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Ag teacher honored

Clinton Family and Consumer Science teacher Valerie Trawick-Lawson has been awarded Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom teacher of the year for Van Buren County.

Agriculture in the Classroom is a national program sponsored by American Farm Bureau Federation and all of its associated state affiliates. The program encourages teaching the importance of agriculture in our daily lives. Competition for Ag in the Classroom Teacher of the Year occurs at the county, State & National level. Valarie Trawick-Lawson was selected as the Van Buren County teacher of the year, which qualified her for state competition.

As the AITC Arkansas Teacher of the Year, she will compete for the national title next summer at the national convention in Des Moines, Iowa. (Due to the Covid 19 pandemic the convention scheduled for this summer in Salt Lake City was canceled.) The convention recognizes outstanding teachers (K-12) throughout the USA.

Conway teen earns Eagle Scout rank

Fifteen-year-old Liam Daughtery joined the Boy Scouts of America program when he was 6 years old. Last week, the Conway teen officially achieved an Eagle Scout rank.

Daughtery, who will be a sophomore at Conway High School in the fall, said he is proud of this accomplishment and that he encourages everyone to set goals and work hard to achieve those goals.

The Conway teen was in the first grade when he joined the Boy Scouts of America program. He put in more than 40 hours of work to replace and refurbish the picnic tables at Carolyn Lewis Elementary School on top of the many other merit badges he was required to earn to become an Eagle Scout.

“This has taken nine years to finally reach the goal of Eagle Scout rank. It has affected my life heavily as I have had many different feelings throughout the experience, like stress and happiness and sadness,” Daughtery told the Log Cabin Democrat.

Fulfilling each task on his mission to become an Eagle Scout provided Daughtery with new life skills all along the way, he said.

“I was able to receive leadership training and experience. You have to learn organization skills to complete everything needed. I have also learned a number of skills that I will use in the future,” the Conway teen said. “I look forward to [continuing] to teach younger scouts in our troop and community these skills, as well as my children one day.”

Daughtery is one of seven teens to earn an Eagle Scout rank in the Quapaw Area Council during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Jessica Henry Spayde, Quapaw Area Council registrar, said. The Quapaw Area Council is a part of the Foothills District, which includes Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Perry and Van Buren counties.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is a long process. The Boy Scouts of America program extended the deadline to meet requirements for several 18-year-old members who were close to reaching their goals when the pandemic made it difficult to complete their requirements on time.

After being a Life Scout for six months, those seeking an Eagle Scout rank must earn 21 merit badges. Scouts must also create a service project to benefit another organization and/or the community to move up in rank. Daughtery decided to tackle a project that would benefit the Conway Public Schools District.

“My project was to replace the tables and seats of the picnic tables at Carolyn Lewis Elementary. It took a total of 44 hours,” the 15-year-old Troop 392 member said, adding that one must be active in a troop for at least six months before completing their project and going before an Eagle board of review.

Though it was a difficult project, Daughtery said the end result was well worth the long hours spent to tackle the project.

It was a rewarding process, he said.

“[It] took a lot of work, but you have to learn how to have fun with that work. That is what makes it a journey,” the Conway teen said. “It’s not about the thing you obtain at the end, but it’s the journey that you remember most. [It’s] the stories and people and many other things that you remember about the journey more than the end of it.”

Carolyn Lewis administrators said they were grateful Daughtery took on a project that would benefit the entire school.

“We were so thankful for the Eagle Scout to select Carolyn Lewis for his service project,” Carolyn Lewis Principal Stacy DeFoor said. “The picnic tables will benefit all of our students during their outdoor garden and science lessons. Our after school Sprout Scouts Club will also utilize them during their after schools activities and garden work days. We are truly blessed by this community service project.”

The Conway teen’s parents said they were proud of Daughtery for continuing to work toward his goal and finding ways to reach the finishing requirements in the midst of a global pandemic.

“We are so very proud of Liam for setting the goal to earn Eagle rank and admire his drive to complete it during the pandemic,” his mother, Nicole Harris, told the Log Cabin. “I hope that other kids in his troop and our community see that you can continue and finish your goals, even with obstacles in your way. You just have to figure out a way around them.

“It was an absolute joy to be able to watch him and his troop give back to Carolyn Lewis with his project. Both Liam and his brother went to CLES and I love that Liam has left a lasting mark there, even many years later.”

Daughtery said he wants to encourage others to also “keep striving to complete your goals.”

Colorado couple charged with mail theft

LITTLE ROCK—A man and woman from Colorado have been charged with possession of a stolen postal key and theft of mail, some of which contained a tax return check and a federal stimulus check intended for financial relief during the Covid-19 pandemic. David Alan Gilmore, 31, and Kathleen Lucille Johnson, 40, appeared for arraignment in federal court today before United States Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney.

A complaint filed late Thursday alleges that on June 17, 2020, the Arkansas Highway Police in Conway initiated a traffic stop on a car that was displaying a stolen Colorado license plate. During the traffic stop, with assistance from Conway Police, officers located several bags full of mail, none of which was addressed to either Gilmore or Johnson. That mail contained six personal checks, one tax refund check, and one stimulus check.

In addition to the stolen mail, officers found 13 credit and debit cards in the vehicle, none of which were in the name of either Gilmore or Johnson. Officers also found a United States Postal Service key, which is used by postal carriers to open collection boxes, apartment delivery boxes, and neighborhood delivery collection box units.

