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Friday, July 25, 2014
I hope I'm wrong (07/03/13)
"I see you slandered me pretty good there, Richard," County Judge Charles Willett said by phone. "I couldn't have said it better myself," was another caller's opinion. My editorial page column questioning the board's wisdom at appointing Willett as hospital administrator, instead of taking the time to search for someone with education and experience in hospital administration, has sparked a lot of comment, pro and con. Good, that's what editorials are meant to do...
Charles in Charge (06/26/13)
I'll have to admit it. When it became clear that the Fulton County Hospital Board was going to terminate the Ozarks Medical Center's contract to manage the hospital, after giving it just a year and a half to produce results, I thought the board had lost its mind. ...
People go off the deep end to save the pool (03/06/13)
When the Salem City Council met on Feb. 28, Mayor Gary Clayton was irked. Citizens had had the nerve to bother him after reading in the newspaper that, as the headline said, the "Pool May Close." "I have been kind of barraged about this thing (the pool's future) for three weeks," the Mayor said. ...
Judge gets tough on those skipping court session (01/09/13)
Just as it has since last September, the Jan. 3 session of Fulton County Circuit Court was a frustrating one for Judge Tim Weaver, and many of the defendants appearing before him. Public Defender Problem The first case called involved a hearing on a request to revoke David Kingston's probation...
Betty Price -- the employee who never left (01/09/13)
Richard Irby Editor A familiar face is missing from the SouthFork River Therapy and Living Center in Salem, and many employees and residents of the facility are missing a friend. Betty Cochran Price, 86, died on Dec. 16 after suffering a stroke. Price was an employee, not a resident of the nursing home...
OMC CEO seeks to save money through network of hospitals (01/09/13)
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, a group of hospital executives, including some from Salem and West Plains, will gather in Houston, Mo., to discuss banding together in an attempt to stay independent and survive in a very uncertain time for health care. The new health network is the brainchild of Dave Zechman, President and CEO of Ozarks Medical Center, the West Plains Hospital that also manages the Fulton County Hospital...
Man charged with bomb threats released on lowered bond (01/09/13)
William Gerald Adams, the Cherokee Village man who is accused of making telephone threats which caused high schools in Fulton and Sharp Counties to be evacuated in December, has received a bond reduction, which resulted in his release from jail on Monday, Jan. 7...
NAEC crew makes a difference in post-storm NYC (12/19/12)
Richard Irby Editor "The work was about the same (as here). The difference was, there was so much traffic and so many people everywhere we worked. You had to be careful. We're not used to working in busy areas. We're usually working out in the country."...
Calming the rough waters at Highland (10/12/12)
In the fall of 2010, James Floyd became superintendent of Highland Schools, replacing Ronnie Brogdon, the legendary, long-time superintendent who retired. After reading Tammy Curtis' article about Floyd's arrival in August 2010, I jokingly asked her how long she thought he would last. ...
Cherokee Village "No Annexation" letters -- tabled (08/24/12)
We here at Areawide Media love to get Letters To The Editor. They are a great way to give feedback to public officials, or get a public discussion going when a community is trying to made a decision on an important issue. Keep them coming! That said, I feel it is time for the long discussion over Cherokee Village's trial ballon to annex areas around it to end -- at least on our editorial page. ...
More politicians than seniors? It just seemed like it... (08/17/12)
With a free lunch, bingo with prizes and other treats on the menu, more than 300 senior citizens showed up on Aug. 9 for Senior Day at the Fulton County Fair. Since seniors are known for turning out to vote, a number of politicians showed up too, to shake hands, pass out hand fans and "vote for me" cards...
It's raining fairs and storming on the Browns (08/09/12)
People often complain there is nothing to do around here -- but, this week (Aug. 6 to 11), the problem is, there is so much going on at once, it is hard to decide what to do. The Fulton County Fair began its run on Aug 6, while the Izard County Fair opened Aug. 7. If that isn't enough, the 119th Old Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Air Force Reunion also began a six day run on Aug. 6 in Mammoth Spring...
County Fair fever is cool this year (08/02/12)
The county fair season is underway and, since it is always hot and humid in late July and early August, you can count on people turning out -- record heat and drought or not. The Sharp County Fair, which ran July 23 to 28, drew good crowds to its events this year, including beauty pageants which are held outdoors. The big news this year was the fact people who spent hours at pageants, livestock events and the midway had a place to go and cool off...
Quorum Court - Can You Hear Us? (07/26/12)
After 41 years of being a news reporter, it is a no-brainer that I find the Fulton County Quorum Court's 'no video recording allowed at our meetings' stupid and absurd -- expecially when you consider I was a television news reporter for 35 of those years. In television news, it was hard to do a story without video of what I was covering...
Frustration, a sad note and a bright spot (07/18/12)
Since most of the farmers in our area work on a smaller scale, and have outside jobs, it does not appear the emergency loans that the USDA approved for Arkansas farmers because of the drought will be of much help. But the Fulton and Izard County Farm Service Agency offices pride themselves in persuading a large number of farmers of the importance of signing up for crop insurance, to help cover losses when hay fields burn up. ...
