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News for Thursday, June 22

Berryville City Council Passes Resolution to Apply for Arkansas Parks & Tourism Outdoor Recreation Grant

Photo:  Garrick Mann and Jessie Hernandez explain 'Disc Golf' to Mayor and Council

The Berryville City Council Tuesday passed a Resolution authorizing Mayor Tim McKinney to submit a grant application for assistance in developing recreational facilities for the multi-use park located on West Freeman Avenue.  Cassie Elliott is a grant writer and helped the city with the grant application for the water line extension to rural Berryville residents.  A public hearing is required before the application is submitted and Elliott canvassed various businesses around town to find out what folks would like most in their town........................

In other business, the May 1% Sales Tax received was $127,277.43 and the 1/2% Sales Tax collected $63,638.71. 


One of Carroll County's Most Wanted Captured

A Golden, Mo. man and Eureka Springs woman were arrested Wednesday when a nearly two-week search for the couple, wanted for a tri-state string of burglaries and auto thefts, ended with a short manhunt north of Shell Knob.

Christopher Blevins, 32, of Golden, and Mercedes Splichal, 24, of Eureka Springs, Ark., are each charged with first degree tampering with a motor vehicle and stealing of a firearm.  Blevins is also on the Carroll County Most Wanted List this month.

Blevins and Splichal are both being held in the Barry County jail on $30,000, cash-only bonds. Both have been arraigned, and disposition hearings are scheduled for today at 8:30 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Robert Foulke.

Both Blevins and Splichal have pending cases in the 39th Circuit Court, as well. Blevins has two cases, and the second involves Splichal, too. His first case, from May 2016, has charges of second-degree burglary and theft, as he allegedly stole a four-wheeler and tools from a home in Golden, allegedly selling the four-wheeler and pawning the tools in Eagle Rock and Eureka Springs.


Some Traffic Delays Possible Today on Hwy. 187

A routine inspection of Arkansas 187 over Beaver Dam in Carroll County will require lane closures today, the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department said.

The inspection by a department bridge inspection team and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will require alternating lane closures from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Tyson Installing Video Cameras in Poultry Operations

Tyson Foods has installed video cameras in key areas of its poultry operations and will test new ways to slaughter birds - not in response to previous "gotcha" moments but under a corporate philosophy that notes its role as a steward for millions of chickens, the company said.

The meat producer last month hired its first chief sustainability officer and on Wednesday announced a series of animal well-being initiatives.
Lora Wright, Tyson's director of animal well-being, said Tuesday that over the past year, Tyson has installed the industry's largest third-party monitoring system - with off-site auditors reviewing operations at Tyson's 33 poultry processing plants across the U.S. and concentrating on areas where workers handle live animals. The company also has trained nearly five dozen animal well-being specialists,

The well-being officers are also trained on how cattle and hogs should be handled. Some of their visits are announced; others are not.


Rodeo of the Ozarks Underway

The 73rd annual Rodeo of the Ozarks began Wednesday with a tradition unique to rodeo.

Future stars of the sport were given a chance to shine as organizers hosted mutton bustin', where children ride sheep throughout the arena.

The Rodeo of the Ozarks owes much of its success to the large group of volunteers who give their time every year.

"This is a volunteer based, non-profit organization. We have this amazing rodeo, but we do so much more in the community," said Sach Oliver, a member of the board of directors at Rodeo of the Ozarks. "All these different events, we offer scholarships, we have a special needs rodeo out here for children."

The Rodeo of the Ozarks will continue through the weekend, and will feature as many as 500 professional athletes. Tickets are still available.


West Memphis Day Care Where Child Died Placed on Probation

A West Memphis day care where a 5-year-old developmentally disabled boy died in a vehicle has been placed on probation by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The agency said Wednesday that the license of the Ascent Child Health Services facility is on a probationary provisional status for one year. It'll remain open, but undergo extra monitoring.

Authorities say the boy was left strapped in a car seat in the facility's van the morning of June 12. He was found dead in the vehicle later that afternoon.

Four women have been arrested on manslaughter charges in the boy's death.

The agency is also prohibiting Ascent Acquisition Corporation, which owns the day care and 10 other facilities, from providing any transportation services in Arkansas, as of June 30.

The death of the boy has spurred a legislative committee to review existing rules and regulations for child care licensing. 


One Third of Human Population Overweight

Alarming new numbers show about one third of the global population is overweight, and nearly 80 million are Americans.

