Category Archives: Local News

City Board Holds Special Meeting To Discuss Revenue And Expenses

The Hope City Board convened a special meeting on the last day of March to look at revenues and expenses with an eye towards finding possible areas in which more funds coult be raised.  The 2015 budget required reserve funds to balance in several categories and city hiring has been frozen for some time.  City Manager Catherine Cook took to the podium in the audience to address the board directly and consulted power point reports.  Among other things Cook noted the current city milage is 2.2 mills and could be raised up to 5 mills.  Currently the 2.2 mills raises about $190,000 annually.  9-1-1 payments for dispatching and E 9-1-1 funds bring in $88,676.  The board looked at occupational liceneses which brought in only $1,877 last year as well as building permits which brought in just over $2,000.  Fine revenue was $212,169 with outstanding fines at $2,575,254.  The swimming pool brought in just over $9,000 in income while the cost was budgeted at $39,708 before water fees were determined.  Franchise fees were looked at.  Hope’s are 3.5% for utilities and the city could charge up to 4.25%.  Building service clean-up charges were $14,666 last year while only $410 of that was collected.  That was primarily for cleaning overgrown lots in the city.  It was noted Hope Water & Light transfer funds are $575,000.  This amount has been raised twice in 25 years.  Animal licenses and adoption fees have ranged from $2,651 to $7,349 over the past ten years.  Also considered was the 1 cent city sales tax passed in 1987.  This brought in $2,036,805 last year with the city’s share of turnback funds from the state and county bringing in about $700,000 more.  The city could increase fines although this might also not bring in more funds from the folks who aren’t paying anyway.  The 1 cent “tourism tax” on prepared food and hotel rooms brought in $225,000 last year.  This is earmarked for expenses to bring in tourists although some of the funds can be and are used for parks & recreation costs.

   The board compared fees with several other cities about our size.  These included Arkadelphia, Magnolia, Centerton, Clarksville, Stuttgart, Greenwood, Siloam Springs,  Helena-West Helena, Batesville, and Magnolia.

   No decisions were made but the board did discuss a variety of options with an eye towards revisiting the topic in the future.005

Hempstead County Master Gardeners Spring Seminar

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Hempstead County Master Gardeners President Gary Martin visits with Bob Byers of Garvan Woodland Gardens Monday March 30th at the annual Hempstead County Master Gardeners Spring Seminar at Hempstead Hall. Byers spoke on “Designing With Perennials”.

Quorum Court Discusses illegal Dumping in the County

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I’m going to do something on here that the Chamber pays me NOT TO DO! I”m going to show you the worst of Hempstead County…last Thursday at the Quorum Court meeting County Judge Haskell Morse showed some of these photos of illegal dumping in the county. I admire the judge’s courage in showing these. He has pledged to work on cleaning up these sites and helping to prevent illegal dumping. He has publicized what can be brought by the county shop on highway 29 north Monday through Thursday and disposed of. He has publicized that residents of the north end of the county can take items directly to the Upper Southwest Landfill which the county uses and dispose of items for free. Judge Morse has also gotten with District Judge Tony Yocom and Judge Yocom has increased the first offense fine for illegal dumping from $250 to $1,000.. Judge Morse has also pledged to put some cameras out in these areas to try and find the “dumpees”. So…you might ask…why post the photos? Well, people see this happen. It is a blight on our county and any other county. With cellphones and such we can catch some of these folks and prevent this. I urge you to TURN IN anyone you see doing this. Take pictures with your cellphone, etc. The county judge has stepped up and publicized this. Let’s help him fight illegal dumping in Hempstead County!

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Bluff City Man Dies in Clark County Accident

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83 year old Bill Walker of Bluff City was killed in a two-vehicle accident Thursday (3-26) around 11pm in Clark County.  Walker’s 1997 Ford was traveling south on state highway 53 approaching Wyndal Road.  A 2015 Freightliner driven by 39 year old James Giles of Waynesboro, MS was turning onto the highway at the time.  Walker’s vehicle failed to brake and collided with the side of the trailer being pulled by the Freightliner.  Walker was pronounced dead at the scene by Clark County Deputy Coroner Toby Garner.  Giles was not injured in the incident.  The accident was investigated by Arkansas State Troooper Christopher S. Harper.

