Wise fire, ice storm cleanup among big stories

Monday, January 5, 2004

The return of the Wise Company to Rector, cleanup efforts following a devastating ice storm, an horrific sandstorm which resulted in the death of a Senath woman and the loss of two local church facilities to fire topped news stories in 2003 in the Rector area.

The Wise Company reopened in early December in a new 100,000 square-foot facility at the south edge of Rector. The company operated for a year in rented space at Kennett after its original plant in Rector was destroyed by fire in September 2002. The new structure was built at a cost of $2,198,988 through insurance money and a $900,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Economic Development. The Wise Company manufactures boat seats and currently employs about 125.

Rector street department employees worked for months in early 2003 cleaning up debris from a crippling ice storm which came in early December 2002, downing power lines and destroying trees all over Northeast Arkansas. Crews worked for weeks picking up piles of limbs and other debris which residents were asked to place at curbside. Funding for the cleanup effort was provided in part by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The weather again resulted in a tragedy in April when high winds caused a blinding sandstorm on Highway 90 between Hargrave Corner and Holly Island. A Senath, Mo., woman died when the vehicle in which she was a passenger was hit from behind in the storm by a Freightliner truck. Four others were injured, including Rector EMT Nita Bowden, who was pinned against Rector's ambulance by the Freightliner's hood, which blew off in the wind.

A fire in late February destroyed the New Life Christian Center in Rector. A mixture of sleet and snow helped Rector firemen extinguish the blaze, but the building was a total loss. The church's congregation met for a time at the Rector Community Center and then began having services at the former St. Henry's Catholic Church, which was closed a few months ago. Ironically, that building, too, was lost to fire in a Sunday morning fire in late November. The congregation is again meeting at the Rector Community Center until a new facility can be completed at their original site.

This is a summary of other stories which made up the news in 2003:


Bill and Ruth Ann Vanlandingham begin 2003 as retirees after closing their Shelter Insurance office in Rector on Dec. 31...the Marmaduke Greyhounds claim the A-AA boys title at the NEA Tournament in Jonesboro...Longtime Clay County officials Charles Pollard, Pat Williams and Jerry Williams begin retirement after ending their careers Dec. 31. Pollard served as County Clerk, Pat Williams as Circuit Clerk and Jerry Williams as Assessor...Spring Carter, Sydney Simmons and Logan Wesley are recognized as the top fundraisers in Rector's bike-a-thon for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Memphis...the Rector Parks and Recreation Commission receives a $3,000 donation through the Harps Charity Golf Tournament held in Rogers...A soft snow blankets the town early in the month...Woodland Heights Cemetery and Pleasant Grove Cemetery receive checks for over $25,000 each from the estate of the late Bernice French Coffee...Rector teachers Judy Hargrave and Gail Burns receive fourth place, open category, in the Arkansas Council on Economic Education's Bessie B. Moore Arkansas Awards...Rector School superintendent Kelly Scobey announces his retirement after 35 years with Rector Schools...Debris removal begins at the site of the Wise Company building, which burned in September...Marmaduke welcomes new mayor Nileane Drope...Carla Powell begins duties as Clay County's new Prosecuting Attorney...Rector Elementary School holds its annual Economics Fair...Advanced Nurse Practitioner Sherry Armstrong joins the staff of Rector Family Care Clinic...Deana Mills takes the reins as head librarian at the Rector Public Library following the retirement of Deanie Wagster...Brittany Webb is crowned as Rector High School's 2003 Basketball Homecoming Queen. Members of her court are seniors Angelia Tucker and Sara Parmenter, junior Cassie Wallace, sophomore Layla Phillips, freshman Tara Shepard, eighth grader Jessica Hill and seventh grader Whitney Conley...Rector Junior High's chess team places second in the 1A/2A division at the Regional Junior High Chess tournament held in Cabot...Sigsby Insurance, Inc., of Rector celebrates 50 years of service to Rector.


