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The state of Arkansas saw a decline in new COVID-19 Monday cases as deaths continue to rise. Monday marked the lowest increase in cases for the state since Nov. 2, when Arkansas reported 584 new cases. Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted Monday’s drop in cases came as fewer coronavirus tests were conducted than the state normally sees. The Arkansas Department of Health reported 636 new cases for a cumulative total of 284,702 COVID-19 cases. An additional 44 people died, raising the death toll to 4,650. Hospitalizations went up by four to 1,084 while those on ventilators went up 17 at 187. In a tweet, Gov. Asa Hutchinson noted that cases in the state continued to decline as deaths remain high. “While we saw a significant decline in new cases, our testing was also lower,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “An additional 44 deaths and a slight increase in hospitalizations remind us of the challenge we continue to face with this pandemic and what happens if we don’t follow health department guidelines.”
Tina Scott Appointed Branch Manager for CS Bank
Cassville, Missouri Office
Charles T. Cross, CEO, CS Bank, has announced the promotion of Ms. Tina Scott to the position of Branch Manager for the bank’s entry into Cassville, Missouri. She will oversee CS Bank’s deposit services staff for the entire market. Ms. Scott, with fifteen years of banking experience,has served in numerous roles at CS Bank, ranging from Deposit Services, Data Processing, and most recently Loan Operations. Prior to joining the bank, Ms. Scott was employed by the State of Missouri as a Court Clerk at the Barry County Judicial Center.
Cross stated, “Tina has demonstrated outstanding work in all of the areas she’s served at CS Bank. We are thrilled to place Tina in this leadership role within our institution as we begin to put together what’s shaping up to be a great team of professional bankers to serve the Barry County area. Her dedication to customer service and knowledge of the market make her a tremendous asset to CS Bank as we continue to grow and expand our client base.” Ms. Scott, along with her husband Mark, have resided in Golden, Missouri for thirty-three years. Together, they have two children—Logan and Autumn Scott. Tina’s husband and their two children are Cassville High School Alumni. Ms. Scott graduated from Willard High School and attended Crowder College. They are members of First Baptist Church in Cassville, MO.Outside of the bank, Ms. Scott enjoys spending time with her grandbabies, boating on Table Rock Lake, and crafting. CS Bank plans to open its temporary facility in early 2021 at the intersection of Hwy 76 and Hwy 37 while they construct their permanent facility across the road at the former Seven Valleys Chrysler Dodge dealership location.
This will be the bank’s seventh location and
first within the state of Missouri.
Better Masks Needed for
New Covid Strains
The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to wear better masks as new COVID-19 strains begin to emerge in the United States. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC during the Obama Administration, tweeted Monday encouraging people to upgrade “from a cloth mask to a surgical mask, or from a surgical mask to an N95/KN95/equivalent.” Better masks may help reduce risk from more-contagious strains.
Berryville Library Selected as Partner in National Project
Four-Year Project Will Bring New Educational Games, Science Tools, Hands-on Learning, and More to the Community Several community members, local partners and dignitaries, including Mayor Tim McKinney were on hand at a recent press conference at the Berryville Library. Julie Hall, Berryville Library director made the announcement that the library has been selected as one of only 12 libraries in the nation and the only library in the state to participate in the STAR Net STEAM Equity Project, a competitive grant program that will enable the library and its local collaborators to offer special programs, educational products, and exhibitions. Through this four-year project, Berryville and Green Forest communities are invited to join this effort to empower tweens and their families in equitable STEAM learning and career paths by building off their existing strengths, interests, and diverse cultures. Local partners have teamed up with the library to offer a series of fun and free learning opportunities. Those partners include the Green Forest Library; Town and Country Soccer Club in Green Forest; North Arkansas College; and Arkansas Immigrant Defense. The STEAM Equity project—STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math—is designed specifically for libraries in rural communities with sizable Latinx populations. “We are so excited and honored to have been chosen to be part of this amazing opportunity,” said Berryville Library Director Julie Hall. “Science, technology, engineering, and math are so much more than school subjects. They are the building blocks of real-world problem-solving skills that are key to improving ourselves, our community, and our world. We are excited to be working with our local partners to help us launch fun and free learning opportunities.” According to Rob Kerby, director of the Town and Country Soccer Club in Green Forest, “I have story after story of how our program has helped area youth succeed, and our hope is to continue this tradition by being a local partner with the library on this STEAM grant project. Our community has many little incredible diamonds in the rough out there, and this program is designed to help us find them,through the use of collaboration and interactive programming.” Over the four-year project, Berryville Library will receive $15,000 to buy STEAM learning materials and offer programs, such as coding or robotics clubs, focusing on the needs and interests of tweens and their families. Other highlights of the project will include take home STEAM Kits, new STEAM exploration stations in both libraries, and national traveling exhibits featuring interactive games and design challenges in both Spanish and English. According to Linda Tamayo, North Arkansas College Carroll County Center Operations Coordinator, “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Berryville Library on the STEAM grant project. We are committed to helping bring awareness of STEAM education to students of all ages and their families. Careers in the STEAM field are ever growing and we strongly believe that early exposure is key. This is a great opportunity for Carroll County and we look forward to being a part of this program and contributing to its success.” The STAR Net STEAM Equity Project is offered by the National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute (NCIL/SSI), the American Library Association (ALA), Twin Cities PBS (TNT), Institute for Leaning Innovation (ILI), and Education Development Center (EDC), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Berryville Library on average has 75,000 visitors annually with more than 80,000 items being circulated. Learning programs that are fun and free are a core service the library provides. Through the pandemic, the staff had to get creative to find ways to bring these programs into patron homes through the use of social media and other means. The STEAM grant will offer the ability to increase what the library is already doing. To watch the press conference in its entirety, go to the Berryville Library Facebook page. For more information on programs and to view the calendar of events, go to www.berryvillelibrary.org or
call (870) 423-2323 or stop by the
Berryville Public Library at 104 Spring Street.
