News for July 2, 2015​​​​​​

History of Fourth of July 

Variously known as the Fourth of July and Independence Day, July 4th has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-83). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle weighed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

The tradition of patriotic celebration became widespread after the War of 1812, in which the United States again faced Great Britain. In 1870, the U.S. Congress made July 4th a federal holiday; in 1941, the provision was expanded to grant a paid holiday to all federal employees. Over the years, the political importance of the holiday would decline, but Independence Day remained an important national holiday and a symbol of patriotism. Falling in mid-summer, the Fourth of July has since the late 19th century become a major focus of leisure activities and a common occasion for family get-togethers, often involving fireworks and outdoor barbecues. The most common symbol of the holiday is the American flag, and a common musical accompaniment is “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.

Holiday Island Plans Day Long Event for Independence Day

One of the many events to choose from close to home is the Holiday Island Chamber of Commerce's Old Fashined 4th of July celebration and fireworks show.  It's free to the public and will be held at the Recreation Center on the Island.  Last week, the Chamber hosted some other events that were well attended, leading up to this weekend's big celebration.  Dori Thomas is Vice-President of the Holiday Island Chamber and she said last weeks dinner and golf game was well attended.............

Again, the festivities begin at 2pm Saturday.  

CFB-Berryville Donates to Loaves and Fishes Food Bank

Community First Bank, Berryville was pleased to donate $500.00 to the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank to help them replenish their supplies after a recent break in resulted in their cooler being vandalized and all the food being spoiled.  Pictured are Melia Warren, Jeanne Thompson, Natalie Battin, Community First Bank employee Lacey Jones, Bev Teigland and  Melissa Warner.   

Local Zumba® Instructors Host Fundraiser for Berryville Police Chief David Muniz

On Friday, July 10, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. seven local Zumba Fitness® are hosting a two-hour event to raise funds for Berryville Police Chief David Muniz, who is undergoing expensive treatment for cancer. Admission is by donation, with a suggested donation of $10. The event will be held at the Berryville Community Center and will feature two fun-filled hours of dancing. There will also be a silent auction with great items from local businesses. Please come out to support Police Chief Muniz! 

Corps Of Engineers Advises Caution On Water Over Holiday Weekend

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a statement to practice water safety over the Fourth of July weekend. The Independence Day holiday is typically one of the three busiest weekends of the year at the region’s lakes and rivers, and this year, will likely be no exception with the long holiday weekend looming.  In addition, visitors should be aware that extra precautions are advised because of high water at some Little Rock District projects in Arkansas and Missouri.  A small craft advisory remains in effect on the Arkansas River until at least mid-July because of high flows. Pleasure boaters are advised to stay off the river. More rain could cause the advisory to remain in effect longer. Also, 10 district lakes are still high because of spring flooding. These include Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Greers Ferry, Millwood, DeQueen, Gillham, Dierks, Nimrod and Blue Mountain. High lake levels can make boating more hazardous.  Officials advise boaters and anglers to prepare for these conditions and use extra caution.

Study Finds Arkansas Children at Higher Risk of Drowning

A new study has concluded that children in Arkansas are at an increased risk for drowning. Research conducted by the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program at Arkansas Children's Hospital indicates Arkansas ranks 7th in the U.S. for drowning-related deaths among children under 17.  In addition, the state's drowning rate is 60 percent higher than the national average.  Since 2010, the Arkansas Infant and Child Death Review Program has reviewed cases of unexpected deaths of children ages birth to 17. Local review teams found that of all the drowning cases reviewed, over 5 percent involved children between the ages of 1 and 4 who drowned in either a bathtub or a bucket of water.  The research found that most recreational drownings occurred among young people ages 10 to 17.

Arkansas Is A 'No Refusal' State

Drinking and driving don't mix and neither does drinking and boating. With the busy and celebratory weekend ahead, law enforcement will be out on full alert. "They can forcibly hold you down and take a blood test from you. They can actually take a urine test from you against your will," Attorney, Doug Norwood, said.  A ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court, last month, found sobriety tests could be given after a search warrant is issued by a Judge. "It sounds crazy, but they can actually go that far if they want to," Norwood said. This, regardless if a person refuses.  "They're going to have to get a Judge up in the middle of the night, a lot of times at two or three o'clock in the morning, get a Judge to issue a search warrant," Norwood said.

