Local News | Southwest Arkansas Daily (2022)

HORATIO – Unofficial election night results are in for the Aug. 9 Horatio special school election and officials with the Horatio School District say they are thrilled with the results.

A total of 338 people turned out for the election. Horatio Public Schools asked voters within the district to approve a bond refinance as a way to open up additional financing options for the future. The issue was approved rather narrowly, with 198 – or 58 percent – voting in favor. A total of 140 voted against.

Turn out was low with just under 18 percent of voters in the Horatio School District submitting their ballots. Most of those were on election day with the Sevier County Clerk’s Office reporting just a couple of dozen early and absentee ballots.

Despite the relatively small approval margin, Horatio Superintendent Zane Vanderpool says the election was a big win for Horatio students.

“It's a win for our students, not just the ones who will entering our halls next week, but those that are still at home,” said Vanderpool. “We are very pleased with how the voters turned out to support the Horatio School District.”

The approval of the bond refinance issue will allow the district to extend repayment of its current bond holdings to 2052. This, said Vanderpool, will open up additional funds for other school needs, such as future raises for teachers and facility projects.

“It allows us as a school district to reduce our expenses for paying those bonds and also increase revenue so we can continue to operate in our district the way we used to as well as plan for the future for any projects that may arise as the school needs them.”

The approval of the refinance issue will not bring any change to Horatio's current millage rate of 44 mils. This was a point school officials stressed at various public meetings in recent weeks in support of the measure.

Vanderpool he and other officials with the Horatio School District are thankful for district voters in approving the issue. In addition, he highlighted the contributions of the Horatio School Board and the Friends of the Horatio School District group for their efforts in publizing the benefits of the measure's approval.

“I'd like to thank our school board for their leadership and foresight in trying to get this refinance accomplished right away,” explained Vanderpool. “We're grateful for the chance to be able to work in the community like we do where we have the support as you see in the Horatio School District. We have our folks to support for that.”

AGFC hunting guidebooks available now online 08/11/22

The latest edition of the Arkansas Hunting Guidebook is at the printer and will begin to appear in sporting goods stores throughout the state this month. You don’t have to wait to catch up on this year’s regulations. A downloadable version of the guidebook is available now atagfc.comfor people who want to take a sneak peek or save a digital copy to their phones.

Some notable changes that are highlighted in this year’s guidebook include:

-The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone was expanded to include Ashley, Bradley, Randolph and Union counties after detection of CWD-positive deer within 10-miles of these counties.

-Modern Gun Bear Hunting is now allowed in Bear Zones 3 and 4 through a limited quota hunt. Zone 2 encompasses northern Sevier and Howard Counties as well as all of Polk. Southern Sevier and all of Little River are in Zone 3, which historically has prohibited the hunting of bears. That, however, changed following new AGFC regulations passed this spring. Seewww.agfc.com/en/hunting/big-game/bear/bearzonesfor details.

-In addition, bear archery season in Bear Zones 1 and 2 open seven days earlier than deer archery season.

-Other changes include one that now requires a valid hunting or fishing license, or an AGFC camping permit, to camp on AGFC-owned wildlife management areas.

-Trail cameras on WMAs must have the owner’s contact information visibly affixed.

-Any deer, turkey or bear killed by vehicle collision must be reported to the AGFC Radio Room (800-482-9262) before it may be taken into possession.

-Guiding while under the influence is now illegal.

Additional changes were made to some wildlife management areas as well as changes that impact waterfowl hunters, which will be highlighted in the 2022-23 Waterfowl Hunting Guidebook available this fall.

And finally – we know this is the important part – Statewide 2022 Deer Season Opening Days are as follows:

Archery — Sept. 24
Muzzleloader — Oct. 15
Modern Gun — Nov. 12
In addition, this season’s Special Youth Modern Gun Hunts — Nov. 5-6 and Jan. 7-8

Private Land Antlerless-only Modern Gun Hunt — Dec. 29-31

Visitwww.agfc.com/guidebooksfor downloadable versions of all AGFC hunting and fishing regulations guidebooks.

School safety, tax relief discussion advances at special session 08/11/22

The first day of the Arkansas General Assembly’s special session ended with the advancement of two pieces of legislation.

The Joint Budget Committee advanced SB2. This sets aside $50 million from the revenue surplus for the purpose of funding a school safety grant program. The grants will help districts fund the recommendations of the School Safety Commission.

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The House Revenue and Taxation Committee also advanced HB1002 which accelerates the income and corporate tax cuts announced last year. If enacted, the top income tax rate would drop from 5.5% to 4.9% and make the reduction retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022. Corporate income taxes would be reduced 5.9% to 5.3% on Jan. 1, 2023.

HB1002 also grants a nonrefundable income tax credit of $150 to taxpayers with income up to $87,000 and $300 to couples filing jointly with income up to $174,000.

In addition, HB1002 adopts a federal depreciation schedule for businesses.

UA Cossatot releases grad and honor lists 08/11/22

DE QUEEN – UA Cossatot's Office of the Registrar recently released the summer 2022 Chancellor's List, Vice Chancellor's List, and 2022 summer graduates.

Local students named to the UA Cossatot Summer 2022 Chancellor's List and Chancellor’s List and graduate list include, by hometown:

Ashdown: Tucker Patrick Tompkins, Lexius Winfrey and Breana Nicole Noble; Mikayla Blagg: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing, Kellie Anne Jones: Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Raylei Suzzanne Merrell: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Breana Nicole Noble: Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapist Assistant, Cory Tatom: Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapist Assistant, Lexy Walden: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Lexius Winfrey: Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapist Assistant and Technical Certificate: Health Professions

Foreman: Jaymee Hess

Gillham: Ariel Morgan Dinkins; Danielle Nicole Boyd: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Kenzie Elizabeth Cowan: Associate of Science: STEM, Chunjung Ke Howell: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing; Ariel Dinkins: Associate of Science: Business and Technical Certificate: General Studies,

Stephanie Rose Parsons: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing

Ben Lomond: Kaitlyn Finigan: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing

De Queen: Logan Turner; Sara Elizabeth Abril: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Stephanie Butler: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Diana Hernandez Galindo: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and

Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Layton Jackson: Associate of Arts and

Associate of General Studies, A'Nayzia Janay Jefferson: Associate of Arts and Associate of General Studies, Maria Munoz Juache: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Alexandra Salinas: Technical Certificate: Cosmetology, Katherine Rachelle Taylor: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing, Ivan Trejo: Technical Certificate: General Studies, Logan Wayne Turner: Associate of Arts, Associate of General Studies, and Technical Certificate: General Studies, Emily Brooke Whisenhunt: Technical Certificate: Health Professions

Dierks: Savannah Nicole Morris: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Lindsey Jean Stamps: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing

Horatio: Heather Barton: Technical Certificate: General Studies, Ashley Olalde: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing, Misty Marie Wheeler: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing

Lockesburg: Mina Christine McAda: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions

Umpire: Chloe Wakley: Associate of General Studies

Winthrop: Monica Elane Forrest: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing, Jaymee Marie Hess: Associate of Applied Science: Physical Therapist Assistant and Technical Certificate: Health Professions, Amy Rachelle Shults: Technical Certificate: Practical Nursing and Technical Certificate: Health Professions

State to offer future PAT classes online 08/11/22

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has announced its Pest Control Program and Pesticide Program licensing and certification exams are now offered online. The program has been offered locally for years with much interest, but the announcement means that process will be more accessible than ever before.

