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February 23, 2017

– U.S. Senator John Boozman will host a telephone town hall on Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. CT to connect with Arkansans and discuss topics under debate in Washington.

This statewide event allows Arkansans the ability to ask Boozman questions over the phone or listen to the conversation about the issues impacting them.

Arkansans interested in participating in the phone conversation should sign up on Boozman’s website to be dialed into the call.

“Telephone town halls allow me to connect with Arkansans all over the state and discuss topics important to them. I look forward to the conversation,” Boozman said.

Getting a leg up in Government Contracting will be held from 10:00A to 12:00P on March 2nd. The seminar will be held at the Camden Accelerated Business Services (CABS) Center located at 625 Adams SW in Camden. The speaker will be Wanda May, Business Development Specialist/Women Owned Business Representative for the Arkansas SBA District office.

The U.S. government is the world's largest buyer of products and services. Learn the process required to get your business registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and eligible to bid on government contacts. Attend this seminar and learn more about the qualification and procedures required by the government. Call 870-836-2210 or to Pre-Register

Camden has company coming! In a little over two weeks, Camden will be hosting the 24th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival! Keep Camden Beautiful will be holding The Daffodil Spring Clean this Saturday, March 4th which will focus on the downtown areas; however, if you can't join in Keep Camden Beautiful would like to encourage you to take a look around your street. If you see some litter on your street while you're out walking, please pick it up or if your yard could use some tidying up - go for it. Camden wants to put our best face forward as we welcome our visitors and celebrate the Daffodil Festival this year and we just can't do that without you.

MAGNOLIA – Making Magnolia Blossom’s upcoming Spring Big Splash Saturday on March 11 again seeks to help area non-profits while also sprucing up outdoor community areas.

Interested volunteers and groups are encouraged to pre-register at Check-in at the event will be at the SAU duck pond near the tennis courts starting at 8:30 a.m. on March 11. Volunteering begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 11:30 a.m. For more information or to register by phone, call Deana Taylor at 870-235-4922.

 This spring event will have teams tend to areas around the community walking trail that circles the duck pond and SAU farm in coordination with Leadership Magnolia’s “Light up the SAU Walking Trail” project and SAU’s upcoming Community Playground initiative. Other outdoor enthusiasts will update MMB’s landscaping plots on Main Street with new flowers and mulch.

Other groups will return to the new facility of the Columbia County Senior Meals Service to help with indoor and outdoor renovation needs. The building was formerly Meadowbrook Lodge Nursing Home, and is located at 600 Leila Street. Other projects will be completed at the CCAPS Animal Shelter.

Volunteers are asked to wear pants and closed-toe shoes. MMB will be providing supplies and equipment, but anyone who can bring a mower, chain saw, and/or weed-eaters is encouraged to do so.

Previous Making Magnolia Blossom “Big Splash” events have organized hundreds to make improvements along primary city streets, local business facades, and public areas around the downtown square. MMB is a community-involvement organization at Southern Arkansas University. A group of staff, faculty, and students started MMB in 2014, and more than 500 volunteers from SAU and the community contributed time and effort at the initial Big Splash Saturday event. Since then, MMB has hosted several Big Splash events, as well as several Second Saturday events which partner with area organizations to complete needed projects. MMB has completed dozens of city improvement projects in its first year, and was awarded by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission the Volunteer of the Year Award in August of 2015. To find out more or to get involved in MMB, visit or like MMB on Facebook.

SOUTH ARKANSAS KENNEL CLUB DOG SHOWS & OBEDIENCE TRIALS & RALLY FEBRUARY 25 - 26, 2017Highland airport facilities (former general dynamics building) 204 ouachita 212 (veterans road)  Camden, ar

When you get to Camden, just look for dog show signs to direct you to the show site

Show hours will be 9:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Each day individual breeds begin showing at 9:00 a.m. and groups begin at approximately 12:30 - 1:00 p.m.  The Sunday shows will begin at 8 a.m. The public is encouraged to come out and see some of the most beautiful and smartest dogs in the country.  Bring your lawn chair. No un-entered dogs are allowed per AKC rules.

The  Northwest Arkansas Kennel Club is joining the shows this year hosting Lure Coursing Test.  This will be a fun event seen for the first time in our part of the state. Vendors from around the country will be there with lots of cool stuff.
Admission for the dog show is $5.00 Adults $1.00 Children 6-12 yrs of age $1.00 for Senior Citizens. Children under 6 yrs get in free.

For more info contact Darleen Wheelington, at 870-836-7297 or visit to see the judging schedule for the time different breeds show.


February 22, 2017

MAGNOLIA – Elizabeth Ray, coordinator of the Southern Arkansas University Aquatic Center, said one of the most important aspects of her job is building relationships.

“We have people who use these facilities every single day to enhance their health and longevity,” she said. “We want them to feel comfortable, like they are home. It’s important we get to know them on a personal level because our mission is their wellness.”

The Aquatic Center, which is operated by the Department of Health, Kinesiology and Recreation, offers a variety of programs and services that promote healthy living. Aquatic Wellness, Aquatic Zumba, Aquacize and Scuba are taught during the week, and swimming hours are offered Monday-Saturday. SAU employees, students and retired employees can enjoy free membership. For more information on community memberships and hours of operation, visit

Ray said she wants everyone to know about the Center and its offerings.

“I still run into students who don’t even know we have a pool,” she said.

More than 1,000 people use the pool each month, Ray said, “and that is our goal, but we want more people using it. Students and faculty are not taking full advantage.”

While Ray hopes to reach more students, she said there are many SAU professors who come to the Center “before the doors open, every day, and that is inspirational to me.”

Vinicius Sportello, an international graduate student from Sao Paulo, Brazil, works as a graduate assistant at the Aquatic Center. He is an instructor aid and lifeguard.

“A high percentage of people don’t know how to swim,” he said. “Anyone who comes in who doesn’t know how, we are willing to teach them. It is crucial to be safe in the water. I’ve been swimming since I was 2 and I swam in college. My first experience with water was traumatic – I fell in the deep end of the pool at a family barbecue. From that day on, my mother had me in swimming lessons.”

Sportello said the first step is teaching people to overcome their fear. “They say, ‘I don’t know how to swim!’ Some people can’t put their head under water. We educate them, we work on their breathing, and we show them the pool is a safe environment.”

Ray said it is important to teach people that “water can be your best friend. We explain about the percentage of water in our physical bodies, that we can float, that we can do anything we want in the water – go up or down, left or right. It's difficult to actually go to the bottom.”

She said she enjoys seeing the progress people make as they learn to swim.

“People are concerned with what we think they look like, but that’s not even going through our minds,” she said. “We build a therapeutic alliance with them so they can get comfortable with just putting their face in the water and enjoying the activity (of swimming). In almost no time, they are swimming from one end of the pool to the other and are all smiles.”

She said people come to the Center despite having cancer, back issues, even kidney stones.

“Swimming keeps you active, independent of injury or disease. You can exercise without putting pressure on joints and it works your lower extremities. You can swim laps and do cardio or just walk the pool to keep pressure off your knees,” she said.

“If it weren’t for the pool, many people couldn’t do any other type of exercise,” Sportello said. “We have people who come from El Dorado and Shreveport and Murfreesboro, Ark., just to swim laps.”

When Ray heard that a class of learners was about to “go into the deep end,” she said, “that makes me so happy.”

Ray said swimming lessons “help people expand from their comfort zone and trust not only themselves but the water.”

Different people need different skills, and teaching the young is different from teaching the elderly. “We’ve found that in teaching children to swim, if you make it a game, they forget what they are doing and just have fun,” Sportello said. “If you are teaching adults, you have to be very clear and logical and show them what to do, you can’t just tell them.”

“We are here to meet everybody’s needs,” Ray said. “Everyone from babies to people in their 90s use the pool.”

“Every sport on campus has used the facility,” Sportello said, “from team workouts to rehab and muscle relaxation. It can really help the body recover. Last year, the softball girls came every Wednesday, and football players came during their two-a-days.”

He said trainers can provide “an individualized workout program, if people will take advantage.”

There is “no excuse” for campus and community not to use the pool, Sportello said. “You can get a good workout in 15 minutes. The water and air are heated – when you get out of the pool, there’s not that big an impact. There are showers and lockers 10 steps away.”

Ray said swimming improves body, mind and soul. “If you don’t keep a healthy body, your mind cannot perform as it should,” she said. “We help people find a more balanced life.” 

NORTH LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Solid Waste Licensing Committee will meet Thursday, February 23, 2017, at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Headquarters, 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock beginning at 10:30 a.m.  The meeting will be held in the Conference Room 1E09 on the first floor of the building.

Items on the committee agenda include presentation of reports on training issues from staff at ADEQ and the Arkansas Environmental Training Academy at East Camden.

The committee advises and assists ADEQ and the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission regarding the state licensing program for operators of solid waste management facilities.       

February 21, 2017

More than 900 Arkansas Nonprofits to Participate

Donors can make gifts to the causes they care about at
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 21, 2017) – More than 900 Arkansas nonprofits signed up by the Feb. 14 deadline to participate in ArkansasGives, a one-day online giving event presented by Arkansas Community Foundation April 6. A list of nonprofits by location and category is available at to help the public make plans for ArkansasGives donations.

“We are thrilled with the response from our state’s nonprofit community,” said Heather Larkin, Community Foundation President and CEO. “Last year 600 nonprofits raised more than $4 million. The fact that we have 900 participants for 2017 bodes well for achieving our $5 million goal.”

Arkansas Community Foundation provides a $400,000 bonus pool to help Arkansas nonprofits raise funds for their organizations through ArkansasGives. The more money supporters donate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 6 through, the more bonus dollars the nonprofits receive. For example, if a nonprofit receives two percent of the total amount given online April 6, it will receive two percent of the $400,000 bonus pool or $8,000 extra, with a chance for one of the additional prizes linked to most dollars and most donors by size and category.

In addition to matching bonus pool funds, nonprofits will compete for $60,000 in prizes from First Security Bank for nonprofits in small, medium and large categories earning the most dollars and having the highest number of individual donors. Jane Hunt Meade will provide $10,000 in prizes for most dollars in 10 service categories.

ArkansasGives media partners include the Arkansas Press Association, THV 11 in Little Rock, KAIT 8 in Jonesboro, KFSM TV 5 in Fort-Smith-Fayetteville, iHeart Media and Soiree Magazine.

The Foundation’s non-monetary aims for ArkansasGives are to get people excited about giving to nonprofits at a time other than the traditional year-end and reach out to new givers; to expand marketing and fundraising capabilities for Arkansas nonprofits so that they can take advantage of social media and online giving to achieve their missions; and to increase awareness of the impact of nonprofits statewide.

Arkansas Community Foundation offers tools to help Arkansans protect, grow and direct their knowledge, the Community Foundation supports charitable programs that work for Arkansas and partners to create new initiatives that address the gaps.  Since 1976, the Community Foundation has provided more than $156 million in grants and partnered with thousands of Arkansans to help them improve our neighborhoods, our towns and our entire state. Contributions to the Community Foundation, its funds and any of its 27 affiliates are fully tax deductible.

Friday, February 24, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (February 2017) – Outlets of Little Rock will host the Make-A-Wish®  Mid-South “Wish-A-Thon’ at the center on Friday, February 24, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Volunteers will be on site to raise funds to grant amazing wishes for children with life threatening illnesses. Make-A-Wish® brings hope, strength and joy to children with life threatening medical conditions. No donation is too small.

Teresa Hendrix, General Manager, Outlets of Little Rock elaborates, “Outlets of Little Rock is proud to be the host of this fund raising event for Make-A-Wish® Mid-South. Make-A-Wish® is truly a remarkable organization whose mission is to bring joy to children who are facing the most difficult of challenges. We look forward to supporting this vital nonprofit organization.”

Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical. Each year, Make-A-Wish Mid-South fulfills the wishes of more than 260 children across the Mid-South. Founded in 1986, the Mid-South chapter has granted more than 5,000 wishes since its inception. The average cost of a wish is more than $8,000, and the organization relies solely on fundraisers, corporate support and donations from the public to bring hope, strength and joy to families who need it most. To learn more, visit

– U.S. Senator John Boozman recognized the service and sacrifice of veteran Herman Shirley in ‘Salute to Veterans,’ a series recognizing the military service of Arkansans.

Shirley, a lifelong North Little Rock resident, graduated high school after WWII ended but wanted to take advantage of the educational assistance offered to service members, so he enlisted in the Army when he was 17-years-old and inducted at Camp Robinson.

“I’d never been away from home except for a couple of trips to northern Louisiana, so this was all new to me,” Shirley said about his early days in the Army that took him to Fort Sam Houston, Texas and onto Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

He got used to the basic training routine and learned the Army vernacular for his M1 rifle.

“Never call it a gun. It was a piece,” Shirley recalled.

After basic training Shirley was stationed in Washington before a deployment to Japan.

“The word was don’t leave the base because you might be shipped out that day. I learned that wasn’t the case at all. You could sneak off to Seattle for one day. They were having a big basketball game. The University of Washington was playing UCLA and I wanted to see it so I went and saw that basketball game and they didn’t leave without me,” Shirley said.

Shirley was stationed in Occupied Japan, assigned to the 10th Information and Historical Section, the Division of Military Intelligence at the 8th Army Headquarters in Yokohama. He supported the mission to interrogate high ranking Japanese military officers as to their planning and execution of the War in the Pacific.

“I was a typist,” Shirley said. “The officers would interrogate the Japanese high ranking officers and they would pencil out what they said and send it to the typist’s room and you would be given that document and type it double spaced as fast as you can but make very with few mistakes. That was the order. It would go back to the officers and they would go over it with the Japanese and send it back for what was maybe the final copy.”

He was promoted to Sergeant and given the assignment to teach new typists. His Colonel was very pleased with his work and encouraged him to extend his enlistment for six months to help the unit complete its mission, but Shirley was committed to getting started with his education so returned home after completing his two years of service.

“I am grateful for Herman Shirley’s dedication and service to our nation. His memories of his military service are an important part of our history and I am pleased to be able to collect and preserve his stories,” Boozman said.

Boozman will submit Shirley’s entire interview to the Veterans History Project, an initiative of the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center to collect and retain the oral histories of our nation’s veterans.

MAGNOLIA – A dedication ceremony for the Rankin College of Business Donor Wall is scheduled for noon on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at the Southern Arkansas University Business Building lobby.

Now President Emeritus Dr. David Rankin and his wife, Toni, were surprised last April with the unveiling of SAU’s first named college – the David F. Rankin College of Business – honoring his more than 45 years of service to the University. The donor wall recognizes those who have contributed to what will be one of SAU’s largest endowments.

More than $920,000 has been raised towards a goal of $1 million to endow the Rankin College of Business. Those interested in helping complete this effort can make a one-time gift or a pledge over a five year period by visiting or calling the Office of Development at 870-235-4287. Gifts to the Rankin College of Business Endowment will impact future generations of SAU students through providing scholarships, classroom enrichment, and student travel support.

