KAWX News Archives for 2021-09

Take joy in the outdoors in Mena

Mena is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and shines as an outdoor destination in Arkansas.
“We have something for everyone from canoeing and kayaking, fishing and hunting, hiking and bike riding to enjoying a peaceful meditation or walk in one of our parks,” said Mena Mayor Seth Smith.

Mena was founded in 1896 as a railroad town and the Mena Depot Center, which is inside a restored Kansas City Southern Depot, greets visitors with history exhibits and railroad memorabilia. Nearby in Janssen Park, you’ll find an 1851 log cabin still on its original site.

“Janssen Park is a beautiful tranquil park with playgrounds and pavilions; ideal for picnicking, children’s outings and church gatherings,” said Smith. “Hiking and mountain bike trails in the Ouachita National Forest and adjacent to Queen Wilhelmina State Park offer challenging terrain as well as breathtaking scenery.”
The city has a range of outdoor options available throughout the area.
“The Wolf Pen Gap ATV trails near Mena are perfect for the more adventurous outdoorsman and the Talimena Scenic Drive, linking Mena, Arkansas, to Talihina, Oklahoma, is designated as a National Scenic Byway,” said Smith.
With many panoramic vistas that overlook the surrounding Ouachita Mountains, the Talimena National Scenic Byway is the very definition of a scenic drive. From Mena, the route climbs Rich Mountain, Arkansas's second highest peak, and passes by Queen Wilhelmina State Park on its way to Talihina, Oklahoma. A large chunk of the 54-mile route, 18 miles of which are in Arkansas, travels through the scenic Ouachita National Forest.

ATV trails can be found in the Ouachita National Forest and of note, ATVs are allowed only on designated trails and certain open forest roads. The Wolf Pen Gap trails were the first trail system built specifically for four wheelers in the Ouachita National Forest. The routes were created by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1980s from old logging roads.
The area is home to many beautiful trails you can hike, including trails at Queen Wilhelmina State Park and the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. The Ouachita National Recreation Trail is a showcase trail in the state. It is a long one and many backpackers put it on their to-do list for thru-hikes due to its mighty length: 223 miles through the Ouachita Mountains of both Arkansas and Oklahoma, though most of the route is in Arkansas. It goes from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma all the way to Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. Speaking of state parks, this long trail also crosses Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Mena too. Sections of the trail are also open to mountain bikes. This part of the route, which is a whopping 108 miles and listed as an Epic Trail by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, IMBA, is the longest mountain biking trail in the state.
Mena is well known for the surrounding trails for mountain biking like the local Earthquake Ridge Trail, which has around 6 miles of singletrack, and the nearby Womble Trail, which is also an IMBA Epic. The Earthquake Ridge Trail runs along a dry lake bed that once served as the water source for Mena. A master trail plan was recently completed for the 160-acre lake site which proposes constructing multi-use trails there.

Fishing on Lake Wilhelmina, a 300-acre Arkansas Game and Fish Commission lake that is around five miles west of the city, can also be found in town. Nearby Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area and the upper Ouachita River, which begins at the base of Rich Mountain, are also destinations for kayakers and paddlers.
Further outdoor adventures can be had at attractions like The Blue-Zip Line & Farm, which is located on an Arkansas Century Farm on the Irons Fork River. You can dig for crystals at the Board Camp Crystal Mine, located around 10 miles east of Mena in the town of Board Camp.
Downtown Mena lies in an ideal location at the bottom of the famous Talimena Scenic Drive.  It is home to an Arts District that includes outlets like the Ouachita Little Theater, a mainstay in town since the 1920s and the Mena Art Gallery. Main Street has a variety of restaurants, shops, antique stores and more including the Skyline Cafe, which opened in 1922, and The Ouachitas, which has craft coffee and more.
Throughout the year a variety of activities can be found in town. “In the spring and summer we have swimming, boating and fishing, skateboarding, baseball and soccer, the Lum and Abner Festival, and the Rod Run Car Show,” said Smith.  “And in the fall and winter we have spectacular fall colors, horseback riding, camping, and events like the Ouachita Arts Celebration, Wheel A’Mena Tour to the Top cycling tour and the Christmas Lighting Festival and Fireworks.”

About Arkansas Tourism
Arkansas Tourism, a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, strives to expand the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state and enhance the quality of life for all Arkansans. The division manages 14 Arkansas Welcome Centers and employs more than 60 staff members across The Natural State. For more information, visit www.arkansas.com.


9-29-21 11:15 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for September 20TH - 26TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of September 20, 2021 – September 26, 2021. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


September 20, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a Domestic Disturbance on Polk 24 near Cove.

After observing a vehicle in the driveway of a church near Cove, deputies arrested Karson Crawford, 28 of Mena on a Felony Warrant for Probation Violation.


September 21, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Harassing Text Messages. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a report of Theft of Rented Property.

Deputies responded to a Gas Drive Off at a business near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a report of a Dog Bite Victim.


September 22, 2021

Daniel Green, 44 of Mountainburg was arrested on a Misdemeanor Failure to Appear Warrant, a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant and a charge of Contempt of Court.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant of being threatened. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a complaint of Harassment.


September 23, 2021

A traffic stop on Hwy 71 S near Potter led to Dexter Barton, 25 being issued a citation for Careless Prohibited Driving and Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Harassment.

Deputies were dispatched to a Physical Domestic at an address on Polk 703 near Shady Grove. This led to the arrest of John Starr, 29 of Mena on charges of 3rd Degree Domestic Battery, 1st Degree Criminal Mischief, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.

Aaron Ollar, 33 of Mena was arrested on Three Failure to Comply Warrants, a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant and a Parole Hold.


September 24, 2021

Cara Holliday, 34 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.

Deputies responded to a report of a window broken on heavy equipment on Polk 74 near Acorn.

Deputies responded to a report of an ATV accident on Polk 67 near Big Fork.

Wade Stewart, 46 of Mena was arrested on a Felony Warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Possession of a Schedule I or II Controlled Substance.


September 25, 2021

A traffic stop on Hwy 8 West led to the arrest of Brandon Powell, 36 of Mena on charges of Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License and DWI.


September 26, 2021

While on patrol, deputies observed a juvenile walking on Hwy 8 E near Board Camp. The juvenile was taken back to her residence.

Deputies were dispatched for a welfare check on Polk 87 near Ink.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 0 vehicle accidents this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 14 Incarcerated Inmates, with 7 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




9-27-21 11:27 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for September 19TH - 25TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of September 19th through September 25th, 2021


September 19


A report of assault was taken from a walk-in complainant.


A report of a dog running at large was taken on Polk Street.


A report of an assault was taken from a walk-in complainant.


September 20


A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on Hamilton.


A report of harassment and violation of a protection order was taken at a residence on Evans Circle.


Charles Morgan, 44, was charged with Criminal Trespass, Possession of Instrument of Crime and Conspiracy to Commit Breaking or Entering after an investigation on Eagle Gap Avenue.


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Jolie Way.


A report of harassing communication was taken from a walk-in complainant.


A report of breaking or entering was taken from Men-Ark Apartments.


September 21


No reports.


September 22


Matthew Miller, 39, was charged with Theft, Terroristic Threatening, Disorderly Conduct, and Obstructing Government Operations after a disturbance call to Budget Inn.


David Hale, 33, was served with eight warrants after a disturbance call to a residence on Reine Street.


September 23


A report of a disturbance was taken at James’ Super Save Foods.


A report of fraud was taken from a walk-in complainant.


Dax Wood, 25, was served with four warrants after a disturbance call to Northside Laundromat.


September 24


A theft report was taken at a residence on Cherry Street.


September 25


No reports.


All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


9-27-21 11:23 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Enriching Lives with Arkansas Rice

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Enriching Lives with Arkansas Rice
LITTLE ROCK – September is National Rice Month, Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and an Arkansas family farm recently sold their rice to China, the first shipment from an Arkansas grower ever. Today, I’d like to talk about ... rice.
We’ll start with rice by the numbers. Arkansas produces more than 48 percent of the rice grown in the United States. Arkansas’s No. 1 agricultural export is rice, which is valued at $722 million. Rice grows in more than 40 counties in Arkansas, with Arkansas County growing the most rice in the state. Arkansas has 1,877 rice farms, and 97 percent of those farms are family owned and operated. In 2021, Arkansas farmers grew approximately 1.2 million acres of rice with an estimated yield of 167 bushels per acre. That is a lot of rice.
Arkansas produces predominately a long-grain rice on 1.1 million acres, but we also produce a small amount of medium grain and short grain rice. And the state’s rice industry donates nearly 170,000 pounds of rice a year to the less fortunate in Arkansas, which is more than a million servings of rice.
The family from Atkins that just announced its sale of rice to China has been farming for 10 generations – from Scotland in the 1700s, to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kansas. In 1957, Charles and Grace Ralston moved their farming to Arkansas, six years before Tim Ralston was born. Tim and his wife, Robin, now own and operate Ralston Family Farms.
For the first fifty years in Arkansas, the Ralstons raised soybeans, corn, cattle, and a few acres of rice. When the local water district made water from the Arkansas River available, the Ralstons turned to rice. Eight members of the family – from 25 years old to 58 – work the farm, where they do everything from planting to milling to packaging and distributing their rice. Last year, they raised 4,000 acres or rice, and their ability to track their rice from planting to the shipping appeals to the Chinese grocery distributor who bought the Ralston rice in July. Their first commercial shipment to China was 20 metric tons of long grain rice, which arrived in July, and a second shipment is  en route.
As of today, about 20 percent of the Ralstons’ crop is in, and they expect to complete the harvest in early October. The Ralstons’ rice is sold in every state and in about 6,000 stores. They eat rice at least once a day, and at church potlucks, everyone knows there will be at least one rice dish on the table.
The Ralstons embody the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that has fueled so many companies in Arkansas. They saw a need and an opportunity, and this year they made history by selling their product to China.
The Ralstons’ rice is more than a commodity, and growing rice is more than a job. When they exported that first shipment to China in July, they were shipping a piece of their heart and their heritage. The rice raised in the Arkansas soil will enrich lives in China, and perhaps shrink the distance between our nations and our cultures. Everybody loves rice, and it’s a good development for the state’s rice growers and the Ralstons to imagine that at a potluck supper, someone will bring a casserole made with Ralston Rice from the Natural State.
9-24-21 5:50 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