Sergeant Rusty Johnson with the Arkansas Game and Fish says Benton County Sheriff's Deputies will be in full force on Beaver Lake, for the Fourth of July holiday. "It's already hard to navigate after dark, with a lot of other boats. There's not white and yellow lines on the lake. You have to exercise a lot of common sense, and a lot of good judgment. If you're impaired, it's gonna be that much harder," Sgt. Johnson said. Sergeant Johnson says thousands celebrators will be on the lake, this weekend, calling for an added focus to prevent alcohol and drug-related accidents. Attorney Doug Norwood says the "no refusal" invades a person's privacy.  

Pace Industries Merges with Port City Group 

Pace Industries, an aluminum, zinc and magnesium die casting company based in Fayetteville, announces the merger with Port City Group in Muskegon, Mich. The merger will provide die casting, machining, manufacturing and finishing capabilities across diverse industries including automotive, lighting, electrical, recreational and others. The combined company will consist of 12 divisions and 21 facilities with sales of approximately $600 million across the United States and Mexico.  Port City Group will become a division of Pace Industries. John Essex will remain CEO of Port City Group, join the Pace Board of Directors, and become one of its largest shareholders while leading Pace’s automotive growth strategy.

Wal-Mart Works to Correct ‘Made In USA’ Label Problem

Whoops. The Truth in Advertising group has found more than 100 items sold on that were incorrectly identified as “Made in the U.S.A.” The news comes just more than a week before the retailer’s Manufacturing Summit and Made in the US Open Call in Bentonville.  Bonnie Pattern, executive director for (Truth in Advertising), said when the organization first reached out to Wal-Mart on June 22 the company’s initial response was to blame manufacturers.“Then they said it was a coding error and a small glitch in their system which they are working to correct,” Pattern said. “Now we see starting to make some changes in their website. Some of the mislabels we identified have been taken down. Wal-Mart should have better quality control and in this case it was sorely lacking.” Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said the retailer was working on simplifying two entry processes into one that should help alleviate confusion around a product’s origin.

Antiques Roadshow Appraisal Event Headed to Arkansas in July

The Arkansas Educational Television Network says PBS's popular Antiques Roadshow appraisal event is coming to Little Rock next month. AETN says the program will tape an episode at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on July 25. The public TV series features a wide variety of items brought in for professional assessment, including of the market value. Thousands of people appeared for the taping of three one-hour episodes in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday. They are scheduled to air in 2016. Participants can bring as many as two items, and must bring at least one item. Those who plan to bring a painting for appraisal should be prepared for the possibility of an extra-long wait.

News for July 1, 2015​​​​​​

James Patterson Announces First Round of Grants to Schools

James Patterson is announcing the first round of school libraries to receive grants from an initiative he and Scholastic Reading Club launched in March, and he continues to raise the amount of money he will donate.The best-selling and prolific author said Tuesday that $500,000 has been given to 127 schools, from Berryville Middle School in Arkansas to the Pierre Indian Learning Center in South Dakota. Individual grants range from $1,000 to $10,000, part of a program Patterson and Scholastic originally set at $1.25 million, but now stands at $1.75 million. On Tuesday, he committed an additional $250,000, the second time since March he raised funding by $250,000. An "overwhelming" volume of requests, more than 28,000, for books and other resources is behind the latest increase.

"With nearly half the population currently reading at or below the basic level, the United States is truly in the middle of a crisis," Patterson said in a statement. "I've now read over a thousand letters from school librarians, teachers, and parents about the lack of resources at our country's schools. How will children make it to high school without access to books? This is a huge problem — and we have to take action. I hope that education will become a major topic on Capitol Hill and in the upcoming presidential debates." The remaining $1.25 million of the library program will be distributed over the second half of 2015.  Patterson has given away millions in recent years to libraries and independent booksellers while also sponsoring numerous literacy projects. In May, he started a young adult book imprint, Jimmy Patterson, part of his longtime publisher, Little, Brown and Company.

Berryville Police Work Accident

Berryville Police responded to S. Main and Carl Ave., June 26th, to the report of a rear end accident, with one vehicle leaving the scene.  According to the accident report from Berryville Police, Cray Pinkston of Harrison, driving a 2006 Ford, reported to Police he was hit from behind by a white Camaro, not once, or twice, but three times, the final time pushing the Camaro up onto the sidewalk.  The Camaro is then alleged to have moved down the street and parked, but Police made her drive back to the accident scene.  The driver of the Camaro, Kaylee Creasey of McCrory, Arkansas told Police she dropped her cell phone when she bent over to pick it up, she ran into the back of the Ford.  Police said they got two different stories from the drivers, but did cite Creasey with reckless driving.

