De Queen Area News

Courthouse goes batty
Furry flyers frequenting county courthouse in increasing numbers

By Patrick Massey

Hundreds of Bats were found roosting inside the elevator shaft at the Sevier County Courthouse on Tuesday. The furry flyers have been found in the building before, but never in such numbers. Though harmless, the bats can be rather disruptive - even interrupting a recent session of the Sevier County District Court. (Photo by Glen Lovell)

The Sevier County Courthouse has seen many visitors pass through its halls over the years, but one recent group has become quite unwelcomed in the 100-year-old building: bats.

Increasing numbers of Brazilian free-tailed bats seem to be making the downtown courthouse their roosting site for the winter. Although courthouse officials say bats in the building is nothing new, their larger numbers are. A nest was found Tuesday afternoon in the courthouse's elevator shaft which was estimated to number in the hundreds of bats.

Courthouse workers removed around 250 but guessed that just as many if not more were still located in the shaft.

"We've seen a bat or two fly through the courthouse but we've never seen this many in here before," said Sevier County Judge Greg Ray, who assisted other courthouse employees in removing the unwanted bat population.

One furry flyer even disrupted a session of the district court earlier this month. The bat created a slight panic before one man in attendance saved the day by reportedly catching the critter with his bare hands. Others have popped in on unaware employees or visitors, often followed by a scream from the surprised individual.

Although their presence is unwanted and quite disruptive at times, they do have at least one benefit: as insectivores, the bats are keeping the courthouse free of pretty much anything with six or more legs.

To read the complete article, please see the Jan. 29 edition of The De Queen Bee.

Jan 30, 2015, 10:07

Truck thief leads authorities on pursuit, ends in Oklahoma
By Patrick Massey

Authorities have one man in custody who reportedly stole a truck over the weekend and led police on a high-speed, multi-state pursuit before he was apprehended in Oklahoma.

According to a report released by the De Queen Police Department, officers were notified on Jan. 24 that deputies with the Sevier County Sheriff's Office were in pursuit of a man driving a stolen 1998 Ford pickup on Highway 70. Officers joined the pursuit on Highway 70 near the Johnson Bridge Road turnoff a few miles before the state line.

The suspect's vehicle reportedly reached speeds of up to 110 miles per hour during the pursuit. Officers noted that the suspect frequently crossed the double yellow line and almost struck incoming traffic on several occasions.

The chase entered Oklahoma and law enforcement agencies in McCurtain County were asked to assist. The suspect almost wrecked his vehicle after trying to turn onto a side street in Eagletown, Okla. Oklahoma state troopers were able to get ahead of the suspect and deployed two sets of spike strips.

Although hitting both spike strips, the suspect continued on with both driver-side tires punctured. He eventually came to a stop on Highway 70 near Bailey's, where he was arrested and identified as Michael Shane James, 25, of Muskogee, Okla. He was arrested without further incidence.
The truck James was driving was reported stolen out of Broken Bow, Okla.

James is currently being held in the McCurtain County Jail where he is facing local charges. He will eventually be extradited back to Sevier County, where he has been charged with felony theft by receiving and felony fleeing.

Jan 30, 2015, 09:11

Upcoming area events
De Queen Yearbook orders being taken
Orders are currently being placed for De Queen Middle and Junior High yearbooks. Orders may be placed online at or forms may be picked up in the school offices. For more information contact Stephanie Strasner or Callie Helms at the schools. Personalized orders must be placed by Feb. 6.

Spay/neuter clinic to be Feb. 10-12 at county fairgrounds

Dr. Floyd Gonzalez has announced that the Sevier County Humane Society will conduct a spay/neuter clinic Feb. 10, 11 and 12 at the Sevier County Fairgrounds. For appointment call the office of Dr. Gonzalez, 870-642-8640.

Rose Hill Baptist in revival Feb. 1-6
Rose Hill Baptist Church will be in revival Feb. 1-6. Services will be Sunday at 11 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday services will begin at 7 p.m. Evangelist Brandon Graham and his family will be bringing the Word of God both in message and in song. For a ride call Pastor Tim, 501-920-5258. The church is located a 204 Church Street, De Queen.

Parkinson's support group to meet Feb. 11
The Miller County Parkinson's Support Group and Care Partner group will meet from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11 in the community room of the Wadley Senior Clinic, 1307 Trinity Blvd., Texarkana, AR. For further information, call Nancy Bailey at the Area Agency on Aging of Southwest Arkansas, Inc., toll free 800-272-2127 or Kasandra Williams at Texarkana Regional Center on Aging 870-773-2030.

Alleene VFD to host Valentine fund-raiser

The Alleene Volunteer Fire Department will host a Valentine night fund-raiser Saturday, Feb. 14. A meal consisting of chicken/Italian spaghetti will be served with salad, bread, dessert and beverage. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-12. The event will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. For more information or directions call Laura Jones, 903-748-7657 or the Alleene store, 870-542-6360.

