Category: Independence County

Teen still missing from Batesville, believed safe

BATESVILLE, Ark. – The search continues for a girl who went missing from the Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in Batesville, but information suggests she is safe.

17361925_10154204173582046_7219064673683985425_nThe girl, Hailey Hice, 15 years old, 5′7″, 220 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes, went missing from the Arkansas Sheriffs Youth Ranch (ASYR) in Independence County. The Independence County Sheriff’s Office asked the public to reach out if they find Hailey, who was last seen wearing maroon pants, black shirt and glasses.

NEA Report reached out to ASYR Chief Development Officer, Matt Cleveland, who said as of about noon Wednesday, Hailey had still not been located. The silver lining to the update was Cleveland sharing a report from a friend that she had communicated with them and said that she is safe. Continue reading “Teen still missing from Batesville, believed safe”

Missing 15-year-old in Independence County

BATESVILLE, Ark. – Authorities are asking for your help.

The Independence County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a runaway juvenile from the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranch. The runaway is Hailey Hice, 15 years old, 5′7″, 220 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes.

She was last seen wearing maroon pants, black shirt and glasses. If anyone locates Hailey, please call the Independence County Sheriff’s Office at (870) 793-8838.

The sheriff’s youth ranch is a group foster care organization that cares for children, often from broken homes of abuse or neglect, lacking the nurturing relationship of a loving family. The Ranch’s website says it provides a healthy home environment filled with emotional support to help each child learn to trust those around them and cope with their emotions, all the while learning responsibility and building self confidence.

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Photo provided by Independence Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Some of the language in this story was altered to be more sensitive to the children and their backgrounds at the request of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches. NEA Report appreciates all feedback and suggestions, especially regarding sensitivity.

There is an update to this story. Read about it here. 

Just who are the State Rep. District 60 candidates?

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – Democratic State Representative James Ratliff and his challenger, Republican Fran Cavenaugh, each hope to represent district 60. They agree on some things and disagree on others but both firmly believe themselves to be the right choice.

We asked each candidate a series of questions about the same subjects in hopes to bring the readers of NEA Report a better idea of who they may vote for in this wide-stretching race across Sharp, Lawrence, Randolph, Independence and even Greene counties.

How Would You Like To Improve Education in Arkansas


For Ratliff, he talked about how he has worked on improving education in Arkansas in the past six years he has spent as State Representative. One area he wants to see more done with is pre-K.

“We have to get every kid that’s qualified in a pre-K program,” Ratliff said. “It’s been shown when they go to pre-K, they always graduate high school. The pre-K now, you have to qualify and at Sloan Hendrix, we’ve got a waiting list of like 20 kids. It’s very important to get them started as soon as possible so they’ll succeed. The other thing we need to do – for older kids who go to college, we need to tie in and make them accountable when they go to school. We don’t need them to say they can go to Fayetteville for a year, party, and come home and get a job. We need to make them pay back the pell grants and scholarships if they go up there and just don’t go to class.”

Education is one of Cavenaugh’s biggest focuses and she advocates implementing vocational training into high schools, preparing youth for the jobs communities need and they can earn good money with. She also said this would help lessen debt burdens on young people.

“One of the biggest things I keep talking about, and I feel like I’m almost preaching on: we have to provide our children with facets of success other than a four-year college degree,” Cavenaugh said. “For years told our children there was only one path to success: a four year degree. That is not true not necessary for each person. I do believe a high school education will only get you minimum wage jobs. You need added training but that can be vocational training. We need plumbers, HVAC repairmen and electricians. If you’ve tried to hire them, you know they make a very livable wage. We’ve forgotten to tell our children these are viable jobs. Not everyone is cut out for a four-year college degree. We have to start looking at it in school and looking at what jobs will be available so when they graduate.”

How Can You Assure Farmers You Will Represent Their Best Interests


Coming from a farm family, Cavenaugh said she became the farmer after her father passed away. She said she knows and worries about the same issues farmers do, coming from that background.

“They can expect support from someone who has dealt with the real issues farmers experience,” Cavenaugh said. “It’s different from other parts of the country. This year, a prime example – two floods. A first in the spring knocking out planting. Then in August, you get 14 inches of rain. The beans or cotton or rice, or corn is now standing under water. You don’t experience that in a lot of different places. It’s different for Delta farmers. We have to find a way to support our farmers in their greatest time of need. There are no family farms anymore. They’re going out. People want to know why they’re going out. It costs more to put the crop in than you’ll currently get paid for it. How can any industry sustain that? They can’t. We’ve got to find a way to help curb that problem that we’re experiencing.”

