Year In Review for 2013, Part Two

Thursday, January 9, 2014
Longtime public servant Lowell McKenney was honored by the City of Rector following his retirement.

July

As the month of June drew to a close, focus centered on the weather as a strong dome of high pressure had brought temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. But, thankfully a frontal system ushered in some much-needed relief in the form of showers and lower temperatures as the month got underway. Early July also brought with it the annual Independence Day celebration in Piggott. This year the theme was "Proud to be an American" with Charles Wright serving as Grand Marshal of the parade.

Also in the news, the RPD made an arrest in the ongoing graffiti investigation; the county accepted a grant check from the state to update voting equipment and Piggott Mayor Gerald Morris was elected to statewide office during the annual meeting of the Arkansas Municipal League. Meanwhile, Rector City Council honored longtime former recorder/treasurer Lowell McKenney.

Fire gutted the Los Compadres Restaurant in Piggott, which occupied the building which was formerly the A&W and later Jones Restaurant. The establishment has since relocated into the former Barn Restaurant building a few blocks east.

Speaking of the annual Piggott Fourth of July Picnic, this year's event was well-attended and boasted several improvements including a live concert by Jamie Teachenor. At the end of the day Heather Porter of Poplar Bluff claimed the crown as Miss Piggott.

The annual Pollard Picnic was also held in July, with Sadie Sawyers of Piggott crowned as Miss Pollard for this year. Mid-July also brought the news longtime Lady Mohawk volleyball coach Melissa Williams had accepted an assistant coaching position at Paragould. And, Kaylee Hartsfield of Rector made a great showing at the National Junior Angus Show.

Meanwhile, work continues on both the Casey's and First National Bank construction projects, and the shells of both buildings are complete.

Quinton Mauldin (right) is congratulated by fellow Mohawk Jacob Wellman following the All-Piggott singles final at the 3-3A district tennis tournament at Jonesboro. This was just one of the sports stories covered in late 2013, which included the Lady Cougars NEA title, the Lady Mohawks return to the state volleyball tournament under new head coach Nikki Speer and the Mohawk football team's upset of Corning in the season finale to retain the Rice Bowl Trophy.

Longtime local businessman Bobby Shanklin died July 21, following a lengthy illness, he was 69. Shanklin was best known for his time managing the local John Deere dealership. Also in the news, Gary Prince and the Sugar Creek Band were set to perform at a Rector Community Center fundraiser, and Emily Hope of Piggott was crowned Miss St. Francis at their picnic.

As July drew to a close the annual Greenway Picnic was previewed, and Joe and Tracy Cole held an open house in their recently purchased bed and breakfast. The Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame inductees were also announced, including Roma Nell Sanders, Bobby Tracer, Kelly Scobey, Jason Manchester and Matt Mills.

The month also brought news of several local teams advancing in Little League state and regional play.

August

Early August brought news Sydney Manchester of Paragould was crowned Miss Greenway, and the Piggott School Board hired Jeremy Wortham of Paragould as the new band director. The Rector Neighbor 2 Neighbor group planned another clean-up day, and RHS Helping Hands announced a plan to give ipads to students for perfect attendance.

August also brought news of the resumption of school for students across the region, and Johnny Williams was named new director of the Rector Community Museum. This month also brought the news that former Lady Mohawk standout, and current softball and golf coach, Nikki Speer would take over the volleyball program. Speer had been a star player for the Tribe in several sports, and had attended Williams Baptist on a dual volleyball-softball scholarship.

Piggott Community Hospital was recognized for their stroke care efforts, one of several awards afforded the facility during the course of the year, and plans continued for the annual Rector Labor Day Picnic. As August drew to a close it was announced Jane Holifield would serve as Grand Marshal of the annual parade. Meanwhile, the high school fall sports seasons were getting underway.

September

Early September brought the news Madison Cate was crowned Miss Rector, as the annual picnic was a big success. The month also brought a preview of the annual Clay County Fair, and the Native American Day at the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum. Fire also heavily damaged the Los Compadres Restaurant in Piggott in early September, and BRTC announced it was pulling out of the Rector training center.

Mid-September brought the news Adam Hackworth, of Piggott, had pleaded guilty on two counts of attempted murder, in connection with the attack which had occurred in February in Rector. The annual Clay County Fair was also a success, with Kerbi Hatcher of Rector chosen as Miss Clay County.

But, there was also sad news in September as the deaths of three community leaders were all reported in just one week, including Gerald Hoggard, Cord Sutfin and Bobby Byrd. Mid- month also brought news of the impending opening of the Casey's store, and Wil Whaley was the overall winner in the annual Clay County Fair Talent Show.

The upcoming countywide sales tax issue was also discussed at the quorum court meeting, and early voting was set to get underway. The JP's had placed the measure on the ballot for a special election earlier in the fall, as a response to a forecast of budget shortfalls in both the short and long term. Meanwhile, Erica Cluck-Vancil was crowned PHS Homecoming Queen and it was announced Danny Ford of Rector would be honored by ASU as a distinguished alumni at their homecoming game.