Researchers looked at people from 200 countries over a 35 year period. They found more people than ever are effected by health problems linked to obesity. Researchers say more people are living and working in urban environments and have fewer opportunities for physical activity. They also say more people are eating off a poor diet.


August Total Eclipse Will Turn Day into Night

On August 21, the sun will disappear across America.

For a swath of the country from Portland, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, it will look like someone just turned off the sun in the middle of the day.

Fourteen states across the US will experience about two minutes of darkness as the eclipse crosses from coast to coast between 10:15 a.m. Pacific Time in Oregon until about 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time in South Carolina.

Even if you live elsewhere in North America, a portion of the sun will partially disappear near midday. Parts of South America, Africa, Europe and Asia will also experience a partial eclipse.

It is being called the “Great American Eclipse.” And you can mark it on your calendar, down to the millisecond.

It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The total solar eclipse on June 8, 1918, crossed from Washington to Florida.

Federal agencies like NASA, NOAA, the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration all have plans to enable safe viewing of the eclipse, up-to-the-minute weather forecasts, crowd management and navigating traffic and parking.

Researchers will also take advantage of the rare eclipse to study the sun and the Earth using instruments on the ground and in space.

During the celestial event, the moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, appearing to block the sun for almost an hour and a half. You can replicate an eclipse by holding a flashlight and waving your hand slowly across it.

When the moon blocks the sun, it will cast two types of shadows. The umbral is the small shadow cast on Earth where people will be able to see a total eclipse. Others will experience the penumbral shadow, where they will experience a partial eclipse.

Salem, Oregon, will be one of the first towns to see the total eclipse, while Charleston will be one of the last.

Kansas City, Nashville and St. Louis are some of the cities that will have a good chance of seeing the sun totally covered.

Space enthusiasts have been getting excited about the eclipse, and some, like us, are counting down the days. Many are booking hotels for the big moment, while others have had their rooms booked for years.

The real question is, have you figured out where you will be on August 21?

News for Wednesday, June 21

Green Forest Mayor Hires Ambulance Service for the City

On Tuesday, Mayor Charlie Reece, frustrated with the lack of progress to get ambulance service in the city, made plans to get an ambulance service for the residents and businesses of Green Forest.  As we hear in this interview with the Mayor, he was frustrated with the Eastern District Ambulance Service Commissioners......... 


Former Carroll County Deputy Pleads Guilty-Gets Probation

Jonathan White, a former Carroll County deputy was sentenced to six years' probation after he pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to court documents, White, 32, was arrested in July of last year in Berryville after pointing a gun at his wife.

White was a narcotics investigator for the Carroll County sheriff's office.  He had worked for the Sheriff's office since 2014. 

On July 22, 2016, White's wife told Sheriff Randy Mayfield and another officer that White was using methamphetamine, according to an affidavit she filed in Madison County Circuit Court seeking an order of protection. The couple lived in Madison County.

When White was arrested, a glass smoking pipe and plastic bag containing a crystalline substance were retrieved from his right front pocket, according to an affidavit filed in Carroll County Circuit Court.

At the time of his arrest, White told an officer that he was under the influence of methamphetamine, according to the affidavit.


Celebrating Volunteers at Mercy Hospital Berryville

Left to right: Pat Armer, auxiliary president; Deana Davidson, executive assistant/auxiliary liaison/gift shop chair; and Doug Stroemel, Mercy Hospital Berryville administrator.

Mercy is pleased to announce that Deana Davidson received the 2017 Auxilian of the Year Award during the Mercy Hospital Berryville Auxiliary’s annual meeting on Tuesday, June 13.

Davidson, who serves as executive assistant to Mercy Hospital Berryville administrator Doug Stroemel, is also the auxiliary liaison and gift shop chair, overseeing a team of nearly 300 volunteers.

Since 1982, Mercy Hospital Berryville Auxiliary volunteers have made their mark on patient care in northwest Arkansas, giving back more than 630,000 hours of service. They’ve also raised more than $1.1 million through bake sales, special events and gift shop purchases during the last three decades. The biggest chunk of change, however, comes from the Mercy Thrift Store at Green Forest, located in the city’s square; it accounts for approximately 80 percent of the auxiliary’s fundraising efforts.”

The Mercy Hospital Berryville Auxiliary also installed new officers during the June 13 meeting – Pat Armer as president, Joy McKinney as president-elect and Leoria Brewer as secretary.

