LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS WITH RICK HOLT
Local and Regional News 022624
SFC Homicide Victim IDed
The St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department has identified the body that was found in rural Forrest City last week.
Sheriff’s investigators said today (Monday) that the subject has been identified as 42-year-old Troy Alexandra Strope of the Forrest City area.
Ms. Strope’s body was discovered inside a plastic container last Tuesday, February 20th out on SFC Road 731, located off Hwy 334, about five miles southeast of Forrest City.
The cause of death has not been released, but sheriff’s detectives have said that the case is being investigated as a homicide.
FC Man Charged
A Forrest City man was arrested on a felony assault charge early Saturday (2/24) following a domestic disturbance involving a handgun.
A Forrest City Police officer was dispatched to an apartment in the 1000 block of Holiday Drive around 3:40 a.m. Saturday.
At the scene, the officer spotted a male and two females coming out of the complainant’s apartment. The officer grabbed the male subject and took possession of a Glock 47 that the man was carrying.
The suspect, later ID’ed as 22-year-old Dedrick Barnes of Forrest City, had reportedly choked his girlfriend and pointed a handgun at her during the assault.
The police report noted that the victim’s two-year-old child was inside the residence at the time of the attack.
Barnes is currently being held at the St. Francis County Detention Center on charges of aggravated assault, 3rd degree domestic battery and endangering the welfare of a minor, 3rd degree.
Lee Co Man Charged
A Lee County man was arrested on a DWI charge after wrecking his car in Forrest City over the weekend.
A Forrest City patrol officer responded to Dawson Road just after 6 a.m. Saturday to investigate reports of a vehicle in a roadside ditch.
The officer spotted the vehicle and made contact with the driver, 27-year-old Tyler Stewart of Marianna.
The officer noted that Mr. Stewart appeared to be intoxicated. Stewart failed a field sobriety test and later registered .205 on the breathalyzer. The legal limit in Arkansas is .08.
Stewart was later booked at the St. Francis County Detention Center on charges of DWI, driving without a license, no insurance and expired tags.
Ark Early Voting
Early voting is continuing in the March 5th Primary Election.
The five-day early vote total at the St. Francis County Courthouse at the end of the day Saturday (2/24) was 237.
Early voting will continue through Monday, March 4th. Voting hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Sample ballots can be found online on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website, where you can look at candidates and have your votes ready when you arrive at your polling location.
I55 Bridge Update
The I-55 bridge closed for construction Saturday morning and reopened ahead of schedule Saturday afternoon. (Channel 3, Memphis)
The bridge closed at 5 a.m. Saturday so crews with the Tennessee Department of Transportation could continue construction on the I-55 and Crump interchange.
According to TDOT, the closure was scheduled to last until 6 o’clock this (Monday) morning, but crews had the bridge reopened just hours after closing down lanes.
TDOT said this weekend’s closure is the fourth of eight allowed in the contract along with two, two-week closures of the I-55 bridge.
The first of those two-week closures is scheduled to begin on March 10.
Elaine Descendants Honored
The Descendants of the Elaine Massacre of 1919 and L&J Empowerment were presented with the 2024 Advancing Equity Award on Feb. 8 -- the National Day of Racial Healing. (DG)
The Center on Community Philanthropy at the Clinton School of Public Service presented the awards at a gala at the Clinton Presidential Center.
Minister Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action and the Center on Community Philanthropy's Distinguished Scholar in Racial Healing Practice, delivered remarks during the event.
The Advancing Equity Award is in its seventh year and is presented annually to organizations using innovative solutions to address racial inequalities in their communities and advance progress toward inclusion.
Ark Loan Forgiveness
The U.S. Department of Education has released state-by-state data showing the impact of President Joe Biden's move canceling federal student loans for thousands of Americans, including nearly 1,200 Arkansans.
Some borrowers received emails Wednesday notifying them that "all or a portion of their federal student loans will be forgiven" through their enrollment in the Saving on a Valuable Education Plan, or SAVE.
The program allows low- and middle-income individuals to pay monthly payments based on their incomes, with individuals with low incomes paying smaller amounts.
