December 28, 2016 Edition

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Top stories of 2016
reviewed, part one

Megan Heyl
Gretchen Hunt
TD Staff

The following is the first installment of a compilation of some of Lawrence County's top stories of 2016. The remainder of the year's top stories will appear in next week's TD.

ATF Martial Arts Founder Fred Weeks of Walnut Ridge retired from active participation after more than 47 years of martial arts training and instruction. He oversaw his final testing on Jan. 5.

The community of Hoxie received the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission's Humanity Award at the Mega King Fest held Jan. 18 in Little Rock.

Freezing rain followed by up to six inches of snow hit the county Jan. 20-22. Schools countywide and the courthouse were closed during the hazardous weather, which led to multiple vehicle accidents, including one fatality.

Lawrence County set a new record at the Have-A-Heart Wish-A-Thon raising $14,500 to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The previous best was $13,000 in 2014.

Improvements to the ball fields at Stewart Park continued in 2016, including paving the eight-foot-wide walkways, building up the fields and closing a section of road for increased safety.

Torrential rains hit Lawrence County the early part of April leaving roads the worst County Judge Dale Freeman had seen them. Many roads on the western side of the county were washed out completely.

Strong winds on April 10 caused a dust storm resulting in near-zero visibility. Two multi-vehicle accidents occurred as a result of the storm with numerous injuries and one fatality.

The Walnut Ridge City Council took advantage of a low asphalt bid and appropriated a total of $150,000 for street repairs in April.

Lawrence County teams swept the 2A-2 Conference Track Meet in April. Walnut Ridge claimed senior girls, junior girls and junior boys titles, while Sloan-Hendrix won the senior boys title. In addition, the Hillcrest senior boys and junior boys won titles in the 1A-Region East District Track Meet.

Residents of Walnut Ridge and College City approved consolidation of the two towns in a special election on May 10. Results were: Walnut Ridge, 264 for, 32 against; College City, 38 for, 12 against.

Dr. Harold Willmuth marked 50 years working the Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast in May. The breakfast was renamed in memory of Keith Brand.

Walnut Ridge Bobcats coasted to a 9-1 win over Midland to claim the championship of the 2A-2 District Baseball Tournament on May 3.

On May 6, Hillcrest High School took first place in the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Electric Vehicle Rally for the third year in a row.

Three former employees of First National Bank pled guilty on May 10-11 to felony conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Brenda Montgomery of Walnut Ridge, Peggy Sutton of Biggers and Cindy Tate of Walnut Ridge admitted to stealing nearly $4 million from the bank.

The Williams Baptist College Lady Eagles advanced to the World Series in Sioux City, Iowa. The Lady Eagles finished in sixth place in the tournament falling to eventual champion Oklahoma City University.

Approximately 100 gathered in Smithville on May 21 for the dedication of two Civil War markers.

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