Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tomato Festival Announces Friday Night Entertainment

Blane Howard


The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival is pleased to announce that country music artist and songwriter, Blane Howard, will be appearing on stage, in downtown Warren, AR, on Friday night, June 14th for the 63rd annual Pink Tomato Festival.

Blane is making the grade across the board within the country music industry, at country radio and among its fans.  His original song, “Promise to Love Her”, has generated more than 7 Million views across multiple platforms and more that 16 Million Streams.  This Arkansas native, named the 2018 Male Vocalist of the Year at the Arkansas CMAs, embraces the sound he was raised on by infusing the styles of county music greats like Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Randy Travis, with his own personal flair.  His relatable lyrics, powerful vocals and entertaining shows are winning fans around the world.

Blane Howard began singing by age 3 and today he is drawn toward the styles of artists like Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osborne.  All of these influences have made an impact on Blane’s unique style of country, modern-traditional, mixing the authenticity of the 90s with the contemporary edge of today.

Since graduating from Belmont University in 2010, Howard has had the privilege of opening up shows for many country greats including Blake Shelton, Josh Turner, Joe Nichols and Trace Adkins, across the mid plains and mid-south, including the Arkansas State Fair, State Fair of Texas, the South Carolina Peach Festival and Western Kentucky State Fair.

In early 2018, the legendary John Berry invited Blane to film a segment with him for The Heartland TV Network’s second season of “Songs and Stories with John Berry”.  It aired in June 2018.
When Blane is not on the road, he stays busy writing new songs with other artists and songwriters in Nashville.  You may follow Blane Howard on social media to find all the latest show announcements, career updates and all his music updates.


Parker McKay will be taking the stage as the opening act for the 63rd annual Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival Entertainment on Friday night, June 14th.

McKay is a rising country artist in the Nashville music scene.  The native singer songwriter has established herself in Nashville as the breath of fresh air that pop-county needs. 

Her eclectic influences ranging from HAIM, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain and even Eminem are evident in her new take on country this is honest, conversational and has compelling melodies.  Her powerhouse voice and engaging phrasing tie it all together.

Parker has opened for artists like Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Sheryl Crow and Martina McBride. As both an artist and songwriter, her name has already made a notable impact on the industry’s community.  Her debut music video premiered exclusively with Rolling Stone and she was recently added to CMT’s Artist Discovery Program.   She brings a unique perspective to the table and shows that it a powerful thing to be a vulnerable, confident and fearless woman in country music.

The time of the Friday night event will be released by the festival committee at a later date.

Pink Tomato Festival Releases Chairmen for 2019

Planning is underway for the annual Pink Tomato Festival to be held June 8-15, 2019.  Vicky Tapia has been named as the 63rd Chairman of the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival.  Serving with her are: James Wells, 1st Vice Chair and Brooke Hatch, as 2nd Vice Chair.

Chairmen for the events held during the festival are being named and committees are being organized for each event.  There are some new events being added this year along with the many events of past years.

Other chairman named so far are:  Treasurer, Leslie Adams; Contributions, JeNelle Lipton; Vendors, James Wells; Entertainment, Gwen and Jimmy Sledge; Publicity, JeNelle Lipton; Information Booth, Denisa Pennington; All Tomato Luncheon, Judy Simmons; 5K Race, Randy Rawls; Antique Car Show, Michael Gardner; Tour de Tomato Bike Ride, Randy Rawls; Arts & Crafts, Fran Vanderzwalm; Little Miss Miss Pink Tomato, Glenda Cross & JeNelle Lipton; Petite, PreTeen, Teen and Miss Pink Tomato, Britni Robinson; Parade, Len Blaylock; Quilt Show, Joy Kitchens; Salsa Contest, Gerald Burton & Kelly Ashcraft; Talent Show, Marlene Elliot; Tomato Eating Contest, Jim Wheeler; Tomato Packing Contest, John Gavin; TShirts, Denisa Pennington; Treasure Hunt, Colleen Watkins; Turtle Races, Kenna & Michael Sparks; Hispanic activities, Carlos Yepes; Create your Fan, Warren Junior Auxiliary.

The Pink Tomato Festival is a community effort and if you would like to be involved, call the Bradley County Chamber of Commerce or contact one of the chairman listed to volunteer. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Library Hosts Open House

Left to Right:  Diane Parnell, Linda Kircheval, Sandy Doss, Stormy Taylor (AKA Cookie Monster), and Ana Alor.
The Warren Library Hosted an Open House Tuesday to share with the public their many new updates.  Stop in and check it out!