Water Rescue in
Photo: Huntsville Fire Department Facebook Emergency crews conducted a water rescue in Madison County on Monday (Jan. 25) after a car went over a bridge. The Huntsville Fire Department (HFD) responded to a report of a car being upside down in the water. The driver was rescued. HFD was assisted by the Madison County Sheriff's Office, the Huntsville Police Department, Madison County EMS and Arkansas Highway Patrol. No additional details are available at this time.
U of A Student Found Dead
A University of Arkansas student died on Saturday, January 23 at a fraternity house. According to Captain Gary Crain with the University of Arkansas Police Department, the call came in at 1:23 p.m. for a 20-year-old student who had passed out in the bathroom at the fraternity. Police say the student was unresponsive when they arrived on scene. Crain says there is no indication of what could have caused the death at this time. Neither the student’s name nor the house where the death
occurred have been released.
XNA Flyers Down 66%
Northwest Arkansas National Airport saw an expected drop in the number of flyers in December, despite a bump during the holidays.
According to airline data, 26,575 passengers flew out of Northwest National in December compared with 77,684 in December 2019; that's off almost 66%. The December number is down slightly from November when 28,801 people flew out of the airport. November was down 62.2% from the same month in 2019. Northwest National saw 360,133 passengers in 2020, compared with 922,533 who caught a flight out of the airport in 2019. Northwest National finished the year down 61% from 2019. The lack of traffic is directly attributable to the
covid-19 pandemic, which devastated the airline
industry beginning in April, according
to airport officials. Numbers have improved
incrementally since then but remain dismal.
AGFC Report Record
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) reported an increase in license sales and a record-breaking harvest for the 2020-2021 deer hunting season. In Arkansas, hunters have checked more deer than any season since the AGFC began keeping harvest records in 1938, with a reported 214,022 deer and more than a month remaining in Arkansas’s archery deer season. The previous record-harvest in Arkansas was set in the 2012-2013 season with 213,487 deer. For the first time in many years, hunter numbers did not decline in Arkansas, according to license sales numbers from the last five years, and the coronavirus pandemic was a likely contributor to the record deer hunting season as well. Many were looking for new ways to enjoy the outdoors, and due to economic uncertainty, the incentive for securing meat held more value than in recent years. AGFC said the pandemic caused meat shortages seen throughout the country last year may have influenced hunters’ mindsets regarding the number of deer they harvest and led more people to consider venison as a healthy and sustainable alternative to beef and pork.
Arkansas had the eighth highest rate of new cases per capita in the United States at 1,036.86 per 100,000 population, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Sunday. The seven-day rolling average of new cases in Arkansas declined during the past two weeks from 2,900.57 per day on Jan. 9 to 1,831 new cases per day on Saturday, according to the Johns Hopkins data, and the rolling average of daily deaths in the state is also down slightly, from 40.14 to 38.57 deaths per day during the same time frame. Arkansas has continued to see a drop in both hospitalizations and total active COVID-19 cases, as the number of vaccine doses given to people continues to increase. According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas had 284,066 total COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, up 1,071 from Saturday’s numbers. However, there were decreases in total active cases, hospitalizations and in the number of people on ventilators. As of Sunday, the state had 19,395 total active cases, down 524 from Saturday; 1,080 people hospitalized, down 14 from Saturday and 170 people on ventilators, down 14 from Saturday. Gov. Hutchinson said the decreases have shown that work has been done. Sunday, an additional 1,071 cases of COVID-19 were added to the total number of cases since the pandemic started. 43 additional deaths have been reported.
Carroll County totals from the ADH show total cases cumulative of 2125, recoveries of 1977, and the County death toll stands today at 35.
National Guard Returns to State
The Arkansas National Guard officially landed back in Arkanss at 12:30 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 24). These troops worked closely with Capitol Police and the United States Secret Service aiding in security. Some returning soldiers say it was a once in a lifetime experience. The men returning this weekend will be bussed over to Fort Chaffee
to be quarantined before returning
home with their families.
HHS Secretary Announces
No Reserve of Vaccine
Just a month into the vaccine rollout, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar announced the U.S. doesn’t have a reserve stockpile of covid vaccines. A number of doses many states including Arkansas were depending on. CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacist Association, John Vinson, says because the state won’t be seeing an increase of COVID-19 vaccines as promised by the federal government, it could be months before we complete phase 1-B. “We were told that the manufacturing had caught up with the supply chain, meaning we would go from 37,000 doses to about 75,000 doses a week based on those promises,” says Vinson. Vinson says he was under the impression there would be a 55% increase in COVID-19 vaccine supply, something that would have gone a long way in meeting the demand. “Within a week of those promises being made the Washington Post reported this was false, there was no reserve so that was very disappointing for our state and our providers with plans and expectations,” says Vinson. Despite not having a drastic increase in supply, Vinson says Arkansas is doing well with what we have. “I don’t want our viewers to think that there is a shortage of vaccine coming into the state. We have a consistent and steady supply it’s just that the Arkansas Department of Health team is making sure there’s equitable distribution,” says Vinson. Vinson says he’d like to see the Biden administration work
more with manufacturers to help get out
enough supply to meet the growing demand.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Announce Run for Governor
A senior campaign official tells The Associated Press that former White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders plans to run for Arkansas governor. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The official said Sanders plans to announce her candidacy Monday. The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders had been widely expected to run for the office after leaving the White House. She joins a GOP primary that includes Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Current GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson barred by term limits from seeking re-election next year.
