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April 17, 2014

Despite the recent damage done to the high school during the past few weks. We can confrim that the school is still on schedule to have prom next week and senior graduation on May 9th. 

Jill Rader has been appointed as principal of Magnolia’s East Side Elementary School in Magnolia for the 2014-15 school year. The announcement was made by Dr. John Moore, district superintendent. Rader, currently the principal for the Kindergarten Center at East Side Elementary, will serve in the lead administration role for kindergarten through third grade.  Mrs. Rader has13 years of experience as an educator and has been employed by Magnolia Public Schools for six years. She has taught sixth grade and served as assistant principal at Lafayette County Elementary School; been assistant principal at Central Elementary School; and became the principal at West Side Kindergarten four years ago. The Kindergarten Center was built on the East Side Elementary campus, opening in the fall of 2012, and Rader continued as principal at the new location. Rader said "I have enjoyed my time as the principal of our kindergarten, and I'm excited to continue working with them, as well as the staff at East Side. I feel that this will bridge the gap between the two buildings and provide more cohesiveness between the curriculum and the grade levels,". Rader will replace LaNita Talley, current principal at East Side Elementary. Mrs. Talley will retire after serving Magnolia Public Schools for 37 years. Rader's new position will become effective July 1.

Dumpster diving may not sound like a very respectable occupation, but employees in the recycling branch of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality aren’t above picking through trash to find ways to reduce the amount of solid waste being sent to landfills. Robert Hunter, recycling branch manager, calls these trashy sessions “waste sorts,” and they can reveal a lot. “Often a community can learn that more education is needed for residents,” Hunter said. “We have found lots of recyclables in waste, indicating that there were quite a few people who either weren’t aware of what items could be recycled or didn’t think recycling was important.” Communities, schools, businesses and nonprofits contact ADEQ for help in reducing the amount of solid waste they send to landfills and finding alternate ways to dispose of some of their waste, which can mean lower total disposal costs. Volunteer participation is an important part of any waste sort. Each facility that schedules a waste sort with ADEQ must also provide a team of volunteers to actually pick through the garbage. This gives them firsthand knowledge about what items could be recycled or diverted from the landfill and inspires them to support education efforts necessary to get the word out to the rest of the community. “The cost of landfill disposal is rising,” Hunter said. “There is also usually a cost associated with having recyclables picked up, but it can be substantially lower than the cost of having trash hauled to a landfill.” Waste sorting is just one part of a waste audit. Hunter explained that sorts are rarely done during waste audits for businesses and offices that already know what types of items are going into their waste streams. “Typically, we first do a walk-through to evaluate if we need to do a sort for the facility,” Hunter said. During a walk-through of a hospital, Hunter’s staff found a large storage area full of broken equipment, such as gurneys with broken or missing wheels. They suggested that the usable parts be used to assemble whole workable pieces of equipment and the rest be scrapped out or sold to recyclers. A waste audit of a manufacturing plant found that raw materials were delivered in boxes. “We suggested that they request for their supplies to be delivered in plastic-wrapped stacks on pallets; the pallets could go back to the provider, and the large quantities of plastic could be recycled,” Hunter said. Saving money may be the first reason facilities contact ADEQ’s recycling branch for help, but helping to protect the environment is the most important reason for waste audits and sorts, Hunter says. Suggestions for reducing waste disposal costs include, in addition to recycling, the other two royal Rs: reducing and reusing. With better planning, facilities can reduce what they use in the first place and find ways they or others can use things that would otherwise be put in landfills. All three Rs decrease the amount of land used for burying garbage while saving energy and resources. To find out more about waste audits, facilities can contact Hunter at 501-682-0609 or

Anyone interested in watershed and stream conservation on the Dorcheat Bayou is invited to attend the first meeting of the Stream Team at Southern Arkansas University. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. today in Room 105 of the SAU Science Center. Funding for the SAU Stream Team is courtesy of a grant recently awarded to Pablo Bacon, SAU assistant professor of biology. The mini-grant was given by Ben Thesing, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Stream Team Region III coordinator. The SAU Stream Team will be involved in restoration and conservation of Dorcheat Bayou, according to Bacon. Included in the mission will be trash clean-ups, water quality monitoring, biological monitoring or local species and studies on imperiled and endangered species. The Stream Team program is an outreach and volunteer initiative by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. It enables concerned citizens and community groups to become involved in stream and watershed conservation. Efforts revolve around three primary aspects of stream conservation: Education, advocacy and stewardship.

Clark County’s recent Relay for Life Fundraiser was a huge success as an estimated 800 people in attendance and 25 teams participating in the event. Event chair Nicole McGough said “So far we have raised $40,481, but we continue fundraising for this year until Aug. 31." There were 153 registered team members participating in Friday's event, held at Badger Stadium on the campus of Arkadelphia High School. McGough said "many others get involved without registering." The top fundraising teams, in order, were the Courthouse Jesters, Southern Bancorp, Peake Elementary School and Danfoss. "I would estimate over 800 people were there Friday night," McGough said. Competitions between the teams promised fun for all those who got involved. Winners from those competitions are as follows: best campsite: Peake Elementary; best spirit stick: Peake; best team shirt: AHS Beta Club; Road to Recovery boxcar race winner: Bright Beginnings; Road to Recovery best car design: AHS Beta Club.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that two Pulaski County women have been arrested for allegedly bilking the Arkansas Medicaid program out of more than $41,000. 57-year-old Darann Bright Harrison, and her daughter, 34-year-old Tamecia Dion Bright, both of Little Rock, were arrested last week following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Both are charged with Medicaid Fraud, a Class B felony. Both were released from the Pulaski County Detention Center after each posted a $2,500 bond. The two operate a Little Rock-based day treatment center. Both had already been barred from participating in the state Medicaid program because of previous actions. According to investigators, between Dec.  14, 2011, and at least until Sept. 14, 2012, they sought reimbursement from the program to bank accounts that were not listed under their names, but that were under their control. Harrison, also known as Diane Bright Harrison, and Bright are accused of forging prescriptions in the name of a Little Rock physician and billing Medicaid for reimbursement. In addition, they are accused of both overbilling for services that were provided by employees or ex-employees and billing for services that were never rendered by employees or ex-employees. The total amount alleged to have been fraudulently obtained from Medicaid is $41,400. Charges are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. To report suspected instances of Medicaid fraud or abuse and neglect in nursing homes, call the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit hotline at (866) 810-0016.

Student loan debt can be overwhelming to some consumers already riddled with debt from mortgages and credit card bills. The federal government says student loan debt is the single largest form of consumer debt, aside from mortgages. According to a recent report the average student will have amassed $29,000 in student loans before leaving college. That makes the industry ripe for scams and fraud. Some Arkansas consumers have received mailers from a for-profit entity claiming that the entity can help consolidate or defer student loan debt. Those mailed solicitations fail to mention that the services offered at a cost of hundreds of dollars are often available for free. Further, the for-profit entities most likely could not do everything they promise, anyway. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert to encourage consumers with outstanding student loan debt to do research and be aware of scams. “Scammers will seek any opportunity to take advantage of someone, and we are increasingly seeing more examples of how that applies to student loans,” McDaniel said. “It is best to remember that a borrower should never have to pay for the assistance they may need. Programs are available for those who need relief, and those programs can be accessed for free.” The mailer that some Arkansans have received state that consumers may receive “total forgiveness” of student loans, or may have the opportunity to have lower monthly payments or lower interest rates. The solicitation advertises a “student loan consolidation and payment forgiveness program.” McDaniel said both the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Student Loan Authority have received complaints about the solicitation in recent weeks. The company seeks between $400 and $800 to provide their services. However, the company and other similar businesses fail to disclose that consumers can get similar help from government programs free of charge. McDaniel encouraged consumers to contact the U.S. Department of Education ( or the Arkansas Student Loan Authority ( for more information. Last year, the National Consumer Law Center reported on an array of problems related to student loan debt relief services. In the report, the center said many companies mischaracterized federal government programs as their own. The center said that, at a minimum, companies did not prominently disclose their programs are actually federal government programs that can be accessed at no cost. Many companies also violated multiple state and federal consumer protection laws, the report found. In addition, the center found that companies charge an initial rate of up to $1,600 in some cases, with ongoing service fees of up to $50 a month. Further, they offered a “one-size-fits-all” approach of loan consolidation, although that might not necessarily be best for some borrowers. They focused more on sales than on actually counseling consumers, and they discouraged borrowers from handling their own cases. For more information about this or other consumer-related issues, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982, or visit the division’s website,

Come ride the McNab Train to the Twin Rivers Festival April 26th and 27th in downtown McNab, Arkansas.  Events start at 9:30am with plenty of kids activities, a trackless train for the kids, music from the Hope High Jazz Cats, Interstate 30 Bluegrass from Benton, the Silvey Family from Rosson, “Dipping for Dollars” , a Corvette Car Show and more.  Don’t miss the parade at noon Saturday and the auction at 2pm.  Enjoy the Hope Boys Gospel Singers, the Cass County Mass Choir from Atlanta, Texas, the Tollette Mass Choir and more.  It’s the 13th annual Twin Rivers Festival in McNab, just north of Fulton on highway 355.  This ad paid with state and regional funds.

April 16, 2014

Officer Bush of the Camden Police Department was recently dispatched to the area of 647 Lincoln Center for a fight that was in progress. The officer made contact with a Monkiko Dumas who was standing in the parking lot. As other officers arrived, other subjects were pointing at Dumas, saying he was involved. One witness told an Officer that she saw Dumas come from behind and hit them in the head. Dumas admitted to his actions, and others, including one of his friends, had gotten into a fight earlier, however would not give names of other involved. Dumas than admitted that he was on the ban list and was soon transported to the station, where he was later released on a citation.

Officer Ferguson was dispatched to Yale Street at Goza for a subject in a blue mini-van apparently stealing copper. Once the officer caught up to the vehicle, he initiated a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle was Timothy Ryan Harrington, who stated that he took pipes from the house but was told that it was free. Harrington also stated that he was getting the copper because the owners needed someone to do the job. All that said, Harrington was arrested and his vehicle was towed by Kelly wrecker service. As for the pipe, it was taken to the station as evidence.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is joining six of his counterparts from other states, in Denver for a summit to discuss energy development and hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking.” The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) is sponsoring a first-of-its-kind Energy Summit today to open a dialogue among attorneys general about developing public policy related to fracking and oil recovery techniques. McDaniel and a bipartisan group of AGs will hear from panelists from the oil and natural gas industry, environmental organizations and the U.S. Department of Interior. McDaniel is the co-chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General Energy and Environment Committee. “Natural gas production in Arkansas over the last several years has helped our state weather difficult economic times and has helped ease our reliance on foreign energy sources,” McDaniel said. “I believe in the importance of domestic energy production, and I also recognize that we must safeguard and protect the environment. That requires the industry and the states to communicate.” While new technologies such as fracking have contributed to a drastic uptick in U.S. energy production, the industry is outpacing rules and regulations. CWAG is hosting today’s summit because some states are experiencing “growing pains” related to this emerging industry, despite the benefits it provides to local economies. During the summit, attorneys general will rely on each other and outside experts to ensure they are aware of all viewpoints pertaining to balancing, interpreting and defending state interests while also understanding industry and local community needs. Other AGs attending the daylong summit are host John Suthers of Colorado, Peter Michael of Wyoming, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, Marty Jackley of South Dakota, Gary King of New Mexico, and Peter Kilmartin of Rhode Island.

The will be an Easter Egg Hunt at Lake Catherine State Park. Children ages 12 and under, bring your Easter basket and fill it up with candy-filled eggs. This event is a great way for families to create special state park memories. Don't forget your camera! Beginning promptly at 2:00 p.m., Lake Catherine will have three age groups at the Picnic Hill Pavilion. The age groups are 0-4, 5-8, 9-12. There will be special prize eggs in each age group. The event is free and all are invited to attend.  For more information contact the park at (501) 844-4176, e-mail, or visit us on the web at

The OPED Building will be closed on Friday, April 18th for the Good Friday Holiday. 

There will be NO WRITTEN OR ROAD Testing on this date. If you have any additional question you can call office manager Dotty Harris at 870-836-2210.

World Red Cross Day is a time to recognize worldwide efforts to advocate for the relief of human suffering, whether from disease, disaster, war or famine. The American Red Cross encourages eligible individuals to support these humanitarian efforts by making an appointment to donate lifesaving blood this May. The need is constant, and all blood types are needed, especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative. Each year, World Red Cross Day is celebrated on May 8, the birthday of Henry Dunant, who officially founded the International Red Cross & Red Crescent Movement nearly 100 years ago. For more than 130 years, the Red Cross has been dedicated to helping people in communities large and small across the U.S. It is the only humanitarian services organization that provides blood services, serves as the emergency communication link between military personnel and their families, offers health and safety training and responds to disasters of all types and sizes. Join the Red Cross family this month and make an appointment to give blood in honor of World Red Cross Day by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting Upcoming blood donations for Ouachita County will be on May 14th, from 11:00 am until 5:30 pm at the Green Center in East Camden.

To donate blood, simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Arkansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

To help the Girl Scout Cookie Crunchers Relay for Life Team, you can make a donation and have a chance to win either a Razorback Tote or a Relay for Life Tote The Razorback Tote includes: Red Water bottle, Red throw, and some Razorback decals. The Relay for Life Tote includes: Relay Water bottle, Purple throw, and purple sunglass. Donations are a $1 for one ticket or $10 for twelve tickets. For tickets you can contact Vickie Walker at 833-9223 or Faith Schalchlin at 818- 4753 or any other Girl Scout Cookie Cruncher Team member.

April 15, 2014

The Mosaic Templar Museum will visit Camden Fairview High School and the Camden Fairview Intermediate School on Thursday, April 17th, 2014.  There will be two presentations. The first presentation is 10 am at the Camden Fairview High School and the second presentation will be at 1:30 pm at the Camden Fairview Intermediate School. 

Elvon Reed, Educational Director for the Museum is the presenter.  Reed has been Educational Director for 2 years.  She will have a presentation on Arkansas’ African American Soldier during the CivilWar. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) was founded as the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise under Act 1176 of 2001. MTCC was created as a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and it honors the story of the Mosaic Templars of America and all of Arkansas's African American history. The museum is dedicated to telling the story of the African American experience in Arkansas. The Center’s name is taken from the Mosaic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1883 whose headquarters sat on the prominent West Ninth and Broadway location. Like many businesses throughout the United States, the Mosaic Templars of America organization was forced out of business during the Great Depression. Originally, the Center planned to restore the 1913 Mosaic Templars of America National Grand Temple, but the original building was destroyed by fire in March 2005. The new 35,000 square feet interior is a state-of-the-art museum complex with exhibits, classroom, staff offices, and an Auditorium that seats 400 people. The façade of the new structure is a facsimile of the 1913 building complete with the Annex building façade, which burned in 1984. The mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is to collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas's African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American's achievements - especially in business, politics, and the arts. The center’s exhibits highlight fraternal organizations, African American entrepreneurs as well as integration. Beyond just exhibits, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center provides lesson plans and outreach programs for students and teachers. These materials, especially the lesson plans, are in great demand by classroom teachers and have closed a gap in the teaching of Arkansas history. All educational materials developed by the Education staff are tied to the Arkansas Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks. The Center strives to educate students as well as the general public through a wide range of events and programs that help support its mission as well as expose the community to some of the more prominent topics in African American culture and history.  Bring the museum to your classroom or your local group! The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center offers presentations to school and youth groups throughout the state. Programs on Arkansas's African American communities, art, music, politics and entrepreneurship are available. Education Department staff members will travel anywhere in Arkansas free of charge to provide these programs. For more information call Kathy Bowles @ 870-837-1300 or Terry Calahan @870-836-6876

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The speaker this week for Lions Club will be Rebecca Wright with the Ouachita County Health Department.  Rebecca will be talking about the Healthy Ouachita County and what they are doing. For more information on the Lions Club you can call Charlotte Young at 870-863-4440.

The Ouachita County Courthouse will be closed and the Ouachita County Extensions Office will be closed on Friday, April 18th for Good Friday. The Ouachita County Sanitation will run on regular schedule.

Jazz musician and legendary star of Broadway and television, Hal Linden will present a program of classic tunes, stories and nostalgia at the Camden Fairview Middle School Auditorium, 746 Dooley Womack Drive, Camden, Arkansas on Friday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m.  Children and students are admitted to all OCCCA performances at no charge if accompanied by an OCCCA ticket holder.  Season tickets to the Ouachita County Community Concert Association’s 2014-2015 series are now available; subscriptions to the five-concert lineup are $50.  For more information please call (870) 231-6244.  Hal Linden, a 65-year entertainment veteran, is best known for his portrayal of the police precinct captain in the hit television series “Barney Miller,” for which he earned multiple Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.  In 1957 he made his Broadway debut in the musical “Bells Are Ringing” opposite Judy Holliday, and has continued to perform in more than 20 Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including “Pajama Game,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Chicago” and “Cabaret.”  In 1971 he won the Tony Award for “Best Actor in a Musical” for his role in “The Rothschilds.”  An accomplished jazz clarinetist and vocalist, Linden released his first album, “It’s Never Too Late,” in 2011.   He is backed by a seven-piece band performing America’s classic songs, along with a lifetime of showmanship and charm.                 

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, and representatives from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office met today for a roundtable discussion on the growing concern of copper theft. Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Butch Calhoun and other representatives of the region's agriculture and law enforcement communities also attended the Memphis meeting. “Thieves who strip copper from irrigation systems are causing devastating property damage that can be crippling to our farmers,” McDaniel said. “It is critical that the states in our region strategize collaboratively to prevent this crime.” Intergovernmental cooperation is important, McDaniel explained, because thieves often cross county and state lines to sell stolen metal. “I’m fortunate to already have strong working relationships with the attorneys general in Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana,” McDaniel said. “I think today’s meeting was very constructive and will surely lead to progress in apprehending copper thieves.” Arkansas has had enormous success tracking scrap metal thieves using a statewide electronic reporting system created by LeadsOnline called the Metal Theft Investigations System. The system allows law enforcement and metal recyclers to share information and track suspicious scrap metal sales “LeadsOnline allows investigators to access information about thousands of transactions in a matter of minutes,” McDaniel said. “The Metal Theft Investigations System is an incredible tool for law enforcement.” Arkansas investigators ran 9,728 scrap metal searches using the system during the first quarter of 2014 alone. The state has over 350 law enforcement agencies using the system and 127 scrap metal recyclers reporting their transactions. Mississippi also uses the LeadsOnline system. "Copper thieves are stripping irrigation systems and buildings costing farmers and building owners tens of thousands,” Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said. “Due to high metal prices, metal of any kind, from cars on the side of the road to implements in the field, is being stolen at an alarming rate.  I appreciate my colleagues in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee joining me to discuss the issue and formulate workable law enforcement initiatives and create contacts among law enforcement agencies and farmers in our four states.” Tennessee is also grappling with copper theft. "In Tennessee, scrap metal dealers register with and are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance," said Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. "We continue to be concerned about the theft and sale of scrap metal and are happy to share information and ideas with authorities in neighboring states to curb this nationwide problem." Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell echoed the other AGs’ concerns. “The theft of copper from refrigeration units, air conditioners, and irrigation systems has become an epidemic,” Caldwell said. “And it could get worse as metal prices go higher.  We four AGs in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana are joining forces to crack down on the ease with which copper thieves operate.  I’ve never seen cooperation across state lines this good, which means citizens in our region will see better protection.”                                                              

April 14, 2014

Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. wishes to notify you that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality approved a Class 1 modification of their Hazardous White Permit, and associated Corrective Measures 100% Final Design Report, on February 3rd. The combined biological treatment and infiltration trench for remediating perchlorate-impacted groundwater at Building M125 was modified. The proposed unit was relocated from approval site, within a “non-source” area on the west side of the building, to a site within the “source area” on the north side of the building. Relocation of the treatment trench offers several advantages including improved environmental monitoring and control. The design changes will not affect the approved remedial technology, in situ anaerobic biological treatment of perchlorate in groundwater, the overall schedule for completion of the Corrective Measures Implementation, or the ultimate goal of the project, risk-based remediation of perchlorate impacted soils and groundwater at the East Camden manufacturing facility. For any additional questions or more information please call 870-574-3265. 

Members of the Arkansas Board of Education voted 5-2 on this past week to order the involuntary consolidation of the Stephens School District with three neighboring districts based on county lines. About 140 students in Ouachita County will attend Camden Fairview schools this fall. About 160 students in Columbia County – most from in and around the town of McNeil – will go to Magnolia schools. A handful of students in southeastern Nevada County will be bussed to the Nevada School District at Rosston. There was no doubt that Stephens – whose athletic teams are represented by the Roadrunner, would be consolidated with another district after its enrollment fell below the state-required minimum of 350 students for three years running. The only real issue before the state board was whether it would grant a request from the Stephens board that Stephens and Nevada be merged, or if the state would approve the “tri-district” proposal to carve Stephens between its three neighbors. The Stephens board reasoned that a merger with Nevada would be the best option to keep its schools intact.

On April 19th, Southern Arkansas University will be having an International Student association Banquet. During this event, the international students prepare and serve dishes from their home countries.  There will also be performances showcasing cultural traditions or pop trends from student’s home countries. Tickets will only be 10 dollars a person. So do yourself a favor and get a ticket or two and come enjoy fantastic food and wonderful performances. For any additional information you can call 870-235-5149.

Student residents of Fincher Hall at Southern Arkansas University have started a fundraising effort that will benefit the Make-A-Wish Mid-South Chapter. The fundraising campaign involves several events to engage the Golden Triangle community. A "Wings for Wishes" event at the Magnolia Pizza Hut is scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 29. Students will be handing out promotional vouchers, which Pizza Hut will honor with 20 percent of the bill going toward the Make-A-Wish Chapter. A large part of the fundraising effort will culminate with a Fincher Cookout scheduled for 4-8 p.m. Thursday, April 30 on the scenic lawn of the residence hall adjacent to the Greek Theatre. Burgers and hotdogs will be on the grill, and a plethora of fundraising events and games are scheduled. The public is invited to attend and participate in the effort.

A three-year-old “Festival City” idea will be put into action after the El Dorado city approved the proposal. The plan requires closing and revitalizing Jefferson Street between Cedar and Locust. It will also revamp the Rialto Theater and improve the area. El Dorado Mayor Frank Hash says the downtown project will be a win for the city. "There's been extensive research done about this concept of making El Dorado a regional entertainment destination. We think it holds great promise," Hash says. No date has been set for the ground breaking, but Hash says they hope it will happen sometime in the fall.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel released the following statement after deciding to pursue an appeal of U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling in the federal lawsuit over Act 301 of 2013, which was sponsored by Sen. Jason Rapert:  “I have spoken candidly with Sen. Rapert about the risks and costs associated with an appeal. "Sen. Rapert has specifically asked me to appeal. I agreed to do so as long as there would be no impact on the budget of the Arkansas State Medical Board, the defendant in this matter, should the state be required to pay attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs. I have been personally assured by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Dismang and House Speaker-designate Gillam that the Medical Board budget will not be affected, and that any costs borne from this litigation will be paid through a separate appropriation. “Therefore, the notice of appeal was filed and this office will diligently litigate this matter to its conclusion. “I have also committed to Sen. Rapert, Jerry Cox and the Liberty Counsel our continued cooperation and transparency in the course of this litigation."

April 11, 2014

Officer Sharlotte Elliot was dispatched to Express Liquor in reference to a black male, wearing a jacket and jeans, possibly intoxicated, refusing to leave. The officer observed the man, later identified as Freeman Rabion, matching the description, standing in the parking lot of the liquor store. According to reports you could smell a strong odor of intoxicants coming from the man’s breath, his speech was also slurred. Rabion also had a beer on him while he was being interviewed. Based on the officer’s observations, Rabion was taken into custody, and eventually transported to the Ouachita County Detention Complex until intoxications wore off.

Recently, Officer Jimmy Plyler was dispatched to a two vehicle accident at 1600 Cash Road.
There was a green Chevy Caprice sitting in the ditch on the East Side of Cash road with heavy damage to the front end. The officer also observed the driver, identified as Ulysses Carroll, on the ground next to the vehicle with obvious facial injuries. There was also a National Guard Humvee sitting in the South bound lane of Cash Road with minor damage to the front bumper.
According to reports, Carroll showed signs of intoxications, in-fact he told the officer “yeah man’ I’m drunk, now take me to the hospital”. At the Ouachita County Medical Center Carroll was advised that he was being charged with DWI, refusal to submit a BAC, no driver’s license, and reckless driving.

Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are requesting the assistance of anyone who may have information relating to the disappearance of a Mississippi man last month. Robert Ross, 29, of Jackson, Mississippi was last seen on Friday March 28th when he picked-up a payroll check at a Jackson business and set-out for Arkansas, reportedly with intentions to visit a friend. On Tuesday, April 1st local law enforcement authorities found Ross’s 2005 Buick LaCrosse abandoned alongside State Highway 160, ten miles east of Portland, Arkansas near the Ashley–Chicot County line. Evidence inside the vehicle has caused sheriff’s deputies and State Police to have some suspicion of foul play associated with Ross’s disappearance. Anyone who may have seen Ross in Arkansas before the car was found or who may have information about his disappearance should contact the Special Agent Rick McKelvey at (870) 850-8630.

Student residents of Fincher Hall at Southern Arkansas University will kicked off on April 7 a fundraising effort that will benefit the Make-A-Wish Mid-South Chapter. The fundraising campaign involves several events to engage the Golden Triangle community. A “Wings for Wishes” event at the Magnolia Pizza Hut is scheduled for 4-8 p.m. on April 29. Students will be handing out promotional vouchers, which Pizza Hut will honor with 20% of the bill going toward the Make-A-Wish Chapter. A large part of the fundraising effort will culminate with a Fincher Cookout scheduled for 4-8 p.m. on April 30 on the scenic lawn of the residence hall adjacent to the Greek Theatre. Burgers and hotdogs will be on the grill, and a plethora of fundraising events and games are scheduled. The public is invited to attend and participate in the effort. Guests can look forward to good food and fun activities. Entry fees for events like a watermelon eating contest, egg roulette, Greek stroll off, volleyball tournament, dance tournament and others will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Hot dogs will be $2 and burgers $3 for community members. Those with an SAU ID will eat free. Terence Lee, Fincher Hall resident assistant and star of the 2012 SAU “Mulerider Style” viral video, is helping organize the event with his Fincher friends. Lee said that the students began collecting funds on April 7 at the Reynolds Center. They will also be at campus events, such as the Spring Concert on April 10. The Make-A-Wish Mid-South Chapter has supplied the group with banners and artwork for promotional purposes. Contestants can also sign up for the Miss Wish Upon a Star pageant, which is scheduled for November 26, 2014, at Camden Fairview Middle School. Entry fee is $20, photogenic competition is $10, and admission for three and older is $5. Contestants will be divided into eight age categories, ranging from newborn to 20 years. For more information, contact Haley Bird at or (870) 390-0119. SAU and Fincher Hall have a history of community involvement and successful fundraising efforts to benefit regional charities. In 2011, Fincher Hall students led an effort to raise an astonishing $32,127 for the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The money made it possible to greatly expand the school’s library collection of books not currently available in Braille format.

The Ouachita County Master Gardeners will host an Annual Plant Swap this Saturday, April 12th, starting at 9:00 am. The event will take place the Farmers Market located at the corner of California and Cash Rd. Everyone is invited to bring a plant to swap or come and pick up a plant.

The Stephens Board of Education will hold their regular monthly meeting Monday, April 14th at 6:00 pm. The meeting will take place inside the high school library. The agenda for the meeting will include a financial report, superintendent’s report, and executive session for personnel.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) expects to welcome more than 400 elementary school students over four days this month to celebrate Earth Day.  The field trips, which give students a peek inside ADEQ’s state-of-the-art laboratory and include a number of interactive lessons, are among a number of events ADEQ has planned around Earth Day. The Department will also host a Putting Green to Work lunch featuring Virco Manufacturing, which has a location in Conway, and award the Arkansas Environmental Stewardship Award (ENVY Award), recognizing the efforts of an individual or organization to protect and enhance the state’s natural resources. More than 400 students -- mostly third and fourth graders will visit ADEQ Headquarters Building at 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock April 14 and 15, 21 and 22. The students will come from Academics Plus Elementary in Maumelle, Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Joe T. Robinson Elementary in Little Rock, West Magnet Elementary School of Visual and Performing Arts in Batesville, Crystal Hill Elementary Magnet School in North Little Rock and various schools in the Cabot School District. Roughly 50 to 125 students are expected to participate each day. ADEQ employees will conduct a variety of interactive presentations for the students, beginning between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. each day. Student groups will rotate among several presentations, as well as receiving a tour of the ADEQ’s building, which has received certifications from two different green building organizations for its environmentally-friendly design, construction and operations. Students will learn how difficult it is to restore the environment once it has been damaged, how to use organic waste to create compost piles, how land-use activities can adversely affect aquatic organisms, and steps to prevent air pollution. In addition to the programs for school children, ADEQ will offer another in its ongoing series of “Putting Green to Work” lunch meetings at 11:30 a.m. April 24, featuring Virco Manufacturing. The lunches feature businesses and organizations that have excelled at energy conservation and other sustainable practices. ADEQ, in partnership with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, created the Putting Green to Work lunches in 2012. The series aims to help industry leaders learn from each other how to save energy, prevent pollution and conserve resources, all while helping their bottom lines. The lunch meeting is open to the public, but seating is limited, and reservations should be made by April 23 by contacting Audree Miller at the ADEQ; 501-682-0015; ADEQ’s Earth Week observance ends with the 2014 ENVY Award presentation at the April 25 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which begins at 9 a.m. The ADEQ began an expanded Earth Week observance after moving to its new building in 2007. The first year’s event involved hosting students from just one school on one day. Since then, both the number of schools participating and the number of days involved in the observance have grown.  April 22 is officially designated as Earth Day. The first Earth Day observance was held April 22, 1970, to mark an increased recognition by the federal government for dealing with pollution problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formally established later that year to begin addressing environmental concerns at the national level.

April 10, 2014

Recently, Magnolia police were called in when a resident reported a fight happening in the front yard. Patrol officers found two men had been involved in an altercation, and were separated by officers. The incident stemmed from accusations of elder abuse. Resident Vivian Hampton told officers her grandson, Mark Hampton, had hit her in the head. Bruising on the 88-year-old woman’s head was evident. Detectives were called to the scene. Interviewing Mrs. Hampton, Detective Bret McMahen found the allegations were credible and the 30-year-old Hampton, was arrested. Hampton is being held in the Columbia County Detention Facility on charges of domestic battery second degree. He is awaiting first appearance before a circuit judge.

A $1 million bail was set by a judge for a 65-year-old Texarkana woman accused in the shooting death of a fellow member of a local square dancing club. Virginia Ann Hyatt pleaded not guilty to capital murder in the fatal shooting of 59-year-old Patricia Wheelington in December. According to an affidavit, Wheelington was shot to death while sitting on her front porch.

Reports say that Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin set the amount at a pretrial hearing Tuesday telling the court that the case is "the most serious crime in the state of Arkansas." Both women were members of the Guys and Dolls Square Dancing Club. Court records allege that Hyatt was "harassing" Wheelington over Wheelington's relationship with Hyatt's estranged husband.

“Seussical the Musical” is slated to be the biggest Southern Arkansas University theatre performance in years with 42 students and regional actors ready to hit the stage opening night on April 24, 2014. SAU Director of Theatre Clayton Guiltner promises this vibrant, exciting, and zany play will be fun for the whole family and one you certainly will not want to miss. The show will begin nightly at 7 p.m. on April 24, 25 and 26. There will be a final matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 27.
Tickets are on sale. Prices are as follows:
Adult - General Admission - $15.00
Child / Student Admission – (half price) $7.50
SAU Student / Faculty / Staff - (half price) $7.50 
Many in Magnolia have seen this as a revival of community musical productions at SAU, but Guiltner likes to look at it as something new altogether. "We are excited to build upon a legacy of the great shows that have been produced at SAU in years past, but we are even more excited to build new traditions and give opportunities to our students and the community to find their artistic voices."  According to Guiltner, the goal of the theatre department at SAU is to train students to find and hold careers in the theatre and television/film industry in all areas of disciplines, including performance, design, management and technology. This year, SAU set out to expand the theatre program to include members from the community and our region to participate in our spring musical. And the regional community responded with more than 100 people auditioning to be a part of the show. “Seussical” highlights the stories of Dr. Seuss, one of America's most beloved writers of children's stories. "The musical will not only be enjoyed by children of all ages, but is one that adults will love as well,” said Guiltner. “Like all Seuss stories, this musical contains universal themes that hit home with everyone, no matter our age, background, or social standing." Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Lucky Stiff,” “My Favorite Year,” “Once On This Island,” and “Ragtime”) have lovingly brought to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Mayzie, and a little boy with a big imagination – Jojo. The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.

A dedication ceremony for a garden in memory of the late Jay Adcox and Leonard Biddle at the Southern Arkansas University Aquatic Center is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2014. The SAU Aquatic Center will also host an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day. Biddle and Adcox developed the garden at the rear entrance of the W.T. Watson Athletic Center. It went downhill after their deaths, according to Sheri Baggett-McMinn, associate professor of health, kinesiology, and recreation. She was proud that HKR majors asked to help and get the ball rolling on the garden renovation. Thanks to several donations and the work and expertise of SAU Senior Gardner Marty Davis, she is grateful to get to see the garden dedicated before she retires at the end of June. Southern Aluminum donated a blue bench, and Story’s Trophies and Awards gave an engraved plaque for the memorial garden. The HKR Club at SAU also donated an outdoor table and the Athletic Department provided a decorative piece for the garden. According to Aquatic Center Interim Director Elizabeth Ray, Davis planted an array of colorful foliage, including varieties of spring blooming daffodil bulbs, grape hyacinth and tulips. Dwarf daylilies, dianthus and Asiatic lilies, a hosta lily and phlox will be hardy for years to come. A Japanese Red Maple was added, and a windmill palm, hardy hibiscus and other evergreens will add a tropical feel to the pool entrance. Adcox was athletic director at SAU when he passed away on July 26, 2011. For 36 years, Jay taught, coached, mentored and shared his passion for football and education to hundreds of students and student athletes. Biddle was the SAU golf coach and headed up the University intramural program and the Wellness Center until he passed away on July 13, 2012. Prior to working at SAU, he was a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force where he served as a professional fire fighter for 20 years. Visitors to the garden dedication will also have the chance to see the Aquatic Center renovations, which include SAU blue and gold fresh paint and new tile work. Lifeguards will be on duty, as well, in case anyone would like to give the pool a try. To further invite community participation at the Aquatic Center, free aquatic wellness classes are being offered from 6-7 p.m. each Wednesday in April courtesy of Ray and Sandi Alston. Membership at the SAU Aquatic Center is divided into three annual terms – fall semester, spring semester and summer. 

Community membership pricing is as follows:
Adult - $60/semester or $175/year
Adult couple - $85/semester or $250/year
Children (with adult) - $20 a child/semester or $55 a child/year

Single day pass - $5
SAU Alumni and Albemarle employee pricing:
Adult - $25/semester or $70/year
Adult couple - $40/semester or $115/year
Children (with adult) - $10 a child/semester or $25 a child/year
SAU students and employees have free membership to the Aquatic Center. SAU spouses pricing is $25/$70, and children pricing is $10/$25. The hours of operation are 6-8 a.m., 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; 6-8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Friday.


Many Arkansas consumers use their cell phone Caller ID to avoid unwanted calls from telemarketers. But the popular wireless feature is susceptible to fraud. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued a consumer alert to make Arkansans aware of a practice commonly known as Caller ID "spoofing," which involves the display of a number on a person’s Caller ID that is not the number of the originating caller. Caller ID spoofing can make a call appear to have come from any phone number the caller wishes, and sometimes results in extra fees on wireless bills. Arkansas law prohibits telemarketers from interfering in any way with the accurate display of Caller ID information. “Our cell phones are such a big part of our lives, and Caller ID helps us make sure we catch the most important calls and avoid frustrating and time-consuming calls from telemarketers," McDaniel said. "Unfortunately, we can't always trust what appears on our cell phone screens." The Federal Communications Commission prohibits the practice of disguising an actual telephone number to mislead consumers regarding the true identity of a caller and the nature of the product or service being sold.  Telemarketers are required by state and federal law to use accurate caller ID numbers when calling consumers. The FCC requires each telemarketing company to transmit or display its telephone number, and if possible, its name or the name and telephone number of the company for which it is selling products or services. Telemarketers must also display a telephone number that a consumer may call during regular business hours to request that such calls stop. Complaints about telemarketer spoofing can be made directly to the FCC at or (888) CALL-FCC. “I want Arkansas consumers to be armed with the best information so that they can report any telemarketers who don't identify themselves by providing accurate Caller ID information," McDaniel said. “Any companies that resort to these dishonest and illegal tactics are more likely to be selling questionable products and services." In addition to providing cover for fraudulent telemarketing, Caller ID spoofing can be used to perpetrate ID theft by convincing a consumer that he is dealing with a trusted source with which the consumer regularly does business.

 Consumers can avoid Caller ID spoofing by: 
-Being cautious. Do not give out personal information over the telephone. Anyone a consumer normally does business with already has the information they need. Most companies will not call to ask to verify account numbers or ask for a Social Security number or to verify an account number. Calling the number back. Consumers who receive a call from a bank or credit card company, for instance, may wish to write down the number on the caller ID, hang up and redial the number, or call back to that company’s published telephone number.
 -Blocking the number.  Consumers who continue to receive calls from the same number may contact their telephone service provider and request that the number be blocked. Filing a complaint with the Attorney General or the FCC. To file a complaint with the Attorney General, call the Office’s Consumer Hotline toll-free at (800) 482-8982 or by visiting For more information on spoofing or other consumer-related issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website,, or call the Consumer Protection Division hotline at (800) 482-8982.

April 9, 2014

During last night’s City Council Meeting, the City of Council received an award from the Arkansas Business City of Distinction for the “Movies on the River” project, to help revamp the riverfront with a new park and amphitheater. Camden was recognized in the Quality of Life category. Now the idea of using a river amphitheater isn’t new, but with the nearest movie theater in El Dorado, 32 miles away, this particular concept seemed to be the best way to bring the Camden Community together at the riverwalk. One thing that really helped this project work was the movies that were being shown were first-run, summer blockbusters, not available on cable, and one thing about this project, the admission was free. Each movie shown brought an average of around 200 people. Majority of the funding for the project is credited to the city’s advertising and promotion tax, Camden News and Radio Works.

The Mosaic Templar Museum will visit Camden Fairview High School and the Camden Fairview Intermediate School on Thursday, April 17th.  There will be two presentations. The first presentation is 10 am at the Camden Fairview High School and the second presentation will be at 1:30 pm at the Camden Fairview Intermediate School.  Elvon Reed, Educational Director for the Museum is the presenter.  Reed has been Educational Director for 2 years.  She will have a presentation on Arkansas’ African American Soldier during the Civil War. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) was founded as the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise under Act 1176 of 2001. MTCC was created as a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and it honors the story of the Mosaic Templars of America and all of Arkansas's African American history. The museum is dedicated to telling the story of the African American experience in Arkansas. The Center’s name is taken from the Mosaic Templars of America, a black fraternal organization founded in Little Rock in 1883 whose headquarters sat on the prominent West Ninth and Broadway location. Like many businesses throughout the United States, the Mosaic Templars of America organization was forced out of business during the Great Depression. Originally, the Center planned to restore the 1913 Mosaic Templars of America National Grand Temple, but the original building was destroyed by fire in March 2005. The new 35,000 square feet interior is a state-of-the-art museum complex with exhibits, classroom, staff offices, and an Auditorium that seats 400 people. The façade of the new structure is a facsimile of the 1913 building complete with the Annex building façade, which burned in 1984. The mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is to collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas's African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American's achievements; especially in business, politics, and the arts. The center’s exhibits highlight fraternal organizations, African American entrepreneurs as well as integration. Beyond just exhibits, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center provides lesson plans and outreach programs for students and teachers. These materials, especially the lesson plans, are in great demand by classroom teachers and have closed a gap in the teaching of Arkansas history. All educational materials developed by the Education staff are tied to the Arkansas Department of Education Curriculum Frameworks.  The Center strives to educate students as well as the general public through a wide range of events and programs that help support its mission as well as expose the community to some of the more prominent topics in African American culture and history. Bring the museum to your classroom or your local group! The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center offers presentations to school and youth groups throughout the state. Programs on Arkansas's African American communities, art, music, politics and entrepreneurship are available. Education Department staff members will travel anywhere in Arkansas free of charge to provide these programs. For more information call Kathy Bowles at 870-837-1300 or Terry Calahan at 870-836-6876

Magnolia High School senior pre-health students recently got to watch a “childbirth” courtesy of Southern Arkansas University’s Wharton Nursing Simulation Lab. A total of 39 MHS students visited the SAU Department of Nursing during a nursing pre-health mentoring day on March 11, 2014. Students visited the simulation lab where they were shown how SAU’s lab is used to develop nursing students’ critical thinking skills and improve overall patient care. Since last year, SAU’s Department of Nursing has been working with Magnolia High School to provide potential nursing students with information about nursing careers and give them a view of college life at SAU. Students also got some hands-on experience with the SAU simulators. Each was given an opportunity to listen to the breath, heart, and bowel sounds, and use other realistic features of the simulators. SAU nursing staff also demonstrated how NOELLE Birthing Simulator births a baby and discussed how such technology is used to give students labor and delivery experiences that they may not get in the real clinical setting. “The real life hospital ‘feel’ gives students an element of realism that promotes learning,” said Becky Parnell, interim chair of the SAU Department of Nursing. “While in the lab, students experienced how new High Fidelity Simulator (HFS) ‘SUSIE’ and ‘New Born HAL’ function.” Also, students were given information about careers in nursing and the nursing degree opportunities at SAU, including the RN and BSN programs.  Finally, they were given information regarding the University application and financial aid processes. At the end of the visit, SAU President’s Ambassadors gave the college-bound students a tour of the campus, followed by lunch at the Mulerider cafeteria. According to Parnell, the Wharton Simulation Lab utilizes functioning headwalls for oxygen and suction, like are found in hospitals. It also has three fully operational hospital beds, one birthing bed, an infant warmer, bassinet, stretcher, medication cart, crash cart, two laptops for electronic charting at the bedside, a variety of functional IV pumps, and feeding pump. The lab is also equipped with monitors at the bedside to observe the simulated patients like the students would see in a real clinical setting. To schedule a visit or to find out more information about participating in a nursing-mentoring day at SAU, contact Rhonda Ray at 870-235-4331 or

On April 10th from 6:00 pm until 7:00 pmthere will be in event in El Dorado entitled

Nature Nights: Water, Water, Everywhere! Since you are preparing for all the fun summer activities around water, join El Dorado for a few tips on how to be safe. This event will have games, prizes, and WATER! RSVP by calling (870) 864-7192 or e-mailing

April 8, 2014

The City of Camden’s Code Enforcement Officer Tom Vaughan would like to encourage the public to be cautious during this time of storm recovery. Vaughan says “Scam Artist watch for news of disasters and then move in to take advantage of the already distressed homeowners”. Homeowners need to follow some simple rules to ensure that they do not fall prey to scam artist. 

The list of rules include:
-Before you hire any contractor, electrician, plumber, HVAC, or tree removal service ask to see their 2014 City of Camden’s Business License.
-Never pay money up front, if the contractor needs money to get started, call someone else. 
-Door to door solicitation for your business is illegal in the City of Camden, unless the contractors have a valid photo ID and license with them.
-Any job over $2,000 requires the contractor to be licensed by the State of Arkansas, so ask to see license.

-The city would recommend that the Homeowners use only the State of Arkansas Licensed Contractors. 
-Only master electricians are allowed to work on helping the homeowner restore power to their homes. 
-Homeowners may call the Code Enforcement Office to verify any contractors or other trade license.
You can call the office at 870-837-5508 if you have any additional questions. 

Recently, Officer James Bolton of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a vehicle in the ditch on Ouachita 78. Upon his arrival, the officer found a red Ford Pickup in the ditch on the north bound side. The vehicles rear tires were in the ditch and the front wheels were on the roadway. The man, identified as Billy Heigelmann sitting in the driver’s seat, and his speech was slurred and he was obviously intoxicated. The man was told to stay in the truck while the officer checked his driver’s license. While his license was being checked, Heigelmann got out of his vehicle, crawled over the bed of the truck and rolled to the tailgate. He then stood up in the tailgate, fell over the tailgate and began to run in to the nearby woods. After a short chase, the man was taken into custody and charged with DWI and suspended license. He was also charged with fleeing on foot and careless driving.

A host of new degree program additions were approved Thursday at the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees meeting at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Among the academic proposals passed was a change in name of the “College of Science and Technology” to the “College of Science and Engineering.” “The change to the ‘College of Science and Engineering’ reflects the recent developments in this College,” said SAU Provost Dr. Trey Berry to the Board. Berry was referring to the exciting new engineering program at SAU that is starting in Fall 2014. With students already enrolling in this new program, the College of Science and Engineering is expected to continue to grow on its record Fall 2013 enrollment. Berry also applauded the work of the SAU faculty, chairs and deans for closely examining the market and making degree program changes to attract students and provide for the region. The College of Business has several new programs being established for the fall, including an entrepreneurship major and minor, supply chain management added to the MBA program, and information systems. The B.B.A. in finance will also now have three tracks – entrepreneurial finance, finance planning and financial analysis. Other SAU program additions include the following: a writing minor, a certificate of completion for teaching with technology, a minor for digital photo and film, an agriculture industries minor, a computer science computer technology option, and a Master of Science in Computer Information Science option for cyber security and information assurance. In other business, the Board approved a continuation of the ban of firearms on the SAU System, SAU-Magnolia and SAU Tech in Camden, in accordance with Act 226 of the 89th General Assembly. SAU President Dr. David Rankin was also given the option by the Board to consider committee recommendations on amending the SAU out-of-state waiver policy in light of SAU’s continued efforts to broaden its reach. Also approved by the Board were the upcoming years’ appointment changes for this governing body. William “Bill” Stringfellow will be moving from Secretary to Chairman of the Board, O.A. “Buddy” Franks, Jr. will be moving to Vice Chairman, and William Steve Keith will be moving to Secretary.

Arkansas law enforcement officers will join in a collective effort this month to crack down on violators who text while driving. The statewide effort to curb texting while driving violations is part of a six day national initiative that begins April 10th. The U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign is a twofold initiative that combines additional law enforcement patrols devoted to watching for drivers who are texting along with a national advertising and media outreach plan designed to inform the public about the stepped-up patrols and the driver’s responsibility to obey the law. “Arkansas motorists need to know that we are serious about stopping the deadly behavior of texting while driving,” said Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative.  “The practice has become far too common and strict enforcement of texting laws is one way to break what has turned into a bad habit.” Arkansas law prohibits texting while driving, regardless of the driver’s age.  It is also a “primary offense law” which means a police officer or sheriff’s deputy can initiate a traffic stop without observing any other violation.  Fines can range as high as $100. It is also illegal for drivers to use hand-held cell phones while traveling through school or highway work zones and it’s a violation for any driver under the age of 18 to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.  Drivers 18 to 20 years using a cell phone are required to use a hands-free device.  A violator fine can be $50 or doubled if the violation occurs in a highway work zone when workers are present. According to statistics based on motor vehicle crashes that occurred during 2012, there were 3,328 people killed and 421,000 injured nationwide as the result of distracted driving.  The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute reports that 25 percent of teenage drivers respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have been part of extended multi-message text conversations while driving. “When you text while driving you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off your primary task which is driving safely,” Colonel Witt said.  “You put everyone’s life around you on the highway in danger, and no one has the right to do that.” Arkansas law enforcement agencies are committed to the national initiative of “Toward Zero Deaths”.  The participation by the Arkansas State Police and other Arkansas law enforcement agencies in U Drive. U Text. U Pay as well as Click It or Ticket and Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over represents a collective effort to significantly reduce the number of deaths each year on state highways, local roads and streets. The U Drive.U Text. U Pay. campaign is a national initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation to address incidents of distracted driving.

There will be a Great Lakes Solutions 5K Run/Walk and Health Fair. The event will take place April 12, from 8:00 am until 1:00 pm. The Health Fair starts at 9:00 p.m.

A partnership made up of several city governments, nonprofit groups, state agencies and community organizations from around the state joined together for a press conference to launch National Public Health Week in Arkansas. Speakers included: Arkansas Department of Health Director Dr. Nate Smith; Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola; North Little Rock Mayor Joe A. Smith; Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines; and Executive Director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance Kathy Webb. Public Health Week is observed during the first full week of April each year. Public Health Week is an opportunity for health professionals to highlight the many ways public health protects and improves the health of individuals and communities. This year’s theme, “Public Health: Start Here,” focuses on the simple, first steps that individuals and communities can take to lead healthier lives. “Though each person has to decide where to start to become healthier, it is clear from our partners here today that there will be lots of help and support available,” said Dr. Nate Smith, Director and State Health Officer at the Arkansas Department of Health. “We have Hometown Health Improvement Coalitions and Local Health Units in every county in the state that are ready to help individuals and communities with the health issues most important to them—whether that’s quitting tobacco, eating healthier foods, getting more physical activity, breastfeeding support or getting life-saving immunizations,” Smith added. “We in public health, along with our government and community partners, are committed to providing all Arkansans with opportunities and resources to help them start improving their health.” Public Health Week is a chance to recognize the work that is being done at the state and community level to address public health issues. There are many programs across the state that, through community partnerships, are available to Arkansans who are ready to make a positive change for their health. “Our North Little Rock Fit 2 Live initiative has made healthy eating and active living more accessible. Along with the Laman Library, the Hunger Alliance, and other partners, we are making healthy living attainable and fun,” said North Little Rock Mayor Joe A. Smith.

McNeil salutes its transportation heritage with the annual Festival on the Rails and Pork Chop Cook-off on Saturday. The festival starts Saturday morning and ends with a fireworks display a dusk. The seventh annual Festival on the Rails will enjoy the use of a new stage created for the event. Festival events include a food court, arts and crafts booths, barrel train ride, dunking booth, antique tractor and car shows, horseshoe throwing contest and a children’s corner. Entertainment will be on stage all day. The Southern Harmony band will perform at 6 p.m. Festival T-shirts are available at the McNeil Water Department. Tickets for the pork chop dinner are $15, and include a chance to win a professional mobile grill. They are also available at the water office. The pork chop serving line opens at 5 p.m. The fourth annual JEVAC Machine Pork Chop Cookoff has a $50 entry fee. Prizes are $1,000 for first, $500 for second, $250 for third and $150 for fourth. All the winners will be announced Saturday, at 7:00 pm. For registration and contest rules, contact cookoff chairman Rick Muncrief at 1-870-949-1540.

April 7, 2014

The Camden Fairview High School students will be going back to school Monday after being closed on Friday. The superintendent waited to make that call after the power came back on. Straight line winds left some parts of Camden Fairview High School, with the gym and football press box receiving much of the damage. Superintendent Robert Davis said, "Well actually it was much more severe than I thought it would have been. Now since the gym is 20 to 30 feet higher than the rest of the school, the maintenance director believes it protected the building. Director of Maintenance Johnny Embry said, "We were very, very lucky because there were two classrooms damaged but the damage was contained to the gymnasium and stadium area." With prom and senior graduation taking place in the coming weeks, one thing is for sure, the school and community are ready to move forward.

Victory School cannot open today due to extensive damage and additional flooding from yesterday. They were also broken into over the weekend with the power outage as well as JC Productions office next door. Both the school teachers and Jeremy's office will be at the church today as well as Red Cross.

McNeil salutes its transportation heritage with the annual Festival on the Rails and Pork Chop Cook-off on Saturday. The festival starts Saturday morning and ends with a fireworks display a dusk. The seventh annual Festival on the Rails will enjoy the use of a new stage created for the event. Festival events include a food court, arts and crafts booths, barrel train ride, dunking booth, antique tractor and car shows, horseshoe throwing contest and a children’s corner. Entertainment will be on stage all day. The Southern Harmony band will perform at 6 p.m. Festival T-shirts are available at the McNeil Water Department. Tickets for the pork chop dinner are $15, and include a chance to win a professional mobile grill. They are also available at the water office. The pork chop serving line opens at 5 p.m. The fourth annual JEVAC Machine Pork Chop Cookoff has a $50 entry fee. Prizes are $1,000 for first, $500 for second, $250 for third and $150 for fourth. All the winners will be announced Saturday, at 7:00 pm. For registration and contest rules, contact cookoff chairman Rick Muncrief at 1-870-949-1540.

Officer John Parker of the Camden Police Department was traveling south on Frazier Street from Grinstead Avenue in a marked patrol unit. Parker stated that he saw a male subject, later identified as Kevin Porchia staggering in and out of the roadway. When the officer met with the subject he detected a strong odor of intoxications and noticed that his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Porchia could not even completely stand up straight when the officer was tring to talk to him. At the risk of being a danger to himself and others, Porchia was taken into custody, charged with public intoxication and transported to the station. Once booking procedures were completed, he was transported to the Ouachita County Detention Center to stay until intoxicants wore off. 

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine's Bistro in Camden. The Lions Club speaker will be Dr. Corbet Lampkin, Chancellor of SAU Tech.  He will be updating the club on their new construction as well as other things at Tech. For any additional information on the Lions Club and how you can join, you can call Charlotte Young at 870-863-4440 ext 7. 

Two Texarkana men were arrested for residential burglary. On Wednesday Texarkana Police were called to a burglary that happened on East 33 St. Police stated, while searching the area two suspects in a gold Cadillac were found at a nearby convenience store parking lot. Police say that when searching the vehicle three flat screen televisions, remotes and power cords were discovered in the suspect's possession. Police then arrested both suspects for residential burglary and they were taken to jail. One suspect is a juvenile that police and prosecutors anticipate being certified as an adult. The other suspect arrested is 21-year-old Elmarcus Jerome Bailey. The two suspects are suspected of committing other burglaries in the area and additional charges are anticipated. Anyone with information regarding these crimes is asked to call Texarkana Police at (903) 798-3154.

Recently an Emerson man was killed and four other young people were injured in a single-vehicle wreck on Columbia County Road 53 about 6.5 miles from Magnolia. An Arkansas State Police report states, 19-year-old Austin Blake Glass, died at Magnolia Regional Medical Center. Glass was a passenger of a 1999 model Ford pick-up truck driven by 22-year-old Blane Austin Acklin, of Magnolia. According to the reports  Acklin was driving the truck west on the county road, which is the road that skirts the south side of Lake Columbia, about 11 p.m. Acklin failed to negotiate a curve. The truck exited the roadway and struck a tree.

The East Camden Fire Department will be having a “2 Man Golf Scramble” on May 17th at the Highland Golf Course. Registration will take place at 7:30 am with the scramble starting at 8:00 am. If you sign up before the scheduled date cost is only 80 dollars, after that cost will be 100 dollars. The 1st place team will receive 500 dollars, 2nd place 250 dollars, and 3rd place will receive 100 dollars. For any additional information or to sign up, you can call Ladonna Foster at 870-833-2080 or Angie McAdoo at 870-833-2196.

J. Wesley Crum will discuss important federal programs, including the New Market Tax Credits and US Department of Agriculture REDLG Programs, on Monday, April 28, from 9 to 11 a.m. in the Charles H. Murphy Jr. Boardroom at the Chamber. Reservations are required for this event and you will need to email or 870-863-6113, which you may also call for any additional information. The El Dorado Chamber of Commerce provides leadership in economic and community development for El Dorado and Union County in order to improve the quality of life for all its citizens.

The El Dorado Service League presents the 17th Annual ESL Golf Tournament on April 12 and 13. This two-day, two-person scramble is open to both men and women. The tournament will begin at 8:00 am.

April 3, 2013

Members of the South Arkansas Arts Center reveal their hidden and not so hidden talents during the 2014 Membership Showcase on display in all three galleries through April 28.  An artist reception will be hosted by the visual arts committee on April 5 from 6-8pm. The showcase is sponsored by William P. Cook and Associates, PLLC. This year the competitive edge has been removed from the exhibition. This allowed members to either create new work or select favorite pieces from their body of work created over the years.   The new rules for this year have freed artists to select works they feel best represent their talent and encouraged them to look back over their creations during SAAC’s 50th anniversary celebration. The showcase also allows members’ work to be eligible for submission to the upcoming 2014 Juried Art Competition. For more information about SAAC’s art competitions, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

The Arkansas Boaters Education Class will be held on Saturday, April 12th, at Calvary Baptist Church in East Camden. Anyone born after January 1st, 1986 must take and pass an approved Arkansas Game and Fish Boaters Education Course in order to operate a motorboat in Arkansas. The course is free, and classed will begin at 8:00 am, and will end around 3:00 pm. Lunch will be provided, you can register by calling the Church Office at 574-0591.

You are invited to come out for the Annual Christian Health Center “What’s Cookin” Fundraiser on April 6th. The fundraiser will last from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. You will be able to have your choice of a 6 piece chicken quesadillas or 2 catfish fillets with tea or water. Desserts will also be sold for two-dollars.

Come to the annual CAAH (Conserve Arkansas's Agricultural Heritage) seed swap. The swap will take place this Saturday, April 5th, from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm.  Gardeners bring heritage fruit and vegetable seeds to trade with others from what they grew from last year's seed. CAAH representatives bring additional seeds with them to offer to the public. Also, other garden items can be shared: pass-along-plants, tools, bulbs, etc. The effort is for preserving endangered heirloom plant seeds. In Arkansas, the seed bank is headquartered at UCA.

Delicious Chicken spaghetti lunches will be available from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm Friday, April 4 at the Greater Bradley District Center cafeteria. Meal includes chicken spaghetti, green beans, corn, roll, dessert and drink for $7 donation. Dine in or carry out. Advance order by calling 870-687-3332 or just drop by. Proceeds benefit the Bearden Branch NAACP Youth Scholarship fund.

There will be a Political Rally sponsored by Bearden Little League and Gazebo Fest at the Gazebo on April 19th, starting at 2:00 pm. This event will have hamburgers, hot dogs, a cake auction, beverages, and music. All the proceeds will go to the Gazebo Fest fireworks. Bring your lawn chairs, hear from candidates, and Support the Little League.

April 2, 2014

Earlier this week, Lt. David Pennington, along with Sheriff David Norwood and Chief Deputy Jason Dickinson was dispatched to a structure fire at Freeo Package Liquor Store on Highway 203. Upon arrival the officials observed heavy smoke coming from the top of the structure. Bearden Fire Department along with Fire District 1 arrived on scene and extinguished the fire. The structure did sustain some heavy damage on the inside. It was stated that someone saw the smoke as they were driving by the house and soon after warned the owners.

The Ouachita County Quorum Court will be accepting resumes from people interested to fill the unexpired term of the Ouachita County Judge. Minimum qualifications will include:

Must possess the qualifications of an elector
Must be a U.S. citizen
Must be an Arkansas resident for the past two years and reside in Ouachita County.
Must be a minimum of 25 years of age
Must be lawfully registered to vote
Must be upright in character and a person of good business education.
Must never be convicted of a crime
Resumes will need to be either mailed to the County Clerk at P.O. Box 1041 or in person at the Courthouse located at 145 Jefferson Street SW. The resumes will need to be in by April 10th.

The first ever Annual Searcy Harrell Memorial Golf Classic will be taking place Easter Weekend, on April 19th. The event will start at 9:00 am at The Camden Country Club. The deadline to register is 5:00 pm on April 18th. The entry fee is $240 per team, which includes 18-holes, cart fee and a hamburger lunch. The format will be a 4-man scramble with a prize going to the first place team. Other prices will awarded to participating teams. Tee time at 9:00 am with an afternoon flight to be added if there are enough entries.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet today at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The speaker this week will be Jonathan Richardson with the AR Environmental Academy, at SAU Tech.  He will be discussing what the Environmental Academy does. For more on the Lions Club and how you can join you can call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440 ext7.

There will be an upcoming American Red Cross blood drive taking place in Ouachita County. The blood drive will take place on April 23rd from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm at City of Bearden, located at 200 E. Anthony Drive in Bearden. To donate blood remember you can call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit

Harmony Grove Elementary School kindergarten registration is scheduled for April 21-25, from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm. If your child will be 5 years of age on or before August 1st, your child will be eligible for kindergarten. Parents will need to bring the following items: social security card, state-issued birth certificate, immunization record, two proofs of residence in the Harmony Grove School District, and Medicaid and/or ArKids1. Please call 574-0338 or 574-0960 to schedule an appointment to register your child. It is very important for parents to register their children at this time. The number of students registered at this time will determine class sizes for next fall. 

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a petition in Pulaski County Circuit Court today seeking to compel an out-of-state “credit repair” company to respond to McDaniel’s requests for information about that company’s business practices. McDaniel asked the court to prohibit CMCS Services LLC from doing any business in Arkansas until it responds to a Civil Investigative Demand issued by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division in December. CMCS, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is responsible for signs located throughout central Arkansas advertising a “100 percent guarantee” to repair bad credit. However, most companies that make such promises do little to help a consumer in need of assistance. “Most so-called credit repair companies are great at accepting a consumer’s money, but not much else,” McDaniel said. “My office would like to be able to determine whether this company is like many of the rest, but thus far, the company has been unwilling to cooperate with our investigation. I am hopeful that a court order will assist us as we continue our work on behalf of Arkansas consumers.” CMCS pledges on its website that it will “remove negative information” from credit scores, although McDaniel noted that there is really no easy or quick way to repair accurate negative credit history. The best approach to restoring good credit is through timely payments of credit balances. McDaniel reminded Arkansas consumers that consumers themselves can do almost anything that a credit repair organization can do, usually at little or no cost.

April 1, 2014

Officer Sharlotte Elliot was dispatched to Walmart for a detained shoplifter. The suspect, David Myers, was caught in the store, first in electronics and then the automotive department. Myers had reportedly took the items from the electronic department and then went to the automotive department where he concealed a home charger, USB cord, and two phone cases. He then proceeded to leave the store, however was caught and booked, then transported to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office. An affidavit was completed with a receipt totaling $125.29 attached to it.

Recently Deputy David Harcrow was dispatched to a reported residential burglary. Uppon arrival Harcrow met with a Mr. Chamblis Hodges and a Ms. Courtney Glover. Mr. Hodges stated someone entered their residents, stating that a 32-inch Emerson TV and 40-inch Verizon TV were taken, along with other items. The Stephens Police Office was also contacted. An investigation is still currently underway.

Vintage decorations, food, sweets, a magician, silent auction, and DJ Fabian are some of the fun activities going on at the fourth annual Carnival Under the Stars, Saturday evening, April 5, at 7pm. The event will take place at the beautiful country setting of Ramage Farms in Hooks, TX. Proceeds for the event will go to Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). Although located in Little Rock, AR, ACH plays a major role in our region in the care of children. There were over 3,000 patients served by ACH from Bowie and Miller Counties last year. In these two counties, numerous children were transported via Angel One, helicopters and a fixed-wing plane service.  Circle of Friends for ACH is the event organizer. Circle of Friends (COF) wishes to thank its many supporters and donors. Those wonderful people will be recognized at the event. Circle of Friends continue to support ACH through its 13 chapters and 450 plus members with the mission of supporting ACH financially through fundraisers and educationally via community outreach. Tickets for “Carnival Under the Stars” are $50 per person. For more information contact Melissa Massey, 903-293-7734 or Facebook Burlap and Lace.

Camden Head Start will host an open house and pre-school registration for the 2014-2015 school year today, Tuesday, April 1st from 12:00 pm until 5:30 pm. The registration will take place at the Head Start Center located at 1199 Maul Road in Camden. Head Start serves children ages 3-4 and welcome children with special needs. Feel free to come and take a tour and apply now as enrollment slots are limited. Parents will need to bring certified copes of their child's birth certificate, or hospital record, immunization record, insurance card, and verification of household income for the past 12 months. For any additional information you can call 870-836-5227. 

Save the date for the South Arkansas Networking Luncheon sponsored by the Mayhaw Festival and the South Arkansas Historical Foundation! Each attendee will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to others as well as tell a little about what they do and who they work for in a fun, friendly environment. Reservations required by the end of the day on, Monday, April 21, by 5:00 p.m. to or (870) 863-6113.

The Smackover High School Drama Club Presents:
The ‘S’ Factor Talent Show to be held on April 11th at 6:00 p.m. in the Hobgood Auditorium, on the High School campus. Admission is $3.00 per person. We have an all- star studded show slated with several great acts. There will be lots of singing, dancing and comedic fun. We also have performances by South Arkansas’ very own American Idol contestant, Mr. Le Bryant Crew, along with many other local talents. So come on out and join us for a great night of fun and entertainment. For more information contact me at: Veronica Jenkins, Virtual Facilitator Drama Director Smackover High School 870-725-3101 ext. 26

March 31, 2014

With various reports of shoplifting in Camden, News Director Taylor May recently went to the Camden Police Department to talk to Chief Woody and Captain Rosson about the issue.

Chief Bo Woody explained that he and Rosson had been talking about shoplifting and they believe stores like Walmart, may have great security and therefor shoplifters are being caught more and more. Captain Scott Rosson activated a bond a few years back for shoplifters, which stated that if the criminal could not make bail, the police department would keep you in jail until your court date. Chief Woody said that “We don’t typically have repeat offenders when it comes to shoplifting and a lot of it has to do with that bond”. The number of shoplifting crimes in the Camden area has gone down some in the past few years. With that being said; is shoplifting a serious problem in Camden?

U.S. Senator John Boozman is inviting Arkansans to participate in a telephone town hall today, March 31 at 7 p.m. This statewide event allows Arkansans the ability to ask Boozman questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting our state. “An open line of communication with my constituents is the best way to fulfill my commitment to the people of Arkansas. I think one of the best tools we can use to help keep our constituents informed is the ability to interact live in a tele-town hall format. We’ve had great participation in the past and we’re looking to have more Arkansans join our call,” Boozman said. Arkansans interested in participating in the call can get their phone number added to the call list by submitting their information on Boozman’s website The Senator will begin calling participants at 7 p.m. today.

The moving of right-of-ways within the city will soon be taking place in the city of Magnolia.
Street Department Superintendent, Ricky Wilson is alerting the public that it is unlawful to place any sign on a highway right-of-way. According to Arkansas Code Annotated Sec. 27-67-304, only official directional, informational and/or regulatory highway signs, placed by the Highway and Transportation Department, are permitted on state owned highway property. All other signs will be removed. This statute applies to all unauthorized signs, not just campaign signs.

The El Dorado Chamber of Commerce invites the public to a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of Howell's BBQ on Wednesday, April 2, at 10:30 a.m. at 2011 Junction City Road in El Dorado. Howell’s BBQ is a new restaurant open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For any additional information you can call the Chamber of Commerce at 870 863-6113.

March 28, 2014

With the resignation of Mike Hesterly made official, there is a resolution to appoint a successor to fill the vacancy of Ouachita County Judge. The resolution reads as follows:

Whereas, on April 15th, the Quorum Court of Ouachita County, Arkansas adopted a resolution declaring that a vacancy existed in the office of County Judge of Ouachita County, Arkansas, due to resignation of Mike Hesterly. Whereas, the Quorum Court is authorized by Amendment 55 of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas and Arkansas Code Annotated 14-14-1310, to fill the vacancy by appointment. Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Quorum Court of Ouachita County, Arkansas:
Section 1: That (name of newly appointed official) is hereby appointed to fill position of County Judge and that said person is hereby authorized to serve in said capacity until the expiration of the term on December 31, 2014. 
Section 2: That this Resolution shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage and approval.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month and to promote awareness of our program CASA is "flocking" El Dorado. For a small fee you can have your friend or neighbor's yard or business flocked with pink flamingos. Anti-flocking insurance can also be purchased to ensure you aren't the next lucky one in town. This event will start on April 1st and last until the end of the month For more information contact 870-862-2272.

Do you often assume that others think like you do or, if they don’t? This is true for many people, but there is more than one way to lead and different temperaments have their own set of leadership strengths. These sessions will help you recognize and develop your leadership skills, motivational tools, and develop strategies for coaching employees.  Dr. Tim Wise is the SAU Chair of Marketing and Management. In addition to teaching, research, and service. Dr. Wise also owns a small publishing company and design firm.

The Southern Arkansas University baseball team will be paying tribute to the armed forces at their third-annual Military Appreciation Day set for Saturday, April 12, 2014. Veterans and military service members will enjoy free admission with a military I.D. to watch the SAU Muleriders take on Delta State University at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Walker Stadium and Goodheart Field. Prior to the first pitch, a reception will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Mulerider Activities Center, located adjacent to the baseball stadium. A light lunch will be served at the reception, including wraps, chips, drinks and dessert. 2013 SAU Military Appreciation Day reception. Martha and Louis Blanchard sign in at the 2013 Military Appreciation Day Reception at the SAU Mulerider Activities Center. The public is invited to come fill the stadium, which will be adorned with American flags, cheer on the nationally-ranked Muleriders, and pay tribute to those who have or are currently serving to protect our country’s freedoms. Chandler Walley will sing the “National Anthem” when the players hit the field at the beginning of the first game and “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. Military Appreciation Day is a coordinated effort with SAU Athletics and the SAU Veterans Resource Center. SAU has earned recognition for three straight years as a Military Friendly School, ranking SAU among the top 20% of schools nationwide that deliver the best experience for military students. To find out more about Military Appreciation Day, contact the SAU Veterans Resource Center at 870-235-4026.

March 27 2014

Ouachita County Judge Mike Hesterly has resigned effective April 3rd. A federal grand jury indicted Hesterly in January 2013 for allegedly awarding a FEMA disaster relief contract to the owner of a Bearden construction company in exchange for a contribution to his 2010 election campaign. After contesting allegations that he threatened his ex-wife, federal authorities and witnesses in a bribery and conspiracy case against him, Hesterly was released January 28, 2013 to home detention until his trial later this year. He has remained under house arrest on an electronic ankle monitor. His trial has been continued several times throughout the last 14 months. His trial was to be next month however earlier this month Hesterly’s attorneys filed a request to push back the trial, saying that Hesterly is still recovering from back surgery he underwent in November. Prosecutors opposed the request for the delay arguing that the trial has been pending for more than a year and that Hesterly remains in office as Ouachita County. Harry Clemons Jr., who was arrested with Hesterly, changed his plea to guilty earlier this month to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with major disaster benefits. County Clerk Britt Williford said that a letter of resignation was received Wednesday, March 26th. Several things have to happen in order to fill the vacancy. A resolution has been prepared for the Quorum Court declaring a vacancy in the County Judges Office. Said resolution has to be published two weeks prior to the Quorum Court acting on it. The Court will
meet on Monday, April 15th to act on the resolution. Once that resolution is passed, there will be another resolution read regarding an appointment to the vacant office. At this time it is not known if the Court will act on the Appointment on April 15th. Hesterly was unavailable for comment.

The Boys & Girls Club of El Dorado is participating with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to break a world record for the most kids exercising (using the same fitness video) within a 24 hour period.  We will be attempting this on Friday, March 28th, at 1:00 p.m. 

The South Arkansas Arts Center invites you to join in the fun and excitement of their 50th anniversary with the premier of the short film “50 Years of SAAC” on Friday, March 28. A reception will be hosted at 5:30pm and the film is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.  The film is sponsored by El Dorado Chemical and the event is free and open to the public. Filmmaker Gerry Bruno of Let’s Think Productions in Little Rock created a film short that focuses on the people who have helped create SAAC’s legacy. Bruno and his team interviewed artists and patrons about their connection to SAAC. Through their personal experiences, the candid interviews give credence to the power of the arts and the impact SAAC has had in changing lives. For more information about the premier, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit for more information about this or upcoming events.

Construction funding remains elusive for Magnolia’s new Workforce Services and Adult Education Center in the Harvey Couch Business Park. The state remains committed to paying for the base construction bid of $1,847,000, Magnolia Economic Development Corporation board members recently heard. The money would fully fund the relocation of the Department of Workforce Services office. But it would provide for only about half the floor space that the Adult Education Center wants in the facility. Adult Education would have to double up on the time it uses the building, or conduct certain classes and programs elsewhere, if funding can‘t be found.

There’s a $709,000 difference between what the state is willing to provide and the additional adult education facilities that MEDC and Southern Arkansas University-Tech wants to construct. SAU-Tech runs the adult education program in Columbia County. Executive Director of the MEDC Cammie Hambrice, said that one of its board members is making a second attempt to get a large donation from the charitable foundation of a local industry. Word should come soon, she said.

The Stephens Board of Education will hold their regular monthly meeting Monday, March 31st at 6:00 pm in the high school library. The agenda for the meeting will include a Superintendents report and an executive session for personnel.

Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe wants citizens to be aware of a telephone scam.

