YOUR LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS
ARKANSAS VIRUS UPDATE
There were 531 new coronavirus cases reported in Arkansas on Monday.
The day’s case count was about 100 less than had been reported Sunday. Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressed optimism about the decline in cases saying that he’s “hopeful that the cases will stay low through the week.”
The latest increase brings the total number of cases since March to 99,597. Of those, 8,658 are considered to be active.
The total number of current hospitalizations due to covid-19 rose by 41 to 613, a new record. The number of patients on a ventilator rose by two, to 99.
The state reported 10 additional deaths as a result of the virus, bringing the death toll to 1,714.
ARK SCHOOLS REPORT POSITIVE CASES
Several northeast Arkansas school districts are reporting positive COVID-19 cases among their students and faculty. (Channel 8, Jonesboro)
As of Monday, Oct. 19, the following districts are reporting at least 5 active cases, according to the Arkansas Department of Health:
St. Francis County
Forrest City School District: ADH reports 8 active cases, with 11 cumulative faculty/staff cases and 37 cumulative student cases.
Marion School District: ADH reports 21 active cases with 13 cumulative (faculty/staff) and 39 cumulative student cases.
West Memphis School District: ADH reports 7 active cases, with 12 cumulative faculty/staff cases and 50 cumulative student cases.
Wynne School District: ADH is no longer reporting at least 5 active cases.
To help parents ensure their child’s safety, the Arkansas Department of Health provides a report each Monday and Thursday on educational institutions in the state with five or more cases reported.
SFC ROVING VOTE SITES
A total of 390 voters turned out for the first day of early voting Monday in St. Francis County.
Early voting is being conducted as always in the Quorum Courtroom at the St. Francis County Courthouse in Forrest City. Voting hours are weekdays from 8-6 and Saturdays from 10-4. Voting hours on the final day of Early Voting on Monday, November 2nd will be from 8-5.
Also, in an effort to avoid crowded situations due to Covid-19, local election officials are also offering “Roving” Early Voting at various polling locations that are typically used only on Election Day.
The roving sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the following voting precincts:
--Tuesday (10/20) Colt Community Center
--Wednesday (10/21) Oak Hill Life Center
--Thursday (10/22) Wheatley Civic Center
--Friday (10/23) Cumberland Presbyterian Life Center
--Saturday (10/24) Hughes Community Center
--Monday (10/26) Madison Community Center
--Tuesday (10/27) Kountry Kitchen (FC Fairgrounds)
--Wednesday (10/28) Civic Center
--Thursday (10/29) Lane Chapel CME Church
--Friday (10/29) Salem Life Center
Call the County Clerk’s Office at 870-261-1725 for more information.
VOTING SAFETY CONCERNS
Early voting is underway and the Arkansas Department of Health is urging voters to wear masks, practice social distancing and follow other public health protocols -- while offering assurances that poll workers will be doing the same. (Democrat-Gazette)
The guidance for voters issued by both the Health Department and the CDC during the coronavirus pandemic recommends that voters take familiar steps, such as separating themselves by 6 feet while waiting in line.
Polling locations have also been urged to comply by reconfiguring their voting areas so that machines are spaced apart and sanitized, and so that voters may leave through a separate entrance once they cast their ballots.
Several counties, including St. Francis, will provide voters with disposable stylus pens that can be used on electronic voting machines.
But health officials say that voters cannot be turned away from a polling location if they are sick or refuse to wear a mask. State officials have recommended that voters flouting guidelines be kept at a distance from others.
Voters who do not wish to vote in person may request an absentee ballot by mail or electronically by Oct. 27. Voters may request an absentee ballot and return it in person until Nov. 2. Absentee ballots delivered by mail within the U.S. must arrive at the county clerk's office by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.
FCMC VISITATION RESTRICTIONS UNCHANGED
While some areas of public life may be seeing more optional implementation of COVID-19 restrictions, Forrest City Medical Center has announced the same stringent visitation restrictions that began in late March will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
Facility Compliance Officer Angela Vondran commented that the hospital “cannot afford to relax our position on COVID-19 restrictions,” adding that the number one priority is “the health and safety of those in our care.”
The policy states that no visitors will be allowed to visit patients of Forrest City Medical Center with the following exceptions:
• One visitor with an Obstetrics patient
• One adult parent or guardian for any patient under the age of 18
• One visitor for patients needing physical or other assistance
Entrance restrictions to Forrest City Medical Center will remain as they have been, requiring everyone entering the hospital to enter through the Emergency Department entrance.
Everyone entering the hospital will be required to submit to a screening process consisting of a thermal camera temperature reading and answering a few questions about recent health and travel history.
Anyone refusing to comply with the screening process will not be allowed entrance into the hospital.
Masks are required to be worn at all times. Hand sanitation areas are located frequently throughout the hospital and sanitation of all hospital areas takes place, hourly, after each patient and as needed.
