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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not much of a celebration

I spent a good portion of my day out at the crime scene sight at the press conference in the Natzke matter. Afterward, like all the other reporters I returned to my office to prepare the story for publication. In my case I spent time listening to the tapes I recorded and getting together the report currently airing on KVRE, 92.9 FM.

When I returned home I vegged for a while then prepared copy for this blog. Today is indicative of the difficulties of all of 2011. 2011 has been a drain both physically and emotionally. My condolences to the Smith and Natzke family. Hopefully, for all of us 2012 will be much better.

I can't bring myself to say Happy New Year, how about just Better New Year? May you and your loved ones have a Better New Year in 2012.

Recent developments in the Dawna Natzke matter

The last morning of 2011, approximately 400 concerned citizens gathered at 8 a.m. in the northern part of Garland County at the Jessieville Schools to start searching for Hot Springs Village resident Dawna J. Natzke. Natzke went missing from a Christmas party at the home of the property owners' association's current general manager, Scott Randall on December 21.

Natzke attended the Randall party with her boyfriend and her mother. Natzke abruptly left the party with her boyfriend leaving her mother and her purse behind. No one called the police. It wasn't until 6 a.m. Friday morning that Natzke was reported missing to the Hot Springs Village police by one of her three sons, December 23.

Searchers set out in groups with one experienced rescue personnel in each group. At approximately 9:30 a.m. the body of a deceased female was found by one of the men searching about 200 yards off of Main Haul Road at Purdue Trail. The body had been out in the elements for a good amount of time in an area with active wildlife. Because of the condition of the body a positive identification will have to be made by the Arkansas State Crime Lab. Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley was on site around noon.

Although the police could not say for sure it was the body of Natzke, she is the only missing female reported in the area. Chief A. L. Cornett of the Hot Springs Village Police Department called on Natzke's family before 10:30 a.m. to prepare them for the probability the body is that of Natzke.

Because the body was found out in Garland County, the investigation will be shared by the Hot Springs Village Police Department and the Garland County Sheriff's Department. After the discovery of the body the joint forces began crime scene investigation. It was over three hours before Natzke's body was removed to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for autopsy and identification. Cause of death will be ascertained by the Lab.

This was the first time this area of Garland County had been searched in the Natzke matter. Earlier efforts were concentrated within a two mile radius of where Natzke's burned out car was found. The site the body was found is about eight miles from where the car was found.

No one has been arrested or charged at this time. The scheduled news conference set for Monday, January 2 has been cancelled. Today's press conference was held on Main Haul Road just 200 yards from the unidentified body.

Natzke's somber colleagues were working the crime scene. Everyone involved is considering this a case of foul play until proven otherwise. Lt. James Martin of the Garland County Sheriff's Department said it was unbelievably lucky that the body was found at all much less an hour and a half into the search.

Body found

The body of Dawna Jeanne Natzke was found this morning off Little Blakley Road. Details will follow.

Friday, December 30, 2011

E-blast system not used for its purpose

Dawna Jeanne Natzke went missing December 21. There have been no e-blasts from the POA alerting Village residents to be on the lookout for Natzke. Garland County has not sent out e-mail alerts because the Village has the capability to use its own system.

The Voice has been ineffectual because this week's edition had already gone to print by the time Natzke was reported missing. KVRE has covered the missing person case since Monday, December 26. The radio station contacted the Hot Springs Village Police Department asking for information since no one at the station had been alerted by the police of a missing person.

Still, through yesterday, December 29, there has been no e-blast from the POA. Natzke is a POA employee, a Village resident, and was attending a party at a Village POA employee's home just before she disappeared. The system appears to be broken and should be addressed immediately.

See January 12 post regarding Natzke update. E-blast designed for newsletter not emergency delivery. Village now has an emergency system to alert Villagers as of this week.

Last Natzke press conference

A. L. Cornett, Director of Public Safety, Hot Springs Village Property Owner's Association reported on December 28 the investigation into the disappearance of Dawna Jeanne Natzke, 46, continues. Natzke was last seen at her home on Wednesday, December 21 at approximately 11 p.m. by her boyfriend.

Natzke was reported missing by her son at approximately 6 a.m. on Friday, December 23, which coincides with the time she was due to report for duty as a dispatcher for the Hot Springs Village Police Department.

Natzke has been employed as a dispatcher with Hot Springs Village Police since September 2, 2004.

Director Cornett characterizes Natzke as a loving mother of three boys, dutiful daughter, loyal friend, and conscientious employee. Her failure to contact anyone is certainly out of character for Natzke.

Anyone having any information concerning Natzke is urged to contact the Hot Springs Village Police Department at 501 922-0011 or the closest law enforcement agency.

Time line since Natzke went missing

Wednesday, 12/21

7 p.m. Dawna Natzke and boyfriend attend a part at a high ranking POA officials home in Hot Springs Village, general manager, Scott Randall.

10:30 to 11 p.m. Natzke and boyfriend were seen leaving party together.

11 p.m. Boyfriend reports he and Natzke went home. He went to bed; she was watching television.

Thursday, 12/22

7:30 a.m. Boyfriend reports he awoke and found Natzke and her car gone. He assumed she had gone to work. (Note: Natzke was not due to work that day as she had taken a vacation day.)

Around 8 a.m. Friend of Natzke received a strange text message from Natzke's cell phone.

11:15 a.m. Natzke's car was discovered by U.S. Forest Service employee in a remote area. The car had been been burned.

7 p.m. Boyfriend reported to Hot Springs Village Police Dept. he had not seen Natzke all day.

8:30 p.m. Friend who had received strange text message called neighbor of Natzke. Neighbor went to Natzke's home and talked to family member. No sense of alarm at that time.

Friday, 12/23

6 a.m. Natzke did not report for duty. Son of Natzke reported mother had not returned home. Investigation begun.

6:38 a.m. BOLO (Be on the lookout) issued regarding Natzke and her car. Search begun. Numerous interviews conducted.

Saturday, 12/24

Interviews conducted: search for Natzke and her car continued.

10:35 p.m. Hot Springs Village Police Department notified Natzke's car was found.

Sunday, 12/25

Natzke's car was towed to the Hot Springs Village Police Department garage.

Monday, 12/26

Area around spot where Natzke's car was found was searched. Search dogs were used.

Tuesday, 12/27

Interviews of potential witnesses continued.

Wednesday, 12/28

Search dogs and team again being used in area where car was recovered in the Ouachita National Forest.

Natzke's car being processed by the Arkansas State Crime Lab.

Thursday, 12/29

Mounted patrols and search dogs continue to search for Natzke.

Dawna Jeanne Natzki is missing

The Hot Springs Village Police Department is asking for assistance in locating Dawna Natzke, date of birth November 17, 1965. Mrs. Natzke was last seen late Wednesday evening, December 21, leaving a Christmas party at Scott Randall's home in the Village. If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of Dawna Natzke please call the Hot Springs Village Police Department at (501) 922-0011.

Dawna Natzke is a white female, 5'6", her eyes are brown and her hair is brown with blond highlights. She has a medium build.

According to Lt. Ricky Middleton of the Hot Springs Village Police Department the 1997 Ford Escort wagon belonging to Natzke was recovered on Christmas Day. The car was wound in the Ouachita National Forest off of Arkansas Highway 298. The car had been burned out. On December 26 the Arkansas Search Dog Association was called to search the area.

Anyone who may have seen a teal green 1997 Ford Escort Wagon late Wednesday night or Thursday early morning is asked to contact the Hot Springs Village Police.

Events at Davidsonville Historic State Park

January
Introduction to Embroidery Workshop
January 21
1 to 3:30 p.m.

Take a trip back in time as we look through the history of the creative art of embroidery. Learn a variety of stitches and patterns that turn boring old cloth into a work of art. Bring your creativity and an old piece of scrap fabric as we put a new twist on an old craft. Call park to ask what goodies you take away from the workshop.

Workshop Fee: $15.00

February
February 18
10a.m. to 3p.m.
Introduction to Gourd Crafts

Come out to Davidsonville Historic State Park as we show you how to turn that gourd in your garden into a fun craft project. Gourds have been used by Native Americans and pioneers for hundreds of years. This beginner’s workshop will give you a gourd history and learn how to use the tools needed to turn that garden gourd into a original piece of art. All you need to do is bring your imagination! Reservations are required and space is limited. Call the park for more details.

Workshop Fee: $15.00

March
Mamma Mia! It’s Italian Night: A Dutch Oven Workshop.
March 17
4 to 7 p.m.

Make it an Italian date night at Davidsonville Historic State Park. Bring your loved ones and your appetite as we learn how to make your favorite Italian dishes over the Dutch oven. Lasagna, Italian Bread and MORE! Then enjoy your supper by fire and candlelight. Reservations are required and space is limited. For full menu details ask for contact the park interpreter.

Workshop Fee: $40 (Dutch oven included)

$12 per person (Dutch oven not included)

To get to Davidsonville Historic State Park; from Pocahontas travel 2 miles west on U.S Highway 62, then south on State Highway 166 and travel 9 miles to the park.

From U.S. Highway 63 at Black Rock, take state Highway 361. Travel 5 miles to the park.

