YOUR LOCAL AND REGIONAL NEWS
FC Man Faces Murder Charge
A Forrest City man has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend this past weekend.
Forrest City Police investigators report that 39-year-old Williard Mathis was officially charged Tuesday (3/21) with 2nd degree murder in connection with the death of 30-year-old Kennita Wooten.
The victim was killed in a shooting at her home at 203 Mississippi Street in Forrest City Sunday afternoon (3/19).
Mathis was initially arrested on charges of public intoxication and possession of a firearm by a certain person. After further investigation, police added charges of 2nd degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.
The tampering charge stems from Mathis’ attempt to dispose of the murder weapon, which was later recovered.
Mathis is currently being held at the St. Francis County Detention Center on a $500,000 bond.
The investigation is ongoing.
FC Man Charged
A Forrest City man was arrested on felony gun charges after fleeing from police Tuesday afternoon (3/21).
Forrest City Police officers were dispatched to 520 North Washington Street around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday in reference to a man trying to break into a residence.
At the scene, officers found 26-year-old Brandon Mitchell sitting in a car in the driveway of the residence. He claimed that he was just trying to get his clothes out of the house.
During questioning, Mitchell took off, running east behind Antique Rose and down into a ravine.
One of the officers noted that as he was running, Mitchell had his hand on the grip of a pistol that was in his jacket pocket. Police say Mitchell then disappeared into some bushes, before coming out with his hands up.
Mitchell claimed that he was holding a cell phone, not a gun, but officers were able to locate a .40 caliber Glock pistol on the ground near where Mitchell had stopped.
Police noted that the Glock was equipped with an illegal switch, making it fully automatic.
Mitchell was taken into custody and later booked at the county jail on felony charges of possession of a firearm by a certain person and unlawful possession of a firearm for offensive or aggressive purposes.
SFC Quorum Court
The St. Francis County Quorum Court passed an ordinance Tuesday night (3/21) to increase pay for the chief deputies of elected officials based on their years of service.
Chief deputies will receive a .25 cent increase in pay for each five years of service, capping at $1.50 after 30 years.
County Judge Craig Jones talked to KXJK/KBFC Radio after Tuesday night’s meeting:
This will apply to the chief deputy positions in the following offices at the courthouse: Assessor, Circuit Clerk, County Clerk, Collector, Judge and Sheriff.
Ark Education Town Hall
Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva (o-LEE-va) will speak at a virtual town hall on March 29 about the "Educational Freedom Account" program, which provides publicly funded tuition and supply vouchers for private and home school students.
"The secretary will present information about the parent experience of the program, and will also take questions," according to the Reform Alliance, which is hosting the event.
The Educational Freedom Account program is a part of Arkansas LEARNS, or Act 237, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders' initiative to try and revamp pre-K through 12th grade education in the state. LEARNS stands for literacy, empowerment, accountability, readiness, networking and safety.
The Educational Freedom Account program for Arkansas students will be phased in over three years, starting in the 2023-2024 school year for the most at-risk students. By 2025-2026, all students could access the taxpayer-funded accounts for use in offsetting private school tuition and other education-related costs.
The virtual town hall will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, March 29th starting at 7 p.m.
All Kids Bike in Brinkley
RightFiberTM by Ritter Communications is bringing bicycles to kindergarteners in Brinkley later this month through a donation to the “All Kids Bike” program.
The All Kids Bike initiative was created to teach every child in America how to ride a bike in kindergarten PE class.
Representatives from RightFiberTM and All Kids Bike will be at CB Partee Elementary School in Brinkley, Thursday, March 30 at 9:30 a.m. to present the students with the bicycles.
The program launch will include an exciting bike reveal, an introduction of the Learn-To-Ride Program to students, and a presentation with information from school staff and RightFiberTM representatives.
RightFiberTM donated $6,000 to All Kids Bike, which was matched by Trailblazers through the Walton Family Foundation.
The combined gift funded the program for CB Partee Elementary and provided Learn-To-Ride curriculum, teacher training, Strider Balance Bikes, pedal-conversion kits and helmets for local elementary schools.
SFC JOB OPENINGS
The St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department is now accepting applications for county jailers.
Applications can be picked up at the sheriff’s office.
Call 870-633-2611 for more information.
Cross Co Job Openings
The Cross County Sheriff’s Department has openings for full-time jailers.
Starting salary is $31,576 a year. Benefits include paid employee health insurance, 80 hours vacation (at the one-year anniversary), 8 hours of sick leave a month and 14 paid holidays during 2023.
Additional benefits will be discussed during the interview process.
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age with no felony convictions; must have a valid driver’s license, a high school diploma or GED; must pass a physical and psychological screening; must pass a drug test and a background investigation.
Applications can be picked up at the Cross County Sheriff’s Office during normal business hours.