Rodeo of the Ozarks Begins

Some of the best cowboys and cowgirls in the country will be in Springdale this week to compete in the rodeo. The 71st annual Rodeo of the Ozarks will be held at Parsons Stadium in Springdale. The four-day event runs from Wednesday, July 1 until Saturday, July 4.  A parade kicks off the event Wednesday. It starts at 3:00 p.m. at the rodeo grounds and will travel west through downtown Springdale.  The 71st Annual Rodeo of the Ozarks begins tonight and will continue  each night at 7:30 p.m.. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.   Tex Holt is on the Rodeo of the Ozarks Board..................

Rodeo events include bareback riding, steer wrestling and bull riding. New this year, there will be two female trick riders.

Gas Prices Fall ahead of 4th of July Weekend 

Gas prices are finally falling after more than two months of big price hikes. According to a Gas Buddy Survey, in the past week, the average price of gas in the natural state dropped by more than 3 cents averaging $2.49 per gallon.  The national average has fallen more than 1 cent, averaging to $2.78.   The current price of gas is 97 cents less than it was a year ago.  Experts say we could see prices continue to decrease in the weeks ahead.

Missouri Senator McCaskill Touts Value of Older Americans in Workforce

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill would like the number of older Americans in the workforce to increase. During a bipartisan Senate panel hearing tasked with doing just that, McCaskill said they have just as much to offer as the younger generation.“More than nine in ten workers over 50 have a computer, tablet or smart phone,” said McCaskill. “So don’t tell me that you can’t teach an older dog new tricks and don’t tell me that older workers cost too much. Many baby boomers are dealing with a much different work landscape than the one they entered decades ago. We are a competitive bunch. So I have trouble with this concept that we can’t adapt to changing technologies to stay relevant in today’s economy.”

McCaskill said more than 1 in 5 Missouri workers is 55 and older.The AARP says adding a worker over 50 is not that much different to a company’s bottom line than adding younger workers. McCaskill said she agrees with that statement and said older Americans need to continue working.“Some older workers want to stay employed to feel productive and challenged. I hasten to say that I believe the majority of older Americans are doing so out of necessity.”McCaskill criticized the Missouri Legislature for not expanding Medicaid and says the federal money could make a big difference for older, hard-working people.

Arkansas Teen Finds Centipede in His Ear

An Arkansas teen is recovering after pulling a centipede from his ear.  Grant Botti, 14, of Bryant, was asleep when pain in his ear woke him up. After feeling around to see what was causing the pain, the boy pulled out a 4-inch centipede.  Mom Angela Botti says she retrieved the bug and put it in a bag. She then took her son to the hospital, and the bug in the bag came along too.   Doctors at Saline Memorial examined the teen and said the centipede had caused abrasions to his eardrum and ear canal, which they covered with a bandage.  The teen's mom says she's not sure where the bug came from but noted that the family had just came back from the beach. Hospital staff told the family they've pulled many things from ears before but never a centipede.

News for June 30, 2015​​​​​​

Berryville Man's Wild Ride Results in 23 ASP Charges

A Berryville man, seen leaving the scene of a fight in progress call, tried to evade law enforcement officers Saturday evening, but didn't get far.  According to ASP Trooper Taylor Elkins report of the incident, he was leaving the CCSO when a dispatch advised of a fight in progress across from the jail on Buckeye Lane.  As the Trooper approached the stop sign at Hailey Rd and Hwy. 62, he saw the man leave on a motorcycle wearing no shirt.  He was later identified as Carlton Joseph Hampton, 44, of Berryville.  The Trooper activated his lights and siren and caught up to Hampton at the Hwy 21 South traffic light.  Over his PA system, Trooper Elkins advised the man to get off the bike, but he ignored the command.