Lavanna Kindle Shares Tales of Bearhouse Creek at Warren Library

Laura Wagnon (left) and Beverly Reep (right) were among those who came to see their classmate as she made her stop at the Warren Library.
A crowd gathered Monday at the Warren Library to hear author Lavanna Jones Kindle (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Jones) speak about her new book, Tales of Bearhouse Creek and Other Stories.  She told the crowd gathered that the book revolves around the tales of five generations of the Jones family from Drew County. She talked about the process of writing her book and gave her cousin, Charles Strickland, great credit for helping her with the retelling of tales of the family who grew out of a house on Bearhouse Creek south of Monticello.  Lavanna has been researching her genealogy and has found "There is great healing in storytelling."

She shared a few of the stories with the audience, and her cousin added to the adventures.   She pointed out the front cover is the front of the Bearhouse Creek home, and the bavk cover is the back of the old dogtrot home.  The cover was painted by hewr oldest granddaughter Allison Kirksey.  There is no photo of the old home but Lavanna pointed out that it lives on in the memories.  Two aunts, Betsy Jones Gillespie and Martha Jones Varitek assisted with descriptions.

She also shared a picture book by her cousin, Fruits of the Spirit.  The book is based on scriptures and is illustrated by Layla and Allison Kirksey.

Lavanna and her parents moved to Warren while she was in high school.  She is a 1975 graduate.  Today she is an ordained minister, teacher, counselor, lay missionary, wife, mother, and grandmother.  When she retires, she plans to help others share their family tales.

She presented the library with a copy of her book.  She and her cousin are making a tour across Southeast Arkansas.

Lumberjack Sports Hall of Fame News Release

The Warren Lumberjack Sports Hall of Fame Committee has recently met and elected the class of 2019.
Members discussed suggestions that had been submitted for consideration as well as names that have been previously considered.

Elected for the Class of 2019 are the following:
1. The late Johnny Johnson-Selected as an associate based upon his longtime support for and love of the Lumberjacks.

2. Terrence Hampton-Known as T-Rod to his teammates and Lumberjack fans.  A great wide receiver, defensive back  who played for two state championship teams under Coach Bo Hembree.  Mr. Hampton is considered one of the best natural athletes in Warren football history.

3. Ken Thomas-An outstanding basketball player.  He graduated in 1975.

4. Joseph Davis-An outstanding basketball player who graduated in 1974.

5. Janice Riddick-One of Warren’s all time best lady track stars.  Currently coaches Lady Jack track.

The five inductees will be officially put in the hall of Fame at the all sports banquet later this year.

Contact for Further Information:
R. Gregg Reep

The Anthony, Gathen, Rainey, Tolbert Scholarships are available

The Anthony, Gathen, Rainey and Tolbert Scholarships are now available, created by retired former school district superintendents, Frank Anthony – Pine Bluff, Thomas Gathen – Dollarway, David Rainey- Dumas, and Andrew Tolbert- Warren.  The $1,000 scholarship to be given at each school district was developed to assist students from low-income families in going to college.  To be eligible for the award, the student must be a graduating senior from school district’s Class of 2019, have a minimum grade point average of 2.50, and provide a letter detailing what makes them deserve this honor and their career education choice. 
Applications are available by contacting the high school counselors of each school district.  The deadline to apply is April 15.
Mr. Anthony served as superintendent of the Pine Bluff School District for 12 ½ years. Mr. Gathen was superintendent at Dollarway for 10 years, Dr. Rainey was superintendent at Dumas for 3 years, and Mr. Tolbert served for 13 years as superintendent at Warren.  With their combined contributions of $4,000, it is their hope that a deserving student in each school district will have an opportunity to attend college.

County Judge Urges Support For State Road Tax

During the March 18th Bradley County Quorum Court meeting, Judge Klay McKinney spent a good amount of time taking about the current legislative session in Little Rock.  He voiced some frustration concerning several proposals being considered.  This included reallocation of funds currently being used for grants to cities and counties for recycling and the need for additional 911 funding.  The Judge was concerned about some actions being taken and in other cases the lack of action.

Mike Weatherford addressed the Court and voiced his concern over the chemicals being used to spray county road ditches.  he was concerned about the public's health and the killing of some species of flowers and grasses. 

