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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014
Eyesores have long been a problem for Blytheville (04/17/14)
For years, one of the big issues plaguing Blytheville has been dilapidated properties -- abandoned eyesores created by fires and often made worse by vandalism.
Opening Day at the Sportsplex is almost here (04/10/14)
Weather permitting, the local recreational baseball season will get under way Monday night. There's no better place to be on a spring evening than the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex. The atmosphere is second to none.
Close look at satellite bill yields minor windfall (04/03/14)
Six bucks a month doesn't sound like much, but it sure can add up over time. As it turns out, I've overpaid hundreds by not looking closely enough at my satellite bill for the past several years.
Billionaire bet amps up excitement for March Madness (03/20/14)
The interest in March Madness has been ratcheted up a notch this year with a challenge from Warren Buffett.
Discussion of mayoral retirements benefits a little late (03/13/14)
It's nice to see city leaders finally seeking public input on the mayoral retirement benefit ordinance, but they're a little late.
Jabs just beginning for local politicians (03/06/14)
One of the requirements for public office is to be a glutton for punishment.
St. Jude a beacon of hope for kids, families (02/27/14)
Imagine taking your child for a routine checkup and learning he or she has cancer. As a parent of young children, I can't think of a more devastating report.
Sportsplex proves its worth time and again (02/20/14)
Here at the Courier News, we're working on a new series featuring "101 Reasons to Feel Good About Where we Live." I don't think it would surprise anyone to see the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex make the list.
Big screen offers supply of romantic lines (02/13/14)
Films are full of thought-provoking ideas about the subject. Some lines are witty; some are deep. Some phrases become pieces of pop culture, taking on a life of their own, passed down from generation to generation.
Movie has potential to be life-changing (02/06/14)
Rarely can one say that a movie changed someone's life and it not be hyperbole. But one coming out in March truly has the potential for such an impact.
Super Bowl is more than just a game (01/30/14)
The biggest game of the year is Sunday, and it's a pretty good matchup.
Local elections should make for interesting year (01/23/14)
Candidates for local offices will have an opportunity to introduce themselves during Saturday's quarterly ward meeting.
New Texas coach has Strong ties to Mississippi County (01/09/14)
Twitter was abuzz last weekend as another coach with local ties took over the storied Texas Longhorns.
Streets must remain priority for city (12/19/13)
After several months, the city of Blytheville has come up with a clear definition of "infrastructure" acceptable by auditors, allowing leaders more options in spending the 1/4-cent infrastructure tax money.
Weather Grinch steals Blytheville Christmas parade (12/12/13)
For the first time in memory, there will be no Christmas parade in Blytheville. The ice hadn't melted enough to have the parade Monday, the scheduled make-up day for the event, which was originally planned for last Friday.
Memories of 2009 ice storm still fresh (12/05/13)
Our area has been bracing all week for bad weather -- historically bad weather, according to some predictions.
Community has much to be thankful for (11/28/13)
Usually in this space, on this day, I write about a few things I'm thankful for, personally. While I'm as grateful for my faith, family, job, etc. as I've ever been, I thought I'd take a different approach with the Thanksgiving column this year.
Keeping local money home for the holidays (11/21/13)
'Tis the season to lower those bank balances, swipe those credit cards and shop until you can't shop anymore -- all in the name of spreading Christmas cheer.
Street names are a way to recognize greatness (11/14/13)
Two local groups are working on an effort to honor two great men. One has a national holiday; the other has been a local luminary in education for decades.
Tricks and treats, with local political flavor (10/31/13)
In the spirit of Halloween, here are a few tricks and treats with a local political flavor:
'Don't worry about anything ...' (10/17/13)
Trumann scored a touchdown and 2-point conversion to start the second half. Gosnell fans could care less. No concern. This is a game Gosnell couldn't afford to lose if it wants to contend for a conference championship. But there was little to no reaction from the crowd...
Committee's oversight offers some optimism (10/10/13)
Much has been written about the city of Blytheville's financial struggles, both past and present. But there is one key difference this year, something that gives one reason to be at least a little optimistic.