Hampton then made a U-turn in front of the Trooper and headed back East where he met a Carroll County Deputy and slowed down some.  Trooper Elkins again commanded by PA for Hampton to stop, but he still refused and veered across five lanes of traffic, pulled up on a sidewalk and drove around a car that had come to a stop, went back out onto the street, attempted to accelerate again, and by that time a Berryville officer blocked off the turn lane and inside west bound lane and Hampton tried to make a sharp U-Turn while spinning his back tire and flipped the bike onto its side and he was ejected.  Hampton then jumped to feet and took off running north through a parking lot, where he slipped and fell and Trooper Elkins was able to take him into custody.   Arkansas State Police charged Hampton with 23 traffic violations.

2015 Rat Race Draws Over 300 Runners

Tommy Raztlaff was a Green Forest native and a decorated Navy Seal who was killed in August of  2011, in a helicopter crash.  Friends and family have chosen to memorialize Tommy's memory with an Annual Foot Race they call the Rat Race.  The Annual race took place last Saturday in Tommy's home town of Green Forest.  Berryville Police Officer Kevin Disheroon was best friends with Tommy Ratzlaff and himself runs in the race......

Tommy Ratzlaff's mother, wife and children (left) attended the Race and Barrett, Tommy's oldest son, won an award.  Follks can visit Ratzlaff Legacy Foundation webpage at to see photos of the race.

Benefit for Berryville Police Chief Dave Muniz

Berryville Police Chief Dave Muniz is in his third year of fighting cancer, and his third decade as Police Chief of Berryville.  A new treatment is now available that may help the Chief, but is very expensive.  The Chief's insurance through the city only pays a portion of the experimental treatment, which costs the family about $10,000 per treatment.  

Friends are planning a benefit for the Chief for Friday, July 17th, at 5pm at the Berryville Community Center.  On tap for the evening is a $5.00 spaghetti dinner, an auction at 6pm, raffle items, silent auctions all evening, a dessert auction and activities for all ages.  Monetary donations are being accepted at either Anstaff Bank to the Muniz Fund or an account has been established at for TeamDave.

For more information or to donate, contact Amy Ary at 870-423-8825 or at

Moderate Injuries in Wakeboarding Accident

A man from Springfield suffers moderate injuries in a wakeboarding accident on Table Rock Lake one mile east Cape Fair in Stone County. The Missouri State Highway Patrol – Water Division says the accident occurred Saturday afternoon as 28-year-old Joel Casimer attempted to get on a wakeboard and fell off. The vessel pulling the wakeboard was being operated by 33-year-old Derek Smith of Springfield. Casimer was transported by EMS to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

Law Enforcement Officers Statewide Watching for Holiday Impaired Drivers July 4th - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

The Fourth of July is a favorite holiday among Americans.  But with summer fun, parades, parties and fireworks, the holiday typically proves to be deadly on streets and highways across the country.  Nationwide there were 199 people killed in alcohol related crashes during the 2013 July 4th holiday period.  Arkansas State Police Director and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative Colonel Bill Bryant says, “For everyone’s sake, don’t drink and drive.  The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign means zero tolerance for drunk driving – no excuses.”  The crackdown on drunk driving during the coming holiday period will involve state, city and county law enforcement officers devoting additional patrol hours beginning today and continuing through July 5th.  Their target will be the drivers who are impaired and endangering the lives of others traveling on Arkansas roadways. 

Drivers who have consumed alcohol or drugs should remember they are putting their own life and the lives of others at risk. Driving impaired can lead to other serious consequences.  Even if no one is killed or hurt, a DWI arrest can lead to jail time, driver license suspension, costly legal expenses, court fines and higher driver insurance rates.  In every state it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher, yet people continue to break the law and drive drunk. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports show that in fatal crashes during the July Fourth period in 2013, more than one-fifth (21%) of involved drivers or motorcycle operators had BAC’s of .15 or higher – almost twice the legal limit. 

The Arkansas Highway Safety Office recommends these simple tips to prevent drunk driving: 

Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
If you have been drinking, call a taxi or a sober friend or family member to ask for a ride home.
If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, call 911.
If you know someone who is about to drive or operate a motorcycle while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.

For more information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, visit or contact the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on the ongoing “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign, visit 

Marriage and Politics with SDC Founder Jack Herschend

A Presidential candidate makes a special stop at Jack and Sherry Herschend’s 61st Wedding Anniversary Celebration.  At the end of last week former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee made a special scheduled appearance at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson to meet and address guests taking part in the celebration.  During the event Huckabee gave a Pledge to the People or address following a private meet and greet with his campaign contributors.  When asked the secret of success to being married to someone for over 60 years, Herschend joked that it’s actually really simple. He continues by adding his marriage has been all about him studying his wife’s needs, meeting them, and letting everything else just fall into place. Herschend is a founding member of Herschend Family Entertainment, which owns and operates international and local attractions such as Silver Dollar City, White Water, and The Showboat Branson Belle.  