The online exams are proctored in partnership with Everblue, a technology company that specializes in digitizing and automating processes. Candidates can register online for state Pest Control Program and Pesticide Program exams and will be immediately enrolled into their on-demand test. Exams proctored through Everblue will have an additional proctoring fee of $30 per exam.

In addition to the online exams, the Department will continue to offer in-person certification exams at the main office in Little Rock.

Learn more about the Pest Control program online examinations atagriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/regulatory-section/pest-control. Learn more about Pesticide Program licenses atagriculture.arkansas.gov/plant-industries/pesticide-section/licensing-permits/.

De Queen man sentenced to 50 years for 2020 fatal crash 08/10/22

DE QUEEN – A De Queen man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in a 2020 accident that resulted in the deaths of two people and the injuring of a third.
According to records with the Sevier County Circuit Court, 25-year-old Hugo Hernandez was sentenced last week to a total of 50 years in prison on two counts of negligent homicide and a single count of felony battery. The two negligent homicide charges each carried a sentence of 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with the battery charge adding an additional 10. All three sentences are to be served consecutively.

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Hernandez pleaded guilty to three charges earlier this summer. The charges stem from a June, 2020 incident in which Hernandez killed two people in a motor vehicle accident and injured a third. Investigators determined Hernandez was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

State police records show 22-year-old Bernard Edwards, Junior, of Fulton and an unidentified minor were killed in that accident.

Hernandez was arrested after charges were formally filed following an investigation into the accident. He was charged with negligent homicide for the deaths of the minor and Edwards, felony battery for the injuries sustained to the other passenger, and driving while intoxicated. He was initially released from jail after posting bond on a $75,000 bail amount. However, his bond was revoked following his arrest for public intoxication in Hot Springs last year.

In addition, the victim’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against Hernandez and five other individuals who the family alleges served alcohol to Hernandez prior to the accident. The names of the five individuals listed as defendants are not listed in the suit.

The family is asking for a jury trial in the civil lawsuit. The family said they are seeking a monetary judgment against Hernandez for both economic and non-economic damages they’ve suffered due to Edward’s death.

More details emerge in case of Texas man who shot deputy, stole truck in Horatio 08/10/22

TEXARKANA, Texas – Authorities say a Texas man killed his father-in-law and wounded his mother-in-law before stealing a truck in Horatio, shooting a deputy in Bowie County and then killing himself following an hours-long manhunt.

Hector Alejandro Pintor Aguilar, 32, was identified as the man behind a swath of violence over the weekend. On Monday, Bowie County Sheriff Jeff Neal held a press conference to describe what led up the incident. Investigators determined Aguilar fatally shot his father-in-law, 55-year-old Serafin Garcia Alanis of Texarkana, and wounded his mother-in-law Saturday morning.

Aguilar then fled to Arkansas where he stole a truck at gunpoint in Horatio.

Around 10:30 that evening, Bowie County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Lillis observed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck. Lillis attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle. When he approached the vehicle from the passenger side, he was shot in the face by the suspect.

Life Net Ambulance personnel responded to Lt. Lillis at the scene while area law enforcement redoubled their manhunt for Aguilar.

As Lillis was being transported to St. Michael’s Hospital, Aguilar reportedly abandoned the stolen vehicle he was driving and stole another vehicle at gunpoint before fleeing the scene.

That vehicle was later found in a wood line off Interstate 30 where Aguilar presumably fled on foot. Tracking dogs from a nearby Texas prison were able to track Aguilar to a vacant residence. Eventually, using cameras, a tactical response team from Texas discovered Aguilar was deceased inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Lt. Lillis was treated at St. Michael’s and transferred to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for specialized care. He remains in stable condition.

Several Sevier Co. youth awarded scholarships through 4-H 08/10/22

Years of detailed project work, community service and leadership efforts have paid off for 32 4-H members, including a number from Sevier County, in the form of college scholarships.

The Arkansas 4-H Foundation recently awarded $24,000 in college scholarships to youth across Arkansas. Amounts ranged from $500 to $8,000.

Organizers say these scholarships directly help Arkansas 4-H members continue to excel. The scholarships are provided for by generous donors, many of whom are former 4-H members who want to pay it forward for future generations.

Sevier County youth receiving 4-H scholarships this year include Alec Frachiseur. He received the $3,500 Rick and Lynette Cartwright Scholarship.

Ethan Wolcott, Hunter Frachiseur and Madison Bagley, all of Sevier County, each received a $1,000 Division of Agriculture scholarship. The scholarships are awarded to youth who have exhibited livestock at the Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show within the past year and who plan to pursue an agriculture-related major in college.

The Arkansas 4-H Foundation has awarded more than $170,000 to 4-H members this year, enabling them to attend summer camps and leadership and citizenship trainings. The foundation also provides sponsorships for more than 40 students with winning record books to attend National 4-H Congress in Atlanta each year, a trip valued at $1,500 per person.

Record books reflect each student’s achievements in leadership, community service and work in their chosen projects. 4-H offers more than 70 projects spanning the arts and humanities, healthy living, civil engagement, animal and plant sciences, engineering and technology.

For more information about 4-H, visithttps://4h.uada.edu/. To learn more about other extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visituaex.uada.edu.

Quorum court discusses APRA funds, county airport 08/10/22

DE QUEEN – The airport and federal pandemic relief funds were the main items of discussion at Monday’s meeting of the Sevier County Quorum Court.

The meeting however began with a report from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. She introduced Morgan Miller, who will head the hospital’s therapy departments.

House said the hospital is set to receive keys to the building in early October with plans to open this fall or early winter.

Meghan McMahan of Southwest EMS also provided an update during Monday’s quorum court meeting. She said the ambulance service has purchased a lot across from Smiles of Arkansas in downtown De Queen for its new base.

Under new business, justices of the peace heard a report from Sevier County Airport Board Director Dick Tallman. Tallman said interest continues to grow in the county airport, with increasing traffic related to the booming tourism industry in Hochatown, Okla. He said recent federal grants for the airport have left it looking better than ever. The board, he added, is planning to add two additional hangars to the airport in the coming years.

Following a request from Tallman, the quorum court voted to appropriate $7,000 for a new courtesy vehicle for use at the airport. Tallman said the original courtesy car, a 2003 former police car purchased from the City of De Queen years ago, has met a timely end. The $7,000 appropriation approved on Monday will be used to purchase an unused 2013 Chevy Tahoe from the De Queen Police Department.

