scrappers for the first time and made two promises to them. “First, we’re going to work. We’re trying to win football games. We’re going to grind it out,” Volarvich said. “Second, I’ll always tell you the truth. It may be tough a lot of times, but I’ll tell you the truth.”
Volarvich comes to Nashville after a 5-year stint as offensive coordinator at Henderson. During that time, he coached a Harlon Hill Award finalist four seasons, including record-setting quarterback Kevin Rodgers in 2014. The Harlon Hill Award is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
In 16 years of college coaching, Volarvich’s teams led the nation in scoring offense in 2003, 2012 and 2013, led the nation in passing offense in 2001, 2003, 2008 and 2013, and led the nation in total offense in 2001, 2003 and 2013.
One of Volarvich’s quarterbacks earned All-American honors eight times in the past 14 years. Volarvich coached the conference player of the year in six of the last seven seasons.
“We’re extremely happy to welcome Coach Volarvich to the Scrapper Family,” Superintendent Doug Graham said. “We’re excited that we were able to hire someone with his background and experience to carry the Scrapper program forward. His resume says enough about his knowledge of football.
“We look forward to watching him make the transition from college to high school and embracing working with younger kids instead of seniors in college. I really think he’ll offer a complete program. If we do things in the right manner, the wins and losses will take care of themselves,” Graham said.
Graham complimented the Scrapper coaching staff, including Brian Bearden, Paul Ernest, Brad Chesshir, D.J. Graham and Jerry Baker, on the job they’ve done “in a month minus a head coach. Coach Bearden did a great job of leading the coaches and players in off-season. The players have become stronger in the weight room. Mental toughness and discipline have been a priority. They’ve taken the ball and run with it,” Graham said.
The Nashville School District received 22 applications for the head coaching position, which became open when Coach Billy Dawson was hired at Russellville Dec. 30. Graham thanked those who went through the process. “It was a very strong list, high caliber. I appreciate that they thought of Nashville that they wanted to be considered.”
Volarvich was hired at a salary of $78,744, pro-rated for the rest of the academic year. His contract will be 240 days.
Volarvich was one of 12 applicants who were interviewed for the job, Graham said. “After the first interview, we were very intrigued with his personality and what he brought to the table. We called back for a second interview and followed up with a 45-minute conference call. Wednesday night [Jan. 28], we drove to Arkadelphia to talk to him again,” according to Graham.
“We’re very impressed with him being the total package. He’s eager to get started in off-season. I’m excited. I think he will do a wonderful job,” Graham said.
Graham said Volarvich’s accomplishments on the football put him a notch above most applicants. In addition, “The more we’re around him, we see he has the personality that kids will gravitate to and the community will relate to. He will enjoy being part of the community. We saw a lot of coaches that are very well rounded with X’s and O’s. A lot of the interviewees have had lots of success. His personality and charisma stood out to us.”
Volarvich’s wife Lauren teaches English at Henderson State. He has three young children, including daughters Mischa and Aubrey, and son Gavin. Lauren and the children will stay in Arkadelphia through the spring to complete school.
“We hope he gets his house sold in Arkadelphia so he can get one here. He told me that he will blow up an air mattress, move into the fieldhouse and work 24/7,” Graham said.
Volarvich graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School in California in 1995 and attended junior college in California for two years. He attended Kentucky State University and received his bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University. He received his Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of West Alabama.
Volarvich played college ball at Kentucky State and attended football camp with the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers. He played one year in Germany and two years in arena football.
Coaching experience includes 11 years in junior college and five years at Henderson State.
“I always wanted to coach,” Volarvich said Monday afternoon. “In junior high and high school I was drawing up plays. I always knew I wanted to coach.” He said he’s never run the plays drawn up in high school because some were “pretty bad.”
Volarvich worked with Henderson Coach Scott Maxfield at two different schools and joined him at Henderson.
Volarvich said he keeps up with former players, including Rodgers, whom he recruited out of high school and coached for five years. “I talked to him a couple of days ago. He called to congratulate me on this job. We have a pretty tight relationship. He’s in training camp now” for the NFL.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some really good players,” Volarvich said.
“I liked the X’s and O’s about the game, the strategic part of it. I’ve always been kind of drawn to that,” Volarvich said.
Nashville is “a great place. This is a great job. Ask anybody in the state and they’ll say it’s one of the top jobs in Arkansas. You have great community support. There’s a lot of importance placed on the program. You’ve had great success. The job was too good to turn down,” Volarvich said.
During his time at Henderson, Volarvich said he came to know about Nashville. A couple of former Scrappers attended HSU while he was there, and he’s recruited here before.
After speaking to the Scrappers Monday afternoon, Volarvich watched their off-season workout. “I wanted to let them put a face with my name. I’ll be more involved and vocal as we go on,” he said.
“We’ll see what we have here. Our job is to put the players in positions to be successful,” Volarvich said.
The Scrappers will participate in spring football in May before starting their summer of workouts and 7-on-7. “We’ll do the usual summer stuff, nothing out of the ordinary. We’ll get some of the system taught,” Volarvich said.
One of the most noticeable differences between his position at HSU and his new job at Nashville is the age of the players, Volarvich said. “The youngest starting receiver I had at HSU one season was 21. Players’ ages went up to 26 or 27,” and one was 30.
There was a lot of difference between an 18-year-old straight out of high school and a 22-year-old college senior, Volarvich said.
“Now, my youngest players will be around 15. That’s a demographic I’ve never worked with. The football said will be the same, 11 on offense and 11 on defense. The age will be different. I’m excited about it. There’s a bigger impact as mentor and life coach. I look back at some of the coaches I had, and they really impacted me” from 15-18, he said.
When he’s not coaching, Volarvich likes to “hang out with my family. My wife and kids keep me busy. I like to go home every day to see them. I work out a lot. I like to fish. Most of my free time is with my family,” he said. “I used to have hobbies. Now, I enjoy my family and getting with them to do things.”
The Nashville School District voted Thursday night in a special meeting to hire Henderson State University offensive coordinator Michael Volarvich as the new Scrapper football coach.
Volarvich has been the offensive coordinator at HSU since early 2010. He has a total of 16 years in college coaching experience.
The following is Volarvich’s biographical information taken from the Henderson State University website:
Mike Volarvich is in his fifth season as offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Henderson State. Volarvich has been instrumental in making Henderson State one of the top offensive teams in the country.
During his four years at Henderson, a Reddie quarterback has been named conference offensive player of the year and also have been Harlon Hill finalist with Kevin Rodgers finishing third in the voting in 2013.
Henderson State’s offense has averaged 476.4 yards in total offense, 350.4 yards passing and 42.2 points per game since Volarvich’s arrival.
Under Volarvich, the 2013 Reddies led the nation in scoring offense (53.3 points per game), total offense (576.6 ypg.), and passing offense (428.4 ypg).