These callers are using the telephone number 876-796-3385 claiming the recipient has won cash prizes and/or cars or computers. It requests "winners" to send money via the various money transfer companies, such as Western Union or Green Dot. Loe said "Please be aware this is a scam. It is your responsibility to notify the lottery and show proof with your winning ticket, and other agencies you can win money with would not request that you send money first. Be careful about sharing personal information with these callers because they could be trying to get your personal information also. Please contact your local authorities if you feel you have been a victim of a scam,".

Some Arkansas consumers who have purchased electronic books will begin receiving account credits or checks this week as the result of a settlement with five of the nation’s largest e-book publishers. Approximately $1 million will be distributed through credits or direct payments to Arkansas consumers, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said. McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to let eligible Arkansans know about the expected restitution from e-book publishers. About $1,097,155 in restitution payments will be directed to Arkansas consumers. The account credit or check will be based on the number of eligible e-books purchased by a consumer during the period from April 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which the book was purchased, and, in certain circumstances, whether a claim was properly filed or whether a consumer specifically requested a check.

Eligible consumers should check their email for information or notices from their e-book retailer or from a settlement administrator. For more information on the settlement, consumers may also visit “Consumers should rightfully expect prices to be determined through a fair, open and competitive marketplace,” McDaniel said. “Antitrust laws ensure that companies that collude to fix prices must be held accountable for their actions. In this case, consumers across the country who paid millions more than they should have had to pay for e-books will receive the restitution that is due to them.” McDaniel and other state attorneys general from across the country sued five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country and Apple Inc., accusing the companies of conspiring to fix the prices of e-books. The publishers – Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan and Penguin Group (USA), Inc., settled the claims against them for a total nationwide payment of $166 million. The settlements were the result of a two-year investigation by McDaniel and the attorneys general of 30 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Apple did not settle the claims against it, and in federal court in New York last year, Apple was found to have played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy to raise e-book prices in violation of federal antitrust laws. A hearing to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay to consumers is scheduled for this year, and additional account credits or checks may be distributed to Arkansas consumers in the future. For more information about the settlement or about other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website,, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

March 26, 2014

Officer Jimmy Plyler was dispatched to Walmart for a disturbance. Officer Plyler arrived on the scene and met with the manager, who told him that a male subject was causing a disturbance inside the store and was refusing to leave. The manager stated that the subject was harassing customers, asking for money, while shouting crazy things. The man was identified as Edward Hunter, who the officer remembered arresting the previous night for the same offence at Walmart. Hunter was not making any sense and was walking away when Officer Plyler tried to speak to him. Based on the officer’s observation he was taken into custody for disorderly conduct. All the charges were approved. It should be noted that Hunter has a history of mental disorder and has not been taking his medication on a regular basis.

Yesterday, Officer Jimmy Plyler was on patrol on Adams Avenue, when he noticed a gray Chevy Monte Carlo in front of him, with the driver not wearing a seatbelt. Plyler conducted a registration check on the plate and was advised that it belonged on a red Oldsmobile. A traffic stop was then conducted on the vehicle at Van Buren Street. When the officer approached the vehicle he identified the driver as Carlos Chambers. When asked for identification, Chambers was sluggish and uncoordinated, his eyes were also bloodshot and watery. When asked if he had been drinking Chambers said no, then stated he had one beer. He was then asked to take a standard sobriety test, which he failed. Chambers was then taken into custody for a DWI. After booking procedures were completed, Chambers was issued a criminal citation for driving on a suspended license, fictions license plate, no proof of insurance, no seatbelt and failure to pay registration. He was then taken to the Ouachita County Detention Center to stay until effects wore off.

Anyone that is wanting to form a team for the Great Camden Clean-Up will need to have registration forms turned in by noon tomorrow. Forms may be picked up at City Hall in the clerk’s office.  Any questions you may call 870.836.6436

On April 2, at noon, CASA will be having an awareness and remembrance event at the Ouachita County Courthouse in Camden.  This event will be the community’s chance to honor these children and to show that we are determined to give the “light of hope” to them.  CASA is asking for your support in helping us make this event possible.  So if you ca, please make a donation to your local CASA organization today, and make plans to attend this event. For any additional information you can Call Tammy Caldwell at 870-836-4700.

Roy v. Kinard post 10 of the American Legion El Dorado in association with the Gringos Motor Cycle club presents the Operation Comfort Warriors Motor Cycle Rally. Saturday, March 29th at 105 Christian Drive. Events will include a poker run at 9:00 am, bike games, food and live music provided by The White Mustang Band, 32 Strikes, and The Billy Brown Band. All proceeds will go to the American Legions Operation Comfort Warrior Fund to support wounded veterans.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he would not seek to join a lawsuit against California over that state’s restrictions on egg imports, though he pledged his full support to neighboring Missouri in its efforts. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a federal lawsuit against California last month challenging the constitutionality of a California law that would ban the sale of eggs produced from hens in cages that fail to meet certain size and space requirements. The law takes effect next year. Missouri’s suit contends that California’s restrictions would harm out-of-state egg producers and that the law would violate the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. McDaniel considered joining the suit, but determined that no Arkansas egg producers would be directly impacted by the California law. Of the approximately one billion table eggs produced in the State each year, only a small percentage are exported from Arkansas to California.  Almost all of those exported eggs are produced on farms that are already in compliance with the pending law. “I am concerned about the California statute because I believe no state should have the ability to substantially impact agriculture policy in another state,” McDaniel said. “However, it does not appear that the California act would directly harm any Arkansas farmers, so it would be premature to join the lawsuit at this time.” McDaniel said his office will continue to monitor Missouri’s litigation and may offer its support in an amicus curiae brief at a later date. 

March 25, 2014

The music group known as the White Mustang Band will be performing in Camden at the Charlie O Ross Center. The performance will be this Saturday, March 29th, from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm. All are invited to attend this event that promises great music and good fun all for a good cause. Donations will be taken at the door and there will also be a silent auction and concessions. Donations will be going towards cystic fibrosis.

Please Consider Team India as one of your non-profit groups for donations. Team India is a group of family and friends joined together to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. Their goal is to raise money throughout the year to turn in at the Great Strides Walk in May at the Little Rock Zoo where a number of CF teams join together to celebrate life and their hard work. Team India was formed in honor of India Garcia, a 12 year-old 7th grader at Harmony Grove. India was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 4 and works hard to keep healthy. She loves life and always keeps a smile on her face and doesn’t let the CF get her down. The team would greatly appreciate your support. For additional information or to make a donation you can call 870-574-2348, 870-833-1791, or email

There will be an upcoming free seminar entitled “Informed Businesses: Navigating the Affordable Care Act” and will take place this Thursday, March 27th. The seminar will last from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm at the OPED Building in Camden. This free training presentation will cover key small business provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help you make informed decisions about coverage for yourself and your employees. Learn about the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP); new tax, IRS reporting, and employee notification requirements for businesses; available tax credits, potential rebates, and premium reduction programs; and penalties for non-compliance. You can't afford not to know about this complex topic. You can register today at or call 870-836-2210.

Arkansas Women's Business Center is hosting Money Smart for Young Adults event in El Dorado tomorrow, March 26th and Thursday, March 27th from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. This event will take place at Simmons First Bank on the 2nd floor in the community room. These courses target high school and young adults in Union and surrounding counties. Money Smart classes are designed to assist individuals in making sound financial decisions. Instruction includes setting realistic financial goals, careful use of credit, saving, and paying for big ticket items like college, automobiles, and a home. To register you can go to One lucky participant will even win an iPad mini.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently announced that a Sebastian County man arrested last year by agents from the Attorney General’s Office has been convicted of felony child pornography charges. Joshua David Peters, 30, of Lavaca pleaded guilty last week in Sebastian County Circuit Court to four counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child. Sebastian County Circuit Judge Michael Fitzhugh sentenced Peters to 15 years in prison, with an additional suspended sentence of 15 years. Peters will be required to register as a sex offender. “Law enforcement agencies in this State are working together to protect children, and this conviction is evidence of that coordinated effort,” McDaniel said. “The Cyber Crimes Unit in my office investigates Internet crime statewide and receives assistance from local police and prosecutors as we pursue these offenders. I am glad for the unit’s work and I am glad that this man will be held accountable for his crimes.” Peters was arrested last April after agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at his residence on Tiffany Drive in Lavaca. Investigators confiscated four laptop computers, a phone and other electronic evidence. Peters admitted to investigators at the time of his arrest that he was in possession of child pornography. The Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office, Lavaca Police Department and the Office of Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Shue assisted in the arrest, investigation and conviction. Peters is being held in the Sebastian County Detention Center awaiting transfer to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

March 24, 2014

Ouachita River Valley Association members are going to be in Washington D.C., this week as they seek additional funding for dredging of the river. Just less than $9.8 million has been received for the current fiscal year to the Ouachita-Black Rivers Navigation Project. The ORVA says $11 million is needed. ORVA President, Mike Dumas told press that parts of the river haven’t been dredged in four years, leading to narrowing of the navigational channel.

The group is to meet with congressional delegations from Arkansas, Louisiana, and with the U.S. Army Corps and Engineers.  

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The speaker this week will be James Lee Silliman, Chairman of the Ouachita County Sesquicentennial Committee. He will be speaking to the club about the upcoming events in April on the occupation of Camden and Battle of Poison Springs re-enactments. For any additional information and how you can join the Lions Club, you can call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

There will be an OPED Board of Director’s Meeting this Wednesday, March 26th. The meeting will start at 10:00 am in the conference room in the Ouachita Valley Business and Technology Development Center, located at 625 Adams Avenue SE in Camden. The public is invited to attend. To RSVP to 836-2210 or email

The March South Arkansas Networking Luncheon is sponsored by Computer Troubleshooters on Tuesday, March 25, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the El Dorado Golf & Country Club. This is an opportunity to meet other area professionals. Each attendee has the opportunity to introduce themselves to others as well as tell a little about what they do and who they work for in a fun, friendly environment. Reservations required by Monday, March 24, by 5:00 p.m. to or call Kay Smith at 870-863-6113 for any additional information.

The South Arkansas Arts Center offers three artist workshops beginning March 31. Steven Ochs, chair of the Department of Art and Design at Southern Arkansas University, returns to SAAC to teach a digital photography class. “Photography Workshop for Beginners”, begins Monday, March 31 6-8pm and meets on Monday nights through April 28. In his photography class, Ochs teaches the basics of digital photography using more than the “auto” setting on the camera, including how to diffuse, bounce, and soften light and the uses of fill flash to enhance color and clarity. Cost for the class is $135 for current members and $160 for new members (includes a one year Friend Level membership at SAAC). Class limit is twelve. For non-artists and artists alike, Kelly Campbell will teach SAAC’s popular “Corks & Canvas”, which has moved from Studio 207 to the South Arkansas Arts Center, on Thursday, April 10, from 6-9pm. If you have never painted before, you can leave at 9pm with a completed acrylic beach landscape. $40 class fee includes all supplies and snacks. Class limit is twelve.  On Saturday, April 26, 10am-3pm, Kelly Campbell teaches the basics of using soft pastels on sanded paper to create art. The class includes toning sanded paper for an underpainting, color and composition basics, transferring drawings to the pastel paper and applying soft pastels. Cost for the one day class is $45; sanded pastel paper for the class is available for an additional $6.50. Class limit is eight. Call SAAC at 862-5474 to register or for additional information on any of these workshops.

March 21, 2014

Two men in a pickup truck hit a gas meter on Evergreen Street in Camden, earlier this afternoon. Camden Police and Fire Department were on the scene working on the problem. Thankfully no one was injured and there was not much harm done.

Governor Beebe has ordered Arkansas flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The flags will be lowered to honor Lafayette County Chief Deputy Pete Richardson of Taylor, who died in the line of duty on March 17.

Earlier this week, Officer Masalakov was dispatched to Old Wire Road in reference to a white male, wearing a denim jacket and jeans, possibly intoxicated, walking in the middle of the roadway, blocking traffic. Upon arrival the officer observed a subject, matching description, walking on the south side of Old Wire Road, swaying from side to side, having trouble walking and keeping balance. The officer then made contact with the subject, identified as Robert Tyson Peace. Once Peace started talking to Maslakov, strong odors of intoxicants were emitting from his breath. Based on observations, Peace was a danger to himself and others on the roadway, he was taken into custody. Peace was booked on approval of shift supervisor, Sgt. Robertson and Peace was later transported to the Ouachita County Detention Complex to be held until effects wore off.

Officer Grummer was dispatched to Brookshires for a report of a shoplifter. Dispatch advised the shoplifter was wearing camouflage pants and a white t-shirt. Dispatch also said that the shoplifter left from Brookshires heading south on Country Club Road. The officer was then informed that the criminal stole one quart of transmission fluid. Once the officer caught up to the shoplifter, they both pulled over. The man, identified as Vernon Bailey admitted that he stole the fluid and was then arrested. An affidavit was provided by an employee that saw everything happen inside the store. Bailey was then transported to Ouachita County Jail to serve 48 hours or post bond. 

There will be a Ouachita County Quorum Court special meeting today, March 21st. The meeting will take place at noon, at the courthouse in Camden. At the meeting there will be a review of appropriation ordinance 2012-054, special retirement account.  

The City of East Camden will hold its 6th annual City-Wide Garage Sale on Saturday, May 3rd, beginning at 8:00 a.m.  Last year over 35 East Camden residents held garage sales at their homes which generated a large traffic flow of shoppers. This would be a great opportunity for your organization’s fundraiser.  Any residents living outside East Camden are also welcome to rent an outdoor space and hold your sale there too. Call East Camden City Hall at 574-2900 to reserve an outdoor space for $5.00. The East Camden Fire Department will be selling breakfast and lunch inside the fire station that day for the shoppers’ convenience.  For more information please contact:  Angie McAdoo at 833-2196 or LaDonna Foster at 833-2080.

SouthArk will be having a Spring Break Golf Camp from March 24th-28th. The camp will start every day from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm and is for kid’s ages from 8-18. An introduction to the game, skills, equipment, course, values, strategies, and traditions of golf. Throughout the week, campers will receive classroom instruction as well as hands-on training on chipping, hitting, and putting. Space is limited to 15 campers and spots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Campers should bring gloves. All other supplies will, including clubs, will be provided. For more information, call Tara Anglin with South Arkansas Community College at (870) 864-7192 or e-mail  Campers will meet at the SouthArk Center for Workforce Development (3698 E. Main Rd.) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before meeting at the El Dorado Lions Club on Thursday and Friday.

Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen to electrify additional Guatemalan villages A group of Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas linemen will depart Arkansas on March 26 to continue a mission that the cooperatives began last year to provide electricity to remote Guatemalan villages. In 2013, a different group of Arkansas electric cooperative linemen assisted in providing electric service to more than 450 rural Guatemala residents. “The Arkansas electric cooperative linemen that worked in Guatemala last October made a tremendous difference in the lives of the residents of three remote villages,” said Duane Highley, president and chief executive officer of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “This new group of dedicated men will improve the quality of lives for present and future generations in the next villages that we will help electrify. I join Arkansas electric cooperative members from across the state in expressing my pride in the men for their selfless dedication to serving others.”  Highley said that Arkansas electric cooperatives and ERMCO, a manufacturer of transformers, are donating materials, labor and funds to assist with the project. Cooperative crews will assist in construction of electric distribution lines, related infrastructure and provide some training to local line workers. The villages scheduled to receive service include Las Flores and La Haciendita. Linemen and their respective cooperatives that are participating in the project are: Kenneth Byrd  and Christopher Tedford with Arkansas Valley Electric of Ozark; James Ray Hassebrock and Mark Wayne Tomiello, Carroll Electric Cooperative of Berryville; Michael Counts and Craig Weisenbach, Clay County Electric of Corning; Randy Evans, First Electric Cooperative of Jacksonville; Shawn Dorflinger  and Richard Freeland, Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden; Don Pinkley and Joe Cooksey, Ozarks Electric of Fayetteville; Steve Rooney, Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton; and Jimmy Dean Sharp and Todd Spakes, Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Texarkana. Doug Evans, safety manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., will also assist the crew during the trip. “The mission of the electric cooperatives back in the 1930s and 1940s was to provide electric service to those that otherwise would not be able to have electricity, and we are following the same playbook for our friends in Guatemala,” said Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative of Salem and vice president of the NRECA board of directors. “The men participating in this operation are paving the way for educational and economic opportunities that would be impossible without electricity. They will be heroes in the Guatemalan communities for many generations.” The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states. For additional information, contact: Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or

The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and the Arkansas Department of Health’s (ADH) Emergency Medical Services for Children Program are launching a new project this spring to prevent heat-related illness among student athletes and youth. The goal of the Exertional Heat Illness Project is to educate and train school administrators, coaches, parents, caregivers, emergency medical personnel and communities on ways to avoid or treat heat-related illness in youth.  Three thousand packets containing heat safety training materials for school administration and staff will be distributed to public, private and charter schools in the state beginning this month and ending in May. The materials will include a DVD about exertional heat illness, educational posters, a brochure for younger students, a letter from the Arkansas Activities Association and a quick reference card for parents and caregivers. “We know that it will take cooperation from school administrators, parents, students, activity directors, coaches and Emergency Medical Services in order to prevent heat illness in our youth,” said Tom Kimbrell, Ed. D., and Commissioner of Education. “We want to be able to provide engaging but safe physical activities for our students and this project is a step in the right direction.”  People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. While the elderly, the very young and people with chronic health conditions are most at risk for heat-related illness, even young and healthy individuals can be severely affected by heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. On average, more than 400 people in the U.S. die each year due to heat-related illness. In Arkansas, between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2013, more than 300 individuals, with an average age of 13, were transported to a hospital because of heat-related illness. According to the Korey Stringer Institute, over 80 percent of all exertional heat illnesses that occur during sports activity occur within the first week back to activity. In addition, July and August are the most deadly months for catastrophic sport deaths.  “Heat-related illness is 100 percent preventable if people know the right things to do at the right time,” said Greg Brown, Emergency Medical Services Section Chief at ADH. “This project will help schools and communities save lives.”  Funding for the project is provided by ADE, ADH and Lifetouch. Other partners include the Korey Stringer Institute, the Kendrick Fincher Hydration for Life Foundation, the Arkansas Activities Association, the Arkansas Athletic Trainers Association and Cabot Public Schools.

March, 20 2104

During this week’s Noon Lions Club, Betty Robertson of Relay for life talked about the event and how it has made an impact over the years. The annual event that started in 1997 has raised money for fighting cancer. During the first two months, the team raised over 35,000 dollars, and last year they raised over 119,000 dollars, all going to help prevent cancer, and help those who already have it. Robertson also talked about how Ouachita County is number four in the state, with 42 sponsors, who paid over 16,000 dollars to the team. In the 17 year existence of the Ouachita County Relay for Life, the team has raised more than a million dollars. If you would like to take part in this year’s Relay for Life, the event will be taking place on Friday, May 30th. The event will last from 6:00 pm until 2:00 am. Taking place at Coleman Stadium, this year’s Relay looks to be one of the best that the county has ever had.  

Earlier this week Lt. James Bolton was dispatched to 157 Ouachita 266 to a reported stolen vehicle. Upon the officer’s arrival he made contact with Mr. Scott Demorrow, who stated that his 18-year-old daughter Kayla had been wanting to leave home for several days. She was told that she could leave at any time but could not take the car. The daughter apparently left a note and drove off in the 2003 Ford Focus. Mr. and Mrs. Demorrow do not know where she is, but say she might be with her boyfriend, Will Curry, who lives with his grandfather. A BOLO was issued for the vehicle statewide. 

On March 22nd, there will be a “Kick Butts Day” sponsored by the Southwest Arkansas Community Development Corporation or SWACDC, who have made great strides in the fight against tobacco. Kick Butts Day is a day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Every day more than 3000 kids under 18 try smoking for the first time and 700 kids become new regular, daily smokers. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people every year. By getting involved in Kick Butts Day and other activities, America’s youth can raise awareness about the tobacco problem, encourage peers to be tobacco-free and support effective solutions to reduce tobacco use. The event will take place in the Southview Family Life Center in Magnolia from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. For any additional information you can call 870-234-3700 ext. 12.

Investigators with the Magnolia Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff's Office, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, and Arkansas Parole and Probation went to 805 Nixon St. on Monday to arrest Cedric Paschal on a warrant for absconding. When investigators entered the residence they located several firearms and drug paraphernalia. 30-year-old Paschal, is charged with absconding from his parole, possession of a firearm by certain person, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is held under $50,000 bond.

Arkansas consumers interact with their state and local governments in one way or another every day. And, as taxpayers who support those governmental entities, Arkansans have the right to review an array of records at every level of government and to attend meetings of policy-making, tax-supported governing bodies. That right is provided to Arkansans through the Freedom of Information Act, a law enacted by the General Assembly in 1967 that allows for access to most public records and meetings. Arkansas’s Freedom of Information law is one of the strongest and most comprehensive in the country. The state’s FOIA gains greater attention during National Sunshine Week each year in mid-March. National Sunshine Week is observed across the United States to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information. In recognition of National Sunshine Week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today issued this consumer alert focusing on the state’s Freedom of Information Act. McDaniel said “Our state’s robust FOIA gives Arkansans an opportunity to be actively engaged with government agencies and well-informed about the issues that affect us all,” and “Better-informed citizens make for a better government. I have always believed a strong open-records and open-meetings law to be one of the hallmarks of a democratic society.”

March 19, 2014

A homeless man has been charged with second-degree murder for causing the death of Lafayette County Chief Deputy Sheriff Allen Ray “Pete” Richardson on Monday afternoon in a three-vehicle accident on U.S. 82 west of Lewisville. According to a statement from the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office, the 50-year-old Richardson, was transporting 28-year-old Michael Lee Ackart, of Tulsa, OK, to a shelter in Texarkana in a Sheriff’s Office Dodge Nitro when it collided with a small passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailer about four miles west of Lewisville. Richardson, who was also the county’s criminal investigator, died at the scene. Lawmen think that Ackart reached the vehicle’s steering wheel, causing it to swerve into the other car and strike the tractor-trailer. Ackart was transported to Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana and later moved to the Miller County Jail.

There will be a Spring Community Sale on Saturday, March 22nd from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm at the Carnes Park Community Center in Camden. The cost is $15 per 10’ x 10’ booth and one table will be provided. Space is limited and will be filled as applications and payment are received. Proceeds will benefit the Christopher Davis “Cancer Warrior” Memorial Scholarship. Individuals and groups that want to reserve a space can contact Ophelia Lindsey at (870) 898-0325 or e-mail There will be a teen Spring Break Party on Saturday, March 22nd at Carnes Park. Doors will open at 8 p.m. Admission is $3 before 9pm and $5 after. Security will be strictly enforced.

The 33rd Annual Southwest Arkansas Regional Science Fair will be held at Southern Arkansas University on Friday, March 21.More than 460 third- through twelfth-grade students will be on hand at SAU representing more than 400 science projects. Public viewing of the projects will be available from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.Elementary (third- through sixth-grade) projects will be displayed in the W.T. Watson Gymnasium with awards being announced in Reynolds Center Grand Hall at 1 p.m.Junior high and High school projects will be displayed in the Auxiliary Gymnasium of the Brown H.K.R. complex with awards to be in the Reynolds Center Foundation Hall at 1 p.m.Judging is from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. Public viewing is not allowed during judging. A total of 19 schools will be represented from the following districts in southwest Arkansas: Bradley, Camden Fairview, Columbia Christian, Camden Christian, Emerson, Genoa, Harmony Grove, Heart Homeschool, Junction City, Magnolia, Norphlet, Texarkana, El Dorado, Smackover and Taylor.The Southwest Arkansas Regional Science Fair is hosted by Southern Arkansas University, the SAU STEM Center for K-12 Education and the South Central Service Cooperative.

More than 130 regional high school students competed in the Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ACTM) Regional Mathematics Contest on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at Southern Arkansas University. “SAU hosts annually this annual regional tournament to recognize high school students with exceptional mathematics skills”, said Dr. Khalil Dajani, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at SAU. “This event serves as a great opportunity to highlight the academic achievements for our region’s young mathematicians.” Dajani welcomed the students at the awards ceremony and told them about SAU’s new Engineering and Computer Game and Animation Design and degree programs. These Computer Game and Animation Design program started in 2013, while the exciting new Engineering program is set to kick off in Fall 2014. These programs serve the state and south Arkansas counties with unique opportunities for students. Faculty from the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science proctored and graded the competitors’ exams. Faculty participation included Dr. Deborah Kincaid (ACTM Regional Director), Dajani, Dr. Hasan Shehada, Dr. John Hutchens, Dr. Hong Cheng, Beth McDowell and Katie Moe. Kincaid announced the award winners for first, second and third from the various mathematics disciplines, including Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Trigonometry/Pre-calculus, Calculus and Probability and Statistics. Dajani presented the region’s winners with trophies. Students placing first, second or third, along with others from a statewide pool of high scores, will be invited to participate in the state contest. It is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2014, on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

The top 36 young writers from 537 entries were recently honored at the Southern Arkansas University annual Creative Writing Festival. Students from across south Arkansas submitted poems, short stories and creative non-fiction essays to be judged. Cash prizes were awarded for first, second and third place honors in the twelve categories, and first-place winners took home a trophy. The festival is hosted by the SAU Department of English and Foreign Languages, and was held on March 8, 2014.

After 25 years of fundraising and creation, the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday. The memorial is located on the west side of the Arkansas State Capitol Grounds in Little Rock. This site is a place of remembrance, honor, and education for this and future generations. Additional names will be added, as needed, each year at an annual ceremony. Three Magnolia Fire Department firefighters are on the list. Carl Wallace, Gaston Walthall and Ollie Ware were killed in a fire at an oil storage tank in the Macedonia community on September 21, 1944.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently announced that a Washington County man sentenced to prison last month on child pornography charges has been convicted of first-degree sexual abuse. 61-year-old Johnny Carte, of Evansville, pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse count, a Class C felony, in Izard County Circuit Court on Monday. Izard County Circuit Judge Tim Weaver sentenced Carte to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $500 fine. Carte’s sentence will be served concurrently with the 80-year sentence handed down in Washington County Circuit Court in February after Carte pleaded guilty to eight counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child and two counts of sexual indeceny with a child. “I commend the agents in my office’s Cyber Crimes Unit for working to hold this man accountable for crimes he has committed in different parts of the state over the past two decades,” McDaniel said. “Our state has no tolerance for illegal actions that harm our children.” Carte was arrested three times last year as part of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit. In June 2013, Carte was arrested for computer child pornography charges after agents from the Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at his home on Hale Mountain Road in Evansville. A month later, he was charged with sexual indecency with a child. Then, in August 2013, Carte was arrested on the Izard County charge related to a crime that occurred in that county more than 20 years ago.

One of five Florida-based telemarketing companies accused by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of violating state and federal law has been ordered to stop its illegal practices and pay more than $168,000 in penalties and restitution, according to McDaniel. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Monday ordered Financial Management Partners Inc. and its owner, Eric Pugh, to pay $78,000 in penalties and $90,277.50 in restitution to consumers for violations of the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, the Arkansas Consumer Telephone Privacy Act, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Advance Fee Loan Brokerage Act. McDaniel filed suit against Financial Management Partners and others in 2012, accusing the companies of engaging in illegal, automated and prerecorded calls, known as “robocalls,” to hundreds of Arkansas consumers. The companies touted their ability to help consumers reduce their credit-card interest rates in those calls. Despite being paid for the services, the companies did little or nothing to help Arkansas consumers. “Financial Management Partners and at least four other companies inundated Arkansans with annoying, illegal telemarketing calls, and they even disguised their phone numbers to avoid detection,” McDaniel said. “Worse, when consumers did agree to pay for the services that were advertised, the companies took their money and failed to deliver on promises to lower credit-card interest rates. Fortunately, these companies will not be engaging in those types of illegal practices in Arkansas again.” Financial Management Partners was accused of transferring existing consumer credit-card debt to new cards. Interest rates on the new cards were only temporarily lower. After a short time period, the interest rates returned to the same level or even higher levels than the rates on the old card. With the judge's order, four of the lawsuits have been successfully resolved on behalf of Arkansas consumers. Last year, Consumer Global Services LLC, Financial Ladder Inc., and Associated Accounting Specialists Inc. were all found in violation of state and federal laws and ordered to pay penalties and restitution. A lawsuit against one other company is still pending.

Ouachita County Farm Service Agency has a vacancy for a full-time temporary position. The open application period is from March 19th to March 25th. Salary potential will be based on education, work experience, agricultural knowledge, and background. Applications can be picked up at 351 Washington Street, room 220 in Camden. Please contact David Goodson at 870-836-2089 ext 2 or 870-246-9816 ex 2 for more information.  

A propagation and maintenance of pecan tree workshop will be presented by Miller County Extension Agent, John Turner. The workshop will cover selecting varieties and location, fertilizing, pruning, insect control and other basic care of pecan trees. Workshops are scheduled for 1:30 pm and 5:00 pm on Thursday, March 27th at the Ouachita County Cooperative Extension Office located at 2760 Mt. Holly Road in the Boys and Girls Club Complex. To register for either workshop, contact Keri Welch at or by calling 870-231-1160. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, and disability, martial or veteran status.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. This week’s speaker will be Betty Robertson with Relay For Life.  She will be telling us what they are doing and what is coming up in the next few months. For any additional information and how you can join the Lions Club, you can call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

Governor Mike Beebe has invoked the line-item veto for Section 16 of House Bill 1048, the appropriation bill for the Revenue Services Division of the Department of Finance and Administration. Section 16 adds a new category of items exempted from the State's gross receipts tax without following the constitutional steps of doing so during a fiscal session. Beebe's veto letter concludes with the following: Substantive changes to Arkansas law that have no relation to appropriations, such as Section 16 of HB 1048, should rarely be considered during fiscal sessions. If they are to be considered at all, it should be done through the process the people established in our Constitution, and not through "special language" amendments to unrelated appropriation bills. This is only the third line-item veto during Beebe's tenure as governor.

The Visual Arts Committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center hosts an artist reception for “ARTboretum: A View of the South Arkansas Arboretum” by students of Washington Middle School 6th grade Studio Art Class on March, 20 from 5:30-7:00pm.   The reception is free and open to the public. The original work of Washington Middle School students inspired by a visit to the South Arkansas Arboretum are on display this month in the Lobby Gallery. Some of the students have described the experience in their own words. “I’ve seen leaves that I haven’t seen before.  I also saw branches in a beautiful tree. I saw birds and bird houses. I saw caterpillars that were different colors. I loved the cool breeze of the fresh air and I also loved it when Mrs. Maria helped me draw nature,” said Cordell Johnson. Grace Morgan said, “I learned a lot of things in art but the most important thing I learned in art is to pay attention to your art.  I used to compare my art to other people’s art.  You shouldn’t do that because you are one of a kind.  You love what you draw even if it isn’t the best thing in the world it’s still beautiful.  Mrs. Maria taught that it doesn’t matter what other people say about your art. Mrs. Maria is a wonderful painter and drawer so I admire her a lot.” “I learned about how to mix colors.  I learned how to make my birds, flowers, and branches in my drawings to look realistic.  I learned to turn the foreground and the background smaller and bigger.  I learned a lot while Mrs. Maria was here but my favorite would have to be working with watercolors in the arboretum photos.  Pen and ink was a nice experience that was taught to us.  I liked the small things like drawing random things,” said Madison Hogbin. ARTboretum is really a preview of a bigger Arts In Education project still yet to come.  AIE artist Maria Botti Villegas is working with Katie Harwell and her 6th grade Studio Art Class students to create a banner installation at the South Arkansas Arboretum. Part of the collection created for the project is on exhibit along with a series of studies of birds, plants, and flowers rendered in a variety of techniques like pen and ink, pastel, acrylics, and watercolors.  The banners will be on display during the fundraising event “A Night at the Arboretum,” which will be hosted next month. For more information about the reception, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474.

There will be a Noon Symposium entitled Asteroids and Comets: Ancient Relics of the Solar System. The event will take place on March 19th starting at 12:15 and lasting until 1:00 pm.

Asteroids and comets are the residual building blocks that went into the making of the solar system and as such can tell us much about how the Sun’s neighborhood came to be.  Some of these fragments of rock and ice also pose a hazard for life on our planet.  This talk given by Darrell Heath, president of Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, will focus on the nature of these objects: what they are and where they come from and how we might be able to avert disaster should one be headed our way. RSVP by calling (870) 864-7192 or e-mailing

March 17, 2014

According to a list from the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, two females are wanted in the county. Jennifer Conn is a white female in her early 30’s with brown hair and green eyes. She is 5’4 and weighs 180 pounds. Conn has a warrant out for theft of property. The other female is Shalakskia Daniels. Daniels is a black female in her mid-20’s. She has black hair and brown eyes. She is 5’4 and weighs 145 pounds. Daniels has a warrant out for failure to appear on narcotics charges.

This Thursday night, March 20th, the Camden Fairview Board of Education will have a special meeting to be held at 6:30 pm. The meeting will take place at the Garrison Auditorium. One of the things being discussed will be regarding the provider of Broadband. 

Tonight the fate of the Stephens School District should become clear during a special public meeting in Stephens. Dr. Tom Kimbrell, commission of the Arkansas Department of Education, will speak at the meeting. This meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the Stephens High School Auditorium. The Stephens School Board recently requested to be annexed by the Nevada School District in Rosston, but the Nevada district prefers a plan to divide Stephens’ students among the Nevada, Fairview and Magnolia districts.

A Sparkman truck driver convicted in Clark County District Court for the August 2013 death of a motorist has withdrawn his appeal to a higher court. Michael Mann, 45, of 1556 Highway 128, Sparkman, will spend 30 days in the Clark County Detention Center as part of a sentence handed down in August from District Judge Randy Hill. A Clark County jury was scheduled to sentence Mann on Monday. Because Mann was driving twice the legal posted speed limit on Aug. 29, 2012, his log truck fell on its side on Highway 7 in an "S" curve near Manchester Road and the L'Eau Frais Creek Bridge, the logs crushing James Hunter's sedan as the truck fell, killing Hunter. Three other cars were involved in the accident. The Clark County Prosecutor's Office charged Mann with negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor, and careless and prohibited driving. In a bench trial on the anniversary of the four-car accident, Mann pleaded no contest and was sentenced to one month in jail; the charge could have carried a jail sentence of up to a year. The remainder of Mann's original sentence will also be imposed. For the negligent homicide charge, he will serve a year of probation, 100 hours of community service, a year suspension of his CDL and a $1,000 fine. For the careless driving charge he will pay a $165 fine. "Now that this chapter has closed we are hopeful the healing process can continue for the family of James Hunter," said Prosecuting Attorney Blake Batson. At press time Friday, Mann had yet to be booked into the county jail to begin his month-long sentence. Mann, along with the logging company he was working for, Givens Logging, Inc., is also the target of two pending civil lawsuits resulting from the crash.

The award winning works from the South Arkansas Arts Center’s 2014 Student Art Show and Competition are on display downtown at Studio 207 through the end of March.  Two of the winning pieces will be represented by a print of the work as the originals are currently in Little Rock in the Young Arkansas Artists competition. One of the winning works is also represented by a print as the original is currently hanging in the Lobby Gallery at SAAC. The biannual exhibit was hosted in the SAAC main gallery in February with award winning artist Sandy Bennett serving as judge for the competition. The students’ works will be the final exhibition on display at Studio 207 before closing their doors at the end of the month.If interested in opening an art supply store in the available space, contact Corrine Management on the square. For more information about the exhibition, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

ENVIRONMENTALLY SPEAKING: ADEQ Program Ensures Accurate Lab Result
Comic book and other fiction writers have used the old standby “mishap in the lab” plot generator to produce heroes and horrors in works like Spider-Man and The Fly.In real life, laboratory mistakes and accidents can lead to serious problems. That’s why the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is working to make sure the labs analyzing environmental data required for environmental permits are operating by acceptable scientific standards. In 1985 the Legislature authorized ADEQ to establish and administer the State Environmental Laboratory Certification Program and made certification mandatory for any lab that submits data to ADEQ to meet the requirements for a regulated facility, such as a wastewater treatment plant or any business or agency that involves hazardous waste or releases water into the state’s waterways. Of the 90 laboratories currently listed as certified on ADEQ’s website, 28 are in Arkansas; 13 are in Texas, and the rest are scattered across the country in 19 different states. Jane Hurley, chemist supervisor for ADEQ’s Technical Services (Lab) Division, oversees the certification program, keeping track of all the labs’ required documentation. Out-of state labs submit documentation from their state certifying agencies. Hurley visits the certified labs in Arkansas to inspect their quality control and quality assurance procedures, records keeping, reporting procedures, methodology, facilities, equipment, personnel, and analytical techniques for measuring parameters. Hurley said the most important requirement is performance testing. Twice a year, labs are tested on their ability to arrive at accurate results on tests they perform, such as self-monitoring reports required for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. To retain certification, labs must submit their performance testing studies twice a year for evaluation to a provider lab approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Evaluation results are sent to Hurley.  Certified labs currently on the list have been approved to run anywhere from two to 87 different tests. Hurley said  “The lab certification program keeps labs accountable for following the approved methods and putting quality control requirements in place,” Hurley said. “The semi-annual testing of unknown samples is a great check on these procedures. The laboratories do a good job at meeting these requirements and quickly take corrective action when things go wrong.” Certification is available to all labs in the state, not just those that provide environmental data to ADEQ for permitted facilities. The University of Arkansas has three certified labs, including a lab in Mariana that tests soil samples brought to the university’s Cooperative Extension Service offices.  Southern Arkansas University, Ouachita Baptist University, Beaver Water District and Fort Smith Utility Department each have a lab certified by the program. Certification provides credibility to educational and public utility labs and can contribute to successful grant applications.

A welcome announcement about new jobs coming at a local company was among the highlights of last Thursday’s Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet. Todd Beams, representing Hixson Lumber Sales, made the announcement while receiving on his company’s behalf the award for Business/Industry of the Year. Hixson, which operates a large sawmill along South Washington Street in Magnolia that employs 120 people, will build another sawmill at the site. Beams said ground was recently broken for the new mill, which will employ an additional 40 people. Hixson Lumber Sales hopes the mill will be ready to saw logs in July. Hixson recently purchased the former Hampton warehouse across South Washington and also along the Louisiana & North West Railroad. Two other local industries, Southern Aluminum in Magnolia and Weyerhaeuser in Emerson, also either plan or have expansion projects under way that are expected with the Hixson announcement to create about 120 new jobs in Columbia County.

March 14, 2014

Camden Police Department is looking for a missing person. According to police 26-year-old Devon Lacy, was last seen on the afternoon of March 6th. Lacy’s Mother stated that Lacy had not been seen in several days and had not called family members, which is a strange behavior for him. Lacy's wife, Maria, said Devon went for a walk on the day of his disappearance and never came back. Officers also said that Devon's phone had been shut off. No identifying information, aside from the picture provided, was given. If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of Devon Lacy, they are encouraged to contact the Camden Police Department at (870) 836-5755.

Earlier this week Officer Jamario Bush of the Camden Police Department was dispatched to 604 Ft Lookout for a subject refusing to leave. Dispatched had advised the suspect was James Robinson. The officer conducted a ban list check on Robinson who was on the ban list. Upon Officer Bush’s arrival he made contact with the reporting person, Tamara Green and her boyfriend, James Robinson, inside her apartment. Green stated she and Robinson were arguing and she wanted him to leave. Robinson was placed under arrest and transported to the station without incident. He was booked with the approval of Sgt. Opelt. Robinson was given a criminal citation and a later court date.

Officer Clayton was on a routine patrol at Jefferson/ California. While he was in the area he noticed a maroon Honda Civic with a break-light out. The vehicle made a left turn onto California, where the officer initiated his emergency lights and the stop was conducted. The driver was identified as Jimmy Hill, who stated that he did not have a license and provided the officer with an expired insurance card. Both were found to be suspended for DWI. Hill was placed under arrest and transported to the station. Hill was charged with no break-light, driving on a suspended license, driving while license suspended for DWI, and no proof of insurance. He was later transported to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, where he placed bond. An inventory was complete on the vehicle and McKelvin’s was dispatched as the next wreck on the list.

Two Magnolia residents have been charged in connection with the sale of synthetic marijuana, also known by its brand name of K2. Earlier in the week, search warrants were executed at 712 N. Dudney and 1340 U.S. 82 East Lot B10. Magnolia police said in a statement that the warrants stemmed from a three-month investigation into the local distribution of synthetic marijuana. 22-year-old, Victoria Lynn Orsak, was charged with the delivery of a Schedule VI controlled substance, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, and maintaining a drug premises. She is held at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility under $75,000 bond.

Michael Harper, also 22, was charged with possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with intent to deliver, maintaining a drug premises, delivery of a Schedule VI controlled substance, and simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms. He is held at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility under $500,000 bond.

Magnolia and Columbia County Literacy Council will be sponsoring their Annual Spaghetti Supper on Tuesday, April 1st from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm. The event will be at the Magnolia High School Panther Café in Magnolia. There will be a live auction of items donated from local businesses and individuals beginning at 6:30 pm. The meal tickets are 10 dollars per person. The meal will include your choice of Chicken or Italian Spaghetti, Green Beans, Salad, Roll, Dessert and a Drink. You will also have the chance to win an Ivan Smith Recliner at the event. For tickets you can call 901-6028, or 234-6064, or visit the website

Barton Library will be having an Annual book sale on Wednesday March 19th. The sale will take place at TAC House in El Dorado. The sale will last from 1:00 am until 6:00 pm, and will last until March 26th. For any additional information you can call Nancy Arn will Barton Library at 870-863-5447. There will be free admission to the book sale every day. 

March 13, 2014

Water sales and meter accounts for 2013 are slightly down from the previous year, and show no real signs of improving in 2014.The financial status of Camden Water Utilities is sufficient to meet financial obligations, but with very little improvements being done to the infrastructure due to a loss of nearly 145,000 dollars in sewer revenues. Water funds have to cover this loss, which hurts both departments ability to schedule, and make much needed improvements in the infrastructure. A sanitary survey was conducted on the water system by the Arkansas Department of Health with the results being good.

Southern Arkansas University professor of history Dr. Ben Johnson will deliver the inaugural installment of The Last Lecture Series at SAU at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.

The event will be held in the Reynolds Center Foundation Hall, and is free and open to the public. The “Last Lecture” tradition is one in which professors are invited to share what they would say if it were their last opportunity to address colleagues and students. The tradition gained popularity in 2007 when Dr. Randy Pausch delivered a talk titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" at Carnegie Melon University. Pausch's lecture became famous because it really was his last lecture as he'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had only months to live. “When Dr. Johnson was invited to deliver the lecture at SAU, he agreed to do it but asked if someone knew something that he did not,” said Dr. Linda Tucker, associate professor of English. “Be assured that Dr. Johnson is not going anywhere as far as anyone knows.”
Johnson was selected to receive the first endowed professorship in Arkansas studies in 2013.
The John G. Ragsdale, Jr. and Dora J. Ragsdale Endowed Professorship at SAU was established by a couple who is known for their generosity and support of Arkansas history and will benefit Johnson, who has spent decades himself researching and writing about the Natural State.
Johnson earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Arkansas, and has taught in higher education for more than 33 years. He served as Dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts at SAU from 2007 to 2011 and was promoted to professor of history in 2010. In addition to the book he authored in 2000, he has written two additional books on Arkansas history. He is currently the vice-chair of the State Review Board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and has served as vice president of the Arkansas Historical Association. He is also on the board of editors of the Arkansas Historic Quarterly. He and his wife, Sherrel Johnson, reside in El Dorado, Ark.

On Tuesday March 18th, there will be a “Keeping Your Books with Quickbooks” session that introduces the popular accounting software program to small business owners with little or no experience using the software. Topics will include: setting up a new company, chart of accounts overview, working with list, and how to view transaction records and find information in your company file. The session will last from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm at the OPED Building in Camden. The speaker at the session will be Paul Bax, who is a Quickbooks Pro Advisor. The cost is free and for any additional information you can call Julia Nipper at 870-235-5033 or email her at

Arkansas consumers who are targeted by con artists risk more than just annoyance and inconvenience. Scammers can take hundreds or even thousands of dollars from consumers who fall victim to their illegal actions. However, with some vigilance and a little advance knowledge of a scammer’s tactics, most consumers can effectively defend themselves against scam attempts. To help consumers avoid scams, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert  listing details about the five most common scams reported to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division in 2013. The top five scams that affected Arkansans last year are still widespread, and several of the scams or variations on them have been prevalent for decades. “Con artists tend to use similar tactics such as a promise to send money or cars, but only if consumers provide some money first, no matter what type of scam it may be,” McDaniel said. “Having to pay money in order to get money is usually a good indicator of a scam. Also, consumers should always remember that something that seems too good to be true almost always is.” McDaniel recommended that consumers do research online if they believe an offer to be suspicious, as well as ask questions and get as many details as possible about the scammer that has approached them, such as phone numbers and other contact information. Scams should be reported to local law enforcement and to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. The Consumer Protection Division’s website,, contains information specific to scams and how consumers can protect themselves. In 2013, the Consumer Protection Division fielded almost 7,500 complaints from consumers and recovered more than $1.8 million, mostly for consumers involved in legitimate business disputes. Based on those complaints related to scams, here are the top five most common scams from 2013:

INTERNATIONAL LOTTERY: The “International Lottery” scam and variations of it target thousands of consumers every year. In it, consumers are told they have won a brand-name sweepstakes or a lottery promotion and are promised cash or prizes, only if they pay a processing fee or “taxes” upfront. The promised prizes, of course, never arrive. An increasingly popular version of this scheme involves consumers receiving a phone call, typically originating from Jamaica, with the pitch that the new cars or cash are nearby and waiting to be delivered.

CREDIT CARD CALLS: Scammers use automated, prerecorded calls, also known as "robocalls," in which the scammers offer to help consumers lower interest rates on their credit card bills, but at a price. These scammers take a consumer’s money but provide no interest-rate relief. Those that do provide some help merely transfer the debt to another credit card with a promotional rate. Once that rate runs out, the subsequent interest rate is most often the same or higher than the previous rate. Additionally, scammers are using robocalls to tout scam medical alert and home alarm services.

GRANDCHILD SCAM: There are countless variations of the “favorite grandchild” scam, in which con artists make an emotional ploy to consumers, usually senior citizens, in an attempt to get them to wire money. The scammers purport to be a grandchild or a friend of the grandchild and say that the grandchild is in immediate danger or needs urgent help with medical costs or other expenses. The victim is asked to transfer money, usually to a foreign location. Of course, once money is wired out of the country, it is nearly impossible to get back. Those who believe they may be victims of such a scam should contact other relatives to determine whether there is an actual emergency.

PAYDAY LOAN COLLECTOR: Con artists in this scam try to extort money from a consumer by stating that he or she owes payments on a payday loan. The persistent callers contact the consumer’s workplace and even threaten jail time for those who don’t pay. Victims should disregard the threats and ask the scammer to provide written verification of the debt.

UTILITY SHUTOFF: Businesses and consumers in Arkansas and across the nation have been victim to a scam in which someone impersonating as a utility provider demands payment on supposedly delinquent bills. The scammer claims utility services will be shut off unless the consumer pays by a prepaid debit card or wire transfer, instead of a traditionally accepted form of payment. Consumers who receive this type of call or email should hang up and call the utility company directly. For more information about these or other scams, or for general information about consumer issues, visit the Consumer Protection Division’s website,, or call the division’s hotline, (800) 482-8982.

March 12, 2014

Recently the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office released a list of the most wanted fugitives in the county. Those on the list included 26-year-old Shalaska Daniels, who is a black female with a bench warrant out and was last seen in Stephens. Angelo Hempstead, who is a 48-year-old black male also has a bench warrant out. The list also had two arrest warrants out for Chris Elroy Dafney, who is a 30-year-old black male and 32-year-old white male, Billy Jo Walthall III. Both were last seen in Chidester.

The Camden Fire Department has had a total of 1,045 National Fire Incident Reporting System or NFIRs recorded runs listed on our new Fire House Software compared to 574 runs that were listed on the old NFIRs recording system last year. This gives an example of how the new software program the department is now using is allowing us to record, keep and follow up on more incidents. The Fire depot have more than doubled the number of runs recorded. This will allow them to report incidents and store more information which gives us a more accurate and detailed record of their services. Along with the 1,045 runs recorded in the firehouse software, the department also had 1,213 other service calls which include most non-emergency runs that were not listed in the software, which gives a total number of 2,258 runs for last year. That number is down 290 runs from last year’s total. 

CASA is having a fundraising campaign entitled “SOAP FOR A CAUSE”. During this campaign CASA will be selling handmade soaps, with all natural ingredients. The varieties are available through April 30th. Prices are $5.00 per bar or $20.00 for 5 and you will need to place your orders by March 21st. For orders you can contact Stacy Bouzigard at 870-818-7379 or Cecilia Davoren at 870-807-2050. For information on how you can help make a difference in the life of a child in your community, please call 870-836-4700 or email

The Great Camden Cleanup will be held April 5, 2014 beginning at 7:00 a.m. at the Riverwalk.  Participants will be provided T-shirts, lunch and trophies go to the teams with the most litter collected.  For more information and to register, please call 870.836.6436 or come by City Hall at 206 Van Buren.

There will be a USDA Commodities Distribution on Tuesday March 18th, and Wednesday March 19th. The distribution will began at 9:00 am at Carnes Park, located at 955 Adams Avenue SE in Camden. Food items may include frozen pork patties, carrots, apricots, dehydrated potatoes, frozen chicken and more. For any additional information you can call 870-836-3200.

Economics Arkansas will host its 16th Annual Trivia Challenge at the South Arkansas Arts Center on Thursday, March 13, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. This year's theme is patriotic, so please encourage your employer to participate by hosting a team or serving as a sponsor! Co-Chairs Magen Olive of Murphy USA and Bob Watson, Superintendent of the El Dorado School District, hope you will support this event that provides funding for K-12 economic education in this region of the state. Beer, wine, soft drinks and great appetizers are served during the evening, and the best part is cheering for your associates as they vie for intellectual bragging rights. 

The Union County Sheriff's Office is sponsoring its First Annual “GARAGE SALE” to be held on Saturday, March 29, 2014 beginning at 6:30 am to benefit the Union County Relay for Life 2014. Donations can be made Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm at the Union County Sheriff's Office. To arrange to drop off your donations contact Erin Johnson, Nicole Conley, or Christine Jones at 864-1970 or by e-mail at All proceeds from this Garage Sale will go to benefit the Union County 'Relay for Life' 2014"Lights, Camera, CURE".

Farmers Bank and Trust, a supporter of SAU since the University’s beginning in 1909, recently committed $250,000 to the reception facility at Southern Arkansas University’s Story Arena. This generous donation provides the bank with naming rights for the facility – Farmers Bank Reception Center at Story Arena, which is located on SAU’s campus on the north side of U.S. 82. “At Farmers Bank and Trust, we are happy to support activities that give back to the community,” said Farmers Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Burns. “We are delighted to help Southern Arkansas University, which is an invaluable part of this region and an important industry for our community.” The Farmers Bank Reception Center and Story Arena will welcome around 15 universities and guests to its first official rodeo event at 7 p.m. nightly this Thursday through Saturday, March 13-15, 2014. Admission prices are as follows: $10 for adults, children 5-12 are $5, and free admission for children 0-4 and SAU students, faculty and staff.

The annual fall SAU Intercollegiate Rodeo was postponed in 2013 to concentrate on completing the new arena. But now that the arena and reception area are nearly complete, the men’s and women’s rodeo teams are happy to host a home event. The SAU women’s team is currently ranked second in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Ozark Region, and the men’s team is ranked fourth. According to SAU rodeo coach Rusty Hayes, around seven of his team members are on track to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo on June 15-21, 2014, in Casper, Wyo. The nearly 6,800 square-foot Farmers Bank Arena Reception Center will house functions that are necessary when hosting public events and will be the “front door” for the rodeo arena. Among its features, it will house the ticket booth, concession stand, men’s and women’s restrooms, a grilling porch, a covered concourse and large plaza, covered walkways to the arena, an outdoor fireplace, an office area, a conference room and a tribute to Farmers Bank’s century of support for SAU. An area inside the center will be dedicated to two past presidents of Farmers Bank and Trust, Mr. Robert Samuel Warnock and Mr. Thomas Samuel Grayson. Warnock, the first president of the bank, was the Columbia County representative to the Arkansas legislative assembly that authorized the creation of the Third District Agricultural School (eventually Southern Arkansas University). A strong supporter of the Farmers Union, Warnock contributed to the fund that helped secure the school for Magnolia and Columbia County. He later served on the TDAS board. As a state senator in 1929, Warnock helped assure the survival of Magnolia A&M and the other 1909 agricultural schools that had become junior colleges. Grayson, a sawmill owner and entrepreneur, was one of the founders of the bank and its second president.  
Along with providing an opportunity for SAU to host rodeo events on campus for the first time, the arena and reception center will also serve as an economic engine for the region.
The main structure will consist of a nearly 80,000 square foot covered rodeo-style arena with a dirt floor and seating for approximately 1,100.  It will provide a place for local and regional groups to hold equine and livestock events, concerts, trade shows, and other community events. Participants at these events will bring money into the local economy by eating in restaurants, shopping in local stores, and staying in local hotels. The SAU rodeo team will also be able to host a variety of events including high school rodeos, which will bring prospective college students to the SAU campus. Construction of the Story Arena and Farmers Bank Reception Center would not have been possible without the generosity of a host of friends of SAU. Therrel and Jan Story of Magnolia gave $2.45 million, which is the largest gift in the history of SAU. Along with Farmers’ donation for the Reception Center, the Walker Foundation invested $50,000, Bancorp South gave $10,000, and Entergy $2,500. The total cost of the SAU Story Arena and Farmers Bank Reception Center is around $4.4 million.

March 11, 2014

A 2.89 carat white diamond was found at Arkansas' diamond site by a Louisiana man.
Brandon Kalenda was visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park while traveling from Louisiana to Minnesota. While he and his family searched the 37 ½-acre park, Kalenda located the diamond. Park Interpreter Margi Jenks released the following statement: No two diamonds in the rough are alike. This is a triangular-shaped diamond with a metallic appearance, and it's about the size of an English pea… Brandon found his diamond after searching for about 20 minutes in the Fugitt's Bank area of the park's search area. We encourage park visitors to look for pockets or layers on the surface of gravel, and search there. That's exactly what Brandon was doing. The stone was named the Jax Diamond after his infant son, Jackson. Kalenda told park staff he plans to keep the diamond.

The City of Camden will have a city council meeting tonight March 11th, starting at 7:00 pm in the council chambers of the Municipal Building. During the meeting the Alderman and Woman will discuss highway funds and budgets, sheriff’s budget and more.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The Speaker this week will be Jerry Burley with the OCMC auxiliary.  He will be letting us know what the volunteers do for our hospital. For any additional information on the Lions Club and how you can join you can call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

Dad’s, grandpa and any significant others are invited to join CFIS students for breakfast. The breakfast will take place on March 14th, from 7:15 am until 8:00 am. Camden Fairview Intermediate School is Hooping It Up for Benchmark. Kids should wear their favorite basketball attire and be ready to score a basket for the Benchmark Test scheduled from April 7th-11th. The events will be hosted by parent involvement.

There will be a Flea Market/Swap Meet at the Ouachita County Fair Grounds in Camden. Opening March 15th, at 8:00 am. So fill free to come buy, sell, or trade. Vendors need to be there any time after 6:00 am to pick spots and or booths. Payment will be taken at this time. Feel free to join in on all the fun. For more information please call or text 870-678-3038.

On Saturday, March 22nd, there will be a Union County Fairgrounds Track in El Dorado, there will be a Boy Scouts of America 5K Run/Walk. The cost is 20 dollars per entrant and 10 dollars for registered scout ages 6-18. Medals will be awarded to the following categories: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for both cub and boy scouts. Also there will be awards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fastest overall males and females in the run and walk. Packet pickups will start at 7:00 am the day of the race.

On March 12, 2014, the Chamber is holding its first 2014 quarterly Economic Outlook Luncheon, sponsored by Clean Harbors, during which representatives from each community in Union County will have the opportunity to report what's going on in their backyard. This is a great opportunity to learn about so many of the good things taking place around Union County and to meet the leaders who are making them happen. Reservations required to (870) 863-6113 or The cost is $15 at the door.

Arkansas FFA President Taylor McNeel recently won the state title at the Arkansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet, adding another accomplishment to her busy freshman year of college. With this win, McNeel earned a chance to represent Arkansas at the national discussion meet in Nashville in February 2015. She is a freshman agriculture business major and Honors College student at Southern Arkansas University. McNeel said "It was nerve-racking because it was my first time to compete at State, but I was glad to be able to win and have the opportunity to go to Nationals,".

The Honors College at Southern Arkansas University has been selected to help develop a new learning management system (LMS) by participating in an iPad pilot project. Dr. Ed Kardas, director of the SAU Honors College and professor of psychology, said he was approached by EmpoweredU, asking if his students would participate in the pilot program. EmpoweredU is creating a new educational mobile platform application (app). The SAU Honors College is among 11 institutions nationwide participating. Other institutions include Clemson University, University of California at San Diego and the University of San Francisco. “We are anxious to see what unexpected benefits or pitfalls may result from our use of the app,” said Dr. Ed Kardas. “I provided content for the app, so it serves as another vehicle for instruction in addition to the textbook, my lectures in class and the student presentations.” EmpoweredU read online about how Kardas had incorporated use of iPads with his students in the SAU Honors College. The company corresponded with Kardas online, and they entered into a mutually beneficial agreement. “The benefit to us was the use of a free pilot app. The benefit to them was feedback from our students as to improve the app,” said Kardas.

The fourth-annual Southern Arkansas University Foundation Rip Powell Invitational Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, April 25, 2014. The four-man scramble will be held at the Magnolia Country Club from with proceeds going towards the naming rights of the Mulerider football field in honor of legendary coach Rip Powell. The goal is to raise $100,000 to benefit the football program through facility enhancements. SAU Foundation currently has $60,000 towards this campaign. When the campaign goal is met, Coach Rip Powell will be honored through the naming of the football playing surface. Entry fees for this golf tournament are $100 a player or $400 per team. Entry fees include breakfast, lunch, and goodie bag for each golfer. A morning flight will begin at 8 a.m. and an afternoon flight starts at 1:30 p.m. Also, flights will be separated into a Gold Flight (“Real Golfers”), Blue Flight (“Pretenders”), Red-Shirts Flight (“Freshman Golfers”), and Promising Recruits Flight (“Non-golfers”). Sponsorships are also available to individuals and businesses ranging from a tee box sponsorship ($100) to a presenting sponsorship ($2,500) as follows:

·Presenting Sponsor – $2,500 Corporate name or logo on tournament hats, team of four with golf cart, Corporate name or logo on all printed materials, and tournament advertising, four reservations for company representatives at tournament breakfast and lunch, and supply promotional items for player bags.

·Gold Sponsor – $1,000 Corporate name or logo on tournament golf towels, Corporate name or logo on all printed materials and tournament advertising, four reservations for company representatives at tournament breakfast and lunch, and supply promotional items for player bags.

·Blue Sponsor – $500 Corporate name or logo on all printed materials and tournament advertising, two reservations for company representatives at tournament breakfast and lunch, and supply promotional items for player bags.

·Hole Sponsor – $200 Corporate logo or name displayed at hole.
·Tee Box Sponsor – $100 Corporate logo or name displayed at tee box.

Powell was one of the most beloved coaching figures in Southern Arkansas athletic history and his influence was felt by many. He served as head football coach at SAU from 1969-1978 and head track and field coach from 1964-1969.  He was inducted into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2002 and was included as part of the inaugural class of the SAU Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. For more information on the Rip Powell Invitational Golf Tournament, please contact Josh Kee at (870)235-4321 or at

State, county and city law enforcement agencies have kick off a two-week campaign warning young people that they risk getting a ticket if they don’t fasten their safety belts. Law enforcement officers across the state will be stepping up their enforcement of safety belt laws as part of the Click It or Ticket campaign.  The goal is not to write tickets, but to get everyone buckled up, especially teen drivers and their passengers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.  During the calendar year 2012 records indicate that 73 percent of young people ages 16-20 who died in traffic crashes in Arkansas were not buckled-up. “Teens and young adults are killed at far higher rates than older adults in crashes because they are caught in a lethal combination of inexperience, risk taking and low safety belt use,” said Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. Research shows that teens are not as concerned about injury or death as much as they fear getting a ticket.  “We want to reach those least likely to wear seat belts and most at risk to die in traffic crashes with this message:  If you don’t buckle up to save your life, then buckle up to save yourself a ticket,” said Colonel Witt. While national seat belt use stands at 84 percent, Arkansas’ seat belt use rate is only 77 percent.  Further statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that safety belt use for teens and young adults continues to lag behind the rest of the population.

 Arkansas law requires:
· Seat belt use for drivers and front seat passengers.
· Everyone to be buckled up if a driver has a learners or intermediate license.
· All children under fifteen years of age to be properly restrained.
· Children younger than six years of age and weighing less than sixty pounds to be properly restrained in approved child safety seats. For more information on teen driving safety visit or for Click It or Ticket, contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136 

March, 10, 2014

This past weekend Officer Jimmy Plyler was driving south on North Cleveland. When the officer arrived at the intersection of Washington Street and observed a black male on the same side of the road walking towards him. The subject was identified as Wesley Bell, who was staggering and appeared to be intoxicated, as his words were slurred when he tried to talk. The man stated that he had two beers, as he was staggering he did curse at the officer and was then taken into the station shortly after. After being placed in cuffs Bell became uncooperative and was then transported to the Ouachita County Detention Center and placed on 12 hour hold until intoxications wore off. Bell was issued a criminal citation and a later court date of May 7th. 

With 15 years invested in Ukrainian’s fight for democracy, former Arkansas grassroots politician and SAU alumni, Brian Mefford urges the U.S. to take a tough policy with Russia to prevent annexation of Crimea and to give strong support for the new Ukrainian government. Mefford said “If 25,000 Russian troops arrived in Alaska because they claimed it was their historical land, Americans wouldn’t tolerate it and would be ready to take decisive action to remove them. The same thing is happening in Crimea under much the same pretext,”. Over the last three months, Mefford has witnessed large daily protests, physical violence and intimidation of protestors by police, as well as stress on the financial situation. He is certain that Ukraine will become a full European Union country, but he expects a roller coaster in the interim. According to Mefford, When it looked like martial law was about to be declared, there were lines of up to 20 cars at gas stations. A dozen or more people would wait in line at ATMs to withdraw cash. Grocery stores experienced runs as people stocked up on food in the event of war or martial law. Now the pressure is less but hard currency – U.S. dollars – is difficult to come by and the local currency has devalued by almost 25% since the crisis began in late November. With all of the political rhetoric on this situation dominating the news, Mefford offers a rare positive affirmation on the U.S.’s stance direct from the political trenches of Ukraine.

The Ouachita County Extension Homemakers Council will once again present the Gladys Lindsey and Alphonso T. Denham Extension Homemakers Scholarships this spring. Scholarship guidelines and applications may be picked up at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service located at 2760 Mt. Holly Road. For more information you can call 870-231-1160. Application deadline is April 15th.

The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center is now accepting entries for the 2014 Membership Showcase, which will be on display in the Merkle and Price Galleries April 1-28.  Deadline for entries is March 28. The exhibition is sponsored by William P. Cook and Associates, PLLC. “In keeping with SAAC’s 50th Anniversary yearlong celebration of the best of SAAC, member artists have the opportunity to exhibit what they consider to be their all-time best work. These works could have been previously exhibited at SAAC, or be new, never before seen works,” said 50th Anniversary committee member Richard Wharton. This year, anything goes! With the exhibit being a showcase and not a competition don’t miss this opportunity to select two favorite works, created at any time in the artist’s lifetime. This year’s exhibition is not a competition and cash awards will not be awarded but artists are encouraged to sell their work, if they wish. Entry is limited to two pieces per member with the first entry free and the second entry only $10. The exhibit is open to any SAAC member.  All 2-D and 3-D fine arts media accepted, including photography and computer generated work.  Artwork completed under classroom supervision and/or reproduced from published material or work by other artists is not accepted. A full prospectus, which details the eligibility and rules of the showcase, is available at the SAAC office.

Even though the weather has not been the most favorable this year, the 2013-14 deer hunt in Arkansas came close to equaling the record set the previous year. According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission statistics, hunters checked 213,199 deer during the season, just under the record of 213,487. Union County repeated as the top deer hunting county in the state with 8,482 checked by hunters. Second was Drew County with 6,325. Cleveland County was third at 6,249, Bradley County fourth at 6,117, and Ashley County fifth with 5,918. Others in the top 10 were Grant County, sixth, 5,786; Columbia County, seventh, 5,742; Washington County, eighth, 5,588; Clark County, ninth, 5,559; and Arkansas County, 10th, 5,511. The season just ended had one other distinction. It was the first time more female than male were taken by hunters. The difference was small 107,247 does to 105,952 bucks.

Join New Hope Prosthetics & Orthotics at a Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to mark the grand opening of this new El Dorado business at 416-B W. Main St. on Tuesday, March 11, at 4:00 p.m. An open house with light refreshments will follow until 5:30 p.m. For more information you can call Kay Smith, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce at 870-863-6113

March 7, 2014

In the early morning hours of Friday, March 7th, there was a vehicle accident involving a school bus of kids. There are conflicting reports as to which vehicle caused the accident. Witnesses say that a vehicle, that appeared to be a van, was clipped by the bus at the intersection of Cash and Fairview Road. There was not much damage done to the bus but the front end of the van took some damage. Thankfully all the kids in the were safe. 

Yesterday, Officer John Parker was dispatched to 500 Buchanan Street for a report of a fight in progress involving two brothers. Upon the officer’s arrival he met with one of the brothers and his mother outside. The man stated that he was Willie Randall born 10/03/1982, however his mother advised that his name was Cornelius Randall. The man told the officer that he had gave out his brothers’ information because he had in fact had a warrant out for his arrest with the City of Camden. Cornelius was taken into custody, charged with obstructing governmental operations and transported to the station. After booking procedures were completed he was transported to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office to be held until the next available court date, which is March 19th.

Officer Masalakov of the Camden Police, was recently dispatched to the Chat and Chew parking lot in reference to a possibly intoxicated subject. Upon arrival, the officer made contact with a male, later identified as Willie Johnson, who was sitting on the ground in front of Chat and Chew. Johnson’s eyes were bloodshot, and his speech was slurred. The officer could also smell intoxicants coming from Johnsons’ breath. Johnson had admitted to drinking. After Johnson was determined to be a danger to himself and others around him, he was taken to the station for booking procedures and then transported to the Ouachita County Detention Facility to be held until all effects wore off.

Officer Parker and Officer Finney received a report of criminal trespassing at Save-A-Lot on California Avenue. Dispatch advised that Zantonio Mitchell was banned from the property and was in the parking lot. The officers’ met with the reporting person, Brooke Strickland, who had called the report. She stated that Mitchell had been banned from entering the premises and was currently on the property. Once the officers’ found Mitchell sitting in a silver SUV in the parking lot, the arrested him and he was transported to the station. All booking procedures were completed by Sergeant Gilbert. 

Stephens Board of Education meeting that was scheduled to take place on Monday, March 10th at 5:00 pm in the High School Library has been cancelled. Topics to be discussed were a financial report, executive sessions and more. Again the meeting scheduled for Monday, March 10th has been cancelled.

Residents of Calhoun County and the surrounding area are invited to a free community meeting where they can learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how to shop for health insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Marketplace). The event will be held Thursday, March 13th at First Baptist Church located at 330 S. 8th Street in Hampton from 5:30p to 7:30p. Free dinner will be served from 5:30p – 6:00p. Representatives from state health agencies will give a brief presentation on the Affordable Care Act and the Marketplace. Trained, licensed in-person assister guides also will be available prior to and throughout the event to help attendees enroll in the Marketplace. To be eligible to enroll, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 64, live in the U.S., and must be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present. This meeting is sponsored by the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, Arkansas Minority Health Consortium, AARP Arkansas and the Arkansas Insurance Department. The Arkansas Minority Health Commission.

For more information, call Tammi Williamson Bradley, 501-683-4970 or 877.264.2826.

Dustin McDaniel recently announced that a Craighead County woman arrested as part of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has been convicted of felony Medicaid Fraud. Amanda Fielder, 28, of Bono pleaded guilty in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Wednesday to one count of Medicaid Fraud, a Class C felony. She was sentenced by Circuit Judge Leon Johnson to five years of probation. She was ordered to pay a $6,648 fine and $2,216.16 in restitution. Fielder was arrested in January after investigators determined that she submitted false time sheets and received payment from Medicaid for services that she did not perform. Fielder lied about providing attendant-care services to a Medicaid beneficiary during the time period from Aug. 29, 2013, to Oct. 5, 2013. During that time, she lived 52 miles away from the beneficiary she purported to have assisted, and she had no transportation at that time. The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates instances of Medicaid fraud and abuse or neglect in nursing homes in Arkansas. To report possible fraud, call the Unit’s hotline at (866) 810-0016.

March 6, 2014

Photo: Miss South Central Stoni Butler with Camden-Fairview Key Club students at the Camden Noon Lions Club.MISS SOUTH CENTRAL TALKS EDUCATION WITH THE LIONS CLUB
Reigning Miss South Central and OBU phycology major, Stoni Butler recently spoke at the Camden Noon Lions Club at Catherine’s Bistro. The Camden native talked about what are role is in the Miss America Organization. The Miss America Organization is actually the number one provider of scholarships for women in the world. In the organization you compete in 5 different courses including one-on one will judges, fitness, evening gown, on-stage question and talent. Butler credits the organization for allowing her to gain skills she never thought she would. “The Miss America Organization has really given me the confidence and empowerment to stand up and do these kinds of things” said Butler. Now each contestant in the pageant must have her own personal platform and for Miss South Central that was “Raise Your Hand: Reaching Higher with Higher Education”, which is all about encouraging all students to pursue their education, whether that’s finishing high school or going on to any type of higher education. Butler said “it’s not about passing test, but personal empowerment and giving yourself the skills that you need to make the difference that you need to make”.

The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center hosts an artist reception in the Merkle and Price Galleries for the current exhibition “Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey” on Saturday, March 8 from 6-8pm.  The traveling exhibition is sponsored locally by Deltic Timber and is free and open to the public. Hot Springs artist Linda Williams Palmer will be in attendance to discuss her inspiration and the creative process behind her exhibition which has been on tour since September of 2012.  Palmer’s subtle yet complex depictions of Arkansas Champion trees invite us to take a closer look at the natural beauty that surrounds our daily lives. For more information about “Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey,” contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

The College of Business at Southern Arkansas University is seeking donations of contemporary, interview-appropriate clothing and accessories for their Career Closet for their students. The College of Business is seeking help from the community to help build the inventory of the Career Closet. Specific needs include professional suits and separates for men and women of all sizes; accessories like scarves, ties and belts for men and women; and shoes in all sizes for men and women. The Career Closet also needs clothing and shoe racks, display mannequins, signage and other basic clothing store fixtures. Once the Career Closet is up and running, currently enrolled students at the College of Business will be able to pick out up to four individual apparel items per semester or one suit during an academic year. The clothes they take are theirs to keep free of charge, said Traci Hughes, SAU business instructor. “The purpose of the new SAU College of Business Career Closet is to advance the professional appearance and confidence of our students by providing interview and work appropriate clothing,” said Hughes. “It will help students with their professional dress needs for interviews, career fairs, and professional conferences and competitions. Many students do not have the money to purchase appropriate attire for these activities the Career Closet will help with this and provide an educational opportunity as well.” Clothing to be donated should be in good condition, on hangers and ready to wear. It is preferred that clothing be less than five years old and/or contemporary in style. “Please donate items you would feel comfortable wearing on an interview yourself,” said Hughes. If you would like to help the Career Closet project, but do not have clothing to donate, any financial donations would also be appreciated, said Hughes. All financial donations to the Career Closet should be sent to the SAU Foundation at P.O. Box 9174, Magnolia, AR 71754. Please mark C.O.B. Career Closet on the memo line of check so that your donation can be designated appropriately. For more information about the SAU College of Business Career Closet, contact Hughes at (870) 235-4298 or

There will be a public meeting in Magnolia on Thursday will hear about the proposed Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act. Speakers will be Gary and Melissa Fults, who lead Arkansans for Compassionate Care. They have been holding a series of local meetings across the state. They will introduce the current petition campaign to get the Medical Cannabis Act on the Arkansas ballot, address the science behind medical cannabis, and answer questions. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the community room at the Columbia County Library. 

The New Hampshire based duo Hungrytown will be singing original and traditional style folk tunes in El Dorado, this Saturday March 8th. This is their 4th performance in El Dorado. Hungrytown has performed world-wide, most recently in New Zealand. The event will take place at the Barton Library, located at 200 E. 5th Street, the event is free and open to the public. For any additional information you can call Nancy L. Arn at 870-863-5447.