The public is invited to attend the donor wall dedication.

MAGNOLIA – Ozark musical duo “Still on the Hill” will be offering a free concert at noon on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, in the Southern Arkansas University Reynolds Center Foundation Hall.

Copies of their new CD will be given away to the first 100 “folks” in the door. The concert is open to music lovers of all ages.

On the Heels of their widely-acclaimed CD/Project, “Once a River,” the Ozark duo of Donna and Kelly Mulhollan is launching the sequel CD and series of concerts called “Still a River.”  This project will enchant with story-songs about the people and history of the Buffalo River while it poignantly reminds us of what we cherish about our nation’s first historic national river. It invites us, as the river’s stewards, to protect the sights and sounds that nourish us.

The Mulhollans were recipients of the Governor’s Folk Life Award. They consider themselves modern-day bards, carrying on the ancient tradition of storytelling in song. They are multi-instrumentalists and in this show and will be using their “low-tech PowerPoint”— a collection of handmade quilts with images depicting the people and places they are singing about. 

MAGNOLIA – Whitney Gass, assistant professor of criminal justice at Southern Arkansas University, has been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Board of Corrections.

Her term on the board is for seven years, and it is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2017.

She was informed of the appointment on Feb. 13.

“I hope to represent my department, the University, and my discipline well,” Gass said. “It is a big responsibility and is not one that I take lightly.”

Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU, said that he is “excited that Professor Gass will be serving our state on the Board of Corrections. Her knowledge and experience will serve that group very well.”

“We would also like to thank Gov. Hutchinson for appointing her and Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado for his desire to have south Arkansas represented well on this important board.”

Dr. David Lanoue, provost and vice president of academic affairs at SAU, congratulated Gass on her appointment and said, “We are very proud to have an SAU faculty member in such an important position.”

Gass said she was first approached by Berry at the beginning of the spring 2017 semester about a vacancy on the board.

“The Board of Corrections is made up of certain types of individuals, including an academic position in criminal justice,” Gass said. “A change was made in that capacity, and the board petitioned universities for names of individuals in their criminal justice programs. Dr. Berry asked me if I would mind if he submitted my name. I was honored that he thought of me.”

The Board of Corrections is comprised of seven members who serve staggered terms and are appointed by the Governor. Its mission statement is “to provide public safety by carrying out the mandate of the courts, provide a safe, humane environment for staff and inmates, strengthen the work ethic through teaching of good habits and provide opportunities for staff and inmates to improve spiritually, mentally and physically.”

Gass said that after her name was entered for the appointment, she was subsequently contacted by officials with the Governor’s Office. “They vetted me, asking me questions about my perspective on corrections,” she said. “I met with the Governor and his criminal justice adviser, and early last week they called to say that I had been granted the appointment. I’m honored and excited, and I feel like I’m the right person for the job.”

Gass said that as a board member, she will be asked to consider policies, budgetary issues, and items “related to institutional programs and jails, community corrections, such as probation, parole and sentencing, and I will be presented with proposed changes and asked for ideas on how corrections will evolve or stay the same.”

Her background as an educator will be of use to her on the board. “I’m filling an academic seat, so based on my classroom preparations and research, I will be able to fulfill my duties,” she said. “Knowing the ins and outs of community corrections – the benefits and downsides – will be a help. We will have monthly meetings and some called meetings. The director of the board called me the day I was appointed to welcome me and ask how comfortable I am with ‘3 a.m. calls.’”

She said that if a “drastic situation” arises at a state correctional institution, such as a riot or an escape, “it becomes a concern for the board,” necessitating calls at any hour.

“I hope that I can over-prepare and do a really good job,” she said. “This is one reason I’m in education. I like the idea that what I do for my job can have an impact on someone’s life – maybe not today, in a way they recognize, but in the future, in a positive way.”

She said she hopes her appointment will bring about more awareness of SAU and the programs it offers. “We’re here in this southern pocket of the state, and we’re not the flag university, so any kind of recognition will, I think, make people aware of us and what we’re doing.”

Dr. Helmut Langerbein, dean of the College of Liberal and Performing Arts, said the appointment “is indeed great news for her, her department and SAU.”

Gass received her BA in behavior and social science with an emphasis in criminal justice from SAU, and her MA in criminal justice from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She is a doctoral student in criminal justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Early Registration Deadline February 25

The Arkansas Women in Agriculture Conference will be held March 14-15 at the Wyndham Riverfront in North Little Rock.  Registration for attendees and vendors is available at Early registration deadline is February 25.

Barrel racer and inspirational speaker, Amberley Snyder will join us for the keynote address during lunch on Wednesday, March 15. Amberley, who fought her way back from tragedy, is inspiring thousands across America by sharing her story and competing in rodeos in the western United States. Her challenges have refined rather than defined her.  Former Annie’s project workshop attendees will share their stories during Tuesday’s keynote luncheon address.

2016 conference attendee said “All the presentations were informative and enlightening. This was my first conference, and I look forward to attending the next conference.”

Three tracts of sessions will be offered this year. Session topics include: Business Organization Options, Canning 101, Apps for Farming, Landowner Liability, Estate Planning, How to Survive Low Cattle Prices, and Marketing Update.

“Thank you for having a conference that always allows women in agriculture to gather, share information, learn and experience new ideas from others,” commented another 2016 conference attendee.

In addition to the conference session, vendors will be one hand to provide valuable educational information to attendees as well as offering some shopping opportunities.

For additional conference information and registration details, visit or contact Brandy Johnson at or 501-837-0666.  For hotel reservations contact the Wyndham Riverfront at 501-371-9000 and request the ARWIA group rate.

February 20, 2017

February 19th, 2017
Special Agents of the Arkansas State Police Criminal Investigation Division are investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred at approximately 5:36 this morning, (Sunday, February 19th, 2017) at a residence in the Bull Shoals community of Marion County.

 Kyle Riggs, 33, has been identified as the individual who died after he reportedly fired a weapon at local law enforcement officers.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy, along with a Bull Shoals Police Officer, responded to a call of breaking and entering and an assault at a residence. Upon their arrival, the officers were immediately fired upon by the suspect.  Both officers returned fire striking Riggs, who was transported to a local hospital where he died.  The body will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory for examination.

No law enforcement officers were injured during the incident. Questions relating to the identity of law enforcement personnel or their administrative status should be directed to the local agencies where the officers are employed.

Upon completion of the investigation, state police special agents will submit an investigative file to the Marion County prosecuting attorney for consideration to determine whether use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer was justified as defined by state laws.

Creepy and kooky? Check. Mysterious and spooky? Check. All together ooky? Yes, but in a good way!  The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the newly selected cast for its upcoming production of “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy”.  The musical comedy, directed by SAAC veteran Monroe Moore, will run from March 3-5 and March 9-11.

The talented actors selected for the ‘Family’ in this hilariously creepy, iconic show are Matthew Cordell, Gomez Addams; Hayley Phillips, Morticia Addams; Connor Stinson, Pugsley Addams (March 3-5) and Carmelo Brown, Pugsley Addams (March 9-11); Hali Pinson, Wednesday Addams; Pam Callaway, Grandma Addams (March 3-5) and Beth Callaway, Grandma Addams (March 9-11);  Gary Hall, Uncle Fester Addams; and Roland Bradfute, Lurch.

The Addams family welcomes the Beineke’s portrayed by Darrin Riley, Mal Beineke; Felice Scott, Alice Beineke; and Zach Gamet, Lucas Beineke, as dinner guests on this fateful night, when Wednesday makes the decision to introduce her boyfriend, Lucas, to her family.

Another integral group on stage is the ancestors, once-dead members of the Addams family who have returned to life and add to the macabre ambience of the musical. Playing the men ancestors are Clayton Bolding, Brandon Wallace, Deondre Jackson, Bob Stephenson, Alexander Domingue, Austin Crank, and Nathan Gunter.  Kristina Lee, Kelsey Lea, Jaime Ogle, Shannon Lynn Blakely, Bekah Gunter and Elizabeth Phillips will play the women ancestors.  The ancestoral ensemble will be filled by Josie Denson, Kennedy Wells, Moriah Hicks, Stephanie Fussell, Jessica Raines and Kelly Middleton.

When asked about this highly entertaining show, director Monroe Moore said, “I am thrilled about this production of ‘The Addams Family’ and the cast we have assembled. We chose to double cast the part of Pugsley Addams to give two extremely talented young men the opportunity to perform the role.  This show is incredibly funny and really speaks to the meaning of family.  I think all families will enjoy this show and enjoy these iconic characters coming alive on the SAAC stage.” 

 “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is sponsored by SAMA Healthcare, Teague Auto Group and Southern Bancorp.  For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the SAAC website at   SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

Thought to be Motown’s favorite act, The Spinners will be in concert Saturday, February 25, 7:00 p.m., at Hempstead Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Hope.  Tickets range from $20-$75 and are available at or by phone at 870.722.8565.   The concert is a partnership between the UAHT Foundation and The Southwest Arkansas Arts Council.  

“We are excited to have the Motown sound coming back to Hempstead Hall in 2017,” said Dolly Henley, Hempstead Hall director.  “To have one of the original Spinners, Henry Fambrough, perform on our stage is awesome.  One of our larger shows last year was the super group The Temptations, and the audience loved the Motown sound and showmanship.  I have no doubt the audience will love The Spinners and will be dancing in the aisles,” she said.

Throughout the years, The Spinners have sold millions of records and topped both the Pop and R&B charts with smash hits like “I’ll Be Around” and “Then Came You.” One of the original members, Fambrough, will be joined onstage by lead singer Charlton Washington, high tenor Marvin Taylor, tenor Ronnie Moss, and bass singer Jessie Peck.  A soul-infused 5-piece band, led by Keith Ferguson, will back them up.

The Spinners charted five top 100 singles (and two top tens) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners, in 1972 and went on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s. Some of their other hit singles include “Mighty Love,” “One of A Kind (Love Affair),” “Games People Play,” and “Could It Be.” 

In early 1980, the single “Working My Way Back to You” was topping Pop and R&B charts, giving the group its twelfth gold record. The Love Trippin’ album’s release included “The Cupid Medley,” one of the fastest selling records in The Spinners’ career. The follow-up album, Labor of Love, featured such stand-out tunes as “Yesterday Once More,” and “Long Live Soul Music.” With the release of Can’t Shake This Feeling, their fourth LP in just over two years, the quintet entered a brand new phase of their remarkable career as they joined the award-winning producing/writing/playing team of James Mtume and Reggie Lucas. Other past releases include songs on the motion picture soundtracks of Twins and Spaceballs, and a single on Arista Records with Dionne Warwick entitled “Then Came You.”

The Spinners have six Grammy nominations and have performed twice during the Grammy awards ceremony. Inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, they have also been awarded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Award for their contribution to the genre. The group has performed for presidents, received a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame,” and has appeared in numerous network and cable television specials paying tribute to the music of the 70’s.

February 16, 2017

Hot Springs, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Curodrick Randle, age 41, of Texarkana, was sentenced today to 72 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of Methamphetamine.  The Honorable Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Hot Springs.

According to court documents, in September of 2015, Randle was being investigated by the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force for trafficking methamphetamine. Detectives with the Task Force used a confidential source to make contact with Randle, who went by the name “Boss” or “Gucci,” to arrange for a purchase of methamphetamine. Later that day, Randle met the source at a location in Texarkana, Arkansas, where he sold approximately 53 grams of methamphetamine. The substance was sent Arkansas State Crime Lab where it was confirmed to contain at least 37 grams of actual methamphetamine.  Randle was indicted by a federal grand jury in September, 2015 and pled guilty on March 18, 2016.

This case was investigated by the Bi-State Narcotics Task Force and the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney’s Jonathan Ross and Amy Driver prosecuted the case for the United States.



WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced the Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act, bipartisan legislation to improve access to voluntary farm conservation programs administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The NRCS is an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers to improve conservation practices on their farms. However, annual federal reporting regulations required under this program have been burdensome on many small, mid-sized, beginning, and historically underserved farmers. Additionally, because this reporting system is done electronically and requires reliable internet access, farmers in rural areas with limited broadband access are even further disadvantaged. This bill would remove this burdensome regulation for NRCS cost share recipients.

“Arkansans who work in the agriculture sector, the largest contributor to our state’s economy, play an important role in helping us live up to our nickname of the Natural State. Our farmers and ranchers understand this and are excellent stewards of the environment from which they earn their livelihood. Unfortunately, they are often boxed out of voluntary conservation programs to help accomplish this goal. We can help them protect our shared resources by removing the bureaucratic barriers that keep family farmers from participating in these programs,” Boozman said.

“Agricultural producers, and especially small and beginning farmers, should be given every opportunity to receive cost-share assistance to practice voluntary conservation on their farms. However, reporting requirements and regulations often make it harder for farmers and producers across Minnesota to access these programs,” said Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan bill would help cut through the government red tape that stands between small and beginning farmers and the conservation programs that will help protect their farmland and the environments within their communities.”

Thousands of farmers and ranchers voluntarily participate in the wide range of conservation programs that are offered through NRCS, with many of these programs offering a cost-share payment which helps farmers with the cost of implementing conservation measures. The Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act would remove burdensome regulations for NRCS cost share recipients, which currently puts small farmers on the same level as other entities receiving multi-million dollar government contracts, such as large military contractors.

 – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senate colleagues to introduce the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Accountability Act of 2017 to make the agency accountable to the American people by bringing it under the Congressional appropriations process.

“The CFPB is in desperate need of reform. The agency’s structure, as established by the Dodd-Frank Act, lacks transparency and accountability. Given that the rules and regulations made by this agency impact the lives of millions of Americans, there must be Congressional oversight,” Boozman said.

As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee last Congress, Boozman met with CFPB Director Richard Cordray to discuss issues related to the agency’s mission and lack of accountability to Congress and the American people.

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the legislation that in addition to Boozman has the support of U.S. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The legislation has support from consumer and taxpayer advocacy groups. Here’s what they are saying:

Taxpayers Protection Alliance: “Currently, the CFPB operates outside of the jurisdiction of Congress (that most agencies operate in) and continues to be appropriated taxpayer funds without the proper Congressional oversight. This is an agency that demands scrutiny like any other federal agency and should be held accountable for their actions by moving into the proper process for Congressional appropriations,” said David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

American Bankers Association: “Oversight by Congress would allow the very consumers who the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was designed to protect to hold it accountable through their elected officials. An important principle that underlies this bill is that there needs to be an effective check and balance on the Bureau’s authority. The American Bankers Association supports the principle of accountability and balance and commends [the senators] for introducing this measure,” said James Ballentine, Executive Vice President of Congressional Relations and Political Affairs, American Bankers Association.