Four offensive players earned All-American honors in 2013, while eight earned a spot on the all-conference team.
In 2012, the Reddies led the nation in scoring (50.36 points per game), were third in total offense (516.82 ypg), third in passing offense (377.64 ypg), and third in passing efficiency (172.79). Henderson State also outscored its opponents by an average of 29 points per game.
Eleven offensive players earned all-conference honors, five were named all-region, and four earned All-American honors.
Working primarily with quarterbacks, Volarvich has coached All-Americans Kevin Rodgers and Nick Hardesty who were both finalists for the Harlon Hill Award. Rodgers unanimously claimed the 2012 and 2013 Great American Conference Offensive Player of the Year award helping lead the Reddies to back-to-back GAC titles and a pair of NCAA playoff appearances. In his three years at Henderson, Rodgers has thrown for a HSU and GAC record 10,076 yards and 90 touchdowns and has earned national Player of the Week honors eight times. Rodgers has also been named GAC Offensive Player of the Week a record 11 times. Hardesty earned the 2010 Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year Honor while leading Henderson to a share of the GSC title. A four-time GSC Offensive Player of the Week selection, Hardesty totaled 4,007 yards for an average of 368.3 yards per game. Hardesty completed 320-of-507 passes for a completion percentage of .631 while having 30 touchdowns.
Prior to his arrival to Henderson, Volarvich was the leader of a potent EMCC scoring offense which led the NJCAA in passing offense and finished second in the nation in total offense.
Coach Volarvich has almost a decade of coaching experience at the community college level, serving as an offensive coordinator at Southwest Mississippi CC and East Central CC before joining the staff at East Mississippi.
Under Volarvich’s leadership at Southwest Mississippi CC, the offense finished ninth among the 2007 NJCAA ranks in team passing.
Volarvich established himself as one of the most innovative offensive minds on the community college level. During his three years at Blinn College in Texas, the Buccaneers ranked in the top ten in the NJCAA statistically in passing and total offense.
In 2003, Volavich was part of Maxfield’s staff and he led a Blinn offense which dominated the community college team statistical ranks, topping the nation in scoring offense (52.8 points per game), total offense (538 yards per game), and passing (328 yards per game).
In 2004, the Buccaneers finished the season ranked seventh nationally with a 9-2 record, led by an offense which finished second in the nation in both scoring offense and total offense.
Volarvich began his coaching career at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., and has handled other responsibilities throughout his career, including recruiting, academic advising and financial aid consolation.
Volarvich, a two-time All-Conference selection at Kentucky State University, was invited to the San Francisco 49ers’ tryout camp and to the Miami Dolphins’ mini-camp in 1999, and played three seasons of professional football.
Volarvich received his bachelor’s degree from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and later earned his master’s degree in physical education from the University of West Alabama.
Volarvich is married to the former Lauren Park of Houston, Texas, and they are the parents of three children, Mischa Elizabeth, Aubrey Lou and their newest addition Gavin Layne.
DOWN ON MAIN STREET. After 13 years in business, Greg and Christy Nunley have announced their plans to sell Mainstreet Musician Supply and move to Rogers. The store is located at the corner of Clark and Main Street in Nashville.
By John Balch
“The automatic assumption is that we’re going out of business,” said Greg Nunley, owner of Mainstreet Musician Supply after making it officially known that he and wife, Christy, have put their business up for sale and are planning a move to Northwest Arkansas.
“We’re not going out of business,” Greg emphasized. “We’re just making a move.”
The Nunley family has owned and operated MMS at the corner of Clark and Main Street in Nashville for the last 13 years. The business, located in a restored historic 1892 building, has supported the family of five during that time and continues to thrive today.
The Nunleys are planning to sell the business, the building and its full inventory of new used and instruments, as well as the current guitar and violin 30-student load. The only things not included in the sale will be the repair tools, projects, supplies and personal items they will need for their scaled-down business in historic downtown Rogers.
“It’s going, it’s profitable,” Greg said about MMS’ inventory and established customer base. “All anyone would have to do is come in and stand behind the counter. The hard work has already been done.”
MMS’s guitar teachers and violin teachers have all indicated they will continue to work from the Main Street location. The teachers are not employees of the business but are more or less independent contract workers with the Nunleys providing the lesson space and handling the scheduling.
“We’ve got some really, really good guitar teachers and an excellent violin teacher,” Greg said. Whoever buys the place “would be crazy not to continue on with the lessons.” He said MMS has cycled countless students through their lessons, which in turn has “created a whole lot of musicians out there and that helps create your market.”
The majority of the shop’s customers – on the repair, restoration and custom-building side of the business – have also indicated they will stay loyal to the Nunleys.
“A lot of them have said they will come up there or ship up there, and we do already have quite a few customers in that area,” Christy said.
Greg and Christy, both graduates of Nashville High School in the 1980s, said they will remain in Nashville until the business sells and, if needed, stick around to help the new owners get acquainted with the store and its customers. But, they will not be taking on any new repairs or projects until the transition to their new home is complete. Greg has a sizable backlog of work in the shop, which will keep him busy for at least another four months.
Greg and Christy would prefer to be in Rogers before the start of the next school year to accommodate their youngest child, Matthew, who is a 10th grader at Nashville.
“We’re just going to have to see how it works out,” Greg said. “We’re really playing it by ear and really don’t have a specific timeframe. We are content here, but we are kind of in limbo since we have a building already in Rogers.”
Christy added, “We’ve thought about it and prayed about it for a long time and it feels like we’ve gotten lots of confirmation about the direction we’re supposed to go.”
The Nunley’s plan is to get out of the retail business and concentrate solely on repair, restoring and building instruments. A flier the Nunleys posted on Facebook states the new shop in Rogers will specialize in “fixing the unfixable, building the unbuildable, and taking a nap every day after lunch (says Greg).”
“We’re going to change our focus a little bit,” according to Greg. “I’ve got enough of a following with the luthier work that it would stand by itself and so we are just going to cleave off (the retail side of business) and just do that.” (As far as the naps, Greg said, “I think I would be fond of naps if I every got to take one.”)
The new location is Rogers will be similar to the Nashville location in that it is a very old building in need of much restoration. All restoration of the 123-year-old Nashville building was done by the Nunleys and that, too, will be the case in Rogers. The new location is a two-story building and the Nunleys plan to live above the workshop.
“That will be different from what we’re used to,” added Greg. “It’s kind of an Old World scenario that sounds very intriguing to me.”
The main reason the Nunleys picked Northwest Arkansas to relocate has to do with family. They already have kinfolk and in-laws in the area and they are banking on a “pretty good chance” their oldest son, Luke, a flight instructor at Henderson State University, and their daughter, Hailey, a third-year graphic design student at HSU, will eventually join them.