Ratliff comes from a farming background, as well. The incumbent said he knows the ups and downs of farming, being a farmer himself, and he knows this community is tied to agriculture.

“Our whole base is related to agriculture,” Ratliff said. “If the farmers have a good year, the economy has a good year. I think you’ll see that this year because the prices are terrible and the floods, and stuff. We’re working hard to try to move to get a farm bill going in Washington. We’ve got to do that to save our farmers. We don’t want to import food from the United States. We’ve done seen some of that from Mexico and we’ve got salmonella involved. We give farmers tax breaks on their electricity, natural gas, and every break we can give them down in Little Rock. (Another representative) and I have a bill we’re going to try to take tax and parts off of labor, so when they go in to have a $20,000 job on a combine, they don’t end up paying $2,000 on the taxes, also. One poultry farmer told me when they took the tax off of propane, his profit that year was $24,000. That’s a lot of cash he got to keep.”

What Is The Biggest Difference Between You and Your Opponent

For Ratliff, he said the biggest difference is his six years experience in Little Rock and his seniority in the Democratic minority.

“When you have a problem, you can go directly to the folks in RCS of whatever. They listen to you if you’ve been there,” Ratliff said. “If you’re a new person down there, they’ll listen to you but they ain’t going to take you as seriously. I discovered that when I went down there. It was kind of frustrating when you couldn’t get their attention as well. Now, with the seniority, I’m involved in the RCA and we had budget meetings Tuesday. I feel like that, and experience of knowing who everybody is, all the department heads, who to call when you’ve got a problem, will give me an advantage.”

Cavenaugh said the distinctive quality is her passion for the area and the district, with her desire to see it better.

“Not saying James doesn’t want that also, but it’s me saying I’m a little more aggressive, a little more outspoken, and I think I can get a little more attention than James,” Cavenaugh said. “I’ve been described as a bulldog. I’m that way about anything I’m passionate about. The other thing is, James will be a senior person in the minority party. I will be a majority. As we all know, the Republicans would really love to have a Republican in all of this. Even me as a beginning freshman in the majority, I can look to get a lot accomplish. I don’t want people to think I’m only work with Republicans. I’ll take a good idea, wherever it’s from and I’ll support it.”

Both candidates have A ratings from the NRA. Ratliff, as a previous voting member, has achieved his through his voting record while Cavenaugh’s positions have similarly earned her the accolade.

Both candidates are also pro-life, they said.

The election happens November 8.

Suspected shooter arrested 10 miles from destination – a school

NEWARK, Ark. – A man who had already shot one person was apprehended while he was headed to an area school, possibly with bad intentions, according to the county judge.

The suspect, whose name has not yet been released by authorities, was arrested at the Cord Country Crossroads Store. Independence County Judge Robert Griffin told NEA Report the man had shot a woman in the leg before leaving for Cedar Ridge High School.

The school was placed on lockdown for a short time until the man was apprehended. Griffin said there was a window of 17 minutes from the time the threat was recognized until the threat was neutralized and school released.

“I did go by the Cedar Ridge High School to see how they felt about our dispatch operation,” Griffin said. “They said they had absolute praise and everything went like it should. They had the information they needed and knew how to identify the person. Within one minute they had sufficient information to have the school locked down and prepared.”

The school is about 10 miles south of where the shooting suspect was arrested.

Griffin said the efficient handling of the day’s events was a mix of good work by law enforcement as well as the public.

“If you don’t have the eyes in the public assisting you, law enforcement is limited but when you’ve got the community helping and they’re assisting with eyes on the situation, directing that, that’s important too,” Griffin said.

NEA Report will update this story with more information as it becomes available.

Exceptional 5-year-old makes a big impression at pageant

BATESVILLE, Ark. – While pageants normally showcase girls, restrictions didn’t stop one amazing little boy from stealing the hearts of everyone in attendance over the weekend.

The Exceptional Abilities Pageant was held in Batesville on Saturday, Sept. 3, showcasing beauty and talent from those with any types of special needs and from all corners of NEA and abroad. While there were many warm stories and special moments created at the event, one seemed to garner a great deal of attention on social media.

Over 10,000 viewers and counting have been logged on the video below of Hunter Molencupp. He is a 5-year-old boy from Pocahontas and has a rare syndrome called femoral hypoplasia unusual facies syndrome, according to his mother, Barbara Molencupp.

It could not stop him from making a wondrous impression on everyone in attendance and likely, anyone who sees the video.

Before the live crowd, Hunter courageously sang “Holy” by Florida Georgia Line at the pageant. The ovation at the end of the song makes it hard not to be emotional, but the delight on the young boy’s face made it that much more special.

“He was very happy, after,” His mother, Barbara, told NEA Report.