To learn more about volunteering at Mercy Hospital Berryville, call 870-423-5230.


Tax Deadlines Extended for Arkansans in Flood-Stricken Counties

Arkansans who live or own businesses in flood-stricken counties will have additional time to meet state tax obligations under a directive issued by Arkansas Chief Fiscal Officer Larry Walther on Tuesday.

“Our state was hit pretty hard in late April, and a lot of folks suffered as a result,” Director Walther said. “This decision will give them more time to meet their tax obligations to the state and let them worry about the more immediate needs of repairing and replacing what was lost.”

The extended deadlines apply to taxpayers in Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Faulkner, Fulton, Jackson, Lawrence, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Washington, and Yell Counties. Under the directive, tax filings due on or after April 26th, 2017, will now be due Aug. 31, 2017. The IRS has extended similar deadlines for the filing of federal taxes in the affected counties.

The filing deadline extension comes after a string of bad weather across much of the state in late April. Those storms, which caused flooding, tornadoes and straight-line winds, led Governor Asa Hutchinson to declare portions of the state a disaster area. Under Arkansas law, the Chief Fiscal Officer of the State can grant an extension on payment of taxes for “good cause,” including federal disaster declarations.


NWA LPGA Tournament Underway

On Tuesday, professional golfers from across the world practiced their craft at the Pinnacle Country Club for the upcoming NW Arkansas LPGA Tournament.

The practice day was open to the public. People could start arriving as early as 8:00 a.m. to watch the pros tee off.

People can attend free events at the club, Tuesday through Thursday.

However, a ticket is required to attend the actual tournament, which runs from Friday through Sunday.

A one day pass is $10.00 and a weekly pass is $25.00.

More than 140 professional golfers from around the world flew into Northwest Arkansas to compete in the tournament.

However, there’s more to do than just watch golf.

“This week has become a full week of activity. Not just the golf tournament. There’s a concert on Saturday. There’s a 5K run on Saturday. There’s some other charitable events going on. There’s events going on every day,” said Jay Allen, Chairman of the tournament.


John Daly's Son Makes First Ace at Junior Event

John Daly has made his name known on the golf course over the past several decades, and now it's his 13-year-old son that is making more golf headlines for his talents on the links.

John Daly II, nicknamed Little John, made his first career ace while competing at the Stacy Lewis All-Star Invitational in his hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The proud dad tweeted out a photo of his son and the stats on the shot -- 190 yards with a 5 iron.


Sen. John Boozman Reports Bill Passes for VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act would allow the secretary of the VA to dismiss bad employees while protecting those who expose wrongdoing and includes a number of provisions to hold employees accountable.  The House passed this bill last week and it's headed to the President's desk to be signed into law.  Senator John Boozman has details...............


Applications for Medical Marijuana Available for Growers and Sellers

Applications are now available for those who want to sell or grow medical marijuana in Arkansas under a new constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for some patients.

The Medical Marijuana Commission on Monday posted the applications for licenses to operate medical marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries. The commission is expected to accept applications from June 30 to Sept. 18.

The commission has said it will award five licenses for cultivation facilities and 32 licenses for dispensaries. The commission will score applications and award licenses after Sept. 18.

Voters last year approved the amendment legalizing medical pot for patients with certain qualifying medical conditions.

The applications are available online at 


Independent Citizens Commission Proposes Pay Raises for Elected Officials and Judges

An Arkansas panel is recommending a 2 percent raise for the state's elected officials and judges, despite a request from the state Supreme Court that it receive an 11 percent bump in pay.

The Independent Citizens Commission proposed the pay raise for the state's constitutional officers, legislators, prosecutors and judges on Tuesday. The panel will vote on the pay raise after holding a hearing to receive public comments on the proposal next week.

The commission was created through a 2014 constitutional amendment changing how officials' salaries are set. The salaries had previously been set in the constitution, which allowed the Legislature to make cost-of-living adjustments. The panel granted substantial pay raises to officials in 2015.

News for Tuesday, June 20

J.P.'s Hear of Reappraisal Project

Dennis Wells, Project Manager of ACT (Arkansas CAMA Technology) told J.P.'s Monday at the Quorum Court meeting that Notices of Change in Assessment letters are to be mailed to some Carroll County property owners during the first part of July. The letters are the result of the recently completed countywide reappraisal project that has been ongoing in Carroll County since January 2013...............

