Saturday, May 19, 2012

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part CI): Former coach pleads guilty to drug charges

A former basketball coach at Deer High School, Jake Thompson, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (hydrocodone) in Johnson County Circuit Court in late March.  He will serve 36 months probation.  Thompson was "post adjudicated" to the drug court treatment program and will pay a fee of $600, in addition to having his driver's license suspended for six months.  He was arrested in October, 2011, by the 5th Judicial Drug Task Force and the Clarksville Police Department and tendered his resignation to the Deer/Mt. Judea Board of Education shortly after the arrest.   Read an earlier post about the matter here.

The manager of the Arkansas Sex Offender Registry (SOR), Paula Stitz, visited the county at the invitation of Sheriff Keith Slape and presented a program to explain to the public how the SOR works and its responsibilities.  April, when Stitz visited, was National Sexual Assault Awareness month.  Sex offenders are required to register in Arkansas under the Sex Offender Registration Act of 1997.  Under this law,  law enforcement agencies release to the public information on the names and locations of registered sex offenders.  Information about victims is never released.

In other news:
  • A three-day spay and neuter clinic at the Newton County fairgrounds by Newton County Animal Services, a non-profit organization that provides low-cost clinics several times a year, highlighted the need for a building in which to conduct the clinics.  Joanna McManus, DVM from Arkansans for Animals in Mabelvale, conducted the surgeries in a mobile operating suite set up next to one of the fairground's exhibit buildings, with that building doubling as a recovery room.   The animals were also vaccinated for rabies, as necessary. 
  • The Deer/Mt Judea Board of Education considered a rise in its property tax rate, with the matter being put to voters in the fall, 2012 election.  The Superintendent, Richard Denniston, is proposing 3.8 new debt mills, which would put the district's tax rate on par with the Jasper School District.  Certified personnel are hoping for a $2,000 annual raise.  Regarding possible consolidation, Denniston stated, "I think everybody knows it's inevitable that if the legislators don't  make some kind of legislative adjustment that it's inevitable there is one place for us to go and that place will be Jasper.  What I [look to do] is bring our millage to the same identical millage rate as Jasper's because if we do go with Jasper is inevitable that the people from Deer/Mt. Judea will end up being identical to Jasper.  There's no way around that." Construction has begun on a multipurpose building on the campus, construction financed by the last millage increase.  Some recent posts about the possible consolidation of the Deer/Mt. Judea School are here, here and here.  
  • One Mt. Judea school patron suggested the Board of Education consider implementing a 4-day week for students.  she said she researched the plan and spoke to a superintendent of a school district in South Dakota where the plan is apparently working  She said the cost savings for that district had been 2-4%
  • The Mt. Sherman Historical Community Board received a $16,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Rural Services; the funds will be sued to provide water to the building and to install heating equipment.    
  • May 5-13 was proclaimed Travel and Tourism Week in Newton County.  "Travel is a catalyst that moves the Newton County economy forward and contributes greatly to the excellent quality of life enjoyed but he county's residents," according to the proclamation signed by the Jasper Mayor and the Newton County Judge.  
  • The County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program shows Newton County ranked 16th among Arkansas's 75 counties in health outcomes.  This favorable ranking is in spite of the county falling in the middle or lower clusters on such metrics as clinical environment, physical environment and health behaviors.  In the state rankings, Newton County ranked 15th in mortality (length of life); 10th in morbidity (quality of life); 46th in health behaviors; 46th in clinical care; 40th in overall health factors; 32d in physical environment and 22d in social and economic factors.   

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