Salem and Viola high schools were recognized as bronze schools by U.S. News & World Report. The schools had to pass two steps to be eligible for national judging on the final step of college readiness.
Jimmy Hooper and his wife Christa Hooper of Batesville, were charged with federal charges in connection with break-ins at post offices including those at Ash Flat, Evening Shade and Glencoe. Authorities identified the Hoopers from surveillance tapes.
A retirement party was held in December for Fulton County Treasurer Larry Humphries and Fulton County Assessor Jerry Humphrey.
Ash Flat's Jeff Johnson teamed with Pat Goodwin of Cherokee Village to take second place in the Mid-Central Buddy Winter Bass Tournament Dec. 20 on Norfork Lake.
A popular Salem business, Body Works, was destroyed by fire during the early morning hours on Jan. 3. Edward and Drenda Sutton were the owners of the business which offered an exercise gym for both men and women. The fire is believed to have started in the basement of the business which housed the men's workout area.
Calisse Tarpley, a student at Salem High School, won the Design-A-Bookmark contest sponsored by the school's library. She received an autographed book from Jeff Foxworthy.
Laura Faith Miller, daughter of Rebecca and Matthew Miller of Salem, was the first baby born in 2009 at the White River Medical Center in Batesville. She was born Jan. 1, 2009, at 5 a.m.
Brock M. Felton of Sage, was found guilty Jan. 9 of 16 counts of sexual crimes. Four of those crimes were sexual assault in the second degree and 12 for sexual indecency charges. Felton was a former Izard County Consolidated School band and choir teacher and a school bus driver. The jury requested that Felton receive rehabilitation help, was fined $180,000 and sentenced to 6 months in an Arkansas Department of Corrections facility.
A new digital dictation system was put in place at Fulton County Hospital to assist doctors update patient's records.
Fulton County received a grant of $20,866.48 that would be used to purchase jaws-of-life for the Viola and Mammoth Spring Fire Departments. Fulton County also became the owner of the old Southfork Nursing Home building.
Base Paramedic Supervisor at the West Plains Air Evac base Scott Moody received his wings for 1,000 patient flights.
Salem High School's Beta Club collected food and clothing in observance of Poverty Awarenesss Month.
The Bank of Salem celebrated a century of service to the area in December, 2008, and was featured in The News' Faces and Places in a January issue.
Holly Pate was named the Salem Chamber of Commerce President for 2009.
Sue Coon of Melbourne was one of 12 artists featured in a new 2009 desk calendar published by the Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute (CARTI) of Little Rock.
Dr. Dusty Johnson, president of Ozarka College, announced he would be resigning his position to become president of Vernon College in Vernon, Texas, on March 1.
A new ultrasound clinic, Doctors Diagnostics, opened in the Shaver Complex. It is operated by doctors Jim Bozeman, Michael Camp and Rebecca Phillips.
Melbourne High School's new 1,850 seat gymnasium hosted the Arkansas State Basketball Tournament.
The Horseshoe Bend Fire Department burned Jan. 21 leaving the city with only one working fire engine. Several emergency vehicles along with the city's new brush truck were destroyed along with the building. Ten neighboring fire crews responded to the fire.
Johnny Byler and Doug Nienvivk were hired by the Salem Police Department as new officers.
Tina Wheelis was named Ozarka interim president while the search committee seeks a replacement for resigning president Dr. Dusty Johnston.
The Southfork Therapy and Living Center presented Dr. Griffin Arnold a plaque in appreciation of his 17 years of service as the center's medical director.
Rep. Curren Everett of Salem and Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne were sworn into office Jan. 12 for their final terms in the House of Representatives as the 87th General Assembly convened in Little Rock.
Wanda and James Shelly of Ash Flat observed their 65th wedding anniversary in February.
The biggest news of the year occurred in the last days of January and early February when the area was hit with the ice storm of the century. Travel came to a standstill, and almost everyone lost electrical power for days -- some for weeks. Crews from several states converged at NAEC in Salem to help restore electricity to the area. With over 700 extra people helping with the damage, make-shift beds had to be set up and different churches and businesses worked together to keep them fed.
Temporary shelters were opened to give people a place to go for a warm meal, hot shower or just a place to go to warm up and visit with others in the same situation.
Emergency crews worked 24-7 cutting away broken trees and other debris to check on people to see if they needed supplies or help of any kind.
People in the entire area learned they could survive and make do without the essentials they take for granted.
Areawide Media announced that The News was now available online with the launch of the new e-edition. Current subscribers could log-on to the site free and new e-edition subscribers could read the entire paper online for $25 a year.
Four Mammoth Spring students, Tia Baldridge, Logan Russell, Kailey Sims and Brianna VanGinhoven, received honors for their art work at the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock.
Peter DiNoto and Delores Bolien of Salem were united in marriage Feb. 2. He is 92 and she is 84.
Areawide Media produced a special 16-page section remembering the anniversary of the F4 tornado that hit the area Feb. 5, 2008, doing major damage to the Highland and Ash Flat area. The National Weather Service determined the tornado was on the ground for 120+ miles, making it one of the longest in recorded history.