“We love it here. We’ve lived here virtually all our lives and we are perfectly content here and we’re certainly not moving to get away from anything. Business is good,” said Greg. “We’re looking toward the future and there just isn’t many opportunities in this area for a pilot or graphic designer. We want to be somewhere where it will be good for them.”
IN THE WORKSHOP. Greg Nunley looks over a 1914 Gibson mandolin he is restoring in his workshop at Mainstreet Musician Supply.
That’s how Superintendent Doug Graham describes the process of finding a new football coach for the Nashville Scrappers.
The Nashville School District has received 17 resumes from prospective coaches, Graham said. Resumes have come from coaches in Arkansas and eight other states.
“We’ve interviewed several. We’ve also had discussions with those not on the list,” Graham said. “We’ll keep taking applications until the position is filled. We’re still trying to have a coach by Feb. 1.”
Those who have applied so far include the following:
Danny Adams, head coach, Winfield City High School, Alabama
Ronnie Alexander, defensive coordinator, Calvary Baptist High School
Thomas Bachman, head coach, Bastrop High School, Louisiana
Scott Chisholm, offensive coordinator, Berryville High School, Oklahoma
Chad Davis, DeBartolo Sports University, Oklahoma
Adam DePriest, offensive coordinator, Harrison High School
Paul Ernest, assistant coach, Nashville High School
Eric Gibson, assistant coach, Yulee High School, Florida
Don Harrison, head coach, Newport High School
Brooks Hollingsworth, offensive line coach, Conway High School
Buck James, assistant coach, Little Rock Christian
Chad Mitchell, assistant coach, Waldron High School
Justin Pressley, assistant coach, Pearl Cohn High School, Tennessee
Josh Price, head coach, Dardanelle High School
Brett Schrable, head coach, Quitman High School
Mike Volarvich, offensive coordinator, Henderson State University
Zach Watson, offensive coordinator, Morrilton High School
“I’m still really pleased with the amount of interest, from those who formally submitted resumes and those off the record,” Graham said.
“We’re continuing to talk. We’ll probably interview too many. There are lots to talk to, and lots who want to talk to us,” according to Graham.
Coach Brian Bearden is directing the Scrapper offseason program. “I’m really pleased with Coach Bearden and the assistant coaches. They’ve done an outstanding job keeping things afloat. We’re getting the last preparations for the football banquet in order,” Graham said. The banquet will be Saturday, Jan. 31.
The search process “is winding down. We anticipate an announcement fairly soon, certainly by Feb. 1,” Graham said.
RETIRED BY FIRE. Larry Lawson, a U.S. Army veteran from Louisiana, participates in a special ceremony to retire an American flag Saturday night at Lake Greeson. Lawson is part of Warrior Hunts, an event hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Greeson Field Office for a second time.
By John Balch
With every head bowed in silence around a crackling campfire, Old Glory was retired by fire during a special ceremony held at the conclusion of this weekend’s Warrior Hunt on Lake Greeson.
Many of those in attendance, still dressed in their camouflage hunting clothes, dabbed tears from their eyes and stared long and intently into the flames as the last bits of fabric disappeared.
“I tried to hold it together,” John Nolan told the crowd gathered Saturday night after leading the emotional ceremony to properly retire the American flag. Nolan, a Louisiana native and retired soldier with the U.S. Air Force, is the director of Warrior Hunts and has been involved in many flag retirements but has only led the ceremony twice.
“But, it gets me every time,” Nolan later said.
This year was the second time Lake Greeson has hosted the Warrior Hunts, which Nolan helps coordinate with the Patriots Alumni and Louisiana Sportsman (PALS) and the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Association as well as the Wounded Warrior Project. The hunts are designed to be therapeutic outings for soldiers of all ages and from all branches of the military who have participated or been physically or mentally injured in wars around the world.
Approximately 27 soldiers and family members returned to Lake Greeson this year, some participating in a special squirrel hunt where 46 squirrels were bagged while others enjoyed a lengthy ATV ride around Albert Pike.
“This is a great place with great people,” Nolan said. “We’re already talking about coming back next year and maybe doing some fishing.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Greeson Field Office partnered with the USDA Forest Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to host the event. Kirby Motel and Landing and owner Clay Crump donated the rooms for the event and personnel from the Corps’ field offices at DeGray Lake and Ouachita were also involved.
Following a meal provided and prepared by Lake Greeson personnel and the Lake Greeson Sportsmen’s Alliance, the soldiers and their families moved down the hill from the motel to a large campfire to prepare the flag for retirement. They privately separated the flag’s colors into strips.
“I am your flag. I was born on June 14, 1777. I am more than just a piece of cloth. I am the emblem of the greatest sovereign nation on earth,” Nolan said to open the ceremony. “I have led your sons to battle from Valley Forge to the blistering desert of the Arabian peninsula.”
Each soldier and their family members held ragged strips of the flag and were asked to retire them by colors. First the white, which represents the “burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons in battle.” Next the red, which “symbolizes the blood spilled in defense of this glorious nation.” Each strip was carefully placed on the fire.
Nolan had reserved as special red piece of the flag that he and an older soldier held together and committed to the fire. “This is for our fallen and their families,” Nolan said, his voice cracking with emotion. The elder man then saluted the flames.
Nolan then turned to another fellow soldier and said, “Please, retire the Union.” The blue field of stars, representing “God’s Heaven under which I fly, and my stars, clustered together, unify the 50 states as one for God and country,” was laid in the fire, followed by a lengthy moment of silence.
The flag that was retired flew over the Corps’ Lake Greeson Field Office above Narrows Dam and had never seen any wartime or bloodshed. But, as Nolan said again, the flag represents “more than just a piece of cloth” and should be respected at all times.
Nolan also informed those around the fire it is “absolutely O.K.” to approach someone about the condition of their flag and request that it be properly retired.
“When you see Old Glory in tattered shape, it’s kind of our responsibility to step up and say something about it,” he said.
With the retiring of an old flag, a new flag was presented, this one to motel owner Crump for his donation to the event. The flag had been flown over the Louisiana capitol, the state where most of the visiting soldiers reside.
NEW PIKE COUNTY LEADERS. The Pike County Democratic Central Committee and the city of Murfreesboro hosted a swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 1. Among those sworn in were new Pike County Judge Dwight Mack (above taking the oath of office from Judge Charles Yeargan) and new Murfreesboro Mayor Rodney Fagan.
COACH AND FAMILY. Coach Billy Dawson and his family visit at Scrapper Homecoming Oct. 10, when daughter Rachel was a senior football maid. The family includes wife Karen, Rachel, son Luke and Coach Billy Dawson.
By John R. Schirmer
After eight seasons, 105 games, 91 wins and three state championships, Scrapper Coach Billy Dawson cleaned out his desk Monday afternoon and left for his new job as head coach of the Russellville Cyclones. He will also serve as athletic coordinator and offseason coach.