The purpose of a reappraisal is to ensure that property valuations, not only within Carroll County, but also among all Arkansas counties, are fair, equitable, and reflect current market values.

In other business:

J.P.'s approved an ordinance giving Judge Sam Barr authorization to execute a Road Grader Lease for 10 units at $1,200 per month, per unit.

Approved a supplemental appropriation ordinance appropriating money to the Courthouse for roof repairs.  Quality Assurance had the low bid of $70,037.

Approved a Resolution appointing Pam Grudek to a 3-year term on the County Equilization Board.

J.P.'s heard from John Walker, owner of 'The Farm', a music venue west of Eureka Springs who told J.P.'s he will try some new techniques to tone down loud music that is filtering to nearby neighbors houses in the middle of the night when he hosts concerts.  He told the Court he just wants to "get-along with his neighbors" and is willing to try several things to help curb the noise. 

The next meeting of the Quorum Court will be July 17th at 5pm.


Gary Morris Announces Candidacy for State Representative District 97

Citing his life-long love of our state and people, Northwest Arkansas native Gary Morris has announced his candidacy for State Representative District 97.  This is a tri-county area encompassing portions of Carroll, Madison, and Eastern Washington counties.

Morris has worked with the Senior Centers in Berryville, Eureka Springs, Huntsville, and Springdale, preparing and delivering meals-on-wheels.  The RSVP group also operates food pantries, plus many other community services performed by senior volunteers.

With a background combining journalism, corporate communications, ministry and volunteer management, Morris feels uniquely qualified "to represent our citizens in a manner in which they will be proud and with a purpose to improve their lives."

Morris is seeking to engage with as many residents of what he calls this "Heart of the Ozarks" area and welcomes opportunities to attend meetings and citizen gatherings.

Morris began his broadcast journalism career in Springdale at KBRS radio while in high school.  This led to his work in corporate communications, and ultimately to his path of volunteer management and ministry.

Morris is a veteran, serving six years with the U.S. Army Reserve unit in Fayetteville (1966-1973).  Morris says, "I truly want to serve as an elected public servant to give back to Northwest Arkansas and our people the type of honest, open government they deserve."


Earthquakes in North Arkansas Linked to Extra Weight of Water

Earthquakes in northern Arkansas are being linked to the weight of extra water at a flood-swollen reservoir.

Earthquake geologist David Johnston works with the Arkansas Geological Survey. He said the added weight, trillions of pounds of the water at Bulls Shoals Lake, likely triggered 10 earthquakes over five days last week near Harrison, a city about 140 miles north of Little Rock. 

Johnston said the reservoir's water level has risen 42 feet because of rainfall since March 1.

The quakes are small, ranging from 1.5 to 3.6 in magnitude, and aren't expected to end soon.

Johnston said there weren't immediate reports of damage after a 3.6-magnitude quake June 11. But he said some people reported houses creaking and pictures rattling on walls.

The Arkansas Geological Survey will add more ground-detection devices to better record the earthquakes.

Also, another small earthquake has rattled parts of southeast Missouri along the New Madrid fault.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquakes Hazards Program says the earthquake with a magnitude of 2.7 rumbled at 4:26 a.m. Monday, centered near the small town of Steele in the Missouri Bootheel region. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

The New Madrid fault produced earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 that could be felt as far away as New England. Some experts believe it's just a matter of time before another serious quake along the fault line.


Kids Count Data Book Ranks Arkansas Near Bottom

Arkansas ranks 45th in the nation in overall child well-being, down from 44th a year ago, according to the annual Kids Count Data Book issued by the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The recently released report uses 16 indicators to rank each state in four main categories: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Data is drawn from reports by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

This year’s report ranks Arkansas 47th in the economic well-being of children. It notes that 27 percent of children in the state live in poverty, up from 26 percent the previous year. Nationally, 21 percent of children live in poverty.

Arkansas also has higher-than-average percentages of children whose parents lack secure employment — 34 percent in the state compared to 29 percent nationally — and of teens not in school and not working — 9 percent in the state compared to 7 percent nationally.

The state’s portion of children living in households with high housing costs, 29 percent, is below the national level of 33 percent.

In the education category, the report ranks Arkansas 35th in the nation, making it the only category where the state is not among the bottom 10 percent.

Sixty-eight percent of the state’s fourth graders are not proficient in reading, compared to 65 percent nationally, and 78 percent of the state’s eighth graders are not proficient in Math, compared to 68 percent nationally.