July 4th -- A dud for some, a blast for others (07/18/12)
It was a strange Independence Day, to say the least, with fireworks -- the most important element of the holiday to many -- missing. When Fulton and Sharp County leaders banned the use of individual fireworks, I expected it to be widely ignored. After all, fireworks stands were open and, with so many feeling it's just not July Fourth without some explosions, I figured lots of people would not be able to resist lighting the sky, dry conditions or not...
Wait until you hear this one... (07/05/12)
Now when the rumor comes to your town, It grows, it grows -- Where it started no one knows. So go the lyrics that start the song, "The Rumor," by The Band. No matter where you live, its a fact that people like to talk and gossip, and pass on things they've heard as the gospel truth -- true or not...
Free Food and Prizes - What a Way to do Business! (06/14/12)
Years ago, when I got married, my grandparents, Dick and Vera Trevathan of Salem, gave my bride and I a present as we set up our first apartment in Indiana. It was a set of silverware that we had for 30-years. My grandmother won the knives, forks and spoons at the REA's (Rural Electric Association) annual membership meeting. That was the first time I remember hearing about the magical event where the electric company gives you free food, musical entertainment and a chance to win PRIZES!...
Editor's Letter to the Public (05/23/12)
Dear public, Boy, I guess she told me a thing or two. I'm talking about Shanna Maguffee, Chief Operating Officer for the White River Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA). Maguffee savaged me in a Letter to the Editor last week for an article I wrote about why WRAAA is replacing the non-profit Fulton County Council on Aging, and will take over local senior citizen centers and senior programs in July...
"Dying downtown" showing new life and vitality (05/17/12)
A stranger driving through downtown Salem a year ago, would have probably thought, 'This is a dying town,' after seeing the many vacant storefronts. Heck, even local residents often commented on the lack of activity on the square. But what a difference a year makes...
Changes (05/10/12)
Nearly two years ago (I can't believe how fast that's gone by), I was hired by Areawide Media as a Community Reporter. Areawide was one of five papers in the state to win grants to help them keep emphasizing local reporting in an age where financial realities make it harder and harder to employ a full reporting staff...
It's Not a Game -- It's War (04/05/12)
Last weekend, while you were looking at seed catalogs or watching the hunting channel or listening to Cardinals baseball, the most important basketball game ever was going on in New Orleans. No, I'm not talking about the NCAA basketball championship game. Because of my press deadline, that Monday night game hasn't even been played. And, anyway, who cares?...
The Farmer's Market seed is planted -- will in grow in Fulton County? (03/21/12)
While she was out of town when it ran, Areawide Media Editor Niki De Soto wrote an editorial page column for our Feb. 29 papers -- and I was a little worried. The County Extension Service had scheduled a Feb. 22 meeting to see if residents were interested in helping start a Fulton County Farmer's Market. Niki's column offered her support for the farmer's market idea and, being an optimist, she even promised to be one of the first customers when the market began operation...
They're playing my songs... (02/02/12)
I have been a news reporter for 40 years, but am a lifelong music fan. My first memory of music was as a tiny kid, as I recognized something strange in my house. A weird, uneasy feeling that I came to realize was this black round thing that my mother kept picking up and turning over (a vinyl record for those born in the CD and MP3 ages). ...
Old attitudes could hurt efforts to save the Fulton County Hospital (12/22/11)
The weeks before Christmas and New Years are usually slow news-wise, as people concentrate on Christmas parties and shopping and take vacation days. So, I had intended to write a column about the joys of the season. But the Fulton County Hospital Board of Governors was on the job last week, and there was new drama in the continuing struggle to stabilize the hospital...
It's time to lock up a decision on the new jail (10/28/11)
"Why can't we just give them baloney sandwiches?" said a Justice of the Peace to no one in particular, as he looked at the jail's food budget at a recent meeting. "The state can't shut down our jail, as long as we're trying to build a new one," said one citizen...
Why are the people paying for the Post Office's mis-steps? (10/07/11)
"Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds." It just shows you how bad things are when the one thing we could always depend on, the mail service, is staggering and heading for a big fall. It is often easy for us to think, hidden up here in the Ozark hills, that we are insulated from a lot of the national economic turmoil, but we are feeling the U. S. Postal Service problems big time. Ten rural post offices in our area are on closure lists...
To Tape or Not To Tape - Fulton County Quorum Court Got It Wrong (09/01/11)
On Sunday, Aug. 14, Fulton County made news all over the state when the Arkansas Democrat Gazette featured an article about our Quorum Court's decision not to allow its meetings to be videotaped by the news media or individuals. I posted The News story about the vote on the Write for Arkansas web site, which attracts readers from all over the country...
Grif Stockley: "Are you sure you want me to speak to your group?" (08/03/11)
I went to a convention recently, the Arkansas Press Association Super Convention, and actually went to most of the sessions, instead of goofing around in Hot Springs. Well, I admit I did take a couple of Hot Springs detours, but I didn't stiff the company too bad...
Cut Federal Spending! (as long as it doesn't affect me) (06/02/11)
If one good thing came out of the long recession we are still recovering from, it is the fact so many Americans have found ways to cut their spending and even save some money. In pre-recession days, if credit cards were maxed out and vacation was coming up, many families solved the problem by simply getting another credit card or two...
Richard Irby, Editor
Richard Irby, Editor