Moving Closer to Extension
The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting the orange-and-black insects closer to extinction, researchers announced Tuesday. An annual winter count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 2,000 butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions that clustered in trees from Northern California’s Marin County to San Diego County in the south in the 1980s. Western monarch butterflies head south from the Pacific Northwest to California each winter, returning to the same places and even the same trees, where they cluster to keep warm. The monarchs generally arrive in California at the beginning of November and spread across the country once warmer weather arrives in March. On the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, another monarch population travels from southern Canada and the northeastern United States across thousands of miles to spend the winter in central Mexico. Scientists estimate the monarch population in the eastern U.S. has fallen about 80% since the mid-1990s, but the drop-off in the western
U.S. has been even steeper.
Dramatic Drop in
Flu Cases This Season
A dramatic drop in the number of flu cases this season — an indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic — is stunning doctors. From Sept. 29 to Dec. 28, 2019, the CDC reported more than 65,000 cases of influenza across the U.S. During the same period during the 2020 flu season, the agency reported 1,016 cases. From 2019 to 2020 flu seasons, influenza A cases dropped by 90% and influenza B dropped 75%. People were also very willing to take the flu vaccine this season in hopes of avoiding a double pandemic or “twindemic,” although skepticism over a COVID-19 vaccine still remains high. Doctors believe if all the COVID-19 safety precautions remain to some degree after the pandemic ends, that will be good for the community as it relates to respiratory illnesses. “I suspect we’ll see the flu come back next season, but maybe not to the extent it was when we weren’t taking
any of those precautions,” Kline said.
First Woman to Ever
Officiate a Super Bowl
When the officiating crew takes the field at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7, one member will be making history. Down Judge Sarah Thomas will become the first woman ever to officiate a Super Bowl. Thomas is accustomed to being a trailblazer. She was the first woman to officiate a major college football game. And, in 2015, she became the first full-time female official in the NFL. “Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, Sr. wrote in a statement. "Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor.” Referee Carl Cheffers will lead the seven-person officiating crew for Super Bowl LV in Tampa. Cheffers is in his 21st season with the NFL and has officiated 17 playoff games, including a previous Super Bowl. Together, the on-field officiating crew will have 88 years of NFL officiating experience, including 77 combined post-season game assignments. Kickoff for the Super Bowl is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT on Feb. 7, on CBS.
Senate Information Office State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Bob Ballinger January 22, 2020
The Senate passed legislation known as the “Stand Your Ground” bill, which would allow someone to use deadly force to defend themselves against an aggressor. If enacted, the bill would remove a provision in current law that says people may not use deadly force if they are able to retreat safely. The Senate approved the measure, Senate Bill 24, on a vote of 27-to-7, with one senator not voting. SB 24 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which must consider it before a vote of the entire House of Representatives. For a bill to become law, both chambers of the legislature must approve the exact same version of it. The Senate also approved SB 32, which would allow liquor stores to deliver alcoholic beverages to a customer’s home. It would make permanent the temporary allowances initiated by executive order last year, at the start of the pandemic. Under the bill, customers can only order home deliveries if they’re 21 years of age. The store will have to use its own employees for deliveries, and not third party contractors. The bill only affects wet counties, because liquor stores could only make deliveries in the same county in which they are located. The vote on SB 32 was close. It needed 18 votes in the 35-member Senate for approval. It passed by a vote of 19-to-9, with seven senators not voting. In other news, the Senate approved legislation to complete the merger of Henderson State University at Arkadelphia into the Arkansas State University System. SB 116 would abolish the Board of Trustees of Henderson State and vest its duties to the Board of Trustees of the ASU System. SB 116 also adds two members to the ASU System Board of Trustees, bringing it from five to seven. The Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor endorsed SB 99, which would regulate “step therapy” protocols. Health insurance companies are using step therapy in more plans nowadays, as a method of holding down costs of prescription drugs. Under step therapy, a patient would start with an over the counter drug, for example, because it is relatively cheap. If that drug is not effective, the patent would get a more expensive prescription. Under the protocol, the patient gets more expensive drugs after the insurance company has reviewed the case and determined that the cheaper drug does not work. According to SB 99, the protocol process can have adverse consequences for the patient’s health. The bill would allow patients to be exempt from protocols if the protocols cause the patient to not receive the most appropriate treatment. SB 99 would require health insurers to rely on established research and clinical guidelines when they write step therapy protocols into coverage plans. Patients and their physicians could ask for an exemption from the protocol, and the process of getting an exemption must be clear, readily accessible and convenient. SB99 would change the law governing health insurance, prescription drugs and the authority of physicians. The bill’s sponsor said that it would be amended to address concerns of affected parties.
The number of total COVID-19 cases as well as active cases in Arkansas went up Thursday as state officials said the state faces a limited number of vaccines. Arkansas had 279,220 total COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, up 3,106 from Wednesday, while the number of total active cases went up 227 to 20,618. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a tweet that the increases were disappointing. “The increase in new cases is disappointing & a reminder that we can’t let up in following public health guidelines. Vaccines are getting into the arms of Arkansans, but we are totally dependent upon the supply from manufacturers. Right now it is limited,” Gov. Hutchinson said. As of Thursday, 1,160 people remain hospitalized due to the virus, down 19 from Wednesday. State health officials said 195 people were on ventilators, down 17 from Wednesday. The state also reported 55 additional deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,496 statewide. Of the 55 deaths statewide, eight of the deaths were in Region 8. Three deaths were reported in White County, two deaths were reported in Cleburne County,
while one death each was reported in Baxter,
Craighead and Independence counties.
