Year in review

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Former attorney Cindy Baker reported to jail Jan. 6 to begin serving a sentence for possessing and selling meth. Baker pled guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy to deliver meth and possession of meth. She was sentenced to 10 years, with six years suspended and 14 years' supervised probation. Baker was an active attorney in Carroll County who had campaigned for the prosecutor's job. She later made headlines for introducing what was believed to be a bomb during a trial and for lying to judges about her ability to appear in their courts. She was arrested in October 2009 at her Berryville home and law office, charged with selling meth to an undercover agent on more than one occasion.

Bull Shoals-White River State Park celebrated the arrival of the bald eagle during Eagle Awareness Event, the weekend of Jan. 7-8.

A dispute erupted at the first Green Forest City Council agenda setting meeting of the year on Jan. 3. Alderman Mike Miller wanted council to discuss a letter from Janell Compton, owner of Unique Linen, which used to clean uniforms for city personnel before it was raided by immigration agents in September. Five of her employees were detained as suspected illegal aliens and she was charged with harboring illegal aliens.

Bomb suspect Mark Krause made his first court appearance in Arkansas on Jan. 3. The former Madison County blacksmith was accused of leaving a homemade bomb at the Osage Baptist Church when voting was under way in June. He was arrested in Seattle on Dec. 3 and transported to Arkansas in late December. Krause was appointed a federal public defender and granted a probable cause and detention hearing.

Don Tyson, 80, the former Tyson Foods chairman and CEO, died Jan. 6 following a brief illness.

Leadra Martin joined the county extension service the first week in January as a Family Consumer Sciences county extension agent. Her job covers areas including 4-H, extension homemaker clubs, parenting, child development, health and nutrition, aging, and financial management.

The Green Forest School Board considered 14 proposals to renovate the football field at a meeting Jan. 6. Voters in June 2010 agreed with the school's request to reissue bonds to raise some $800,000 for athletic improvements.

Some 60 Maple Community members banded together to form a neighborhood Watch group, many attending Neighborhood Watch classes.

Holiday Island issued two building permits in 2010, the lowest number the community had seen in decades.

Mark Krause, the accused Osage bomber, was denied bail when he appeared in federal court in Fayetteville Jan. 7. Authorities from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) visited Mike Pierce's property south of Eureka Springs on Jan. 7 in connection with the Krause case. The property was searched and items were seized but no arrests were made.

Carroll County Airport Commissioners met for the first time in their new terminal building Jan. 13. The building, constructed with aviation grant money from flight-related sources and federal aviation dollars, still lacked indoor finishing touches and outdoor concrete work, which was delayed because of cold temperatures.

Job seekers camped out overnight in front of the Tyson Foods Employment Office in Berryville Jan. 17 in below freezing temperatures. They wanted to be first in line when the office opened at 7:30 a.m. A Tyson spokesperson said the Berryville office has had more applicants than jobs for the last couple of years.

Berryville City Council gave first reading to an ordinance Jan. 18 that would allow police to ticket offending motorists under the city ordinance instead of the state statute. That meant the offense would not appear on a speeder's driving record, for example, and it would not be reported to their insurance company.

Suspected bomber Mark Krause was indicted by a grand jury, charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, namely a destructive device.

Daisy, a female pit bull, froze to death Jan. 12 chained to a short leash in a yard in Holiday Island. She could not reach any shelter as temperatures overnight plunged to a wind chill of seven degrees below zero.

A standing-room only crowd filled the room Jan. 25 as the Public Facilities Board held an information meeting in Holiday Island. An election on Feb. 8 would ask county voters if they wanted an ordinance to create a public water facility to bring water to areas of Carroll County not served by the Carroll-Boone Water District. Opponents of the proposal argued there would be no government oversight and board members would have the power to ride roughshod over rural land owners.

Osage bomb suspect Mark Krause pleaded not guilty Jan. 26 at a court hearing in Fort Smith.

The Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library Board filed a lawsuit naming Carroll County, Carroll County Quorum Court, County Judge Sam Barr, the Carroll County Library Board and Bill Brown, its president, the Berryville Public Library and the Green Forest Public Library as defendants. The suit said the current tax distributions are unfair and short the Carnegie Library of its fair share of tax dollars. The three county libraries split library tax revenues in thirds, but board members argued the western district of the county generates about 50 percent of the total library tax revenues so Eureka's library was entitled to more.