October

October brought with it news the annual Piggott Chamber of Commerce banquet was set, and early voting continued on the countywide sales tax issue. Over 200 were on hand for a fundraising concert for the Rector Community Center, as Chad Garrett and friends entertained. And, it was announced Josh Hicks and Cody Knight had joined the staff of Piggott State Bank.

The annual "See You at the Pole" was well-attended, despite a foggy and dreary morning for the annual prayer observance. Also in the news, it was announced the third annual Rickman/Brown Memorial Run would benefit the fight against juvenile diabetes.

In sports the Tribe pounded the Manila Lions 42-6 in the annual homecoming game at Parker Field, notching their first conference win of the season.

James Magee, CEO of Piggott Community Hospital, was honored in October as the recipient of the A. Allen Weintraub Memorial Award. The recognition is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by the Arkansas Hospital Association. Meanwhile, the Rector City Council recognized a "dedicated core group of volunteers" for their efforts raising funds for a matching grant for improvements to the community center.

It was also reported the countywide sales tax issue was approved by voters on Oct. 8, as the measure passed on a vote of 565-542.

The month also included a preview of the upcoming Clay County Arts Council fall fashion show, as the fundraiser was scheduled for Oct. 24 at the Sugar Creek Country Club. Successes of the PHS chapter of the FFA were also documented, as the livestock team had brought home a variety of ribbons and trophies from the fall.

In sports, tennis season began to wind down for the Mohawks as they looked forward to post season play. This year proved to be an off one for the perennial powerhouse Lady Mohawks, but the boy's squad remained undefeated in conference play. As for the Lady Mohawk volleyball squad they continued to enjoy a successful season under first year head coach Nikki Speer, and were undefeated in conference before dropping a set to CRA. The Mohawk cross country team has also made some good showings this fall, now under the guidance of Frank Staples.

October also brought the news RHS first grade teacher Lance Mabrey had been recognized as a "Teacher of the Month" by KAIT.

Mid-October brought the sad news of the death of business and civic leader Marshall Wheeler of Piggott. A veteran of the Army and National Guard, he had managed the Arkansas Bank branch in Piggott prior to his retirement. He was also a retired firefighter and had served as Piggott Fire Chief, and was involved in Scouting and as a member of the First United Methodist Church.

Red Ribbon Week is being planned for later this month at Rector Schools, and Danny Ford was recognized at halftime of the ASU homecoming game with a Distinguished Alumni award. And, despite a torrential downpour a number of hearty runners and walkers took part in the Rickman/Brown 5K Memorial to benefit the fight against juvenile diabetes.

In sports, the Mohawk boys tennis team wrapped up the season unbeaten in conference play and as district champions. In doing so, the squad qualified several players for the state tourney at North Little Rock. As for the Lady Mohawks, they qualified one player for state.

It was announced the first two rounds of the Northeast Arkansas Youth Football League Playoffs would be held at Rector, as the Cougar teams looked to advance to the championship. And, Billy Seal and Randy Jackson were recognized by the Piggott Pewee football program as early pioneers of the local program.

This week also brought the news of a donation to the Rector Veterans Memorial Park by local businessman Keith Hill. And, the annual community health fair was held at Piggott State Bank, co-sponsored by Piggott Community Hospital.

October also brought the sad news of the death of former Rector superintendent Larry French, as he died at age 72. A 1958 graduate of RHS he had attended Arkansas State and later spent a long career as an educator working in both Arkansas and Missouri.

The annual Piggott Chamber of Commerce banquet was held, and drew a good crowd as the organization handed out a variety of community awards. Piggott Schools observed Red Ribbon Week, and this year's theme was "Friends Don't Let Friends Bully, Or Do Drugs."

Mattylee Wright of Marmaduke celebrated her 100th birthday, while Piggott native Rhonda Wiley-Jones published a book dedicated to her mother, Gaye Wiley.

The Rector FFA livestock show team had a successful trip to the state fair, the annual Fall Festival was held at PES and the Piggott School Board welcomed new member Brad Dunlap and elected officers.

In sports, the Lady Mohawk claimed the 3A-Northeast volleyball title with a win over Harrisburg, and prepared for state tournament play. The Rector Peewee Cougars sixth grade team advanced in the playoffs, and was set to take on Manila. And, members of the Mohawk boy's tennis team advanced in the state tournament at North Little Rock.

As the month of October drew to a close, Red Ribbon Week was marked at RES and the Piggott Chamber of Commerce announced it would sponsor a double-header show in November. The event would include a performance by The Rhodes Show, with the Ultimate Oldies Show to follow. The Rhodes Show was also slated to visit Rector for a performance at the community center.

Piggott Community Hospital announced the installation of a new CT scanner, in an effort to provide more accurate and safer scans for patients. Danny Ford was also surprised by RES students, as they honored him for his community activism. It was also reported Cleta Whitaker Simmons had been honored on her 100th birthday back in August.