On Feb. 19, Mel Coleman, CEO of NAEC announced that all power was back on to its 35,000 members who were without electricity since the ice storm hit the area. NAEC estimated the damage caused to its system alone amounted to 2,500 broken electrical poles and $14.5 million in damage.
The Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch at Hardy closed due to the economy. The Ranch served abused and neglected children offering them a structured life with love. The youth were relocated to the Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch at Batesville.
Singer/songwriter, David Lynn Jones, was the victim of an on-going elaborate identity theft scheme. Two Baxter County residents, Janis Wallace (aka: Janis Jones, Janis French) and Danny J. Sullivan were arrested.
Samantha King, a student at Izard County Consolidated School, advanced to the Elks Regional Hoop Shoot in Paris, Tenn., after winning the State Elks Shoot in Hot Springs. She was represented by the Highland Elks Lodge 2539 in Cherokee Village.
Viola's Mrs. Charlene Hooneycutt's first grade class read 100 books independently reaching their goal.
Mr. and Mrs. Zollie Orosz of Highland celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Feb. 21.
Tabitha G. Hall of Mammoth Spring accepted membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society and was honored during an induction ceremony at Arkansas State University.
Ferral A. Stark of Hardy pled guilty to second degree murder Feb. 17 and was sentenced to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He was charged with the murder of Theresa Kosik of Hardy.
The Salem Church of Christ gave out disaster relief boxes filled with much needed items to residents in the ice storm disaster area.
Representatives from 12 fire departments met in Salem to discuss new volunteer fire fighting training and the possibility of forming a North Central Arkansas Fire District. Rep. Curren Everett and retired ranger Joe Smith were at the meeting to hand out copies of the submitted bill that would affect rural fire departments.
The Izard County Sheriff's Department upgraded their security system by installing 14 additional cameras and monitors. The cameras were placed in each of the cell blocks, intake area and other key locations throughout the jail.
Ozarka Culinary students helped out during the ice storm disaster by preparing food for workers restoring power to the area.
Salem High School Band students Holly Williamson, Terra Kinder, Stephanie McCullough and Roy Massey received All State honors.
After over a year of searching for the owner of a quilt that was found in the Highland area after the Feb. 5, 2008, tornado, it was given back to its owner, Ruby Kersten of Atkins. The Kerstens lost their home and business as the tornado traveled through the Atkins area. Alco Manager Mark Hoosier found the quilt the day after the tornado behind the store. Lenice Hansen had worked for over a year to find the owner of the quilt. The quilt was made by Kersten's grandmother.
The Mammoth Spring First Baptist Church held a ground breaking ceremony in February for their new 13,980 square foot building. The building is located just south of Mammoth Spring on Highway 9.
Wyatt Denton Goff, son of Dusty and Areawide Media employee Jessica Goff, was born Feb. 19, 2009.
Columbia Flooring in Melbourne announced that the plant would be closing its doors in May.
The Salem Chamber of Commerce announced that the annual chamber auction would not be held this year. "So many of the chamber auction donors and the people who come out to support the auction have had losses due to the recent ice storm," Chamber President Holly Pate said when announcing the cancellation.
Vicki Fowlkes, Twin Lakes Community Foundation member, presented $500 checks to teachers Diana Walsh of Mammoth Spring Elementary School, Jolie Washam of Mammoth Spring Middle School and Amy Sanders of Salem Elementary School to help with the schools' science programs.
The Viola Lady Longhorns made history by earning the school's first trip to state tournament since 5-on-5 basketball play began.
Learning a lot from the ice storm, Morriston, Agnos, Glencoe, Saddle and Byron Fire Departments received 20 kilowatt generators through Act 833 money. With these generators, the stations can now be used as shelters during a disaster.
Sgt. David Estes of the Baxter County Sheriff's Department was chosen Deputy of the Year for 2008.
Even though a burn ban was in affect, area firefighters stayed busy putting out fires, with five calls in one day, as residents tried to clean up from the ice storm. The strong March winds sent fires roaring out of control.
Izard County Consolidated School was awarded a $49,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Education. The money will be used to expand programs that tie-in with multimedia education.
Viola High School's EAST Lab received a Superior Ranking at the National EAST Lab Convention in Hot Springs.
Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, which began as West Plains Memorial Hospital, celebrated its 50th year of service to the community on March 2. As part of the celebration, items from the 1957 and 1993 time capsules were unveiled.
In their first-ever trip to the state finals in boys' basketball, the Melbourne Bearkatz were handed a tight 44-40 loss to the St. Joseph Bulldogs March 14 at Summitt Arena in Hot Springs.
A pet rat, one guinea pig, one rabbitt and 37 cats and dogs were removed from a Hardy residence. The animals had been abandoned to fend for themselves.The Northeast Arkansas for Animals Shelter helped rescue the animals.
The Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery learned they would soon be the home for a $3 million Visitor and Environmental Education Center that is planned to open in 2010.
The Fulton County Quorum Court discussed the possibility of turning the old nursing home building into an Emergency Operations Center. Grant funding would determine if the process would be started.
Arkansas learned it would receive $273.2 million of the money set aside for education from President Barrack Obama's Stimulus plan.
Fulton County Hospital CEO Angela Richmond resigned her position at the hospital during the hospital's board meeting March 30. She will be the full-time administrator at the Community Medical Center in Calico Rock.