January is radon awareness month

Radon problems have been detected in almost every county in the United States. The Surgeon General and American Lung Association have also taken action to help prevent these needless deaths by recommending that all homes in the U.S. be tested regardless of geographic location or foundation type.

Information about indoor Radon Gas can be found at radonmonth.wordpress.com.

Still time to sign up to become a master naturalist

A new trail around Lake Frierson, trail repairs at Village Creek and protecting precious artifacts at Old Davidsonville are just a few hopes and dreams that could be realized by establishing a northeast Arkansas chapter of volunteers trained by Arkansas Master Naturalists (AMN). AMN chapters have made such dreams come true in many other areas of the state in recent years, through the "magic" of training and rewarding work.

For example, the beautiful landscape of Lake Frierson State Park would be far more accessible to many more people with the construction of a 2.2-mile trail envisioned by Justin Huss, State Park Superintendent. Just 10 miles north of Jonesboro, the park is already a popular retreat for area residents. Huss said a well-made trail would not only benefit current park users but also future generations. "Arkansas State Parks are in the 'forever business'," he says, "and Master Naturalists have built, repaired and maintained trails in other areas of the state that help us achieve that goal."

Heavily flood-damaged Village Creek State Park trails need extensive work, including replacing or repositioning stairs and bridges, says Park Interpreter Adam Leslie. South of Jonesboro, the Park is another popular retreat for area residents.

Artifacts still hidden at Old Davidsonville State Park may be damaged or lost due to erosion, says Park Interpreter Krystal Watson. Volunteers could do drainage and other work needed to protect the valuable archeological site northeast of Jonesboro.

In other parts of Arkansas these types of needs are met and accomplished by energetic and capable AMN members. Established in 2006, the state organization has grown from a group of 22 in central Arkansas to an organization of over 300 members throughout the state who volunteer their time and expertise toward “Keeping the Natural State natural.”

AMN hopes to establish a chapter in the Jonesboro area by January 2012. Upon completing a series of classroom and field training sessions, the new group could build a trail at Lake Frierson; repair trails, stairs and bridges at Village Creek; and implement erosion prevention measures at Old Davidsonville. These projects would only begin a whole series of efforts to protect the fragile environment of Crowley’s Ridge and to keep the surrounding area in the “forever business.”

While many individual citizens may never have heard of Master Naturalists, park rangers, interpreters and government agencies have come to depend on these volunteers not only to protect the environment but to make it more accessible to the public. Master Naturalists are achieving impressive volunteer work, mostly-outdoors, and having fun doing it.

Master Naturalist organizations are growing by leaps and bounds. The group started in Colorado in the 1970s, and now operates in 36 states.

The first Arkansas chapter was founded in Little Rock in 2006, followed by chapters in Fayetteville-Rogers, Mountain Home-Bulls Shoals, and the Russellville-Dardanelle areas. Each Arkansas chapter is based at a nearby state park, in a mutually-beneficial partnership. The host park provides facilities for training and meetings, and the Master Naturalists respond with a steady stream of volunteers for park projects.

This dramatic growth in just five years is achieved despite an unusual practice. New members are recruited only once each year, each chapter accepting only 25-30 new members annually. Last year all four chapters filled and had to turn away applicants for their 2011 classes.

The training program is essentially a lecture and field work series related to nature, conservation and ecology. Newly enrolled “Naturalists-in-Training” meet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on 10 to 12 Saturdays from January through mid-May to hear lectures and learn field work taught by subject matter experts, professors and government representatives. Lecture topics span geology, botany, trail engineering, park interpretation, ornithology, eco-regions, trees, entomology, herpetology, mammals, butterflies, fish, archeology, stream ecology and restoration, meteorology, and others. Classrooms are provided by state parks and government agencies. First-year training normally totals 20-24 programs aggregating 60-72 hours, though only 40 hours are required to graduate and there are no tests or homework. New members pay a $135 tuition fee to fund the training sessions, related books and materials. Most consider the fee a bargain.

Master Naturalists are subsequently “certified” after 40 hours of volunteer work and eight hours additional training. Additional advanced training lectures are open to all members throughout the year.

Volunteer projects enhance nature and conservation in a variety of ways.

Stream Teams inspect local creeks and rivers quarterly to sample water quality, sending data to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Volunteers also count invertebrates and aquatic life, inasmuch as these vulnerable organisms offer clues about water purity.

Trail Patrols maintain local hiking and nature trails from October to May, clearing and beautifying overgrown trails, sometimes constructing new trails, railings and walkways.

Master Naturalists also tend and manage state park wildflower gardens and visitor center gardens, and regularly partner with other non-profit groups to conduct river clean-ups. They present informative programs to park visitors and school children, using interpretive programs developed by park rangers or by Master Naturalists themselves.

Annually, members from throughout Arkansas meet at a selected state park, socialize and get acquainted and then perform volunteer projects together. They also attend annual state-wide bio-blitzes, which feature special lectures and field trips.

The secret to the Master Naturalists’ remarkable growth seems to be the combination of stimulating lectures, volunteer activities, social networking and outdoor recreation. Long-time volunteers also cite the camaraderie that develops within and among chapters and the sense of accomplishment and gratification from trail and other work.

The volunteer organization is dedicated to educating its members and giving back to the community through volunteer work. The mission statement is "to develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities." Master Naturalists are executing this mission through impressive volunteer accomplishments and are clearly having a good time doing it.

Registration for a new Northeast Arkansas Master Naturalists chapter is now open. The class will be limited to 25 members. For a registration form and more information visit the AMN website at home.ArkansasMasterNaturalists.org and click on “How do I join” or contact Arkansas Master Naturalist Dwan Garrison at 870-688-0961.

Mena blood drive January 11

Mena High School is starting off the new year by saving lives through blood donation with Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI). All healthy adults, 16 and older,* are encouraged to donate blood from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Wednesday, January 11, at 1220 Morrow, in the choir room. Blood donors at the Mena High School blood drive will receive an ABI ice scraper and free health screenings.

Additionally, if blood donors choose to forgo the donor appreciation item, funds designated for this item will be directed to our partnering organization, the American Heart Association. Arkansas Blood Institute and the American Heart Association (AHA) share a common goal, to keep people healthy.

“With the start of a new year and unanticipated weather, blood donations typically decline in the winter months,” said John Armitage, Arkansas Blood Institute president and CEO. “But the need for blood is constant, and patients in our community count on volunteer donors to fulfill that need.”

Blood donations can be made every 56 days. Arkansas Blood Institute provides every drop of blood needed by patients in 17 hospitals in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma thanks to its volunteer donors. Arkansas Blood Institute is the ninth largest, independent nonprofit blood center in the nation.

For more information or to make an appointment to donate, contact ABI at (877) 340-8777 or visit the site at http://www.arkbi.org/.

Crystal Bridges bringing tourists from all over the world

Being named one of the 12 Hottest Destinations of 2012 by Travel + Leisure Magazine is just one more feather in the cap of the up and coming Northwest Arkansas town of Bentonville . The only US city on the list, Bentonville shares company with Brazil, Abu Dhabi, China and Germany.

Until recently, this city was known for being home to retail giant Walmart and the hometown of Walmart founder, Sam Walton. However, one of Walton’s children, Alice Walton, has put them on the map for a much different reason; the opening of world-class art museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in November.

Both the museum and the impending opening of a 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Bentonville were listed as reasons for being a hot travel destination. Featuring American art from the Colonial period to current day, Crystal Bridges has been compared to Gugginheim Bilboa for its dynamic architecture by noted architect Moshe Safdie. Oh, by the way, admission is free, thanks to a grant from Walmart.

Saline County Habitat for Humanity looking for volunteers

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is looking for trustworthy, reliable, detail-oriented volunteers to serve as cashiers. Help us needed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays.

Duties include:

- Greeting and assiting customers.

- Accurately operating the cash register.

- Obtaining proper ID for checks.

- Giving the customers their reciepts.

- Keeping the register area neat and tidy.

- Performing other duties as assigned.

If you are interested in volunteering at the ReStore, or if you know someone who would be a great fit for this position, please contact Wes at 315-0011, or Amy at 315-5434. Volunteering at the ReStore is a great way to help Habitat for Humanity in its mission to end substandard housing in Saline County!

Recycling Christmas trees in Hot Springs

Again this year when holiday celebrations are over, the Hot Springs Sanitation Department will accept Christmas trees at the drive-through Recycling Drop-off Center at the corner of Valley and Runyon street.

Christmas trees must be stripped of tinsel, ornaments and lights and placed at the designated location within the lot. Fishing enthusiasts are welcome to take the trees on a first-come, first serve basis, to use for fish habitat in local waterways.

Residents may also place the trees curbside for collection on their regular leaf and mulch collection day. All recycled trees will be taken to the city’s compost facility. The trees may also be taken by local fishermen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Christmas trees will be accepted throughout the month of January. For more information, contact Sanitation at 321-6911.