The Russellville School Board hired Dawson for the position Dec. 30. He held a meeting with the Scrappers Monday, then went to Russellville for a meeting with the Cyclone coaching staff that night. Tuesday, he had his first meeting with his new team.
Dawson, his wife Karen, son Luke and daughter Rachel moved to Nashville in April 2005.
For the new coach, joining the Scrappers was actually coming home because he lived in Nashville for six years while his father, the late Bill Dawson Sr., was high school principal. Dawson moved to Bentonville when the future coach was a senior.
With Dawson at the helm, the Scrappers pulled off a three-peat, winning state championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The team went 14-1 the first year, 14-0 the second and 14-1 the third.
Dawson coached two more seasons before resigning in 2009 to become pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville, where he had been baptized when he was a student. Dawson’s record was 65-4 and included a 33-game winning streak.
Coach Tim Perry led the Scrappers in 2010 and 2011.
In late 2011 and early 2012, Dawson served as interim running backs coach at Arkansas State when the Red Wolves played in their first GoDaddy Bowl at Mobile, Ala. Soon after his return from the game, he started to consider a return to the Scrappers after Perry resigned.
Dawson came back in January 2012 and coached for three more seasons. He ended his career at Nashville with a record of 91-14.
“The shelf life of coaches is four or five years,” Dawson said Monday. “I was coach here for eight years.”
Counting his time at Immanuel, Dawson and his family were in Nashville 10 years. The Scrappers lost the first game of his tenure back in 2005 to the Hope Bobcats. After winning state that year, Dawson joked that he didn’t know if he would last the season after falling to Hope. “Ten years later, I’m leaving on my own accord,” he said.
Dawson interviewed at Russellville Dec. 19. He said he has found that part of the state “intriguing. We lived there before” while he was offensive coordinator for Arkansas Tech in 2002-03.
When the Russellville job opened up, “It seemed like the right time.”
Luke graduated from NHS in 2014 and is a freshman at Ouachita Baptist University. Rachel will graduate in May and will attend OBU. Karen teaches at Nashville Junior High.
“Nashville has been good to us. My kids graduated here. Immanuel and Mountain View Baptist Church [at Umpire] have been good to us. We couldn’t repay what Nashville has done for our family,” Dawson said.
He will stay in Russellville during the week until school is out and come home on weekends.
Dawson served as pastor at Mountain View and said he will continue to “help out until I move or until they find somebody.”
For Dawson, the best part of coaching in Nashville was “the community. There are so many people that have had an impact on our family. It’s all about the people.”
As for the Scrappers, Dawson said he is leaving with the team “in good shape. We have a good program. They have great days ahead. I’m proud of being part of teams with some success. One hundred five games in eight years is incredible. I’m proud to be part of it.”
The three state titles and 33-game winning streak were among the Scrappers’ accomplishments. “It’s been an awesome run,” Dawson said.
“I have no regrets,” Dawson said on his last day as Scrapper coach. “It’s worked out how it’s supposed to. Change can be good for our staff and our kids. I hope they have a great year.”
He doesn’t “foresee any of the [Nashville] staff going at this point” as he begins his job at Russellville.
Dawson said he appreciates the players on his eight Scrapper teams. “I love them and stay in touch and root for them and embrace the experience.”
With Dawson’s departure, the Nashville School District has begun the search for a new head coach.
Dawson said there are “plenty of qualified people. They’ll have no trouble hiring somebody. We have a loyal staff and loyal kids. They will be very successful.”
Search for now coach underway
With Coach Billy Dawson now at Russellville, the search for his successor is underway.
Superintendent Doug Graham said Monday that the Nashville School District likely will start taking applications for the position this week.
We will advertise it officially in the next day or two,” Graham said. “The last few days, I’ve been contacting some people on my list and having preliminary talks to see if they’re interested.”
Graham, Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols, Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell and NHS Principal Tate Gordon will interview prospects “at the appropriate time.”
Coach Brian Bearden will oversee the football program in the interim, Graham said. “He’ll oversee off-season, grades, discipline, anything administrative until the new coach is named. Then he will work in the transition. He will keep things rolling.”
Graham said he doesn’t have a time table for selecting a new coach. “If there’s a target date, it’s Feb. 1, but there’s no time frame. There’s no sense of urgency to do it immediately. We want to be thorough and get the right guy.”
In the week since Dawson announced that he was leaving, “We’ve seen a lot of interest. We’ll let it shake out,” Graham said.
Dawson interviewed with Russellville Dec. 19 and was hired by the Class 6A school Dec. 30.
The elderly Pike County man charged in the death of a Kirby student pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide.
Dwight L. Moody, 88, of Delight, entered the guilty plea in front of the family of Jazmin Hernandez, 12, who Moody ran over and killed after she exited a school bus on Oct. 27.
At the request of the seventh-grader’s family, Moody was sentenced to no jail time because of age, but he was fined $2,500 plus court costs, sentenced to one year of probation and agreed to forfeit his driver’s license for the remainder of his life.
Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir filed the misdemeanor charge against Moody on Friday, Jan. 2 in Pike County Circuit Court. Chesshir had met with the child’s parents and an interpreter numerous times and the family was asked to consider either a misdemeanor or felony negligent homicide charge against Moody. Chesshir said after much consideration and discussion that the parents eventually chose the misdemeanor charge and also requested that Moody serve no jail time.
“This has been a very emotional case for everyone involved,” said Chesshir.
Hernandez was hit by an SUV driven by Moody after she got off the school bus near Salem along Highway 70. She died at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock where she was air-lifted following the accident. She was aboard an eastbound Kirby School District bus that was stopped and unloading students with all its emergency lights and signals activated at the time of the accident. The 2001 Ford Explorer driven by Moody and occupied by his wife, Dorothy Moody, 84, failed to yield to the bus and struck Hernandez as she crossed the highway, according to an Arkansas State Police report.
Court documents identified the bus driver as Thomas B. Mounts, who told officials after he stopped the bus and engaged the emergency equipment and opened the bus to release students that he checked the rearview mirror and then looked back up to see Moody’s vehicle failing to stop and striking the child.
“All other witness reports indicate that all of the bus equipment was visible and in proper operation,” according to case records. “Additional witness statements further indicate that at the time of the incident Mr. Moody was traveling westbound at the posted speed limit or under when it appeared that the driver observed the bus too late to stop. However, the driver did attempt to swerve to no avail and struck the child.”
Moody could have been charged with felony negligent homicide which carries a punishment of up to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $15,000.
Chesshir said that as part of the investigation that led to the negligent homicide charge involved testing Moody’s vision. Moody failed the vision test and Chesshir said he acknowledged that he should have stopped driving “a long time ago.”
After pleading guilty to the charge, Moody, who had not hired a defense attorney, met privately with the family for the first time and expressed his remorse.
