Violence in Blytheville must end
Two murders, one day. Four other shootings -- in a five-day period -- that led to victims being rushed to the hospital. There have been six homicides this year, including four since the middle of May: 21-year-old Raymond Smith on May 12; 17-year-old Dewaun Miller on May 18; and 22-year-old Vincent Stone and 20-year-old Kennon Daniels both on Monday. Rodney Lutes, 54, was shot to death in March, and Lawless Kennedy, 49, was killed in April...
Relay for Life always important
Editor's Note: This article was first printed on June 5, 2014. There have been minor edits. Cancer doesn't care. It matters not if you're black, white, blue, green, male, female, rich or poor. Cancer could care less if you live alone or have a family that depends on you...
Memorial Day about more than barbecues
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.
Congrats to the class of 2015
Twenty years ago this month, I accepted a diploma from former Gosnell High School Principal Charles Yarbro -- signed by his legendary pen.
Mayfest: Great time to soak up community pride
If you want to feel community pride, take a walk down Main Street this weekend.
"Who's gonna fill their shoes?'
Looking around at the old Franklin Press building the other day, I spotted a few old Air Force photographs and several plaques still hanging on the wall.
Now is time to prepare for spring storms
Blytheville has been pretty fortunate over the years when it comes to tornados.
Big year beginning at Youth Sportsplex
This is one of my favorite times of the year. The local youth baseball season begins this week at the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex, and softball starts in just two weeks.
Old news clipping reveals fascinating local story
A few weeks ago, one of our readers dropped off an old newspaper clipping to peruse.
Local groups leading the fight against hunger
There's a new weapon in the fight against hunger. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church recently launched St. Joseph's Soup Kitchen, which is open from 4-6 p.m. every Sunday.
Fill out your brackets -- March Madness back again
It's that time of the year again. The underdog nails a shot at the buzzer to send one of the favorites home for the season and proves the little guy can win.
Online "Wanted" feature yields results
On Friday, the Courier News launched a new section on its website: "See Who Is Wanted By The Blytheville Police Department."
"Swatting" prank is no laughing matter
Pranks used to be harmless. The target might receive an annoying phone call or have to clean up toilet paper from his yard. But in recent years, some gamers have been getting their kicks out of something called "swatting."
Crime issue must be priority for city leaders
New businesses are starting to pop up but, if new residents are to follow, Blytheville leaders must get a handle on the elephant in the room -- crime.
Sunday's Super Bowl has a Blytheville connection
The big story this Super Bowl week is "Deflategate" or however one wants to term the New England Patriots' use of under-inflated balls in their AFC title game rout of Indianapolis.
Sportsplex is ideal venue for state tournaments
The Gosnell and Armorel School Districts deserve credit for going after and getting two of the four state baseball/softball tournaments that they bid on last week in Little Rock.
Newly elected officials need to know FOI law
By the time this column makes its way to mailboxes and racks, all new (and re-elected) officials will have been sworn into office.
Unfinished business from 2014 on agenda for 2015
Unresolved matters from 2014 could be settled in what looks like will be a busy 2015. Here are a few things to keep an eye on this year:
Looking back at the good news of 2014
Each year around this time, this newspaper recaps the major news items of the past 12 months. Usually, the Top 10 includes stories -- good and bad -- that have significantly impacted our community in some fashion.
Remembering the original Christmas story
Before unwrapping the presents and setting the table for Christmas dinner, I would encourage everyone to read Luke 1-2. Those two chapters tell the Christmas story.
Could gas prices really drop below $2?
There aren't many instances when I welcome being wrong (just ask my wife). But I'd gladly say I was mistaken if gas prices do indeed dip below $2 a gallon.
Recalling memories of Pearl Harbor survivor
I was scrolling through Facebook on Sunday and paused at the following post from Wally Jarratt.
True Christmas spirit can been seen all around us
Many lament the commercialization of Christmas, how companies roll out "Black Friday" deals earlier and earlier each holiday season.
Endless list of things to be thankful for
In a couple of days, families will break bread all across this great country in celebration of Thanksgiving.
The unchartered territory of gymnastics
I've been the target of a few letters to the editor over the years, but none was more deserving than a gym mom's rant about a decade ago.