The CCAC holiday fashion show and silent auction was a big success, generating funds for the Arts Council's many projects.

In sports, the Mohawk boy's tennis team finished third in the state behind the performances of Quinton Mauldin, Will Jett and Trevor Grubb. Meanwhile, Lady Mohawk Katelynn Woodard fell in her first round set. And, the peewee Cougars have advanced to the championship game in NEAYFL and will play Earle for the title in McCrory. And, the Lady Mohawks closed out the regular season with senior night, and have made the trip to Harrison for the state tourney.

November

The month of November brought news of a $100,000 grant for Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center from the state--and delivered by State Senator Robert Thompson. He was also honored by ASU officials for his continued support of the museum and other Heritage Sites.

Heavy rain across the region in November also slowed the harvest process for farmers, while the Rector City Council examined the proposed budget for 2014. Early November also brought with it a recap of Halloween festivities, and a review of old-time weather predictions called for a hard winter.

In sports, the peewee Cougars beat Earle to take the championship at McCrory. Meanwhile, the Lady Mohawks fell in the Elite Eight of 3A against Paris and the junior Cougars closed their football season with a loss to Marked Tree.

Veterans Day was observed, with ceremonies held in both Rector and Piggott on Nov. 11. Plans were also underway for a craft show in Rector, the Piggott Chamber of Commerce shows and Christmas Fest. Rector FCCLA students were also recognized for volunteer efforts.

In sports, the Mohawks beat cross county rival Corning 33-26 to retain the Rice Bowl Trophy and end the season on an up-note. Meanwhile, PHS distance runners Lee Austin and Brady McPherson made good showings at the state cross country meet.

And, hoops season is underway for RHS, as the Lady Cougars moved to 6-0, while the boy's team moved to 5-1, with wins over Black Rock.

In mid-November it was announced Piggott State Bank had purchased the property adjacent to the Piggott Public Library, and was donating the lot to the library for possible future expansion. The Clay County Arts Council was also gearing up for their Night of Chocolate and Dinner Theater event.

Work progressed on the new First National Bank facility in Piggott, with opening set for December. Meanwhile, the Rector peewee football players were recognized with a banquet to celebrate their success. And, the annual DHS Christmas Project was announced, as workers prepared for the holiday season.

Late November brought remembrances of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy, and the sad news that longtime Justice of the Peace Doyne Holifield, of Pollard, had died at the age of 69. Holifield had been a farmer and well-respected community leader, and had served on the quorum court since 2001.

The Thanksgiving edition also included previews of the Rector and Piggott Christmas festivities, and in sports, the talented Scott brothers of RHS were profiled after a standout year on the golf team.

December

The month of December brought good news for local senior centers, as state lawmakers Robert Thompson and Joe Jett delivered news of state grant monies. Elvis Cornelison was also named Grand Marshal for the Rector Christmas Parade and officials warned of the possibility of an ice storm associated with winter storm Cleon.

In sports, the fourth annual Rector HOF Classic basketball tournament was set, and several Lady Mohawks earned post-season honors for volleyball.

Cleon failed to pack as much punch as forecasters had worried, but still managed to cause the cancellation or re-scheduling of a number of events and activities. Including, both Christmas celebration and the HOF Classic. Meanwhile, a Wounded Warrior fundraiser was featured and the Piggott School Board discussed the possible outsourcing of food service.

Members of the Rector GT program visited historic Central High School in Little Rock, and their trip was detailed. And, Cleon forced the state football playoffs to be pushed back a week.

December also brought the news of the death of Jack Mooney, 79, of St. Francis as the area lost yet another longtime business owner. He had owned and operated Clay County Air Conditioning for some 37 years.

The postponed Piggott Christmas Fest, and Night of Chocolate, were held and enjoyed good attendance. And, the annual "Journey to Bethlehem" at Hitts Chapel Church was previewed. An initiative to bring technology to RES classrooms was also reported, along with a story on Fagus native Jim Teachenor being named to the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame.

Topping sports news, Lady Cougar head coach Matt Dean recorded his 500th win just prior to Christmas as his team beat EPC. And, eight members of the Mohawk football team earned post season honors.

December drew to a close with news of the grand opening of First National Bank, which had opened to the public the week after winter storm Cleon roared through. National Guard "elves" also made a donation to RES and PHS senior Aaron Meadows was surprised by the A-STATE Scholar prize patrol as he is set to receive an endowment scholarship to the school for four years.

The region was also soaked by rain, with flooding reported in many low-lying areas.

Newly graduated teacher Sue Blair of Piggott was also profiled, as she completed her student teaching in Shawna Bucy's fourth grade class at RES. And, Supper With Santa was held hosted by the Piggott Band Boosters.

In sports, the Cougars and Lady Cougars posted wins while the Mohawks took the consolation bracket championship in the Clarkton Holiday Tournament. The championship game pitted Mohawk coach David Reynolds against his alma mater, the East Carter County Redbirds, for the first time--providing the second year coach with an outstanding early Christmas present.

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