USDA aims to help farmers expand their businesses

December 10, 2009 PINE BLUFF (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes to invigorate small-town economies nationwide by helping farmers expand their businesses or find new markets to stay afloat, federal officials said Wednesday.Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan told about 100 farmers, rural businessmen and government agents in Pine Bluff that the federal government could help them sell directly to schools that want to offer more fresh food to their students, aid in developing cooperatives and even provide help with cold storage.

Death of man in burning car ruled accident

December 10, 2009 ASH FLAT — A man’s death at approximately 11 p.m. Monday in a vehicle fire at a car wash in Ash Flat has been ruled an accident by the state medical examiner’s office, Sharp County Sheriff’s investigator Ken Guidry said.The Arkansas Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death of Brittany R. Dahm, 28, of  Cherokee Village was an accident, from smoke and soot inhalation.Dahm was found dead in his vehicle at Ivey’s Car Wash after the fire department responded to a vehicle on fire.

2 who fell identified

December 10, 2009 MOUNTAIN HOME — The names of two victims who fell from a cliff near Norfork Tuesday have been released, Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery said.Charles Edward Ragland, 37, of Mountain Home was pronounced dead at the scene, at the end of Misty Lane, in the Misty River’s Subdivision, above the White River. Ragland’s body was recovered from the side of a steep bluff approximately 60 feet from the railroad tracks, just north of the Sheid Bridge on Highway 341.The Norfork Fire Department used rappelling and rescue equipment to assist in recovering the body, the sheriff said.

Jurors drain plumber’s bank accounts

December 10, 2009 An Independence County jury helped drain a plumbing company’s pocketbook after a group of employees attacked three drywallers on a job in Cross County.Two days of testimony were heard in Independence County concerning a civil case involving Southern Plumbing of Wynne and A&K Drywall of Pangburn.Attorney Mike Easley of Forrest City represented Kirk Payne, Felix Ciamaricone and James Dunegan Jr., all of Batesville, with attorney J.T. Skinner assisting.

Sharp Farm Bureau wins 8 Gold Stars

December 9, 2009 HARDY — The Sharp County Farm Bureau and President Johnny Curtis of Cave City were honored during the recent Arkansas Farm Bureau state convention in Little Rock for the county’s work during the past year, members and officers attending a Christmas party Monday in Hardy were told.The convention celebrated the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 75th anniversary.Curtis was presented with an award by state President Randy Veach and Vice-president Rich Hillman.

Farmers are finding new power for old tractors with electricity

December 9, 2009 APPLEGATE, Ore. (AP) — At Blue Fox Farm, the tractor is old but the fuel is new.Like a small but growing number of organic farmers around the country, Chris Jagger has converted an old Allis-Chalmers Model G tractor built in the 1940s to run on electricity at his farm in southwest Oregon.They like the small tractor’s nimble ways around row crops. And with an electric motor instead of a gasoline engine bolted on the back, it runs cleanly, quietly and slowly with no belches of exhaust, few breakdowns and no direct consumption of fossil fuel.

News of Other Days

December 9, 2009 Editor’s note: This column ran previously in the Guard on Dec. 24, 1996.

Scripture baking blends spirituality, cooking

December 9, 2009 Spoons and bowls and baking pans and ... a Bible?Most modern bakers probably don’t associate The Good Book with pulling together a batch of their favorite treats, but during the late 1800s some Christians began using scripture as a code for turning recipes into riddles.“This was a cutsie way of letting people know that they knew their Bible. If you knew it off the top of your head, you felt proud of yourself,” says Joan Houston Hall, chief editor of the “Dictionary of American Regional English.”

Sheriff: Couple found dead due to accidental overdose

December 9, 2009 LOCUST BAYOU (AP) — Authorities say a husband and wife who were found dead in their south Arkansas home died of accidental drug overdoses.Calhoun County Sheriff Bob Dunn says 26-year-old Eduardo Morales died of acute methadone intoxication while his wife, 24-year-old Heather Morales, died of an accidental overdose of methadone and diazepam, which is a sedative.Dunn says the deaths have been ruled accidental.

Officer demoted after jail escape

December 9, 2009 LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A Pulaski County sheriff’s sergeant has been demoted in connection with the Nov. 22 escape of an inmate.Mildred Champion is being demoted to deputy and reassigned to the jail’s prisoner security staff. The demotion comes less than a week after Deputy Kimberly Wainwright was fired for leaving a van running and unattended while preparing to take inmates to their jobs at the main jail. Inmate Marlon Watkins Jr. jumped into the van and drove through a fence to escape.Watkins was recaptured Nov. 30 in southwest Little Rock.