Live racing starts soon at Oaklawn

The start of the live Thoroughbred horse racing season at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs is Jan. 13. The season ends April 14 with the 76th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn is one of the premier race tracks in the country. Best known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby, the track has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport including champions Smarty Jones, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Starting next year on-site racing fans at Oaklawn can wager with their smart phones when the track opens for the live season. MyOaklawn will work with all i-Phones, i-Pads, Androids and Blackberrys.When using MyOaklawn, guests can wager with their smart phones from the paddock area, from the rail or anywhere on the track. There are no fees and no waiting in lines to wager. Visit www.oaklawn.com for more details or call 501-623-4411.

Eagle watching at Lake Dardanelle

Eagle Spotting


Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville offers free winter lake cruises that provide a great opportunity to see American Bald Eagles. Upcoming dates for the trips are Jan. 3, 7, 11, 14, 19, 21, 25, 27, 29. Many other spectacular birds can be spotted from the boat, including American white pelicans, ducks, and snow geese. Participants should dress warmly because temperatures and winds can be more severe on the lake. In an effort to accommodate as many people as possible for tours the park is taking reservations this year. Call the visitor center at 479-967-5516 to reserve your seat. Boarding begins 15 minutes before the tour at the boat dock near the Fishing Tournament Weigh-In Facility. Also, in case of inclement weather, call one hour before tour time for possible cancellations.

Message from Garland County Sheriff Larry Sanders

With the new year; and more importantly, new years eve, just around the corner, I would like to offer the following suggestions for keeping your celebration and entry into the New Year a safe and joyous one.

Plan a safe way home before a party begins.

Designate a sober driver.

If you are going to drink, be sensible about it.

Call a cab, a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation if a driver is impaired.

Call authorities the moment a drunk driver is seen on the road.

If you think a person has had too much to drink, then he probably has.

Take someone’s car keys when knowing that he/she is about to drive home drunk or impaired and/or help them to make arrangements for their safe transport home.

My staff and I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Press release issued by A. L. Cornett concerning the missing Dawna Natzke

A. L. Cornett, Director of Public Safety, Hot Springs Village Property Owner's Association reported on December 28 the investigation into the disappearance of Dawna Jeanne Natzke, 46, continues. Natzke was last seen at her home on Wednesday, December 21 at approximately 11 p.m. by her boyfriend.

Natzke was reported missing by her son at approximately 6 a.m. on Friday, December 23, which coincides with the time she was due to report for duty as a dispatcher for the Hot Springs Village Police Department.

Natzke has been employed as a dispatcher with Hot Springs Village Police since September 2, 2004.

Director Cornett characterizes Natzke as a loving mother of three boys, dutiful daughter, loyal friend, and conscientious employee. Her failure to contact anyone is certainly out of character for Natzke.

Anyone having any information concerning Natzke is urged to contact the Hot Springs Village Police Department at 501 922-0011 or the closest law enforcement agency.

Police time line on Dawna Natzke, missing Hot Springs Village woman

Hot Springs Village Police Department Missing Person Case No. 2011004709

Wednesday, 12/21
7 p.m. Dawna Natzke and boyfriend attend a part at a high ranking POA officials home in Hot Springs Village, general manager, Scott Randall.

10:30 to 11 p.m. Natzke and boyfriend were seen leaving party together.

11 p.m. Boyfriend reports he and Natzke went home. He went to bed; she was watching television.

Thursday, 12/22
7:30 a.m. Boyfriend reports he awoke and found Natzke and her car gone. He assumed she had gone to work. (Note: Natzke was not due to work that day as she had taken a vacation day.)

Around 8 a.m. Friend of Natzke received a strange text message from Natzke's cell phone.

11:15 a.m. Natzke's car was discovered by U.S. Forest Service employee in a remote area. The car had been been burned.

7 p.m. Boyfriend reported to Hot Springs Village Police Dept. he had not seen Natzke all day.

8:30 p.m. Friend who had received strange text message called neighbor of Natzke. Neighbor went to Natzke's home and talked to family member. No sense of alarm at that time.

Friday, 12/23
6 a.m. Natzke did not report for duty. Son of Natzke reported mother had not returned home. Investigation begun.

6:38 a.m. BOLO (Be on the lookout) issued regarding Natzke and her car. Search begun. Numerous interviews conducted.

Saturday, 12/24
Interviews conducted: search for Natzke and her car continued.

10:35 p.m. Hot Springs Village Police Department notified Natzke's car was found.

Sunday, 12/25
Natzke's car was towed to the Hot Springs Village Police Department garage.

Monday, 12/26
Area around spot where Natzke's car was found was searched. Search dogs were used.

Tuesday, 12/27
Interviews of potential witnesses continued.

Wednesday, 12/28
Search dogs and team again being used in area where car was recovered in the Ouachita National Forest

Natzke's car being processed by the Arkansas State Crime Lab.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Missing woman from Village

The Hot Springs Village Police Department is asking for assistance in locating Dawna Natzke, date of birth November 17, 1965. Mrs. Natzke was last seen late Wednesday evening leaving a Christmas party in the Village. If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of Dawna Natzke please call the Hot Springs Village Police Department at (501) 922-0011.

Dawna Natzke is a white female, 5'6", her eyes are brown and her hair is brown with blond highlights. She has a medium build.

According to Lt. Ricky Middleton of the Hot Springs Village Police Department the 1997 Ford Escort wagon belonging to Natzke was recovered on Christmas Day. The car was wound in the Ouachita National Forest off of Arkansas Highway 298. The car had been burned out. On December 26 the Arkansas Search Dog Association was called to search the area.

Anyone who may have seen a teal green 1997 Ford Escort Wagon late Wednesday night or Thursday early morning is asked to contact the Hot Springs Village Police.

Trial by Jury

January 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. there will be a trial by jury at Historic Washington State Park.

Justice will be served and you are the jury. After enjoying an evening meal at Williams’ Tavern Restaurant, guests will proceed to the 1836 Courthouse. There they will take part in a living history drama where they judge the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murder. The drama is based upon an actual 1844 trial that took place in the same courtroom. Dress casual or wear your favorite 19th century costume.

Reservations are required. 870-983-2684.  Admission: $25 adults, $20 children under 14.

Historic Washington State Park, a restoration village preserving one of Arkansas’s most prominent 19th-Century towns, is located on US 278 nine miles north of Hope and can be reached by taking Exit 30 off Interstate 30. For more information visit www.HistoricWashingonStatePark.com or call (870) 983-2684.

Christmas was a good day in my household

I hope everyone celebrating Christmas had a good holiday. I managed to keep Christ in my Christmas by attending a Christmas Eve and Christmas day service. What a treat to have the celebrations of Christ's birthday on a Sunday.

My family exchanged Christmas gifts through the US Postal Service this year. Our children are spread out all over the world. David is in Manhattan with his wife and three children. Michael is in Dallas with his wife and four children. Stewart is in London with his wife and Abbie is in Connecticut with her fiancee.

We had several friends over for a late afternoon meal and thoroughly enjoyed the company.

I have a rare day off work today and plan to enjoy a long walk and lots of rest. Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hot Springs city service guide now available

The City of Hot Springs released today the 2012 edition of its City Services Guide, a one-stop resource publication for city programs and services.

The 32-page guide features contact information for the Hot Springs Board of Directors and city staff; a one-page listing for each city department; and a description of the city’s governmental structure. A “Who to Call” topic-based listing helps those needing specific services, while the City Facility Finder lists the addresses of every city park, building and department. Hotline numbers and a list of current volunteer city advisory committees are also included.

Copies of the guide are available free of charge at the Garland County Library, 1427 Malvern Avenue; Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, 659 Ouachita Avenue; City Hall Public Information Department, 133 Convention Boulevard; and Hot Springs Municipal Utilities Customer Service at the Bill Edwards Center, 517 Airport Road. Multiple copies are available on request. For information, call 321-6806.

POA trying open house for DeSoto again

The Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association is pleased to announce the DeSoto Club Event Center Open House on Tuesday, January 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the general public. Sponsors include Diamond Beer Brewing Company, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Beckwith Visions Florist, Chiffonade Chef Services, Sam’s Wholesale, This Cake’s For You, Jerry Dawson, Home Plate CafĂ©, Moon Distributors, Inc., Nature Day Spa, Rene Steinpreis, Piano Music by Marcus and more.

The DeSoto Club Event Center is now taking reservations for weddings, conferences, dinner parties, luncheons, proms, seminars and more. For more information on booking the DeSoto Club Event Center email facilityrental@hsvpoa.org or call 922-5050.

New sign procedures for the Village

The Architectural Control Committee has made significant changes to the sign procedure which will be effective January 1, 2012. These changes include no signs being allowed at any entrance to Hot Springs Village. Other changes include: all real estate companies, estate\ auction companies, churches, clubs and organizations will be charged a $40 annual permit fee for all special event signs. All banners will be charged a $40 permit fee per event. Garage/yard sale signs must be permitted by the Planning & Inspections Department and will be charged a $15 permit fee and the P&I Department will furnish five signs with permit numbers printed on them. All other signs will be removed.

