2018 Year in Review Part One

Thursday, December 27, 2018
Cast and crew of the upcoming CCAC Night of Chocolate dinner theatre event appeared on KAIT on Feb. 9, as a guest of Diana Davis (right) for the mid-day news. Pictured are, from left, director Quinton Mauldin, Kenny Smith as Winston Callahan and Kyle Allman as Burton Everhart III.
file photo

The year 2018 will be remembered for a variety of reasons, as was shared on the pages of the CCTD. It was a year of change on the local political scene, great success in the world of local sports and concern for the future in the face of a changing economy. The following is the first in our look back at the year that was.

January

The new year brought with it mourning for many in the Piggott area, following the December 29, 2017, death of longtime local physician Dr. Hillard R. Duckworth. A native of the Pollard area, he had served the region for nearly 60 years—and along the way delivered thousands of babies. He continued to make rounds at Piggott Community Hospital until shortly before his death.

Also in the news, speaking of PCH—the city-owned hospital's utility debt became a political hot potato, and source of contention for members of the city council. Meanwhile, the Piggott City Council approved the 2018 budget at their regular December meeting.

The 2017 cotton harvest was also reviewed the first week of the new year, as yield records were set as producers enjoyed a bumper crop.

Winner of the Rector lighting contest for the 2017 Christmas season was Richard Harris, while the winners from the previous year, Charles and Gloria Smith, took second and Kelly and Ann Baker won third place honors.

In sports, it was announced that Mohawk football standout Cade Harrell had been named to the 3A All-State football team. Meanwhile, former Rector player and coach Bill Cossey was recognized as a Friend of the NEA at the annual tournament in Jonesboro. And, the Mohawk football awards banquet was set with guest speaker Tom Dixon.

Basketball homecoming was set for early January for both Rector and Piggott High School. Meanwhile, the Rector City Council approved their annual budget at the first meeting of the new year. And, the Piggott School Board gave the okay for a lighting project, as the district was in the process of switching to the more energy efficient LEDs.

The Marmaduke School Board also met, and was informed of the impending retirement of superintendent Tim Garnder.

The Piggott Municipal Light, Water and Sewer Department announced they were changing to new bills, moving to a format which addressed privacy concerns. The new bills replaced the old card system, which had also caused problems in the mail. The Piggott Spelling Bee was held, with Madison Arenaz, Shawn-Hudson Seegraves and Ava Baggett advancing to the county bee while Londyn Morton was alternate.

In sports, local teams were busy in mid-season basketball action in both regular season and tournament play. And, the PHS Mohawk football team held their annual awards banquet and heard from former Piggott standout Tom Dixon.

The cast for the upcoming Clay County Arts Council production was introduced in mid-January. The Rector School Board also continued with efforts to acquire land to be used by the FFA chapter. Also in January, Clay County Extension Agent, Agriculture, Allison Howell presented her big plot cotton study results at a meeting in Texas.

Local basketball teams continued to toil into the late season, although the Mohawk boys continued to have their issues. Meanwhile, both Rector and Piggott teams were slated to play in the Battle of the Border at Corning, although weather forced some changes to the schedule.

Tragic news was shared the last week of January, as a Clay County teen was killed in a two vehicle crash east of Corning. Hannah Blankenship had been active in the FFA, and in pageants and was a member of the Clay County Junior Fair Board. Her death rocked the county, and prompted a number of memorial tributes and efforts.

Meanwhile, congrats to Landon Haywood, of Rector, as he won the Clay County Spelling Bee. Second was Ava Baggett of Piggott and third was Madison Arenaz, also of Piggott. Also in the news, the Rector LEGO team brought home top honors from the state competition. And, the quorum court discussed budget and personnel policy issues at their meeting.

Piggott City Market hosted an art exhibition in conjunction with Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in January. In sports, the Rector Cougars beat Ridgefield Christian to take the championship of the First National Bank Battle of the Border, at Corning.

