A log truck overheated its brakes near Fairview and highway 7. The Camden Fire Department responded to the scene. Camden Fire Chief Rob Medford believes theirs not much to it and everything is under control at this time.
CFHS STUDENTS TAKE PART DRUNK/DISTRACTED DRIVING SEMINAR
CAMDEN-Today Camden's finest held a drunk and distracted seminar for our highschool students. With prom approaching, students were able to put on alcohol impairment simulation goggles, and drive through a course set up by officers. Students were also told to try and text and drive on the course, to see the consequences of it as well. Sgt. Ben Opelt said " I think we made a big impact on the kids..they might think they can handle it, but they really can't". Highschool principal Garry Steelman also took part in the seminar, and hopes his students walked away knowing not to drink or text and drive. Steelman said "I think they understand now what the consequences are". Members of F.A.D.D. also spoke to the kids. With the end of the school year looming and prom getting closer, the Camden Police Department will continue to do their part to make sure our youngsters stay safe and make the right decisions.
IT'S THE JAKE MONDEN ERA
CAMDEN-People person. Those were the words that Athletic Director, Ricky Tucker, used to describe the Camden Fairview's new football coach. After the unfortunate retiring of Mike Cox, Mr. Tucker new the transition process had to be quick. After a few weeks of searching and interviewing, Tucker and Superintendent Mark Keith, believe they have found their guy in Jake Monden. Tucker said " He set himself apart....he loves kids and he's going to work to be the best that he can be everyday". Monden, who has served as defensive coordinator for the Wildcats of El Dorado for the last three years, has a passion for teaching and improving. Monden said "This is what I picked to do with my life, and I love sharing it with kids and being able to put a product on the field Friday night, that shows what all the hard work that we've done". Monden was chosen for the job, in unanimous fashion, as all attending school board members approved. Monden was accompanied tonight by his wife Stefanie, and three children - Haylee, Maddix, and Reese. No doubt it's an exciting time in Cardinal Country...and the beginning of the Monden era.
THE HUB ANNOUNCES SEMINAR TO ADDRESS POVERTY
CAMDEN-Together with community leaders, the HUB will host a seminar later this year that will address poverty. Bridges Out of Poverty is an initiative that has a proven track record across the country for more than twenty years. This includes at least six communities in Arkansas. Camden is the first south Arkansas community to adopt this plan.According to their website, the Bridges’ initiative helps communities, “move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency; reduce social costs related to crime, poor health, and welfare; strengthen educational attainment and job skills; enhance economic development; improve on-the-job productivity; revitalize neighborhoods; and build sustainable communities where everyone can live well.” According to HUB chairman Johnny Hobbie, “People from Ouachita County are coming together, with a common goal of relieving the suffering among our neighbors. When we formed the HUB, we promised to address poverty in a new way. This is a desire shared by leaders and citizens throughout our community. We do not want to put a band-aid on this problem. We want to address this issue in a way that will offer hope to those who need it most. We wanted to offer a hand up, not a hand out.” Operating under the guidance of the Christian Health Center, the HUB has welcomed community leaders to join the discussion addressing poverty-related issues. “We have learned so much about what we already have available in our community to address poverty issues. Our effort is already a success because we have put a lot of information in one place. When people come for help, we are able to outline a number of opportunities rather than sending them on a non-stop route of various churches and organizations,” according to Hobbie.
Dr. Larry Braden, medical director of the Christian Health Center said, “I am so excited. Poverty in our community is a significant issue, affecting all of us, on many levels. This initiative gives us all a chance to move beyond complaint toward positive change, using evidenced based strategies that have proven effective for others before us. I pray that all of us will come together to make a difference.” The one-day seminar, scheduled November 3 at the First Presbyterian Church in Camden, is geared to employers, city and county officials, community organizations, law enforcement, first responders, educators, counselors, healthcare and social service providers, religious leaders and anyone interested in building a sustainable community. Organizers hope the plan will spread throughout Ouachita County, encouraging others to become involved as mentors and volunteers.Dr. Regina Lewis, the guest speaker for the seminar, will outline the Bridges’ philosophy. Early bird registration will be $25. Registration covers breakfast, lunch, a book and workbook. For more information on the seminar, contact the Christian Health Center at 231-1111. For more information on Bridges Out of Poverty, visit their website at www.ahaprocess.com.