There will be a 2nd Chance at Life Annual Fundraiser Banquet on Saturday March, 15th at the Village Outreach Center located at 1304 Hillsboro in El Dorado. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with the event starting at 6:00 pm. Tickets will be 20 dollars per person and are also available by calling 870-639-3935.

Thousands of consumers contacted the Consumer Protection Division of the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office in 2013 with complaints regarding disputes with businesses or to report suspected scams or fraud. Based on reports from Arkansans last year, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced the top 10 most common types of consumer complaints received by his office. McDaniel issued this consumer alert in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week.  Consumer protection agencies across the country observe National Consumer Protection Week in March each year in order to encourage consumers to make better-informed decisions and take advantage of their consumer rights. “We work every day to help consumers reach a positive resolution to any issues they may have,” McDaniel said. “By knowing the most common types of complaints that we receive, consumers can be equipped with information beforehand so that they can possibly avoid any problems. Our Consumer Protection Division website,, offers resources and advice to consumers about those important topics.” The Consumer Protection Division received almost 7,500 complaints from Arkansas consumers last year. Through informal mediation efforts, the division recovered $1,857,522.63 on behalf of consumers.

The top 10 most common complaints from last year, by category, were:
Automobile sales, service, financing, and repair
Credit services, credit repair and other financial services
Debt collection
Payday lending
Health care
Landline and wireless telephone services
Mortgages, foreclosures and home financing
Cable TV and satellite services
Home improvement, repair and construction

Complaints about automobile-related transactions perennially top the list as the most common complaint categories for consumers who contact the Consumer Protection Division. Automobile transactions are among the most significant purchases a consumer makes, so those transactions gain significant attention if something goes awry. When dealing with automobile issues, consumers have reported being subject to “yo-yo” sales. These are sales in which a car dealer encourages the buyer to drive the vehicle off a lot before finance terms are finalized. When the buyer returns to complete the sale, the terms of the agreement have changed, usually leading to higher costs for the buyer. Under these circumstances, Arkansas law allows the buyer to cancel the transaction and recover his or her trade-in and down payment. Other types of auto-related complaints involve consumers who have faced pressure to buy add-on services such as gap insurance, credit life insurance and extended warranties. Complaints about misrepresentation of the condition of an automobile, such as salvage history, are also common. The credit and financial services category pertains to common complaints regarding credit repair, credit reporting, credit cards and banking and financing services generally. For instance, credit repair companies may promise to “erase” bad credit or provide a fix to credit reports, but most of the time the companies take a consumer’s money and do little or nothing to help improve a consumer’s credit. The third-most common complaint category, debt collection, also regularly ranks among the top complaints. Consumers report about harassing tactics, attempts by collectors to collect old debt, or issues with being misidentified as the party from which collectors are seeking money. The Consumer Protection Division’s website,, contains information about every common complaint category, as well as general tips for consumers who are navigating the marketplace. Visit the website for more details, or call the Consumer Protection Division hotline at (800) 482-8982.

March 5, 2014

Coming to the Camden Police Department in late 2004, Boyd Woody had no idea that he would one day be chosen to lead the squad as chief. Woody had come over from the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office and worked his way back up the ranks after joining on with the Camden Police. In a recent interview I had with the new chief, he said that law enforcement is in him and it’s something he will always do. Woody recalls when former Chief Bill O’Keefe arrived at the station in 2007. Woody said “At first I was real reluctant to it, I don’t know if I even liked it” but overtime he and O’Keefe built a great working relationship. “He really took me under his wing and taught me to think outside the box and I learned a lot from him” said Woody. After O’Keefe decided that he was going to retire, he turned in his retirement letter to Mayor Chris Claybaker and actually suggested Woody as the next chief of police. “The things that he has done over his 52 year career in law enforcement, for him to say you’re going to be a good chief really feels good to me” said Woody. When I asked the new chief what responsibilities fall under that title, he stated that the number one priority is the safety and security of the community. “I am dedicated to Camden” and “For me being a police officer, it never was about writing a ticket, it has always been about the people” said Woody.

Earlier this week Deputy Michael Davidson received a call from dispatch concerning a subject wanting to file a report at 177 Car don Street due to his dogs being shot by his neighbor.  Upon the Officers arrival, he made contact with Wilton Dickson. Dickson stated that his two mix breed puppies got gotten into his neighbor’s chicken coop and that his neighbor shot his dogs. Dickson stated that he knows that he is responsible for the action of his animals, but he was upset because the dogs were only 2 to 3 months old. Davidson then spoke with the neighbor, David Reynolds who stated that he went outside to check on his chickens when he saw the dogs attacking them. Davidson then stated that he shot the dogs and had told Dickson to keep the dogs off the property many times before. At that time, the officer advised both parties that a report would be on file at the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office and Affidavit and Warrants would come into play if they felt they needed to take the matter further.

Also this week, Deputy Laduke spoke with Jo Paul Tidwell at the Pine Grove Camp on Ouachita 13. Mr. Tidwell stated that he went up to check on the camp, and when he arrived both doors to both the buildings were open. He immediately noticed that a refrigerator that was in the building, was missing. A microwave was also missing from the building. Inside the next building a refrigerator was also missing. One screwdriver was found which is believed to be what was used to break in.

The Ouachita County Alzheimer’s Support Group will meet from 1:00 until 2:00 pm on Wednesday March 19, in the library of the First United Methodist Church in Camden. The topic for discussion will be “Managing Stress”. Family Members caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or a related disease are encouraged to attend. For further information call Anita Holt at 836-6833 or Nancy Bailey at the Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Arkansas toll free at 800-272-2127.

If anyone is interested in SAU Tech’s Practical Nursing Program the deadline for applications is April 1st. The applicant must take and pass the TEAS entry exam. Only 2 dates remain and registration must be done ahead of time. You will also need to go to the Allied Health Website: For further information you can contact Ms. Vontisha Murphy at 870-574-4585 or email her at

The South Arkansas Administrative Professionals will meet at Murphy Oil Corp, 200 East Peach St., from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 6. SAAP members will be celebrating their second anniversary since forming the local organization. New board members will be inducted. Thank you to Murphy USA for sponsoring our March meeting. SAAP meets the first Thursday of each month. The group is open to all administrative professionals. For more information, send an e-mail to

Area youth are encouraged to attend the Superhero Showdown and become a health and fitness hero at the Southern Arkansas University Story Arena from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, March 8, 2014. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Arena. A pre-registration form can also be found on Facebook

The event is being organized by the Enactus business student organization at SAU. It is free and open to the public. Children grades 1-5 are encouraged to participate and each will receive a free T-shirt, superhero mask, and a goody bag with items like a bracelet, fitness coloring books and dark chocolate.  There will also be several prize drawings during the event, including a grand prize of a Kendle Fire for one lucky participant. The mission of the event is to help conquer childhood obesity, according to senior finance Major Grant Dooley of DeQueen, Ark. “Fitness has always been a part of my life. I helped coach a little league softball team last year and it was sad to see how many obese children there were,” said Dooley. “I want the kids and parents to have the knowledge of what is healthy and what is not. And I want them to realize that you can have fun while exercising.” Children will get to run through a fitness obstacle course set up to not only get their bodies moving, but also to get their minds thinking about healthy choices. They will traverse a total of eight obstacles, including a marshmallow mountain and Twinkie tunnel. Captain Walgreens will be on hand to battle an unhealthy villain who stole all of the healthy food in Magnolia and replaced it with bad food options. Dooley said he and fellow Enactus member Jill Bridges presented the project to Walgreens officials and earned a $2,000 grant. The group also secured a highly competitive $1,500 grant from Sams Club. Through various contacts, they are also getting support from Cambell’s and Dr. Pepper Co. UAMS South is also providing support and will be at the event with a booth to provide information and demonstrations. Student organizations in the College of Business like Enactus (formerly Sife) and PBL have a well-documented history of success. Trophy cases in the Business Building at SAU are overflowing with accolades from state and national honors. The experiences students have outside the classroom in these types of endeavors are important in building leadership and teamwork skills for SAU Business students. To find out more you can visit To find out more about the SAU College of Business, visit

March 4, 2014

Earlier today, Officer Jimmy Plyer was requested to assist Officer Elliot on a traffic stop. When Plyer arrived on the scene, he met with Elliot who had advised him that she had stopped a black Sante Fe for an improper left turn and believed the individual was intoxicated. The driver was identified as Patrick Howard, who stated he had drank 2 beers. Howard’s eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and thick. After the man failed a field sobriety test, he was taken into custody for driving while intoxicated. When at the station, Howard provided a breath sample, in-which he tested a number of 620 with a final test time of 0235 and a final result of 0.102. He was then issued a criminal citation for driving while intoxicated and issued a later court date of May 7th.

One man and his wife have been arrested in a bizarre kidnapping case, in which Magnolia police allege that the man kept his 77-year-old mother captive in a bedroom for a year-and-a-half.

40-year-old Charles Ronk, was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, two counts of aggravated assault on a family member, and battery on an individual over the age of 60. He is held under a $100,000 bond at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility. Police said that Ronk is unemployed. Charged with false imprisonment is his wife, 45-year-old Jessica Ronk, who is currently held under a $50,000 bond. She is a social work instructor at Southern Arkansas University.

Smart Driver Course presented by MCSA Trauma and Chest Pain Center has AARP Smart Driver Instructor Cheryl Splawn MCSA educating the community about safe driving in an effort to decrease these traumas. Cars have changed. So have traffic rules, driving conditions and the roads you travel every day. AARP Smart Driver Instructor Cheryl Splawn will present a refresher that can save lives and may even get you a discount on your annual auto insurance premium. AARP membership is not required to take the course and there are no tests to pass.

The event will be on March 5th, from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm. Conference Room 3, First Floor Medical Center of South Arkansas 700 W. Grove Street. Reservations required to (870) 864-3282

The Annual Daffodil Festival will take place this Friday, and Saturday in Camden. The list of performers and their times are as followed:

Delaney Fogle 10:50-11:15am                         Alli Wofford 11:15-11:35am
CF Preschool Children 11:55am-12:15pm      CF Middle School Choir 12:15-12:30pm
CF Ivory School Choir 12:30-12:55pm           Harmony Grove High Choir 1:00-1:25pm
HG Harmony Hornets Choir 1:30-1:55pm      CF Intermediate School Choir 2:00-2:25pm
CF High School 2:30-2:55pm                          Josh Jeffers 3:00-3:25pm

Telematic 9:30am-11:00am                              Sydney Pigot 11:05-11:25 am
Delaney Fogle 11:30-11:55am                          Delaney Fogle & Claire Mosley 12:00-12:10 pm
Chandler Walley 12:10-12:40pm                      Lane Smith 12:45-1:05pm
Kayla Blair 1:05-1:30pm                                   Josh Jeffers 1:35-2:00pm
Tammy Fogle 2:05-2:30pm                               Brandon Farris 2:35-2:55pm
Emily Notle 3:00-3:25pm                                  Evan Wheatley 3:30-3:55pm
Emily Davis 3:55-4:10pm                                  Lane Smith 4:10-4:30pm

During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross invites everyone to make a difference in their communities by giving blood, volunteering, taking a class or making a financial donation. Those supporters enable the Red Cross to continue to help people in need like the Roux family.

Jenny Roux’s son, Blake, was born with a rare and serious chromosome disorder that causes multiple abnormalities. Jenny and Blake both received two pints of blood the day he was born. For Blake, that marked the first of many transfusions. Jenny said she knew her time with him would be short, but she credits multiple blood transfusions with helping extend his life.

“Without the blood transfusions, I don’t know that he would have even had the 10 months we had with him,” she said. At that point Jenny again turned to the Red Cross, and the organization’s Service to the Armed Forces program provided emergency communications about Blake’s death to her husband, who was deployed to Iraq. Thanks to everyday heroes, the Red Cross was there for the Roux family in their time of need. The Red Cross invites the public to discover their inner hero this month. To make an appointment to donate blood or for more information about other ways to get involved with the Red Cross, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Upcoming blood donation opportunities for Ouachita County

March 17 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Southern Arkansas University Tech College, 100 Carr Road in Camden, Ark.
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

March 3, 2014

March 3rd 2014, will be a day to remember for the city of Camden. It was the day that the first ever Camden Community Garden was established. Many different figures from the Camden community such as Mayor Chris Claybaker, Assistant Mayor Kathy Lee, and Chief Bo Woody, Beth Osteen, City Clerk Donna Stewart and others were there on Adams Street to witness the cutting of the ribbon for this new feature for Camden. Mayor Claybaker said that this is going to be great for the community and he wishes we could have more of these. If you are interested in the Community Garden you, family and friends can take part of the event happening on March 15, from 9:30 am until 2:00 pm and help plant the first crop of vegetables and herbs. A light Lunch will also be served. 

Due to freezing weather, Camden Water Utilities scheduled annual city wide system flush has been postponed one week. Flushing will start Monday March 10 and last until March 14th. Caution should be used when washing clothes as sediment will be present from time to time during this period. Camden Water Utilities would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause its customers and ask for your patience and understanding during this time frame. 

This past Friday night, Bo Woody was officially sworn in as the new Chief of the Camden Police Department. Woody is taking place of former chief Bill O’Keefe who came out of retirement to the Camden PD in 2007. During his inauguration Woody promised the citizens of Camden that he will protect the city of Camden to the best of his abilities and help make it the safest it can be. For pictures of Bo Woody’s Inauguration you can go to the Y95 Facebook page. 

The Camden Police Department was saddened to announce the loss of on of their K9 Bak. Bak passed away this past weekend suffering from heart complications. Bak was a 10 year old German Shepard and had been a member of the department since 2008. Throughout his career Bak was credited for multiple criminal apprehensions and the seizure of tens of thousands of dollars in narcotics and contraband. A memorial service will be held in his honor on a later date. 

Baseball and Softball sign-ups at he Boys and Girls Club of Ouachita County have been extended until Friday, March 7th. 

Well South Arkansas I hope you’re ready to get muddy, because it’s time for the Annual SAU Tech Foundation Mud Volleyball and Baggo Tournament Splat-tacular. The deadline to be a sponsor is April 11th, and the deadline to register a team is April 18th. The event will be open to all students, businesses, churches and all who want to participate. So be sure and join SAU Tech of volleyball, baggo, bbq, crawfish, a live DJ and more. You can call Patricia Rhinehart at 870-574-4716 for more information.

The town of Chidester will be having a City Council Meeting tonight, starting at 6:30 pm. The meeting will take place at 5265 Highway 24 in the water office. For any additional information on the meeting you can call 870-685-2906.

Jerry Mathers, known by many as Beaver Cleaver, from the hit T.V. show “Leave it to Beaver” will be the guest speaker at the Charlie O Ross Center on March 17th. Mathers will be speaking about the Golden Age of Television. For tickets you can call 870-574-4521.

Southern Arkansas University is having The Glass House tonight in the Reynolds Room 210. The cost for the event is free and will start at 6:30 pm. So join SAU for open, honest, and respectful conversations about race-related issues and questions that are seldom addressed in mixed company. All are welcome to come and listen and/or participate in the discussion.

“Arkansas Champion Trees: an Artist’s Journey,” a traveling exhibition by Hot Springs artist Linda W. Palmer, is an opportunity to view an art exhibit that ably references history and science as well as an appreciation for natural resources.  The exhibition fills the South Arkansas Arts Center’s Merkle and Price Galleries from March 4-28.  An artist reception will be hosted for Palmer on March 8 from 6-8pm. The exhibition is sponsored locally by Deltic Timber.  The exhibit includes eighteen large colored-pencil drawings of champion trees accompanied by detail drawings of foliage, documentary photographs of depicted trees, and informative text panels that share the artist’s perspective and help connect viewers to the information related to the champion tree topic. The colored pencil drawings demonstrate the best of the medium, one that is in wide-spread use in Arkansas schools. These large-scale interpretations give evidence of the nuance and sophistication that can be appreciated, aspired to, and achieved. At first glance, Palmer’s subtle yet complex depictions of Arkansas’ champion trees resemble oversized botanical drawings. While the artist is attentive to genus and species, the drawings exceed the demands of scientific illustration. Palmers’ ultimate goal was to interpret each champion according to the season of observation, location, historic context and human connection. She interprets each tree as a distinctive botanical example and as a witness to the events that have surrounded it. From this rich duality, Linda has drawn inspiration to imbue each drawing with singular specificity that implies much more than a identifiable tree, albeit a champion. Palmer developed this new series of work over a period of 5 years, driving approximately 7,000 miles to document and artistically interpret selected Arkansas Champion Trees. An experienced Arkansas artist, Palmer opened her first art studio and gallery in Ft. Smith in 1985 and currently maintains her studio and gallery in Hot Springs: the Linda Palmer Gallery, 800 Central Avenue, Hot Springs National Park. Awarded “Signature Status” in 2006 by the Colored Pencil Society of America, Palmer’s work has been selected for numerous juried exhibitions and collections across the country and in Europe.  The exhibit is organized for travel by the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is supported in part by the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and by the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about the exhibit, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

Two Arkansas State Troopers were recently recommended for consideration of promotion by Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police. The recommendations were submitted and approved during a regular monthly meeting of the State Police Commission. Sergeant Mark Hollingsworth, 53, of Mountain Home, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and will assume command duties of Company E within the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.  Lieutenant Hollingsworth is a twenty-eight year veteran of the department and most recently has served as a Special Agent supervisor within Company E.

Corporal Don Johnson, 46, of Lewisville, was promoted to the rank of sergeant and will assume post supervisor duties in Troop D of the department’s Highway Patrol Division. Sergeant Johnson is an eighteen year veteran of the department and most recently was assigned to highway patrol duties in the Lafayette County area of southwest Arkansas.

Jonquils will be in bloom at Historic Washington State Park and a tremendous line-up of Entertainment and fun await those who will be visiting the park on March 14th through 16th for the 46th Annual Jonquil Festival. Friday March 14th the Arkansas Symphony String Quartet will be on the front porch of Williams Tavern Restaurant from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM entertaining those who are in line to get a great home cooked meal at the Tavern. Under the big tent on Friday from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, sit down and enjoy the sounds of “The Hartley Family”, followed by the “McWilliams Family” from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM.  Saturday March 15th is highlighted with “Midnight Hurricanes” performing from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, followed by the wonderful family fun of the McWilliams Family again. And for those who want to combine a Sunday afternoon with the best in Christian/Gospel Music join the Hartley Family again under the big tent from 11:30 to 1:30 PM.  Since the festival host hundreds of crafters during this weekend, we wouldn’t want folks to miss visiting any of the great booths and vendors so we will also have the Hempstead County Melody Boys strolling the craft grounds to provide their great Bluegrass, for the avid craft shopper! Oh, and please feel free to join in or request your favorite song! Back this year for all three days, is the 3000 gallon Arkansas Game and Fish Aquarium providing a fun and educational experience for all ages.   Along with the great home cooking of Williams Tavern Restaurant, folks can enjoy the “Best” in festival foods on our food court, with plenty of places to take a break, eat and enjoy music and the atmosphere that is so unique to the Historic Washington State Park Jonquil Festival! Festival hours are Friday March 14th and Saturday March 15th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday March 16th from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  General Admission is free, with a $5 fee for parking. Park tours and programs are available at regular price with tour stops such as the BW Edwards Weapons Museum, Print Shop and the Blacksmith Shop, along with many more on the schedule. Mark your calendars and don’t forget to plan on a wonderful visit to celebrate Spring with Historic Washington State Park.  For more information call 870-983-2684.

February 28, 2014

Tonight at 5:00 pm, Bo Woody will be sworn in as the new Chief of the Camden Police Department. Woody was chosen by Mayor Chris Claybaker earlier this year. Woody has been with the Camden Police Department since December 2004, coming over from the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office. Woody will be taken the place of Bill O’Keefe who came out of retirement in 2007 to take the position as police chief.  

The staff at Southern Arkansas University Communications recently earned six national marketing awards. SAU Communications earned three national honors from both the Collegiate Advertising Awards and the Educational Advertising Awards. Included in the honors were projects relating to their “Taking the Mulerider on the Road” public relations initiative in 2013. Josh Jenkins, SAU Manager of Web Communications and Online Marketing, won two Gold awards, one from each competition, for his custom website, Jenkins joined SAU Communications in August 2013, and this was his first contest entry as a Mulerider staff member. The website Jenkins created is a mobile responsive, one-page modern website with advanced design features. The site also integrated dynamically with social media outlets. Communications also took home a Silver and a Bronze for the TV commercial that featured Mulerider Megan Maye and Molly Ann riding through Texarkana to promote new classes being offered in that area. Another Bronze was earned for the “Complete College Experience Stories” video.

The tragic loss of Barnard to cancer just prior to her graduation from SAU is not what people remember, it was her inspiring positive spirit that has kept her memory strong. “It amazes me that my precious little daughter used her life in such a big way to shine light in a dark world,” said Barnard’s mother, Nanette Hoyle. “You would not believe the many people, including SAU students, who have sent messages and letters about Whitley’s impact on their lives.” Hoyle and Barnard’s sister, Mallory Reeves, are featured in the video tribute. They knew Whitley wanted her story told. “She asked us to do that before she left us,” said Nanette. “And I know that above all she wanted her faith and how God worked in her life to be what everyone saw. It is what gave her peace throughout the storm.” The Whitley Reeves Barnard Finish Strong Scholarship reached the minimum award level during the 2013-14 fiscal year, and will earn sufficient income to begin providing part tuition for the 2015-16 school year. As additional donations are received, the amount provided to the recipient will increase toward the ultimate goal of providing a full tuition scholarship for a student in the College of Business. The endowment is approximately a third of the way to that goal. Those wishing to invest in the scholarship may do so by visiting and clicking on the “Make a Gift” button or by calling the SAU Foundation at 870-235-4078. The Twenty-Ninth Annual Educational Advertising Awards were sponsored by Higher Education Marketing Report. The Educational Advertising Awards is the largest educational advertising awards competition in the country. This year, nearly 2,000 entries were received from over one-thousand colleges, universities and secondary schools from all fifty states and several foreign countries. According to the Collegiate Advertising Awards’ website, they provide an elite program designed to recognize today’s most talented educational marketing professionals for outstanding excellence in all forms of advertising, marketing and promotion.

The National Honor Society is sponsoring a blood drive at Harmony Grove High School's Auditorium on March 6, Thursday, from 8:30 am -2:30 pm. Contact 574-0656 to set up an appointment or just drop by to donate.  A scholarship for a 2014 senior will be given if we reach our goal of 54 donations.  The senior with the most community persons donating in his/her name will receive a $250 scholarship from the American Red Cross. 

Governor Beebe has ordered Arkansas flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday, February 28, 2014. The flags will be lowered to honor Fire Chief Randall Pogue of Oak Grove, who died in the line of duty on February 19.p

At the recent Magnolia Economic Development Corporation, executive director Cammie Hambrice, was happy about prospects for an improved local business outlook.  Hambrice said “I’m real excited about what we have going on locally, in our local industries,” and “I just think this is going to be probably the best year we’ve had in a long, long time as far as our economic development.” Hambrice stated she is actively working with existing local industries that are looking to expand operations, of which there may be as many as four. Should they all materialize, she said it would mean approximately 170 new jobs, a number more than are usually created when a new industry comes to the area.

There will be a Community Garden Service Day taking place on March 15th from 9:30 am until 2:00 pm. This event will take place at 625 SE Adams next to the OPED Building. Please feel free to bring your family, friends, and garden gloves to help plant the first crop of vegitables and herbs. A lunch will also be served at the event. For additional information you can contact Kathy Lee at 870-836-6436.  

Does your business need a website? Have you been held back by a lack of funds or a lack of technical skills? Then, Website in a Day is the hands-on workshop for you! Come sit down with the ASBTDC's laptop lab and design a free website using Weebly. You'll be taken step-by-step through creating a free account and creating an attractive, functional, five page website. All participants receive a free 20-page workbook with detailed instructions. The ASBTDC is able to present this seminar at no cost to Arkansas small business owners due to a joint partnership with Connect Arkansas, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to increasing high-speed internet and adoption throughout Arkansas There will be a Website in a Day seminar on Tuesday, March 4th, from 9:00 am-4:00 pm with a 1-hour break for lunch on your own. The seminar will be held at the UACCH Technical and Industrial Building in room 102. Cost for the event is free thanks to a special offer from Connect Arkansas.

On March 1st there will be a UPCAPS Fur Ball Benefit from 8:00 pm until 11:00 pm. The benefit will take place at the Eldorado American Legion just off of Highway 7 towards Camden. The UPCAPS Fur Ball Benefit is being given to raise much needed funds for the little furry friends at UPCAPS. The Sonic Grove Band will be playing in the Starlight Room. For additional information you can call Commander Jerry Earnest at 870-918-9450.

February 27, 2014

Earlier this week Sgt. TJ Robertson responded to Fort Lookout for a report of a disturbance. Officers had been dispatched to the same location for reports of fights, one was reported to have a gun, two other times within the previous hour. While investigating the first incident we were informed by one of the victims that her brother was one of the suspects involved in the disturbance. The man was identified as Jacoby Jordan. Officers observed Jordan walking north on Monroe Street. He was walking very fast and showed signs of intoxication. When asked; the man said he had been drinking. Jordan was taken into custody and charged with public intoxication, and later transported to the Ouachita County Jail to be held until he could be safely released.  

Since the Ouachita County Primary is fast approaching here is a certified list of candidates:

Debbie M. Lambert for County Assessor
Britt Williford for County Clerk
Sylvester Lee Smith Jr. for County Coroner Surveyor
David Norwood and Charles White for County Sheriff and Collector
Garry L. Smith, Robert E. Garner and Robert A. McAdoo for County Judge

The list for Justice of the peace are as follows:
Ware Russell for District 1
Eddie Pickett for District 3
Harry Brown for District 4
Raymond Furlow for District 5
Addie Moore-Edwards for District 6
Dennis Truelove, Henry Carroll, Dale Lindsey for District 7
James Manley for District 8
Fred Lilly for District 9
Charlotte Young for District 10
Jerry West for District 11

Recently, Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann was presented with a certificate as a “Certified Municipal Official” in the State of Arkansas through the Arkansas Municipal League. He completed 21 credit hours of training which included three of five core classes in human resources, finance and budgeting.

With many changes soon coming to Southern Arkansas University Tech in the near future,

I thought it would be appropriate to talk to school Chancellor Corbet Lamkin about exactly what students and staff can expect. Lamkin talked about the new SAU Tech Student Center that is currently being constructed and is expected to be finished by May. This new building will seat twenty-one hundred and forty two people and one thousand people in a banquet style engagement. The cafeteria of the new building will accommodate approximately 200 people at a time, and there will also be a special private dining room for 30. There will also be a new campus bookstore and student services office inside the building. Lamkin said “We are very excited because in addition to the new building we will also have access to our gym that was taken out in the October 29th tornado in 2009” and “We believe the Student Life Center will allow us to host events that our community has not been able to host in the past, as well as serve our industries in the industrial park”. One of the great things about the new Student Center is that SAU Tech will get to host its own graduation starting in the Spring of 2015. SAU Tech will also have new on-campus student housing going up and to be ready by the Fall 2014 semester.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will be hosting a Daffodil Festival Breakfast fundraiser on Friday, March 7th from 6:30 am until 9:30 am at the St. John Episcopal Church in downtown Camden. The items for sale will include your choice of:

A plain biscuit or Cinnamon roll for $1.00
Sausage biscuit for $2.00
Sausage egg and cheese biscuit, bacon egg and cheese biscuit or biscuits and gravy for $3.00
Sausage, bacon, egg and cheese casserole for $3.50 or a 9x13 pan for $25.00
You can also order a pan of cinnamon rolls for $12.00. The Lions Club will deliver with a $20.00 minimum order. Orders must be faxed to 870-837-2331 no later than Thursday, March 6th. For any additional information you can call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

For the first time since 2006, Magnolia Regional Medical Center will raise its rates.
A 10 percent increase will take effect in the near future with another 10 percent increase six months later. According to Chief Executive Officer Margaret West prices on everything have gone up considerably in recent years. She also said the increases are recommended by the hospital’s auditor.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health or ADH, the number of flu deaths this season has increased to 52.  The ADH said this year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 50. The ADH says multiple hospitalizations in the 25-50 group have also been reported. You can also help reduce your risk of flu by washing hands frequently and avoiding those who are sick. Flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and local health units statewide. If you visit a local health unit to get a flu vaccine, please bring your insurance cards with you. If you do not have insurance, the vaccine will be free. The 2012-2013 flu season was one of the worst in the past three decades, according to the ADH, so be sure and get your flu vaccine if you haven’t already.

Arkansans engage in countless consumer transactions every day, and most of them take place without a hitch. Sometimes, though, Arkansas consumers may encounter problems in their day-to-day dealings. When consumers face problems such as errors on bills, defects in products or outright scams, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division may be able to assist them. In fact, last year, the Consumer Protection Division recovered more than $1.85 million for consumers who needed help resolving their disputes. Since Attorney General Dustin McDaniel took office in 2007, consumers have received nearly $11.4 million as a result of informal mediation efforts by the division. Because National Consumer Protection Week is observed the first week of March each year, McDaniel recently issued this consumer alert to remind Arkansans about the resource available to them in his Consumer Protection Division.  “It is our goal to do everything within our power to help a consumer reach a positive resolution when they call our office with a complaint, whether it’s related to a misunderstanding about a routine business transaction or a clear instance of fraud,” McDaniel said. “We have helped consumers save a dime or two each month because of an error on a cell phone bill, and we have also helped recover thousands of dollars for consumers who have fallen victim to scam artists.” In 2013, the Consumer Protection Division recovered $1,857,522.63 through mediation on behalf of consumers. Also, many consumer complaints are positively resolved without any related financial recoveries. The division handled nearly 7,500 consumer complaints last year. By filing a consumer complaint and taking advantage of the resources available to them, consumers can often achieve positive results through the division’s informal mediation process instead of legal action, McDaniel said. Consumer complaints are handled by investigators who are specially assigned to deal with complaints in particular fields, such as mortgages, credit cards, or automobiles. This specialization allows consumer complaints to be mediated quickly and efficiently. The investigators work with attorneys in the Consumer Protection Division to identify companies that engage in unfair or illegal business practices. In instances of fraud or violations of the law, the division may go to court to have the illegal activity stopped and to obtain relief for affected victims. During National Consumer Protection Week, consumers across the country are encouraged to make better-informed decisions and take full advantage of their consumer rights.  The Consumer Protection Division’s website,, contains tips and resources to equip consumers with the information they need to navigate the consumer marketplace and avoid scams and fraud. The user-friendly website offers information about common consumer issues and contains up-to-date alerts about scams. The site’s content is divided into nine specific categories that allow consumers to easily find the tools they need to address a particular concern. To file a consumer complaint, or for more information about consumer issues, contact the Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit

February 26, 2014

SAU Tech is pleased to announce the annual SAU Tech Talent Show winners; Delaney Fogle took first place with her rendition of Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You’, Alex Ellis won second place with an acapella version of John Legend’s “Ordinary People” and third place went to Lane Smith for playing an acoustic     guitar instrumental.  First place prize was $150, second $100 and third $50. 

Columbia Christian School's Board of Directors has announced leadership changes at the Magnolia campus. Dr. Marla Strecker held the title of “executive director” at Columbia Christian. The school recently issued a statement thanking her for her service. “The accreditation process was a tremendous success. The school named Dr. Richard Britt, former Waldo School District superintendent, as the new school superintendent; and Bro. David Watkins, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Magnolia, as the school’s new chaplain. The statement read “Dr. Britt has an impressive career as a pastor, teacher, coach, principal and superintendent. Bro. Watkins has been in ministry for over 50 years serving in many areas including pastor and Baptist Missionary Association of America president,”. Strecker was named Columbia Christian School’s executive director in May 2012. At the time, she was an assistant professor of English and director of the Development Division at Southern Arkansas University.

Southern Arkansas University will be having a Depression and Anxiety Day on March 11th, from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm in the Reynolds Center Grand Hall. The event will help you learn more about depression and anxiety, prevention strategies, and resources that are available on Campus and the Community. This event will include information tables, stress-free zones, healthy food demonstrations, yoga demonstrations, refreshments, door prizes and more.

A list of times for events:
Food demonstration – 12:15 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Exercise/Yoga – 12:45 p.m. and 1 p.m.
Relaxation techniques – 1:15 p.m.
This event is sponsored by the Depression Research Center and Student Life. For any additional information you can call Stephanie Thompson at 870-235-5008

Recent Southern Arkansas University Communication Design graduate Tyler Orsak has already landed a gig that ticks his requirements for a dream job. Orsak, of Magnolia, graduated from SAU in May of 2012 and now works at Administrator and Creative Director for Preston Palmer Studios (PPS) in Conway. In this role, he oversees the front end operations of the growing music school and guitar repair shop. He is also in charge of all design, marketing and creative work including the company website, film, ad graphics and collateral. “My dream job consists of 4 things: working in a creative environment, working with talented and interesting people, having the chance to grow and change, and breaking out into random musical numbers,” said Orsak. “Sometimes this job fires on all cylinders.” Orsak said he expects PPS to grow exponentially over the next few years. He would love for this growth to see him overseeing a small creative group of designers, in charge of a lifestyle brand that includes apparel and merchandise, custom builds, and film projects all circling around music. “I have a great passion for creating, so being able to design for an interesting, dynamic place that actually uses my concepts as their reality is such a reward,” said Orsak. Orsak recalls many aspects of his college life at SAU that were rewarding as well. “SAU is full of very kind people who will bend over backwards to help you get to where you need to be, but it also takes boat loads of initiative and hard work to be successful and stand out,” said Orsak. “As long as you embody the very best qualities of SAU – kindness and hard work – you will love your time there.” Along with his work with the SAU Department of Art and Design, he said he also adored being active with SAU Theatre. He remembers there never being a lack of passionate, hardworking people in the theatre department, or a lack of fun times. Orsak also served as a Resident Assistant for SAU Housing for three years. He helped run the Greene Light Art Studios, which is a unique program at SAU for art majors to have their own studio and creative space. “Obviously, my work and experiences in the Art Department at SAU stand above the rest, and I would have to credit that to the outstanding professors that showed me the ropes. Their mixture of experience, talent, skill, wit and guidance was what made my education so valuable. They were the tops,” said Orsak. He added that along with the professors, he credits the practical knowledge, opportunities to study abroad and chances to work in a “real world” environment as making the SAU art program top notch.

Arkadelphia police arrested a Texas woman for aggravated assault after she allegedly chased another female with a butter knife. 22-year-old Reshawn Antranel Handy, of Jefferson, Texas, was recently arrested on police charges of felony assault.  Formal charges are pending and will be determined by Prosecutor Blake Batson. According to a police report, officers were dispatched to 2551 Country Club Road in reference to a weapons-involved fight in progress. Witnesses told police that two females one of them armed with a knife, had been arguing in the road at Eagle Point Apartments. One of the witnesses apparently yelled that the police were being called, and Handy allegedly cursed at her before fleeing into a residence with the knife in hand. According to the report, Handy told police she picked up a butter knife during an argument with her girlfriend that turned physical. The woman was arrested and transported to the Clark County Detention Center. Officers were unable to locate the knife inside or outside the apartment.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is still seeking nominations for the 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award, the annual recognition of citizens or organizations for their efforts to protect and enhance the state’s environment. Nomination packets must be postmarked by March 14, 2014, in order to be considered for the award, which will be presented at the April 25, 2014, meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology commission. The “ENVY Award” was established in 2005 to honor a major contribution by an individual or organization involving environmental stewardship activities in Arkansas.  The award recipient will be selected from among the entries in five different categories of environmental-related activities or concepts: Innovation, Green Government, Environmental Education and Outreach, Environmental Improvement or Enhancement, and Sustainability ADEQ Director Teresa Marks will appoint a panel of judges to narrow the entries to a group of finalists from which the ENVY Award winner will be chosen. Each finalist will also receive recognition by ADEQ at the April Commission meeting.  More information on the criteria for the award and a nomination packet can be obtained by contacting Andrea Hopkins in the ADEQ’s Public Outreach and Assistance (POA) Division, telephone, 501-682-0820; e-mail,, or by accessing the link in the “Hot Topics” box on the agency’s website at An electronic copy of the nomination packet for the award is available on the website. Nomination packets should be addressed to: ENVY Award Packet, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced  that Arkansas, other states and the federal government have reached an agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals to resolve allegations that the drug manufacturer engaged in unlawful marketing practices related to the pain reliever Lidoderm. The Arkansas Medicaid Program will receive a total of $147,448.39 from the settlement with Endo Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Endo Health Solutions. “When a company circumvents the law in order to increase its profits, the victims are the people of Arkansas and its Medicaid program,” McDaniel said. “I am glad that the states and federal government were able to reach this settlement for the benefit of the Medicaid program.” Endo is accused of illegally promoting Lidoderm for treatment of lower back pain or chronic pain, thereby causing false claims to be submitted to Medicaid between March 1999 and December 2007. The FDA had approved the drug only for treatment of pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia, commonly known as shingles. Under the agreement, Endo will pay $172.9 million to the states and federal government, as well as a $20 million criminal fine.

February 25, 2014

Earlier this week, Johnathan King came to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office to report fraud. According to the man, someone had obtained a Sprint account through his name and information and he had been receiving bills which he disputes at this time. He had also received documentation of the action he needed to be taken disputing this matter. The steps included receiving a police report. King did not provide any evidence other than stating that Sprint has possibly confused some social security numbers that were close to his own. King did provide a Sprint account number that had his old address on it.

This past Sunday, at approximately 12:10 pm, Deputy Laduke of the Sheriff’s Office spoke to a woman at Jays Country Store. The woman was wanting to make a report of theft of gas. The woman stated that a man pulled up in a faded black four door car and pumped $25.12 worth of gas into his car. When he was done he pulled out and headed south towards Stephens. The woman said she believes a red truck was traveling with him.

You can join the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce for the GenWealth ribbon cutting ceremony this Thursday February 27th. The ribbon-cutting will take place at GenWealth Financial, located at 311 East Main Street in El Dorado at 11:45 am. For more information you can contact Kay Smith at 870-863-6113.

The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center announces the winners of the 2014 Student Art Competition and Exhibition, which continues in all three galleries until April 29.  The awards were announced by judge Sandy Bennett during a recent art reception for the students.  The competition and exhibition is sponsored by Ann Pruet Calhoon and Paula Preut James with awards sponsored by Rainer Office Machines and Equipment. The competition was broken down into three divisions for judging: K-4 Elementary, 5-8 Middle School, and 9-12 High School.  Cash prizes were presented for First, Second, Third Place in each division with one work chosen for the new Betty Norman Best of Show award.

The winners are: First Place K-4 - "Girl with Guitar" (collage) by Mary Bone; First Grade, Hugh Goodwin.  Second Place K-4 - "Cool Glasses" (dyed glue print) by Baylor Blackburn; Fourth Grade, Northwest, and Third Place K-4 - "The Nutcracker" (crayon) by Spencer Langston; Third Grade, Northwest. First Place 5-8 - "Say Cheese" (charcoal) by Mikayla Greer; Seventh Grade, Barton, Second Place 5-8 - "Southern Belle" (mixed media) by Emily Wisinger; Sixth Grade, Washington, and Third Place 5-8 - "Sea Animals & Their Habitat" (oil) by Isabella Long; Fifth Grade, Washington . First Place 9-12 - "Untitled" (pen & ink) by Jessica Honyecutt; Twelfth Grade, El Dorado High, Second Place 9-12 - "Untitled" (linoleum block print) by Rebekah Ball; Twelfth Grade, El Dorado High, and Third Place 9-12 - "Gabi" (oil pastel) by Kacy Mays; Eleventh Grade, El Dorado High. The Betty Norman Award for Best of Show went to Barton Junior High Eighth Grader Hannah Wright for her mixed media work entitled "Dragon Dance."  The winning works will be on exhibition at Studio 207, on the square, during the month of March. For more information about SAAC’s art competitions, contact the office at 862-5474 or visit

The Only Name Tour is rolling in to Magnolia on March 6th in the Columbia Christian School Gymnasium. The concert will begin at 7:00 pm, with the doors opening at 6:00 pm. Those performing include Big Daddy Weave, Group 1 Crew, and Tim Timmons. For tickets you can call First Baptist Church at 870-234-3595 or go to

Mexican American scholar Dr. Manuel Medrano will discuss the legacy and increasing influence of Mexican Americans in Texas and the United States at Southern Arkansas University on February 27, 2014.The event is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the SAU Reynolds Center Foundation Hall.Medrano’s speech is titled “Mexican Americans of South Texas: Heritage and Evolving Legacy.”Medrano is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Brownsville, specializing in Mexican American history and culture. He is a member of the Humanities Texas Distinguished Speaker’s Bureau, the recipient of the University of Texas Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award, and the holder of the Houston Endowment for Civic Engagement.He has authored or co-authored several books, including Medieval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands, Charro Days in Brownsville, En Cuerpo y Mente, Imagenes, and En la Sombra de Mi Alma. Medrano’s most recent book is Américo Paredes, In His Own Words, An Authorized Biography. In addition, he has produced and directed twenty-three oral history profiles of people and events from south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, including legendary folklorist Américo Paredes, acclaimed Tejano writer Rolando Hinojosa, and Chicano civil rights activist José Angel Gutierrez.Medrano received his Ed.D. from the University of Houston. He has taught at the University of Texas at Brownsville since 1972.

Thanks to a record gift to the Southern Arkansas University Alumni Association, plans for their pavilion are ahead of schedule to raise the roof on “Mulegating” and other campus and community events. SAU alum Laura Lusby Winning and her husband Kyle, of Little Rock, recently donated funds to name the pavilion “The Lusby Gathering Pavilion.” This gift is in dedication to Winning’s parents, Geraldine Tipton Lusby, former instructor of nursing at SAU, and Edsel Partee Lusby, former SAU sociology professor. “I cannot tell you how much SAU and Magnolia meant to me. This pavilion will bring together all of Magnolia, and really help SAU to reach out to its past and present students,” said Laura Lusby Winning. SAU President Dr. David Rankin and other SAU representatives met with the Winning and Lusby families recently to celebrate the naming of the pavilion. Winning revealed stories about her collegiate years at SAU, and shed light on some of the reasons she and her husband were inspired by this project. “Mom always let us gather friends together at the house and was always putting on gatherings. That’s one of the reasons this pavilion seemed like the right thing to do,” said Winning. “I want this pavilion to be a testament to Mom and all that Dr. Rankin has done for SAU and the community.” The Lusby family has a longstanding connection to SAU and Magnolia. Along with the parents teaching and Winning attending, other family members who have studied at the University include Kerri Lusby Peden, Allen Partee Lusby, Meghan Russell, Vona Jean Lusby Black, Billy Jo Black and Carl and Julie Plyer. The covered, open-air pavilion is expected to be 2,720 square-feet and able to hold around 250 people. It will have bathroom facilities, a fireplace and serving kitchen, as well as outdoor television screens. The pavilion will be located on the SAU Welcome Center lawn, which is a sea of activity throughout the year and especially before home Mulerider football games during Mulegating. “We are extremely excited about this new project and even more excited to offer our Mulegating alumni more comfortable accommodations to enjoy during their Mulegating experience,” said Ceil Bridges, SAU alumni director. Because of the anticipation leading up to construction of the pavilion, there is no doubt the pavilion will quickly be put to good use. Bridges said she is already booking events and gatherings.

Saying he is running to be an independent voice who will work on behalf of Arkansans, former Yell County judge and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt filed his candidacy for Arkansas’ 4thCongressional District. “I am running to make a difference for the people of Arkansas, not to make a career for myself,” said James Lee Witt. “I have travelled throughout the district and look forward to working with people on the issues they consider most important including jobs, jobs training and education.” “I want to take my Arkansas values of faith, family, hard work and common sense to Washington. We’re not going to solve the problems of the people from the 4th district with more partisan noise and name-calling,” said James Lee. “Washington needs consensus building more than ever before, and I have spent my adult life bringing differing opinions and individuals together for a common purpose,” said James Lee.  "Throughout my public service, I have strived for what was right and fair no matter who was in the room.” A lifelong resident of Yell County, James Lee began his career in construction.  In 1988, after five terms as Yell County judge, he was appointed to head Arkansas Emergency Services. In 1993, President Clinton appointed James Lee to become the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. After eight years at FEMA, James Lee returned to the private sector, founding a firm specializing in helping cities, towns, counties and states recover from disasters.  He lives and works on his farm in Dardanelle.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that he and 41 attorneys general from across the country have called on Congress to enact bipartisan patent reform legislation to protect small businesses and consumers from so-called “patent trolls.” 

Patent trolls acquire patents in order to attempt to extract licensing fees or settlements from those accused of patent infringement. Consumers, small businesses and nonprofit agencies are often targeted by patent trolls because the entities have used products with a wide range of patented technology, such as printers or scanners. In a letter sent today to ranking members of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science and Transportation committees, McDaniel and his colleagues said that patent trolls “stifle innovation and harm our economy by making dubious claims of patent infringement and using the threat of expensive litigation to extort money from small businesses and nonprofits.” The threats from patent trolls are levied on many types of businesses, including banks, hospitals, restaurants and hotels. “Patent trolls are aggressively targeting small businesses across the country,” McDaniel said. “Federal patent reform will help to rein in the practice of sending deceptive demand letters to consumers. I strongly encourage any Arkansas consumers or businesses who have been victims of patent trolling to contact our Consumer Protection Division.” McDaniel said the Consumer Protection Division would investigate complaints about patent trolls to determine whether the actions violate state law. Attorneys general in their letter today asked Congress to preserve states’ existing authority to protect their residents from patent trolls. Senate bill 1720 and H.R. 3309, which has passed the House, would require greater clarity in patent demand letters, and both bills include patent litigation reforms that will help limit the power of patent trolls. To file a complaint about instances of patent trolling in Arkansas, call (800) 482-8982 or

February 24, 2014

Yesterday, Officer Sharlotte Elliot of the Camden Police Department was with Officer Plyer in the area of the 600 block of Carver Courts Conducting a security check of the area. While in the area, Officer Elliot observed a man, identified as Marcus Golden, standing in the parking lot next to a vehicle. The officer made contact with Golden and conducted a housing authority ban list check with dispatch, who confirmed Golden was on the list. Golden was taken into custody at that time, where he was given a criminal citation and later court date.

Camden Water Utilities will be conducting its annual city wide system flush, starting March 3rd and lasting until March 7th. Caution should be used when washing clothes as sediment will be present from time to time during the period. Camden Water Utilities would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause its customers and ask for your patience and understanding during this time frame.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. 

The speaker at Lions Club this week will be District Governor for Lions Club, James Griffin.  He will be talking about his recent trip to the Lions Club International Convention. For any information on the Lions Club and how you can join call Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

With the Annual Black History Talent Show taking place at Southern Arkansas University Tech tomorrow night, I thought I would pay a visit to the woman in charge of the show, Santresa Wilkins. Wilkins has been a part of the Department of Secondary Education sponsored show since the beginning. Wilkins said that this year the audience should expect great talent as always, including an acoustic guitarist, a variety of singers, a comedian, and more. Wilkins also mentioned that SAU Tech alumni and Radio Works own Brandon Farris will also be performing at the event for the 2nd year in a row. She went on to say that this year’s show is not just for SAU Tech students, but the community as a whole. There will be prizes for the First, Second and Third place winners, with the first place winner receiving 100 dollars or more. Wilkins believes as the show gets bigger and bigger that people will begin to see the amazing talent not just at SAU Tech, but the Camden community.

With help of their two homeowner partner families and generous financial support and physical labor from local business owners and supporters, the Ouachita County Habitat for Humanity has almost completed their third home. The Habitat for Humanity is asking all businesses, churches, civic organizations, friends, neighbors and philanthropist to partner with them as they push to complete this project. You can contact Michele McDonald by email at for additional info.

Today, the Magnolia Regional Medical Center Board of Commissioners will meet at noon in the hospital board room. Topics such as Strategic planning reports, care connection grant, and progress on surgical clinic and surgeon search will all be discussed at the meeting. 

The Magnolia Police Department recently hired three new police officers. Officers Trentice Weatherspoon, Shumeecio Lark and Emily Palermo will be joining the force in Columbia County. The new officers were sworn in by Mayor Parnell Vann and Police Chief Glenn Maxwell.

DJ Pauly D will be the featured performer at Southern Arkansas University’s annual spring concert. The free concert will be during the evening of Thursday April 10. The spring concert is normally held outdoors at the SAU football practice field, although the venue for the 2014 concert has not been announced. DJ Pauly D’s claim to fame is as a cast member on MTV’s “reality” show, “Jersey Shore.”.

Middle East scholar Dr. David W. Lesch will discuss the Syrian conflict, which rages into its third year of death and destruction, at the 2014 Southern Arkansas University Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lecture. The event is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for today, February 24th at 7:30 p.m., in the SAU Reynolds Center Grand Hall. Lesch’s speech is titled “Bashar al-Asad and the Disintegration of Syria.” According to Lesch, if this conflict continues to rage on indefinitely, it could have disastrous regional and international repercussions. According to the speech abstract, Lesch will answer many questions related to this conflict, such as:
 “How did it get to this point?”
  “How did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once thought to be a modernizing reformer, the so-called ‘hope’ of the Syrian people when he took power in 2000, become a leader whose name is now lumped together with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi?”
“Did Assad use chemical weapons and what is happening to them?”
  “What are the possible outcomes of the conflict for Syria, the Middle East, and the world?”

Lesch is Professor of Middle East History in the Department of History at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in Middle East History from Harvard University. He was recently named the Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of History at Trinity University.

He is the author or editor of 14 books and more than 110 publications. He has consistently met with and advised high level officials in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and the United Nations on diplomatic issues. He has frequently testified in front of Senate and House committees. He also developed, organized and is the project director for the Harvard University-NUPI-Trinity University Syria Research Project: Obstacles to a Resolution of the Syrian Conflict. Dr. Lesch has led a team of researchers over the past year to meet with almost all of the players to the Syrian conflict domestically, regionally and internationally. It is hoped that this information will provide the necessary insights to and knowledge of the dynamics of the conflict in order to formulate possible pathways toward conflict resolution. He just completed an 850-page Final Report for the project and has been presenting and discussing his findings in Europe, at the UN, and elsewhere. He met regularly with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad between 2004 and 2009.

He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Judy Dunlap. The Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lectureship in the Humanities was established by an initial gift from Sarai T. Crone. Her son, John T. Crone, III, of San Antonio, Texas, completed the funding of her commitment as executor of her estate. The lectureship in the College of Liberal and Performing Arts at Southern Arkansas University provides for an annual presentation by an outstanding figure in history, literature, psychology, sociology, or political science. For more information on the Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lecture or on how to begin an endowment to fund a lectureship series, contact the SAU Foundation Office at (870) 235-4078.

February 21, 2014

A fourth person has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the sale of illegal anabolic steroids in Magnolia and El Dorado. 33-year-old Courtney Blair Austin, was recently arrested. Austin is charged with delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance and conspiracy to deliver a Schedule III controlled substance. She is currently at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility awaiting her first court appearance. Austin’s arrest is part of an ongoing investigation by the Magnolia Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Arkansas State Police and the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force. 

On February 20th, Sgt. Ben Opelt of the Camden Police Department responded to Officer Justin Easttam’s request for backup in front of apartment 1201 Ivory Heights. Easttam was on traffic stop in front of the residence and needed extra help dealing with multiple suspects. Upon Opelts arrival he was speaking with Easttam when he observed a man, later identified as Lamarcus Radford standing in front of the vehicle that was pulled over. Due to the fact that Lamarcus was in the immediate area of the traffic stop, the officers instructed him to walk away for safety reasons. The man took two more steps, asking why his brothers were stopped. The officers then raised their voices asking him to stop or he would be taken into custody. Radford obeyed and walked towards his apartment, however he was taunting the officers and calling them disrespectful. This led to Radford’s wife coming outside and threatening to sue the officers. The woman only became more loud and obnoxious, which led to the officers taking her into custody for disorderly conduct. Lashonda Radford was taken into custody, saying she didn’t care if she got arrested, she wasn’t going to change. Lashonda was released on a criminal citation with a later court date.  

Main Street El Dorado & El Dorado Metals will present Grammy Award-winner Dwight Yoakam live on Friday, March 14th at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium.  The concert begins at 7:30 PM with doors opening at 6:30 PM.

A Grammy Award-winning artist, worldwide music icon and the 2013 Americana Artist of the Year, Dwight Yoakam has recorded 12 Gold albums in addition to nine platinum or multi-platinum albums, including the triple-platinum “This Time”. Five of those albums have topped the Billboard Country Albums chart with another 14 hitting the Top-10. More than 30 singles have made the charts with over 22 landing in the Top-20.  These incomparable hits include “Honky Tonk Man”,  “Please Please Baby”, “Little Ways”, I Sang Dixie”, “It Only Hurts When I Cry”, “Fast as You”, and  “Thousand Miles from Nowhere”. Dwight Yoakam has won 2 Grammys and earned a staggering 21 nominations while selling over 25 million records worldwide. Aside from his many accolades in the performing arts, Yoakam is also the most frequent musical guest in the history of the Tonight Show. Over the past 15 years, Yoakam has also carved a niche as one of the top character actors on film having appeared in Academy Award-winner Sling Blade as well as Panic Room, Wedding Crashers, The Newton Boys and more.

Mark Givens, Executive Director said “I can’t tell you how excited we are to have Dwight Yoakam coming to El Dorado for this incredible performance. He is a true international star!”  Tickets are reserved-seating and on sale now online at or by calling the office of Main Street El Dorado at (870) 862-4747. Ticket prices are $100 (Golden Circle), $60 (Orchestra), $50 (Parquet), $40 (Loge) and $30 (Balcony). For more information you can contact Mr. Givens at 870-862-4747 or 870-866-7879.

Stevens High School will be having an Alumni Ball Game inside the High School Gym on March 21st. The game will start at 6:00 pm, admission will be 5 dollars per person. There will be free admission for any Senior Citizens, School employees, NHS members, and players. For more information and to sign up call 870-786-5442 or 870-786-5443 or

The Camden Advertising and Promotion Committee will meet on Tuesday, February 25th at 3:00 pm. The meeting will be in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey-based online advertiser for attempting to coerce Arkansas businesses into paying for services the businesses did not authorize. Electronic Media Marketing Group, Inc., which does business as General Yellow Pages, is accused of violating the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the federal Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. McDaniel’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. McDaniel accused General Yellow Pages of attempting to convince business owners that the businesses had agreed to a “free trial” of advertising, and because the service was not affirmatively canceled, they were obligated to pay hundreds of dollars for an additional year of advertising services. The defendant would then send $599.95 invoices to the businesses. The businesses had never agreed to an advertising “free trial” and the businesses had never sought paid advertising from General Yellow Pages, according to the suit. “In this audacious scheme, the defendant sought to deceive Arkansas business owners into paying for a service they had never heard of,” McDaniel said. “When businesses didn’t fall for the scam, the defendant continued to send bills, make repeated phone calls and threaten collection actions. I am confident that the Court will make sure these illegal actions are ended.” The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received multiple complaints from Arkansas businesses about General Yellow Pages’ practices.

Several businesses have asked General Yellow Pages to provide proof that free-trial advertising had been authorized, but the company has been unable to provide such proof. However, General Yellow Pages has continued to send invoices to businesses, some of which reflect “late fees” because the businesses did not pay previous invoices. One invoice was approximately $900. McDaniel asked the Court to issue an injunction requiring General Yellow Pages to cease its practices and to order the defendant to pay civil penalties, restitution and attorneys’ fees and costs.

February 20, 2014

Nearly one year after authorities in North Carolina discovered the body of a Gurdon woman in the trunk of her own car, an indictment has been returned for the man who allegedly kidnapped her. Kevin Bolton has remained in custody since his March 21 arrest in Cherokee Reservation, N.C. It was on a highway there that authorities conducted a traffic stop on the car Bolton was driving and found the body of 20-year-old Cassandra "Cassie" Carter. Her family reported her missing on March 13, and the Clark County Sheriff's Office had issued a BOLO in reference to Carter. Initially, local authorities charged the 37-year-old Bolton, with the January 2013 armed robbery of the Gurdon Dollar General. Details surrounding that investigation came to light after Bolton's arrest in North Carolina; one of his former lovers provided detectives with information relating to his alleged involvement in the robbery. The Siftings is working to obtain more details about the new charges. Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced the new charges just before noon Wednesday. "We remain dedicated to prosecuting violent crime that occurs anywhere in the Western District of Arkansas," Eldridge said in a press release. "These crimes threaten our communities, and our job is to work together to hold those who commit these crimes accountable. I appreciate all of the hard work by Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson and Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Blake Batson in cooperating to see that justice is done in this case." Bolton is expected to remain in custody until trial.

A group of emerging future leaders of Union County have been selected for Class 3 of Leadership Union County, which is sponsored by Great Lakes Solutions and Nexans AmerCable. The 10-month program of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce begins February 26, and is designed to develop leadership through community interaction, teamwork, networking and hands-on experiences. Leadership Union County Class 3 is getting ready to embark on a series of class sessions aimed at developing their leadership skills and introducing them to the unique challenges and opportunities that face Union County,” said Sam Allen, Leadership Union County chairman. "I look forward to the great things to come from these leaders.”  The community is invited to meet Class 3 at a welcome reception sponsored by Martin Operating Partnership on Tuesday, February 25, at the South Arkansas Arts Center starting at 5:00 p.m.  For more information on Leadership Union County or the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, contact the Chamber at (870) 863-6113 or 

The 25 members of Leadership Union County Class 3 include: E.J. Billedeaux, Lion Oil; Carlos Buie, Murphy USA; NaKisha Carr, Salvation Army; Lori Coke, El Dorado Chamber of Commerce; Marsha Cowling, Life Touch Hospice; Brad Cousins, Nexans AmerCable; Traci Dutchover, Murphy USA; Amy Fries, Trotter Nissan Dodge Jeep Chrysler RAM; Scott Griffin, South Arkansas Telephone Company; Christy Gunter, Clean Harbors; John Lowery, First Presbyterian Church; Clay Mills, United Insurance Agency; Daniel Mullen, Chemtura; Jessica Nash, El Dorado Festivals & Events; Amber Pauley, Medical Center of South Arkansas; Brian Price, Murphy Oil Corp.; Denise Robledo, South Arkansas Community College; Haley Rowan, Evers, Cox & Gover; Robert Rushing, Baim, Gunti, Mouser & Worsham, PLC; Clemente Saenz, Physiques Fitness Center; Cheryl Splawn, El Dorado Connections; Alex Talley, Martin Operating Partnership; John Tolin, El Dorado Chemical; Brent Waters, Clean Harbors; and Cristen Woods, BancorpSouth.  

Southern Arkansas University Tech will be having its Annual Black History Month Celebration at the Charlie O Ross Center in Camden tomorrow night, February 19, starting at 6:00 pm.

The special guest speaker for the event will be former U.S. Secretary of Transportation,
Mr. Rodney Slater. Tickets to attend the event are $18.75 per person and includes dinner and tables for eight are $150. The last day to purchase tickets will be tomorrow at 5:00 pm. For any additional info you can call Rhonda Givens at 870-574-4495 or email her at

The Boys & Girls Club of Ouachita County will host Business After Hours on Thursday, February 20, at the Boys & Girls Club from 5:00 - 6:30pm. They will be showcasing programs & initiative of Boys & Girls Club of Ouachita County, Ouachita County Coop. Extension, & the Ouachita Area United Fund. Hors d’ oeuvres will also be available by Allen’s Restaurant.  

Upon the death of a loved one, grieving family members must quickly make decisions about funeral arrangements. Those decisions may be difficult for the bereaved at a time of such emotional duress. The array of options – including what type of funeral to have and what funeral provider to use – may be overwhelming. However, the federal Funeral Rule helps to simplify choices for those in grief and ensures that consumers’ rights are protected following the loss of a loved one. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert yesterday afternoon to inform Arkansas consumers about the Funeral Rule. The law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission ensures that funeral providers give consumers clear, itemized price lists for the products and services that they offer so that consumers can make informed choices based upon their budget and their needs. This also allows consumers to compare prices among funeral providers. “In their time of need, consumers can take solace in the fact that laws are in place to help them avoid purchasing unnecessary products or services by making sure that funeral homes clearly disclose their prices,” McDaniel said. “Consumers who choose to do so may request price lists from multiple funeral providers to find one that fits their needs.” Many funeral homes offer package prices for funeral arrangements, though the Funeral Rule gives consumers the right to buy separate goods or services. Consumers are not required to accept packages that include items they do not want. For instance, consumers may choose to buy a casket elsewhere or forego a ceremony or memorial service. The FTC urges consumers to resist pressure to buy goods or services they do not want or need. Funeral homes must provide a General Price List when consumers visit a funeral home. The General Price List must list the products and services offered by the funeral home and the cost of each item. Funeral homes are also required to provide price information over the telephone when requested. The Funeral Rule also requires funeral homes to give consumers a written statement detailing exactly what was purchased, the cost of each item and the total cost immediately after arrangements are made. Another provision of the rule states that caskets are not required to be purchased when a body is to be cremated. Instead, funeral homes that offer cremations must inform consumers that alternative containers, such as those made of unfinished wood or fiberboard, may be used. While outer burial containers such as burial vaults or grave liners are not required under state law, many cemeteries require them. Under the Funeral Rule, funeral homes must also disclose those prices, and it is not required for an outer burial container to be purchased from the funeral home directing arrangements. McDaniel joined the FTC in encouraging consumers to consider funeral planning in advance, since that gives time to research funeral homes for the best prices and relieves some of the burden from family members and friends. Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982 or visit the division’s website,

February 19, 2014

A local Texarkana man who worked as a corrections officer for the Bi-State Jail has been arrested. Texarkana Police Department, or TPD, says 22-year-old Kyle Johnson, was bringing in prohibited items for inmates. The TPD says it was tipped off about Johnson's alleged actions by a confidential informant for its Criminal Investigation Division. The information developed led undercover investigators to believe the planned contraband introduction into the facility consisted of marijuana and tobacco. Johnson has been charged with furnishing, possessing, or using prohibited articles in a correctional facility, which is a felony crime.  

On February 18, Lieutenant James Bolton was dispatched to Highway 376 South where the RP was following a vehicle that had left the scene after driving into a mobile home. Deputy Lewis made contact with the vehicle on Hwy. 376 just north of Elliot. Lewis made contact with the driver, Haley Dopson, Bolton went to the address of 4950 Hwy. 376 South where the incident occurred. Mr. John Estridge stated that he and Dopson jad been in a relationship off and on for about three months and yesterday they had decided to break it off. When Dopson came to retrieve her belongings an argument broke out and when she left, Estridge stated that she tried to run him over. She then backed up the vehicle and ran into the side of his mobile home. She then tried to run him over again, then left the residence. Dopson was issued a citation for Domestic Assault with a court date of March 20th and advised not to return to Mr. Estridges residence.   

Visiting Russian professor Dr. Elena Kovaleva will be giving the first of her six public lectures for the semester at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19, 2014, at Southern Arkansas University. Kovaleva’s presentation, “Sochi: the Story of Russian Olympics from Moscow 1980 to Sochi 2014,” will be held in Wilson Hall, room 303. Members of the public and University community are invited to attend. The remaining public lectures will similarly be held in Wilson 303, at 6:30 p.m., as per the following:

·         Wednesday, March 5 – “Some Symbols of the Great Russian Empire”

·         Wednesday, March 19 – “Romanov Royal Dynasty through the History of Russia”

·         Wednesday, April 2 – “Best Attractions of the Russian Capital: the Moscow Kremlin”

·         Wednesday, April 16 – “Best Attractions of the Russian Capital: the Tretyakov Picture Gallery”

·         Wednesday, April 30 – “Russian Traditions in Cinema”

Kovaleva is head of the Department of Translation and Translation Studies and a professor of foreign languages at Moscow State Pedagogical University. The exchange program between SAU and Moscow Pedagogical State University began in 1993. It was pioneered by retired professor of history David Sixbey, who was an enthusiast of Russian culture. The program provides opportunities for student exchanges as well as mutual professor visits, according to Dr. Svetlana Paulson, SAU associate professor of history. Russian professors like Kovaleva teach Russian classes at SAU as well as offer public lectures. SAU professors also travel to Moscow. The most recent trip was in 2013 when Dr. Paul Babbitt offered political science classes there. 

The Ouachita County Office of the American Red Cross will be holding its next volunteer meeting on Tuesday, February 25, starting at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the W.K. Green Education and Conference Center, at Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden. Volunteers of all types, sizes, abilities and interest are needed and encouraged to attend. The program needs people to join and take training at their own pace before a major disaster strikes the community. For more information you can call John Lewis at 870-685-2318.

Middle East scholar Dr. David W. Lesch will discuss the Syrian conflict, which rages into its third year of death and destruction, at the 2014 Southern Arkansas University Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lecture. The event is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on February 24, in the SAU Reynolds Center Grand Hall.

Be sure and save the date May 2nd on your calendar as the SouthArk Foundations presents An Evening with the Stars, at 6:30pm in the El Dorado Conference and Student Center. This biennial gala will honor Friend of the College William R. Howard and Outstanding Alumni Melissa Jerry of First Financial Bank and Gregory Taylor of Martin Resource Management Group. In addition to acknowledging our honorees, SouthArk invite you to join us for a delicious meal, to bid on some outstanding auction items, and to have a great time dancing. For more information or ticket reservations, contact the Foundation office at 870.864.7106.

Will you join in the crusade? The South Arkansas Arts Center and El Dorado High School Drama Department announce auditions for the upcoming spring production of Boublil and Schonberg’s “Les Miserables.” Auditions will be held in the El Dorado High Performing Arts Auditorium on February 25 and 26 at 6pm.  Registration begins at 5:30pm. Parts are available for a large cast of up to 30 with starring roles, featured ensemble roles, older roles and children’s roles. The show is an excellent showcase for trained singers and there is minimal dance required. Individuals interested in auditioning should prepare at least 16 bars or one verse of a song that best showcases their singing ability.  If auditioning for a featured character, please prepare a song performed by that character in the show. Either an accompaniment CD or sheet music is required.  Call backs for major roles will be held with Craig Schulman, the show’s director and star, on Friday, February 28. For more information about auditions for “Les Miserables,” contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or  

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is hosting a “green-bag” lunch for those with green thumbs who want to learn more about composting and rain gardens.

The lunch, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 11 at ADEQ, 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock. Composting and rain gardens give a boost not just to yards but to the environment. Rain gardens can help reduce stormwater runoff and prevent pollutants from entering our waterways, while composting prevents food scraps and yard waste from going into landfills. Nationally in 2011 alone, municipal landfills received 36 million pounds of food waste, making it the largest single component of municipal solid waste. Landfills account for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions in the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The composting portion of the lunch session will include information about how and where to build your compost pile, how to maintain it, how to use it and the dos and don’ts of composting. The session will also address troubleshooting and how to know when your compost is ready to use. The rain gardens portion of the lunch will include information on the importance of rain gardens and include tips on how to construct your own. Rain gardens are planted depressions that allow rainwater runoff from impervious areas like roofs and driveways to be absorbed.... Rain gardens reduce runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground instead of flowing into storm drains and surface waters and can remove up to 80 percent of pollutants carried by runoff. Rain gardens also require less irrigation after establishment than higher maintenance landscapes. Residential rain gardens can retain as much as 30 percent more rainwater than conventional lawns. While the event is free, RSVPs are required as seating is limited. To reserve a seat, call Raven Lawson at (501) 682-0022 or email her at by 4 p.m. March 10. Attendees should bring their own lunches.

February 18, 2014

February 17, Officer Jimmy Plyer was investigating a possible theft at Camden Iron and Metals on Mt. Holly Road. Plyer observed a green Honda Accord, displaying a stolen license plate, being occupied by two male subjects, one was later identified as Brad Reaves. The vehicle they were driving soon pulled to the back of the scrap yard and passed officer Plyer as he attempted to initiate a traffic stop. After a chase that a chase that went through Barret Road, Elgin, Avon and Peirce Street, and running three stop signs, the vehicle eventually got on to Highway 7 heading north going around 85 miles per hour. The vehicle left the right side of the road and intestinally drove beside the guardrail on the railroad overpass at the second northbound bridge. After the vehicle drove down the 40 foot embankment, the officer lost sight of it. Believing the vehicle made it unto tracks officer Plyer, now with backup, continued looking. Eventually Lieutenant Bo Woody found the vehicle stuck in a creek with no one in it. A perimeter was set and K9 units were dispatched, however after an hour of searching, all units returned. The vehicle was towed back to the station and placed on hold for CID. After a cell phone and keys were found in the vehicle, they were put into evidence. It should be noted that the car has been seen numerous time at Brad Reaves house, and an investigation is still underway.

On February 17, Officer Malakov of the Camden Police Department was dispatched to Fort Lookout apartments in reference to a male subject requesting a ride to El Dorado. Upon the officer’s arrival, he made contact with reporting person Johnny Lowery, whose eyes were watery and bloodshot. Lowery’s speech was also slurred and slow, the officer could also smell intoxicants coming from his breath. He stated that a good friend of his and he came to Camden from El Dorado. Lowery stated that he had indeed been drinking. He also said that he must have fallen asleep and that he didn’t really know where he was, but he was needing a ride to El Dorado. Based on the officer’s observations he determined that Lowery was a danger to himself and others around him. Lowery was taken into custody and transported to the station without incident. After booking procedures were completed, Lowery was transported to the Ouachita County Detention Complex to be held until effects of intoxications wore off. 

The search for 9-year-old Hank Bollen, of Magnolia, was suspended this week with the possible discovery of a body by authorities combing the woods near the Union-Columbia County line. There was no official statement from the Union County Sheriff’s Office, which is in charge of the search. People close to the family said the young hunter’s body had been found, however, no further search activities were being conducted. Arkansas State Police investigators were also on the scene south of Shuler Road, about a quarter-mile east of the Columbia County line. Bollen, the son of Kelli Clark Bollen and Brad Bollen, went squirrel hunting in the heavily wooded area south of U.S. 82 in the Braswell Corner Road-Shuler Road area near Marysville. He was not seen after 11 a.m. Monday. As you know Monday was a school holiday and the child is a fourth-grade student at Central Elementary School in Magnolia. Searchers began looking for the child late Monday afternoon. Later, an Arkansas State Police helicopter overflew the area during the early morning hours, hoping to pick up a heat signature as the nighttime temperatures dipped into the lower 40s. The Union and Columbia County sheriff’s offices, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, volunteer firefighters, family members and the State Police all took part in the search. The search was concentrated around a hunting camp on Shuler Road, located right on the line of the two counties. After daybreak, the camp was filled with dozens of private and official vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and many family members, law enforcement personnel and private citizens.

A North Austin Street couple looked outside their back door early Monday morning to see, just on the other side of their fenced-in yard, the house next door fully engulfed in flames.

The woman said she heard her dog barking and looked outside to investigate, discovering the fire. Panicked, she called 911 to report her finding, and by the time the Arkadelphia Fire Department had arrived, the flames had reached the second story of the vacant home at 411 N. Austin St., smoke billowing out of the windows and rising to fill the skies above several blocks of the residential area. Firefighters had been working for about 20 minutes to contain the flames when the home collapsed. In the meantime, the fire crept over the reporting neighbors' fence and totaled a shed outside. AFD Lt. Marty Adair said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Southern Arkansas University is on its way toward paying for what may be its next big construction project – an open-air pavilion between the Welcome Center and Wilkins Stadium. Ceil Bridges, director of Alumni Relations, said that a major donor plans to step forward for naming rights to the planned 40-by-68 foot pavilion. The pavilion will be the centerpiece of an estimated $140,850 worth of improvements. The pavilion and associated concrete slab, electrical, water and sewage lines, and restrooms make up $117,096 of the total cost. The pavilion will become a gathering place during Mulegating – the university’s event held before home football games. Restrooms at the pavilion will replace portable toilets brought in for events on the Welcome Center grounds and will also be available for the nearby Lady Muleriders softball complex. Bridges anticipates that the pavilion will also be available for rent by non-university groups. The pavilion will seat 250 people. It will include a fireplace, serving kitchen and television monitors. The fundraising drive will also create a short driveway and parking lot to improve access to the Alumni Center and the new pavilion by the handicapped. This will entail construction of additional sidewalks.

The Airport Commission meeting has been moved from this Thursday to next Thursday, February 27, 2014.  Also, the meeting will be held in the terminal at the Airport so that everyone will have an opportunity to see and discuss repairs to the terminal. Assistant Mayor Kathy Lee will also be picking up lunch at Allen’s, so please be sure and give her your order as soon as possible. You can contact her by calling 870-836-6436.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The speaker this week will be Tammy Caldwell from CASA. Tammy will be talking to members about what they do and they need for volunteers as well as foster parents. If you would like to learn more about the lions club you can contact Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440.

