Year in Review for 2015, Part One

Friday, January 1, 2016
Judge Gary Howell and members of the Clay County Quorum Court gathered for a group photo at their first meeting of the year, held in January. Pictured are, from left: Front- Dennis Haines, Jodie Henderson, Ryan Rogers and Jeff Douglas. Back-John Mansker, Greg Ahrent, Jim Clifton, Judge Howell, David Cagle and Richie Culver. It was the first meeting for Culver, and served as the final for Rogers, who passed away just days later. It was also a pivotal time for Howell, who later in the year announced he was retiring at the conclusion of his current term, as he is not seeking re-election.

Once again this January we take time to look back on the just-completed year, and the events and people who shaped our local and regional news and sports.

January

The first day of 2015 brought with it a new dawn on the political scene, as Piggott and Rector welcomed new mayors and Clay County Sheriff Terry Miller took office along with JP Richie Culver. The first of the year also brought the news of the retirement of Piggott Police Chief Bill Alstadt. A Rector native, he had served over 36 years. Appointed as his replacement was longtime local law enforcement officer Don Poole.

Also in the news, Becca Davis of PHS won the Voice of Democracy essay contest. And, Rector native Tim Ingram, former manager of KAIT, has taken a similar job in New Orleans.

In sports, the local basketball teams resumed play following the Christmas break, and former Piggott and Pollard resident Marvin Harris, and his fishing partner, took first place in a Big5Bass tournament.

Mid-January brought news the annual Girl Scout Cookie sale is at hand, and the Rector School Board reviewed the effort to offer college courses. Meanwhile, the Piggott School Board voted not to extend Superintendent Charlie Powell's contract for an additional year.

Post-season honors for Rector Cougar football players were also announced, with Blane Murray named All-Conference while Danny Hager, Garrett Buck and Lawson Ford were honorable mentions.

January also brought news of an honor for longtime PHS tennis coach Paul Seegraves, as he was recognized by the USTA. The arts were also featured, including a story on PHS grad Jessica Davis' trip to Spain to participate in a four-month study program. Meanwhile, the Clay County Arts Council continues to prepare for their upcoming Night of Chocolate production.

Louis Lin of PHS was the Clay County Spelling Bee for the second year in a row, and qualified for the state bee. Meanwhile, Piggott firefighters battled strong winds as they extinguished a fire at Lazy D Trucking.

RHS band students named for All-Region honors included Rhonda Walker, Blake LaRue, Tyler Remagen and Andrew Garron.

A Pollard woman was lucky to survive an explosion which destroyed her home in late January. The home of Vickie and Randy Dover was apparently destroyed by a gas leak. Both RHS and PHS are marking basketball homecoming, with the Mohawks hosting Corning and the Cougars taking on EPC. Abby Holcomb was chosen as PHS homecoming queen, with Jacob Wellman as girl's basketball beau.

The Piggott City Council approved the 2015 budget, and selected Jeff Benbrook to fill out the unexpired term of former Alderman Jim Poole. And, the Clay County Cooperative Extension Service announced the Greene/Clay cotton production meeting will be held in Rector.

In sports, Lady Mohawk volleyball player McKenzie Hopkins was chosen to play in the annual All-Star game in Conway set for June.

February

The end of January brought tragic news, as CCTD sports editor and Clay County Quorum Court member, Ryan Rogers died suddenly at his home at age 35. A native of the Greenway area, he had served the community at the newspaper for 11 years. Meanwhile, longtime National Guard member Damon Cluck, a native of Piggott, was promoted to colonel.

Congrats to RHS homecoming queen Marla Crancer, who reigned over the annual festivities with her brother, Landon, selected as king. And, several members of the FBLA at PHS qualified for state at their regional conference.

The CCAC Night of Chocolate was a big success, as a large crowd gathered for their dinner theater event. And, separate traffic accidents claimed the lives of Scotty Dean Corter, of Greenway, and Denver Vannada of Corning.

The annual Chili Cook-Off at Rector is scheduled, and this year's event will pay homage to the late Ryan Rogers.

Winter Storm Octavia roared through the region in mid-February, dropping in excess of three inches of snow and sleet. The annual Have-A-Heart Wish-A-Thon was also held, and received widespread support.

Senior night was held at PHS, as the Tribe hosted the Cougars in their now-traditional finale'. Lawson Ford had 31 of Rector's points on the night, as the visitors posted a 52-47 win. And, the Mohawk "Iron Workers" weight lifting team was in competition.

in late February it was also reported that the L.A. Darling plant in Piggott would close, affecting about 70 jobs. And, FFA week was marked by both the Piggott and Rector chapters.

March

The month of March began with news that Gregg Sain, of Rector, had received the top ginner award for a five state area. Meanwhile, PHS hosted the Area One basketball skills Special Olympics competition. And, the first-ever Ryan Rogers Memorial Chili Cook-off was a big success.

In sports, Piggott standout Bradley Stephens has signed to attend Lyon College and play football as the Scots are set to resurrect their program after more than 50 years. And, all conference basketball Cougars includes Tori Hill, Marla Crancer and Lawson Ford. Plus, the Lady Greyhounds won their regional and are set for the state tournament.

The Rector FFA annual auction was a big success, with over $9,000 raised. Meanwhile, plans continue for the 2015 Piggott Heritage Park Car Show, as the show will be staged by a new set of organizers this spring.

And, this month's winter storm is "Thor" and it is being blamed for at least a dozen deaths nationwide.

March also brought with it the CCAC art show and reception, held at the Rector Community Center. And, the Piggott Area Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the "Proudest Kid in Piggott" essay contest, with Macy Powell taking first place, Riley Gossett in second and Haley Hanners in third.