The move clears $1.2 billion in federal student loans for nearly 153,000 Americans. According to the Department of Education, 1,190 Arkansans learned their student debt would be partially or fully cleared, with the forgiven amount totaling $8.7 million.
People are eligible for forgiveness through SAVE if they have been making loan payments for at least 10 years. They also could not have taken out more than $12,000 in loans. Enrollees with more than $12,000 in only undergraduate loans can receive forgiveness after 20 years of payments, while enrollees with graduate school loans can have them forgiven after 25 years of payments.
If borrowers did not receive an email with a notification about student loan forgiveness, they can check their account at studentaid.gov or their loan servicer's website regarding their status.
EACC Concert Schedule
East Arkansas Community College will present American rock group, Grand Funk Railroad, on Saturday, April 20th at 7:30 p.m. at the EACC Fine Arts Center. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, March 4th at 10:00 a.m.
Celebrating a 55-year milestone, the top-selling American rock group of the 70s is known for their mega-hits of “We’re an American Band,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home,” “Locomotion,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” and more.
Grand Funk’s recording achievements include 19 charted singles, eight Top 40 hits, and two No. 1 singles. They have accumulated 13 gold and 10 platinum records with sales exceeding 25 million worldwide.
Tickets for Grand Funk Railroad’s performance are $44 and will be available online at EACC.edu, by calling 870-633-4480, ext. 352, or in person at the EACC Fine Arts Center Ticket Office.
--The Arkansas Department of Education will host a “Become a Teacher Fair” on March 5 from 3:30-7:00 p.m. at the Capitol Mall. This event is perfect for paraprofessionals, substitutes, unlicensed staff, or career changers who want to earn a teaching license. Register at dese.link/teacher-fair. #TeachArkansas.
--First Baptist Church on North Rosser St. in Forrest City will host a Chili Cookoff on Sunday, March 10th starting at 5 p.m. at the church gym. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded and chili will be served the night of the event. The competition is open to the public. To sign up, call the church office at 870-633-2382.
--Ridgecrest Club in Forrest City will hold a One-Man Scramble, March 16-17. Contact Tony Downey at 870-270-0361 for more information.
--Graveside service for Sandra Taylor, 80, of Forrest City will be Monday (2/26) at 2 p.m. at Hughes Cemetery in Forrest City. Visitation will be Monday from 1 p.m. until the time of the service at Stevens Funeral Home, which is in charge of arrangements.
--Patricia Sue “Pat” Whitaker of Forrest City passed away Friday (2/23) at the age of 85. Visitation will be Tuesday, March 5th from 5-7 p.m. at Stevens Funeral Home Chapel. Stevens Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Lady Mustangs Advance
After a good week at the Regional in Brookland Coach Caronica Williams’ Lady Mustangs are headed to the 4A State Tournament at Farmington. Forrest City’s first game at state will be Tuesday afternoon at 4 against Dardanelle. All the Lady Mustang State tournament games will be broadcast on Hometown Radio KXJK at AM950 and 106.5FM.
The Lady Mustangs beat Little Rock Hall and Clinton in last week’s Regional to improve their season record to 27 & 7 heading into this week’s State Tournament action. Their only loss was to the eventual Regional Champion Pulaski Academy team. Saturday’s win over Clinton sends the local team to state as the number 3 seed. In that game Charnell Hoof led the team with 20 points and 13 rebounds, Ayana Watson had 10 points and 6 rebounds, and Jaztin Janai helped with 13 points and 2 rebounds.
--High School Basketball--
In high school basketball state tournament action this week:
5A State Tourney at Searcy
--West Memphis vs Vilonia, Wednesday at 2: 30 p.m.
--Marion vs Little Rock Parkview, Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.
--Little Rock Christian vs West Memphis, Wednesday at 4 p.m.
4A State Tourney at Farmington
--Forrest City vs Dardanelle, Tuesday at 4 p.m.
2A State Tourney at Mansfield
--Earle vs Bigelow, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
--Barton vs Mount Vernon-Enola, Tuesday at 4 p.m.
--Earle vs Izard County, Thursday at 4 p.m.