Judge McKinney told the court that the heavy and sustained rains are causing serious county road issues and making it hard for county crews to keep up with maintenance.  The Judge discussed at length the need for the voters to re-approve the states one half cent sales tax for highways.  Counties and cities get a portion of the money for local roads.  He stated that failure to renew the tax would result in a loss of around $400,000.00 per year and the loss of a number of positions in the county road department.  The tax will be voted on in 2020. 

The Judge reported to the Justices about plans to improve county roads five and 160 using state aid money.   He also talked about looking into moving to automated garbage trucks to reduce the work force. 

Judge McKinney asked that the public be reminded that March 30th is the designated county wide clean up day.  Any individual or group desiring to help should contact the Judge's office as soon as possible.  Call 870-226-3853.

Sanitation Committee Works On Cleanup Enforcement

Members of the Warren City Council Sanitation Committee met Monday, March 18th in the Municipal Courtroom to review city ordinances and procedures for the enforcement of property cleanup throughout the city.  Mayor Pennington was present to discuss the issue with the committee as they prepare recommendations for the full council. 

Currently the city has ordinances that deal with the removal of dilapidated  structures ( residents and commercial), the cutting of grass and the removal of junk vehicles that do not run.  It appeared to be the consensus of the committee and the Mayor, that existing city ordinances are sufficient and the primary need is to set up a workable enforcement procedure.  This may include issuing tickets for violations and votes by the city council to order cleanup and removal. 

In the past, the city has dealt mostly with complaints.  There is discussion of tackling the problem street by street, in addition to complaints lodged by individuals.  The committee also talked about creating a citizens advisory committee to review complaints, prior to action being taken bey the council.  A report will be made to the full council at the April meeting. 

The council members and the Mayor acknowledged that there are serious problems throughout the city that need to be addressed.  The ultimate solution requires city council action and the expenditure of tax dollars to cleanup sites.  The city then files liens on the property to try to collect the cost to the city.  It can be a lengthy process.  The council and Mayor appear committed to taking more aggressive action.

Monday, March 18, 2019

See It Here First At Midnight Wednesday Morning, The Friday Night Entertainment for the 2019 Pink Tomato Festival

The official announcement of what musical entertainment will be available the Friday night of the 2019 Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival will be made here on Wednesday morning at midnight.

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Walk Across Arkansas

The Bradley County Extension Office will be sponsoring Walk Across Arkansas starting March 25, 2019.

Walk Across Arkansas is an eight-week health program that will spark some friendly competitions in Bradley County. Teams of 2 to 10 will compete to see who can log the most minutes walking, jogging, biking, or other forms of exercise.

Teams are being formed at this time. Church groups, businesses, organizations, families, and friends may wish to form teams of their own. Participants will report their weekly minutes to a team captain. Those who register for the program will receive information about Walk Across Arkansas and a weekly activity log and newsletter.

Teams will keep track of their minutes, which will be posted in the Eagle Democrat and Saline River Chronicle.

Many people are unaware of the positive benefits of exercise. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 1 problem in the United States. The risk of heart disease could be significantly reduced by regular exercise.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the positive effects of physical activity are not limited to lowering the risk of heart disease.  Not only does regular exercise help relieve stress and anxiety, "physically active people outlive inactive people," an NIH report stated.

"Participating in Walk Across Arkansas is not only a great way to get involved with our community, it's a healthy habit."

To participate in Walk Across Arkansas, first get a team together. Choose a team captain and name your team. Fill out a registration form available at the Bradley County Extension Office, 100 East First Street.

For more information or to obtain a packet, come by or call the Extension office at 870-226-8410.  The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Arrest Report: March 18, 2019

Clinton Webb, 826 Pierson, Warren, AR, age 33, charged with theft of property (3-13-19

Travles Johnson, 404 S. Jefferson, Strong, AR, age 36, charged with disorderly conduct (33-15-19)

Steven Clark Baker, 101 N. Main, Hermitage, AR, age 33, charged with criminal trespassing (3-16-19)

UAM Releases Final List of December 2018 Graduates

MONTICELLO, AR — The University of Arkansas at Monticello presented 480 awards to 436 December graduates, according to information released today by the UAM registrar’s office.

                (Editor’s Note: Students who opted to withhold their information from the media have been excluded from this list. Please refer all questions to the Office of the Registrar at 870-460-1035.)