POA now features pay-by-credit-card

The Hot Springs Village Property Owner’s Association has an online credit card payment option to pay your assessment or POA utility bill. Go to the POA website at hsvpoa.org and click on Pay Assessment/Utilities button on the right side. The POA accepts Visa, Mastercard and Discover. To pay by Credit Card, you will need your Lot/Block/Addition number as well as the individual account number associated with your accessment and or POA utility bill.

The actual processing of your credit card is made through a third party secure site. The POA does not retain any credit card information. If you enter an email address, you will receive an electronic receipt. Please contact the POA at 922-5519 or 922-5556 with any questions.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This little tremor was Tuesday night

2.1 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.1 Md
Date-Time 21 Dec 2011 02:36:50 UTC
20 Dec 2011 20:36:50 near epicenter
20 Dec 2011 20:36:50 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.366N 92.261W
Depth 5 km
Distances 4 km (3 miles) WSW (247 degrees) of Quitman, AR
8 km (5 miles) NE (55 degrees) of Guy, AR
14 km (8 miles) E (90 degrees) of Damascus, AR
70 km (44 miles) N (5 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
404 km (251 miles) SSW (207 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.0 km; Vertical 1.6 km
Parameters Nph = 18; Dmin = 5.0 km; Rmss = 0.13 seconds; Gp = 136°
M-type = Md; Version = A
Event ID NM 122111d

More earthquake activity in Faulkner County

2.1 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.1 Md
Date-Time 21 Dec 2011 07:09:23 UTC
21 Dec 2011 01:09:23 near epicenter
21 Dec 2011 01:09:23 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.363N 92.273W
Depth 6 km
Distances 5 km (3 miles) WSW (247 degrees) of Quitman, AR
7 km (4 miles) NE (53 degrees) of Guy, AR
12 km (8 miles) E (92 degrees) of Damascus, AR
70 km (43 miles) N (4 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
405 km (252 miles) SSW (207 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 0.9 km; Vertical 0.9 km
Parameters Nph = 19; Dmin = 4.0 km; Rmss = 0.14 seconds; Gp = 82°
M-type = Md; Version = A
Event ID NM 122111c

Garvan Woodland Gardens open Christmas Eve

Many of you have called the business office asking if we are open Christmas Eve. The answer is Yes!

Make a new holiday tradition this year and spend a deLIGHTful Christmas Eve with your family and friends at the Gardens strolling through our spectacular holiday lights display. Wrap up those remaining gifts, finish your grocery shopping, and plan to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while 1.8 million twinkling lights add sparkle to your holiday season.

Don't forget that our outdoor admission booth is open for members and those purchasing tickets online.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - the staff of Garvan Woodland Gardens

Cats, cats, kittens available at animal shelter

The Village animal shelter has several cats and kittens up for adoption. They are all cuties. Make room in your home and heart for a little furball. The shelter is on Cloaca Lane in the Village.

Luke family will receive death benefits from Army

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor yesterday said it took perseverance and an act of Congress, but the Luke family will finally receive the death benefits to which they are entitled following the death of Captain Samson Luke nearly two years ago.

Pryor received verbal notification from the Secretary of the Army’s office that the Luke family’s appeal to the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records (ABCMR) has been granted. After the papers are processed, Miranda Luke and her four young children will receive death gratuity payment and burial expense reimbursement.

Her husband, Captain Samson Luke deployed for combat in Iraq twice and continued to serve as an Arkansas Army National Guardsmen. During a required training weekend at Fort Chaffee , Luke was authorized to spend Saturday night with his family at home, twelve miles away from base, and return to the training site the next morning. He passed away that evening, January 10, 2010 from a heart condition. The Army determined that because Captain Luke passed away at home, not on base or at a local hotel, the family would not be eligible for the $100,000 death gratuity or funeral expense benefits they would otherwise receive.

“The Secretary of the Army is a busy man. I appreciate his time and effort to right this wrong and make sure our military families receive the benefits they are entitled,” Pryor said. “Likewise, it’s been an honor to team up with Miranda and ensure families facing similar situations are taken care of financially.”

Pryor inserted the “Luke provision” in a broad defense bill, which clearly states that a reservist’s family is entitled to death benefits should the service member die during an authorized stay at their home during inactive duty training. The legislation, awaiting the President’s signature, was not retroactive but helped pave the way for the appeal board’s positive result.

“This is a tough time of the year for many military spouses and families,” Pryor said. “I hope we can all do a little extra to brighten their holidays.”

Post office schedule for the holidays

All Post Offices normally open on Saturday will be open Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24, and New Year’s Eve, Friday, Dec. 31, but will have shortened retail lobby hours and close at noon. Mail delivery for Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 will be the same as any other Saturday.

Revised hours will be posted at each Post Office for Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 hours of operation. Commercial customers should check with their Business Mail Entry Units for Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 hours of operation.

Customers are encouraged to go online to usps.com or call 1-800-ASK-USPS for information about specific Post Offices. In addition, mail should be deposited into blue collection mailboxes before noon for early pickup on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Customers requiring postal services later that day are encouraged to contact their local Postmaster.

In observance of the holidays, Post Offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 26, and Monday, Jan. 2. Only Express Mail will be delivered on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in most major metro areas. Post Offices will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, Dec. 27 and Tuesday, Jan. 3.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Become and Arkansas master naturalist

Are you interested in continuing your education? Do you love being outside and care about the environment? Consider enrolling in the Northeast Master Naturalist program! Only six positions are still open. Apply now.

The Northeast Chapter of the Arkansas Master Naturalists , serving Powhatan, Davidsonville, Lake Charles, Lake Frierson, Lake Poinsett, Crowley's Ridge State Parks and Crowley's Ridge Nature Center, is now forming and accepting applications for enrollment.

Applicants must attend at least 40 hours of classroom and outdoor instruction to graduate. Instruction will cover subjects such as ecology, native plants, geology, botany, meteorology and more. After graduation, Master Naturalists are equipped to act as an environmental ambassador and a resource for the entire community.

When and Where: Classes begin January 21, and will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at six of the Northeast State Parks and the Crowley's Ridge Nature Center. The classes occur over 12 Saturdays and the cost is $165Applications must be received by January 13, 2012.

Visit home.arkansasmasternaturalists.org or call Dwan Garrison at 870-688-0961 for more information.

Hot Springs budget meeting scheduled

The Hot Springs board of directors will hold a special meeting to consider the proposed 2012 City Budget at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 27 in the Board Chambers at City Hall, 133 Convention Boulevard. The special meeting will follow the board’s regular agenda meeting at 4 p.m.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Part three and four of Sheriff Sanders home burglary crime prevention tips

Home Burglary Crime Prevention Tips – Part Three

"Target Harden Your Home and Property"

The most significant thing you can do is mark your valuables with an engraver with your state driver license number or any other unique number that can be traced back to you. Marking your property serves as a deterrent to would-be burglars and it helps police in identifying and returning stolen property. The Garland County Sheriff's Department has engravers for loan, if you would like to mark your property with a unique number or name.

Along with engraving and marking your property, keep an inventory form with serial numbers and take pictures and video of all your valuables to aid in making an insurance claim and the recovery of your property. Store it in a safe and retrievable place in the event you are a victim of burglary.

Don’t hide keys in the mailbox, under the door mat or in a plant.

Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors, and set your alarm if you have one.

Keep your garage door, fence gates and sheds/storage buildings closed and locked. Regrettably, this should be done even when you are at home. Side gates allow thieves easy access to the back of your house, away and out of sight from the street. Not only are these areas full of valuable and easy-to-steal tools, but they usually contain implements that thieves can use to break into your home. Always lock doors between your house and garage.

All exterior doors should be solid and have deadbolt locks.

Install motion activated lights at all exterior doors. Install motion activated lights in carports and any other areas of your home that are not easily viewed by your neighbors. Make sure that exterior lights are mounted out of reach, so that burglars can't easily unscrew bulbs.

Don't keep valuables in the bedroom. (Burglars go there first.)

Shrubbery should not obscure windows or doors from being seen by neighbors or police officers on patrol. Bushes and plants that grow too tall can be places for burglars to hide behind while trying to break into your home. Keep shrubbery trimmed to ensure that your doors and windows are visible.

Secure all sliding doors and windows. For sliding doors cut a broom handle to the length of the bottom track so that the window or door will not slide open when forced. Also, drill one hole through both casings and sliding window and insert a nail or pin. To prevent wooden sash windows from being pried open, drill a downward sloping hole into the top of the bottom window through and into the bottom of the top window and insert a pin or nail. To prevent aluminum sash windows from being broken into, purchase a track lock that blocks the window track.

Valuable jewelry belongs in a safe or safe deposit box.

Home Burglary Crime Prevention Tips – Part Four

"Other Best Practices and Tips"

Sheriff Sanders provides a vacation watch service. Utilizing this service, the officer assigned to your beat will attempt to check your home at least once during his or her tour of duty. Contact our dispatch center, or Captain Carl Lacey, at 501-622-3660 to get signed up for this service.

Organize a Neighborhood Watch to protect your neighborhood. An alert community is a safe community.

Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home.

Put alarm and/or beware of dog signs in conspicuous places even if you have neither. They are cheap and available at most home center and hardware stores.

Don't leave a message on your answering machine saying you've gone away, and turn the volume down on your home phone. You can also forward your home number to your cell phone.

