December 29, 2010 Edition

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Doing our part

John Bland

We salute County Judge Alex Latham on one of his final acts as Lawrence County Judge. Judge Latham, along with Randolph County Judge David Jansen, has signed orders instituting a flat tax of 50 cents per acre on all lands in the Running Water Levee District for the purpose of maintenance, repair and operation.

The eight-mile Running Water Levee is located in Randolph County, on the south side of Black River, in and near the Pocahontas city limits. However, the levee actually protects more land in Lawrence County than in Randolph County. It is only fair that Lawrence County help cover the costs.

The original levee was built in 1927, running from near where the Current River flows into Black River near where Burger King now stands. In 1932, the Corps of Engineers abandoned management of the levee and turned it over to a levee district, which itself disbanded in the 1960s due to lack of funds. Until 2009, there was no management or maintenance of the levee.

During the floods of March 2008, river water broke the levee in three weakened places, causing waters from the Black and Current Rivers to flood farmland. This same flood caused the temporary closing of Hwy. 67, just north of the Randolph-Lawrence County line.

Since September 2009, with the help of the Randolph County Road Department and the State Forestry Department, work has been underway to clear vegetation and rebuild the levee.

Commissioners for the district are Don Cox and Danny Ellis, both of Pocahontas, and Andrew Jones of Minturn. They deserve credit for their leadership in the project.


We have had several reports of sightings of bald eagles in Lawrence County. David Smith reported having 16 to 18 American bald eagles on his farmland in the Clover Bend area recently. The eagles apparently stayed around a number of days while ducks were prevalent in that area. When the ducks left the area about a week and a half ago, the eagles left as well.

On Dec. 10, Marla Helms of Smithville shared a photo and report that two bald eagles had been flying over her home that day. She said the eagles were just riding the wind and were beautiful.

TD staffer Shantelle Prater's parents, Rick and Lesha Prater, have also reported spotting eagles hear their home in the Owl City area.

According to the American Bald Eagle Information website,, the number of nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states has increased 10-fold from less than 450 in the early 1960s, to more than 4,500 adult bald eagle nesting pairs in the 1990s.

In 2007, the Interior Department took the American bald eagle off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. The bald eagle is still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, according to the website.

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