Credit Union National Association: “We appreciate Congress considering common-sense reforms to the CFPB so that it will focus on Wall Street and get out of the way of Main Street. Over the last six years, the new mortgage rules, the rule on international remittances, the proposals on small dollar lending and arbitration, and CFPB enforcement actions have impeded credit unions' delivery of consumer-friendly products and services. Congress and regulators can, and should, provide greater consumer protection by ensuring that local, member-owned credit unions and small banks are able to thrive in a balanced, common-sense regulatory environment that is not rigged in favor of those who prey on consumers and the too-big-too-fail banks that caused the financial crisis,” said Jim Nussle, President & CEO, Credit Union National Association.


Washington, D.C. – Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) today introduced the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty (INF) Preservation Act, legislation that would allow the United States to take steps to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty and begin developing similar missile systems. Congressmen Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“If Russia is going to test and deploy intermediate range cruise missiles, then logic dictates that we respond. Pleading with the Russian regime to uphold its treaty obligations won’t bring it into compliance, but strengthening our nuclear forces in Europe very well might. We’re offering this legislation so we can finally put clear, firm boundaries on Russia’s unchecked aggression,” said Cotton.

“Russia has a troubling track record of violating treaties,” said Johnson. “The United States must begin to deal with the Russian regime firmly and from a position of strength, and this bill aims to do just that.”

“Russia’s mounting violations of the INF Treaty, including testing and now brazenly deploying ground-launched cruise missiles with intermediate range, pose grave threats to the United States and our European allies. This legislation makes clear that Russia will face real consequences if it continues its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” said Rubio.

"Just this week reports emerged of a secret Russian deployment of a nuclear capable cruise missile that violates the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. But this was neither the first such Russian violation nor should anyone expect it to be the last. While we have been limiting our own missile development in accordance with the treaty, the Russians have spent years violating the treaty with little impunity. This bill changes that. It brings real consequences for Russia's violation and prepares the United States to develop intermediate range missiles should Russia not come back into compliance with the treaty. No longer will the U.S. sit by and be played by Putin,” said Poe.

“The Obama Administration’s failure to confront Russian aggression in practically every sphere has only emboldened Vladimir Putin.  His belligerence has brought us to the point that one of the seminal achievements of the nuclear age, President Reagan’s Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF,) has been left in shreds across Moscow,” said Rogers. “This legislation will give President Trump the tools he needs to show our friends and adversaries alike that ‘peace through strength’ is back.”

Background: On Tuesday reports surface indicating that Russia secretly deployed a new cruise missile in violation of the INF treaty. This legislation states that the Russian violation has crossed the material breach threshold allowing the United States to take steps to bring Russia back into compliance, and begin developing similar missile systems.  The steps to bring Russia back into compliance included in the legislation are:

Funding counter-force, active-defense, and countervailing-strike activities identified in the Section 1243(d) report of FY16 NDAA;

  • Establishment of a program of record for a dual-capable road-mobile ground launched missile system with INF Ranges;
  • Aggressively seeking additional missile defense assets;
  • Facilitating transfer of INF range systems to allied countries
  • Limiting funds for New START extension or OST activities until Russia returns to compliance; and
  • A policy review on determination of RS-26 as countable under New START.

February 15, 2017

$15.5 million is going back into the hands of Farm Credit members across Arkansas in February.  Farm Credit finances farms, homes, land, livestock, equipment and more.  Farm Credit is not a bank; it is a financial cooperative and shares a portion of profits with members in profitable years.

2016 was another strong year for the four Farm Credit associations headquartered in the state. 10,800 Arkansas member-owners are receiving their share of the $15.5 million in the form of patronage checks this month.

Farm Credit is directed by the members it serves and members have a voice and vote in the associations’ governance.  They also share in their cooperatives’ financial success through cooperative returns, which total $184 million in Arkansas since 1997.

$15.5 million back in members’ pockets demonstrates Farm Credit’s financial strength and commitment to the cooperative principle of providing value to members.

With $3.3 billion in assets, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Delta Agricultural Credit Association, Farm Credit Midsouth and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas support rural communities and agriculture across the state.

The Farm Credit System additionally supports the rural communities of Arkansas through CoBank agribusiness cooperative loans which provide essential infrastructure services.  Combined, Farm Credit organizations provide more than $4 billion in loans, leases and related services in Arkansas and returned $25.8 million to their customer-owners, and the Arkansas economy, this year.

More information available at

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today voted to overturn an Obama administration regulation that strips Second Amendment rights away from seniors and disabled Americans.

By a bipartisan vote of 57-43, the Senate passed H.J. 40, a resolution of disapproval of the Social Security Administration (SSA) rule announcing it will share information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on individuals who receive Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments and meet criteria that can easily be misapplied to include millions of law-abiding citizens for the wrong reasons.

“This rule essentially allowed federal bureaucrats to deem law-abiding seniors and disabled Americans a threat to society and thereby restrict their Second Amendment rights without due process. It was a direct attack on Second Amendment rights under the Constitution,” Boozman said.

Under the rule, Americans placed on the SSA’s list would only be able to seek relief after their Second Amendment rights had been taken away. They would be forced to shoulder the burden of proof of convincing the agency that they are not a danger in order to restore their Second Amendment rights. By contrast, the rule would impose practically no burden on the SSA for putting a person on the list in the first place.

“When you have organizations diverse as the National Rifle Association, American Association of People with Disabilities and the American Civil Liberties Union voicing opposition to a rule, it is clear that it is bad policy,” Boozman said.

According to the Inspector General’s report, as of July 2016, the rule would have required the SSA to report 80,898 individuals to the NICS.

The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to overturn any new regulation, within sixty days of its submission, with a joint resolution of disapproval. Boozman cosponsored the Senate companion resolution of disapproval.

The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed H.J. 40 so it will now be placed on the President’s desk for signature.

U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) yesterday joined 21 of their Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to recently confirmed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price asking for relief from Obamacare for individuals living in Arkansas and 34 other states.

The letter congratulates the new head of the federal health agency and reads, in part, “We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now.”

President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 20 instructing federal agencies to help ease the burdens of Obamacare as Congress works to repeal the harmful law. Cotton, Boozman, and their colleagues are committed to working with Secretary Price and the President to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, shielding Americans from unbearable costs.

In Arkansas and 34 other states, a transitional period has protected some individuals and small groups from Obamacare and allowed them to keep their health-care plans. However, this protection expires at the end of 2017.

In addition to Cotton and Boozman, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Roger Wicker, R-Miss; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Secretary Price,

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. We look forward to working with you to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. We commend your commitment to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and working with Congress to enact market-driven approaches that put Americans back in control of their health care.

We appreciate President Trump’s determination to ease the burden of the ACA through his Administration. The President’s January 20, 2017, Executive Order instructing agencies to minimize the harmful impacts of the law and provide states additional flexibility is an admirable first step. As Secretary of HHS, we know that much of this responsibility will fall on your shoulders. One way HHS can protect Americans from the crippling effects of the law is to extend the transitional relief policy for individual and group plans in 35 states. HHS Guidance is needed by mid-February to give states and health plans time to act.

Since the enactment of the ACA, millions of Americans have either lost their health insurance or have seen their premiums skyrocket. We are committed to working with you to ensure this does not continue to happen. In 2013, HHS created a transitional relief policy that would allow individuals and small groups to maintain certain “Grandmothered” insurance plans.  In states that opted for transitional relief, Grandmothered plans are individual and small group plans purchased after enactment of the ACA and before October 1, 2013, that were not required to comply with certain ACA reforms.  President Obama’s Administration permitted transitional relief for these plans to protect millions of Americans from feeling the worst pains of the law.

The transitional relief policy was extended in March 2014 and again in February 2016. The current extension is set to expire at the end of 2017, causing millions of Americans to lose their Grandmothered plans in 2018. HHS should extend the current transitional relief policy indefinitely, which would give states the opportunity to allow individuals and small groups to maintain plans. This would provide stability, especially as plans to repeal and replace the ACA evolve.

We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now. We respectfully request that HHS issue guidance by February 21, 2017, to extend indefinitely the transitional relief policy until Congress and the President are able to repeal and replace the ACA completely.

February 14, 2017

El Dorado, Arkansas - Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Orlando Deshun Mitchell, (aka “Stunna”), age 40, of Camden, was sentenced today to 140 months in federal prison followed by four (4) years of supervised release on one count of Distribution of More Than 28 Grams of Cocaine Base.  The Honorable Judge Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in El Dorado.

According to court records, on September 5, 2013, investigators with the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arranged for a controlled purchase of cocaine base from Orlando Mitchell.  On that date, a confidential source made contact with Mitchell who agreed to provide him with three (3) ounces of cocaine for $3,000. After the two met and the transaction was completed, officers submitted the suspected crack cocaine to the Arkansas State Crime Lab where it was determined to be a total of 81.08 grams of cocaine base.

Mitchell was named in a federal indictment in July, 2015 and pleaded guilty to the charge in February, 2016. 

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the 13th Judicial Drug Task Force.  Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Wulff prosecuted the case for the United States.

MAGNOLIA – A play co-written by Cason Murphy, Southern Arkansas University’s director of theatre and assistant professor of musical theatre, and Karen Murphy has been recognized by the 2016 Southwest Playwriting Competition.

The Murphy’s two-act drama, “Parched,” won second place and will be a part of the 2017 New Play Readings Festival, April 21-23, at Stage West – a regional theatre founded in 1979 in Fort Worth, Texas, and home to a professional, equity-contract theatre company.

Cason Murphy served two AmeriCorps terms as the technical director at the Prescott Center for the Arts in Arizona after earning his AA in Theatre and Certification in Acting from the Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy and his BA in Theatre from UCLA. After completing his MFA in directing at Baylor University, he joined the faculty at SAU in August 2016.

“Innovation & Inclusion: Creating Job Opportunities in the Rural Marketplace”

Innovation, inclusion and job creation in rural Arkansas will be the key words at an upcoming regional conference to be held in El Dorado Arkansas.  Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Southern Bancorp, the 2017 Southwest  Arkansas Business & Enterprise Development Conference, with a theme of “Innovation & Inclusion:  Creating Job Opportunities in the Rural Marketplace” will bring together approximately 20 private, state, federal and nonprofit organizations with a singular mission of equipping small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to start and expand their businesses.

Hosted by the Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC), South Arkansas Community College, Southern Arkansas University at Magnolia -  Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC), Southern Bancorp, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the conference will be held Friday, March 10, 2017 from 8:30am – 2:00pm at the El Dorado Conference Center, 311 South West Avenue, El Dorado, AR 71730. Topics will include but are not limited to, building effective partnerships, securing capital, how to sell goods and services to the government, and social media.

Join us at 8:30 am for a “Lenders Roundtable Breakfast,” where participants will network with local, regional and statewide lenders. Organizations invited to participate include Arkansas Capital Corporation Group, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Communities Unlimited, Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District, FORGE, Bancorp South, First Financial Bank, Simmons Bank, Hope Credit Union, Southern Bancorp, USDA – Rural Development, U.S. Small Business Administration newly appointed Executive Director Edward Haddock…and MORE! Lunch will also be provided. 

Current business owners and those just getting started, youth entrepreneurs, business and technical school students, apprentices, veterans and community and economic development professionals, are invited to attend this unique opportunity. You will engage with other business owners, receive help with research and business planning, learn how to increase your networking results and learn to do more business with government and private industry.  will be luncheon speaker.  

Don’t miss the opportunity to help your community create needed JOBS by learning valuable insights to help your small business GROW! And, INNOVATE!  

You may register by calling Arkansas Human Development Corporation at (800) 482-7641 or online at

ARKANSAS SENATORS ENCOURAGE PRESIDENT TO STRENGTHEN GITMO MISSIONWASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) joined their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the president encouraging him to assess the future operations and detention of detainees held at the Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO).

“Congress has continuously opposed and prohibited the closure of GTMO as well as the transfer of GTMO detainees to U.S. soil since 2010 in response to the previous administration’s attempt to fulfill a campaign promise,” the senators wrote. “Despite the growing number of threats to our nation from terrorists around the globe, the Obama administration demonstrated a serious disregard for the safety of the American people and the will of Congress by dramatically reducing the number of detainees housed at GTMO to justify those remaining to be transferred to the U.S.”

In the letter, Boozman, Cotton and their colleagues shared with President Trump a number of recommendations for the future of the detention facility as the president and Congress work to ensure the safety of the American people. They requested an immediate hold on transferring detainees approved for release by the Periodic Review Board (PRB) and the suspension of the PRB itself – which was established in 2011 to assess and determine the transfer of detainees – along with a full and judicious review of the PRB’s role and responsibilities. They also requested the consideration of military value analysis and recommendations of the nation’s most senior military leaders.

The letter was written by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and in addition to Boozman and Cotton, signed by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tim Scott (R-SS), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman French Hill (AR-02) introduced the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act, legislation to prevent children’s consignment business owners from unnecessary and burdensome Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. The bill would provide an exemption for volunteers at children’s consignment events from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).

DOL’s outdated policy interferes with the ability of Arkansas families to buy affordable clothes, toys and furniture at children’s consignment events. In 2013, a DOL audit ruled that Conway-based Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. (Rhea Lana’s) was in violation of FSLA because of the company’s use of volunteers, claiming they were in fact employees. In exchange for the volunteers’ time and services to Rhea Lana’s they are able to get early access to the event and a percentage off of their purchases.

This decision has resulted in fewer consignment sales in Arkansas and 24 other states where Rhea Lana’s operates.

“Arkansas parents looking to provide for their children are being unfairly targeted by the Department of Labor’s dated and burdensome policies. This commonsense legislation preserves an innovative business model for consignment events and protects parents from unfair federal regulations that limit their ability to save money on items children quickly outgrow,” Boozman said.

“As the father of two young boys I know how helpful children's consignment events can be to Arkansas families. The Department of Labor overstepped their bounds when they changed their interpretation of the law to force a volunteer organization out of business. I am hopeful the Trump administration can revoke the misguided interpretation on their own, but if not I will work with my colleagues to fix the issue through legislation,” Cotton said.

“In situations where federal regulations unduly impact groups or businesses, we need to find ways to reverse that harm. While the Fair Labor Standards Act is well-intended, there are clearly instances in which enforcing it makes no sense. These children’s consignment events that are designed to help parents find affordable clothing for their kids fall into that category. I appreciate Senator Boozman and Senator Cotton’s leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with them to create an exemption to the FLSA for consignment events like Rhea Lana’s,” Hill said.

“I know the families of Arkansas join me in appreciating Senator Boozman, Senator Cotton and Congressman Hill for introducing the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act. For four years we have been fighting the Department of Labor for the rights of families to work together and create a special marketplace to recycle their children’s items,” Rhea Lana Riner, President of Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. said.

This legislation is endorsed by the International Franchise Association.

The Senate bill was referred to the Help Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The House bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Workforce.

February 13, 2017

In this audio message Senator Boozman discusses the importance of agriculture to Arkansas, a message he shared in a meeting with the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture last week.

The importance of Agriculture to Arkansas

February 10, 2017

– When three Southern Arkansas University nursing students started organizing next week’s stem cell registry drive more than three months ago, they were not aware that a member of the Mulerider family is one of more than 1,400 whose life could be saved.

