Arkadelphia, Ark. –


Arkadelphia city officials and Water Utilities employees moved into the newly constructed Town Hall in November, despite a “few things” that had yet to be finished. The old city hall, adjacent to where Fire Department Station 1 is now, was later torn down.

The veteran memorial was placed on the north lawn of the Clark County Courthouse.

The City of Amity constructed a new City Hall.

Summit Bank opened in Arkadelphia.

A 2 mill tax increase was approved by a vote of local citizens after the Arkadelphia School Board lobbied for its passage.

Piggly Wiggly in downtown, where Sav-U-More is now, closed its doors. The grocery store then became a Harvest Foods.

Amtrack’s Texas Eagle started carrying passengers awaiting a train in Arkadelphia.

The Caddo Valley Planning Commission proposed that an independent, municipal-ran jail be constructed.

A package containing three sticks of dynamite was discovered at a Caddo Valley car wash.

A sales tax passed for the construction of the Arkadelphia Aquatic Park.

Arkadelphia’s water tower on Interstate 30 was finished.

An ice storm slammed into the county, causing thousands in the area to be without electricity. The Siftings was unable to publish for an entire week because of the icy weather.


James Smith, an Arkadelphia High School teacher, was arrested on 20 counts of having a relationship with a minor, one of his students. He plead not guilty.

JCPenney, which was once a downtown cornerstone for shoppers, closed its doors in Arkadelphia’s Pine Plaza.

Elk Horn Bank operated the Arkadelphia Country Club until a buyer could be found.

Arson was the suspected reason for the fire that burned down the gymnasium in Gurdon.

The Arkadelphia Fire Department received its new fire truck, which boasted a 105-foot ladder. It has since been used twice during an emergency.

The Captain Henderson House opened for business after an exterior renovation.

The new post office opened in downtown Arkadelphia.

School began in the new Arkadelphia High School facility.

Harvest Foods closed its doors.

Caddo Valley began holding municipal court. A Hot Springs man later filed a complaint against the city after he received a speeding ticket.

Aalf’s Manufacturing, a jean company, closed its Arkadelphia plant.

In a three-county drug sting, 25 people were arrested for being involved in meth labs.


John Thomas, former circuit judge, ruled that Henderson State and Ouachita Baptists students could not vote in Clark County. Protests followed, and a district judge reversed Thomas’s order.

The Community Family Enrichment Center opened its doors.

Caddo Valley began its own police dispatching services.

A student pilot, flying one of Henderson’s small planes, discovered that the aircraft’s fuel had been contaminated. After the plane landed safely and a police investigation ensued, it was learned that the fuel was contaminated with bee’s wax, pollen and fructose.

A strip mall opened on W.P. Malone Drive.

Adam LupPlace purchased the Arkadelphia Country Club.

Alumacraft expanded its plant on North 10th Street from 42 to 84 employees.

A zoo opened in Bismarck, but shut down only months later after failing an inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Central Primary School was renovated to be more secure against rain and pests, and be more economical.

Union Pacific began transporting goods via train through Arkadelphia.

An ex-AHS teacher was charged with sexual assault against a student.

James Smith was found guilty of his charges of having a relationship with a student and was sentenced to four years in prison.

Eddie Lee Harper, a Gurdon man, was charged with 100 counts of rape and two counts of incest. He was later sentenced to 100 years in prison.

A fire destroyed Video Concepts, A&A Gasworks and A&A Plumbing on North 10th Street.


Wayne Poland was arrested for 40 counts of rape against two juveniles. The children’s mother, Jacquelyne Velcoff, was later arrested and convicted for taking money from Poland so that he could have sex with them.

A man attending a city council meeting publicly accused former Caddo Valley Mayor Steve Allen of touching him when he was about 12 years old, when Allen was a teacher at Arkadelphia Schools.

River Park amphitheater on First Street in Arkadelphia was ready for use.

The City of Caddo Valley was faced with a $41,000 budget deficit.

The Arkadelphia Aquatic Park was used for the first time in May.

The old train depot in Arkadelphia was converted to a historical museum.

Caddo Valley aldermen pulled the plug on its police dispatching services.

The Arkadelphia City Board of Directors voted to purchase a new building to house the police department.

The recreation center opened its doors.

The I-30 overpass on West Pine Street was named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Caddo Valley laid off its entire police force because of a lack of funds.

Voters refused a tax proposal to fund the Youth Sports Complex in Arkadelphia.

Higher user fees were placed to keep the recreation center afloat.

Rhonda Rutherford, Caddo Valley’s former recorder/treasurer, was charged in connection with $13,000 missing from city funds.

NAACP requested that Pine Street in its entirety be named in honor of MLK, but the street kept its old name.

Arkadelphia’s drinking water was named the best-tasting of 113 cities in the Southwest Arkansas District of the Arkansas Waterworks and Water Environment Association.