The penalty for possessing a stolen postal key is not more than 10 years imprisonment, and the penalty for theft of mail is not more than 5 years imprisonment. Both crimes carry a fine of up to $250,000 and not more than three years of supervised release. The investigation is being conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service.

An indictment only contains allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Jasper Burgess with a dunk during the regular season at Yellowjacket Arena

Ordinance passed for vote on hospital sales tax

CLINTON — The Van Buren County Quorum Court passed an ordinance for a vote on a county half-cent sales tax vote during the Nov. 3 general election. The ordinance passage was part of the business conducted at its regular June 18 meeting.

The sales tax, actually an extension of a sales tax already in place, if it passes at the November election, is to support the hospital. The ordinance allowing the tax to be placed on the county ballot was passed by the court.

The court also voted on a new backhoe for the county, and administrative matters.

A request for a special election for the hospital sales tax had been presented at the last court meeting in May, presented by Ozark Health CEO David Deaton. At the time Deaton said the revenue from the tax would be used to support capital improvements, as well as expansion and renovations of the hospital. Deaton had asked for a special election to avoid the vote being “overshadowed by other issues.”

The ordinance is a change from Deaton’s May request for a special election, making it part of the November election.

The sales tax is currently in place and due to retire shortly. If supported by voters, the half-cent tax would extend to December 2036.

The half-cent tax extension had been part of a special election earlier in the year, which included support for the library and volunteer fire departments. In that election, which required three votes, volunteer fire department funding was the only measure which passed.

Justices, during discussion of the ordinance, said the problem with the extension of the half-cent tax not passing on that election had to do with the wording and confusion it caused of that special election. The previous ballot measure was “too wordy,” Justice Sara Brown said.

Justice Dell Holt said part of the issue with the earlier failure was the sales tax extension being tied in with the library.

The decision to end the tax or support it should rest with the voters, the court stated.

“It’s up to the people,” Justice Brian Tatum said, “I don’t feel comfortable saying ‘No you can’t put it [the sales tax vote] on the ballot,’”

Justice Virgil Lemings spoke against the ordinance, and was the sole no vote in the ordinances passage.

Lemings reminded the court of the “tough times” many are going through, plus possible forthcoming county expenses.

“We’re talking about a jail that needs to be re-done,” Lemings said.

City of Fairfield Bay Paul Wellenberger made a statement “I stand in support of the hospital.”

He discussed his family’s recent interactions with the hospital due to a health crisis and the treatment they were able to receive, instead of having to make a trip to Little Rock for the same level of care.

“We are blessed to have this hospital,” Wellenberger said, “not just Van Buren County but this region.”

Other justices spoke in favor of the hospital, pointing out not just the level of care it provides, but it being a major employer in the community.

Tatum also asked that those with questions about the hospital and related issue attend a court meeting and ask question rather than get information from social media.

To a question, Van Buren County Clerk Pam Bradford said putting the sales tax extension on the ballot would not incur any additional expense for the county, due to the general election taking place the same day.

In other Quorum Court matters:

The court approved the county trading in a Case 590 backhoe toward the purchase of a John Deere 410 backhoe. The Case had been breaking down a great deal, the court was told.

A minor clarification to the employee manual was passed.

Resolutions supporting Shirley and Dennard Fire Departments to apply for block grants were approved.

Positive cases jump in state; hospitalizations decrease

Arkansas has reached its June testing goal of 120,000 tests, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday in his regular COVID-19 briefing.

The state completed 7,049 tests since Sunday, for a total of 120,053 tests in June. The positivity rate for the latest round of tests is 6.3 percent, well below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s standard positivity rate guideline of 10 percent, the governor said.

An additional 522 cases of COVID-19 were recorded since Sunday for a cumulative total of 16,083 cases, the governor said. Of those, 5,063 are active, and 4,315 are present in communities around the state.

Two additional deaths have been recorded since Sunday for a cumulative total of 227.

Despite the increase in cases, hospitalizations decreased by seven on Monday for a total of 237. The governor said hospitals around the state are still able to meet the additional load of COVID-19 cases in their facilities, citing a graph that showed approximately 29 percent of hospital beds in the state are available, while approximately 22 percent of intensive care unit beds are available.

Additionally, approximately 65 percent of ventilators are available around the state. Secretary of Health Dr. Nate Smith said he is encouraged by the number of ventilators available, as well as the additional ventilators that have been ordered.

“The hardest thing to address if you don’t have it is ventilators,” Smith said. “It’s encouraging that almost two-thirds of our ventilator capacity is available.”

Washington and Benton Counties continue to lead the way in new cases, while Hot Springs County had the third most number of new cases in the state.

Fifty new nursing home residents tested positive for COVID-19, as did 21 nursing home staff, Smith said. The announcement comes days after the state announced plans to begin reopening nursing homes, with restrictions, to visitors.

The governor also responded to the news that China halted imports from Tyson Foods in Springdale because of an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the facility.

“China’s action is very troubling to me,” the governor said. “You look at processing plants all across the country and they’ve had outbreaks. And for China to make that decision on one plant in Springdale is not reasonable in my judgement.”

Despite a statement from President Trump at his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally on Saturday in which he said he told his administration to slow down testing – a remark he later indicated was a joke – the governor said Arkansas had no intentions of letting up on testing.

“I listened to it,” the governor said. “I thought it was a flippant comment. But everybody needs to understand how seriously we take [COVID-19] and we are going to continue to expand testing.”