Arkansas is doing better than the national average in percentages of 3- and 4-year-olds not in preschool — 52 percent in the state compared to 53 percent nationally — and of high school students not graduating on time — 15 percent in the state compared to 17 percent nationally.

In the health category, the report ranks Arkansas 46th in the nation. The state’s rate of child and teen deaths, 34 per 100,000, is well above the national level of 25 per 100,000.

Five percent of Arkansas children are without health insurance, the same as the national percentage.

Arkansas also has reduced its percentage of young children not in preschool, the group noted. It said the ARKids First program, established in 1997 by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee, marked a turning point for Arkansas children, and that a federal funding increase for preschool programs, announced at the end of 2014, has allowed Arkansas to expand access to more children.

The 2017 Kids Count report ranks New Hampshire first in the nation for overall child well-being. Massachusetts and Vermont are second and third, respectively.

Louisiana, New Mexico and Mississippi are the three lowest-ranked states, in descending order.


Four Women Charged with Manslaughter

Four women, formerly employed by Ascent Children's Health Services, who are charged with leaving a 5-year-old in a hot van, faced a judge Monday.

Christopher Gardner was left in a hot daycare van for hours, going unnoticed by the four women who were trusted to care for him.

Felicia Phillips was the van's driver, Pamela Robinson was the adult rider, Kendra Washington was assigned to do a secondary check of the bus, and Wanda Taylor signed Gardner into Ascent despite never seeing him. All four women were freed on $20,000 bonds on Monday.

Gardner's family was largely present in the courtroom Monday as the four women stood before a judge.

The family scurried out of the courtroom after the hearing. No words were exchanged between Gardner's parents and the four women charged in his death.

It's a death that West Memphis Police Department said could have been prevented if the women had done their jobs.

The women are charged with manslaughter. All but Robinson had attorneys with them in court.


Some Mentally Ill Offenders in Arkansas Jails Don't Belong There

A new Arkansas law works to protect both sides of a crime involving mental illness.

Act 423 passed during the last legislative session expands the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) program to law enforcement agencies statewide and provides an alternative to jail for offenders who can't get the help they need.

Arkansas's jail beds are full, and many believe some of the offenders taking up space shouldn't be there. Low-level offenders with mental illnesses or other behavioral health conditions will soon have a place, a 24/7, short-term clinical facility called a crisis stabilization unit.

The state is now accepting applications for three regional units, which could be connected to pre-existing mental health centers, hospitals, even jails. The units will help stop the cycle of reoffending. They address the issue, treat it and release the offenders to family or help them find housing.

The three units will be announced in July and should be up and running by fall. The three crisis stabilization units can use up to $1.6 million each in state funds for operations.  Continued funding will depend on availability and the units' performance.


Nearly $1B Dollars in Missouri Unclaimed Property

The Missouri state treasurer has launched an effort to return unclaimed property to Missourians.

State Treasurer Eric Schmitt says more than $988 million in unclaimed property is waiting to be returned.

Schmitt’s office is publishing the names of 145,000 unclaimed property owners in more than 100 newspapers across Missouri this week.  The average unclaimed property return is about $300.  Schmitt encourages you to check
showmemoney.com to see if you have unclaimed property.

Schmitt, who was elected in November, says one in ten Missourians have unclaimed property. He says his office is trying to find people “where they’re at.”

Missouri law requires the notices to be published in newspapers annually, in order to list names of people whose unclaimed property valued at $50 or more has been turned over to the State Treasurer’s office during the past year.

Schmitt has returned more than $13 million to about 50,000 account holders, since taking office in January.

Schmitt, who is Missouri’s 46th State Treasurer, served two terms in the Missouri Senate. The Glendale Republican served in the Senate from 2009-2016.

News for Monday, June 19

Fire on the Mountain Seeking Contributions from Community

Expect a Spectacular Fourth of July again this year as Berryville prepares for the ever-popular “Fire on the Mountain” from Saunders Heights Overlook, announced Berryville Chamber of Commerce executive director Chris Claybaker. The fireworks will begin between dusk and dark, probably around 9 p.m., Tuesday, July 4th, he said.

“The city and chamber are teaming up this year to bring back the annual ‘Fire on the Mountain’ fireworks display,” Claybaker said. The chamber will be seeking contributions this year as in past years. “The more we are able to raise, the better the fireworks,” the chamber exec promised.