In other business, the quorum court voted to approve Debbie Neal to the Sevier County Library Board. She will takeover the position held by her mother, Joann Moore, who has retired.

The quorum court also voted 8-1 to appropriate state funds received by the county to provide $5,000 bonuses to each full-time law enforcement officer hired by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department. State lawmakers approved the appropriation earlier this year to provide the bonus to each full-time law enforcement officer in Arkansas. This was done as a replacement to an original request to provide state-funded raises for those officers.

The only cost to Arkansas counties and cities would be the retirement contribution required for the $5,000 stipend. The contribution from Sevier County totaled around $12,000.

The sole dissenting vote on the quorum court was from David Wright, who said out of principal he could not support a state mandate that required the county to provide its own funding. In total, Sevier County received nearly $100,000 in state funding to pay for the bonuses.

Finally, the quorum court meeting ended with a discussion on the remaining $1.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding received by Sevier County last year. The federal funds were provided through a law passed by Congress last year.

No decisions were made on how to use the money and the issue was tabled. However, county officials said they plan to return at a future meeting to discuss how best to use the remaining funds.

Today is special election for Horatio School District 08/09/22

HORATIO – Today is election day for the Horatio special school election. Officials with the Horatio School District are asking voters in the Horatio School District to approve a school bond refinancing request.

If approved, the bond refinance would bring no changes to the district’s current millage rate of 44 mils. The current millage rate would be extended to 2052 if the measure is approved. Horatio Public Schools is asking the public to approve the refinance request as a way to allow the district to secure additional funding for other projects around the district, including possible future pay raises and facility improvements.

Officials say the passage of the refinance measure would provide the district with funds needed to maintain itself as an independent, community school district for years to come. Again, Horatio district officials and members of the community in support of the measure have stressed its passage would not increase the district's current millage rate, but only extend it. The district millage rate would not decrease if the measure does not see enough support to pass.

Voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today at the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio and at the Winthrop Cafeteria.

De Queen Schools gears up for return to school Aug. 15 08/09/22

DE QUEEN – The return of school is just around the corner and the main topic of discussion during Monday night’s meeting of the De Queen School Board.
Board members met following an open house to showcase the new high school to Leopards families and community members that evening. Those who stopped by also had a chance to meet the new DHS Principal, Audrey Chandler. Mrs. Chandler joined us on the Morning Brew Monday morning and, in case you missed that, we’ll have clips from that interview in our other news broadcasts throughout the day.

Monday night’s meeting began with several routine items of discussion, including reports from the superintendent and assistant superintendents. Superintendent Jason Sanders said the district is geared up and ready for the start of classes on Aug. 15. Asst. Superintendent Lance Pinkerton shared several facility improvement updates, including news that the primary school parking lot would be paved in time for the first day of school. He also shared news that renovations to Leopard Coliseum were also complete, including a new floor decorated with the painted head of a Leopard.

Much of Monday night’s meeting focused on the district’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Plan. Following the decision by the Arkansas Legislature not to include teacher raises in its discussion on how to use the state’s $1.6 billion surplus, Sanders said the district is looking at ways to provide some additional compensation to its teachers. He said the district will submit a plan to the state to use federal pandemic relief funds to pay for that additional compensation in the next 30-60 days. He stressed the use of the funds in this effort to reward De Queen teachers for their contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sanders said those federal funds are also being used for several improvement projects across the district, including bus cameras, door scanners, HVAC upgrades and new Chromebooks for ninth graders. The district has approximately $1.7 million in federal relief funds remaining after these projects.

Several resignations, new hires and transfers were also approved during the meeting.

Sanders took a moment following the meeting to state the district’s welcome to both new and returning students. He also encouraged commuters to use extra caution once school starts to ensure the safety of bus riders and other students going to and fro school.

The start of classes for the De Queen School District is Aug. 15. The next meeting of the De Queen School Board is scheduled for Sept. 12 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the administration office.

Sevier County Block Party in Horatio this evening 08/09/22

HORATIO – The Sevier County Block Party Committee will host its third event of the summer this evening from 6-8 p.m. at the Horatio City Park.

The whole community is invited to come by for an evening of free food, fun, games and fun for the whole family. Organizers invite all area churches, organizations and businesses to get involved in this and other block party events scheduled this year.

Additional events include at the Herman Dierks Park in De Queen on Sept. 13 and at the Gillham Fire Department on Oct. 4. Both of those events will also be held from 6-8 p.m.

The Sevier County Block Party was started by Sevier County Sheriff Robert Gentry and others with the sheriff’s office to help foster strong relations between Sevier County’s communities and the law enforcement agencies that serve them.

For more information visit the Sevier County Block Party Committee on Facebook.

Trial date set for former school administrator charged with sexual assault 08/09/22

HORATIO – A November trial date has been set for a former Horatio High School administrator charged earlier this year for allegedly maintaining a sexual relationship with a student.

According to records within the Sevier County Circuit Court, 41-year-old Labrada Vann is set to appear before a jury trial on Nov. 2 if she maintains her current not-guilty plea.

Vann was arrested April 8 following an investigation by the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office this past spring. Vann was employed as vice principal for Horatio High School.

According to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, investigators were contacted by the Arkansas Crimes Against Children Hotline on April 4 in reference to a possible inappropriate relationship between Vann and a student. The sheriff’s office then began an investigation into the allegations. The sheriff’s office stated in a press release that information developed and an arrest warrant against Vann issued.

Vann posted a $100,000 bond following her arraignment.

Upon a conviction, the charge of first degree sexual assault carries a prison sentence of six to 30 years.

Murder suspected found dead following manhunt 08/08/22

HOOKS, Texas – A Texas murder suspect who reportedly shot a deputy in Bowie County, stole a truck in Horatio and led authorities on an hours-long manhunt was found dead Sunday morning.
According to information shared by both the Sevier County and Bowie County Sheriff’s Offices, the incident began after the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Hector Alejandro Pintor Aguilar of Texas, was sought by police for the murder of another Texas man on Aug. 6.

Later that day, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an armed robbery in Horatio. In that incident the suspect – who authorities identified as Aguilar – stole a 2005 GMC Sierra from the victim at gunpoint.

Around 10:30 that evening, Bowie County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Lillis observed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen truck. Lillis attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle. When he approached the vehicle from the passenger side, he was shot in the face by the suspect. Witnesses observed the shoting and attempted to follow the suspect as he fled the scene of the injured deputy.

Witnesses were unable to maintain sight of Aguilar due to his erratic driving. Life Net Ambulance personnel responded to Lt. Lillis at the scene while area law enforcement continued their manhunt for Aguilar.

As Lillis was being transported to St. Michael’s Hospital, Aguilar reportedly abandoned the stolen vehicle he was driving and stole another vehicle at gunpoint before fleeing the scene.