Four Arkadelphia youths were charged in the murder of 74-year-old Alene Tate. Two of the four were also charged with killing James Cummings, a Nevada County man.

Wayne Poland, the man accused of having sex with two juveniles over an extended period of time, failed to appear in Clark County court.

The Arkadelphia Bowling Center closed its doors in November.

Atwood’s Farm and Supply moved into where Walmart once was on Caddo Street.


City board directors did not re-hire Barbara Coplen after a lackluster board review, and Jimmy Bolt was hired as city manager in October.

Steve Allen resigned as Caddo Valley’s mayor, and Alan Dillavou was appointed to head the city.

Arkadelphia firefighters, for the first time, used the ladder truck on a fire that destroyed the Beehive.

Arkadelphia police officer Jody Evans appeared on “Nashville Star,” and locals voted for him to stay on the show weekly.

Troy Tucker announced he would not seek re-election for sheriff.

It was discovered that Arkadelphia owed $91,000 in tax payments.

About 120 Petit Jean Poultry employees were arrested after Immigration Customs Enforcement paid the plant a surprise visit.

In August, Clark County’s population grew after Hurricane Katrina refugees were forced north from Louisiana.

The Arkadelphia Police Department moved into its new building on Clay Street.

Malone’s soda fountain closed, as did Rudolph’s Furniture Store and Conine’s.

The Humane Society of Clark County moved into its current location on Highway 67.

CADC purchased the bowling alley, transforming its interior into a popular hang-out: The Senior Activity Center.


Boo Boo the Chicken made national headlines and a guest appearance on Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show” after the feathered freak of nature was brought back to life by Marian Morris, the owner’s sister. Weeks later, however, Boo Boo passed this life without a successful resuscitation.

John Howard, a longtime justice of the peace, died as a result of a motorcycle accident.

Dr. Andrew Westmoreland resigned as the president of OBU.

A Gurdon man died of a heart attack, which was caused after he was bound to a chair by a home burglar.

The Arkadelphia Fire Department used the ladder truck for a second time on Dixon Manufacturing, which burned to the ground.

Dr. Rex Horne was selected to head OBU as its president.

The Clark County Strategic Plan began meeting and dividing into subcommittees.

Elk Horn Bank changed its name to Southern Bancorp.

Scroll Technologies was acquired by Danfoss.

Kevin Barton, 18, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Alene Tate.


Clark County voters overwhelmingly approved a 1/2 cent sales tax for economic development, 1,755-804. The tax, which should annually raise $1.25 million, funds the Economic Development Corp. of Clark County.

Alumacraft expanded again, adding 16,000 feet to its facility and 15 new jobs to its payroll.
Dr. Charles Dunn announced his retirement from HSU after 16 years.

March 1 marked the 10th anniversary of the deadly 1997 tornado that ripped through Arkadelphia.
International Paper in Gurdon became Georgia-Pacific.

The old city hall in Arkadelphia was demolished.

The Youth Sports Complex opened.

Wayne Poland was arrested after three years on the run. He was found in hiding in a mobile home park in Alabama.

R.J. Williams was found guilty for the murder of James Cummings, the Nevada County man who was killed around the same time of the Tate murder.

Hitco moved into the Clark County Industrial Park, hiring 60 people.


Though record numbers showed up at the polls, votes cast for or against the wet/dry issue in Clark County were thrown out after a long battle between each side of the issue. Former circuit judge John Thomas ruled that voters, despite not being legally registered, could sign a petition to put a measure on a ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court, however, saw it differently, ruling that voters must be legally registered before signing a petition.

Clark County Prosecutor Blake Batson launched an investigation on price gouging for several local gas stations. The gas station owners, it was discovered, had illegally increased price on fuel after Clark County was declared a disaster area in the wake of torrential rain was dumped on the county. The owners of the gas stations were given the chance to pay back the extra money, plus give money to the local charity of their choice.

Blain Smith resigned as the director of the Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Harvel was hired to head the EDCCC. He helped create the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance, the umbrella organization that uses mostly public money to fund the EDCCC, chambers of commerce and Clark County Industrial Council.

Dr. Charles Welch takes the reigns of Henderson State as the university’s president.

The Brian Kirksey Family, who was named the 2007 Clark County Farm Family of the Year, earned higher honors as the 2008 Southeast Farm Family of the Year at an expo in Georgia.

City Manager Jimmy Bolt proposed to the city board that the old Royal Theatre be purchased and renovated for a downtown movie theater. Directors voted unanimously in favor of the “concept,” along with two others for sustainability and a study for the feasibility of bringing in a biomass energy plant.


Wayne Poland pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He will be 90 before he is eligible for parole.

The year was a record breaker for Clark County and much of the state, as large amounts of rain fell … and fell … and fell, seemingly non-stop throughout the entire year. For more on the big news events in 2009, see Thursday’s edition of the Siftings.