Tyson Settles Allegations
of Chicken Price-Fixing
Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay $221.5 million to settle allegations of chicken price-fixing. The nation's largest meat company notified shareholders of the deal on Wednesday morning. The settlement is subject to court approval before it becomes final and should reflect in Tyson's first-quarter financial statements. The Springdale company agreed to settle all class claims in a historic case that accused the chicken industry of colluding to artificially inflate the price of meat chickens for at least eight years. Since the first class-action complaint, filed in 2016, the caseload grew to include litigation filed by major grocery stores and restaurants, including Walmart, Chick-fil-A and others that claim to have spent billions on overpriced chicken. Chicken producers have repeatedly denied the allegations. "We do not admit any liability as part of the settlements but believe the resolution of these cases is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders,"
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson
said in an email Wednesday.
New Administration Looking
at $15 Federal Minimum Wage
The Biden Administration is looking at proposing a $15 federal minimum wage increase which would mean higher incomes for thousands of Arkansans. Arkansas' minimum wage is currently 11 dollars an hour. Much higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has not changed since 2009. "Arkansas, we've already got a head start," Michael Pakko said. Michael Pakko is the state economic forecaster at the Arkansas Economic Development Institute. He said raising the federal minimum wage to 15 dollars would be a big change for the state. "Because our median wage here in Arkansas is only $15.84, half of all workers make less than that," he said. A study from the Congressional Budget Office in 2019 found a $15 federal minimum wage would raise the incomes of about 17 million people nationwide. But, 1.3 million workers could potentially become jobless. Pakko said this is because some employers respond to a higher minimum wage by reducing their low-wage staff. This would make it harder for inexperienced workers to get their foot in the door. Prices of goods may also go up slightly. But, Pakko said raising the minimum wage to $15 dollars would not be all doom and gloom. It would likely lift thousands of people in Arkansas out of poverty. A $15 federal minimum wage increase still faces many hurdles. The Biden Administration would need at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass the increase unless it goes through the budget reconciliation process, where a bare majority is enough.
Prairie Grove Tigers Tonight
The Berryville Bobcats will host Prairie Grove Tigers tonight for Berryville's Homecoming. Festivities begin at 5:30 in Bobcat Arena. Senior High Boys game begins at 6pm, collowed
by Senior High Girls. Go Bobcats.
Family Trivia Contest Tonight -Sponsored by Berryville Library
If your family is looking for something fun to do tonite and you have access to a computer, the Berryville Public Library is sponsoring another online Family Trivia Contest - Fresh Start Edition at 6pm tonite. You can participate from the comfort of your home and a $50 Pizza Hut gift card will be given to the winning family. Test your family's knowledge of all things NEW in this fun intergenerational online trivia contest hosted by the Berryville Library. Contest will start promptly at 6pm. Don't be late, just 21 questions and there are no limits on the size of your family. To enter , go to www.slido.com and use entry code 68385. This is a free and fun program sponsored by your Berryville Library. For more information, contact (870) 423-2323 or visit our facebook page or website www.berryvillelibrary.org
for more information.
U of A Division of Agriculture Property Burns
A storage building fire late Tuesday caused more than $1 million in damage to University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture property, according to the university. "In our initial survey this morning, it appears we not only lost the shed, but also two plot combines, one full-sized combine and two planters," said Mark Cochran, vice president for agriculture for the University of Arkansas System. "We also lost some smaller, more specialized research equipment and supplies." Scorched earth, a partially blackened trailer and what appeared to be pieces of the almost completely flattened storage shed could be seen Wednesday morning at a site near Cassatt Street, some 350 yards to the east of Arkansas 112. Jeremy Ashley, fire marshal with the Fayetteville Fire Department, said city firefighters were called at 11:12 p.m. Tuesday and arrived to find a metal storage building on fire. Farmington and Prairie Grove fire departments helped to extinguish the blaze, Ashley said. No one was injured. Ashley said the University of Arkansas Police Department is investigating the fire because it is on university property. Police spokesman
Capt. Gary Crain said Wednesday
the cause of the fire remained unclear.
Walmart to Offer Western Union Service
Walmart Inc. will start offering Western Union money transfer service this spring, the companies said Tuesday. Western Union, widely known for making cross-border, cross-currency transfers and payments, will offer these services at all of Walmart’s more than 4,700 U.S. stores. Through Western Union, customers of the Bentonville-based retailer can send money to 200 countries and territories worldwide. The funds will be paid out within minutes at more than 550,000 retail sites or into billions of bank accounts, wallets or cards. Most of Walmart’s financial services are aimed at customers who don’t have bank accounts or other banking relationships. Walmart also offers international money transfers through a partnership with MoneyGram. Wire-transfer services as well as banks charge commission fees on transactions.
Courtesy of Bobcat Facebook
January is School Board Appreciation Month, and we want to celebrate our Berryville Board of Education Members who volunteer their time to serve our school district. Front, Left to Right: LeeAnn Ashford is an investment assistant and senior registered financial associate at Benjamin F Edwards Co, and she has served on the board for 6 years. She loves that she is able to support children and their education. Kristi Howerton works for Mercy Hospital Berryville in the Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Department. She has served on the board for 10 years and has enjoyed seeing excited students, fun environments and professionalism throughout the schools. Linda Winkle is a retired educator of the Berryville School District and is completing her first year as a board member. She spent 35 years in education as a teacher and counselor. She loves serving our community and especially enjoys being involved in the future by working for our youth. Back, Left to Right: Travis Gregory is a pistolsmith at Nighthawk Custom. Travis has spent 5 years on the board. He enjoys being able to positively affect our children's' education by providing the tools and resources that our teachers and administrators need. Chad Hipps is serving as the current president of the school board and has been a member for 6 years. He especially enjoys spending time with the younger students and seeing their faces when the BOE and school are able to do something special for them. Chad is a sergeant with the Arkansas State Police. Chad Wilson is self-employed and operates a construction business. He has served our district for 5 years as a school board member. His priority as a board member is to make a difference for the staff and students in our schools. Jeff Tanksley has served for 3 years as a board member and is a customer service rep for First National Bank of North Arkansas as well as the pastor of Cornerstone Faith in Golden, MO. Jeff has enjoyed serving the staff and students in Berryville and he loves celebrating their daily accomplishments.