1A at North Ark College (Harrison)
--Marvell-Elaine vs Nevada, Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
--Clarendon vs Emerson, Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
--Brinkley vs Dermott, Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
--Augusta vs Mt. Ida, Thursday at 4 p.m.
The University of Arkansas baseball team wrapped up the weekend with a 4-3 victory over Michigan Sunday in the Kubota College Baseball Series in Arlington, Texas.
Arkansas improved to 5-2 on the season after winning two out of three games over the weekend in North Texas.
Razorback pitchers gave three solid performances, but four errors over the final two games and offensive struggles left Coach Dave Van Horn with mixed reviews.
He commented that the guys "weren't swinging the bat worth a darn all weekend," which he said put a lot of pressure on the Razorback pitchers, but added that “they did a tremendous job”.
The Razorbacks recorded a school-record 23 strikeouts during a 5-4 victory over Oregon State on Friday, then broke that record with 25 strikeouts during a 2-1 loss in 14 innings to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Up next, the Razorbacks will return home to take on Grambling, Tuesday (2/27) at 3 p.m.
Lee Co School News
The Lee County School District will host a FAFSA Night on February 26th at 5:30 p.m. at the High School Cafeteria.
School officials say that completing a FAFSA is the single most important step that Seniors can take toward securing funding for the future of their dreams.
The district will have experts on hand to help during the event. Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend, but if they’re unable, Seniors should attend with the following information:
--parents' legal names
--2022 tax documents
--parents' social security cards
--parents' email addresses
Again, FAFSA Night will be held Monday, February 26th at 5:30 p.m. at the Lee High School Cafeteria.
Political Signs Reminder
The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) reminds candidates for political office and their supporters that it is unlawful to place campaign signs on highway right of ways in Arkansas.
ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor stated that laws permit only official directional, informational and regulatory highway signs on state-owned highway property.
ARDOT personnel will remove any “yard” signs placed on the right of way and will contact owners of large “billboard” signs to remove them. Owners can pick up the signs during normal business hours at the nearest ARDOT Area Maintenance Office.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation encourages everyone to follow the right of way laws to keep the roadsides clear and ensure our highways are as safe as possible.
Red Cross Blood Appeal
The American Red Cross urges donors to give blood or platelets now to continue to strengthen the national blood supply this month.
As February continues, so does the potential for additional weather systems to disrupt blood drives and the ability to provide critical blood products to hospitals.
Type O blood, the most needed blood group, is needed daily to ensure blood products are available for hospitals at a moment’s notice.
Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
In thanks for helping, all who come to give in February will get a $20 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. Details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Heart.
Great Rivers Showcase Event
The Great Rivers Education Service Cooperative will hold a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Showcase on Wednesday, February 28th from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Dwight Lofton Mustang Arena.
The event will “showcase” the work and accomplishments of students throughout the 10 school districts that make up the Great Rivers Consortium. Those districts include: Forrest City, Palestine-Wheatley, Lee County, Helena-West Helena, Marvell-Elaine, Barton, KIPP Delta, Brinkley, Clarendon and West Memphis.
Anyone interested in being a vendor at the event can contact Great Rivers CTE Coordinator, Dr. Tameka C. Anderson at (870) 630-4659 or by email at Tanderson@greatrivers.net.
Again, the event is coming up Wednesday, February 28th, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Dwight Lofton Mustang Arena on the campus of Forrest City High School.
Dr. Anderson will be our guest on the Morning Show on Tuesday, February 27th, at 7:32 a.m. to talk more about the event.
SFC Extension Reports
The flu season is in full swing across the state of Arkansas.
In her educational report for the month of February, St. Francis County Family and Consumer Science Agent Marla Lane lists 10 steps you can take to avoid the flu this season:
Thanks Ms. Lane.
February is National Heart Health Month.
In her educational report for the month of February, St. Francis County Family and Consumer Science Agent Marla Lane talks about steps you can take to lessen the risks of heart disease:
Thanks Ms. Lane.
The following Production Meetings and Pesticide Applicator Trainings have been scheduled for the 2024 program year:
--Rice and Soybeans Meeting, February 29th at 8:15 a.m. at Woodruff Electric in Forrest City.
--Pesticide Applicator Training, March 7th at 9 a.m. at Lon Mann.
