The Daily Press The Saline Courier | AP iAtom feed Copyright The Daily Press 2015-01-31T10:22:44-05:00 of locals honored at annual event2015-01-30T14:42:27-05:002015-01-30T14:42:27-05:00The Saline CourierHosted by the Bryant Chamber of Commerce and presented by Landers Auto of Saline County, the annual banquet presented six awards on the night including Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Preschool Teacher of the Year, Small Business of the Year, Large Business of the Year, and Organization of the Year.Rodney Plack was named Man of the Year and Tonya Horton was named Woman of the Year. Each winner was presented with a crystal clear plaque with their name on it.Floors and More, Inc. beat out three other nominees for Small Business of the Year while Landers Auto of Saline County was named the 2014 Large Business of the Year. Plack, who is the area vice president for Landers Auto, accepted on behalf of the company.The Parent Center at Bryant Public Schools was named the Organization of the Year.Linda Byrd, an employee at the Childcare Network at Bryant, was named the 2014 Preschool Teacher of the Year — which is one the of the newest categories for the banquet.Presenter Pam Toler said early childhood development is critically because 85 percent of the brain is developed before the age of five. Community Commitment Award recipients were nominated by Chamber members and then selected by out-of-town committees from other chambers to ensure no bias in the selection.They review the nominators’ notes and the nominees’ information that they submit for themselves, their companies or organizations.The Bryant Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet is the largest annual gathering of professional and business people in the Bryant area. The night also allowed for an opportunity for the chamber to introduce its new president in Allison Ramsey and the new board members for the 2015 year.The Chamber also conducted a silent auction as a fundraiser, which provided a forum for local businesses and organizations to show their services, goods or products.Benton, ARSam PierceNumber of locals honored at annual eventNo source accidentally shoots himself, named on active county warrant2015-01-31T10:22:44-05:002015-01-30T14:10:52-05:00The Saline CourierThursday the Saline County Sheriff’s Office received a report that Kent Raper, 53, of Benton had suffered a gunshot wound. Raper told deputies he was fishing in his pond, and he took his jacket off and threw it approximately five feet behind him. A .22 caliber revolver that was in the pocket of his jacket fell out when he threw the jacket and the gun fired one round that struck him in the right side, according to a Saline County Sheriff’s Office report. Raper's mother was able to secure the weapon and transport Raper to the hospital. He suffered a serious but not fatal injury, said Lt. Scott Courtney, Saline County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. Because Raper was named on an active commitment order for driving on a suspended license, once Raper is released from the hospital he will be arrested, he said. Anytime a person comes to the hospital with a gunshot wound, hospital personnel are required to notify law enforcement, Courtney said. Benton, ARSarah PerryMan accidentally shoots himself, named on active county warrantNo source allegedly tries to sell $20K in stolen items on Facebook2015-01-30T11:52:16-05:002015-01-30T11:52:16-05:00The Saline CourierWhen deputies arrested Larry E. Parker III, 23, of Traskwood, they allegedly found $20,000 worth of stolen property. During the investigation, deputies found that Parker has created a social media profile under the name “Lucy Smart” to advertise the property for sale. “This is a case of Mr. Park utilizing the power of the internet to further his illegal activities,” said Sheriff Rodney Wright. Wright also urges residents to be cautious when buying property on social media sites.Lt. Scott Courtney of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office said if an item is being sold significantly under value, this may be an indication that the item is stolen. If a person buys an item knowing the item is stolen or if they have a “pretty good idea” that the item is stolen, he or she may face charges, he said. Benton, ARSarah PerryMan allegedly tries to sell $20K in stolen items on FacebookNo source council talks alcohol at first regular meeting of 20152015-01-28T09:53:19-05:002015-01-28T09:53:19-05:00The Saline CourierThe council approved proposed regulations dealing with the sale of alcohol in the city and approved a proposed plan for the Heart of Bryant area. Planning Director Dave Green informed the council that two public meetings last week about this project were “very well attended.”