News provided by News Director Linda Boyer

News for May 21, 2015

Flood Waters Forcing Campers to Higher Ground for Memorial Day

Memorial day is Monday  and lots of rainfall and flooding across the state could affect your holiday plans. In Northwest Arkansas, park rangers are asking people to leave certain areas of Horseshoe Bend. It's a popular campsite along Beaver Lake usually flooded with RV's this time of year, now roads are flooded with six inches of water. More than a dozen campers were there Wednesday, but thanks to mother nature, they must be gone Thursday.  15 campsites at Beaver Lake usually open for Memorial Day weekend now closed because of rising waters and flooded campgrounds along Horseshoe Bend Park.  According to Beaver Lake park rangers, waters have risen two feet after last weekend's flooding. He says the park picked up six more inches Tuesday night, preventing campers from driving through that area of the park.   Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Alan Bland says it is a possibility that waters do recede, and if that happens, campers will be allowed back in.

Miller Tapped as Branch Manager of  New Cornerstone Bank Location

Charles T. Cross, President & CEO, Cornerstone Bank, is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Meredith Miller to Branch Manager of the bank’s soon to be completed location in Huntsville, Arkansas where she will oversee the branch’s deposit services staff.  Ms. Miller joins the growing Northwest Arkansas based bank after 12 years in the Huntsville School System where she served as a first grade teacher at Watson Primary.  Prior to her tenure at the school, she was in the banking industry for a number of years with both Heritage Bank in Jonesboro and Arvest Bank in Huntsville.

Cross stated, “We are thrilled to be able to bring Meredith back into banking and add her to what is shaping up to be a great team of professional bankers to serve the Madison County area.  Her understanding of customer service and knowledge of the market make her a valuable asset to Cornerstone Bank, as we continue to grow and expand our client base.  She is simply a fantastic addition to our Cornerstone family.”Ms. Miller received a degree in Educational Leadership from Arkansas State University in 2011 and a degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arkansas in 2003.  Meredith, her husband Jeremy and their two children, reside in Clifty where they own and operate the Clifty Store. 

Spend your Memorial Day Weekend at Rock Bottom Chuckwagon Races

 If you enjoy camping & equine activities then Rock Bottom is the place for you.  For 4 days, F3 Cattle Co. opens the gates for numerous horse events, including 2 nights ACA Rodeo,  2 days of Pasture Team Roping a Ranch Rodeo a Rough Stock Rodeo and Junior Bronc & Bull Riding.  Witness 2 days of Chuck Wagon racing as well as pasture bronc riding and 4 nights of live entertainment at the Rock Bottom Boomtown.  Rock Bottom is located in the hills of Northwest Arkansas on the winding banks of Long Creek.  Make Rock Bottom your home for this years Memorial Day weekend.  Come hit Rock Bottom with us, once you've hit "Rock Bottom" it's all up from here!

Three Children Injured in Crash near Washburn

An adult and three children are injured in a one vehicle crash Tuesday night, ten miles west of Washburn. The Missouri Highway Patrol reports 18-year-old Candace Glaze, of Seligman, was traveling eastbound on Sugar Creek Road when she slid off the roadway, stuck an embankment and overturned. Glaze along with three other Seligman passengers in her vehicle, 15-year-old Jennyfer Ramsey, 6-year-old Breanna Ramsey, and 2-year-old Kerra Ramsey, all received minor injuries and were transported to Mercy Hospital in Cassville. At the time of the crash Breanna and Jennyfer Ramsey were not wearing their seatbelts.

Table Rock and Ribs Returns to Kimberling City

Table Rock Resort in Kimberling City hosts the 2nd annual Table Rock and Ribs competition this Memorial Day weekend. Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. Friday as guests can enjoy pork ribs prepared by 30 different teams, costing a “buck a bone”, with the proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.  The Kansas City BBQ Society-sanctioned event continues Saturday with free admission and free sampling of barbecue chicken, brisket, pulled pork and ribs. The weekend includes live music, kids activities and teams competing for 7-thousand 500-dollars in prize money. White says there’s still time to register.  For more information visit www.tablerockandribs.com.

Hutchinson Calls Session, States Topics

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday night signed a proclamation calling lawmakers to a special session starting Tuesday to consider authorizing a bond issue to lure a defense contract to south Arkansas, shift the state's presidential and other primary elections from May to March and merge four agencies into other agencies.  Senate Democratic leader Keith Ingram of West Memphis said he expects the governor to call on the Republican-dominated Legislature to authorize a bond issue of roughly $85 million for the Lockheed Martin project under Amendment 82 to the Arkansas Constitution.  Hutchinson spokesman J.R. Davis declined to confirm or deny that figure Wednesday, saying the governor will hold a news conference this morning to address such questions. Hutchinson canceled a Wednesday afternoon news conference after his commercial flight from Dallas, where he attended a Republican Governors Association meeting, was canceled and he couldn't return to Little Rock until Wednesday night, Davis said. House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, acknowledged that the proposed bond issue for the Lockheed Martin project will be less than the $125 million bond issue that the 2013 Legislature authorized for a steel mill project near Osceola, which was the first use of that authority under Amendment 82.