The stem cell/bone marrow registry drive is scheduled for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on February 14-15 both in the Reynolds Center Rotunda and the SAU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. For more information, contact Dr. Becky Parnell at (870)235-4365 or at

The SAU BSN students initially behind the project are Renee Langley, Tabitha Elliott and Courtney Owens. Parnell explained that while attending the Arkansas Student Nurses’ Association annual meeting in Little Rock, the students were introduced to the need for bone marrow donors. They even registered to be possible donors themselves. She said they realized this project was a perfect example of how nurses can impact the care of people outside the normal “hospitalized patient.”

“They recognized how many people this could potentially impact and wanted to recruit more people (to register),” said Parnell. “I have seen the bone marrow process – it is truly a life-saving intervention for many people that are devastated by leukemia.”

When Parnell began promoting the registry event on campus, it was brought to her attention that the daughter of Magnolia native, 1984 SAU alum and Board of Governors Chair Beth Galway, Sydney, is suffering with acute myeloid leukemia and in dire need of a bone marrow transplant.

“When Sydney was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, the doctors told us that Sydney’s only cure would come from a bone marrow transplant. The doctors were, and are, confident of the success of her treatment due to the fact that she has a high chance to find a perfect bone marrow donor,” said Galway.

Her increased chance of finding a match, Galway explained, is simply because she is a Caucasian female – which has one of the highest bone marrow donor rates. She has a 97% chance to find a donor.

“Of course, the first donor they looked at was her sister. A sibling has only a 25% chance to be a match; a parent even less. Sydney’s sister was not a match,” said Galway.

Donor matches are generally based on race. With today’s diverse community, the need for bone marrow donors from minority and mixed race groups is high. An African American patient has only a 66% chance to find a match. 

“The doctors and nurses that I have talked to indicate that the need is huge for African Americans as well as donors from India,” said Galway.

She said that the treatment for Sydney, who is a sophomore in college, is now in phase 3. Her next step is a bone marrow transplant.

“We hope to have a perfect match for her and pray that the donor will be willing to do all that is necessary for providing the blood or bone marrow needed for the transplant,” said Galway.

The drive is being sponsored by SAU’s Department of Nursing and University Health Services. Junior and senior BSN students will also be assisting in the bone marrow drive as a professional development activity.

Becoming a member of a stem cell/bone marrow registry only requires that you provide a swab of the cells inside your cheek. To register is a painless and fast way to possibly save a life.


February 9, 2017

The South Arkansas Arts Center announces the cast for the children’s drama production of “ Disney’s Jungle Book KIDS”, which will run March 31 and April 1.  This production showcases a large cast of talented drama students from ages 7-16, and is being directed by Shelton Harden, children's performing arts coordinator at SAAC. Harden, a well-known lifelong veteran of stage and music theater, teaches children’s drama classes at SAAC.

Congratulations to these talented students
selected to participate in this production! 
The cast includes  Darnarius Aaron, Rosalie Alatorre, Abigail Birmingham, Georgia Blackmon, Sidney Botner, Joy Cherry, Victoria Colley, Avery Davison, McCoy Davison, Tiffanie Duke, Clay Evers, Presley Givens, Emily Henderson, Ianna Hernandez, Aram Hurtado, Isai Hurtado, Madison Jacobs, Brylee Jobe, Madeline Kneeland, Ellis Lyles, Micah Lyons, Raylynn Massey, Laney McLelland, Grace McNabb, Maggie Meyer, Gideon Moncrief, Nyla Moore, Jack Pagan, Mary Claire Parker, Chloe Patterson, Madelyn Poss, Amy Raborn, Landry Seat, Layla Sharp, Natalee Speer, Blake Tanner, Maddy Todd, Hannia Valero, Addie Waggoner, Ava Williams, Lambert Williams, Kaden Wood and Abby Wyatt.

The Jungle Book was written by Rudyard Kipling for his first child in 1894. One of the wonderful themes of this story is acceptance and family. Mowgli, a man-cub, is not only taken in by the jungle animals, but he is raised and loved as family. “What a great message for our times,” said director Shelton Harden.  “The actors cast for this show will bring to life the wonderful story of how Mowgli was cared for and loved by the entire jungle family – except, of course, for Shere Khan, the tiger There must always be a bad guy and the tiger gets that job in this story.”

“Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS” is sponsored by El Dorado Kiwanis Club, with additional funding by Entergy.  It is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

For more information about this show, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

– The Mathematics Department at Southern Arkansas University will host the South Arkansas Regional Mathematics Contest Saturday, March 4. Students are asked to arrive by 9:30 a.m. and report to Wilson Hall. Tests begin at 10 a.m.

Secondary school students enrolled in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Trig/Pre-calculus, and Statistics are invited to participate. Trophies will be awarded to those placing first, second and third in each subject. These students will be invited to participate in the state contest on Saturday, April 22 at the University of Central Arkansas.

Sponsors such as a parent or teacher must accompany students participating in the contest at SAU. Students are asked to bring a pencil and calculator. A registration fee of $2 will be charged each student.

FEBRUARY 25 - 26, 2017

When you get to Camden, just look for dog show signs to direct you to the show site

SHOW HOURS:  Saturday 9:00 A.M. TILL 4:00 P.M. EACH
DAY INDIVIDUAL BREEDS BEGIN SHOWING AT 9:00 A.M. GROUPS BEGIN AT APPROXIMATELY 12:30 - 1:00 P.M.   Sunday shows will begin at 8 a.m.

The public is encouraged to come out and see some of the most beautiful and smartest dogs in the
country. Please bring your lawn chair. Sorry NO un-entered dogs allowed per AKC rules.

Northwest Arkansas Kennel Club is joining our shows this year hosting Lure Coursing Test.  This will be a fun event seen for the first time in our part of the state.

Vendors from around the country will be there with lots of cool stuff. Remember Westminster Dog shows on Monday and Tuesday nights February 13, & 14th Google for info to watch on TV.  Several of those dogs will be in Camden for our shows.

Admission for the dog shows is $5.00 Adults $1.00 Children 6-12 yrs of age $1.00 for Senior Citizens. Children under 6 yrs get in free.

For more info contact Darleen Wheelington, 870-836-7297 or visit to see the judging schedule for the time different breeds show. Judging schedule will be online by February 15th


Join Camden as we Celebrate Spring at one of South Arkansas' largest and most beautiful events, the 24th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival, March 10th & 11th in Beautiful Downtown Camden.

Join thousands from all around the region and nation at this unforgettable weekend for the entire family at the 2017 Daffodil Festival! Tour the amazing Daffodil Gardens, with over a million blossoms! Enjoy the rich History of South Arkansas with guided tours through Camden's famous museums, antebellum homes, and historical sites complete with costumed re-enactments, or shop ‘till your heart's content along the sidewalks of downtown Camden displaying a myriad of food, collectables, and crafts.

Stay for the entire weekend complete with the annual 5k run, Arts and Crafts show & sale, Live Music acts and stage events. Bring the entire family for the Civil War Encampment, downtown booths, children’s activities and Antique Car Show. Shop for one-of-a kind gifts along the sidewalk vendors with food, crafts, and other festival favorites and enjoy some of the best food in South Arkansas at our famous Steak Cook-off!

Start by visiting the beautiful Garden Tours open where you will find amazing Daffodil Gardens including 13 acres of beautiful daffodils at the renowned Daniel’s Garden.  Be taken back in time with guided costumed tours through the historic Oakland Cemetery and enjoy the Civil War re-enactors. Also tour the Historic Homes. After touring the sites, join us downtown for a variety of events the whole family is sure to love where you will find a day full of activities Friday and Saturday.  Don’t miss the region’s favorite Championship Steak Cook-off on Saturday with the World’s Finest char grilled Black Angus Rib Eyes complete with on-stage live music starting at 2pm. If you enjoy food, fun, beauty and history then this is the place for you. It’s all at the 24th Annual Camden Daffodil Festival, March 10th & 11th, 9am-6pm Friday & 9am-5pm on Saturday in Beautiful Downtown Camden. (205 W. Washington, Camden AR. 71701)

  • For more information or questions please contact the Daffodil Festival at: or call 870-833-3001.
  • For more information, tour and steak cook-off ticket locations and prices and PRESS, visit us at
  • The festival is free and open to the public with tickets available for purchase to specific events and tours.
  • Visit our Downtown booth to purchase tour tickets and Steak Cook-Off tickets at the festival.

625 Adams SW, Camden, AR 71701 (OPED Building)
all 870-836-2210 or to Pre-Register

February 14th – Operating a Home Based Business - 12:00-1:30
Home-Based Businesses -Thousands of people are running businesses out of their homes.  Are you considering joining them? This seminar will help you with business planning, ideas, requirements and more to get you headed in the right direction.

March 2nd – Getting a leg up in Government Contracting 10:00 to 12:00
Government Contracting - The U.S. government is the world's largest buyer of products and services. Learn the process required to get your business registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and eligible to bid on government contacts. Attend this seminar and learn more about the qualification and procedures required by the government. Speaker will be Wanda May, Business Development Specialist/Women Owned Business Representative for the Arkansas SBA District office.

March 14th – Top-Notch Customer Service – 11:00 – 1:00
Top-Notch Customer Service
- Excellent customer service is a cost-free marketing technique, as well as a way to set your business apart from your competitors. Learn how to exceed customer expectations, handle unhappy customers, and create a culture of top-notch customer service.

March 28th – Know Your Numbers - 12:00 -1:00
Financial Statements and Credit Reports - Maximize your profits by tracking and understanding your financials. Learn what financial information is vital to operating a business, the difference in profit and cash flow, and how to use financial statements to know exactly where you stand at all times. We will also cover what lenders look for in financial statements and credit reports.

No written or Road Testing in Camden this Thursday, February 9, 2017.

February 6, 2017

CAMDEN-Pam Vaughan, Science Specialist at Camden Fairview School District, is pleased to announce
that the experiment entitled “Testing the Formation of a Polymer in Microgravity” is tentatively
scheduled for launch to the International Space Station on April 9, 2017 as part of the Student
Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). The experiment to be tested by astronauts on board the International Space Station, a first for the state of Arkansas, was designed by Lexi Betts, Alexis Bryant, Piper Fain, Hope Hesterly, and Trey Jeffus. Hannah O’Dell is the students’ teacher. The experiment will travel to the International Space Station where astronauts will conduct the experiment before it is returned to students for analysis. While the experiment is being performed according to the proposal's specifications by the astronauts, a control experiment will be conducted on the Camden Fairview campus. The student team is in the process of raising funds in order to attend the launch of this milestone event for the state. In addition to the science experiment, students in grades 1-12 had the opportunity to design official mission patches, which will also travel to the International Space Station. Two mission patches were selected to represent the district designed by Peyton Ruch for grades 6-12 and Amarielle Cooper grades 1-5. Camden Fairview Mission Patches will fly on SpaceX-10 later this month, along with the Mission 9 SSEP flight experiments. Currently, the launch is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14 at 11:34 am and the payload will return to Earth in late March. This means that Camden Fairview will have something flying on SpaceX-10 and SpaceX-11. Local funding from Ouachita Valley Community Foundation, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Aerojet Rocketdyne, National Technical Systems, Farmers Bank and Trust, Tom Chilton and his wife Cherel, a Camden graduate, and Silver Oaks Health and Rehabilitation enabled CFSD participation in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.  The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP] is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre- college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space  venture.”


MAGNOLIA-According to reports, Circuit Court Judge David Talley presided over the Columbia County Circuit Court criminal docket on Thursday. Cases heard included: Theresa Pruitt appeared for commercial burglary, breaking or entering, theft of property valued over $1,000, and is a habitual offender. She accepted a plea arrangement with the state. She received 6 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction and 10 years suspended imposition of sentence. She was ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution and all court costs and fees. She was credited 66 days of jail time. The case was continued to Feb. 16 to challenge the restitution amount.

CAMDEN-According to Camden Police Chief, Boyd Woody, a robbery took place at the Dollar Tree Store, around 9:45, Friday evening. Woody explained that when the store clerk was getting ready to close, two unidentified male subjects, wearing ski-masks, approached the clerk, and forcefully took a store deposit. Investigators believe that the suspects fled to the Lincoln Center Housing Complex area, with a large amount of cash. A firearm was used during the robbery, however no one was injured.


February 3, 2017

inspiring musical are $5.00.  Jasmine, Aladdin, the Genie, and more will take the stage in “Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.”, a musical adventure filled with magic, mayhem and the power of love.

When Aladdin meets Jasmine, a beautiful and plucky princess in disguise, he is determined to win her heart. Obstacles, however, await at every turn. It will take all of his wit, and some help from his wacky friend the Genie, for Aladdin to triumph over the evil Jafar for Jasmine’s hand in marriage. In the end, Aladdin and Jasmine live happily ever after, with a “whole new world” of opportunities ahead of them.  Both the story and music in this version closely follow the original film.  Songs from the Disney film include "Arabian Nights", "One Jump Ahead”, "Friend Like Me”,  "Prince Ali", and "A Whole New World".  A new song, "Why Me", which is sung by Jafar and Iago, was originally cut from the Disney film but was added back into the Broadway musical.

 This Penguin Project production is unique because all of the roles are filled by children with developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other neurological disorders. They are joined on stage by their “peer mentors”, a group of children the same age without disabilities, who have volunteered to work with them side-by-side and guide them through 4 months of rehearsals and the final production.

Darrin Riley, music director for the production, said, “Music allows us to communicate where words fail. This I have always known, but it was never made more clear to me than when I began working with the Penguin Project.  As music director for their first production, ‘Aladdin, Jr.’, I have watched as a group of strangers from across our community have come together to create something special.  No matter what their limitations, each artist and their mentor has taken on the challenge of singing this infectious, tongue twisting, Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. The leads are doing an amazing job with their signature songs, which many of us grew up singing, while the chorus keeps the story dancing right along.  To see these young people work so hard to accomplish their goal is nothing short of inspiring.”

“Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.” is funded in part by Pat Callaway with additional funding by the Oliver family.

For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at  South Arkansas Arts Center is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

EL DORADO – The Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will hold a free family caregiver workshop on Feb. 23 for those who would like to learn about caring for an adult with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

The workshop will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Arkansas Center on Aging located at 106 West Main, Suite 310 in El Dorado. For more information or to register, please call 870-881-8969, or visit

The workshop will present an overview of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and provide caregiving tips that maintain respect, dignity and quality of life for the person living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Information will also be presented on nutrition, behavior, communication techniques and activities.

This workshop is sponsored by the Arkansas Geriatric Education Collaborative (AGEC) at UAMS, which is funded by a Health Resources and Services Administration’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program grant. The AGEC improves the quality of care for older adults through education by offering programs for health professionals, first responders, family caregivers and direct care workers.

The UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging serves the needs of an aging generation with the highest standards of research and care. It was established through a 1997 gift of $28.8 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and expanded through a 2009 foundation gift of $33.4 million. Within the institute is the Arkansas Aging Initiative (AAI), created from part of Arkansas’ share of the Master Tobacco Settlement to improve the health of older Arkansans through interdisciplinary clinical care and innovative education programs, and to influence state and national health policy. The AAI created seven Centers on Aging throughout the state to provide senior adults access to quality care within a 60-mile drive from their homes. These centers offer the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program so older adults might have more opportunities to remain at home.


MAGNOLIA – Della Campbell of Magnolia is a non-traditional student who has been auditing classes for the past two years at Southern Arkansas University. Her wit and personality make her an asset for the Academic Enrichment Center, where she volunteers as a history tutor and front-desk worker.

Her personality has certainly caught the attention of students. “They ask me what my major is, and I tell them I’m working toward a bachelor's in ‘F-U-N.’ It takes them a minute to get it, and then they laugh and say, ‘You’re here for fun?’”

Mrs. Campbell, or Della, as she prefers, has been a resident of Magnolia since 1991 but has seen much of the United States and the world as a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran. She served her country from 1973-1976.

“I was born and raised in the military,” Della said. “My father retired from the Army and I joined when I was 22. I grew up as an only child and I wanted to get away! My late husband retired from the U.S. Marines.”

She said she has lived in California, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Alabama, South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, among other places. “I know that a whole world exists outside Arkansas,” she said, laughing. “My husband spent his entire career around large cities and when we came here, he liked it, and so we decided to stay.”

Her husband ran a business in Magnolia, Campbell Computers, but he passed away in 1994. “I was not looking forward to moving back to Minnesota,” Della said of her decision to stay in Magnolia.

Della holds an AS in business administration, received from MiraCosta College in Oceanside, Calif., as well as an AA in theatre from the same institution. She worked as a clerk, ticket agent for Greyhound, receptionist, and SCAT dispatcher for Central Arkansas Development Council for 11 years and then retired in 2010. Today, she keeps busy answering students’ questions as they come into the AEC and maintaining inventory of the Center’s graphing calculators, which are available for loan to students.

“I’m here Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Della said. “I can help with most subjects except math. I can speak in a few foreign languages – Spanish, German, French, Arabic – I forget my Chinese. I try to speak well enough to say ‘please,’ ‘sit down’ and ‘thank you’ in the languages.”

She said she has certain advantage in her classes. “The rest of the students will be asked to write a seven-page report, and I'll maybe write a report.”

“I bounce around,” she said of her courses. “I’ll keep doing it until I get bored or run out of classes I like. I’ve audited anthropology, history, geography, philosophy, religion. I stay away from anything that has a lab!”

She said she finds history courses particularly interesting because unlike the majority of her fellow students, “I lived through much of it – when we talk about the Cold War, I’m like, ‘been there, done that.’”

Last spring, Della, who is the mother of Arthur, was awarded Student Support Services' Volunteer of the Year Award. Last fall, during the annual SSS Open House, she was voted by students as Tutor of the Month of September (People's Choice).

“While never taking the honors seriously, it seems, on the surface, Della's humble attitude shows in her winning smile,” said Lavana Kindle, SI coordinator. “She has become a favorite among the students and the tutors. We are very proud of Della's devotion to SAU and to our students.”


MAGNOLIA – Thanks to the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program, the community garden at Southern Arkansas University’s Department of Agriculture will be able to rapidly grow, and through education, outreach and produce, decrease the region’s food deserts.

A $25,000 grand from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program allowed SAU to purchase a garden tractor and zero-turn lawnmower from Fallin Tractor of Magnolia. The Kubota mower and B2601 26 horsepower, four-wheel drive tractor with a front-end loader, four-foot rotary cutter, four-foot tiller, and four-foot disc harrow attachments were delivered to SAU’s Agriculture Center on Jan. 17, 2017. Representatives from Walmart, Fallin Tractor, and SAU were on-hand to welcome the much-needed equipment.

“At the Walmart Foundation, we understand the importance of investing in communities at the local level. We are honored to help support Southern Arkansas University with the purchase of the tractor and equipment to be used in the University’s new community garden,” said Michael Lindsey, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations. 

Dr. Jeffry Miller, chair of the SAU Department of Agriculture, started the SAU community gardens in 2015 from a grant received by the Agriculture Department from the Soil Conservation District of Columbia County. In the fenced area behind the Agriculture Center, SAU family and members of the community used the first 17 raised garden beds rent-free to grow produce the first season in 2016. Miller hopes with the new equipment to increase the number of raised beds to 60 this spring.

“With the tractor and mower, we will be able to maintain the grounds and make them a showplace,” said Miller. “I want to get the word out to the community that using these garden beds is a fun thing to do and meet new people, we can help with gardening tips, and it’s free.”

The community garden area also hosts other agriculture educational areas with an orchard, vineyard, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, a garden, and forage and turfgrass plots. The teaching area and raised beds share a compost shed. Miller feels that this is an excellent way for the campus and community to learn about and experience agriculture. He is also excited about the campus and community interaction.

“We are committed to fostering closer ties to the Magnolia and Columbia communities and this is another way we hope to build relationships with the people of our region,” said Dr. Trey Berry, who was one of the first to reserve a garden bed for he and his family. “This also is a program that will bring Columbia County families to our campus for fun and educational experiences throughout the spring and summer months.”

SAU organizations may also consider utilizing the garden beds to grow produce to donate to area food banks as many in the surrounding region have limited access to a well-balanced diet. Governmental analyses have provided eye-opening data that the quality of the average person’s diet has decreased substantially in the last two decades, according to Miller.

“Many rural areas in our region are becoming ‘Food Deserts,’ in that inhabitants, for various reasons, do not have access to a full service grocery store. Therefore, their choice of diet is limited to highly processed food items, which is a major causative factor of childhood obesity and malnutrition among the elderly.”

Miller added that it is incumbent on institutions of higher education to adopt a proactive position and partner with their communities to provide opportunities for all people to have access to a healthy diet.  

To find out more about the SAU community gardens or to reserve a raised garden bed, contact Miller at or 870-235-4350.



February 1, 2017

– Southern Arkansas University Theatre is set to perform “Dial M for Murder” at
Harton Theatre starting at 7 p.m. nightly Feb. 2-4 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 5.

Tickets can be purchased through or by calling 870-235-4255. There is limited seating and the public is encouraged to order tickets early. Prices are $10 per adult/general admission seat and $5 for SAU students, faculty and staff. The performance on Saturday, Feb. 4, will be followed by an actor talk-back.

The thriller, written by Frederick Knott and directed by Richard Vollmer, is a suspense thriller based on the classic 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film. An ex-tennis pro carries out a plot to murder his wife; when things go wrong, he improvises a brilliant plan B.

The play features SAU Theatre students Lainey Walthall (Margot); Tyler Spears (Max); Sterling Davis (Tony); Bodee Starr (Lesgate); Caleb Burkhalter (Hubbard); Grant Aaron Diffee (announcer); Josh Rogers (Thompson) and Paris Terry (Williams). In addition to directing, Vollmer also serves as set designer. Cason Murphy, theatre director, is the sound designer and voice coach. Fight choreography is by Daniel Spiropoulous.

SAU’s final show of the season and the big musical of the year, “The Little Mermaid,” will run April 20-22 at 7 p.m. nightly and at 2 p.m. on April 23 at Harton Theatre.


The South Arkansas Arts Center would like to remind the public that auditions will be held this weekend, February 3-4, for the magnificently macabre and heinously hilarious “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy”.   Monroe Moore, a veteran of the SAAC stage who directed “Oliver” and choreographed the SAAC production of “Chicago”, returns as artistic director for this musical comedy. "This show is a visually satisfying, rib-tickling, lunatic musical that will entertain you to death!”

The whole lovable family of creepy kooks is alive and well and living in their super-spooky mansion  in Central Park. The Addams family, led by the elegantly gaunt and seemingly undead Morticia and her ever-devoted husband Gomez, is in turmoil and comic chaos (including everything from an amorous giant squid to mixed-up potions to a scorching tango) ensues.

The first phase of the audition process will begin with a singing/acting audition. Auditioners may attend Friday, February 3 at 7pm OR Saturday, February 4 at 10:30am.  More information about preparing for auditions and what to expect can be found on the SAAC website.

The second step of the audition process consists of a mandatory dance audition which will be held on Saturday, February 4 from 1-3pm. Come prepared to learn a dance combination and wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes.

“The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” is sponsored by SAMA Healthcare, Southern Bancorp and Teague Auto Group.

For more information, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at <> .  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

January 31, 2017

The winners of the ALFiE Awards for 2016, given by the Arkansas Festivals & Events Association, were announced at the Association’s 33rd Annual Conference held at the Holiday Inn Little
Rock/Airport in Little Rock, January 25-26.   The ALFiE Awards, “Arkansans Love Festivals & Events,” honor the best and brightest of Arkansas’s festivals and special events.  The winners and categories are listed below.

Best New Festival or Event ,
Best New Festival or Event Gold- ACANSA Arts Festival, Little Rock.   
Eligible events are those still within their first five years; judging is based on the operation’s growth, uniqueness, and community contribution.   
Best New Festival or Event, Silver-  Spa Con, Hot Springs
Best New Festival or Event, Bronze- Sultana Heritage Festival, Marion.

Outstanding New Idea
Arkansas Cornbread Festival, Little Rock for their Food, Culture, & Community Readings by UALR Contest Winners. Eligible festivals have developed a new idea, logo, event, festival, or publication during the previous year which added significantly to the success or popularity of the festival.  

Volunteer of the Year
Terri Neugent, Mena Advertising & Promotion Commission.   
A volunteer who has provided significant enthusiasm and specific expertise while showing initiative and providing leadership, dependability, and a positive attitude for their event for at least three years without having received remuneration for services.  

Vendor of the Year,
Vendor of the Year Gold- Wells Fun Company
Vendor of the Year, Silver- JC Productions

Festival of the Year
Festival of the Year , Gold–Toad Suck Daze, Conway.
This award is presented to a festival or other special celebration, which stands out among all the festivals in Arkansas, by its creative approach, crowd appeal, media coverage, and/or enhancement of community pride, thus benefiting the state’s quality of life.  
Festival of the Year, Silver-   Main Street Food Truck Festival, Little Rock.
Festival of the Year, Bronze- Arkansas Cornbread Festival

Event of the Year
Event of the Year, Gold – World Championship Cardboard Boat Races, Heber Springs.   
This award is presented to an event or other special celebration which stands out among all events in Arkansas by its creative approach, crowd appeal, media coverage, and/or enhancement of community pride, thus benefiting the state’s quality of life.  This is the second year in a row for them to win this award.
Event of the Year, Silver- Oil Town Festival, Smackover
Event of the Year, Bronze- Depot Days Festival, Newport 

Sporting Event of the Year
Sporting Event of the Year, Gold- Big Dam Bridge 100, Little Rock
A festival or event featuring or centered around a sport event which in turn brings recognition to the sport and enhances community pride.  
Sporting Event of the Year, Silver- Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, El Dorado

The South Arkansas Arts Center invites the public to an artist’s reception on Thursday, February 2, 2017 from 5:00-7:00PM. Nationally known and respected oil painters, John P Lasater and Jason Sacran will be the honored artists that evening, along with El Dorado native Michelle Jones.  Sacran and Lasater’s  exhibit, “Brotherhood:  John P Lasater and Jason Sacran” will hang in the Price and Merkle Galleries through March 29, 2017, while Jones’s show , “It’s Out There”,  will hang in the Lobby Gallery through February 27, 2017.

Sacran and Lasater are contemporary representational painters who dedicate much of their full-time artistic careers to traveling the United States, teaching workshops and painting in national outdoor painting invitationals. Their achievements are improbably parallel, and their bond of brotherhood seems to propel this. They proudly wear their nickname, “The Arkansas Boys”, and consistently take top honors in plein air competitions across the country as they travel from their homes in Magazine and Siloam Springs.

Sacran said about his work, “Although my work is not necessarily subject driven, I find myself painting the overlooked and simultaneously familiar aspects of everyday life – scenes we pass by but rarely take the time to fully consider. In the chaos of daily life, I believe we all take the simple and familiar for granted. Sometimes it is these quiet unadorned places that make the most worthy subjects.”

Lasater, when asked to explain his art, said, ”I make simple visual statements with my artwork, regardless of the subject matter.  Simplicity is peaceful, and reinforces the blessing of our existence.  Through the medium of oil paint, I have a language for my gratitude.” 

Michelle Jones, a life-long resident of El Dorado, began painting just over a year ago.  For the most part, she is self-taught, but leans on the local art community to teach her painting techniques and skills. She is a great believer in utilizing technology to learn and can often be found watching online videos to hone her skills.

“For the most part, I paint acrylic on canvas.  Mixing colors on canvas is extremely satisfying to me.   I also enjoy pastels immensely, after a wonderful class that taught me the ‘correct’ way to paint with pastel.  Watercolor aggravates me, but I do it anyway. I paint what makes me happy and give away most of my paintings to close friends and family.  I may never get rich, but I can say that I do something that truly gives me joy.”

For more information on this exhibit, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at  SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

January 30, 2017

CAMDEN-According to a report from Camden Water Utilities, As a part of the contract between Camden Water Utilities and Belt Construction, Cash Road will be closed for through traffic from Washington Street to Maul Road February 1st to the 3rd. Belt Construction Coompany will be tying in a new sewer main into the intersection of Cash and Mary. Local traffic will need to detour to Dooley Womack Dr.  

LITTLE ROCK-A Canadian timber company will invest $80 million in an El Dorado sawmill, creating 120 new jobs, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission said in a statement. Conifex Timber will create a "state-of-the-art" sawmill at a site previously owned by Georgia Pacific, the statement said, noting Gov. Asa Hutchinson and company officials formally announced the new jobs at an event in El Dorado on Monday morning. “Timber plays a vital role in our state’s economic vitality,” Hutchinson said in the statement. “The industry directly employs more than 37,200 workers in Arkansas, and I’m thrilled to welcome Conifex to the state.” The state provided several incentives to Conifex, including one $1 million grant initially and the chance in 10 months for a second grant, also worth $1 million, if the jobs are added as planned. Conifex plans to initially produce 180 million board feet from the mill, the statement said, noting the firm will purchase an estimated 700,000 tons of sawtimber — or $30 million worth — from suppliers within about 60 miles.