IRS Needs Customer Service Revamp, Not Expanded Authority


The Internal Revenue Service has the power to garnish wages, demand documents and open criminal investigations related to financial crimes. A federal agency this powerful and far-reaching should be transparent, accessible and forthcoming, yet the IRS isn’t.


Administering the tax code and collecting taxes from hardworking Americans is a tall order; however, taxpayers are right to insist on reasonable customer service standards. Too many Arkansans can attest to the IRS’s abysmal performance in this respect, including over 350 who have contacted my office for help this year.


One major problem: inquiring by phone can often lead nowhere. In fact, after spending an inordinate time on hold waiting to speak to a human being, the IRS will eventually provide a “courtesy disconnect” since it recognizes no one will be available to take the call anytime soon. And that’s hardly the only issue.


Taxpayer advocates and congressional offices often make inquiries on behalf of confused, distressed and discouraged taxpayers who are trying to respond to demands from the IRS related to their financial records or waiting to receive their tax returns –– for paper filers this year the agency says to expect at least 16 weeks before you receive a response while 1040X filers amending a return can expect to wait 20 weeks for an answer.


Even more troubling, the agency has been used as a political tool in the past – it admitted to systematically targeting conservative tax-exempt groups from 2010 to 2012 – and many current IRS employees spend much of their time on the job completing tasks unrelated to their official duties, called Taxpayer-Funded Union Time.


This shouldn’t be the case. Yet now the Biden administration wants to arm the U.S. tax collection entity with more authority and manpower to pay for its reckless spending agenda.


The president has proposed requiring all financial institutions to report to the IRS deposits and withdrawals of $600 or more from business and personal accounts maintained by federally regulated banking services. Currently, the reporting requirement is for transactions $10,000 or higher.


Not only does this proposed expansion of the IRS’s ability to surveil taxpayers raise legitimate privacy concerns, but it will also burden community financial institutions by imposing additional, unnecessary costs that will ultimately get passed onto consumers.


In 2015 the agency was hit by a cyberattack that allowed criminals to gain access to the tax returns of more than 100,000 Americans. Imagine what risk our financial information and data would be exposed to if the IRS compiles records of every bank transaction amounting to over $600.


House Democrats have, thus far, declined to throw their weight behind this flawed policy rewrite. Yet the White House remains committed to it, and Senate Democrats will have to decide whether they want to join the Biden administration in pursuit of this troubling proposition.


I’m fighting back to protect our privacy and keep the IRS off the backs of taxpayers, community banks and credit unions. I’ve joined U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) in introducing the Tax Gap Reform and Internal Revenue Service Enforcement Act which would prevent the IRS from establishing a new bank account information reporting regime.


I’ve also helped introduce legislation – the IRS Customer Service Improvement Act – to ensure it prioritizes taxpayers’ needs by requiring employees to be fully devoted to helping Americans meet their tax responsibilities during tax season. Additionally, I’m a sponsor of the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act which protects groups regardless of their political ideology or beliefs, and prevents the IRS from doxing donors to these groups.


The IRS must get its priorities straight, and providing adequate customer service to taxpayers must be at the top of the list. I will continue to hold the agency accountable and oppose attempts to expand its reach.


9-24-21 5:44 p.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

House members are expected to return to the Capitol on Wednesday, September 29, to address congressional redistricting.


The Arkansas legislature reviews congressional districts after every U.S. Census to see if changes to boundary lines are needed. This once-a-decade review process is called “redistricting.” 


Arkansas is divided into four congressional districts.


Traditionally, the legislature votes on those new boundaries at the end of a Regular Session. This year, however, there was a delay in the census gathering and release of data. 


In April of this year, the 93rd General Assembly voted to take an extended recess until the data became available. 


The data shows that some areas of the state have increased in population more than others. Our task now is to redraw the congressional boundaries to ensure they are as equally populated as possible. 


Members began filing proposals earlier this month.


The Senate and House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees held two meetings this week to review previously filed proposals. 


On Monday, committee members reviewed three map proposals. On Thursday, members reviewed an additional four proposals. 


The committees will meet again on Monday, September 27, to review the most recently filed proposals. The public is welcome to attend committee meetings and comment on the proposals. 


You can find links to the proposed maps presented this week at www.arkansashouse.org. On the website, you can also find links to live streams and recorded videos of previous meetings.


As a reminder, the Arkansas Board of Apportionment is responsible for redrawing the state senate and state representative districts. The board consists of the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. You can find more information on that process at www.arkansasredistricting.org.


9-24-21 3:02 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

September 24, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – The Senate and House Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs are reviewing bills to draw new geographic boundaries for the four Congressional Districts in Arkansas, in preparation for a session of the entire legislature at the end of the month.


At its first meeting the joint committee reviewed three proposed House bills. All three would move Pope County to the Fourth Congressional District, which encompasses most of southern Arkansas.


Pope County has been part of the Third Congressional District of northwest Arkansas.


The population of Northwest Arkansas has grown tremendously since 2011, when the current Congressional Districts were drawn. South Arkansas lost population during the same decade.


Moving Pope County from the Third to the Fourth District is an effort to make the two more equal in population.


At the second meeting of the State Agencies Committees, legislators scheduled a review of three Senate proposals and a fourth House proposal.


The three Senate bills would also move Pope County. They also would divide Pulaski County between two or three separate Congressional Districts. Pulaski County has traditionally been the largest population hub of the Second District of central Arkansas.


Another issue to be decided by state legislators is whether to place Chicot and Desha Counties in the First or the Fourth District.


The counties are in the southeast corner of the state, where the White River and the Arkansas River join the Mississippi River.


Farmers in both counties raise row crops such as soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and cotton.


The First District of eastern Arkansas is known for its row crop agriculture. The Fourth District is known for its forests and timber production.


Since 2011 Chicot and Desha Counties have been in the First Congressional District.


The State Agencies Committees will meet a third time before the entire legislature is scheduled to convene on September 29 to approve new maps.


Statewide Broadband Consultant

The state is close to hiring a consultant that will develop a master plan for broadband expansion.


Three state departments will choose from private firms that are bidding on the $4 million contract. They are the Commerce Department, the Finance and Administration Department and the Parks, Heritage and Tourism Department.


Department directors told the Legislative Council that a selection should be ready for lawmakers to review within about a week.


When the question arose about the involvement of Parks and Tourism, one senator noted that the department has land across Arkansas “where there is zero broadband coverage.”


Arkansas has approved $279 million for 132 broadband projects, and the governor announced that he would try to invest an additional $250 million in grants this year for Internet expansion.


The legislature facilitated the process of getting broadband grants when it created the Rural Broadband ID program last year.


Rural Broadband ID grants help local governments pay for data such as due-diligence studies, surveys and maps of available service. That information usually costs more than a small town has available in its annual budget.


9-24-21 9:54 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mayor Smith Proclaims October 3RD-9TH Fire Prevention Week

As Fire Prevention Week™ approaches, the City of Mena Fire Department reminds residents to

“Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety™”


Sept. 23, 2021 – The City of Mena Fire Department is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®)—the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years—to promote this year’s Fire Prevention WeekTM campaign, “Learn the Sounds of Fire SafetyTM.” This year’s campaign, October 3-9th, works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.


“What do the sounds mean? Is there a beep or a chirp coming out of your smoke or carbon monoxide

alarm? Knowing the difference can save you, your home, and your family,” said Lorraine Carli, vice-president of outreach and advocacy at NFPA.


The City of Mena Fire Department encourages all residents to embrace the 2021 Fire Prevention Week theme.

“It’s important to learn the different sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. When an alarm makes noise—a beeping sound or a chirping sound—you must take action!” said Mena's Fire Chief Steve Egger. “Make sure everyone in the home understands the sounds of the alarms and knows how to respond. To learn the sounds of your specific smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, check the manufacturer’s instructions that came in the box, or search the brand and model online.”


