Monday, August 10, 2020

BCEDC opted not to keep taxpayer paid for spec building with knowledge that prison was not going to use the building

The BCEDC's decision to not keep a taxpayer paid for $450,000 spec building now under scrutiny.  Pictured here recently was the building in the process of being removed.
The BCEDC was aware prior to the transfer of ownership to a for-profit prison company, that the spec building, formerly located in the Warren Industrial Park, which was paid for by the taxpayers of the citizens of Warren at a cost of almost half a million dollars, was not going to be used by the prison company, yet the BCEDC still made the decision not to remove the structure for future use, a decision that is now under scrutiny.

During a July BCEDC meeting, it was announced that LaSalle Corrections, a private for-profit corrections company that is set to build a private-prison in the Warren Industrial Park, was in the process of preparing the site for construction, and the spec building which was on the site was being removed by the company.

The spec building was a 40,000 square foot facility that could have potentially been used by any industry which might settle in Warren.  Prior to the BCEDC giving the land to LaSalle at no cost(subject to the prison staying in operation for 15 years), the company had already determined that the spec building would not be used, according to BCEDC Board President Dr. Bob Smalling.

According to the BCEDC, once the land and the building were in the hands of LaSalle, they commissioned a local business to remove the structure in exchange for the building materials, which can be reassembled.  No information is known about what the local business plans to do with the building.
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Since that July meeting, however, questions have been asked as to whether or not the BCEDC knew what LaSalle's plans were for the structure before turning over the land and the building to the private company?

The answer to that question is yes according to Smalling, the board was aware that LaSalle had no use for the building.

That then begs the question, why did the BCEDC not have the structure taken down and either stored for future use or move it to another industrial speculation site, which could potentially be used to entice another industry to Warren in the future?

Again, the spec building was built using taxpayer money.  It cost around $450,000 at the time of construction and was paid for using city sales tax funds.

The building was in the name of the BCEDC because the original financing provided by the Arkansas Finance Development Authority legally required the loan to be granted to the BCEDC rather than the City.  The City was the sole funding source for the building, so in effect, Warren taxpayer money paid entirely for the building.

Both the land and the spec building were given to LaSalle by the BCEDC at no cost(subject to the prison staying in operation for 15 years) to help entice the prison company to locate their newest facility in Warren.  In total, the BCEDC gave LaSalle both the 40,000 square foot spec building, as well as the vacant land in the Industrial Park for the prison.

When asked why the BCEDC did not remove the building themselves prior to the transfer of ownership to LaSalle, Smalling told that the BCEDC did not have time to remove the building because the company was ready to move forward with construction of the prison.

Even with LaSalle's time crunch factored in, the private company itself was able to have the spec building removed.  It was reported in the July BCEDC meeting that LaSalle gave the building away for it to be taken down and removed from the site.

Council member Dorothy Henderson questioned the BCEDC's decision-making process during Warren's August 2020 City Council meeting, noting that she had received calls from constituents in regards to the citizens' nearly half a million dollar investment being given away.  According to Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington, who said she was present at several of the BCEDC meetings during which the issue was discussed prior to the transfer of ownership of the property to LaSalle, the BCEDC did hold discussions "in detail" about "ways to remove and reconstruct to another site for future use the spec building."  It appears another reason for the choice not to remove the spec building was the cost of having to remove the building.  "The quote to remove it was $120,000, reconstruction was $120,000, and anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000, an extra amount, for footings to reconstruct it on another site or even store it somewhere," Mayor Pennington said.  The "BCEDC did not have that type of money," she continued.  She went on to say that several private businesses entertained the idea of purchasing the building from the BCEDC, with the money going back to the BCEDC, but due to the high cost, no business would make the purchase.

In the end, the BCEDC chose to take no action on the spec building.  Instead, ownership of the building transferred to LaSalle along with the property.

The details of the private transaction between LaSalle and the local business which dismantled the building are not known. LaSalle, once in ownership of the property and the building had every right to make whatever deal it wished to remove the spec building from the site.

However, the reasons behind why the BCEDC did not take action to remove the structure and either store it for future use or relocate it to a different industrial site remain under scrutiny.

Another option would have been for the BCEDC to allow the City of Warren to dismantle the 40,000 square foot structure and keep it for future use by the City.  Sources tell us however that the Warren City Council was completely unaware that LaSalle had no intention of using the building, and furthermore the BCEDC never approached the Council to see if the City of Warren might like to remove and keep the structure before LaSalle took control of the property.

It's important to note that the Warren City Council at no point had any decision making authority over the spec building.  That solely rested with the BCEDC.  Although it was paid for by taxpayer money, the BCEDC built it and owned it prior to LaSalle.