Drug Enforcement Administration Raids 'Pill Mills' in 4 Southern States Including AR

The Drug Enforcement Administration and other authorities are raiding pharmacies, pain clinics and other facilities in four states as part of an aggressive crackdown on prescription pain drug abuse, federal law enforcement sources told NBC News. The morning busts in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are part of a 15-month operation by the DEA drug diversion unit. The sources said 1,000 agents and officers conducted the raids.  A federal law enforcement source told NBC News that "Operation Pilluted" is the "single largest pharmaceutical operation in DEA history." It is focused on the illegal sale and distribution of pain killers, including oxycodone and hydrocodone. One of the raids in Little Rock took place at KJ Medical Center, where authorities said they arrested one doctor, four staffers and a security guard. In the last 15 months, 140 people have been arrested, and officers hope as many as 170 others will be arrested Wednesday, according to the sources. The sources said suspects in the operation include doctors and pharmacists. The United States attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas is holding a news conference to announce the results of the nationwide initiative.

News for May 20, 2015

Berryville Residents Getting Water/Sewer Rate Increase

The Berryville City Council passed Ordinance 977 on it's first reading Tuesday, the first of three readings before it goes into effect, sometime late summer.  The minimum charge for the first 2,000 gallons of water will be $11.50, about a $2.00 increase.  The monthly sewer rate will also go up about $2 for minimum usage.  The first 2,000 gallons will be $9.  Residents will be sent a notice with their water bill when the rate goes into effect.

The Police Activity report for April showed 174 tickets written, compared to 70 in April of last year.  Offenses reported were 71, compared to 60 last year in April.  There were 14 traffic accidents with improper backing the most prominent.

The 1% Sales Tax for April collected $107,474 and the 1/2% sales tax collected $53,736.

Council approved the Berryville Kiwanis to hold the Kids Fishing Derby at George Pond on Saturday, June 13th.  Registration will be 8:30-9am and the Fishing Derby will be from 9-10am.  Four age divisions are available and all kids get prizes with the top three in each age division getting trophies.  Free hot dogs and drinks will be provided.

Council approved the Berryville Library End-of-Summer Party/Concert for August 1, Saturday, 7-9pm.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, June 2nd, at 6pm in BV City Hall.

Superintendent's Report Berryville Board of Education
Special Called Meeting
May 18, 2015

The Berryville Board of Education met for a special called meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the Intermediate Cafetorium.  The purpose of the meeting was:  Personnel Issues 

Members Present:  LeeAnn Ashford, Chad Hipps, Todd Howard, Kristi Howerton, Jeff Miles, Sherri Plumlee, & David Waller    Members Absent:   None

The Board appointed Steve Scoggins, Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent during the absence of Dr. Clark.  

David Waller explained the process the Board must follow to explain the recent Legislative Audit Committee Review in Little Rock attended by Dr. Clark and Sherri Plumlee.

Kevan Logan Named to Community First Bank Board

Bank President Deretha Walker has announced the addition of Keven Logan to the Community First Bank Board of Directors in Berryville.  Raised in Berryville, Keven Logan and his family have been a fixture in the Carroll County area for many years.  After graduating from Berryville High School in 1988, he attended NAC and graduated with a Welding Degree.  Keven has been in the poultry business for 25 years and runs a very successful cattle operation.   Along with being a lifelong farmer Keven also works at the Northwest AR Livestock Auction.  Keven has one son Kooper who is 14.

Mrs. Walker commented, “We are honored that Keven has accepted the invitation to join our Advisory Board.  He is a Berryville Native who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, in the agriculture field, to our board.  Keven will replace Will Schell, who will be retiring in June, after 15 years of outstanding service to our bank.”  Our board members include Booker Cox III, Dr. William Flake, Jack Burch, Kevin K Smith, Linda Riddlesperger, Luis Barradas, Sam Barr, Will Schell, Dave Morton, Jerry Maland, Jim Harp and Deretha Walker.  All board members are stockholders.

Tax Delinquent Land Sale Scheduled for Carroll, Madison Counties

A public auction for the sale of tax delinquent land in Carroll and Madison Counties will be held at the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs on Tuesday, June 2, according to John Thurston, Arkansas Commissioner State Lands. Properties in Carroll County will be auctioned beginning at 10 a.m., with registration beginning at 9:30 a.m. The Madison County auction will be held at 2 p.m., and registration will begin at 1:30 p.m.  The Commissioner of State Lands offers an online Catalog of Tax Delinquent Lands, which contains the current statutes governing the sales, auction dates, times, location and other pertinent information regarding parcels being offered. The catalog can be found on the Commissioner’s website at www.cosl.org, providing current information resources about each parcel.  “Bidding begins at the amount of taxes and fees that are due,” Thurston said. “Owners of delinquent parcels should remember that they have only 10 business days to redeem their property if it sells at auction.”  Delinquent property owners may call the office at 501-324-9422 to request a Petition to Redeem, or they may look up the delinquent parcel on the COSL website and print it from there.

Womack to Host Coffee Meeting in Green Forest

State Representative Steve Womack will be in Green Forest next week to host Coffee with the Congressman.  The event will be held at Cattleman’s Restaurant next Tuesday, May 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
According to a press release from Womack’s office, the event will be an informal setting to talk with the congressman.  Cattleman’s Restaurant is located at 304 West Main Street in Green Forest.

Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Underway in Lonoke County   

The Arkansas State Police is investigating an officer involved shooting which occurred last night (May 19th) in Cabot.  The incident occurred as authorities of the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department and Arkansas Department of Community Correction were searching for an individual. While questioning a 35 year old man at 905 East Main Street it was determined the individual was the subject of outstanding warrants.  The man was placed into custody and held in a law enforcement vehicle.  Initial statements provided to Special Agents of the State Police Criminal Investigation Division indicate the local law enforcement officers and ADCC officers reported gunshots coming from inside the car and returned fire striking the individual who had moments earlier been taken into custody.  The wounded individual was taken to an area hospital where he was later died.  The identity of the individual is being withheld pending confirmed notification of next of kin.  No law enforcement or ADCC personnel were injured. State Police Special Agents along with State Police Highway Patrol Troopers have worked through the evening into the early hours of today gathering evidence and questioning witnesses.   The investigation is continuing and upon completion will be provided to the Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney for consideration. 

Pay Raises, Online Spending Push Wal-Mart's 1Q Results Lower

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville missed analysts' expectations and reported first-quarter net income down nearly 7 percent as the retailer gave raises to employees, invested in e-commerce and endured the effects of currency fluctuations. The company, whose shares (NYSE: WMT) traded down nearly 4 percent Tuesday morning, reported quarterly net income from continuing operations of $3.34 billion, down 7 percent from $3.58 billion in the same quarter last year. Earnings per share were $1.03, down from $1.11. n Total revenue was $114.83 billion, down from $114.96 billion.  Analysts expected earnings per share of $1.04 on revenue of $116.27 billion, according to Zacks Investment Research.  CEO Doug McMillion said the retailer had a "solid first quarter."   "We took some important steps to strengthen the foundation of our business for the future," he said. "We need to continue to get better at consistently running great stores, clubs and e-commerce everywhere we operate … and we are."  In February, Wal-Mart announced it would invest $1 billion in its workforce, raising raises for hourly employees over two years, restructuring store management and adding more training. The program officially launched last month, and it touched off a minimum wage race among the retailer's peers.

Park Rangers Patrol Beaver Lake During Safe Boating Week

National Safe Boating week began May 16, and several local law enforcement agencies have been out on Beaver Lake this weekend conducting random safety checks. Park Ranger Alan Bland said safe boating week always falls before Memorial Day weekend. He said it’s the busiest holiday on the lake, with more than 10,000 boaters expected. Bland said during the safety checks, they make sure there are enough life jackets for everyone on board.  “They have to be out and accessible, the law says you don’t have to wear them unless you’re twelve and under so if you’re an adult the life jacket being underneath a seat container where you have to take five minutes to get them out, that doesn’t meet the law,” Bland said.  He said if you have a wearable inflatable, it has to be worn at all times. Bland also said boats over 16 feet have to have a throwable device, such as a seat cushion or life ring. “Unfortunately we’ve had 116 drownings on Beaver Lake in the last 50 years and we’ve yet to have anyone drown wearing a life jacket,” Bland said. According to Bland, National Safe Boating week isn’t just for boaters, but for swimmer and those fishing from the shore as well. He said they have 12 public beaches on the lake, and no lifeguards are on duty.  He said local sheriff departments, park rangers and Arkansas Game and Fish will all be conducting safety checks through May 22. He said all have the same objective. “Our goal for Memorial Weekend is that everybody on Sunday night or Monday night goes home alive, no accidents, no problems,” Bland said.  Bland said they also check to make sure boater’s registration is up-to-date and that they have the proper insurance.

AECC to Add 108 Megawatts of Wind Energy

The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. on Tuesday said it has reached an agreement to purchase 108 megawatts of wind energy from a wind farm in Oklahoma. The wind energy will come from the Drift Sand Wind Farm, which is about 60 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The farm is scheduled to be in service by Dec. 31, 2016, the AECC said in a news release.  "AECC will be the sole recipient of energy from this wind farm," said Duane Highley, president and CEO of AECC, said in the news release. "Collectively, AECC will have more than 309 megawatts of wind  energy once the new wind farm is commercially launched. As a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative, we are committed to provide our members with the lowest cost electricity available." The AECC said the wind power purchase agreement will be the third signed since 2012. Highley said in the news release that the agreements "provide our distribution cooperatives and their members with energy resources that are geographically diverse, reasonably-priced and price-controlled over a long-term period."

News for May 19, 2015

Eureka Springs Fire & EMS Responds to Motel Fire

At 3:02 P.M. Monday afternoon a fire alarm was dispatched at the Traveler’s Inn on East Van Buren Avenue.  Fire Chief Randy Ates arrived first and was told that room 140, in the rear of the structure, was full of smoke.  The alert was re-broadcast to the fire department as a working structure fire.    Captain Billy Summers along with firefighters Dillon Halper and Josh Beyler took a hose line from Engine 1151 and made a direct attack on the small fire inside room 140.  Meanwhile a second crew forced entry into the room above to stop any fire spread.  A ladder truck was staged on the street in front of the two story building.  Meanwhile, Engine 1154 prepared to lay a hose line from the hydrant across the street at Gaskins Switch shopping center.  A total of fourteen personnel responded to the incident.  The fire was contained to a small area on and under the room’s HVAC unit.  The smoke was pushed from the room using a high powered fan.  The department’s fire marshal determined that the fire was started by smoldering incense left on top of the motel room’s heat and air unit.  