“He told the family how sorry he was and that the child’s death would bother him every day for the rest of his life,” Chesshir said.
The Russellville School Board, Tuesday night, hired Scrapper head football coach Billy Dawson as the new head coach for the Russellville Cyclones.
The Nashville School District will develop a plan to find Dawson’s successor, according to Superintendent Doug Graham. “I haven’t sat down with anybody yet. We’ll lay out a plan pretty quickly.”
Cyclone Coach Jeff Holt resigned Dec. 16, according to the Russellville Courier. Holt compiled a record of 86-93-2 during 16 years as the head coach. The Cyclones were 2-8 overall this past season and 0-7 in conference.
Graham said that Dawson met with Russellville school officials on Friday, Dec. 19.
“Randall Williams, superintendent of Russellville, contacted me out of courtesy to inform me that Coach Dawson was on their list to visit,” Graham said.
“I will respect the process and continue to support Coach Dawson regardless of his decision. If you have high profile and successful people working, they will be the target of other schools trying to fill positions,” Graham said.
Dawson’s teams have compiled a record of 91-14 during his eight seasons as head coach. The Scrappers won the state championship during his first season in 2005 and added two more titles in 2006 and 2007. They have advanced to the state playoffs each year of his tenure.
The Scrappers won five conference championships and posted three undefeated regular seasons during his tenure.
Dawson resigned following the 2009 season to become full-time pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville. He officially began his time with Immanuel July 12, 2009, and served as pastor while coaching the Scrappers during the fall season. He stepped down as coach in early December 2009 after the season ended.
Coach Tim Perry led the Scrappers in 2010 and 2011.
Dawson returned in 2012 and coached through the recently concluded season.
Rumors swirled during the weekend about a possible move for Scrapper Coach Billy Dawson.
Superintendent Doug Graham confirmed that Dawson met with Russellville school officials on Friday, Dec. 19.
“Randal Williams, superintendent of Russellville, contacted me out of courtesy to inform me that Dawson was on their list to visit,” Graham said Monday morning.
No announcement had been made by press time Monday. Graham said a decision is expected sometime this week.
“I will respect the process and continue to support Coach Dawson regardless of his decision. If you have high profile and successful people working, they will be the target of other schools trying to fill positions,” Graham said.
Dawson’s teams have compiled a record of 91-14 during his eight seasons as head coach. The Scrappers won the state championship in 2005, 2006 and 2007. They have advanced to the state playoffs each year of his tenure.
The Scrappers won five conference championships and posted three undefeated regular seasons during his tenure.
Dawson resigned following the 2009 season to become full-time pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville. He officially began his time with Immanuel July 12, 2009, and served as pastor while coaching the Scrappers during the fall season. He stepped down as coach in early December 2009 after the season ended.
Prosecuting Attorney Bryan Chesshir has announced he will file a misdemeanor negligent homicide charge against the elderly Pike County man who ran over and killed a Kirby student after she exited a school bus.
Chesshir said the misdemeanor charge will be filed at the request of the family of Jazmin Hernandez,12, who died from injuries sustained on Oct. 27.
The Kirby seventh-grader was hit by an SUV driven by Dwight L. Moody, 88, of Delight, after she got off the school bus near Salem along Highway 70. She died at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock where she was air-lifted following the accident.
Hernandez was aboard an eastbound Kirby School District bus that was stopped and unloading students with all its emergency lights and signals activated at the time of the accident. A 2001 Ford Explorer driven by Moody and also occupied by his wife, Dorothy Moody, 84, failed to yield to the bus and struck Hernandez as she crossed the highway, according to an Arkansas State Police report.
Chesshir said he met with the child’s parents, their attorney and an interpreter for more than two hours on Wednesday, Dec. 17 to discuss the matter. The family was asked to consider either a misdemeanor or felony negligent homicide charge against Moody. Chesshir said after much consideration and discussion that the parents chose the misdemeanor charge and have also requested that Moody serve no jail time.
The Class A misdemeanor negligent homicide charge carries a punishment of up to one year in the county jail and a fine up to $2,500. The Class B felony negligent homicide charge carries a punishment of up to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $15,000.
The charge was expected to be filed Monday or Tuesday this week.
SCREEN SHOT. U.S. Cavalry Training School Instructor John Slatton, formerly of Delight, on screen during a recent episode of The History Channel series “America Unearthed.”
By John Balch
Fans of The History Channel television series “America Unearthed” may have recognized a Pike County native on the television screen, despite him being dressed in an authentic U.S. Army Cavalry uniform and sporting a scruffy red beard.
John Slatton, 27, formerly of Delight, appeared in the series’ recent episode “Custer’s Blood Treasure” in his real-life role as an instructor at the U.S. Cavalry Training School in Medicine Tail Ford, Montana, the site of Custer’s “Last Stand” at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Slatton, the son of Kenny and Terrie Slatton of Delight, is a re-enactor instructor at the training school and made an appearance on the show to not only visit with the show’s host and forensic geologist, Scott Wolter, but to actually “enlist” Wolter in the U.S. Cavalry to take part in an intense reenactment of the historic and brutal battle.
The training facility is described by Wolter as a group of reenactment enthusiasts “who give folks a taste of what life, and fighting, was like in the 1870s.”
Wolter used the experience to try to more understand where Lt. Colonel George Custer’s lost “blood treasure” could be today. The treasure – reportedly $25,000 in gold and silver coins – supposedly left behind when Custer and more than 250 Calvary troopers lost their lives in the fight against Native Americans on the Montana prairie. The treasure’s whereabouts remain a mystery today.
During the episode, Slatton offers Wolter extensive historical background about Custer and the actually battle site, something right up Slatton’s alley since he has always been a “history buff,” according to his mom, Terrie, who heads up the Gifted and Talented program with the South Pike County School District.
Slatton’s first appearance in the episode showed him fording a river on horseback to met up with Wolter. His southern accent still intact, Slatton wasted little time with introduction before recruiting and enlisting the host.
The former Delight Bulldog told The Nashville Leader he has always wanted wanted to live the life of a cowboy in Montana and when his fiance, Dr. Tara Marshbanks, got a veterinarian job offer in Miles City, Mont., they “jumped at the opportunity to move here.” The couple is scheduled to wed July 10, 2015 in Lake George, Colo.
Slatton works full-time at a sale barn in Miles City and part-time at the Cavalry facility, which puts on the reenactments during June along with various events throughout the year.
“I got on with that outfit right out of the Army,” he said. “I have always loved history, so getting on with those guys was perfect for me. It took something I have always loved and turned it into a job.”
Slatton met his wife-to-be while stationed with the Army in Colorado Springs. He received a medical discharge in 2013 after being severely injured while serving in Iraq.
