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 December 2018.
• As presented earlier Saturday night in a highly-viewed live stream webcast on SWARK Today, the Prescott Curley Wolves were five yards short in a strong bid to upset the undefeated Booneville Bearcats on the road, falling 34-31 in the state football semifinals. The Bearcats, who were behind to Prescott 31-27 with 2:06 to play, scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a run from the Curley Wolves 3-yard line to seize the lead back 34-31 with the PAT.
• It was a clear and cool night, but no rain this year as downtown Hope saw hundreds in the streets to welcome the 2018 Hope Chamber Christmas Parade on Monday night. The festival mood was upbeat this year as several dozen families, appropriately bundled up in jackets, blankets, and truck bed heaters, waited with an optimistic anticipation a full half hour before the motorcade started. As one young spectator put it, “Not gonna rain on our parade this time.”
• The Hope Lions Club held its annual Christmas banquet on Monday night with an estimated crowd of 50 persons at Hempstead Hall on the campus of UA Hope. Lion President Linda Clark presided over the ceremonies. Lion 2nd Vice President Sheba Smith, who was the principal coordinator of this past weekend’s Lions Christmas Auction, announced the 2018 event raised $29,312 with donations still pending.
• An estimated crowd of 817 heard a powerful seasonal and expeditious performance from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra from Little Rock at Hempstead Hall in Hope on Tuesday night. Themed as “Home for the Holidays” in about one hour’s time, the 52 talented musicians played through a series of 10 classic Christmas standards, with three soloist performances, and two Henry Mancini-inspired arrangements, as well as an on stage tribute to Hempstead Hall’s Dolly Henley by the associate conductor Geoffrey Robson.
• The Hope Hempstead Chamber of Commerce’s weekly Community Coffee at the downtown 200 East 3rd branch of Farmers Bank took on a special significance Wednesday as it attracted both dozens from the community as well as a number of Farmers Bank officials. It marked the last such coffee event inside the legendary and majestic 200 East 3rd building hosted by Farmers Bank itself; by this time in 2019, Farmers will be established in a new facility, almost directly across the street, at 201 East 3rd.
• Just prior to the Christmas-themed festivities in the Courthouse square Monday evening, the budget committee of the Nevada County Quorum Court played Santa itself, reviewing and preparing the county’s 2019 budget in front of the full Quorum Court meeting tonight, also at the courthouse, at 4:30 p.m. The Nevada Justices will hear budget recommendations that will include upgrading the position of Emergency Management coordinator to full time employment. Currently only two counties in the state, Nevada and Hot Springs, do not have full time coordinators.
• With it “feeling a lot like Christmas” at a brisk but clear 35 degrees outside, the traditional Prescott-Nevada County Chamber Parade made its way into the downtown Courthouse square area, where the arrival of Santa Claus was anticipated by dozens of kids and parents. In roughly an 10-minute motorcade, 23 floats and participants were decorated in Christmas lights with the expected festive holiday theme, while local beauty queens like Zoe Fincher, Heavenly Zachery, Claire Laughard, and Jamia Smith were bundled up for the cool weather.
• The Hempstead County Bicentennial Celebration concluded Saturday night with fireworks and dancing in the streets. Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, donned in a time-appropriate costume, along with his wife Sharon, took center stage for the final chapter in what was the culmination of an 18-month planning and staging process.
• Much earlier Saturday morning, Hempstead County’s Bicentennial celebration started at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas-Hope campus, where an estimated crowd of 140 saw special video messages from current Congressman Bruce Westerman, former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Mike Huckabee. The two-hour event Saturday morning also had a live panel discussion from four special guests that grew up in Hempstead County, including Mack McLarty, who served as Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton; Judge Lavenski R. Smith, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit; Little Rock attorney Joe Purvis; and Ellen Turner, a professor at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.
• Early Saturday afternoon saw a parade, which started at 1 p.m. from the current Hempstead County courthouse at S. Washington and routed through to downtown Hope at Farmer’s Bank, where the future courthouse will be.