Sweetheart Banquet to be held Feb. 14 at community building

Mt. Pleasant Church members will host a Valentine Sweetheart Banquet Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Herman Dierks Park in the community building. The dinner will consist of spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast, dessert and a drink for $8 a plate or two plates for $15. A silent auction will be held and Terri Brackett will be attending to give her testimony.
Money raised will go toward the church building fund. Donations will be accepted and are tax deductible. For more information contact Alfred Thomas 557-7518; Nati Becerra, 582-5588 or 642-5007 or Cindy Becerra at Tigermart 642-7860.

Jan 29, 2015, 13:28

Hole-in-One – Spike Dunlop, pictured center, hit his second hole-in-one Jan. 22 on the first hole of the De Queen Country Club using a seven wood. The feat was witnessed by several of Dunlop's friends and fellow golfers. Dunlop hit his first hole-in-one at the Braeburn County Club in Houston, Texas in 1964. Pictured from left to right are Norley Bickley, Herman Jackson, Dunlop, Jerry Don Roberts and Ray Wilson.

Jan 29, 2015, 11:12

Parks Department to replace backstop at Sportsplex field
By Patrick Massey

The De Queen Parks and Recreation Department has plans to continue improvements this year to the softball/baseball fields at the city's Sportsplex.

Included in the department's 2015 budget are funds to replace the original backstop at one of the baseball fields.
First placed when the fields were built over 20 years ago, all four backstops are showing signs of increasing wear.

The city has set aside $27,000 to replace the backstop, though hopes the cost will lower when put out for bids. The city is only replacing the single backstop this year but could replace others in future budgets.
Parks Director Gatha Bakenhus said the traditional style backstop will be replaced with large netting.

"This is what a lot of the fields are moving to, because they cover more area and they're easier to replace," she said. "You'll even be able to sit behind the umpire now and watch the game."

The backstops will join new scoreboards on the list of improvements to the fields in recent years. Last year the Craig Class tournament association donated over $19,000 to the parks department to the three scoreboards.

To read the complete article, please see the Jan. 29 edition of The De Queen Bee.

Jan 29, 2015, 10:42

Registration underway for Miss Horatio school pageant
HORATIO – The Miss Horatio School Pageant will be held on Saturday, February 21, 2015. Entry forms may be picked up at all school offices. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, February 10.

Competitions include: Baby Miss (1-2 years old), Tiny Miss (3-4 years old), Tiny Mister (1-4 years old), Miss Horatio Primary (Pre-K, K, 1st grade), Miss Horatio Elementary (2nd, 3rd grades), Miss Horatio Middle School (4th, 5th, 6th grades), Miss Horatio Junior High (7th-9th grades), Miss Horatio High School (10th-12th grades.

All participants must live in the Horatio School District or attend school in Horatio.

For more information, contact Ashley Elmore at 832-1900 or

Jan 29, 2015, 10:41

Free adult computer classes to be offered at library
DE QUEEN – Connect Arkansas, a project of Arkansas Capital Corporation, today announced that free adult digital literacy classes will be held at the Sevier County Library in DeQueen. 

The two-hour Internet and Email Basics class will be held at 12 p.m. on February 4. There is a limit of five students per class, and each student is provided with a computer.

To sign up for the classes, prospective students should contact Johnye Fisher at 870-584-4364.

Connect Arkansas received federal stimulus grants to increase Internet awareness, education and use in Arkansas. As part of that grant, Connect Arkansas launched the Adult Digital Literacy Program. More than 45 classes are scheduled for February throughout Arkansas.

“The Internet has become an integral part of life, and Arkansans deserve every opportunity to participate,” said Sam Walls III, president of Connect Arkansas. “By educating the adults in our communities, we are setting them up to be able to communicate with and stay connected to their families, friends, healthcare professionals and communities more efficiently and effectively.”

Jan 29, 2015, 10:39

Sonic robbery remains under investigation by DQPD
DE QUEEN – The De Queen Police Department said it is still searching for the suspect responsible for robbing the manager of the De Queen Sonic restaurant earlier this month.

According to authorities the investigtation into the robbery remains open and no arrests have been made.
The investigation relates to the robbery of the restaurant earlier in January.

The suspect reportedly approached the manager while armed with a knife and demanded any cash the manager was carrying. The man made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to contact the DQPD at (870) 642-2213.

Jan 29, 2015, 10:38

City council discusses street closure, accepts contracts from service agencies
City council discusses street closure, accepts contracts from service agencies

By Patrick Massey

The De Queen City Council met Tuesday night to approve contracts with several service organizations in the community, and to discuss the possible closure of streets near Pilgrim's processing plant.