Pafford Facing More, Separate Charges

James Carl Pafford age 71 of Hope, Arkansas Rape, Sexual Assualt in the 2nd Degree, Sexually Grooming A Child

James Pafford has been arrested on charges in separate incident from his arrest earlier this month. According to Hempstead County Sheriff James Singleton Pafford has been arrested on one charge of rape. The victim was a minor at the time of the alleged rape but is now an adult. Pafford is also facing a charge of aggravated assault in connection with an incident which occurred in late February or early March. He is in the Hempstead County Detention Facility awaiting a first court appearance on the allegations.

Hempstead County Judge Hosts Hempstead County Mayors Meeting

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Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse hosted an historic meeting of Hempstead County Mayors Friday March 27th at the court house. The mayors heard about grant opportunities available from Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development. Pictured is Blevins Mayor Bobby Steed, Oakhaven Mayor Troy Lerew, Sr., Emmet Mayor Dale Booker, Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey, and Washington Mayor Paul Henley.

Missing Nevada County Man

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The Nevada County Sheriff’s Department is asking for the help of the public in locating, Jonathan Crews. Jonathan is a white male, with a date of birth of 06-25-81. 6’0, 130 lbs, blue eyes, blonde hair. Jonathan left his residence on Highway 24 in Nevada County on Thursday at 8:00 a.m. traveling to work in Texarkana. It was confirmed that he left Texarkana at 5:00 p.m. traveling back towards Nevada County. Mr. Crews has not been seen or heard from since. Jonathan is driving 2001 Ford F150 White with Arkansas license 588 WAH. All help is appreciated. If you have any information about Mr. Crews, please contact the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department office at 870-887-2616.

Local Railroads Recognized

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Three local short line railroad operations have been recognized with 2014 safety awards from the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Prescott & Northwestern Railroad and The Arkansas Southern Railroad were both recognized with “Jake Awards With Distinction” for being member railroads with no Federal Railroad Administration reportable injuries for the previous year. PNW serves Firestone in Prescott while ARS has two operations; Nashville to Ashdown and from Heavener, Oklahoma to Waldron, Arkansas.

The Kiamichi Railroad, which serves Hope, was awarded a “Jake Award” for its injury frequency rate that is less than or equal to the FRA national average.

Mike Lundell, vice president of compliance and safety for Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. was named Safety Professional of the Year. Genesee & Wyoming is a short line hold company that owns the Prescott & Northwestern and Kiamichi Railroad.

The Jake Award was created in 1995 and named after Lowell S. “Jake” Jacobson, a previous recipient of Railway Age Magazine’s Railroader of the Year.

Hempstead County Quorum Court Meets

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The Hempstead County Quorum Court met Thursday (3 – 26) for their March meeting. After the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance the JP’s discussed paying their part of the 9 – 1 – 1 system up front as opposed to paying the approximately $125,000 out over several years. The JP’s approved a transfer ordinance for $ 8, 000 for the Sheriff’s Department and $ 20,000 for the 9 – 1 – 1 maintenance fund. The JP’S passed a clean up ordinance to finish the 2014 budget. The JP’s also approved a “JAG” grant for about $ 4,000 for body cameras for the Sheriff’s Department. A resolution was approved for an ACED grant for $ 250,, 000 for a project for the country road at the Tyson plant. Judge Haskell Morse noted the grant application had been worked on by the late Wesley Woodard. Judge Morse noted Woodard had made many contributions to the county. In a related mode the JP’s approved a resolution designating Southwest Planning and Development as the grant administrator Judge Morse read a letter from the South Central Drug Task Force regarding their efforts to purchase a new drug dog. He also gave a report from Procom on the proposed work on some storm sirens that need work. It was also clarified that dispatch won’t do the Wednesday noon storm siren test if there’s a warning. Judge Morse showed some photos of trash that the county has cleaned up on county roads. The pictures included dumped mattresses and even a boat. Judge Morse noted the dumping fines start at $ 250 and Judge Yocom has proposed increasing those to at least $1,000. Many of these items can now be taken to the county shop for free disposal. The judge also hopes to put some cameras out at the worst places. Chief Deputy Mickey Atkinson gave an update on a rescue from a flooded ditch by Deputy Gary Dorman. Terrie James of the Cooperative Extension Service also gave an update on some youth activities. 

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