Community Action Ex. Committee Meets

Members of the Executive Committee of the Southeast Arkansas Community Action Agency met Monday morning, March 18th at 8:00 A.M. in the conference room of the agency headquarters in Warren.  They met to discuss several issues and to prepare recommendations for the full board, which will meet Tuesday, March 19th at 3:30 P.M. also in the conference room.  They discussed several issues including plans to seek a new agency Executive Director and a new finance director.  Other matters discussed were issues to comply with workers compensation and a succession plan to operate while a new executive director is being sought.

The committee will recommend to the full board that the three signatories to sign checks and and purchase orders over $500.00 be:  Angela Meeks, A,Senique Daniels and Andrew Tolbert.  They also recommend Mrs. Meeks be named as the retirement trustee.

The full board will take action on Tuesday to execute the succession plan, which calls for the Director of the CSBG program to serve as interim agency director until further action is taken.  Final action on the position of Head Start Director will also be taken.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Kyle Wagnon Hired as Director of Parks and Recreation

Kyle Wagnon has been hired as the new City of Warren Parks and Recreation Director.  His duties will include managing all city parks and recreation facilities.  They include but are not limited to the City Swimming Pool, the Brunson ball park, the Baseball/Softball Complex, the City Park, and  the old Armory Building.

Kyle is a native of Warren where he grew up playing baseball.  He is a member of the Lumberjack Hall of fame as an outstanding pitcher for the 2005 State Championship team. He is married to Haley Reep Wagnon, Chief pharmacist for the Bradley County Medical Center.  They have two sons, Cooper and Ace.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Hermitage School Board Accepts Resignations, Hires

The Hermitage School Board met March 11th for their regular monthly meeting.  Reports were given by Mistie McGhee concerning grades 7-12/SIS, by Dr. Tucker concerning K-12/SIS report and by Dr. Tucker concerning Pre-K/ELL.  The board then approved RFP for consulting service for child nutrition bidding.  Next the board approved out of state travel for FFA.

During the meeting, Dr. Tucker talked to the members about the salary schedule and minimum wage adjustments.  There will be more discussion in the April meeting.

The board then vote to accept the resignation of Nat Davis and the resignation of Charles Thomas.

Votes were then taken to hire Leah McIntyre and Becky Greenwood to work in 21st CCLC for the high school.  Both were approved.  The board also voted to hire Jill McKinley as child nutrition director for the elementary cafeteria.
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This Week in the House: Representative Jeff Wardlaw

This week, the House passed legislation which will change the way our communities respond to emergencies, the way we regulate our businesses, and the way our government is structured.

One of the many bills passed on the House floor in the 9th week of the session was The Arkansas Public Safety Act (HB1564).

This bill transforms the state's 911 network. It will shift the network from the current analog system to an internet protocol-based network. New technology will allow callers to use wireless and IP-based devices to call 911 and transmit text, images, video, and data.

It will consolidate the number of Public Safety Answering Points in the state in an effort to reduce the number of times a caller is transferred.

To fund upgrades, the bill increases the public safety charges on cell phones from 65 cents/month to $1.30/month. It also removes the 65 cent charge per purchase on prepaid cellular plans and adds a 10% charge per purchase.

In 2016, counties and cities subsidized 911 by $25 million. The changes outlined in HB1564 are expected to reduce the burden on counties and cities by $16 million.

Lumberjack Band Takes in Dixie Stampede

Approximately 50 members of the Warren Lumberjack Band has embarked on their annual Spring Break Music Tour in Branson, Missouri.  Friday night, they took in the entertainment at The Dixie Stampede.  The band is under the direction of Mr. Kevin Dunn and the Assistant Band Director is Mr. Bobby Hagler.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Shooting Ruled Accidental

After the Warren Police Department’s investigation and examination of the body by the Arkansas Medical Examiner at the Arkansas State Crime Lab it has been determined that Keenan Jenkins accidentally shot himself.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Keenan.


WARREN, AR - Ruthie Courtney, Internship and National Career Readiness Certificate Coordinator for the Southeast Arkansas Community Based Education Center, has been named Arkansas’s ACT Workforce Champion for 2019. Ruthie was recognized on March 4th at the 2019 Arkansas ACT Summit at Arkansas State University- Beebe. Ruthie has worked tirelessly to forge connections with business and industry to provide the best opportunities for her students and Southeast Arkansas.
The ACT College and Career Readiness Champions are high school seniors, K-12 professionals, postsecondary professionals and workforce professionals who are making a positive impact on their communities through their efforts to advance college and career readiness for all. The ACT College and Career Readiness Champions are individuals across the country who support ACT’s mission of education and workplace success.