News for June 29, 2015​​​​​​

Mercy Health Confirms Berryville Layoffs - Issues Statement

Mercy Health Systems says that it has eliminated 127 positions in the Springfield area, and 347 systemwide. The Chesterfield-based health system had acknowledged last week that the layoffs were coming, but did not elaborate at that point on what the local impact would be. Mercy noted that the 127 positions eliminated "across a variety of departments and services in Mercy Springfield Communities" and the 220 other positions eliminated at other facilities in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas add up to less than 1 percent of its total workforce of nearly 40,000. This round of layoffs had "a focus on reducing management," Mercy said Thursday, and thus included 178 positions considered leadership roles. The system said "the majority of non-leader positions are non-clinical care roles that are part of Mercy's revenue management department."

"As part of a restructuring across Mercy, the positions of administrator, vice president of patient care services and director of guest services at Mercy Hospital Berryville have been eliminated," the Mercy Health statement said.  "We recognize the impact these changes have on our co-workers and their families. Those whose positions have been eliminated are receiving outplacement services and a severance package including compensation and benefits based on their position and length of service. "Mercy is grateful to those who have led our health care efforts in Berryville; they are eligible for re-hire and they are in our thoughts and prayers." 

According to the statement, Doug Stroemel, administrator of Mercy's hospitals in Cassville, Mo., and Aurora, Mo., will take over administrative responsibilities for the Berryville hospital.  "He has years of experience leading multiple hospitals," the Mercy statement said.  The statement went on to stress Mercy's commitment to serving the Berryville community.  "This restructuring was necessary to ensure Mercy is able to provide care for our many communities. It is part of a cost-cutting effort to standardize operational practices across our four states.  "Mercy and other health care providers across the nation are facing multiple financial challenges, including reimbursement reductions mandated by the federal government. For  Mercy, those reductions are in addition to lack of Medicaid expansion in most of our states."  According to the statement, Mercy is currently searching for an executive director to serve as "the leader on the ground" in Berryville. 

Local Man Arrested for Violent Crime Spree

Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Berryville resident Jeffrey Earl Matlock on Saturday, June 27th, after a violent crime spree that included allegations of kidnapping, assault, terroristic threats, theft, and drug charges. CCSO deputies were called to Berryville Mercy Hospital at 12:16 PM on June 27th to investigate an assault.  The victim, Charles Taylor, reported that a he gave a ride to a subject who assaulted him with a pistol, tied him to a tree, and then took his vehicle, cash and other possessions.  The victim identified the suspect as Jeffrey Matlock.

Central Dispatch put out a region wide notice to police agencies to look for the victim’s stolen vehicle, a 2012 Hyundai Genesis.   Officers were advised that suspect Jeffrey Matlock was believed armed, that he had an outstanding felony warrant for probation violations, and that he had made threats against law enforcement.  An off-duty CCSO Reserve deputy, on his way home from a volunteered shift, spotted the victim’s stolen vehicle on CR 717 at 2:01 PM.  Deputies searched the immediate area, but were unable to locate the suspect.  Deputies recovered the victim’s stolen vehicle and other evidence.

Over the next several hours, citizens called in reports of sighting the suspect on CR 737, wearing shorts, a cut off shirt, and no shoes.  Dispatch received a call at 11:20 PM, to CR 737 for an ambulance to treat a subject who was injured, but could not say how he became injured.  Deputies responded to 1039 CR 737 where the resident told them the injured subject was in the residence.    Deputies took the suspect, Jeffrey Earl Matlock into custody without incident.  Paramedics assessed Matlock, and found that he was not in need of immediate treatment.  Deputies booked Matlock into Carroll County Detention Center. Matlock was booked on charges of Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Kidnapping, Terroristic Threatening, Theft, Fleeing, Possession of a Controlled Substance (2 counts), Possession of Firearm by Certain Persons, and a White Warrant – Parole Violation.