CAMDEN-A Camden real estate agent stands accused of pushing her teenage daughter into the arms of a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and then, after he died in a car accident, faking his will to leave his nearly $2 million estate to the daughter. The fraudulent will for Matthew Seth Jacobs, who was 34 when he died two years ago, left nearly all of his assets to his purported fiancée, Jordan Alexandra “Alex” Peterson, daughter of Donna Herring. The will left Jacobs’ son and only child, Jordan Jacobs, just $50,000. The alleged scheme almost worked. It wasn’t until after the assets were distributed in December 2015 that “new evidence” was discovered that showed the will was a forgery, according to a filing in the Probate Division of Ouachita County Circuit Court by Jordan Jacobs’ attorney, Adam Reid of Little Rock. In November, Herring was indicted by a federal grand jury in El Dorado on charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. The indictment was under seal until last month. A new filing in the case lists Peterson, now 21, and Herring’s sister and brother-in-law, Marion “Diane” Kinley and John Wayne Kinley Jr., as co-defendants, but their indictments have not been made public. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Arkansas declined to comment. A filing in Herring’s case last week, though, said Herring had been charged with the additional count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, perhaps hinting at the charge filed against the others. The federal government has seized assets from Jacobs’ estate from Herring, including nearly $720,000 in cash, four homes, a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and other pieces of property. If Herring is convicted, the government asks that the property be forfeited. Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said in an email to Arkansas Business last week that the department’s Criminal Investigation Division has an open investigation “arising out of the death” of Matt Jacobs, but it was unrelated to the one-car crash that killed him on Jan. 19, 2015. Sadler said he couldn’t comment further until a case file is submitted to a prosecuting attorney. Herring, 50, has pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court. She referred questions last week to her criminal defense attorney, Erin Cassinelli of Little Rock.

MAGNOLIA-Two Magnolia residents were arrested Saturday for breaking or entering.

According to reports, authorities responded to Wilson Street in reference to a burglary in progress at a vacant house.
Andre Walker, 30, and Theresa Pruitt, 45, were found inside the house. Walker’s bond has been set at $390. Pruitt’s bond is $52,771.


January 17th, 2017

CAMDEN- Earlier this week, there was an accident in Ouachita County. According to the Ouachita County Sheriff's Office, the driver was, 19-year-old, Preston Spears. Two passengers: Colton Wilson (18), & a 15-year-old minor. Spears lost control of the truck in a curve on Ouachita 29 (wet road). Truck struck several trees. The truck was a 99 Ford F-150 extended cab. All 3 guys were taken to OCMC by ambulance.

MAGNOLIA-A house fire on Hempstead 11 late Saturday claimed the life of the homeowner and has left the community in mourning.

Peggy Powell, 66, of Spring Hill, was unable to escape the fire that left her home a total loss. Peggy was the long-time owner of Peggy’s Hair Salon in Hope. At this time there is no word on the cause of the fire. A granddaughter and her child who lived in the home were not present during the time of the fire, lost everything. Several clothing drives are being organized to help them.
MAGNOLIA-U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) has been named to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Chairman Bill Shuster announced. Westerman’s Fourth District includes South Arkansas. "Congressman Westerman brings a wealth of relevant experience to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and his engineering background in particular will provide us with a unique and fresh-perspective," Shuster said. "Bruce has proven himself to be a problem solver and a hard worker since taking office, and I look forward to his contributions as we work to ensure America has a 21st century infrastructure."
An engineer and forester for 22 years at Mid-South Engineering in Hot Springs, Westerman is a registered professional engineer and forester. In 2013, he was named Engineer of the Year by the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers. Westerman said he would work to improve infrastructure across the Fourth Congressional District as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"Transportation and infrastructure are issues of vital importance to the Fourth Congressional District of Arkansas," Westerman said. "With our district's varied infrastructure, it is important to have a voice on the committee of jurisdiction. That is why I advocated joining the T&I Committee. We must work to improve maintenance along the Fourth District's navigational channels, find a permanent solution for funding our roads and bridges, and protect our important pipeline and railroad infrastructure. I want to thank Chairman Shuster, the Steering Committee, and Speaker Ryan for this appointment." In addition to Transportation and Infrastructure, Westerman will continue serving on the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

MAGNOLIA-A wreck on a wet road in Hempstead County on Saturday afternoon killed a Prescott man. According to a preliminary Arkansas State Police report, Jirell Sockwell, 31, was driving a 2006 model Buick LaCross east on Arkansas 332. He lost control while attempting to negotiate a right-hand curve. The vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree and overturned.
Sockwell was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was released to Brazell Funeral Home of Prescott. According to Sockwell’s Facebook page, he attended Blevins High School and worked at the Husqvarna factory in Nashville.
The weather was cloudy and the road was wet. The accident happened near 409 Arkansas 332, east of the Deann community, at about 3:53 p.m. Trooper 1st Class Darren Henley investigated the accident for the Arkansas State Police.
CAMDEN-Officer Tommy Norman, will be the 2017 Chamber of Commerce Banquet Speaker Thursday, January 19th 6 pm – Tickets $25 before the 16th, $35 after SAU Student Tech Center, Grand Hall When he was 13, Tommy Norman saw an advertisement for Feed the Children, a nonprofit relief organization that fights child hunger. Norman was so moved by the images that he gave his mother the $60 he saved and asked her to help a c...hild overseas. “That particular moment really captured my heart,” Norman said. “From that point on, I always remember to try to find ways to help people.” Norman’s desire to help others and an unusual turn of events turned him into a local celeb-rity and role model for his community policing efforts in the Little Rock area. Norman has become a social media star, with 1.2 million Instagram followers, and more than 20,000 Twitter followers. He uses those platforms to highlight his interactions with members of the community, and his video and photo posts often include messages such as #CommunityPolicing or #ChangeLives. Community policing doesn’t end when his shift is over, Norman said. He is greatly in-volved in the lives of residents, often attending birthday parties, graduations, barbecues, and funerals. “If you have a visible interest in the community, you don’t really get a day off.” he said. “As a police officer, you shouldn’t just be arresting people. You should be checking up on them, saying hello.” Members of the community often know where Norman is when he is off duty. Once, when Norman was working security at Kroger on a day off, a mother called him because her son, who had committed a crime, wanted to turn himself in to a police officer who would treat him “with dignity.” “Community policing builds trust, builds respect, but it can also solve crimes,” he said. Since becoming an Internet sensation, Norman said “the eyes of the world have really been on me,” but he doesn’t let the attention change who he is. “The position that I’m in, I don’t take it for granted,” Norman said. “What got me through each step in life was my heart. Your legacy will be how you treated people,” Norman said

January 3, 2017

TEXARKANA- According to repots, Texarkana police say they have arrested two men, and are still searching for two others wanted for vehicle thefts. They have identified the wanted men as Keanu White, 20, and Jucquian Tyson, 19. White is wanted for Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (2 counts), Criminal Conspiracy, Theft by receiving over $1000 (2 counts) and Theft of Property.  Tyson is wanted for Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (2 counts), Theft by receiving over $1000 (2 counts) and Theft of Property.  Police say on Dec. 18, 2016, White and Tyson stole a maroon 1999 GMC Sierra from a used car lot in Texarkana. They used a rock to jam the gas pedal and ram the stolen truck into the Pawn Express pawn shop in the 1300 block of Dudley. They did not get into the store and nothing was stolen. The stolen truck was left at the scene. The next day, White and Tyson tried to get into the same pawn shop, this time using a white Ford F-350 also stolen from Texarkana. In this attempt, they rammed the damaged storefront by backing the truck into the store. They were again unsuccessful in getting into the store and abandoned the truck nearby.  In addition to these incidents, police say two used car lots reported several vehicles had been vandalized. They told police several door locks and ignitions had been tampered with in an apparent attempt to steal the vehicles. The Texarkana Police Department say they issued a total of 24 warrants in connection with these crimes. The suspects were identified as Keanu White, Jucquian Tyson, Phillip Lee and Davarski Bradley. Police say Lee and Bradley have been arrested, but they are still searching for Tyson and White. Anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of these subjects is urged to call 911, or contact Crime Stoppers at (903) 793-7867. Texarkana police say they have had an increase in auto thefts in recent weeks. Since December 16, 2016, a total of seven vehicles were reported stolen in the city limits of Texarkana. Police say they have arrested a total of ten people in connection with the stolen vehicles, and have outstanding warrants for more suspects. Of the arrests that have been made, they say three were adults and seven were juveniles.

With the start of a new year, scammers are preparing to steal money from a sea of new victims. With that in mind, below, is a list of five of the most common scams, as determined by the Better Business Bureau.


Phony IRS calls have declined slightly since September, but the BBB anticipates calls will increase again in January, ahead of tax season. Frequently, con artists will pose as IRS employees and threaten victims with prosecution if they fail to wire money.


Debt collection scams remained a mainstay among scammers in 2016, and experts believe they will continue during the new year. Like IRS scammers, fake debt collectors call consumers and demand payment, often in a threatening manner.


Despite increased awareness, thousands of victims continue to fall for lottery and sweepstakes scams each year. Often, scammers will tell victims they won money and ask them to wire the taxes in return.


Despite improving employment rates in 2016, employment scams still made the top five list because many consumers remain underemployed and are seeking part-time jobs. Scammers prey on that economic hardship, offering victims work as secret shoppers or promoters who agree to wrap their vehicles with advertising logos for a third party. In the case of the vehicle wrap technique, the con artists often send fake checks for $1000 and demand $300 back to pay for the wrapping. Soon after, the check will bounce and the victim will have lost $300 to the scammer.


Rounding out the top five list, scammers frequently sell fake merchandise online and pocket the money. If you are buying something online, make sure to use reputable websites and always look for the "https" at the start of the web address in your browser. Better Business Bureau Regional Director Adam Price said these scams only continue because they are working. In fact, the BBB estimates nearly one in five people lose money to a scam each year with annual losses of approximately $50 billion. Major news events like severe weather or the upcoming presidental inauguration are prime scam opportunities for con artists. "Any current event, whether it's a natural disaster or a current political event, is an opportunity for con men and scam artists to strike when the iron is hot. So, if there's something that's in the news, you can bet that there's somebody behind a computer screen trying to take advantage of you," Price said. The Better Business Bureau did a study in 2016, which found millenials were even more likely than senior citizens to be conned because they grew up with the technology scammers are most frequently using these days.

CAMDEN-This year our Black History Celebration Speaker is Barbara Ross-Lee, D.O., FACOFP.  Barbara Ross-Lee was appointed Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs at NYIT in 2001 and has also served as dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and dean of the School of Allied Health and Life Sciences (now the School of Health Professions). In November 2014, Dr. Ross-Lee was named Dean for NYITCOM at A-State, where she will also serve as CEO of its Academic Health Centers and President of its Faculty Practice Plan. Ross-Lee is a nationally-recognized expert on health policy issues and serves as an advisor on primary care, medical education, minority health, women’s health, and rural health care issues on the federal and state levels. She is the director of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Health Policy Fellowship program, which prepares mid-career osteopathic physicians for leadership roles in health policy. She is also director of the Training in Policy Studies (TIPS) for post-graduate (resident physicians) osteopathic trainees; director of the Institute for National Health Policy and Research; and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Osteopathic Medical Association, a medical association of minority osteopathic physicians. Ross-Lee is the first African-American woman to serve as dean of a United States medical school (Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, 1993 – 2001). She is also the first osteopathic physician to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship. Dr. Ross-Lee served as a commissioned officer, United States Naval Reserves Medical Corps, achieving the rank of Captain. She has lectured widely and published numerous scholarly articles on a variety of medical and healthcare issues. She has received six honorary degrees and many national awards. In 2012, Dr. Ross-Lee was appointed by the Institute of Medicine to join 18 other prominent medical professionals and scholars on its Consensus Committee on the Governance and Financing of Graduate Medical Education (GME). She was the only osteopathic physician on this national committee, which was responsible for recommending reforms to the GME system. Dr. Ross is also the sister of disco icon, Diana Ross.The funds raised go to the SAU Tech Betty J. Lewis Minority Scholarship Fund managed by the Southern Arkansas University Tech Foundation. SAU Tech Black History Celebration Brochure

LITTLE ROCK-The Natural State has officially welcomed a new minimum wage. The rate will go up to $8.50 the first of the year. This is part of a ballot initiative that was approved by voters in 2014. The minimum wage has slowly been raising since 2015. Even though some people's salaries will go up, others are saying they don't think this will help those living pay check to pay check. Since the ballot initiative has passed, the minimum wage has gone up from $6.25 to $8.50.

Dec 31, 2016

LITTLE ROCK-Thousands witness some of the final moments before a South Arkansas mother's life comes to an end during her Facebook live stream. Richard Herndon said his daughter, Keiana Herndon, loved life. "She's a very intelligent kid," said Richard. Richard said his only child didn't mind letting the world in on it from time-to-time via Facebook live. "It's not going to be a dull moment," said Richard. But the 25-year-old's live stream from  a friend's El Dorado home Wednesday, turned into something much worse. The video starts out with Keiana singing. You see and hear her respond to viewers and even put the spotlight on her youngest of two kids. A few minutes later, Keiana falls and the phone drops out of her hands, with her and her son off screen. "I haven't seen the video. I don't have the strength right now," said Richard. But Keiana's uncle Jeffrey Herndon did. "It was real hard," said Jeffrey. Jeffrey said he could hear his niece struggle to breath and her son scream in the background.
All the while, the number of eyes on her grew. "The views went from two or three, to too many for it to be a tragic live shot," said Jeffrey. He said a friend showed up nearly 30 minutes after his niece hit the floor.
Keiana's father wishes someone watching would have acted sooner. "It's amazing for someone to sit there and see somebody or hear them take their last breath and nobody did anything," said Richard. "So, I want to take my hat off to everybody that actual did something." It would be Keiana's final Facebook live. "If Keiana is going to leave this earth, it's going to be live. It's going to be top of the moment," said Richard. He said his daughter recently found out an issue with her thyroid could turn deadly. Richard said losing her has been the hardest thing he's ever had to face. "For her to leave two kids so young. So early is ... I don't know how to deal with it," said Richard. Keiana's body has been sent to the state crime lab for an exact cause of death. According to the El Dorado Police Department, it does not look like foul play could be a factor.