The City of Mena Fire Department wants to share safety tips to help you “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety”

  • A continuous set of three loud beeps—beep, beep, beep—means smoke or fire. Get out, call 9-1-1, and

stay out.

  • A single chirp every 30 or 60 seconds means the battery is low and must be changed.

  • All smoke alarms must be replaced after 10 years.

  • Chirping that continues after the battery has been replaced means the alarm is at the end of its life and

the unit must be replaced.

  • Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities in Mena, please contact the City of Mena Fire Department at 479-394-1234 or visit our facebook page. For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and fire prevention in general, visit www.fpw.org.

L toR front row: Andrew Vance, Chief Steve Egger, Mayor Seth Smith, Assistant Chief Charles Hankins, Keena Ashcraft.

L to R standing: Peter Gandy, Dustin Stover, Ben Vincent, Nat Ferry, Ray Surber, Captain Donnie Harvey, Mike Cross, Captain Eric Turner, James Turner, Captain Tom Hairston, Joe Quinn, Jason Head, Wes Kimp, Clint Sharp.

In truck: Fire Pup and Sam Cavelli.

Not pictured: Daniel Sanchez, Darrell Page, Emory Zakin.

Photo Credit: Ewanta Turner


Mena Fire Chief Steve Egger added: "We are especially excited to report that with the generosity of our community sponsors with the National Fire Safety Council we have provided official fire safety manuals to Pre-K thru 4th grade in our community.  Students for not only the Mena campus but also the Ouachita River School District at Acorn and Oden as well as the Cossatot River School District at Wickes, Vandervoort, and Umpire have received these fire safety education materials. 1,553 Official Fire safety Manuals were deliverd to area schools last week in advance of National Fire Prevention Week."


Mayor Seth Smith's Proclamation is below.


2021 Proclamation

WHEREAS, the City of Mena, Arkansas is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all those living in and visiting our city; and

WHEREAS, fire is a serious public safety concern both locally and nationally, and homes are the locations where people are at greatest risk from fire; and

WHEREAS, home fires killed more than 2,770 people in the United States in 2019, according to the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®), and fire departments in the United States responded to 339,500 home fires; and

WHEREAS, smoke alarms sense smoke well before you can, alerting you to danger in the event of fire in which you may have as little as 2 minutes to escape safely; and


WHEREAS, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half; and

WHEREAS, Mena's residents should be sure everyone in the home understands the sounds

of the alarms and knows how to respond; and

WHEREAS, Mena's residents who have planned and practiced a home fire escape plan are more prepared and will therefore be more likely to survive a fire; and

WHEREAS, Mena's residents will make sure their smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all their family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities;


WHEREAS, Mena's first responders are dedicated to reducing the occurrence of home fires and home fire injuries through prevention and protection education; and

WHEREAS, Mena's residents are responsive to public education measures are better able to take personal steps to increase their safety from fire, especially in their homes; and

WHEREAS, the 2021 Fire Prevention WeekTM theme, “Learn the Sounds of Fire SafetyTM,” effectively serves to remind us it is important to learn the different sounds of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.


THEREFORE, I Seth Smith Mayor of Mena do hereby proclaim October 3–9, 2021, as Fire Prevention Week throughout this state, and I urge all the people of Mena to “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety” for Fire Prevention Week 2021 and to support the many public safety activities and efforts of Mena's fire and emergency services.


9-23-21 2:30 p.m. KAWX.ORG





Mena September School Board Meeting Recap

The September meeting of the Mena School Board was held on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the district administration building. The meeting lasted approximately 35 minutes.


As usual the first item on the agenda was the Superintendent's Report. Dr. Lee Smith updated the board on the latest data available and how it reflects students’ needs due to the loss of learning during  the COVID event.  According to ACT Aspire, Mena as a district has seen a 6% gain in reading and a 10% loss in mathematics. Smith then yielded the floor to Assistant Superintendent Bridget Buckley who spoke on the district’s plan to close the learning gap with intervention strategies, tutoring, communication, and more. The administrators in attendance also spoke briefly about how these plans are being implemented at their campus.


Next on the agenda was the 2021/2022 budget. Dr. Smith noted that there is $189,000 more in district coffers as compared to last year.  The board approved with no discussion.


The board also quickly approved the 2021/2022 Standards of Assurance Accreditation Statement of Assurance. As well as Resolution Act 1120-5% increase A.C.A. SEC. 6-13-635. Plus, the amended list of 2020/2021 deleted inventory.


The issue of board zoning was next. Dr. Smith told the board that according to the latest census Mena’s population now exceeds the 10% minority threshold. This means that board zones will be required in the future. A suggestion of creating five zones with each zone being represented on the board and two at large positions. That resolution was approved and this information will be made available to a demographer who will create the zones.


The board was made aware of upcoming training dates that they can take advantage of. Each person must meet the required minimum hours of training to retain their position on the board.


Maintenance Supervisor Danny Minton then shared an update on several projects. Including the status of new HVAC equipment at Holly Harshman Elementary and Mena Middle School. The addition of sand to the baseball and softball fields at Union Bank Park to fix a drainage issue. Also the construction of a new roof on the Cat Shack at Bob Carver Bearcat Stadium.


The board approved the financial reports with no discussion.


Personnel was the last item on the agenda. The board accepted the resignation of bus driver Vadena Hogan as well as the hiring of Jordan Bailey as RTI parapro at Mena Middle School and Erin Grant as a parapro.


To view Mena Superintendent Dr. Lee Smith's Report to Patrons for September 2021, click anywhere on this line.


9-22-21 11:03 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for September 13Th - 19TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of September 13, 2021 – September 19, 2021. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


September 13, 2021

Timothy Woods, 45 of Hatfield was arrested on a Felony Failure to Appear warrant.

Andrea Main, 32 of Mena was arrested on a Possession of Methamphetamine charge.

A traffic stop on Hwy 71 S, led to James Cookston III, 19, being charged with Careless Prohibited Driving, No DL, Possessing an Instrument of Crime and Possession of a schedule VI substance.

Michael Thompson, 39 of Mena was arrested on charges of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Carrying Certain Prohibited Weapon, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Use of a Prohibited Weapon.


September 14, 2021

Matthew Hackworth, 36 of Mena was arrested on a Probation Revocation charge.

Joseph Ryan, 30 of Oden was arrested on a warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Deputies responded to a Verbal Domestic on Polk 76 E near Acorn.


September 15, 2021

No reports were filed.


September 16, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Financial Identity Fraud.

Deputies responded to a phone call of an incident on a school bus.


September 17, 2021

Dawnylle Boutwell, 52 of Cove was arrested on a Misdemeanor Warrant for Theft and a Felony Warrant for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


September 18, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a dispute.

A traffic stop on Pearl Street near Wickes led to the arrest of Steven Chandler, 40 of Springdale on charges of Simultaneous Possession of Drugs and Firearms, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Fictitious Tag, and No Turn Signal.


September 19, 2021

Deputies responded to a complaint of theft on Hatton Lane near Wickes. This led to the arrest of Anthony Hinkle, 22 of Cove on charges of Residential Burglary, Criminal Mischief 1st Degree and Hold for Other Agency.

Deputies were dispatched to the Board Camp area in reference to a vehicle accident. The driver of the vehicle was identified as a missing person from Maine. Deputies were able to contact the family.

Deputies responded to a trespassing complaint at a business near Big Fork.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 1 vehicle accident this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 15 Incarcerated Inmates, with 7 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




9-20-21 2:53 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

OLT Announces Christmas Play, Auditions October 2ND and 4TH

OLT to Hold Auditions for Christmas Play


Ouachita Little Theatre is slated to perform the comedy “Doublewide Christmas” over two weekends on December 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. This fast-paced comedy is set in of one of the smallest trailer parks in Texas, consisting of four doublewides and a shed. The inhabitants of the trailer park are distressed to learn that the nearby town of Tugaloo is determined to annex them. Confusion and hilarity ensue, and this show is sure to appeal to many Polk County residents looking for some original holiday entertainment.


Director Amanda Baker is looking for nine cast members. She is particularly auditioning characters whose ages range from a female character who is around 20 years old to middle aged and older males and females.


Auditions will be held Saturday October 2 from 10:00 AM until noon and again on Monday, October 4th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. Baker will also make arrangements to audition those who are unable to attend either of the scheduled sessions. Call her at 479-469-3741 for more information.


9-20-21 2:45 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for September 12TH - 18TH



Mena Police Department reports for the week of September 12th through September 18th, 2021



September 12


A report of criminal trespass was taken at a residence on Bonner Circle.


September 13


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


A report of violation of a protection order and stalking was taken from a walk-in complainant.


September 14


Angel Strother, 22, was charged with Disorderly Conduct and Assault after a disturbance call to Murphy USA.


A report of harassment was taken at a residence on Maple Avenue.


September 15


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


A report of theft of property and unauthorized use of a credit card was taken from a walk-in complaint.


September 16


A report of criminal mischief was taken from a walk-in complainant.


Olen Burkhart, 74, was served with a warrant at the police department.


A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on Spring Avenue.


September 17


A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on Evans Circle.


September 18


No reports.