CC Quorum Court Report

The CC Quorum Court met Monday evening in Berryville for their monthly meeting.  All J.P.'s were present along with County Judge Sam Barr.

J.P.'s heard a report from Ozark Regional Transit that ridership is down and they would like help in getting the word out about the affordable public transportation.  
Sheriff Randy Mayfield explained the $21,600 unforseen expense of a new Muffin Monster grinder for the CC Detention Center plumbing.
J.P.'s approved a Resolution authorizing the Judge to apply for a grant on behlf of the Grassy Knob Volunteer Fire Department with plans for equipping and maintaining a fire boat. The fire department has raised $8,400 for local matches.
J.P.'s talked about forming an ambulance service district and getting a committee together for beginning talks on the feasibility.  The issue would require a vote of the citizens and a millage tax yet to be determined.  Several JP's volunteered to serve on a committee.
Morris Pate, CC Airport Commission Chairman reported good airplane traffic at the airport for April with visitors to the area.  Pate also reported two commissioners have been appointed, Jason Tennant and David Mulligan.  Pate also reminded JP's the Airport needs a Manager to help run day-to-day operations.  JP's told Pate the Finance Committee had not met yet to discuss a salary.  
Judge Barr told JP's he needed an Attorney General's opinion regarding 'Pauper' Burials.  The County has already had to pay expenses for three individuals so far this year, and needed guidance for future instances.  
JP Jack Deaton reported the expense to the county to upgrade to the new FCC frequencies in five or six years will be around $1.7 million dollars and a FEMA grant is available for the county to apply for to offset the expense.  The Budget Committee will begin planning for that major expense upgrade in talks this year.  

Berryville Man Injured in Stone County, Mo. Crash

A man from Berryville is hurt in a traffic crash on Stone County Route H two miles west of Lampe.  The Missouri State Highway Patrol says 35-year-old Danny Neal was a passenger in a westbound pickup, which ran off the road and struck an embankment just before 3 p.m. Monday.  The driver of the pickup is unknown, according to state troopers.  Neal was taken by private vehicle to Mercy Hospital in Berryville for treatment of minor injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt.

Motorcycle Accident Injures Berryville Man

The Berryville Police Department worked a motorcycle accident last Thursday, May 14th, on W. Trimble at Worley's Tire driveway.  A 2006 Yamaha was eastbound approaching a curve and lost control in front of Worleys.  The driver, Nicholas Rodriquez of Berryville, laid the bike down on its left side and slid across Worley's parking lot.  Rodriguez separated from the motorcycle and he continued to slide across the parking lots and came to rest after striking a metal sign, cracking open his helmet.    Rodriguez was transported to Mercy Hospital Berryville.  The accident report indicated witnesses to the accident said he was driving recklessly before the accident by weaving in and out of traffic and changing lanes wildly.  Police cited Rodriguez with no motorcycle endorsement and reckless driving.

May 18, 2015

The Berryville Board of Education met for a special called meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the Intermediate Cafetorium.  The purpose of the meeting was:  Personnel Issues 

Members Present:  LeeAnn Ashford, Chad Hipps, Todd Howard, Kristi Howerton, Jeff Miles, Sherri Plumlee, & David Waller 
Members Absent:   None

The Board appointed Steve Scoggins, Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent during the absence of Dr. Clark.  

David Waller explained the process the Board must follow to explain the recent Legislative Audit Committee Review in Little Rock attended by Dr. Clark and Sherri Plumlee.

Berryville Police Department Joining the Ticket or Click It Enforcement

The Berryville Police Department is joining other police departments across the state, mobilizing to crack down on drivers who don't follow Arkansas's seat belt laws with a "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign through the end of May. The special enforcement period will run through May 31.  Lt. Robert Bartos with Berryville Police.............

Experts say seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.  Statistics show that passenger vehicle occupants are buckling up more during the day, but not enough at night. This mobilization is created to crackdown on violators 24-7, but a strong enforcement effort is urged between the nighttime hours of 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. due to the significant number of violators and fatal crashes during this time.

Free Health Seminars at BV Community Center

If you’ve been looking for ways to improve your health and learn natural ways to take care of yourself, then here is a unique opportunity for you.  Noreen Watson, a local researcher, is giving her free health seminars at the Berryville Community Center at 601 Drive Spurlin Cir, Berryville, Arkansas starting May 19.  She will be giving seminars every Tuesday in May and June:  one in the morning 11 am – 12:30 pm and then the repeat class in the evening from 6 – 7:30 pm.  The three different sessions include:

May 19 and June 9 The truth about Nutrition – foods for maintaining health, managing blood sugar, reducing blood pressure and controlling cravings and weight loss.
May 26 and June 16 Herbs and Home Remedies – how to identify herbs and how to use them both in cooking and home remedies
June 2 and June 23  Essential Oils and Aromatherapy – basic ways to use oils for beauty and medicinal applications.  How to make natural homemade bug sprays.