Carroll County Only One Issuing Saturday Marriage Licenses

NWADG - There were four people in line Saturday when the Carroll County Courthouse opened at 9 a.m. to issue marriage licenses for four hours.  Last year, on May 10 -- the first day gay couples could get marriage licenses in Arkansas' history -- there were about 100 people on the Eureka Springs courthouse steps when the doors opened. Several had driven from neighboring states. Some had slept in their cars on Main Street. Sheriff's deputies had to be sent in to control the crowd. One octogenarian shook his cane at a deputy clerk. There was a sense of urgency because any day the Arkansas Supreme Court could halt the issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples, and it did -- on May 16, 2014.

That halt remained in place until Friday, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states can't prohibit same-sex marriage, and the Arkansas Supreme Court acquiesced.
County clerks across Arkansas began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday. Three were issued in Carroll County on Friday. Twelve were issued in Pulaski County, which appeared to be the most issued by any county in the state that day. Eureka Springs has the distinction of being the only city in Arkansas where people can get marriage licenses on Saturdays. Being a tourist town, people sometimes get married on a whim.  And romance can generate revenue. The licenses cost $60.

Carroll Counties 'Same-sex" Couple Population One of the Highest in the Nation

According to an article by The New York Times, Carroll County is home to the most same-sex couples in the state.  An interactive map on the articles web page lets you see how many same-sex couples per 1,000 households live in each county all over the U.S.   According to the map, Carroll County houses about 9.8 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. Not only is this the highest county population in the State of Arkansas but, according to the map data, Carroll County's same-sex couple population is one of the highest in the nation. The second highest same-sex couple populated county in Arkansas is Pulaski County with 6.4 couples per 1,000 households. 

Bipartisan Water Supply Cost Savings Act Introduced in Senate to Help Address Rural Communities' Water Infrastructure Funding Crisis
Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the bipartisan ''Water Supply Cost Savings Act,'' or ''Savings Act,'' legislation to provide small communities across the nation with critical information on the use of water wells and water well systems to deliver high quality, affordable drinking water.    The bipartisan Savings Act (S. 1642) was greeted with enthusiastic support from the water supply industry, including the Water Systems Council, the Water Quality Association and the National Groundwater Association. "We are extremely grateful to Senator Boozman, Senator Tester and Senator Cardin for advancing legislation that will assist thousands of small communities in delivering high quality, affordable drinking water to millions of Americans," said Margaret Martens, Executive Director of the Water Systems Council. "The bipartisan Water Supply Cost Savings Act will ensure that USDA and EPA provide those charged with delivering drinking water in rural America with critical information on the use of wells and well systems.   

To assist small communities with their consideration of drinking water technology needs, the Savings Act establishes a Drinking Water Technology Clearinghouse where the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretary of Agriculture will disseminate information on cost-effective, innovative, and alternative drinking water delivery systems, including systems that are supported by wells. "Many Arkansans rely on water wells to provide safe, affordable, and reliable drinking water.  For small, isolated communities, these wells can save money and make life better. This bill will encourage agencies to support this low-cost solution by providing technical support. The bill also encourages small communities to consider water wells as one of the supply options when new water systems are built," Boozman said.  

Wilson Combat Announces Addition of Mike Seeklander to Team Wilson Combat

Mike Seeklander is well known as a top competitive pistol shooter and is an internationally ranked practical shooting Champion. Mike also has extensive military and law enforcement experience-both as a trainer and in an operational capacity and Combat Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Seeklander was formerly lead instructor for the Federal Air Marshals Firearms Division, Chief Operating Officer at the US Shooting Academy, and is now the current owner of Shooting-Performance Training Systems and the founder of the American Warrior Society. Mike adds to this experience with more than 15 years in various martial arts holding multiple ranks including a Black Belt in Okinawan Freestyle Karate.  Mike is also the co-host of The Best Defense, the Outdoor Channel’s leading firearm instructional show as well as Rapid Fire, a fun and exciting face paced show covering a spectrum of fully automatic machine guns. “We are extremely excited to have Mike on our team. He will be a fantastic representative of Wilson Combat as his depth of tactical skills go far beyond just great shooting.” says Bill Wilson, President of Wilson Combat.