Big crowd at City Council meetings a good sign (09/26/13)
More have taken an interest in local politics these days. Back a few years ago, the audience of the Blytheville City Council meetings usually included the late Gertrude Smith and maybe a handful of others who had some connection to items on the agenda.
End of IRS tax raises new questions (09/19/13)
In less than two weeks, the 1-cent IRS tax falls off, and the total tax rate dips to 9.75 percent.
City soccer fields need, and deserve, investment (09/12/13)
Hundreds of brightly dressed kids and their supporters will converge on the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex soccer fields Saturday for the first time this season.
Late-night TV bit generates buzz in Blytheville (09/05/13)
I bet Jimmie Stanford of Blytheville never dreamed of being on the Jay Leno Show. But his unique view on legalizing marijuana earned him a spot on the famed late night show, Tuesday.
Let's hope we don't join Elizabeth anytime soon (08/29/13)
Fred Sanford's hilarious fake heart attack routine would always include: "Oh, this is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?! I'm coming to join you, honey!"
Local schools step up to combat bullying (08/15/13)
Sports personalties, celebrities and leaders on all levels have taken to various media with anti-bullying campaigns.
At least one freshman excited to get started at BHS (08/08/13)
It's hard to believe that my oldest daughter will be a freshman this year. Starr registered at Blytheville High School last week, and she's looking forward to starting a new school, in a new district.
Calorie-counting does the trick (08/01/13)
Usually, my New Year's resolutions have been long disregarded by August. And a vow to shed some pounds only lasted a few weeks this year.
This isn't your father's school supply list (07/25/13)
These days, technology drives production in business and, in turn, the way schools educate our children seems to be evolving. One of the items on the third-grade school supply list is a flash drive, a little device that stores electronic data. The list calls for as many sanitizing items -- Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer -- as it does paper. The only paper products on the list are one pack of loose leaf and some journals; no spiral-bound notebooks...
Saluting some of community's unsung heroes (07/18/13)
Sunday's "Paws to Ponder" got me thinking about some of the unsung heroes in our community. In the article, Shirley Connealy wrote about how Lt. Doug Brown, a Blytheville fireman, helped save a dog that had been the victim of a hit-and-run.
Recent events a reminder of harsh realities (07/11/13)
This summer has seen more local tragedies than any other I can recall.Several families have lost loved ones in car accidents; one is missing theirs following an officer's use of lethal force (justified or not is being determined); and another's was a murder victim.
Sales taxes about to go up ... again (06/27/13)
Get ready to spend more in the coming days. Starting Monday, patrons will pay 10.75 percent on items they buy at Blytheville businesses. The new statewide, half-cent Amendment 1 tax will not be collected on groceries or medicine, however.
Council has opportunity to rebuild trust of citizens (06/20/13)
Blytheville leaders have a golden opportunity to rebuild the trust of their constituents.
New job keeps family dry on vacation (06/13/13)
Turns out, my wife's new teaching job kept us from getting really wet. Originally, we planned to take our trip to North Carolina last week, but at the last minute we had to move it up a few days because Kristy had some professional development obligations.
Take time to remember the fallen this weekend (05/23/13)
Memorial Day should mean more than a three-day weekend. This weekend isn't simply a time for barbecues, family get-togethers and an extra day off of work.
Walker Park pond worth improving (05/16/13)
The Walker Park fountain was one of the first Blytheville staples I noticed after moving here in 1992.
Lots to do here this Mother's Day weekend (05/09/13)
There will be no shortage of things to do in Blytheville this weekend.
$10.7 million should buy adequate streets (05/02/13)
The other day a local business owner dropped by the office lamenting the half-cent state sales tax that becomes effective July 1, thanks to the passage of Issue 1 last November.
Newpapers reflect good and bad of community (04/25/13)
I've always subscribed to the theory that a local newspaper reflects the community it serves. There will be good news and bad news -- that's just the way it is.