CAMDEN-Officer Tommy Norman, will be the 2017 Chamber of Commerce Banquet Speaker Thursday, January 19th 6 pm – Tickets $25 before the 16th, $35 after SAU Student Tech Center, Grand Hall When he was 13, Tommy Norman saw an advertisement for Feed the Children, a nonprofit relief organization that fights child hunger. Norman was so moved by the images that he gave his mother the $60 he saved and asked her to help a c...hild overseas. “That particular moment really captured my heart,” Norman said. “From that point on, I always remember to try to find ways to help people.” Norman’s desire to help others and an unusual turn of events turned him into a local celeb-rity and role model for his community policing efforts in the Little Rock area. Norman has become a social media star, with 1.2 million Instagram followers, and more than 20,000 Twitter followers. He uses those platforms to highlight his interactions with members of the community, and his video and photo posts often include messages such as #Community Policing or #Change Lives. Community policing doesn’t end when his shift is over, Norman said. He is greatly in-volved in the lives of residents, often attending birthday parties, graduations, barbecues, and funerals. “If you have a visible interest in the community, you don’t really get a day off.” he said. “As a police officer, you shouldn’t just be arresting people. You should be checking up on them, saying hello.” Members of the community often know where Norman is when he is off duty. Once, when Norman was working security at Kroger on a day off, a mother called him because her son, who had committed a crime, wanted to turn himself in to a police officer who would treat him “with dignity.” “Community policing builds trust, builds respect, but it can also solve crimes,” he said. Since becoming an Internet sensation, Norman said “the eyes of the world have really been on me,” but he doesn’t let the attention change who he is. “The position that I’m in, I don’t take it for granted,” Norman said. “What got me through each step in life was my heart. Your legacy will be how you treated people,” Norman said

MAGNOLIA-Michael Austin Vaughn has been ordered held without bond following his arrest Thursday morning on charges of capital murder and aggravated residential burglary in a shooting at a home on Cedar Street in McNeil. Vaughn, 27, who gave his address as 610 E. Spring Street in Taylor, was booked into the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility at 8:36 a.m. following his arrest in Taylor by the Sheriff’s Office during a traffic stop. Columbia County Coroner Randy Reed said that the victim was Michael Allegrini, 30. Allegrini was transported to Magnolia Regional Medical Center by the Columbia County Ambulance Service and was pronounced dead at 1:33 a.m., Reed said. Allegrini suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. His body has been taken to the State Crime Lab for an autopsy. Vaughn is also charged with possession of a firearm by certain persons – in his case, having a previous felony conviction. He is on probation in Louisiana for possession of methamphetamines. Vaughn appeared before District Court Judge Michael Epley. Epley stood in for Circuit Court Judge David Talley. Epley told reporters that Judge Talley will be recusing himself from the case because Vaughn is the son of Erika Chamberlain, who is Talley’s trial court assistant. Vaughn wore an orange-colored jumpsuit and sneakers, and was shackled at the hands and feet for his appearance before Epley at the Columbia County Justice and Detention Facility. Epley, whose last day in office will be on Saturday, explained to Vaughn that the purpose of the hearing was for Epley to determine if there was sufficient reason to charge Vaughn with the crimes, based on a written document submitted by Detective Kelly J. Blair. Blair’s affidavit said that Central Dispatch received a call from Hope Vaughn at 12:08 a.m., who told the dispatcher that her husband had shot Allegrini, her boyfriend, and Vaughn was still on the scene. Deputies James Skinner and Brian Williams were the first to arrive and Blair was called. Hope Vaughn told Blair that she thought her husband might be heading to his home in Taylor. Blair spoke with Capt. Todd Dew of the Magnolia Police Department. Dew told Blair that he had been in contact with another person who met with Michael Vaughn on Thursday morning, who told the person that he had shot Allegrini. They also learned that Vaughn was traveling on a motorcycle. Dew, Deputy Todd Scott, Reserve Deputy Rick Wyrick and Taylor Police Chief Jason Richardson went to Taylor in an attempt to find Vaughn. Scott found that Vaughn was no longer on his motorcycle but was traveling in an SUV. Officers stopped the SUV and took Vaughn into custody without incident. Blair’s affidavit said that Vaughn told Scott that he had shot Allegrini. Scott found a loaded Glock 9mm with an extended magazine in Vaughn’s SUV. Hope Vaughn told Blair that the couple had separated around Thanksgiving and that she had moved from Taylor to McNeil. She said she heard her husband kicking on the door of the mobile home but doesn’t know how he got inside. Blair said that once Vaughn arrived at the Detention Facility, he said he didn’t want to speak with officers. During the Thursday afternoon hearing, Epley told Vaughn that if convicted, he might receive the death penalty, or between 10-40 years or life in prison on the capital murder charge. The aggravated robbery charge carries a possible sentence of 10-40 years or life in prison and a $15,000 fine. The firearms count could bring 5-20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Vaughn said, “Yes, sir,” when asked if he understood the charges against him. Vaughn said that his highest level of education was trade school. He has worked in the past for 3D Contracting. Epley noted that Vaughn had submitted paperwork claiming that he is indigent, and the judge said he would order that Vaughn receive a court-appointed attorney. Epley told Vaughn that Robert Jeffrey of the Public Defender’s Office will be in contact with him. The defendant may still hire a private attorney if he wants to do so, Epley said. Epley said that another judge in the 13th Judicial District will be appointed to Vaughn’s case due to Talley’s recusal. Blair asked that Vaughn be held without bond. He said that Vaughn is a threat to his estranged wife, Hope Fogo Vaughn, and that Vaughn has threatened to cause harm to himself. According to Columbia County Circuit Court records, Hope Vaughn filed for a protection order against her husband on Tuesday. She asked that her husband be banned from the McNeil address and from her place of employment. She also asked the court to order Michael Vaughn from initiating any physical, written or electronic communication with her. Circuit Court Judge David F. Guthrie signed the order, which took effect on Wednesday. The order set a January 12 hearing on the protection order. Epley agreed that Vaughn should be held without bond and that his case will be sent to Circuit Court. The case is the third reported homicide in Columbia County this year.

CAMDEN-According to reports from the Camden Police Department, Officer Kayla Reynolds, was dispatched to Cash Road, at Hibbett Sports, for an accident involving a car, which had flipped on the side of the road. Upon arrival, officers noticed a 2011 black Volkswagen GTI with extensive body damage flipped upside down on the side of Cash Road near Hibbett Sports. Officers also observed an electric pole, which had been... struck and broken in half, pulling the wires to the ground. No one was inside the vehicle at this time. Later officer's identified a man walking through the Brookshires parking lot. The man was indentified as the driver of the vehicle. The man was believed to be intoxicated, and after failing his standard field sobriety test, it was apparent that the man was impaired. Booking procedures were completed, and the vehicle was towed by Kelly's Wrecker Service.

EL DORADO-South Arkansas Arts Center is happy to announce that the youth theatre program will present Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS as its spring production.  The show is slated to run March 31 and April 1.  Auditions are planned for Monday, January 23 and Tuesday, January 24 at 6:00 pm. The high-energy 30-minute musical, designed for school-aged performers grades 2 through 12, is based on the classic Rudyard Kipling novel and the beloved 1967 Disney film.  The jungle is jumpin' with jazz in this exciting adaptation of the classic Disney animated feature The Jungle Book. Join Mowgli, Baloo, King Louie and the gang as they swing their way through madcap adventures and thwart the ferocious tiger, Shere Khan. Adapted especially for young performers, this musical includes favorite Disney songs including “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be like You.” With colorful characters and that toe-tapping jungle rhythm, Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages. Shelton Harden, education coordinator at SAAC, will direct this fun family musical.  Harden, a well-known lifelong veteran of stage and music theater, teaches children’s drama classes at SAAC. Most recently Harden directed two children’s Christmas productions for the SAAC stage. Last spring, he directed the youth theatre program Disney’s 101 Dalmatians KIDS. The Jungle Book KIDS is filled with wonderful music and characters. In addition to learning more about telling wonderful stories through drama, music, dance, costumes, stage sets and more, we will learn a few life lessons, according to Harden. “Mowgli is the only man-cub in the jungle, and some of the jungle animals are afraid of him because he's different. They learn, however, to not only accept him for who and what he is, but to celebrate his uniqueness. This is a great story for the times in which we are living." Harden requests that students plan to be on hand for both nights of auditions and is planning rehearsals for twice a week after school. More information about auditions will be forthcoming. Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS is sponsored by El Dorado Kiwanis Club, with additional funding by Entergy.  It is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International. For more information about this show, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474 or visit the website at SAAC is located at 110 East Fifth Street, El Dorado, Arkansas.

December 27, 2016

CAMDEN-According to a Camden Police Department press release, on December 24, officers with the Camden Police Department, responded to call at 462 Salem Street, for a person who had been shot. Upon arrival, officers located Robert "Bobby" Merritt, lying on the floor of the home, deceased, from the two gunshot wounds. Billy Smith who lives at the residence, and was on scene when officers arrived, was arrested for Murder 2nd. The investigation into the death of Merritt is ongoing. On December 26, Billy Smith went for his First Appearance Hearing on the Murder Charge and was given a $50,000 secure bond.

LITTLE ROCK-The number of mumps cases in Arkansas has succeeded 2,200. There are now 2,286 cases of the mumps being reported in the state right now.   There are 61 workplaces and 47 schools in eight school districts that have reported the disease. Doctors say to make sure you are fully vaccinated. 1,403 of the cases are people ages 5 to 17, and 786 are people over 18.

EL DORADO-Landscape Painting Workshop Feb 2-3 $350 You’re invited to take your landscape paintings in the studio to the next level with Jason Sacran and John P. Lasater I...V at the South Arkansas Arts Center. Known for their string of awards in national competitions, Jason and John excel at design, sophisticated color mixing, paint application and edge-control. And now, with years of teaching under their belts, expect to be encouraged and challenged by their demonstrations and hands-on help. Workshop Objectives:
Introduce you to new ways of approaching one of the toughest artistic subjects – landscapes.
Ways to keep landscape painting interesting while in the studio
Further your knowledge of wet-on-wet oil painting, and ways to use your tools (if working in oils)
Empower you to make better choices when deciding what and how to paint choices that fit you personally and this place in art history Learn new ways to conquer your emotional roadblocks For more information and to see a supply list, visit our website


December 21, 2016

SAU Tech Adult Education is offering GED Fast Track on Jan. 16- Feb. 3.  Earn your GED in just three weeks. Call 837-4001

Learn English for free with SAU Tech’s Adult Education Center.  English as a Second Language is being offered Jan. 16-Mar. 10. Call 837-4001.

With the help of a generous donor, Kiwanis Club of Camden has been able to help six children this Christmas Season. They are ages 9, 10, 10, 11, 11, and 15. These six kids will now get the chance to wake up on Christmas morning with the excitement of presents being under the tree and stockings being full. A great big thank you goes out to Krissy Bassetti for giving of her time to pick up items for all six of these kids.

The Kiwanis Club would like to thank you for your continued support of the club throughout 2016. It is because of you that the Kiwanis Club can step up and help in areas like this. Thanks to each member of such a great organization in our community.

New AACF report offers county-by-county data on child poverty in the state and outlines common-sense policy solutions
With the regular session of the 91st General Assembly coming up in just weeks, it's time to shine a spotlight on the critical issue of child poverty in Arkansas and what we can do to improve the lives of hardworking families and build stronger communities.

AACF’s newest report, Child Poverty in Arkansas, details the consequences of child poverty through Arkansas-specific data and analysis of the role of family economics in the state’s child poverty rate. Most importantly, the report offers sensible policy solutions to steer Arkansas toward a more prosperous future and more financially stable, successful families and children.

If we make public policy changes that invest in kids and their parents, we could become a regional and national leader in child economic well-being. 

  • Some of the consequences of child poverty
  • Increased child hunger – When kids are hungry, they can’t learn and are more likely to have behavioral problems and worse overall health outcomes.
  • Lack of stable housing – Low-income families are almost twice as likely to have moved recently and are about three times as likely to rent as opposed to owning their homes. Research shows that a lack of stable housing can be harmful to children’s physical and mental health, their ability to succeed in school, and may increase their likelihood of juvenile delinquency.
  • Poor health outcomes – Research shows that children who live in poverty have worse health outcomes. They are more likely to be obese, and they experience levels of stress and depression two times as high as kids who live above the poverty line.
  • Education gaps – Children in poverty have less access to quality early education and tend to go to lower quality schools. They also hear roughly 30 million fewer words than kids from wealthier families, which can contribute to lower vocabulary and reading skills.

While the causes of child poverty are debated and nuanced, there are several common-sense policy solutions that will improve the financial well-being of lower income children and families in our state:

  1. A two-generation approach – One broad strategy for reducing child poverty is the two-generation approach, which acknowledges that the future success of children depends on the more short-term success of their parents. This strategy combines child-focused and parent-focused efforts to create an all-inclusive family model.
  2. Working family tax credits – An Arkansas Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would supplement the successful federal version which helps working families across the nation make ends meet with credits at tax time. The credits are usually spent on catching up on bills, furthering education, or providing essentials for kids.
  3. Paid leave – The cognitive and developmental benefits of paid maternity leave on babies are well documented, but paid leave is hard to come by in Arkansas. State Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock is working again on legislation to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave for state employees. Providing paid leave for state employees would cost about $354,000 a year, a small fraction of the state budget.

Improved child welfare systems – Children in the foster care system are frequently lower income, and we are not doing enough to provide adequate resources for them. The typical foster care caseworker in Arkansas has 29 cases (the recommended number is 15). We need to invest in recruiting and training foster care families and increasing funding to reduce the caseload of social workers

Washington, D.C.
– Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today
released the following statement after meeting with Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson:

“Rex Tillerson is one of the most distinguished business leaders in the world and he will bring a remarkable set of skills and experiences to the role of Secretary of State.  Rex and I enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about Russia, the Middle East, human rights, and many other geopolitical challenges and opportunities.  Like Dick Cheney and Bob Gates, I’m confident that Rex will bring the same clear-eyed, hard-nosed approach to the interests of the American people as Secretary of State that he brought to the interests of ExxonMobil shareholders.  I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Washington, D.C.
– Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement after
meeting with Treasury Secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin:

“Steven Mnuchin is prepared and ready to implement President-elect Trump’s economic agenda.  In our wide-ranging conversation, Steven and I discussed the urgent need to get our economy moving again for all Americans, especially those who work with their hands and on their feet, who haven’t seen a pay raise in decades.  We also discussed the Treasury Department’s key role in helping community banks grow, enforcing sanctions, and disrupting terrorist finances.  I look forward to supporting his nomination.”

Washington, D.C.
– Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today released the following statement after
meeting with Secretary of Transportation nominee, Elaine Chao:

“Elaine Chao will be an outstanding Secretary of Transportation.  Over the past two years, Anna and I have gotten to know Elaine as a friend, benefitting from her kindness, experience, and common sense.  She will bring these same qualities to bear for the American people.  Elaine knows that a country that can build the Pentagon in 16 months shouldn’t spend years to build a short highway or bridge.  I’m grateful that Elaine once again answered the call to serve and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”

December 20, 2016

Free small business training is now offered at the Camden Accelerated Business Services Center, also known as the OPED Building, located at 625 Adams SW in Camden. There will be a class entitled “Business Financing Options” on Thursday, January 5th from 12:00PM to 2:00PM. This course is being offered for free thanks to a special sponsorship from Team Camden. Do you need funding to start a business or expand an existing one? Learn about the business financing process and different sources of capital, including SBA-backed loans, traditional bank loans, micro loans, and alternate funding sources. Call 870-836-2210 or to Pre-Register.

