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ADH hosts pediatric vaccine clinic

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will hold a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Faulkner County Health Unit.

Children ages 5-11 are eligible.

“The vaccine will be available for no out-of-pocket expense,” ADH officials said. “Please bring an insurance card if you have one.”

Arkansas’ public schools had more than 1,200 total active COVID-19 cases this week for the first time in more than a month.

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero addressed his worries in the governor’s weekly briefing on Monday, saying the majority of those cases were students.

“That is a product of not having those children immunized and relaxing the mask mandate or the mask requirements,” he said.

The doses for 5- to 11-year-olds are one-third the amount given to teens and adults. They were shipped in their own vials with a special orange cap to avoid mix-ups with the adult-sized doses.

The shots are under an emergency use authorization and only cover Pfizer, not Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

According to the 2019 Census data, Arkansas has 272,092 residents aged 5-11 years old. The state received an initial shipment of 106,600 doses, which would provide first shots for 39.2 percent of that population.

The Faulkner County Health Unit is located at 811 N. Creek Dr. in Conway. For more information call 501-450-4941.

Taylor announces candidacy for Faulkner County Judge

On Monday, , Faulkner County Circuit Clerk Crystal Taylor announced her candidacy as a Republican for Faulkner County Judge in 2022.

“After significant deliberation with my family and friends and much prayer, it is with great excitement that I announce my campaign for Faulkner County Judge,” Taylor said. “When I ran for Circuit Clerk in 2016, I promised I would search for ways to make our office the most efficient while staying up-to-date with technology, and I have kept that promise. As a proven conservative leader with proven results, I believe in government transparency, fiscal discipline, and being a good steward of your tax dollars, and I am eager to bring my experience to the Faulkner County Judge’s office. I would be honored to continue to represent the people of Faulkner County and humbly ask for your support and vote again in the Republican Primary on May 24, 2022.”

Beginning in Taylor’s first term in January 2017, she:

Implemented electronic recording of land records in Faulkner County for the first time in history.

Was honored in August of 2018 with a Data Quality Award from the Administrative Office of the Arkansas Supreme Court for her work in collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office in implementing a system to improve the collection of Arrest Tracking Numbers – which ensures the safety of our community and law enforcement officers.

Has received numerous Arkansas Government Awards for technology innovation, efficiency projects, and a statewide Business Service Award from 2017-2020.

Launched an open checkbook online to provide transparency of all her managed funds, which was applauded by Arkansas Center for Research and Economics at UCA.

Was appointed by the Governor to the state’s E-Recording Commission in November of 2019.

About Crystal Taylor

Taylor is a native to Arkansas and longtime resident of Conway. She earned her Master’s Degree in Operations Management through the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Taylor has more than 20 years of industry-related experience and has owned and managed her own business. She is also the President of the Faulkner County Republican Women. She currently resides in Conway with her husband, Shannon Taylor, and they have two young boys.

Eastside 5th graders undergo saltwater experiment
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Fifth graders at Eastside Elementary in Greenbrier conducted an experiment Wednesday where they tested the amount of saltwater compared to the amount of freshwater in the ocean.

Sarah Langley, a fifth grade science teacher at Eastside, started the exercise by allowing the students to make their own predictions on what they believe is the amount of saltwater and freshwater in the ocean using a pie chart.

Students then had to use colored water to represent saltwater and vegetable oil to represent freshwater and mix them together.

After mixing, students saw that the amount of freshwater found on Earth was only a very small percentage compared to saltwater then they had to reflect and summarize the lab experiment.

“Mrs. Langley strives to make learning hands-on and uses these lab experiences to engage her class in science,” Kristen Barnett, the Eastside Assistant Principal, said.

Conway pharmacist voices importance of National Eye Donation Month

In 1983, the Eye Bank Association of America named November as National Eye Donation Month in order to raise awareness for the importance of registering to be a cornea donor, something a local pharmacist knows all too well about.

Jennifer Bussey, a University of Central Arkansas graduate and current Walmart pharmacist, went to see if she could be a candidate for LASIK surgery due to her vision getting progressively worse and cloudy. At that appointment, she found out that she had a condition called Fuch’s Dystrophy, a condition that causes fluid to build up in the top layer of the cornea causing it to swell and thicken.

“I had no idea that I had that condition until that appointment,” Bussey said. “It was affecting my work, it was affecting my driving, so I realized that I was going to have to do something to try and improve that. I’ve got to be able to see my prescriptions and I was getting to the point where even with glasses I was having trouble.”

A few years later at a routine eye exam in Little Rock, Bussey’s doctor told her that she could be a candidate for a surgery called Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK), which replaces the top layer of the cornea. She got approved for the surgery and in June of 2016, she got the surgery done with incredible success.

“After the proceeder, it did take a couple weeks before I regained total vision, but, I mean, I can’t even explain the difference,” she said. “It’s remarkable. The proceeder itself saved myself and my career.”

Today, more than 114,000 Americans are on an organ transplant waiting list and every ten minutes, another American gets added to it. Everyday, an estimated 22 people from that list die due to an organ that wasn’t available to them at that time and, of the estimated 114,00 Americans on the waiting list, about 300 of those are from Arkansas.

“If we gathered the individuals on the list in one place, there would be too many to fit into the largest football stadium in the U.S,” Audrey Coleman, director of communications for the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA), said.

ARORA, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit that serves 64 counties in Arkansas and is the largest organ tissue recovering agency in the state. Ever since her surgery, Bussey has been working alongside the organization as a volunteer to raise awareness for the importance of tissue and organ donations.

“I volunteer because I want to get the word out about tissue and organ donation,” she said. “I want people to know how many lives can be saved and how many conditions can be improved with organ and tissue donation.”

Volunteers like Bussey are what keeps ARORA running in order to restore the lives of Arkansans through the recovery of organs and tissues.

“I am always blown away by the passion and dedication of ARORA’s volunteers,” Beth Cameron, the manager of family aftercare at ARORA, said. “So many of them are people who have been touched by donation and want to spread the message to help others who are in need of life-saving organ transplants, sight-restoring cornea transplants or life-restoring tissue transplants. I am so grateful to work with amazing volunteers like Jennifer and learn about the stories of those who received and those who gave every single day.”

Today, only 64 percent of Arkansans are registered organ, tissue and/or eye donors which ARORA says isn’t enough.

“Each organ donor can save the lives of eight individuals and tissue donation can help restore the lives of 75, according to Donate Life America,” Coleman said. “Speaking specifically about cornea donation, because November is Eye Donation Month, each cornea donation can restore the sight of two people. Although many are registered donors, the need for organ, tissue and eye donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors.”

About 12 million people worldwide are suffering from a type of blindness that can be healed with a corneal transplant and Bussey is just one of the many success stories that shows the importance of having more donors in this world to improve that number.

“I recommend anyone to sign up to be a donor, it’s a life saving thing for many people,” Bussey said.

Today, Bussey has to take a daily steroid drop in order to keep her vision up, but her story still isn’t quite over yet.

“I do know that with time, it could be five years, ten years, or longer, I will have to have the tissue replaced and have another proceeder done,” she said. “I hope that there will be a donor out there for me at that time.”