A retirement party was also planned for March, as Donna Haley retired after a long career at Clay County Abstract and Community Title.

In sports, the Marmaduke Lady Greyhounds rallied past England for the 2A state basketball title; Mohawk basketball players named All Conference included Bailey Pollard, Devyn Staples, Brayden Brewer, Nicholas Harris and Logan Dixon and the Rector fifth grade girls team completed an undefeated season.

In late March it was announced a new Sonic Restaurant will be built in Piggott sometime in the coming months. PHS also hosted ALE Spring Fest, and crowned the royalty for Sadie Hawkins Day, and a special hunt was held at Liberty Hills Outfitter for a "wounded warrior."

In sports, the baseball Cougars pounded Marmaduke to begin their season.

April

Tragic news to begin the month, as Dillon McNew, of Piggott, died March 28, at UAMS, from injuries suffered in a tractor accident over two weeks earlier. A community-wide Easter Sunday service was also announced at Rector Memorial Park.

Upcoming events include the Bits N' Pieces Puppet Theatre event at the RCC, on April 20, and the annual Chalk Bluff Civil War battle re-enactment in early May. Softball and baseball season are now in full swing, and the Piggott third and fourth grade boys completed a perfect season of their own, as they finished at 11-0.

Issues faced by regional farmers, and a recent earthquake along the New Madrid Fault zone topped the news the second week of April. The recent big weekend, which included the city wide yard sale, FFA auction and Easter egg hunt was also reviewed.

A local man was injured in a single vehicle crash between Piggott and Pollard in late April, as an MFA semi-truck driven by George Wellman ran off the roadway and overturned. Meanwhile, the Piggott School Board renewed the contract with Chartwell's for food service, and the third annual Rector Craft Fair was previewed.

Construction is also underway on the new First National Bank community pavilion, being constructed adjacent to the Piggott Banking Center on East Main Street. Proms were held, with Bailey Pollard and Conner Boyster crowned as queen and king at Piggott, Grayson Crancer and Mason McCluskey at Rector High and Shelby Blackburn and Luke Clark at Marmaduke.

The Rector School Board accepted the low bid for refinishing the gym floor at their April meeting. And, the quorum court discussed ongoing flooding issues at Datto. The annual RES science fair was held, and it was reported that a special "Leland Dees" day will be held.

As April drew to a close, so did a long tenure at the local paper as Peggy Johnson penned her final column. Johnson's "From These Hills" column had been featured in the Piggott Times, and CCTD, since January of 1984. It was also announced that a Ryan Rogers Memorial Scholarship had been established at RHS.

In sports, Lady Mohawk McKenzie Hopkins signed her letter of intent to play volleyball for the Lady Eagles of Williams Baptist. Meanwhile, GCT grad Chase Halbrook has been hired as the new Lady Mohawk basketball coach, and the PHS softball team remains unbeaten in conference.

May

Graduation day is set at Rector High, with 33 scheduled to take part in commencement. Final plans were also announced for the annual Piggott car show, set for May 15 to 17.

In sports, the Mohawks took second in the 3A-3 district track meet and qualified several athletes for the upcoming state meet. The RHS Sports Hall of Fame inductees for 2015 were also announced. The Lady Mohawks rolled to the district title, while the RHS girls were eliminated by Riverside.

Piggott High will also mark commencement, with 61 grads scheduled to take part and Marmaduke will have 59 seniors receiving diplomas during their ceremony. And, a number of new events are on tap for the annual car show, if the weather cooperates. And, National Guard officials met with Rector leaders on the possible future closure of the local armory.

In sports, Piggott's Nick McKinnie brought home two state championships from the 3A state track meet, winning both the 100 and 200 meter dashes to qualify for the "Meet of Champions." He'll be joined by his 4x100 teammates, Bradley Stephens, Logan Dixon and Justin Goding and shot putter Seth Lacey.

Memorial Day services were set as May began to draw to a close. The CCAC awarded scholarships this year to Seth McAfee of Rector, Connor Boyster of Piggott and Jacob Hadley of Corning. And, in sports, the Lady Mohawks fell in the first round of the state tourney, while the Lady Greyhounds fell in the regional finals.

May ended with the news that the First Presbyterian Church in Piggott had closed the doors after 128 years as part of the community. The CCAC also announced their honorees for the Celebration of the Arts, which included Barbara Hamilton of Rector and Don and Janet Roeder of Piggott.

And, in sports the first ever Mohawk football reunion was held and honored former coach Carl "Zig" Williams, and raised funds for the PHS football program.

June

June brought the news the Rector Armory will be closing on Oct. 1, and the building turned over to the city. Piggott Elementary School was also recognized for high test scores with the presentation of a check for over $20,000. Early June also included a feature on a bicycle tour which traveled through the region, which served to raise awareness for Tourette's syndrome.

The Potts-Hemann family, from Greenway, was named the Clay County Farm Family of the year in June. Plans were also completed for the upcoming Piggott Fourth of July Picnic. And, Rector resident James Watson received his 50 year pin from the Rector Masonic Lodge.

In sports, the Mohawk alumni football game has been planned as part of the annual Fourth of July Picnic weekend.

The World's Largest Swimming Lesson made a return appearance at the Piggott pool, and despite cool and windy conditions the turnout was good. The Piggott City Council approved several purchases, including video surveillance equipment. And, Melissa Edwards was named director of home health at Piggott Community Hospital.

And, the summer reading program continued at the local libraries with visits from hometown heroes.

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