As the month of January drew to a close, the Piggott City Council and the Piggott Health Care Facilities Board held a joint public meeting to discuss the utility bill issue. The Marmaduke School Board named Keith Richey to succeed the retiring Tim Gardner as superintendent. HPMEC announced the upcoming “Papa's Upland Bird Hunt” and the annual Ryan Rogers Memorial Cook-off was at hand.

Two local musicians were slated to try out for all state bands, including Rector sophomore Travis Slaughter and PHS junior Louis Lin, who was trying out for both the all state concert and jazz bands.

DARA graduation was held at RES, and in sports the Cougars beat Hillcrest for homecoming.

February

Members of the Rector City Council heard the details of a proposed ordinance to allow the use of golf carts and side-by-sides on city streets at their regular meeting. Meanwhile, over 75 citizens packed the Piggott City Council meeting to discuss higher-than-average electric bills.

The local Make-A-Wish fundraising group was set to host their annual Daddy-Daughter Dance. The Piggott School Board was updated on the elementary school roof project. And, Rector Schools are also participating in a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In sports, both Rector junior high teams advanced in the district being played at RHS. Meanwhile, the Piggott girls advanced but the junior boys fell, in first round play at Hoxie. Both Mohawk seniors teams were also in action, as they're set to host district.

The Piggott School Board re-hired both campus principals at their meeting in February, meanwhile planning continues for the upcoming “Welcome Home Vietnam Vets” set for March 31, in Rector.

Personnel issues also dominated the Rector School Board meeting. And, the CCAC Night of Chocolate theatre production is set.

Rector grad Madison Cate was third alternate in this Miss Arkansas State University pageant in Jonesboro. And, Hannah Blankenship was remembered at PHS as a special fundraiser was held during the Lady Mohawk game with the Lady Bobcats. Afterward, a check was presented to her parents for the Hannah Blankenship Memorial Scholarship Fund.

In sports, local teams marked senior night and district tourney play got underway.

The death of former Clay County Judge Harry Niewald was reported in mid-February, he was 92. A native of Missouri, he moved to the Piggott area in the 1940s to help establish the Brown Shoe Company location. Later in life he was elected to the quorum court, and spent eight years as county judge.

Piggott City Market was nominated for a Delta Byways Award, and would be recognized at their annual banquet. The Make-A-Wish fundraisers were a big success, and surpassed the previous year. The filing period for the primary elections was set to begin and the CCAC Night of Chocolate was a big hit.

Members of the PHS chapter of the FBLA attended district, and qualified competitors for state. The Rector FFA dinner and auction was also set as FFA Week was being observed.

In sports, the Rector Cougars beat Ridgefield Christian in an overtime thriller at Armorel, and are set to advance to the regional at Calico Rock.

The Piggott City Council addressed utility rates for the hospital at their meeting, reviewing cuts which allowed the city owner facility to enjoy industrial rates. Meanwhile, a good crowd gathered for the annual Ryan Rogers Memorial Cook-off. Weekend storms claimed the life of a Corning area man, as his mobile home was destroyed by high winds. Albert Foster, 83, lived near the Corning Y.

The ASP is still investigating a shooting in Rector, described as a home invasion incident.

Former Rector resident Ashley (Kemp) Wemberley was promoted to executive director of the Arkansas Press Association in February. And, Rector businessman Danny Ford received statewide recognition as he was presented with the Arkansas Business Executive of the Year Award by Arkansas Business Magazine.

The Area One Special Olympics basketball skills competition was held at Piggott High School. Marmaduke City Council approved the purchase of a new tornado siren. And, Dennis Adams of Graves Gin was named Ginner of the Year by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.

The PES Archery team is headed to state after making a strong showing. Students in the PHS ALE program earned state recognition. State Rep. Joe Jett announced he was seeking re-election, and is facing a challenge from Ryan Carter, of Corning. And, Piggott City Market brought home the award they were nominated for at the Delta By-Ways banquet. The Corning Welcome Center was also recognized.

In sports, the Cougars battled their way out of the regional at Armorel, but fell in first round state play to Woodlawn—ending what had been an outstanding season for the boys in blue.

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