LOCAL GROUPS SUPPORT VOTERS
The organization LIFE is partnering with the local NAACP, as well as area sororities and fraternities to provide rides to voting sites for St. Francis County residents.
The effort is called Souls to the Polls and will offer rides to voters every day the polls are open through Election Day on Tuesday, November 3rd.
Individuals that need a ride to the polls may contact the LIFE organization at (870) 200-9263. To donate to this cause, please do so via PAYPAL; simply go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, a nonpartisan Caravan “Stroll to the Polls” event will be held on the next two Saturdays, October 24th and the 31st. Area churches, civic organizations, sororities, fraternities and community members are invited to drive united to the St. Francis County courthouse to vote.
The event will start each Saturday at 12-noon with an 11:30 a.m. line-up at the Forrest City Civic Center.
Groups wanting to participate must request a registration form at email@example.com.
FCPD BURGLARY INVESTIGATION
Forrest City Police report that around $60,000 worth of farm chemicals were reported stolen from a local business Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Douglas Pitchford of Holly Grove told police that he is currently leasing a building at 1150 Eldridge Road in Forrest City and went there Sunday afternoon to do some cleaning. He said when he arrived, he noticed that the lock on the west side door had been broken off.
An inventory of the building determined that four 15-gallon barrels of soybean seed treatment were missing. The value of the chemicals was estimated at around $15,000 a barrel, or around $60,000 total for the four.
Police were able to view footage from the building’s security camera which showed an unidentified male subject walking around the building at approximately 11:30 Saturday night.
The suspect was described as a white male with a beard and wearing farm type clothing.
Police are investigating.
FC MAN CHARGED
A Forrest City man was arrested on several charges Monday night (10/19) following a disturbance at a local residence.
A Forrest City patrol officer responded to 806 Sharp Street around 7 p.m. Monday where he saw 39-year old Clenton Wofford running from the scene.
The officer pursued Wofford across several private properties before finally capturing him on a field road off West Broadway. Wofford was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant out of St. Francis County.
The officer then went back to Sharp Street where he spoke with the victim in the case, an 18-year old female from Forrest City.
She stated that Mr. Wofford had grabbed her by the shirt and had pointed a handgun at her head. A witness said that he tried to fire the weapon, but that it malfunctioned.
The officer searched the perimeter around the house and the area where Wofford had fled but could not find a weapon.
Wofford was later booked at the county jail on several charges including 2nd degree criminal mischief and 3rd degree domestic battery.
SFC STOLEN TRUCK
The St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the theft of a pickup truck.
A Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a residence on SFC road 704 (off Hwy 334, southeast of Forrest City) around 5:30 Monday morning where he spoke with the property owner, Mr. Bret Hartman.
Mr. Hartman stated that his pickup truck was stolen while parked outside his residence sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. Monday. The stolen truck is a white 2012 Ford F-150 valued at around $10,000.
Hartman said that there were also three firearms in the vehicle: a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol, an SKS rifle and a bolt-action Remington .22 caliber magnum rifle.
No suspect has been identified in the case. The investigation is ongoing.
MEETINGS AND EVENTS
--The St. Francis County Quorum Court will meet Tuesday (10/20) at 5 p.m. in the upstairs Circuit Courtroom.
--The City Council of Forrest City will meet Tuesday (10/20) at
6 p.m. at the Civic Center.
In high school football action Friday night (10/16):
--Paragould over Forrest City 35-0
--Palestine-Wheatley over Manila 35-0
--Marvell Academy over Lee Academy 36-32
--Hamburg over Helena-West Helena 47-12
--Desoto over Calhoun 58-22
--England over Marvell-Elaine 28-8
--Smackover over Barton-Lexa 14-12
--Wynne over Batesville 49-20
--EPC over Earle 30-6
--El Dorado over Marion 45-34
--Jonesboro over West Memphis 38-13
--Brookland over Valley View 12-7
--Greene County Tech over Nettleton 28-21
--Funeral service for Leroy Ward, 85, of Carlisle, formerly of Colt will be Wednesday (10/21) at 2 p.m. at Stevens Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Forrest Park Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home. Stevens Funeral Home of Forrest City is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Lillie Rose Crawford, 71, of Forrest City will be Saturday (10/24) at 11AM at the Forrest City Civic Center. Burial will follow at Paradise Garden in Edmondson. Visitation will be Friday from 4-6 p.m. at the Church of the Living God, Temple 273 on Center Street in Forrest City. Miles Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Herbert Gates, 68, of Peoria, IL formerly of Haynes will be Saturday (10/24) at 2 p.m. at the Forrest City Civic Center. Burial will follow at Casteel Cemetery . Visitation will be Friday from 5-7 p.m. at Miles Mortuary, which is in charge of arrangements.