That vehicle was later found in a wood line off Interstate 30 where Aguilar presumably fled on foot. Tracking dogs from a nearby Texas prison were able to track Aguilar to a vacant residence. Authorities say they set up a perimeter and eventually located Aguilar inside the home using a tactical robot.

Aguilar was non-cooperative and led law enforcement agents on an hours-long standoff. Eventually, using cameras, a tactical response team from Texas discovered Aguilar was deceased inside the home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Lt. Lillis was treated at St. Michael’s and transferred to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for specialized care. He is reportedly in stable condition.

The Bowie County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement of thanks to all participating law enforcement agencies involved in the incident. Nearly a dozen agencies were involved in the operation.

Today is last day of early voting in Horatio school election 08/08/22

HORATIO – Today is the last day of early voting for the Horatio special school election. Officials with the Horatio School District are asking voters in the Horatio School District to approve a school bond refinancing request.

If approved, the bond refinance would bring no changes to the district’s current millage rate.

Early voting is being held at the Sevier County Clerk’s Office through 4:30 this afternoon. The office is located in the Sevier County Courthouse in downtown De Queen. Tuesday, Aug. 9 is election day.

Voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the J.L. Walker Fellowship Hall in Horatio and at the Winthrop Cafeteria.

De Queen High School hosting open house this evening 08/08/22

DE QUEEN – De Queen High School will host an open house this evening to allow Leopard families and members of the public check out the new De Queen High School campus. Although the campus was completed two years ago, the high school was unable to host an open house at the time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tonight’s event will be the official welcome to the De Queen community for the new campus.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. and continue through 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. The De Queen School Board will convene in regular session in the high school library following the open house.

Members of the De Queen High School Student Council will provide tours of the facility. Visitors will also have a chance to meet new DHS Principal Audrey Chandler.

Rain and cooler temps expected to bring much needed relief to area 08/08/22

DE QUEEN – The listening area is likely in for some relative relief this week as far as July’s searing heat and lack of rainfall are concerned.

Today, the National Weather Service is calling for a 50 percent chance of rain with an additional 30 percent chance this evening. Those chances grow to 70 percent on Tuesday and continue with a less likely chance for rain through Thursday.

The storm front is expected to bring a slight reduction in temperatures, with highs in the low to mid 90s into the weekend. It’s perhaps not much, but a significant improvement from the consistent three-digit temps we saw in July.

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The hottest official temperature reading for July was 105 recorded on both the ninth and the 21st. In fact, we exceeded the century mark a total of 14 days during the month. We only measured a total of 1.35 inches of rain for the month, and 1.12 of that was recorded on Saturday.

Compare that to last year, when we recorded a total of 6.30 inches of rain and not a single day with three-digit temps.

Precipitation so far for 2022 is 28.53 inches.

KDQN is the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet today 08/08/22

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet in regular session on Monday, Aug. 8 beginning at 2 p.m.

The meeting will begin with a hospital construction and financial report update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. In addition, the quorum court will hear a report Southwest EMS as well as David Boone Ministries, which administers several senior citizens centers in Sevier County and others across Southwest Arkansas.

Under new business, Justices of the peace will discuss a number of routine financial matters include a request to transfer $1,200 derived from the sale of hay at the Sevier County Airport to the Sevier County Airport Fund.

The quorum court will also amend the 2022 budget to make an appropriation for a state-funded stipend payment for fulltime law enforcement officers employed by Sevier County.

In addition, the sheriff’s department is requesting an appropriation to pay for the replacement of an AC unit at the Sevier County jail and $3,500 for communication equipment.

Finally, justices of the peace will discuss the use of federal money provided to the county through the American Recover Plan Act of 2021.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8 in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Arkansas legislative special session begins this week 08/08/22

The Governor is calling the General Assembly into an Special Session this week to address the use of surplus funds to provide tax relief and funding for school safety measures.

The Arkansas School Safety Commission was reinstated in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Members of the original commission created in March 2018 submitted 30 recommendations in their original 124-page report. Many of their recommendations were introduced by the legislature and subsequently became law.

In recent weeks, the commission has been identifying new recommendations on best practices regarding school safety that have developed since the commission's 2018 report. The commission’s report was delivered the Governor last week.

The new recommendations include ensuring that all students have access to mental health services and establishing a behavioral threat assessment team.

Another recommendation states that all schools should ideally have at least one School Resource Officer for each campus and no campus should be without an armed presence at any time.

Since many of these recommendation will require funding, the Governor has stated he will ask the legislature to use $50 million from the state surplus to create a grant program for school districts.

The other item on the Governor’s call concerns use of surplus funds to provide tax relief. Proposals include accelerating future reductions of income and corporate tax cuts and creating a $150 tax credit for Arkansans making below a designated income threshold.

In a special session, the Governor is required to specify the purpose for convening. No other business can be transacted by the General Assembly until every item on the call has been disposed of.

It requires a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers to remain in session after disposing items on the call. That extension cannot exceed 15 days.

To the disappointment of many educators and members of the public, the Arkansas Legislature declined to discuss using the surplus to fund statewide teacher pay raises. Educators from across the state held a rally this past weekend at the capital to plea for lawmakers to consider the pay raise. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is seeing a lot of support for the pay raises but said it’s a discussion that will likely be delayed until next year.

Dierks Pine Tree Festival is tonight, Saturday 08/05/22

DIERKS – The Dierks Chamber of Commerce is set to present the 49th annual Pine Tree Festival this weekend
Activities kick off this evening and continue through Saturday with a host of activities for the whole family in celebration of the local timber industry.

Events include the New Hope Extreme Wrestling group this evening from 7-10 p.m. Tonight will also include Battlefield Laser Tag from 4-8 p.m.

On Saturday, activities continue with a 5K at 7 a.m. and parade competitions from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A mechanical bull will be set up from 3-6 p.m. and celebrity donkey races start at eight. Sign up for the 5K begins at 6 a.m.

Admission to Friday night’s New Hope Extreme Wrestling is $15 for ringside seats, $5 for 7-12 years of age and $10 for those 13 and up. Admission to Saturday night’s donkey races at $5 for those 7-12 and $10 for everyone 13 and up. Those aged six and under get in for free.

Make sure to check out the Chain Saw Competition beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday. Activities during this competition include an archery shoot, corn hole competition, arm wrestling and more.

Saturday will include a raffle for $500 in cash as well as a giveaway for those aged seven to 12 years old for both a boys and girls bike.

The Pine Tree Festival is also set to include a kid’s carnival, bounce house, food vendors, arts & crafts vendors and so much more. Again, make sure to check out this weekend’s Pine Tree Festival, presented by the Dierks Chamber of Commerce.

LITTLE ROCK – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made Arkansas farmers and ranchers in a number of counties eligible for emergency loans under a drought disaster declaration.

The primary eligible counties within Southwest Arkansas are Sevier, Little River, Hempstead and Nevada Counties. A total of 20 counties in Arkansas are eligible for emergency federal loans under the drought disaster declaration. In addition, 11 neighboring counties are also eligible, including Howard, Polk and Pike.

The Emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or anatural disaster or emergency is declaredby the President under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster or quarantine area. Also, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the declared, designated, or quarantined area may qualify for Emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for an emergency loan is Dec. 8.

For more information as well as application forms, visit the Farm Service Agency website at www.fsa.usda.gov or contact your nearest Farm Service Agency. Residents of Sevier and Polk Counties can call the De Queen-based Farm Service Agency at (870) 584-3111. Residents of Little River and Howard Counties can call the Texarkana-based Farm Service Agency at (870) 330-3134.

Benefit for DQPD officer is this Saturday 08/05/22

DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department and members of the community are joining forces to help one of the department’s longest-serving officers as he undergoes a medical treatment.

The fundraising effort has been scheduled for DQPD Officer Bobby Bagley this Saturday, Aug. 6 beginning at 5 p.m. at De Queen High School. The event will include a chicken dinner fundraiser. The event was originally scheduled for Aug. 13 but was rescheduled to Aug. 6.

Bagley has been a member of the De Queen Police Department for over two decades and has served as a De Queen School Resource Officer for 12 of those years. Bagley is going to have to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for major heart surgery for a minimum two weeks stay. Unfortunately, organizers said that the Arkansas Heart Hospital is not able to perform the surgery within the state.

The fundraiser seeks to help Bagley with the related travel and treatment costs. Again, the event will be held in the De Queen High School Cafeteria on Saturday, Aug. 6 beginning at 5 p.m. Meal will be by donation.

Paraloma boat ramp on Millwood to close for repairs 08/05/22

ASHDOWN, Ark -The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Thursday it will temporarily close the Paraloma boat ramp on Millwood Lake from Aug. 22-29.

The Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office scheduled the closure to repair the entrance road to the ramp.

Because of safety concerns during construction, it is necessary for the boat ramp and bank area to close.

USACE officials said they regret any inconveniences this may cause and ask for the public’s cooperation until the work is complete.

For more information or questions, contact the Millwood Tri-Lakes Project Office at 870-898-3343.

Recreation information can be found on the Internet atwww.swl.usace.army.mil, on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/littlerockusaceand on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/usacelittlerock.

July brought plenty of heat, little rain to SWAR 08/04/22

DE QUEEN – We probably don’t need to tell you, but it was a hot, dry July for De Queen and the surrounding area.

The hottest official temperature reading for the month was 105 recorded on both the ninth and the 21st. In fact, we exceeded the century mark a total of14 days during the month.

The coldest morning was 69 degrees on the 11th. We only measured a total of 1.35 inches of rain for the month, and 1.12 of that was recorded on Saturday.

Compare that to last year, when we recorded a total of 6.30 inches of rain and not a single day with three-digit temps. July of 2020 brought less rain but, again, much cooler temps with an average only in the high eighties.

Precipitation so far for 2022 is 28.53 inches.

KDQN is the official reporting station for the National Weather Service in De Queen.

The rain that fell during the last weekend of July was helpful, but more rain would go a long way to reviving pastures for area cattle producers. Hay shortages may be possible for many this winter. However, there may be just enough season left that, with more moisture, producers could gain some ground before winter sets in.

Fortunately some more of that much-needed relief may be on the way. The National Weather Service is predicting additional rain chances today and throughout much of next next week. Temperatures are also expected to drop slightly and remain with daily highs in the low to mid 90s.

Horatio Elementary hosting Back to School Bash tonight 08/04/22

HORATIO – Horatio Elementary School will present its Back to School Bash this evening to welcome both new and returning elementary students to the Horatio School District.

The event kicks off at 5 p.m. at the Horatio Elementary campus and continues through eight this evening. School officials will showcase the elementary school’s new playground while also offering a host of free activities and refreshments.

Tonight’s activities include bounce houses, hot dogs, popcorn and all the fixings, free backpacks and school supplies, train rides, hair cuts, games and train rides. It’s going to be an action packed evening with fun for the whole family. Everyone who comes by will also have a chance to open the Number One Country treasure chest filled with hundreds of dollars in cash as well as other prizes.

Again, all new and returning Horatio Elementary students are invited to come out tonight for the Back to School Bash at Horatio Elementary School from 5-8 p.m.

Lockesburg City Council discusses animal ordinance, online payment for water customers 08/04/22

LOCKESBURG – The Lockesburg City Council discussed a number of items during its July council meeting including the possibility of online bill payment for municipal water customers and an animal control ordinance.

The council met on Tuesday, July 26 with all but one member of the city council present.

The meeting began with a discussion on methods for city water customers to pay their bills online. Several options were discussed. Council members voted to begin researching what option would be best for use by both the city and its water customers.

The council then approved a motion to hire Sydney Hill as part-time office help.

Other items discussed included a possible animal at large ordinance after the city had received an animal complaint concerning a small property in the city limits. No action was taken and the ordinance was tabled until the council could consult with City Attorney Erin Hunter.

Following a brief discussion, a motion was made to charge a $50 fee for rental of the pavilion at the Ida Margaret Coulter Stone Park when using a yard sale. The fee would be refunded $25 if the pavilion is left clean following its use.

Discussion then turned to a revised plan from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to overlay several streets within Lockesburg, including S. Park, E. Pine, W. Pine and Provo Road. The cost to the city would be $23,000. The plan was approved.

A motion was made to provide a raise up to $20 an hour for both the Wasterwater and Water Department supervisors. The motion carried a stipulation that no further raises would be provided until January of 2024.

The council was informed by Waste Water Supervisor Matt Webb that a sewer line had been damaged by Windstream contractors laying internet lines in town. Webb also informed the council of several fundraisers being planned for this Fall including a possible haunted house, chili cook off and a gun raffle.

A motion was approved to allow City Clerk Amy Wedehase to work on setting up a webpage for the city.

The meeting then adjourned around 9 p.m.

De Queen Primary, Elementary continuing school supplies drive through Aug. 9 08/04/22

DE QUEEN – And a reminder that De Queen Primary and Elementary Schools are currently hosting a school supplies drive to help local families in need.

Those interested are asked to look at each grade’s supply lists and purchase all the items on that list for donation to a child in need. Organizers ask that all items are placed in a plastic bag and labeled for what grade the bag will be going to.

Donations can be dropped off at the Primary school for grades Kindergarten through second and at De Queen Elementary for grades third through fifth. Donations will need to be turned in by Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Organizers say backpacks are not needed.

AGFC asking for hunters' help through turkey, quail survey 08/04/22

The break in triple-digit temperatures may inspire many outdoors enthusiasts to pick up their hiking, cycling and camping adventures, and many hunters’ minds already are centered around improvements they can make in their favorite hunting location or scouting a new piece of public land for fall. If you happen to scare up a covey of quail or see a turkey during your adventures, the AGFC wants to know.

