January 4, 2016 Edition

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Top stories of 2016
reviewed, part two

Megan Heyl
Gretchen Hunt
TD Staff

The following is the second installment of a compilation of some of Lawrence County's top stories of 2016. The first half of the year's top stories appeared in last week's TD.

The Walnut Ridge Army Airfield Access Road at College City was one of nine properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Work on the taxiway and ramps at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport's Swindle Field was completed in early summer, and Jerry Chism, director of the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics, was at the airport July 19 to present a check for $495,892.80.

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated several counties, including Lawrence, as primary national disaster areas due to losses caused by excessive rain, flash flooding, hail, high winds and lightning that occurred starting March 8.

Many local and state officials gathered August 11 for the opening of the final stretch of four-laned Highway 67, which connects Walnut Ridge and Hoxie to Little Rock.

The Walnut Ridge City Council voted to remove the fire fee from water bills citywide at the Aug. 15 meeting. The council later voted to initiate the process of offering refunds for up to three years of the fee, which could have potentially been ruled as an unlawful tax.

Lawrence County experienced heavy rains in August leaving as much as a foot of flood waters in parts of the county and causing some property damage and loss of crops.

Williams Baptist College marked its 75th anniversary at a celebration held during opening convocation Aug. 24.

Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward visited Lawrence County Aug. 31. He spoke at the Chamber of Commerce's quarterly meeting, as well as meeting with local farmers who shared about losses suffered from flooding earlier in the year.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Lawrence County Jail was held Sept. 9. Construction began Sept. 12.

Following an accident on Aug. 10, County Judge Dale Freeman died unexpectedly on Sept. 17. His death created a vacancy, which was filled by the county's first female judge, Ann Pulliam, as appointed by the quorum court for the remainder of the 2015-2016 term.

The Lawrence County Democratic Party convened Sept. 22 and nominated John Thomison of Smithville to be the Democratic candidate for county judge in the November General Election. A paper ballot vote was taken at the meeting with John Thomison receiving 156 votes and 106 votes cast for Mary Freeman, Dale Freeman's wife.

The Hoxie Lady Mustangs senior high volleyball team claimed the 3A Northeast Conference Regular Season and Conference Tournament Champion titles.

The Walnut Ridge Bobcats and Hoxie Mustangs rekindled their long-standing rivalry on Nov. 3, when the Bobcats won 44-0 to secure a spot in the state playoffs. It was the two teams' first game against each other since 2007.

Alan Risley, plant manager of Peco Foods, Inc., reported the plant had almost 900 people on the payroll while speaking at an early November Walnut Ridge Kiwanis Club meeting. This is at 80 percent capacity as they work to reach a payroll of 1,200 in March of 2017.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson spoke at the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce annual banquet on Nov. 9.

A community effort raised $46,455 in new light displays for Christmas in the Park at Stewart Park in Walnut Ridge. The display is in memory of the late Michael "Button" Wallin and was organized by his daughter, Kimberly Wallin-Dulaney.

Sloan-Hendrix Greyhounds defeated Riverside 68-64 in the boys final of the 58th annual Williams Baptist College Basketball Tournament on Dec. 3. It was the sixth WBC title for the Greyhounds and their first since 1976.

Luke Harper of Walnut Ridge was named the State Class 3A Defensive Player of the Year at the 2016 Farm Bureau Awards on Dec. 12 in North Little Rock.

Following Alderman Daniel Abbott's death on Nov. 26, the Walnut Ridge City Council appointed his wife, Angie Abbott, to fill the vacant seat at the Dec. 19 meeting. Trent Kirksey was also in the running for the vacancy.

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