Saturday, March 7, 2009

Law and Order in the Ozarks (XVIII): Still recovering from the storm

There's not much crime news to report in the Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 issues of the Newton County Times. Not surprisingly, the county is still cleaning up after the devastating late-January ice storm, and this is garnering a lot of attention. The Feb. 12 paper promotes a state-wide call center for those affected by the recent storm. It was established by the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). The Feb. 19 issue features an article with the headline, "ADEM explains reimbursement." The story notes that FEMA will cover 75% of the storm-related expenses to counties and cities for items such as man hours and equipment, so long as strict policies for debris removal are followed.

Other than that, both issues reflect a preoccupation with the elk who were transplanted from Colorado to Newton County several decades ago. They have apparently become a nuisance to some. The Feb. 12 issue features the front-page headlines "AGFC begins overhaul of elk management plan" and "Boxley Valley residents voice concerns about elk neighbors." The Feb. 19 issue features a back page story about what neighboring Searcy County is doing to manage its elk population.

On the law enforcement front, the only two items on the papers' front pages are one about harm to dogs and one about possible "scam artists" posing as ADEM officials. The first reports that a dog in Jasper was injured by someone shooting blow darts, while another recently died apparently from ingestion of poison. Both incidents are being investigated, and those with tips about the matters are encouraged to report them. The second story indicates that people may be posing as FEMA or ADEM officials, and it informs the public that FEMA never charges for its services. The Feb. 19 sheriff's report is relegated to the back page. It lists a number of controlled burns, the burn ban having been lifted the prior week. It also reports a "domestic disturbance in the Parthenon area."

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