Turkey and quail sightings can both be entered into the AGFC’s Annual Wild Turkey and Quail Population Survey, which is available via website atwww.agfc.com/turkeysurveyor through the AGFC’s smartphone app. (Download the iPhone app hereorDownload the Android app here.)

In addition to helping biologists gauge the hatch, participating in the survey can guide future habitat work on public and private land, particularly with surveys to the quail response.

In a press release, Jeremy Wood, AGFC Turkey Program coordinator, said the data shared in the survey will be generalized across counties or regions. So hunters or other observers providing specific coordinates can submit without fear of giving away their personal hotspot.

I’m a turkey hunter, too, and I know how quiet you need to be to keep a good place a secret,” Wood said. “We only require and share location data at a county level, but the more specific location information people are willing to provide, the better it can be used to focus our conservation efforts.”

Wood added that increased data on turkey information can show biologists possible gaps where good habitat may exist but the birds have not found their way to make the best use of it. The survey is fast and easy to complete and can go a long way towards helping turkey and quail populations in Arkansas.

The data we’ve collected so far through the survey is a good start, but only 240-250 participants contribute to the effort, and a good number of those are employees of the AGFC and other agencies who are reporting while doing work in other capacities,” Wood said.

That’s less than one percent of current estimates of turkey hunters in Arkansas. If we could get even one percent (more would be better) of our hunters to report quail and turkeys they see from June through August, it would boost our data tremendously. It only takes a minute or two to report through your phone or computer, and it will make a big difference to our conservation efforts.”

Ex-employee suing Domtar on claim he was terminated for medical marijuana 08/03/22

By Patrick Massey

ASHDOWN – An ex-employee of Domtar Paper Company is suing the corporation after he was reportedly fired for testing positive for marijuana he claims he was medically prescribed to use under state law.

According to a lawsuit filed in the Little River Circuit Court on July 29, Bryan Prinsen of Miller County is seeking damages against Domtar following his dismissal from the company’s Ashdown-based facility in July. Prinsen claims he was terminated from the company as a result of his status as a medical marijuana patient. The suit states Prinsen used marijuana specifically while “away from work.”

Prinsen cites Amendment 98 to the Arkansas Constitution which cites that “an employer shall not discriminate against” an “employee…based upon the employee’s status as a qualifying [medical marijuana] patient. The legal modification was made to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, which legalized the use of medical marijuana in Arkansas. The medical marijuana amendment was passed in 2016 by a vote of 53 percent as an amendment to the state constitution.

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Prinsen claims he was fired from Domtar on July 12 despite informing the company two-years ago that he was a medical marijuana patient. He says he was terminated from his position after the company “unilaterally” changed its medical marijuana policy to reclassify all of its workforce as “safety-sensitive.” Under this designation, employers can hire or fire individuals who qualify for medical marijuana based upon the assumption that using marijuana would “constitute a threat to health or safety.” Prior to the change Prinsen states his position did not qualify as “safety-sensitive.”

Following this policy change, Prinsen claims he was initially suspended without pay and later fired. The suit states Prinsen has been employed by Domtar for 11 years. In addition, the suit claims no disciplinary action was taken by the company after he tested positive for marijuana over the past two years due to his status as a medical marijuana patient.

The lawsuit notes that Domtar offered Prinsen an opportunity to return to work if he could produce a clean drug test or attend drug rehabilitation. Prinsen claims he could not produce a clean drug test and refused to attend rehabilitation for his prescribed use of medical marijuana.

Prinsen's attorney, Chris Burks of the We Help Law Firm in North Little Rock, said the lawsuit is part of a broader legal discussion of medical marijuana and labor relations within Arkansas.

“This is an important labor and employment law issue not just for Ashdown, but the entire region,” said Burks. “These cases are just now getting into the court system so we haven't had a definitive ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court yet on some of these issues. But it is an important issue and it's going to become an even more important issue because on the ballot this fall most likely will be an amendment for recreational marijuana.”

Specifically regarding Prinsen's case, Burks said the suit has additional standing as the “safety-sensitive” designation revision was done without consulting the plant's union.

“They made that designation without negotiating with the union,” he said. “They just made a unilateral decision and we don't think that's right for the employees in the area. We think that employees have the right to medical marijuana in Arkansas and if there's going to be some big change like this, then that needs to come through the union negotiating process.”

Through the lawsuit, Prinsen is seeking back pay in addition to lost benefits and compensation as well as attorney fees. Prinsen is requesting a jury trial in the case. A date for that trial has not yet been set.
As of Wednesday morning, Domtar has not returned an emailed request for comment on the litigation.

Dierks man charged with thefts from Howard, Pike Counties 08/03/22

Originally reported by www.southwestarkansasradio.com

DIERKS – A Dierks man has been charged in connection with property reported as being stolen last month in Howard and Pike counties.

Carlos Ortiz, 30, is charged with a felony count of Theft by Receiving in Howard County. Authorities say a 2022 Honda ATV was reported stolen. Officers received information that the ATV was at Ortiz’s house in the Oak Hill Estates near Dierks. Deputies said they observed an ATV in the property’s back yard that matched the description of the stolen property. A check of the unit’s serial number returned as a match for the stolen ATV. Ortiz told deputies he didn’t know how the ATV got to his house.

While at Ortiz’s residence, officers said they also observed a Bad Boy lawnmower, a new garden tiller, a new push lawnmower, and other lawn equipment on the property. The following day, deputies said they received a theft report on the lawnmower, and Pike County Sheriff’s deputies also reported the theft of the other lawn equipment at Ortiz’s residence.

Police say the Honda ATV was valued at $15,000 dollars and the Bad Boy mower was valued at $2,500 dollars.

Arkansas Sales Tax Holiday is this weekend 08/03/22

Itisestimated that the average family will spend more than $600 per child on back-to-school shopping this year. This time of year can bring a financial burden to many families across Arkansas. That is why Arkansas officials are reminding the public about the upcoming Arkansas Sales Tax holiday.

This year, the event will beginat 12:01 am on Saturday, Aug. 6, and will continueuntil 11:59 pm on Sunday, Aug. 7.

Act 757 of 2011 provides for a sales tax holiday in Arkansas during the first weekend of August each year. A sales tax holiday is a temporary period when state and local sales taxes are not collected or paid on the purchase of certain products.

Clothing less than $100 per item is exempt during the weekend, as well as clothing accessories less than $50 per item. Clothing accessories include handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, umbrellas, and more. Most school supplies, including book bags, binders, paper, crayons, pencils, and rulers, are also exempt.

In the 2021 Regular Session, Arkansas legislators passed Act 944, which amended the sales tax holiday to include electronics.Examples include a calculator, desktop computer, cell phone, e-reader, computer mouse, laptop, monitor, printer, keyboard, and tablets.It does not include video game systems or televisions. Statewide, Act 944 is estimated to save Arkansans an additional $650,000 in taxes a year.

Online purchases for the specified items will be tax-free as long as the transaction processesbetween 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 6 and 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 7 and the items are shipped to an Arkansas address.

