As compiled by Rick Kennedy, managing editor
In a special 12-part month-by-month series, SWARK Today presents a review of the top stories and news worthy events in both Hempstead and Nevada counties over the course of the calendar year of 2018. This installment looks at November 2018.
• Hope High School English teacher Courtney Howard is among five finalists nationwide under consideration for the 2019 National Association for Alternative Certification Outstanding New Educator Award. The winner of the prestigious honor will be selected in mid-December and announced nationally at the NAAC Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.
• In the end, three first-quarter touchdowns, followed by two fourth-quarter scores proved too much for Spring Hill to overcome in a 38-0 decision to Mineral Springs on Thursday night. Eight senior football stars were honored prior to the contest, including Andrew Blaylock,Lewis Chambers, Ty Clark, Marshall Glover, Mathew Kelsome, Johnathan Loe, Garet Paulette and Keymote Rhodes, all of whom played their last game in Bear blue and gold Thursday night. Also recognized were three senior cheerleaders, Anna Collier, Abby Fisher and Skyler Rhodes.
• Close to 40 years ago, Charlie Daniels once famously said, “When you want something that smokes, listen to the Charlie Daniels band…” Such energy, enthusiasm, and showmanship hasn’t waned in 2018 as Daniels and his signature band brought the house down Friday night before the biggest crowd of the year at Hempstead Hall. Starting with the classic “Southern Boy,” the 90-minute show was brisk, entertaining, and energetic — there’s that word again — right through to the very end of the 15-song set with a rousing version of all-time favorite “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”
• Amidst pleasant November weather, 2018 Election Day arrived Tuesday morning with line-ups already at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum, and a mid-term election record 2,024 early ballots cast. Within the first 45 minutes on Tuesday morning, 104 votes had already been cast in what was expected to be a busy 12-hour day. A local election turnout of 4,993 out of a documented 10,692 registered voters cast ballots in the 2018 election cycle for state and local offices.
• For Hempstead County Judge, former Hempstead County Sheriff Jerry Crane, running as a Republican, defeated Democrat Allen Flowers 3,582 to 1,375 for the right the succeed incumbent Haskell Morse, who was ousted in the May 22 GOP primary by Crane.
• In the City of Hope, two longtime members of the Board of Directors, Steve Montgomery in Ward 6 and Don Still in Ward 7, won reelection to their seats in their individual wards. Montgomery also serves as Hope’s Mayor, while Still serves as Vice Mayor, but under Hope’s system of government, neither were subject to a citywide election. Montgomery defeated challenger Carla Bryant 201 to 116, while Still turned back challenger Peter Maggio 224 to 63.
• With little fanfare, the Hope City Board approved $125 Christmas bonuses for its 126 employees, which will cost the taxpayers approximately $16,000. The City of Hope has a tradition of holiday bonuses over the years, which Mayor Steve Montgomery recalled “Used to be $50 and a ham or turkey.”
Over the past three years, the amount has risen modestly but has held at $100. Director Mark Ross suggested the amended amount, increased by $25, to ensure taxes were covered and “that city employees really got $100,” he said afterwards.
• A handful of plays, those made by Prescott and those not made by McGehee, turned out to be the difference in a 26-0 victory by the Curley Wolves in a game much closer than the final score indicated on a damp and foggy night befitting of a game between Wolves and Owls. But playing through adversity and surviving some of their own errors, the Curley Wolves, now 11-1, took advantage of their opportunities, while the McGehee didn’t, and Prescott emerged as the winner of the Quad 4 bracket and moves on to the state semifinals next week against Booneville in a rematch of their 2014 playoff.
• After impressive and record-breaking participation over the past two years, the Hope Lions Club along with the Evening Lions have high hopes as this year’s 69th edition kicks off at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum this Thursday night starting at 6 p.m. Over the years, the storied local event has been touted as Hope’s version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday rolled into one with a place of chicken and dumplings served on the side.
• Whether its been a “Super Saturday” or “Super Thursday” in recent years, the Hope community has periodically found itself seeing multiple major events happening at the same time, the same day, across downtown Hope and a combination of other places in the city. Tonight, brings such another occasion, where Hope citizens will have the annual Christmas Open House in downtown Hope sponsored by the Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce, a Holiday Bazaar, also in downtown Hope, hosted by the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council, and the 69th Annual Lions Christmas kicking off a three-night run at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum.
• After nine-and-a-half weeks, local multimedia start-up, SWARK Today, continues reshaping the regional media market, announcing a key benchmark this week, with now over 100,000 visitors to website, according to Google Analytics. SWARK Today debuted with the online live streaming of Prescott High School football games, but quickly expanded its scope to local news and current events in mid-September, filling the void when two legacy media and advertising outlets, the Hope Star and Nevada County Picayune closed. With online live streaming of local events and sports as well as local video reports and replays, SWARK Today has uniquely distinguished itself in the local market as strong multimedia destination for information and advertising.
As compiled by Rick Kennedy, managing editor