This Saturday, February 22, there will be a Bearden Riding Club PlayDay. The event will take place at the Bearden Riding Arena and will benefit Lane Tupa’s Student Ambassador Trip with People to People. Lane is a 14-year-old Sparkman High School Student raising from money to pay his way on this European trip in June. This PlayDay will have fun for all ages and will include barrels, flags, speed, team sorting and more. Ribbons will be awarded in each division. There will also be a cake walk and item raffles with concessions open the whole time.

For additional information you can 870-858-0515, 870-866-6789 or 870-866-7890.

One of country music’s biggest stars is coming to Arkansas. Brantley Gilbert's "Let It Ride" tour will be rolling into Arkansas in April. The country music singer-songwriter and latest Country Music New Male Artist award winner plays at Verizon Arena on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. The performance will include special guests Thomas Rhett and Eric Paslay. Ticket prices are $48.50, $41.00 and $36.00 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m.

February 17, 2014

On February 14, Officer Justin Easttam was on routine patrol in the area of Lincoln Drive when he saw who he knew to be Melvinnia Penny pulling into the parking lot of the Murphy USA Gas Station. Easttam conducted a warrant check on Penny and was advised that she indeed had a valid warrant with the City of Camden. The officer made contact with Penny as she exited her vehicle and advised her of the active warrant. Penny was taken into custody and was transported to the station without incident. At the station normal booking procedures were completed and Penny was served with a warrant number for failure to appear and order for arrest, Penny was later transported to the Ouachita County Jail to await a first appearance or until she could post bond.

A California man has been sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for an Arkansas bank robbery. U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge in the Western District of Arkansas says that this past Friday, 33-year-old Aaron Blaylock was sentenced after pleading guilty in April in connection with the armed robbery of First Financial Bank in El Dorado.  According to Eldridge Blaylock and three co-defendants including a former bank employee, who earlier pleaded guilty in the case were each ordered to pay more than $53,000 in restitution for the December 30th, 2011 robbery. Court records say the four defendants robbed bank tellers at gunpoint while refilling ATM machines. Luckily no injuries were reported.

An Irving, Texas attorney has been charged in connection with Saturday night’s big boom explosion that left thousands in Columbia County affected. According to Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe. 46-year-old, Len Conner was charged with disorderly conduct, disobeying a police officer and obstructing governmental operations. Loe also said that Conner was released Sunday on bond. Conner’s corporate Facebook page says that his first specializes in family law matters, chiefly having to do with divorce cases. Conner was taken into custody shortly after an 8 p.m. explosion caused by the suspect using Tannerite to blow up a tree outside a residence on Columbia County Road 78, west of Buddy’s Haven subdivision south of U.S. 371. People reported seeing a flash and hearing an explosion about 8 p.m. Authorities later determined the location to be on property southwest of Magnolia. Loe believes there appeared to be no legitimate need to blow up the tree. There was no damage to a nearby home, and there were no injuries reported.

Poodles, Pugs, Collies, Terries and all breeds in between were in East Camden this past Saturday for the Annual South Arkansas Kennel Club AKC All Breeds Dog Show. With over 870 dogs, this event brought out the best of all breeds, as people from different counties, states and the local area came out with their dogs. While at the event I spoke with Darleen Wheelington, who has been with the South Arkansas Kennel Club since the beginning. Wheelington said that the AKC Dog Show is unique because it brings many dogs and new faces to the community and to have them here is a dream come true. Even though not every dog won, all the dogs, people and especially the city of Camden were winners this weekend.

The Department of English and Foreign Languages of Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia, will host the annual Creative Writing Festival on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The festival, which is held every spring, has grown from 345 entries in 1995 to 1,153 entries last year. Students from schools across south Arkansas submit poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction essays, which are then judged good, excellent or superior. Out of the entries judged superior, three are chosen in each category and grade level to receive special recognition consisting of a cash prize for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, and a trophy for the 1st place winners. The annual festival developed from a summer writing class for public school teachers taught by Dr. Kathleen Mallory, associate professor of English at SAU. The event is co-sponsored by the Gerald F. and Betty Fincher Scott Academic Endowment, made available through the generosity of Harold and D.J. Fincher and the Peoples Bank of Magnolia, Waldo and Southwest Arkansas. On the day of the festival a welcoming address will be given, then students will separate into grade levels and model writing workshops will be held, followed by peer reading sessions. The day is capped off with the awards ceremony. Entry forms may be requested by calling David Wingfield in the Department of English and Foreign Languages, (870) 235-4202, or by emailing 

You’re invited to attend the 16th Annual Junior Auxiliary Charity Ball on Saturday, February 22nd. The Charity Ball will last from 6:00 pm until 12:00 am at the National Guard Armory. There will be a live and silent auction, live music by Tragikly White, Custom Jewelry by Banks Jewelers and food will be provided by Woods Place. You must be 21 years old or older to take part in this event. For more information or to purchase tickets you can contact 870-818-5825 or 870-833-2745.

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas will be having a Hiring Event in Camden. The event will take place on February 19th, at 10:00 through 1:00 pm at 237 Jackson Street and you will need to bring a resume, social security card and driver’s license. For more information you can call Shawntel Brown at 501-372-5100 or email her at

The number of flu deaths this season has increased to 44 as of Feb. 14, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The confirmed cases have been recorded since Sept. 29. In a recent news conference, the ADH said this year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 50. The ADH says multiple hospitalizations in the 25-50 group have also been reported.  It is highly recommended that all individuals in this age group receive a seasonal flu vaccine and promptly visit a doctor should they experience severe flu-like symptoms. The ADH says the flu is widespread across the state and that this season's numbers so far are similar to last year in terms of flu activity and number of cases.  The most frequently seen flu strain this year is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young to middle-aged adults and pregnant women. There are multiple factors that may explain why younger, healthier people are affected this year. One observation is that only 30 percent of individuals in this age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year. That leaves over 650,000 unvaccinated Arkansans in this age group unprotected from the flu. Individuals who are pregnant or in this age category may experience a rapid onset of symptoms that quickly progress to severe illness.  Flu symptoms include: fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, and runny or stuffy nose. If you have flu symptoms and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, or pain or pressure in the chest, seek medical care as quickly as possible. The flu virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it, then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. You can also help reduce your risk of flu by washing hands frequently and avoiding those who are sick. Flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and local health units statewide.  If you visit a local health unit to get a flu vaccine, please bring your insurance cards with you. If you do not have insurance, the vaccine will be free.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SPEAKING: ADEQ Measures Its Own Environmental Footprint
 EMS is a widely used acronym that is probably most commonly known to stand for emergency medical services. The sense of urgency conveyed by this usage carries over to another phrase: environmental management system. This less commonly known EMS is a management tool for evaluating, reporting and improving environmental performance, which becomes more and more crucial as we see the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from energy use and the depletion of the earth’s resources. In 2005, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality adopted an EMS for use within the department. Audree Miller, ADEQ’s Pollution Prevention Program coordinator and the leader of the agency’s EMS team, said, “Since ADEQ’s mission is to protect and enhance the state’s environment, it’s important for us to set an example by reducing our environmental footprint. Our environmental management system gives us a structured method to focus on energy and paper use and waste reduction. Miller added that a number of Arkansas companies have adopted environmental management systems because they do business with European Union companies that require it. ADEQ’s EMS is based on a system developed by the International Organization for Standardization. It sets forth a continual improvement program with changing goals, and it requires employee participation to be successful. The EMS team at ADEQ analyzed the department’s daily business activities, ranked them according to their environmental impact, and selected four areas of activities to be reduced: driving (both personal and agency vehicles), paper use, solid waste disposal and energy use. Some of the practices they’ve initiated include:

-     End-of-life vehicles in the agency fleet are replaced with more fuel-efficient models; employees combine trips, share rides and limit engine-idling to three minutes.

-     Double-sided printing and copying and paperless records and communication are used whenever possible.

-     High-efficiency hand driers have replaced paper towels in the North Little Rock building’s restrooms.

-     Employees turn off computers and monitors at the end of each business day.

-     Area printers replace desk-top printers.

-     The performance of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is monitored, and two phases of improvements have been implemented.

-     Central heating and cooling fans no longer run between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

-     Employees collect coffee grounds and tea bags in office kitchens for composting.

           As a result of these and other steps prompted by the EMS, ADEQ employees have achieved these environmental goals:

-     59 percent reduction in paper use since 2005.

-     57 percent reduction in solid waste generation since 2007.

-     41 percent decrease in overall energy usage between 2009 and 2013.

-     29 percent reduction in agency vehicle fuel consumption between 2009 and 2013.

The EMS team also wrote ADEQ’s green cleaning policy and integrated pest management policy for the headquarters building that opened in 2007, earning points toward its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold level certification. In 2009 Governor Mike Beebe issued an executive order for all executive branch agencies to develop strategic energy plans for reducing energy expense and the agencies’ negative impacts on the environment. ADEQ’s EMS, already in place for four years, was available to serve as a model for the new state requirement. Miller, ADEQ’s Pollution Prevention Coordinator, can offer guidance to companies that are interested in starting their own EMS programs. For more information, contact Miller at 501-682-0015

February 14, 2014

Lieutenant Governor Candidate Tim Griffin Recently announced that he would be running for the position and that he would be traveling throughout all parts of Arkansas. Today Griffin will be traveling through El Dorado, Magnolia, Texarkana and Camden. In a phone conversation I had with Griffin earlier today, he talked to me about some of his plans if he is elected. Griffin said “Jobs is the number one issue in Arkansas right now” and “we need to do things such as updating the tax policy to compete not just with competing states, but the world”. Griffin continued saying “faith needs to be in office and we have got to reduce spending”. Tim Griffin will be in Camden today around 4:00 pm as a stop of his state-wide campaign to restore trust, help Arkansans compete and grow good paying jobs.   

With the arrival of the Valentine’s Day season, the City of Magnolia has dealt with vendors and transient merchants who want to set up on the side of streets, or parking lots. The City of Magnolia passed an ordinance on October 8, 2012 that set many new rules and requirements for vendors/transient merchants. A statement from Magnolia City Hall reminds people who want to sell in this manner, who do not currently own a local business in the city, they they will have to purchase a license. To be able to do so, they have to have a current sales tax permit in their name solely, as they can be the only one selling at their location. They also have to have written permission from the owner/business owner of property where they wish to set up, stating their name, location, and time frame. The city is also required to run a background check on such merchants. If approved, the temporary vendors may purchase either a 30-day license for $200 (per person selling), or a 60-day license for $400 (per person selling). Each person acting as a sales person must meet eligibility requirements. The licenses are for 30 and 60 consecutive days only, and can be purchased only once a year. 

There will be a Teacher’s Fair on February 25, at the Reynolds Grand Hall at Southern Arkansas University. This is an opportunity for SAU education students and alumni to meet schools and organizations from the area. The dressing for the event will be casual to professional. The Teacher’s Fair will take place from 1:00 until 2:00 pm.

A Saline County man has been arrested for possession of child pornography by agents from the Attorney General’s Office, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today. Agents arrested Don Michael Cox, 31, of Bauxite on Wednesday in Little Rock. He was arrested on 10 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. Pulaski County District Court Judge Wayne Gruber set bond at $25,000. Cox was being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center. Agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at Cox’s residence on Gail Drive in Bauxite and a second search warrant at Cox’s Little Rock workplace on Wednesday. Investigators seized a desktop computer, laptop computer and other electronic evidence. The electronic evidence will be analyzed at the Cyber Crimes Unit Forensic Lab in Little Rock. Special Agent Mike Lett began investigating Cox in November after suspecting that child pornography was being possessed at his residence. The Saline County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation and arrest. The Attorney General’s Office will turn over its completed case file to Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley. Charges are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

February 13, 2014

At 7:00 am the morning of February 13, detectives with the Special Investigation Unit and members of the Camden Police Department, working jointly with investigators from other local, state, and federal agencies, began executing arrest and search warrants in and around the Camden and Ouachita County area. The operation was dubbed Frostbite, began in late 2011 and has been ongoing. The operation primarily concentrated on mid and low level dealers of drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana; the operation also focused on individuals engaged in the sale of controlled prescription drugs such as Xanax, Methadone, and Hydrocodone. 

As a result of the operation, 40 suspects were identified, investigated and are currently sought on arrest warrants, most involving the delivery of a controlled substance with several for possession with purpose to deliver, fraudulent practices to obtain a controlled substance, and possession with purpose to deliver. Many of the suspects will be charged with related offenses such as maintaining of a drug premises, use of another person’s property to facilitate a drug crime, and use a communications device to operate a drug crime. A majority of these suspects had criminal backgrounds and currently are on active parole or probation.  Federal agencies assisting with the investigation are the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S Marshal’s Service. The Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Game and Fish, Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, El Dorado Police, Union and Columbia County Sheriff Departments, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department, Magnolia Police Department, Bearden Police Department, SAU Police, Camden Police Department and others also assisted in the bust. Now it should be noted that an arrest is an accusation until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. We will have more on this story as it unfolds. 

The shoplifting crimes continue in the Camden community. The most recent pair of shopliftings happened in Wal-Mart and Brookshires. According to reports a man inside was inside Brookshires earlier this week and had supposedly taken some beers along with other items from the store. The man was stopped by police and there were in fact two Lime-A-Ritas in his bag, which he stated he paid for, however he could not produce a receipt for them. Police later found out that the man took around 50 dollars’ worth of items from the store. The next day a man was reported to be shoplifting in the Walmart Super-Center. This man was in fact attempting to steal 97 dollars’ worth of “Magic: The Game” cards. The man was putting the cards in a bag that had items he had already purchased. Like the shoplifter the day before, the man was taken into jail. These string of shopliftings does beg the question; will it ever end?

According to Magnolia Mayor Parnell Vann, the city of Magnolia is not finished being revived just yet. Vann considers his first term as mayor a success with a current total savings of $2.6 million for the city, a lower ISO rating from the Magnolia Fire Department, a decrease in crime, newly paved streets and $1.854 million received in grant money. Mayor Vann has officially announced his candidacy for re-election as mayor of Magnolia. During his first term, Vann worked hard to clean vacant lots and houses in an effort to beautify the city. Vann believes it is important to incorporate the next generation in the plans for the future of the city. He currently works alongside the Magnolia High School internship program and employs two high school seniors with the city. Mayor Vann said “Our parks have become a source of revenue for the city. Many improvements have been made in order to make them more inviting to the public. I also believe that our airport is the first impression for economic development. The improvements that have been made to our airport will only enhance our chances of growth.”

Earlier this week, during a telephone conference call, the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees voted unanimously to facilitate the refinancing of bonds to take complete ownership of the University Village Apartments, a student housing complex at SAU.
A bond pledging auxiliary revenues not to exceed $10,000,000 with an interest rate of approximately five-percent is needed to pay off the 2003 bonds issued for construction by Collegiate Housing Foundation or CHF. CHF owns the buildings at the University Village (UV) and leases them to SAU. Upon payment of the bonds, the UV will become SAU property free and clear of all obligations. CHF was selected in 2003 to build the University Village, using what is referred to as off-balance sheet financing. This is a common practice in higher education to complete and fund projects. The bonds have passed the 10-year mark, and the penalty clause for early payment has expired. The bond was issued for 30 years back in 2003 and had 20 years remaining. This 2014 bond issue will be for the same 20-year term that remained for the 2003 issue. There will be an average savings to the University of $125,000 annually from interest, fees, insurance and audit costs.


Audrey Brown, Director of Public Education for the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) recently spoke to the Noon Lions Club at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. Brown spoke about organ donation and its importance that could lead to saving a life. Brown talked about ARORA’s mission which is to make every effort to provide organs and tissues for life-saving and life-enhancing transplantation. This goal will be accomplished through continuous hospital involvement, which includes hospital training. ARORA also encourages community involvement by providing public education. ARORA has three different organ transplant centers which are at Arkansas Children's Hospital, Baptist Medical Center and UAMS, and are all located in Little Rock.  Brown also talked about how the transplant list works saying that the sickest person in always in front of the line. If you’d like to learn more about ARORA or organ donation you can visit

People from throughout the world sent 92, 472 valentine wishes to patients at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital last week. The Valentine's Day project, which officially began February 4, greatly exceeded the hospital's expectations. Director of Child Life and Education at ACH, Renee Hunte said "We are absolutely thrilled with how people participated in and shared this special Valentine's Day project," and "I have heard from many parents and caregivers who are touched by so many people across the world sending thoughts and well wishes to their child." The 92,472 valentine wishes came from every county in Arkansas, all 50 states and countries as far away as England, Italy, Japan, Holland and South Korea.

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted to restore misguided military retirement cuts that were included in the Bipartisan Budget Act. Boozman said “Our retired servicemembers were unjustly targeted to bear the burden of irresponsible spending. The budget agreement passed at the end of last year unfairly puts this weight on their shoulders, which is why I voted against that agreement. I have fought to bring this correction for a vote on the Senate floor. We needed to right this wrong so our military retirees and their families have one less thing to worry about. This vote restored the full COLA for retirees who joined prior to January 1, 2014, but upholding our promise for all those who enrolled prior to the initial cut is an important step in the right direction. However, this entire provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act should still be repealed, and if there are ever any changes to military retirement they should be part of a more responsible, thoughtful and comprehensive proposal,”.

With the Annual Dog Show taking place in East Camden this Saturday, I thought it would be appropriate to name some tips about protecting your pet during winter weather. In many areas, winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Extra precautions during winter months will make sure your four-footed family members stay safe and warm. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines:

Keep pets indoors and warm:
Don't leave dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. No matter what the temperature, wind chill can threaten a pet's life. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young, or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks.

Take precautions if your dog spends a lot of time outside:
A dog or cat is happiest and healthiest when kept indoors. If for some reason your dog is outdoors much of the day, he or she must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Help feral and stray cats get warm:
If there are ferals or strays in your neighborhood, remember that they need protection from the elements. It's easy togive them shelter.

Give your pets plenty of water:
Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and unfrozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

Be careful with cats, wildlife, and cars:
Warm engines in parked cars attract cats and small wildlife, who may crawl up under the hood. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

Protect paws from salt:
The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. Wipe all paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates his/her mouth.

Avoid antifreeze poisoning:
Antifreeze is a deadly poison, but it has a sweet taste that may attract animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or your family. 

The best tip of all: keep your pets with you:
Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise, but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

February 12, 2014


The SAU Tech talent show auditions have been changed to Feb. 18 at  6:00 pm and the show is now on Feb. 25 at 6:00 pm. 

The annual South Arkansas Kennel Club AKC All Breeds Dog Shows, with obedience and rally trials, will be February 15th and 16th at the Highland Industrial Park’s airport facilities in East Camden. There will also be a  $1,000 cash prize will be awarded to “Best in Show” on both dates. Toy breeds will be featured in a show on February 14 hosted by the Toy Dog Club of Central Arkansas.

The Magnolia City Council's Animal Control Committee, which was originally  scheduled to meet Wednesday morning, has postponed its meeting until 10 a.m. Tuesday, February 18, at City Hall. The meeting had been called to discuss the regulation of ownership of pit bulldogs by certain individuals.

Its official! 42 people have now died of influenza in Arkansas, according to Kerry Krell with the Dept. of Health. At least 18 of those people have been between the ages of 25 and 64, and two thirds of the deaths have occurred in previously healthy people. The CDC now classifies the flu as widespread here in the Natural State, saying that this high number of deaths may be in connection with the fact that they are seeing young people getting flu shots at a historically low number. The health department said healthy, young people are being affected by the flu this year and that  getting a flu shot is your best defense, and it's not too late to get one.

The Camden Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the upcoming Daffodil Festival 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, March 8, 2014.  They are asking for your support as a sponsor.  We will have different sponsor levels this year on the attached form.  For contributions of $100.00 or more, they will have your company name lettered on the back of the T-shirt that is available to the runners.  All sponsor contributions under $100.00 will be a “general sponsor”.   This is the Chamber’s 12th year to host the 5K and last year they had over 100 runners and walkers participate.  Join us for this festive event as we have added music and fine-tuned our program to tabulate the winners. If you have any questions concerning the sponsorship please contact Calandra Green at (870)836-2186 or Beth Osteen at (870) 836-6426.  The Chamber office will also have entry forms for the 5k Run/Walk. The Chamber of Commerce does appreciate your support.

Team Doug MDA will be sponsoring a Fighting Muscle Disease Benefit on Saturday, February 15th, from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm. There will also be a performance by the White Mustang Band at this event. The event will be held at the Razorback Shack in Bearden. The cost is 5 dollars for the event and door proceeds will be donated to Muscular Dystrophy Association. You must be 21 year-old or older to be a part of this event. If you have any questions you can call Robin at 870-885-0208.

Sigma Sigma Sigma is teaming up with LifeShare Blood Centers to help the Magnolia High School earn the LifeScholarship. LifeShare the supplier of all blood components to the Magnolia Hospital ask that all who can do. There will be a blood drive on February 17, from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. The blood drive will take place at the Reynolds Center Grand Hall and there is no cost for the event. For additional information you can call 903-794-3173 and there will be T-Shirts for all donors.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans Fact: Cardiac rehabilitation can stabilize, slow or even reverse the progression of heart disease. It also helps the recovery process and promotes wellness through lifestyle changes. This Senior Circle Lunch and Learn presents Richard Reeves, MS, RCEP and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at MCSA to help you live with a stronger heart and a better quality of life so you can have fun longer. Cardiac Rehab has been shown to be as beneficial as taking cholesterol and heart medications. Richard will show us how cardiac rehab will help you regain your strength and independence, and overcome your anxieties and fears. You'll learn how to make heart-healthy living a part of your life now and for the rest of your life. Along the way, you'll meet a support group of professionals and people just like you dealing with the same challenges you face each day. The event begins at 12:00 p.m. Lunch will be served. Reservations requested to (870) 864-3282. No charge for Senior Circle Members. SC membership is $15/year. You can sign up at the Lunch & Learn.

Tom Calhoon announces his intention to seek re-election as Justice of the Peace representing Clark County District 6. Formally serving as a member of the Quorum Court of Clark County, Calhoon hopes to be allowed to continue working in this same position. Calhoon said "I have seen the members of the Quorum Court improve in their ability to work together over the recent past," "and I hope to be able to contribute to the improvement of the court into the future. The members of the court have begun to realize how important it is to understand more about the operation of the counties business, the budget, and how the county officials handle each specific office and the duties of that office." "We currently have a group of county officials dedicated to working together to save money where we can, and to spend it wisely when necessary. I like the direction we appear to be headed, and hope to continue to be a part of the progress."

Congressman Tom Cotton released the following statement after the House voted to restore cuts to military pensions made in the December budget legislation: “The House has rightly reversed the recent, unjust cuts to veterans' pensions in a fiscally responsible manner. Our troops have sacrificed repeatedly to defend our country and, of all groups, they should have never been singled out for retroactive pension cuts. Senate Democrats should stop using veterans as a political pawn and pass this legislation immediately.”

February 11, 2014


The Ouachita County Courthouse and Ouachita County Extension Office will be closed on Monday February 17, for Presidents Day. The Ouachita County Sanitation Department will run on regular schedule as they will not take the holiday off.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The Speaker this week will be Audrey Brown and she is the Director of Public Education for the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has been with ARORA since 2003 where she manages a staff of public education professionals including two Public Education Specialists, a Minority Education Specialist and a Volunteer Coordinator.  She will speak about the agency and the importance of Organ donation.

Last night the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado had their Annual Youth of the Year Banquet, in which one youth in nominated and receives scholarships and the recognition of the community. Last night’s winner, Kayla Morgan was honored as the Youth of the Year and was the youngest recipient of the award at only 14 years-old. In her speech Morgan thanked the Boys and Girls Club for being a home for her and being a place that has helped her grow in life. Morgan was not the only speaker at the event as head coach of the championship El Dorado Wildcats, Scott Reed was the guest speaker of the evening. Reed touched up on how he and his staff try hard to be more than coaches to their team, they try to be mentors. Reed talked about one thing he tells always his players is to “walk, work, and dance” and if you do that you can succeed in life. Inspired by the song by Lou Anne Womack, Reed preaches to his team to just work hard and dance in life. Mr. Joe Hickman also served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. This Youth of the Year Banquet was a true success for all ages and everyone left remembering three things……dance.

Take a free trip this week through the eyes of a professional wildlife photographer to see such destinations as Turkey, Greece, Rome, and Glacier National Park. Photographer Tom Ulrich is scheduled present his latest collection of images at Southern Arkansas University from 7:00 pm until 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, February 12-13, at the SAU Reynolds Center Foundation Hall. This is Ulrich’s twenty-second wildlife photography presentation at SAU. This event is free and open to the public. Along with images from his global travels from 2013, Ulrich will also share photographs from the bird migrations of South Texas. A freelance photographer since 1975, Ulrich is highly acclaimed around the world for his nature photography skills. Many of his more than 100,000 transparencies have been used by numerous magazines and other publications, including National WildlifeAudubonOutdoor OklahomaSierraAmerican HunterRanger RickAlaskaNational GeographicMontana OutdoorsLife and many others. He is also responsible for publishing seven nature books: Mammals of the Canadian RockiesBirds of the Canadian RockiesMammals of the Northern RockiesBirds of the Northern RockiesOnce Upon a FramePhoto Pantanal, and Mt. Reynolds: The Story. Ulrich’s visits to Magnolia are not only a precursor to the coming of spring, but they also give us all a peaceful escape into the world of photography, understanding wildlife behavior and traveling to exotic lands. The event is sponsored by the SAU Student Activities Board, the Department of Art and Design and SAU’s community of friends.

Jade Halliburton of Crossett, Ark., was recently recognized as one of five in the nation for the 2013 Young Agriculture Advocates of the Year list. Halliburton is a junior Agriculture Education major at Southern Arkansas University. She earned Honorable Mention honors on this inaugural honor by I Love Farmers…They Feed My Soul (ILF), a non-profit agriculture advocacy group. Halliburton said she heard of ILF before attending SAU, and she knew that she wanted to host a “WTF Day,” which stands for “Where’s The Food Without The Farmer?” “Upon her arrival, Jade began to introduce me to the I Love Farmers organization, and she suggested that SAU become affiliated. With Jade taking the lead, SAU jumped in and participated in “Where’s the Food Without the Farmer?” It was a big hit on campus. This past year, with Jade’s leadership, we participated again. Jade has been a big influence in the Agriculture Department and has instilled the idea that all of our students need to be agriculture advocates,” said Dr. Jeffry Miller, chair of the SAU Department of Agriculture.

Halliburton’s Ag advocacy work is extensive. She became in 2013 a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador through the National FFA Organization. She is only one of 20 such ambassadors in the U.S. She underwent two weeks of training with the National FFA in Greensboro, N.C., and in Jacksonville, Fla. National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassadors are charged with increasing public understanding of the food, fiber and natural resource industry; promote awareness of resources needed to produce safe and reliable food sources; and increase awareness of Ag career opportunities. “I have written workshops that have been delivered in Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Iowa and I personally will complete at least 30 presentation hours with students and civic organizations by the end of my term this semester,” said Halliburton. She is also a member of the SAU Agriculture Ambassador team, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate FFA and Collegiate Farm Bureau. Halliburton said she did not grow up on a farm, but since her mother is a zoologist, she was surrounded by animal husbandry. Her early childhood was spent living at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, La. They moved to Arkansas before she started school, and she spent afternoons and summers at Kone Crossland Zoo in Crossett. “I thought it was a normal part of a kid’s life to wake up every two hours and bottle feed orphan animals, sleep with live teddy bears, or go out in the middle of the night on animal rescue calls,” said Halliburton. She began showing lambs through 4-H at age seven. She took off in FFA in eighth grade, competing in numerous Career Development Events and Leadership Development Events. Among these was Prepared Public Speaking, in which she became the Arkansas State Winner. She went on to take the silver medal at the 2010 National FFA Convention for her speech, “American Tradition,” which discussed the effects of animal rights activism on the Agri industry. She was also chosen to speak with the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, about the importance of vocational/agriculture education in high schools. In 2011, she served as Ashley County Cattlemen’s Princess speaking at local shows and field days. She also presented before the Senate Ag Committee concerning anti agriculture activism. She went on to serve as Miss Arkansas Beef in 2012, where she was a spokesperson for the industry on the state level. She also helped establish Ashley County’s Agriculture Field Day, which has become an annual event that local schools and local producers have latched onto as a method of exposure, advertisement and education about the Ag industry. Halliburton hopes to continue in a program development role after she earns her degree from SAU. She said she loves getting to work closely with young adults and the Ag industry. In fact, she said that among all that she has done, the most impactful moment was during a presentation she was giving to a class of fourth-grade students. “I asked, ‘Can anyone tell me where our food comes from?’ A child answered, ‘The grocery store!’ with the pride a student only wears on his or her face when he or she knows they are, without a doubt, correct. It’s a scary thought that, even in rural communities, people do not understand where there food comes from. This plants seeds for misconceptions about the agriculture industry. That moment was when I knew that I had chosen the correct field, and I felt it my job to educate others about the industry I hold so dear,” she said. She recommends SAU to any prospective students because she said at SAU “you’re more than your student number.” She said the professors care about her, as well as her success. “I feel at home here. I have no doubt that you will too,” Halliburton said to anyone considering SAU. 

Five Arkansas properties have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the country’s official list of historically significant properties, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program Director Frances McSwain has announced. Among them is the Magnolia Colored High School Historic District, with buildings dating to the 1940s from a segregated campus. “The Magnolia Colored School Historic District was the center of transformation in education for the black students of Magnolia in the 1940s through desegregation in 1969,” according to the National Register nomination. “The buildings best exemplify the educational environment during this period and how the educational environment was changing by the late 1940s.

On Thursday, February 20, at 5:00 p.m., come to the Medical Center of South Arkansas's Heart Smart with Cardiologist Dr. Donald Voelker MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSCCT, FASA, interventional cardiologist. Dr. Voelker will lead a presentation on how to live a “HEART SMART” life. Learn tips on how diet affects the heart and the latest results from research studies. Questions are encouraged. No reservation required and the event is free. MCSA Conference Room 3, El Dorado Men and women of all ages are encouraged to attend. For additional information you can call 870-864-3282.

February 10, 2014

Ouachita County, and yes that does include Camden is under a Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 6:00 pm tonight until noon tomorrow, February 11th. Ouachita County is expecting a mix of freezing rain, snow and sleet across the area. It should also be advised that icing amounts of a tenth or two of an inch could be possible. So if you must be on the roads tonight and tomorrow please be cautious. 

During my recent interview with SAU Tech Game Design and Simulation Instructor Brian Dixon, he talked about how the gaming industry is definitely here to stay. The program came about when Dixon decided that the web development market was changing and it is becoming difficult to run a business in that area, so he decided to change the course to game design and simulation, an industry that seems to be always growing. According to Dixon the only three colleges that teach this kind of course are Fort Smith, SAU Magnolia and of course SAU Tech. The SAU Tech version is different than the others because it is only a two year program that allows students to get in learn the material do the work and quickly get out in that particular working environment. Dixon said money and the always growing 12 billion dollar industry of game design are good benefits for anyone wanting to work in this field. With games as popular as they are it seems like game design would be a smart choice for any young high school or college kid to go into. For more information on the program you can contact Dixon at or call him at 850-974-2180.  

Edgar Lee, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Southern Arkansas University, has been reappointed Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to serve another five-year term on the SAU Board.Lee, of Chidester, Ark., was appointed for his first term in 2009. He is an alum of SAU and a team leader at Raytheon Missile Corporation. “Mr. Lee has been an excellent Board member. His reappointment to the Board provides a continuity of leadership that is very valuable to the University,” said SAU President Dr. David Rankin. Lee was born in in Magnolia and graduated from Waldo High School in 1980. He earned a B.B.A. in Business at SAU in 1984. He was an all-state basketball player for three years at Waldo and played for Coach Monroe Ingram at SAU.He served three years in the United States Army before being employed by Brown and Williamson, where he was awarded territory sales manager of the year. He had responsibility for southwest Arkansas for 10 years prior to starting at Raytheon.He is married to Gloretta Lee and they are the proud parents of two sons, Ethan and Evyn Lee. He is an alderman for the city of Chidester and he and his family attend the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

Due to the weather, Sesquicentennial Heartwalk that was postponed Saturday is rescheduled for Saturday, February 22nd at 10:00 am at Coleman Stadium.

The Magnolia Police Department issued warnings about Internet-based scams. One scam involves text messages from a bogus business. With names like “AchieveCard.”  The numbers appear to be Arkansas telephone numbers, but are fake user numbers with “” attached. The message asks the recipient to call a certain telephone number for an “urgent notification.” Magnolia police advise the public not to call the number. The scammer’s telephone number is a pay site. People who call will be charged $20 per minute for the time they are connected to the number and a series of automated transfers keep people on the line. Before people realize that nothing is happening, they may have been billed for two or three minutes of time. Police advise the public to return telephone calls only to numbers that they recognize. The second scam is an email claiming that the recipient has mail at the post office. The message asks that you give personal information so that you can claim the package. There is no package. Magnolia police urge the public to protect their personal information, and to keep it personal.

23-year-old, Ashley Walthall, was named Miss Magnolia 2014 during Saturday night’s annual pageant at the Harton Theatre. Walthall also won the Serenity Day Spa People’s Choice award, Jim Hughes Talent award, and Swimsuit award. She also performed a tap dance to “Orange Blossom Special.” Walthall is a student at Southern Arkansas University and a hairstylist at Square Roots Salon. The first runner-up was 20-year-old Sarah Clayton. Clayton, won the Ashley Watson Interview award and is also a student at SAU.

Recently the Downtown Magnolia area received handrails in efforts to promote public safety.

The rails were built by Magnolia High School intern, Lane Morrison, who is currently working for the city. Mayor Parnell Vann said “I believe it was important to involve Lane in building these handrails. The more experiences he is involved with through the street and parks department will only contribute to his career after high school. I would also like to thank Production Services for their contribution to the project,” . 

On February 18, there will be a Business After Hours event hosted by the SAMA Clinic, located at 600 Timberlane Dr. in El Dorado. The event will last from 5:00 pm until 6:30 pm. Business After Hours in an opportunity to network with other area professionals and learn more about SAMA. Be sure and bring your business card for the door prize drawing. Business After Hours will be held every month on the third Tuesday of the Month. The cost is $5.00 at the door and no RSVP is needed. For additional information you can call Kay Smith at (870) 863-6113

There will be a free Safe Sleep Informational Outreach on Saturday, February 15. The Outreach will last from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm at the Old Boys and Girls Club in Carnes Park in Camden. Lunch will be provided at this event. Partners in this outreach will include The Salvation Army, the Ouachita County Unit of the ADH, UAMS Translational Research Institute and more.

This outreach will allow you to get information on Parent Care Assistance, Low-Cost Health Care, Early Childhood Education and more. For additional information you can call Charles Moore at 870-390-9018. 

February 7, 2014

In light of Police Chief Bill O’Keefe’s recent announcement of retirement, the Camden community will soon be getting a new head of the police department. Camden Mayor Chris Claybaker believes he has found the next police chief in Bo Woody. Woody has been a resident of the Camden community for many years and has worked for the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office from 1994 until joining the Camden Police Department in 2005, where Woody has been working his way through the ranks to his current position of Commander of the Patrol Division.

Since working in Law Enforcement Woody has won many awards and certificates. All of these achievements make Bo Woody the perfect choice for the next Chief of the Camden Police Department. 

The body that was found Sunday in the firery remains of a house on Columbia County Road 36 has been officially identified as 66 year-old Ronnie Carl Dees. The body was identified late Thursday night by Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe. Firefighters discovered the body inside Dees’ house, but formal identification was pending the verification of dental and DNA records at the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Loe said that the autopsy results are not yet available. Lawmen want the results to learn the cause of death. Dees’ body was released to Lewis Funeral Home of Magnolia.

To help ensure a sufficient blood supply this winter season, Southern Arkansas University Tech is hosting an American Red Cross We Challenge U Blood Drive on Feb. 17. All presenting donors will receive a commemorative We Challenge U T-shirt, while supplies last.

Scott Caswell, CEO of the Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region said “We thank SAU Tech for accepting the challenge from the Red Cross,” and “Donating blood is an easy way to volunteer, and it helps patients in need.” To make an appointment to donate or for more information, SAU students, faculty, staff and supporters may call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit and type in SAUTCC in the sponsor code field. College and high school blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of donations given through the Red Cross. The We Challenge U program encourages college students to get involved in the community by organizing blood drives and recruiting friends and faculty to give blood during winter months. The SAU Tech We Challenge U Blood Drive will take place on February 17, from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm at the college, located at 100 Carr Road in Camden.

The Ouachita County Fairboard will meet on Monday, February 10, at 7:00 pm at the Ouachita County Extension Office on Mt. Holly Road. The fairboard will host a Beef Jackpot show on March 1st. Other items on the agenda will include a new carnival, dates of the fair, and insurance on the buildings. The board is trying to form a Jr Fairboard and would like to encourage all exhibitors to attend an organizational meeting on Monday at 6:00 pm, in the same location. The exhibitor must live in Ouachita County or attend a school in the county and must be in the 9th through 12th grade. A parent is also welcome to attend. 

AARP help is free, individualized, there are no strings attached and they’re right here in your area. AARP offers free tax help to low-and-moderate-income taxpayers, especially to those ages 60 and older. If you would like to locate a site near you, visit the website or call the toll free number 1-888-AARP-NOW. This will last until mid-April. You can get your taxes done for free at the OPED Center located at 625 Adams. You can set up an appointment by calling 870-836-2210. The Tax-Aide service will held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. For any additional information you may also call Billy Stanley at 870-833-2212. 

To better serve the public, the Health Department IPA Guides will now be available after hours for those needing to get more information or who need help enrolling in affordable health care. IPA Guides with the ADH can assist citizens with Medicaid or Health Insurance Marketplace questions and applications. In Ouachita County the local IPA Guides (Melissa Bryan and Debbie Brown) will be available at the Ouachita County Medical Center front entrance on Mondays from 4:30 pm until 6:30 pm. There will also be outreach and informational events in the coming weeks to every county in Arkansas. For more information concerning these events, or to request an event in your community, please contact your local Health Unit or contact the Regional Coordinator Heather Hill at 870-331-0040. The Public is encouraged to attend these events.  

This July, fireworks celebration will return to Magnolia. The Magnolia Advertising and Promotion Commission voted to approve $7,500 for “Sparks in the Park.” Kelli Souter is organizing the fireworks show for East Side Park on the evening of Thursday, July 3. It will feature $3,500 worth of fireworks, with the rest of the money going toward a sound system, entertainment, food and drinks, amusements, insurance and other items. A fireworks show was previously held at the park under the auspices of the Magnolia Jaycees and Farmers Bank & Trust. A ban on outdoor burning cancelled the 2011 show. Farmers Bank hosted the show in 2012, but it was not held last year. The commission also approved an $8,000 grant for the Magnolia Arts Council. Magnolia Arts will use $7,000 to advertise its activities and $1,000 to sponsor a weekly series of free films for children on Wednesdays during the month of June.

A memorial scholarship has been set up to honor a promising young woman who was killed in a car crash last year. Maggie Minter would have been 20-years old on Tuesday, February 4th and her friends and family are hoping her light will continue to shine by helping others get an education.  Maggie Minter was just 19-years old when she was killed in a tragic car crash in Texarkana.  Now her family, friends and community have come together on her birthday to keep her memory alive. Maggie's mother, Diane Niemeyer, says her beautiful daughter always brought her great joy. "I think most about her sense of humor, she was very funny and had witty come backs to things," said Niemeyer.  A Maggie Minter Scholarship Fund has been set up for students who attend alternative schools in Liberty Eylau and Texarkana, Texas Independent School Districts. Niemeyer says so far they've raised about $2,500. "Alot of times those kids are overlooked," explained Niemeyer. "They give other scholarships, but these kids will sometimes just go to a trade school or vocational school."  A website with t-shirts for sale has been set up to help raise funds for the scholarship. Niemeyer says it's a fitting tribute to her daughter who loved helping others. She says community support and prayers have given them strength. In memory of Maggie's youthful spirit and her favorite color purple, those who loved her are paying tribute to her with purple ballons. "I think my biggest fear after she passed away is that she would be forgotten. This just proves to me she will be remembered," said Niemeyer.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that agents from the Attorney General’s Office have arrested a Grant County man for possession of child pornography. Bryan Mitchell Baker, 27, of Sheridan was arrested today on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. Baker was being held in the Sheridan Detention Center on $100,000 bond. Agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant this morning at Baker’s residence. Investigators seized a laptop computer and other electronic evidence. The evidence will be analyzed at the Cyber Crimes Unit Forensic Lab in Little Rock. Special Agent Chris Cone began investigating Baker in December after suspecting that child pornography was being possessed at his residence. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the investigation and arrest. The Attorney General’s Office will turn over its completed case file to Seventh Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Shirron. Charges are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

February 6, 2014

For those who may not know, there is a sport sweeping through South Arkansas and that sport is “Upward Basketball”. Upward is an event in which different age groups of kids from kindergarten all the way to 6th grade gather to practice basketball and have actual games. Upward basketball games takes place inside the gym of Calvary Baptist Church in East Camden every Saturday from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. I recently went down to Calvary Baptist to speak with Children’s Minister Cindy James and learn what makes upward such an attraction.

James said that obviously sports is going to be appealing to not just the kids, but the parents as well. James also said the main thing is that every child gets to hear the gospel, how to be saved and how Jesus can be their savior. Each child receives a devotional from their coach that they get to practice one night a week. Upward has around 24 different teams and 2 cheerleading squads and that includes kids from Bearden, Hampton, Harmony Grove, and of course Camden. Each season last 8 weeks with games and practice. Mrs. James also said that prayer goes a long way in making upward such a success each season. Upward is currently in its 12th season. For any additional information on upward basketball you can email Cindy James at 

The Camden Jaycees will have their monthly meeting Thursday, February 6th at 6:30 pm.

The meeting will take place in the upstairs meeting room of the White House Café. The Jaycees are looking for any new members and encourage you to invite anyone who is interested to attend. For any additional information you can call 870-807-0517.

The Annual Miss Harmony Grove Pageant will be held Saturday, February 7th. The event will held in the Harmony Grove Auditorium beginning at 5:00 pm. There will be eight divisions in the high school ranging from babies all the way to seniors. Cost of admission will be 4 dollars at the door.

The National Active Retired Federal Employees Association will have Chapter 1813 meeting on Tuesday February 18th. The meeting will start at 10:30 am at the OPED building, located at 625 Adams Avenue SE in Camden.

The Camden Fairview Board of Education will have its regular meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 11th, at 6:30 pm at the Garrison Auditorium. Things to be discussed at the meeting include a presentation and recommendation regarding provider for computers and facility rentals. There will also be a financial and superintendent repor, as well as a personnel session. Dinner will also be provided at 6:00 pm for board members who are present.

Law enforcement officers continue to investigate a fatal fire in Columbia County on Sunday that left one man dead. Sheriff Mike Loe said that the body found in the ruins of 1760 Columbia County Road 36 east of Magnolia is officially unidentified. There has been no positive identity made yet using dental or DNA records, Loe said. At this point, the cause of death is undetermined. According to Loe, the case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police. However, the house was the residence of Ronnie Dees, and he is widely believed to be the victim.

Columbia County Sheriff Mike Loe has announced he will seek a third two-year term.

Loe said “It has been an honor to serve you, the citizens of Columbia County. As with my promise to run a purpose driven and goal oriented department, I am proud to say that we are running on that record and will continue to obtain and implement new goals to be more efficient and save the tax payers money. “I would like to thank the citizens of Columbia County for giving me the opportunity to serve as their sheriff, and ask that you continue by re-electing me,”. Loe and his wife Donna (Dailey), have two children, Sara and Sam.

Some contractors may attempt to take advantage of consumers after storms
Winter weather often takes a toll on trees, and with recent bouts of ice and snow across the State, this year is no exception. Arkansas residents may seek out professional contractors to repair damage, trim trees or remove debris following the latest winter storms. Unfortunately, some tree-trimming services or other contractors may try to take advantage of Arkansans who have damage to their property or homes in inclement weather. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to warn Arkansas consumers about the potential for scams related to debris removal and to offer advice on how to select a reputable contractor. “My office receives complaints year-round about tree trimmers that appear to charge outrageous prices or that provide inferior work,” McDaniel said. “After storms, we see more and more examples of contractors who take advantage of consumers. However, Arkansans who take their time to get estimates and to get recommendations from friends and family can almost always avoid falling victim to con artists.” After ice storms, scammers typically target affected neighborhoods using high-pressure sales tactics to deal with consumers who may be in urgent need of help. They may charge high “emergency” prices  and demand upfront payment for services. Many times, those scammers leave jobs incomplete or fail to do the work at all.

The Attorney General offered this advice to consumers who need debris removal or home repair services:
Select a reputable contractor. Obtain recommendations from friends and family and ask for references from the contractor itself. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor has a good track record.
Always get estimates. Call at least three contractors for estimates. Even if it is necessary to act quickly to repair damage or have a tree removed, consumers are still better off financially by taking some time to compare prices.
Put it in writing. A contract should contain details about the price of the project and any necessary financing. It should indicate the exact work that is to be done, the type and quality of materials to be used and the expected completion date. 
Never pay in advance. At no time should a consumer make full payment in advance for any type of repair or debris-removal service. One option that should be satisfactory for both the contractor and consumer is an arrangement where one-third of the expected cost is paid in advance, a third is paid during the work and the final installment paid once the work is complete. Consumers should inspect the completed project before making final payment.
Handle insurance payments directly. If homeowners’ insurance is involved, consumers should deal with insurance carriers directly rather than authorizing a contractor to negotiate with the company. In some recent instances, home-repair contractors have taken insurance proceeds in advance, then failed to complete work that was promised. 

For more information about this or other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website at or call (800) 482-8982.

February 5, 2014

The Camden Fairview School District will be hosting parent/teacher conferences on Monday, February 10, from 11:oo am until 6:00 pm. Parents may visit teachers during that time. Students will not attend classes that day. Classes will resume on Tuesday February 11th. 

Southern Arkansas University set three enrollment records in the fall, and the trend continued as SAU has reported a record number of students a spring semester. SAU reported its record spring enrollment of 3,112 students to the state on the eleventh class day on January 30, 2014. This number is exactly 100 more than the 2013 spring enrollment of 3,012. “This spring’s enrollment following on the heels of a record fall enrollment indicates that SAU is not only attracting more students, but retaining them as well,” said SAU President Dr. David Rankin. “There is no question that an increasing number of students is discovering that Southern Arkansas University is a great place to pursue their degrees.” SAU is known in part for its comprehensive list of degree options. SAU has been a trend-setter in higher education in the state and region by offering cutting-edge degrees such as Computer Game and Animation Design. This program started at SAU in the fall of 2013, and is the only degree program of its kind in Arkansas and the region. The Digital Cinema Production degree, which began just over five years in recognition of movie productions taking place in the region, continues to draw students to SAU. More recently, SAU was approved to establish a Bachelor of Science in Engineering program. This will be the only engineering program offered south of Little Rock. Industry representatives from across the region rallied behind SAU in the push for this program, which clearly demonstrated the need for well-qualified engineers. In the fall, SAU set three enrollment records, including overall enrollment, residence hall enrollment, and new student enrollment. University officials credited these records to competitive academic programs, a dedicated faculty and staff, the “complete college experience” campaign, and an extending reach into Arkansas, Texas and beyond. Among SAU’s student body are 102 international students from 34 countries around the globe.  In celebration of this broadening reach, SAU loaded up its unique mascot for the “Taking the Mulerider on the Road” initiative. Mulerider Megan Maye, senior finance major, and Molly Ann the mule turned a number of heads as they rode through Texarkana, Hot Springs and Little Rock. Additional trips are in the works to continue spreading the word about SAU and the University’s rising enrollment trend.

A new group of Magnolia residents are working to get a proposal on the fall ballot asking voters to legalize alcohol sales in Columbia County. However, opponents are arguing saying it’s not a good plan for the community. While the natural state has long been jumble of wet and dry counties, some are hoping that trend will soon begin to shift. It was 1943 when Columbia County outlawed alcohol sales and the issue hasn't come up for a vote in decades, but supporters believe that should change. Group leader for Columbia County David Nelson said "We are losing lots of money to neighboring counties, parishes in Louisiana," and "It's time to keep that money in our town and county." Nelson says people are moving away from South Arkansas and his group wants that to stop.  According to the last US Census, the population has decreased by more than 1,000 people. Meanwhile, Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia hit a record enrollment this fall.

Larry Atkinson has announced his candidacy for re-election as Columbia County judge.

Atkinson has served in the position since 2006. He is married with two children and is a lifelong resident of Columbia County. He is a graduate of Magnolia High School and Southern Arkansas University with a Bachelor of Science degree. Atkinson serves as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Arkansas County Judges, on the Board of Directors of Southwest Planning and Development, Chairman of the Solid Waste Board, on the Board of Directors of Farm Bureau and a member of the Columbia County Cattleman’s Association.
Atkinson served as the coordinator for Lake Columbia for 23 years prior to becoming county judge. Atkinson said “It has been an honor to serve all the people of Columbia County for the past eight years. I will continue to work hard to make Columbia County a better place to live. I think it is very important to work with all the elected officials locally and statewide for the good of Columbia County,” and “In the past eight years, Columbia County has been awarded more than $1 million in grants that has helped to balance our budgets, so we do not have to spend county funds. Even though it is becoming harder to get these funds, we will work diligently to pursue this revenue stream.

Magnolia Arts will present its 8th Annual Murder Mystery Dinner in four performances February 12-15. The event will be held at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13. The cost is $30 for Magnolia Arts members and $35 for the general public. Performances will be held at the Magnolia Arts Center, located at 116 S. Washington. The event will start at 7 p.m. Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15. Tickets will be $50 for Magnolia Arts members and $55 for the general public. Admission on Friday and Saturday is for people age 21 and older. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Cosmopolitan Ladies Club & Gallery, the Studio 2204 Salon, or by calling Magnolia Arts executive director Janet Rider-Babbitt at 870-725-4780.

On February 12, 2014, the Chamber is holding its first 2014 quarterly Economic Outlook Luncheon, sponsored by Clean Harbors, during which representatives from each community in Union County will have the opportunity to report what's going on in their backyard. The event will be taking place inside the El Dorado Conference Center. This is a great opportunity to learn about so many of the good things taking place around Union County and to meet the leaders who are making them happen. Reservations required to (870) 863-6113 or The cost is $15 at the door.

On Wednesday, February 19, the Chamber will present "How to Manage Problem Employees" by Glenn Shepard, bestselling author of books like How to Manage Problem Employees and How to Be the Employee Your Company Can't Live Without. Glenn's thought-provoking seminars are filled with stories and humor, and will provide you with simple tools you can use to become more effective. The seminar will be at the El Dorado Conference Center from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The cost is $129 for Chamber members and $149 for non-members. The fourth registrant is free with three paid registrants. If you need to register more than four people, please contact the Chamber at (870) 863-6113.

U.S. Senator John Boozman applauded the Senate passage of the Farm Bill by a vote of 68 to 32. Boozman, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee was appointed to serve on the conference committee tasked with resolving the differences between the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill joined Committee members in discussing the importance of this legislation. “This represents years of hard work that provides predictability to the agriculture community. Our farmers, ranchers and agriculture producers deserve a Farm Bill that provides them with the safety net and certainty they need to continue supplying our country with the safest, most abundant food supply in the world. While not perfect, this bill provides an equitable safety net for our nation’s agriculture producers, makes significant policy reforms and achieves major savings toward deficit reduction,” Boozman said.

February 4, 2014

The ban on outdoor burning in Columbia County, which was enforced last week, has been lifted. The Ouachita County burn ban was lifted by Judge Mike Hesterly on Tuesday until further notice. 

The second part of the depression wellness seminar in Columbia County will be held from noon until 1:00 pm on Thursday. The seminar will be held at the Columbia County Library. The topic of the seminar will be “Wellness Tips: Taking Care of Yourself”. The topic will be brought by M.Ed., founder and director of the Depression Research Center, Stephanie Thompson. The seminar will explore wellness strategies that in addition to professional treatment will help to reduce symptoms and/or prevent future depressive episodes. The meeting is open to the public, and people may bring a lunch if they like.

Magnolia Regional Medical Center will host an Education and Enrollment Fair on Monday, February 10, 2014 to assist Columbia County residents with enrollment in health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The event will be held from 5-8 p.m. at the LifeSmart Rehabilitation Center, located at 1005 N. Jackson in Magnolia. "We are pleased to host an education and enrollment fair for affordable health insurance," MRMC CEO Margaret West said. "This is an opportunity for residents to learn about the new health insurance law and get enrollment assistance." The public is invited to attend to learn more about the health insurance options available through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, get information about the financial assistance now available to help pay insurance premiums and meet with trained, licensed guides for enrollment assistance.

Michael Kornegay of Hot Springs has been hired as Content Editor/Assistant Producer at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock. He is scheduled to start February 12, 2014. Kornegay is a 2013 Digital Cinema Production graduate from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. He made a name for himself as a student intern at KATV during the summer of 2012. “While attending SAU, Professor Marek Dojs always said, ‘Anything is possible.’ I really bought into that concept. So when I wanted to intern at the top news station in Arkansas, he said, ‘Why not?’” said Kornegay. “After the summer, I left Channel 7 knowing I wanted to return one day to work there.” Immediately after graduating from SAU, the University transitioned Kornegay from a part-time student worker to a full-time videographer/photographer in SAU Communications. He worked with Aaron Street, Assistant Dean for Integrated Marketing and Media Relations, to film and edit videos and commercials promoting SAU’s “complete college experience.” Their work can be seen on SAU’s YouTube channel at, including the Fall 2012 hit “Mulerider Style.” Kornegay and Street earned “Best of Show” honors from the Service Industry Advertising Awards for this spoof of Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” “While working at SAU I have achieved and learned a lot of things. I will never forget when Aaron and I found out we won Best in Show for his crazy idea of Mulerider Style,” said Kornegay. “There will always be a place in my heart for this University and the friends I have made.”  Kornegay is uncertain where this move to the news industry will take him, but he hopes to work his way up the ladder at Channel 7. To find out more about SAU and the Digital Cinema program, visit

On February 8, there will be a Tinker Time Shadow Puppets Event, held at the Tinkering Studio
Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover. At this event you will discover how to create a shadow puppet performance with only pieces of cardboard, dowels, glue, and a light source. You will not only design their own shadow puppet characters, but you will also develop a story based on your puppet character to perform in front of the program audience. This activity takes place in our Tinkering Studio, a space where you can slow down, become engaged in hands-on investigation, and explore how you might make an invention that helps promote the conservation of Arkansas's natural resources. For more information you can call the Park Superintendent at (870) 725-2877

The South Arkansas Community College Foundation proudly introduces the "Buy a Brick, Leave a Legacy" Campaign. Engraved bricks will be used to make a lasting impression in the William R. and Cacilia Howard Heritage Plaza. You may inscribe your name on a brick for a contribution of $100, or you can honor or memorialize a loved one, colleague, or organization. Your tax-deductible gift will be earmarked for this wonderful green space, and the enhancement of our campus and entire community. Contributors will be notified of their brick placement as Heritage Plaza is constructed. You can order a brick online. 

Like a hospital emergency room, the American Red Cross must be prepared to provide blood for patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. It’s the blood already on the shelves and readily available that can be lifesaving for people like Chris Salinas. Chris was a horse trainer who was seriously injured in an accident when a horse pinned him to the pavement. He and his family said they credit the multiple blood transfusions he received with helping him recover. Type O negative blood is especially needed right now. O negative is the universal blood type and can potentially be transfused to patients with any type. To make an appointment to donate blood and help ensure the shelves are stocked for patients in need, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Upcoming blood donation opportunities in near you:
Ouachita County
Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Southern Arkansas University Tech College, 100 Carr Road in Camden, Ark.
Feb. 19 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Green Center, 638 Calfornia Ave. SW in East Camden, Ark.
Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bearden High School, 635 Plum in Bearden, Ark.

How to donate blood:
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

February 3, 2014

On February 1, Deputy Michael Davidson of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office received a call concerning a breaking and entering report at Ouachita Hunting Club on Ouachita Road 25. 
Upon the officer’s arrival, he made contact with Harold Telton. Telton advised the officer the he arrived at the deer camp and observed that several doors were open to the camp houses. Telton stated that after closer observation, he observed that the doors were pried open or the locks were cut off, which in-fact was true. Davidson observed the camp houses, which had been gone through, however Telton was unaware of any items missing. After processing evidence Telton was advised that a report would be on file at the Sheriff’s Department and that CID would be in contact with him. 

On Sunday afternoon, it was announced that one person died in a house fire on Columbia County Road 36. At around 3:30 pm the Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire. The name of the victim has not been released.  The Arkansas State Police was called upon to investigate the cause of the fire. The Calhoun Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire about 3:30 p.m. The house was totally engulfed when firemen arrived. Firefighters returned to the scene early Monday morning after the fire rekindled. The fire destroyed the front of the house and the roof partially collapsed. The rear of the wood frame house was left standing but suffered heavy fire damage. A Toyota Corolla parked near the front of the house was also destroyed. A storeroom and another outbuilding were unaffected. County Road 36 is also known as the old El Dorado Highway. The fire’s location was about one mile east of Lake Sue Nursery.

There will be a Ouachita County Quorum Court Regular Meeting on Tuesday, February 4th. The meeting will start at 7:00 pm. Among the items on the agenda are appropriating funds in the jail operating fund, jail budget.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden. The speaker this week will be Dr. Larry Braden.  Dr. Braden will be sharing what he feels healthcare in the next couple of years will look like from the perspective of the Doctor, patient and your prescription needs. 

Plans and team development for the 2014 Ouachita County Relay for Life to be held on May 30th are underway and we encourage you to come and find out how you can be a part.  The 2014 theme is 100 years of Fighting Cancer / Relaying through the Decades. All are welcome to the upcoming team meeting on Thursday Feb. 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Green Room for more information contact Lisa Taylor 574-4283 or email us at

A special meeting of the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees has been called for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. The single item on the agenda reads as follows: “Resolution to facilitate the acceptance of property described as Lot 3, Harvey Couch Business Park, Magnolia, Arkansas, and acceptance of agreements among Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia Economic Development Commission, and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services for the purpose of constructing a facility for the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and Adult Education, Magnolia, Arkansas.” The meeting will be held in Room 102-D at the Donald W. Reynolds Campus and Community Center. The resolution is the next step in a cooperative effort among the participants to construct a new Workforce Services office and Adult Education Center in the business park.

Southern Arkansas University was approved to establish a Bachelor of Science in Engineering program by the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board quarterly meeting in Little Rock Friday, January 31, 2013. Sarah Argue, chair of the Academic Committee of the Higher Education Coordinating Board  said “This is how higher education is going to grow. Being reflective of industry, and being reflective on the things that are available,". “I commend SAU and I commend your work. It is going to be a task, but thank you for committing to it and for committing to south Arkansas.” The Bachelor of Science in Engineering at SAU will be effective fall 2014. Projected starting enrollment for the fall semester is more than 20 students. Dr. David Rankin, SAU president said “This is a tremendous academic breakthrough not only for Southern Arkansas University, but for all of south Arkansas,” and “This program will boost economic development in the region and offer our engineering students an opportunity to stay in the area after graduation.”

There will be a Fish Fry and Quesadilla Fest Fundraiser on March 2nd at What’s Cookin in Camden. The fundraiser is sponsored by the Professional Association of Women Educators and will last from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm. Tickets are 10 dollars in advanced and 12 dollars at the door. The dishes will be either chicken quesadilla or a fish plate, and there will also be a dessert available for an extra fee. For more information you can call Paula Bergstrom at 870-574-4488.

Ground crews searched all night along routes below the supposed flight path of missing Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot Jake Harrell. Saturday night through Sunday morning, more than 200 miles were traveled along back roads and rugged trails, searching for some sign of the pilot or his airplane. With air operations grounded by a winter storm that moved into western Arkansas overnight, ground squads are focusing Sunday on the north side of the supposed flight route with steep slopes, near Oden. Four wheelers will be used to access challenging sections of terrain. This concentrated effort is based on information from Harrell's cell provider about what is thought to be his last transmission before he went missing on Friday. The Incident Command Post in Mena is carefully monitoring the weather situation as ice and rain may move through the area.  Billy Black, AFC investigator said "We are doing our best to speculate about which direction Jake may have taken the plane on Friday, if his visibility was becoming difficult. We are hopeful that by narrowing search efforts to this area, that we may have a good chance of locating him,".

January 31, 2014

An RV fire has claimed the life of an 8-year-old boy. Officials with the El Dorado Fire Department say it happened just before 3 a.m. Wednesday earlier this week in the 800 block of East 4th Street. When crews arrived on the scene, the RV was engulfed in flames. When the fire was put out, firefighters found the body of Jack Tyler Gilmore. The Investigators believe the fire was sparked by a faulty heat source. The victim's mother, who suffered smoke inhalation, was taken to the Medical Center of South Arkansas for treatment. 

Beginning on February 24, in the Elementary School Between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm. Preschools students must be 4 on or before August 1st. Documents that will be needed include: Proof of Residency, Birth Certificate, Social Security Card, Current Shot Record, and a current Physical or Well-Child Checkup. Kindergarten Students must be 5 on or before August 1st and all of the same documents will be needed. 

Southern Arkansas University has released a brief statement in response to the sentencing in of former student Jaci Jackson in the Mulerider Stables horse theft case.
The two-sentence statement said: "The theft of five horses from SAU has been a traumatic event for everyone at the university and our community and we are extremely glad to get it behind us so we can move forward. We want to thank everyone for all the tremendous support we have received." Jackson, who instigated the theft of five horses from Mulerider Stables in November 2011, was sentenced to 3 ½ years in an Oklahoma prison. She also received seven years on probation on related charges. Jackson, her mother Wendi Cox and others were accused of stealing the horses, tack and a horse trailer from the Magnolia campus, and taking them to a remote location near Idabel, Oklahoma. One of the horses was killed and the four others left to starve before they were found. Jackson also faces charges in Columbia County and is due to be sentenced on Thursday, February 6.

Starting in Spring 2014, SAU will be offering classes in a comfortable classroom located at the new Hampton Inn near the Arkansas Convention Center in Texarkana. Courses this spring are geared toward offering an affordable and convenient way for nurses to advance their careers through SAU’s successful LPN-RN or RN-BSN programs, or for those interested in starting their nursing education with SAU’s accredited Department of Nursing. As a bonus for residents of Bowie County, Texas, the out-of-state tuition fee is being waived. For more information you can call Whitney Black, Director of University Outreach for Texarkana at 870-904-7669.

There will be a FrogWatch workshop on February 11, from 6:30 pm through 8:30 pm.

This classroom workshop will teach you to identify all the frogs and toads in our area by their calls in the first session.  Students will follow a PowerPoint presentation and learn to mimic the frog calls.  Handouts with visual memory aids will be provided.  In addition, you will learn why they are important, why they are in trouble, and what can be done to help them.  The second meeting includes an introduction to wetlands and frog monitoring training for the FrogWatch national network administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Citizen scientists around the country listen to frogs and toads from February through August and submit their findings to a national database.  Session one is a prerequisite for session two, and students may just attend the first session if they are not interested in becoming a citizen scientist.  For more about FrogWatch USA™ see  There is no charge for this workshop. To RSVP, call (870) 864-7192 or e-mail

January 30, 2014

On Thursday afternoon there was a horrible car accident over by Valero gas station on Cash road and  hwy 79. The accident is still under investigation. We will have more on this story as it unfolds. 

Yesterday, January 29, Lt. James Bolton was dispatched to 194 Ouachita 31 to take a theft report. Upon Bolton’s arrival he met with Ms. Loddie Shaw who was leaving at the residence. She stated that she had ordered a new iPhone 5 through her cell phone carrier AT&T. The phone was delivered to her home by UPS around noon on January 29th. Sometime between noon and 4:00 pm, someone opened the box, removed the phone, and placed the box upside down on top of an ice chest on the back porch. When Ms. Shaw arrived home, she found the empty box and called AT&T and filed a report with them. Ms. Shaw stated she doesn’t know who could have done this. She has received boxes before that have not been tampered with. 

An RV fire has claimed the life of an 8-year-old boy. Officials with the El Dorado Fire Department say it happened just before 3 a.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of East 4th Street. When crews arrived on the scene, the RV was engulfed in flames. When the fire was put out, firefighters found the body of Jack Tyler Gilmore. The Investigators believe the fire was sparked by a faulty heat source. The victim's mother, who suffered smoke inhalation, was taken to the Medical Center of South Arkansas for treatment.

Two South Arkansas Youth Services clients were ordered held under $150,000 bond each in connection with Tuesday’s kidnapping of Magnolia High School mathematics teacher Pamela White from her home on Chestnut Street. 16 year-olds Torie Lawrence of Little Rock and Bobby Hudson of Benton, went before Circuit Court Judge Larry Chandler on Wednesday afternoon to hear charges against them including aggravated residential burglary, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, terroristic threatening and theft of property of more than $25,000.

The first three charges are Class Y felonies, which carry the potential of 10 to 40 years, or life, in prison. Terroristic threatening is punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The theft count carries a 5-to-20 year sentence and a $15,000 fine. White was released unharmed by Hudson and Lawrence in Nevada County less than an hour after she was abducted, apparently at random, from her home about 1 p.m. Investigation led to a phalanx of police cars surrounding her Chevrolet Equinox as it headed north on Interstate 30 near Malvern, when a command from OnStar shut down the vehicle. Lawrence and Hudson were taken into custody.

A Magnolia man was arrested this past week. 31 year-old Carvandez L. Hardiman, was arrested and was charged with maintaining a drug premises, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm by certain persons, endangering the welfare of a minor first degree, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, and theft by receiving a firearm. After receiving several reports of Hardiman selling drugs out of his residence, a Magnolia Police Department investigation lead to the issuance of a search warrant for the home. Officers searched the residence and found drugs, drug paraphernalia and stolen firearms.

Selena Blair has now announced her candidacy for the office of Columbia County treasurer. As a life-long resident of Columbia County, Blair graduated from Magnolia High School with honors in 1988. She graduated in 1993 from Southern Arkansas University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in business administration, with emphasis in accounting and computer information systems. With more than 20 years of hands-on experience with for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental accounting, which includes accounts payable; accounts receivables; payroll; internal control; inventory reconciliation; month-end closing; allocations; general ledger analysis; budgeting; and financial reporting, Blair is a viable candidate for treasurer. 

Blair’s expertise also includes file reviews, regulation compliance, and liaison for local, state, and federal monitors. Since 2002, she has been employed by Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, Inc, which serves 12 counties in southwest Arkansas, as an accountant and compliance specialist. Blair has also been a part of the Magnolia Blossom Festival, World Championship Steak Cook-off, Abilities Unlimited, Boy Scouts of America, and Circle of Friends. Delivering weekly meals to senior shut-ins; participating in the nursing home ministry; preparing meals for the homeless shelter; and, serving the youth through church activities are examples of how Blair continues to give back to Columbia County.

In collaboration with state representatives and Henderson State University, the SAU Department of Mathematics & Computer Science, STEM Center and ERZ will be hosting the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Summit 2014. Mr. Tommy Coy from the Arkansas Department of Education and Dr. Linda Griffith of the University of Central Arkansas will provide the latest updates from the State. This is the only event of its kind in the State of Arkansas to discuss and train educators utilizing technology tools for assessment. Educators are invited to participate or attend this event that will be held on Tuesday, February 4th, starting at 9:00 am. For Registration: Contact Dr. Khalil Dajani, Chairman of the Department of Math & Computer Science at SAU by email at, phone at (870)-235-5191 or fax (870) 235-5346 .

On Friday, January 31, the 6th Annual Baseball Chili Dinner will take place at Camden Fairview High School Cafeteria. Tickets will be sold for 5 dollars. The CFHS Basketball will be playing Lakeside in the gym and the Lady Cardinals Gymnastics will also be competing on campus. Come out and support the 2014 baseball team and enjoy a bowl of chili.

Southern Arkansas University Tech will be having its Annual Talen Show on February 11th. The show will start at 6:00 pm in room TE100 in the Technical building. There will be prizes for the first, second, and third place winners. Admission for the show is just 2 dollars a ticket. For any additional information you can call Santresa Wilkins at 870-574-4486 or email her at to sign up. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of this event that is sure to showcase all the wonderful young talent of south Arkansas.

On February 10th, the Boys and Girls Club in El Dorado will have its 3rd Annual Youth of the Year Banquet. The banquet will start at 6:30 pm and last until 8:30 pm. The banquet is named in honor of Joe Hickman, who will serve as master of ceremonies at the event. At this banquet an award will be given to a particular teen, typically a junior or senior who was voted to be called “Youth of the Year”. Along with winning that title, the winner will receive a $500 scholarship from the Boys and Girls Club Foundation, $500 from the Boys and Girls Club Alumni Association, the Bubba $500 scholarship and more. Along with the award ceremony, there will also be two dishes served, and head coach of the championship El Dorado Wildcats, Scott Read will be speaking. Tickets are $15 for general and $25 for VIP, which will include meet and greets with special guest. The Boys and Girls Club is expecting a crowd of around 300 for the event. The Boys and Girls Club is located at North West Avenue in El Dorado. For more information you can call Kathey Perry at 870-863-8753 ext. 102 or email her at

January 29, 2014

Magnolia police are investigating an apparent home invasion, kidnapping and robbery that happened Tuesday afternoon. The victim was reportedly released unharmed near Prescott by her two abductors after they entered her home on Chestnut Street, forced her to drive them to ATM machines so that money could be withdrawn, and then drive toward Prescott along back roads. Lawmen earlier in the afternoon asked officers to be on the lookout for a stolen black Chevrolet Equinox involved in an apparent kidnapping in Magnolia, but the notice was later cancelled.

Reports say that two juvenile suspects are to be in custody after the stolen vehicle was stopped on Interstate 30 in Hot Spring County near Malvern. According to the Magnolia Police Department more details would be available Wednesday morning. The victim was released unharmed in a rural area near Prescott by her abductors within an hour of the kidnapping. She found her way to a church, from which she was able to call authorities.

The suspects were found traveling north on Interstate 30 near Malvern. Arkansas State Police stopped the vehicle with the assistance of OnStar and secured the occupants and the vehicle. The suspects were held in Malvern until detectives from the Magnolia Police Department arrived to bring them and the vehicle back to Magnolia. The suspects are being held at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility pending a first court appearance, which is expected Wednesday afternoon. It is anticipated that they will be charged as adults with kidnapping, aggravated robbery and residential burglary. The Magnolia Police Department, Arkansas State Police, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and Waldo Police Department were involved in the investigation.

A former Southern Arkansas University rodeo team member has been sentenced to 42 months in prison in Oklahoma for stealing horses from the school stables.

Jaci Jackson was also sentenced Monday to seven years of probation for her role in the theft of horses and equipment in 2011. The horses were discovered in Oklahoma and that is including one that had been killed, and Jackson faced charges in both states. February 6, is when she is set to be sentenced for the theft. Special District Judge Gary Brock agreed that the theft was instigated by Jackson's mother, Wendi Cox, who is serving a prison sentence for her role in the crimes. According to reports, Jackson cried during Monday's sentencing. However her attorney, Rick Stout, declined to comment.

This past Saturday, January 26, Cullendale First Baptist Church had its first ever “Men’s Winter Event”. This event featured Pastor Dr. Wade Totty’s brother, head football coach for the Rison Wildcats, Clay Totty as the guest speaker. Totty encouraged all the men and young boys to basically become men, what that took and what it meant. Totty spoke about how being a man meant more than just being a role model at home or to friends, but also at school and in the church. Totty would even relate to his own childhood as he would talk about how he and Bro. Wade’s father, grandfather and others invested so much in his life and always saw the potential that was there. Totty is now trying to do the same with youth and adults alike. The turnout at Cullendale Saturday night was great as around 112 men and boys alike attended the event. Bro. Wade said that the success of this event could lead more events like this with different speakers coming to encourage older and younger generations. With a huge turnout and great feedback it’s clear that this was more than just a one-time thing.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet today January 29, at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden.

The Lions Club speaker this week is Donald Reed with Air-Evac Team. He will explain their services and what they do for the citizens of Ouachita County. For more on the Lions Club and how you can become a member you can contact Charlotte Young at 870-807-1468.

The number of flu deaths continue to increase in Arkansas. On Tuesday, 28 people were reported to have died of influenza in Arkansas, according to specialist with the Department of Health. Eighteen of those people have been between the ages of 25 and 64. The CDC now classifies the flu as widespread here in the Natural State. They said this high number of deaths may be in connection with the fact that they are seeing young people getting flu shots at a historically low number. The health department said healthy, young people are being affected by the flu this year.