Don't leave the box of your new TV or computer outside the house. Cut boxes into pieces and place them into your trash bin.

Display your house number conspicuously and have it well illuminated. This will help police and emergency personnel find your home quickly.

Please remember these tips during the holidays and throughout the year. They will help ensure a safe, secure and joyous holiday season.

Remember, citizens and communities must be involved in order for law enforcement to be effective. It takes ALL OF US working together!

Garland County FOP Lodge #26 shopped with 26 children last nite at Wal-Mart, spending app $2600. 34 to go tonight!

Deputies of the Garland County Sheriff's Department Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #26, took 26 children shopping last night at Wal-Mart, for Christmas presents. Those same deputies, and more, will continue that shopping trip tonight with 34 more children during the FOP's first "Shop With A Cop" event.

The F.O.P. Lodge #26 adopts numerous families each year for Christmas and provides them with food, clothing items and toys for the entire family.

This year, through a fundraiser and the generous donations of Garland County citizens and businesses, Lodge #26 has been able to adopt 12 families to feed and approximately 65 children, most from a local children's home, will be "Shopping With a Cop".

The "Shop With a Cop" program will have each child paired up with a Deputy at Wal-Mart. The children will have approximately $100 each to spend on whatever they would like for Christmas. The only stipulation, they must buy one gift for someone other than themselves.

This program has been a huge success in other areas and, with the generous donations the F.O.P. received, looks to be a success here as well.

Lodge #26 President Mike Wright wishes to thank the many individuals, businesses and Sheriff Larry Sanders for the generous support, backing and resources for which they have provided during this event.

If you would like to donate to the Garland County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #26 Christmas efforts, you may contact Mike Wright at 501-622-3695.

Contact Information:
Mike Wright
Criminal Investigations
501-622-3690
mwright@garlandcounty.org

Heifer launches effort to help U.S. hungry

When Americans think of hunger, they often think of swollen bellies and jutting ribs in countries far away. But Heifer International knows that malnutrition is often right next door. That's why Heifer, the global nonprofit known for gifts of livestock and training, is starting a bold new initiative right here in the United States.

Heifer International's United States program's Seeds of Change will focus on two of the most severely impoverished areas in the U.S.: the Arkansas Delta and Appalachia. Seeds of Change aims to make healthy foods more accessible to those who need them most. This is about more than just raising incomes; it's about combatting real hunger and malnutrition. In much of America, the large-scale farming of cash crops has undermined local food systems that can provide a variety of healthy foods. Bolstering agriculture in the U.S. may seem like a shift toward the past rather than the future, but with one in six people in America now living in poverty, hunger is a pressing issue. Nutritious food can be hard to obtain even in areas with fertile land.

In the Appalachian region, specifically in North Carolina and Tennessee, almost one in five people go hungry at least part of the time. In the targeted Arkansas Delta area, nearly one in four people are food insecure.

The Heifer USA country program awarded two planning grants of $125,000 each to the East Arkansas Enterprise Community and to the Appalachia District Health Department and through the program, Heifer will supply agricultural materials, equipment and training in sustainable business development,
agriculture production and distribution processes to participants, and help them access capital and credit to develop local food systems once again.

Heifer International has an excellent reputation for working against hunger and poverty in ways that strengthen local communities over the long term. Heifer empowers individuals and teaches skills and values that can be used for a lifetime. With its requirement that successful participants Pass on the Gift to another needy family, Heifer encourages communities to take responsibility for each other.

With Seeds of Change, Heifer USA aims to expand its presence in America and make a significant impact on hunger in this country and will enable families to improve their livelihoods in ways they never thought possible.

About Heifer International
Heifer's mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 50 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit "http://www.heifer.org/" www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.

Be prepared when applying for energy assistance

If you are planning to apply for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from the Central Arkansas Development Council, you will need to provide verification of your income. If you need verification of your income from Social Security, obtaining it is easy and convenient. Please go to www.socialsecurity.gov. Then look in the left column under “Top Services,” open the “Services for people currently receiving benefits” section, and select “Request a Proof of Income letter” to get a letter that verifies your Social Security benefit information.

Be sure to plan ahead. From the time that you complete the online request, it will take about 10 days for you to receive the proof of income letter in the mail. If you need one sooner, you will want to call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local Social Security office.

For most people, requesting the proof of income online is the most convenient way to get what you need. Get your benefit verification by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/beve.

January Events Taking Place in the Ouachitas of Arkansas

The start of the live Thoroughbred horse racing season at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs is Jan. 13. The season culminates April 14 with the 76th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn is one of the premier race tracks in the country. Best known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby, the track has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport including champions Smarty Jones, Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Visit www.oaklawn.com for more details or call 501-623-4411.

If your spine tingles at the site of an eagle soaring majestically, then you’re aware of the unique combination of beauty and efficient design that sets these birds apart from other winged creatures. Don’t think it’s necessary to travel to far-off places to see an eagle in the wild. Arkansas is a favorite wintering ground for bald eagles, and they are seen in nearly every part of the Natural State. Join a park interpreter for festivities centered on our national symbol Jan. 20-22 during Bald Eagle Bonanza in Hot Springs at Lake Catherine State Park. Activities include lake tours, guided bird walks, guest speakers and live bird demonstrations. Visit www.arkansasstateparks.com or contact the park at 501-844-4176 for a detailed schedule.

GPS and Geocaching 101 is Jan. 21 at Lake Ouachita State Park in Mountain Pine. The free class covers how a GPS works and ways you can use it. Whether you are traveling, hunting, fishing, or geocaching, a GPS can be of great use. By the end of the class participants will know how to enter a waypoint, track a route, determine a distance and find their way home. For more details visit www.arkansasstateparks.com or call 501-767-9366.

Join falconer Rusty Scarborough on an actual hunt using a live hawk Jan. 27 during a Live Falconry Hunt at DeGray Lake Resort State Park in Bismarck. Participants take a short boat ride to a vacant Corps campground where Scarborough will turn loose a hungry hawk in search of prey. Be prepared to walk through brush and over uneven terrain as you participate in the action (following/flushing game). Also, participants should be prepared for the possibility of a successful hunt where prey is captured and consumed by the hawk. Discretion must be used when considering participating in this activity. Reservations may be made at the lodge front desk at 501-865-5810 or visit www.degray.com for more information.

Eagles Et Cetera is Jan. 27-29 in Bismarck at DeGray Lake Resort State Park. Join the park for this 33rd annual celebration of our nation’s symbol. This is the park’s signature special event. Programs featuring the American Bald Eagle and other birds of prey make the weekend fly by. Activities are scheduled Friday - Sunday, including eagle-watching lake tours, guided bird walks, owl prowls, live bird demonstrations, slide presentations, games, and more. Staff and docents from the Little Rock Zoo present programs to area schools during the week and give live raptor demonstrations and performances on Friday and Saturday. On Jan. 28 Rusty Scarborough, falconer, hosts Live Falconry, where he introduces people to the world of falconry, an art rooted in conservation and largely responsible for the abundance of falcons worldwide. Also that day join certified raptor rehabilitator Rodney Paul for Raptor Rehab, a demonstration of live rehabilitated birds, as he gives a glimpse into the challenges of healing injured raptors before they are released into the wild. Lodging and camping are available. Call 501-865-5810 beginning Jan. 23 for ticket prices and reservations for eagle watching lake tours. Please dress for the weather for outdoor activities. Visit www.degray.com for more information.

Hot Springs now accepting applications for boards and commissions

The City of Hot Springs is now accepting board and commission applications for the following volunteer advisory positions until 5 p.m. on Friday, January 20. Applicants must be registered voters of the City of Hot Springs. Board and commission members are appointed by the Board of Directors and meet in the City Hall Board Chambers, 133 Convention Boulevard.

· One opening on the Board of Adjustments and Appeals/Board of Zoning Adjustment. The dual committee hears appeals of enforcement and application of development codes, and meets the fourth Monday of every month at 4 p.m.

· One opening on the Historic District Commission which oversees historic district rules and regulations. Applicant must be an owner of real property within the Pleasant Street Historic District. The commission meets the third Thursday of the month at 8:30 a.m.

· One opening from residents of Board District #2 to serve on the Community Development Advisory Committee. The committee evaluates and establishes operating policies and procedures for the CDBG Entitlement Program and meets the first Thursday of the month at 1 p.m.

Applications are available online at www.cityhs.net or in the Office of the City Clerk at 133 Convention Blvd. For more information please call the Office of the City Clerk at 321-6805.

Hot Springs holiday schedule

All city offices, except public safety and the airport, will be closed on Friday and Monday, December 23 and 26 and Monday, January 2 for the holidays. Commercial and residential sanitation routes will run as regularly scheduled. On December 23, 26 and January 2, the main office and Regional Recycling Center will be closed.

The Intracity Transit office will be closed on December 23, 26 and January 2. During this time reservation cancellations can be left on voice mail at 321-6625. Bus and paratransit vans will run their regularly scheduled routes on December 23. On December 26 and January 2, Intracity Transit buses and paratransit vans will not operate. Regularly scheduled routes will resume on January 3. The city compost facility will be closed on December 23, 26 and January 2.