In April of 2007, Slatton was on patrol with the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry when his unit came under fire. As his unit returned fire, a sniper’s bullet hit Slatton in the head near his left ear. He had been in Iraq since October 2006 and that was not the first time he had been wounded on the battlefield.
In the fall of 2006, a bomb attack on his base in Baghdad sent a piece of shrapnel flying that struck Slatton in the head. The injury, minor compared to his injury in 2007, required six staples to close the wound.
“I am mostly recovered from my combat injuries,” he said.
The effects of the 2007 injury can still be seen on the left side of Slatton’s face and eye. He endured an initial 14-hour surgery which removed a shattered bone from his jaw and required surgeons to transplant a nerve to replace the one severed by the sniper’s bullet. Many more surgeries followed and Slatton eventually received a Purple Heart for his service.
When Wolter finishes his stint with the Cavalry, he acknowledged the life of a Cavalry trooper could be a dangerous and intense experience, and questioned Slatton about what makes him return to the battlefield.
“The history and the enjoyment of interacting with the Lakota and Crow (tribe members) that come out,” was Slatton’s response as he sat atop his horse.
Mother Terrie knew that already: “We were not surprised at all that this is something he ended up doing.”
MUSEUM OPEN HOUSE. Guests look at pictures and mill about the Howard County Museum in Nashville during an open house Sunday afternoon. The event showcased restoration and preservation work performed at the museum in recent months and gave volunteers the opportunity to discuss plans for the facility.
By John R. Schirmer
The Howard County Historical Society unveiled improvements to the county museum during a Chamber of Commerce coffee and an open house.
During the chamber coffee Dec. 1, guests had the opportunity to tour the facility and see the work which has been done in recent months. HCHS board member Freddie Horne said the museum received sponsorships for windows during the coffee. The museum entered the event with sponsors for two windows and other work. By the time the coffee was over, all of the windows were sponsors.
“We had a successful window campaign,” Horne said. “All windows now have sponsors, with more than $6,000 being raised for the replacement and repair of windows. These funds will be used for a matching National Historic Restoration Grant application.”
Horne said several hundred guests attended the coffee and the open house Dec. 14.
Other work is planned for the museum, which is housed in the former Presbyterian Church in Nashville.
The exterior paint and repair campaign was started with a goal of $7,500, Horne said. The fund received $2,150 in contributions during the two open house events. “These funds will also be used for matching grant applications,” Horne said. “One bid has been received for this part of the restoration. Several others are expected.”
Preservation work on the Bell Tower Foyer has been completed, and some of the museum staging has been put into place.
The Sunday School room is having plaster work done and will be prepped for painting within the next week, according to Horne. After the walls are painted, the woodwork staining in this room will be started and is expected to take about a month.
The pastor’s study and restroom will be the final stage of restoration of all small rooms. The study will be mostly paint work “in that all woodwork in this room has been painted over in decades past,” Horne said. After these rooms are completed, preservation work will begin in the chapel. “It is expected that the chapel will take six to eight months to complete using volunteer workers.”
Plans are being made to add a small curb-side parking lot and new sidewalk in front of the museum.
Horne said the floors are in good condition. “The society decided to leave them as original as possible to preserve the aged patina. Only minor sanding, oil staining and waxing will be done.”
The chapel ceiling and exposed beams “are in really good condition for the age of the building,” Horne said. “Mostly hand cleaning will be done in this part of the project. Some minor stain work will be required on several of the beams where a family of raccoons and a few squirrels have cause damage.”
One major goal is to provide new wiring for the building and have a heat/air unit installed, Horne said. Contributions for heat/AC units as well as volunteer labor for installation will be “gladly accepted.”
Society board members hop the restoration and preservation process can be completed by Christmas 2015, Horne said.
LEARNING PROCESS. Katie Paul of Nashville and Curtis Nutt of Dierks practice pipe welding last week on the Nashville campus of Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas.
AT A DISCOUNT. Lamar Windham of Nashville gets his haircut from cosmetology student Kacy McGough of Horatio.
By John Balch
UA Cossatot’s welding and cosmetology departments were showcased last week in Nashville as part the college’s “Community College Work$” tours, which were also held on the Ashdown and De Queen campuses.
The tours were part of a statewide initiative from the Arkansas Community Colleges Association and were designed to increase awareness about just how important community colleges are to the state and local economies, according to Alisha Lewis, UA Cossatot’s marketing director.
In Ashdown, the new industrial maintenance program was featured while in De Queen the highlights were tours of the new simulation laboratory for medical education students and the new automotive and radio broadcast building.
“All of these areas represent a technical certificate where jobs are in a high demand and qualified graduates can easily find a job,” Lewis said.
On Thursday afternoon in a classroom on the backside of the Nashville campus, a dozen high school students were tightly gathered around a computer screen watching the work of another student behind the mask of the Vrtex 360 – a $50,000 virtual reality welding tool. The machine is state-of-the-art and is a vital tool in training the welding students, said instructor Marvin Terrell, who is in eighth year at the college.
The Vrtex 360 offers four virtual welding work scenarios including one that places the students high above on a skyscraper. What the welder sees through the helmet can be seen on the computer screen by the other students and their instructors.
“This machine can score and critique the work, but it doesn’t produce the heat or noxious gases or waste the material you would have with practicing real welding,” Terrell said.
Students can store their work on thumb drives and the machine will keep a running total of their progress and how much material and gas they would have used on a real job. It is capable of teaching stick, MIG or TIG welding processes and also has a pipe-welding simulator.
The device is also designed to help develop and improve muscle memory for correct positioning and is “great for trouble-shooting.”
“It’s a good tool for teaching and learning,” said Terrell, who added that when he started out in the 1970s all the equipment in his class were a welding machine and cutting torch.
“We’ve definitely come a long way,” he said.
The pay has also obviously increased for welders. Terrell and fellow instructor Wayne Kendrick said one of their former students recently passed a pipe welding union test in Oklahoma (“Like the Olympics of welding,” according to Terrell) and now makes $100 an hour working out of Pennsylvania.
Much of the work for the college’s 60-plus welding students is hands-on. Steve McJunkins, division chairman for skilled and technical sciences, said the students often take on community projects for practice. One of the projects being worked on during last week’s public tours included an entrance arch for a local cemetery, which was paid for by a donation from the cemetery association.
“We don’t take on projects that will take away from any local businesses,” McJunkins added.
Across the parking lot, Kendrick, who is a veteran welder, monitors the pipe-welder students, four of which were being groomed for an upcoming competition. He said the idea is to create a realistic working environment for the program. The students sometimes have to work outside in all kinds of weather and a multitude of safety measures are strictly followed.
“They’ve got to get used to what it’s really going to be like out there,” he said.
A few classrooms down, the same real-life scenarios are also applied to the college’s cosmetology students, under instructors Summer Markham and Sandra Griffin. The cosmetology program has been offering hands-on instruction since 2007.