ACT State Councils- comprised of education and workforce professionals from all 50 states- serve as the selection committee and select one champion per category for each participating state.

Library to Host Book Signings

State Capitol Week in Review From Senator Eddie Cheatham

March 15, 2019

LITTLE ROCK – The Senate passed legislation to increase the homestead property tax credit, which will save more than 716,000 Arkansas homeowners about $12.5 million a year.

Senate Bill 447 also allocates $8.2 million for Arkansas counties to upgrade their voting machines.

Homeowners who claim the property tax credit now get $350 each year. SB 447 would raise that to $375. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 34-to-0 and sent it to the House of Representatives.

Legislative leaders announced that they would seek a tax reduction of almost $100 million for Arkansas taxpayers who claim the standard deduction. The lost revenue would be offset by increases in taxes on cigarettes and “vapes.”

The Senate also passed SB 464 to keep confidential any information that may help identify the manufacturers of the lethal injection drugs used by the state Correction Department to execute inmates convicted of capital murder.

Anyone who recklessly disclosed information could be found guilty of a felony if it led to the identification of the producers of lethal injection drugs.

The Correction Department has had difficulty maintaining drugs used for lethal injection, in part because pharmaceutical companies sometimes face boycotts and protests from opponents of capital punishment.

Jack'd Nutrition Cuts Ribbon

The Bradley County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Jack'd Nutrition Friday morning at 10:00 a.m.  The establishment is located on Highway 278 East and serves a large selection of Herbalife Teas and Shakes.

Tour de Tomato Bike Ride's T-Shirt Design and Sign-up Page Now Available

The official t-shirt design for the first Tour de Tomato bike ride scheduled to take place during the Tomato Festival has been released, as has the official sign-up page.

The bike ride is a 15, 30 and 62 mile ride through Bradley County, depending on what you would like to try.  Event organizers say the event is a ride not a race, so any and all speeds are welcome.

You can sign-up for the Tour de Tomato set for June 8 at this link.

You can also visit the Tour de Tomato's facebook event page here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

School Board Holds Called Meeting

In a special called meeting Thursday at 6:00 p.m., the Warren School Board opened the meeting and immediately went into executive session.  Upon returning, they voted to terminate the contract of Shannon Pope, a math instructor at the high school.

The board then voted to contract with Apple for 400 ipads.

Called Meeting to be Held by Warren School Board

There will be a special called board meeting Thursday, March 14th at 6 p.m. at the central office.

St. James Church Has Provided 600 Meals

For the past six weeks St. James AME Church has been providing meals to those in need on Wednesdays.  Spearheaded by the Women's Missionary Society of St James Church and under the direction of Chanel Hooper, the Church has provided 600 meals.  Money was raised and a lot of hard work went into securing, preparing and delivering the meals.

St. James is pastored by the Rev. James Hooper.  The church has a long and distinguished history in Warren.  Many outstanding pastors have served over the years and untold numbers of successful community minded citizens have been members of St. James. It remains one of Warren's great churches with a heart for the betterment of Warren.

St James serves God, their fellowman and the community at large.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Police Investigating Shooting

According to the Warren Police Department, on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at approximately 1:51 a.m., Warren Police Department was dispatched to 1026 Pierson Street to what was reported to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Upon arrival, the responding officers were directed to the deceased body of Keenan D. Jenkins.  The Bradley County Corner, Mark Huggins, was also on scene.  Although the initial reporting party stated that Jenkins had shot himself, an investigation is ongoing and Jenkins has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime to determine the official cause of death.

Leadership Meeting Open to the Public Thursday

A leadership meeting will be held Thursday, March 14 at the the Donald W. Reynolds Y. from noon until 1:00 p.m.  This meeting is open to the public and is part of the Communities Unlimited Program.
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Blood Drive

There will be a blood drive Wednesday, March 20 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.

Pink Tomato Festival 5K T-Shirt Design Released And Sign-Up Page Available Online

According to the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival Facebook page:

"There will be a General Pink Tomato Festival Meeting Thursday March 14th at 5:00pm at the District Courtroom. If you are chairing a event please make plans to attend or if you would like to volunteer please come, we can always use your help!"

The 2019 Pink Tomato Festival 5K t-shirt design has also been released.  If you would like to signup for the race, CLICK HERE.  The race is set for June 15 at 7:00 a.m.