Either way, the taxpayers of the City of Warren paid approximately $450,000 for a building which has now been given away at no cost.

Bradley County Courthouse closing to public once again due to rising COVID-19 cases locally

Press release from the County:


Due to the rising numbers of the Covid-19 cases in Bradley County the Bradley County Courthouse will close to the public until further notice on Wednesday August 12, 2020 

We will be available to help you Monday thru Friday from 8:00 A.M. until 4:30 P.M by phone at the following numbers. 

Assessor – 870-226-2211

Circuit Clerk – 870-226-2272

Collector – 870-226-8400

County Clerk – 870-226-3464

County Judge – 870-226-3853

Landfill – 870-820-3234

Sheriff – 870-226-341

Solid Waste – 870-226-8470

Treasurer – 870-226-8402

There will be a drop box in the foyer of the front door for you to drop your payments. 

The Sheriff’s outside door will be open so that you may pay your fines. 

If you have any questions please call one of the numbers above.

Pastime: Sing the W.H.S. Alma Mater

By Maylon Rice

Football Friday Nights are almost here.

And I can, without a doubt, hear, yes, literally hear almost a half-century later, parts of songs, marches, drum cadences and band stand music from yesteryear, that brings a new tear to my eye.

It all starts for me, at least, with the school’s own song – the Alma Mater.

Remember it?

Sure you do.

As the new school year began, the musical staff of W.H.S., the Martin’s both Curry and Mary Lou, would always, focus, at least on the start of the year on getting “to know the schools’ unique song.”

As at times, when the 60- member mixed chorus or the 48-member band kids might gather en masse for a practice, to all our attention to the task at hand, Mary Lou Martin or Curry, would simply begin the session by introducing the musical score for the Alma Mater.

Mary Lou often in choir rehearsals just started quietly playing  the Alma Mater on the piano over the din of conversation, giggles, and horseplay, to calm the masses.

Quickly, I mean very quickly, order was restored and the education was to begin.

I was oh, so fortunate in my time at WHS to have some of the best, of that decade and I think for decades following, musicians both vocal and instrumental on those stages.

If I close my eyes right now and focus I can hear several young ladies in my class, oh, so softly sing those 41 words – they sound like angles singing.

Continue reading...

Dispute leads to allegation of hit and run

August 4, 2020, Warren Police Officers responded to a dispute call went to the area of Cardinal Street.  Prior to their arrival an incident had escalated and it was alleged that a man was hit by a vehicle and the vehicle had left the scene.  

During the course of the investigation it was determined that the teenage driver of the vehicle had been trying to leave the scene of the dispute while an adult male was confronting them about alleged reckless driving. During the confrontation the adult male allegedly made threats of bodily harm toward the teenager and occupants of the vehicle.  The adult allegedly attempted to block the vehicle so it could not leave.   The vehicle went around an atv driven by the adult male.  Once around the atv, the adult subject then stood in the street in front of the vehicle, not allowing it to drive away.  According to the report, the teenage driver honked the horn multiple times and told the adult to move.  He did not.  The vehicle began to slowly move forward and the adult still refused to move.  Eventually the car bumped the adult and he still would not move.  Shortly thereafter the adult ended up on the hood of the car and was thrown off.  The adult was transported to Bradley County Medical Center and treated for minor injuries.  

The vehicle was later stopped in Monticello and statements were gathered from the occupants of the vehicle.  Since the driver was a juvenile, the case will be referred to Juvenile Court.  The investigation remains ongoing and charges against the adult will be reviewed.

Warren Arrest Report for August 4-8, 2020

The following are innocent until proven guilty:

Brandi Daniels / 1026 St. Pierson St., Warren, AR / DOB 2-11-01 / Forgery on 8-4-20

Elcardo Worthen / 212 Watson, Warren, AR / DOB 8-18-70 / Warrant on 8-4-20

Loren Johnson / 209 W Ash St., Warren, AR / DOB 10-3-97 / Battery 3rd on 8-5-20

Emanuelle Hegler / 1007 Old Kingsland Rd., Warren, AR / DOB 5-1-88 / Warrant on 8-8-20

Puree Doule / 8419 Basline Rd. Apt. 74, Little Rock, AR / DOB 12-17-92 / Warrant on 8-8-20

Important information for Warren High School Students

Fire Department helps with multiple calls last week

During the time period of August 4 and August 5, 2020, the Warren Fire Department responded to six calls.

None required volunteer firemen to be summoned.  Two calls were to assist with medical issues, one was for a vehicle accident, another to assist the public, one was a controlled burn, and one was a false alarm.