All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


9-20-21 10:04 a.m. KAWX.ORG

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

In the United States, someone dies by suicide approximately every 11.1 minutes, and in Arkansas, on average, every 16 hours.


Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.. The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.


September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness on this stigmatized and often taboo topic. In addition to shifting public perception, this is also a time to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. 


Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.


During the most recent legislative session, the General Assembly passed Act 802. This legislation created the Arkansas Legislative Study on Mental and Behavioral Health. The act directs the Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee to assess the strengths and weaknesses of mental and behavioral health resources and care currently available in Arkansas. The committee will study several related topics, including the utilization of crisis stabilization units, transportation of mental and behavioral health patients, and mental health screenings and suicide prevention measures for students. 


In 2017, the legislature passed an act that ensured Arkansans were answering calls made from Arkansas to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Now when someone calls the hotline, they are speaking to someone with knowledge of local resources available.


In this session, we strengthened that law when we passed Act 640. This act ensures that the Suicide Prevention Hotline employs individuals who have experience working with veterans.


We’ve posted links to more information regarding suicide prevention, including warning signs and risk factors, at www.arkansashouse.org.


If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately. If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255). 


9-17-21 4:33 p.m. KAWX.ORG


Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Every Day Counts for Children Waiting to be Adopted

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address:  Every Day Counts for Children Waiting to be Adopted
LITTLE ROCK – Today I’d like to talk about Every Day Counts, the three-month initiative of the Division of Children and Family Services and Project Zero to focus on finding adoptive families for children in Arkansas’s foster care systen.
As with everything else in life, COVID-19 hurt some of the good work we were doing in the adoption system. The courts shut down, and as a result, the number of children waiting to be adopted has increased over the past 18 months because we were not able to place them in permanent homes as quickly. The Department of Human Services conducted much of its business virtually.
To make up the lost time,  the Division of Children and Family Services and Project Zero developed the Every Day Counts campaign to emphasize the urgency of finding a home for these children. These 349 kids waiting for adoption are in foster care through no fault of their own. Every day a child spends in foster care is one day too many.
Of the 349 children, DHS has identified 162 children of them who are near adoption and hope to move them into their forever families during the ninety-day campaign.
One of the many heroes of the campaign is Christie Erwin, who founded the non-profit Project Zero ten years ago with the goal of reducing the number of children in need of adoption to zero. Christie and her husband have fostered more than fifty children and adopted two.
Christie dreams that Arkansas could be the first state without a single child waiting for adoption. She dreams of the day that instead of a waiting list with children’s names, the list will have families waiting to adopt with no children available.
On Wednesday, Christie helped throw a Sweet 16 birthday party for Dwynea, who is in the foster care system. A news crew from TV station KARK broadcast a story about the party. A photo of Dwynea and a short video about her are among the dozens of stories on Project Zero’s Arkansas Heart Gallery.
The Heart Gallery is one of Project Zero’s most important tools in finding adoptive families. Christie tells the story of a young man whose story on the Heart Gallery didn’t attract much notice. But one year, a couple who had seen his story went to an event for foster children and prospective parents with the intention of meeting him. They recognized him, spent the evening with him, and eventually adopted him.
Christie said that to see him adopted into a family after six years in a state facility and pull his life together and graduate from high school was a very special moment.
The Every Day Counts campaign will put short films about each of the children and teens waiting to be adopted on its Arkansas Heart Gallery so that families can hear their stories in their own voice.
During July and August, sixty-two children were moved to their forever families, and we hope to make even more progress in the next three months.  
In Project Zero’s math, one plus one equals zero. Place one child with one family enough times and eventually the number of children on the waiting list will be zero. I often refer to my goal of improving the quality of life for all Arkansans. That is a long-term ambition. Adoption is a way to improve the quality of life for one Arkansan – a child – right now.
9-17-21 4:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Strengthening Veteran Suicide Prevention Efforts

Arkansans have unsurprisingly experienced a range of emotions as a result of the coronavirus. It has changed the way we live, led to the deaths of loved ones and created economic uncertainty in our households.


More than half of Americans report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their health according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As we recognize September as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we must renew our commitment to helping those struggling to find hope and purpose. I’ve been particularly passionate about helping our veterans community get the care and attention these heroes deserve and have worked to strengthen programs aimed at preventing veteran suicides.


The good news is we’re making progress.


Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its annual report on veteran suicide prevention that revealed a decrease in veteran suicides from 2018 to 2019. This is certainly a step in the right direction and a signal that enhancements to the VA’s mental health programs are making a positive difference.


Each veteran suicide is too many. My colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and I are committed to ensuring veterans have access to VA resources no matter where they live.


We understand that funding alone will not solve this problem. In recent years, we’ve taken a new approach that includes investing in mental health programs while also leveraging the expertise and outreach of veteran-serving nonprofits that have demonstrated success in identifying and addressing the challenges veterans experience.


In Arkansas, participants have benefited from the services provided by community organizations where the VA’s outreach has been limited or veterans have been hesitant to accept its services. We’ve harnessed these efforts into a policy that creates a VA grant program to empower veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks to expand their successful programs and connect with veterans who are not currently using VA resources.


I’m optimistic we will see this initiative build momentum and tap into even more sources of expertise that can help reach and engage veterans at risk, and ultimately save lives.


Coordination and collaboration are key to combating this crisis. We know that we are better and stronger when we work together, and it should be no different when it comes to suicide prevention.


As the author of this new program, which was included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act that was signed into law last year, I welcomed the news that the VA has begun to implement it. VA Secretary Denis McDonough told me he expects the first grant will be awarded early in 2022. I will continue to monitor the progress and provide vigorous oversight of the roll-out to ensure the VA is following congressional intent. This is too important to get wrong.


Delivering mental health care is a vital component of the promise we made to the men and women who served our nation in uniform. Expanding opportunities they have to connect with VA services is vital to providing the resources and care they deserve.


9-17-21 4:14 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Hispanic Cowboys Presentation Planned for October

October is Hispanic Heritage month. UA Rich Mountain history instructor Dr. Kyle Carpenter is hosting a presentation led by Dr. Joel Zapata, an Assistant Professor at Oregon State University’s School of History, Philosophy, and Religion.


Zapata completed his Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University and his dissertation won the 2020 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Tejas Foco Dissertation Award. His “Taking Chicana/o Activist History to the Public: Chicana/o Activism in the Southern Plains Through Time and Space” received the Frederick C. Luebke Award for the best article published in the Great Plains Quarterly in 2018. He was born and raised in the rural Texas Panhandle and obtained his undergraduate education at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is currently completing a book project titled The Erased Homeland: Mexicans’ Long Past, the Southern Great Plains, and America’s Future and directing the Latina/o/x Social Justice en Oregón Oral History Project."


The Zoom presentation titled “Hispanic Cowboys and the Making of Nineteenth-Century America” will be held Monday, October 4, beginning at 11 a.m. in the Ouachita Center on the Mena campus and is open to both students and the community.


UA Rich Mountain’s mission is to continue to provide transformative education to all learners.


9-17-21 4:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

September 17, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – Enrollment has dropped at many state-supported colleges and universities because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


However, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville reported a healthy increase in its student population. The university has 29,068 students enrolled, which is 5.5 percent more than last year.


Institutions make a preliminary count on the 11th day of the fall semester.


Arkansas State University reported enrollment this fall of 13,772 students. That is a decrease of 0.5 percent since last year.


Enrollment at the University of Central Arkansas at Conway is down about 2.2 percent from last year, to 10,105 students.


This semester Arkansas Tech has seen a decline of 10.9 percent in enrollment at its campuses in Russellville and Ozark, to a total of 9,645.


The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a decreased enrollment of 6.8 percent. The total number of students in its graduate and undergraduate programs is 8,297, according to preliminary headcounts reported to the state Higher Education Division.


The University of Arkansas at Monticello has 2,673 students, a decline of 1.7 percent since last year.


Enrollment is 4,434 at South Arkansas University at Magnolia. That’s the same as last year Henderson State in Arkadelphia enrolled 2,914 students, which is down 7.9 percent from last year.


The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff reported an enrollment gain of three percent, to a total of 2,748 students.


The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, with 5,444 students, is down 7.5 percent from last year.


In all, Arkansas state-supported universities saw a drop of 1.1 percent in enrollment, to 92,188 students.


The most popular college scholarship program in Arkansas is the Academic Challenge Scholarship, which is paid for with revenue from lottery tickets. Last year the lottery scholarships were awarded to 30,580 students.


Since 2011 the program has distributed more than a billion dollars in scholarships.


The sale of lottery tickets is affected by the size of the jackpots in Powerball and Mega Millions. When the lottery has an enormous prize at stake, sales go up and more revenue is placed into scholarships.


To qualify for the Academic Challenge Scholarship, students must take a full load. That means 12 hours in their first semester after high school, and 15 hours in all subsequent semesters. They must have a composite score of 19 or higher on the ACT standardized college admission test.


The average ACT score of last year’s high school graduates who went to an Arkansas college and received an Academic Challenge Scholarship was 22.7.


To keep the scholarship they must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5, where a grade of A is 4.0, a grade of B is 3.0 and a grade of C is 2.0.