Although the city council approved the amounts to give to each agency while finalizing its 2015 budget last month, alderman met this week to authorize the city to begin distributing the funds.

Included in the 2015 service contracts are the Sevier County Museum, the Sevier County Humane Society, the Southwest Arkansas Crisis and Resource Center and the De Queen Senior Citizens Center.

The Sevier County Museum received $5,000 to assist with education and preservation efforts at the museum in De Queen.

The city's contract with the Sevier County Humane Society authorizes the humane society to provide De Queen residents with a $20 voucher when bringing their cat or dog to one of the agency's quarterly spay and neuter clinics. The contract is limited to a total of $1,500 in vouchers. City officials say this partnership is aimed at limiting the number of stray animals within the city.

An additional $7,500 was allocated to the Southwest Arkansas Crisis and Resource Center to assist theagency in its domestic abuse prevention programs. The funds also allow the agency to house victims of domestic violence and provide them with various necessities such as food.

The De Queen Senior Citizens Center received $10,000 to assist with meals and other services for elderly residents of De Queen. In addition, the city agreed to waive the senior citizens center's rental fees, saving the financially-strapped agency another $32,250 in fiscal year 2015.

Finally, the city agreed to install box culverts over two driveways leading into the Mary and Matha Center on Rockefeller Avenue - which remains under construction. The value of the box culverts is estimated at around $10,000.

In other business, aldermen authorized councilman Walter Smith to be the authorized signer on city checks.

Lastly, the council discussed a request by Pilgrim's processing plant in De Queen for the city to close off several streets which run through the plant complex. The streets include from Wallace Street to Red Bridge Road, Red Bridge Road to the railroad tracks, Collins Avenue from Fourth Street to Third Street, and Lakeside Avenue from Fourth to Third Street.

Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy said Pilgrim's is seeking the street closures out of security and safety concerns. Currently, the streets surrounding Pilgrim's complex are open to the public, allowing anyone to drive through sensitive areas of the plant. Because of tight street corners, there is a constant concern that turning semi-trucks will strike another vehicle driving along these roads.

Police Chief Richard McKinley said the street closures would also help his officers police the area.

"As it is, we can't tell who's supposed to be down there and who isn't," he said. "If these streets were closed, I think it would help us cut down on any potential [drug] trafficking around the plant and would keep us from having to work the occasional wreck down there. It'll be a lot easier for us to police the area."

McKelvy said the street closures would have an additional benefit in relinquishing the city's responsibility of maintaining these roads. He added that a section of Red Bridge Road collapsed after recent heavy rains with repair costs estimated at $80,000.

"Pilgrim's said if we close these roads, they'll take full responsibility of the maintenance," McKelvy said.

Although city officials noted that some residents use the roads for their daily commutes, the council was generally in agreement of closing off the streets.

"I see a lot more positive things about doing this than negative," said Alderman Gary Casey.

No action was taken on the street closures but McKelvy said the city should begin publicizing the proposal in the near future and host a forum to allow for public comments.

Jan 29, 2015, 10:16

Going lower and lower
Sevier County residents see price of gasoline
fall below $2/gallon mark for the first time since 2009

By Patrick Massey

Filling up – Bethany Baracosa fills up at the EZ Mart in De Queen, and like other area residents is enjoying cheaper prices at the pump. The price of a gallon of gasoline fell below the $2/gallon mark in De Queen last week for the first time in seven years.

Although residents of Sevier County have probably seen it elsewhere by now, the price of a gallon of gasoline in De Queen dropped below the $2 mark last week for the first time in more almost six years.

The first pumps to dip below $2 a gallon were those in Walmart, with the Exxon and EZ Mart stations following closely behind. Since then, the price has fallen even lower, down to $1.93 per gallon at EZ Mart on Wednesday morning - the lowest price since 2009.

According to the American Automobile Association, motorists in 18 states have already seen their average gas price drop below $2 a gallon over the past few weeks, spurred by an increase in U.S. and Canadian production of oil and weakening global oil consumption because of sluggish economic growth.

"It's awesome," said Jesus Camarillo, who at 22-years-old has never purchased gasoline for less than $2 per gallon. "I just wonder how long it's gonna last."

That's the question many people have on their minds as enjoy the lower prices at the pump.

A combination of efficient drilling techniques - including hydraulic fracturing - as well as a reduction in global fuel demand and the loosening of OPEC price controls are largely responsible for the cheaper energy costs. The cost of a barrel of crude oil saw wild fluctuations last year, from $115 per barrel in June, 2014 to the current trading price of around $48.

Energy economists predict the price of gasoline should remain low for the short term, though the market is highly volatile and vulnerable to geopolitical crises in oil producing nations like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

To read the complete article, please see the Jan. 15 edition of The De Queen Bee.

Jan 16, 2015, 18:09