TOP NEWS OF ’09: Ice storm paralyzes region

January 1, 2010 Almost one year after Mother Nature wrecked havoc with deadly tornadoes, this year began with freezing rain that turned into a major ice storm leaving homes and businesses without power for days, some even weeks.Thousands were left without power after the ice weighed down trees and broke utility poles. Emergency shelters were opened in Independence and surrounding counties.

Jackson, Cronkite among ’09 deaths

December 31, 2009 (AP) It was only a rehearsal, and he was twice the age of the dancers accompanying him. But the video doesn’t lie: Michael Jackson was looking ahead to a smash opening in London — and giving it his all.And then he was gone.With his thrilling music and dance, enigmatic personality and worldwide reach, Jackson led the list of notables in the worlds of art, entertainment and popular culture who died in 2009.Some, like Jackson, departed without warning. Some, like actor Patrick Swayze, waged a very public struggle with illness.

We have a winner! Ark. lotto is top story of 2009

December 31, 2009 By Jill Zeman BleedAssociated Press WriterLITTLE ROCK — At the stroke of midnight on Sept. 28, Arkansas’ lottery became a reality.Years in the making, Arkansas’ new lottery has seen smooth sailing in its first three months, after a year’s worth of legislative wrangling and public outrage over six-figure salaries paid to new lottery hires.

2009 deaths in Arkansas included political leader

December 31, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A longtime leader of efforts in the Legislature to improve the state’s education system, a pioneering black judge, a former baseball player who enjoyed a long career as a sportscaster, and an author of whimsical novels with serious subtexts were among prominent Arkansans who died during 2009.Former legislator Jodie Mahony, 70, of El Dorado died Dec. 5, ending a bout with cancer. He had served in the Legislature from 1971 through 2006, gaining election to both the state House and the state Senate.

News of other days

December 31, 2009 Editor’s note: This column ran previously in the Guard on Jan. 15, 1997.

Sexual harassment workshop planned

December 31, 2009 A free workshop entitled “Sexual Harassment and the Three Second Rule” will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 8 at First Community Bank in Batesville with Carol Baker Dawson, an award -winning columnist and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and diversity trainer and consultant. Sexual harassment complaints are on the rise across the U.S., according to the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce, adding that employers are consistently found guilty in the courts when managers and employees who harass or discriminate against employees have not been provided adequate EEO related training.

Cave City fire department history

December 31, 2009 “In the fall of 1958, after a total loss fire to a resident’s new home in the north end of the city, a group of 32 citizens met in front of the American Legion building to see if there would be enough support to organize and maintain a volunteer fire department ...,” according to a written history. “Yes, there was, and a fund-raising project was started. Many donations of $1, $2 and larger were given to help the city buy the first equipment.”

Texting while driving, smoking target of ’10 laws

December 31, 2009 MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Texting while driving, smoking in public and cooking with artery-clogging trans fats will be that much harder under a bevy of state laws set to take effect around the country on Friday.Faced with huge budget shortfalls and little extra money to throw around, state lawmakers exercised their (inexpensive) power to clamp down on impolite, unhealthy and sometimes dangerous behaviors in 2009.Even toy guns were targeted.

Toy gun law, cigarette limit change Friday

December 31, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The new year will bring new restrictions on the sale of toy guns in Arkansas, but two of the nation’s largest retailers say it’s a ban they’ve already been following.Starting Friday, a state law takes effect banning the sale of realistic-looking toy guns. Lawmakers earlier this year approved the restriction, which says that stores can only sell toy guns if they include an orange tip at the barrel or are colored differently than real firearms.

Volunteer Fire Department of the Year barely pauses for its 50th anniversary

December 31, 2009 CAVE CITY — Firefighters at Cave City are looking backward and forward — backward to commemorate the fire department’s founding 50 years ago, and forward to making its new mobile command center as good as it can be, as well as completing renovations to the old John’s Station building that will house new offices, work bays and a fitness training room.The department has been working so hard on the new projects it didn’t schedule an open house or other celebration upon reaching the 50-year mark.