“The program instructs students in sanitation, sterilization, hygiene, lighting and ventilation, scalp massage, cleaning, shampooing, cutting, clipping, coloring, tinting, bleaching, perming, brushing, curling, reconditioning, thermal pressing and chemical relaxing of the hair,” according to Markham.
Students are also schooled in fingernail and toenail care, and hand, arm and facial massages as well as the art of applying makeup. The students also develop a professional attitude needed to deal with the public.
All the program’s aspects are tried and proven at a full-service salon that is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9:30 to 3:00 Wednesday through Friday.
During the public tour, Hannah Lindsey was having her hair highlighted by student Kayla Martin while a few chairs over Lamar Windham was wrapping up a haircut from student Kacy McGough. “I come here all the time,” Windham said.
The salon has a full menu of services which are offered at discounted rates. Windham’s haircut cost him only $6. A shampoo, cut and style is only $12.
The cosmetology students also practice their trades at various competitions, including a recent one in Texarkana called “Shear Madness.” It was the second year for the local students to compete in the contest.
Markham said the competition includes students from several surrounding schools and involves an avant garde model and manikin contest.
“The students are free to do whatever they please to show their best work and skills,” she said. Last year, the students brought home a second-place win and this year three teams competed in the model contest and four teams worked with the manikins.
“We placed second and third in the model competition among 24 teams and second in the manikin competition among 20 teams,” Markham said.
UA-Cossatot, which used to be known by the college’s proper name, Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas, started in 1975 as the Cossatot Vocational-Technical School and had 75 students. Today, Chancellor Dr. Steve Cole said the college is home to more than 1,500 students.
“Our college has a storied history of offering what the student wants,” Cole states in an online greeting. “Whether it is a fully-transferable associate of arts degree or a technical certificate in welding, our college has all of the offerings to put the student on a path to a career. Students will find that, once they are enrolled at CCCUA, they are part of the Cossatot family. A family of faculty, advisors, business office personnel, and more, with one goal in mind: to help the student succeed.”
CAST OF CHARACTERS. On hand Saturday in Delight for the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive Celebration” were (seated) Queen Sara (Jeannie Hendrix) and Katie Culpepper of AETN; (back from left) Mr. McFeely (Christopher Melichar), Joan Kenady of the Hot Springs Salvation Army Corps, Lady Elaine Fairchilde (Delight Librarian Ginny Evans), Glenwood Librarian Majorie Melichar, King Friday (David Brian Hendrix) and Katherine Cat (Kimberly Melichar).
Pike County’s libraries worked together throughout the month of November to collect 965 sweaters for the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive.”
The Delight branch of the Pike County Library and the city of Delight hosted the event’s conclusion celebration Saturday which included special guests from the Salvation Army, Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) and the state library system. Delight officials were also on hand and several locals portrayed the beloved Mister Rogers Neighborhood characters.
AETN, the Salvation Army and 15 libraries across the state partnered for the sweater drive, an idea based on Fred Rogers and his iconic cardigan sweaters.
“‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ has long been a place where caring and consideration for others instills good feelings in all of us,” AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said. “These messages and the values that children learn from the program and from PBS icon Fred Rogers are timeless.”
Weatherly added, “Fred Rogers’ cardigan has come to represent the gentle spirit, warmth and nurturing of the neighborhood. As Mister Rogers himself once said ‘All of us, at some time or other, need help, and whether we’re giving or receiving a sweater, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.’ This project connects Arkansans as neighbors.”
More than 50 people showed up for the celebration held in the gymnasium on the Delight campus of the South Pike County School District.
“We were happy to do it and were thrilled with the results and knowing people will benefit from this effort,” said Delight Librarian Ginny Evans about Delight’s hosting of the celebration. “These sweaters will be distributed by the Salvation Army to the homeless and less fortunate through schools and churches.”
Evans added, “There was a lot of hard work put into this and I think it paid off.”
Local band Third Channel, which includes members David Lamb and Evans’ two grandsons, Adam and Alan Hamrick, provided the day’s entertainment. There were also numerous door prizes handed out and three Delight churches were recognized for their contributions to the efforts. The churches included the First United Methodist Church, Church of Christ and Crossroads Assembly of God.
The cast of “neighborhood” characters included Joyce Vitzthum singing the show’s theme song, Roger Genung as Mr. Rogers, David Brian and Jeannie Hendrix as King Friday and Queen Sara, Kimberly Malichar as Katherine Cat, Christopher Malichar as Mr. McFeely and Evans as Lady Elaine.
Guests included Delight Mayor Paul Lane, AETN representative and Community Engagement Specialist Katie Culpepper with Outreach Producer Dan Kroops, Joan and Pat Kenady of the Hot Springs Salvation Army Corps and Ruth Hyatt, Arkansas State Library representative.
Students at Nashville High School and Nashville Junior High were among the first in the United States to take the new PARCC tests, which replace Arkansas’s End-of-Course and Benchmark tests and similar exams in other states.
Nashville students in algebra, geometry and ninth and tenth grade English took the new test, which was designed by PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Arkansas is among 12 states which participate in PARCC, a consortium which develops testing based on Common Core standards. Most states have adopted the Common Core standards.
Schools on the four-by-four block schedule were selected for the December tests, according to Superintendent Doug Graham. Nashville is among 19 districts statewide which participated.
Testing went “as well as it could have,” Graham said. “There will be a learning curve for everybody. I haven’t heard any complaints.”
Parts of the tests were given last week, with the remainder set for next week before Christmas break begins.
“The first week went really well,” according to Assistant Superintendent Joe Kell, who oversees the district’s testing program. “Most things are very similar on my end, like getting things to the schools.”
The fall block testing was done with traditional paper and pencil testing materials. In the spring, Arkansas students will take the exams online in most districts, including Nashville.
For 2015-16, all testing is expected to be done online in the fall and spring semesters, Kell said.
PARCC administered End-of-Course tests in algebra and geometry at junior high and high school, Kell said. The test also included ninth grade English at junior high and sophomore English at high school.
After Christmas, the biology test will be given at high school.
PARCC tests are different from the old Arkansas exams, Kell said. “It’s a different testing company. The forms are a little different. People at the schools said it’s gone smoothly. I’m very pleased so far.”
The tests are given in two parts, according to Kell. Last week’s exams were performance-based assessments, with the next section to be an end-of-year assessment for the block classes.
“The PBA is typically a set of multi-step problems, what we used to call word problems,” Kell said. “Students have to go through the steps for the end result.”
Next week’s end-of-year test will be “more common knowledge, with multiple choice questions.”
In Nashville, about 160 students have been tested at high school and about 110 at junior high, Kell said. About 30,000 students nationwide were involved in the first trial of the new tests.
Some of the students had two tests this semester because of their schedules, and some of those tested this semester in one class will be tested in the spring in another class.
