GREENBRIER — As you walk through the field beside them, it’s difficult to tell if that rumble is the sound of their mighty footsteps or your heart thumping in your chest.
Then just before you sink into the forest, one of the elephants throws her trunk into the air and trumpets, and you’re certain what you’re witnessing is nothing short of magical.
You’re not on an African safari. You’re in Arkansas, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, at a sanctuary for unwanted elephants. And this may be the closest you’ll ever get to these mammoth creatures.
I am always amazed at how many people born and/or raised in Arkansas have gone on to be famous.
Those most known are singer Johnny Cash, authors Maya Angelou and John Grisham, actor/director/musician Billy Bob Thornton, former president Bill Clinton, actress Mary Steenburgen, General Douglas MacArthur, just to name a few.
However, I’m always surprised when learning about someone I didn’t know had ties to The Natural State.
Such is the case with a performer named Helen Hagstrom, aka Carolina Cotton, who would go on to be known as the “yodeling blonde bombshell.”
ASH FLAT — Authorities in Sharp and Jackson counties are looking for two missing teen-age girls, Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said this morning.
“Last night they were looking for them in Newport,” Weaver said. Authorities have the girls officially listed as missing persons and posted on police alert systems, he said.
One of the girls is identified as Jessica Tackett. Weaver was traveling this morning and did not have the other girl’s name immediately at hand, but said both girls are from the Cave City area.
HARDY — Flood-prone Hardy “lucked out” late last week, despite heavy rains Wednesday night and Christmas Eve, Police Chief Ernie Rose said.
“The (Spring) river didn’t get out of its banks,” he said. “We did have to close a few bridges.”
No one had to be evacuated, Rose said, although, he said, “We were ready for it.”
The river crested about 9.7 feet Christmas Eve morning without causing serious problems, he said.
CAVE CITY — The Cave City School Board agreed Dec. 17 to hire architect Bob Bailey of Little Rock to design and handle the bidding process for a new football stadium, Superintendent Steve Green said.
The vote was unanimous. Bailey has been architect for many construction projects at the school over the past several years.
In other business Green informed the board about a new federal program called Race to the Top.
MELBOURNE — A woman returned to her home on Knob Creek Road in Melbourne Christmas Eve night to find someone loading her belongings into a truck. The woman called the sheriff’s department and upon arrival of deputies, the male subject had unloaded his truck, according to Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence.
Michael Ryan Hilton, age 46 of Melbourne, gave conflicting statements as to his reason for being there, Lawrence said.
LITTLE ROCK — Salaries for school district superintendents have grown slightly faster than teacher salaries in recent years.
Superintendent salaries grew on average by 8.7 percent since the 2005-06 school year, the earliest period for which the Department of Education has such data. Teacher salaries went up 6.2 percent.
The Pulaski County Special School District paid out the most in superintendent pay at $411,281 in 2008-09, about four times the state average. The amount in Pulaski County was driven by the buyout of the superintendent last year.
Two students in the Doyle “Rog” Rogers Jr., Aviation Maintenance program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville have been awarded NASA scholarships.
Nicholas Jackson and Jason Waits were recently awarded the $2,000 scholarships. Jackson will complete the associate degree program in May 2010 and Waits will graduate in December 2010.
Jackson said he learned about the aviation program at UACCB from his uncle who was enrolled in the program.
WILLIFORD — When completed, the new Williford Library will offer a wide range of services including computer use to patrons of the community.
And, it won’t flood.
“The property is ours. We closed the deal … Now we’re doing everything that is necessary to open the library,” Marilyn Bischoff, leader of a group of Sharp County citizens who have been working for the past two years to keep a library in the community, said Dec. 18.
“This came out of the efforts of a lot of people,” she said.
JONESBORO — The top-seeded Cave City Cavewomen made their debut Wednesday night in the Northeast Arkansas Tournament.
The Cavewomen eliminated the 16th-seeded Maynard Lady Tigers 59-27 and used two basketball courts to do it. In the early rounds, the girls games are played on an auxiliary court upstairs at the Convocation Center. During halftime, rain began leaking onto the court. With a quick remedy not available, the teams were forced to wait for the boys game on the main court to conclude.