Prisons and jobs: area legislators hope to secure corrections facility Although far from certain, location of prison in southwest
Arkansas would bring needed economic development to region
By Patrick Massey
State legislatures from Southwest Arkansas say they are still working on a proposal to convince officials with the Arkansas Board of Corrections to consider the area as a prime spot to build a new 1,000-bed maximum-security prison.
The board announced its proposal to build a new prison after legislators met earlier this summer in special session to hammer out a solution to the growing number of state prisoners being held in county jails. Because of overcrowding issues in the state prison system, thousands of inmates are being instead held in county jails.
While several counties in Arkansas have expressed opposition to hosting the newly-proposed prison, others in the state are scrambling to submit proposals in the name of economic development.
State Representative Fonda Hawthorne - whose district covers Little River County, most of Sevier and a portion of Howard - said a new prison would bring a much-needed influx of jobs and investment to the area.
"This prison would bring 250 jobs to the area," she said. "The average starting pay would be around $12.75 so this could definitely be an economic boost to our area."
Indeed, many counties are thinking the same thing. Sebastian County, with its larger population and significant financial resources, has announced its intention to secure the new prison. In Arkansas at least, prisons are seen less now as pariahs and more so as sources of sorely-needed jobs.
The new prison would eventually expand to 2,000 beds and 500 employees. State prison officials said the proposed site would require at least 400 to 500, acres and ideally twice that figure. The facility would also need a sewer system with the ability to treat wastewater for 300 homes, or a town about the size of Horatio.
To read the complete article, please see the Sept. 11 edition of The De Queen Bee.
Leading the way – De Queen High School assistant principal Tuffy Neely leads the Leopards onto the field against Mena. The season opener marked the start of a new De Queen tradition of the team being led on the field by someone who has made significant contributions to the Leopard program. Before moving into administration Neely was a longtime Leopard track and football coach. During his days as a De Queen student Neely quarterbacked the Leopards to a conference title in football and ran on three conference champion and one state champion track team. Neely is still in the Leopard track and field record book as a member of the fastest DHS mile relay team.
Former Humane Society treasurer pleads guilty to embezzlement charge DE QUEEN – The former treasurer of the Sevier County Humane Society charged with embezzling thousands of dollars from the agency pled guilty in court last week.
Susan E. Wilson, 39, of De Queen, pled guilty to a felony charge of theft of property during the Sept. 4 session of the Sevier County District Court.
She was charged earlier this year after prosecutors claimed she embezzled nearly $4,000 from the county humane society. According to Arkansas State Investigator John Rhone, an audit by J. Richey McCullough, CPA, of De Queen found $3,966 in fraudulent expenditures made by Wilson between Jan. 2011 and June 2012. The purchases included a $600 television set and a $440 refrigerator.
Prosecutors claim Wilson also withdrew cash from the agency's bank account at First State Bank and misused a humane society credit card for personal purchases. Investigators say the stolen money includes part of a $35,000 cash donation the local humane society received in 2010.
The theft was not detected until after Wilson left the agency in 2012.
Wilson was sentenced to three years probation, nearly $4,000 in restitution and $500 in court fees.