“All in all, we received a good response to the plan,” he said. Without any discussion, the council voted to table a proposed ordinance that explained the duties of the elected attorney. Aldermen Lorne Gladden and Brenda Miller voted against tabling the ordinance. Since Alderman Jerry Henson was not in attendance at the meeting, his vote was also counted as a “no.”Currently, Chris Madison serves as the city’s staff attorney. He was appointed by Mayor Jill Dabbs when no one else ran for the position during her first term. In November, voters elected Josh Farmer to serve as the elected attorney. According to the proposed ordinance, the elected attorney would be paid $10,200 and will attend council meetings, provide legal advice to city officials and employees, represent the city in all civil legal matters, draft or edit policies as needed, review and draft contracts and other legal documents, defend the city or city officials during civil rights and land use litigation, prepare pleadings, motions and discovery during litigation, supervise and manage legal staff and prosecute misdemeanors occurring with the Bryant city limits.When asked after the meeting about the ordinance, Farmer said he did not wish to speak about it at this time. During the meeting, two Bryant police officers, Sgt. Keith Byrd and Captain Phillip Newcomb were recognized for their time with the department and Parks and Recreation Director Derek Phillips announced he was taking a job in Arkadelphia, his hometown.Dabbs noted that the city will be having a going away ceremony for Phillips. “That is not his farewell tonight,” she said. “That is just his announcement.” Benton, ARSarah PerryBryant council talks alcohol at first regular meeting of 2015No source alderman out; special council meeting Feb. 22015-01-28T10:04:06-05:002015-01-28T09:20:18-05:00The Saline CourierMona Struble-Baber, Position 5 council member, was not present at roll call for the regular meeting of the council. Council members were notified of her resignation during the announcements segment of the meeting by Bauxite Mayor Bill Russell, who said he received a phone call from Struble-Baber around 3:30 p.m. Monday regarding her intention to resign. According to Russell, Struble-Baber “has a lot going on right now and … doesn’t want any added pressure.” As of Tuesday afternoon, Struble-Baber had not yet turned in a written letter of resignation, Russell said.Struble-Baber was scheduled to appear in Benton District Court at 8:30 a.m. today for a misdemeanor trial on a harassment charge related to a complaint filed against her by her brother-in-law, Brian Baber of Benton. In his complaint, Baber alleges name-calling and says he is in fear of Struble-Baber. A call to Struble-Baber went unanswered Tuesday and was not immediately returned, but in a statement to news website, she cited health issues as reason for the resignation. “I have enjoyed representing the town I love. I have enjoyed helping the people and fighting for our children and our seniors, trying to make Bauxite a better place. I appreciate all that supported me,” she wrote. “It is time for me to step back and put my family and child first. My husband is worried about my health and I firmly believe that Bauxite has some good leaders, if the local bullies will leave them alone they will do great things for Bauxite."Struble-Baber was serving her second term on the council.Nominations are currently being accepted to fill the council vacancy, according to Paula Matthews, Position 2 council member and media spokesperson. “We would like to have people nominate themselves,” she said. “We’d prefer people not come in and nominate others.”During Monday’s special meeting, nominees will be given the opportunity to address council members before aldermen vote to fill the vacancy. According to rules outlined by the Arkansas Municipal League, the appointment of officials must be conducted in open session and cannot be discussed in executive session.With several items up for discussion, Monday’s regular council meeting lasted just under an hour. Council members voted 3-0 to pay back $20,856.05 in monies from the city’s general revenue account owed to the street department fund in increments of $100 per month. A recent discovery revealed that in the last four years, the money was “meant to be appropriated to the street fund, but that didn’t happen,” Matthews explained. “So we are paying it back with what we can afford.” At a repayment rate of $100 per month, that debt will be fulfilled in approximately 17 years.The council also unanimously passed a resolution that will allow any resident to address the council for three minutes on any subject pertaining to city business during regular council meetings, not to exceed 30 minutes total; and for the establishment of a petty cash fund in the amount of $100 for the purchase of items including stamps, paper and other supplies.In other business:• The city will be receiving approximately $320,000 in financial assistance from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department to complete repairs and paving at Tom and West Sardis roads. • Gary Duncan, former Bauxite mayor, is assisting in bringing the city’s sewer plant into compliance with ADEQ regulations. The special meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 2, at City Hall, located at 6055 Stanley Circle. (Megan Reynolds is editor of the Courier and can be reached by email at, or by phone at 501-315-8228.)Benton, ARMegan ReynoldsBauxite alderman out; special council meeting Feb. 2No source student sent home for hair color2015-01-27T16:18:57-05:002015-01-27T16:18:57-05:00The Saline CourierHalle Stringer dyed the bottom few inches of her hair blue. According to her grandmother Nancy Nichols, Halle said other girls were dying their hair red, and “Halle wanted to be just a little different.”