The City of Rector receives a $190,192 for construction of a new senior citizens facility. The center will be operated through an agreement between the City of Rector, the Rector Housing Authority and Black River Area Development (BRAD)...Rector native Bill Ford, who served 11 years as Arkansas's state bank commissioner, dies after a brave battle with lung cancer...Rector's new Lions Club is launched with a Charter Night dinner held at the Rector Community Center...Debris cleanup at the Wise Company site is completed...the Rector Woman's Club continues fundraising efforts for its Rector Community Museum project...Ron Benson is named a vice president/commercial loan officer with American State Bank...Rector High School's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) hold a "safety first" program for Rector kindergarten classes...Reorganization efforts begin for a Little League baseball program in Rector...Cam Cate opens Comfort Control, a new heading, air conditioning and refrigeration business, in Rector...Fire destroys the home of Tim Stokes on South Fordyce street in Rector...the Rector Fire Department Wives Auxiliary plans its first annual "Tops Hats and Turnouts" firemen's ball to raise funds for new equipment for the department...Eighth grader April Pendergraff wins Rector's 2003 school spelling bee...Rector junior high cheerleaders win a second place trophy in the 3AA division of a regional cheerleading competition held at Jonesboro High School...Rector fifth and sixth graders take part in the American Heart Association's "Jump Rope for Heart" fundraising program...A poem written by Rector third grader Emilea Vangilder is accepted for publication in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans...Lethal Attitude Wrestling hold a special benefit event for Jared Green of Rector...the Rector Junior Lady Cougars take the runnerup position in the 3AA North District Tournament and finish as 3AA North conference runnersup with a record of 17-7...Rector High School principal Rob Louder is hired as new superintendent of the Rector School District...Rector's FFA has a successful farm auction despite cold rainy weather...Rector's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) participates in district competition at Jonesboro, with Ryan Carpenter, Kay Hall, Tara Robertson and Lyndsey Bell advancing to state competition at Little Rock...Nash Logan McCrory, 19-month-old son of Tommy and Jeri Dawn McCrory of Marmaduke, is chosen as the Paragould/Greene County WalkAmerica 2003 Ambassador Child.


The Marmaduke Greyhounds and Lady Greyhounds advance to the state tournament after both win their divisions in the AA Region 4 basketball tournament...Scott Henderson, husband of the former Cathy Crow of Rector, is named as the new director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission...the Rector City Council meets in special session to open construction bids for the new Wise Company industrial building on Highway 49...Glen Sain Motors in Rector unveils its remodeled parts department...Rector High School theatre troupe 4089 attends the Arkansas State Thespians Festival and One-Act Play Festival on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas at Conway...Girl Scout Week is proclaimed in Rector with a large number of scouts attending an event at City Hall to declare the special week...Don Andrew Dodd, DaShawna Brooke Grigsby, Heather Lashay Ramer, Kyle Nelson Richey and Tommy David Hendrix are named as honor graduates at Marmaduke High School...Twenty-five units of blood are collected in an American Red Cross blood drive hosted by the Rector High School FBLA and the Rector Woman's Club...Rector, Piggott and Kennett students travel with RHS drama instructor Gail Burns to Hot Springs to perform at the Arkansas Gifted and Talented Education Conference (AGATE), receiving rave reviews for their presentation of scenes from their production of "Once On This Island"...Marmaduke freshmen Ashley Seffers and Sadie Evans place first in grammar in a statewide writing competition...the Rector Cougars baseball team opens the season with a 7-5 win over the Brookland Bearcats...Rector National Guardsmen being mobilized for active duty are honored in a special ceremony at Rector Downtown Park...Two-year-old Sarah Robinson and three-year-old Lance Hewett are crowned as Little Miss and Mr. Rector in a contest held at Rector High School...Diane Randleman is named by the Rector Woman's Club as its 2003 Woman of the Year...the City of Rector signs a contract with Big M Construction Company of Jonesboro for construction of the new Wise Company building on Highway 49...David Hampton of Marmaduke, an honor graduate and platoon leader with the United States Army, is deployed to Kuwait...17 Marmaduke businesses sponsor a street dance in downtown Marmaduke...Rector Elementary School students participate in a math competition at Paragould, bringing home lots of awards...Floyd Young and Jerlene Fowler are crowned as the BRAD Valentine King and Queen.

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