Deja vu in Blytheville mayoral race
In the words of late baseball great Yogi Berra, it's deja-vu, all over again. Once more, the Blytheville mayoral race will be decided by a runoff.
Newest voters have missed out on a lot
For the first time in their lives, 18-year-olds will have a chance to vote for our leaders this year. Who are these newcomers to the polls?
Early voting signals climax of election season
Early voting got underway Monday at a busy Moore Center. Poll workers were hard at work attending to the early bird vote casters.
Drug take-back programs promote safety
A few years ago, the Blytheville Rotary Club provided a drug take-back box at the Blytheville Police Department in hopes of keeping some unused prescription drugs out of the wrong hands.
City needs plan for paying off excise taxes
A reader, who wished to remain anonymous, offered a pretty good suggestion on how the city of Blytheville should handle repaying the unpaid trash and sanitation excises taxes.
Exercise your right to vote
The right to vote is too often taken for granted and discarded like junk mail. There's an old saying: "Elections have consequences." And it's true.
Football season finally here for local teams
Game week is finally here for the local high school football teams. It's an exciting time of the year for the schools and their fans.
Sportsplex must be priority for parks money
As city leaders ponder how to spend the $500,000 parks and recreation CD, I hope they'll keep in mind how the money got there in the first place. Several years earlier, the citizens built a top-notch facility -- the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex. By all accounts, the Sportsplex was proving its worth year in and year out by drawing big tournaments and serving hundreds of local children participating in baseball, softball and soccer...
Community members step up when needed
My wife was waiting in the checkout line the other day, when she witnessed something too good not to share.
Tax holiday is great time to shop locally
Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee will all have their annual sales tax holidays this weekend, allowing parents to stretch their back-to-school shopping dollars.
Jail fee dispute offers high stakes for city, councy
The city of Blytheville's legal fight with the county over jail fees will have a big financial impact for both sides once resolved.
Goose feces still a problem at Walker Park
For years, the two big issues plaguing Walker Park have been fish kills and geese feces splattered along the walkway around the pond.
Political fireworks only just beginning
Independence Day has come and gone, but the fireworks are just beginning.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, anywhere
The nationwide identity theft epidemic hit home, recently. A couple of weeks ago, an automated service alerted me of some unusual activity on my wife's debit card.
Football decision not so easy these days
I always thought it would be a no-brainer. If one of my sons wanted to play football, I'd happily sign the permission slip without a second thought. But that wasn't the case, recently.
Cancer fight requires entire community
Cancer doesn't care. It matters not if you're black, white, blue, green, male, female, rich or poor.
How about a BBQ competition for Blytheville?
Around barbecue circles, Blytheville is considered the top of the food chain when it comes to smoked, tasty pork.
With primary over, eyes turn toward mayoral race
The primary has come and gone, and now it's time to look ahead to the general election. Locally, the big one to keep an eye on is the Blytheville mayoral race.
Blytheville biz missing out on state tournaments
Five high school teams within 30 miles of the Blytheville Youth Sportsplex are heading out of the area this weekend to compete in their respective state tournaments.
Hunger a problem in our own community
Often when we hear of a family going hungry, it involves the impoverished in some third world country.
Civic club members head to jail
A group of local Rotarians was transported to the county jail Wednesday morning.
Eyesores have long been a problem for Blytheville
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
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
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
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
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
One of the requirements for public office is to be a glutton for punishment.
St. Jude a beacon of hope for kids, families
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
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
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
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
The biggest game of the year is Sunday, and it's a pretty good matchup.
Local elections should make for interesting year
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
Twitter was abuzz last weekend as another coach with local ties took over the storied Texas Longhorns.
Streets must remain priority for city
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
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
Our area has been bracing all week for bad weather -- historically bad weather, according to some predictions.
Community has much to be thankful for
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
'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
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
In the spirit of Halloween, here are a few tricks and treats with a local political flavor:
'Don't worry about anything ...'
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Blytheville leaders have a golden opportunity to rebuild the trust of their constituents.
New job keeps family dry on vacation
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
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
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
There will be no shortage of things to do in Blytheville this weekend.
$10.7 million should buy adequate streets
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
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
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
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
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
One of Blytheville Mayor James Sanders' objectives this year is to bring in new businesses to the city.
Let the Madness begin!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Mark Brasfield is general manager for the Courier News.