Pryor Prevails in Effort to Protect Families from FEMA’s Mistakes

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor announced today that FEMA now has clear authority to waive debt owed to the U.S. in which disaster assistance funds were distributed in FEMA error. The measure was included by Pryor as part of the spending budget signed into law by President Obama over the weekend.

“Following severe flooding three years ago, many families in Arkansas underwent FEMA’s extensive application and inspection process in order to rebuild and recover. They filled out all the paperwork and did everything right, but FEMA made mistakes in paying out assistance. Now, the agency is demanding repayment from these families,” Pryor said. “My provision simply allows FEMA to back down in cases where the agency is at fault.”

Pryor said FEMA has been aggressively pursuing repayment by certain individuals who received disaster assistance several years ago. As much as $643 million was mistakenly released to individuals who applied for disaster assistance but were not eligible to receive the funds. The provision, now law, allows the Administrator of FEMA to waive the full debt owed to the U.S. in which funds were distributed in FEMA error in situations where recoupment would be against “equity and good conscience.” Individuals earning more than $90,000 a year are not eligible for debt forgiveness.

Pryor initially learned about FEMA’s collection efforts from an elderly couple in Mountain View, Arkansas. In 2008, after completing an extensive application process and home inspection, FEMA approved $27,000 in disaster assistance for home repairs. Three years later, FEMA informed the family they were never eligible for assistance and that they must repay the funds within 30 days or face high interest charges or other collection actions. Their debt was later sent to the Treasury for collection with an additional $10,000 in fees. Pryor helped Treasury officials and the family reach a favorable settlement. According to FEMA, similar “Notice of Debt” letters were sent to 122 additional Arkansas households. The 694 Arkansas households owe a combined total of $3.2 million.

SeaPort Airlines all a-twitter

SeaPort Airlines today announced the launch of a new mobile website at www.seaportmobile.com. The site is compatible with Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry mobile devices. SeaPortMobile.com offers travel and contact information, direct links to social media, special offers, and access to flight schedules, all at the touch of a hand. The addition of booking capabilities directly from the website is planned for later 2012. The site can only be accessed via phone, and will offer special deals and contests throughout the year.

“The new mobile site is one of numerous enhancements we have planned for 2012,” said Rob McKinney, President—SeaPort Airlines. “We’re looking forward to giving our passengers additional tools in the coming year that give them timely information and more choices to customize their travel experience.”

SeaPort will run a contest for all visitors that view the new site on their phones through January 15, 2012. Any individual can participate by visiting www.seaportmobile.com and following the instructions under the Contests tab.

About SeaPort Airlines

Portland, Oregon-based SeaPort Airlines, Inc. operates daily scheduled flights in Oregon, Washington, Arkansas, Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, and Alaska. Reservations can be made by calling 888-573-2767, at www.SeaPortAirlines.com, or through all major GDS systems. Follow SeaPort on Facebook, Twitter, and via their blog the SeaPort RePort.

SeaPort Airlines, Inc. Fast Facts
Website: www.SeaPortAirlines.com Phone: 888-573-2767 Mobile Website: http://www.seaportmobile.com/
Blog: www.SeaPortReport.Wordpress.com Facebook: www.Facebook.com/SeaPortAir
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/SeaPortAir
Regions: Northwest, Mid-South/Midwest, and Southeast Alaska (d/b/a Wings of Alaska in Alaska)
Headquarters: 7505 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 97218
Hubs: Portland, OR; Memphis, TN; Juneau, AK
Aircraft: SeaPort Airlines operates a fleet of Pilatus PC-12s and Cessna Caravans.

Pryor, Ross Highlight Federal Investments to Benefit Arkansas

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Mike Ross (AR-4) announced recently that the Senate has passed a spending package which provides resources for water infrastructure, disaster assistance, homeland security as well as defense and military construction needs.

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee I have sought ways to help build on our state’s strengths, such as investing in infrastructure, protecting our veterans and men and women in uniform, and helping our communities recover from severe storms,” Pryor said. “Despite significant budget cuts this year, this package maintains critical investments to Arkansas and the nation.”

"This budget cuts spending overall, while respecting priorities like Pell grants and soldiers' pay," said Ross. "The bill also cuts Congress' own budget ensuring Congress makes the same sacrifices as the rest of the nation. As a fiscal conservative, I will keep doing everything I can to reduce our deficits and create more jobs for more Americans."

Pryor is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which allows him the opportunity to shape the legislation both during the committee process and on the Senate floor. Specific earmarks are no longer allowed; however, Arkansas will fare well from several provisions in the legislation or accompanying report language, including the following highlights:

Defense Highlights:

· Funding is included for missile defense systems that support work at Aerojet and Lockheed Martin in Camden. Without funding for these programs, Camden could lose a significant number of jobs.

· Funding is included in the area of Silicon Carbide research and more broadly through the Rapid Innovation Fund to provide opportunities for Arkansas companies to compete for Defense research and development dollars.

Energy and Water:

· The Delta Regional Authority is funded at $11.67 million. The Senate originally reduced funding to $9.9 million, but Pryor was able to recover the funding.

· The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River and Tributaries Account is funded at $252 million.

Interior Highlights:

· Funding for Norfork and Greers Ferry mitigation fish hatcheries is protected in the agreement.

· The Maumelle Water Excellence Project is slated to receive funding to protect Central Arkansas’s drinking water; provide public access to hiking, fishing, and hunting; protect endangered species habitats; implement Arkansas’s Wildlife Action Plan; and provide conservation education.

· A competitive grant program will provide rural and urban communities with technical assistance to improve water quality and to provide safe drinking water.

Military Construction Highlights:

· Fort Chaffee will receive $3.5 million to construct a Convoy Live Fire and Entry Control Point Range. The project will be used to train and test teams, sections, squads, and companies on the skills necessary for convoy protection.

· The agreement provides $44 million for the Red River Army Depot to modernize its current facility for tactile vehicle disassembly and assembly work.

Homeland Security Highlights:

· Disaster Assistance Recoupment: Allows FEMA to waive debt owed to the U.S. in which disaster assistance funds were distributed in FEMA error in situations where recoupment would be against “equity and good conscience.”

· The agreement provides $2 million for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to receive or provide trained first responders and other assistance to neighboring states during tornadoes, flooding, or other disasters.

· The Disaster Relief Fund is funded at $700 million nationwide. A separate supplemental spending bill is expected to provide an additional $6.4 billion nationwide to aid recovery efforts from storms this spring.

Bald eagle bonanza weekend coming up January 20 through 22

If your spine tingles at the sight of an eagle soaring majestically, then you’re aware of the unique combination of beauty and efficient design that sets these birds apart from other winged creatures. While soaring at 500ft, it can spot a fish from a mile away, and then swoop down to it at 100 miles per hour. Don’t think it’s necessary to travel to far-off places to see an eagle in the wild. Arkansas is a favorite wintering ground for bald eagles, and they are seen in nearly every part of the Natural State.

Lake Catherine State Park celebrates their arrival with the first annual Bald Eagle Bonanza Event. This will be your chance to get out and see eagles, various other birds of prey, and migratory birds in the wild as expert Rangers, Naturalists, and Park Interpreters take you within viewing distance. Other common sightings on the tours include ospreys, waterfowl, herons, loons, owls, and other winter wildlife.

This year’s guest speakers will include Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Audubon Society. The rehabilitator will showcase live birds of prey and other raptors as well as release a live owl into the wild. All activities are free of charge and fun for the whole family.

A detailed schedule will be submitted closer to the event date. Make your plans now to visit Lake Catherine State Park.

For more information contact the park at (501) 844-4176, e-mail lakecatherine@arkansas.gov, or visit us on the web at http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakecatherine/

Message from Congressman Mike Ross

Christmas is a very special time of the year. For many of us, it is a time to pause and remember the true reason behind the holiday. It’s also a time to surround ourselves with friends and family and to show our love and appreciation by exchanging gifts. Even though we continue to deal with a struggling economy, Christmas will be celebrated around the world just as it always has.

Here in the United States, Christmas has been an official national holiday since 1870, when Congress passed and President Grant signed legislation making the designation officially the law of the land. But, the celebration of Christmas had existed long before that and centuries before the founding of our great country and it’s a celebration that will continue for centuries more.

In recent years, there has been an effort by some to ban any reference to Christmas by the federal government or our elected officials. While I certainly respect the United States Constitution and the First Amendment, which I swore to uphold, I believe when it declares that the government shall not establish a national religion, it does not expressly ban any mention of religion or reference to God, Christianity or Christmas by practicing Christians.

My parents raised me in a Christian home, and my wife and I have done the same with our children. Strong, Christian principles built this country and have allowed our nation to thrive, and these principles must remain the basis for our American way of life.

To reassert our government’s support for the Christmas national holiday, I have helped introduce a resolution, H.Res. 489, that would express the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.

Specifically, the resolution would call on the House to recognize the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas; strongly disapprove of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and, express support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.

Please know that as a fifth generation Arkansas and as your Congressman, I will continue to represent our Arkansas values that I was raised on and still strongly believe in today. I will also continue to fight against any attempts to diminish this nation’s long-standing support for the Christmas national holiday.