Northwest Arkansas Man Sentenced to 8 years for Kidnapping Woman 

An northwest Arkansas man has been sentenced to over eight years in federal prison for his role in kidnapping a Texas woman and taking her to his Bentonville home.  According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge, 22-year-old Theron Vance was sentenced Thursday. Authorities say he acted as a lookout during the kidnapping. The release says in June 2014, the woman entered a Bentonville Wal-Mart restroom and handed an employee a note that she had been kidnapped from Dallas by her ex-boyfriend, Michael Roberts. He and Vance were later arrested. On the way to Bentonville, the three had stopped in Eufaula, Oklahoma, where the victim left a note seeking help in a gas station restroom. The woman said the two men kidnapped her because they did not want her to testify against Roberts in a pending criminal case.

President Obama Signs Disaster Declaration for Arkansas counties

President Obama Friday declared a major disaster exists in the State of Arkansas and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of May 7 to June 15. The President's action makes federal funding available to the following counties: Crawford, Garland, Howard, Jefferson, Little River, Miller, Perry, Sebastian, and Sevier. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in the counties of Clark, Crawford, Dallas, Franklin, Garland, Hempstead, Howard, Independence, Izard, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Little River, Logan, Madison, Marion, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Newton, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Polk, Scott, Searcy, Sevier, and Yell. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.  W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Nancy M. Casper as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

News for June 26, 2015​​​​​​

​Governor Hutchinson Orders AR Flag at Half-Staff in Memory of Charleston, S.C. Victims

Governor Asa Hutchinson has issued a proclamation ordering the flag of the State of Arkansas to be flown at half-staff on June 26, 2015 to coincide with the funeral service of Reverend Clementa Pinckney and in memory of the other eight victims of the horrific acts of violence that occurred at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Governor Hutchinson released the following statement:

“The Arkansas flag will be lowered to half-staff tomorrow out of respect for the funeral service of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims of the shooting last week in Charleston, South Carolina. We stand with South Carolina and with the nation in mourning this horrific act of violence.”

Supreme Court Upholds Nationwide Health Care Law Subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans. The justices said in a 6-3 ruling that the subsidies that 8.7 million people currently receive to make insurance affordable do not depend on where they live, under the 2010 health care law. The outcome is the second major victory for Obama in politically charged Supreme Court tests of his most significant domestic achievement. 
Chief Justice John Roberts again voted with his liberal colleagues in support of the law. Roberts also was the key vote to uphold the law in 2012. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in 2012, was part of the majority on Thursday. "Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. Nationally, 10.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Obama health overhaul. That includes the 8.7 million people who are receiving an average subsidy of $272 a month to help pay their insurance premiums.

ASP Works Eight Motorcycle Fatalities Since June 1

It's been a deadly month for motorcyclists in Arkansas.  Since June 1, Arkansas State Police have reported eight deadly motorcycle accidents. The accidents occurred from June 4 to June 13 with victims ranging in age from 21 to 53.   Cpl. Jeff Vernon with the Jonesboro Police Department said summer is always the worst time of year for motorcycle accidents.  Cpl. Vernon rides a motorcycle every day for the department and said speeding is the main issue.  He encourages all drivers to take "Look Twice, Save a Life" seriously, look 12 seconds ahead them to give them more reaction time and ride in numbers.   Cpl. Vernon also advises bikers to wear reflective, protective clothing.   He said he sees too many people wearing shorts, flip flops and no shirt.  Vernon also encourages bikers to wear helmets, even though there is no current law in Arkansas to enforce it. 

Cattle Rustlers Hit Newton County

The Newton County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Office is investigating a number of cattle rustling incidents.  Detective Kevin Thomas says the culprits are well organized, and may be operating in several adjoining counties as well…Thomas is asking farmers to try to limit access to corrals and loading areas, and make sure gates are locked at night…So far at least 4 ranches in Newton County have been hit, with 15 or more cattle stolen by the rustlers. Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s office by calling 870-446-5124.

Two Arrested After Garfield Restaurant Manager Beaten, Robbed

A man beat the manager at Ventris Trail's End Resort with a fireplace poker early Tuesday morning and the man and a woman with him stole a cash box, according to a preliminary report from the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Jody Simrell, 47, of Garfield is recovering from injuries he suffered in the beating, said his mother, Jan Simrell, on Thursday. Friends and the surrounding community have pulled together to help manage the business and her son has been in and out of the office, said Jan Smirell, owner at the resort.  Authorities arrested Clayton Andrew Calhoun, 31, of Garfield and Crystal Ann Bandy, 29, of Fort Smith shortly after the attack.  Calhoun was being held in connection with aggravated assault, first-degree battery, two felony counts of theft of property and misdemeanor theft of property. His bond at the Benton County Jail was listed at $30,000.