Burns bans are now in effect in 50 counties and outdoor burning is strongly discouraged across the state, the Arkansas Forestry Commission said Monday. The commission said 48 wildfires burned over the weekend and that 21 homes were threatened by the flames but were saved by suppression efforts. Most of the fires burned between 5 and 10 acres. A total of 127 acres burned over the weekend, not including a fire in the Ouachita National Forest near Lake Ouachita State Park that began Friday and had burned about 2,000 acres by Monday afternoon. Another 13 fires burned across 68 acres on Monday, according to the Forestry Commission. The commission said its crews have worked 237 fires so far this month, or 30 percent of the total number of wildfires fought in all of 2013. State Forester, Joe Fox said “We are beginning what appears to be a much more dangerous year for wildfire activity than we experienced last year. We ask all homeowners and citizens in Arkansas to continue to be very careful,” The commission said it currently has a fleet of 16 planes to assist with fire detection and suppression, and that an additional four single-engine air tankers are expected to arrive Feb. 1 to help ground crews via aerial fire suppression tactics.

January 28, 2014

Voters are encouraged to make themselves aware and plan accordingly to ease confusion concerning Arkansas’ new voter identification law before going to the polls or sending in an absentee ballot. Beginning in 2014, Act 595 of 2013 requires voters to present a valid photo identification at the polls. A valid photo ID must be issued by the federal government, State of Arkansas, or an accredited Arkansas college or university. Your name and photograph must be on the valid photo ID, and it must not be expired over four years, before Election Day. If you do not have a valid photo ID, a free voter identification card can be processed at the Ouachita County Clerk’s Office. For more information call Ouachita County Clerk Britt Williford at 870-837-2220 or email him at

Burns bans are now in effect in 49 counties and outdoor burning is strongly discouraged across the state, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission. The commission said 48 wildfires burned over the weekend and that 21 homes were threatened by the flames but were saved by suppression efforts. Most of the fires burned between 5 and 10 acres. A total of 127 acres burned over the weekend, not including a fire in the Ouachita National Forest northwest of Lake Ouachita State Park. The commission said its crews have worked 237 fires so far this month, or 30 percent of the total number of wildfires fought in all of 2013. “We are beginning … what appears to be a much more dangerous year for wildfire activity than we experienced last year. We ask all homeowners and citizens in Arkansas to continue to be very careful,” State Forester Joe Fox said in a news release. The commission said it currently has a fleet of 16 planes to assist with fire detection and suppression, and that an additional four single-engine air tankers are expected to arrive Feb. 1 to help ground crews via aerial fire suppression tactics. Counties with burn bans in effect were Ashley, Baxter, Boone, Benton, Carroll, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Cleveland, Conway, Crawford, Dallas, Drew, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Greene, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Logan, Lonoke, Madison, Marion, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Prairie, Polk, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Searcy, Sebastian, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White, Woodruff, and Yell.

Councilman Rodney Peterson will chair a new Magnolia City Council committee created Monday afternoon. As its first task, the Building and Grounds Committee will study improvements that need to be made to the Police-Fire Building, which may lead toward the construction of a new police station or annex. Mayor Parnell Vann has raised the possibility that a new building could be financed by striking an agreement with cell phone companies. It would call for the city to accept lump sum payments for future cell tower rental. He told the council last month that the city would give up 20 years of income from cell phone towers, and receive 11 years of that income almost immediately. Vann said Monday that negotiations are on-going with cell phone providers for tower placement and potential revenue.

Restrictions on yard sales in Magnolia moved forward on Monday before the Magnolia City Council. Council members heard the second of three required readings on an ordinance dealing with the positioning and duration of yard sales. The ordinance requires that, “Items for sale during a sale shall only be displayed in or on a patio, porch, or driveway connected to a residence or in a garage or carport connected to a residence. No yard, lawn, or non-concreted or non-asphalted area immediately in front, behind, or on either side of a residence, shall be used to conduct sales from a person’s residence.” The ordinance will also restrict “yard” sales to three days in duration, and limits them to two times in any one-year period at the same location. Councilman James Moore wondered what specific problem the ordinance is attempting to address. Mayor Parnell Vann said “We’re trying to get this ordinance back to where it’s a garage sale, and not a block yard sale. I have two neighborhoods where I have multiple calls from people who live in those areas. The current ordinance doesn’t stop it. So I bring it to this council. If the council likes it the way it is, I’m fine with it. I’m just bringing the issue I have from the public because I need your help,”. The council is expected to decide the issue at its February 24 meeting.

Future Scientist of America will have projects on display for families to view. Projects will be judged and ribbons will be awarded to students who challenged themselves to be the best scientist. The Science will take place in the CFIS gymnasium.

The annual National Elementary Honor Society Induction Services will be held on February 7th, at 9:00 am in the CFIS café, for new inductees. There will be a candlelight ceremony conducted by the current 5th grade National Elementary Honor Society Officers. Parents and community are invited to attend. A reception will be held in the library for new inductees after the ceremony.

CFIS Parental Involvement is hosting a “Heart for Learning Family Night” which will have family and parental involvement, featuring music by the choir, fun games, and crafts from the heart, all just in time for Valentine’s Day.  This event will be held from 6:00-7:30 pm on February 13th.

On February 10th, There will be a parent-teacher conference. The conference will start at 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.

Southern Arkansas University Tech will be having its annual College Day on March 20th. The event will start at Noon in the SAU Tech courtyard. To register you can go to, email Paula Doss at or call 870-574-4712. A free lunch will be provided and you can bring a visitor with you. College Day gives you the opportunity to learn about SAU Tech’s variety of programs and why choosing SAU Tech could be the best decision you ever make.

On January 28, starting at 11:30 am until 1:00 pm, the January South Arkansas Networking Luncheon will be taking place in El Dorado. The luncheon, sponsored by Entergy is an opportunity to meet other area professionals. Each attendee has the opportunity to introduce themselves to others as well as tell a little about what they do and who they work for.

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center presents "Website in a Day." Does your business need a website? Have you been held back by a lack of funds or a lack of technical skills? Then, Website in a Day is the hands-on workshop for you. The workshop will take place on February 4, from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. Come sit down with the ASBTDC's laptop lab and design a free website using Weebly. You'll be taken step-by-step through creating a free account and creating an attractive, functional, five page website. All participants receive a free 20-page workbook with detailed instructions. The ASBTDC is able to present this seminar at no cost to Arkansas small business owners due to a joint partnership with Connect Arkansas, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to increasing high-speed internet and adoption throughout Arkansas. Register before this seminar fills up.

Arkansas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined one-tenth of a percentage point, from 7.5 in November to 7.4 percent in December, according to a report produced by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data was released by the Department of Workforce Services. Arkansas' civilian labor force rose 2,600, a result of 3,200 more employed and 600 fewer unemployed Arkansans. The United States' jobless rate dropped three-tenths of a percentage point, from 7.0 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December. DWS Communications Director Becky Heflin said, "Arkansas' unemployment rate declined in December, largely the result of a gain in employment and a corresponding increase in the size of the civilian labor force. This is the second month in a row that Arkansas' employment has increased."

January 27, 2014

42 counties in Arkansas are under a burn ban, including Ouachita, Dallas, and Pike County. To report a wildfire you can call the AFC Dispatch Center at 1-800-468-8834. To report an emergency, dial 911. All the active burn bans have been declared in the following counties: Baxter, Boone, Benton, Carroll, Clark, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Crawford, Dallas, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Greene, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Logan, Lonoke, Marion, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Prairie, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Searcy, Sebastian, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, Washington, White, and Yell.

On January 26, Lt. James Bolton of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to Highway 79 North to take a theft report. Upon his arrival Bolton met with a Mr. Daniel Shellman who resided at that residence. Shellman stated that he went out of town on Thursday January 23, and returned on the 26th. Shellman also stated that when he drove up to his home, a camper trailer, he noticed one of the propane tanks was missing from the front of the camper. The second tank was sitting on the ground next to the tongue of the trailer. He said both tanks were in the storage rack and secured when he left the home. On the 26th, both were disconnected and one was missing. Mr. Shellman had no idea who could have done this, but he did say that he had been living there for about a year and has not ever had anything go missing.

Also on January 26, the Sheriff’s Office received a call from Arlene Ellis at 207 Ouachita 199 in reference to a disturbance between her and her boyfriend, Tyrone Davis. Upon arrival officer William Carman could here both Ellis and Davis arguing inside the home. Carman made entry into the residence and saw Davis standing over Ellis as she in a chair and both were still screaming at each other. Ellis stated that she wanted Davis out of her house and not to come back. Davis, who has a house next door stated he would leave and go back to his house. The officer explained to both subjects that the office has been dealing with the two of them on numerous of occasions and for Davis to leave and not to return. After Carman left, Ellis called the Sheriff’s Office again saying that Davis returned and stole her car, and that he didn’t have a driver’s license and the tags were fake. Davis was stopped by Carman at 79 North and Bradley Ferry Road. When the officer approached Davis, he admitted that his license was suspended. Davis said he was trying to get away from the situation and get across town, and he hadn’t had time to get the vehicle registered or insured. Davis was taken into custody and the vehicle was towed from the scene.

On January 25, at 911 call was received reporting a disturbance at Harpos Club in Stephens. Deputy Lindsey and Lt. Bolton responded. While they were on route, another call was received reporting an injury and they would meet EMS and Deputies at Pit Stop. When the officers arrived at Pit Stop, no one was found. Deputy Lindsey and Bolton proceeded to Ouachita 585 where the club was located. Upon their arrival, the found that the Church parking lot across from Harpos was full of vehicles. None of the people in the parking lot knew anything about a disturbance, so the officers met with the owner, Harvey Harper. Harper stated that there was no disturbance. EMS was notified to cancel the response and officers cleared the area.  

On Saturday, January 25, the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department and Bethesda Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a grass fire behind 2892 Ouachita 3. Upon their arrival officers met with resident Tom Smart attempting to extinguish the fire with a garden hose. Smart’s wife Barbara stated that Tom had cleaned out their fireplace the previous night and had put the bucket of ashes and coals in a brushy area outside the back of their residence. Not knowing the coals were still hot a fire eventually started, burning off several acres just behind the residence. The fire was extinguished by the Fire Department and no other property was damaged.

On Saturday, January 25, at approximately 1:00 pm, the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting a fire under the Woodard Lake Bridge. Both Fire District and East Camden Fire Departments responded. The fire was quickly put out and units returned back to their stations. At this time it is unknown what started the fire.

On January 26, Officer John Parker made contact with Eugene Tremaine Carroll, who was the passenger, on a traffic stop on Pierce Street near Avon Street. Parker asked Carroll if he had any identification, which Carroll responded no, and that his birthday was March 16, 1981. Parker conducted a check through dispatch and was advised that there was no record of him. Parker verified his name and date of birth with Carroll again and he stated the same name. He then stated that his full name was Tremaine Eugene Carroll and verified it with Parker, but there was still no return for that name. Parker asked Carroll for his Social Security Number, and later found out that the man’s name was actually Eugene Tremaine Carroll. When Parker advised Carroll of his actual name, Carroll responded “oh ok” and that he gave the officer the wrong name because of child support. Carroll was taken into custody, charged with obstructing governmental operations and transported to the station without incident. Carroll was given a criminal citation and a later court date of March 5, and was later released. 

On January 25, Officer Kirill Maslakov was dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to shoplifting. Upon arrival, officer Maslakov made contact with reporting person, the store manager, Chris, who had advised that the shoplifter was detained. The shoplifter was identified as Jerome Thompson. The manager provided the officer with shoplifting affidavit and a receipt totaling $106.22. Upon search of Thompson, the officer recovered a knife that Thompson used to open plastic fragrance packaging. Thompson was taken into custody without incident, and later transferred to the Ouachita County Detention Complex.  

January 24, 2014

Freshman business administration major at SAU, 18 year-old, Randee Jo Langley, was crowned Thursday night as Miss Southern Arkansas University. Tap dancing was her talent exhibition, and her platform is called, “Bullying has no age limit.” A 5,000 dollar scholarship from SAU was awarded to Langley as the top prize. Other contestants were Chelsa King, 23, a senior physical education major from Stamps; Sarah Clayton, 19, a sophomore business administration major from Camden; and Sierra Lites, 19, a freshman nursing major from Grapevine.

Randee Jo Langley hopes to use her title as Miss Southern Arkansas University to be a voice against bullying. “I was bullied from the time I was in middle school through high school. If [children] are bullied by an adult like I was, I can be their voice. I want to help them not have to go through the pain that I had to go through, so they won’t take it to the extent of hurting themselves,” said Langley, who is a freshman business administration major at SAU. With this title, she has earned a spot in the Miss Arkansas pageant, which is scheduled for June 15-21 in Hot Springs. “I have worked super hard for this – training in the gym, doing interview lessons, working on modeling and my walk,” said Langley. “I am going to get fitted for my swimsuit for Miss Arkansas tomorrow and get a new dress soon, and get back into working out.” Langley admitted that her she put her diet on hold for a celebration dinner after the pageant last night. “I had Burger King and a Hershey cream pie afterwards that was to die for,” said Langley. Along with winning the top SAU scholarship prize of $5,000, Langley tapped her way to top the scores in the Talent competition. She also won the Evening Gown portion of the pageant. These two wins earned her an additional $500 in scholarship money. Langley said that along with this opportunity to represent SAU at Miss Arkansas, she was excited that she was crowned for her first “Miss prelim” by Ashley Walthall, Miss SAU 2013. Langley said that Walthall also crowned her at her first “Teen prelim” win.  First runner-up was Sierra Lites, 19, from Grapevine, Ark. She also won the Lifestyle and Fitness and the Interview portions of the pageant. Lites earned a $2,500 scholarship. She is a freshman nursing major. Sarah Clayton, 19, from Camden, earned a $50 scholarship for the Spirit of SAU Award and a $100 Vocal Award for her Talent performance. She is a sophomore business administration major. A total of $8,150 in scholarship money was awarded. “This year we were able to add $250 in additional scholarships for our contestants, thanks to generous sponsorships like Serenity Day Spa,” said Anne Sands, executive director of the Miss SAU pageant. “Scholarship is our number one priority, so we are always happy when we get to add more.” To find out more about SAU, visit

This past Tuesday, the Camden Police Department presented a plaque to the General Manager of Camden Wal-Mart Tina Bundaitis in recognition of hers and Wal-Mart’s continued support of their efforts to protect the citizens of Camden. In recent months the police department have received several grants from Wal-Mart that have allowed the Camden Police Department to purchase a new computer and computer software. The police have also been able to purchase 16 digital cameras and memory cards. The addition of those cameras means that they will be able to provide every officer from the Department to better document crimes and victims of crimes. Wal-Mart has also donated a flat screen TV to the Police that is used in their briefing room for training purposes. The plaque reads “In recognition and appreciation of your unwavering support of the Camden Police Department and its goal of protecting the citizens of Camden.

Beware! A couple of scams have been identified in the county over the past few weeks. A number of residents have reported to the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office that they have received a phone call stating that they have won money and a car from Publishers Clearinghouse. The caller says that the “winner” must put money on a card to cover 1% of the taxes on the prize. The victim is given a number to call back. When they call the scammer back, he asks for the number on the back of the card. The victim then believes they will receive the prize. The fact is, once the scammer has the number on the back of the card, all he has to do is log on to the card site, type in the number and take the money. Another scam, also involves a phone call. The caller tells the victim that they have a summons for a past due debt or something to that effect. The victim is told to put money on a cash card and call back. The caller is told once they pay the summons will not be served and it will disappear.  Same deal as the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Scam. Once the scammer has the number, he gets the money. According to the Sheriff’s Office, these calls originate from places like Jamaica or Haiti where there is no legal repercussions. The Attorney General’s Office as well as the FBI have been apprised of the scams and say there is no way to prosecute these low lives. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall victim to a scam.

The Ouachita County Office of the American Red Cross will be holding its next volunteer meeting on Tuesday, January 28, starting at 6:00 pm. The meeting will be held at the W.K. Green Education and Conference Center, at the Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden. Volunteers of all types, sizes, abilities and interest are needed and encouraged to attend and find out about local disaster plans and programs. The Ouachita County Office need people to join and take training at their own pace before a major disaster strikes the community. For more information you can call John Lewis at 870-685-2318.

The Ouachita County Sesquicentennial Committee is looking for food vendors for their closing ceremony which will be held on Saturday, April 19th @ 6PM. Preference is given to nonprofits groups from Ouachita County, if your group is interested please contact Charlotte Young at 870-836-4440 Ext 7#.

Thursday night, Camden Mayor Chris Claybaker, Gross and Janes, City Council, and members of the Camden community all gathered last night at New Hebron Baptist Church to discuss the situation involving Old Smackover Road. The plan is to have the road closed down from the hours of 7:00 am until 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday, forcing citizens leaving in that area to take an alternate route. Both Mayor Claybaker and Gross and Janes believe this is the safest option for everyone involved. Claybaker said that he would rather people have to take an alternate route than risk the lives of citizens in Camden, especially the young kids. Claybaker also said that “ a mayors job is making sure that people in the community are well protected by not only police and fire departments, but also public works” but also 40 percent of my job time is spent on development and for a small town such as Camden, that can be a difficult job. During the hours that the road will be closed there will be a gate with a sign letting people know that the road is closed. This new development would bring more jobs to a Camden Community that has lost way too many over the past 20 years. We may not all agree with the method being taken, however you can’t deny that more jobs in Camden is better for everyone.


June Maloch has announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party nomination for Columbia County treasurer. Maloch began working in the Columbia County Collector’s Office in 1986. After many requests from family members, Maloch decided to leave the Collector’s Office in 1998 and work in the family business, the Spudnut Shop. While at the Spudnut Shop, Maloch was responsible for all accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, taxes and other duties. In 2008, Maloch was asked to return to Columbia County and for the last 5 1/2 years has been working in the Assessor’s Office. Maloch has worked in all areas dealing with personal property, real estate, and producing minerals. Maloch is an Arkansas Assessment Coordination Division certified Level 4 appraiser. For this designation she successfully completed 120 hours of classes required by the department. Maloch is a lifelong resident of Columbia County. She graduated from Magnolia High School and attended Southern Arkansas University. She is a member of Greers Chapel United Methodist Church of which her family was founding members. Maloch is a member of the 2013 - 2014 class of Leadership Magnolia.

Mike Waters has been announced as the new BancorpSouth Market President in Magnolia.
West/South Arkansas Division President, Jim Patridge said, “We are extremely pleased to have someone with Mike Waters’ experience and commitment leading our BancorpSouth team in Magnolia,” Waters is succeeding  Steve Nipper, who recently retired. “BancorpSouth has a rich history in Magnolia and Taylor dating back to 1904. Under Mike Waters’ leadership BancorpSouth will continue to deliver to its clients the very best in personalized service and a complete range of financial products and services.”

The boll order that was issued on January 18, for the Harmony Grove Water Association was lifted by the Arkansas Department of Health this past Thursday. The Water Association would like to thank its valued customers for their patience and that they are sorry for any inconvenience that the boll order caused.

The Stephens Board of Education will have a special called meeting tonight, January 24th. The meeting will start at 5:00 pm in the high school library. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss personnel, however the public is invited to attend.

Award winning, national bestselling author, Patricia Haley will be at the Columbia County Public Library in Magnolia on Saturday February 8th. The library is located at 2057 N. Jackson and Haley will be there from 10:00 through 11:30 am. Haley is the writer of eight faith-based novels and a contributor in two anthologies. For more information you can call Evelyn Wainwright at 870-562-4237 or Cheryl Stuart at 870-831-8541.

The number of flu deaths this season has increased now to 25, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The confirmed cases have been recorded since Sept. 29. In a news conference last week, the ADH said this year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 50. The ADH says multiple hospitalizations in the 25-50 group have also been reported. It is highly recommended that all individuals in this age group receive a seasonal flu vaccine and promptly visit a doctor should they experience severe flu-like symptoms. The ADH says the flu is widespread across the state and that this season's numbers so far are similar to last year in terms of flu activity and number of cases. The most frequently seen flu strain this year is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young to middle-aged adults and pregnant women. There are multiple factors that may explain why younger, healthier people are affected this year. One observation is that only 30 percent of individuals in this age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year. That leaves over 650,000 unvaccinated Arkansans in this age group unprotected from the flu. Flu symptoms include: fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, and runny or stuffy nose.  If you have flu symptoms and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, or pain or pressure in the chest,  and wit the number of deaths continuing to increase, seek medical care as quickly as possible.

January 23, 2014

On January 22, Officer Justin Easttam was on a routine patrol in the area of Frazier Street when he observed a black 2003 Pontiac. Easttam conducted a registration check on the vehicle and was advised by dispatch that the tags were expired as we turned onto Willie B. Cole Avenue. The car then turned onto Carver Street and activated his emergency lights and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The car did not stop and failed to yield to the lights. As the car turned onto Grinstead Street, and Easttam activated his siren and the driver continued to ignore them and turned onto Short Street. The driver then began to speed up; eventually Easttam would exit his patrol unit and gave chase; ordering the man, Identified as Steven Randall to stop. Randall refused and was finally caught in a yard near 231 Johnson Street. Detective Hicks arrived on scene and placed Randall into handcuffs. He was then transported to the station without incident. A vehicle impound sheet was completed and Randall’s vehicle was towed from the scene. Randall was issued a criminal citation for driving on a suspended license, no proof of insurance, failure to pay registration, reckless driving, and running a stop sign. He was also issued a criminal citation for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. He was then given a court date of March 19, on all charges and later transported to the Ouachita County Jail. 

State Representative David Fielding of Magnolia has announced his candidacy for re-election to Arkansas House of Representatives District 5 including parts of Columbia, Ouachita, Nevada and Lafayette counties. Fielding would go on to say “Our work is not finished and I want to continue what we have begun. We still need intensive emphasis on economic development and jobs in south Arkansas. Our public schools and higher education need continued funding so that our teachers have the best resources to educate our children. Our rural fire departments are critical to our community and need additional support. I want to continue to work closely with each city in the District and our district courts to help them with whatever they need.” “I am honored to serve all people of District 5. My service as chair of the House City, County and Local Affairs Committee, as well as a member of the Public Transportation and Rail Subcommittee and Joint Senate and House Committee on Energy, has afforded me the opportunity to represent you in crucial decisions affecting our part of the state,”. Fielding admires the work for economic development and pomises to continue to work with city, county and state officials to retain and recruit industry and business to this area. “Good paying jobs are essential to maintaining our quality of life and I will continue to do everything to support these efforts,” said Fielding. Fielding said public schools as well as Southern Arkansas University-Magnolia and SAU Tech in Camden are outstanding examples of preparing our young people for the world of work. Fielding stated “I understand reforming our educational system will allow us to improve learning opportunities for all students and hopefully will also increase our literacy rate. Our children are the future of our wonderful state. We must ensure the education they receive from pre-school through college gives them effective tools to become productive citizens. I will support legislation ensuring every child access to a quality educational program,”. Fielding ended with “It has been an honor to represent the people of District 5 as your State Representative. I appreciate your support and ask for your vote as I promise to continue to represent you to the best of my ability. I invite you to contact me at or call 870-904-1716 and offer your ideas,”.

The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund is offering a Job and Career Readiness Workshop entitled, “What Employers Wish you Knew.”  The workshop will be presented by Dr. Jan McCormick, Job Readiness Evangelist. Dr. Jan is one of America’s top career communication and personal presentation coaches. The workshop is free and available all single mothers in the listening area.  All attendees will receive a $50.00 Wal-Mart Gift Card, portfolio and lunch on Fat Boys Restaurant and Catering. The workshop will be held on Friday, January 31, 2014. It will start at 9am and last until 4pm, in Arkadelphia at the Clark County Fair Grounds Youth Building. For transportation, contact Valerie Wilson at 870-833-0083. The deadline to pre-register is Monday, January 27th.  To preregister, call Erin Poee at 501-438-9442 or email her at

On Saturday, February 8th, there will be a 2014 Oil Town Sweetheart Pageant. The pageant will be held at Smackover High School, in the auditorium, and will start at 11:00 am. The pageant is open to girls up to 21 years of age. Registrations will be accepted by phone and the deadline to register is by February 7th. For information or to register you can call Cheryl Corley at 870-725-3628, Tammy Ward at 870-725-4186, or Smackover High at 870-725-3361.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will soon be starting a “Bike Project” which would allow kids to receive bikes for Christmas, who would not otherwise receive one. The bikes would be distributed through 4 agencies, which include, Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and CASA. The program would create a competition between big companies & small businesses both in the area as well as those in town. The idea would be for employees from various areas to donate good used bikes that their children had outgrown or no longer use. Bikes should be in good condition, needing no more than minor or no repairs. The bikes would be passed throughout the 3 agencies according to the sizes and inventory received. The police department has also agreed to work with the Lions Club and give them a safety program to all the children that receive one of the bikes.

Four Southern Arkansas University students will be vying for the Miss Southern Arkansas University 2014 title starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 23, at Harton Theatre.

The contestants include Chelsa King, Sarah Clayton, Randee Jo Langley and Sierra Lites.
King, 23, from Stamps, Ark., is a senior physical education wellness and leisure major. Her platform is “Let’s move,” and her talent will be a vocal performance. Clatyton, 19, from Camden, Ark., is a sophomore business administration major. Her platform is “Texting and driving: it can wait,” and her talent will also be a vocal performance. Langley, 18, from Crossett, Ark., is a freshman business administration major. Her platform is “Bullying has no age limit,” and her talent will be tap dance. Lites, 19, from Grapevine, Ark., is a freshman nursing major. Her platform is “Be a leader – be involved,” and her talent will be a piano performance. SAU scholarships will be awarded as follows: $5,000 for the winner, $2,500 for first runner-up, $400 for talent, $100 for evening gown (provided by Serenity Day Spa), and a $100 vocal award (provided by Zach Seaton). Additional entertainment for the evening will be provided by Kathy’s Dance Arts Studio, Miss Arkansas 2013 Amy Crain, Miss SAU 2013 Ashley Walthall, SAU’s “Encore,” and SAU students Chandler Walley and Taylor Brown. General admission for the event is $3. SAU students with I.D. get admission for $1.

According to the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control 2014” report, there has been no progress made by Arkansas this past year in reducing tobacco-caused death and disease. Fifty years since the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health was issued on January 11, 1964, and less than a week after the new Surgeon General's report providing the latest research was released, the Lung Association's new report issues an urgent call to action to policymakers in Arkansas and across the country. Policymakers must reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease. Jennifer Cofer, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the American Lung Association, Plains-Gulf Region said "Despite strides in reducing smoking rates in America by half in the last 50 years, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., including lung cancer, the number one cancer killer of both men and women in America,". "The Surgeon General's 2014 report is the clarion call that our nation needs to renew its commitment and not let another 50 years of inaction occur," Cofer urged. The Lung Association's "State of Tobacco Control 2014," its 12th annual report, tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. The 2014 report highlights the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General's report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases for the first time.

Whether you're a lawyer, a pilot or even a farmer, jobs in every industry support economic growth, and animal agriculture in Arkansas supported 68,000 jobs this past year, according to the recent United Soybean Board-funded Animal Agriculture Economic Analysis. A successful animal ag industry also benefits the soybean farmers who depend on animal ag as the biggest market for soybean meal. The report also outlines the economic benefits the poultry and livestock sectors provide at the state and national levels. In 2012, animal ag provided the following benefits to Arkansas' economy:

$12.6 billion in total economic output
A $2.1 billion impact on household incomes
$655 million in income and property taxes paid
Nationally, the animal ag industry supported 1.8 million jobs and provided $346 billion in total economic output, according to the study. The sector also added $60 billion to American household incomes and paid $21 billion in income and property taxes.
The partnership between soybean farmers and the animal ag sector helps sustain local farms and produces safe and reliable food for the rest of the world. "It's important that poultry and livestock farmers and soybean farmers across the state continue to work together," says Robert Stobaugh, a checkoff farmer-leader from Atkins, Ark. "A healthy animal ag sector supports our local and state economies, our soybean demand and our food supply." According to the study, poultry are the biggest soybean meal eaters in Arkansas, consuming 79 percent, followed by turkeys at 8 percent and egg-laying hens at 4 percent. Poultry, swine and other livestock consume about 97 percent of the supply of U.S. soybean meal every year in their feed. Last year in Arkansas, animal ag used an estimated 1.7 million tons of soybean meal, or the meal from more than 70.5 million bushels of soybeans. Overall, U.S. poultry, livestock and fish farmers used more than 30 million tons (the meal from 1.26 billion bushels) in the 2011/12 marketing year, which is an increase of 1 million tons (meal from 42 million bushels) from the previous year. The 70 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff. For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us

Arkansas Farm Bureau has a new intern, Bricen Pace, giving this college student an opportunity at real-world experience. Pace, son of Grant and Elizabeth Pace of Monticello (Drew County), is the intern for Farm Bureau’s Public Relations Department. He is an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas Little Rock with a major focus in mass communications and a minor in philosophy. Pace is the next generation of his family involving himself with Arkansas Farm Bureau. His grandfather Homer Pace, 94, has served on the Drew County Farm Bureau board since 1960. From 1957- 2011, Homer only missed four state conventions. Following his father’s footsteps, Bricen’s father Grant Pace has served on two Farm Bureau county boards, Drew and Ashley counties. Grant served as vice president for six years and president for two in Drew County. For the last six years, Grant was chairman of the forestry division of Arkansas Farm Bureau.  “I’ve had green hands from picking Bradley tomatoes on my grandfather’s farm. I’ve walked my father’s logging jobs, and I know my roots,” Brice said. “Arkansas Farm Bureau has been a part of my family well before I was born, so I’m honored to carry on the family tradition by working with Arkansas Farm Bureau.” “The Paces have been a part of Farm Bureau’s family for more than 50 years, and we welcome Brice to Arkansas Farm Bureau for this 15-week internship,” said Steve Eddington, the organization’s public relations director. Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 192,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced yesterday that the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board awarded more than $3.9 million in reparations to victims of violent crime in Arkansas in 2013. The board awarded $3,910,389.92 in a total of 2,213 cases last year. The Attorney General’s Office administers the state’s Crime Victims Reparations Program. The board determines which claims are eligible for payment and how much money will be awarded to each claimant. “Crime victims in Arkansas have a valuable resource available to them in the Crime Victims Reparations Program,” McDaniel said. “At the time when they need assistance the most, crime victims can apply for assistance to offset the cost of their expenses. Crime victims who believe they may be eligible for this program should contact our office.” Victims of violent crime may be eligible for compensation for unexpected expenses, such as medical treatment, mental health counseling and funeral costs. Compensation is also available for lost wages and replacement services. Most awards are limited to $10,000 or less. However, victims who receive catastrophic injuries resulting in total and permanent disability may receive up to $25,000. The General Assembly established the Crime Victims Reparations Program in 1987. A portion of the funding is from fines imposed on convicted criminals, as well as from court costs and fees. The 2013 total includes the month of December. In December, the board awarded $221,293.17 in 122 new cases, with additional expenses being paid in 25 cases. Members of the Crime Victims Reparations Board are: Dr. Janice Church, Bryce Brewer and Alex Finger, all of Little Rock, Colleen Nick of Alma and Louis Jones of Fayetteville. For more information about the Crime Victims Reparations Program, call the Attorney General’s Crime Victims Hotline at (800) 448-3014, or visit the Attorney General’s Office website,

With all the regulations and forms related to tax filing, it’s no wonder that tax preparation is a lucrative business. Some Arkansas consumers may choose to seek tax prep assistance rather than crunching numbers and reviewing documents themselves. Although paid tax preparation services are available and advertisements for them are prevalent this time of year, many taxpayers are eligible for tax preparation help that is offered at no cost and with no impact to a taxpayers’ refund amount. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert yesterday to inform consumers about the multiple free tax preparation options available to them, and to provide advice to others who choose to pay for tax prep services. “For those who need help preparing and filing their tax returns, there are a number of free programs available, especially for senior citizens and lower-income taxpayers,” McDaniel said. “These programs are often convenient and easy to use, and taxpayers reap the benefit of not having to pay for the services.” The Internal Revenue Service offers its Free File electronic tax filing program to all taxpayers, either through brand-name software or online fillable forms. Those taxpayers who earned less than $58,000 in adjusted gross income in 2013 are eligible to receive free online filing help. More than a dozen commercial tax software companies have made their online assistance free through the Free File program. Visit for more information. The IRS also offers free, in-person tax filing and preparation assistance to qualified individuals through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Those eligible for VITA program help make less than $52,000 a year.  Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are also eligible for VITA. VITA sites are staffed with trained volunteers and are typically in local community centers, libraries, and schools. Consumers may call (800) 906-9887 to find the nearest VITA location, or visit the IRS website. The TCE program provides free assistance to those who are 60 and older, with most TCE sites being operated through the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide Program. For more information or to find the nearest TCE location, call (888) 227-7669. McDaniel said consumers who choose to pay for help from commercial tax prep providers should keep these tips in mind:

  • Shop around, since costs may vary between providers. It is always best to get multiple estimates before choosing a service.
  • Make sure to choose a well-qualified, reputable tax preparer, since taxpayers themselves are ultimately responsible for all information provided to the IRS.
  • Read and thoroughly review documents before they are filed, and be sure to ask the tax preparer about any entries that may be difficult to understand.
  • Ask whether the tax preparer has a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which is issued by the IRS.

Ask if the business is open year-round in case there are follow-up questions regarding a return.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division can provide further information about tax preparation and other consumer issues. Visit the Division’s website,, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

January 22, 2014

Sergeant Vincent Mills of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department has concluded the inquiry into the shooting of Jack R. Bocksnick of Chidester. After compiling the evidence in the case,
Mills presented it to 13th Judicial District Prosecutor Ian Vickery for review. In his review of the case he found that there is “Sufficient justification to decline prosecution”. Therefore Mills has officially closed the case.

Thirteen-year-old international award-winning pianist Umi Garrett, has been turning the classical music community on its head since her appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” at eight years of age.  She will share her musical magic at the First Methodist Church, 121 Harrison Street, Camden, Arkansas on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.  Children and students are admitted to all OCCCA performances at no charge if accompanied by an OCCCA ticket holder.  For more information about this performance please call (870) 231-6244.  Umi Garrett is the 2012 winner of the Osaka and the Chopin International music competitions. Since her 2009 debut with the Desert Symphony in Palm Desert, California (performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major), and the ensuing television coverage, Garret’s career has embarked on a worldwide touring schedule, including appearances in Europe, Australia, South America and Asia.  Garrett performs regularly across the United States in recital and orchestral settings, and performed for a VIP broadcast of NPR’s “From the Top” at Joshua Bell’s home in New York City. She is a student of John Perry in the Academy Program at The Colburn School in Los Angeles, California.  On this tour she will perform a classic program of works by Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. The Ouachita County Community Concert Association has been presenting world-class entertainment to the Camden community since the late 1950s.  An enthusiastic group of volunteers work tirelessly to provide family entertainment and educational outreach performances to educate and entertain adults and students alike.

Black tar heroin has not been seen in Union County in a number of years, however at an El Dorado residence it was confiscated. On Friday, 31 year-old Patrick David Antoon Jr. was arrested at 2501 Forrest Lawn in El Dorado after narcotics investigators received information that a shipment of heroin arrived in El Dorado. Public information officer for the El Dorado Police Department, Kevin Holt, said that investigators followed up on the information and made a controlled purchase of black tar heroin and secured a search warrant for the forest lawn area residence. At approximately 2:00 am, Union County Sheriff Office Investigators, El Dorado Police Department, 13th Judicial District Drug Task Force, Arkansas State Police, Camden Police Department, Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office, Magnolia Police Department, and SAU Police Department executed the search warrant. Captain Holt’s report indicated that once the residence was secure, investigators located a large amount of methamphetamine, and black tar heroin. 

The number of flu deaths this season continues to increase as now 23 people have died from it, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The confirmed cases have been recorded since Sept. 29. The flu is causing severe illness and death in the age group between 25 and 50, and one observation is that only 30 percent of individuals in the age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year. If you have yet to get a flu shot, the ADH urges you to do so.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced yesterday that a Pulaski County judge ruled today that a Massachusetts real estate company had breached its contract with the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System (APERS) and ordered the company to immediately pay APERS the remaining contract amount. Circuit Judge Tim Fox granted McDaniel’s motion for default judgment against National Timber Partners LLC of Williamstown, Mass. Fox found that the company failed to meet its financial obligation to the retirement system as required in an October 2012 contract in which National Timber had pledged to purchase APERS’ interest in an investment fund for $110 million. Fox ordered National Timber Partners to pay $16,508,454.68, which represented the remaining amount due to the retirement system at the time the company breached the contract, plus $561,739.75 in pre-judgment interest. The outstanding contract balance due to APERS is $14,860,036.75. “We are grateful for the Court’s order in this case in which the defendant has not responded to our pleadings or appeared in court to defend their actions,” McDaniel said. “Companies that do business with the State are expected to fulfill their obligations or face the legal consequences if they choose not to do so.” McDaniel filed suit on behalf of APERS against National Timber Partners in September after the company had failed to make the complete second payment of a three-installment contract with APERS. The third installment that was due Dec. 31 was never made. Earlier this month, the Attorney General filed a motion for a default judgment against the defendant. National Timber Partners had twice asked for extensions of time to respond to the lawsuit but had never submitted a response. No one representing the company was present at today’s hearing.

On Tuesday, A petition drive was launched that organizers hope will lead to the sale of alcoholic beverages in Columbia County. “Vote for Growth in Columbia County” is the name of the group that has been working quietly since last fall. The group have been laying the groundwork for a petition drive that will need the signatures of over 6,000 of Columbia County’s registered voters to put the issue on the Tuesday, November 4 ballot. Vote for Growth is being chaired by David Nelson, Magnolia city inspector who is also a Columbia County justice of the peace and chairman of the Magnolia Blossom Festival World Championship Steak Cook-off.

A new day care center may be built at 1019 E. North, off Boswell Street.The Magnolia Planning Commission voted 5-0 to grant a variance request by Crystal and Mark Penick. This vote will allow them to construct the day care center in an R-3 residential zone. The commission last discussed the property when there were plans to build an auto body shop on the site. Crystal Penick said that the day care for children up to school age will be licensed for 45 children. The day care will face East North. A driveway wide enough to accommodate two vehicles is also planned. There will be a parking lot will be built for eight vehicles on the west side. An enclosed playground will be placed on the east side. A one-way circular drive is also planned and  will take traffic off East North.

Middle East scholar Dr. David W. Lesch will discuss the Syrian conflict, which rages into its third year of death and destruction, at the 2014 Southern Arkansas University Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lecture. The event is free and open to the public. It is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on February 24, 2014, in the SAU Reynolds Center Grand Hall. Lesch’s speech is titled “Bashar al-Asad and the Disintegration of Syria.” According to Lesch, if this conflict continues to rage on indefinitely, it could have disastrous regional and international repercussions. According to the speech abstract, Lesch will answer many questions related to this conflict, such as:

•  “How did it get to this point?”

• “How did Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, once thought to be a modernizing reformer, the so-called ‘hope’ of the Syrian people when he took power in 2000, become a leader whose name is now lumped together with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi?”

• “Did Assad use chemical weapons and what is happening to them?”

•“What are the possible outcomes of the conflict for Syria, the Middle East, and the world?”

Lesch is Professor of Middle East History in the Department of History at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He received his Ph.D. in Middle East History from Harvard University. He was recently named the Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of History at Trinity University. He is the author or editor of 14 books and more than 110 publications. He has consistently met with and advised high level officials in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and the United Nations on diplomatic issues. He has frequently testified in front of Senate and House committees. He also developed, organized and is the project director for the Harvard University-NUPI-Trinity University Syria Research Project: Obstacles to a Resolution of the Syrian Conflict. Dr. Lesch has led a team of researchers over the past year to meet with almost all of the players to the Syrian conflict domestically, regionally and internationally. It is hoped that this information will provide the necessary insights to and knowledge of the dynamics of the conflict in order to formulate possible pathways toward conflict resolution. He just completed an 850-page Final Report for the project and has been presenting and discussing his findings in Europe, at the UN, and elsewhere. He met regularly with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad between 2004 and 2009. He lives in San Antonio with his wife, Judy Dunlap. The Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lectureship in the Humanities was established by an initial gift from Sarai T. Crone. Her son, John T. Crone, III, of San Antonio, Texas, completed the funding of her commitment as executor of her estate. The lectureship in the College of Liberal and Performing Arts at Southern Arkansas University provides for an annual presentation by an outstanding figure in history, literature, psychology, sociology, or political science. For more information on the Emerson-Thomas-Crone Lecture or on how to begin an endowment to fund a lectureship series, contact the SAU Foundation Office at (870) 235-4078.

Harmony Grove’s Financial Aid and Scholarship Night is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on January 30th, Thursday, and will be held in the HG Auditorium for Juniors & Seniors.  One lucky senior will be awarded a $250 Red Cross Blood Drive Scholarship as a door prize! 

· Rachell Sorrells, HG Counselor, will provide information on scholarships and a financial aid booklet will be provided for those attending.

· Jennifer Williams from SAU Tech’s Financial Aid Office will discuss the FAFSA (Free Application for Financial Student Aid) and

· Stoni Butler, HG Class of 2012/National Merit Scholarship Finalist will speak about resume’ building and community service. 

· Door prizes from colleges/military will also be given out.
Contact Rachell Sorrells, High School Counselor, at 574-0656, for more information.

Kirkley Thomas has been named as the vice president of governmental affairs for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). He replaces Carmie Henry, who will retire effective Jan. 31 after more than 17 years with the cooperatives. “After a nationwide search involving hundreds of candidates, Kirkley Thomas has been named vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas,” said Duane Highley, president/CEO for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Kirkley has served as the manager of economic development and in government affairs functions for the past 16 years for the cooperatives. He is an asset to the cooperative movement.” Thomas, a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a degree in journalism/public relations, joined the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas as manager of community and economic development in 1998. A native of Lepanto, he is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma.

Thomas has held leadership positions in state and regional economic development organizations and serves on the boards of the Arkansas Waterways Association, Accelerate Arkansas, Connect Arkansas and the Arkansas Steering Committee for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project. “I am honored to be able to continue to serve electric cooperative members throughout Arkansas in this new role,” Thomas said. “As a native of a rural Arkansas community, and having worked with towns across the state in community and economic development, I am very familiar with the opportunities and challenges our members face. I look forward to working with our elected officials to advance the cooperatives’ mission of ensuring a safe, affordable and reliable power supply.” The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states. For additional information, contact Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or

January 21, 2014

The Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands office recently hosted the Western States Land Commissioners Association (WSLCA) winter conference in Little Rock, AR. Land commissioners, managers and staff from seventeen western states attended the weeklong conference. The WSLCA took a huge step forward in their evolution by ratifying a new strategic plan outlining the vision, mission, core principles and goals of the organization. Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands and WSLCA Vice President, John Thurston commented on the momentous plan and acceptance last week, “when I attended my first WSLCA meeting in 2011, I asked ‘What is our mission?’ From that time we started the process of clarifying our purpose and educating the public about what we do. Our new mission; ‘to create value for our beneficiaries through leadership, education and sound land management,’ begins a new era for the WLSCA and I am proud to be a part of this forward movement.” The organization also passed two resolutions during their time in Little Rock. Resolution 2014-02 expresses continued support by the WSLCA on proposed legislation to grant indemnity selections for state trust lands in federal conservation areas. Resolution 2014-03 concerns the proposed designation of the Greater Sage Grouse and the Gunnison Sage Grouse as protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The designation could have adverse effects on the states’ economies and their ability to generate funds from state trust lands. The WSLCA is urging Congress to allow states time to create their own grouse conservation plans with final approval coming from the Secretary of Interior, while allowing responsible economic development on Federal, State and private lands. Created in 1949, the WSLCA represents 23 western states that collectively manage over 440 million acres of public and school trust land, surface and subsurface mineral rights properties and submerged lake, river and coastal acreage. The members meet two times per year to share information about public land management and resource development strategies, to learn from experts in relevant fields and to further the organization’s established goals and objectives. For more information on WLSCA, please visit their website at

Arkansas State Representative Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado has announced his re-election campaign.  Shepherd represents District 6 in the Arkansas House of Representatives and will seek a third consecutive term in office. District 6 covers parts of Columbia, Ouachita and Union Counties, most notably, El Dorado and Camden. Shepherd, an El Dorado native, was elected in 2010, winning with over 70 percent of the vote, and again in 2012 with over 80 percent.  In a release sent by Shepherd’s campaign: “Matthew Shepherd is a civic leader who will continue to aggressively fight for District 6, and work to create jobs and economic development, create a more efficient state government, upgrade infrastructure, and improve the quality of education that will allow South Arkansas and the State of Arkansas to be competitive in the global marketplace.” Shepherd is currently serving as the chairman of the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee. He is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the Joint Energy Committee and the Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee. He is also appointed to a Special Task Force on Practice and Procedure in Civil Cases from the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Republican primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 20.

On January 19, Officer Nathan Clayton of the Camden Police Department was dispatched to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter that was attempting to leave the store. The dispatch advised that one male was driving a blue Ford pickup and the other person fled on foot wearing a camouflage jacket headed towards Highland Drive. Upon the Officer’s arrival he noticed the blue pickup leaving the parking lot of Wal-Mart. Clayton initiated his lights and the man was pulled over at Olive and California. The man was identified as Allen Drew Barkhimer-Landon. Asset Protection stated that Landon and another white male concealed several items in their clothing and exited the store without paying for them. The total amount of the merchandise was $115.89. Landon was then taken into custody for shoplifting. While a search of Landon’s vehicle was being done, a small bag of marijuana was found. While Landon was at the station he stated that Chris Pennington was the other man involved. Booking procedures were completed and Landon was given a criminal citation and a later court date of March 5, for shoplifting and advised not to return to Wal-Mart. 

The second suspect named in a shooting that left one man dead and another injured Friday has turned himself in to authorities. Little Rock Police said 17-year-old Tracy Tivon Brown turned himself in at 6:50 p.m. Friday after seeing himself in media reports.  Lt. Sidney Allen said Monday morning that Brown is now charged with capital murder and two counts of a terroristic act. He is currently in the Pulaski County Jail being held with no bond. Little Rock Police are still looking for 18-year-old Tracey Trevor Bailey in connection with the crimes. They said both Brown and Bailey were wanted for Capital Murder and two counts of a Terroristic Act. Bailey is described as a black male standing at 5 feet, 5 inches and weighing around 370 lbs. His last known addresses were on the 3000 block of Holt Street and the 6000 block on Wakefield Drive. Police said Bailey should be considered armed and dangerous. If he is found or if anyone has any information on his whereabouts, contact Detective Silas at 501-918-5388 or any Homicide Detective at 371-4660. Do not attempt to stop him yourself! Officers are also currently searching for a third person, but the name has not been released. A police report said 31-year-old Thomas Gilbert of Little Rock was found shot to death inside a sport utility vehicle and a 32-year-old was found with gunshot wounds at a nearby home about 9:45 p.m. Friday. A report on the shooting said Brison told officers that he and Gilbert were sitting in the SUV when three men robbed them at gunpoint - then opened fire. The report added that Brison ran to the nearby home where the man living in the home called police. The report said Brison was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening gunshot wounds to his back and arm.

2014 Arkansas Living History Association Conference and Workshop 2/21/2014 - 2/23/2014 Historic Washington State Park, Washington. 2014 ALHA Conference Living History Crossroads February 21 – 23, 2014 Washington, Arkansas Hosted by Historic Washington State Park will include Workshops, Sessions, Panels, and Presentations. The Arkansas Living History Association conference will look at the different ways Living History can impact the teaching of history and when and where certain styles of living history are better suited. For more information contact Leita Spears, Park Historian Historic Washington State Park PO Box 129 Washington, AR 71862 Phone: 870.983.2862 Fax: 870.983.2736   Email: Kerry Spears, ALHA Communications Director, P.O. Box 132 Washington, AR. 71862 Phone: 870-983-2311   Email: or Josh Williams, Park Curator Historic Washington State Park, PO Box 129 Washington, AR 71862 Phone: 870.983.2284  Fax: 870.983.2736 Email:

The Arkansas Community Theater South (ACTS) of Camden presents “Here Come the Cows” by Tim Kelly. The play runs January 31st and February 1st again February 7th and 8th at First Presbyterian on Greening and California. All shows will start at 6:30 pm. Dinner will be included. Tickets will be on sale for 20 dollars. For more information you can call the church at 870-836-2177.

Audition Workshop set for 6:30 p.m., Jan. 31; Auditions at 9 a.m., Feb. 8
Southern Arkansas University theatre is looking to cast a variety of roles from the community, from 10 years-old to adults of all ages, for the upcoming “Seussical the Musical.” An audition workshop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on January 31, 2014, at SAU’s Harton Theatre. Anyone interested in auditioning or getting more information about the production should attend. Director Clayton Guiltner and guest Musical Director Andria Phillips will lead the workshop. General auditions will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, February 8, at Harton Theatre. Call backs will be the afternoon of Sunday, February 9. Auditions are open to the public. “SAU Theatre is excited to offer our students the opportunity to learn professional production techniques in theatre, as well as offer our community an enriching theatrical experience through the arts,” said Guiltner. “Seussical” is the Broadway hit musical that tells the story of some of Dr. Seuss's most popular characters – Horton the elephant, The Cat in The Hat, the Whos, and even a brief cameo from the Grinch himself. The musical will feature a full orchestra, including members of the SAU Band and the Department of Music.  The performances for “Seussical the Musical” will be 7 p.m. nightly from April 23 through April 27 at Harton Theatre. Ticket prices are as follows: $15 for general admission, $7.50 for children, students, and SAU students, faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased at The performances will include a matinee for area public schools on Wednesday, April 23, at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Guiltner at or call (870) 235-4256.

A surplus property auction is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at the SAU Physical Plant at 100 Military Drive in Magnolia, Ark. The auction will begin at 10 a.m. Everything from four vehicles, shop equipment, furniture, office equipment, electronics, dairy equipment, sports equipment and more will be sold. Looper Auction will be overseeing the auction. To see a full listing of the items to be auctioned and additional information, visit to see the complete listing on Looper Auction’s website. Utilization of the proceeds will be determined at a later date after the office of marketing and redistribution of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration releases funds in accordance with Department of Purchasing guidelines.

There will be a Magnolia Airport Commission meeting this Wednesday, January, 22. The meeting will be held at the Magnolia Municipal Airport, and will start at 5:00 pm. The meeting is open to the public.

Organizers rehabilitating the Johnny Cash home in Dyess are looking for furnishings that will reflect the time the Cash family lived in the dwelling in the 1930s and '40s.
April is when the first phase of the project is set to open.  Ruth Hawkins is directing the project through Arkansas Heritage Sites and Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. Reports say that Cash's siblings, Joanne and Tommy, described everything they recall from the home and drew pictures from memory. Organizers worked to match those memories with images from Sears catalogs from the period in hope of locating pieces that resemble the originals. Among the key pieces being sought are a Davenport sofa and matching chair that are needed for the home's living room. 

Tyson Foods, Inc. has acquired the assets of Bosco’s Pizza Co. of Warren, Mich., both companies announced today. Bosco’s Pizza, famous for “The Original Bosco Stick,” produces a variety of stuffed bread sticks and frozen pizzas for food service and retail customers throughout the Midwest and at some retailers nationwide. Terms of the acquisition, which was completed January 18, were not disclosed. “This is part of our company’s strategic plan to grow our domestic prepared foods business,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods’ president of prepared foods, customer and consumer solutions. “Bosco’s will be a good addition to our diversified portfolio of quality food offerings.”Craig Mulhinch, vice president of Bosco’s sales and marketing, and Paul Morgan, vice president of Bosco’s operations, will continue to manage the day-to-day operations. The company employs about 150 people, all of whom are expected to become Tyson Foods team members. It will become part of Tyson Foods’ Prepared Foods division, but continue to operate under the Bosco’s Pizza Co. name. Customer contacts will not change. “This is a great opportunity for the Bosco’s brand,” Mulhinch said. “We’ve put a lot of effort into creating high-quality products and Tyson Foods has recognized that. This deal will allow us to accelerate our growth while we continue to focus on the fundamentals of making excellent artisan bread products. We’re excited about joining the Tyson team.” Entrepreneur Mark Artinian created Bosco’s as a carry-out pizzeria in 1988 before he started delivering frozen pizzas to area high schools. In 1995, the company started producing frozen stuffed crust pizza, which soon led to stuffed bread sticks, the company’s main product line today. Artinian will remain with the business in an advisory role. “The Bosco’s team built the business the right way,” said Michael Turley, vice president of food service and government sales for Tyson Foods. “Those who know the Bosco’s brand are more than customers – they’re fans. Bosco’s bread used to make its products is excellent, and the brand has a large regional following including those who remember eating Bosco Sticks at school.” Tyson Foods is the largest supplier of pepperoni and pizza toppings to the food service industry. Tyson Foods markets prepared foods products to retail grocers, food service distributors, restaurant operators and on-site food service establishments such as schools, universities, corporate cafeterias, hotel chains, healthcare facilities and the military.

Starting a Business in Arkansas 2.18.14  - 11am-1:30pm
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents "Starting a Business in Arkansas". This seminar prepares you for the intensive business planning process, identifies major steps crucial to starting a business, discusses key issues that affect your business success, and discusses start-up requirements and common pitfalls you will face as an entrepreneur. 

How to Write a Business Plan 2.25.14 - 11am-2pm
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents "How to Write a Business Plan." No matter how large or small, all businesses must have a business plan!  A business plan will help you define your concept, evaluate the competition, determine risks, and estimate your costs.  This seminar will explain and illustrate the business plan format. 

Pinterest for Your Business 3.6.14 11am-1pm Will provide description of seminar at a later date, working on class.

Website in a Day 4.3.14 - 9am-4pm
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center presents "Website in a Day." Does your business need a website? Have you been held back by a lack of funds or a lack of technical skills? Then, Website in a Day is the hands-on workshop for you! Come sit down with the ASBTDC's laptop lab and design a free website using Weebly. You'll be taken step-by-step through creating a free account and creating an attractive, functional, five page website. All participants receive a free 20-page workbook with detailed instructions. The ASBTDC is able to present this seminar at no cost to Arkansas small business owners due to a joint partnership with Connect Arkansas, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to increasing high-speed internet and adoption throughout Arkansas.

January 20, 2014

The State of Arkansas has formally requested a judge to order property forfeitures in the Magnolia-El Dorado anabolic steroid case. A lawsuit filed recently in Columbia County Circuit Court asks that property seized from Joshua Hines of Magnolia be turned over to the state. The state already has the property in possession as evidence. Among the items the state wants to seize are multiple firearms, a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche, and $32,220 in cash. The lawsuit notes that on November 20, an investigation was conducted on a package that had arrived at a post office that contained anabolic steroids, a Schedule III controlled substance. A controlled delivery of the package was conducted and the package was delivered to Hines at his Magnolia business, Extreme Image, 111 N. Dudney. Hines told investigators that he and another defendant, Drew Maza, would purchase anabolic steroids from overseas with the intent of distributing them for profit. Hines was arrested and the property was confiscated by the Magnolia Police Department as a result of the investigation. The lawsuit listed the guns confiscated at Hines’ home on Columbia Road 530. They included a Mossburg .20 gauge, Ruger P90, Remington 870 Express, DPMS AR-15 223, Browning Buck Mark .22, Taurus .45, Glock 23 .40 caliber, Ruger P89 9mm with magazine, Heckoor and Kock USP .45 with magazine and Yankee Hill Machirte Cobra M2, DPMS .308 with magazine, Ruger .22 with magazine, Remington 700, Winchester .308 with magazine, Ruger M77 7 mm, Stevens M310 HMR, Marlin M25 with magazine, Marlin 17 with magazine, Crickett .22l, Marlin .22, Mossberg .243, Traditions Pursuit LT .50 caliber muzzleloader, and a Walther P 22 with laser and silencer. The lawsuit is CV 2014 3-6. State of Arkansas v. Joshua Hines.

On Thursday, January 23, there will be a public meeting at Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church, located at 2417 Smackover Rd. The meeting will start at 6:00 pm and all of the public is invited to attend. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the possible closure of a portion of Smackover Road. From the entrance into IP Wood Yard to Texas Street, from 7:00 until 5:00 pm Monday thru Friday. The road would remain open during all other times. Gross & Janes would like to thank the residents of Camden and is looking forward to a continued partnership in growing Camden and brining jobs to the area.

Camden Head Start will be recruiting for remaining spots for the current school year, as well as for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. The event will take place from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm on Saturday, January 25, at Wal-Mart located at 950 California. Head serves children ages 3-4, and welcomes children with special needs. Transportation assistance for children’s health appointment and parent meeting needs will be provided by staff when possible. Come and apply now as enrollment spots are limited. Applications will be accepted for the Early Head Start program. The location will be at 1199 Maul Road. There will be 2 Early Head Start classrooms with 8 children each, ages from 6 weeks to 3 years. There are also 6 Head Start classrooms and 1 ABC classroom. Give your child a head start in learning. For more information call the center at 836-5227.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week. The  speaker this week will be Keri Welch from the Ouachita County Extension Service.  Keri will be telling us about children’s programs. That the Extension Service is currently offering.

Pine Bluff police confirm one person is dead after a shooting on 17th Avenue and Beech Street Saturday night. Sgt. David Defoor says two males and a female were sitting in car in a residential area when someone shot into the driver's side of the car. All three people inside were wounded and taken to the hospital. Late Saturday evening, one of the male victims died and the other male was listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. Police say the female victim is in stable condition and expected to survive. Authorities have not identified the victims and are working to develop suspects.

Jackson Police have made an arrest for the murder of Arkansas State football player Markel Owens and his stepfather, Johnny Shivers. 22-year-old Derrick Wade, of Jackson, was taken into custody and has been charged with two counts of felony murder, attempted murder of Owen’s mother Chermaine Owens, aggravated robbery of Shivers and aggravated assault of Shivers' 16-year-old son. Currently Wade is being held at Madison County and will be formally arraigned via video link Tuesday morning at 8. Police responded to the residence on Walker Road around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, where they found Chermaine Owens lying in the front yard with a gunshot wound.


Six teens were arrested in Conway and face charges of breaking and entering cars. The suspects include a 13-year-old, a 14-year-old, two 16-year-olds and two 18-year-olds, all males. Conway Police got a call Thursday night around 9 p.m. alerting officers to six men wearing hoodies who were looking into vehicles. When they arrived at the scene near South Mitchell and Hillman Streets officers quickly located the six individuals. The two 18-year-olds told officers they were on their way home when they encountered the group who had been breaking into cars. Officers canvassed the area and found items lying on the ground just feet from where they stopped the group. Those items which included a wallet, sunglasses and a GPS were later found to have been taken from a woman's car on Mitchell Street. Police also discovered cash stolen from the victim's car and one of the suspects had a stolen iPhone in his pocket that belonged to another victim. Two of the suspects, 18-year-old Cordario Williams and 18-year-old Stevie Brown, were arrested and taken to the Faulkner County Detention Center. This case is still under investigation, Detectives are looking into whether these suspects could be responsible for other car break-ins across town.

The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission and its Regulations Committee will meet Jan. 24, 2014 at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Headquarters Building Commission Room, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock. The Regulations Committee meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the full Commission meeting at 9 a.m. The Regulations Committee will consider recommendations to the full Commission concerning the initiation of the rulemaking process for proposed changes to two Commission regulations, and the adoption of proposed changes to another regulation.

Changes are being proposed to Regulation 11 (Solid Waste Disposal Fees, Landfill Post-Closure Trust Fund, and Recycling Grants Program), and Regulation 12 (Regulated Storage Tanks). Proposed changes to Regulation 15 (Open-Cut Mining and Reclamation) which have gone through the rulemaking process are under consideration for final adoption.

 In addition to acting on the Regulations Committee recommendations, the full Commission will:

· Hear a report from the Minerals Subcommittee chairman on a recent meeting of the special subcommittee examining the issue of mineral limits for wastewater permits, and view a presentation by the ADEQ staff on the subject.

· Act on a request by the ADEQ to deny a request by the City of Wynne for a temporary variance from applicable regulations involving the demolition of a building containing asbestos materials.

· Act on a motion to rescind a stay of mineral limits for the wastewater permit of the Tyson Foods, Inc., Waldron Plant due to the repeal of legislation which provided for the stay issued by the Commission in August, 2013.

· Hear oral arguments and decide on a motion by Big River Steel, LLC, for partial relief from an automatic stay on the facility’s air permit for a steel mill near Osceola. The stay was imposed after Nucor Corp. and Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. appealed the Big River Steel permit, which was issued in September, 2013.

· Act on a recommended decision by the Commission Hearing Officer to allow Beaver Water District to withdraw its appeal of a water permit issued to Saddlebock Brewing, LLC, for its facility near Springdale.

· Hear oral arguments and act on a recommended decision by the Hearing Officer involving an appeal of an enforcement case taken by the ADEQ against Street & Performance, Inc., of Mena, regarding alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at the company’s plating facility for custom automobiles and engines.

· Set meeting dates for the remainder of 2014.

· Establish the allowable stipend for non-state agency members of the Commission.

On Friday, U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman congratulated Abhilasha Gokulan of Little Rock and Adam Williams of Jonesboro on being selected as Arkansas’s delegates to the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP). The two students were chosen from hundreds of applicants to attend the program’s 52nd annual Washington Week. “Abhilasha and Adam have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to their schools, communities, and to public service,” said Pryor. “This program is a great opportunity for them to gain first-hand knowledge of the legislative and judicial branches while cultivating their long-term goals in civic involvement. I look forward to welcoming them to Washington, D.C.” “The commitment Abhilasha and Adam have shown to academics and their communities sets an excellent example for their peers. I am confident that they will make the most of this great opportunity to experience the inner workings of Washington and learn about the legislative process first-hand. We are proud of their accomplishments and hope this program will help to continue their drive to be leaders of the future,” Boozman said. Abhilasha Gokulan is a student at Little Rock Central High School. She serves as student representative for the Arkansas Science Olympiad Board, captain of Central’s Science Olympiad team, co-president of Model UN, secretary of state at Arkansas Girls State, and senior editor of the Memory Project. Abhilasha participates in National Honor Society and Beta Club, and volunteers with Junior Civitan, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and Harmony Clinic. She was recently featured in Southern Living as a “New Hero of Civil Rights.” In the future, Abhilasha would like to be a doctor involved in public policy and social justice. Adam Williams is a student at Valley View High School and president of the Teen Advocacy Board Civic Organization. He is a member of Quiz Bowl, Model UN, National Honor Society, FBLA, JROTC, the cross country team, and a Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership delegate. He is also active in his community, volunteering as project manager for Out of the Dark, a school and community anti-drug club; Heart and Soul 5K; peer tutoring; and the local hospital. He plans to pursue a degree in political science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville before entering local and state politics. Chosen as alternates to the 2014 program were Rachel Morrow of Cave Springs, who attends Bentonville High School, and Lauren Williams of Wynne, who attends Wynne High School. While in Washington, from March 8-15, Abhilasha and Adam will join 102 other delegates to meet with Senators, Congressional staffers, the President, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, leaders of cabinet agencies, a United States Ambassador, and members of the national media. The students will also tour many of the national monuments and museums.  Each of the delegates will receive a $5,000 college scholarship, in addition to the all-expenses paid trip to Washington. The U.S. Senate Youth Program allows two delegates, current high school seniors or juniors, from each state to be selected by the state’s chief education officer in cooperation with high school principals.  In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to public service, the students rank academically in the top one percent of their states.

January 17, 2014

The Camden Chamber of Commerce held the 90th Annual Chamber Banquet and Meeting on last night at the Camden Fairview High School Gym. The event was catered by Wood’s Place. Tiffanie Hildreth from Ouachita Electric gave the Invocation. Beth Osteen, Executive Director of the Chamber, gave the opening welcome and remarks. Her remarks included the importance of shopping at home especially at your small business owners. She also remarked on the revitalization of the Downtown area. Student Awards were presented by Nick Tuberville of Ouachita industries. Recipients of this year’s awards were Wade Andrews and Aleah Ellis. Tina Davis from Farmers Bank and Trust presented the Sam Walton Business Leadership award to Ricky and Misty Bounds, owners of Bounds Tire Service. Robin Hooks presented the 2013 Industry of the year Award to Highland Industrial Park. Gene Hill accepted the award on behalf of Highland. The 2013 Community Service Award was given to Searcy Harrell. His son, Jon Harrell accepted the award. The award will now be known as the Search Harrell Community Service Award.  Mike Murphree of Camden monument introduced the Guest Speaker, Founder and Pastor of Church of Rock Creek, Mark Evans. He gave a motivational and entertaining talk about “Winning at Life”. Krissy Bassetti of Jim Golden Ford gave Closing comments and adjourned the meeting.

As of Thursday, The number of flu deaths this season has increased to 22, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). The confirmed cases have been recorded since Sept. 29. In a Monday news conference, the ADH said this year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 50. At the time of the news conference, the ADH said 7 out of 15 victims were in that age group. The ages of the four victims added to the flu deaths total today have not yet been released. The ADH says multiple hospitalizations in the 25-50 group have also been reported. It is highly recommended that all individuals in this age group receive a seasonal flu vaccine and promptly visit a doctor should they experience severe flu-like symptoms.

Arkansas' highest court has ordered a new trial for a death row inmate who confessed to the murder and mutilation of a woman at a transient camp in 2001. On Thursday justice reversed Rickey Dale Newman's 2002 capital murder conviction in the slaying of 46-year-old Marie Cholette near Van Buren in Crawford County. Newman's attorney argued that Newman was mentally unfit to understand court proceedings or help with his defense, and the court agreed. Newman had asked for the death penalty but when his execution date was nearing in 2005, he authorized his lawyer to apply for a stay and pursue appeals. The state had argued there was sufficient evidence and that Newman was competent to stand trial.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services is presenting its budget to legislators and is not asking for an increase for the next fiscal year. DHS Director John Selig told legislators on Thursday that he appreciates how tight general revenues are. The Joint Budget Committee is delaying until Tuesday a discussion of the private health insurance option that legislators adopted last year to expand the Medicaid program. Selig says the private option has $400 million in federal money for this fiscal year. In fiscal 2015, in what's to be a full year of implementation, Selig says the state is to get $1.5 billion in federal money. But it's an open question whether the Republican-controlled House and Senate will continue the program.

On Wednesday, a man is in critical condition after suffering multiple life-threatening gunshot wounds in a shooting. The incident occurred at a gas station on the 6200 block of Colonel Glen. According to a police report, the victim, Michael Deadmon, was transported to the hospital by his brother with three gunshot wounds to his right upper side under his arm and one in his right forearm. His brother Terrance Deadmon then left St. Vincent Hospital and returned shortly with their mother, Caroline Deadmon. According to a witness at the scene, a black male with dreadlocks wearing a gray jacket approached the vehicle with the Deadmon brothers inside. Witnesses say that they heard gunshots and saw the suspect get into another car and drive away. Police are continuing their investigation, and as of now, they have no suspects.

The members of the Arkansas General Assembly return to the Capitol in February for the 2014 Fiscal Session. This will be the third such session since voters changed the Arkansas Constitution in the 2008 election. Only budget bills are considered when the Legislature convenes, making it a quicker and less expensive undertaking than the regular sessions that occur in odd-numbered years. For the first time, I am considering giving support to a legislative effort that would propose one policy-related bill to change an existing law. Lawmakers are currently discussing a vote to give any governor more discretion regarding special elections when there is a vacancy in the Lieutenant Governor's Office, as we appear to be facing next month. Regardless, the vast majority of the fiscal session will be spent on Arkansas's budget. Legislative budget hearings are already under way, and this week the Department of Finance and Administration presented my proposed balanced budget for the next fiscal year, which runs from July to June. And whatever budget the Legislature approves this session will take effect this summer. My proposed budget is very similar to the numbers projected for Fiscal Year 2015 before last year's regular session. Some changes have been made as the State's needs have changed over the past year. The most notable of these involves our Corrections system. Recent changes in our parole-and-probation procedures have put a lot more people back behind bars, and of course it costs money to keep them there. I have proposed increases to open 300 more prison beds, as well as to ensure that counties are compensated for the increasing numbers of inmates they house. In education, foundation funding will increase again by two percent to keep pace with adequacy requirements, and, as promised, we are moving some monies to bolster the public-school employee insurance plan. For our colleges and universities, I've included targeted, need-based increases to growing campuses in hopes of slowing tuition increases for our students and their families. The most talked-about part of the budget remains funding for the Department of Human Services. The Arkansas Private Option has become a national model for states seeking flexibility under the Affordable Care Act. It has already brought insurance coverage to more than 77,000 Arkansans, with tens of thousands more soon to qualify. It has attracted younger people to our insurance exchange, a necessity to keep insurance affordable in the future. The anticipated influx of federal funds will save an estimated $89 million for our State in the next fiscal year. However, the funding for the Private Option must be re-approved by three-quarters of the General Assembly. While the benefits to our people, hospitals and communities are clear, ideological differences will again make it a close vote. If the Private Option fails, many Arkansans will lose their health care, and tough cuts will need to be decided for other state services, as well. This is all a process of conflict and compromise that always ends with Arkansas achieving its mandated balanced budget. Our Revenue Stabilization Act is the envy of other states, and will again ensure that we emerge from the Fiscal Session with a responsible budget for the coming fiscal year.

U.S. Senator John Boozman is leading efforts to pay tribute to Gulf War veterans on this 23rd anniversary of Operation Desert Storm. Boozman is pushing for the creation of a national memorial to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. The National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act, S. 995, recognizes the American troops who were deployed to Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield, while remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Boozman said “This bill will clear the way to build a fitting tribute in our nation’s capital to honor our servicemembers who fought in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. These veterans deserve our nation’s respect for their commitment to defending freedom in the Gulf War,”.

Columbia County Treasurer Marion Barnard has announced that she will not be a candidate for re-election in the May primary. On December 31, of this year, Barnard will complete 20 years of service to the citizens of Columbia County. She also served two years as administrative assistant to the county judge, and 18 years as county treasurer. Barnard was first elected treasurer in 1996, and has been re-elected without opposition since that time. She has seen many changes in the treasurer’s office. With each legislative session there are new state laws or changes in current law that impact county elected officials. The rapid advance of technology has also affected the treasurer’s office Barnard is currently on a Steering Committee for a new treasurer’s computer program. This will be her fourth change since the first program she used in 1997.

Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) Camden, Arkansas, is pleased to announce the speaker for the college’s annual Black History Event is Rodney E. Slater, a native of Marianna, Arkansas.  Slater is the former US Secretary of Transportation under Bill Clinton. Today He helps clients with transportation system needs and promotes safe, efficient, international transportation infrastructure. During his time with the US government, he worked on the Transportation equity Act for the 21st Century which guaranteed a record $200 billion in surface transportation investment through 2003. He also served as the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and was the agency’s first African-American administrator. Slater is married and has one daughter they currently reside in Washington, D.C. The SAU Tech Black History event will be held on February 21, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Charles O. Ross Center on California Ave in Camden, Arkansas. For ticket information call, 870.574.4495 or by email

Southern Arkansas University marketing major Anthony Earl has been selected as an Appalachian Trail Ambassador for the 2014 Thu-Hike Syndicate Program. This dream sponsorship for Earl will allow him to thru-hike (hike from start to finish) all 2,180 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Katahdin, Maine, to Georgia. All the while, he will be blogging to help market hiking products from Vasque Footwear along with a long list of other partnering outfitters. Earl, junior from Converse, Texas, was chosen to be one of 10 ambassadors this year among many great applicants, according to a recent Facebook post by Vasque Footwear. “We are happy to announce that we have selected an outstanding group of thru-hikers who are passionate about sharing their journeys, thoughts and experiences with the hiking community,” said a spokesperson for Vasque Footwear. big personality and marketing experience, both in and out of the classroom at SAU, certainly made him a perfect selection. He is known as one of SAU’s premier tour guides. In fact, he has been chosen to be a member of the SAU President’s Ambassadors as well as of the Housing Ambassadors group. The P.A. group represents select students from across SAU, all of which provide tours of the beautiful campus for prospective students and families. The Housing Ambassadors give tours of the residence hall offerings at SAU. This venture for Earl will delay his graduation, as such a thru-hike of the Appalachians can take six to eight months. Earl withdrew from his spring classes the day before they were scheduled to begin, but he got nothing but encouragement from his family at SAU. “The faculty at SAU has been very supportive in my endeavors. They have all assured me that I would be able to resume my scholarships and participation in the programs upon my return,” said Earl, who has three scholarships at SAU. Along with his on-campus jobs, Earl has been active in SAU’s complete college experience. He has been a resident assistant, a member of Phi Lambda Chi Fraternity, a member of the SAU Jazz and Wind Ensemble, a Freshman Mentor, Leadership Academy Leader and a BAM II Freshman Orientation Leader. Earl anticipates beginning his Appalachian thru-hike with some of his fellow Trail Ambassadors in March. He and the others will be blogging and making social media posts from their adventures. The College of Business at SAU has earned the coveted AACSB Accreditation. Less than five-percent of the world’s 13,000 business programs have earned AACSB Accreditation. According to, accredited schools have the highest quality faculty, relevant and challenging curriculum, and provide educational and career opportunities that are not found at other business schools. SAU combines these accreditation standards with affordability and attention to every student, making is a matchless value for its students. To find out more about SAU the College of Business, visit

January 16, 2014

On January 15, Officer Anthony Grummer was dispatched to Wal-Mart for a report of a shoplifter. Dispatch advised that the manager had the shoplifter detained in the front office. Upon Grummers arrival, he met with store manager, who stated that the shoplifter tried to walk out of the store with a can of Perry Ellis body spray. The man was later identified as Anthony Herndon, and he was taken into custody for shoplifting. The manager provided Officer Grummer with a shoplifting affidavit and Herndon was transported to the station without incident. All booking procedures were completed by Sgt. Henninger. Herndon was later transported to the sheriff’s office to serve 48 hours in jail or until a bond was made.

