Community coming together to help senior citizen centers
Officials with Sevier County and the senior citizen center program pose next to food donated by local churches, groups, businesses and individuals. The donations came after a recent announcement that Sevier County’s four senior citizen centers, as well as those in a number of other counties, are transitioning to a new management agency.

By Patrick Massey

Officials are applauding efforts in the community to ensure Sevier County's senior citizen centers remain viable while it transitions to a new management agency.

Earlier this month the Southwest Arkansas Development Council (SWADC) announced it would no longer operate the four centers in Sevier County and those in a number of other counties across the region. SWADC, which has operated the centers for the past three decades, announced it no longer had the funds to manage these facilities.

The announcement came as a shock to local officials and to center patrons. Despite initial fears that the centers would close, they will remain open under the management of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) of Southwest Arkansas. AAA previously furnished the contract to SWADC to operate the centers and is now taking over management itself.

As part of the transition and as a way to ensure the program's viability, AAA announced it would reduce the centers from a five day schedule to four days. For the time being, AAA officials say the centers will not be open on Fridays.

The announcement, however, has created an opportunity for the community to lend a hand. So far, that help has amounted to thousands of pounds of food donations and the commitment of volunteers to keep the centers open a fifth day.

Last week, Tyson Foods Grannis-Broken Bow Complex donated over 3,200lbs of chicken to Sevier County and Little River County centers - and the company has pledged to donate more before the end of the month.

Pilgrim's in De Queen sent a crew to cook chicken for meals distributed at the senior citizens center on Monday. The center, scheduled to be closed that day, remained open thanks to Pilgrim's and volunteers from First Baptist Church. Pictured from left are Justin Johnson, Brett Renfro and Dianne Barger.

To read the complete article, please see the Oct. 20 edition of The De Queen Bee.

Voter fraud unlikely in Sevier County, say officials
County has no history of electoral fraud;
ballot machines pass tests on Monday

By Patrick Massey

Sevier County officials are hoping to qualm fears raised during this year's presidential campaign over the possibility of widespread voter fraud.

Locally, officials say voters have little to worry about. A logic and accuracy test held this week determined all 29 of the county's ballot machines were in excellent working condition. The testing was performed by a firm hired through the Arkansas Department of Information Services.

"We hire them to make absolutely sure our ballot machines are ready to go on election day and that they won't cause anyone any issues," said County Clerk Debbie Akin. She stressed that ballot machines are not capable of connecting to wifi, so the possibility of internet hacking is nonexistent.

"We also verify the machines on election day to make sure they don't have any votes in them already," Akin added.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced earlier this year that foreign hackers had targeted election databases in Arkansas and several other states. The investigation had determined the hackers attempted, unsuccessfully, to break into the databases using the credentials of past election officials.

"They were trying to use the IDs of past employees to enter the databases," said Akin. "Fortunately, they weren't able to get in. That's why we always remove the credentials for employees who no longer work here."

Fears that individuals could vote multiple times are unfounded, according to state election officials. According to a recent article by the Washington Post, a comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation found just 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast between 2000-2014.

Voters must be registered and sign in during early voting or on election day. If their name is not registered at a polling place, a voter can file a provisional ballot which is then scrutinized to ensure they are not voting more than once. To register to vote, citizens must present a social security number or driver license, which is then checked by the state to determine the voter's eligibility. First-time voters must also provide photo identification at their polling location.

To read the complete article, please see the Oct. 20 edition of The De Queen Bee.

2012 Graduation

2012 Graduation

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