The classes are very lively with lots of samples and demonstrations.  There are free written handouts as well.  

Our Attention Span is Now Less Than That of A Goldfish

Humans have become so obsessed with portable devices and overwhelmed by content that we now have attention spans shorter than that of the previously jokingly juxtaposed goldfish.  Microsoft surveyed 2,000 people and used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor the brain activity of another 112 in the study, which sought to determine the impact that pocket-sized devices and the increased availability of digital media and information have had on our daily lives. Among the good news in the 54-page report is that our ability to multi-task has drastically improved in the information age, but unfortunately attention spans have fallen.  In 2000 the average attention span was 12 seconds, but this has now fallen to just eight. The goldfish is believed to be able to maintain a solid nine.

Anecdotely, many of us can relate to the increasing inability to focus on tasks, being distracted by checking your phone or scrolling down a news feed. Another recent study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and the National Library of Medicine in the US found that 79 per cent of respondents used portable devices while watching TV (known as dual-screening) and 52 per cent check their phone every 30 minutes. One professor believes it's an entirely natural response though – as we consume an increasing volume of information and digest it faster, our appetite for it grows.

Pew Survey Finds Fewer Americans Identify as Religious 

A large survey from the Pew Research Center has found the number of people in the U.S. who identify as religious has declined from 78.4 percent of the population in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014.   The survey found a decrease in the number of people who identify with both Catholic and protestant denominations and a large increase in what religious scholars call the "nones," people who are unaffiliated with any religion.  The increase in nones was composed largely of people born after 1981 -- and scholars and faith leaders are trying to find out what's driving young people away from religious institutions.   The Assemblies of God, an evangelical denomination headquartered in Springfield, saw a nationwide increase in membership of 250,000 over the last seven years.  Even though the church has grown, its leaders said they have battled growing secularism in the culture.  The assembly is one of few denominations not losing members.  In the last seven years, the nones have grown to become almost a quarter of the population.   Scholars note only a third of the nones identify as atheist or agnostic -- so something else is happening. 

Worried about your job? Get used to it

Employment insecurity is here to stay.  Only a quarter of workers worldwide now have a "stable employment relationship," according to a new report by the International Labour Organization. It found that the rest are employed on a temporary or short-term basis, work in informal jobs without contracts, or in unpaid family jobs.  The World Employment and Social Outlook report paints a grim picture of the world's labor market.  The fallout of the global financial crisis is still being felt, with 61 million people out of work around the world. Part-time employment is rising, as workers can't find full-time jobs.   All of this creates anxiety among workers. "These emerging trends are also a reflection of the widespread insecurity that's affecting many workers worldwide today," ILO Director General Guy Ryder said.

The U.S. is doing better than most of the world. The report found that only 13.1 percent of American employees are not full time, compared to 16.7 percent of Australians, 22.9 percent of Brits and 27 percent of French workers.  Over 60 percent of workers around the world lack any kind of employment contract, with workers in poorer countries experiencing the most insecurity. That ratio rises to 80 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. The report also said job insecurity is widening the global gap between rich and poor. Temporary, part-time, and informal workers are more likely to slip into poverty and social exclusion, the report noted.

News for May 18, 2015

Technology Helps Turn Around Failing Rural Arkansas School

Four years ago, a high school in rural Arkansas was one of the worst in the state. But now, the school is being recognized nationally for its excellence.  Historically, going to college wasn’t the norm in St. Paul. There have always been plenty of jobs in logging for which a college degree is not needed. “A lot of these kids will be first generation college students,” said Lendy Eaton, a math teacher at St. Paul High School. “Their parents didn’t go to college and so the family expectation hasn’t been there.” When Principal Daisy Dyer Duerr came to St. Paul in 2011, St. Paul High School was on the verge of being taken over by the state. Students were not meeting state expectations in math or literacy. “We choose to live in this area, but we don’t choose for our kids to have any less of an education because of where we live,” Duerr said.  Duerr believed technology could help turn around the school. Through several grants, the principal transformed traditional classrooms into digital learning spaces.

Classrooms are equipped with Smart Boards, there’s PC and Mac computer labs and students have access to a variety of electronic devices including iPads and Nooks.  Also, the high school is  now ranked in the top ten-percent of Arkansas schools. The school’s success has made students want to do better and achieve more. For many, college is now in their future.  Duerr said she hopes the school’s  turnaround will show others that they can do the same.  St. Paul High School was honored in March at Digital Learning Day for its innovating learning practices.  It’s an annual event held in Washington D.C.

Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA Celebrated Graduates

Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas held their annual Graduation Open House on May 12, 2015 to celebrate 19 graduates of Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties.  Graduates and their families attended the event, along with board members, alumni, and other volunteers.  SPSF NWA provides direct financial support, as well as supportive programs to help ensure the success of its recipients.  Christina Meeks, SPSF NWA Outreach Manager and alumnus of the scholarship program shared a message regarding the impact SPSF provided for her family.  “They served as an excellent support system, treating me with so much respect and dignity, which really changed my life.  It gave me the confidence I needed to go forward."  SPSF NWA provides scholarships to 135 recipients annually.  Scholarships are funded entirely by community support, and now, thanks to your investment, 19 families are poised to become financially independent.  Children of our graduates have witnessed their example and are more likely to earn degrees themselves, breaking the cycle of poverty.  100% of every donation received is awarded in scholarships. A private family grant absorbs administrative costs.