The City of Berryville has designated a fireworks fund and will handle the contributions for complete transparency, Claybaker said. Checks can be made out to the City of Berryville and mailed to City Hall or to your chamber office. Claybaker said the contributions can also be picked up by calling the chamber office.

“Fire on the Mountain” is an annual Fourth of July celebration in historic Berryville, Arkansas. The fireworks display is shot from Saunders Heights Overlook, high above the city, providing a great view from just about anywhere in Berryville. It has almost become a tradition for family and friends to get together for a backyard barbecue, and then as it becomes dark to enjoy the fireworks together, Claybaker added.


Kiwanis Fishing Derby Winners

The Berryville Kiwanis Annual Kids Fishing Derby winners are as follows:

3 Years and Under - Big Fish: Aiden Phillips  Most Fish: Addison Wallace

4 Years to 6 Years - Big Fish: Allison Alvarran  Most Fish: Ethan Anderson

7 years to 9 Years - Big Fish: Axton Palmer  Most Fish: Chase Anderson

10 Years to 12 Years - Big Fish: Marco Propillo  Most Fish:  Jaden Hood


New Seismometers to Be Installed in North Arkansas

Two additional seismometers are set to be deployed in northern Arkansas after more than a dozen small earthquakes recently shook the region, including five Thursday, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Scott Ausbrooks, assistanct director of the Arkansas Geological Survey, said the installation of the data-collecting devices near Bull Shoals Lake, northeast of Harrison, is intended to present a clearer picture of what has spurred an increase in seismic activity.  “The more stations you have, the better control you will have in monitoring,” Ausbrooks said, noting that officials have been able to get a general idea of where the tremors originate.

Three permanent seismometers were set up at state parks in north Arkansas. One is at Hobbs State Park in Hindsville, another at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View, and the third at Lake Charles State Park outside Powhatan.

Those devices are part of a network of six permanent broadband seismic stations that was installed in the spring of 2010, according to the Arkansas Geological Survey website.

Since June 11, 13 earthquakes have been recorded about 10 miles northeast of Harrison near Bergman in Boone County. Seven of those shook north Arkansas residents Sunday, another hit Tuesday and five occurred Thursday.

The largest quake, a 3.6-magnitude tremor, rattled the northern part of the state around 7:40 a.m. June 11, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. It was centered 5 miles north of Bergman.


New Miss Arkansas Crowned Saturday

Left to right - 3rd Runner up - Bailey Moses, 1st Runner up - Darynne Dahlem, Miss Arkansas 2017 LMaggie Benton, 2nd Runner up - Ashley Ehrhart, 4th Runner up - Claudia Raffo

Miss Greater Jonesboro Maggie Benton won the title of Miss Arkansas 2017 Saturday night at the 80th Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant. The pageant took place at the Robinson Center in Little Rock in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 2500.

Benton won a $30,000 scholarship provided by Ted and Shannon Boy Skokos, Citgo and the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation and more than $75,000 in awards, wardrobe, transportation, and gifts. She will represent Arkansas at the 2018 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and will make appearances across the Natural State promoting the Children’s Miracle Network, the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, her personal platform of “Giving is a Gift."

Benton was crowned by the outgoing Miss Arkansas, Savannah Skidmore, of Calico Rock and Miss America, Savvy Shields, of Fayetteville.

Over $172,000 in scholarships were awarded throughout the week to various contestants.

Benton is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. She is the 22 year old daughter of Murray and Nancy Benton of Jonesboro. For her talent she performed a vocal to “The Music of the Night.”

Nearly $122,000 in scholarships were awarded throughout the week to various contestants.

The other Top Five Finalists were:

1st runner-up (receiving a $10,000 scholarship sponsored by Charles and Susie Morgan): University of Arkansas Darynne Dahlem

2nd runner-up (receiving a $9,000 scholarship sponsored by the Dr. Rhys Branman): Arkansas Delta Ashley Ehrhart

3rd runner up (receiving a $7,500 scholarship sponsored by Former Miss Arkansas Association): Northeast Arkansas Bailey Moses

4th runner-up: (receiving at $5,000 scholarship sponsored by Don and Robin Houseworth): White River Claudia Raffo

The Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen for 2017 was crowned Friday night.

Aubrey Elizabeth Reed, of Russellville, was crowned this year's Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen, garnering a $5,000 scholarship and over $25,000 in awards and gifts.