FC Seeks Water Grant
The City Council of Forrest City passed a resolution Tuesday night (3/21), authorizing the mayor to apply for a grant that’ll be used to replace lead pipes in the city’s water system.
City leaders are trying to avoid a public health crisis similar to the one that occurred in Flint, Michigan back in 2014 when that city’s drinking water was contaminated with lead and possibly Legionella bacteria.
Forrest City Mayor Larry Bryant has more details:
Thanks Mayor Bryant.
SFC EXTENSION REPORT
Scams are always a potential hazard for area residents, but even more so it seems during tax season.
In her educational report this month, St. Francis County Family Consumer Science Agent Marla Lane has some helpful tips for avoiding scammers:
That’s Ms. Marla Lane, Family Consumer Science Agent for St. Francis County.
Knight Returns to Memphis
Four-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight is returning to Memphis. (Channel 5, Memphis)
Knight will be headlining the Southern Heritage Classic concert on Thursday, September 7 at the Orpheum Theater.
Knight’s concert will be one of the several events that will lead up to the Southern Heritage Classic between HBCUs, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Tennessee State University.
Tickets will go on sale starting Friday, March 24 at Ticketmaster.com.
--Mississippi River State Park “No Boundaries” Spring Break Day Camp is going on through Friday (3/24), each day from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This is for students in grades 3-5. Campers will enjoy hiking, kayaking and creating nature inspired art. Call 870.295.4040 for more information.
--Pastor Theodis Cochran Jr. and the Trinity All Nations Church in Memphis will host revival services every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. throughout the month of March. Guest speakers include: March 22-Bishop Daivd Gillard from Faith World Church and March 29-Pastor Johnteris Tate from Mount Moriah Church of Los Angeles.
--The Clothes Closet at First Baptist Church of Forrest City at 507 N. Rosser St. will be open Saturday (3/25) from 9 am until 12 noon with FREE clothes for men, women and children in most sizes. Everyone is invited.
--"Spring into Spring” Community Popup event will be held Saturday, April 1st from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Stuart Springs Park in Forrest City. The event will feature various vendors, bounce houses, food, music and appearances by local first responders and community leaders. Vendor fee is $25. Contact Cassandra Applewhite at 870-945-5306 for more information.
--The PLUM Foundation has an ongoing program to assist pregnant mothers in the St. Francis, Lee, Cross, Crittenden and surrounding areas. The Responsive Reproductive Program is designed to help expecting mothers in the area to have a healthy and successful pregnancy. This is a free program. Call 833-520-7827 to register.
--Pastor Josh Like and the House of Prayer in Colt (located off Hwy 306 East) invites the public to visit any of their services. Sunday School starts at 10 a.m., Sunday morning worship at 11 a.m. , Sunday evening service at 6 p.m. and Wednesday night service at 7 p.m.
--As part of Spring Break, the Forrest City Public Library will be showing movies and doing crafts through Thursday (3/23), starting each day at 10 a.m.
--A Pesticide Applicator Training session will be held Thursday (3/23) at 9 a.m. at the Lon Mann Research Station in Marianna. Call the Lee County Extension Service at 870-295-7720 for more information.
--An outside tent gospel singing event will be held Sunday (3/26) at 3 p.m. at Twin Assembly of God Church in Palestine. Everyone is welcome to attend.
--The Forrest City Farmers Market will host its annual vendor and volunteer meeting on Tuesday, March 28th at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Forrest City.
All interested vendors and volunteers are encouraged to come. Vendor applications and information will be available at the meeting. Please contact Anna Howton at 870-317-5296 if you have any questions.
--The Colt Community Development Corporation will sponsor their 29th annual Chicken and Dumpling Day on Saturday, April 1st from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the William Stone House in Colt. Plates are $6.00. For more information, call 501-626-7254.
--The Caldwell Fire Department’s Crawfishin’ in the Park will be held Saturday, April 8th from 1-5 p.m. with pick up at the Caldwell Community Center parking lot. Tickets are $25 each and includes 3 lbs. crawfish, potatoes, corn, sausages and all the fixins. Drive thru carry-out only, bring a cooler or pick up a sack. For tickets or sponsorship details, contact any Caldwell Firefighter or Fire Chief Jeremy Sharp @ 870-261-2607.
--Funeral service for Elax Tucker, Jr., 57, of Forrest City will be Saturday (3/25) at 12-noon at the Wynne High School Auditorium. Burial will follow at Graham Cemetery. Visitation will be Friday from 5:00 - 7PM New St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Wynne with Miles Mortuary in charge of arrangements.
--Funeral service for Brenda Joyce Hicks, 75, of Goodwin will be Saturday (3/25) at 2 p.m. at St. Paul Full Gospel Church in Brinkley. Visitation will be Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Goodwin Church of God in Christ. Jarrett Funeral Home of Blytheville is in charge of arrangements.