Mercy Springfield Confirms It Will Lay Off More Than 100 Employees

In a statement Thursday, the hospital said it is responding to “economic and environmental challenges,” and will eliminate 127 positions across a variety of departments and services.Throughout all Mercy facilities and services in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, a total of 347 positions have been eliminated, less than one percent of Mercy’s nearly 40,000 workforce.  With a focus on reducing management, the total includes 178 leader positions. The majority of non-leader positions are non-clinical care roles that are part of Mercy’s revenue management department.Mercy also is implementing a leadership restructuring involving position and title changes for approximately 185 leaders across Mercy.  “Changes such as these are difficult and distressing for everyone involved,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. “While our decisions support Mercy’s ability to stay strong and relevant in the face of challenges impacting all health care providers, today our thoughts and prayers are with those co-workers who are affected.”Employees whose positions have been eliminated will receive outplacement services and a severance package including compensation and benefits based on their position and length of service.

Judge Rules Against Arkansas State Police in Lawsuit

 A judge has ruled against the Arkansas State Police in a lawsuit over vehicle accident reports.  A state law required that minors' personal information be redacted from crash reports. State police stopped allowing the public in January to examine multiple reports at one time, because redacting the minors' information was an administrative burden.  The agency then began withholding nearly all personal information from the reports in June, citing a U.S. law.  An attorney sued the agency, and Pulaski County judge Morgan Welch ruled Tuesday that state police couldn't deny bulk inspection of the reports. Welch said crash reports aren't protected under the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act.  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that he put a stay on his ruling to allow the state to repeal. An attorney general spokesman said he couldn't comment.

Accused Rapist Facing Federal Charges

A man arrested and accused of raping a girl he brought to Arkansas from Chicago will be prosecuted by federal authorities.  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the 43-year-old suspect appeared in court Monday. He was arrested April 9. According to court documents, the suspect was found in a Decatur apartment with a 13-year-old girl who had been reported missing from Illinois. The documents said the suspect had been communicating with the girl over the Internet since October and the two left Chicago together on April 4. Authorities say the girl's parents found a note on her bed saying she was running away. Benton County deputy prosecutor Carly Marshall said the prosecutor's office would not pursue charges and the federal case is strong.

Wal-Mart Imposes Charges on Suppliers as Costs Mount

Wal-Mart Stores will begin charging fees to almost all vendors for stocking their items in new stores and for warehousing inventory, raising pressure on suppliers as the world’s largest retailer battles higher costs from wage hikes. The company said it started informing suppliers about the fees and other changes to supplier agreements last week. The changes, which also include amended payment terms, will affect 10,000 suppliers to its U.S. stores. While the chain has sometimes imposed such fees in the past, they were not applied uniformly. Some but not all suppliers were charged, spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said without providing details. The changes are aimed at bringing "consistency to the collection of allowances related to the growth of our business and suppliers' use of the Walmart supply network," it said in a letter to suppliers, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. The new agreements mean a larger number of vendors will likely start paying fees, passing some of the retailer's costs onto suppliers, analysts said. It was unclear how much money Wal-Mart would receive as a result of the changes.

Small quake reported in New Madrid Co. Thursday

A small earthquake was reported in southeast Missouri Thursday morning. According to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis, the quake was recorded in New Madrid County about 5 miles south of Marston. The magnitude of the quake was 1.8 with a depth of about 6 miles and occurred just after 7 a.m.

Branson Man Sentenced On Child Porn Charges

A Branson man is sentenced for receiving and distributing over 600,000 images of child pornography.  On February 3, of this year 49-year-old Paul Young pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet. The United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Tammy Dickinson, announced Young was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in federal prison without parole in federal court today. Law enforcement officers conducting an investigation into the distribution of child pornography identified Young’s computer as sharing images of child pornography through a peer-to-peer, file-sharing network. Officers executed a search warrant at Young’s residence and seized two computers and three external hard drives. These devices contained more than 600,000 images and more than 13,000 videos of child pornography. Young also possessed depictions of dead women and children in a folder titled “Necro.”  Young is also facing state charges in Taney County Circuit Court for the possession of child pornography.

News provided by News Director Linda Boyer