COLLISION TAKES LIFE OF EL DORADO WOMAN
MAGNOLIA-One driver was killed and two other people were hurt Wednesday in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. 82B west of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in El Dorado. According to a preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Wanda Sullivant, 62, of El Dorado was driving a 2015 Nissan east on the highway when the vehicle crossed the center line and hit a 2015 Toyota head-on. Sullivant was taken to the Medical Center of South Arkansas in El Dorado, where she died. Injured were the occupants of the Toyota, driver Bruce Gilmore, 55, and his passenger, Karen Gilmore, 53. They were taken to the hospital for treatment. The accident happened at 9:07 a.m. The weather was cloudy and the road was wet. Patrolman Anthony Ross of the El Dorado Police Department investigated the accident. Mrs. Sullivant is survived by her husband, Mark Sullivant; and two sons. She worked as an administrative assistant at Chemtura Corporation. Cremation arrangements are with Young’s Funeral Directors.
WOMAN IN HALLOWEEN DWI WILL SERVE OVER 20 YEARS IN PRISON
HOT SPRINGS – A woman accused of drinking and driving in a neighborhood on Halloween 2014 has been convicted of several charges. Twila Watson, a twenty nine-year-old, pleaded guilty Tuesday to battery, aggravated assault, and DWI.
According to authorities Watson was pregnant when she dragged a man under her car, hit several other cars, and ran over a woman's foot. Watson will serve a term of 22 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction for two battery charges and four aggravated assault charges. She will spend an additional year in the Garland Co. Jail. Watson will also have to pay a fine of $1,000 and will have a suspended driver's license for 120 days for the DWI charge.
LAKE HAMILTON EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH DRUG RELATED FELONIES
ARKANSAS-A Lake Hamilton Intermediate School reading aide was arrested Tuesday at her home on multiple drug-related felonies. Belinda Ann Stengel, 63, of Royal, and Caden Anthony Beard, 29, who lists a Higdon Ferry Road address, were arrested at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday and each charged with simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, punishable by up to life in prison, possession of a schedule VI controlled substance with purpose to deliver, punishable by up to 10 years, and possession of drug paraphernalia, punishable by up to six years. Stengel received an additional charge of maintaining a drug premises, punishable by up to 10 years. Stengel and Beard remained in custody Wednesday in lieu of zero bond on the simultaneous possession charge and bonds totaling $15,500 on the other charges and are set to appear May 2 in Garland County District Court. Lake Hamilton Superintendent Steve Anderson released the following statement Wednesday when asked for a comment: "The Lake Hamilton School District is aware of the situation involving one of our district paraprofessional employees being arrested off campus at their private residence. To our knowledge at this time, the charges are in no way connected to the school or our students. The employee in question is not on campus at this time and as with all personnel matters, this will be handled according to policy and legal guidelines. The school will of course cooperate fully with legal authorities if asked for any information. Since this is an ongoing legal investigation, it would be inappropriate to make further comment at this time." According to the affidavit, detectives with the Little Rock Police Department Narcotics Squad conducted a random package interdiction with a K-9 at UPS, 5501 Fourche Dam Pike, Little Rock. The K-9 indicated the presence of a narcotics odor emitting from four cardboard packages addressed to "Austin, Thomas, Billy and Michael" at 309 Boulder Road, Royal. After obtaining a search warrant, detectives located approximately 5 pounds of commercial marijuana shipped from a subject in Denver. With a search warrant, officers from the 18th Judicial District East Drug Task Force conducted a controlled delivery to Stengel, who signed for the packages. At 4:36 p.m. the drug task force, Arkansas State Police and the Garland County Tactical Response Team executed a search warrant at the Boulder Road residence. Investigators located four boxes containing 5 pounds of marijuana, two jars with 10 grams of suspected marijuana, a small bag with 0.5 gram suspected marijuana, a loaded Smith & Wesson .38 special, a loaded .22-caliber rifle, three smoking devices, a package containing 2.42 ounces suspected marijuana edibles "THC," vacuum sealers and bags, grow lights and bulbs, two iPhones, marijuana growing instructions, miscellaneous growing materials and paperwork listing the residence as Stengel's. Stengel is listed on the school district's website as a paraprofessional in special education at the intermediate school. The DTF is composed of officers from the Hot Springs Police Department, Garland County Sheriff's Department, Arkansas State Police, the 18th Judicial District East prosecuting attorney's office and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
WALDO MAN DIES IN WRECK
MAGNOLIA-Earlier this week, a Waldo man died, in a one-vehicle accident that was not discovered until Thursday afternoon. According to a preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Curtis Smith Jr., 62, was driving a 2002 model Chevrolet west on the highway between Waldo and the U.S. 82 junction when his car went off the roadway on the south side and struck a guardrail, causing it to overturn into a creek. Smith died at the scene. The wreck scene was located about 1 p.m. Thursday. The weather was foggy at the time of the crash. Smith’s body was released to Reed Funeral Home of Magnolia. Trooper Brent A. Walker investigated the accident for the Arkansas State Police. Smith’s death was the first traffic fatality in Columbia County this year. There were two fatalities in 2015, four in 2014 and five each in 2013 and 2012.