All Department fire, both full time and volunteers train monthly.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Hermitage School Board votes to refinance bonds

The Hermitage School Board met in Special Session August 6 to approve closing documents on an existing bond issue, to  refinance the bonds and save money.  All seven members of the board and the Superintendent, Dr. Tucker were on hand along with the district's financial advisor, Mr. Ray Beardsley, Sr. Vice President of FirstSecurity Beardsley.  Mr. Beardsley went over the documents and explained the savings.  

The documents indicated that the low rate was submitted by FHN Financial Capital Markets at a rate of 1.402612%.  The Citizens Bank of Batesville, Arkansas was appointed as Trustee.  Bond Counsel is Friday, Eldredge & Clark.  The new issue will save the District $321,559,81 over the life of the bond issue.  By a vote of 7-0 the board approved the document.

According to Mr. Beardsley the closing will take place August 20, 2020.  

The board then voted to employ First Security Beardsley as financial advisor for a period of three years effective August 6.

Census helpers available today in Warren

Census helpers are on site to provide assistance and information about the 2020 Census today, August 7, 2020 in front of the Warren Municipal Building.

The assistants will be there from till 12pm this morning and 1pm to 4pm this afternoon.  If you have not already filled out your 2020 Census information, citizens are urged to drop by today to get any questions they might have answered.

Everyone's participation in the census is vital to the future of the Bradley County community.

Please wear a mask when arriving.

Hablante español disponible.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Remember Census Assistance Day Friday August 7

If you need any help or information concerning the 2020 Census stop by the Warren Municipal Building on Myrtle Street Friday August 7 from 8-12am and 1-4pm. Tables will be set up in front of the building and will be manned with people who can help.  If you have not already sent your census packet in by internet or by mail, please stop by the Municipal Building and they will help you with ways to respond.

This is very important and essential to the future of Warren and Bradley County.  It is the law!
The help will be provided outdoors but please wear a mask.

12 new COVID-19 cases found in Bradley County in the last 24 hours

Within the last 24 hours, Bradley County has seen another spike in COVID-19 cases, with 12 newly discovered positives being reported since Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the County to 52.

Sports: Jacks pre-season training underway for what could be an unusual 2020

The Warren Lumberjack Football team are back on campus in preparation for the fall 2020 football season, after Governor Asa Hutchinson announced there will be football in the State of Arkansas this year.

The Lumberjacks are coming off of another successful season, having gone 10-2 last year.  With added depth, there's a significant battle for starting positions.

State News: Governor Hutchinson appoints Dr. José Romero as Health Secretary

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed Dr. José Romero as Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). Governor Hutchinson announced the appointment today at his COVID-19 briefing.

Dr. Romero, who has been serving as interim secretary of health, replaces Dr. Nate Smith, who has accepted a position at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Romero previously served as ADH’s chief medical officer. He currently chairs the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is providing guidance nationally on the development and administration of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This was an easy decision,” Governor Hutchinson said. “Dr. Romero has a national reputation for his work with infectious diseases. He has been involved in our fight against COVID-19 from the first day. His vast knowledge of viral infections has been integral to our decision making as we have refined our response to the pandemic. His years of work within the state’s medical community will allow a seamless transition as he assumes this important role.”

Dr. Romero moved to Arkansas in 2008 as Director of the Section of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He served as the Director of Clinical Trials Research at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute from 2008-2019.

“I am honored to be named to this important role and look forward to ensuring that the Department of Health fulfills its mission of protecting and improving the health and well-being of all Arkansans,” Dr. Romero said. “I’m excited to work with the governor, the Legislature, our partners at the local, state and federal level, and the people of this state to help Arkansans live healthier lives.”

He has been a member of the Arkansas Vaccine Medical Advisory Committee since 2008 and chair of the committee since 2015. Since 2012, he has been the ADH Pediatric Tuberculosis Physician.

During his time at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Romero was Director for Latino Health-Related Research Affairs and Director of the Minority Health Education and Research Office.

Dr. Romero lives in Little Rock with his wife of 12 years and their Scottish Terrier.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Employment Opportunity at the YMCA

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Bradley County now with 40 active COVID-19 cases, as the statewide death toll passes 500

Bradley County now has 40 active cases of COVID-19 as of August 5, 2020, the same day the Governor announced 912 new cases within the last 24 hours statewide and the statewide death toll passes 500 since the pandemic began.