A class entitled Driving Productivity with the Power of 3D Printing will be held on January 11, 2017 from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM at the OPED Building. This class is being presented by the Camden Defense Industry Consortium. Join D3 and 3D Systems in-person as you presenters demonstrate how you can drive productivity at every stage of the product development cycle with 3D Systems' 3D printing solutions. Learn how these solutions can add value, shorten production times, increase efficiency, and cost less than the methods you may currently be using. 3D printing is changing the development and manufacturing processes, accelerating time-to-market, and increasing production agility of virtually every industry. See how and why customers are taking full advantage of 3D Systems' 3D printing in a wide range of applications such as Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk AutoCAD, and AutoCAD Electrical including Concept modeling, Design validation, Pre-production and Direct manufacturing Sign up today by visiting D3 Technologies at or email Barbara Miller-Webb <>


Music’s Top Celebrities and Industry Execs To Judge ISC 2016, including Chris Cornell, Tom Waits, Lorde, Joe Bonamassa, Ziggy Marley, India Arie, Marti Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Hardwell, and Many More
December 19, 2016 – Nashville, TN, USA... In the spirit of the upcoming holidays, ISC is reopening submissions until January 2nd for its annual Stocking Stuffer, and the fee is a discounted $25 per entry. All entries will also be automatically entered into the ISC 2016 competition and will be eligible for all ISC prizes, including a Grand Prize valued at over $70,000 (this includes $25,000 in cash). Songs may be submitted online or by mail. Entry forms and more information can be found at This will be the last opportunity to enter ISC 2016.

Previous winners have included artists such as: Vance Joy, Gotye, Kimbra, Gin Wigmore, The Band Perry, Passenger, Bastille, Kasey Chambers, Gregory Porter, Lindsey Stirling, and many more.

Three Stocking Stuffer winners will be selected and win prizes that include cash and merchandise. All entrants will receive 100 free spins from Radio Airplay. Additionally, all Stocking Stuffer entrants will be eligible to win the overall ISC prizes which include over $150,000 in cash, merchandise, and services. ISC is open to amateur and professional songwriters from all over the world, including bands and solo performers.

Categories include: AAA (Adult Album Alternative); AC (Adult Contemporary); Americana; Blues; Children's Music; Comedy/Novelty; Country; EDM; Folk/Singer-Songwriter; Christian; Instrumental; Jazz; Latin Music; Lyrics Only; Music Video; Performance; Pop/Top 40; R&B/Hip-Hop; Rock; Teen; Unpublished; World Music; and Unsigned Only.

ISC judges:
Recording Artists: Chris Cornell; Lorde; Tom Waits; Ziggy Marley; American Authors; Donovan; Bastille; Joe Bonamassa; Martie Maguire (Dixie Chicks); Keane; Hardwell; India Arie; Kaskade; Danilo Perez; Jay Farrar (Son Volt / Uncle Tupelo); Vijay Iyer; Sara Evans; Afro Celt Sound System; Jesse & Joy; Gerald Casale (Devo); Mike Stern; Carlos Vives; Joy Williams (Civil Wars); Rickie Lee Jones; Ray Benson (Asleep At The Wheel); Ana Barbara; Salif Keita; John Mayall; Fat Joe; Luis Fonsi; Art Alexakis (Everclear); Nicholas Gunn; Ryan Bingham; Amadou & Mariam; Jordan Feliz; Matt Maher; Mariana Vega; Far East Movement; and Femi Kuti.

Industry Executives: Craig Kallman (Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records); Dan McCarroll (President, Warner Bros. Records); Seymour Stein (Chairman / CEO, Sire Records); Ed Vetri (President, Wind-Up Records); Craig Balsam (Owner, Razor & Tie/Washington Square/Kidz Bop); Daniel Glass (President, Glassnote Records); Steve Yegelwel (Senior Vice-President, Island Records); John Esposito (Chariman & CEO, Warner Music Nashville); Afo Verde (Chairman, Sony Music Latin); Jason McArthur (VP of A&R, Provident Label Group / Sony Music Entertainment); Bruce Iglauer (Founder/President, Alligator Records); John Burk (President, Concord Label Group); Angel Carrasco (Latin Music Consultant / Producer); Aaron Bay-Schuck (President of A&R, Interscope Records); Richard Stumpf (CEO, Atlas Publishing); Steve Greenberg (CEO, S-Curve Records); Mike Flynn (Sr. VP of A&R, Capitol Records); Gordon Kerr (CEO, Black River Entertainment); Nate Albert (EVP of A&R, Capitol Records); Kim Buie (VP of A&R, New West Records); Richard Gottehrer (Founder / Chief Creative Officer, The Orchard); Albert Schilcher (VP of Music and Music Marketing, MTV International); Nick Burgess (Sr. VP of A&R, Virgin / EMI); Josh Bailey (Sr. VP of A&R, Word Entertainment); and many more.

Reports of scammers offering to put down gravel in personal driveways is a cause for attention and caution, according to Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) officials.

The White County Sheriff’s Office has received several reports of these individuals that drive orange trucks with amber lights in the front and are marked ‘Chip Seal Maintenance’ with a white AHTD Symbol on the doors. They claim to have leftover chip seal gravel from construction sites and offer to lay it on a private driveway for a fee.

“By law, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department cannot perform work on private property,” said Scott Bennett, AHTD Director.

AHTD and the Arkansas Highway Police (AHP) encourage citizens to be cautious and verify credentials when approached by people claiming affiliation with a government organization. Citizens approached by these individuals should contact their local law enforcement authorities. 

(StatePoint) Grandma in town? Unexpected guests? No problem! With a little planning and the right ingredients, holiday entertaining is a snap.

Stock up on these fridge, freezer and pantry staples a couple of weeks before the holiday rush, and you’ll be ready -- no matter who’s on your doorstep.

• Whole nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews or pistachios.

• Olives: whole and sliced, black ripe, green, Kalamata and stuffed varieties in cans and jars.

• Cheese: feta, mozzarella, cheddar, and aged provolone (tightly wrapped or vacuum-pack cheeses can last in the fridge for several weeks).

• Tortilla chips.

• Salsa in a jar: mild or medium to please most palates.

• Whole pita or pita crisps: pita bread can be frozen.

• Hummus: choose a sealed refrigerated package.

• Carrots, celery and bell peppers: whole veggies keep longer than pre-cut, and these three are easy to find in the produce aisle.

• Frozen cheese pizza: choose your favorite brand.

• Olive oil: a kitchen essential.

These 10 basic ingredients are the building blocks for five delicious, party-worthy spreads that can be prepped in 15 minutes or less! Here’s how:

Fast Cheese and Olive Tray
Cube cheddar cheese, aged provolone, and mozzarella. On a platter, make rows of alternating colors with cubed white cheese next to a row of green Pearls Specialties Garlic Stuffed Queen olives, then a row of darker cheese and a row of deep purple Kalamata olives. Present with toothpicks and napkins for easy self-service.

A simple cheese pizza is a canvas for appetizer art! Add fresh, thinly sliced bell pepper, shredded mozzarella cheese, and a generous topping of sliced black ripe olives. Bake, then cut into mini-slices or small squares and serve on wooden cutting boards. Drizzle with olive oil.

Mediterranean Medley
Place store-bought hummus into a colorful dipping bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and top with sliced Pearls Kalamata olives. On a large platter, surround the bowl with equal amounts of pita triangles, carrot and celery sticks, plus bell pepper strips. Serve with a bowl of Kalamata olives and cubed feta cheese.

Cheese-and-Olive Kebabs
Alternate cubes of mozzarella or provolone cheese and any variety of olives on small bamboo skewers and serve on a tray, alongside pita triangles and hummus. Expert tip: Cut pita bread in triangles, brush with olive oil, warm in oven 350F for 5-6 minutes.

Olive Nachos
Fill a cast iron pan with tortilla chips, generously grate cheddar cheese over the top, and slide under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Spoon salsa on top, sprinkle with sliced Pearls California black ripe olives, and serve on a heat-resistant board.

Extra Credit: Easy Pleasers
Sometimes the simplest flavors are best. Fill several small, colorful bowls with Pearls Specialties olives, crunchy nuts, and cubed cheeses. A sprig of parsley, thyme or rosemary adds a decorative touch.

The key to holiday entertaining is being prepared with a few simple ingredients so you can spend more time with guests and less time in the kitchen!

December 19, 2016

Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security nominee, General John Kelly:

“John Kelly is a great American, among the finest generals of his generation. I've had the pleasure of getting to know General Kelly over the last few years as a friend and advisor. President-elect Trump made an outstanding choice when he asked General Kelly to be Secretary of Homeland Security and I'm grateful General Kelly again answered the call of duty. Once confirmed, he will play a vital role in protecting our country against terrorism, drug and gang violence, and uncontrolled immigration. I look forward to supporting his nomination, and I thank him and his wife Karen again for their decades of service and sacrifices for our beloved country.”

Live On Stage, Inc. and the Ouachita County Community Concert Association announce Acclaimed international pianist as part of their 2016 - 2017 Concert Season

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (December 16, 2016) – Alina Kiryayeva has captured the attention of audiences and critics around the world with her “crystal clarity” (Imperial Valley Press).  She will present a program of classic piano favorites at First Baptist Church of Camden, 348 W Washington Street, Camden, Arkansas on Monday, January 23rd, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.  Children and students are admitted to all OCCCA performances at no charge if accompanied by an OCCCA ticket holder.  For more information please call (870) 231-6244 or 870 818-2131.

“…Ms. Kiryayeva has the instrument at her command…”

-Mid Hudson Times, New York, NY

Alina Kiryayeva is a native of Ukraine.  She performed her first solo recital at age eight, and solo debut with an orchestra at eleven. She was the First Prize winner of the Senigallia International Competition, Italy.  Ms. Kiryayeva has also claimed top prizes in several international piano competitions in the United States, including the Grace Welsh International Competition, and the California Young Artist International Competition.  Kiryayeva has toured Ukraine, Russia, Mexico, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Holland, Japan and the United States. She has performed with the Kharkov State Philharmonic and State Opera Theatre Orchestras, The Imperial Valley Symphony Orchestra and the New York Symphonic Ensemble Orchestra. Kiryayeva released a solo piano album in 2013 entitled “Sonatas.” The album was featured on 150th broadcast of "Women in Music" on CKWR Radio in Ontario, Canada.  Click here to view a video on Alina Kiryayeva

The Ouachita County Community Concert Association has been presenting world-class entertainment to the Camden community since the late 1950s.  An enthusiastic group of volunteers work tirelessly to provide family entertainment and educational outreach performances to educate and entertain adults and students alike.

 South Arkansas Arts Center invites artists to submit their work for the Membership Show, which will be held from January 5 through January 31, 2017 in the Price and Merkle Galleries.  Deliver artwork between 9am and 5pm on Tuesday, January 3. The exhibit is open to any SAAC member.  Artists are welcome to join SAAC when they deliver their artwork if they would like to participate in the show. 

Again this year – anything goes! With the exhibit being a showcase and not a competition, artists shouldn’t miss this opportunity to select two favorite works, created at any time in their lifetime, and bring them to the SAAC. The only rule is that work shown in previous Membership Shows cannot be submitted again.  Participants may sell their work.  The first artwork is free, and the second piece is $10.

– Class proposals are being accepted for the inaugural Mulerider Teen College (MTC) to be held July 5-7, 2017, at Southern Arkansas University.

The three-day MTC program will be for students entering grades 7-9. It is designed to give junior high students fun and educational experiences outside of a regular classroom setting.

“We realized there was a need to offer a program as great as Mulerider Kids College to the junior high age group,” said Jana Walker, MKC coordinator. “We hope to foster a love for learning and open their eyes to look at college and career choices differently.”

To submit a class proposal, visit, on which prospective teachers can choose to submit to MKC or MTC.

Teachers are paid $175 per class, with the option to teach the class up to three different times at MTC, pending enrollment. Once the classes are selected from the proposals, students will be able to register online and select three classes. Students will also participate in leadership activities and hands-on learning. Teachers’ children will also get to attend MTC for free.

The proposal deadline is Jan. 23. Classes that have proven popular are those that are hands-on, innovative and interesting.

With the addition of MTC to the two MKC camps upcoming next summer, SAU will now offer summer learning opportunities for students ranging between first and ninth grade. Other departmental camps and athletic camps are also offered on campus during the summer months.

Visit for more information and/or to register to be an invaluable MTC or MKC volunteer in 2017.

From car trouble to accidents, many Arkansans have needed the services of a towing company at some point. Some Arkansans may have even found their vehicle towed without their permission from an illegal parking spot or after the vehicle had been abandoned on public or private property. There are a number of companies across the State that provide towing services, and all are required to be licensed by the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a consumer alert so that Arkansans know what to expect from the towing company when a vehicle is towed.

“Towing companies provide an important service across Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We never know when tow truck services may be needed, but we should all know our rights when our vehicle is towed.”

Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of what should occur if a vehicle is towed without your consent:

  • The tow company must notify the local law enforcement agency that the vehicle has been towed and identify where it is being stored.
  • The tow company is required to notify the registered vehicle owner and lien holder between the second and eighth day following the tow of the location that the vehicle is being stored and of any charges associated with the tow and recovery of the vehicle.
  • Charges, including tow and storage fees, may be regulated by the local municipality where the car was located when towed. The State requires that any fees be reasonable.
  • There are certain personal property items that must be returned to the owner immediately and at no charge.
  • A tow company must provide the owner an itemized invoice of all charges associated with the tow, recovery and storage of the vehicle.
  • To recover the vehicle, an owner must be able to provide valid identification and proof of ownership of the vehicle – current registration is the most common.

It is always best to recover the vehicle as soon as possible, even if you intend to file a complaint against the company or dispute the charges. The longer the vehicle is stored, the more it costs to recover the vehicle.

For more information or to file a complaint with the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board, contact the board at (501) 682-3801 or or visit

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced the creation of the “Arkansas Future Grant” (ArFuture) for traditional, home school and non-traditional students in Arkansas. This state funded grant would be available on a first come, first serve basis and would provide two years of tuition and fees at an Arkansas community or technical college to any student who enrolls in a high demand field of study, such as computer science or welding. 

ArFuture grants will not require new general revenues. The price tag will be covered by repurposing $8.2 million in general revenue funds from the state’s WIG and GO! grants. (The GO! grant program currently has a 77% non-completion rate.) In addition, key reforms will be implemented to address important factors such as student accountability.  

For example, under the ArFuture grant, all recipients are required to meet monthly with a program mentor. This measure will increase the likelihood of the student success. Additionally, upon graduation, the student must work full-time in Arkansas for a minimum of three years. If a student does not complete his or her commitment, the grant will be converted to a loan for repayment to the State of Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: 

"Through the new ArFuture Grant, we are ensuring that all Arkansans have access to affordable higher education. This plan will not only increase access to post-secondary education by removing the financial hurdles that keep many from enrolling, but it will also incentivize our students to better themselves by providing an opportunity to climb the economic ladder, while serving their communities.”

“ArFuture will send a clear message to prospective employers that the state is committed to building the 21st century workforce that will attract industry and allow the Arkansas economy to thrive.”

To be eligible for the ArFuture Grant, students must be a high school graduate with established residency, including those students that were home schooled or received their GED. This does not include high school students that are taking concurrent credit courses. Prospective students must also apply for a Federal Pell Grant. There is no grade point average prerequisite to receive the grant. Recipients of the grant may enroll as full-time or part-time students at any in-state community college. They must also complete 8 hours of community service per semester. The ArFuture grant is stackable with the Arkansas Lottery and other state scholarships. If passed, the ArFuture grant will be available for the 2017-2018 school year.