Saturday, May 23, 2009

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XXIV): Jasper's first (and to date only) police officer retires

The only front page story in the April 30, 2009 edition of the Newton County Times that touches on law or crime reports the retirement of Jasper's first police officer, Mike Liles, after five years of service. This news report calls Liles Jasper's Chief of Police, but as far as I can tell from the story, he is also the sole officer for the town.

Prior to Liles' hiring in 2004, the only law enforcement officers in the county were the sheriff and his few deputies, along with a sole Arkansas Highway Patrol officer. The story indicates that the city will hire a new officer in October, though it doesn't explain the wait, which may be attributable to budget considerations. I have no idea how the tiny city of Jasper pays for an officer's salary and expenses -- perhaps a mill levy, perhaps federal funds, maybe both. Jasper, population 498, is the county seat of Newton County, population 8,608.

The other front page stories this week basically reproduce company press releases:
  • FNBGF celebrating 78th anniversary (that's First National Bank of Green Forest)
  • Jasper Dollar General grand opening is Saturday. I have no idea why a grand opening is being celebrated since this store has been in Jasper for several years.
Finally, a photo and caption depict and discuss the planting of a tree in memory of a former county resident. The tree has been planted on the courthouse law. The final line of the caption provides some perspective on the item: "The month of May is the traditional month for decorations, cemetery beautification and reunions in Newton County."

Back to crime, however, a story on the back page of the (8-page) paper reports that several counterfeit $100 bills have been passed in the Piercetown area that the Sheriff's office is investigating, in collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service.

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