Arkansas Delegation Announces Grant for State Drinking Water Program

U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman today announced that the Arkansas Department of Health will receive $361,120 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support drinking water systems across the state.

"Arkansans deserve access to safe, clean drinking water. This funding will help ensure people across the state have healthy and reliable sources of water,” members said.

The grant will go to the Arkansas Department of Health which supervises the state’s public water system, including maintaining and evaluating drinking water systems.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA assists with public water system supervision programs and providing reliable, safe drinking water to consumers and comply with national drinking water standards.


Careful of IRS Scam

The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This fraud is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

The scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The con artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The imposter also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the swindler. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.


Farmers Generally Unhappy with Trumps Reversal of Cuba Relations

Farmers in Arkansas speak out against President Trump's reversal of door-opening trade policies with Cuba.

Fifth generation farmer Robby Bevis spends his Saturdays out on his farm in Scott, AR.

Bevis said it's already hard work earning a living from the fields, and after President Trump's decision to reverse travel and economic restrictions with Cuba, it may be an even bigger challenge.

Friday afternoon President Trump reversed restrictions with Cuba, once lifted by former President Obama.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau said they hoped an open trade with the Caribbean Country, a two billion dollar export, would economically benefit The Natural State.

Representative Rick Crawford and Senator John Boozman sounded off on the President's favored social media platform, Twitter.

"I strongly oppose President Trump's decision to reinstate a failed, outdated, and isolationist posture towards Cuba," Representative Crawford said in a statement.

And that the President's decision will again be reversed, so those future generations will flourish, and able to sell their crops to Cuba one day.


Report Gives Missouri Low Ranking in Summer Meals for Kids

At the national level, after four years of significant growth, FRAC’s report shows the number of kids fed in the summer of 2016 slipped by 4.8% from the record total fed in 2015. The report says 3 million kids, out of 20 million eligible children, were fed in July 2016.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) ranks Missouri 42nd out of all 50 states on its annual summer meals report. Of the 363,000 Missouri kids eligible, 33,000 received summer meals in 2016. That’s an increase of more than 7% from 2015 but the report also says ten of 11 Missouri students who have access to school meals did not get free summer meals.  Lack of transportation and promoting of such programs could contribute to low turnouts


Wal-Mart Buys Online Apparel Retailer

BonobosWal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville announced Friday that it will buy online apparel retailer Bonobos Inc. for $310 million in cash.

Word of the deal has been circulating for months. It's the latest in a string of acquisitions by Wal-Mart, which is snapping up online retailers as it battles rival Amazon.com.

Meanwhile, Amazon made its own announcement Friday. The company said it would buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, making a deeper push into highly competitive U.S. grocery space, where Wal-Mart is the leader.

In a news release, Wal-Mart said Andy Dunn, founder and CEO of Bonobos, will report to Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce, "and oversee the company's collection of digitally-native vertical brands."

Wal-Mart said Bonobos brands will be offered on Jet.com, the online store founded by Lore that Wal-Mart acquired last year, and "possibly other Walmart brands in a variety of countries over time, and include Bonobos and recently-acquired ModCloth."

The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close "toward the end of the second quarter or the beginning of the third quarter of this fiscal year," Wal-Mart said.

News for Friday, June 16

Major Disaster Declaration Granted

A request for a major disaster declaration has been granted for Arkansas following a period of severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a news release Thursday stating President Donald Trump granted his request for the declaration.

It was designated in the aftermath of storms and flooding that hit the state from April 26 to May 19.

The declaration, according to the governor's office, will allow residents and governmental bodies to apply for assistance if they meet certain criteria.

Individual Assistance will be available for those in the following counties: Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Faulkner, Fulton, Jackson, Lawrence, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Washington, and Yell.

Public Assistance for disaster-damaged facilities will be available in these counties: Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Conway, Craighead, Cross, Faulkner, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Mississippi, Montgomery, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Poinsett, Prairie, Randolph, Saline, Washington, White and Woodruff.

Additional designations may be added if the state requests it after further damage assessments are done, according to the governor's release.

Those seeking assistance in these counties should call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or go to 

Plans to open offices in affected areas to accept assistance applications will be announced soon by officials with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and FEMA.


5th Annual Rat Race Registrations Available Online

The 5th Annual 'Rat Race' is next Saturday, June 24th in Green Forest.  The event is held to honor the memory of  Navy Seal Tommy Ratzlaff, killed in action in August of 2011.  Jennifer Mosier has information on how you can get involved to honor Tommy's memory............

