IN REVIEW: Remembering May 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 May 2018.
• The “Hope of the Future” project, part of Hope’s one-of-a-kind ARTpark development, gets its official kickoff at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 5 as part of the annual Train Days Festival.
• The Hope Public School Board met in special session Tuesday to address end of the year business, including resignations and replacement hires, accepting the resignation of HPS Co-Athletic Director/Hope High School Head Football Coach Jay Turley in the process.
• Mariano Padilla, a professional artist and muralist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, spent most of four days painting his interpretation of an Arkansas Razorback on an 8×10-foot sidewalk “canvas” in the 100 block of E. Division Street in downtown Hope. The home for this one-of-a-kind painting is ARTpark, a parking lot and adjacent sidewalks in the 100 block of East Division St.
• A contingent of queens and a wide variety of awards and honors were bestowed on several young women and girls from both Prescott High School and Prescott Elementary School at the annual PHS/PES beauty pageant on Saturday, April 21 at the Prescott High School auditorium. In the Miss PHS competition, Zorana Marks was crowned Miss PHS with the first runner-up named as Hope West and second runner-up as Cassidi Calicott.
• Two standout student-athletes from the Prescott Lady Wolves athletic program Lacie Nolen and Haleigh Wiley recently signed a National Letter of Intent to join the cheer team at Southern Arkansas University Tech in Camden. This “Dynamic Duel” of Nolen and Wiley were multiple standout athletes in basketball, track, softball and cheerleading in their careers at Prescott High School.
• As he did in May 2017, one year later Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was back in Hope for a mid-afternoon visit on Friday and right back on Smith Road off Highway 29 North. This time, Hutchinson was in town to transfer the deed of the state-owned Arkansas Migrant Center over to Hempstead County. Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, on hand for the transfer ceremony, said county will repurpose the 72-room facility into a “Juvenile Behavior Center” for young people.
• The now sixth annual Train Day celebration over the weekend saw perfect skies and hundreds of people converge in downtown Hope throughout the day and early evening for the ever-growing and evolving event.
• Prior to the University of Arkansas at Hope having its 2018 graduation ceremony on Tuesday night, on Friday, May 4, there was the annual joint gathering of the faculty and staff along with the Board of Visitors at the University’s year-end luncheon.
• A proud hometown native with a well-known traditional strong family name has officially been hired as the new Hope Bobcat Head Football Coach and Co-Activities Director of Hope Public Schools. Phillip Turner, a 1997 Hope High School graduate and former standout Bobcat, was hired as the new head football coach and co-activities director.
• The University of Arkansas at Hope’s Class of 2018 received their diplomas before another capacity crowd of over 1,500 parents, grandparents, relatives and friends in Hempstead Hall Tuesday night. UAHT saw 191 students participate in the commencement exercises for May 2018, and the Class of 2018 was actually the third-highest enrollment in the school’s history, behind last year’s record number in 2017, and the previous record year in 2016.
• Defending Class 3A State Track Champs Prescott Curley Wolves successfully performed well once again amongst the top schools in the Natural State all assembled on the big stage to capture back-to-back state titles at the 2018 Class 3A State Boys Track Championships hosted at Phillips Field, Lions Stadium in Jessieville.
• As most of the country celebrated Mother’s Day over the weekend, Hempstead County saw two of its biggest flagship schools celebrate graduations on both sides of the holiday; on Friday, May 11, Hope High School held its graduation ceremony, while the following Monday, May 14, Spring Hill High School had its graduation. Both ceremonies were held at Hempstead Hall on the campus of University of Arkansas at Hope.
• Nevada County had already seen and celebrated graduations in two of its flagship high schools, Prescott High School on Friday, May 11, and Nevada High School on Thursday, May 10. Both school districts celebrated high school commencement exercises in their respective high school gyms packed with parents, relatives, friends and well-wishers.
• The Prescott High School fishing duo of Bryer Pennington and Jack Arnette, both of Prescott, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday May 7 weighing 19 pounds, 3 ounces to win the 2018 TBF/FLW High School Fishing Arkansas State Championship on Lake Dardanelle.
• In a month-long stream of local celebrations, the new Bank of Tom Bean branch had one of its own on Tuesday as it held its formal grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony before a crowd of well-wishers, city officials, and Chamber members.
