LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS WITH RICK HOLT
Local News 092123
Former Prison Guard Arraigned
A former correctional officer with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons was arraigned Tuesday on a federal indictment charging him with production and distribution of child pornography.
Officials say that 36-year-old Christopher Michael Alsup of Wynne faces four counts of attempted production of child pornography and 14 counts of receipt or distribution of child pornography between the dates of Jan. 19 and April 20 of this year.
Officials say that Alsup is also charged in Cross County Circuit Court with:
--engaging a child in explicit sexual conduct, computer exploitation of a child
--28 counts of distribution/possession/viewing of matter depicting child sex
--eight counts of rape involving a minor under the age of 14
Alsup was initially arrested May 9 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Forrest City where he was employed.
On Wednesday, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Kearney informed Alsup of the federal charges against him, telling him that he faces a potential penalty of 15 to 20 years in prison for each of the four attempted production counts and 5 to 20 years in prison for each of the receipt/distribution counts.
Alsup's attorney, John Wesley Hall Jr. of Little Rock, waived reading of the indictment, entered a plea of not guilty and requested a trial date. The case is set for trial on Oct. 30 before Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr.
Alsup is currently being held in the White County jail in Searcy -- where he has been since May 17 -- under $2.5 million bond on the state charges and a hold for federal marshals.
FCPD Burglary Investigation
Forrest City Police are investigating a residential burglary report.
A Forrest City patrol officer was dispatched to 636 Dillard Street just after 8 a.m. Wednesday (9/20) where he spoke with the homeowner, Christopher Chism.
Mr. Chism stated that he arrived at the house Wednesday morning to find that someone had been inside the residence.
He said that the only thing that appeared to be missing from the house was a safe.
Police checked the house and determined that entry had been made through a back bedroom window.
No suspects have been identified in the case. The investigation is ongoing.
SFC Ambulance Response Concerns
The St. Francis County Judge’s office has received several complaints recently about slow ambulance response times around the county.
County Judge Craig Jones addressed the issue at Tuesday night’s (9/19) Quorum Court meeting:
Thanks Judge Jones.
SNAP Benefit Increase
The millions of people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, are about to get a bump in their benefits starting on Oct. 1.
Officials say that the SNAP benefits will automatically rise to reflect the recent changes in the cost of living due to high inflation.
According to data from the USDA, SNAP benefits will increase an average of about 3% starting in October, compared to the year prior.
For those who currently receive SNAP benefits, there is no extra paperwork required to receive the increase. The changes will occur automatically.
SNAP is also making some other changes to who can qualify to receive the food assistance.
As of Sept. 1, 2023, childless workers under 50 years of age are required to show they were working 80 hours or more a month, pursuing an education, or training program to qualify for SNAP.
Starting on Oct. 1, the age requirements will be expanded up to 52. Then next year, on Oct. 1, 2024, the age requirement will expand again to 54.
Homeless, veterans or youth ages 18 to 24 who aged out of foster care are exempt from these requirements. People who cannot work due to a physical or mental limitation, are pregnant or have a child 18 or younger living in their home will also be exempt.
If you don’t meet the new work requirements, you will only be eligible for SNAP for three months of benefits in a three-year period.
Ark Rice Donation
The Arkansas Rice Federation will donate 240,000 pounds of rice to the Arkansas Food Bank.
Jeff Rutledge, a rice producer from Newport, announced Wednesday that the donation is equivalent to 1.8 million servings of rice that will help alleviate hunger in the state.
Brian Burton, CEO of the Arkansas Food Bank, said inflation, supply chain issues and the end of federal governmental pandemic relief has put a strain on non-profits like his.
Burton said the donation will be shared with every Feed America Food Bank in Arkansas, adding that "this rice will flow out into every single county throughout the state."
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who attended the news conference, signed a proclamation last month declaring September as Arkansas Rice Month.
Ark Power Grid Upgrade
Arkansas will receive just over $10 million in federal grant funding over two years to improve the structure of its power grid.
The grant, totaling $5.16 million the first year and $5.14 million the second year, is funded through the Grid Enhancement Grant program, which comes from the U.S. Department of Energy through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The 2021 infrastructure bill allocated $13 billion in new financing opportunities for the expansion and modernization of the nation’s electric grid.
According to the U.S Energy Information Administration, from January to June Arkansans were included in four major power outages caused by severe weather that affected more than 50,000 customers across four states for one or more hours.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement that “this year’s historic natural disasters underscored the critical importance of our electric grid. She stated that “this investment will enhance the grid’s resiliency to help in future crisis events, benefiting Arkansans for years to come.”