In the spring, more than 5 million students nationwide will participate in PARCC tests for grades 3-11.
Results from the PARCC tests and the old state tests can’t be compared, Kell said. “We’re starting from ground zero. It’s a different test and different format. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. These tests are different from EOC and the Benchmarks,” Kell said.
Kell doesn’t know when the December scores will arrive. When they come in, the results will be “a benchmark. We’ll try to improve.”
Districts which participated in the December testing include Nashville, Bentonville, Monticello, Benton, Riverview, Mountain Home, Glen Rose, Siloam Springs, Farmington, Gentry, Russellville, Haas Hall Academy, Lakeside, Vilonia, Drew Central, Valley Springs, SIATech Charter, Dardanelle and Rogers.
FAMILY GATHERING. Members of Taylor Wilson’s family attended his presentation Nov. 19 at Nashville High School. The group includes Joey Wilson, Tiffany Wilson, Kenneth Wilson, Cameron Reese, Grace Reese, Cayse Reese, Taylor Wilson, Elizabeth Overton and Superintendent Doug Graham.
By John R. Schirmer
From nuclear research to “The Big Bang Theory,” just about any topic related to science turned out to be fair game Nov. 19 for an unusual assembly at Nashville High School.
Taylor Wilson, 20, who has garnered national and international recognition for his nuclear work, spoke to students ranging in age from elementary school through high school seniors in a one-hour session at Scrapper Arena.
Although Wilson never attended school in Nashville, the presentation was almost a homecoming in some respects. Nashville connections could be found throughout the arena.
Wilson’s father, Kenneth Wilson, is a graduate of Nashville High School, where he played football for the Scrappers. His grandparents, the late Ramon and Nelda Wilson, were active in numerous community, school and church activities. Kenneth Wilson is president of the Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Nashville, which the Wilson family has operated for more than 100 years.
The Wilsons donate to the NHS Scholarship Fund each year, Superintendent Doug Graham said during his introduction of Taylor. When the arena was constructed, the Wilsons provided the scoreboard for the facility. They helped with the renovation of Scrapper Stadium in 2009.
With that backdrop, Graham introduced Taylor Wilson as “the youngest American nuclear scientist to fuse the atom. He did this in his garage.”
Wilson described the project later in his presentation.
Graham reeled off a lengthy list of Wilson’s accomplishments. He attended Davidson Academy of Nevada and the University of Nevado at Reno.
He was invited to the White House and honored by President Barack Obama.
NBC anchor Brian Williams recognized Wilson as “the boy wonder.”
Wilson was selected for a Peter Thiel Fellowship, named for the Founder of PayPal. The fellowship “pays students not to go to college and to work on specific projects,” Graham said.
Wilson was a speaker at the National Energy Summit, where he addressed matters related to national defense.
He has been featured on CNN and in magazines such as Popular Science, Mental Floss, Rotarian and Atlantic Monthly.
Wilson told the audience about accomplishing nuclear fusion in his garage before he was 14. He said the Internet and its vast collection of information played a key role in his work.
Curiosity has driven Wilson in much of his work. He told the students that curiosity could lead them to find out why classmates were all sick on the same day, just as it led to his nuclear research.
Wilson’s opening remarks took about 10 minutes, and the remainder of the time was devoted to questions from the audience. He urged the students to delve into the liberal arts in addition to scientific studies.
Noting that scientists sometimes have trouble communicating their work to others, Wilson said students should work on their writing skills and speaking skills in order to make presentations over what they are doing.
Wilson’s responses to students’ questions were based on the student’ ages, and he found ways to connect with the entire audience. At the end of the program, he fielded what could have been viewed as a frivolous question about being compared to a TV character. He used the question as an opportunity to tell about his visit to the set of “The Big Bang Theory,” where he found that a Geiger counter on one of the shelves actually contained a small amount of radioactive material, which he safely removed.
Afterward, Wilson stayed around to visit students and answer more questions.
Kayla Kuykendall and Racheal Kidd went to grade school and graduated college together. They now teach next door to each other at Delight Elementary School. It is only fitting the two educators have now reached a top honor together in becoming National Board Certified Teachers.
Kuykendall, who teaches first grade, and Kidd, who teaches kindergarten, both received the national certification for Early Childhood Generalist, a goal the two teachers said they had been after a long time and worked toward for 400 to 600 hours from November 2013 to May 2014.
“It was the hardest thing I have done for my career,” Kidd said, who learned of the certification in college and set her mind to becoming “the best teacher I could be.”
“It was also important for me to achieve this goal so I could tell my daughter to always follow her dreams no matter how hard or scary they may be.”
Kidd’s colleague echoed her statement and added, “I wanted to be a better, more challenging teacher to all students who enter my classroom so I went for it and I made it! It was the most rigorous and time consuming thing I’ve ever done as far as professional growth, but I am very happy I did it!.”
The two teachers joins the ranks of four other SPCSD educators who have received National Board Certification. Other certified teachers include Misty Kizzia, Laura Hughes, Carie Maroon and Melissa Jones.
“I think it is great Kayla and Racheal have gone through the process to become National Board Certified,” said SPCSD Superintendent Roger Featherston. “It is quite an accomplishment that involves a great deal of extra training and work. It is definitely an honor for these individuals and our school district.”
National Board Certification, which has to be renewed every 10 years, is the highest credential in the teaching profession and is a voluntary assessment program designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers, and to embed ongoing improvements in schools nationwide, according to the Arkansas Department of Education’s website.
“While state teacher credentialing programs set the basic requirements to teach in each state, National Board Certified Teachers must demonstrate advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices. Completion of National Board Certification signifies that teachers have developed and demonstrated the skills required of an accomplished education professional.”
The two teachers went to school together from kindergarten through 12th grade and then both attended Henderson State University. Kuykendall went on to earn her master’s degree in education from Southern Arkansas University while Kidd stayed at HSU to earn her master’s degree for education in English as a second language.
Kuykendall and Kidd are both in their seventh year with the South Pike County district.
“We both developed a deeper understanding of children and how they learn and our teaching practices,” Kuykendall said. “We both love teaching and working with kids. Seeing them grow over the year is very rewarding. Teaching next door to each other is a bonus.”
South Pike County School District’s NBCTs also earn an annual $1,000 bonus.
To achieve certification, the teachers had to complete four portfolio entries with two video lessons: literacy, math/science/technology, social studies/social skill/art, and professional accomplishments. They also took six computer-based assessments focusing on all subjects including child’s play and health and physical education.
“I want to welcome you to the growing ranks of National Board Certified Teachers who are transforming the profession,” Ronald Thorpe, Jr., president and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, wrote in letters to Kuykendall and Kidd.
“In this regard, you are a pioneer, as NBCTs still represent only a small fraction of our teaching workforce.”
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.