Barry County Sheriff Settling In
Barry County’s newly elected Sheriff Danny Boyd is settling into his position with the county, and he is making some changes to the office as he assumes his role. The biggest change to the Barry County Sheriff’s Office is the rank of its deputies, as Boyd has pulled all ranks and is implementing his own promotion process. Boyd said he has not set a hard date for promotions, but they will likely happen in the first half of this year. Currently, the only ranked deputy other than Boyd is his undersheriff, Angela Cole. Boyd said in the previous Gary Davis administration, Cole had served as acting sheriff while Davis was out at times. Boyd comes into the position with some spots to fill, as the Office is down one detective, four field officers and four jailers. Det. Rob Evenson won the race for sheriff of McDonald County and left for that position, and Deputy Stan White retired this year, but all other positions were already vacant. Boyd has been a detective with the Cassville Police Department for the past 12 years. He said he is thankful for
the chance to move a few blocks across town.
Virtual On-line Tour
Coming for Elvis Fans
Elvis Presley’s Graceland is now offering online tours for fans around the world, including those who can’t travel to the Tennessee tourist attraction during the coronavirus pandemic. Graceland said the two-hour guided tours will take virtual visitors into Presley’s former Memphis home, which has been turned into a museum, and through the Meditation Garden, where he is buried. The singer and actor died in Memphis on Aug. 16, 1977. Oprah Winfrey documentary to release on Apple TV+ Also included in the $100 ticket is a tour of Presley’s jet and a walk through the entertainment complex, which houses exhibits and artifacts related to Presley. Graceland typically hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. But the tourist attraction has seen a drop in visitors during the virus outbreak. Graceland was closed for several weeks last year and is now open for limited-capacity, in-person tours. Virtual tours are scheduled for Jan. 27, Feb. 25, and March 25, with more dates expected.
The state of Arkansas saw nearly 550 fewer active COVID-19 cases statewide Wednesday as hospitalizations continue to drop, state officials said. According to a tweet from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the state had 20,391 total active cases as of Wednesday. The number of hospitalizations also dropped 86 to 1,179, while the number of people on ventilators increased by 3 to 212. Gov. Hutchinson said the work was due to Arkansas residents. “We again saw a decrease in active cases across the state today. This is the fourth consecutive day of a decline and we have over 4,700 fewer active cases than this time last week,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “It’s up to each of us to ensure we stay on this trend and defeat this virus.” However, the number of total cases went up 2,520 to 276,114, while there were 55 additional deaths, leaving the death toll at 4,441. So far this month, the state has done nearly 258,000 PCR
and antigen tests.
CS Bank Donates to the Affordable Housing Project
Jason Tennant, President and Chief Lending Officer, CS Bank, presented a check for $5,000 to the Affordable Housing Project. The donation was part of a $10,000 commitment to the Carroll County Collaborative the bank made in 2020 to help facilitate the completion of various phases of the project. The funds will be used to help meet the pressing demand for affordable housing in the Carroll County area. Jason stated, “We are thrilled to assist in the continued development of our local communities. CS Bank, being the largest mortgage lender in Carroll County, has many loan programs that fit our community’s needs. Teaming with the Carroll County Collaborative’s leadership will allow us to help more people become homeowners in Carroll County. We are appreciative of the Carroll County Collaborative’s efforts as it relates to the project and the impact it will have on our local communities.” The Affordable Housing Project will help provide individuals with more affordable, safe housing resources in Berryville, Green Forest, and Eureka Springs areas. While affordable housing is a critical issue everywhere, it is particularly a problem in Arkansas and Carroll County. CS Bank, formerly Cornerstone Bank, a 108-year-old rapidly growing local financial institution, has six locations throughout Northwest Arkansas with plans for additional expansion, including Southwest Missouri. For more information about CS Bank,
visit their website at www.cs.bank.
Arkansas Patriots Deny Any Affiliation to Richard Barnett
The Arkansas Patriots organization released a statement denying any affiliation with Richard Barnett, the Gravette man pictured with his feet on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. “Richard Barnett is in no way, nor has he ever been affiliated with the Arkansas Patriots. The only contact we’ve ever had with him was when he was removed from a Back the Blue Rally in Fayetteville, AR because of his words directed towards BLM members who were also present,” the release from Arkansas Patriots said. Members of the Arkansas Patriots describe themselves as “every day, hardworking, dedicated Arkansas citizens who have taken an interest in the safety, security, and care of our local communities, cities, counties, and our great state as a whole.” “We do not condone, nor do we tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind,” the organization said, regarding Barnett’s actions at the U.S. Capitol as well as local rallies. Since being identified in photographs and video from the riot in Washington D.C., Barnett turned himself in to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office
and is currently in FBI custody in Washington.
Harrison Man Killed After Collision With G.F. School Bus
A Harrison man died Wednesday morning when the car he was driving slammed into the back of a Green Forest school bus. Christopher Anderson, 24, was driving a 2019 Hyundai west on U.S. 62 when his vehicle struck a 2021 International school bus operated by the Green Forest School District, according to a report from the Arkansas State Police. The school bus, which also was facing west, had stopped in the right lane to pick up children, according to the report from trooper Cpl. Drew H. Widner. The Hyundai caught fire and then the bus began to burn, wrote Widner. "The car burst into flames underneath the bus," said Green Forest Police Chief John Bailey. "The driver of the bus was able to remove all 15 students before both the passenger car and bus were engulfed by fire,"
Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the state police,
wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.
