Making that long list of New Year's resolutions is a time consuming task, which almost always has the grueling command of, "You must lose weight," on it. But rather than thinking of your own weight, at the moment, here's a review of the weight we gained in news over the past year.
James Henry Howell, 42, was finally caught and arrested Jan. 12 after a tip from Izard County Chief Deputy Ernie Blackley. Howell was wanted for violating his parole. The information Blackley was able to provide was that Howell was armed and refused to be taken back into custody. He was apprehended by Baxter County Police at a road block.
Jan. 29, nearly hurricane force winds wrecked havoc on Sharp, Izard and Fulton counties. Many fire departments were busy putting out fires that had blazed up from downed power lines and old coals that had started burning again. One fire in Izard County covered about 250 acres and wind damage was reported in all three counties.
An EF4 tornado tore through Highland Feb. 5 destroying their fire department and leaving residents in shock. Neighboring fire departments and emergency personnel from Fulton County and other areas in Sharp County responded to Highland's emergency calls.
Areawide Media set up a space on their Web site to help tornado victims and their families be reunited with their personal items. A photo was found close to the home of Pat Collins near Camp. The photo was of a 10-year-old girl named Emmy Cherry who, along with her mother and father, was killed during the tornado in Atkins. The photo was posted on Areawide Media's Web site and was found by Kelly Kizer, Emmy's aunt, who said there was barely anything left to remember the lost family by after the tornado struck their house.
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe visited Izard County March 5 to view the destruction the F-4 tornado left in February. Beebe said he would try to help victims of the tornado on both the state and local levels.
Both Izard and Fulton counties were hit hard by heavy rains on March 18-19. Flood waters covered roads in many areas and wiped out a section of Whippoorwill Road in Wheeling. Salem officials feared they would have to move the RV park next to the White Oak Station somewhere else to avoid the rising water. About 9 inches of rain fell on Salem. Surrounding areas also received heavy rains and flooding. Millions of dollars worth of damage was done to roads and property.
Stephen Carpenter, 26, of Fulton County, was charged with capital murder in the beating and stabbing death of a Stone County man, Kagen Futrell, 19. Two others, Michael Blackford, 19, and David Tidwell, 34, both of Stone County, were also charged with the murder. Futrell's body was found by investigators March 28 near Parma Road in Stone County. The killing appeared to be drug related. According to a statement made by Blackford, he, Carpenter and Tidwell believed Futrell was an undercover Drug Task Force agent, but Blackford's statement was the only one with this information.
Donna Been-Walker, 40, a teacher in the Cedar Ridge School District, was stopped at an Izard County traffic stop March 28. It was found she had methamphetamine in her vehicle. She also tested positive for drug use.
Bucketfuls of rain came again on April 10 to the area. The already soggy ground from the downpour in March made this flood even more damaging. This flood washed out more roads and bridges and flooded some businesses, homes and farmland.
Lightening was blamed for the fire that engulfed Richard Munson's home west of Viola on April 22. When the Viola Fire Department responded, they knocked out the fire in the crawl space of the house. However, when Assistant Fire Chief Charlene Crowl and teammate Lena Sutterfield went back in, Crowl fell through the floor. Sutterfield then went to alert others for help, but when she went back in to where Crowl was, the smoke was so thick that she couldn't see and ended up falling through the same hole Crowl had fallen through. Chief Boyd Dailey then went in and pulled them both out one at a time. All three firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation. Byron, Camp, Salem and Gepp firefighters responded to the scene to help out.
Brock M. Felton, 32, of Melbourne, an Izard County Consolidated High School band teacher was charged with 28 counts of sexual indecency. According to Superintendent Fred Walker, Felton resigned from teaching at the school for health reasons.
A train derailed near Mammoth Spring on May 6. Mammoth Spring schools were closed down that day because officials feared there might be a hazardous chemical in one of the tanker cars and the Mammoth Spring State Park was shut down for a while, as well. The cause of the derailment was not known by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).
Gov. Mike Beebe visited Melbourne and Salem May 16. Beebe spoke at the new Melbourne school and at the opening of Superior Sewing in Salem. He also toured the Fulton County Hospital and made an appearance at the North Central Arkansas Regional Economic Development meeting. Beebe praised the area for its hard work and for getting more jobs in rural Arkansas.
The North Arkansas Electric Cooperative proudly dedicated on May 18 a large bronze statue and memorial created by Ron Moore to the eight linemen who died while serving the electric cooperative. The memorial is in front of the Salem headquarters. A smaller, 3-foot memorial of the same sculpture was placed in front of the Ash Flat and Mountain Home offices.
A Mississippi boy was injured in a wreck May 25 in Sharp County. He registered a .15 on a breathalyzer test and was sent to the Fulton County Hospital to be treated for his injuries. After he was released, he turned his attention to Dr. Griffin Arnold's car. The 17-year-old stole the doctor's car and ended up crashing it into a utility pole in Black Rock, which totaled the car. According to Salem Police Chief Albert Roork, the boy just wanted to go back home.
Another train accident occurred near Mammoth Spring. This time two trains collided. According to Joe Faust, a spokesperson for BNSF, there were some nitrous fertilizer pellets that spilled from one of the tankers but none of it got into Spring Lake. There was at least one car that did go into the lake that was empty. The cause of the accident was not determined.
Denise Oldenberg, M.D., who has a medical office in Horseshoe Bend, had charges against her of over prescribing dropped. However, she was put on a two-year monitoring program after a hearing of the Arkansas State Medical Board (ASMB) in Little Rock on June 6.