Firefighter charged with sex crime, arson

December 16, 2010 LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi firefighter with a criminal history that includes an arson conviction in Arkansas is now charged with setting seven fires and molesting an 11-year-old child.Joshua Daniel Easter, a 31-year-old Lucedale, Miss., resident, is charged with setting five house fires in Mississippi and two in the woods, all since October.Emergency Management Coordinator Lorraine Howell told The Hattiesburg American that Easter has been a George County firefighter for less than six months.

Decision Unanimous – Not Guilty!

December 16, 2010 LITTLE ROCK — It’s over.The long-waited trial for Independence County Coroner Hardy Willis ended Wednesday night with a not guilty verdict.“It is wonderful,” Willis told the Guard. “It was a long, agonizing three days.”Jurors were seated Monday to hear the case against Willis, who was accused of distribution of marijuana.“The prosecution put on 12 witnesses; we put on one,” Willis said.“What this whole trial boiled down to, as coroner and elected official, I was just doing my job as I seen it and as the oath I took to uphold the law.”

The Weekend Events

December 16, 2010 Friday• Ozark Folk Center Craft Village free admission, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Mountain View. Continues each weekend through Dec. 18.• Chelsea Savage in concert, 6 p.m., The Cinnamon Stick, downtown Batesville. Free admission. Coffee and other drinks and refreshments will be for sale.• Free screening of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” 7 p.m., Jubilee Family Church in Batesville. Call (870) 793-9124.

Contest highlights patriotism

December 16, 2010 EVENING SHADE — When answering the question “Does Patriotism Still Matter?” Cave City Middle School students put their pens to paper for the annual Evening Shade Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8042 Patriot’s Pen essay contest.Sixth-graders Emily Jolly won first place for her essay in which she discussed World War II veterans and how everyone, including those not in the military, can show their patriotism just by being active in their community. She also interviewed her grandfather, a veteran, who told what it’s like to be a veteran.

Ozarka’s AAT graduates to begin practice teaching

December 16, 2010 MELBOURNE — Several graduates of Ozarka College’s Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) program will begin their student teaching experience during the upcoming spring semester as part of their curriculum to graduate from Arkansas Tech University with their bachelor degrees in education. Ozarka College began an Associate of Arts in Teaching Degree program in 2002. Arkansas Tech agreed to deliver the upper level courses via Internet, allowing students to stay in this area to obtain a four-year degree.

Newport woman accused of self-checkout but not paying

December 16, 2010 Tia Marie Rudd may have liked the self-check option at Walmart a little too well — she’s accused of placing items in bags without paying for them.The Independence County Sheriff’s Office was contacted around 6 p.m. Friday about a female shoplifter whom the store’s loss prevention officer had watched purchase several items through the self-checkout aisle, then place fragrances, a train, bras, slipper socks, a magazine and several other items in bags without paying for them.

Moose Lodge, others report break-ins, thefts

December 16, 2010 Someone with a powerful thirst broke into Moose Lodge sometime Tuesday, according to a report from the Independence County Sheriff’s Office.Charlie Smith, the owner, said he left the The Loyal Order of the Moose at 3:30 that morning and came back at 5:30 p.m., when he saw that someone had broken into his office and gone through his office.The suspect stole a DVR valued at $3,500 off the filing cabinets and threw the monitor on the floor.

Main Street Batesville, chamber planning wintertime fundraisers Two local nonprofits are planning events later this winter.

December 16, 2010 Main Street Batesville will hold its Winter Gala fundraiser on Jan. 22 at Elizabeth’s Restaurant.Randy and Stephanie Wade will provide entertainment for the gala. Tickets are $25 each and will be available at Heuer’s Shoes, Thompson’s Jewelry, Elizabeth’s, Randy’s Music, Cinnamon Stick and the Main Street Batesville office. For more information, call Main Street Batesville at (870) 793-4632.The Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce will have its annual awards banquet Feb. 19 at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville’s Independence Hall.

Lyon College adds hiking, biking trail to campus

December 16, 2010 Lyon College has added another outdoor adventure to its campus.The hiking and biking trail along a bluff that borders the north side of the campus is complete.Crews finished work on the trail a few weeks ago. The entrances to the trail are behind the Lyon Building on the west side of the wall for bikers and hikers and down the stairs on the east side of the Lyon Building wall for hikers and runners.Both loops are slightly over 0.6 miles and the entire trail is 1.3 miles long.

Governor’s tourism award finalists named

December 16, 2010 A longtime Bateville museum supporter is up for a statewide award at the 37th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism next spring.Twyla Gill Wright is a finalist for the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, which is presented annually to a community, individual, or organization that, through outstanding volunteer spirit, has made a substantial contribution to Arkansas’ tourism industry. Other finalists are Bull Shoals Powerhouse Tours in Lakeview and Dan Ellis of Eureka Springs.