After their first academic year they must have completed 27 hours of course work, and after each following year they must complete 30 hours.


The state Division of Higher Education web site has information about paying for college, how to apply for scholarships and how to apply for student loans. The Internet address is www.adhe.edu.


9-17-21 10:09 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Abbott Photography to be on Display in Ouachita Center

The Polk County Quality of Life has received an Arkansas Heritage Grant through the Arkansas Arts Council that will showcase a small sampling of the photography of Mena native Brian Abbott beginning September 21 in the Ouachita Center on the campus of UA Rich Mountain in Mena.


Due to a local spike in Covid cases, a reception is not being held but everyone is invited to come during 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to casually view his work which will be on display through October 29.


There will also be a video on the University of Arkansas Rich Mountain YouTube channel beginning September 22 that will feature Brian discussing his work, which he describes as “inspiring images of God’s wonderful creation.” Most of his collection features sites from the Ozark mountains of Northern Arkansas / Southern Missouri and from the Ouachita Mountains.


9-13-21 4:41 p.m. KAWX.ORG 


United States Air Force Pilot, Lieutenant Henry Donald Mitchell of Harmon, Arkansas, disappeared on July 8, 1944, while on a fighter sweep in Vienna, Austria. Lt. Mitchell was flying in the No. 2 position as the flight was engaged by enemy aircraft. Lt. Donald E. Wimmer, flight leader of Green Flight, observed enemy aircraft attacking from the rear and noticed Lt. Mitchell's P-38 aircraft had disappeared.


Lt. Mitchell's last known words were "Green Two, okay."


Through DNA analysis, Lt. Mitchell was identified and, after 77 years, will be brought home to rest.


In tribute to the memory of Lt. Henry Donald Mitchell, and as an expression of public sorrow, Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas to fly at half-staff from sunrise September 13, 2021, to sunset on September 14, 2021.


The State of Arkansas is honored to bring home Lt. Mitchell and to remember his life and service to this Nation.


Governor Hutchinson's proclamation for Henry Donald Mitchell Memorial Day in Arkansas can be viewed at this LINK.


9-13-21 1:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG

Polk County Sheriff's Report for September 6TH - 12TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of September 6, 2021 – September 12, 2021. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


September 6, 2021

While on patrol on 5th Street near Cove, deputies made a traffic stop leading to the arrest of Michael Elmore, 37 of Gillham on charges of Possession of Schedule I or II Controlled Substance, Driving on a Suspended License, Possession of a Schedule VI Controlled Substance and No Proof of Insurance.


September 7, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of Harassing Communications.

Deputies responded to a complaint of a home being entered on Polk 178 near Acorn. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


September 8, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of a social media scam resulting in the loss of approximately $2,000.00.

Deputies responded to a complaint of a vehicle that had been broken into while at the fairgrounds.

Deputies responded to a report of mailboxes being run over on Polk 53 near Dallas Valley.

A traffic stop on Polk 34 near Hatfield led to the arrest of Veronica Smith, 42 of Cove on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.


September 9, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of an unattended death on Polk 34 near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a report of a car fire on Polk 283 near Hatfield.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Harassment.


September 10, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of Theft.

Deputies responded to a report of an altercation on Polk 626 near Dallas Valley. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.


September 11, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a possible break-in with medications missing.

Noel Myers, 36 of Hatfield was arrested on a charge of Violation of a Protection Order, two Failure to Appear Warrants and a Felony Failure to Appear Warrant.


September 12, 2021

A traffic stop on Polk 16 near Vandervoort led to the arrest of Waylon Broach, 22 of Cove on a charge of DWI.

A traffic stop on Hwy 375 E near Dallas Valley led to the arrest of Jesse Saxour, 33 of Mena on three charges of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Firearm by Certain Person.

Deputies responded to a property dispute among neighbors on Polk 269 near Vandervoort.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 1 vehicle accident this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 15 Incarcerated Inmates, with 6 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




9-13-21 11:08 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena Police Report for September 5TH - 11TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of September 5th through September 11th, 2021


September 5


Abram Abernathy, 24, was served with a warrant at Mena Regional Health System.


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


Wilton Lipscomb, 39, was charged with Driving on Suspended License, Public Intoxication, and served with a warrant


September 6


A Juvenile was charged with Possession of Alcohol by a Minor and Possession of a Schedule 6 Controlled Substance after contact on Dequeen Street.


A report of burglary was taken at the Northside Laundromat.


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


September 7


Norma Adams, 74, was served with four warrants at the police department.


Leslie Morgan, 34, was charged with Dog Running at Large after a dog bite complaint on Kenwood Way.


September 8


A report of forgery was taken at Walmart.


A report of a missing person was taken from a walk-in complainant.


September 9


A report of theft was taken


September 10


Abram Abernathy, 24, was charged with Theft of Property (Shoplifting) and Inhaling an Intoxicant after a complaint at Walmart.


September 11


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


A report of theft was taken at a residence on Kenwood Way.


All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


9-13-21 9:26 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Flags To Half Staff September 11 For 9/11 Victims

As a mark of respect and an expression of public sorrow for the victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and in accordance with Public Law 107-89, the United States flag and the state flag of Arkansas will fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset for Patriot Day, Saturday, September 11, 2021.


Governor Asa Hutchinson encourages all Arkansans to observe a moment of silence beginning at 7:46 a.m. to honor the innocent Americans and people from around the world who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.


To view Governor Hutchinson's proclamation for Patriot Day, CLICK HERE. To view the video A Thousand Deep: Governor Hutchinson reflects on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11CLICK HERE.


9-10-21 5:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: A Thousand Deep: Reflections of 9/11

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: A Thousand Deep: Reflections of 9/11
LITTLE ROCK – On September 11, 2001, I had just taken charge as administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. For today’s weekly address, we are offering a shortened version of A Thousand Deep: Asa Hutchinson Remembers 9.11 which is a video with my reflections about the day of the 9/11 attacks and the valor of America's response.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was strapped into a National Guard plane that lifted off into an empty sky from the Albuquerque airport. The scene was the same around the nation. Within hours after a 33-year-old Egyptian terrorist crashed a Boeing 767 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the FAA had stopped all air travel over the United States.
At 7 that morning, I was preparing to leave my hotel in Albuquerque when I heard the first report that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Only a month earlier, on the nomination of President George W. Bush, I had taken the job as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. I had traveled to New Mexico for a public debate with Governor Gary Johnson about drug policy.
My staff and members of my security team understood quickly that we wouldn’t be returning to Washington on a commercial flight. We went to the Albuquerque DEA office. We sent out word to all of the field divisions to work their informants for any hint of a further attack.
By the time we had secured a National Guard plane and pilot to take us to Washington, 29-year-old Arkansan Sara Low was already among the victims. Sara, a native of Batesville, was an attendant on Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center. Malissa White-Higgins, born and raised in Bald Knob, Arkansas, worked in human resources for Marsh & McLennan on the 99th floor of the North Tower. She died after the plane struck.
We evacuated the DEA offices in Washington, which were directly across the street from the Pentagon. Several DEA employees had seen American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., nearly an hour after the first crash.
Navy Operations Specialist Second Class Nehamon Lyons, the third Arkansan to die on 9/11, was killed in the assault on the Pentagon. He was born in Pine Bluff in March 1971. He was 30.
As our plane entered Washington airspace that evening, a fighter jet accompanied us to a military facility. At the smoke-filled DEA headquarters, I gathered with my executive staff. I had been on the job for a little over a month, and my job was changing dramatically. The DEA was pivoting from the war on drugs to the war on terrorism. Our agents across the country were watching for any tip about another attack.
I went home about midnight.
A week or so after the attack, Attorney General John Ashcroft called a meeting of the Justice Department in the Justice Department Command Center. Attorney General Ashcroft said: “I’ve just been told by the President of the United States, ‘Don’t let this happen again.’ I’ve got to expect more from each of you. You’ve got to expect more from all of your people. You’ve got to work longer hours. You’ve got to work harder. We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure there is not another attack. We’ve got to change from prosecution to prevention. If you are not willing to carry out that responsibility, say so now, and get up and walk out.”
The terrorists and their sponsors hoped to destroy the United States. Although they killed nearly 3,000 people, our enemies learned that they had mistaken America’s kindness, generosity, and compassion for weakness. In the same way that many of our enemies before them have underestimated our strength, the attackers mistakenly believed that they could deliver a sharp blow, and America would falter.
The terrorists did, indeed, strike a grievous blow. But as the world knows, their mission failed. Utterly and completely.
The 9/11 attack brought out the best in Americans, from our next-door neighbors, first responders, elected officials, and law enforcement at all levels. Twenty years later, I am still amazed, but not surprised, at the dedication of DEA employees.
As the administration and the FAA talked about how to get our planes flying again, we knew we needed to enlarge our Air Marshal Program. I sent out a directive to DEA employees asking for volunteers to work as a sky marshal.  We needed a hundred.
We got four hundred.
DEA employees lined up – a thousand deep. That’s a powerful message and a forceful discouragement to our enemies. When America is called to stand against evil, we will line up on the front lines a thousand deep.
9-10-21 5:14 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

There are three legislative meetings scheduled this month to review proposals for congressional redistricting.