St. Paul Community Center Renovations Complete
Renovations of the St. Paul Community Center are finished. The city dedicated the facility Wednesday and the building has been around since 1890. After receiving a state grant fro $75,000, the city decided to make it ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant. “It’s really a nice looking building now and it’s safe and of course we fixed it so people can get in and out with ease,” St. Paul Mayor Nina Selz said. It was a true
community effort. St. Paul volunteer
firefighters were contractors on the project.
Some Changes to SAT Tests
The College Board said Tuesday it will eliminate the optional essay from the SAT and do away with subject tests amid a changing college admissions landscape. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being innovative and adaptive to what lies ahead,” according to a statement from the not-for-profit College Board, which said it wanted to make the SAT more flexible and reduce the demands on students. The coronavirus pandemic has forced the widespread cancellation of group testing sessions for the SAT and rival ACT since March, leading numerous schools to eliminate testing requirements for the current admissions cycle. Others have permanently made entrance exams an optional part of applying to college. The three-hour, multiple choice SAT measures math and English language arts proficiency. The optional essay adds about another hour and is scored separately, as were the lesser required subject tests given in specific areas like chemistry or foreign languages. The subject tests will immediately end for U.S. students and will be phased out for international students by June. The optional essay will be discontinued after June testing sessions. Nearly 2.2 million 2020 high school graduates took the SAT before the pandemic shut down schools, according to the College Board.
Berryville City Council Report
No official action on Ord. 1085 amending Ord 715, the sale of spiritous alcoholic beverages for on premises consumption Council were given a newly revised Ord 1085, but it was just for review and discussion. City Atty. Clint Scheel has not had a chance to review it and give his opinion on it before the meeting. Mayor Tim McKinney presented the council with a plan for improvements to the City Square Park for discussion and review. Berryville Police Chief Robert Bartos gave his monthly report and a 2020 Annual Report. For December of 2020, Police wrote 109 tickets and 67 offenses were reported. Police cleared 58 of those offenses
for a clearance rate of 84%. Police responded
to 20 traffic accidents in December.
Deadline Extended to
State Agencies to Spend
CARES Act Funds
A state panel on Tuesday extended the deadline until March 30 for several state agencies to collectively spend about $30 million in federal coronavirus relief funds and until June 15 for two agencies to spend about $40 million. The state has about $41.9 million in federal coronavirus relief funds that have yet to be allocated to state agencies, said Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Larry Walther. The state received $1.25 billion under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted by Congress and President Donald Trump in March. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed a 15-member steering committee to recommend the best uses of these funds. In December, Congress and Trump extended the deadline for states to spend their 2020 federal coronavirus relief funds from Dec. 30, 2020, through the end of this year. The state's CARES Act steering committee on Tuesday voted to give until June 15 for the state Department of Commerce and the Department of Human Services to spend about $40 million in the funds. That would extend the deadline for the Commerce Department to spend $31.9 million on the Arkansas Rural Connect broadband grant program and $4.3 million on that program's administrative costs.
State Senate Approves Bill
for Home Delivery of Alcohol
The Arkansas State Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow home delivery of alcohol by liquor stores. The 19-9 vote came after an Arkansas Senate panel on Tuesday advanced legislation on the issue. The measure endorsed by the Senate City, County and Local Affairs Committee would make permanent a move that the state has taken during the coronavirus pandemic. The deliveries would not be allowed outside the county where the retail liquor permit holder is located. Arkansas temporarily allowed the home deliveries beginning in March. Under
the legislation, the deliveries could not
be made through a third-party system.
The bill, SB32, now heads to the House.
Green Forest School
Photo Courtesy of Rob Kerby on Facebook. A serious accident east of Green Forest this morning involved a Green Forest School Bus and a vehicle, around 7:30. Very few details are available at news time, but we do know a bus full of children were able to be led to safety before their bus burned. Another vehicle was involved, but no
details have been released to the media.
We hope to get more information soon.
Stand Your Ground Bill Passes
Arkansas Senate State Senator Bob Ballinger’s Stand Your Ground bill has now passed through the Senate but he also has another Second Amendment bill on the horizon. SB59 would create the Arkansas Second Amendment Liberties Safeguard Act, which gives Arkansas courts a tool to use if they deem the federal government has over reached on any potential gun regulations. Sen. Ballinger said, “They see and administration that’s promised to come out and violate their constitutional rights and so what we’re going to do is try to do what we can to protect that. “ State Senator Clarke Tucker does not think this law would hold up to any challenges on the grounds of the Supremacy Clause, which states that state laws cannot trump federal laws, “If there’s a federal law that’s on point then we can’t pass a law that’s in conflict with that and that’s just the way our government is set up.” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge agrees with the premise of the bill but does want it to be able withstand the test of any challenges, “The idea that, yes, we want to protect our job creators and our manufacturers in Arkansas, I absolutely support that, but we want to make sure that it’s done legally so that way should it be challenged we are always able to defend that.” Sen. Ballinger said that he has filed this in the face of Joe Biden taking over the Presidency saying that he wants to be prepared for any potential legislation or executive orders that could potentially come down, “If we’re faced with onerous new gun regulations then the state of Arkansas can stand up for her citizens and go out and defend her citizens’ right to bear arms.” Sen. Tucker deems this not necessary and it takes time for things to come down from Congress, “They don’t call it an ‘Act of Congress’ for nothing, right? And we’ll see what comes out of Washington but right now I think
it’s responsible to make sure we’re
consistent with federal law. “
Nearly 89% of Eligible
High School Students
Graduated in 2019-20
A total of 88.8% of eligible Arkansas public high school students graduated in the 2019-20 school year four years after entering ninth grade. That was an increase from the 87.6% four-year rate in the preceding year. The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday reported the high school graduation rates for the state, school districts and individual schools in an early release of the state's 2020 School Report Card. The 2020 annual report includes -- in addition to four- and five-year graduation percentages -- 2019-2020 data in multiple categories, including attendance, enrollment, discipline, Advanced Placement exam results, per student expenditures, teacher education levels and college-going rates. The huge amount of data is for all the public schools and districts, starting with the Academics Plus Charter Schools and ending with the Yellville-Summit School District. However, in a break from the past, the latest state report card is missing pages and pages of data on student achievement -- much of which is typically generated from state-required ACT Aspire exams given in grades three through 10. The Aspire exams in reading, math and science were canceled last spring when the state's schools serving more than 479,000 students were closed to on-campus instruction in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus that causes the contagious and potentially fatal covid-19 virus. "There is no doubt that covid has had a significant impact on student learning," Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key said in releasing the latest version of the annual school performance report. "While we don't have all the data we would like to have to measure student and school success for the 2019-2020 school year, the 2020 School Report Cards still provide valuable information that can be used to identify best practices and areas that need improvement. "I encourage parents and educators to review the data and use it to make
informed decisions regarding student
learning moving forward," Key said.
