While 2008 will be remembered in Sharp County for the devastation many endured throughout the February tornado and the floods of March, there are many good things that happened as well. Here are some highlights of the news from the year we are leaving behind, 2008.
A group called Save Energy Reap Taxes (SERT) circulated petitions in hopes of getting enough signatures to put the wet/dry issue on the November ballot.
SERT's view was an environmental one. SERT President Ruth Reynolds said, if people didn't have to drive so far for alcohol there would be fewer gas emissions. "Who knows how many tons of carbon have been released by driving to Thayer to purchase alcohol," Reynolds said.
After months without an official plan, the Cherokee Village City Council reviewed a presentation made by Animal Control Officer Billy Hamrick for an animal shelter.
The goals of the facility are to provide appropriate shelter for the animals, help the citizens and the animals, get others involved, provide effective service for the area by using a proactive approach and save tax dollars.
The council unanimously approved the temporary special use permit for the animal shelter.
Sharp County Judge Larry Brown appointed Gene Moore as the new Sharp County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Jan. 2.
Moore who is a long time county road employee said he would do the best job he could for the county and its people.
Community Leader Robert Clay died Jan. 15 at the age of 87. Clay, who owned and operated Price Chopper in Hardy along with a host of other properties, began building his business empire in the 1940s.
"We've lost one of the pillars of our community," Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton said. "He helped make the town what it is today. In my opinion, if it wasn't for Robert Clay's grocery store, Hardy probably wouldn't have fared so well during the years."
After more than 26 years of service to Sharp County, former Sharp County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Pete Reilly was honored.
Sharp County Judge Larry Brown presented Reilly with a plaque Jan. 14, recognizing him for his years of service to the county.
Mark Johnson was named the 2008 recipient of the E. Wilson Green Award.
Johnson received the award given by the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce for his volunteerism in the community.
On Feb. 5 Sharp County endured a devastating tornado that ripped through the area causing severe damage.
The EF4 twister traveled more than 120 miles across Arkansas destroying everything in its path. The storm carried debris from town to town leaving its mark.
One man, Mike Spurlock, of the Heart area, found debris from Little Rock, Clinton, Mountain View and Cherokee Village. The storm left Highland in shambles. The Midway Plaza took a direct hit leaving it almost unrecognizable. Vehicles were tossed around like Tonka toys, the Highland fire station was reduced to a pile of rubble and many homes were destroyed.
Amazingly, the EF4 tornado caused no loss of life in the area. Many people in the area, residents and agencies, pulled together to act as heroes during the disaster.
The Hardy City Council agreed to treat their Sharp and Fulton County residents equally.
The council voted unanimously to roll back the millage rate in the Fulton County portion of the city from 5 mills to 2.9 mills, which is what Sharp County was at.
Cherokee Village's animal control program got off the ground and the animal control officer, William Hamrick, resigned. Hamrick took a position elsewhere.
Kenneth King, a Spring River icon, died March 4, at the age of 77. King had been involved in Boy Scouts, schools, hospitals, downtown restoration and enticing industry into the area.
King was awarded the 2005 E. Wilson Green Award by the Spring River Area Chamber of Commerce for his volunteerism and community support.
Many different fundraisers were put into place to help those who lost their homes and belongings in the Feb. 5 tornado. Highland High School Secretary Glenda Hackney and Highland and Greene County Tech students collected supplies during their "Hope for Highland" campaign.
The Omaha Center hosted "A Concert for Tomorrow" benefit March 15, to collect monetary donations for local residents who lost their homes and businesses in the tornado.
On March 20, Gov. Mike Beebe declared 26 counties disaster areas due to flooding. The counties included Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Clay, Crawford, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hot Spring, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Logan, Madison, Marion, Nevada, Newton, Randolph, Scott, Searcy, Sharp, Stone and Washington.
Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton announced that 112 homes were affected by the flood and 55 to 60 were seriously damaged while two were completely destroyed.
According to the National Weather Service in Little Rock, 6.51 inches of rain fell in Hardy March 18-19. Because of this amount of rain combined with Mammoth Spring's 9.25 inches and the rain in Missouri the Spring River emerged from it's riverbed and poured over the banks.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel demanded all payday lenders in the state of Arkansas close their doors for good. McDaniel defined payday lenders as businesses that grant short-term loans and charge exorbitant amounts of interest.
McDaniel said these interest rates violate the Arkansas Constitution's usury limit and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Once again, rain saturated the soil causing more flooding. Although the rain wasn't as severe as the March rains there was some flooding. Hardy reported 2.40 inches of rain April 1.
Laura McCandless played her way onto a college team. McCandless not only got a chance to take her game to the next level she also got to help establish a brand-new program.
McCandless became the eighth golfer in the past 14 years at Highland High School to play her way onto a college team when she signed a letter of intent to play golf at Missouri State University-West Plains.
The Highland Fire Department received a $10,000 check as part of Oprah's Big Give. The check was given due to the fire station being ripped to shreds during the Feb. 5 EF4 tornado.
Cherokee Village launched a Web page called Cherokee Village Most Wanted from the city's Web site. The page allows residents and others to learn who has active arrest warrants issued from the city.
Leonard Smith and Conrad Long were honored for their long standing employment with the postal service. Both men have been employed with the post office for 40 years.
Sharp County Criminal Investigation Division hired a new detective, Ken Guidry. Guidry took the position as second county detective April 16.
Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said, "He's just got the experience and training to do the job. He's a seasoned officer who I think can handle anything that might come up."
Michael Lee Dailey, 31 of Cave City was charged with aggravated assault on a family or household member and possession of a firearm by a certain person for allegedly shooting at his wife when she confronted him about a photograph of a naked woman she found on his cellular phone.
Phillip Horrell was appointed to the Hardy City Council after Alderman Jack Huffmaster resigned. Huffmaster did not give his resignation in writing but cited health reasons for the cause of leaving.
The citizens of Cherokee Village voted to hold a controlled deer hunt within the city limits of Cherokee Village.
Eric Pickle of Cave City took the position of jail administrator April 15. He replaced Jeffery Adam, who accepted another position.
Nathaniel Scott Barnett, of Cave City, was pulled from the waters of Strawberry River June 8.
Barnett drowned in the river at Hewlett Road near Poughkeepsie June 7. According to Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver, Barnett and several friends went swimming at a popular swimming hole. The boys noticed Barnett missing later that evening.
Local doctor Denise Oldenberg was placed on a two-year monitoring program after allegations of over-prescribing medications made against her were dismissed.
Oldenberg was accused of prescribing scheduled medications for various individuals without proper diagnostic work-up or need for the medication before giving the prescriptions for the scheduled medication to individuals; all of this occurring in the spring of 2004, at a Dairy Queen in Salem.
The city of Highland purchased the Midway Plaza on Highway 62/412 in hopes of using it to build a new fire station.
The Highland City Council agreed to pay $275,000 for the property which includes eight acres.