Branson Fire Looks to Unionize Their Department, City Disapproves

The City of Branson is not backing the Branson Fire Department in their quest for unionization.  In a media release from the City of Branson it states the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) has filed a petition with the State of Missouri’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relation’s Board of Mediation to request an election to unionize the City Fire Department. The IAFF, based in Washington, D.C. and AFL-CIO affiliated, seeks to unionize the rank and file of the Branson Fire Department as well as the Department’s Captains.  Branson City Administrator Bill Malinen says the City is not in favor of such an effort and had this to say as part of the release:

“The City has worked hard to maintain a good working environment for all its employees with open communications for workplace issues, and an even playing field across its employee body.  We are committed to providing a great place for our employees to work, including our firefighters. Rather than improving our customer experience, we believe that a union here in Branson will divert time and tax-payer resources to interaction with this out-of-state organization. I don’t see how an outside union will benefit the citizens of Branson.”  The election is scheduled to be held on May 28, with Fire Captains and non-supervisory Fire Department personnel voting.

Highway Materials Group Stresses Long-term Trust Fund Solution

As lawmakers in Washington wrangle over a way to prop up the failing Federal Highway Trust Fund, the national Highway Materials Group this week urged Congress to find a long-term solution to keep the United States competitive in the global economy.  In a letter dated May 13 to Senate and House leaders, the national group of road builders say they are in favor of “any user-based funding options” to keep money rolling into a fund that has floundered for over a decade as gas mileage for cars and trucks improved and less money went into the fund.  The Highway Trust Fund expires May 31. Nearly 1 million jobs will be affected in the highway materials industry and “time is running out for Congress to act,” the Highway Materials Group states.  “If they keep kicking the can down the road it’s going to fall in a pot hole,” said Danny Straessle, spokesman for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department.  At least 70 AHTD projects have been cancelled because of the May 31 expiration, and 131 are at risk of being cancelled, Straessle said Friday. The Federal Highway Administration could be closing shop on June 1, he added.U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in an emailed statement Wednesday that he is confident a short-term fix will be found by May 31 and he is “committed to ensuring a mechanism is in place to continue funding roads while lawmakers hash out a long-term solution.”

Arkansas Lawmakers OK Consultant Contract for Medicaid Plan

Arkansas lawmakers have approved a $1 million contract with a consultant looking at the future of the state's compromise Medicaid expansion, but the House speaker says he'll recommend working with another firm as well. The Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday approved the contract with the New Hampshire-based Stephen Group. The consultant will study the state's Medicaid program and recommend alternatives to the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion. The private option uses federal funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.  A task force looking at the private option's future approved the contract, but the chairmen of the panel had recommended the council not sign off on the agreement   Speaker Jeremy Gillam said he'll recommend the task force consider signing with another consultant to also study the Medicaid program.

Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Arkansas Awarded $1.2 Million Mabee Challenge Grant

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas (RMHCA) has been issued a substantial challenge grant by The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. The award would be 1.2 million dollars toward construction of the new Ronald McDonald House located near the entrance of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, when the challenge is met.  The funds will only be received if the organization is able to raise the remainig $900,000 of the $8 million goal.  The new Ronald McDonald House®, breaking ground on July 21, 2015, will triple in size, providing families a larger and more comfortable place to stay while their children are receiving treatment at local hospitals. The five stories will include: 32 bedroom suites each with a private bath, queen-size bed and a sitting area. There will be a large kitchen and dining room as well as laundry facilities, lactation rooms, family lounges, and computer stations on each residential floor. Other amenities include indoor and outdoor play areas, a wellness garden, a tree house, and a basketball half court.

Independent Citizens Commission Votes to Raise Prosecutors' Pay

An Arkansas commission quickly approved raising full-time prosecutors' salaries by 23 percent on Wednesday, a move that's drawn a relatively muted response compared to the public backlash over pay increases granted other elected officials earlier this year. The Independent Citizens Commission unanimously approved the pay raises after no one showed up to speak at a public hearing for or against the proposal. The panel is raising pay for state's 25 full-time prosecutors from $123,162 a year to $152,000. The commission also voted to raise salaries for three prosecutors who are allowed to also work in private practice from $103,058 year to $129,200.  

Altes Appointed To Serve as State's Drug Director

A former legislator who represented west Arkansas in both the state House and Senate has been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as the state's drug director. The Arkansas Department of Human Services announced Wednesday that Denny Altes would replace Fran Flener, who retired last year. During his legislative career, Altes worked to curb substance abuse in Arkansas. Legislation he sponsored included addressing the overprescribing of drugs by doctors and a law limiting purchases of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamine. The drug director oversees and coordinates activities of the Arkansas State Drug Abuse and Prevention Coordinating Council and coordinates all alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment initiatives in the state.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will test a new unlimited shipping service for online shoppers this summer that will be priced below Amazon's widely popular $99 per year Prime service. Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the shipping subscription service will cost customers $50 a year. Products will arrive in three days or less. Ravi Jariwali, a Wal-Mart spokesman, says the service will be available by invitation only for now and it will offer more than one million top-selling items, from toys to electronic gadgets. Wal-Mart's online site sells more than seven million products.  The offering is in response to increasing demands from customers who are looking for predictable and affordable shipping.

