May 12, 2010 Edition

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County to elect judge



Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Three Lawrence County Democrats are vying for the office of county judge in the preferential election on Tuesday, following current County Judge Alex Latham's decision not to seek re-election after serving 22 years in office.

Those seeking the position are Dale Freeman, Ronnie "Frog" Light and State Rep. J.R. Rogers.

Freeman is a cattle rancher who retired from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad after 36 years. With over 20 years of experience, Freeman has had a lifelong desire for public service. He has served as justice of the peace and city councilman, as well as mayor of Portia and Minturn.

He is also chairman of the Democratic Central Committee, and in 2005 was awarded the Harold Jinks Award from the Democratic Party of Arkansas for Most Outstanding Male Democrat. Freeman, who was appointed to the Arkansas Rural Development Commission by Gov. Mike Beebe earlier this year, helped secure approximately $4 million in grants for various projects in Lawrence County.

"I believe I'm the best candidate for the job of county judge because of my education and experience in writing and receiving grants," Freeman said.

"When I worked for the railroad, I was responsible for building bases for railroad tracks, which uses the same principles it will take to fix the county's roads. I will spend the taxpayers' money in Lawrence County for gravel and other equipment needed to get our roads into good shape."

Freeman and his wife, Mary, live in Powhatan. He has two children, Tonya Brand and Candie Yarbro, two stepchildren, Jeff Reese and Michelle Boots and four grandchildren.

Light, who lives in Minturn, is a farmer and the owner of Light's Equipment of Highway 63 in Walnut Ridge and Light's Custom Spraying.

He attended Clover Bend School and is a supporter of John 3:16 Ministries. His other volunteer work includes serving as auctioneer for the Circle of Friends, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited and various church benefits.

He and his wife of 41 years, Kathee Light, have three daughters, Kamela Light Stephenson, Shawnta Light Whited and Kristy Light.

"I believe I am the best man for the position of Lawrence County Judge because I can work very well with the people of our county and will be easy to talk to," Light said.

"I will do everything within my power to improve our county and the issues facing us. I am a man of my word, and I believe in old-fashioned principles, honesty and Christian values."

State Rep. J.R. Rogers of Walnut Ridge is serving his last term as a representative due to term limits.

He served two years on the Walnut Ridge City Council, and was mayor of Walnut Ridge for eight years. He is in his sixth year in the Arkansas House of State Representatives for District 73, where he has served as chairman of the state audit committee.

Rogers has been a businessman for several years and has also been in the trucking business, hauling asphalt and gravel throughout this area.

"I think one of the biggest problems in Lawrence County is our roads," Rogers said. "My experience in the asphalt and gravel business will be a big advantage in getting our roads fixed. Everyone pays taxes and I believe everyone should have access to good roads on both sides of the river."

"Another priority is obtaining grant money and other monies to boost our county," he added. "I believe my past record of getting nearly $8 million in grants while I was mayor will prove to be a big help to our county."

"My experience as state representative has given me a good working relationship with over 200 state legislators, which will be a huge asset when trying to get grants and other help for Lawrence County."

Rogers is married to Michelle Rogers, the mayor of Walnut Ridge, and has a daughter, Johnna, and a son, John.

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