• The Hope City Board voted unanimously Tuesday night in support of an economic development plan for disadvantaged areas of Hope and Hempstead County.
• As Hempstead County Bicentennial Chair Richard Read made his remarks at Thursday’s Hope Rotary Club luncheon, he wittingly said “You’ve got mail… on December 15, 2068” as he provided an update on the year-long celebration including the introduction of a “Hempstead Time Capsule.”
• If Warner Brothers studio ever needed a new “Wonder Woman” for a future reboot, it may want to consider Prescott’s Rayleigh Hart as an ideal candidate. The 18-year-old, who graduated from Garrett Memorial in Hope on Sunday, has managed to achieve in the past year, what takes many her age two or three years.
• Two of Prescott’s standout track star’s Adrian Block and Kadarius Pearson competed amongst the elite track and field athletes in the Natural State at the 2018Arkansas Decathlon hosted at Cabot High School. The Decathlon was a two-day event competition May 16-17.
• Prescott students Austin Beavers and Clayton Taylor were among those who graduated from the University of Hope – Texarkana on Tuesday, May 8, both with welding certifications from different programs. Beavers received a technical certificate of welding as well as a certificate of proficiency in construction welding. Taylor received a certificate of proficiency in basic welding.
• Blevins High School and Garrett Memorial Christian School celebrated high school commencements to finish off a month-long string of area graduations; both occasions packed with parents, relatives, friends and well-wishers.
• In the Hempstead Primary election storyline, at least two new faces will emerge in county government in 2019, while another county incumbent faces a runoff, and three incumbents did survive Tuesday challengers to serve another term. In unofficial results from Tuesday night, the major local races saw Jerry Crane emerge in the GOP primary for Hempstead County Judge ousting incumbent Haskell Morse and a second challenger Greg Jackson. Crane finished with 1,261 while Morse had 645 and Jackson come in with 292.
• The other incumbent toppled Tuesday was longtime District 6 Justice of the Peace Lynn Montgomery, after 55 years of service, was unable to withstand the challenge of Troy Lerew, Sr. By a razor thin 10-vote margin, Lerew emerged 143 to 133 for Montgomery, and with no Democrat in the race, Lerew is set to succeed Montgomery in January 2019.
• The big takeaway from the May 22 Primary election was the upcoming showdown that will see former Sheriff Jerry Crane and Democrat Allen Flowers vie to be the next Hempstead County Judge in November. Incumbent County Judge Haskell Morse came up short in his bid for reelection, but he remains Hempstead County’s top governing official until clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2018.
• Before the November General Election, some local voters in parts of Hope as well as Stover Springs will see a runoff elections for the Justice of Peace seat in Hempstead County’s District 7. The seat is currently held by first-term incumbent Mikki Curtis, who is seeking a second elected term, and she has been gamely challenged by retired Hope businessman Steve Atchley.
• In the Nevada Primary election storyline, Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver survived a challenge from local business woman Rena Brown, but other results saw close races, upsets and new faces. In unofficial results from Tuesday night, the major local races saw incumbent Oliver emerge in the primary for Prescott Mayor by a 416-to-227 over Brown.
• In other results, for the Nevada County Quorum Court, Pat Grimes emerged as a runaway victor with 204 votes, defeating both Tommy Johnson with 87 votes and Nicole McClure with 12 votes in District 3 for the seat vacated by departing Ryan Harvey, who decided not to seek reelection.
• Also in Prescott’s Ward 1, in Position 2, incumbent Tommy Poole was apparently upset by challenger Ivory Curry in a razor close 333 to 311 vote with Curry emerging as the winner. And in Prescott’s Ward 2, Position 2, challenger Carolyn Todd apparently upset incumbent Stacy Jester by a 390 to 241 count.
• Having played football at Spring Hill High School, local Family Nurse Practitioner Devin Shepard knew of the southwestern Arkansas heat well before he returned to Hope to join the CHRISTUS Family Medicine Clinic last fall. And with daytime high temperatures predicted to be as high as 103 over the next five days, the recent days of extreme heat in the area have caught Shepard’s attention and concern as it has much of the local population.

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