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Corps breaks ground for drainage projects

A pair of major projects to control the damage from water in Greene and Clay County has seen a groundbreaking recently.

“There has been a major problem with debris clogs south of Highway 90 and east of Rector,” said H.T. Moore, on the board of the St. Francis River Drainage District of Clay and Greene Counties, which manages the area. “They cause flooding and sometimes you can walk on them.”

Seep water in the area of Big Island, south of U.S. Highway 412 between Greene 934 and 936 Roads, can often damage levees meant to control flooding.

The projects, for which ground was broken on Aug. 24, adjacent to the St. Francis River levee off Highway 90 just west of the St. Francis River, seeks to construct multiple seepage remediation projects in Northeast Arkansas and neighboring Southeast Missouri.

According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the combined Below Piggott Seepage Remediation/Below Highway 90 Channel Cleanout project, is located in Clay and Greene Counties. These projects will work together to improve flows along the St. Francis River by removing sedimentation in a 5-1/2-mile stretch of the river and constructing about 10 miles of seepage berm to improve levee stability and reduce risk to the system. The project is to begin this month, with construction scheduled for completion by July 2023. The local partner for the project is the St. Francis Drainage District of Clay/Greene Counties, and the prime contractor is Pontchartrain Partners.

The Big Island Seepage Remediation project in Greene County aims to reduce the risk of under-seepage (as noted above). Construction of two seepage berms about one-half mile in length along with drainage ditch work and levee resurfacing along the existing levee crown for almost three miles will reduce this risk. Work began in May 2020, and May 2022 is the expected date of completion. The local partner for the project is Mud Slough Drainage District No. 1, and the prime contractor is SYTE Corporation.

Moore said the cost of the projects in total is $13.6 million, and it is expected to take five years to complete. “And what makes this a big deal,” he said, “is that the Mississippi River Commission visited here for the first time since the 1960s.”

According to its website, the Mississippi River Commission, headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss., provides water resources, engineering direction and policy advice to the Administration, Congress and the Army in a drainage basin that covers 41 percent of the United States and parts of two Canadian provinces. Moore said the Commission makes two trips a year along the course of the river to hold hearings on resources, engineering and policy in various locations along the river.

BRTC’s facility on the AMMC campus now open

Black River Technical College has announced that Arkansas Methodist Medical Center (AMMC) has become an instructional site for BRTC’s new registered nursing (RN) traditional pathway.

Classes began meeting in the new facility this month.

The new facility is equipped with simulated hospital and lab training rooms, as well as faculty office spaces and a facility for distance learning. This allows BRTC’s RN students to attend classes on either the Pocahontas BRTC campus or at AMMC. The simulation labs at both campuses mirror each other in order to provide equal learning opportunities for students at each site. Currently, 12 students are taking classes at the AMMC facility.

Alyssa Maness, TRN student, said her first day at the AMMC campus was amazing.

“I had more fun than I expected to in the lab and in just one lab day I have learned so much,” Manness said. “The AMMC staff was phenomenal and brought us a cookie cake. They made me feel very welcomed and grateful to be where I am.”

Melanie Steele, also a TRN student agreed, saying she loved her first day.

“It is exciting to be a part of this new offering at AMMC. The students have been engaged and appreciative of the AMMC simulation lab and classroom space,” Jamie Pasmore, RN Instructor, said.

“I am excited about this new opportunity for BRTC Nursing. This partnership allows us to fill a need in Greene County and surrounding areas while keeping students closer to their communities,” added Kelsie Cagle, RN Instructor. “This benefits them in travel expenses and time on the road allowing them more study time. The administration at AMMC has been wonderful in helping students get settled into the new learning environment and making them feel welcome. I look forward to seeing the growth of this partnership and the opportunities it provides to these students and many more in the future.”

For more information about the nursing programs offered at BRTC, contact Ramonda Housh at (870) 248-4173 or or Dana Clay, Allied Health Academic Advisor at (870) 248-4150 or danac@

Walmart to test drone delivery with Zipline in latest deal

NEW YORK — Walmart is teaming up with a company called Zipline to launch drone delivery program early next year that will deliver health and wellness products close to the retailer’s headquarters in Northwest Arkansas.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said Monday that it plans to eventually expand to general merchandise.