Arkansans are welcome to attend these meetings and comment on the proposals.


The proposals will be outlined in bills drafted by legislators. We have provided a link to the bills at www.arkansashouse.org.


The House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees will be meeting jointly in the MAC building located directly behind the State Capitol.


The schedule will be as follows:


September 20, 2021 (1 p.m.) -Any congressional redistricting bills that have been filed by September 17, 2021, will be taken up by the committees.


September 23, 2021 (1 p.m.) - Any congressional redistricting bills that have been filed by September 21, 2021, will be taken up by the committees. 


September 27, 2021 (1 p.m.) - Any congressional redistricting bills that have been filed by September 24, 2021, will be taken up by the committees. 


The committees will take no action during these three meetings. 


It is anticipated that leadership will call members back into the extended session of the 93rd General Assembly on September 29. That date is subject to change, and we will continue to update you on any developments.


The General Assembly is tasked with only drawing the boundaries of the U.S. House of Representatives districts in Arkansas. The Board of Apportionment is tasked with drawing the state legislative boundaries.


Our state’s population increased by 3.3% since 2010 when we last drew congressional boundaries. Some areas of the state have increased in population more than others. Our task is to redraw those boundaries now to ensure they are as equally populated as possible. 


All meetings will be live-streamed and recorded at www.arkansashouse.org.


9-10-21 5:10 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

Fighting for American Energy Independence

Arkansas families, businesses and communities understand the importance of an affordable, reliable and clean energy supply. We rely on low-cost energy in order to drive our vehicles to all the places we need to get to in our daily lives, heat and light our homes and businesses, and meet a number of other essential needs. This reality means we need policies that enable us to access inexpensive energy sources while also supporting economic opportunities to help us succeed into the future.


I’ve been a long-time champion for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that encourages solar, nuclear and wind energy production to put the United States on a path to energy independence so we aren’t at the mercy of nations like Russia, Venezuela and others for access to vital resources.


Arkansas companies are leading the way in implementing innovative solutions that provide renewable energy. In Northeast Arkansas, I recently celebrated the state’s first collection of solar panels made with steel produced right here in the Natural State. This partnership between Lexicon, Inc. and Seal Solar will help reduce electrical costs for Lexicon’s facilities.


Similar projects are launching all across the state. In recent weeks the Ouachita County community of Bearden broke ground on a solar project aimed at reducing energy costs with its own initiative.


The development and implementation of these strategies demonstrate the benefits of adopting a policy that uses all of our American resources, including solar energy because of the significant role it plays in enhancing our energy supply.


Canceling the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the suspension of new drilling leases on federal lands have been setbacks to achieving energy independence. These Biden administration policies have resulted in job losses and threaten energy affordability. Now the White House is pursuing a massive spending proposal that includes imposing Green New Deal-style measures that will further regulate how Americans produce and use energy.


This is especially problematic for a rural state like Arkansas where there are more hurdles to providing reliable and affordable energy to power farms and ranches. During my annual agriculture tour across the state, producers shared their concerns about this assault on their livelihoods and how increased energy costs would negatively impact their operations.


We must defend against this attack on rural America. That’s why I recently led Senate efforts to encourage sensibly using our existing energy resources and block attempts to ban fossil fuels.


Pursuing smart and responsible approaches to creating sustainable energy is practical and can be done without jeopardizing reliable, affordable energy in small towns across the country.


Promoting energy innovation and the use of all of our nation’s diverse natural resources is key to lowering energy costs. We can all be proud of the ingenuity and resourcefulness taking place in Arkansas. I will continue to support these 21st century advancements while protecting our ability to use traditional energy sources.


9-10-21 5:07 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Larry Teague

September 10, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – The legislature is preparing to convene again on September 29, to redraw boundaries of the four Congressional districts in Arkansas.


In late August the legislature received official data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Using the most recent population figures, legislators will map out four new districts of equal population.


The President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House sent a schedule to all legislators. The Senate and House Committees on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs will review redistricting bills before the Senate and House vote on them.


The Senate President and the House Speaker cautioned legislators that the September 29 starting date may change.


Redistricting occurs every ten years, after the Census Bureau releases new population data. Normally, the legislature completes the task during the regular session that begins in January and ends in April, but this year census data was late. The delay affected all 50 states.


There are 435 members of the United States Congress. Arkansas has only four seats in Congress, because of our relatively small size. Tennessee has nine Congressional districts and Texas has 36. Due to its population growth, Texas will gain two more Congressional seats.


After the legislature has finished redistricting, it will officially adjourn the 2021 regular session. We went into extended recess in late April.


The governor has announced that after the work of redistricting is complete and the regular session is officially over, he would call a special session to consider tax cuts. Legislators have been working on measures to lower income taxes.


A separate process of redistricting is taking place. The boundaries of the 135 districts in the state legislature will also be redrawn, by the three-member state Board of Apportionment. They are the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state. Their staff will do much of the heavy lifting.


There are 35 state Senate districts and 100 state House districts.


Rental Assistance

Arkansas got $173 million in federal relief funding for rental assistance, to help people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and are at risk of eviction. It also helps people whose medical bills put them at risk of losing their homes. So far, $10 million has been awarded, benefiting 3,200 households.


There is an income threshold because the program is meant to help low-income and middle-income taxpayers. The threshold can vary from county to county, depending on the average rent.


The governor announced a change in the application process, in order to ease the awarding of funds. Previously, the landlord had to sign off on the application, but under the new rules if the landlord doesn’t respond in 10 days the assistance goes directly to the tenant. The money can also be used to pay utility bills.


The state Human Services Department is handling the grants. Search on the Internet for Arkansas rental assistance, and the first link that pops up will be for the DHS page that explains the process.


Applicants will need to show proof of income.


9-10-21 3:25 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Fly the US Flag at Half-Staff on Saturday, September 11, 2021 ?in Honor of Patriot Day

Fly the United States Flag at Half-Staff on Saturday, September 11, 2021 ?in Honor of Patriot Day
Saturday, September 11th, 2021 marks the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed in suburban Pennsylvania. Patriot Day serves as a remembrance of the lives lost on that September morning.
By a joint resolution approved 12/18/2001, (Public Law 107-89) has designated September 11th of each year as "Patriot Day" which also directs the flags be lowered to half-staff for the entire day on September 11.
A section of the law is below: 
''§ 144. Patriot Day''(a) DESIGNATION.-September 11 is Patriot Day.''(b) PROCLAMATION.-The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation calling on-
''(1) State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities;
''(2) all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States and interested organizations and individuals to display the flag of the United States at halfstaff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and'
'(3) the people of the United States to observe a moment of silence on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001.''.
9-9-21 11:43 a.m. KAWX.ORG

Mena Police Report for August 29TH - September 4TH

Mena Police Department reports for the week of August 29th through September 4th, 2021


August 29


A report of violation of a protection order was taken at a residence on Petros Avenue.


A report of theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


August 30


Jaime Arellano, 36, was charged with DWI, Refusal to Submit to BAC, No Driver’s License, and Careless or Prohibited Driving after a traffic stop on Highway 71.


A report of theft of motor fuel was taken at Murphy USA.


A report of violation of an order of protection was taken.


August 31


A report of breaking or entering was taken at a residence on 9th Street.


September 1


No reports.


September 2


A death investigation report was taken at a residence on Meadowbrook Drive.


September 3


No reports.


September 4


A report of battery and theft was taken from a walk-in complainant.


All subjects should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


9-7-21 10:59 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Polk County Sheriff's Report for August 30TH - September 5TH



The following information was received from Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer for the week of August 30, 2021 – September 5, 2021. The charges against those arrested are allegations and the cases are still pending in the courts. Individuals charged and whose names appear in this column may submit documentation to us at a later date that the charges have been dismissed or that they have been found innocent and we will include that information in this space in a timely manner.


August 30, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complaint of property damage.

Deputies responded to a report of an unattended death on Polk 48 near Rocky.

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant of theft.

Tony Foster, 35 of Hatfield was arrested on two felony failure to appear warrants and three contempt of court warrants.


August 31, 2021

Deputies responded to a walk-in complainant of a dog being injured by a neighbor’s dog on Hatton Lane near Wickes.

Charles Morgan, 44 of Mena was arrested on a body attachment and a failure to appear warrant.

Deputies responded to a report of a house fire on Polk 11 near Wickes.

Deputies responded to a harassment complaint on Rodgers Street near Cove.


September 1, 2021

David Evans, 65 of Wickes was arrested by an officer with the Drug Task Force on a felony warrant for delivery of methamphetamine.

Deputies responded to a domestic disturbance on Polk 136 near Cove leading to the arrest of Matthias Aviles, 31 of Cove on a body attachment, a warrant for contempt of court, two warrants for domestic battery and a charge of second degree battery.


September 2, 2021

Michael Elmore, 37 of Gillham was arrested on warrants for possession of a controlled substance and delivery of methamphetamine.


September 3, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of property damage at a business in Cove.

Deputies responded to a land dispute.