TAYLOR HEARS MURDER AND RELATED CHARGES IN HARRELL CASE DURING COURT SESSION
MAGNOLIA-Keaton Taylor, 16, of Taylor made his first court appearance on Thursday for the murder on April 13 of Douglas Harwell, 53. There was a large crowd in the courtroom at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility for the court session. Taylor appeared somber, wearing an orange jumpsuit. His wrists were not cuffed, but his ankles were shackled as he faced Circuit Court Judge David Talley. An insulin pump could be seen hanging out the front of his jumpsuit. Taylor said he had completed the ninth grade. The judge read the charges that Taylor would be facing if he is tried as an adult. The judge said count one was capital murder; count two was aggravated residential burglary; count three was aggravated robbery; and count four was theft of property valued over $25,000. The judge informed Taylor that capital murder carries a sentence of 10-40 years or life in the Arkansas Department of Correction. When asked if Taylor understood these charges, he replied, “Yes, sir.” He said he understood his rights. He said he would also hire an attorney and seemed a little confused. He then corrected himself by saying that he could not afford to hire an attorney on his own, and would take the court appointed attorney. Taylor was sworn under oath. He affirmed the financial affidavit that Judge Talley held before him as his true financial standing. The judge appointed public defender, Robert Jeffery, to represent Taylor with the option that he could hire an attorney at any time. Jeffrey told Talley that he had no paperwork on Taylor and would like to talk to Taylor before discussing bail. Greg Parrish from the Public Defender Commission in Little Rock wanted to remind the judge and jail staff that Taylor has an extreme case of diabetes. He requested the sheriff to monitor it closely. Taylor was scheduled to appear again on May 19 for a bond hearing, although it is possible that this could take place on May 5 if the attorneys involved can coordinate their schedules with the judge. He continues to be held without bond. Directly after Taylor, his co-defendant, Dekota Despain, appeared before the judge with Parrish at his side. Like Taylor, Despain had no handcuffs but did have shackles around his ankles. On Monday, Talley told Despain that Jeffrey would likely be appointed as his attorney. On Thursday, Parrish told the court that since Jeffrey had not spoken with Despain about his case he probably shouldn't do so, as he as been appointed to represent Taylor for now. Parrish said that he was appointing attorneys Jeff Rosenzweig and Katherine Streett, both of Little Rock, to Despain’s case. Streett is frequently assigned to cases in Columbia County. Rosenzweig is a recognized expert in capital cases involving juvenile defendants. The judge said the original arrest warrant called for no bond. The Despain case will be revisited May 5 when his attorneys can be present. Despain appeared to mouth the words “I love you” to family members as he was led from the courtroom. Despain was arrested on Friday after he was interviewed by Arkansas State Police and local investigators. Taylor was taken into custody by lawmen in Springhill, LA, on Friday and was held in Louisiana until his extradition to Arkansas was accomplished. The “probable cause” affidavit in Despain’s case says that he told lawmen that he shot Harwell once in the back and again in the face on the evening of Wednesday, April 13. He later told investigators that he and Taylor both fired at Harwell. The affidavit also said that the boys dragged Harwell’s body into his home, which is next door to where Despain lives with his parents. Later in the evening, Despain is alleged to have stolen many guns from Harwell’s home, putting them in Harwell’s truck, and driving them to Magnolia – apparently in an attempt to sell the stolen guns. Because of their ages, possible capital murder sentences of the death penalty or life in prison without parole cannot be considered. However, the capital murder charge does carry a range of punishment up to life with the possibility of parole after 28 years. Aggravated robbery and aggravated residential burglary carry penalties up to life in prison. The theft of property charge carries a penalty up to 20 years.