Race will start and end at Green Forest School in Green Forest, Arkansas.

Runners must check in from 7:00am to 7:45 A.M. Opening Ceremony at 7:45. Race will start at 8:00 A.M.

Although this is a 5k, if running is not your thing, you are more than welcome to complete the race at any pace comfortable to you. For the competitive runners, Awards to the Top 3 Male and Females. Certificates to the following age groups: 1-14, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and up.

Cost is $25.00 per entry.

Proceeds from this race will benefit the Ratzlaff Memorial Scholarship Fund.  Jennifer Mosier can be reached at 870-480-2517 or online at 


North Arkansas Classic - USTRC Underway at Carroll County Fairground

The United States Team Roping Championships is the world’s leading team roping member organization and one of the largest single discipline equine groups in the nation.

Based in Stephenville, Texas, USTRC represents more than 35,000 members worldwide who enjoy the sport of team roping. Whether they engage in the sport professionally or recreationally these team ropers look to the USTRC to provide quality productions and a national classification system to ensure the best and most fair competition possible.

Admission is free to watch the Team Roping at the CC Fairgrounds Indoor Arena today through Sunday.

John Henry Shaddox Memorial Wagon Train Headed Springdale

The annual John Henry Shaddox Memorial Wagon Train will be moving into Carroll County tonight after leaving Harrison, on it's way to Springdale for Rodeo of the Ozarks.  The Wagon Train will arrive in Carrollton later today and spend the night.  Saturday they leave Carrollton and will travel CR920 to CR995 for a lunch stop at Fry Farms.  Then CR9951 to Hwy. 103 south to CR719 for the night stop.  On Sunday they leave the night stop on CR719 and go to Hwy. 21S to CR516 to Madison County, with a  Lunch stop on CR519.

Residents of south Carroll County should be on the lookout for the Wagon Train and slow down so as not to spook the horses. 

Assisting the Wagon Train through the area will be Carroll County Sheriff's office and CERT.  EMT's will also be on standby.


Still Rumbling Around Harrison

Residents in the Harrison area again felt another small earthquake.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirms a 2.8 earthquake hit the Harrison area Thursday night around 9:28 p.m. The epicenter is centered northeast of Harrison. Residents reported shaking at their homes from Harrison to Protem in Ozark County, Missouri.

Seven small earthquakes hit around the Harrison area Sunday.


Teenager Identified from Fall at Petit Jean State Park

A teenager was flown to the hospital after falling about 95 feet near Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park, a spokeswoman said.

Several agencies responded around 4 p.m. Wednesday to the state park near Morrilton in Conway County, said Arkansas State Parks public information officer Monika Rued.

Blake Smith, 18, fell when he hiked in an unauthorized area of the park north of the waterfall and got too close to the edge, Rued said.

After authorities responded, Smith was flown to UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock for treatment. The extent of his injuries was not immediately clear.

State parks officials also did not know if the teenager was from the area.

Calls to the Morrilton Police Department as well as fire departments in Morrilton, Oppelo and atop Petit Jean Mountain were not successful Thursday.


Governor Hopes for Tax Code Overhaul

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he hopes a task force that will recommend changes to Arkansas' tax code will also look at a proposal that failed in this year's legislative session to require online retailers to collect and remit state sales taxes.

Hutchinson told the Arkansas Municipal League on Thursday that he wants the issue to be considered by the legislative task force, which is expected to deliver preliminary recommendations later this year and final ones next year on overhauling the state's tax code. A bill backed by Hutchinson to require online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes failed in the state House earlier this year.

Supporters of the bill said it would create a fairer environment for retailers in the state already collecting the tax.


Digital Copy of Drivers License Now Legal

When you head out the door you can often forget things you need like your driver's license.

A license available on your phone - that's what act 557 lets you do.

The act passed by Arkansas Legislature on March 21st of this year allows you to have a copy of your license to view on a mobile device or computer. You'll pay a $10.00 fee for the digital copy at your drivers services office and it won't expire until your hard copy does. According to the bill, if you get pulled over, you could use your digital copy to identify yourself to police. But as of now, it'll only work on the ground, not if you're planning on flying.

If you are flying, you need to use a driver's license card or a voluntary enhanced security driver's license. To get a secure driver's license, you to show your proof of identification, residency, and social security number at the DMV.


News provided by News Director, Linda Boyer