Deputies were advised of and responded to a report of possibly intoxicated juveniles at a school campus.

Douglas Manley, 39 of Hatfield was arrested on charges of driving on a suspended drivers license, no proof of insurance, violation of the Arkansas hot check law, failure to appear and failure to register a vehicle.


September 4, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a physical domestic disturbance on Polk 18 near Vandervoort. Information has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney for further consideration.

Deputies responded to a report of bullet holes being found in the walls of a mobile home on Polk 231 near Cove.

Deputies responded to a report of criminal trespassing on Polk 69 near Big Fork.

Deputies responded to a report of child neglect.


September 5, 2021

Deputies responded to a report of a possibly intoxicated person on Polk 252 near Grannis. This led to the arrest of Francisco Zepeda, 30 of Amity on a charge of DWI.

Deputies responded to a report of battery.

Michael Lance, 58 of Mena was arrested on a bond revocation and three warrants for failure to appear.

Deputies responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle on Polk 78 near Potter.


Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked 0 vehicle accidents this week.


Polk County Detention Center Jail Population: 17 Incarcerated Inmates, with 5 Inmates currently on the Waiting List for a State Facility.




9-7-21 9:07 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

Rich Mountain Conservation District Annual Nut Sale Underway, Proceeds for Scholarships

Rich Mountain Conservation District 2021 Annual Nut Sales


The annual nut sale has started at the Rich Mountain Conservation District!


There is a variety of nuts to pick from. We are offering pecan halves and pieces, praline pecan halves, white chocolate pecan halves, chocolate amaretto pecan halves, dark chocolate pecan halves, milk chocolate pecans, deluxe mixed nuts roasted/salted, double dipped chocolate peanuts, chocolate almonds, whole cashews roasted/salted, English walnuts, chocolate raisins, and gourmet pecan log rolls. There is also a conservation sampler option that includes 1 lb bags of pecan halves, cashews, honey roasted peanuts, chocolate raisins, chocolate amaretto pecan halves, chocolate peanuts, chocolate almonds and walnuts. This year we have added flavored peanuts they come in a 10-ounce tin. You can get Dill Pickle, Jalapeno, Salt & Vinegar and Southern Heat peanuts. These make great stocking stuffers.


All proceeds from the nut sales go towards our annual scholarship that is awarded to a Polk County student who will be going into an ag-related field in college. With your support we were able to fund $3000 in scholarships to local high school and college students this last year.


Orders will be taken until October 15, 2021 and will be ready by Thanksgiving!


Please help to support this worthy cause by purchasing some of these items. By doing so you are supporting our local youth with the opportunity to continue their education.


You can pick up an order for at the office at 508 7th St. in Mena, you can call and request one to be mailed, faxed or emailed to you at 479-437-6054. There is also an order form on the website www.RMCD.org or you can email richmountainconservation@gmail.com.


9-4-21 5:22 p.m. KAWX.ORG 


US Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column

20 Years Later, Remembering the Tragedy and Triumph of 9/11


When radical Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners on September 11, 2001 and employed them as weapons against innocent Americans, we were instantly shocked and outraged. Those emotions, and others, washed over us in waves in the hours, days and months that followed.


As the dust settled and our understanding grew, we processed the consequences and worked through the grief and anger that accompany any unspeakable tragedy. Americans from all walks of life understood the magnitude of the devastation, destruction and loss, as well as the substantial blow the attack struck against our national pride and sense of security.


But whatever the intentions of the extremists who launched this evil, brutal assault, our response must have surprised them because of how we came together.


Americans transcended differences and divisions to stand as one people, united in sorrow and pain, but also in resolve and purpose. We pledged to move forward with a renewed sense of identity and rekindled compassion for each other.


Yet our own project of self-renewal occurred alongside a new reality.


On September 14, standing on a pile of rubble at Ground Zero, President George W. Bush told rescue workers, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” In a subsequent address to a Joint Session of Congress he told the American people, “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Those who provoked this act of war were put on notice.


Shortly thereafter, the United States hunted down the terrorist group Al-Qaeda which orchestrated 9/11, and also removed the Taliban from its rule in Afghanistan as a consequence of having offered a safe haven from which extremists recruited, trained and dispatched adherents committed to inciting global instability and sowing fear.


Through the might of our Armed Forces and confidence in our cause, those objectives were achieved with remarkable speed. The larger mission persisted and eventually Al-Qaeda’s leader and a key architect of modern Islamic terrorism, Osama bin Laden, was also brought to justice.


Now, as our military presence in Afghanistan has ended, the extent to which America’s warriors serve and sacrifice on behalf of the cause of liberty, with humility and care, is more apparent than ever.


Thousands of men and women answered their country’s call and helped wage the Global War on Terror with dignity, skill and honor. This was not a war of conquest. It was, and continues to be, a battle against the enemies of freedom and on behalf of the democratic principles we hold dear. It has been prosecuted by dedicated U.S. service members, for whom we are eternally proud and grateful, with success and stamina.


Two decades after that terrible September morning, we have learned that no amount of retribution, however just and necessary, can fully heal our wounds. That’s why we come together in a Day of Service to pay tribute to all those lost, injured or forever altered by the events of 9/11. We acknowledge and honor them through acts that build up our communities and strengthen the bonds of unity and patriotism that define us.


I encourage every Arkansan and American to find a way to contribute your time and resources toward that end. The benefits serve each of us individually and our country in ways that are hard to measure, but easy to sense.


Now, we reflect on this solemn anniversary by remembering the victims, sharing in the grief of their loved ones, serving causes greater than ourselves in their honor and praying for the heroic Americans working tirelessly to defend our country and way of life. In doing so, we remember that day’s tragedy and triumph in the most personal and meaningful ways possible.


9-3-21 4:54 p.m. KAWX.ORG 


Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Fair Season is Back

Governor Hutchinson's Weekly Radio Address: Fair Season is Back
LITTLE ROCK – The county fair is one of the traditions that we missed last year because of the pandemic, and today I’m very excited to talk about the reopening of the fairs this fall.
The first known organized fair in the United States was a sheep-shearing contest in 1807 in Pennsylvania. Fairs expanded to include the judging of homemade muscadine jelly and green beans in Mason jars, merry-go-rounds, beauty pageants, basketball toss, and foods we eat only once a year. Fairs are a big deal in dozens of communities in Arkansas.
Barbie Washburn, president of the Arkansas Fair Managers Association, says the loss of last year’s fair season hurt small towns such as Marvel, where she lives and works. She also is president of the TriCounty Fair, which includes Philips, Lee, and Monroe counties.
She has loved the fair since childhood. She said, “As soon as it started rolling in, I could hear it and feel it. I couldn’t wait to ride the Ferris wheel and eat cotton candy.”
Now she lives three blocks from the TriCounty fairground. She said that last year, she missed walking outside onto her patio to listen to the sounds and see the lights.
She said, “Our attendance is usually 10,000. People come to town, buy gas, eat at the local diner. When the carnival’s here, the washateria is used 24/7.”
The fair buys feed from the local feed store, and supplies from the hardware store. That didn’t happen last year.
Just about all of the county fairs are reopened for this fall. Now, some of the fairs that are reopening won’t have a midway with rides and games because some of the carnival companies didn’t survive the pandemic. But Freddy Miller, whose parents Johnny and Sue started Miller Spectacular Shows in Greenbrier, said his family’s company has had a phenomenal recovery this year.
The survival of county fairs is important to our communities. In July, I asked the Department of Agriculture to release $1.8 million in premium and construction funding to fairs. Going back to 2019, the state has allocated $3.8 million.
Barbie really wants county fairs to survive. She fears losing another event that brings a community together. That’s what the county fair is for. You see people you may not see any other time of the year. The fair is especially important for making memories for children. And for me that is really important. Each year my daughter, Sarah, and I look forward to going to the fair. We ride rides and look at the exhibits from across the state.
I am confident that county fairs will continue to thrive. The Saline County Fair, Bull Riding, and Rodeo is returning this year, and I happen to know that because I am riding in the parade. I am happy to note that I’m doing it for the fun of it and to show my support for the fair.
9-3-21 4:49 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Mena New School Year Report, Dealing With COVID-19 In Schools

Mena Public Schools Update on the New School Year Friday, September 3, 2021


Despite having to deal with COVID close contacts and those with positive test results, we have had a rather smooth start to the 2021-2022 school year. As of today, our enrollment is 1,747 students. This is up from the end of the 2020-2021 school year, which finished with 1,720. All of the buildings have seen a slight increase in enrollment and there are several new faces, especially among our staff. We want to welcome our new students, staff members, and their families to Mena!


We have many of our students engaged in very worthwhile activities right now. We are in our second week of the football season. Our band is on the field marching again. Our volleyball, golf, and cross country teams are successfully competing weekly; and, this week is the Polk County Fair and Livestock Show. As you go to these events to support our students and as you take off on your other Labor Day Weekend adventures, please be mindful of COVID and how it impacts our school when large numbers of people are quarantined or isolated.


We began the year with an emphasis on creating as much normalcy as possible for our students and staff but the latest wave of the coronavirus is bringing back much of the stressors of last year. Students and staff are being quarantined as close contacts, so many of us are back to learning from home.