Governor Asa Hutchinson held his weekly
Covid-19 Update on Tuesday....
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is attending President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony today, he announced at his weekly COVID-19 update Tuesday. Col. Nick Jaskolski with the Arkansas National Guard said soldiers have been patrolling the streets near the Capitol all week providing security. Col. Jaskolski said it is an honor to be at the Capitol for the inauguration and it is a responsibility that the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade does not take lightly. "Most of the soldiers, this is the first time that they've been to our nation's Capitol. For them to be here at such a pivotal moment in our nation's history, any inauguration is, but this one in particular, I think is really important and the soldiers feel that. Deep down inside they feel a since of pride that I think manifests itself in the way that they carry themselves and the way they're executing their mission," he said.
The Arkansas National Guard plans to
return to Arkansas Thursday.
Conway Man Involved in Capitol Riot Has First Federal Court Appearance
A Conway man accused of beating a police officer with a flagpole during the riots at the U.S. Capitol just had his first federal court appearance. This was 41-year-old Peter Stager’s initial court appearance, and it took place virtually. Stager appeared calm and well-mannered throughout the hearing, where waived his preliminary and identity hearings, which means he will go straight to a bond hearing. The United States government is wanting Stager to be held in jail without bond as he faces felony civil disorder charges. A criminal complaint accuses Stager of attacking a police officer on the steps of the Capitol. Federal agents say he is just one of several people who hit the officer with objects as the officer was on the ground. Stager was taken into custody last week after federal agents first surrounded his residence in Conway. He later surrendered at a lawyer’s office. The entire attack was caught on video. Stager was taken into custody last week after federal agents first surrounded his residence in Conway. He later surrendered at a lawyer’s office. The bond hearing is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m., where federal authorities
will argue why he should be held in jail as
the defense will argue for bond.
Berryville School Board Report
Highlights The Berryville School Board met Monday for their monthly meeting with all members present. A motion was made and approved to Christy Skelton with FFA to participate in the Carroll County Roughstock Benefit Rodeo and to sell Blue & Gold Products. Approval was given to the Berryville Kiwanis to hold their Senior Trivia Night fundraiser. Approval was given to Kirk's Excavation for the demolition of the old Technology Building. Under New Business: The Covid Emergency Leave Resolution was extended through May 31, 2021. The proposed Budget and Election Documents was adopted and the proposed Budget of Expenditures with Tax Levy for Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2022 and including June 30, 2023 and to approve all related election documents. A motion was made to adopt ASBA policy 1.12 and designate to have the School Board Electon in May. Mr. Powell reported that attendance as of January 11, 2021 was 1,819 students, which is down 45 students from last year. The Board approved adding a one year extension to Own Powell's contract and add a 1.5% pay raise.
Flu Deaths Increase by Three
The Arkansas Department of Health reported three additional flu deaths in the state. ADH reports on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1,266 positive flu tests and 12 cumulative flu deaths since the 2020 season began on Sept. 27. According to the flu report, Arkansas had a “minimal” illness rate in the influenza-like-illness activity level for the week ending Jan. 16. Of the flu cases reported this week ending Jan. 16, 34% were influenza A and 66% were influenza B. Around 1% of patients visiting the emergency room this week were for the ILI or ILINet sentinel providers. Arkansas has reported 12 influenza-related deaths this flu season. No nursing homes have reported influenza outbreaks this season.
Steve Womack Visits Arkansas
National Guard Arkansas Representative Steve Womack stopped to thank the Arkansas National Guard members outside the D.C. Capitol building. Womack, a 30-year veteran of the Arkansas National Guard, thanked the 142nd brigade as they helped secure the building ahead of the inauguration. He was also able to take part in promoting first Sgt.Dennis Huynh of
Fort Smith to Sgt. Major.
The next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan began Monday with Phase 1-B. which will allow Arkansans aged 70 and older and education workers to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Governor Hutchinson received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and says that today is a critical step in the rollout plan as Arkansas enters into phase 1-B. The ADH reported 1,109 new cases for a total of 272,263 cases in Arkansas. The ADH reported Monday that there are 22,794 active cases. There are 1,263 hospitalized, which is down eight from Sunday. 216 patients are on ventilators, which is down 5 from Sunday. 32 deaths added today, for a total of 4,343 deaths.
Carroll County total cases are 2070, recoveries and 1908 and 31 deaths.
Tax Season Begins
The IRS will open tax-filing season on Feb. 12, delaying the start of tax season by about two weeks, the agency announced on Friday. The tax season normally starts in late January but was delayed due to outgoing stimulus payments and changes to tax laws. “These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a recovery rebate credit when they file their return,” the agency said, according to CNBC. The recovery rebate credit is available to tax filers who did not receive the full amount of their stimulus check. Third stimulus check: Here’s when you might get a $1,400 direct payment Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal issued a statement on Friday saying he’s disappointed about the delay but recognizes the IRS is facing unique challenges this year. The IRS also announced the IRS Free File program is available now if taxpayers want to start working in
advance of the Feb. 14 date. The deadline for
filing your 2020 taxes is April 15.