The Arkansas Department of Education threatened to withhold approval of Eureka Springs School District's budget for the current school year. The state contended the district should not have kept the money collected that exceeded the per-pupil funding formula used by the state and that it owed the state $803,004.94.

A storm slammed Carroll County Feb. 1, but it wasn't nearly as bad as predicted and emergency responders were relieved their preparations of shelters, stores of cots, food and water and a truckload of generators proved unnecessary.

Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotions Committee relieved Executive Director Jim Willimans of his duties Feb. 1. Joanne Graupner took over as interim director and immediately fired Eureka Springs Auditorium manager Nancy Baptiste.

Carroll County Quorum Court voted on Jan. 31 on a resolution asking State Rep. Bryan King and State Sen. Randy Laverty to sponsor legislation repealing provisions of Act 74 of 1883 that requires revenue from each district of the county to remain in, and be used by, that district. JP Ron Flake said the county had never followed the revenue division part of Act 74 and it would be difficult or impossible to implement and follow. Flake also said the traditional use of the Kings River as the dividing line between east and west portions of the county is in error, and the true dividing line is about five miles west of the river.

County residents voted against establishing the Public Facilities Board to provide water for rural residents on Feb. 8. The final count was 1,286 votes against the board and 869 for it.

The Carroll County Library Board voted Feb. 8 to retain the services of Attorney John Elrod of Fayetteville in response to a lawsuit filed by the Eureka Springs Library Board that names the county library board a defendant, along with others.

School districts grappled with making up snow days after students missed more days than those included in the school year calendar. Green Forest students had to make up for five additional days, while Eureka Springs students needed to make up for six missed days. Berryville students missed 12 days of school but have six days built into the calendar, so they needed to make up for an additional six missed days.

The extreme cold weather with snow and ice on Friday, Feb. 4, brought a new all-time winter peak load for AEP Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) as its customers used 4,627,000 kilowatts. The previous record was set two days before on Feb. 2, when the average temperature was 21 degrees.

A motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Carroll County, the Quorum Court, County Judge Sam Barr, Carroll County Library Board, Berryville and Green Forest Libraries and others, brought by the Carnegie Public Library Board and others, was filed Feb. 14 by Carroll County Deputy Prosecutor Devon Closser.

Following on the heels of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission director being ousted, in a surprise announcement on Feb. 14 the Board of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce announced that President and CEO Jeff Feldman was no longer with the chamber of commerce. Feldman said an interim director would be appointed shortly.

House Bill 1435 was filed by Rep. Bryan King (R) of Green Forest on Feb. 17 in response to a state Department of Education demand in November, backed up by Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's opinion. The state demanded Eureka Springs and three other school districts return to the state what it called "excess" millage, totalling around $3 million among the four districts, to be distributed to poorer school districts that could not generate the state's minimum $6,023 foundation funding per student.

The same week, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) sent a certified letter threatening to cut off grants and aid if the Eureka Springs School District did not adjust its budget to reflect an expense of $803,000 it says the school district owes by June 15.

Justice of the Peace Ron Flake suggested a full repeal of Act 74 of 1883, along with recognition of one single judicial district and one single jury pool for the entire county, when the county Quorum Court met Feb. 18. State legislators are working to repeal certain sections of the act, but Flake said he wanted the entire act stricken, saying district lines dividing the county have been wrong, plus the county isn't big enough or rich enough to continue supporting two judicial districts.

Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney said in his State of the City address the city would likely ask for a one-half cent temporary sales tax to sustain the city during difficult financial times. If it passed, McKinney said half would go to public safety, for police and fire equipment, and the other half would pay to improve streets.

Recent population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed Carroll County grew by some 2,100 people during the past decade. The City of Berryville gained nearly 1,000 souls, Green Forest stayed steady and Eureka Springs lost more than 10 percent of its population. According to Census figures, Eureka Springs had a population of 2,278 in 2000. Ten years later, in 2010, that number fell to 2,073 -- for a loss of 205.

A fatal traffic accident Feb. 25 claimed the lives of Berryville residents Buddy and Tabitha Smith, both 27, who were the parents of three young girls, all under the age of five. The couple was killed when the 2000 Ford Tabitha was driving on Missouri Hwy. 86 ran off the roadway and overturned.