On January 13, Officer Anthony Grummer was dispatched to Wal-Mart for a report of a shoplifter. Dispatch advised that the shoplifter had been detained by the store manager.
Upon arrival, Grummer met with the lost prevention agent, who stated she observed a Jessica Clark put several items such as a curtain set, magazines, and clothes in her shopping cart and attempt to leave the store. At that time Clark was taken into custody. A shoplifting affidavit was provided and Clark was transported to the station without incident. All booking procedures were completed by Sgt. Opelt. Clark was later transported to the sheriff’s office to serve 48 hours or until a bond was made. 

An attempt to steal a brass fitting at an oil well led to a petroleum leak at an Urban Oil & Gas Group site near Village on Tuesday. It was estimated that 50-100 barrels of oil spilled from the broken pipe and ran off the site and into a ditch. Workers from Milco Inc. confined the oil in a ditch on the north side of County Road 36 about a mile west of Village. They were pumping the oil from the ditch on Wednesday. The director of the Columbia County Office of Emergency Management, Larry Taylor, reported on the event Wednesday afternoon during the quarterly meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, held at Western Sizzlin’ Restaurant. Taylor went on to say that a sheriff’s deputy on patrol discovered the leak. Two oil tanks are located inside a berm at the well. Pipes lead from the tanks to a valve outside the berm, at which point oil transport trucks pump petroleum from the tanks. The incompetent thief turned a valve at the oil tank, in the mistaken belief that he was cutting off the flow of oil to the valve outside the berm. Taylor said “It was somebody trying to steal the brass valve off the end of an oil tank,” and “Oil started spewing out and they took off.” The thief didn’t get the brass fitting, but did manage to break the plastic pipe to which it was attached. “Oil started spewing out and they took off,” Taylor surmised. In a separate oil-related incident, a Martin Petroleum “hot oil” truck spilled a streak of oil along U.S. 82 between Village and Magnolia earlier Wednesday. Taylor said that the hot oil apparently mixed with moisture inside the tank, causing the oil to bubble through a relief valve and dribble down the center of the westbound lane.

A man identified as William May was arrested on Wednesday for battery. 
The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department responded to a shooting call in the 300 block of Shell Drive on Wednesday.  While responding to the call, Patrol Officers were flagged down by two victims who had been shot. One was shot in the chest and the other was shot in the hip and hand. They identified the suspect and what he was driving. All officers were advised of this information. The victims were transported to a local hospital and their condition is unknown at this time. Sgt. Ed Chattaway located William May, 20, of Texarkana in the 400 block of Oats Street. He was arrested and charged with battery. The Criminal Investigation Division is investigating this crime and it is believed to be an isolated domestic incident. If anyone has additional information they should contact the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department at 903-798-3154 or Texarkana area CrimeStoppers at 903-793-STOP.


Federal officials have filed a formal complaint saying that Wal-Mart violated the rights of protesting and striking workers last year. The National Labor Relations Board says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 100 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions. The charges were first laid out last November by the labor board’s general counsel, but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified. The complaint will go before an administrative law judge. If Wal-Mart is found liable, it could be required to award workers back pay, reinstatement and reverse any disciplinary action.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says some areas of Wildlife Management Areas are being closed due to a program of trapping feral hogs. The commission says biologists are targeting entire groups of feral hogs for removal and that large traps are the most effective method. The commission says closing small areas of the WMAs is needed to reduce all human and hunting-related disturbances to ensure the hogs are not pushed into a new area where the trapping process must start over. The closed areas are marked with "No Trespassing" signs. The commission is also encouraging hunters seeking other game to shoot all hogs they see, but the commission doesn't endorse hunting as a viable way to remove the hogs.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that he has appointed Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton of Little Rock to the Arkansas Ethics Commission. Hampton, 69, is a long-time educator, and she most recently served as president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. She retired from the Little Rock-based foundation in 2006 as president emeritus. “Dr. Hampton has spent her lifetime serving the public in the fields of education and philanthropy, and I am grateful for her willingness to continue to serve the people of Arkansas on the Ethics Commission,” McDaniel said. A 1962 Little Rock Central High School graduate, Hampton was a member of the second class of black students to enroll in Central and was the first black student to attend 10th, 11th and 12thgrades at the school. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Earlham College in Richmond, Ind., a master’s degree in education from the University of Chicago and a master's and doctorate in higher education from Columbia University. She started her career as an elementary school teacher. Hampton currently serves on the boards of the Mount Holly Cemetery Association, the Little Rock Club and the Blue and You Foundation of Arkansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield. She also serves on the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging Community Advisory Board and the Pepper Center Community Advisory Board. Hampton replaces Rev. J. Barrington Minix Sr.  Her term expires in 2019.

Consumers who expect to receive a federal income tax refund typically already have an idea about how they will use the refund, often long before the money actually arrives. Some may pay off bills. Others may set it aside for a vacation. Few, if any, have carved out plans to give a large portion of the refund right back to a tax preparer or financial institution. However, millions of American taxpayers do exactly that each year when they obtain “rapid” refund products such as refund anticipation checks (RACs). Those products are nothing more than short-term loans secured by an expected tax refund. The high fees associated with those loans are usually subtracted directly from refund proceeds. Thus, consumers are essentially borrowing and paying interest on their own money. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to warn consumers about the disadvantages of refund-anticipation products. “Everyone wants the money that’s due to them as quickly as possible, but often consumers can avoid the high fees associated with products if they are patient enough to wait just a few days,” McDaniel said. “Taxpayers who file electronically with the IRS and get their refunds through a direct deposit usually receive their refunds in a week or two, and with that they can avoid borrowing the money that is rightfully theirs.” Approximately 18 million taxpayers received RACs in 2011, according to the National Consumer Law Center. The nonprofit group estimated that Americans paid a total of $748 million in fees in order to get "rapid" refunds. For those taxpayers who choose not to pay fees associated with refund-anticipation products, they can expect to see their refunds within eight to 15 days if filed electronically and directly deposited into a bank account. The IRS offers a prepaid debit card option for those consumers without bank accounts. Those who obtain RACs usually pay about $30 for the service. Add-on costs may reach $100 or more, not to mention tax preparation fees. Companies that offer RACs or similar products are required to comply with the Arkansas Refund Anticipation Loan Act. The Act, enacted in 2009, requires tax preparers to make some specific disclosures if they offer refund-anticipation product services. Those tax preparers must prominently display a schedule of fees for the products. They must provide consumers with a printed notice that lists any and all conditions related to the RAC or other products. Also, the preparer is prohibited by law from charging any fees in addition to those assessed by a lender unless the fees are charged to all tax-preparation customers. To avoid the high costs associated with refund-anticipation products, consumers should utilize the IRS Free File program. Everyone is eligible to file for free, but taxpayers who earned less than $57,000 in adjusted gross income can file for free using brand-name tax software. The Free File program is available starting Jan. 17, and the IRS begins accepting returns on Jan. 31. Other organizations offer tax preparation assistance to senior citizens or those who may be otherwise unable to afford tax help. For more information about those organizations or programs, visit www.irs.govor go to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division hotline is (800) 482-8982.

Attorney for the Second Judicial District in Arkansas said 29-year-old Freddie Sharp III, of Go
snell made a first appearance in Blytheville District Court Wednesday to face a rape charge in connection to the Jessica Williams murder case. Blytheville District Judge Shannon Langston found probable cause to charge Sharp with rape, a class Y felony, punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison and set bond at $1 million, cash only. Langston also ordered Sharp, if he made bond, to have no contact with the victim’s family or any minor child. He was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device if released, Ellington said. On Aug. 27, officers from the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and the Arkansas State Police (ASP) were dispatched to 5436 NCR 503 in reference to a missing child. A search and rescue effort ended at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 28 with the discovery of Jessica’s body in a ditch near the Big Lake area. During an autopsy of the victim at the Arkansas State Crime Lab, male DNA was recovered indicating the victim had been sexually assaulted. Investigators obtained DNA samples from several individuals, including Sharp. “Law enforcement received information late last week that the male DNA recovered during the autopsy belonged to Sharp, within all scientific certainty,” Ellington said. Officers with the MCSO and the ASP arrested Sharp at 1:15 p.m. Monday for the rape of the 11-year-old-girl. Sharp remains in the Mississippi County Detention Center in lieu of bond, said Ellington.

The Southern Arkansas University 19th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Memorial March and Ceremony is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Monday, January 20, 2014. The March will begin at Miller’s Cafeteria on Vine Street at 5 p.m. and proceed down University Street to the SAU Reynolds Center. The ceremony will begin around 5:30 p.m. in Foundation Hall. The community is encouraged to participate in the march and attend the ceremony. 

Valerie Wilson, vice chancellor for information technology at SAU Tech, will be the guest speaker for the ceremony. Wilson is active in her church, Shady Grove Baptist Church, and in her community. Among her involvement, she is president of the Ouachita/Calhoun County Single Parent Scholarship Fund Board of Directors, executive director of the Camden/Ouachita County Community Housing Development Organization, Inc., and secretary for the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development Board of Directors. Among her many professional honors, Wilson was a 2009 finalist for the Outstanding Arkansas State Employee honor in recognition of exemplary accomplishments presented by the Arkansas State Employees Association, won the 2008 Vida H. Lampkin Award for the Distinguished Woman of the Year for her service to the Camden Community, and earned the 2002 Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges Outstanding Staff Award. The SAU Office of Multicultural Services annually observes and acknowledges the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., as he was an outstanding American pioneer and icon. To find out more, call Cledis Stuart at (870) 235-4925.

Hundreds of high school students from across the state will join in Little Rock February 21-22 for the annual Arkansas High School Mock Trial Competition. Students will have the opportunity to act as lawyers and witnesses in simulated trials before actual judges and attorneys. The winning team will then go on to represent Arkansas at the national Mock Trial Competition in Madison, WI May 9-10. Competitions will be held at the Pulaski County Courthouse and the U.S. Federal Courthouse. Fifteen consecutive trials will occur at the same time for each round, until the finals. The first round of competition takes place on Friday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m. The competition continues on Saturday, February 22 with the first round at 8 a.m., the second round at 12:30 p.m. and the final round at 4:30 p.m. The final round of competition will be held at the U.S. Federal Courthouse. This year's Mock Trial case is a criminal case involving aggravated assault. There will be three preliminary rounds of competition and a fourth and final round with the top two teams competing. Each team competing in the event is guaranteed three rounds of competition, win or lose. Each team competing must be prepared to try both sides of the case and are bound by certain time limits. Teams can consist of 6-9 students in grades 9-12. There are currently 30 teams registered for the competition, making it the largest in the state's history. There will be over 100 attorneys and judges scoring the competitions. Lawyers volunteer to assist students as team advisors, scorekeepers and tournament coordinators. Spectators are welcome and invited to attend any round of the competition at no charge. Spectators are asked to check in with registration. Special thanks to the ArkBar Mock Trial Committee, Greater Little Rock Legal Support Professionals, Arkansas Bar Association, Arkansas Bar Foundation, Craighead County Community Foundation and the Arkansas Bar Association's annual sponsors.

The Arkansas CattleWomen Association is seeking entries for the 2014 Arkansas Beef Cookoff to be held on Saturday, March 1 in Conway.  Over $2500 in cash and prizes will be awarded to the best dish in the Adult Category and the best dish in each of two age divisions of the Youth Category. In the Adult Category and the Youth Categories, original recipes will be accepted with the following theme: Any Way You Like It... Any beef cut can be used in this category as long as the recipe can be completed within 30 minutes (marinating time included).  The recipe can include any ingredients (seasonings, spices, sauces, etc.), but can total no more than 8 ingredients (not counting water, salt or cooking spray).  Recipe should yield at least 4-6 servings.  In the Youth Categories, the Junior Division is for youth in grades 7-9 and the Senior Division for youth in grades 10-12.  If you would like to enter, the recipes are due no later than February 15, 2014.  Please include on one the recipe sheet the following: NAME OF RECIPE and COMPLETE PREPARATION AND COOKING INSTRUCTIONS On another recipe sheet, include: NAME OF RECIPE and COMPLETE PREPARATION AND COOKING INSTRUCTIONS And, in the upper right hand corner: CATEGORY, AGE DIVISION (if youth entry), CONTESTANT NAME, ADDRESS, HOME, WORK &/OR MOBILE PHONE NUMBER and EMAIL ADDRESS. If emailing, submit in an attached Word document to

January 15, 2014

A report earlier this week showed that over 12,000 Arkansans had selected health insurance plans through the federal government’s health insurance marketplace website by December 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The website debuted Oct. 1 but was plagued by technical difficulties during its first two months. Monday’s report showing that 12,763 Arkansans had selected plans reflects a significant increase in activity since federal officials released a previous report showing that just 1,400 Arkansans had selected plans by Nov. 30. Nationwide, 2.15 million people had selected plans by Dec. 28, according to Monday’s report. Federal officials said the total reflected a nearly five-fold increase from the first two months of the website’s operation. The report also shows that 45,877 Arkansans had completed applications for insurance, with the applications seeking coverage for 66,693 people. Of the 12,763 Arkansans who had selected plans, 88 percent obtained financial assistance. The report shows that 22 percent of Arkansans who have selected plans are age 34 or younger, 15 percent are age 35-44 and 63 percent are age 45 or older.

On Tuesday, legislators got their first glimpse of Gov. Mike Beebe’s proposed $5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year and were told it includes about $89 million in savings from the “private option” plan to expand health care coverage to low-income Arkansans.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 includes a $105.8 million increase in state funding, which most of that going to the state’s public schools. The budget, presented by state Department of Finance and Administration director Richard Weiss, also includes additional funding for state prisons, including $7 million to pay county jail reimbursements. Weiss told reporters after the budget meeting that if the Legislature does not “continue the private option then we’re looking at probably an $89 million hole in the budget, and we’ll have to come up and redo a whole lot of budgets.” The budget hearings are expected to last through Thursday. The fiscal session is to begin Feb. 10. The proposed balanced budget also takes into consideration about $85 million in tax cuts that were approved by the Legislature last year and go into effect in the coming fiscal year. Duncan Baird, R-Lowell, co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, said after the meeting that the proposed $5 billion budget “is really the starting point for the budget process. The members just want to dig in and find out what are some of the assumptions about the numbers, what are the specifics.” “We’re going to start with his ideas and our ideas and work in a direction that results in a balanced budget at the end of the fiscal session,” Baird said, adding many questions still remain about the overall cost of the private option, the state’s program for using federal Medicaid money to provide private health insurance to the working poor. The private option is expected to receive a great deal of debate Thursday afternoon when the committee discusses the state Department of Human Services’ budget. Along with an additional $7 million to help the state Department of Correction reimburse counties for housing state prisoners because of prison overcrowding, an additional $3.1 million is recommended for the department to open up more than 200 beds at several prisons across the state.

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr will follow “formal protocols” in making his resignation official, his office said Tuesday. Darr issued a statement Friday announcing his resignation, effective Feb. 1, after drawing ethics sanctions for misuse of campaign funds and taxpayer dollars. He said then he was submitting his resignation “to the people of Arkansas, not an elected official,” which left open the question of whether his resignation would be official. His office said in a statement Tuesday that Darr “will comply with all formal protocols concerning his departure from office by Feb. 1, 2014.” Darr announced his resignation within two weeks of being fined $11,000 by the state Ethics Commission for 11 violations of state ethics and campaign finance laws. Darr has attributed the violations to unintentional errors but said last week he was resigning to spare his family from the “toxic business” of politics. Questions remain regarding the legally required process when a lieutenant governor leaves office early. Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, has said the governor’s office is looking into whether the governor is required to declare a vacancy, which under state law apparently would then require a special election to be held within 150 days. The leaders of the House and Senate have said that if a special election is required, they would support changing the law during next month’s fiscal session to allow the office to remain vacant until the November election. DeCample said Monday that Beebe is open to considering the idea. Darr was acting governor Tuesday while Beebe was in Washington for an executive committee meeting of the National Governors Association. A spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor responded to a query about Darr’s activities by saying that he was “not in the office.” Last February, Darr irked Beebe by signing a bill into law while Beebe was in Washington. The bill, which Beebe opposed but planned to allow to become law without his signature, exempted the names of people with permits to carry concealed handguns from the state Freedom of Information Act.

Founder of the E.B. Williams Youth Center, Eric Gunter spoke at the Camden Noon Lions Club meeting on Wednesday, at Catherine’s Bistro. Gunter said that a building for the Center has been located, and maintenance should soon be following. Gunter and his staff our aware of the challenges that youth face every day, and they do not want to sit back and let these issues go unattended. The Youth Center would be a place where students could learn, play, and help in the community. There will also be many programs that will teach students about living and maintaining a healthy life style. This center will also provide free access to after school tutoring by certified teachers, homework assistance, mentoring, limited internet and cable tv access, as well as other recreational activities and programs. Now running a non-profit organization like this does have its financial challenges. Gunter’s goal is to prepare the facility to accommodate the needs, purchase, desks, tables, and chairs, audio and visual educational equipment supplies for the youth. The Youth Center will also now annually be giving away four 500 dollar book scholarships to seniors. For more information on the E.B. Williams Youth Center you follow them on Facebook, email them at or call 870-818-2628. 

Camden Police Department’s Chief Bill O’Keefe is retiring. O’Keefe served as Head Police Chief for the past seven years. During those seven years O’Keefe served the Camden community to the best of his ability and helped make it the safest it can be. O’Keefe came to Camden from Malvern back in 2006. 

Start 2014 off by learning good habits with James “Coach” Robertson through Southern Arkansas University’s Office of Continuing Education. Robertson, SAU golf coach, is a nationally-certified instructor of Dr. Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The course will be from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday evenings from January 23-April 24, 2014. Cost of the course is $20. Covey’s “7 Habits” book is also required. Location of the class will be room 106 in the Brown HKR Building on the SAU campus. “This program presents a principle-centered, character-based approach to developing personal and interpersonal effectiveness, synergy and continuous renewal. The underlying principles of each habit will be presented and discussed in depth,” said Robertson. For more information or to register for the class, visit or contact Caroline Waller, coordinator of Continuing Education at SAU, at (870) 235-4006 or

On Monday night the Magnolia School Board heard concerns from two parents about the inappropriate nature of a play presented during the recent Red & White Christmas program at Magnolia High School. “Gangsta Claus” created a problem for some parents who saw the play. One parent, Yolanda Curry said, “Within this title I already have a problem,”  and “Because our school handbook prohibits anything to do with gangs or gang activity.” The play featured a story line in which Santa and other cast members are killed. “I find this seriously offensive for a school play because again in our school handbook we are strictly prohibited against weapons,” Curry said. Curry quoted a section of the student handbook, “No student shall possess a weapon, display what appears to be a weapon, or threaten to use a weapon on or about the school property.” Curry said she has many times brought her nieces and nephews to events such as the Christmas play and was offended by the content. “I don’t think anyone’s grandchild or anyone’s niece or nephew wants to see Santa killed,” she said. She mentioned school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary; Oakland, Calif.; Columbine High School; and Jonesboro, where a combined 51 children were killed.

Officials at a Texas hospital say a 14-year-old boy who was the likely target of a school shooter in southeastern New Mexico has been brought there in critical condition. Eric Finley of University of Medical Center in Lubbock says a 13-year-old girl also might be en route in critical condition. Police say the shooting happened at 8:11 Tuesday at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, and a suspect is in custody. Officials at Eastern New Mexico Regional Medical say two students were brought there after the shooting. It's unclear if either of those victims was then transferred to Lubbock, or if the student being treated in Lubbock is a third victim. Finley says information from nurses treating the boy indicates he was the target of the shooter.

January 14, 2014

On January 13, at approximately 4:30 pm, Sgt. Chris Gill, Lt. Pennington, and Deputy McClane of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office responded to 215 North Oak in Louann for a residential burglary report. Upon arrival, Gill spoke to Michelle Humphrey, who stated that when she returned home from work she noticed her back door was open. That door takes you into the utility room, and from there into the residence. Mrs. Humphrey stated that once she was inside she noticed that her kids PS3 was missing from their bedroom and a jar that contained 500 dollars was missing from her bedroom. This investigation has been turned over to Deputy McClane at this time.

 On January 13, at approximately 11:27 pm, Sgt. Gill and Lt. Gregory of the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Office responded to 611 South 1st Street in Bearden for a reported domestic in progress. Upon arrival Gill spoke to Donald Doherty, who stated that he and Josh Scott had been in an altercation over a matter, but said he didn’t want to press charges, he just wanted Scott off the property. At that point Gill spoke with Scott, who said that he and Doherty had an altercation, but he also didn’t want to press any charges. Scott also stated that he had warrants out of Grant County, but said he was going to take care of them with his income tax. After checking with Grant County they advised that they wanted him, so Scott was transported to the facility for warrant service. 

Lt. Governor Mark Darr may have announced his resignation last week, but with Gov. Mike Beebe out of state Tuesday, Darr will be acting as governor, and there’s some question as to whether Darr’s resignation has met the legal requirements to be official. Beebe will be attending a National Governors Association Executive Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. According to Beebe spokesman Matt DeCample, it will be a one day trip first flight out, last flight in Tuesday. However, under the Constitution, Darr, who resigned last Friday effective Feb. 1, will be acting as governor. 

Please be cautious if you are traveling through Little Rock on Baseline road. Early this morning around 9:15 am, an 18-wheeler overturned in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30, and caught on fire. Unfortunately this accident has left one person killed. An investigation is currently underway.

Adults Aged 25-49 Should Get Vaccinated
This year’s flu season is causing severe illness and death in adults between the ages of 25 and 50. Seven out of the 15 deaths this season in Arkansas have occurred in adults between the ages of 25 and 50, and multiple hospitalizations in this group have been reported. It is highly recommended that all individuals in this age group receive a seasonal flu vaccine and promptly visit a doctor should they experience severe flu-like symptoms. The most frequently seen flu strain this year is H1N1, which disproportionately affects young to middle-aged adults and pregnant women. There are multiple factors that may explain why younger, healthier people are affected this year. One observation is that only 30% of individuals in this age group have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this year. That leaves over 650,000 unvaccinated Arkansans in this age group unprotected from the flu. Individuals who are pregnant or in this age category may experience a rapid onset of symptoms that quickly progress to severe illness. Flu symptoms include: fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, and runny or stuffy nose. If you have flu symptoms and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, or pain or pressure in the chest, seek medical care as quickly as possible. “An unusually high number of young to middle-aged adults are being hospitalized or dying of flu this season,” Nate Smith, M.D., MPH, State Health Officer and Director of the Arkansas Department of Health said. “This is not something we typically see during an average flu season.” “We can’t stress enough how critical it is for all individuals to get vaccinated especially if you’re in this age group,” Smith added. “We know the flu vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective, but it truly can mean the difference between a mild to moderate illness and death.” The flu virus is spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching a hard surface with the virus on it, then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. You can also help reduce your risk of flu by washing hands frequently and avoiding those who are sick. Flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and local health units statewide. If you visit a local health unit to get a flu vaccine, please bring your insurance cards with you. If you do not have insurance, the vaccine will be free. For more information about flu, go to

Visitation hours are canceled at a northeast Arkansas women's prison after a 42-year-old inmate died after suffering from flu-like symptoms. The Arkansas Department of Correction says nearly 900 inmates at the McPherson Unit near Newport were screened for influenza, and two inmates tested positive for the disease. While the inmate who died Saturday did not test positive for the flu, but officials say additional tests are pending. The Correction department spokeswoman Shea Wilson says flu shots are available to all inmates, but the woman who died chose not to get the vaccine this season. Officials didn't release the inmate's name, however Wilson says the woman was in prison on a first-degree battery conviction. Wilson also said, visitation will remain canceled at the prison until officials feel it's safe to lift the restriction.

Historic Washington State Park invites you to escape the crowds and the fuss by stepping into a simpler time. Enjoy a romantic evening with someone special at Historic William's Tavern Restaurant. On February 7th and then again on February 8th  the park will host its annual Valentines Dinner and entertainment which includes a surrey ride offered from 6-7 p.m.
Dinner and live entertainment will follow at 7 p.m. Call park for menu and reservations. You can call now to book your reservations, which will be required. Admission is 70 dollars per couple, and that includes two meals, surrey rides, and entertainment. For more information you can call 870-983-2684 or email at Make new friends and memories for a lifetime.

On Monday a federal judge did approved a settlement ending the Pulaski County school desegregation case that dates back to the 1980s. The court's "okay" came late Monday afternoon following hours of objection/fairness hearings for those against the settlement. The agreement between the state and the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special School Districts was reached back in November, and needed the court's approval to proceed.
The settlement calls for the end of more than 70-million dollars in payments to the districts in June 2018.

A young boy has been killed in an ATV accident in a Springfield area that also injured a girl.
According to the Conway County Sheriff’s Office, the accident happened on Sunday along Union Chapel Road. The CCSO says the two children were riding on the ATV when the driver lost control and it overturned several times, throwing both children off.  Derrick Criswell Jr., 13, was pronounced dead after being taken to Conway Regional Hospital. The injured girl, 7, was flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for treatment of unspecified injuries. The accident is still under investigation.

Monday night at around 5:30 pm, 5-year-old boy was killed after being run over by a car. According to Bryant Police, the incident happened around Derek Ct. Police say the child was pronounced dead at Saline Memorial Hospital after being driven there from the scene by a 37-year-old man who had hit them. The man told police it happened when he went to move his girlfriend's car so he could wash it. He told officers that as he began to move the car, he ran over the boy in the street. The man also said that when he realized what had happened, he stopped the car and immediately ran and checked on the child. After seeing how bad his condition was, he put the boy in the car and drove to the ER. The incident is still under investigation and the child's name has not yet been released.

Yesterday, Tyson Foods has recalled 33,840 pounds of chicken that may be contaminated with Salmonella, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture statement released Friday. The department states some mechanically-separated chicken produced on Oct. 11, may be contaminated with a Salmonella Heidelberg strain. Specifically, Tyson is recalling 40-pound cases, containing four 10-pound chubs, of "Tyson Mechanically Separated Chicken." The chicken was shipped nationwide. However, federal safety authorities determined there is a link between the mechanically separated chicken products from Tyson Foods and an illness cluster in a Tennessee correctional facility. The products were shipped for institutional use only and are not available for consumer purchase in retail stores, according to the Department of Agriculture. Federal safety authorities began investigating the link between a Salmonella outbreak and the Tyson chicken in December after seven patients with a connection to the chicken were identified with the illness. Two of the patients had to be hospitalized, according to the Department of Agriculture. Things such as salmonellosis, which has symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever, according to safety officials, can be caused from eating with Salmonella.

January 13, 2014

On Saturday January 11, Officer John Parker was dispatched to the intersection of Grinstead Avenue and Gibson Road for a report of a one vehicle accident. Upon arrival Parker made contact with the driver, later identified as Jason Spells. He stated that he was traveling east on Grinstead Avenue approaching Gibson Road. He reached down to retrieve his cigarette lighter, looked up and observed the road curve, but was unable to slow down. He left the roadway and struck a tree. While Parker was speaking with Spells, he detected an odor of an unknown intoxicant emitting from his person. His eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his body was swaying. When asked if he consumed any intoxicants he stated he consumed 3 or 4 beers approximately 2 hours prior. After failing a Standard Sobriety Test, procedures were completed and Spells was issued a traffic citation for failure to maintain control. He was issued another citation for driving while intoxicated first. Both citations were given a court date of February 19th. Spells was later released.

On Saturday January 11, Officer Kirill Maslakov was dispatched to Wal-Mart Shopping Center in reference to shoplifting report. Upon arrival Officer Maslakov made contact with the store manager on duty, who already detained the shoplifter. The shoplifter was later identified as Frederick Smith. The store manager advised that they found 3 fragrance bottles valued at $141.33 in total with Smith. The manager also provided a shoplifting affidavit. Smith was taken into custody and transported to the station without an incident. Upon search of Smith’s person, the Officer found a “pipe”, that Smith stated he used “to smoke drugs with”. The officer also found a razor that smith used to cut open the fragrance packaging. Smith was booked on approval of shift supervisor Sgt. Gilbert. Smith was charged with shoplifting, 2 counts of possession of instrument of a crime, and was later transported to the Ouachita County Detention Center without incident. 

An Arkansas fugitive has been caught in Missouri. According to reports, 47 year-old William Chamlee, of Jacksonville, was taken into custody early Sunday morning in Wapello (Butler County), along with his girlfriend 40 year-old, Tracy Green. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Office says they were in a motel room. Assisting agencies that include, the U.S. Marshals, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Butler County (MO) Sheriff's Office. Chamlee and Green will be held in the Butler County Detention Facility in Popular Bluff pending the disposition of their charges in Missouri (Narcotics and charges related to counterfeit ID’s) and subsequent extradition to Arkansas. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the Eastern Arkansas Fugitive Task Force worked closely together and made contact with the assisting agencies who took them into custody. In Pulaski County, Chamlee faces charges of Rape, Computer Child Pornography and Video Voyeurism.

Harding University has announced that a student involved in the multiple accidents on I-30 in Arkadelphia Saturday has died. The school said 20-year-old Kailey Massey died early Saturday evening from injuries sustained in the accident. Massey was returning to campus for the spring semester from her hometown in Texas. Massey was a junior communication sciences and disorders major at the University and a member of Delta Nu women's social club. Arkansas State Police (ASP) records indicate that her Lexus crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler. She was pronounced dead at the scene by coroner Tim Welch, and the other driver was uninjured. An original accident that had snarled traffic on I-30 near Arkadelphia caused even more accidents. According to ASP, the original accident happened early Saturday afternoon at the 74 mile marker in the eastbound lane; that lane completely shut down while officers and cleanup crews worked the site. The main problem was that more accidents were occurring as cleanup happened. According to a police dispatcher, more wrecks occurred along the route, and crews were trying to clear those accidents up as well, leading to more congestion along the eastbound lane.

Three fires started in Pine Bluff Saturday night, and all of them were within three hours and were all in vacant homes with no utilities connected. The Pine Bluff Fire Department is now asking for the public's help in identifying anyone involved. Assistant fire marshal Lt. Randy Compton "We are having problems in the city of Pine Bluff with vacant structure fires. There's a rash of fires that have happened so far. There have been five vacant structure fires for the month of January, and we're trying to investigate them to the fullest extent,”. The fire department said anyone who comes forward with information about the fires will be kept confidential. If you have any information that might help lead to an arrest, please call the Pine Bluff Police Department at (870) 543-5105.

A family traveling from Texas through Arkansas on their way home to Tennessee began being followed by a police vehicle around Hazen. Ruby Holland-Hutchins said "He pulled up beside us and looked into the vehicle," and "Then followed us two more miles before he pulled us over." They at first assumed it was a routine traffic stop. "When he came to the vehicle his attitude was very aggressive very hostile," she said. The family had been visiting Hutchins' elderly father. In the car was her daughter, granddaughter, and her brother driving the vehicle. They complied with the officers requests and thought they would soon be on their way. "When he comes back to the car he has a clip board in his hand and paper asking my brother to step out of the vehicle," she said. "And when he stepped out he said I want you to give me permission and sign to search this vehicle." Hutchins said she told her brother he did not have to sign anything. "Then the officer became more aggressive and angry," she said. That's when they called 9-1-1 and began capturing video on cell phones."Explaining to dispatchers we're on i-40, we don't know where and there's an officer here being very rude, very aggressive," she said. "And we feel like the situation is going to get out of hand and I feel like we are in danger." Eventually they were free to go, nearly two hours spent on the side of a cold rainy highway, never cited for a single infraction. Hutchins is a prominent pastor in the Memphis community a detail we had to find out ourselves, because she said this is not about who she is but what happened to her brother. "Racism is still prominent and prevalent and we need to make steps and strides to treat all people like Americans," she said. Hutchins said the Chief of Hazen Police has since apologized, but she hopes they use this situation as an opportunity for additional training for officers. We also spoke to Hazen police about this and their chief said they have reviewed the dashboard video and racial profiling did not happen.

Robert McAdoo has announced his candidacy for Ouachita County Judge. McAdoo issued the following statement: I would like to announce my candidacy for Ouachita County Judge.  My heart’s desire is to serve people. It has been my pleasure for the past 29-1/2 years to serve students, parents, teachers, schools and communities as a professional educator.  The last three years I have also had the honor and pleasure to humbly serve the residents of East Camden as Mayor.  If elected, I vow to continue my service to East Camden and extend that service to all residents of Ouachita County. Ouachita County is a dynamic community with the potential of being one of the greatest counties in Arkansas.  I pledge to work with all leaders in our area to bring the strongest economic development to this region of the state.  I would seek to improve the level of safety for Ouachita County residents and provide the best equipment for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services and advance all courthouse records to 21stcentury technology. These are just some of the goals I would have if elected as the next Ouachita County Judge. After graduating from Harmony Grove High School in 1979, I received my B.S.E. at Southern Arkansas University in 1984 and went on to complete my Masters of Science in Education from Texas A & M University, Texarkana in 1995.  In 1997, I obtained a Public School Administrator certification from Arkansas State University. I am currently employed with the Harmony School District Classified Special Programs Administrator supervising maintenance, facilities and transportation and as High School Principal at the Sparkman campus. My certifications include: Act 833 Certified Volunteer Firefighter, National Registry Emergency Medical Technician, EMT Instructor, American Heart Association Basic Life Support Instructor, Class II Wastewater Operator and Class A Underground Storage Tank Operator.  For the past eight years I have served as a volunteer firefighter for both the East Camden Fire Department and Ouachita County Fire District One. In my capacities as Mayor of East Camden, Harmony Grove School Administrator and volunteer firefighter, I have built strong working relationships with many of the employees of Ouachita County.  These endeavors, along with my education, have provided me with the skills, the experience, the relationships and the determination to make a difference in Ouachita County. I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Angie Stokes McAdoo, for 32 years.  We have one son, Tyler McAdoo.  We are members of Calvary Baptist Church where I serve as deacon, former Sunday School teacher, Praise Team musician and also assist with Calvary’s Widow Ministry. If you are ready to see Ouachita County move forward I would appreciate your vote on May 20 for Ouachita County Judge.  For those wishing to volunteer and/or contribute to my campaign, you may contact me at (870) 833-2275 weekdays after 3:30 p.m. and on weekends or email me at 

Submitted by Donna Adams, SFG chairman

The group working to save the old Fairview School gym from demolition will move ahead with plans to restore the Depression-era structure. At the group’s most recent meeting, members agreed to go ahead with roof renovation while waiting for an assessment from state preservationists and historical information from national archives. Save Fairview Gym is continuing a previous group’s efforts to save the building from total demolition. Earlier efforts stalled in 2008 when a strip of classrooms at the rear of the structure was demolished. The removal of the classrooms could thwart historical designation needed to apply for state and national preservation grants. The gym was constructed in 1937 by the Federal Public Works Administration.
SFG volunteers, FHS alumnus Deane Quarles and Ouachita County Historical Society president Kathy Boyette, are working to determine if the classrooms were part of the original structure. There is conflicting anecdotal evidence from former students and faculty.
Quarles has been in contact with the National Archives and Records Administration and is awaiting documents that could include original blueprints and photographs. A request for this information was made in November. Earlier this week Quarles received an email from NARA saying it could be another two weeks before the documents are delivered.
Boyette, who led earlier efforts for preservation designation, has renewed the quest and is working with state preservation officials. In November, John Greer, an architect with Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, met with SFG to determine the condition of the building. A condition assessment from Greer should help determine renovation priorities and is expected to be completed soon. SFG members have said renovation efforts will continue with or without historical designation. The school property was given to the City of Camden following the merging of the Fairview and Camden school districts. The city currently leases the property to the Boys and Girls Club of Ouachita County. That lease is for 99 years. In August B&GC board members discussed dismantling the gym but agreed to delay any immediate action because of costs. Club director Bernie Freeman attended the recent SFG meeting and said the club supports SFG efforts and wants the project to succeed. When asked if the club would assist with funding the project, Freeman said any proposal for club funding would have to be presented to board members. SFG chairman Donna Adams will present current SFG plans to club board members at their next scheduled meeting on Feb.3. Local business owner and FHS graduate, Alan Dean will oversee structure renovation and is currently working to complete the first phase of the projected five-year project. Phase one includes completing roof repairs begun by earlier volunteers then evaluating and renovating the gym’s windows. Securing the inside of the building and eliminating any outside safety hazards are also part of phase one. Teresa Lindsey Allen was selected as group secretary and along with SFG member Helen Aregood will lead fundraising efforts, keep the SFG Facebook page up-to-date and continue to contact class alumni. Allen will also begin planning a fundraising auction that will include vintage Fairview School items. Anyone interested in joining the all-volunteer group or donating items for the auction can contact Allen by sending a message via the Facebook page. 
Nearly 500 former Fairview classmates have connected through the page. Other contact information will be available following the group’s next meeting set for Feb. 6.
In other business, members agreed to create a financial policy concerning donations and expenditures that will include a monthly financial report to be made available upon request. 
According to Will Vale, a member of both the previous group and SFG, funds not spent during earlier renovation are still in that group’s bank account.
Vale explained that after initial renovation efforts stopped and demolishing the building was again an option, the group decided the balance could be used if renovation efforts resumed or for a historical marker if the build was razed. More detailed financial information should be available at SFG’s next meeting.

January 10, 2013

Sheriff David Norwood recently announced that he will in fact be running for re-election this year. In a statement Norwood said the following:
I would like to start by saying thank you, for allowing me to serve as your sheriff. During my past five years as sheriff I have strived to do my absolute best. A review of a past performance will reflect fairness, honesty, and impartiality for all. If I’m allowed to continue as your sheriff, you will be seeing this performance repeated. As you are aware, we have been operating in a new detention facility. Since day one, I have been busy, trying to figure out ways to cut cost. One of the ways we have cut cost is by housing out beds to the surrounding counties and to the Arkansas Department of Corrections. As of this date we have brought in over one and a half million dollars to the county for outside housing. We have also established a large garden within the confines of the facility. The garden is planted, maintained, and harvested by trustees and misdemeanor inmates. Within the garden we grow vegetables like potatoes, turnip greens, peas, and tomatoes. We then turn prepare these items at the detention facility and feed our inmates, resulting in the saving of thousands of dollars. We are trying to manage and save every dollar we can for the citizens of Ouachita County and operate a secure and effective facility. I can continue these positive enterprises, only if you, citizens of Ouachita County continue to allow me to be your sheriff. Now I admit that these accomplishments were not mine and mine alone. I had and continue to have a dedicated staff of employees, to help me achieve all of these goals, and I thank them all dearly for their support and efforts. I therefore formally announce my intention to seek reelection and serve another term as your sheriff and collector. I need and respectfully ask for your support and vote.  

In Arkansas the flu continues to fatally spread throughout the state. 12 people have now died of the flu in Arkansas. The CDC now classifies the flu as widespread here in the natural state. They said this high number of deaths may be in connection with the fact that they are seeing young people getting flu shots at a historically low number. A reminder: the health department said healthy, young people are being affected by the flu this year. They said getting a flu shot is your best defense, and it's not too late to get it done.

Yesterday, The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of a man sentenced to death for fatally shooting a police officer during a traffic stop in northeast Arkansas.
The court denied a request for a new trial and upheld the death sentence for Jerry Lard, who was convicted in the 2011 shooting death of Trumann police officer Jonathan Schmidt. The court rejected several of Lard's arguments, including his objection to prosecutors showing jurors dash-cam video footage of the shooting. The court said, "Because the incident unfolded so quickly, showing the events as they transpired from different perspectives and at slowed speeds allowed the actions of all involved to be clarified and be placed in context," and "Although Lard did not deny committing the offenses, this court has repeatedly held that a defendant cannot prevent the admission of evidence simply by conceding to the facts of the crime." The video was released to the public after Lard's trial in 2012. It shows Lard sitting in the back of a vehicle that Schmidt pulled over in April 2011 because a license plate check showed it might not have insurance. About a minute later, as Schmidt opened the back passenger door, a hand can be seen reaching out and firing at the officer's face. Lard bolts from the car and continues firing at Schmidt and another officer who was at the scene.

Attorneys for a death row inmate say his conviction should be overturned because he was not mentally competent to stand trial back in 2002. A Crawford County jury sentenced Rickey Dale Newman, 56, to the death penalty after a one-day trial for the 2001 murder of a Van Buren woman. Newman confessed to the murder and asked the jury for the death penalty. Julie Brain with the Federal Public Defender's office says Newman was unable to assist rationally in his own defense due to an IQ level of 67 and suicidal impulses. In oral arguments before the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday, Brain says Newman should have his conviction vacated. "Mr. Newman got on the stand, proclaimed his guilt to the jury in the most outrageous and provocative terms he could muster and asked them to give him the death penalty," Brain says. "That's the evidence of incompetence in this case." Deputy attorney general Darnisa Johnson argued that Newman was well aware of his decisions, based on his willingness to be psychologically examined by his defense attorneys.
"He knew why he was on trial, he knew the consequences of being found guilty, he knew that the sentence was either life or death and he chose death," Johnson says.
Newman is one of 33 men on death row in Arkansas. The last execution of an inmate occurred in November 2005.

Gov. Mike Beebe said Thursday he believes the Legislature can convene on its own initiative for impeachment proceedings, with no need for a special session called by the governor. Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have said impeachment proceedings are likely against Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who said this week he will not resign despite being fined $11,000 last week by the state Ethics Commission for violations of ethics and campaign finance laws. On Thursday Beebe said, “I think it’s one area where they can call themselves in for action. Now that’s subject to verification, obviously,”. Under Article 15 of the state constitution, if the House votes to impeach a state officer, the Senate conducts a trial. It requires a two-thirds vote, or at least 24 votes in the 35-seat Senate, for a conviction and removal from office.  A special session can only be called by the governor. Beebe said it would not make sense for impeachment to depend on the governor calling a special session.

For years now, our state's leaders in multiple fields of expertise have called for more Arkansans to earn college degrees. In 2011, I urged our State to meet a tangible goal: to double the number of Arkansans graduating with a four-year degree. We have made progress, but we need to accelerate that progress to ensure that more Arkansans can take advantages of opportunities before them. The latest figures show that one in five Arkansans 25 years of age or older has a bachelor's degree or higher. This is a noticeable improvement from the early 1990s, when only one in eight Arkansans held such degrees. Education policy changes, dedicated instructors and a change in Arkansas's collective mind-set made this happen. However, it needs to happen more. While Arkansas has seen improvements, other states have also increased their respective rates. In fact, despite our progress, Arkansas still ranks 49th nationally in adults with college degrees. Eleven states now have rates of 30 percent or higher, and most have rates of at least 25 percent. I have said repeatedly that this is the area of education that warrants a particularly sharp focus in the coming years. We need to further improve our rate of degrees, not just to stay competitive with other states, but to make sure we don't miss a huge opportunity on the horizon. By the year 2025 - the same year I want to have doubled our graduation rate - the United States is projected to reach a shortfall of nearly 24 million degree-holders. According to a report from The Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, that shortage amounts to $600 billion in lost wages. This means that any student who begins fifth grade in Arkansas this fall and earns a college degree would enter a very favorable job market, along with any other Arkansan who did the same. Over the years, we have increased the state's investment in education and made significant advancements. We have implemented innovative programs in curriculum. We've enticed students with scholarships, and we've rewarded teachers who have outstanding success in their classrooms. Affordable college worker-training programs are an incentive for businesses looking to relocate to Arkansas. Our growing emphasis in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields, will prepare more students for emerging fields of employment. We will continue to do all of these things and more. What we need, perhaps more than anything, is for more Arkansans, from all walks of life, to advocate for postsecondary education. More Arkansans can earn degrees and leave campus confident that good careers await them in the 21st-century economy. The more we diversify and enhance the skill-sets of our people, the better chance we have to attract more high-paying jobs and change our state's path forever. With commitment, encouragement and support, our children will realize, as I have personally, that anything is possible with a well-rounded and complete education.

The Ouachita County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee invites you participate in our first annual Civil War Sesquicentennial (1.50)k Heart Walk, Saturday February 8th, 2014 from 10 am to 12 noon.  This event will help raise funds for our 150 Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration for Ouachita County and the Heart Association of Arkansas.  The fundraiser will feature a 1.50K walk, awards, and door prizes. Registration forms can be picked up at Radio Works Studios, Victory Church, Anytime Fitness, Camden’s Chambers of Commerce, the OPED Offices on Adams Avenue and other areal business around the city of Camden. Entry fees are $10.00 for students and $15.00 for adults. On the day of the walk, fees are $15.00 for students and $20.00 for adults. 1.50 k will start at Coleman Stadium, proceed through downtown Camden to the River Walk and finish at Coleman Stadium. Ouachita County Civil War Sesquicentennial (1.50)k Heart Walk, Saturday February 8th, 2014,  from 10 am to 12 noon. For more information, contact the event coordinators Charlotte Young, 870-807-1468, Artie Graham, 870-836-4687 or Terry Calahan, 870-836-8773

On Thursday, Randy Zook said that Arkansas business leaders have many reasons to be concerned about the state’s workforce. Zook is thepresident and chief executive officer of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, spoke on Thursday to the Magnolia Rotary Club at Miller’s Cafeteria. The state’s workforce has fallen by 40,000 in two years. The total number of employed persons in the state has dropped by 36,000 in the same period. “We’re losing, on average, 1,500 jobs in Arkansas every month,” Zook said. About 75,000 of Arkansas’ 90,000 unemployed people are drawing unemployment benefits. Also, about 100,000 people are “under-employed” people who work part-time, for wages under $10 an hour. About 1.2 million people have jobs in Arkansas. Zook continued, “We’ve got an enormous amount of slack capacity in our labor economy,”. Business formation is at a record low. The growth rate for the economy of 2 percent is half that seen during a normal recovery following a recession, he said. Growth is expected to improve.

A new analysis of lung-cancer data suggests tobacco control efforts are having a major impact on Americans’ health.  Nationally, the rate of new lung cancer cases decreased in the U.S. from 2005 to 2009, according to a report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “The drop in the nations’ rates of lung cancer has been trending down for years.  Finally we are seeing that in Arkansas. Further, we are seeing a statistically significant drop in rates from 2005 – 2009 that may be even faster than the nation’s,” said Dr. Wheeler, Medical Director for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program.  “While our incidence and rates of lung cancer and mortality is nearly 1/3 higher than the nation, fewer people in Arkansas are starting to smoke and more are quitting.” “There is a dramatic decline in the number of young adults with lung cancer which shows tobacco prevention and control programs work –when they are applied,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH.  He went on to say, “While lung cancer incidence rates are dropping in the U.S’. one preventable cancer is one too many.  Implementation of tobacco control strategies is needed to reduce smoking prevalence and the lung cancer it causes.” “Unfortunately, here in Arkansas the incidence and mortality of lung cancer in women continues to rise.  We need to make an even stronger effort to encourage women not to smoke,” Dr. Wheeler explains.  “The impact of women’s smoking goes beyond the direct impact on their own health.  Smoking during pregnancy leads to complications for the unborn child.  And it can lead to infections, asthma and other complications from secondhand smoke.” Tobacco costs Arkansas nearly $2 billion in direct health and indirect economic costs every year.  A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health found that for every dollar spent by tobacco prevention and control programs in 2000 and 2009, more than five dollars were saved by reducing hospitalizations for heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer caused by tobacco. To learn more about how you and your family can participate in tobacco control initiatives, visit  Parents lead by example.  If you are a tobacco user and want to quit, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline can help.  Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn more about free nicotine replacement therapy and other services.  Youth can discover ways to stand up to Big Tobacco and engage with their peers by visiting the Project Prevent Facebook page at

The Benton community is mourning the loss of a beloved police K9, named Benton. Benton passed on Thursday, after a brief battle with illness. Benton was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease and was being treated for it, and appeared to be improving. On the morning of Wednesday, January 8th, he started taking a turn for the worst and after his arrival at the veterinary hospital it was discovered he was also suffering from an autoimmune disease. Benton’s condition started deteriorating rapidly and he passed away during the morning hours of January 9th. Benton was born in 2008 and graduated from the Little Rock K-9 Academy in the spring of 2009 and started with his first handler, former Officer Chris Eaton, immediately afterwards. In 2010, Detective Eli Fowlkes took over as Benton’s handler until recently when Officer Hunter Begoon took over and was his handler at the time of his passing. Benton was a black Labrador Retriever and was trained in narcotics detection. Benton’s name was chosen by holding a contest among local 3rd graders at the time. They submitted a name and an essay explaining why the name they came up with should be chosen. Student Autumn Myers, who was a student at Ringgold Elementary School at the time, named Benton after the city she loves. Over the course of his career, Benton and Det. Fowlkes were directly involved in the seizure of over 9 lbs. of cocaine, 48 lbs. of methamphetamine, 20 lbs. of marijuana, and over $100,000 in drug proceeds. They were also directly involved in the seizure of several vehicles used to transport illegal narcotics, three of which had electronically operated compartments used to conceal the drugs.

January 9, 2014

On January 9th, the Camden Police Departments special investigation Unit received a call from detectives from the Dallas Texas Police Department regarding a possible fugitive in our city. The fugitive was DeQwane Mason Willis and had an active warrant for Aggravated Robbery. Willis is a suspect in a robbery of a convenience store in southwest Dallas Texas where the clerk was shot causing serious bodily injury. After speaking with Dallas detective’s, the Camden Police Department assisted by the U.S. Marshals and DTF responded to a house on Crestwood Street. Once at the house, detectives were given information. Willis was at work. Officer’s responded to Willis’s place of employment and he was apprehended without incident. Willis is currently incarcerated at the Ouachita County Jail pending an extradition hearing. 

Little Rock Police say a man was shot multiple times early Thursday after answering a knock at the front door of his apartment. Police say 44 year-old Gary Fitzgerald, was killed in the shooting at his home in the 1500 block of College Street. Police received a call from Fitzgerald's 22-year-old daughter who reported the incident. She says she was in her room when she heard a knock at the door followed by 3-4 gunshots. Little Rock Police have no suspects at this time.

A Pine Bluff man is wanted for the rape of a mentally challenged person.  Lt. David Price said they are looking for 36-year-old Rodrick Adway. He is being charged with "rape of a mental person". The 21-year-old victim told police they were assaulted on more than one occasion. The PBPD said Adway should be considered armed and dangerous. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this subject, contact the Pine Bluff Police Detective Office at 870-730-2090 or the dispatch Center at 870-541-5300.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is to hear the appeal of a condemned inmate who claims he was mentally unfit when he was convicted of a 2002 murder of a woman in a transient camp outside of Van Buren. Arguments are set for Thursday morning for Rickey Dale Newman's attempt to vacate his death sentence. Newman was convicted of capital murder during a one-day trial for the death of 46-year-old Marie Cholette. Lawyers for Newman claim the trial judge overlooked evidence that Newman wasn't mentally fit when he was tried. They also claim evidence favorable to Newman wasn't turned over by prosecutors to his defense. Newman had said he wanted to be executed. When his execution date was nearing in 2005, he authorized his lawyer to apply for a stay.

With 2014 now among us, several changes in Arkansas sport fishing regulations have gone into effect. Most of the changes apply to specific waters. One is statewide. Bait fish now can be collected at night. This change came after requests by anglers and with the endorsement of the fisheries and Enforcement divisions of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The other changes:

Lake Columbia, remove the protected slot limit and reduced creel limit on largemouth bass. New daily limit is the 10-fish statewide limit but only one bass can be over 20 inches long. 
Lake Hindsville, discontinue the catch-and-release regulation on largemouth bass and return to the statewide 10-fish daily limit.

Also add Lake BentonvilleParadise Lake near Jacksonville and Community Center Pond in northern Pulaski County to the Community Fishing Program regulations. Lake Bentonville is an 11-acre reservoir in Benton County and is owned by the city of Bentonville. Paradise Lake is a 7-acre lake owned by the city of Jacksonville. Community Center Pond is a 1-acre pond owned by Tommy Majors who operates the land as North Pulaski Community Park. All three lakes now have a three-fish daily limit on catfish.
Also add, Monticello High School Pond to the Family Fishing Program. This is a 2-acre lake on Clyde Ross Drive that is owned by the Monticello School District.

Lower White Oak Lake, daily limits of 50 bream and five channel catfish. The lake has been renovated extensively. Beaver Lake, the 12-inch minimum length limit on spotted bass has been removed. 
Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, the 13-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass has been removed on four small impoundments fished mostly by children, senior citizens, and mobility-impaired anglers.

New approaches in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease without drugs will be the topic for a workshop in Magnolia on Friday, January 17. The presentation will feature Dr. G. Allen Power, author of “Looking at Alzheimer’s/Dementia with New Eyes: Dementia Beyond Drugs.” The event is free and hosted by The Greenhouse Cottages of Wentworth Place. It will be held at Jackson Street Church of Christ, 313 S. Jackson, from noon to 2 p.m. A meal will be provided. People who want to attend are asked to RSVP from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 501-835-3988.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a motion for default judgment against a Massachusetts-based real-estate company accused of breaching a contract with the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System.

National Timber Partners LLC of Williamstown, Mass., entered into a contract with the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System in October 2012. In the contract, the defendants agreed to purchase APERS’ interest in the NTP Timber plus Fund I, L.P., in three installments totaling $110 million. However, National Timber failed to pay all of the second installment due in June 2013. McDaniel filed suit in September for breach of contract. The third and final installment, which was due Dec. 31, has not been paid and the defendant has stated that it would likely not meet its obligation to pay that installment. “It is always troubling when a company would disregard a contract with the State, but even more so when it involves money intended to support our public employee retirement system,” McDaniel said. “We have asked the Court to require National Timber to immediately pay its past-due debt to APERS, yet the company has continued to seek to avoid paying what it owes by delaying court proceedings.” McDaniel seeks a default judgment because National Timber has failed to respond to the Attorney General’s lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 27 in Pulaski County Circuit Court. The defendant has twice asked for extensions of time to respond to the lawsuit, which APERS has agreed to. The last deadline for a response was Dec. 19 and still nothing has been filed. National Timber paid its first installment of $85 million, which was due on or before Dec. 31, 2012. It has paid a portion of its scheduled $15 million installment that was due June 28. A final payment of $10 million due Dec. 31 was never made.  The current amount owed to APERS by National Timber is $14,298,297. McDaniel asked the Court to enter a default judgment against National Timber, ordering the company to pay its full obligation, in addition to pre- and post-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees and costs.

PROTECT AGAINST TAX ID THEFT                                     
Identity thieves consistently look for ways to steal their way into a consumer’s pocketbook, and the criminals are increasingly turning toward tax identity theft as a way to do so.

Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service said it has identified more than 14 million suspicious tax returns since 2011. Criminal investigations of fraudulent filings last year were up 66 percent from the year before. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax identity theft is the most common type of ID theft reported to that agency. Therefore, the FTC this year designated Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week from Jan. 13 to 17 in order to help consumers protect themselves against the crime. Accordingly, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to inform Arkansas consumers about the growing problem of tax identity theft.

“Last year, more than 140 employees of an Arkansas university were victims of tax identity theft, and they all faced the additional trouble of working with the IRS and local authorities to obtain their rightful refunds and protect their identities,” McDaniel said. “I urge every Arkansas consumer this tax season to take the time to learn how to avoid being victims of tax identity theft.” The FTC says tax identity theft occurs when someone files a phony tax return using a consumer’s personal information, like a Social Security number, or uses the Social Security number to get a job or claim a consumer’s child as a dependent on a tax return.

McDaniel joined the FTC in sharing these tips to help consumers prevent tax identity theft:
- File tax returns as early as possible, which lessens the possibility that identity thieves can file a fake return first.
-When filing electronically, use a secure Internet connection instead of a publicly available wi-fi hot spot, where information being transmitted may be compromised. When filing by mail, take the return directly to the Post Office and do not leave a return in a mail box.
-Shred all unneeded copies of tax returns, drafts or calculation sheets.
- Remember that the IRS never contacts individuals by email, text or through social media. The IRS will contact consumers by mail if it needs information.
-Do not give out personal or financial information over the phone or via email, especially in response to an unsolicited inquiry.
-Before hiring a tax preparer, make sure to do research on the preparer and seek recommendations from trusted friends and family.

McDaniel said victims of tax identity theft usually learn of the crime when they are notified by the IRS that multiple tax returns had been filed in their name, or if the IRS inquiries about deductions or wages from an employer that the consumer does not know. In the event that happens, consumers are encouraged to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at (800) 908-4490.

January 8, 2014

The Camden Fire Department received a call at approximately 11:40 this morning regarding a fire at 239 Walnut. The Camden Fire Department, Camden Police Department and Ouachita County Emergency Management responded to the call. At the time of this report details were sketchy. It is unclear as to whether anyone lived at the home. There was no one in the house at the time of the blaze. The house will be deemed a total loss. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. An investigation is underway. A friendly reminder that during the cold weather there is an increased risk for home fires when the weather turns bad. However, many of these fires are preventable and citizens can reduce their risks of becoming a fire casualty by identifying potential hazards and following simple safety tips.

  • Use kerosene heaters and space heaters according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Make sure your alternative heaters have 'tip switches.' These 'tip switches' are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot.
  • Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
    Generator Safety
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and guidelines when using generators.
  • Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.
  • Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load. Overloaded cords can overheat and cause fires.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or 'backfeed' can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.
    Electrical Safety
  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.
  • Look for and replace frayed or cracked extension and appliance cords, loose prongs, and plugs.
  • Exposed outlets and wiring could present a fire and life safety hazard.
  • Appliances that emit smoke or sparks should be repaired or replaced.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.
    Additional Tips
  • Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
  • If the power goes out, make certain that all electrical appliances, such as stoves, electric space heaters and hair dryers, are in the OFF position.
  • Make certain that your home's smoke alarms are in proper working order.
  • Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home's electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery at least twice a year.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home and inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • All smoke alarms should be tested monthly. All batteries should be replaced with new ones at least twice a year.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of snow, ice and debris for easy access by the fire department

The flu death toll now stands at 10 in the state of Arkansas. According to experts, younger adults are now the most at risk. The State Health Department released its weekly flu report Tuesday. This year's flu season is proving to be more dangerous than last year. In 2012, the flu was responsible for 61 deaths in Arkansas. Doctors say it's not too late to get a flu shot. "It can affect even if you're healthy," said Dr. Dirk Haselow with the Arkansas Health Department.  Haselow said "It kills people every year who are otherwise healthy including young children. You should get yours, it might change your life," So far, Arkansas is one of 25 states reporting widespread flu cases. To protect yourself, remember to wash your hands, cough into your sleeves and avoid shaking hands with people who've been coughing.

A standoff with local police and Arkansas State Police have ended with a man's arrest. The 32-year-old unnamed suspect was taken into custody late Tuesday night several hours after the incident began at 1008 North 13th St. According to the police, Augusta Police called for assistance after the suspect reportedly discharged a flare gun at one of its officers as they tried to arrest the man. The State Police SWAT team was activated and sent to the scene. State Troopers started negotiating with the man around 9:30 p.m. and he surrendered an hour and a half later.

Police in Pine Bluff are searching for a man who is the suspect in a New Year's Day shooting. Police are looking for 26-year-old Ronald Maxwell Jr. for a shooting at happened at a home on Port Road Jan. 1. He is wanted for first degree battery. He should be considered armed and dangerous. His last known address was on West 11th Avenue. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this subject, contact the Pine Bluff Police Detective Office at 870-730-2090 or the dispatch center at (870)541-5300.

An attorney for former state Sen. Paul Bookout says the former lawmaker has begun refunding campaign contributions made by individuals to his 2012 re-election bid. Bookout's attorney, Bill Stanley, says checks began going out late last month to campaign contributors. Bookout, a Democrat and former state Senate president, resigned Aug. 20. The Arkansas Ethics Commission ruled that Bookout spent more than $53,000 from his re-election bid on clothing, home theater equipment and dozens of other personal items. He was fined $8,000 and reprimanded by the panel. His attorney told reporters that most of the individual contributions Bookout received in 2012 have been returned. Stanley says Bookout is still in the process of refunding contributions to political action committees. 

Yesterday, Governor Mike Beebe announced his intent to grant four pardons. An additional 25 clemency requests were denied and 14 had no action taken upon them. These include requests from both inmates and non-inmates. The four applicants intended for pardons have completed all jail time, fulfilled all parole-and-probationary requirements and paid all fines related to their sentences. There is a 30-day waiting period to receive public feedback on the pardons before final action is taken. Governor Beebe intends to grant pardons to the following people:

Bobby J. Bentley (Hot Springs): Theft, Theft by Receiving, Hot Check
This notice is issued based on the dates of conviction (2001 - Garland County, Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant's sentences have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Prosecuting Attorney in Garland County objected to this application.
Joshua H. Brown (Jonesboro): Theft of Property
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (2002 - Clark County), the fact that all terms of the applicant's sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law-enforcement objections to the application.
Byron Scott (Little Rock): Theft of Property
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1998 - Pulaski County), the fact that all terms of the applicant's sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. The Prosecuting Attorney objected to this application.
Chad L Wright (Watson, OK): Breaking or Entering, Theft of Property
This notice is issued based on the date of conviction (1995 - Polk County), the fact that all terms of the applicant's sentence have been completed and there have been no further criminal-law violations. There are no law-enforcement objections to the application. 

A Public Meeting will be held in the Camden City Council Chambers on Tuesday, January 14th, at 6:30 pm. The meeting will be held to solicit comments from the public regarding a grant application for funding from the EPA to continue the City’s Environmental Job Training Program. 

The visual arts committee of the South Arkansas Arts Center is now accepting entries for the 2014 Student Art Show and Competition. Entry deadline for works is January 29.  The Student Art Show and Competition’s title sponsor is Ann Pruet Calhoon and Paula Pruet James, in memory of their mother Elizabeth Pruet, and awards sponsor is Rainer Office Machines and Equipment. This year’s competition will be judged by Sandy Bennett. The 2014 Student Art Show opens in the Merkle, Price, and Lobby galleries on February 11 and continues through February 28.  An artist reception will be hosted on February 18 from 4-6pm. The contest is open to all students grades K-12 and all 2-D, 3-D, and multi-media fine arts accepted. Pieces must be the original work of the student, completed in the last year, and may not have been previously shown at SAAC.  All entries must have the child’s name on the work, either as part of the artwork or on the back in pencil. Sales are encouraged during the exhibition and all works not for sale must be clearly marked NFS. Entry fee to the competition is $5 per entry and is non-refundable. Cash prizes will be awarded to the Best of Show, now known as the Betty Norman Award, selected from all entries received. Work will be divided into three divisions for judging; K-4 Elementary, 5-8 Middle School, and 9-12 High School. Prizes will be awarded in each division for First Place, Second Place, and Third Place. The Best of Show Award has been renamed after artist /teacher Betty Norman, who was one of SAAC’s most beloved, accomplished, and influential artists. Through a lifetime of studying her craft around the world and teaching in El Dorado, Norman influenced generations of artists. For more information about entering the 2014 Student Art Show and Competition, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

The Ouachita County Extension Service will be offering Strong Women and Men strength training classes throughout the county starting this month. These classes are for middle age and older adults to help strengthen bones, improve flexibility, and balance. Classes are going to be led by a trained volunteers and cost for the year is 12 dollars. Class starting date is the week of January 13th unless otherwise noted. Days, times, and locations are as followed: Extensions Service Office: Monday and Thursday at 10:00 a.m.; St. Mark Methodist: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:00 am; Chidester City Hall (which has already begun) Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 10:00 a.m,; 1st United Methodist Church (starts January 27th) Monday and Wednesday at noon.; Fort Lookout Community Room (starts January 14th) Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00 pm. Please call Candance Carrie at the Extensions Office, 231-1160 for registration or additional info.

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month Each year in Arkansas, approximately 1,300 babies are diagnosed with a birth defect and more than 100 babies will die because of them. Nationally, birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Birth defects occur before a baby is born. Most birth defects occur in the first three months of pregnancy, but some birth defects can happen later in pregnancy. Most birth defects are caused by a complex mix of factors, including genes, health habits, and things in the environment. While not all birth defects can be prevented, there are many things a woman can do before and during pregnancy to increase her chance of having a healthy baby. “Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death,” David Grimes, M.D., Branch Chief of Family Health at the Arkansas Department of Health, said. “yet, nearly 20 percent of all birth defects are preventable.”
“We strongly encourage all women to take care of their health,” Grimes added. “While good health is important at any stage in life, pregnancy puts additional stress on the body, so it is important for women to be prepared in case they do get pregnant, even unexpectedly.” 
If you are a woman of childbearing age, pregnant or planning to get pregnant, the following are some things you can do to help ensure a healthy baby:
•Take 400 mcg of folic acid, sometimes called vitamin B-9, every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant. Most prenatal vitamins include the recommended amount of folic acid.
•Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs. If you need help quitting tobacco, call the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
•Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, and dietary and herbal supplements. Talk to a doctor before stopping any medications that are needed to treat health conditions.
•Get a flu shot and Tdap shot during pregnancy. These shots will protect you and your baby from flu and pertussis (sometimes called whooping cough).
•If possible, be sure any health conditions are under control, before becoming pregnant. Some conditions that increase the risk for birth defects include diabetes and obesity.
•See a health care provider regularly.
By taking these steps, a woman can reduce the chances her baby will have defects of the brain or spine, defects caused by alcohol and drug use, low birth weight and other serious health conditions. In addition, following these guidelines will improve the health of the mother and reduce the risk for serious complications during birth. For more information about healthy babies and preventing birth defects, visit

January 7, 2014

Despite calls that he quit or risk of being impeached over ethics violations, Arkansas Lt. Governor, Mark Darr says he will not resign. In a statement on Tuesday, Darr said he won't step down over complaints tied to his office and campaign spending. Darr last week agreed with Ethics Commission findings that he violated state ethics and campaign laws 11 times and agreed to $11,000 in fines. Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and Arkansas' Republican members of Congress want the lieutenant governor to resign. At the state Capitol, Democratic House members have said they'll attempt to impeach the Republican lieutenant governor if he doesn't leave. The ethics panel believes Darr misspent campaign funds and kept poor records. Legislative auditors said Darr misused a state credit card and received improper travel reimbursements. The 100-member House has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one member of the Green Party. Two Republicans have called on Darr to quit but haven't said whether they would join Democrats in an impeachment vote. The Senate has 21 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacancy set to be filled next Tuesday

Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc., announced on Monday its 2014 guidance for production volumes of between 23,000 and 25,000 Boe/d (barrel of energy equivalent daily), a 44 percent to 56 percent increase over the top end of 2013 guidance of 16,000 Boe/d. As previously announced, the company's capital budget for 2014 is estimated to range between $575 million and $625 million, of which approximately 90 percent is classified as development drilling and completion capital, while the remainder is allocated to Super-Section completion operations, infrastructure projects in the Colorado Wattenberg Field, exploration in North Park Basin, and other miscellaneous capital. Michael R. Starzer, Bonanza Creek's president and chief executive officer, said, “Bonanza Creek continues to deliver solid operating results and value for our shareholders as the company develops its deep reserve inventory. I am pleased with the consistent results, driven by Bonanza Creek's operating team, which capitalize on economic returns in the Wattenberg Field that are among the most attractive in the United States. Favorable results from testing multiple horizons and extended reach laterals in Wattenberg and 5-acre spacing in Arkansas have been incorporated into the 2014 capital program. “In 2014, we forecast to achieve top quartile production growth while maintaining our strong balance sheet and incorporating key learnings from the Super-Section test and extended reach drilling program. Bonanza Creek is well positioned to execute the next phase of development demonstrating the company's high growth and value creation trajectory for our owners,” he said. In Columbia and Lafayette counties, Bonanza Creek expects to invest approximately $80 million to drill and complete 34 gross (28.0 net) operated wells at 10-acre spacing and 10 gross (8.3 net) operated wells at 5-acre spacing in the Dorcheat-Macedonia Field, four gross (3.8 net) wells in the McKamie Patton field and perform 103 gross (82.1 net) pay additions. The 5-acre pilot testing in the Dorcheat-Macedonia field has been favorable, Bonanza Creek said. The company plans to further test full-field applicability in 2014.

The Pine Bluff Police Department is asking for help in locating a missing teenage girl. Shannon Scott, 16, was last seen on New Year’s Day at about 1 p.m. She was last seen wearing a purple fitted shirt and dark blue jeans. The jeans had a pink design on the pocket. She was also wearing black boots, and a pink belt. Scott is about 5'4" tall and weighs about 160 pounds.  She also normally wears glasses but it is unknown if she has them with her. The Pine Bluff Police Department has confirmed 16-year-old Shannon Scott was found safe and unharmed at the 1300 block of West 13th Avenue around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors in North Carolina say an Arkansas woman and her stepson have reached an unspecified plea agreement on charges they helped operate an Internet Ponzi scheme with a North Carolina man. According to reports, 45-year-old Dawn Wright-Olivares and 31-year-old Daniel Olivares, both of Clarksville, are due in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 5 for a plea hearing. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that the scheme took more than $850 million from more than 1 million investors worldwide during 2011 and 2012. A filing by the SEC in the case says Wright-Olivares and Olivares have agreed to pay more than $11 million to settle its claims. Attorneys in Charlotte, N.C., representing Wright-Olivares and Olivares could not be reached for comment.

Two women facing arrest warrants in a deadly 2013 dog attack have turned themselves in. Brande Coy, 50, and her daughter Emily Coy, 25, surrendered to the Saline County Sheriff's Office on Monday morning and were booked into the jail. Brande Coy faces charges of manslaughter/recklessly causing death, unlawful dog attack and harboring a vicious dog while her daughter faces a single charge of harboring a vicious dog. Officials say Brande Coy, of Hot Springs Village, owned a bullmastiff/pitbull mix dog named Patrone that attacked and killed a 75-year-old neighbor on Nov. 21. Joan Kappen had been out walking near her home at the time of the attack. Last week, an arrest affidavit in the case revealed that another dog from the same litter as Patrone had killed a 5-year-old Jessieville boy on June 9. The affidavit also claims that Patrone's owner knew or had to reason to know his history of aggression, biting or snapping at a number of people on multiple occasions without provocation.

Brande Coy told investigators Patrone had bitten her sister in the face two months before Kappen's attack. Emily Coy revealed to an animal control officer that the dog would "bite out of fear," according to the affidavit. The affidavit also stated that Emily Coy had been bitten on two separate occasions, and she was aware that Patrone had bitten a neighbor in the face in July 2012. The affidavit said, "Brande Coy recklessly allowed the dog to attack another person. Brande acted recklessly by allowing the dog out in a public area unsupervised and unsecured. Accoriding to witnesses, the dog had also been allowed out in a public area unsupervised and unsecure on at least one occasion to the incident involving Kappen,"

A fire was quickly contained late Monday morning near a natural gas holding tank. The blaze was reported shortly after 10:00 at Arkansas Reclamation, located along Highway 64, just outside Beebe. Smoke from the fire could be seen from Highway 64. It was reported to be contained about an hour later. The company recycles diesel fuel used in natural gas drilling. Spokesperson Todd Watkins says some diesel fumes were ignited after the facility lost power. The reason for the outage was unknown but he said the cold weather could have been to blame.  The White County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is monitoring water and air quality at the site. Spokesperson Tamara Jenkins with White Co. OEM says crews will be on the scene for a few hours. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality were also notified of the situation.

A man suspected of robbing a Hot Springs bank in December turned himself in to New Mexico authorities. According to Cpl. McCrary Means with the Hot Springs Police Department, a warrant was issued for Raymond E. Smith for a bank robbery that happened at Arvest Bank on Albert Pike Dec. 14, 2013. Cpl. Means said Smith turned himself in to authorities Monday in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and is being held without bond pending extradition to Hot Springs.

Little Rock police said three men who were all armed with knives stole a man's car Saturday night. The robbery occurred about 9:10 p.m. at a home located at 9115 Mann Road, according to a Little Rock Police Department report. Edwin Martinez, 21, of Little Rock told officers that he was sitting inside his silver Chrysler sedan at the residence when a man holding a knife banged on the driver's side window and demanded Martinez's keys and wallet. Two other men who also were carrying knives had surrounded Martinez's car, the report states. Martinez said he exited his car and the robbers fled the area in his vehicle. The robbers, who were described as black men, all had their sweatshirts' hoods drawn up on around their faces, according to the report. They were all last seen wearing dark clothing, except for one man who wore red pants.