“Personally, I thought her hair looked nice. Different, but nice,” Nichols said. Stringer came to school on Tuesday with the new hair-do, but was pulled to the principals office around 5th period. “They made her sit out of the class the rest of the day,” Her father, Chris Stringer, said. “And she couldn’t come back until it she hid it someway.”According to the junior high rulebook, students are not allowed to have “extreme (to extend far beyond the norm) hairstyles and/or unusual hair color.”Chris said they put the hair into a bun to hide the dye job on Wednesday — and everything appeared to be fine.“But on Thursday it came out and she was taken out of class again,” Chris Stringer said. “I went to the school to pick her up and talked to the secretary.“She said unless it is a natural human hair color, they call it a distraction.”According to Stringer, none of the other girls were punished because “red is a natural human color.”“Even though it doesn’t look natural,” Stringer said.Benton assistant superintendent Mary Morgan did not address the situation specifically but said if a parent has a problem with some of the rules in the handbook, they are more than welcome to attend the annual handbook committee forum.“If (the rule they have a problem with) is updated or changed, then we are good,” Morgan said. “Otherwise, our principals and administrators are just following what is in the handbook.“They are trying to be fair and consistent to everyone. Parents and kids may not like it, but they are just doing their job.”Stringer said they were planning on going to the stylist this past Saturday to have it stripped out, dyed back, or to have it cut.Benton, ARSam PierceLocal student sent home for hair colorNo source police release annual report, 2015 goals 2015-01-27T15:07:47-05:002015-01-27T15:07:47-05:00The Saline Courier“We start setting goals for the next year around the end of the previous year. We look at various information and statistics to see where we need improvement and then set goals based on those priorities,” said Lt. Kevin Russell, Benton Police Department spokesperson.As part of the goals for 2014, dispatch equipment and software were upgraded and officers participated in 8,745 hours of training. The Special Investigative Unit seized $6,284,474 in drugs and arrested 190 people on 283 drug charges. They also seized three weapons and five vehicles. In comparing 2014 to 2013, crime in the city of Benton increased by 4.06 percent, Lane said. For 2015, the department have set 10 more goals. These goals include:• Continued enhanced solvability of crimes committed through pro-active investigation. • Continued enhanced supervision training for departmental supervisors. • Continued updating of departmental policy manual. • Continued enhanced First Aid Trauma training and equipment, and continued CPR certification for all officers. • Continued scheduled improvement as planned by the passage of the Public Safety Tax. • Implement improvements in patrol division operations. • Continued effort in monthly enforcement and community policing projects. • Development of a citizen’s committee for input on our operations and outreach. • Research and improve our physical standards. • Training improvements for patrol officers on legal aspects and evidence collection. Benton, ARSarah PerryBenton police release annual report, 2015 goals No source Council approves KFC rezoning, Lake Norrell demolition2015-01-27T14:38:58-05:002015-01-27T14:38:58-05:00The Saline CourierAt the request of Fikes Holdings, the land that is located at 522 and 516 North East Street was rezoned to commercial neighborhood. As reported in a prior issue of The Saline Courier, KFC franchisee Mark Fikes said the company will be moving to a new location beginning at the end of this month. The council approved the demolition of a building that is currently vacant. At one time the building had numerous purposes. According to approved resolution, the building “does not provide the Parks Department any value and presents a life safety hazard to the community and warrants removal to protect the public. Purchases for the police department included microphones and earbuds for the radios and new faceplates. Both of these items are needed for the new AWIN radio system that was previously approved by the council. Together these items costs approximately $16,800. Also during the meeting, the council approved a bid to upgrade the phone system in City Hall. City officials only received one bid for the phone project.The council is set to meet again on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Complex. At this meeting, Mayor David Mattingly will present his state of the city speech and show a video of the proposed Riverside Park. Benton, ARSarah PerryBenton Council approves KFC rezoning, Lake Norrell demolitionNo source Funeral Care debacle has local effect2015-01-27T12:24:12-05:002015-01-27T12:24:12-05:00The Saline CourierArkansas Funeral Care was closed after an inspection revealed that cremations