Chesapeake selling Fayetteville Shale assets

February 22, 2011 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it will sell its assets in the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas to BHP Billiton Limited of Australia for $4.75 billion in cash.Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake announced the deal Monday. The sale includes Chesapeake’s interests in 487,000 net acres of leasehold and producing natural gas properties.The transaction also will include existing natural gas production of about 415 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day and midstream assets with about 420 miles of pipeline.

Choir fundraiser to help students perform in Chicago

February 22, 2011 SOUTHSIDE — A Premier Designs jewelry fundraiser with proceeds helping two choir students perform in Chicago will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Southside High School cafeteria. Students Seanna Durham and David Norris auditioned for a national panel of judges last fall and were chosen to be a part of the American Choral Directors Association national honor choir at Chicago.“This is a huge accomplishment and the funds raised will help with the registration fees and other expenses while performing with the choir in Chicago,” said Donise Knabe, who is helping with the event.

Willis at new location

February 22, 2011 Hardy Willis, with more than 25 years experience in the funeral home business, and wife Loresa Rese Willis have opened Hardy & Loresa’s Family Funeral Service Inc. in Batesville. The business is located at 606 Harrison St. The new funeral home is the second one Hardy has started in Batesville, saying that the couple’s new endeavor was founded upon service but not just any service — “it’s a little funeral home with a big heart.”

Business put under police surveillance

February 22, 2011 Independence County officers staked out a business on Main Street after a parent complained teenagers were being allowed to spend the night.Sheriff Steve Jeffery said the parent came to the sheriff’s office after her child, a juvenile, was stopped and ticketed for an alcohol-related offense.Around 1 a.m. Saturday Deputy Colby Markum, said he entered the Batesville Gaming Center to check on complaints of children under the age of 18 being at the business past curfew.

Principal returns

February 22, 2011 Edie Allen learned something when she retired as West Magnet Elementary principal in 2007.“Retirement was not for me,” she said with a laugh following the Batesville School Board’s meeting Monday night. Nearly five years later, the Batesville High School alumnus whose career in education has spanned nearly 30 years will return as West Magnet principal next school year, replacing Gary Coots who submitted his resignation last fall.

Officer Texas-bound for Watkins

February 22, 2011 ASH FLAT — Sharp County Chief Deputy David Huffmaster is on his way to Houston today to pick up land developer Wayne Watkins, who was taken into custody Monday by Harris County, Texas, sheriff’s officers after Watkins got off an airplane that arrived from Mexico, Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts said.“Watkins is being held on an outstanding warrant that was issued in 2007 for the offense of theft by deception, a class B felony,” Counts said.Watkins had an extradition hearing before a Harris County judge in Texas and waived extradition, Counts said.

Panel backs back-to-school sales tax holiday

February 22, 2011 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A House panel is recommending that Arkansas create an annual sales tax holiday on clothing and other items to coincide with the start of the school year.The House Revenue and Taxation Committee advanced the proposal by Republican Rep. Matthew Shepherd of El Dorado that would create the two-day tax holiday. The proposal would exempt clothing less than $100, accessories less than $50 and school supplies from sales taxes on the first Saturday and Sunday of August.

Lawmakers reject women’s commission

February 22, 2011 LITTLE ROCK — A proposal that would have put the “status of women” under study was defeated Monday in the Arkansas House of Representatives, as lawmakers questioned what such a group could hope to learn that has eluded gender studies groups and women’s programs — not to mention men — for ages.Fifty-eight legislators voted against the bill that would appoint nine people to study the topic.“What is it that this commission hopes to conclude? I think men have studied women for a long time,” State Rep. Ann Clemmer said. Lawmakers from both parties and both genders laughed.

Jonesboro fire claims 4th victim

February 22, 2011 JONESBORO (AP) — A fire official says a toddler hospitalized at Memphis, Tenn., has become the fourth fatality in a blaze at a Jonesboro home.Jonesboro television station KAIT reported Monday that officials at the city’s Fire Department said 2-year-old Bryont Ruff died at the hospital where he was taken after being critically injured in the fire last Tuesday. According to the department, Bryont died Friday night.Also killed in the fire were Bryont’s siblings, 5-year-old Zyonna Ruff and 4-year-old Byron Ruff Jr., as well as an adult woman, Tierra Rayford.

Mulberry police investigating skeletal remains

February 22, 2011 MULBERRY (AP) — Police say they’re working to identify skeletal remains found in a ditch near Mulberry and determine how and when the person died.Sgt. Ken Howard with the Crawford County sheriff’s office said the remains were found Saturday evening by a woman walking along U.S. 64 east of Mulberry, near the Crawford-Johnson county line about 30 miles east of Van Buren.Howard said the remains were partly intact, and a piece of clothing was found nearby. He said officers couldn’t determine if the remains were those of a man or woman.