Faulkner County earthquake earlier this evening

2.7 M - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.7 M
Date-Time 21 Dec 2011 02:05:57 UTC
20 Dec 2011 20:05:57 near epicenter
20 Dec 2011 20:05:57 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.365N 92.254W
Depth 4 km
Distances 4 km (2 miles) WSW (240 degrees) of Quitman, AR
9 km (5 miles) ENE (59 degrees) of Guy, AR
14 km (9 miles) E (91 degrees) of Damascus, AR
70 km (44 miles) N (6 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
404 km (251 miles) SSW (207 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 0.5 km; Vertical 0.7 km
Parameters Nph = 25; Dmin = 6.0 km; Rmss = 0.18 seconds; Gp = 61°
M-type = M; Version = B

Monday, December 19, 2011

A smaller earthquake closely followed at 4 p.m.

2.0 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.0 Md
Date-Time •18 Dec 2011 22:00:47 UTC
•18 Dec 2011 16:00:47 near epicenter
•18 Dec 2011 16:00:47 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.465N 92.226W
Depth 1 km
Distances •9 km (6 miles) N (356 degrees) of Quitman, AR
•12 km (8 miles) S (190 degrees) of Higden, AR
•14 km (8 miles) SSW (204 degrees) of Greers Ferry, AR
•82 km (51 miles) N (7 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
•393 km (244 miles) SSW (207 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.9 km; Vertical 2.4 km
Parameters Nph = 14; Dmin = 12.0 km; Rmss = 0.17 seconds; Gp = 140°
M-type = Md; Version = A

Faulkner County earthquake shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon

2.1 Md - ARKANSAS
Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.1 Md
Date-Time 18 Dec 2011 21:42:43 UTC
18 Dec 2011 15:42:43 near epicenter
18 Dec 2011 15:42:43 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.465N 92.251W
Depth 1 km
Distances 10 km (6 miles) NNW (342 degrees) of Quitman, AR
13 km (8 miles) SSW (200 degrees) of Higden, AR
15 km (10 miles) S (176 degrees) of Fairfield Bay, AR
81 km (51 miles) N (5 degrees) of Little Rock, AR
394 km (245 miles) SSW (207 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.3 km; Vertical 1.7 km
Parameters Nph = 18; Dmin = 11.0 km; Rmss = 0.16 seconds; Gp = 104°
M-type = Md; Version = A

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red Cross blood drive in Village

There will be a Red Cross Blood Drive in the Village on Tuesday, January 10 from 8 a.m. ‘til 2 p.m. at the Village United Methodist Church, 200 Carmona Road near its intersection with DeSoto Blvd. While appointment times are available, walk-ins are always welcome. Go to www.givelife.org or contact John Bodensteiner at 915-0339 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Please consider giving the “Gift of Life.” Your time commitment may be an hour, or less, but your donation can help to save up to three lives. Once again, the phone number is 915-0339.

Have fun in the Arkansas Delta in 2012

Kick off the New Year at Cane Creek State Park in Star City by learning more about our animal friends. During Feed the Critters, offered on Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, participants learn what alligators and turtles like to eat. Fashion a Fish is a chance for visitors to discover more about our water-dwelling friends. Learn about different species and how they live and eat on Jan. 8, 15, 22 and 29. Want to learn more about our feathered buddies? Check out Birding for Beginners on Jan. 8. Join the park interpreter to discover some of the flying wildlife that call Cane Creek State Park home. On Jan. 21, the park offers A Geocaching Adventure. Participants learn about one of the fastest-growing outdoor hobbies and then take a caching trek through the park. To learn more about any of these events, contact Cane Creek State Park at 870-628-4714.

Join artisan Genny Saddler for a Navajo Loom Weaving Workshop at Parkin Archeological State Park in Parkin on Jan. 14. Workshop participants make their own loom and learn to weave wall hangings and covers. Class size is limited and advance reservations are required. Phone 870-755-2500 for details.

Our pioneer ancestors strived to make their house a home through whatever means possible. Learn how they made rugs when the Lower White River Museum State Park offers a Locker Hooking Rug Workshop on Jan. 14. Participants design and make their own rug to take home. The workshop fee is $35 and includes all materials. Contact the park at 870-256-3711 for more information.

Head to Piggott on Jan. 28 for the 4th annual Indoor Yard Sale. Held at the Piggott Community Center, the event features more than 85 booths, ranging in offerings from antiques to furniture to crafts. Food and drink concessions are also available. Contact 870-598-5884 for more information.

Cane Creek State Park in Star City offers the Flapjack 20 All-Night Hike on Jan. 28-29. The Flapjack 20 is a nighttime 20-mile hike on the Cane Creek Lake Trail. After a night of hiking, participants enjoy a pancake breakfast with all the trimmings. The event is free. For more details or to sign up for the event, contact Cane Creek State Park at 870-628-4714.

Shoplifting arrest in Garland

Investigator Avant had just entered the parking lot of Wal-Mart on Central Avenue when he was flagged down by Wal-Mart employees. The employees pointed out a shoplifting suspect that had just fled from store security personnel.

Inv. Avant approached the suspect, 25 year old Nicholas Hanke, and ordered him to the ground. Hanke refused to comply and began fighting with Avant. Hanke continued to fight, and resist arrest, and had to be sprayed with pepper spray in an attempt to control him. Hanke continued to fight with Avant, causing minor injuries to Avant's right hand and left forearm and ruining Avant's coat and pants.

Officers from the Hot Springs Police Department soon arrived and was able to assist in getting Hanke subdued.

Hanke was charged with Battery 2nd, Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest and several warrants.

Village POA holiday schedule

The Hot Springs Village POA Administration Building will be closed Monday, December 26 for Christmas and Monday, January 2 for the New Year’s holiday.

Contact Property Owner Services at 922-5556 for further information.

The Coronado Center Library will be closed on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24.

Trash Pick Up scheduled for Monday, December 26, will be picked up on Wednesday, December 28. Trash Pick Up for Monday, January 2, 2012, will be picked up on Wednesday, January 4. The Recycle Center will be closed both Mondays. There will be no yard waste picked up on December 28 or January 4.

Contact Public Works Department at 922-5524 for further information.

Village POA looking for committee members

The Hot Springs Village POA is currently accepting applications for interested property owners willing to serve on the POA’s standing committees.

Applications are being accepted for all POA Committees. Applications may be picked up from Suzette Tadlock in the General Manager’s Office, located on the second floor of the Administration Building or online at www.hsvpoa.org/about us/committees.

Interested property owners should return their applications by January 30, 2012.

If you have any questions, please contact Suzette Tadlock at 922-5530.

ABI blood donor opportunities for the holidays

Hot Springs Village POA invites all warm-hearted Hot Springs Village-area residents to give blood 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, December 29, at 1101 DeSoto Boulevard, Ponce Center, Room A. Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) will reward each donor’s giving spirit with an ice scraper and a limited edition long-sleeved UA bowl t-shirt. Anyone who is healthy and 16 years or older can donate.*

“Residents of Arkansas are warm-hearted, giving people who respond when they know of needs in their communities,” said John Armitage, M.D., Arkansas Blood Institute president and CEO. “During the winter months, we especially ask people to take an hour to provide life-saving blood for someone who will need it just to make it through the day. Who knows? It could be a co-worker, neighbor, or even a member of our own family we are helping.”

Additionally, if blood donors choose to forgo the donor appreciation item, funds designated for this item will be directed to our partnering organization, the American Heart Association. Arkansas Blood Institute and the American Heart Association (AHA) share a common goal, to keep people healthy. According to Debbie Hite, Senior Executive Director of the Central Oklahoma American Heart Association, “The American Heart Association wants everyone to know their numbers and act on them. That’s the first step in changing cardiovascular health statistics.” Because blood donors receive a mini health check, including blood pressure and cholesterol results, every time they come to donate, those numbers are readily available to each donor.

Since there’s no substitute for blood, the supply must constantly be renewed. Although all blood types are needed, those with O Negative type blood are especially encouraged to donate. According to the American Association of Blood Banks, those with O Negative blood type make up only nine percent of the national population. However, O Negative blood can be used by anyone in emergency need when a patient’s blood type has not yet been identified.

For more information or to make an appointment to donate, contact Arkansas Blood Institute at (877) 340-8777. Donors always receive free health screenings and Donor Rewards points, redeemable for merchandise from ABI’s online store.