Below are the most recent statistics for Bradley County as of 2:37 p.m. August 5, 2020:

Total Positive: 155
Active Positive: 40
Recovered: 112
Deaths: 3
Negatives: 2,064

Hermitage and Jersey Volunteer Fire Departments Receive Wildfire Suppression Kits from Arkansas Department of Agriculture

LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Rural Fire Protection program, managed by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division, distributed 84 Wildfire Suppression Kits to rural volunteer fire departments this year. The Forestry Division received $272,000 from the United States Forest Service's 2019 Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant to purchase and distribute the kits that feature equipment and gear necessary for the safe suppression of wildfires.

Leah St. John speaks to Warren Rotary about ALS

Leah St. John presented to the Warren Rotary Club today about ALS. Pictured is Ms. St. John and Mayor Pennington.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Livestock Producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Livestock producers are eligible for direct assistant through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.  Livestock that are included are cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the total:

 (1) number of livestock sold between January 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and
 (2) the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.

Livestock producer’s assistance applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.  Livestock producers will need to contact and apply through their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.  For Bradley county livestock producers, the local FSA is located in Monticello, AR.  To apply or for more information, contact Christa Kimbrell, County Executive Director Drew/Bradley/Calhoun County FSA, at 419 W Gaines St.,  Suite 2, Monticello, AR 71655, or call 870-224-7301 (Fax 855-641-0897).
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

UAM Begins New Strategic Plan

UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss has appointed Dan Boice, director of the Taylor Library, to facilitate the university's ongoing strategic planning process. Dr. Doss said, "The UAM strategic plan must be a 'living' document that is constantly reviewed to ensure we meet the ever-changing needs of our university, our students, and the state and region we serve. It is at the heart of our institution and is our navigation system. Boice will involve faculty, staff, students and the community.

Doss selected Boice, now beginning his sixth academic year at UAM, for his experience and enthusiasm for the strategic planning process. Boice is no stranger to his new duties, having developed strategic plans for his previous higher education institution and for a number of other organizations. He has served as a Higher Learning Commission (HLC) consultant-evaluator, and is currently the UAM Accreditation Liaison Officer to the HLC, UAM’s accrediting agency. In addition, Boice is also the chair of the Monticello Planning Commission. 

“A successful strategic plan will involve input from all levels,” he said. “We have such talented faculty and staff who are experts in their areas – they know what is attainable as we align our goals.” The development of the plan will include guidance from administration as well as extensive input from faculty and staff as to how to attain university-wide goals. Overarching goals for the university will in turn inform goal setting within and among divisions. 

“I really am excited about this,” he said. “Planning is something I enjoy a great deal, and I especially look forward to the working with colleagues from all of the university’s three campuses.” Through his other work on campus, Boice considers the willingness of staff and faculty at all levels to contribute constructive input to be a hallmark of UAM. “This will be a steady, fairly long process, but it will be a very enjoyable one because of my colleagues,” he said. 

Boice quotes Yogi Berra in saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” In other words, he explains, plans not only help the university pinpoint its ultimate goals, but also unite all university areas around them, making goal-achievement a cohesive effort. A strategic plan also enables a university body to identify successes when objectives are reached, and react when conditions change along the way. “Our plan will help us to maintain our focus, and not lose our way when we need to adjust course.  

Boice and Chancellor Doss will continue to work closely with the university community in the next stages of the strategic planning process. Revisions to the strategic plan will ultimately be released to the public upon review and approval by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

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Pastime: It’s almost time for school

By Maylon Rice

There are some indelible memories about the start of the school year long ago.

It usually started with the late summer appearance of school supplies in town. There was the ever popular, Blue Horse Notebook, or the Big Chief Tables, or how about a snazzy denim covered three ring-note books with a back pocket right there on the blue denim cover.

Of how about a daring a wire spiraled giant five-subject notebooks for all your classes this fall.

And always there were the packages of a dozen No. 2 yellow pencils and all those sizes of Crayola Crayons began appearing on the shelves of such places as The United Dollar Store, Morgan & Lindsey or Ben Franklin’s 5 and 10, on Main.

School supplies making their appearance usually occurred shortly after the 4th of July, always seemed an indication the summer was quickly drawing to a close.

There was always a towering stack of brown, 40-pound sacks of “white lime” for marking off the local football fields that magically appeared along the back wall of Wayne’s Pool Hall, almost blocking the rear entrance of the hall along Cypress Street after July 1.

Q&A for parents on Warren's back-to-school COVID-19 guidelines

Warren School District will follow the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidelines and the Arkansas Ready for Learning report issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in planning for re-opening in the fall (Guidelines are subject to change). We hope the following information helps answer many of the questions you may have about reopening schools.