For more information, call the Lee Co. Extension Office at 870-295-7720 or the St. Francis County Extension Office at 870-261-1730.
Scholarship Application Period Open
Applications are being accepted for the 2024 Glynn and Mildred Carpenter Scholarship available through Woodruff Electric Cooperative.
The scholarship is a $1,000 cash award in honor of Glynn Carpenter, who served as manager and CEO of Woodruff Electric Cooperative for 34 years, and his wife Mildred.
Applicants must be a graduate of any public or private school, or home school located in St. Francis, Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips or Woodruff counties, or the city of Des Arc while residing in the home of a Woodruff Electric member.
The applicant must also be the child, grandchild, or dependent of a Woodruff Electric member.
Applicants must submit a completed application along with all appropriate materials in advance of the application deadline, which is March 18, 2024.
Selection will be made based on GPA, transcript, class ranking, ACT/SAT score, extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, honors received, financial need, application statement and the letter of recommendation.
Applications may be sent by mail to:
Woodruff Electric Carpenter Scholarship
PO Box 1619
Forrest City, AR 72336
Applications may also be dropped off at the Woodruff Electric office located on the Hwy. 1 bypass in Forrest City or emailed to email@example.com.
FC Library Tax Services
IRS Certified Volunteers are now offering free tax preparation services at the Forrest City Public Library.
This program offers FREE tax preparation and filing for households with an Adjusted Gross Income of $79,000 or less.
Simply drop off your tax information at the library and your completed return will be ready within three days.
Drop-off hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday only, from 9 a.m. to 12-noon and from 2-4 p.m.
Call the library at 870-633-5646 for additional evening and Saturday drop-off times.
SFC Ag News
The St. Francis County Conservation District announces an election for three positions on the Conservation District Board of Directors will be conducted on March 5, 2024.
Votes will be cast at the District office at 4401 N Washington St. in Forrest City. Petitions for persons wishing to run for a position on the board are currently available at the District office and must be returned by February 15, 2024.
Persons wishing to run for a position on the board must reside and own land in St. Francis County and possess a desire to work on conservation related issues involving our local natural resources.
For more information contact Pat Perry at 870-581-4367.
Attention area farmers. The well registration deadline is March 1, 2024.
Arkansas law requires all ground and surface water users to report that usage to the local Conservation District annually between October 1st and March 1st.
Registration includes reporting crops and number of acres irrigation as well as the irrigation method used, and payment of registration fees.
Any questions should be made to Pat Perry at the St. Francis County Conservation District at 4401 N Washington in Forrest City or call 870-581-4367.
LIHEAP Program Continues
Entergy Arkansas customers who need help paying their winter utility bills can apply now for up to $475 in assistance through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
The program’s application period runs through March 22 or until funds are expended.
LIHEAP is designed to lower the energy burden by paying benefits for home energy bills for low-income households, who pay a higher proportion of their income for home energy costs.
The program is available during summer and winter, as heating and air units work harder and use more energy during extreme temperatures.
An online application is available for most Entergy Arkansas customers at www.getliheap.com.
Locally, contact the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council (CRDC) office in Forrest City at 870-630-0193 for more information.
Youth Wildlife Art Contest
The Arkansas Wildlife Federation (AWF) is encouraging students across the state to participate in the 10th annual Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest.
An online submission process allows K-12 students, their teachers, or parents to submit a photograph of their artwork online, providing an accessible venue for participation.
An expert panel of jurors selects the top three artworks per grade, as well as Best in Show.
Winners in each grade will receive certificates and an invitation to attend an awards reception at the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock.
Images of all winning artworks will be publicized in the 2024 summer issue of Arkansas Out of Doors magazine, the
official publication of Arkansas Wildlife Federation.
An exhibit featuring the winning pieces of artwork will also be on display at the state capitol and will travel to nature centers and other public locations across the state.
Submissions for the contest must be submitted by March 29. The Wildlife of Arkansas Student Art Contest is free and open to all K-12 students living in Arkansas. Artwork must feature Arkansas native wildlife, plants, and/or landscapes.
Visit www.arwild.org for all contest rules, resources, and submission details.