A city jail is an idea worthy of discussion (04/18/13)
Disagreements over jail fees have gone on for years, not just in Blytheville, but around quorum court and city council tables all around the state.
Spring has sprung ... time to play ball (04/11/13)
At last, spring has finally sprung. It's time to pull the tarp off the mower, replace the plants that didn't survive the winter and dust off the ol' baseball glove.
Bus tour sheds new light on rich local history (04/04/13)
Some 60-plus antique buses will be rolling into town today as part of The Ghosts of Highway 61 Antique Bus Tour. In fact, several were already here Wednesday night.
Retail growth is a chicken-and-egg challenge for city (03/28/13)
One of Blytheville Mayor James Sanders' objectives this year is to bring in new businesses to the city.
Let the Madness begin! (03/21/13)
The upsets. The dramatic finishes. The emergence of a star from some obscure school. The expert analysis that Team X will win because they have the prettier uniforms or the better mascot. It all makes the NCAA Tournament the fun event that it is, year in and year out...
Dirt/lake deal will go down as a failure (02/28/13)
During a committee meeting last week, Blytheville city attorney Mike Bearden jokingly asked Council members if they planned to solicit bids for a boat dock at "the Blytheville Recreational Lake."
Months ahead will define Sanders administration (02/21/13)
As we remember great leaders during Black History month, the jury is still out on Blytheville's first African-American mayor.
What not to say to your Valentine (02/14/13)
Saying the wrong thing can get you in the doghouse with your significant other on Valentine's Day.
Baseball sign-ups: A sure sign of spring (02/07/13)
For a lot of people, the first thoughts of spring come when Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual prediction as he did last week.
Former opponents acting as teammates (01/31/13)
Tonight the Blytheville City Council is expected to pass a 2013 budget, concluding a process that has captured its full attention all month.
Chickasaw Gym has a rich history (01/24/13)
I got a call last week from a Little Rock reporter who needed a little help with a project. Sportinglifearkansas.com stumbled on an interesting fact that Arkansas and Ole Miss played a couple of college basketball games at Chickasaw Gym.
City needs rules for police, fire appeals (01/17/13)
Once the Blytheville City Council wraps up the budget process, one item that deserves the attention of the Police and Fire Committee is developing a set of rules for the police and fire appeals board.
Reviewing the state's open government law (01/10/13)
Forgive me if this sounds familiar. I wrote something similar last summer, but it seems worthy of bringing up again given new local leaders have now taken office.
2013 should be busy year for Blytheville city government (01/03/13)
Locally, 2013 offers a fresh start and a renewed sense of hope. The city of Blytheville's IRS matter is taken care of; there is fresh blood on the Blytheville City Council; and there are now dedicated funds available for areas like parks and recreation, streets and police and fire.
Spirit of the season alive on Christmas Day (12/27/12)
I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Dean Gurley and Owens Drugstore owner Louie Dudley, who turned a scary Christmas morning into a fairly pleasant Christmas and demonstrated the spirit of the season.
Reflect on loss; don't push agendas (12/20/12)
Six days later, I still can't wrap my head around what happened in Newtown, Conn., and what has transpired after the tragedy.
Christmas wish lists change through the years (12/13/12)
Typing up Santa letters got me thinking just how different Christmas wish lists are now than when I was growing up.
Budget is big responsibility for City Council (12/06/12)
Barring something miraculous, the three new members of the Blytheville City Council will get their feet wet by passing a 2013 budget within a month of being in office.
Lights of the Delta a great community asset (11/29/12)
One of Blytheville's best assets is on display nightly now through Dec. 27.
 Lights of the Delta's 12th season is under way and the Lights continue to be a staple of the Christmas season.
Taking stock of many blessings (11/22/12)
I know I should do this more often than today. Ephesians 5:20: "Giving thanks always for all things unto God, even the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Community's generosity sets it apart (11/15/12)
Every local politician has uttered at least one true statement during their time in office. Most likely, in some form, office-holders of every era have said this area's best asset is its people.