A federal grand jury in Fort Smith indicted Michael Pierce of Eureka Springs on charges he conspired to hide illegal weapons for a man suspected of planting a bomb in an Osage church being used as a polling place last June. A 13-count indictment was filed against Pierce last Feb. 24. Mark Krause was also charged with conspiracy in the indictment.

The Holiday Island Board of Commissioners voted on Feb. 28 to approve a new assessment study, the first in 18 years, to determine the annual levy each property owner must pay to the district.


Janell Compton, 54, of Green Forest was indicted on federal charges March 3. Her Unique Linen laundry was raided in September and five people were detained as suspected illegal aliens. The five-count indictment, filed in the Harrison Division of the Western District of Arkansas, said she harbored and shielded illegal aliens by providing employment in a manner to aid in their concealment. The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking forfeiture of any property, real or personal, that was used to facilitate the offense, or any proceeds gained by the offense.

Mark Krause, 40, the Madison County man arrested in December in connection with an Osage soda can bomb case, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy to possess unregistered firearms. In exchange for this guilty plea on the lesser charge, federal officials agreed to dismiss charges that he possessed the bomb, a bomb that didn't go off.

A film crew preparing a "Women Behind Bars" documentary featuring Belynda Goff came to Carroll County the week of March 21 to visit with individuals connected to the 1994 murder case. Goff is currently serving a life sentence at the Wrightsville prison south of Little Rock for the 1994 murder of her husband Steve Goff, who was bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer in their Green Forest apartment at the age of 38. Belynda Goff was 33 at the time. She was arrested 11 months after the murder and claimed an assailant killed her husband while she slept. Jurors hearing the evidence decided otherwise and found her guilty after one hour of deliberation.

Berryville City Council passed an ordinance March 15 approving a temporary two-year half-cent sales tax to help fund police and fire departments and pay for street improvements. City council had to approve an ordinance calling for a special election.

JP Ron Flake withdrew a resolution requesting state legislators sponsor legislation repealing Act 74 of 1883 at the March 18 meeting of the Carroll County Quorum Court. Act 74 requires revenue from each district to remain in, and be used in, the district where it was raised. This follows a lawsuit filed by the Eureka Springs Library Board saying current tax distributions are unfair and the Eureka Springs library should get more money than its sister libraries in Green Forest and Berryville.

A one-vehicle traffic accident claimed the lives of long-time Eureka Springs residents Warren and Eugenia Keck. The accident occurred at 4 p.m. March 17 on U.S. Hwy. 62 west of Eureka Springs near the intersection of Ark. Hwy. 187. Warren Keck, 91, was driving a 1999 Mercury eastbound when the vehicle traveled off the roadway to the left and struck a sign and a tree. Both Warren and 88-year-old Eugenia were killed.

A group of Carroll Electric Cooperative members started gathering signatures to place a candidate on the roster for one of two positions in the 2011 board election. Marcie Brewster, who lives in District 6, which includes parts of western Newton, eastern Madison, southeast Carroll and the southwest corner of Boone counties, was trying to get a spot on the ballot. According to Carroll Electric's bylaws, 693 signatures, or 1 percent of Carroll Electric's entire membership, including 250 signatures from the district where there is a vacancy, were required on the petition to nominate a candidate for the board.

Because a search warrant from a judge was never procured before Carroll County Sheriff's officers trouped into the home garden of Eureka Springs resident Bill King in August 2010, Special Judge Randal Wright of Hope tossed out the use of marijuana plants collected at the scene as evidence. The case against King, who was charged with 14 Class C felony counts, collapsed. As part of the federally funded National Guard Counter Drug Program, soldiers help civilian law enforcement agencies with helicopter searches for illegal drugs. Carroll County Sheriff Bob Grudek said deputies flying with the crew in August spotted marijuana plants near the King residence from the air.

Controversy over a divided county was put to rest "for the most part" because of House Bill 1545, which passed the week of March 28 and will allow revenue from both sides of the county to be combined. At issue was Act 74 of 1883 that said money collected in each of the county's two judicial districts was to be collected and kept separate -- a law that was not followed and virtually forgotten until brought to light last year. Also debated was the judicial dividing line, which was thought to be the Kings River. However, research revealed it was actually a survey line that gave another 45 square miles to the eastern side. Arkansas lawmakers quelled much of the debate last week when they passed House Bill 1545, which allows the commingling of revenue from both districts -- and sets the Kings River as the dividing line.

Year in review for April through June will be in Friday's edition.

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