The last few months of 2012 were full of newsworthy items but perhaps the year's biggest story in Sharp County happened on Nov. 6, when history was made.
Sharp County Becomes Wet after nearly 70 years
For the first time in nearly 70 years, Sharp County residents' voices were heard on the issue of alcohol sales, and, after a six year attempt to get the issue on the ballot, it passed by a 3,884 to 3,456 vote. Voters on both sides had very strong opinions about the issue. After the election, Alcohol and Beverage Control Board Director Michael Langley spoke with the Villager Journal to explain how the new law would be enacted to allow alcohol to be sold in the county.
Langley explained the law allows one liquor store for every 4,000 residents. With a population of over 17,000, this equates to four retail liquor stores in Sharp County, which can sell all types of beer, wine and liquor. Besides liquor stores, there can be an unlimited number of on and off premise stores, which sell only beer and wine.
In the November General Election, Sharp County Judge Larry Brown was re-elected, defeating Phillip Hood. Long-time Sharp County and Circuit Court Clerk Tommy Estes won another two years in office, after defeating opponent Everett McGuire.
Roger Stark, the District One Sharp County Justice of the Peace, kept his seat on the Quorum Court by defeating Beatrice Sharp. Quorum Court saw one new face in January, as Jackie Pickett replaces the late Ray Martin by defeating Patricia Church.
In Evening Shade, four new alderpersons won city council seats.
Melinda L. Kunkel defeated Gary Balley for Ward 1 Position 1. Annemarie Wolfe-Avey won over Dennis Clough in Ward 1, Position 2. Angela Haley took the seat for Ward 2 Position Two over opponents Larry Whited and Jason Bacon. Geraldine Hebert won over Dennis Shanrock for Ward 3 Position 1.
Hardy will also see some new faces on its council, as Dale Maddox won his bid for election over Mary Yates and Louis Seibert for Ward 2 Position 1. Amy Hussung was able to keep her seat on council over contender Bob Gilliland in Ward 1 Position 1. The third seat on the council was awarded to Liane Maddox over Sheri Groves in Ward 2 Position 2. Finally, Hardy City Council's Ward 3 Position 3 seat was retained by Sue Taylor, who defeated Peter Martin.
Cherokee Village will also see some changes in its council, as Pam Rowland defeated Mark Leite for the Ward 1 Position 1 seat. In the Ward 4 Position 1 seat, Linda O'Neal defeated David Gruger and Chuck Wolf.
At the state level, Congressman Rick Crawford was able to keep his District 1 seat, defeating Jessica Paxton, Jacob Hollaway and Scott Ellington. In the District 60 State Representative race, James Ratliff kept his seat, defeating competitor Ronald Cavenaugh. Incumbent District 61 State Representative Lori Benedict was defeated by Scott Baltz. Incumbent District 62 Representative Tommy Wren defeated opponent Roger Delffs. In the Distict 19 State Senate race, incumbent David Wyatt defeated Rep. Linda Collins-Smith.
Dispute settled over city maintainence building
In November, members of the Highland City Council finally settled a controversy over the location for a new city maintenance building. Controversy arose when a group of residents opposed building the facility behind the fire station.
Residents expressed concerns about the dangers of increased truck traffic, and fears that the shop building would hurt property values in their residential neighborhood. After several meetings, the council decided to build the maintenance building at the sewage treatment plant property.
Fire destroys apartment complex
A fire in the early morning hours of Thursday, Nov. 22, burned out of control for a time at the apartment complex near the old Beach Club on Highway 175, near Hardy and Cherokee Village. It took three fire departments hours to extinguish the fire which destroyed the homes of five families and three additional unoccupied apartments. No one was injured in the fire as Hardy, Highland and Cherokee Village Fire Departments responded.
Ernie Rose, Hardy's Director of Public Safety, praised two young men who lived in one of the apartments for beating on doors and awakening other residents after noticing the fire.
Small crowd shows for Pearl Harbor Memorial
An unseasonably warm morning made it more comfortable for those who attended a Sharp County ceremony at the Spring River Bridge in Hardy on Friday, Dec. 7, commemorating the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Veterans from wars around the world gathered to show their respect for the veterans whose lives were lost and families that were forever impacted by the "day that will live in infamy." Locally, a number of veterans, including Nelson Gatewood, remembered that Sunday morning in 1941 very well, and expressed hope the event will never be forgotten, despite the decreasing crowds that show up each year to remember the day.
The last of the known Sharp County Pearl Harbor survivors, Roy Moody, passed away just weeks ago, and the service was conducted in his honor by the Cherokee Village American Legion Post 346, VFW Post 4772, DAV #55 and the Purple Heart Association.
Bomb Threat Scares Area Schools
Word of the terrible loss of innocent lives in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, made many of us thankful a school safety scare on Dec. 11 was just that -- a scare. On Dec. 11, four high schools took no chances as law enforcement and other public servants responded to a call that there "was three bombs in the high school."
Since a specific school was not identified in the 911 call received by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Mammoth Spring, Salem, Viola and Highland schools were evacuated, while the schools could be searched for signs bombs had been planted.
Fulton County contacted Sharp County around 7:40 a.m., advising the cell phone call had gone through a cellular tower located on Nine Mile Ridge in Fulton County, near the Sharp County line. The phone had an 847 prefix, which is the Cherokee Village area. After Highland Police Chief Jeremy Stevens and Sheriff Mark Counts met with Highland Superintendent Tracy Webb, they quickly began the process of evacuating the high school and searching it.
Meanwhile, Fulton County and State Police investigators began developing leads on a possible suspect in the case. ATT cellular service provided the last known address of the registered owner of the cell phone that made the bomb threat call. Law enforcement personnel responded to the address of where the phone was registered to the wife of William Adams on Skyline Drive in Cherokee Village. William Adams was taken to the Hardy Police Department for questioning, arrested and taken to the Fulton County Jail.
According to Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley, Adams served for 21 years in the military and 18 years as a teacher and had no criminal record. While he said he did not remember making the call, Foley said Adams said "That's me," after listening to the 911 call. Sources close to the suspect said he had not taking prescribed medications. Adams was held in the Fulton County Jail on $200,000 bond, until his family was able arrange for mental health treatment for Adams.
Local man serves in Afghanistan
Most of us were lucky enough to enjoy some family time during the Christmas holiday with loved ones, but for the men and women serving in our military, the holiday season can be particularly hard. Locally, one man sennt his greetings to residents of Sharp County from Afghanistan, where he is serving in the Army Reserve with the 1039th engineer company's 875th engineering battalion based in Jonesboro.
Captain Seth Jacobs is a 1999 Highland High School graduate and also an Arkansas State University graduate who entered the military in 2001. This is Seth's second deployment, with the first time being to Iraq in 2006 just after marrying his wife Karina.
Most recently, the 1039th deployed in June, leaving for Afghanistan in August after mobilization training in Texas. Jacob's unit is expected back in the states in mid summer of 2013.
Cave City passes alcohol regulation ordinance
Cave City passed an ordinance Dec. 18 to further regulate the sale of alcohol within the city limits. Following the county becoming wet, Cave City Police Chief Aaron Presser spoke with representatives of the Arkansas Beverage Control Board about ways the city could regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages within the city to assist in curbing crime related to the sale of the beverages.
Presser, who said his goal in enacting the ordinance was not to take away anyone's legal rights but to protect and serve the citizens of the city, first drafted an ordinance and presented it for consideration at the November regular council meeting.
2012 was full of news, both good and bad, and 2013 has started off to prove it will not be any different. The Villager Journal will be there to bring you the latest news as it happens throughout the year.