Bill and Melinda Gates
Owns Almost 48,000 Acres
Bill and Melinda Gates are taking on the new title of the biggest farmland owners in the United States, with a good chunk of that ownership being in Arkansas. According to landreport.com, the Gates family has a total of 242,000 in farmland acreage in the United States. The Gates family currently owns 47,927 of those acres in Arkansas, which is 17.8 percent of the family’s total landholdings. The report though did not specify if that total amount was all farmland. Arkansas ranks second though in the largest amount of farmland that the Gates family owns within a state; with Louisiana reportedly seeing the family owning 69,071 acres of land there. According to the report, the Gates family is still far ahead of other farmland owners in the country with the next largest farmland owners being 190,000 acres.
Richard Barnett of Gravett Getting Trial in Washington
A federal judge in the nation’s capital has reversed a bond decision for an Arkansas man arrested in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots. The decision will keep Richard Barnett in custody and will send him to Washington, D.C. for trial. Earlier on Friday, a federal magistrate judge in Arkansas ordered Barnett to be released as he awaits his trial on federal charges. Richard Barnett appeared before the judge during a court appearance. As part of the release, Barnett was given a $5,000 unsecured bond, ordered under house arrest and must undergo GPS monitoring. Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to keep Barnett in custody as he awaited trial in the case, saying he had bought a taser, pepper spray and two-way radios days before the Jan. 6 riot happened, ABC News said. Barnett also admitted that he met with several people in the nation’s capital and had paid for everything in cash. However, family and friends of Barnett said during the hearing that he was a good man and a good father, ABC News reported. Barnett made his first court appearance Tuesday after being pictured in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol. Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, appeared in court via video conference. Prosecutors charged Barnett with: Knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds with a weapon (stun gun), which can lead to up to ten years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, which carries up to six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, Theft of public property, up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Barnett faces 11 years, six months in federal prison, and a
$355,000 fine if convicted of all charges.
Pandemic Improvement Driving Up Gas Prices
Analysts say a perceived improvement in the COVID-19 pandemic is driving up prices at the gas pump. In the past week, gasoline prices in Arkansas rose 6.3 cents per gallon to an average of $2.13. That’s 21.7 cents more than drivers paid a month ago. By comparison, the national average rose just 4.2 cents per gallon to an average of $2.38. “Gas prices have jumped to yet another multi-month high as crude oil price rise amidst perceived improvement in the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to pump prices up as demand shows renewed signs of recovery,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.\ While the upward trend might slow, DeHaan cautions
that motorists should not expect much
of a break from rising gas prices.
Madison County Teen Missing
Deputies with the Madison County Sheriff's Officer are searching for a 14-year-old who went missing over the weekend. According to deputies, 14-year-old Tracker W. Harlan has been missing from the Wesley area since Saturday (Jan. 16). If anyone has any information on his whereabouts or has had contact with him, you're asked to call the Madison County Sheriff’s Office at 479-738-2320.
Two Harrison People
Charged with Murder
Boone County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday two people from Harrison were arrested for murder after a man was found shot dead in a parking lot at the Berman Church of Christ in North Arkansas. Sheriff Tim Roberson said around 10 p.m. on January 16, 28-year-old Mark Payton, Jr. of Harrison and 23-year-old Lauren Ashley Smith of Harrison were taken into custody following the discovery of a body. The victim, identified as 34-year-old Justin Lee Brown of Harrison, was found shot. Brown found by Bergman Police Chief Fred Starnes. Chief Starnes reported a vehicle that had been seen in the area just prior to the discovery and requested assistance from the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and Harrison Police Officers with locating the suspect vehicle. Harrison Police Ptl. Ryan Guffy along with Ptl. John Contreras spotted the suspect car entering Harrison, the officers stopped the two with fellow officers Cpl. Greg Siemiller and Ptl. Eric Vandergrift. A weapon was recovered at the scene of the stop which was identified as a reported stolen firearm from Marion County. As a result of the investigation both Payton and Smith have been charged with Murder in the 1st Degree. Payton is being charged with additional felony offenses relating to being a convicted
felon and utilizing that stolen firearm
in the commission of the act.
Near New Madrid, Mo The USGS reported a magnitude 2.4 earthquake north of New Madrid on Monday morning, January 18. According to the preliminary report, it happened just before 5:30 a.m. about 6.3 miles north of New Madrid and
14.1 miles south, southeast of Sikeston
It had a depth of 7 kilometers.
Dolly Parton Celebrating
East Tennessee's Sweetheart is celebrating another year around the sun. Even though you can't celebrate with her, there are places in East Tennessee where you can celebrate her birthday and all of her accomplishments. Ruby Sunshine in Knoxville and Gatlinburg will have a special Dolly Parton inspired menu for guests. Some of the menu items include Jolene, I'm Begging You Please Don't Take My Beignets and a Dish of Many Flavors Benedict Tasting. You can visit her beautiful bronze statue in Sevier County and take a few pictures. You can also start planning your next trip to Dollywood. The theme park is in its off-season right now but its never too early to start planning Spring Break. Dolly Parton is a well-beloved member of our community, and she's had another busy year doing what she loves and giving back. This year, Dolly donated a $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support research for a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's coronavirus vaccine was made possible in part through Parton's gift. The documentary tells the story of the Imagination Library and the impact that it has had. Dolly even brought the Titans some good luck. She was the honorary 12th titan in the game against the Cleveland Browns.