A man used an ax to steal four cellphones from a business on Bowman Road, according to a Little Rock Police Department report. About 5:24 p.m. Friday, police received a report of a robbery at Repair It Local on 303 S. Bowman Road in Suite 315. Store employee Timothy Dixon, 23, said a man dressed in all gray clothing went into the business while Dixon was in the store's back area, according to the report. The man held an ax to the back of Dixon's head and demanded several Apple iPhone 5 smartphones from Dixon, the report states. Police said the man stole four cellphones including an Apple iPhone 4, from the business and ran, later dropping his ax in front of a nearby business. Authorities describe the robber as a black man between 20 and 29 years old, about 5-foot-11 and about 300 pounds.

Talk around the Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia Tuesday morning was the cold weather and the poor ducks who are separated from their pond by a thick sheet of ice. SAU staff is also gearing up for registration in Texarkana, Ark., on January 9-10 at the Hampton Inn from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Registration in Magnolia will be January 13-14 and classes begin Wednesday, January 15.

Southern Arkansas University Tech was awarded $109,620 from the Blue and You for a Healthier Arkansas for the college’s Caring for the Elderly Project. The project provides scholarships for SAU Tech’s Nursing Assistant students. For more information call, 870-574-4585. CAN classes start soon, so be sure to call today.  

January 6, 2014

On January 3, Officer Sharlotte Elliott of the Camden Police Department was traveling east on Washington Avenue near California. Elliot observed a black Pontiac Grande Am, bearing AR LPN 142 RKP, traveling directly in front of her. Officer Elliott conducted a registration check of the vehicle and dispatch advised 142 RKP returned to a white 2002 Ford EPD. Elliott initiated her emergency lights as the vehicle turned into the parking lot of Murphy on Licoln Drive. 

Elliott approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver, later identified as Jarnard McCree. When McCree was asked to see his license he said he didn’t have it. Officer Elliott observed two empty beer cans on the floor of the driver’s side. Elliott asked McCree if he had been drinking and he refused to answer the question. Based on McCree’s manner, and odor of intoxicants coming from his breath. He was asked to take a breath test, which he also refused. At that time McCree was taken into custody and transported to the Ouachita County Medical Center for blood testing, which he again refused. McCree was taken to the station where booking procedures were completed. 

Little Rock police are looking for a man who shot a 23-year-old woman Friday near Roosevelt Road, spokesman Sgt. Cassandra Davis said. Davis said that the police responded to a shots-fired report about 12:36 p.m. at the corner of Johnson Street and Roosevelt Road. A caller said five shots had been fired.

When police arrived at the scene, they found a woman, later identified as Valisha Boles, suffering from at least one, non-life-threatening gunshot wound at a parking lot in the 3100 block of Roosevelt Road, according to Davis. Police said the shooter is described as a black man standing about 5-foot-7, between 20 and 30 years old, and was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with a stripe down the sleeve. He was last seen driving a gold Oldsmobile.

A North Little Rock woman is accused of cutting her boyfriend with a knife during an argument Sunday night that started over loud music, authorities said. Kim Jarrett, 47, was arrested on a charge of second-degree battery. Police were called about 9:20 p.m. to the residence Jarrett and her boyfriend share in the 400 block of North Palm Street to investigate a "verbal dispute over the music in the residence being too loud," according to a North Little Rock police report. According to reports, the argument ensured to the point Ms. Jarrett cut the male victim in the arm with a knife, causing a superficial wound. The report noted Jarrett and the victim were intoxicated. Jarrett remained in the Pulaski County jail Monday morning with bail not yet set.

Sunday evening, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office announced it arrested the wife of a state official found shot to death in his home Sunday. Deputies said they found Jerry Digman before noon after a call about a shooting.  They later confronted his wife who allegedly confessed to shooting him multiple times following an altercation. Late Sunday evening, Pamela Digman was in the Pulaski County Jail. Digman had a lengthy career in law enforcement, having worked for Arkansas State Police for decades.  He'd recently been appointed as chief ranger for Arkansas State Parks and Tourism. "When you're a prominent figure in the state, obviously there's going to be a little more attention into that so we'll try to figure it out and do it with due diligence," said Lt. Chris Ameling, spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department. Deputies could not say if they'd been to the home in the past.  If they had, they said it would be a part of their investigation.

The Camden Noon Lions Club will meet this week at Catherine’s Bistro in Camden.
The speaker this week will be Linda Nelson from the Literacy Coalition of South Arkansas (formerly Ouachita/Calhoun County Literacy Council).  Nelson will be letting us know what this agenda does toward promoting Literacy in our area.

The African American Historical Commission of Camden would like to invite all citizens to our Fifth Annual MLK Celebration –Unity Sunday Program.  The theme for this year is UNITY SUNDAY BEST 2. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy will be honored through song, praise and unity.  The sole purpose of this celebration is to promote peace and unity. AAHCC’S UNITY SUNDAY’S BEST 2 program will recognize citizens with award for their contributions of service to our community.  The awards to be presented are MLK Humanities award, MLK Civil Rights Pioneer Award, MLK Lifetime Achievement Award and Bernie Calahan Clary Distinguished Award. This award is presented in the name of Ms. Bernice Calahan Clary for her many years of dedicated service in educating the youth in the community about Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Choirs from Philander Smith College, Shorter College and Grambling University and Camden-Fairview Intermediate and Middle School will be among some of the guests at the celebration.  Musical performances by Remnant Kingdom Priesthood from Little Rock, Arkansas, the Ouachita County Mass Choir, along with guest choirs from area churches.  The Fifth Annual MLK UNITY SUNDAY’S BEST 2 program will be held on Sunday, January 19th, 2014 at 5 p.m., at Connection International (Spirit Led), 760 South Street, where Bishop Jacovis Davis is pastor. For further information, contact Terry Calahan at 870-836-8773 or Rev. Stephone Avery at 870-833-0661 or any member of AAHCC.

John Guess is announcing his candidacy for Ouachita County Judge in the May 2014 Democratic primary. Guess is a lifelong resident of Ouachita County, and is marries to the former Denise Eiland of Camden. The two of them are parents of two daughters and welcomed their first grandchild, a boy, this past summer. The two live near the Red Hill community near Chidester, and are members of Red Hill United Methodist Church, where Guess is a member of the pastor-parish relations committee, and serves on the cemetery board. Guess is also a member of the Chidester Volunteer Fire Department. Guess is in his 25th years at Ouachita Electric Cooperative, with the last 22 in the meter/ service department. Guess also spent time working for the County Road Department, as well as serving as a contract employee for the past several years, doing right-of-way maintenance and mowing. No viable candidate seeking this position will have a better grasp of Ouachita County roads and bridges, as well as working knowledge of what must be done to maintain all aspects of County property. Guess looks forward to meeting with all residents of the community over the next few weeks and months. You can also check him out on his Facebook page: “John Guess for Ouachita County Judge 2014”. Feel free to contact him at any time.

A second body was found Friday in the remains of a three-story Minneapolis apartment building where an explosion and fire happened Wednesday, the Minneapolis Fire Department said. The explosion, which happened on the morning of New Year's Day at 516 Cedar Ave. S., injured at least 14 other people, officials have said. Many of the injuries suffered were burns or came from falls or jumps from windows, said Robert Ball, a spokesman for Hennepin County Emergency Medical Services. The fire's cause still is under investigation. The fire department said a gas leak could be a potential cause, but it could be weeks before a determination is made. Officials say firefighters found the first body Wednesday while they were removing debris. The explosion was reported about 8:15 a.m., and the building was soon engulfed in flames.

Arkansas based Walmart is recalling more than 70,000 card table and chair sets after reports of finger injuries, including amputation. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the metal folding chairs that come in the mainstay’s five-piece card table set can unexpectedly collapse, posing a fall hazard or potential finger injury. So far, Walmart has received 10 reports of injuries associated with the chairs, including one finger amputation, three fingertip amputations, sprained or fractured fingers and one report of a sore back.
The table sets were sold exclusively at Walmart stores across the nation and online between May 2013 and November 2013 for about $50.

Travelers at Clinton National Airport continued to experience travel woes Sunday night due to a cold snap gripping the nation. Close to 3,000 flights were canceled Sunday. As of 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Clinton Nation reported 6 arriving flights cancelled and 4 departures scrapped. Other flights had experienced delays. Some flights had already been cancelled for Monday morning.

Magnolia and Columbia County may expect dangerous wind chills through Monday morning. The National Weather Service in Shreveport said gusty northwest winds will persist in the wake of a strong cold front, which will usher the coldest air mass the region has seen in 20 years. Temperatures Sunday night fell into the teens to near 20 degrees. Northwest winds of 10 to 20 mph with higher gusts resulting in wind chill values ranging from near zero to 10 degrees. A wind chill advisory is in effect until noon Monday. Prolonged exposure of unprotected skin to these very low wind chills could lead to frostbite and hypothermia. A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This may result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken.

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. Extremely cold temperatures often accompany winter storms, so you may have to cope with power outages, loss of communication services and icy roads. Below are some health and safety tips that will help you and your family stay safe and warm during severe winter weather.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other illnesses; however, CO poisoning can cause loss of consciousness and death. The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. To prevent CO poisoning: 

•Never run a generator or other gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage or other enclosed room, even if the windows are open.
•Never use a charcoal grill, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home.
•Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
•Install at least one CO detector in your home and make sure batteries are checked at least twice a year.

House Fires
People are at greater risk in the winter season for house fires when using unsafe heat sources. You can reduce your risk of a house fire by:
•Placing space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that may catch fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding.

•Never leaving children unattended near a space heater.
•Not using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
•Never leaving lit candles unattended.

Staying Warm
Whenever temperatures drop below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems such as hypothermia. Extreme cold is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies in those who are susceptible, such as people without shelter, people who are stranded, or people who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat. The following tips can protect against cold-related illness:

•Babies less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room. Babies lose body heat more easily than adults. Provide warm clothing for babies and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If the temperature cannot be maintained, make arrangements to stay elsewhere. In an emergency, you can keep an infant warm using your own body heat. If you must sleep, take precautions to prevent rolling on the baby. Pillows and other soft bedding can also present a risk of smother; remove them from the area near the baby.
•Avoid remaining outdoors for long periods. Be sure to wear enough warm clothing such as a hat, gloves, coat and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
•Older adults often make less body heat because of slower metabolism and less physical activity. If you are over 65 years old, check the temperature in your home often during severely cold weather.
•Check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated.
•Bring pets inside. If you cannot bring them inside, make sure they have warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

January 3, 2014

On January 3, Deputy Chris Lindsey responded to a residential burglary call with shots fired at 314 South Benton St. in Chidester. Upon his arrival, Lindsey spoke with Chidester Police Chief Jarrod Purifoy, who advised Lindsey that he had secured the scene, but was unable to locate the suspect. Officer Lindsey then spoke with the residents who reside at the above address. The woman said that she left her residence and when she returned she found a man, identified as Jack Bosnick in her kitchen, going through her drawers. When she said she was going to call the police, Brosnick told her that he would kill her and burn her house down if she did. The woman then reached into her closet a shotgun and pointed it at him, she then demanded Brosnick to get out or she would shoot him. Brosnick then exited the residence through the backdoor, which was already open. After taking the woman’s statement, Officer Lindsey collected some evidence such as glass on the floor and casing. Once all the statements and evidence from the scene was collected Lindsey cleared the scene and advised dispatch he was back in service. He then forwarded all information to the Ouachita County Criminal Investigation Division.

On January 2, the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Department, Louann Fire Department and Elliot Fire Department responded to 216 North Pine Street in Louann for a report of a house fire in the attic or roof on the back of a residence. Prior to the call of the fire Lt. Pennington had been doing a neighbor patrol, but didn’t notice any activity. The fire was located on the North East corner of the residence and extinguished. The owner of the residence stated that she and four relatives where in the residence, but when she walked around the house because she heard dogs barking, she didn’t see anything. She then stated that prior to calling 911 she started to smell smoke and first thought it was coming from the bathroom. After she realized it wasn’t coming from the bathroom she went out the backdoor and saw smoke coming from the roof. CID was notified to the scene because of suspicion of the fire and took photos of all evidence that was discovered. The scene was turned over to CID Investigators Justin Starnes, and Jake McClane. 

Arkansas finance officials say an early deposit from securities fees kept the state's revenue above forecast and ahead of expectations in December. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration on Friday said the state's net available general revenue totaled $472.1 million in December. That's $15.6 million above last year and $2.8 million above forecast. The state's net revenue for the fiscal year that began July 1 totals $2.5 billion, which is $85.2 million ahead of last year and $32.2 million above forecast. A $5.7 million from securities fees collected by the state from brokers offset individual income, sales and corporate income tax collections that were below forecast in December.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed seven flu deaths so far this season. ADH Spokeswoman Kerry Krell says the records include all confirmed cases since Sept. 29 and adds that the flu is widespread across the state. The victims are described as two children under the age of 4, four adults, between 25 and 65, and one senior. Krell says this season's numbers so far are similar to last year in terms of flu activity and number of cases. The 2012-2013 flu season was one of the worst in the past three decades, according to the ADH.

Gov. Mike Beebe is approaching his final year in office with an agenda that includes boosting funding for the state's prison system and protecting the Medicaid expansion he signed into law. But his plans don't include a focus on his political future. After a career that includes 20 years in the state Senate, four years as attorney general and two terms as governor, Beebe insists he's nearing the end of his public life. Reports say that 2014 will mark the end of Beebe’s time in politics and elected office. The Democratic governor, who turned 67 last week, says he may teach a college class or serve on advisory boards, but he also plans to enjoy retirement.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against an in-ground swimming pool installer accused of taking Arkansas homeowners’ money and leaving them with nothing more than an empty hole in their backyards. The lawsuit against Aquatic Pools LLC and its owner, Glenn Yates, of Stillwell, Okla., alleges that Yates failed to complete the construction of in-ground swimming pools, retaining walls and landscaping as called for in contracts with several Arkansas consumers. In at least eight instances, homeowners have paid Aquatic Pools for pool installations but the company has not completed the projects. Aquatic Pools previously was located in Gentry. The lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court accuses the company and Yates of violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

According to McDaniel’s suit, Yates has received tens of thousands of dollars from homeowners, yet, in many instances, performed only backyard excavation work and nothing more. “What homeowners expected to be a spot for recreation and relaxation turned into a safety hazard, as many consumers have lost both their money and the use of their backyards,” McDaniel said. “This company and its owner have made excuse after excuse to Arkansas consumers. It seems they are good at keeping other people’s money but bad at keeping their own promises.” In one instance, Aquatic Pools and Yates promised in March 2011 that installation of an in-ground pool would take four to six weeks. After excavating dirt for the installation, the defendants never returned to finish the project. They have been provided full payment, but have yet to complete the work, according to the complaint. In another case, the company is alleged to have taken half the money necessary to complete an installation, even though it had performed just 10 percent of the work. Despite that, the company continued to press consumers for additional payments. Several consumers took out home-improvement loans to pay for the projects. Because the defendants have failed to complete the work, some consumers do not have enough money to pay another installation company to finish the projects. McDaniel asked the Court to order the defendants to cease the business practices that violate Arkansas law and require the defendants to pay restitution to affected homeowners. In addition, McDaniel requested that the defendants be required to comply with requests from consumers who wish to cancel contracts and be prohibited from continuing to seek payments from consumers. Also, the lawsuit seeks civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Little Rock District Criminal Court announced an amnesty program to take place the five Fridays during the month of January 2014. The amnesty program will allow violators with past due fines and court costs as well as Failure to Appear warrants to rectify the issue without being arrested. “The Little Rock District Court is serious about enforcing penalties and fines levied by the court,” said Judge Alice Lightle. “This amnesty program is an effort to get more violators to complete the obligations of their sentences including paying fines and court costs as well as clearing Failure to appear warrants.” 

Those with arrest warrants stemming from a failure to appear as well as past due fines and court costs must report to the Little Rock District Court Building at 600 West Markham Street between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. on one of the five Fridays in January 2014. Those violators will be allowed to address any outstanding nonpayment or failure to appear issues without being arrested. Those who take advantage of the program will have their outstanding warrants recalled with no additional fines, costs, or penalties added to the balance. “State law allows the District Court to seize state income tax refunds to pay outstanding fines and court costs,” continued Lightle referring to Arkansas Code Annotated statute 26-36-301. “If violators take advantage of this program in January, their income tax refund will not be subject to seizure.” 

Conway police arrested a 16, 17, and 18 years old in connection with a stolen vehicle and multiple car break-ins in the city. According to an incident report, an officer pulled over a vehicle Monday morning near College St. and Salem St., due to the driver failing to stop for a red light. Upon approaching the car, the officer noticed the custom license plate was one of a car that had been reported stolen from an area residence the day before. When the officer approached the car, he found three people inside. More officers responded to the scene to assist and located multiple items in the car which had been reported stolen out of cars in the area. In addition to the stolen items, there were two liquor bottles, six bottles of beer, a soda, and nine hydrocodone pills in the vehicle, according to the report. The report also stated, "There were multiple bags, purses, and backpacks full of items. There were also several flashlights, black gloves, and tools commonly used to break into vehicles strewn about the interior of the vehicle." All three suspects were arrested at the scene. LaTresha Woodruff with the Conway Police Dept. said they were each charged with theft of a vehicle, theft of property from vehicles, and breaking and entering of vehicles. The two juveniles' names are not being released due to their age; Woodruff said the 18-year-old arrested is Angelo Neal. Luckily, the vehicle was returned to its owner and police are working to return the stolen items to their rightful owners.

The death of a beloved Roman Catholic priest in California has been ruled a homicide. The Rev. Eric Freed, 56, was found dead Wednesday in his church's rectory, spurring a murder investigation and leaving those who knew him in disbelief. On Thursday Polce named a suspect, Gary Lee Bullock, and announced that an arrest warrant for him has been issued. Authorities are looking for Bullock and for Freed's vehicle, a 2010 Nissan Altima. Eureka, California, Police Chief Andy Mills did not give a suspected motive for the killing, but described a series of run-ins with the law that Bullock had in the hours before Freed's death. On New Year's Eve, deputies responded to reports of a person "acting strangely" in southern Humboldt County. Bullock was arrested for public intoxication, but because of his erratic behavior was taken to a hospital for an evaluation. He was eventually booked in jail that afternoon. Bullock was released in the early morning hours of January 1, and less than two hours later police made contact with him again regarding a report of a suspicious person, Mills said. Mills also said that the man was not intoxicated and did not qualify for a psychological hold, so police referred him to a shelter. At some point in the hours after that, a guard at Freed's church found a person matching Bullock's description on the premises and told him to leave the property, police said. Freed's body was found later that morning.

The Self Culture Club of El Dorado will be hosting the 26th Annual DR, Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet. The Banquet will be on January 18th, starting at 6:00 pm. It will take place at the El Dorado Conference Center located at 311 South West Avenue. The guest speaker will be Ms. Tai Crater. Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased from any member of the Self Culture Club, and at the door. 

January 2, 2014

An entire Arkansas community is mourning the loss of two lives claimed in a New Year's house fire. Less than two hours into 2014, three of local Pine Bluff resident Michelle Gibson's sisters were caught inside their burning house. Only one made it out alive. Gibson said that there was a lot of pain and confusion.  Gibson now mourns the loss of her beloved sibling’s 51-year-old Daisy Roberts and 56-year-old Allison O'Neal. Right after 1:00 am Wednesday morning, the fire woke the surrounding Pine Bluff neighborhood. "Flames were coming out of the top of the house," a neighbor said. "Police cars, fire trucks just everywhere." "This is unbelievable," local Pastor Eddie Harris said.
Harris spoke with the one surviving sister in the hospital. Lynn Gibson only has one small burn but her emotional injuries trump them all. "Totally unhinged," Harris said. "She's distraught obviously." Harris says Gibson had started cooking dinner and shared what she told him in the hospital. "And I laid down and forgot the food was on the stove and the house caught fire," Harris said. What happened then Pine Bluff fire fighters are still investigating. But what they do know, the intensity of the flames, the thickness of the smoke kept them from their ultimate goal of saving lives. "To know that someone is inside and you can't get to them, it's just something that you can't put into words," said Chief Shauwn Howell with the Pine Bluff Fire Department. "This is definitely a tough day for everyone. The citizens of Pine Bluff and the Fire Department."

A hearing is scheduled in February regarding a properties associated with convicted evangelist Tony Alamo. Reports say that U.S. Magistrate Barry Bryant set the hearing to consider claims by Alamo followers that they, not Alamo, own the properties that include houses in Fouke and Texarkana and a gym in Fouke. Bryant has already ordered the auction of six properties to partially satisfy a $30 million judgment Alamo owes two men who a jury found were abused when they were children in Alamo's ministry. Bryant rejected claims by Alamo followers that they owned those properties. Lawyers for the men want the second group of properties also to be auctioned. Alamo is serving 175 years in prison for taking young girls across state lines for sex.

North Little Rock police arrested a man for the armed robbery of a local hotel.

Sgt. Brian Dedrick with NLRPD said the Holiday Inn Express at 4306 E. McCain Blvd. was robbed at gunpoint Dec. 26. An employee told police that a white man wearing a black beanie, black coat and blue jeans walked into the store just after 8 p.m. The employee said the suspect flashed a black handgun tucked into his waistband and said, "Give me the money and if you don't, this is what I'm gonna have to do." The employee gave the suspect all the money in the drawer and then he fled in an older model black Chevrolet pickup truck. Police arrested Brandon Dale Howard, 31 of North Little Rock, at a home in the Rose City area without incident. He is currently on parole in Pulaski County for aggravated robbery. Dedrick said Howard confessed during his interview with police. He will now face charges of aggravated robbery and theft of property.

A woman and her infant have been reported missing and endangered. April Robbecke, 31, and her 8-month-old male infant were last seen in the Bismarck by family members on Thursday at 3 p.m. The two were reported by a friend of hers to have been dropped off at Walmart on Central Avenue in Hot Springs, where they were seen getting into a brownish Chevrolet pick-up truck. They are believed to be with a male subject, Terry Cross, who is one of the most wanted men in Hot Springs.

A 13-year-old girl is dead and her mother is behind bars, accused of stabbing her ex-husband and trying to kill her children by poisoning them. Officers in Casa Grande, Arizona, responded to a 911 call on Christmas Day. A man said that his ex-wife, 35-year-old Connie Villa, had stabbed him but that he had managed to escape and was driving himself to a hospital, police said in a statement. When officers arrived at the home, they found Villa with stab wounds, holding a knife to her chest. They managed to subdue her and conducted a sweep of the home. Police found the body of Aniarael Macias, Villa's daughter, in the bathroom. "Although an autopsy for Aniarael was conducted yesterday in Pima County, the results of which did not identify a cause of death, investigators feel the evidence found at the scene of the crime along with interviews and medical information of the surviving children, give our Department cause to believe Connie Villa was attempting to end the lives of all of her children and her ex-husband, Adam Villa," the statement read. Connie Villa faces one count of first degree murder in the death of her daughter. She is also being charged with four counts of attempted murder of her ex-husband and her three surviving children, ages 3, 5 and 8. Police say she forced her children to take prescription narcotic drugs. The three children had trace amounts of opiates in their systems. All are in good condition and were placed with the family of their father, Adam Villa, 33. He is in stable condition. Connie Villa was released Sunday from Maricopa Medical Center, where she was treated for what investigators believe were self-inflicted stab wounds. She was arrested the same day. According to Thomas Anderson, a police spokesman, she has made an initial appearance in court. No bond was given.

In the coming weeks, after the final touches, the city of Jacksonville expects to open up the largest shooting range in the mid-south. The facility sits on 160 acres at the intersection of Loop and Graham Roads. It includes 14 trap fields, three skeet overlays, lit fields, pavilions and a lake that will be stocked with fish. By this spring, they also plan to have an archery area.

Funds from the city of Jacksonville and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation paid for the $3.5 million project. Parks and Recreation Director Kevin House, said, "It's our baby. I mean we're out there every day, two three times a day with the contractors. There's a lot that has gone into getting us here."
City officials say this range will be used in regional and state tournaments, and it should be a big economic boost to the city of Jacksonville.

If you or your business or organization would like to sponsor the 2014 Daffodil Festival and 5K it would be much appreciated. For any contribution over 100 dollars, your company name or logo will be printed on the back of the 5K t-shirt, graphics by Barnes Limited.

The sponsorship levels are:
Silver Level, for $100.00 to $199.00, you will also receive 2 free t-shirts and 2 entry fees waived.
Gold Level, for $200.00 to $299.00, you will receive 4 free t-shirts and 4 entry fees waived.
Platinum Level, for a $300 or more contribution, you will receive 10 free t-shirts and 10 fees waived.
All contributions under $100.00 are gratefully accepted as generous sponsors. Please email for any questions. 

December 31, 2013

Republican Lt. Governor Mark Darr is being called by the Democratic Party to resign after the Ethics Commission said he agreed to pay $11,000 in fines to settle claims that he misspent campaign funds and failed to keep complete records. State Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Insalaco said Tuesday that Darr should resign immediately. Darr spokeswoman Amber Pool said Tuesday that Darr does not plan to quit. The head of the state Ethics Commission said Monday that commissioners found probable cause that Darr violated portions of the Arkansas code 11 times, dating back to his 2010 run for office. 

Little Rock police said Friday that someone in a white truck drove by a yard on 25th Street and began firing at seven women in the yard. Police said a woman in the yard was grazed by a bullet on her foot. Also, a nearby CAT bus in the line of fire was evacuated, but no one was hurt. They're now searching for shooting suspect Jamie Clayton, or "Jamie C." Police said he is wanted for terroristic act and aggravated assault, and he currently has active warrants out of Little Rock Police Department for 12 other counts of terrorist act. According to a wanted flyer, Clayton, 20, should be considered armed and dangerous. At the time of this incident, he is said to have been armed with a .223 caliber rifle. Additionally, police said Clayton is out of jail on bond for shooting at Little Rock police officers on Oct. 13.  According to Lt. Allen, the shooting is said to be connected to another shooting that happened earlier Friday at a nearby house on Lewis St. in which three people were arrested. Clayton, of Lita Lane in Little Rock, is 5'11" and weighs 165 pounds. He is said to be possibly driving a white extended cab truck, possibly a GMC or Chevrolet. If you see him or have any information on his whereabouts, contact authorities at (501) 371-4658 or (501) 371-4660.

Oklahoma authorities have identified a man killed in a weekend shooting as an Arkansas resident. Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart said that 29-year-old Clinton McCormick of Van Buren was killed Saturday by a 95-year-old man outside the elderly man's home between Muldrow and Sallisaw in eastern Oklahoma.
The shooter's name has not been released. Lockhart says the man told deputies that McCormick had threatened him by phone, then went to the man's home and threatened him again. The sheriff says McCormick's mother was the man's caregiver. Lockhart says the 95-year-old man was not arrested and that the case will be sent to the district attorney's office to determine if charges will be filed.

A large fire did extensive damage to a Pulaski County Masonic Lodge on Monday. Multiple fire departments including Little Rock, East End and Arch Street fought the blaze at the Iron Springs Masonic Lodge, located at 18205 Arch Street Pike. Little Rock Fire Department spokesman Captain Randy Hickmon said crews were dispatched to the fire late in the morning. Smoke could still be seen rising from the visibly caved-in roof at 1:30 p.m. as firefighters appeared to be cleaning up. The building was unoccupied when fire crews arrived, with no injuries or fatalities being reported, Hickmon said. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Arkansas State Police troopers and deputies with the Pulaski County sheriff's office were on the scene rerouting traffic from Arch Street Pike onto Bracy Road for about two blocks.

The U.S. Coast Guard is searching off the coast of Puerto Rico for a Canadian who witnesses say jumped off a cruise ship Saturday night. The FBI is investigating why Tien Phuoc Nguyen, 26, jumped overboard while on a cruise with his family, a Coast Guard news release said Sunday. Adventure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship, was about 15 miles east of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, when Nguyen jumped into the water, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing were sent to the area to search late Saturday. The cruise ship, which was sailing to San Juan, immediately turned around to search for the missing passenger, a statement from Royal Caribbean International said.

"A review of the ship's closed-circuit camera footage observed the guest going overboard," the cruise line said. "The location of the ship at the time the guest went overboard was marked on the ship's Global Positioning System and the ship, along with the Coast Guard, conducted a search for the missing guest." The cruise to San Juan resumed Sunday morning, leaving the search to the Coast Guard, the statement said. The Adventure of the Seas was near the end of a weeklong cruise that began in San Juan.

The Obama administration says that following a December surge more than 1.1 million people have now enrolled for health insurance through the federal government's improved website.
Nearly 1 million signed up this month through the federal exchange serving 36 states before the Dec. 24 deadline to enroll for coverage to start in January. Compare that to a paltry 27,000 in October, the website's first, problem-plagued month. The Health and Human Services department says in the week leading up to Dec. 24, nearly twice as many enrolled as in the first part of December. Sunday's number is only partial, because the administration didn't provide an update on the 14 states running their own websites. California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut have done well, but others are still struggling.

The Little Rock Zoo is sad to announce the death of Jigsaw, a 13-year-old giraffe living at the Zoo since his birth in 2000. An altercation between Jigsaw and Mesi, a giraffe living at the Zoo since 2006, resulted in Jigsaw’s death.  Jigsaw was found in the giraffe barn lying on the ground with his head down early Sunday morning.  Staff then notified Zoo veterinary staff who immediately responded. Jigsaw passed not long after as a result of the altercation with Mesi, according to Zoo veterinary staff. Jigsaw’s body was taken to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission State Laboratory for necropsy. Results of that necropsy are pending.  An initial investigation into the incident reveals that Mesi was able to open a large metal dividing gate separating the two giraffes inside the giraffe barn sometime between the evening of Saturday, December 28 and the morning of Sunday, December 29. Mesi entered Jigsaw’s stall and sparred with him until Jigsaw fell to the ground. Jigsaw was affectionately called “BJ” or “Barney Junior” by Zoo staff in honor of his father Barney, a giraffe living at the Zoo from 1997-2006. BJ was born with a rare blood disease known as Babesiosis, a rare blood-borne infection, and was hand-raised by staff the first months of his life.  BJ had struggled with many health issues over the 13 years of his life but was in generally good health when the incident occurred. “To say this is a sad day is an understatement and doesn’t grasp the full magnitude of this loss to the Zoo family,” said Zoo Director Mike Blakely. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Zoo’s General Curator and steps have already been taken to improve the safety of the dividing gate inside the giraffe barn.  Zoo veterinary staff report that Mesi is in good health and did not receive major injuries as a result of the incident. The Little Rock Zoo is in discussion with the Species Survival Plan for giraffes to determine a course of action for its giraffe program.  Mesi will continue to be housed at the Zoo indefinitely. 

December 30, 2013

 Trevein Reed, 21, a suspect in a Dyersburg, Tennessee murder was arrested earlier today (December 30th) by Arkansas State Troopers along with officers of the Texarkana Police Department and deputies of the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department.  Based on an investigation by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Jackson, Tennessee, information was provided to State Troopers in Arkansas that Reed was suspected of being on a commercial bus passing through southwest Arkansas.
 State Troopers initiated a traffic stop about 3:15 this morning along I-30 near the five mile marker.  The traffic stop involved a bus identified by U.S. Marshals. Onboard the bus Troopers found Reed who was taken into custody without incident.  He is being held for Tennessee authorities.

On December 28th, Officer Sharlotte Elliot along with Officer Bush and Sgt. Henninger were dispatched to the 700 block of Fort Lookout for a fight in progress. Dispatched later advised a female subject was screaming saying that the subjects had knives and were fighting. The Dispatch then advised that a Tiffany Jones called and said she was with Keith Seguin and he had been stabbed. Upon Officer Elliot’s arrival she observed several people standing outside the 500 block of the Fort Lookout apartments. The officer observed a white female, identified as Christina Rountree, to have injuries to her head and a possible injuries to her arm and legs. There was blood running down the victims head to her face. Pam McNew walked over towards the officer’s location stating that a guy named, Keith kept her from leaving Rountree’s apartment. McNew said when she was able to get away she called 911. Rountree stated that several guys came to her apartment and jumped her and her mother, and stabbed her friend Terry Sanders, several times as they tried to defend them. Knight was taken by EMS and transported to Ouachita County Medical Center where she received medical attention. Rountree refused medical attention at first, but went at a later time. No arrest have been made at this time. 

The man charged for murdering his ex-girlfriend, a Hot Springs Village dispatcher, is expected back in court this week. Kevin Duck's scheduled to go before a judge in Garland County on Tuesday morning for a bond reduction hearing. His bond was originally set at $250,000. His attorneys would like that lowered so they can work more closely with Duck on the case. Prosecutors believe Duck killed Dawna Natzke back in December of 2011. Search crews found her body in the Ouachita National Forest two weeks after she was reported missing.

Bossier City authorities have identified a Little Rock, Arkansas, man as the pedestrian who was killed when struck by a train Saturday. Witnesses told police that 67-year-old Jimmy Dodson was struck when he climbed over a guardrail and attempted to cross railroad tracks on Airline Drive near Interstate 20 in front of a moving train. Police say Dodson was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say the railway crossing arms were down and the signal lights were active at the time of the accident.

Police say a man stole a forklift, but it wasn't too difficult catching up with him.
Officers say they found 21-year-old Lukas Pennington, from Elm Springs, in the driver's seat and stuck in a ditch. He told police he was just taking the forklift for a test drive.
They didn't believe the story and charged him with motor vehicle theft.
According to the police report, Pennington stole the forklift from the Tyson building off Highway 412. The keys were left in the ignition becauase crews just delivered it.

The Arkansas Department of Health said two people have died from the Flu.
Since Sept. 29, they've confirmed a total of 73 flu cases. Flu activity is increasing across the state and is expected to increase, and the health department is urging everyone to get vaccinated. "We don't know from year to year how the flu will be spread. To prevent the spread, the best way to do that is to get the shot or the nasal spray," explained Jennifer Dillaha, director of the immunization program.The Centers for Disease Control reported widespread infection rates in several states including Alabama, Louisiana and New York. Texas has had the hardest hit, reporting at least five deaths from the H1N1 strain, also known as the Swine Flu.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued the following statement today upon the announcement of Deputy Attorney General Dennis Hansen’s appointment as Chief Administrative Law Judge and Commissioners' Chief of Staff at the Arkansas Public Service Commission: “I have counted on Dennis for his expert advice on some of the most significant legal issues to face our State. His knowledge of the law is second to none, and this office has greatly benefited from his service. "He has demonstrated exemplary leadership in his counsel to state boards, agencies and commissions as head of our Civil Department. I know he is looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Arkansas at the Public Service Commission. The Attorney General's Office will miss his knowledge, wisdom and tireless dedication, but we wish him the best in his new role.” Hansen has worked at the Attorney General’s Office for 16 years, having served as Chief Deputy Attorney General under Mark Pryor and Mike Beebe, Deputy Attorney General under McDaniel and Assistant Attorney General under Winston Bryant. Hansen's first day at the Public Service Commission will be Jan. 20.

David Nelson thinks it will get harder for the City of Magnolia to find cooperative property owners who will tear down dilapidated houses and buildings. “This year we’ve continued our efforts on more of the voluntary base of dilapidated structures,” said Nelson, the city’s building inspector. “We’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who is going to volunteer has volunteered, and those (structures) are done.” The city has lent its mechanical muscle to property owners who need help having dilapidated buildings torn down. A city-owned excavator, bulldozer and dump truck have become familiar sights around Magnolia at locations where owners have paid the costs of demolition. One of the largest demolition projects is happening at the former Ark-La Feed & Fertilizer mill on North Vine Street. The city sent a condemnation letter to owner Jimmy Furr, but also helped with the demolition by tearing out underbrush so that Furr’s private contractor could move in to start tearing down the mill. The city’s excavator also leveled a former feed store in the complex. Furr still hopes that someone will want to lease two small cinderblock buildings on the property close to North Vine Street.

Hackers who stole data for millions of credit cards and debit cards used in Target stores removed encrypted data containing personal identification numbers, but the theft isn't expected to compromise cardholder accounts, the company said Friday. "We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure," said a statement issued Friday by Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. According to the company, Target does not have access to or store the encryption key within the company's computer systems. When a Target customer uses a debit card in one of the company's stores and enters his or her PIN, the number is encrypted at the keypad with a widely used security program known as Triple DES, the company said. The PIN data can only be decrypted when it is received by the company's external payment processor, Target said. "What this means is that the 'key' necessary to decrypt that data has never existed within Target's system and could not have been taken during this incident," the company said, adding "the most important thing for our guests to know is that their debit card accounts have not been compromised due to the encrypted PIN numbers being taken." However, proposed class-action lawsuits filed against the company in the wake of the massive November-December data breach have alleged that thieves might find a way to break the encryption and use the PIN numbers to withdraw money from cardholders' bank accounts. A Reuters report earlier this week cited similar concerns and said an executive of at least one major bank voiced fear that the thieves might make fraudulent withdrawals. Target announced Monday that the Department of Justice is investigating the data theft, which has been called the second largest in U.S. history.

December 27, 2013

On December 26, at approximatley 4:24 AM, Sgt. Chris Gill responded to 213 North Pine Street in Louann for a suspected arson. Upon his arrival Sgt. Gill spoke to Shirley Mitchell, who stated that someone tried to burn her house down by starting a fire on the back side of her house. Gill observed the siding burned and melted in two areas. The fire was extinguished by the house owner and a CID Deputy was contacted. 

On December 25, a man came to the Sheriff's Office to file a report. Lt. James Bolton, assisted him with the report. The man stated that he was at a family gathering at his girl friends parents house at 120 Ouachita 541. He went to the vehicle to retrieve some Christmas gifts, he then made a trip into the house, leaving the vehicle unlocked. When he returned to the vehicle a few minutes later, he noticed his wallet laying on the front seat and that his debit card, Wal-Mart card, and cash were missing. The man named two suspects who were at the gathering when he went to get the gifts, and weren't there when he found the items missing. Luckily the man was able to cancel his debit card, but was unable to contact Wal-Mart about the credit card. 

On December 24, Officer Will Carman responded to a call of vandalism at 661 Ouachita 72. Upon his arrival the officer spoke with the home owner, who stated that  sometime during the night someone rolled her yard and residence with toilet paper. The suspects also wrote obscene words on the windows of her vehicle that was parked in front of the residence. The home owner stated that the same was also done to her husbands truck, but he had already left for work, so the truck wasn't there. The woman did not list any suspects and thought that this was meant for her sister, who is a high school student at Smackover High. 

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on a capital murder charge. Kaylon Robinson is accused in the Dec. 23 shooting death of Verico Ingram, 26. Police say he turned himself in on Christmas Eve. Ingram was found slumped over the wheel of a car which police noted had broken out windows on the driver's side and back passenger side. He was pronounced dead on arrival at UAMS. A resident of the area told police they heard three shots and saw two suspects running from the scene. Robinson is being held on $200,000 bond on the murder charge and also faces a charge of criminal use of a prohibited weapon, according to information from the Pulaski County Jail.

Two people are behind bars after being arrested on Christmas Eve for allegedly breaking into cars.
It happened around 10:30 in the parking lot of a business. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) says Michael Harry Pickney, 47, of Black Rock and Billie Elaine Brady, 35, of Imboden are accused of breaking and entering and theft of property.

Their arrests came after a concerned citizen called about two suspicious people in the back parking area of the business. When deputies arrived on the scene, they first made contact with Brady, who told them she was waiting on Pickney, who was found hiding behind a tree. Deputies say Pickney admitted that he and Brady were there to steal from vehicles. Brady and Pickney were taken to the Lawrence County Jail to await a bond hearing. A background check on Pickney showed him to be on parole.

An Imboden man has been arrested on drug charges after deputies were called to his home to investigate a call about horses that had gotten out. It happened Christmas night, according to the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office. The LCSO says Michael Barnard, 41, who was suspected of being involved in illegal drug activity, was searched and found to have marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Several items of drug paraphernalia with meth residue were also found inside Barnard's home, according to deputies. He was arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance, which later turned out to be marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputies had gone to Barnard’s house to tell him his horses were out again and that he needed to fix his fences. After Barnard and the deputies put the horses back in their pasture, he was taken to the Lawrence County Jail to await a bond hearing.

Yesterday, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that he has launched an investigation into the Target Corp. security breach, joining other state attorneys general who have started similar investigations. The retail giant said last week that hackers had stolen credit card and debit card information from shoppers that had made credit or debit card purchases at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Target said approximately 40 million accounts were compromised. “My office is actively investigating the cause of this breach and its impact on consumers in Arkansas, and we want to know exactly how many individual Arkansans are at risk. We are working to hold accountable those who are responsible, as are other states and the federal government,” McDaniel said. “As we work to identify what went wrong, I encourage affected consumers to diligently review their bank statements or credit card statements and immediately report to their account provider any unusual or unauthorized activity." McDaniel said officials with Target Corp. have told attorneys general that information contained on magnetic strips on the back of credit or debit cards had been stolen. That includes the name of the account holder, the account number and expiration date. No Social Security numbers have been compromised. Target is working with card-issuing banks to inform the banks of accounts that may have been compromised. Consumers will not be liable for unauthorized charges. McDaniel encouraged all consumers to review bank and credit-card statements regularly and to monitor their credit reports. Consumers may obtain a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. Visit to obtain a free report. In the event consumers who shopped at Target notice irregular activity on their bank or credit-card statements, they should notify the card issuer immediately and request a replacement card. For more information about protection against security breaches and identity theft, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website,

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that a federal judge has ordered a Florida company and its owner to pay $90,000 in penalties for violations of state and federal telemarketing laws. U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller issued a default judgment Thursday against Associated Accounting Specialists Inc. of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and its owner, Jason Page. The company was one of five sued by McDaniel last year accused of deceptively advertising interest-rate reductions on consumer credit cards. McDaniel’s lawsuit alleged that the company utilized illegal automated telephone calls, known as “robocalls,” to promote its ability to reduce credit-card interest. However, the company never provided the interest-rate reductions that it offered.
“This is the latest in judgments against companies that engaged in annoying telemarketing tactics while misleading Arkansans consumers into believing they could help lower credit-card interest,” McDaniel said. “We heard from countless consumers who were frustrated by these types of calls, and we are glad to be able to take action on behalf of Arkansans to stop these illegal practices.” The judge prohibited the Associated Accounting Specialists or Page from placing unsolicited robocalls or live telemarketing calls to consumers in the United States, and enjoined the defendants from owning, operating or managing any business that purports to offer credit-card interest rate reductions or debt relief services. In addition to the $90,000 in civil penalties, the defendants were ordered to pay $4,500 in attorneys’ fees and costs and $998 in restitution. All five companies sued last year were accused of engaging in tactics that violated state and federal law and making multiple calls to telephone numbers listed on the federal “Do Not Call” registry. Earlier this month, Financial Ladder Inc. was ordered to pay $107,895.90 in penalties, restitution and costs. In September, the owner of the now-defunct Consumer Global Services LLC was ordered to pay $24,500 in penalties, restitution and costs. Two of the suits are still pending.

Challenges to portions of Arkansas' education system and the state's execution methods made their way through courts in 2013. A long-running desegregation lawsuit approached an apparent end after decades of state spending totaling more than $1 billion. Challenges to the state's gay-marriage ban bubbled up in state and federal court. And a group of death row inmates launched a fight over Arkansas' new lethal injection law. A federal judge in November gave preliminary approval to a settlement in a Little Rock-area desegregation suit. The judge scheduled a hearing in January to determine whether the settlement is fair to the state, the school districts, the children and educators involved in the case. In state court, nine death row inmates are suing Arkansas over an execution law that legislators enacted in 2013.

Bundle up, grab your binoculars and cameras then head to Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock for Eagle Lake Cruises on Jan. 4, 11, 18, 25, 26. Join park interpreters at Jolly Roger’s Marina for an excursion on Lake Maumelle to seek wintering Bald Eagles.  The tours are offered from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Participants are encouraged to dress in layers for extreme cold and windy lake weather. Admission is $12 for adults; $6 ages 6-12. Children younger than six are free. The marina is located at 11800 Maumelle Harbor Road. Call the park at (501) 868-5806 for more information. The park’s Birds of Prey program is offered on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Presented by local licensed wildlife rehabilitator Rodney Paul and friends, it features several live birds such as hawks and owls. A discussion explains how injured birds are cared for and released back into the wild, if possible. Admission is free; however seating is limited to the first 40 guests in the park visitor center. 

Managers at Target on University Avenue got a surprise in the waking mornings after Christmas, finding only four customers arrived with a return when the store opened. "Fortunately for us, we haven't had a lot of returns," said executive team leader Danton Gibeson

Gibeson says he expected to have a large crowd, but that wasn't the case.
"Normally people want to come in and get the right items for themselves. But I am actually really surprised that not that many people have showed up." said Gibeson
Shay Champ is one of the people who did have a return and she had the typical holiday return problems.
"Half of the toys my little girl got don't work or I didn't like what I got, so I am returning it so I can get something different," said Champ. Surprisingly, she got her transaction completed within five minutes.
"I was expecting to be number 101 or something," said Champ.
Managers do want to remind customers to bring their receipts and the item's packaging,
"As long as they have the receipt and the box, we have no problem returning the item and getting what they are looking for," said Gibeson Managers say in addition to bring your receipt, make sure to read the fine print. That could determine whether or not your return is accepted.

Hackers who stole data for millions of credit cards and debit cards used in Target stores removed encrypted data containing personal identification numbers - but the theft isn't expected to compromise cardholder accounts - the company said Friday. "We remain confident that PIN numbers are safe and secure," said a statement issued Friday by Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. According to the company, Target does not have access to or store the encryption key within the company's computer systems. When a Target customer uses a debit card in one of the company's stores and enters his or her PIN, the number is encrypted at the keypad with a widely used security program known as Triple DES, the company said. The PIN data can only be decrypted when it is received by the company's external payment processor, Target said. "What this means is that the 'key' necessary to decrypt that data has never existed within Target's system and could not have been taken during this incident," the company said, adding "the most important thing for our guests to know is that their debit card accounts have not been compromised due to the encrypted PIN numbers being taken." However, proposed class-action lawsuits filed against the company in the wake of the massive November-December data breach have alleged that thieves might find a way to break the encryption and use the PIN numbers to withdraw money from cardholders' bank accounts. A Reuters report earlier this week cited similar concerns and said an executive of at least one major bank voiced fear that the thieves might make fraudulent withdrawals. Target announced Monday that the Department of Justice is investigating the data theft, which has been called the second largest in U.S. history.

December 26, 2013

Electrical service in a large part of the Magnolia area failed at 11:36 a.m. Thursday. 
Entergy Corporation reported that power was out to 1,114 metered customers. In Magnolia, the outage included neighborhoods along and on either side of Height, Vine, Washington and Jackson streets. Height and Vine customers north of West Main are out of service, along with Washington and Jackson streets north of Columbia. Service from Columbia to Dudney Road is out, along with service along Dudney from Columbia to Greene Street. The Southern Arkansas University campus is without power. Other streets without service include West University, West Greene, Stadium and the power line that parallels U.S. 79 between Magnolia and McNeil. Entergy estimates that power may be restored by 2:30 p.m.

An Arkadelphia man has died in a Christmas Day car crash. It happened on Highway 270 in Pencil Bluff, Montgomery County shortly after 2:45 Wednesday afternoon. The ASP accident report identifies the victim as Hugh W. Brown, 66. Troopers say Brown was driving a 2004 Mercury Sable east when he crossed the center line on a curve and collided with a 2013 Toyota.  Three people in the Toyota were injured. There's no further word on their conditions. Meanwhile, a Warren woman was killed in a Christmas Day accident a few hours later. It happened Wednesday night around 6:30 at the intersection of N. Martin & Bryant St. in Warren. The victim is identified as Karen Henry, 56, the driver of a 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck. According to the Arkansas State Police accident report, Henry's vehicle was northbound on N. Martin St. when it was hit head-on by a 1996 Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Armando Roque, 42, of Warren. The report states that Roque's truck crossed the center line. He was not injured.

A Magnolia man was killed Monday night after he was apparently struck by several vehicles on Interstate 20 between Marshall and Longview, Texas. The Texas Department of Public Safety said that a 911 call at 8:10 p.m. reported that a man was crawling in the eastbound lane of the interstate. A second caller said he had been struck by several vehicles about eight miles west of Marshall. The victim was identified as Michael Shayne Haltom, 35. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was sent to Tyler, Texas for an autopsy and later released to Meadowbrook Funeral Home of Marshall.

Police have released a photo of a Mabelvale man they're looking for in some robberies of individuals that happened over the summer. Markist Rafael Hampton, 19, also known as Brim Boy Juvie, is 6’03” tall and weighs about 190 pounds. The Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) says he could be considered armed and dangerous. His last known address is 8513 Mabelvale Cutoff. Felony arrest warrants have been issued for Hampton in two Aggravated Robbery/Carjacking incidents back in July and August. In both incidents, police say he was armed with an unknown semi-automatic handgun.  July 18 incident at 12:35 a.m. at 26th & Oak and an August 12 incident at 2:00 a.m. at 3901 S. University

Hampton also faces arrest on three other misdemeanor warrants. The LRPD says he knows police are looking for him and he is aware that he has active warrants for his arrest.

Combining alcohol with energy drinks may lead to heavier drinking and other health risks. A new study analyzing the drinking behaviors of college students found over 30-percent consumed a mixture of alcohol and energy drinks on at least one occasion. On these days, the students tended to drink more and became more intoxicated compared to when they only drank alcohol. Researchers say the combination also led to more emergency room visits because energy drinks elevate the heart rate and blood pressure

Scheduled for February 5th, Arkansas State University will have a new campus in Mexico. This is a 50 million dollar undertaking that private money is funding. This new campus will be built in Queretaro in north-central Mexico. Sources say that Arkansas was approached by Mexico officials that wanted help in creating an American-style university where students live on campus as an alternative to the traditional commuter school in Mexico. The campus is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2015, with around 1000 students, with enrollment expected to grow to about 5000 students in about 5 years. The school is estimating that 30 percent of the students will come from the states of Mexico, 30 percent will come from Queretaro, and the remainder will come from other countries worldwide, including current ASU students.  

The City of Camden offices will be closed on Wednesday January 1st, 2014 for the New Years Holidays. All residential route will be picked up as regularly scheduled. The Transfer Station will be open on Thursday December 31st, and closed on January 1st. There will be no charge on Christmas wrappings and boxes delivered to the station between now and January 31st. If you have any questions, call Ron at the Public Works Department-837-5570 

A new study reveals texting...yes texting… may actually help tighten the family bond.

Texting gets a bad rap for impairing our ability to have a face to face conversation and making relationships more impersonal. University of Nebraska researchers interviewed 150 people about their texting practices. 60 percent of the people said they rarely lie in a text and 80 percent said they were more likely to express their feelings honestly through text than in person. Over half of the women said they believe texting helps connect and enhance relationships with their families. Most participants said they answer a relative’s text within five minutes and text mom most often, to convey information.

December 24, 2013

Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is leaving the door open for another possible White House run. The former Arkansas governor said he is weighing his options. "What I'm looking at is to find out whether it's the right thing for me to do, and I'm not ready to make that decision. But I just don't want to tell people, 'Oh, no, I wouldn't open my mind to it' because that would be, frankly, dishonest at this point," Huckabee said. Huckabee opted out of running this past presidential cycle. He says he will make a final decision about 2016 after next year's midterm elections.


Clark Kinzler with the sheriff's office said Jacob Rich was released from the Pike County Jail on Dec. 20 after being picked up in Texarkana for on Dec. 10 for a warrant for failure to pay fines. Only moments after his release, officers caught him traveling with a stolen bike along Highway 27 north. The bicycle was promptly returned to its rightful owner, and Rich found himself in jail once again.

A 46-year-old Malvern woman died Monday morning after police say she hit a patch of ice and lost control of her vehicle while driving westbound on Interstate 30. According to reports, Roberta Mason's Toyota left the roadway and flipped around 8 a.m. at mile marker 109. The Saline County coroner pronounced Mason dead at the scene.

Police in Ashdown have arrested a man for allegedly stealing about $4,500 in Social Security payments that were made to a dead man. Ashdown Police Chief Doyle Crouch says 64-year-old Ronald Brooks Mason was seen on security video using a debit card belonging to a man who died in August.
Reports say that First National Bank in Ashdown reported the alleged theft Dec. 3. The chief says the federal government is seeking the return of $4,554 to the Treasury Department. Police allege that Mason used the debit card to make store purchases and cash withdrawals. Mason was in the Little River County Jail pending his first court appearance. His bond is set at $50,000.

Teens are heeding the message to stay away from cocaine and cigarettes, but when it comes to marijuana not so much.

An annual survey by the National Institute on drug use found 60% of high school seniors don't think regular pot use harmful to their health. More than a 1/3 of them admitted to using it within the past 12 months. Nearly 7% say they smoke marijuana daily. That's nearly triple from what it was 20 years ago. Researchers say going forward they'll explore the link between teen's drug use and states that allow the use of medical marijuana. New data from the World Health Organization show a sharp increase in the number of cancer cases worldwide. 14 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2012, compared with 12.7 million in 2008.

The number of cancer deaths also rose. One of the most notable increases was seen in breast cancer cases and related deaths. Experts blame lifestyle factors in part poor diets, little exercise and smoking.

Cellphones confiscated from prisoners in Arkansas will do some good this holiday season.
The Arkansas Department of Correction is donating hundreds of phones to a nonprofit called Cell Phones for Soldiers. The organization recycles used cellphones and turns the proceeds into prepaid international calling cards for troops. In 2012, Cell Phones for Soldiers received more than 5,600 cellphones from 32 prisons and police and sheriff departments in 17 states. Arkansas made its first donation to the organization this month with about 600 phones. Department of Correction spokeswoman Shea Wilson says the agency plans to donate hundreds more phones once they're processed and investigations are closed. Phones vary in value, but Cell Phones for Soldiers estimates that one phone translates to about 30 minutes of talk time.

December 23, 2013

A Little Rock man was murdered in the early hours of Monday morning.
According to Sgt. Cassandra Davis with the Little Rock Police Department, 26-year-old Vercio Ingram was shot multiple times in the face and chest at a close range around 12:30 on the 4000 block of 15th Street. He was found in a parked vehicle with the lights on and running; the driver side window and passenger rear window had been broken out. Police said a witness heard three gun shots and saw two people run eastbound on 15th Street and Bishop Warren Road; officers tried searching for the runners, but found nothing. Both people were described as black males between 16 and 18 years of age, standing around 5 feet, 6 inches and weighing around 120 lbs. with light builds. They were last seen wearing black hoodies and dark pants. If you have any information that could lead to an arrest in this shooting, please call the Little Rock Police Department at (501) 371-4621.

Arkansas lawmakers have narrowly approved federal funding to continue operating the insurance marketplace under the federal health care law, despite objections from some Republican legislators over the overhaul's rocky start. The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday approved the $10.6 million grant for the insurance exchange. The insurance exchange is an online marketplace set up under the federal law where consumers can shop for policies. The panel approved the grant on a 21-18 vote. The grant was approved after some GOP members of the committee vented frustration with the start of the exchange, including Internet glitches that prevented many from signing up for coverage when it launched in October. Arkansas is operating its exchange in partnership with the federal government.

State officials say Arkansas' unemployment rate stayed at 7.5 percent in November.
The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services said Friday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained stable at 7.5 percent between October and November.
The national jobless rate, meanwhile, declined three-tenths of a percentage point, from 7.3 percent in October to 7.0 percent in November.

For months, workers across the state have been trying to get as many people as possible signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Today will be a key date in determining how successful those efforts have been.
The December 23rd enrollment deadline is actually eight days later than originally intended.  It was pushed back amid major problems during the roll out of, the portal online where folks can shop for health insurance. "In my experience the...  website has been doing pretty well," said Leonard Stern, an "in-person assister" with the nonprofit Future Builders that received a federal grant to help sign people up. He says the website has improved since its rocky start, allowing Future Builders to aid in enrolling more than 700 Arkansans. "People that have preexisting conditions that haven't had healthcare in years, they're just delighted that they're able to get healthcare now," Stern said. Places like Harmony Health Clinic in Little Rock were busy this past week.  It was one of the many locations where people could get help navigating the system. "Once we sit down and talk to them they see how easy it is," Stern said. For those who sign up before the end of the day Monday, benefits will kick in January 1st.  That is, if people are actually enrolled in the plans they've selected. Private insurers have had problems with errors when receiving customer data from government websites. If people don't meet the Monday deadline, there is still a chance to sign up.  January 15th is the cutoff date for those who want to begin receiving benefits February 1st.  

Scattered outages left thousands in the dark following the line of storms that moved throughout Arkansas this past weekend. Luckily, most of the power were back on in a matter of hours. Over 2,000 people are without power in Union County. In Donaldson, the Entergy website reports a failure in a substation. Mobile equipment will have to be brought in to restore service.  900 people in that area had to wait a day for their power to be restored. More outages were reported between Magnolia and El Dorado, as well as in the West Memphis area.

The City of Magnolia may soon ban yard sales from actual yards. Two proposed ordinances will come before the Magnolia City Council on Monday. They deal with the positioning and duration of yard sales. “Items for sale during a sale … shall only be displayed in or on a patio, porch, or driveway connected to a residence or in a garage or carport connected to a residence. No yard, lawn, or non-concreted or non-asphalted area immediately in front, behind, or on either side of a residence, shall be used to conduct sales from a person’s residence,” one of the proposed ordinances says. The second ordinance restricts “yard” sales to three days in duration, and limits them to two times in any one-year period at the same location. “We are asking that garage sales be under the garage, in the driveway,” Mayor Parnell Vann said. “I’ve had some calls about garage sales that are spread across a city block. Citizens are concerned about what their neighborhoods look like. We want to fine tune it back to being in the garage and on the carport, as it is in most places.” People are already required to obtain garage sale permits at Magnolia City Hall, but some people have been getting around frequency rules by filing for permits under different names. “They’re using one location, but they may be having four or five (sales) a year. We’ve caught onto that this year,” Vann said.“We hate to be that way, but when the public has concerns and complaints, we have to do something,” he said. Both ordinances will be heard at the council’s meeting at 5 p.m. Monday in the City Council Chambers in the Police-Fire Building.

Two months ago, two motorcyclists led police in southwest Arkansas on a chase in which speeds topped 150 mph. The riders got away, but officers were able to make arrests last week thanks to video evidence from the incident. Reports are saying that 20-year-old Xavier D. Livingston was cited for misdemeanor traffic violations that include speeding, careless and prohibited driving and fleeing. Facing similar charges is 19-year-old Jordan Royal of Ashdown. Both have court dates on Feb 12. Police ended the Oct. 19 chase when the riders were nearing a populated area. It took two months, but investigators say they were able to use video shot during the chase and other evidence to identify the suspects and issue citations.

A couple has been arrested in a child's kidnapping attempt.
The Benton Police Department (BNPD) says the alleged incident was uncovered as part of a burglary investigation early Tuesday morning. Officers were called to a home on Hobbs Rd. shortly before 3:00. That's where a man told them someone had possibly broken into his home while he was sleeping and that his child had been kidnapped during the incident. The man said he heard a noise and saw somebody in his home earlier in the night, but when he looked he didn’t find anyone. The man later got a phone call from a deputy with the Saline County Sheriff’s Office who said he found the child in question (a 6-year-old) walking down the street about a mile from his home. It was determined through the investigation that two suspects, later identified as Amy Dickerson, 30, and Landon Dickerson, 31, of Benton, hyad broken into the home and kidnapped the child. Police say information and evidence suggests that the suspects abducted the child in an attempt to interfere with an on-going child custody issue. Both are charged with Kidnapping, Residential Burglary, and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor. They are being held in the Saline County Jail.

Local governments have announced plans to close or modify operations during the Christmas holiday.
Magnolia City Hall will be closed Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25.
All Columbia County offices will be closed on Tuesday, December 24 through Friday, December 27.
The Columbia County Landfill is closed each Monday, and will also be closed the remainder of the week through December 28.
The Columbia County Library will be closed Tuesday, December 24 through Saturday, December 28. Overdue fines will be waived on library materials due December 26-28 if materials are in the drop box by 8:30 a.m. Monday, December 30.
WCA Waste Corp. of AR will not run its Wednesday, December 25 route. Trash pickup will be delayed by one day for the remainder of the week.
County employees are receiving the extra two days off in lieu of a raise, County Judge Larry Atkinson said.
All state offices will be closed Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25.
The U.S. Post Office will be closed Wednesday and there will be no regular mail delivery that day.

December 20, 2013

Joint state-federal agreement with Ocwen includes principal reductions for borrowers
The state of Arkansas has reached a settlement with Ocwen Financial Corp. over allegations of misconduct involving Ocwen's mortgage-servicing practices.

The settlement announced Thursday by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel involved Arkansas and 48 other states as well as the federal government. Ocwen has agreed to provide $2 billion in first-lien principal reduction to homeowners and $125 million in cash payments to borrowers on nearly 185,000 foreclosed loans. The settlement terms address misconduct by Ocwen and two companies that have been acquired by Ocwen: Homeward Residential Inc. and Litton Home Servicing LP.
In Arkansas, homeowners with loans serviced by Ocwen are expected to receive about $5.56 million in principal reductions. Last year, Arkansas was part of a multibillion dollar settlement with five of the nation's largest banks over fraud and abuse.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that agents from his office have arrested a White County man for possession of child pornography. Thomas F. Allen, 61, of Beebe was arrested this morning at his residence on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. Allen was being held in the White County Detention Center on $100,000 bond.

Agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant this morning at Allen’s residence in the 1200 block of West College Street in Beebe. Investigators seized two laptop computers, an external hard drive and other electronic evidence. That evidence will be analyzed at the Cyber Crimes Unit Forensic Lab in Little Rock. Special Agent Chad Meli began investigating Allen in October after suspecting that child pornography was being possessed at Allen’s residence. The Beebe Police Department and the Office of 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Chris Raff assisted in the investigation and the arrest. McDaniel’s office will turn over its completed case file to Raff. Charges are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A search continues for an inmate who escaped from a deputy with the Garland County Sheriff's Office (GCSO) on Thursday night. It happened around 10:00 while the man was being taken back to the GCSO after receiving medical treatment at Mercy Hospital. The escaped inmate is identified as Lavelle Taylor, 41 (see photo). He is 5’10” tall and weighs about 250 pounds. The GCSO says Taylor was handcuffed and wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit when he got away. Deputies say they have no reason to believe that Taylor is a threat to anyone. He was in custody for Theft by Receiving, and two counts of failure to appear in Garland County Circuit Court. If anyone has any information on Taylor's whereabouts of Taylor, they're asked to call 911 or the GCSO's anonymous tip line at (501) 622-3674.

Searcy Police have arrested a woman accused of killing her mother early Friday morning.  They say Alexandria Williams, 33, shot Dina Darden, 50, in the Big Lots parking lot at 103 North Poplar.  It happened just a few minutes after midnight Friday. Police say the victim worked at the store and had just completed her shift. While officers were on the way to investigate the call of shots fired, witnesses said the suspect had taken off in a red Ford F-150 pickup truck. The truck was soon spotted by officers who tried to pull the driver over but they refused to stop. The driver was eventually stopped after a trooper with the Arkansas State Police deployed spike strips. At 12:23 a.m., Searcy Police took Williams into custody. Darden was pronounced dead after being taken to the White County Medical Center. Williams is being held on $500,000 bond and faces a first degree murder charge. There's no word yet on a motive for the killing. Searcy Police say the homicide is the third for the city this year.

Shortly before 8 pm last night,  (Thursday, December 19th) Charlie Bryant was taken into custody by Arkansas State Police Special Agents.  He is charged with capital murder and is being held without bond. 

Special Agents assigned to the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating a domestic disturbance which occurred in Lonoke County today that left one person dead and another wounded.  The State Police investigation is underway at the request of the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department. At approximately 8:30 AM local authorities were called to 31 Watercrest North in Austin.  Outside the home, sheriff’s deputies found Charlie Bryant who had sustained a single gunshot wound. Near a vehicle parked at the home, deputies found the body of Bryant’s wife, Sharae who had also sustained a gunshot wound. Charlie Bryant was transported to a local hospital for treatment and later released.The body of Sharae Bryant along with evidence recovered at the shooting scene has been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory. An investigation by State Police is continuing.

A 41-year-old man, Wayne Motes, is in the Baxter County jail on a $15,000 bond after police say his 2-year-old son tested positive for methamphetamines. Mountain Home Police responded to 509 Ouachita for a disturbance call on Nov. 3. When they arrived, 39-year-old Stephanie Motes answered the door. Officers asked who was at the residence and Motes reportedly said she was there with a 2-year-old baby. Officers described the condition of the home as being that of someone who is a hoarder. Approximately 90 percent of the floor of the home was covered in debris, according to authorities, who added the garage had debris piles approximately four feet high. Officers searched for the toddler, but could not immediately find the child. Eventually, the child was found completely covered by blankets on a couch. Officers then asked Stephanie Motes if Wayne Motes was in the home. Wayne and Stephanie are the parents of the baby, according to police. Stephanie Motes said Wayne was not in the residence.

Officers searched Stephanie and reportedly found a small amount of marijuana in one of her pockets. Officers then reportedly found Wayne Motes hiding in a closet. Motes allegedly refused to come out of the closet, and when an officer went in to remove him, Motes attacked the officer, grabbing him by the waist and attempted to punch the officer in the kidney area. Officers subdued Wayne Motes and continued searching the residence, according to a report. Officers searched a bedroom where the couple and the baby were sleeping and allegedly discovered several syringes, a plastic bag with 100 assorted pills and a marijuana pipe.
Wayne Motes was arrested on charges of third-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, felony possession of a controlled substance and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. Stephanie Motes was arrested on similar charges with an additional charge of obstructing governmental operations. The two were booked and later released from the Baxter County jail after posting bond. The child was taken by the Department of Human Services. Medical testing later revealed the child tested positive for having meth in his system, according to authorities. It's currently unclear how the 2-year-old boy ingested the meth. According to authorities, it's possible the child was in a room where the adults were smoking the drug. Once the drug test on the child came back, authorities got an arrest warrant for Wayne Motes on a felony charge of introducing a controlled substance into another person, a Class Y felony, according to MHPD officials. A Class Y felony is punishable by 10-40 years to life in prison. Motes was arrested on that charge Monday evening, and remains in Baxter County jail in lieu of a $15,000 bond. Additional charges may be filed as the investigation continues, according to the MHPD.

The South Arkansas Arts Center begins its 50th Anniversary celebration with a retrospective showcase entitled “Arts in the Hearts for Decades” in the Merkle, Price, and Lobby Galleries from Jan 6 – Feb 7, 2014.  The showcase spans 32 years of Artists in Education projects by El Dorado AIE artists and local schools. The exhibition is sponsored by Ann Pruet Calhoon and Paula Pruet James.
SAAC implemented the AIE program into Union County schools in 1982. Jorge Villegas created the first of many murals with students from Retta Brown Elementary.  The showcase will highlight works created by students, under the guidance of artists working within the classroom, from then until today.  The projects represented in the showcase were created over the 32 year span with the assistance of the following artists: Robin Bosanko, Lisa Burton Tarver, Haley Nixx Phillips, Darrin Riley, Clayton Scott, Don Shaw, Maria Botti Villegas and Jorge Villegas.
Exhibition coordinator Mary Pat Anthony is currently collecting “your stories” by asking the question “What influence did the arts in your school have on you, then and now?”  If you are a student, parent, or educator and would like to share how the arts have influenced your life. Please share them with us by emailing them to  
Since 1971, the Artists in Education Program has placed professional artists in Arkansas schools and communities to work, demonstrate their art forms, and share their ideas, creativity, and talents.  Administered by the Arkansas Arts Council with support from the Arkansas Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, the AIE program is designed to strengthen the role of the arts in education with the understanding that the development of awareness and participation in the arts should be an integral part of the basic education process. For more information about the showcase or the AIE program, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474.

Southern Arkansas University Tech will be closed from December 20th until January 2nd, due to the Christmas holidays. College registration is on the 6th and 7th, and classes will start back on the 8th. Community Ed classes will start on January 6th, and to find out more you can visit

Multi-platinum recording artist Daughtry has scored four number 1 hits, four Grammy nominations and won four American Music Awards. Daughtry has sold over 7.5 million albums, and 17 million singles worldwide. Now the rock-stars are coming to the Timberwood Amphitheater in Magic Springs on June 28th. Season pass or general admission is required for entry into the concert. Free lawn seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. So don’t miss your chance to be a part of this exciting event. 

After 15 years of construction, systemization, operations, closure and demolition, the end has finally arrived for the Pine Bluff Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (PBCDF).
The systems contractor for the project, URS, will remove its last workers from the site, located at Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas, on Dec. 19. The government field office, which falls under the auspices of the DoD's Joint Project Manager for Elimination (Provisional) (JPM-E (P)), will close its doors Jan. 2, 2014 - its mission complete. 
According to Mark Greer, PBCDF Site Project Manager for JPM-E (P), the successful closure of the PBCDF is a result of the effort put forth by PBCDF employees and the project's stakeholders. "This was a project made up of very successful partnerships," Greer said. "The employees, the local communities, the state regulators, the systems contractor, they all stepped up and did their part to see us through operations and then through the closure process." The facility's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permits have been closed since February 2013, and the paperwork to close the final environmental permit, which deals with stormwater runoff, has been submitted to the State of Arkansas. The final closure of the contract with URS will be accomplished off site between JPM-E (P) headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and URS corporate headquarters in Colorado. Construction began on the PBCDF in January 1999 and was completed in November 2002. Chemical agent disposal operations began in March 2005, and in the ensuing five years the facility safely destroyed 123,100 munitions containing approximately 7 million pounds of chemical agent. The PBCDF completed chemical agent disposal operations in November 2010. Once disposal operations were complete, the facility was decontaminated and dismantled in accordance with applicable permits and in close coordination with Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA). Twenty-four buildings associated with the PBCDF, which were not involved in the processing of chemical weapons, were left standing and were turned over to PBA for reuse. The land formerly occupied by the PBCDF remains the property of PBA.
At its peak, the PBCDF employed as many as 1,200 government and contractor workers. That number was gradually reduced after chemical agent disposal operations ended in November 2010 with about a dozen staged contractor workforce reductions that were triggered by completion of various operational milestones. Likewise, several reductions in force were conducted to reduce the number of government employees, both at the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity, which deactivated on Aug. 14, 2012, and at the PBCDF field office. 
The employees who served at the PBCDF leave behind a legacy of safety and service, and with more than 17 months without a recordable injury and more than 20 months without an environmental notice of non-compliance, the PBCDF workforce is proving its commitment to safety right to the very end. According to Greg Thomasson, URS project general manager, that's because the PBCDF workforce embraced a safety culture from the project's very first days that has endured to its very last days. "The entire team embraced a safety culture, and the employees made it happen," Thomasson said. "That became very important during demolition operations. Our people continued to operate safely in an environment that was changing almost daily, with the plant being torn down around them, and with new employees on site with the demolition subcontractor." The workforce also leaves behind a legacy of service to the community.  "This was a workforce that became part of the local community," said Lori Jones, human resources staff lead for URS. "Our employees truly appreciated the community - so much so that they continued to contribute to our efforts to support the local United Way even after they were notified of coming layoffs." Those employee contributions to the United Way totaled more than $960,000 over the life of the project, with the money staying in the local community.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently opened an allergy & immunology clinic specializing in treating adults with asthma, seasonal allergies, food allergies, chronic hives, drug allergies, stinging insect allergies and immune system deficiencies. 

Matthew Bell, M.D., and Joshua Kennedy, M.D., assistant professors in the Division of Allergy and Immunology in the College of Medicine, will be leading the clinic. They are both board certified in allergy and immunology. This new clinic is open Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is located on the first floor of the UAMS Outpatient Center. Patients do not need a referral. “We want to offer solutions to patients with everyday allergies as well as more complicated allergic disorders and immune system deficiencies,” Bell said. “We want to be an allergy & immunology referral center for patients around the state.” “We can offer the resources of an academic medical center, including cutting-edge technology and new research,” Kennedy said. The clinic will provide a variety of services from skin testing to lung function testing. With allergen skin testing, patients will have answers within 15 minutes to better help direct their medical care. This clinic will also benefit patients already at UAMS who may need testing for allergies to certain medications. Bell and Kennedy both received their medical degree and completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at UAMS. They also see pediatric patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Target said Thursday that the credit and debit card information of as many as 40 million customers was compromised over three weeks of the holiday shopping season — one of the largest breaches ever of American consumer data. Within hours, worried customers overwhelmed the site for Target’s own credit card and jammed a phone line that the company set up for people to call with concerns. Target said that it was working on the problem but had no estimate for when the site and phone number would work again. The breach, which extended to almost all Target stores in the United States, captured data stored on the magnetic stripes of the cards that customer’s swipe at the cash register, according to Krebs on Security, a respected data security blog. The breach happened from Nov. 27, one day before Thanksgiving, through Dec. 15, a period that includes Black Friday and some of the busiest shopping of the calendar, Target said in a press release. Target said that it had alerted authorities and banks, and that the issue was “identified and resolved.” Still, it encouraged customers to look over their account statements and obtain credit reports. Target did not say how it might have happened. A spokesperson for the company, Molly Snyder, said “It is very clear it is a sophisticated crime,”  At up to 40 million customers, the breach ranks among the biggest in U.S. corporate history. In 2007, the data of more than 45 million customers was stolen from stores including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) strongly recommends all health care personnel, even those not directly involved in patient care, get a yearly flu vaccine. Yearly flu vaccination of health care personnel is a critical step in reducing risk to patients who are most vulnerable to flu-related illness. These recommendations apply to all health care personnel, including those in acute care hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, physician’s offices, urgent care centers, and outpatient clinics, as well as those who provide home health care and emergency medical services.

