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IN REVIEW: Remembering February 2018

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 February 2018.

• In what was supposed to be a special meeting Monday for grant money instead revealed continued divisions within the Hempstead Quorum Court over what to do about the Cooperative Extension office and the fate of the County Agent’s position.
• In a special statement Tuesday morning, Hope Water & Light, the City of Hope’s utility company that serves much of the population in Hempstead County, announced the installation of new meters for both residential and business customers starting February 12.
• In a time of national awakening on Women’s issues and empowerment, it was timely and appropriate that two of the keynote speakers leading Black History Month activities locally happened to be two highly accomplished and powerful public servants, both African American women with southern Arkansas Roots. Hope native Doris Pryor, now a United States Magistrate Judge, took the stage at Hempstead Hall before an audience of several hundred students, and the previous Thursday, it was Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, also in Hempstead Hall, as the lead speaker of the UAHT Multicultural Club’s Black History program.
• After all was wrapped up, the 2018 Outdoor Expo turned out to be an almost identical replay of 2017, right down to the cold snap and inclement weather on the final day. As the year before, a combined two-day estimate of over 1,300 people flowed into Hempstead Hall last weekend for the second annual event, which also included over 900 for the 38 Special concert.
• Much of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Hope City Board proved to be routine business until a man, identified as Wayne Pemberton, got up during Citizen’s Requests and claimed he had issues with the Hope Police Department regarding excessive traffic warnings.
• For their only loss of the season coming against Emerson (39-31) in the finals of the Genoa Central Jr. High Tournament back in January, the Nevada Jr. Lady Jays got redemption on last Friday night to defeat the Emerson Jr. Lady Pirates 46-43 in their final home game of the season at Nevada High School Gymnasium in Rosston. The Jr. Lady Jays will be the No. 1 seed with the tournament scheduled Feb. 10-13.
• As with most state and county organizations last week, the Nevada County GOP issued a statement regarding filing candidate filing dates and fees. Statewide the filing period for most state and county races begins at 12 noon on Thursday, February 22 and ends one week later, 12 noon on Thursday, March 22.
• Seniors’ Lacie Nolen, Haleigh Wiley, Anna Byers and Tavonica Barzar were the featured honorees on their night looking to close out basketball careers in their final performances at home for the final time competing at the Prescott Sports Arena. Unfortunately, the Lady Wolves would suffer another tough home defeat to Ashdown 45-43 for a close and competitive match-up that went down to the wire.
• The cold, damp, and rainy weather outside didn’t deter the community’s appetite for spaghetti as Tuesday saw by yet another big turnout at Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church’s now 60th annual event for both lunch and dinner. Church Parish Council President Judy Micco said Tuesday late morning that given the inclement weather that the takeout business was especially brisk.
• With the Hempstead County GOP announcing its filing fees and dates last week, the Hempstead Democratic Party made its own announcement on Monday night as the official filing period starts next week, Thursday, February 22. Hempstead County Democratic Spokesperson Sylvia Brown said, “Democrats recognize the importance of everybody participating in the electoral process — from getting on the ballot to voting to attending community and civic meetings.”
• Students in grades 9-11 participated in a “Math Day” on the Hope High School campus on Wednesday. Judee Gunter, math specialist and instructional facilitator, said the day-long program involved “hands on” activities for students.
• After alternating its annual GOP Lincoln event over the past few years, the Hempstead County Republican Party is holding its signature occasion two years in a row with 2018’s dinner following up 2017’s luncheon. The previous before was in 2015.
• The Prescott Curley Wolves showcased another dominant road victory over the Horatio Lions 65-34 and topping Cossatot River 56-34 to conclude their regular season schedule of hoops last week heading into the district tournament this week hosted at Cossatot River.
• Four of Prescott’s most outstanding student-athletes of Hank Crain, Thomas Muldrow, Ka’ Darius Pearson and Derrick Thompson Jr. all signed National Letters of Intent to continue athletic careers on the collegiate level to prestigious colleges on National Signing Day at Prescott High School.
• A record crowd of over 190 showed up at Hempstead Hall on Monday night as the Hempstead Republican Party saw an all-star cast of state, regional, and local officials attend the 2018 Lincoln Dinner as it was called this year.
• Hempstead County’s current County Judge Haskell Morse first announced back in December 2017 that he intended to seek a third term in 2018. With official filing set for Thursday, Morse faces plenty of company of company as he puts his own record of three years up to the voters.
• In the aftermath of the Florida shootings, no less than eight Arkansas schools in the past eight days have received some type of threats, social media posts, or seen student arrests, and Hope High School joined that number — twice — this week as alleged social media posts sparked concern and police visits.
• A number of familiar faces in statewide and congressional offices filed for re-election on Thursday, the opening day of the 2018 filing period. Filing continues until Thursday, March 1. As recorded by the Secretary of State’s office at 5:00 p.m. the following regional and local candidates filed papers, including incumbent Christi McQueen for Prosecuting Attorney, District 08-North; Angilynn Taylor, challenger, for Prosecuting Attorney, District 08-North; incumbent Larry Teague for State Senate District 10; and incumbent Danny Watson for State Representative District 3.
• The Prescott Curley Wolves came up short in a close and crucial ending in the senior boys 3A-7 District Tournament Finals on last Saturday hosted at Cossatot River High School Gymnasium. The Curley Wolves would fall to the Centerpoint Knights 40-39 for the second consecutive year in the district tourney finals.
• It was another successful title defense for the reigning 1A-7 East District Tournament champions Nevada Blue Jays to defeat their longtime conference rivals’ Bradley Bears 43-40 in the finals of the district tourney hosted at Ouachita High School in Midway-Donaldson over the weekend.
• Nevada Lady Jays had a competitive match-up on the hardwood last week during the 1A-7 East District Tournament hosted at Ouachita High School in Midway-Donaldson. The Lady Jays came out victorious in the semifinals against Bradley Lady Bears 58-48, but fell short in the finals to host district tourney team Ouachita Lady Warriors 63-31. As a result, the Lady Jays will earn the No. 2 seed at the 1A-5 Regionals scheduled to face the No. 3 seed 8 Strong Lady Bulldogs on Thursday Feb. 22 at Hampton.
• The Hope School Board voted Monday to extend Superintendent Bobby Hart’s contract by a year. This action came after an executive session when the board discussed his recent evaluation. Hart will now have a three-year contract.
• Some 50 family members, friends and other supporters braved nasty weather Saturday to see Hope High School senior David Dixon and junior Jordyne Weston named Mr. and Miss Hope High School in pageant competition at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus.
• Even before Thursday’s 12 noon filing deadline, local county races in 2018 were already guaranteed to see more candidates and more competitive races than known in recent memory, and as deadline finished, 37 persons had filed for various positions, according to a listing made available by the Hempstead County Clerk’s office.
• Thursday proved to be not only a busy day for statewide candidate filings and offices, but also for Hope Attorney Blake Montgomery as he received new statewide responsibilities of his own, being named by Governor Asa Hutchinson to the seven-member Arkansas Public Defender Commission. The Arkansas Public Defender Commission oversees all public defender operations in the state of Arkansas, including Hempstead and Nevada counties.
• Nevada County appears to be set to see two high profile cases, one civil and one criminal, over the course of 2018. The civil case is the ongoing lawsuit pitting Donnie and Nicky McGuire against the Nevada County Quorum Court. On February 14, Prescott resident Connie Beard was arrested and taken into custody at the Nevada County Jail. Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen confirmed Friday that Beard faces charges of Theft of Property and Tampering w/physical evidence.

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