* 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Alarming U.S. statistic

Marijuana use is gaining in popularity among teens, according to Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th-graders, The New York Times reports. The survey found one of every 15 high school seniors smokes marijuana on an almost daily basis.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Small earthquake on Arkansas' New Madrid Fault

2.0 Md - ARKANSAS

Preliminary Earthquake Report Magnitude 2.0 Md
Date-Time 14 Dec 2011 18:30:27 UTC
14 Dec 2011 12:30:27 near epicenter
14 Dec 2011 12:30:27 standard time in your timezone

Location 35.398N 90.720W
Depth 0 km
Distances 3 km (2 miles) E (101 degrees) of Cherry Valley, AR
18 km (12 miles) S (179 degrees) of Harrisburg, AR
20 km (12 miles) NNE (18 degrees) of Wynne, AR
75 km (46 miles) WNW (295 degrees) of Memphis, TN
362 km (225 miles) S (187 degrees) of St. Louis, MO

Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 1.6 km; Vertical 0.3 km
Parameters Nph = 16; Dmin = 6.0 km; Rmss = 0.15 seconds; Gp = 165°
M-type = Md; Version = A

At the AWL shelter this week

 Maddy and Marko are nine week old Lab mix cuties. Maddy has been spayed and Marko has been neutered. Are you up for a pup?
Samson is a four to five yeal old yellow Lab neutered male. He is a large dog with lots of heart. Samson is gentle and obedient. Worth the trip to see this great dog in person.

A gift certificate to choose a pet makes a great holiday gift. Pets are the gifts that keep on giving.

See Arkansas timberlands in January

Join Millwood State Park staff for the park's First Day Hike on Jan. 1. Start the new year off right with a winter trail hike at the park, which is located in Ashdown. The Waterfowl Way Trail has easy terrain and is a mile and a half in length. Wear sturdy shoes and bring drinking water. The park is also known for fishing. Famous for bass tournaments, the 29,260-acre Millwood Lake abounds in largemouth, crappie and catfish. For more information visit www.arkansasstateparks.com or call 870-898-2800.

The 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is Jan. 9 in El Dorado. The Community and Gospel Choir returns with guest artist pianist Awadagin Pratt to deliver the free performance at the municipal auditorium. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information visit www.southarkansassymphony.org or call 870-862-0521.

A Trial by Jury Dinner is Jan. 14 in Washington at Historic Washington State Park. After enjoying an evening meal at Williams’ Tavern Restaurant, guests proceed to the 1836 Courthouse, where they take part in a living history drama and judge the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murder. The portrayal is based on an actual 1844 trial that took place in the same courtroom. Dress casual or wear your favorite 19th-century costume. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 870- 983-2684. Admission is $25 for adults and $20 for children under 14. Visit www.HistoricWashingtonStatePark.com for more information.

Join park staff for a star watch and constellation hunt during Star Watch at Logoly State Park Jan. 20 in McNeil. Participants receive handouts of stories about the constellations and their names, a star finder wheel, and a red filter for a flashlight. Bring your binoculars and flashlight. Preregister as space is limited. Admission is $10 per person or $15 per family. Visit www.arkansasstateparks.com or call 870-695-3561 for more information.

Pryor comments on balanced budget

As H.L. Mencken once said, “For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.” This quote describes the balanced budget amendment according to Senator Mark Pryor. While a balanced budget amendment makes for an easy talking point, it is an empty solution. Moreover, it’s a reckless choice that handcuffs our ability to respond to an economic downturn or national emergencies without massive tax increases or throwing everyone off Medicare, Social Security, or veteran’s care.

There is a more responsible alternative to balance the budget. President Clinton led the way in turning deficits into record surpluses. We have that same opportunity today, using the blueprint provided by the debt commission as a starting point. We need to responsibly cut spending, reform our tax code and create job growth. This course requires hard choices over a number of years. However, it offers a more balanced approach over jeopardizing safety net programs and opportunity for robust economic growth.

Be aware of signs of Alzheimer's

The holiday season is a time families gather and spend quality time with loved ones. It is also a time that can raise questions about the cognitive health of aging family members. With Alzheimer’s disease in particular, it is important to know what it is and what it is not normal aging. Below is a list of warning signs along with examples of normal aging. If you notice any of the warning signs in your aging family members, it is recommended that you see a doctor.

Alzheimer’s Association 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s

1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer's is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on one’s own.

What's typical: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What's typical: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. People with Alzheimer's often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What's typical: Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

4. Confusion with time or place: People with Alzheimer's can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What's typical: Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer's. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

What's typical: Vision changes related to cataracts.

6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer's may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a "watch" a "hand-clock").

What's typical: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What's typical: Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer's may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

What's typical: Making a bad decision once in a while.

9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer's may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What's typical: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

10. Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What's typical: Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

“It is important to be aware of the warning signs because most people do not know when forgetting becomes a serious health problem,” said Gail Bieber, Vice President of Programs for the Alzheimer's Association Oklahoma and Arkansas Chapter. “By putting off learning more, people impacted by Alzheimer’s are being diagnosed too late and miss the opportunity for support and to get the best help possible.”

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias is an important step in getting appropriate treatment, care and support service. Additional benefits to early diagnosis are as follows:

Benefits of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease

· Benefit from treatments that may improve symptoms and help maintain a level of independence longer.

· Have more time to plan for the future.

· Increase chances of successfully finding a clinical drug trial through Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch, helping advance research.

· Participate in decisions about their care, transportation, living options, financial and legal matters.

· Develop a relationship with doctors and care partners.

· Benefit from care and support services, making it easier for them and their family to manage the disease.

Anyone with questions about Alzheimer’s disease and/or seeking information should contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 toll-free helpline at 800.272.3900. Experts are available to take calls from individuals concerned with their own cognitive health as well as from family members and friends who may be concerned about a loved one and are seeking resources.

The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900.

Teen Challenge activities this month

December 17
Teen Challenge Choir will be at The Atrium in Serenity Point Assisted Living on Lake Hamilton.

December 22
Barbershop Quartet, "Glory Sounds" comes to Teen Challenge to serve dinner, and share a night of praise and fellowship with the students.

December 24
Open House for students and families at Executive Director, Tim Culbreth's, home followed by Christmas Chapel Service in log cabin behind men's dormitory.

December 25
MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Students begin the day opening gifts together, before spreading cheer by Christmas Caroling to local nursing homes, and the Hot Springs Juvenile Detention Center. The day ends with students and their families sharing a Christmas meal prepared and served by Teen Challenge staff!

See Arkansas eagles in the new year

Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville offers free winter lake cruises that provide a great opportunity to see American Bald Eagles. Upcoming dates for the trips are Jan. 3, 7, 11, 14, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 29. Many other spectacular birds can be spotted from the boat, including American white pelicans, ducks, and snow geese. Participants should dress warmly because temperatures and winds can be more severe on the lake. In an effort to accommodate as many people as possible for tours the park is taking reservations this year. Call the visitor center at 479-967-5516 to reserve your seat. Boarding begins 15 minutes before the tour at the boat dock near the fishing tournament weigh-in facility. Also, in case of inclement weather, call one hour before tour time for possible cancellations.

Petit Jean State Park’s annual Eagle Awareness Weekend is set for Jan. 14-15 near Morrilton. The free event is comprised of programs devoted to the U.S. national symbol, and includes field trips to nearby Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge to look for wintering eagles and other birds. Contact the park at 501-727-5441 for a detailed schedule.

Congressman Mike Ross comments on postponement of post office closures

U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott, who has strongly opposed the closing of post offices as a cost-cutting measure, released the following statement after Tuesday’s announcement by the U.S. Postal Service that it will delay the closing or consolidation of any post office or mail processing facility until May 15, 2012, after multiple requests by Members of Congress to halt the process. Previously, the Postal Service had delayed closings only until Jan. 2, 2012. The Postal Service added that it will continue to review postal facilities for closing in the interim, including holding public input meetings.

“The financial problems plaguing the U.S. Postal Services are due to failed management, inadequate planning and poor business practices – problems closing a few post offices won’t fix,” said Ross. “I have sent multiple letters to the Postmaster General, had numerous conversations with Postal Service representatives and led a congressional effort to halt the closing of these postal facilities, and I’m pleased the Postal Service has finally listened. I have and will continue to urge the Postal Service to find other cost-cutting alternatives that do not disproportionately hurt people on fixed incomes or those that live in rural areas.”

Ross has sent multiple letters to the U.S. Postal Service and Postmaster General, including a June 28, 2011, letter requesting a full review of the Postal Service’s closing process. More recently, Ross joined an effort to get more than 75 Members of Congress to sign a September 15, 2011, letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission to stop closing post offices and work with Congress to help find a long-term solution that protects customers and ensures the longevity of the postal system. The letter argued “widespread post office closures is the wrong way to deal with the Postal Service’s fiscal problems and could harm the Postal Service’s competitiveness in the long run.”

Young People Theater back in summer of 2012

Back by popular demand, Pat Hightower and David Major, affectionately known by the kids as “The Queen” and “The Terminator”, will direct and produce the 2012 Young People Theater this summer. Applications will be available for download on January 1 from the Hot Springs Village Players website, http://www.hsvplayers.org/. The first 80 applications received by mail will be in the cast. The participants must not be younger than five years old or older than 18 by January 1, 2012. “On a Wonderful Day Like Today” will be performed on the Woodlands stage Friday, July 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 28 at 2 p.m. Local young people will rehearse July 9-13 and out of town visitors July 16-20. Both groups will rehearse together July 23-26. All cast members will be given a CD that must be committed to memory before the 1st rehearsal. Adults will be asked to deliver the kids to the stage door and pick them up. Look for further details to follow.

“On a Wonderful Day like Today” is a musical trip through the months of a typical year.