had not been performed in accordance with families' wishes. Investigators reported that bodies had been stacked in a cooler packed beyond capacity and others that had not been embalmed were lying out in the open.Although no funeral homes in Saline County have outsourced any services to Arkansas Funeral Care, their owners/managers say they are dealing with the tragic results of the facility's failure to properly take care of the deceased individuals. Steve Ballard, director of operations for Roller Funeral Homes, which owns Roller-Ballard Funeral Home in Benton, spoke about the situation.Calling the situation "unfortunate," he noted that Roller never has contracted for any services with Arkansas Funeral Care."We have all of the facilities available for our clients … but many funeral homes don't have all of this. That's why most funeral homes are all pretty competitive when it comes to pricing, but we all want to service our families."The lower costs Arkansas Funeral Care offered, which apparently was one of its chief advantages for families, had raised questions among people in the funeral home industry, Ballard said. "We know what it takes to operate, and we knew we couldn't do this for such low costs."We thought if they were able to do that, it was great, but we wondered how. This is a 24-hour, seven-day-a week, 356-day-of-the-year business."We have to be available all the time," Ballard said. "We're available any time of day or night, early in the morning — whatever it takes — and it takes a lot to operate. "I'm proud of the Rollers and what they stand for," Ballard said. "That's why we did what we did when we sold (formerly Ballard Funeral Home) to Roller."I've been with them for 19 years," he added.Sam Ballard, manager of Smith-Benton Funeral Home said the Smith home in Benton never has used Arkansas Funeral Care and does no outsourcing of services."We do everything ourselves — our own preparation, our own embalming, our own cremations. The person never leaves our care because we don't outsource anything."Jeff Smith, owner of Smith Funeral Homes of Arkansas and president of the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association, confirmed Sam Ballard's words."First and foremost, this is a sad situation," Smith said. "Our hearts go out to the families affected by this."The people of Saline County are blessed to have wonderful funeral homes to take care of them and serve them," he said. Smith pointed out that funeral homes throughout the state are being questioned about the controversy. "The question we're hearing is: 'How do I know I got my loved one's ashes?" Smith said this can be taken care of at the onset of making arrangements. "You can't DNA test, so there's no way to go back. But going forward, there are three questions a family can ask that will make sure this doesn't happen again."Smith cited those questions as:• Who does your cremations?• Can I see the crematory?• Can I be present when the cremation takes place to ensure that I receive my loved one's ashes?"When we put in our crematory," Smith said, "we put in a cremation chapel where family members can be present to see their loved one just before the cremation and remain there while the cremation process is taking place, so there's no doubt whose ashes they're taking home."It's a nice place," he said. "We're the only funeral home in Arkansas that has this."Smith said question-and-answer sessions about the current issue are scheduled at the North Little Rock facility at noon on Wednesday and 5:30 p.m. Thursday."We may possibly have another one in Benton next week," he added.Doug Hawkins, owner of Ashby Funeral Home, said Ashby never has used Arkansas Funeral Care for any services.However, he said, one of the initial families to become aware of the problem at the Jacksonville facility "wanted us to handle the arrangements for their loved one.""It is a shame that this happened," he said. "It never should have happened.“I’m sure there are a lot of funeral homes that have taken over the services," Hawkins added."However, we're taking care of some of the decedents now," Dial said.She expressed her dismay at the situation."I have never in my life seen anything like this," she said. "We know that we are trying our best to serve our families.Benton, ARLynda HollenbeckArkansas Funeral Care debacle has local effectNo source Moore: Senior lineman prevails against all odds2015-01-26T14:06:42-05:002015-01-26T14:06:42-05:00The Saline CourierAfter shattering his left hip during a freak accident as a third grader in 2006, Moore worked hard to get healthy and back on the football field.Battling continuous pain throughout the years in his hip, Moore stayed on the gridiron. It wasn't until the first game of 2013 that Moore was struck with more bad luck, blowing out his right knee, putting his football future in limbo once again. But, despite missing the entire season, Moore rehabbed quicker than normal and helped lead the Cardinals to its best record ever at 7-4 in 2014.Moore was the recipient of the 2014 Paul Eells award recently and plans to attend Arkansas State University to become a pharmacist.Benton, ARJosh BriggsNeal Moore: Senior lineman prevails against all oddsNo source