Social Security Delivers the Most Popular Baby Names in Arkansas for 2014

The Social Security Administration today announced the most popular baby names in Arkansas for 2014.  Emma and Mason topped the list.  

The top five boys and girls names for 2014 in Arkansas were:

    Boys:                Girls:
    1)   Mason            1)   Emma
    2)   William            2)   Olivia
    3)   Noah                3)   Ava
    4)   Elijah                4)   Harper
    5)   James            5)   Isabella

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced last week that Noah and Emma were the most popular baby names in the U.S.  How does Arkansas compare to the rest of the country?  Check out Social Security’s website -- www.socialsecurity.gov-- to see the top baby names for 2014.  Social Security has a new addition this year too, Social Security Matters, the agency’s newborn interactive blog located at http://blog.socialsecurity.gov.

Meetings Coming Up

Green Forest School Board - Tonight 5pm in the High School Library
CC Quorum Court - Tonight 5pm, Eastern District Courthouse
Berryville City Council - Tuesday, 6pm, Berryville City Hall

News for May 15, 2015

Four Injured in One-Vehicle Accident Friday

From Arkansas State Police:

At approximately 4:40 AM on 5-15-2015, a white, 2009 Chevrolet pickup crashed on US 62 as it was traveling eastbound just inside of the east city limits of Green Forest. The driver of the vehicle, MacKenzie W. Arciga (18 yoa), lost control of the vehicle as he was negotiating a left curve. The vehicle left the roadway and entered the south ditch where it overturned. Arciga and a passenger, Kevin K. J. Smith (18 yoa), were ejected from the vehicle. Both subjects were not wearing thelr seatbelts. The two remaining occupants, Elvin Merida (19 yoa) and a minor passenger were wearing their seatbelts and remained in the vehicle.  Arciga and Smith received life-threatening injuries. Arciga was transported to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo, and Smith was transported to Washington Regional in Fayetteville, AR. The  minor was transported to Mercy in Berryville. Merida was treated at the scene and released.


Fire Department Responds on Hazardous Materials Spill

Eureka Springs Fire & EMS responded Thursday to the report of a possible Hazardous Materials incident on Potter Rd, off of Passion Play Rd.  Reports came in of a small controlled brush fire on the property that was near a 55 gallon drum with unknown contents. The drum toppled over onto its side and spilled contents onto and around the fire. 9 Personnel and 4 apparatus responded along with Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management and Eureka Springs Public Works Director Dwayne Allen. The fire was easily extinguished and unknown oily substance was contained.  Office of Emergency Management Director Nick Samac responded to the scene and found that there was no threat to the environment or public.  All personnel returned to service without incident. 

Toddler Saved from Harm

Thursday afternoon a small child, around 2 years old, was found wandering down Hwy. 311 north of Green Forest.  Law enforcement authorities quickly responded and took the child to safety, but that initiated a concentrated effort to find where the little boy belonged.  It was well over an hour after the Hispanic child was found before the CC Sheriff’s office received information of where the child may have come from.  They began a house to house check on CR 802 and was able to find the youngster's house.  The parents were made to go the GFPD to identify the child at which time the Department of Human Services got involved. The child was not injured in the ordeal.

Up, Up and Away

This week the Berryville Middle School 7th grade class launched a weather balloon to the edge of space.  Dubbed: Berryville Operation Space Selfie (BOSS for short), the balloon rose to 110,000 feet before it popped and returned to earth via parachute.  It carried 2 HD cameras, gps, and collected data.  It was launched from Berryville football field and landed over 80 miles away in Caufield, MO after a 2 hour and 46 minute flight. It measured temperatures as low as -55 F.  The 7th graders under the auspices of Andrew Killingsworth, spent three weeks putting the project together using all they had learned throughout the school year to pull it off.

Video/Audio link:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6sM7IomMc_hN1hKcUVaR0tfQlk/view?usp=sharing  or  http://youtu.be/iH71b5vFYv0

Brandon Burlsworth High School Award Winner Announced

Each year every high school football program in Arkansas selects one player from their team to receive the Brandon Burlsworth football award.  This player should demonstrate the drive, diligence to school, and good moral character that the former Razorback All-American and Indianapolis Colt was known for.  The 2014-2015 Burlsworth award winner from Berryville High School is Tate Ferguson.  Ferguson this week signed with College of the Ozarks to play baseball but excelled on the BV Football team as well.

Brandon Burlsworth came to the University of Arkansas as a walk-on and left as an All-American.  He was drafted with the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colt6s in the 1999 NFL draft.  Tragically, only days after his first mini-camp with the Colts, he was killed in a car accident.  The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation was founded in June 1999 in Brandon's honor.  The goal of the foundation is to develop and implement program for the benefit of needy and underprivileged children.  