On Thursday, September 2, 2021, Mena Public Schools had 232 students and employees at home because of COVID. This is about 45 more than our highest number last year. Of course, 76.3% of those people are quarantined due to being in close contact. Today, Friday, September 3, 2021, that number is down to 229.


We have 53 active cases of COVID right now, which is a 2.7% positivity rate. That's based on all students and staff in the district and is up from 1.9% last week. Here is a breakdown of active cases on each campus.


Total Active Cases :- 53

LDES - 13

HHES - 26

MMS - 10

MHS - 2

Other - 2


The good news is that we are coming to a long weekend and when we return on September 7th, so will 113 people who are now isolated or quarantined.


We want to recognize and thank Mr. Shane Torix and Nurses Becky Richardson, Lisa Falls, Sherry Wood, and Bobbi Landon for all the contact tracing and record keeping they are having to do along with their other jobs. Our contact tracing team here at Mena Public Schools is very thorough and accurate. This team determines who close contacts are when there is a positive case at school. Our close contacts are being reduced by the actions our staff and students are taking to keep social distance, wear masks, or be vaccinated. But many are still being sent home because they do not take these precautions.


To keep our doors open, we must have enough staff available to properly supervise and educate the students that are here and quarantined at home. Wearing a mask or being vaccinated will prevent people from being sent home as a close contact as long as they have no symptoms. We are asking those who do not want the vaccine to at least mask up when they cannot social distance. This will keep us in operation and avoid shutdown. Many of our younger students cannot or do not understand these things, which is why our highest number of active cases are among those 12 years of age or younger.


We are asking parents, students, and staff to do these things because of the rules that we are under from the Arkansas Department of Health. First, we have our guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Here it is at this link https://drive.google.com/.../1eSmYOEeYvjzLJG2O6PjLYW.../view.


These rules are given to them by the Arkansas Department of Health and state law gives them the authority to do whatever they deem necessary to keep the public health safe. Here are the laws: 20-7-109 https://law.justia.com/.../chapter-7/subchapter-1/20-7-109 and 20-7-110 https://law.justia.com/.../subchapter-1/section-20-7-110/.


We will also share this memo https://drive.google.com/.../1NEiQXYaQe08FQd.../view from the Secretary of Health, Dr. Jose Romero explaining their authority. We have to quarantine or isolate based on these rules and laws.


We do not have the same waivers from the state as last year to help us in case we have to shut down school. We are limited to ten (10) Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) days and use of Digital Learning. We do have a plan for students without Internet access. Student/teacher interaction on these days are required or they do not count as a school day. This is a statement made by DESE and those days will be added to the end of the school year if we do not teach according to our AMI plan. If we use any AMI days, we ask parents to please make sure their student participates in and completes all assignments.


The chances of us closing as a district are just about zero. AMI days are more for weather events but we may use them in case of a COVID outbreak in the school. Our guidance from DESE is to send specific classrooms or buildings home before closing the entire district. They base our guidance on what to do according to the "outbreak" level at a school. Here's a story that covers what an "outbreak" actually is. https://www.5newsonline.com/.../91-644275ef-1685-4073...


At this time, we do not have a COVID outbreak. Our high numbers are primarily quarantined close contacts.


We thank all of the parents and community members in the Mena School District for their patience, understanding, and support as we try to continue educating students while dealing with the continuing impact of COVID. We want you to know that while we are focused on educating your children and overcoming past learning loss, we are also taking safety precautions in the buildings to keep a clean and healthy learning environment.


9-3-21 3:51 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

Rice is grown in over 40 Arkansas counties. The crop contributes billions to the state’s economy and accounts for approximately 25,000 jobs, crucial to rural communities.


September is National Rice Month, a month-long celebration of all things rice. In Arkansas, we have a great deal to celebrate.


Our state is home to 2,300 rice farms and 96% of those farms are family owned and operated. Our farmers produce more than 9 billion pounds of rice each year.


The history of rice in Arkansas began in the 1800’s but it wasn’t until 1910 that production, research and milling were established in the state.


Today, Arkansas produces approximately 48 percent of U.S. rice and ranks number one in acres planted and bushels produced. Arkansas has been the nation’s leading rice-producing state since 1973.


Arkansas rice farmers not only contribute to our economy by creating jobs, they’re also known for giving back to their communities. The state’s rice industry gives over 100,000 pounds of rice annually to fight food insecurity in Arkansas.


Rice farmers have a commitment to protect and preserve natural resources. Today, Arkansas rice farmers produce more rice using less land, energy and water than they did 20 years ago. Working rice fields also provide critical wildlife habitat for many species of birds, mammals and reptiles.


A half-cup cooked serving of white or brown rice costs less than 10 cents, and provides vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Consuming Arkansas-grown rice helps support our neighbors who continue to produce a quality food supply. You can help celebrate rice month by purchasing Arkansas-grown rice at your local supermarket.


We’ve posted more information about the industry on our website www.arkansashouse.org.


9-3-21 3:21 p.m. KAWX.ORG 

Senator Larry Teague's Weekly Column

From Senator Larry Teague

September 3, 2021


LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas legislators continue to support a statewide expansion of broadband service as quickly as possible, especially in areas where there is no Internet at all and in places where the technology is obsolete.


At the same time, lawmakers are being careful to not move so quickly that money is wasted or misspent. Legislators are working to ensure that increased funding does not simply enable current Internet providers to protect their existing turf, by shutting out competition.


At its regular monthly meeting, the Arkansas Legislative Council approved spending $120 million on 34 broadband projects that are ready to begin. The Council also approved an additional $27 million for 12 other projects that still need a technological review.


The money comes from the American Rescue Plan, approved by Congress and the federal administration earlier this year.


During the same meeting, the Council expedited approval of a consultant to map out a statewide broadband plan. As the American Rescue Plan makes more money available to local Internet service providers, legislators have expressed more concern about the lack of an overall plan that will prevent duplication of services.


Also, lawmakers want to make sure that government funding isn’t awarded to private local providers for routine maintenance.


The broadband projects are done by a partnership between a local government and a private provider, such as a telephone company, an Internet service provider or an electric co-operative.


Several lawmakers on the Legislative Council expressed concerns about funding going to some providers, saying that their current level of service was not of good quality.


Another concern of lawmakers was that a particular area may not qualify for a broadband grant, because supposedly it is already being served by an existing provider. However, everybody who lives in the area knows that it is not being served by the company.


A deputy director at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, through which the grants are being awarded, said that complaints about service may be a result of the old equipment that the provider wants to upgrade.


When a provider receives a grant, there will be an ongoing audit to ensure that the promised services are made available to consumers, the deputy director said.


A senator on the Council questioned officials about the date the broadband consultant would be hired, saying that in the future the consultant would review all proposals to make sure they fit into a statewide plan. The consultant should be hired in September.


In conjunction with the large grants for broadband expansion are important initial grants made possible by the legislature in 2020, known as Rural Broadband ID grants.


The legislature appropriated $2 million for the ID grants through the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Institute for Digital Health and Innovation. One senator called the institute the “brain trust” for broadband in Arkansas.


Rural Broadband ID grants help local governments pay for data such as due-diligence studies, surveys and maps of available service.


That information usually costs more than a small county or town has in its budget, but it’s necessary to prove the existence of unserved or underserved areas. Rural ID grants pay for the accurate data that is needed to apply for larger federal grants, such as those funded through the American Rescue Plan.


9-3-21 7:26 a.m. KAWX.ORG 

OLT Burn The Mortgage Campaign, Lyric Theatre Building Turns 100 in 2023

The Lyric building which houses the Ouachita Little Theatre has an important milestone in 2023; it is going to be 100 years old! To celebrate this event, OLT has an important goal in mind.  We want to own our building outright, so we are starting a campaign to Burn our Mortgage! 


Chairperson of this campaign, Judy Kropp, states that she “was spurred on” by a comment made from one of the former OLT charter members stating that “If 30 people in Mena would give a gift to OLT of $1000 each, we could pay off the mortgage!" Judy recognized this statement was not only true, but attainable. Therefore, the OLT board members are seeking folks to be part of an active campaign to “Burn the Mortgage” by making donations, not only large, but small!


The Lyric Building has provided generations of Polk County people with fond memories of entertainment. We often have people come into the building that remember going to the movies when they were children or with their high school sweethearts.  It began with silent films in the early 1920s, followed by the first “talkie” film, then personal Lum and Abner appearances and their film’s national premiere. Since 1985 when OLT purchased the building, the Lyric stage has been filled with live performances of plays, musicals, music and dance groups. 


It is a stalwart goal of OLT to protect this building which is a treasure in this community. It has survived, tornado strikes, fire, water damage, and more. We pledge to take care of it and preserve it for more generations to come! Please join us in this worthy commitment by sharing whatever donations you can. You can mail a check to OLT, PO Box 1217, Mena, AR 71953 (please indicate “burn the mortgage on the memo line) or drop by the OLT office Thursdays and Fridays between 2-6 PM or Saturdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. Thank you in advance for your support!


9-1-21 1:05 p.m. KAWX.ORG