It was a busy 2022 for Paragould Light Water and Cable.
Tthe utility saw some changes in customers as well as changes in the way customers pay their bill.
Officials said Friday that the utility’s board received a yearly update on light, water and cable service.
PLWC saw a decrease in cable subscribers during 2022, while there was an increase in telecommunications subscribers. Also, there was an increase in residential customers for electric, water and sewer services.
Officials also said 2022 was the first time in history that PLWC’s lobby and drive-thru area received more credit and debit card payments than cash or checks.
The number of calls to the utility also went down to 81,704 in 2022, while PLWC received 21,158 work orders. Officials said 1,182 customers had their services shut off for non-payment, while 638 of those customers were turned back on within seven days.
After being in executive session for about 10 minutes, the board voted to promote David Romine to chief operations officer and Marcus Dowdy to chief technology officer at PLWC, effective immediately.
The board also received a report about transformer vandalism cases reported around the country.
The vandalism has happened in several states including North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.
In the North Carolina case, PLWC officials said someone shot a hole in a radiator on a transformer. The hole caused oil to leak and caused damage to the transformer.
PLWC is looking at a plan to set up transformers so that if a transformer gets low on oil, the transformer will immediately shut off instead of causing damage.
The board also received its monthly financial report. The utility has a year-to-date overall cash flow of -$143,000, but has capital asset additions of $11,157,000. PLWC also had 56 days of operating cash on-hand.
The board received a status report from the Southwestern Power Administration for the month of December and approved the financial report for December 2022.
The board also honored Todd Boyd for its employee spotlight for the month and elected officers for 2023. They include chairman Kelly Wright, vice chairman Mark Miller and secretary Dr. Mark Shotts.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford’s staff will host onsite remote office visits on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in Paragould, Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas.
“One of the most important things I do as a U.S. Representative is help people communicate with federal agencies: Medicare, Veteran Affairs, Social Security, the Internal Revenue Service, and many others. My staff is available to work with you and the agency for a resolution to your problem or request,” Crawford said in a prepared statement. “In order to improve my service to you, I ask my staff to hit the road and host on-site remote office visits throughout the year so you do not have to travel far to begin the casework process.”
Here is the schedule for the remote office visits:
Walnut Ridge from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Walnut Ridge City Hall, 300 W Main St.
Pocahontas from 10:30 a.m. to Noon at the Pocahontas Community, Center 205 Geneva Drive
Paragould from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Paragould City Hall at 301 West Court St.
Crawford also visited with farmers in the 1st Congressional District recently as the House Agriculture Committee works on the 2023 Farm Bill.
“Thursday, with the assistance of Arkansas Farm Bureau, I visited producers in Lawrence County who provided great insight about an emerging crop insurance issue facing some farmers in five counties. Crop insurance, input costs, reference prices, and skyrocketing interest rates were among the top concerns I heard from farmers at the Farm Bureau breakfast,” Crawford said. “The ag communities in Lawrence, Craighead, Greene, Jackson, and Randolph are facing significant crop insurance rate increases because the Risk Management Agency has redesignated 20,000 acres. With a February 28th deadline looming for crop insurance enrollment, farmers that participate in the program are growing increasingly anxious. I haven’t seen any reasoning for this increase and have directed my staff to investigate vigorously.”
Crawford cited rising input costs as a top concern for producers with high fuel and fertilizer prices.
“Last year, I co-sponsored the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act and joined over 100 of my Republican colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden outlining policy changes that could lower these costs,” Crawford said. “An integral part of the oversight and review process for Farm Bills is getting direct suggestions from producers, other stakeholders, and consumers on how various programs are working, or are not working, for them. I’ve always said that food security is national security, and America’s farm families need policies from Washington that empower them to continue doing what they have always done: feed the globe.”
Authorities responded early Monday morning to an accident involving a Paragould school bus, school officials said.
According to IDriveArkansas, the accident happened on Highway 135, nearly a mile and a half south of Highway 34, in the Oak Grove Heights area.
There were no injuries reported in the accident. School officials also said the bus and the private vehicle involved in the accident were operable after the accident.
The students who were on the bus are fine and were delivered to their respective school for classes Monday, the district said on its website.
Average gasoline prices in Arkansas have risen 15.5 cents per gallon in the last week, according to GasBuddy.com.
On Monday morning the state average was $3.08 per gallon, which was 43.6 cents per gallon more than a month ago.
The national average price of diesel also has gone up 2.6 cents in the last week to $4.60 per gallon.
The national average price of gasoline has risen 11.3 cents per gallon in the last week, for an average of $3.39 per gallon. The national average is up 30.2 cents per gallon more than a month ago.
“Gasoline prices continued their upward trajectory last week as oil prices pulled them higher across the majority of the country, and continued refinery challenges kept supply of gasoline from rising more substantially,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy in a statement released on Monday. “Macroeconomic factors have continued to weigh on oil and refined products, as strong demand in China hasn’t been slowed much by a surge in new Covid cases. In addition, releases of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve have wrapped up. Concerns are increasing that without additional oil, supply will tighten in the weeks ahead, especially as the nation starts to move away from softer demand in the height of winter. Moving forward, it doesn’t look good for motorists, with prices likely to continue accelerating.”
According to the American Automobile Association, drivers appear to be taking advantage of recent milder weather in much of the nation by fueling up and hitting the road.
“The recent rising temperatures led to rising pump prices,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, on Monday. “And with the cost of oil hitting $80 a barrel, there is a lot of upward pressure on gas prices at the moment.”
Here’s the average prices per gallon among Northeast Arkansas counties on Monday according to AAA:
Mississippi and Poinsett, $3.03; Greene and Craighead, $3.06; Cross, $3.07; Randolph, $3.08; Lawrence, $3.09; Crittenden, $3.11; Jackson, $3.12; Clay, $3.13.