Eureka Springs’ Anti-discrimination Ordinance Seen as Challenge to State Law 

An anti-discrimination ordinance that Eureka Springs voters approved Tuesday will soon be “irrelevant,” according to the sponsor of a law, set to take effect in July, banning cities and counties from prohibiting discrimination on any basis not in state law.  Supporters of the ordinance applaud it as a challenge to Act 137 of 2015, which they see as anti-gay and likely unconstitutional.By a vote of 71 percent for and 29 percent against, Eureka Springs voters on Tuesday approved an ordinance that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on, among other things, sexual orientation or gender identity.  

The City Council had passed the ordinance in February but scheduled an election on it after opponents launched a petition drive for a referendum. The vote Tuesday was 579 for and 231 against.  State Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the ordinance conflicts with Act 137, which he sponsored and which goes into effect July 22. The law prohibits cities and counties from adopting or enforcing any ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that prohibits discrimination on a basis not in state law.  Arkansas’ civil rights law does not include sexual orientation or sexual identity as protected classes.  “Of course it conflicts with the bill,” Hester said Wednesday of Eureka Springs’ ordinance.  “It will be irrelevant here in a matter of days.  “Whatever our civil rights protections are going to be, they need to be uniform throughout the state."  Eureka Springs Mayor Robert “Butch” Berry said Wednesday that beginning July 22, “we won’t be able to enforce the ordinance. But until then, the citizens of Eureka Springs do enjoy the benefits of all civil rights.  “My belief is that all men are created equal and I believe that’s part of our basic heritage and Constitution", Berry said.

Beautiful New Main Movie Theater Sign Back On

The Clark family has operated the Main Theater in Berryville, Arkansas since 1974.  The theater was upgraded in 2014 to digital picture and sound, including new seating.  The Berryville Community Restoration Project and the generosity of Rick Barrows were able to bring the aging sign back to life Tuesday as it was hung in place and turned back on with a new dazzling LED light display.  Unfortunately Kenny Clark passed away in 2014 before the theater remodel was complete, but the close knit community of Berryville made sure the project was complete.  Regina, Kenny's wife, and daughter Courtney continue to run the family business.  

C.C. Quorum Court Meets Monday

The C.C. Quorum Court will meet for its monthly meeting Monday, May 18th at 5pm, in the Eastern District Courthouse.  On the agenda:

Ozark Regional Transit
Sheriff Randy Mayfield
Morris Pate, Chairman, Airport Commission

Old Business:    An Ordinance declaring that the CC District Court Clerk's will collect fines assessed in the District Courts
New Business:  Appropriation Ordinance amending the County Budget and appropriating additional funds to the CC Detention Center
                           Resolution authorizing the County Judge to apply for a grant on behalf of the Grassy Knob Volunteer Fire Department

J.P's comments
Judges comments

Boone Co. Sheriff Looking for Fugitive

The Boone County Sheriff’s Department is asking the public’s assistance in locating a fugitive. According to Sheriff Mike Moore, 36-year-old Kevin Sheek is wanted in Boone County for failing to register as a sexual offender and violation of probation charges. Moore says he is also wanted out of Marion County and Missouri. Sheek was required to register as a sex offender after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a man using force. Sheek is described as a white male, six-feet-two inches tall, weighing around 260 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. His last known location was in the Harmon and Zinc area.  The Sheriff’s Department says all information received will be kept confidential. You can contact the sheriff’s office at 870-741-8404.

Johnson County Policeman Shot and Killed

A police officer has been fatally shot in Johnson County.  Arkansas State Police said the Johnson County sheriff's office requested state police assistance in an officer-involved shooting in which a police officer was shot.   A spokesman said he had no information on the condition of the officer, but Johnson County Coroner Pamela Cogan said the officer had died.  Additional details on where the shooting took place and the circumstances surrounding it were not immediately clear. Cogan said she did not know the time the officer died.  A woman who answered the phone at the Johnson County sheriff's office directed all calls to state police.

Arkansas State Parks Joins Nationwide Celebration of "Kids to Parks Day, May 16"

The State Parks of Arkansas will be joining local and national parks across America in the annual national celebration of “Kids to Parks Day” on Saturday, May 16. This will be fifth anniversary of this nationwide day of outdoor play held a week before the official start of summer vacations. Organized by the National Park Trust in cooperation with a host of local and national collaborators, it encourages families to connect kids with parks to experience the nature, environmental education, and history adventures found in the local, state, and national parks, and all other public lands.  “Kids to Parks Day” is a call for parents and grandparents to engage the children in your life in the outdoors. This is an opportunity to be nature mentors to your children or grandchildren so they can experience  first-hand how inspiring the natural world can be. And you’ll be connecting them to the heart-healthy activities that can be enjoyed in parks.

In addition to the many recreational opportunities and self-guided activities that can be enjoyed by visitors in Arkansas’s state parks daily, state park interpreters around Arkansas will offer a wide range of special activities and programs on May 16. These range from a Woodpecker and Warbler Birding Walk at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area near Rogers to a Dutch Oven Outdoor Cooking Workshop at Cane Creek State Park near Star City, and from Games of Yesteryear at Powhatan Historic State Park in Powhatan to Family Fun Day at White Oak Lake State Park. For details about all the state park “Kids to Parks Day” special activities on May 16, visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com