Election produces deja vu moments (11/08/12)
It feels a little like deja vu. Ward 2 made a decisive choice for its representative. The Ward 1 and Ward 3 races are headed to a runoff again. Vera James, Tommy Abbott and Joe Lewis are still campaigning after Election Day. And R.L. Jones is the candidate with the most votes in Ward 3...
A legal murder under the guise of women's rights (11/01/12)
A confused, distraught teenager walks into a clinic to get rid of what she views as a problem. And the doctor commits a legal murder under the guise of women's rights.
Just in time for Halloween: A few tricks and treats (10/25/12)
With Halloween around the corner, here are a few tricks and treats in the news.
Slow pace of IRS probe grows tiring (10/11/12)
A reader called the other day lamenting Blytheville's IRS problem, specifically wondering how a state auditor could say the payroll taxes were not misappropriated -- using payroll taxes for something other than payroll taxes seemed to fit that term in her mind.
County needs to use money to lure retail business (09/27/12)
Carlock manager Thomas Reagan offered up a pretty good idea at a recent East Arkansas Planning and Development District strategic planning meeting.
Thoughts of Grandma weigh heavy on heart (09/20/12)
This is by far the most difficult column I've written. Most reading this don't know the subject, but she's really all I can think about this week.
Community cleanups can be physically, spiritually fulfilling (09/13/12)
Last year around this time, hundreds poured into Cypress Park and disbursed into groups to tackle unsightly and unsanitary areas on the West End of Blytheville.
Fertile soil produces more than just crops (09/06/12)
Blytheville/Gosnell/Armorel-area soil has produced more than cotton and soybeans over the years.
When newsmakers talk, it's always news (08/30/12)
The other day an elected official got a little upset over something in the newspaper. That's not really anything new. What this individual failed to realize is: anything newsworthy said before or after a meeting adjourns is just as printable as remarks made during the meeting.
Water Dept. can't always bail out city (08/23/12)
Constantly relying on the Water Department as a primary funding source should be cause for concern.
City needs plan to solve jail fee issue (08/16/12)
An out-of-court settlement appears to be the best possible outcome in the short term as the county tries to collect overdue jail fees from the city of Blytheville.
Right under my nose the whole time ... (08/02/12)
I often tell my wife I wish I had known her sooner; apparently I did and didn't realize it. Kristy was helping me research something online not long ago and stumbled on some old Courier News editions with the "Spyglass" -- Gosnell's school newspaper page...
Robbery, shooting at Hoops remembered (07/26/12)
News of the old Hoops Drive-in's impending demolition brought back some good personal memories and a nostalgic trip down memory lane. But I'm sure it also revived some not so pleasant memories for some. In fact, one former employee sees the demolition as closure for a horrific, life-changing incident...
Hard to imagine a world without gadgets (07/19/12)
The other day my wife issued an executive order in the house: "Be a Kid Day."
FOIA keeps government business in the open (07/12/12)
For a journalist, one of the most important tools in keeping the public informed is the Freedom of Information Act.
More new faces might be headed for City Council (06/28/12)
As expected, soon-to-be District 55 State Rep. Monte Hodges said he won't seek re-election to his Ward 1, Position 1 City Council post.
Blytheville residents pay twice for jail (06/14/12)
The county and city of Blytheville appear headed to court over the ongoing jail fees saga.
Don't brand cancer patients as losers (06/07/12)
It struck me funny as I started typing the words: they lost their battle with cancer. After more thought, I changed the wording to a more accurate depiction of one dying from the disease.
Sportsplex still boosting local economy (05/31/12)
Blytheville will get a chance to show off one of its best assets this weekend as 32 teams from Arkansas and Missouri converge on the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex to participate in the annual Sports Hall Thunder Bayou Blowout.
Earn citizens' faith to promote Blytheville (05/24/12)
At last Tuesday night's Blytheville City Council meeting, Councilman John Musgraves and Mayor James Sanders both lamented about the poor promotion of the city.