Flu vaccination for health care personnel not only protects patients from exposure to the flu, but also decreases employee absenteeism and costs associated with personnel who are sick. Although any health care workers with flu-like symptoms should be encouraged to remain at home, staying at home when you are sick is not enough to effectively protect patients and coworkers. Those infected with the flu virus may be able to spread the virus to others a couple of days before developing symptoms of flu. In addition, up to half of those infected with flu may not have any symptoms at all. The flu virus is spread through coughing or sneezing, and by touching virus-laden surfaces (such as a door knob) and then touching the nose or mouth. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

“Health care personnel are responsible for the well-being and safety of their patients,” Gary Wheeler, M.D., Branch Chief of Infectious Disease at ADH said. “We want to ensure health care personnel do everything they can to protect their patients from the flu.”

In the U.S. flu activity typically reaches its peak in January and lasts through early March. Arkansas’s flu activity is increasing, but it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. The vaccine takes about two weeks to provide full protection. Over the last 50 years, flu vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective. Approximately 100 million doses of flu vaccine are used in the United States each year. These flu vaccines have an excellent safety record. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, but may cause mild flu-like symptoms that begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.

The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to work. If you become sick with the flu shortly after receiving the vaccine, you were already infected with the virus. If you are exposed to the flu virus shortly after your vaccination, the vaccine can still reduce the symptoms of flu. There are very few medical reasons to not get the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening reactions such as allergic reactions to a previous dose of flu vaccine or Guillain-Barré syndrome. There is now an egg-free vaccine that can be safely administered to those with a serious egg allergy. For more information about flu, go to

December 19, 2013

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced yesterday that a Little Rock woman arrested earlier this year after an investigation by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has been convicted of felony Medicaid Fraud.

Tequila Fitzgerald, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of Medicaid Fraud, a Class B felony, in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Tuesday. Circuit Judge Herbert Wright sentenced Fitzgerald to five years of probation. She was fined $28,459.44 and ordered to pay restitution of $9,468.48 to the Arkansas Medicaid program. “This individual stole money from Arkansas taxpayers by billing Medicaid for work she did not perform,” McDaniel said. “I am pleased with this verdict and with the work of our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to secure this conviction. I encourage anyone with information about Medicaid fraud to contact my office.” Fitzgerald was arrested in August for submitting false claims to the Medicaid program. Fitzgerald had worked as a personal-care attendant for a Medicaid beneficiary in Pine Bluff. The spouse of the beneficiary told investigators that Fitzgerald had stopped assisting the beneficiary and had moved away from Pine Bluff. Investigators determined that Fitzgerald had illegally billed Medicaid for services she had not rendered from August 2012 to April 2013. To report instances of Medicaid fraud or abuse and neglect in nursing homes, call the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit hotline at (866) 810-0016.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that agents from his office have arrested a Benton County man for possession of child pornography. Wesi Allen Robinson, 34, of Bentonville was arrested this afternoon at his residence on 30 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child, a Class C felony. Robinson was being held in the Benton County Detention Center pending a bond hearing. “The Cyber Crimes Unit in my office investigates this type of crime statewide, and we will keep working with other law enforcement agencies to protect our children and to arrest those who illegally exploit our most vulnerable citizens,” McDaniel said. Agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit executed a search warrant this morning at Robinson’s residence in the 3100 block of Silverbark Road in Bentonville. Investigators seized two computers, among other electronic evidence. The evidence will be analyzed at the Cyber Crimes Unit Forensic Lab in Little Rock. Special Agent Mike Lett began investigating Robinson last month after suspecting that child pornography was being possessed at his residence. The Benton County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation and arrest. The Attorney General’s Office will turn over its completed case file to Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Van Stone. Charges are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The days after Christmas are busy times for retailers who face long lines of shoppers bringing back unwanted gifts. No matter what gifts are under the Christmas tree this year, most consumers expect to be able to return or exchange the clothes that don’t fit or items they do not want or need. Many retailers allow consumers to return items with ease. However, some may have refund and exchange policies that are more restrictive, or they may require shoppers to pay fees in order to return an item. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to encourage consumers to be aware of retail refund and exchange policies whether they are giving or receiving this holiday season. “Return policies vary among retailers, so consumers should not expect to be able to return any item they choose for a full refund,” McDaniel said. “Not every store has a hassle-free refund and exchange policy. For instance, stores may not accept returns at all for a clearance item, or online retailers may require a consumer to pay a fee to ship an item back.” It is a common misconception that retailers are required by law to accept returns for a full refund or credit. Stores are not legally required to accept at-will returns. Even if the product is defective, on some occasions the retailer may first require the consumer to contact the manufacturer of the product to see if repairs can be made. In that circumstance, recipients of a gift may be required to pay for shipping the product back to the manufacturer. Most retailers offer refunds or exchanges if an item is returned promptly with a receipt, although policies differ from store to store. McDaniel recommended that holiday shoppers ask retailers for gift receipts. Those receipts can be included in a gift in order to make the return process easier for recipients. Likewise, recipients of gift cards should always be presented with a receipt in the event the gift card is lost or stolen. Some retailers may have an “all sales are final” policy, especially for discounted items or for those that would be difficult to resell. Others may charge fees of anywhere between 10 and 25 percent of the purchase price for certain products not returned in the condition in which they were purchased, such as big-ticket items like computers and televisions. Restocking fees may be assessed for items that cannot be resold as new once a box has been opened. This could include TVs, DVDs, CDs, software or gaming consoles.

Online retailers may require any returns to be shipped back, with the consumer bearing the shipping costs. McDaniel said online buyers should read the website’s return policies and also make sure the gift recipient is aware of those policies. For more information about refunds and exchanges or other issues related to holiday shopping, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website,, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline, (800) 482-8982

U.S. Senator John Boozman released the following statement in opposition to the budget agreement expected that past yesterday: “I appreciate the efforts of both sides to find common ground and avoid another shutdown. However, I cannot support a measure that immediately increases spending and ultimately busts the budget caps that were put place to get us on the path to fiscal responsibility.

Sequestration, while not the ideal way to address spending, has actually worked. As a result, we have been able to reduce discretionary spending for two straight years for the first time since the end of World War II. While we should look for a better method to achieve savings than across-the-board cuts, this agreement falls short of achieving significant savings. 

One way the budget agreement finds savings comes at the expense of every retired serviceman and woman. The agreement reduces the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for retired servicemembers under the age of 62. There are better ways to find savings than reducing the retirement compensation of individual military retirees by as much as $72,000. It’s simply not appropriate to ask our military retirees for more sacrifice while we continue to ignore our real spending problem. 

While I appreciate the effort to restore regular order to the budget process, we have to get serious about our spending problem. I hope that we can do that during the appropriations process in the coming year. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road and continue the ‘spend now in return for promises later’ mentality.”  

The SAB was established by the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 (ERDDA) to provide scientific advice upon the request of the EPA Administrator and Congressional Committees, but improvements need to be made.

  • Strengthens public participation and comment opportunities
  • Modernizes the selection of Science Advisory Board (SAB) and sub-panel members;
  • Eliminates conflicts of interest and increasing disclosures;
  • Expands the ability of SAB members to express dissenting views;
  • Enables SAB reviews of EPA “risk or hazard assessments”; and
  • Limits non-scientific policy advice.

Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Chris Stewart, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Monetary donations helped tip the scales in the final push to provide presents this holiday for a whopping 720 youth in Columbia County thanks to the Angel Tree. “It is a miracle that we started last week with 300 angels on the tree and managed to find sponsors or donations for them all,” said Dr. Shannon Schroeder, who heads up the annual Angel Tree effort at Southern Arkansas University with her husband, Dr. Tim Schroeder. She said that she was worried that this may be the first year since the tree moved to SAU in 2008 that all the angels would not accounted for. She was thankful for the monetary donations in the end, as they helped cover the angels whose sponsors did not return gifts. “This doesn’t just take a village; it takes a community to run the angel tree. From the cleaning staff in the Reynolds Center and the SAU switchboard operator, whose work almost doubles, to all the departmental offices who help. It is amazing how many volunteers it takes to do this and how much help we get from across SAU and the community,” said Schroeder. Amanda Smith, radio host for 99.1 Magnolia Radio, for example, would call Schroeder daily to get updates and keep the Angel Tree in the foremost of the public members’ minds. Schroeder said that agencies, such as the area Department of Human Services, are also invaluable in this process. Schroeder said there were too many volunteers at SAU to recall. She was thankful to Deana Taylor, community involvement coordinator, for making so many phone calls as a part of the effort.

Less than six months after a layoff at their Conway facility, Hewlett-Packard announced yesterday their plans to establish a “regional industry development center” that would add approximately 200 jobs to that same site during 2014. John Herzog, Hewlett-Packard Account Executive, said that “these new employees will fill important technical roles in software engineering, business analysis and management in support of HP’s growing government and commercial healthcare business across the United States.”
Governor Mike Beebe said that the announcement represented the resiliency of Arkansas’s growing technology workforce. “The skill level of these jobs, the salaries and the field of expertise all prove that Arkansas’s workforce can compete for high-quality jobs and adjust to the changing demands of HP’s market.”

Hewlett-Packard cited the presence of three colleges and universities, high-quality workforce and hundreds of existing HP employees working locally as the key drivers for the project. The “Industry Development Center” is a centralized group of highly skilled HP staff that builds, enhances and implements HP’s healthcare industry solutions for many commercial and state clients.

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell said that the news should re-affirm Conway citizen’s faith in the strength of the community’s relationship with the tech giant. “The fundamental reasons we were excited about this project five years ago have not changed. Conway has a quality workforce. HP has the wherewithal to withstand the ebbs and flows of the global economy. Today is a great example of Conway and HP succeeding together.”

More than a hundred people have smiles during this holiday season after they've been hired at a Pine Bluff chicken processing plant. Summit Poultry, Inc., is now the owners of the plant on Second Avenue in Pine Bluff. It used to be Horizon Foods until leaders laid off all of its workers and closed its doors due to financial mishaps. Summit Poultry leaders said they have studied the industry and have invested lots of money to make sure this chicken processing plant remains open. Many of the employees laid off from Horizon now work for Summit. "I've watched a couple of these people get hired again, and they're saying that it's going to be the best Christmas they've ever had. It's a good feeling in your heart when you do something like that," said Harry Schmid. The plant is expected to be at full production on January 6. 

A special called meeting of the Columbia County Quorum Court will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Courthouse.
The purpose of the meeting is to vote on a resolution regarding the county’s participation in a request to help fund the $1.1 million cost of relocating utility lines for the U.S. 82 widening project.

The American Red Cross typically sees a decline in donations during the winter holiday season. Individuals can help the Red Cross and hospital patients this month, while discovering the true meaning of the season, by giving a generous gift of a blood or platelet donation. Each donation can help save up to three lives. “Hospital patients don’t get a holiday from needing blood and platelets,” said Marci Manley, spokesperson for the Red Cross Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region. “The closer we get to the major holiday week, the more we see donations decline. People are busy with gift shopping, holiday parties and there is an overall sense of distraction. We need donors to come in and give before they get too busy with other things.” Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. On average, the Red Cross must collect 15,000 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Blood donations are used to treat cancer patients, trauma victims, premature babies and those living with chronic blood diseases each and every day, patients like Kelsey Harris. Star athlete student and teenage driver Kelsey Harris, was on her way to school when she was involved in a serious accident. As a result of her injuries, Kelsey needed type O negative blood, the universal donor type. “Without the help of blood donors, my sister might not be alive today,” said Kenzie Harris, Kelsey’s sister. Nearly all of Kelsey’s family members are type O negative donors, and they regularly give blood together. They are grateful for the donors that helped Kelsey recover and say donating blood is their way of giving back. 

There will be free small business training offered at the Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center, located in Camden at the OPED building. Call 870-836-2210 or email for more information, or to pre-register. Classes will include:

Using Media Tablets for Your Business 1.14.14 11am-1pm

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center presents "Using Media Tablets for Your Business." Have you seen other business owners with tablet computers? Want to get a tablet for your business, but don’t know what you would use one for? Attend a hands-on workshop with the Southern Arkansas University SBTDC’s new iPad tablet lab. You’ll learn the basics of how to use a tablet computer. We’ll also explore built in applications as well as several downloadable tablet apps that are being used with success by other small businesses. Learn how you can process invoices in the field, teleconference with employees and customers, and much more! Your fee includes a workbook and hands-on training with a tablet.

Starting a Business in Arkansas 2.18.14 11am-1:30pm

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents "Starting a Business in Arkansas". This seminar prepares you for the intensive business planning process, identifies major steps crucial to starting a business, discusses key issues that affect your business success, and discusses start-up requirements and common pitfalls you will face as an entrepreneur.

How to Write a Business Plan 2.25.14 11am-2pm

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents "How to Write a Business Plan." No matter how large or small, all businesses must have a business plan!  A business plan will help you define your concept, evaluate the competition, determine risks, and estimate your costs.  This seminar will explain and illustrate the business plan format. 

Pinterest for Your Business 3.6.14 11am-1pm

Website in a Day 4.3.14 9am-4pm

The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center presents "Website in a Day." Does your business need a website? Have you been held back by a lack of funds or a lack of technical skills? Then, Website in a Day is the hands-on workshop for you! Come sit down with the ASBTDC's laptop lab and design a free website using Weebly. You'll be taken step-by-step through creating a free account and creating an attractive, functional, five page website. All participants receive a free 20-page workbook with detailed instructions. The ASBTDC is able to present this seminar at no cost to Arkansas small business owners due to a joint partnership with Connect Arkansas, a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to increasing high-speed internet and adoption throughout Arkansas.

December 18, 2013

One El Dorado man was sentenced to prison in Union County Circuit Court on Tuesday for inflicting internal injuries to his toddler. 29 year old Antonio Charles Moore, pleaded guilty to first-degree domestic battery and was sentenced to 15 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction with the imposition of any further sentence suspended for five years. According to sources, Moore manhandled his 18-month old numerous times in late April inflicting serious injuries. The boy had emergency surgery at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in late April. Doctors had to remove part of his small intestine and he had four fractures in his spine, four fractures in his ribs, and bleeding around the base of his spinal cord and abdomen. Moore admitted that he did the crime, but didn’t intentionally hurt his son.  

A Tulsa man has waived his preliminary hearing on two manslaughter charges in connection with a boating accident that killed two people on Grand Lake. Court records show 22-year-old John Deselms waived his right for a preliminary hearing last week and entered a not-guilty plea on the charges. Deselms is charged with manslaughter in the May 14 deaths of Rachel Nichole Swetnam of Grove and William "Trey" Varner III of Texarkana, Ark. Swetnam, Varner and Deselms were all students at the University of Arkansas. Prosecutors allege that Deselms was operating a boat under the influence of alcohol when it crashed into a houseboat parked on Oklahoma's Grand Lake. A judge in Delaware County scheduled July 28 court appearance for Deselms. 

A parolee was arrested Monday for residential burglary in Benton. According to a press release from Lt. Kevin Russell with the Benton Police Department, officers responded to East Walnut Street about 9:30 a.m. Monday after a man was reported to be running from an unoccupied home. Once on scene, officers noticed a person running from the home near the railroad tracks in the area. Officers caught up to the suspect, later identified as 33-year-old Brad Gonzales, and spoke to him about the incident. Through the course of their investigation and speaking to witnesses, it was determined that Gonzales was unlawfully in the home. Gonzales arrested and was transported to the Saline County Detention Facility for processing. He is charged with Criminal Trespassing and Residential Burglary. Gonzales is also an active parolee out of the Department of Community Corrections and had an active parole warrant at the time of his arrest.

The Texarkana Board of Directors has approved $120,000 to help close a budget gap at the Texarkana Regional Airport. Airport officials say the funding will close about half of the projected $266,000 shortfall for next year, and Texas-side officials have chipped in the remainder. Airport Director Stephen Luebbert says the facility was self-sustaining up until recently because of fewer military flights heading to the nearby Red River Army Depot in Bowie County, Texas. Reports say that the board voted Monday to appropriate $120,700 for the airport. In September, city leaders in Texarkana, Texas, agreed to give $146,000 to the airport, which serves both cities.

On December 14, 2013 Wildlife Officers from the Arkansas Game & Fish commission investigated a complaint at Ouachita Deer Processing located at the intersection of Ouachita County Roads 67 & 65. There they found reason to cite the owner of the business, Daniel Palmer with 14 counts of wasting the edible portion of wildlife (deer) and 1 count of failure to maintain paper records. The concern to the public is that the business processes deer for human consumption and the Wildlife Officers found the edible portions in various states of decomposition unfit for consumption and poses a sanitary risk for those whom seek the services of this business. The Arkansas Department of Health does not regulate the processing of wild game and cannot take action against this business. If you have used this processor be sure to thoroughly inspect your meats, if you suspect that game in inedible discard it. These are allegations that are awaiting adjudication in court, and the perpetrator is assumed innocent.

Epoxyn Products, a Hamilton Scientific company and a leading manufacturer and fabricator of high-performance work-surface solutions for research, educational and health-care laboratory environments, today announced plans to expand its manufacturing facility in Mountain Home, creating 50 new jobs.
"As the industry leader in laboratory casework, workstations, fume hoods and epoxy resin tops, we are focused on investing in our business to provide our global customers with the most innovative and highest quality products in the industry." said Jack Roberts President and CEO of Hamilton Scientific. "Epoxyn's success is Mountain Home's success," Governor Mike Beebe said. "An Arkansas-based company with a good product, combined with a good local workforce, often results in the creation of more jobs and more investment. That's what we're seeing in Baxter County, and hope to see more of throughout Arkansas's manufacturing centers." Epoxyn Products is part of Hamilton Scientific, a 132-year-old laboratory furniture and equipment supplier with corporate headquarters located in De Pere, Wisconsin. Epoxyn Products offers both epoxy and phenolic resin, the two premier laboratory work surface materials. The company's resin products include chemical-resistant, laboratory-grade epoxy work surfaces, sinks, balance tables, pegboards, fume hood tops and other components. Joe Miles, chairman of Focus Mountain Home, a Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce initiative, stated, "Our community appreciates Epoxyn's confidence in the local workforce with their decision to expand and bring new jobs to Mountain Home and Baxter County. Focus Mountain Home is pleased to have played a role in assisting Epoxyn with solutions to meet their expansion needs." Those interested in employment at Epoxyn Products can contact the Arkansas Workforce Center in Mountain Home at 870-425-2386.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel joined his counterparts from across the country today to call on Congress to approve funding for programs targeted at the prevention of human trafficking in the United States and abroad.

In a letter to congressional leaders, McDaniel and 46 other attorneys general encouraged lawmakers to appropriate money for initiatives authorized under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which passed earlier this year. The Act, first approved by Congress in 2000, made human trafficking a federal crime. Appropriations under the act would help to increase America’s efforts to protect and assist trafficking victims, improve prevention methods and successfully prosecute human traffickers.

“Attorneys general have made it a priority to do everything we can to prevent human trafficking, and federal funding is a tremendous benefit in the fight against this growing problem,” McDaniel said. “I am proud of the work we have started here in Arkansas to eradicate this crime, but it takes law enforcement and victims’ services in every jurisdiction and at every level to continue this progress.”

The National Association of Attorneys General has made prevention of human trafficking one of its major initiatives. In Arkansas, McDaniel included in his legislative package this year the Human Trafficking Act of 2013, which significantly strengthened Arkansas’s human trafficking laws.

McDaniel last month established the Attorney General’s State Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking. The task force will work to develop a state plan for prevention of human trafficking and raise public awareness of the trafficking problem in Arkansas.

Attorneys general told Congressional leaders that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world. About 83 percent of human trafficking victims in the United States are U.S. citizens. Ongoing federal funding is crucial for programs that help protect minors who are victims of human trafficking and programs that encourage education and awareness about the problem, as well as for support of law enforcement efforts.

Officials of the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced Tuesday, the launch of a statewide public safety campaign intended to make Arkansas highways and roads safer during the holiday season. “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a nationwide initiative involving state, county and city law enforcement officers.  It will be implemented during a three week period leading up to the New Year holiday.

Among those attending a news conference yesterday at State Police Headquarters were Colonel Stan Witt, Director of the Arkansas State Police and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative along with Christopher J. Murphy, Regional Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Region 7. “Arkansas motorists can expect an increase in saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, anytime, anywhere,” said Colonel Witt.  “Drunk driving is a crime that will not be tolerated.  State Troopers and other law enforcement officers will not be looking for excuses.  If you’re caught driving impaired by alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested and taken to jail.”
A comparison of national crash data limited to the month of December in
2007 – 2011 indicates 4,169 people were killed in crashes that involved  a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. “Impaired drivers make December one of the deadliest months to be on the road,” said Christopher Murphy, Regional Administrator NHTSA Region 7.  “Each December hundreds of people die on the nation’s roadways because of impaired drivers – senseless deaths that could be avoided by one simple action – by not being under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal drugs.  This December, don’t deprive someone of their chance to be home for the holidays next year.  Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, it’s not worth the risk.”
Arkansas has seen a 20 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths since 2010.  Colonel Witt attributed the decline to aggressive law enforcement activities along with safer vehicles and the actions of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Arkansas recorded 143 alcohol-related fatalities in 2012, down from 178 in 2010. Arkansas is also below the national average in alcohol related fatalities.  The national average is 31 percent of all highway deaths. Arkansas ranks at 26 percent. “Although we have seen reductions in incidents of drunk driving, one death is too many.  Countless numbers of people continue to suffer due to serious injuries or the emotional trauma associated with losing a friend or family member as a result of this serious crime,” Colonel Witt said. The Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office recommends:

  • Always plan ahead and whenever you expect to consume alcohol, designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
  • If you have been drinking, call a taxi, take the bus or call a sober friend or family member to get you to your destination safely.
  • Promptly report drunk drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement.
  • Always wear your safety belt or use protective gear while on a motorcycle.
     There suggestions are your best defense against an impaired driver.

 For more information on the 2013 holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.

December 17, 2013

The longest-serving prosecutor in Arkansas history says he won't seek re-election next year.
Chris Raff has served nearly 32 years as prosecuting attorney for the 17th Judicial District, which covers White and Prairie counties. The 62-year-old prosecutor said that the timing is right to end his tenure in office. Raff says his term will end Dec. 31, 2014. He says he has no plans to seek another political position. Raff was first elected prosecuting attorney in 1982. Since then, he's been elected to the post 12 more times. He's also served as president of the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association and is a longtime member of the board of directors of the National District Attorneys Association.

Authorities say a Texas woman was killed in a crash on Interstate 40 in eastern Arkansas. Arkansas State Police say 35-year-old Pattie Collier of Mount Pleasant, Texas, died in the crash Sunday on I-40 in Monroe County. According to a preliminary report, a truck driving west was towing a trailer that bounced across the median and into oncoming traffic. A preliminary report says the trailer struck Collier's truck, which was traveling east on the interstate. Collier was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle wasn't injured in the crash.

The South Arkansas Arts Centers Creative Arts Academy’s art classes will host their fall Student Art Showcase on Thursday, December 19, from 5:30pm – 7:00pm.  The showcase and reception are free and open to the public.

Works created by students of SAAC visual art instructors Gay Bechtelheimer, Mike Means, Jorge Villegas, and Maria Botti Villegas are currently on exhibition in the Merkle, Price, and Lobby Galleries.  Over the course of the semester, students created works in collage, digital manipulation, pencil and ink, sculpture, tempera, and watercolor. 

Spring 2014 classes are currently forming and a current schedule is available through schools and at SAAC.  A full schedule of all classes offered is available to download at For more information about the Student Art Showcase, contact the SAAC office at 86205474.

Lions Club will be having the Madrigals from Camden Fairview this Wednesday to sing Christmas songs.  This is a special bring a guest meeting, if you have ever been interested in learning more about Lions Club please come this Wednesday to find out about us. Due to the holidays, this will be the last time that we meet until after the New Year.

A juvenile driver and her two friends had a bit of a scare during her first unsupervised drive Saturday when, according to the teenage driver, the car she was driving failed to stop and they crashed into the front of a house.

The silver Chevrolet Malibu, registered to Theresa Pinson of Hope, was being driven by Pinson’s stepdaughter shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday when the crash occurred.

The juvenile said she was driving north on Walker Street and attempted to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Walker and Greenwood but the brakes wouldn’t respond. She said she had to try and avoid a car travelling east on Greenwood and jumped the curb before taking out the fire hydrant and crashing into the house just to the left of the front steps.

10 years after the Arkansas Legislature’s response to the Lakeview decision, education advocates and professionals gathered at the State Capitol on Monday to talk about the progress Arkansas has made over the past decade and outline their proposed next steps to reclaim the promise of public education by continueing to improve educational opportunities for the state's children.  

The group praised the reforms and increased funding that have placed Arkansas among the fastest improving education systems in the country, but they said we can still do better.  They called for increased access to preschool, expanded after-school and summer programing, better teacher training and development, better interventions to help struggling students catch up, and more solutions to combat the epidemic of child poverty in Arkansas.

"We know these reforms will improve educational opportunities for every child in Arkansas," said Richard Hutchinson, co-chair of the Arkansas Opportunity to Learn Campaign. "Every solution we call for is backed by mountains of research and evidence.  We must build the political will to implement and fund these reforms now; we cannot wait any longer.”

The group also criticized the school privatization agenda proposed by some organizations as a costly and discriminatory distraction and a blatant effort to defund public education.  They noted that 95 percent of students would remain in traditional public schools.  

"The problem with vouchers and many charter schools is that they don't improve educational outcomes on the whole; they siphon money out of already strapped public schools and give some students more resources than others, making the system of education even more tilted towards the privileged few," said Gloria Majors, a parent from Prescott who is active in school issues in her community. “We are not against charter schools as a whole, but we are against the racial and economic segregation that some charters produce, regardless of intent.”  

The group emphasized that education reform was not enough, that Arkansas must do more to combat child poverty for the state's children to succeed.

"Poverty is our biggest education problem, hands down," said Ron Harder from the Arkansas School Board Association.  "We are doing a lot to help low income kids in school and we can do more, but children in poverty

face challenges that schools alone cannot fix.  Arkansas has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country, and if we are serious about boosting our education system and improving our state as a whole, our state leaders must find and implement solutions to address poverty more effectively."

The event was part of a nationally coordinated Day of Action supported by the National Opportunity to Learn Campaign and sponsored by the AR Opportunity to Learn Campaign, AR Advocates for Children and Families, Rural Community Alliance, AR Education Association, AR School Boards Association, AR Association of Education Administrators, and AR Rural Education Association.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel filed a consumer-protection lawsuit today against a North Little Rock used car dealer accused of failing to provide a clear title to car buyers, illegally changing the terms of contracts and selling a car without disclosing the vehicle had been salvaged. Chidi Ukegbu of North Little Rock is accused of violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Salvage Title Act. Ukegbu operates America's Pre-owned Selection, formerly known as Scales Auto, at 1200 and 1222 E. Broadway St. in North Little Rock. The complaint filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court alleges that Ukegbu at least eight times has sold vehicles for which he did not possess a clear title, and then, despite assurances to deliver title to buyers, he has failed to do so. In at least one instance, Ukegbu is alleged to have intentionally concealed the fact that a car had been salvaged. In addition, Ukegbu is accused in several instances of illegally changing agreed-upon financing terms, resulting in a greater cost for the buyer. “Those who have had the misfortune of doing business with this car dealer have told our Consumer Protection Division that they have been deceived about contract terms or stonewalled when it comes to receiving the clear title they need to register and insure a vehicle,” McDaniel said. “We hope the court provides a remedy for the affected consumers. Our office will continue to take action against those who would violate Arkansas law.” McDaniel alleges that Ukegbu violated the Arkansas Salvage Title Act when intentionally omitting that a vehicle on his lot had been salvaged. The consumer who purchased the car discovered it had a salvage title when attempting to insure it. Ukegbu later repossessed the vehicle because the consumer did not obtain insurance, even though it was Ukegbu’s failure to disclose the salvage nature of the vehicle that caused it not to be insured. According to the lawsuit, Ukegbu also ignored consumers’ demands for refunds when it was apparent that he could not provide a clear title to vehicles. Consumers who were promised they would receive titles never did, making it impossible for them to register or insure the vehicles. And since buyers are already paying for the vehicle that cannot be registered, they often cannot afford another. Additionally, the lawsuit states that Ukegbu or his agents would add terms to contracts already signed by buyers that conflicted with oral agreements reached between consumers and Ukegbu. These would include changes to finance terms that were adverse to the buyer or exclude promises of vehicle repairs. The suit contends Ukegbu would then attempt to hold consumers to the terms of the agreement, even though it did not represent the mutual assent of both parties. McDaniel asked the Court to issue an injunction to prohibit Ukegbu from continuing the practices, order him to comply with requests from consumers for refunds, and assess civil penalties.

Arkansas’s rare white Christmas of 2012 was the first time snow started to fall on Christmas Day to accumulate more than a trace before midnight since 1926, according to the National Weather Service Little Rock Office. The weather, combined with the accompanying power outage, might have created the ambience of Christmases past—very past. But an old-fashioned Christmas isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for people who depend on electricity for almost everything.

Many who struggled through that white but dark and cold Christmas now have gasoline-powered generators on standby. To those people, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives this important reminder: Generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can build up quickly and linger for hours. While in operation, they should never be used inside homes, garages, crawlspaces or sheds but should be placed outside, well away from doors, windows and vents.

People with fireplaces or wood stoves can endure winter power outages without a generator, but Mike Bates, Air Division chief at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, warns that the fine particles in wood smoke can trigger asthma attacks, aggravate respiratory diseases, and cause other health problems.

These heat sources can also be a source of carbon monoxide, as well as other air pollutants. You should use only dry, properly aged wood for fuel and be sure to open flues. Never burn plastics, foam, colored ink, painted or pressure-treated wood, plywood, particle board, or wood that is wet, rotted, diseased or moldy; they all release harmful substances when burned. Read more about safe wood-burning at

Heaters that burn kerosene, natural gas or liquefied petroleum are usually safe, but they must have adequate ventilation and burn fuel efficiently to prevent carbon monoxide emissions. EPA gives these tips for keeping combustion equipment operating safely:

-        Keep all gas appliances properly adjusted.

-        Consider purchasing a vented space heater when replacing an unvented one.

-        Use proper fuel in kerosene space heaters.

-        Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.

-        Open flues when fireplaces are in use.

-        Choose properly sized wood stoves that are certified to meet EPA emission standard.

-        Make certain that doors on all wood stoves fit tightly.

-        Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating system (furnaces, flues, chimneys) annually. Repair any leaks promptly.

-        Do not idle the car inside the garage.

Low concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. Higher concentrations can cause symptoms that mimic the flu. Exposure can be fatal at very high concentrations. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, leave the house and get medical attention. A blood test soon after exposure can verify carbon monoxide exposure.

All homes with gas or wood-burning appliances should have carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors to help make all winter days safely warm and to ensure that roasting chestnuts on an open fire is not a hazardous activity.

ADH endorses American Academy of Pediatrics Raw Milk Policy Statement
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) recommends all Arkansans, especially pregnant women, infants and children, avoid consuming raw milk and raw milk products. Raw milk and raw milk products can transmit bacterial infections, such as Brucella, E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Camplyobacter, which can cause serious illness or death. Rates of raw milk-related illness and death are higher in children, pregnant women and anyone with weakened immune systems.

Raw milk and raw milk products have not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process in which milk is heated to a specific temperature in order to kill harmful bacteria. This process does not change the nutritional value of milk. Milk products that have not been pasteurized may become contaminated with bacteria during the milking process or during storage.

“The risk of dairy-related outbreaks caused by raw milk is at least 150 times greater than that of pasteurized milk,” Gary Wheeler, M.D., Branch Chief of Infectious Disease at ADH said.

“Illnesses experienced after drinking raw milk are much more severe than illnesses typically experienced after drinking pasteurized milk, and can lead to dehydration, kidney failure, bloodstream infection, and death,” Wheeler added.

On Dec. 16, 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics released an updated policy statement regarding the consumption of raw milk products.

“Consumption of raw milk or milk products can result in severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women, and meningitis and blood-borne infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” Yvonne Maldonado, M.D., Fellowship of the American Academy of Pediatrics and lead policy statement author said.

Some groups and individuals claim raw milk has health benefits that are not present in pasteurized milk. The benefits of these elements have not been demonstrated in scientific research. Numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections. The presence of harmful bacteria usually does not change the look, taste, or smell of milk, so only when milk has been pasteurized can you be confident that harmful bacteria is not present.

Since Aug. 16, 2013, the sale of raw milk in Arkansas is allowed under Act 1209. In states that have made the sale of raw milk legal, the risk of dairy-related disease outbreaks is over twice as high as in states where the sale of raw milk is prohibited. States that have legalized the sale of raw milk are responsible for 75 percent of the outbreaks caused by raw milk. In 2012, nineteen individuals in Oregon, a state where raw milk sales are legal, were infected with E. coli. Fifteen of those cases involved children. Four of the children were hospitalized, including an 18-month-old who was treated for acute kidney failure.

ADH strongly supports the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food and Drug Administration, and other national and international associations in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants and children. The availability of raw milk, coupled with the associated health risks of consuming raw milk, severely limits the Department’s ability to prevent disease and protect the public’s health. For more information about the dangers of raw milk, go to

Fifteen years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Arkansas ranks 7th in the nation in funding programs preventing kids from smoking and helping smokers quit.  This, according to a national report released by a coalition of public health organizations. “Arkansas can be proud of the progress it is making to help children,” says Dr. Gary Wheeler Medical Director for the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program at the Arkansas Department of Health. “The percentage of students who currently smoke has declined significantly.” Key findings for Arkansas include:

Smoking rates among Arkansas high school students have experienced a 58% reduction between 1997 and 2011.  This translates to more than 34,000 fewer teens smoking in 2011. 

The tobacco industry spends $107.4 million a year to market their products in Arkansas.  This is six times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

“Arkansans and their leaders including the legislature and our governors have made a wise financial commitment to help our youth.  Tobacco prevention is a smart investment.  It saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.” Wheeler continued, “Arkansans are fortunate that our elected officials recognize this.” 

However, the toll of tobacco on Arkansas youth is still evident.  More than 18% of Arkansas high school students still smoke.  More than 20% of male high school students still use smokeless or spit tobacco.  And, 2,500 Arkansas kids under 18, become new daily smokers each year according to The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.  More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at

To learn more about how you and your family can participate in tobacco control initiatives, visit  Parents can lead by example.  If you are a tobacco user and want to quit, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline can help.  Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn more about free nicotine replacement therapy and other services.  Youth can discover ways to stand up to Big Tobacco and engage with their peers by visiting the Project Prevent Facebook page at

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has confirmed that a dog has tested positive for rabies in the city of Conway, located in Faulkner County. This dog was a stray that had been living in someone’s backyard for six to seven months and was not vaccinated against rabies. The dog was unable to be caught in order to have Conway Animal Services take the dog, but during the ice storm last week, the dog was finally caught and placed in a pet cage. An individual was bitten by the dog before animal services could get to the home to pick it up. This serves to remind everyone that EVERY animal bite should be taken seriously, even very minor ones, which this one was. Because the dog had rabies, the person who was bitten will receive preventive vaccines as a life-saving measure. No other human exposures are confirmed.

Arkansas state law requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Vaccinations purchased over-the-counter at a feed store or farm supply store and given by the owner are not considered a valid vaccine. If exposed to rabies, dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated by a veterinarian must undergo a strict six-month quarantine or be euthanized. 

According to Susan Weinstein, DVM, state public health veterinarian, failure to vaccinate cats and dogs often has negative results. “Whenever a cat or dog gets rabies, there are always people exposed to the animal, and individuals must have a series of preventive shots so that they do not get rabies,” Weinstein said. “This is very expensive and time consuming.”

In Arkansas, rabies occurs in the wild in skunks and bats. Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord and is a fatal disease. It is most often seen in animals such as skunks, bats and foxes. Cats, dogs, ferrets and livestock can also develop rabies, especially if they are not vaccinated. In 2012, Arkansas had 131 rabies positive animals. This included 101 skunks, 22 bats, three cows, three dogs, one horse and one cat. The rabid cat in 2012 also was from Conway. So far in 2013, the state has had 116 skunks, 26 bats, three cats, one cow, three dogs and one horse test positive for rabies. At 150 rabid animals for the year, the state is triple the normal yearly average of 50 rabid animals.

The rabies virus lives in the saliva (spit) and nervous tissues of infected animals and is spread when they bite or scratch. The virus also may be spread if saliva from an infected animal touches broken skin, open wounds or the lining of the mouth, eyes or nose.

The first sign of rabies in an animal is usually a change in behavior. Rabid animals may attack people or other animals for no reason, or they may lose their fear of people and seem unnaturally friendly. Staggering, convulsions and paralysis are often present. Dogs sometimes will have paralysis of their jaw and not close their mouth properly. Skunks may be seen out in daylight, which is an unusual behavior for them, or they may get into a dog pen or under a house. Many animals have a marked change in voice pitch, such as a muted or off-key tone. An animal usually dies within one week of demonstrating signs of rabies. Not all rabid animals act in these ways, however, so you should avoid all wild animals -- especially skunks, bats and stray cats and dogs.

If you think you have become exposed to an animal with rabies, wash your wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Contact your physician and county health unit immediately and report the incident. The animal in question should be captured, if possible, without damaging its head or risking further exposure.

All dogs and cats in Arkansas are required to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. This not only protects the animal, but also acts as a barrier between the wildlife exposures of rabies and people, as our pets are more likely to be exposed to a rabid skunk directly than we are. Children especially should be reminded not to touch wild animals and to stay away from stray pets.

If an apparently healthy domesticated dog or cat bites a person, it must be captured, confined and observed daily for 10 days following the bite. If the animal remains healthy during this period of time, it did not transmit rabies at the time of the bite. Since there are not known time intervals for the length of infectivity in other animals, the brain tissue of all wild animals must be tested for rabies if human exposure has occurred. What can you do to protect yourselves against rabies?

•           Be sure your dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations

•           Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals

•           Keep family pets indoors at night

•           Bat-proof your home or summer camp in the fall or winter (The majority of human rabies cases are caused by bat bites.)

•           Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if any animal bites them

•           Teach children to avoid wildlife, strays and all other animals they do not know well

Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the local health unit. Do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies. Depending on the species, an animal can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment.

For more information, call the Faulkner County Health Unit at 501-450-4941 or Susan Weinstein, DVM, state public health veterinarian, at 501- 280-4136.

December 16, 2013

After eight hours, a Fordyce complex is finally out. Fordyce Fire Department Chief Roy Moseley said that the fire started around 11:00 pm. At Dalco Apartments at Edgar and West 3rd Street. The fire started in an upstairs corner, spread to the attic and grew from there. Moseley said the fire was 30 feet in the air through the roof by the time firefighters got there. Moseley also said he thinks the fire must have burned a while before residents called 911. Around 18 apartments in the complex were impacted by the fire. Two or three apartments near the source of the fire were gutted while others had water damage. The roof was burned off as well. Moseley said the cause is likely from someone cooking. No one was hurt and the Red Cross is helping residents. 

On Thursday December 14th, Lt. David Pennington was dispatched to the Sheriff’s Department to a report of a fight in the park in lot. Upon arrival two subjects, a step dad and stepson had been taken into custody and placed it in our jails. The step dad, Veronnie Sorrells and the stepson, Aaron Frazier had begun fighting in our Court house parking lot both striking each other. Our video surveillance had captured the fight from beginning to end. After reviewing the footage both subjects were charged with Domestic Battery 3rd and Disorderly Conduct.

On December 14th, Deputy Michael Davidson received a call from dispatch concerning a vehicle in the ditch on Highway 24 near Bragg City. Upon his arrival, I made contact with Michael Harris. Harris advised Davidson that he attempted to turn his vehicle around after missing his turn. Harris stated that due to soft shoulders in the roadside, he slid into the ditch and was unable to get out. At that time, Kelly Brothers Wrecker was contacted per owners request and removed the vehicle from the ditch. There was no damage to the vehicle.

On December 13, Deputy David Harcrow and Deputy Chris Lindsey were dispatched to 222 Pine St. in Louann for a Domestic Dispute. Upon arrival we met with both parties as Ms. Mona Frazier and Mr. Kevin O’Dell, both parties were intoxicated. After talking to both Mr. O’Dell and Ms. Frazier it was determined that the incident was just a shouting match. O’Dell left voluntarily for evening to go to a friend’s house. Units went back into service.

The man accused of murdering a Hot Springs Village dispatcher has pleaded not guilty.
Kevin Duck appeared in court Monday morning and entered a not guilty plea. He also asked for a bond reduction. That hearing will take place Dec. 30. Kevin Duck, 30, is charged with first degree murder for the death of 46-year-old Dawna Naztke.

Back on November 27th, Duck was arrested and brought back to Arkansas Tuesday Dec. 10.
Natzke, a Hot Springs Village dispatcher, was last seen leaving a Christmas party with Duck Dec. 21, 2012. Her body was found by a volunteer searcher Dec. 31.  Duck said at the time of her disappearance that he went to bed around 11 p.m. that night, while she stayed up watching TV, but when he woke up the next morning Natzke and her car were gone. The next day her car was discovered in a remote area of the Ouachita National Forest. The vehicle had been burned. 

Gyronne Buckley said he wants the state to pay more than $400,000 after he was wrongfully convicted in 1999. "I lost my father ... the first year I was incarcerated," said Buckley. Officers said an informant, Corey Livsey bought drugs from Buckley in 1999. Livsey later testified and Buckley was sentenced to two life sentences. "It's the same dirty practices of trying to set up people just to get a conviction," said Mark Hampton, Buckley's attorney. Buckley appealed the court's decision, but the sentences were upheld. A second appeal was denied and a court lowered Buckley's sentence to nearly 60 years. Buckley then filed a federal petition alleging an officer on the scene the day of the drug bust lied about what he saw. A video surfaced which showed the informant struggling to remember key details. It is believed that police told the informant what to say on the stand. A judge released Buckley from jail in 2010.

A Chinese native living in Stuttgart is expected in federal court for a detention hearing.

Wengui Yan, 63, is one of two agricultural scientists from China who are accused of trying to steal seed samples from a company's Kansas research facility. Yan was charged by federal prosecutors in Kansas on Thursday, along with Weiqiang Zhang, 47, of Manhattan, Kan., with conspiracy to steal trade secrets.

Yan worked at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a rice geneticist, according to the court complaint. Zhang was employed as agricultural seed breeder for the company identified only as the victim in the case. Identified in court records as Company A, it has invested about $75 million in patented technology used to create a variety of seeds containing recombinant proteins. The company has an extensive intellectual property portfolio of more than 100 issued and pending patents and exclusive licenses to issued patents.

If convicted, Zhang and Yan face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. 

Police are on the search for a man whom they believe stole some checks out of a mailbox and began forging them. According to Lt. Russell with the Benton Police Department, 56-year-old Johnny Fair, of North Little Rock, was taken into custody after detectives pinpointed him as the potential culprit for several forged checks that were stolen from a mailbox on Dec. 10. Fair has an active warrant for his arrest for two counts of forgery; additional charges are possible. Anyone with information about Johnny Fair's whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Benton Police Department at 778-1171 or 315-TIPS.

There will be an OPED Board of Directors Board meeting on Wednesday December 18th, starting at 10:00 am. The meeting will be held in the conference room in the Ouachita Valley Business and Technology Development Center, located at 625 Adams Avenue in Camden. Please RSVP to 836-2210 or

The Ouachita County Courthouse and Extension Office will be closed on December 24th, 25th, and the 26th. The offices will be closed due to the Christmas Holiday. The Ouachita County Sanitation will run on the 24th, 26th, and the 27th. 

Sheriff identifies student who opened fire in Colorado school as Karl Halverson Pierson, 18. One teen was wounded and two others suffered minor injuries Friday at a suburban Denver high school after a fellow student seeking revenge against a teacher opened fire with a shotgun before taking his own life, authorities said. The shootings - on the eve of the anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, in which 20 students and six staffers were murdered - sent scores of terrified students and staffers at Centennial's Arapahoe High School scurrying at about 12:30 p.m. Police and other first responders quickly mobilized to surround the 2,220-student school.
A 15- or 16-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound and was reported in critical condition at a Littleton hospital Friday evening. Two other students were discharged in late afternoon from Swedish Medical Center in Englewood after being treated for minor injuries that did not involve gunshots, a spokeswoman said without elaborating.
The suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. The gunman also brought two Molotov cocktails inside the school and exploded one. The other was found and removed by the bomb squad. The incident unfolded when the armed student entered the west side of the school from a student parking lot. He told other students he was interested in confronting a specific teacher. "Word got around immediately,'' Robinson said. The teacher, informed of the situation, fled the building unharmed, said Robinson, who noted that the teacher's decision to flee helped limit the potential carnage. Many students locked themselves in classrooms until first responders arrived. Some said they heard several gunshots in a hallway near the school library. "We were shaking, we were crying, we were freaking out,'' 9th grader Whitney Riley told CNN. Robinson said it appears that the shooter acted alone. He said investigators would also examine whether the timing was tied to Newtown. They were also trying to determine whether the suspect had planted an explosive device at the school. Following the shooting, scores of students calmly exited the building, single file, with their hands above their heads. They gathered on a school track at about 1:30 p.m. Frightened parents were told to go to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church where they were to reunite with their kids.

A suspect has been arrested in a deadly Jacksonville shooting. Lerome Deshawn Kelley, 19, is charged with capital murder in the Friday night ATM robbery that claimed the life of Marcus Israel, 23. It happened in the 600 Block of West Main Street. 

According to the Jacksonville Police Department, Kelley has also been charged with Aggravated Robbery and Theft of Property in the following incidents:

On December 13, 2013, at approximately 8 p.m., an employee, of Sonic Drive In located at 1808 West Main Street, was robbed at gunpoint. The suspect approached the victim employee near the dumpster and pointed a gun at him and took his money. 

On November 30, 2013, at approximately midnight, a subject was robbed at gunpoint while at the ATM located at 101 Gregory Place. The suspect approached the victim’s vehicle and pointed a gun at him and took his cell phone.

On November 28, 2013, at approximately 10:45 p.m., a subject was robbed at gunpoint while at the ATM located at 101 Gregory Place. The suspect approached the victim’s vehicle and pointed a gun at him and took his cell phone along with cash.

Police say Kelley is basically homeless but had stayed with different people in Jacksonville.

President Bill Clinton will attend the official ceremony marking the illumination of the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, the Main Street Bridge and the Junction Bridge Pedestrian Walkway on Thursday, Dec. 19.

The public is invited to attend the official flipping of the switches during a program held at the First Security Amphitheater. The program begins at 5 p.m. and concludes at 8 p.m.

The colorful, environmentally friendly LED lighting installation is made possible by a gift from Entergy Arkansas and Entergy Corporation through the Downtown Partnership, which plays an instrumental role developing the downtown region. Other investors in the $2.4 million project are the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, the Clinton Foundation, the Pulaski County Bridge Public Facilities Board, Philips Lighting Company, and Koontz Electric. “For the last century, Entergy Arkansas has been lighting up neighborhoods, ball parks, farms, and businesses throughout Arkansas,” said Hugh McDonald, Entergy Arkansas, Inc. president and chief executive officer. “We’re thrilled President Clinton will return home to celebrate with us and reveal this spectacular new, multi-colored landmark. It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the state and to our customers, and we look forward to serving them for the next 100 years.”

Entertaining the crowd will be the Natural State Brass Band and the Big Dam Horns. Ottenheimer Market Hall will be open for food and beverages.

The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board will host the 2013 Arkansas Soybean Research Summit at the Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds in Jonesboro on Tuesday December 17th. The summit will feature talks from university and industry professionals aimed at educating farmers on how to increase soybean crop yields. The summit will also feature the three winners of the Race for 100; Nelson Crow, Matt and Sherrie Kay Miles, and Eddie Tackett. There is no charge to attend and it is open to anyone with an interest in the Arkansas soybean industry.

Farmers in attendance will have the opportunity to win door prizes, two super bag quantity of seed of newly developed Arkansas Foundation soybean varieties, valued at over $2,000. This soybean seed is provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board in partnership with the Arkansas Seed Growers Association.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. and the event begins at 8:30 a.m. The event is expected to conclude with lunch shortly after noon and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board will have a meeting immediately following. The soybean board consists of soybean producers nominated by various producer organizations within Arkansas. Although board members contribute many hours of their time to administering the program, they serve without pay.

For more information about the 2013 Annual Soybean Research Summit, 

Tickets are on sale for the Barbra Fairchild Concert. Tickets be purchased and picked up in Camden at Lynda’s Classy Cleaners, Bearden at the Bank of Bearden, Sparkman at Riverside Bank, and Fordyce at Fordyce Bank and Mortgage. The price of the tickets is $10.00 and there is limited seating. The concert will be on January 25th, with doors opening at 6:00 pm. The concert will be held at Holly Springs Baptist in Holly Springs. For more information call 870-687-2738.

December 13, 2013

On December 10th, Officer Matthew Schanzlin was dispatched to the Ouachita County Medical Center for a report of an intoxicated female. Upon arrival he met with reporting person Nadine Gill. Gill was sitting inside a white truck in a parking space. As Officer Schanzlin spoke with Gill, it was obvious she was under the influence of an unknown drug. Gills speech was slurred and at times she appeared incoherent. Gill told the Officer she had been smoking crack cocaine and had driven to the hospital from Smackover. Gill said she wanted to be arrested and did not want anyone to come and get her. Gill was arrested for public intoxication and taken to the station where booking procedures were completed. Gill was later transported to the Ouachita Sheriff’s Department to be released when intoxicants wear off. 

There were two people injured during an incident at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. Police said the shooter is deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound; KUSA in Denver reported that the shooter was a student at Arapahoe High School, though the age or gender has not been released. The identities and conditions of the victims are not being released at this time. The hospital confirmed that at least one victim from the school was being treated; the victim is 15 or 16 years old. During a news briefing Friday afternoon, the Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the gunman shot a student who approached him; another student was injured, but it's not know if the second student was shot or suffered other injuries. Robinson said the lone gunman entered the west side of the building looking for a specific teacher by name, then was approached by the student who was shot. The gunman was later found deceased inside the building. Arapahoe High School is a part of Littleton Public Schools. There are 70 different classrooms in the high school which covers a 254,000-square-foot area. There are 2,229 students that attend the high school. The school was built in 1964.

One man was killed Thursday night and another was injured when the Toyota truck they were driving struck a house on a flatbed trailer next to the Southern Arkansas University track on North Jackson Street in Magnolia. Killed was Jacob A. Shireman, 20, who lived on the SAU campus and was a freshman pre-nursing student from Mayflower. Shireman was a passenger in the truck driven by Jeffery F. Teague, 24, 225 Meadow View, El Dorado. Teague is a junior accounting major. According to preliminary Arkansas State Police and other reports, Teague was driving north on Jackson when he failed to negotiate the left-hand curve in front of Wilkins Stadium. The truck jumped the curve and hit the right rear of the house on the trailer.

Earlier Wednesday, the house -- which had been located on university property across East University from the Arkansas Department of Human Services office -- was moved. SAU police escorted the house on a trailer operated by Keith Smith House Movers along North Jackson to the parking lot at the SAU track. The trailer and house were parked at the track because the house could not be moved at night, SAU Interim Police Chief Boyd Good said.

Teague was taken to Magnolia Regional Medical Center and later transferred to Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock for treatment. Shireman’s body was released to Lewis Funeral Home. Aaron Street, university spokesman, said SAU was saddened by the loss. "Our hearts and prayers are with them and their families," Street said. The wreck happened about 11:15 p.m. The weather was clear and the road was dry. Trooper Dakotah Bailey investigated the accident for the Arkansas State Police.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a man serving a life term for the killing of a 14-year-old England girl. Talideen Tramal Davenport of North Little Rock was convicted in the 2005 death of Lyronica Riley. Riley was in a car with her boyfriend when they stopped at a gas station at 4 a.m. in Little Rock for something to eat. Prosecutors say an argument broke out and that shots were fired. Riley was shot and died within minutes. Davenport said his defense lawyer was ineffective for failing to object when the judge, and not the jury, imposed a sentence that was enhanced because a gun was used. Justices said Thursday that Davenport couldn't prove that jurors would have reached a different conclusion.

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has made Secretarial disaster declarations for farmers in 29 including Ouachita and Columbia counties. Arkansas counties related to drought conditions and flooding earlier this year. Qualifying farmers will be eligible for federal aid, including emergency loans. In addition, a declaration providing flood-related aid in the State of Mississippi includes three Arkansas counties that are contiguous to the declared region. Phillips County is included in this declaration as well, as are Crittenden and Lee Counties. Farmers who feel they may qualify for this federal aid should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

Southern Arkansas University is hosting an Open House at the Hampton Inn in Texarkana, Ark., from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, December 16, 2013. The Open House will highlight the nursing pre-requisite classes being offered at the Hampton Inn this spring. Interested students will be able to visit with professors, admission and financial aid professionals and meet current students.

“We are excited to provide a venue for affordable and quality degree-completion programs in Texarkana. We think students will find SAU’s programs to be innovative and dedicated to providing personal attention and guidance. While many of our programs are online, we are especially pleased to be offering several pre-requisite nursing classes in a face-to-face setting at the Hampton Inn beginning in January,” said SAU Provost Dr. Trey Berry. 

SAU admissions representatives will also be on hand for anyone interested in SAU’s offerings in Magnolia as well as the online offerings for graduate studies. SAU had a record enrollment this fall as more and more in the Texarkana have heard about the complete college experience at SAU’s picturesque campus.

Registration at the Hampton Inn will also be available January 9-10, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. During these registration days, students will be able to register, purchase books, find out about financial aid, and visit with science and nursing professors.

Classes begin January 15 and run through May 9. For a list of the classes offered in Texarkana this spring, visit or contact Whitney Black at 870-904-7669.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the Arkansas Broadcasters Association (ABA) will host a training seminar for political office candidates on Tuesday, Jan. 21 from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas offices at 1 Cooperative Way in Little Rock. The registration fee is $75 per attendee.

“The seminar is designed to assist political candidates in preparing for and operating a successful campaign for public office,” said Carmie Henry, vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “Running for elected office and serving as an elected official is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities of United States citizens.”

According to Henry, the electric cooperatives sponsor the seminar as a public service to the communities served by the state’s 17 locally owned electric cooperatives. The training involves experts with proven skills providing candidates with information from areas covering fundraising and campaign finance laws, message development and message communication, direct mail and “get-out-the-vote” techniques, he said.

“The Arkansas Broadcasters Association and its members are dedicated to serving our communities and this seminar is a great example of our efforts,” said Doug Krile, executive director for the ABA. “By partnering with the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas we are able to provide this great public service to Arkansans.”

To enroll in the seminar, potential candidates should contact the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas’ government affairs department at 501.570.2271 or visit
The ABA has approximately 200 member radio and television stations in Arkansas.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states. For additional information, contact:Rob Roedel, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, 501.570.2296 or

Owners of Florida-based Financial Ladder Inc. ordered to pay $107,895.90
A federal judge this week found the owners of a Florida company in violation of multiple state and federal telemarketing laws and ordered the company to pay $100,000 in civil penalties, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today.

U.S. District Judge James Moody issued a default judgment against Brenda Helfenstine and Antonio Helfenstine, who operate Financial Ladder Inc. of St. Cloud, Fla. Financial Ladder was accused of making automated, prerecorded calls, known as “robocalls,” to Arkansas consumers with the promise of reducing interest rates on credit cards. However, the company never intended to provide permanent interest-rate reductions, nor did it have any more ability to do so than consumers themselves.

Moody found the defendants in violation of the federal Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act, the federal Telemarketing Sales Rules, the Arkansas Consumer Telephone Privacy Act, the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Advance Fee Loan Brokerage Act.

“Not only did this company annoy Arkansas consumers through its illegal telephone marketing, it also failed to provide any assistance whatsoever to those who paid for the company’s advertised services,” McDaniel said. “Though Financial Ladder disguised its phone number
when contacting Arkansans, our Consumer Protection Division worked to track down the individuals responsible and hold them accountable for their illegal actions.”

Antonio Helfenstine and Brenda Helfenstine were ordered to pay $3,395.90 in restitution to consumers and $4,500 in attorneys’ fees and costs in addition to the $100,000 in civil penalties. Financial Ladder was among five companies that McDaniel sued in 2012 for engaging in tactics that violated federal and state law and making multiple calls to numbers listed on the federal “Do Not Call” registry. Financial Ladder and another company, Associated Accounting Specialists, Inc., were accused of taking money from consumers but never providing interest-rate relief that was offered. Three others companies were accused of transferring consumers’ existing credit-card debt onto cards that consumers had never requested. The new card provided only temporary reductions in interest rates before the rate was increased to the same level or even higher than the old card.  In September, Kenneth Sallies of Winter Springs, Fla., was ordered to pay $20,000 in penalties and $4,500 in costs. Sallies was owner of the now-defunct Consumer Global Services LLC. Three suits are still pending.

The South Arkansas Arts Center’s Creative Arts Academy drama classes hosts their fall showcase tonight, December 13 beginning at 6pm in the Callaway Theatre.  The showcase is free and open to the public. Drama 1-5 will perform their eco-friendly musical “The Earthlings” at 6pm. Drama 6-8 will preview the original Cajun musical, “Ole Bruiser,” by local playwright Michael Stephens immediately following.  Drama 6-8 students will continue working on “Ole Bruiser” during the 2014 spring semester with a complete performance of the musical in May.

For your pre-show entertainment the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster Elizabeth O’Bannon, aka “Vera Violin,” will be joined by pianist Alicia Dubose for a preview of  “Classical Connections” Our Strings to the Community Project Showcase at 5:30pm.

“Classical Connections” introduces the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s  new music education project for the El Dorado school string programs. For more information about SAAC showcases or classes, contact the SAAC office at 862-5474 or visit

Starting a Business in Arkansas – January 14 – 11am-1pm
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents "Starting a Business in Arkansas". This seminar prepares you for the intensive business planning process, identifies major steps crucial to starting a business, discusses key issues that affect your business success, and discusses start-up requirements and common pitfalls you will face as an entrepreneur.

How to Write a Business Plan – January 21 – 11am-1:30pm
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center and SAU presents “How to Write a Business Plan.” No matter how large or small, all businesses must have a business plan!  A business plan will help you define your concept, evaluate the competition, determine risks, and estimate your costs.  This seminar will explain and illustrate the business plan format.

Over the years, investments in the infrastructure of Arkansas's health-care system have improved its quality and extended its reach. This past week alone, I participated in celebrations for three new projects that will give Arkansans easier access to better care. At a time when more of our people are getting health insurance, it's exciting to see the advancements that Arkansas is making to provide health care that is accessible and affordable.

CARTI, originally known as Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute, has been a nonprofit provider of cancer care for nearly four decades. This week, they broke ground on a new cancer center in Little Rock. Already, CARTI has locations across the State, giving cancer patients easier availability to treatment. The new center will serve as a hub for this statewide network of facilities and clinics. The 170,000-square-foot facility will offer medical, surgical and radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, and hematology services. Patients from throughout the South will have a destination in Central Arkansas for CARTI's highly regarded care.

Earlier this week, I helped cut the ribbon on a new medical park in Paragould. A partnership between Arkansas Methodist Medical Center and St. Bernards, the 48-acre park will give Greene County residents access to top-quality health care in a hometown setting. The project is a perfect example of two medical providers working together to benefit the community in ways that might not have been possible on their own. 

And in Jonesboro, Baptist Health System opened a new $400 million, 85-acre medical campus known as NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital and Clinic. It includes a hospital, specialty clinics, and a cancer center. This massive project brings a whole new level of medical services that reflect the rapid growth in the region.

The new hospital is a great reminder that while medical providers benefit communities primarily through their health-care services, they also contribute to local economies. All of the patients who will frequent the campus will help support the new businesses in the area. Additionally, the campus will provide jobs for more than 1,500 people. And 700 jobs were created during two-and-a-half-years of construction.

All of these new medical facilities will improve the health of our people, our communities, and our economy. And, thanks to the Arkansas Private Option, more of our people will have regular access to their services. More people will have insurance, and medical providers will see a decrease in uncompensated care costs. For example, it's estimated that St. Bernards' and NEA Baptist's costs of uncompensated care will fall by $8 million annually, thanks to the private option. Going forward, those savings will help more hospitals further connect, construct, or expand to offer even better care.

There is a lot of discussion and debate about health care, but it is projects like these that show you the direct benefits good policies have for our citizens, and what is at stake for those who don’t yet have access to these services. Already being hailed as a national model, the Arkansas Private Option will continue to keep our local hospitals operating, ease the hidden tax we all pay in uncompensated care, and keep our positive momentum for better quality health care in Arkansas.

December 12, 2013

A third arrest has been made in the case of the illegal manufacture and distribution of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones (HGH). Candy Lynn Drake, 40, of Waldo, was arrested Tuesday for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. She was released from the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility after posting $25,000 bond. The Magnolia Police Department arrested Drake based on information developed during a continuing investigation into steroid and HGH marketing. Arrested on Friday were Joshua Lynn Hines, 37, 1 Columbia Road 530, Magnolia; and Robert Andrew “Drew” Maza, 31, 1700 Ponderosa Drive, El Dorado. They have been released on bond. In Magnolia on Tuesday, lawmen displayed for the news media packages of anabolic steroids and injectable or oral forms of drugs made from them – drugs that are illegal but nonetheless popular among athletes, body builders and others. There were hundreds of drug vials, pill bottles, blister packs, syringes and needles and other drug paraphernalia. They were among 8,000 units of testosterone in various forms seized in the investigation. Also seized were written and computer records of possible drug transactions with customers; 35 semi-automatic rifles and handguns with boxes of ammunition, loaded magazines, scopes, and in a few cases, silencers; $45,000 cash; and four vehicles. David Butler, deputy prosecuting attorney for Columbia County, said the bust may be the largest seizure of illegal steroids and HGH in Arkansas history. In the probable cause affidavit that investigators filed in the case against Hines, Hines was reported to have told investigators that he received packages of anabolic steroids mailed from an individual in China to one of three locations – his home, his business (Extreme Fitness) and Candy Drake’s residence.

A January sentencing date has been set for a former Southern Arkansas University student accused of stealing horses from the school's stables. Jaci Jackson of Broken Bow pleaded guilty in August to four counts of conspiracy to commit theft of property, bringing stolen property across state lines, knowingly concealing stolen property and cruelty to animals. Prosecutors say the horses were taken from the school in Magnolia, Ark., and were discovered in McCurtain County, Okla. One of the horses had been killed.

Reports say that Jackson is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 10 in Idabel. She faces up to 25 years in prison. Jackson was charged in both Arkansas and Oklahoma courts. She pleaded guilty in Arkansas to conspiracy to commit theft and awaits sentencing.

Christopher Bernard King, 36, of El Dorado, was sentenced Wednesday on one count of distributing more than 5 grams of methamphetamine. King was sentenced to 110 months imprisonment with four years of supervised release. The sentencing took place before Federal Judge Harry F. Barnes in El Dorado. U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge said, "We will continue to work with law enforcement to do all we can to identify drug-trafficking activity in our district and to prosecute individuals responsible for it in order to keep communities throughout the Western District of Arkansas safe from illegal activity and the threat of violence." According to court records, on November 7, 2011, King conducted the sale of more than 13 grams of methamphetamine for $1,250 to a confidential informant. This case was investigated by the Union County Sheriff's Office and the El Dorado Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Quinn prosecuted the case for the United States.

The man charged with the murder of a local dispatcher has returned to Arkansas.Kevin Duck, 30, is charged with first degree murder for the death of 46-year-old Dawna Naztke. 
Duck was arrested in Colorado Nov. 27 and brought back to Arkansas Tuesday Dec. 10.
Natzke, a Hot Springs Village dispatcher, was last seen leaving a Christmas party with Duck Dec. 21, 2012. Her body was found by a volunteer searcher Dec. 31. 
Duck said at the time of her disappearance that he went to bed around 11 p.m. that night, while she stayed up watching TV, but when he woke up the next morning Natzke and her car were gone. The next day her car was discovered in a remote area of the Ouachita National Forest.

Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Eric Johnson was sentenced today for armed bank robbery offenses. Johnson, 22 of Apple Valley, California, was sentenced to 135 months in prison and ordered to pay $53,402.61 in restitution. The sentencing took place before the Honorable Harry F. Barnes in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, "This individual has now been brought to justice for his part in agreeing to collaborate for his own personal gain with the three other individuals who robbed or conspired to rob the bank. Our office will continue to work together with other agencies in investigating and prosecuting these types of cases in order to keep our communities in the Western District of Arkansas safe from violence." According to court records, on December 30, 2011, Aaron Blaylock and Eric Johnson robbed the tellers with a firearm at First Financial Bank in El Dorado while the tellers were in the process of refilling the ATM with cartridges that contained $50,440. After the robbery, Blaylock and Johnson drove to a meeting place where Chelsea Perdue and Jessica Harmon were waiting with a different vehicle. Later that evening they drove to Little Rock where Blaylock and Johnson flew to Las Vegas on December 31, 2011. Perdue and Harmon subsequently met them there three days later. Perdue and Harmon later turned themselves in to authorities in El Dorado, and Blaylock and Johnson were subsequently arrested in Las Vegas on January 31, 2012, by the Las Vegas Fugitive Task Force. Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting in armed robbery and one count of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence on March 4, 2013. This case was investigated by the FBI, the El Dorado Police Department, and the Union County Sheriff's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Mark Webb prosecuted the case for the United States.

The Lockheed Martin Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) team successfully completed the government’s Manufacturing Readiness Assessment (MRA), an important milestone on the path to vehicle production at the company’s Camden, Ark., manufacturing complex. The MRA, which measures manufacturing maturity and assesses technical risk, took place at Lockheed Martin’s Camden Operations on Nov. 18 and 19. In October, the company announced plans to produce the JLTV at the award-winning Camden facility, where program officials expect to gain significant production efficiencies and cost reductions. “We look forward to adding another joint U.S. Army/Marine Corps vehicle-manufacturing program to our Camden Operations,” said Scott Greene, vice president of Ground Vehicles for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “With proven assembly methods, a keen focus on efficiency and a highly skilled workforce, we are confident that the tremendous success we’ve achieved producing the HIMARS launcher for the Army and Marines will translate to an outstanding JLTV for those very same customers.”

The Lockheed Martin JLTV is designed to replace many of the current Army and Marine Corps HMMWV “Humvee” vehicles, providing significant advances in survivability and capability.

Lockheed Martin’s Camden Operations has received more than 60 awards over the last decade, including the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Shingo Silver Medallion Award for Operation Excellence. The Lockheed Martin JLTV is systems-engineered to provide the crew protection of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, while returning crucial mobility, reliability and transportability to Soldiers and Marines. A patented Meritor Pro-TecTM all-independent air-ride suspension brings unprecedented agility and off-road mobility to this class of vehicles, while the dependable Cummins turbo diesel and Allison transmission combine abundant power with exceptional fuel efficiency. Rounding out the vehicle’s portfolio of capabilities are an exportable power-generation with substantial margin for future growth, and state-of-the art connectivity with other platforms. For more than three decades, Lockheed Martin has applied its systems-integration expertise to a wide range of successful ground vehicles for U.S. and allied forces worldwide. The company’s products include the combat-proven Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M270-series and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) mobile launchers, Havoc 8x8, Common Vehicle, Light Armored Vehicle-Command and Control, Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and pioneering unmanned platforms such as the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS). Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is a 2012 recipient of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for performance excellence. The Malcolm Baldrige Award represents the highest honor that can be awarded to American
companies for their achievements in leadership, strategic planning, customer relations, measurement, analysis, workforce excellence, operations and results. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 116,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.

Former State Representative & State Senator Jim Hill died at his home in Nashville (Howard County) this morning, following a lengthy illness. He was 74. Governor Mike Beebe issued the following statement on Hill's death: "Jim Hill was a dear and trusted friend whose life was dedicated to service, be it as a United States Marine or as a member of the Arkansas General Assembly. Working alongside Jim for many years, I got to enjoy the dry wit that peppered his conversations and debates. It was a disarming trait that left smiles on the faces of friends and adversaries alike." According to a bio on the website of Henderson State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Hill was elected and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1993 to 1996 before moving on to the State Senate. He was elected by his colleagues to be the President Pro Tem of the Senate for the 84th General Assembly (2003).  As a House member, Hill was vice chairman of the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee. When he was a state representative, he was the chief House sponsor of Amendment 75, which voters approved to enact the 1/8 cent conservation tax that helps fund the Game and Fish Commission and the Parks and Tourism Department. 

Hill had been active in raising funds for diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Senator Hill also served on the board of the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation, and in 2004 he received the organization's prestigious James C. East Prostate Cancer Awareness Award for outstanding service.  In private life, Hill was a cattle rancher and timber producer in Nashville. He had also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for seven years. Arkansas Democratic Party chair Vince Insalaco also released a statement about Hill: "Today, the thoughts and prayers of all of us at the DPA go out to Jim's wife Charlotte and his entire family. Those of you who know me know that I believe there is no nobler ambition in life than serving the public and working for the betterment of one's community and home. Jim dedicated his life to the service of his country and state, and Arkansas is better off for it."

Boise State confirms that Arkansas State University Red Wolves head football coach Bryan Harsin has been hired to be the new head coach for the Broncos.
Boise State is Harsin's alma mater. A member of the Boise State coaching staff from 2001-10, Harsin takes over for Chris Petersen, who left the Broncos to become the head coach at Washington last week. "We are extremely excited in our selection of Bryan Harsin as the next head football coach at Boise State," Coyle said. "Bryan is one of the top young head coaches in college football and we are thrilled to bring him back to Boise to lead the Bronco program. Bryan played a key role in the development of the football program as an assistant for 10 years at Boise State and we look forward to his leadership as we continue the ascension of Bronco football."

The Camden Parade is being held on December 14th, and the Camden Police Department would like to ask for help from everyone in the area of parking. There are areas downtown, that from 5:00 pm until after the parade, that will not have parking. Those areas downtown are on Washington Street from California to Adams Avenue, Adams Avenue from Hildreth Street to Jackson and on Jackson Street from Adams to California Avenue. The Camden Police Department would like to thank everyone in Advance for their cooperation.

Glenn Muffih’s friendship with Cameron Sumlin, of Cullen, La., has helped both succeed at Southern Arkansas University’s College of Business
Glenn Muffih of Babanki, Cameroon, chose to get a degree in business from Southern Arkansas University. Now in the SAU MBA program, he feels confident he will be able to use his education to make a difference in his home country. “My goal is to work with the United Nations. I believe that way I can help a lot more people,” said Muffih. “I also hope to take care of the family business in Cameroon.”Muffih’s father owns a credit union that has recently been authorized to become a bank. He also owns a transit company and is the Director of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services. Muffih said his father was the first in the family to get a formal education. “My grandfather had two wives and 26 children. With each wife he had 13 kids. The guy was fair,” said Muffih. “My dad had to strive, had to struggle. He had to trek six miles a day just to get an education, sometimes without having breakfast.” Muffih said his father went to college in Boston. He passed on to Muffih family values and the idea that hard work pays. He led by example, too, as he took the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services organization from barely 100 workers when he started to now having around 3,000 workers in five hospitals, 24 integrated health centers, 50 primary health centers and a pharmaceutical distribution center in Cameroon. When Muffih brought up the idea of also studying in the U.S., his father supported the decision but suggested he be mindful of climate. He said that SAU sounded good by what they found online, and the weather looked perfect.Since he first arrived in 2010, he has not taken any part of his academics and his opportunity lightly. “People are dying, striving to get this type of education,” said Muffih. “But some people here have it but they let it slip through their hands. It’s in front of them. It’s been chewed up and put in their mouth. And all they need to do is swallow, but they don’t even swallow.”Muffih said that a big part of why he continued at SAU to work toward a Master’s of Business Administration degree was that he befriended a fellow College of Business student in one of his first classes at SAU. He met Cameron Sumlin, a first-generation college student from Cullen, La. The two realized they were equally driven to make the most of their education, so they became study partners and close friends. “We’ve spent countless hours in the library studying. It was nothing for us to get out of class at three and stay until after midnight. Then wake up at 6 a.m. to g