It’s the second delivery drone deal for Walmart within a week. It’s using drones from startup Flytrex to deliver groceries and household essentials from its Walmart stores in North Carolina.

Zipline, founded in 2014, has the world’s largest drone delivery network and began operating in late 2016 in Rwanda primarily focusing on-demand delivery of medical supplies. The California company has now delivered more than 200,0000 medical items to thousands of health facilities in numerous countries. recently won regulatory approval to deliver packages by drone, but it’s still testing the self-piloting aircraft and didn’t say when they could be used to deliver goods to shoppers on a large scale. UPS and a company owned by Google have also won regulatory approval to deliver by drones.

Police arrest man for rape

The report of an unwanted person at a residence in Paragould has led to the person’s arrest for rape.

According to a probable cause affidavit sworn by Detective Lt. Rhonda Thomas, officers have arrested Christopher Butler, 35, no address given, on a charge of one count of rape, a Class Y felony.

According to the affidavit, the arrest took place the evening of Sept. 11 after police had responded to the unwanted person report. When officers arrived, they encountered Butler and the alleged female victim.

At that time, Butler reportedly took a large knife from his front pocket and put it into his back pocket. Officer then told him to keep his hands in sight, whereupon he reached behind him and threw the knife.

According to the affidavit, Butler then allegedly told officers he needed to go to jail because he had raped the victim. He reportedly then gave details of the rape, which the victim corroborated.

According to both Butler and the victim, the rape occurred a short distance from her home on a gravel road. According to the affidavit, the rape took place sometime between Sept. 1 and Sept. 11.

Butler is being held in the Greene County Detention Center on a $25,000 cash-only bond, conditioned upon his having no contact with the victim.

Police charge 3 with drug felonies

In unrelated incidents, police have arrested three people on felony drug charges.

In the first incident, they arrested Christina Louise Williams, 34, of Corning, on a charge of one count of possession of less than two grams of a Schedule I/II controlled substance (methamphetamine or cocaine), a Class D felony, plus misdemeanor charges. According to a probable cause affidavit sworn by Detective Cpl. Jason Boling of the department’s Street Crimes Unit (SCU), the arrest occurred on Sept. 4 after an officer had made a traffic stop on a vehicle with no tail lights.

As the officer was making the stop, he reportedly observed the woman who was driving the vehicle change seats with the man who was the passenger. After the officer had identified both occupants of the vehicle, he learned from dispatchers that both had suspended driver’s licenses and that both had warrants.

During a search the officer reportedly discovered that Williams had on her person 1.8 grams of cocaine, and 4.6 grams of marijuana.

She was held in the Greene County Detention Center on a $15,000 bond.

The second incident took place on Sept. 6 when officers arrested Jeffery Lee Carson, 41, of Paragould, on charges of one count each of possession of less than two grams of a Schedule I/II controlled substance (methamphetamine or cocaine) and possession of drug paraphernalia to ingest, etc., both Class D felonies. Carson also faces misdemeanor charges. According to another probable cause affidavit sworn by Boling, the arrest occurred after officers noticed two cyclists riding in the same direction on opposite sides of the road. As officers stopped one of them, and identified him as Carson, they asked him if he had anything illegal on his person, and received a negative reply. So they asked him to empty out his pockets, which he did. The officers noticed Carson was allegedly trying to conceal a baggie of marijuana in his hand. So the officers took the marijuana and asked him if he had anything else. Carson replied that he had a syringe in his pocket which the officers located along with 0.5 grams of methamphetamine.

He was held in the Greene County Detention Center on a $20,000 bond.

On Sept. 7, officers arrested Julie A. Girard, 39, of Paragould, on charges of one count each of possession of less than two grams of a Schedule I/II controlled substance (methamphetamine or cocaine) and possession of drug paraphernalia to ingest, etc., both Class D felonies. She also faces misdemeanor charges. According a probable cause affidavit sworn by Detective Cpl. Aaron Gamber of the SCU, the drug charges proceeded from Girard’s arrest at the Paragould Wal-mart Super Center for shoplifting. A routine search pursuant to that arrest resulted in the seizure of a glass pipe with methamphetamine inside it, according to the affidavit.

Girard was released Sept. 9 from the Greene County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.