Champions on, and off, the field (05/17/12)
Seventeen years ago, Coach Charlie Brown might have chuckled at the thought of the Armorel baseball program being in its current state.
Through it all, Mom was there (05/10/12)
She was there in anguish as you entered the world. She was there, in the kitchen, blurry-eyed at 2 a.m., warming up a bottle. She was there an hour later, in a shoulder-stained shirt, rocking you back to sleep. ...
Another church involved in an election (05/03/12)
$300 doesn't seem like much when it comes to an organization donating to a political campaign. But it could be quite costly for a local church if the Internal Revenue Service discovers the campaign contribution to one of the candidates seeking outgoing State Rep. Tommy Baker's District 55 seat.
Weekend spent in nice little town (04/26/12)
I was at a town over the weekend most anyone could be proud to call home.
Cleanup effort brings community together (04/19/12)
Matthew 25:40 is a powerful scripture to keep in mind Saturday as the CleanerSafer Blytheville campaign kicks off in the Lake-Lilly-Cherry street area.
Probes ought to make some folks nervous (04/12/12)
Drive down Memorial Drive or Main Street these days and you might sense a hint of nervous energy in the air.
Reading, writing and resolution skills (04/05/12)
Little Johnny throws a backpack over his shoulders and shoves a gun in his pants. In his mind, now he's ready for school and the dangerous walk back home.
Don't underfund Sportsplex; limit Thunder Bayou's P&R money (03/29/12)
It has been 10 years since former Blytheville Chickasaw pitcher Joel Huffman fired the first fastball at the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex; then seven days later, that former Chickasaw cleanup hitter John Blair cranked the facility's first home run.
Planning Commission selective in application of law (03/15/12)
The Blytheville City Council should rip up the zoning regulation book. No need to have a bunch of codes to follow. The Blytheville Planning Commission is fully capable of deciding what belongs where in the city without any guidelines.
A church as a "paid campaign worker"? (03/08/12)
As the political season heats up, rest assured, candidates will push the envelope to get votes. They'll target particular segments with tactics, some of which border unethical, if not corruption. A telling report is a candidate's Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Report, which is designed to give transparency of who contributed and how the candidate used the funds...
Documents offer evidence of financial mismanagement (03/01/12)
For the last several weeks, the Courier News has been delving into a mountain of city of Blytheville financial records.
Should Blytheville secede from county? (02/23/12)
Maybe it's time for Blytheville to secede from Mississippi County. After all, it is Blytheville's fault that the county is in its worst financial shape in years, to the degree justices are asking the legality of a 30-90-day loan for operational expenses...
City's future rides on outcome of election (02/16/12)
Perhaps it's coincidental, but interesting nonetheless, that the IRS filed a lien on all the city owns the same day a story broke that the Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce asked to delay the temporary 1-cent sales tax election.
City unlikely to postpone election (02/09/12)
On Jan. 25, Greater Blytheville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Liz Smith emailed Blytheville Mayor James Sanders about the Chamber's request to delay the 15-month, 1-cent sales tax special election.
20 years later, loss of air base still stings (02/02/12)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the air base closing.
 According to our archives, the last plane left Eaker Air Force Base on March 16, 1992.
Sorry, Mom ... 1 more shot at dead horse (01/26/12)
Barrett Harrison has to be one of the best pure politicians to ever hold a local public office. He epitomizes stereotypical small-town politico -- he's cunning, slippery, says the right things, yet the results leave something to be desired. Earlier this week, Harrison sent out a text that read: "Please go to blythevillecn.com and vote for me to keep my job."...
City must be careful with Parks and Rec money (01/19/12)
The 1/4-cent parks and recreation tax money should begin making its way to the city coffers in the next few weeks.
Small-town politics stands in way of progress (01/12/12)
The Blytheville Planning Commission strengthened the stigma that small-town politics will always be run by the "Good Ol' Boy" system when effectively denying 4G service to serve the interest of one of its members.
Mark Brasfield
Mark Brasfield is managing editor for the Courier News.
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