--A Mobile Food Distribution for St. Francis County is scheduled for Thursday, September 21st, from 9 a.m. to 12-noon at the Larry Bryant Multi-Purpose Center in Forrest City. This will be a Drive-Through Distribution. Recipients must stay in their vehicle. Commodity foods are distributed on a first come, first served basis.
--The Plum Foundation will be giving away fresh fruits and vegetables, Thursday (9/21) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Nineveh Temple Church, located at 208 West Broadway in Forrest City.
--The Forrest City School Board will meet Thursday (9/21) at 5:30 p.m. at the Jr. High School Library.
--Junior Auxiliary of St. Francis County would like to remind everyone that their 4th annual golf tournament is this Saturday, the 23rd. It's a 3-man scramble at Ridgecrest Country Club. Registration is at 12pm and Tee time is at 1pm. They will be taking team registrations up until tee time.
--The organization “Chance for a Change” will be providing after-school balanced meal giveaways, Monday through Friday from 3-4 p.m. at the Forrest City Sports Complex. This is only for children ages 2 to 18.
--The city of Colt is having a 5k run and a 1 mile walk race on October 7th to help raise money for playground equipment for the city park. Sign up forms can be found at Colt City Hall or at the St Francis County Treasures office. Sign up online at racesonline.com and search for "Run to the Park 5k Colt Ar."
--The Forrest City High School Class of 1983 is preparing for their 40 year “Pearl” reunion, October 6-8. Classmates can contact Sandra McMillion, Alvin Taggart, Regina Whitby and Ronald Sayles or join the Facebook page, Class of 1983 FCHS. The fees are $100 for a single or $150 for couples and can be mailed to: P.O. Box 2156, Forrest City, Ar. 72336
--Funeral service for John Henry Parker, age 84, of Palestine will be Friday (9/22) at 11 a.m. at Stevens Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Bell Cemetery. Visitation will be Friday from 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the funeral home. Stevens Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Donald Wayne Devazier, 76, of St. Francis County will be Friday (9/22) at 2 p.m. at Stevens Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Lindsey Cemetery. Visitation will be Friday from 1 p.m. until the time of the service at the funeral home. Stevens Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Peggy Louise Dawson, 68, of Clarendon will be Saturday (9/23) at 10 a.m. at the Clarendon/Holly Grove High School Auditorium in Clarendon. Burial will follow at Shady Grove Cemetery in Clarendon. C.J. Williams Funeral Directors and Cremations of Brinkley is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Vernon Falls, 39, of Palestine, formerly of Dallas will be Saturday (9/23) at 12 p.m. at Pine Tree Community Church of God in Christ. Visitation will be Saturday from 11 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. Miles Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral services for William T. Mitchell Jr. age 70 of Memphis will be Saturday September 23rd 12 noon at World Overcomers Church in Memphis with burial at a later date. Visitation will be at 10am at the church before the funeral. Marianna Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Wallace Cummings, 60, of Chicago will be Saturday (9/23) at 2 p.m. at Miles Mortuary. Burial will follow in Shady Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday from 1 p.m. until the time of the service at Miles Mortuary, which is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Ollie Mae Adell-Davis, 75, of Brinkley will be Saturday (9/23) at 3 p.m. at Mount of Olive Ministries in Brinkley. Burial will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery in Brinkley. Visitation will be Friday from 5-7 p.m. at the church. C.J. Williams Funeral Directors and Cremations of Brinkley is in charge of arrangements.
--High School Football--
In high school football action Friday night (9/22):
--Batesville Southside at Forrest City (KXJK)
--West Memphis Christian at Marvell Academy (KBFC)
--Walnut Ridge at Palestine-Wheatley
--Marked Tree at Marianna
--Lee Academy at Hebron
--Helena-West Helena at Monticello
--Deer Creek at Desoto
--Barton at Fordyce
--Brookland at Wynne
--McCrory at Cross County
--Clarendon at EPC
--Earle at Des Arc
--Valley View at Paragould
--Cabot at Jonesboro
--Greene County Tech at Marion
--West Memphis at Sylvan Hills
--Batesville at Nettleton
All games kick-off at 7 p.m.
FC School Event
The Forrest City Mustang Band is looking for former band members for one more encore performance.
Alumni band members are invited to join the current Musical Stampede during the homecoming festivities on Friday, Oct. 6, at Sam Smith Stadium.
If you have any questions, contact Band Director Jesse Hailey at email@example.com.
FC Community Service Program Reboot
The City of Forrest City’s Community Service Program is back up and running.
Police Chief Ronald Broussard has been spearheading the effort to restart the program, which will help clean-up the city and allow participants to work off their fines:
Chief Broussard talked to KXJK/KBFC Radio about the program:
Thanks, Chief Broussard.
