Year in Review Part II, April through June 2018

Thursday, January 3, 2019
The winners of the Piggott's Proudest Kid essay contest were recognized at PES, and had the chance to enjoy the traditional lunch with Mayor Jim Poole.
TD file photo


Rector, and the region, remembered those who served as the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home celebration was held. Meanwhile, the Rector council advanced the golf cart ordinance on its second reading. PHS faculty members Jon Wellman and Karen Coomer presented at the NAEA conference. With the arrival of spring, the first crop update and demolition derby of the year were scheduled.

Crowned Little Mr. and Miss Rector at the recent alumni game were William Banning and Sophie Matheney.

The month of April also brought with it the news of the death of long-time local healthcare professional Judy Wells, as she died at the age of 65. The Greenway native had retired in September of 2016 after serving 45 years in caring for others.

This week also brought news of an effort to replace the mural in downtown Piggott, and seek to have others painted on local buildings. It was also announced the the Giant Puppets would return to Rector, thanks to the CCAC. The Piggott School Board also accepted retirement resignations of long-time educators, as teacher Pam Hoggard and paraprofessional Veda Crittendon announced it would be their final year in the classroom.

The annual Piggott FFA auction was held, despite snow, although the city wide yard sale and 5K were called-off. HPMEC announced Kate Osana Simonian, a student at Texas Tech, would serve as the first ever writer in residence.

In sports, the baseball and softball teams continue to have strong spring seasons. As for the Mohawk track team, they took part in the Wellman Relays. And, the Mohawk weight team hosted a meet at PHS.

The Rector School Board reluctantly accepted the resignation of band director Daniel VanAalsburg, and chorus director Melinda VanAalsburg, at their regular meeting. They next voted to hire Kyle Kempf as the new band director.

The Piggott High School FBLA made a strong showing at state. The giant puppets drew large crowds to the Rector Community Center for the annual CCAC production. And, the quorum court discussed budget and heard from St. Francis Mayor Teressa Johnson at their meeting.

PES student Riley Gossett was recognized for her entry in the Storyworks competition. And, Cooper Rabjohn was the overall winner of the science fair at RES.

In sports, the Lady Cougar softball team is rolling into the late season on a winning streak. The PHS track teams were in action at a meet in Gosnell. The baseball Cougars split games as Hunter McNeely threw a no-hitter at Ridgefield Christian. The baseball and softball Mohawks split games. And, two Marmaduke basketball standouts will play in the Sun Classic at Jonesboro as Natalie Lentz and Derek Agee were selected to the rosters.

As the month of April wound-down, the PHS music department was set to stage a production of “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Meanwhile, the ADH warned of a hepatitis scare involving a Corning business. The Piggott City Council discussed traffic, and approved ordinances to ask for an extension of the local sales tax to benefit the hospital.

A PES student was granted her wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, with a surprise party at the community center. Meanwhile, long-time local librarian Jane Webster was remembered with a bronze sculpture that was placed in the lobby of PES. And, the Renaissance Program is making a return to Rector High School.

And, both Piggott High School and Rector High School held their annual junior-senior proms.

Spring sports is still in full swing, and the local softball and baseball teams recognized their seniors in their final home appearances. The senior and junior Mohawk track teams were also in action. The junior boys and girls were both fifth in conference meet at Osceola, with several top-two finishes for both squads.


Early May brought the sad news of the death of long-time Rector resident Cleta Simmons at the age of 104. The Piggott FFA chapter made a strong showing at state, bringing home two first place team finishes. The Piggott School Board accepted the resignation of boys basketball coach Seth Medlen at a special meeting. Early voting was set to begin in the primary election, and graduation was set at Rector High School and Marmaduke.

Rector Elementary students took part in the WBC science fair; the PHS Music Department staged “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and HPMEC benefited from the donation of Stickley furniture.

Movies Under the Stars was set at Heritage Park and the 5K color run was rescheduled.

In sports, the Lady Cougars powered to the district softball championship; the baseball Mohawks and Cougars were runner-ups in their district tourneys. All three are set for regional play. The Mohawk senior track teams competed in district at Osceola, with championships going to Nate Mallard in the shot put and Willow Lewis in the 800.

A Rector man was killed in a single vehicle crash the first week of May, as Alberto Escondon-Martinez died when his vehicle overturned south of the city. Meanwhile, local postal workers took part in the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive; an overheated breaker box forced the transfer of some prisoners from the Clay County Detention Center and the Rector City Council passed the so-called golf cart ordinance.

RHS held graduation for the class of 2018, with PHS set to hold commencement. It was also announced that the Region's Bank location in Piggott would be closing later in the year.

RHS also held the annual honors day, while State Rep. Joe Jett visited the PHS ALE class.

In sports, Nate Mallard defended his 3A state shot put title at the state track meet, breaking the state record set by former Corning Bobcat Klint Harvey in the process. The Tribe also had a number of other standout performances. Meanwhile, the Rector Lady Cougars and the Mohawk baseball squad are state tournament bound after advancing in regional play.