The sales tax holiday was created to help Arkansas families. A full list of tax-exempt items and answers to frequently asked questions about Arkansas’s Sales Tax Holiday are available atwww.arkansashouse.org.

Sevier County Quorum Court to meet Aug. 8 to discuss ARPA funds, other items 08/03/22

DE QUEEN – The Sevier County Quorum Court is scheduled to meet in regular session on Monday, Aug. 8 beginning at 2 p.m.

The meeting will begin with a hospital construction and financial report update from Sevier County Medical Center CEO Lori House. In addition, the quorum court will hear a report from Southwest EMS as well as David Boone Ministries, which administers several senior citizens centers in Sevier County and others across Southwest Arkansas.

Under new business, Justices of the peace will discuss a number of routine financial matters include a request to transfer $1,200 derived from the sale of hay at the Sevier County Airport to the Sevier County Airport Fund.

The quorum court will also amend the 2022 budget to make an appropriation for a state-funded stipend payment for fulltime law enforcement officers employed by Sevier County.

In addition, the sheriff’s department is requesting an appropriation to pay for the replacement of an AC unit at the Sevier County jail and $3,500 for new communication equipment.

Finally, justices of the peace will discuss the use of federal money provided to the county through the American Recovery Plan Act of 2021.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8 in the courtroom of the Sevier County Courthouse and is open to the public.

McCurtain County man charged with murder for death of his De Queen wife 08/02/22

BROKEN BOW, Okla. – Oklahoma authorities have charged a man with first-degree murder for the death of his wife, who resided in De Queen.

According to online arrest records maintained by the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office, a charge of first-degree murder was filed last week against 43-year-old Brian Mussett of Idabel, Okla. Mussett is accused of killing his wife, 50-year-old Melissa Mussett, originally of De Queen.
Melissa’s body was found in a tent in the woods near Broken Bow on June 30. A search for Mussett began in mid-July after Mussett was suspected of possessing information as to the cause of her death. Mussett was taken into custody last week following the search, which involved the public in addition to local law enforcement agencies. Mussett was initially taken into custody for an outstanding warrant on a probation violation. That offense was in regards to a past assault and battery charge resulting in serious bodily injury.

Following his arrest last week, Mussett was charged with murder for the death of his wife. He was originally sought by authorities as they suspected he had information regarding the cause of her death.

Mussett is currently being held in the McCurtain County Jail on a $2 million bond.

Sevier County 4-H leaders named top in the state for 2022 08/02/22

Submitted by Kim Frachiseur/Sevier County Extension Service

The Sevier County Extension Office is receiving asome high recognition with two of its youth leaders recently named the top in Arkansas. Not just that, but the two are also sisters.

Each year, one individual from Arkansas is named Leader of the Year. This year, Sevier County was honored to have not just one 4-H Leader recognized, but two. Michelle Sawyer and Patricia Maben were announced during the awards ceremony at UA Fayetteville on Thursday, July 28 as the recipients of the 2022 Arkansas State 4-H Leader of the Year. This was the first time two leaders were honored at the same time.

Many know the sisters through various projects they take part in throughout the county. Both Michelle and Patricia make 4-H meetings a family event by involving parents. They host various family fun days, take part in different community services, and local 4-H leaders say their club thrives from the time they dedicate to it. There is no way to measure the amount of time or effort both Michelle and Patricia have given to 4-H.

For more information on Sevier County 4-H, contact Kim Frachiseur by calling the Sevier County Extension Office at (870) 584-3013.

Ethan Wolcott of Sevier County named finalist in 4-H youth leadership award 08/02/22

LITTLE ROCK – Sevier County 4-H Youth Leader Ethan Wolcott was recongized as a finalist in July for the 4-H Governor’s Award, the highest honor an Arkansas 4-H member can receive.

Wolcott, who is just 18, has been a 4-H member for nine years. He initially had a livestock project but switched his project to leadership and community service, which quickly became his passion — so much that he started the Sevier County Community Changers 4-H Club, which focuses on community service.

Wolcott is the club president and organizers say he strives to find ways to serve. Last year, he raised money to buy fans for Sevier County residents without air-conditioning. He’s also organized Santa for Seniors and been involved with numerous food drives, disaster relief and clothing drives.

4-H is the premier youth development program of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. Programs are offered in every county in Arkansas. To learn more about 4-H, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visitwww.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.

Germs and child safety a top concern in Arkansas ahead return to school 08/02/22

For as long as there’s been a public school system in the United States, the return to class after summer vacation inevitably brings with it three unpleasantries: The cough, the sniffle and the sneeze.

The Fall 2022 semester will certainly bring back the classics: Millions of children back in close proximity, sharing a host of new germs acquired over summer camp and vacation. Kristen Gibson, director of the Center for Food Safety for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, says that the good news is that for all its disruptions, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two years has led most schools to double down on some good habits.

She says the extra protections taken during the COVID-19 pandemic — the hand-washing, the disinfecting, the masks — all that squelched the transmission of a lot of other viruses commonly seen in schools.

The No. 1 tool available to children themselves, she said, is also the most basic: Wash Your Hands. That’s the number one thing anyone can do. And it’s one of the best things kids can easily do to control spread and protect themselves from getting sick.

The Arkansas Department of Health has said that transmission of COVID-19 is again on the rise in Arkansas and elsewhere.

State health officials noted that only Pfizer and Moderna currently have approval for COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5. Anyone 6 months old or older should get an annual flu vaccine between September and March.

Influenza has been a minor issue the last couple of years in Arkansas, due to social distancing and mask-wearing. However, with mask and social distancing recommendations relaxed, there is concern that influenza could be a major issue for all Arkansans this year.

School and health officials continue to stress, however, the how vital it is that children who are sick not attend school until released by a doctor or school nurse.

For more recommendations on healthy living for the entire family, visit the Cooperative Extension Service’s Health in Arkansas page athttps://www.uaex.uada.edu/life-skills-wellness/health/default.aspx.

Sevier Co. OEM Coordinator Walter Smith honored at retirement ceremony 08/01/22

DE QUEEN – Sevier County officials hosted a retirement ceremony on Friday to honor one of the county’s longest-serving emergency responders.

Dozens gathered Friday afternoon to honor the contributions of Walter Smith, the outgoing Sevier County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator. Smith announced last year his intention to retire from the position after nearly 12 years as the county’s OEM coordinator.

In addition to this position, Smith is also retiring from the De Queen Fire Department after 35 years as a volunteer, including several years as the station’s fire chief. Other capacities Smith has held include several years as a city council member for De Queen and as a reserve police officer for the De Queen Police Department.

Smith is also running unopposed for a new public service position as a member of the Sevier County Quorum Court. He will take office this upcoming January.

Friday's ceremony saw dozens of guests in attendance, including local sheriff's and police department personnel, area firefighters and other emergency responders and county officials.

