January 2, 2008 Edition

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Pending 39th deployment
tops TD's stories in 2007

The call for local soldiers to once again deploy to Iraq was voted by TD staff members as the top story in 2007.

The 39th Brigade, including the local unit, received orders in August calling them to active duty for training time and a return trip to Iraq.

Members of the local unit reported for duty on Oct. 1 and did much of their training in Walnut Ridge.

Other stories making the top 10 were:

#2 ~ The Smith-Sloan families donated property for a building site for the proposed Children's Shelter in January. The property, which is a little over five acres, formerly housed the Sloan cotton gin and is located on Southwest Sixth Street between Elm and Pine Streets.

The acreage was donated by the following owners: Erin Marie Sloan, Earl B. Sloan Jr. Testamentary Trust, Sara Sloan Heckle, Maney Heckle, Sloan "Muffin" Swindle, Sara Raney Howell, David Howell, Sloan Raney, Lance Raney and Shirley Raney.

#3 ~ In October, the 875th Engineer Battalion returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq. Several Lawrence County residents were among the nearly 400 soldiers welcomed home.

Thousands of people lined the highways as the busses rolled through Jonesboro on their way to the armory on the campus of Arkansas State University.

#4 ~ Williams Baptist College announced a $1 million donation from Steve Manley, CEO of Universal Asset Management.

WBC President Dr. Jerol Swaim said the gift would make possible a new chapel. The 8,000-square-foot chapel will stand nearly 60 feet tall and will seat 550 comfortably.

#5 ~ A tanker truck carrying propane fuel overturned in Walnut Ridge on Feb. 9 when its driver attempted to turn into a gravel lot near the intersection of highways 91 and 412.

The accident caused a full-scale emergency response. In addition, residences and businesses in the area, as well as the Walnut Ridge School, were evacuated because of the possibility of an explosion.

#6 ~ In July, the Walnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Department purchased the former Cavenaugh Auto World building for $250,000.

The department anticipated spending another $75,000 in renovations, including adding an emergency power generator, a weight room, sleeping quarters, a training room and a radio room.

#7 ~ Clover Bend was named as recipient of $100,000 in federal funds in December for additional improvements to the historic site.

Clover Bend Historical Preservation Association President Viola Meadows said part of the funds would be used to renovate the Clover Bend School gymnasium.

#8 ~ Voting resulted in a tie for the number-eight position between the sale of Latham's Grocery and the naming of the 2007 Man and Woman of the Year.

In November, Alex and Lynda Latham announced the sale of Latham's Grocery to J&P Flash Market.

The Lathams had been operating the store since 1974 when it first opened on Main Street in Portia.

Dr. Jerol Swaim and Judy Turnbull were honored as Man and Woman of the Year at the Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet. Swaim, president of Williams Baptist College, was honored for his contributions to the college and the community. Turnbull was honored for her work with CASA and her efforts to establish a children's shelter in Lawrence County.

The award was reinstated for this year's banquet after not being presented the last few years.

#9 ~ The second annual Children's Shelter benefit held on June 30 raised $10,000. A live auction of donated items netted $5,000.

All proceeds from the fund-raiser benefited the proposed Children's Shelter.

#10 ~ Lawrence County Deputy Virgil Lynch received minor injuries in an incident in the western part of the county when a man pulled a gun on him. Lynch was forced to open fire on the suspect, later identified as Charles Fry of Dewitt, a convicted felon who was being sought on a felony warrant.

Other 2007 stories that received high votes but did not make the top 10 include:

  • Austin Phillips and Reddi Parker sustaining injuries while serving with the 875th in Iraq.

  • Jeremy Tillman suffering serious injuries when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was making rounds in Iraq.

  • the Hoxie Mustangs football team advancing the third round in the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

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