Mid-May brought with it graduation for the PHS class of 2018, and plans were complete for the annual car show. Staff issues were addressed by the Piggott School Board at their meeting, with the Rector School Board also addressing such issues at theirs. The primary and school board elections, tied together for the first time, were also set.

The Marmaduke School Board approved a playground project, and it was announced that Cougar standout Hunter McNeely was recipient of the 2018 Ryan Rogers Memorial Scholarship.

In sports, the Lady Cougars advanced to the Elite Eight at state, while the baseball Mohawks fell in the first round of state play. And, Mohawk hurler Josh Lyman signed a letter of intent to continue his education, and baseball career, at Crowley's Ridge College.

May also brought with it the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, with one leg originating in Piggott. Meanwhile, Jessie Malin and Sue Hoggard will be honored by the CCAC at their annual Celebration of the Arts. The 20th annual Piggott Heritage Car Show and Cruise was a big success, and Memorial Day services are set.

In sports, All-State honors were bestowed on three local players including Lady Cougar Maddie Hobbs, Mohawk Josh Lyman and Cougar catcher Conly Lockhart.

Memorial Day was marked as May drew to a close, and Census figures showed a continued decline in Clay County's population. Turnout was good for the primary and school elections. PHS organizations shined at state and national levels, with the FBLA, FFA and FCCLA enjoying success.

The Miss Heritage Pageant raised over $5,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Rector First Baptist Church is sponsoring the Soles for Souls 5K/10K.


The City of Rector received a Rural Community Grant, as was announced in early June. City officials made the trip to Little Rock for the presentation. The City of Rector was also designated as a Purple Heart City following the passage of a resolution earlier in the year. And, Sue Hoggard and Jessie Malin were honored at the annual CCAC Celebration of the Arts. At their monthly meeting, the Piggott School Board extended contracts to a pair of PHS grads as Mistie Gossett will be a kindergarten teacher and Will Daffron will serve as a special education paraprofessional, and assistant football coach, in the fall.

It was also announced that Sophie Simmons, of Rector, would compete for the title of Sweetheart of Arkansas' Outstanding Teen. And, members of the PHS 4H Youth Leadership effort were recognized.

The Rector Community Museum hosted the Northeast District quarterly meeting in early June, as they continue renovate and prepare the former Underwood building.

Personal issues dominated the Rector School Board meeting, while the Piggott board approved the student handbook. A Piggott educator was also seriously injured in a two vehicle crash at Quiln. Vanessa Hartwell was transported by air-evac to a Cape Girardeau hospital following the crash, and has spent months recovering. The rice crop was on track for a good year in June, and work is underway on the Piggott Elementary School roof project.

Retiring Rector educators Julia Wyss and Sue Holcomb were profiled in mid-June, as they had wrapped up long careers. And, additional entertainment has been added to the schedule for the upcoming Piggott Fourth of July Picnic.

FNB hosted customer appreciation cook-out in mid-June, while Payless Furniture and Appliances, of Piggott, marked 15 years in business locally with a special open house.

In sports, Independence Park in Piggott is hosting the district baseball tournament with teams from across the region, including Rector.

The Ahrent family, of Corning, was named the Clay County Farm Family of the Year for 2018 in June. Meanwhile, the administration of Piggott Community Hospital requested an extension of the one-cent local sales tax which benefits the facilities' operations.

Two Jonesboro women died in a crash at the Corning-Y, again prompting the public to discuss improvements to the dangerous intersection. A public meeting was set to discuss the state's plan to improve the highways through Piggott with the addition of three round-a-bouts. And, the mural effort in the city has picked up steam.

Mace Straubel retired after serving as pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Rector, and plans to resume missionary work in Bemidji. And, the Rector Library hosted a special program on animals.

In sports, the Rector team took first place in the district tournament at Piggott. And, former Mohawk Josh Lyman has been recognized as a member of the “Best Under the Sun” squad.

The final week of June brought sad news with the report of the death of Gage Dodd in a single vehicle crash north of Corning. A native of the Corning area, and a PHS student and Mohawk football player, his death was felt throughout the county.

It was also announced that the Corning Walmart would be closing July 20, leaving about 60 employees out of work or moving to other stores.

The Piggott City Council handled a lengthy agenda at their meeting, while Congressman Rick Crawford responded to criticism about the United State Postal Service and slow service. Progress continues on the Rector Community Museum renovation. More murals are being painted in Piggott. “The Patriots of Piggott” is the theme for the upcoming Fourth of July Picnic and Homecoming. And, Piggott State Bank hosted their annual customer appreciation day cookout.

In sports, Lady Cougar Maddie Hobbs has also been recognized as “Best Under the Sun” for her play for the softball team. And, the Piggott Junior Babe Ruth team beat BIC for the district title.

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