For a number of months this column was on hiatus, and during that time dozens of stories that fell within the time-frame of our weekly review went without comment. The nature of this column does not allow us to go back in time, but rather report on later developments as they occurred. But, from time to time a story comes along that requires background and this week we have such an instance.
In the early morning hours of April 6, 1972 a domestic incident near McDougal set in motion a chain of events that, by sunrise, would claim the lives of Sheriff Doug Batey of Pollard and Deputy Glen Archer of Corning. The third man to respond that morning was Deputy Troy Key of Piggott, who would die from a gunshot wound nine days later.
The murderer was Elbert Ray “Bert” Grissom, 52, who ambushed the three men in front of his home. The attack came as they attempted to arrest him for threatening his daughter with a handgun just hours before. Testimony later indicated the reasons for the deadly attack were varied, ranging from a long-running feud, and local ties to the death of Grissom’s son Marvin at the hands of the FBI during a bank robbery in Florida.
Regardless of the reasons, the effects of that early morning in April, 1972, will forever be felt by the families of all four men and those who knew them.
A jury in Cross County Circuit Court at Wynne deliberated only 48 minutes before returning three guilty verdicts against Elbert Ray “Bert” Grissom of McDougal in the past week. Grissom was found guilty of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Sheriff Doug Batey and deputies Glen Archer and Troy Key. He showed no emotion as he was sentenced to three life sentences and ordered transferred to the Cummins Prison Farm.
Also in the news, the Clay County Fair will be held Sept. 7 to 9 and patrons were reminded that a new 1972 Ford pickup will be given away.
At the Carolyn Theater this week the feature is “Skyjacked.”
Piggott Postmaster Gerald Sale reminds residents that chain letters are illegal, and are not allowed under both the mail fraud and lottery statues of the United States Postal Code.
The Arkansas Highway Department is experimenting with different paint colors for bridges, including green, orange, gold, blue and brown. And the local barbershops, (Benson’s, Edward’s, Graddy’s and Silas’) all report that effective Sept. 1 the cost of a haircut is going up to $1.75..or two bucks for a flat-top.
Lisa Evers of Rector was named Miss Clay County for 1982, and her court included—Christie Webb, Lee Ann Cobb, Leslie Campbell, Dawn Whitney and Paula Blume. Meanwhile, Becky Brown was named Little Miss Clay County and the winner of the demolition derby was Chuck Schulte.
At the Carolyn Theater this week—Cheech and Chong in “Things Are Tough All Over.”
The government reports that America spent $287-billion on healthcare in 1981, up about 15 percent and equal to about $1,225 per person.
Also in the news, the owners of F&F Lake west of Crockett have decided to re-name the lake and it will now be known as Cedar Point Lake.
Winners at the Piggott Public Library summer reading program were Jennifer Olds, Cara Lingle and Julie Carman.
The first day of school is past, with students scheduled to attend 178 days this year. School is to run through June 1, with graduation set for May 29. Meanwhile, the City of Rector will mark its 100th birthday with a special celebration held in conjunction with their annual Labor Day Picnic.
Congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Fry of Piggott, as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. And Luke Levi Rodery, son of Mr. and Mrs. Van Rodery III of Pollard got his first haircut recently.
At the Carolyn Theater this week it’s James Bond in “The Living Daylights.”
Farmers placed more acres in the Conservation Reserve Program recently, increasing the total to 3093 in the county. And the corn loan and purchase rate for the 1987 crop has been set at $2.02 a bushel.
Camilla Cox reported on the first phone service in Piggott, which began Nov. 15, 1901 as the Paragould Telephone Company received a 99 year contract. Rates were to be no more than $2 a month for businesses and $1.50 for residences.
In sports, Coach Phyllis Morgan and the Piggott Lady Mohawk volleyball team are set to begin their season against Harrisburg. The Tribe is coming off their best-ever finish as they ended the previous year as the state runner-ups. And the Mohawk football team is set to begin their campaign against the Westside Warriors.
The first day of classes for 1992 brought record enrollment at Piggott Schools, with especially large numbers in kindergarten and the first grade. Also in the news, the special election for a half-cent sales tax to fund road repair will be held Oct. 6.
A break-in at the Piggott Public Pool is being investigated, and workers have just recently completed the new ramp at the Piggott Post Office and it is now compliant with the ADA.
King and queen of the Canine Contest at the fair were Jake Jones’s “Lucky” and Camista Coyle’s “Trixie.” And winners of the pig kissing contest were Jane Pruett of Rector and Gary Magee of Piggott.
Those attending the Girl Scout bowling party at Poplar Bluff recently were—Nicole Wright, Heather Bedwell, Selena Myers, Amanda Morrison, Miranda Dalton, Kerri Turner, Leisha Lykins, Chylon Fraser and Shanna Wallace.
This week also included a look back at the earthquake that shook the region Sunday, January 30, 1965. The quake rattled windows and interrupted church services across Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri, but did little damage. It was centered about 140 miles south-southwest of St. Louis near New Madrid.
In sports, local teams are gearing up for the coming seasons and there is a new sports editor as Paul Boyd has taken the job. A graduate of Westside High School at Jonesboro, much of his family still lived in the Cash area at the time.