Breast Cancer Awareness
The Delta Pink Rubies present the 4th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk coming up October 21st from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Participants will meet in the Grant Street parking lot, right across the street from the Forrest City Fire Department.
There is a $20 registration fee, which will include a t-shirt for each participant.
Registration is going on now at runsignup.com/deltapinkrubies.
For more information, contact Jacquelyn White at 870-270-9144 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is being conducted in partnership with the Arkansas Cancer Coalition and Arkansas Delta Community Connections.
SFC Extension Report
Experts say that “check washing” is a crime that adversely affects individuals and businesses across the country.
St. Francis County Family and Consumer Science Agent Marla Lane had more details:
Thanks Ms. Lane.
Sleep experts say that getting a good night’s rest is just as important as a proper diet and exercise, maybe more so.
St. Francis County Family and Consumer Science Agent Marla Lane addresses the topic in her educational report for the month of September:
Thanks Ms. Lane.
EACC Welcome Center Update
A Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting ceremony for the new Welcome Center at East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City is set for September 29th.
The Grand Opening ceremony will be Friday, September 29th, from 10-11 a.m., with the Ribbon Cutting promptly at 10:30 a.m.
The facility will house EACC’s newly renovated Student Services, Bookstore, Café and Career Training Hub.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
Ark Entertainment Schedule
Jeff Dunham’s “Still Not Canceled” tour will make a stop December 29th at Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock.
Tickets are $60 and on sale now at ticketmaster.com.
The Harlem Globetrotters are making their way back to Simmons Bank Arena Feb. 1 with a showtime set for 7 p.m. against the Washington Generals.
This year, the team announced its partnership with Spalding, which officials say they hope enhances the game experience for fans. This partnership also gives fans the opportunity to take home official Harlem Globetrotters themed basketballs on game day.
Tickets go on sale Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. The starting ticket price is set for $32 and can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com.
The ultimate monster truck show, Monster Jam: As Big as it Gets, will roll into the Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock on March 9 and 10.
Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.
USDA Food Program
Arisa Health out of Jonesboro has announced that they will be sponsoring the USDA Food Program again this year.
Meals will be available at no separate charge or at a reduced price to enrolled persons at the following Adult Day Treatment facilities:
--Power House, 4451 N. Washington in Forrest City
--Destiny House, 444 Atkins Blvd. in Marianna
--Sunshine Club, 801 Newman Dr. in Helena
--Delta Care II, 613 Rightor St. in Helena
--Friendship Club, 490 Broadmoor Dr. in Brinkley
--Round House, 905 N. 7th St. in West Memphis
Call 870-972-4000 for more information.
FC Hall of Fame Inductees
The Forrest City Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2023 has been announced.
This year’s inductees include the Lincoln High School undefeated Tigers football team and Ronald Williams who played at Lincoln.
From Forrest City High School prior to 1970 the inductees are Johnny McDaniel and the late Walter Gene Prewitt.
From the modern era of after 1970 the inductees are Chris Williams, Cassandra Jackson Taylor, Barney Freeman, and Ryan Green.
A meritorious award will be presented to the family of the late Raoul Carlisle, a nationally known sportswriter who lived in Forrest City.
Tickets for the September 22nd banquet are $20 and available at Cedric Williams State Farm Insurance office, The Forrest City Area Chamber of Commerce office, and Delta Office Works.
The inductees will be recognized at a banquet at the Fine Arts Center at EACC before the September 22nd Mustang game against Batesville Southside.
In addition to the banquet the inductees or family members will meet for a private luncheon at Forrest City Country Club, speak to this year’s Mustang football team, and be introduced to the crowd at halftime of that night’s game at Mustang Stadium.
Single Parent Scholarship
The Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) helps single parents receive financial aid to help them through their education pathway. (Channel 4, Little Rock)
ASPSF applicants enrolled in trade schools, community colleges, and universities can receive up to $1,600 next spring to help pay for expenses that get in the way of education.
To be eligible, single parents must have a GED or high school diploma, a 2.0 GPA in past courses, and a household income of no more than 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines.
The ASPSF services 68 of the 75 counties in Arkansas, including St. Francis County.
The deadline to apply is Oct. 15 in order to be eligible for a Spring 2024 scholarship.
Ark Energy Assistance
A program to help Arkansas residents with their electric bills is underway.
Arkansas’ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps lower the energy burden for households in winter and summer.
Summer LIHEAP Assistance will be available through September 29.
The community-based organization can help with the costs of summer cooling bills, including those from Entergy Arkansas and other utilities.
Officials suggest applying as soon as possible due to the program’s high demand.
LIHEAP is operated by a network of 15 community-based organizations in Arkansas and serves all 75 counties.
Contact the Crowley’s Ridge Development Council at (870) 802-7100 for more information.