Monday, August 3, 2020

YMCA Football and Cheerleading Signups underway

YMCA Tackle Football &. Cheerleading signups start today at the YMCA & run thru August 17. There will be NO late registrations taken due to time schedule that has been handed down. Be sure to check the YMCA Facebook page for more details in the next few days!

Warren Fire Department helps extinguish Church Street fire

Nine members of the Warren Fire Department answered a call to 403 E. Church Street August 2 after smoke was noticed by a passerby.  The firemen were able to break in the house and remove the occupant and put out the fire.  There was minor damage and the structure was smoked up.  

According to the report, the fire was caused by a cigarette being left burning on a counter in the bathroom and it fell into a trash container.  It was fortunate that the smoke was noticed and called in.  Cigarettes should never be left burning.  

The department also responded to a gas leak and a vehicle accident during the time period of July 17 to August 2.

Fake money shows up in Warren

Press release from the Warren Police Department:

Transactions involving fake money have been reported in the Warren area.  Inspect bills carefully.  Anyone receiving fake money in business transactions is urged to contact Warren Police Criminal Investigations Department at (870) 226-3703.  Information can be kept confidential.

Warren Arrest Report for July 27-August 1, 2020

The following are innocent until proven guilty:

Shannon Halmaker / 1704 Hwy 160 E., Hermitage, AR / DOB 8-8-95 / Warrant-BCSO on 7-27-20

Erica D. Smiley / 912 Shop St., Warren, AR / DOB 7-28-89 / Warrant on 8-1-20

Brandi Daniels / 509 Kelley St., Warren, AR / DOB 2-11-01 / Forgery on 8-1-20

Jose Contreras / 317 Shelby St., Lot 14, Warren, AR / DOB 12-6-98 / DWI, DWI Refusal, leaving scene of accident, and driving on suspended license on 8-1-20

Saturday, August 1, 2020

State News: Pandemic Leads to Higher Depression, Anxiety and Fear, Studies Show

Research by U of A sociologists from early in COVID-19’s spread shows increased levels of suicidial thoughts and other psychological trauma.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The COVID-19 pandemic led to higher levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and psychological trauma among American adults during the early months of its spread, according to three new studies published by University of Arkansas sociologists.

Using an internet survey distributed in the last week of March that sampled 10,368 adults from across the country, researchers have sought to better understand the sociological and psychological effects of the pandemic. The common denominator in their findings is fear, said Kevin Fitzpatrick, University Professor of sociology and first author of the studies.

“Fear is a pretty consistent predictor,” Fitzpatrick said. “What we found is that fear, coupled with a range of social vulnerabilities, consistently and significantly predict a range of mental health outcomes. Additionally, as originally hypothesized, it appears as though individual fear is higher in those places where there is a higher concentration of confirmed COVID-19 cases and/or a higher death rate.”

Friday, July 31, 2020

Warren School Board holds special meeting

Six of the seven members of the Warren School Board were present Thursday, July 30 for a special meeting of the board.  They met at the Administrative Building following COVID-19 guidelines.  After calling the meeting to order, the board moved into executive session.  Upon returning to regular session the board voted 6-0 to hire Kenna White as Child Nutrition Director.

In other business, the members voted 6-0 to award the demolition of structures on school property on N. Martin Street to T & T Construction.  The work had been previously bid and awarded to another firm that was the low bidder.  That company withdrew their proposal.
T & T was the next lowest qualified bid.  The change will cost the District additional money, but the board felt it was within reason.

Next the board voted to add an additional LPN position to the District's workforce due to  the COVID-19 requirements and needs of the District.

The next regular school board meeting is planned for August 10.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Sports: SEC Announces Plans for 10-Game Conference Football Schedule in 2020

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Southeastern Conference announced plans on Thursday to conduct a 10-game conference 2020 football schedule beginning on Saturday, September 26.

2020 Census Response Day

Friday, August 7, 2020
8a – 12p
1p – 4p
104 N. Myrtle Street
Warren, Arkansas 71671
(in front of the Municipal Building)

If you have not responded to the Census, please come by.  It is the law and mandatory to respond to the Census.

You can call the Mayor’s office for assistance at 870-226-6743


The enumerators will begin knocking on doors August 11, 2020

¡Día de Respuesta al Censo 2020!
viernes, 7 de agosto de 2020
8a – 12p
1p – 4p
104 N. Myrtle Street
Warren, Arkansas 71671
(frente al Edificio Municipal)

Si no ha respondido al Censo, por favor pase.  Es la ley y obligatoria responder al Censo.
Puede llamar a la alcaldía para obtener ayuda al 870-226-6743
Los enumeradores comenzarán a tocar puertas el 11 de agosto de 2020