Smith said he felt honored by Friday's ceremony and couldn't have been prouder for the experience as an emergency responder in Sevier County. He added the coordination between the county's various law enforcement and fire departments, and the people who head them, made the experience as OEM coordinator one he thoroughly enjoyed.

Smith has been in public service his entire career. It's something he said he's always enjoyed and looks forward to a new avenue of public service as a Sevier County Justice of the Peace.

Sevier County Judge Greg Ray hosted Friday's retirement ceremony for Smith. Ray said he was proud to have the opporunity to work with Smith over the years and said the county would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated public servant.

Smith officially retired following Friday’s ceremony. His position has been taken over by the new Sevier County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator, PJ Minor.

Municipal filing period begins this week 08/01/22

DE QUEEN – This week marks the official filing period for individuals seeking municipal office in the November General Election.

The official filing period for municipal candidates to get their name on this year’s ballot will begin this Wednesday, Aug. 3 and continue to noon on Aug. 10. Candidates are currently in the petition gathering process.

Municipal Positions to be voted on this year include all alderman positions in Gillham, Ben Lomond, Lockesburg and Horatio. In De Queen, several city council seats will be voted on this year: Alderman Ward 1 – Position 2, Ward 2 – Position 2, and Ward 3 – Position 2.

In addition, the City Clerk/Treasurer of De Queen, Ben Lomond, and Gillham are also up in this year’s election, as well as mayor of De Queen, Horatio, Lockesburg, Ben Lomond, and Gillham.

The County Clerk will certify the candidates to the Election Commission at the close of the filing period and a Ballot Draw will be conducted if necessary, by August 28.

Statements of Financial interest are due to the City Clerk by Aug. 17 for non-incumbent candidates for Municipal Office.

Sample petitions and other required forms are available in the County Clerk’s Office.

If you have questions or need the forms listed above please feel free to call The Sevier County Clerk’s office at 870-642-2852.

Anyone interested in being an election worker for the November General Election should contact the county clerk’s office at 870-642-2852.

And be sure to make address or name changes to your voter registration prior to election day.

Election commission to meet Aug. 9 to canvass returns from Horatio school election 08/01/22

DE QUEEN – Sevier County Clerk Debbie Akin has announced there will be a meeting of the Sevier County Election Commission on Tuesday Aug. 9 beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Sevier County Courthouse conference room. This will be to canvass the returns of the Horatio Special School Election.

The Aug. 9 special election is being held on the Horatio School District’s request to refinance school bonds.

There will also be a meeting on Thursday, Aug. 11 in the Sevier County Courthouse Conference Room. This meeting will be held for the certification of Municipal Candidates to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

All Election Commission meetings are open to the public.

Two Polk County officers honored for 2020 swift water rescue 08/01/22

LITTLE ROCK – Two area-based wildlife officers were among twenty-five Arkansas Game and Fish Commission enforcement officers and a K-9 honored as recipients of the division’s top honors at a special presentation held at the AGFC Headquarters Auditorium in Little Rock on July 21.

This was the first award ceremony for the AGFC Enforcement Division since 2019, as the last two years were suspended because of COVID-19 protocols. Awards were presented by AGFC Director Austin Booth, AGFC Enforcement Chief Col. Brad Young, Major Nakia Crims and Major Brian Aston.

Duty is a calling, it is a heavy burden, and it is an honor,” Director Booth said. “It is one of the greatest privileges that I have to say that you wear that duty not with self-pity or martyrdom, but you wear it well. You wear it with excellence, with commitment to everyone else in this agency. Today is about celebrating not only these officers, but the entire Enforcement Division and the impact it has on law and order, the impact on public safety throughout the state, and most importantly the impact it has on conservation.”

Seven officers received the Warden’s Star for acts of heroism involving unusual situations or occurrences that demanded immediate action, exceptional tactics or ingenuity to overcome.

Cpl. Ray Hines and Wildlife Officer Chris Crawford were among those who received the Warden’s Star recognition. The two were honored for their role in a swift water rescue in 2020. In June of that year, flash flooding in Polk County had swept a vehicle 200 yards from a bridge. The officers found the individual’s vehicle, which was completely submerged. The occupant had managed to get to a nearby tree, where he was clinging for his life. Officers Hines and Crawford swam to the distressed man, secured a life vest to him and a rope to the tree he was in, and safely guided him to shore.

Hines and Crawford also received Certificates of Commendations for their fast response in rescuing a man trapped underneath his tractor, which had crushed his leg.

Local COVID-19 cases continue to see uptick 08/01/22

DE QUEEn – The number of COVID-19 cases in both locally and across Arkansas is up over 50 percent as of the last month, due to a new subvariant of omicron that has been making its way through the state

According to nationwide data Arkansas is currently the highest in the nation for COVID-19 spread.

The number of cases grew by over 8,600 on July 26— which is the latest day the data was updated and the largest one-day jump in new cases since January.

According to theArkansas Department of Health, the state's death toll for the virus is currently at 11,678.

The number of hospitalized patients is now at 418, which is its highest level since early March.

Locally, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 114 active cases in Sevier County as of last week That raises the total number of COVID-19 transmissions in Sevier County to over 6,380. Deaths number 76, an increase of one from the week before and the first COVID-19 death reported in the county in months.

Little River County is currently identifying 76 active cases for a total of just over 3,300 since the start of the pandemic. Total deaths number 106.

Howard County is reporting 127 active cases at this time and, in Polk County, 32.

State Rep. DeAnn Vaught weekly update 08/01/22

By State Rep. DeAnn Vaught

The catfish industry is the largest component of aquaculture in the United States and a significant industry in Arkansas. In fact, Arkansas catfish farmers contributed $19.5 million to Arkansas’s agricultural economy in 2021. That’s up 17% from the previous year.

The month of August has been proclaimed as Arkansas Catfish Month. This designation recognizes the impact of catfish producers across the state.

Arkansas is the birthplace of the commercial catfish industry, with at least two farms selling catfish in the late 1950s. By 1966, Arkansas had 4,500 acres in catfish production and three processing plants.

Today, Arkansas has 3,800 water surface acres used for catfish production. That’s a 6% increase from 2020. Arkansas now ranks 4th in the nation in catfish production. Ninety-four percent of all U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is raised in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Our state is also home to programs providing research and support to the aquaculture industry, including the Aquaculture/Fisheries Center for Excellence and the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and the Harry K. Dupree National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed Act 1191 which created a catfish labeling requirement to ensure consumers can accurately identify the country of origin of catfish purchased in Arkansas retail establishments. This legislation helps to provide quality control for consumers and protects domestic catfish farmers from substitutes that are imported and sold often under the label of being catfish.

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U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is a lean fish and an excellent source of protein. It is low in saturated fat and is a moderate source of polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s just one more reason to celebrate Arkansas Catfish Month.

You can find links to catfish recipes and more information about Arkansas’s aquaculture industry atwww.arkansashouse.org.


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Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.