Community News

September 28, 2009

West Fest 2009

Job well done


A break in the rainy weather, hometown spirit and a lot of last minute effort helped bring residents and visitors to downtown West Fork for another successful West Fest.  The Parade had it all this year.  There were plenty of floats loaded with cheerleaders, clubs, and church members, along with contingents of four wheelers, horses, tractors and fire trucks.

bandAnd the music!  The Ozark Highlanders Bagpipe Band charged up the already enthusiastic crowd and thanks to an opening in their schedule, the West Fork Tiger Marching Band was on hand to perform a medley of Billy Joel tunes.  Several musical acts performed on stage with young talent being particularly well represented.

The early concerns about vender participation due to West Fest coinciding with Bikes, Blues and BBQ didn’t materialize. There was a total of 44 vendors. The 21 food venders provided a variety of treats from the ever popular “something on a stick” to top notch barbecue.  Local churches and civic groups rounded out the festival menu with a sit down style spaghetti supper, fried chicken dinner, and pancake breakfast.   The walk-a-thon had about 30 walkers and rasised over $900 for Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Most people involved with putting the festival together credited Cassi Boyd, Joe Wingate and Frances Harderson with stepping up to the plate after earlier planning efforts fell behind schedule.

CassieCassi Boyd said, “Yes, it was a success, considering we only had a few weeks planning.”  The committee for next year will have their first planning meeting next month.  “We have some ideas for next year, perhaps a car show, “she said, “and more activities to do for the entire weekend.”

JoeJoe Wingate considered the event a success.  “For the short time to get it together, we did very well,” he said.  He’s willing to help next year.

FrancisFrancis Harderson was able to find musicians despite competition from venues in Fayetteville and Ft. Smith where acts can earn more money.  He suggested not scheduling West Fest on the same weekend as the motorcycle event in Fayetteville.


West Fork police officer Ingalls estimated the crowd at about 300 on Saturday and added “everybody had a good time.”



City Government

September 25, 2009

Trimming the fat

City struggles with economic realities

Medicaid%20Budget%20CutsFor the first time in 12 years, the city is having to deal with a significant decline in revenue.

The Finance/Personnel Committee, department heads and a handful of spectators crowded into the conference room of the Administration Building at 5:30, Sept. 23, for the second of three meetings devoted to preparing a city budget to present to the City Council in December

All departments, except Streets, have budget short falls. The budget short falls resulted from departs’ expenses having exceeded their income. The estimated losses include about $17,000 for the Library; $25,000 for Fire; $149,000 for Police; $45,000 for Parks and $89,000 for Courts. At the meeting each department head discusses with the committee options for bringing their spending within administration guidelines. For the Library, much of the shortfall can be covered by County Library funds.  

Present were Mayor Jan Throgmorton, City Treasures Kristie Drymon, Councilmember Justin Harris, Committee Chair Charlie Rossetti and members Kenny Schultz, Mike Mitchell and Brian Bowerman. Department heads present were Librarian Joan Bachman, Park Director Stephen Spirck, Fire Chief Mitch McCorkle, and Municipal Court Chief Clerk Pauletta Welch.

City Business Manager, Street Department director, and Water Superintendent Butch Bartholomew was also in attendance. Bartholomew also coordinates lot splits, annexations and other matters for the Planning Commission, which no longer holds regular meetings. As the Building Inspector, Bartholomew, also issues building permits.

Absent was Committee member and Police Chief Mike Nelson.

Bartholomew, in his role as Street Department head, presented a balanced budget. He pointed out that his department has fewer employees than two years ago. He said the department is “ok for now [but on] a dangerous curve” regarding infrastructure improvements such as drainage, street signs and crosswalk painting. He stressed the long term savings from maintaining streets rather than allowing them to deteriorate to a point they would need to be rebuilt.

Bartholomew encouraged departments to “not be in competition with each other but to work together.” The Mayor emphasized how important good streets are for the citizens. It was stated several times during the meeting that no funds could come from the Street Department’s budget because in the last several years they had been underfunded.

Committee members suggested some of the Court’s shortfall could be lessened by sharing employees with the Police Department. Municipal Judge Casey Jones, who was present for part of the meeting, reminded them of why we have three branches of government and of the need to maintain a separation between the courts and police.

Jones did acknowledge the close link between the Police and Courts saying, “Police get the bad guys, then what do you do with them.” In a lighter quip, Jones jokingly noted the positive spin of an otherwise dismal economic environment – hard times mean more people in trouble which means more court income. Clerk Welch pointed out that forfeited bonds, amounting to from $500- $10,000 a month, go to the street department.

Because of public safety issues, the Fire and Police departments require special considerations in the budget process. Fire Chief McCorkel offered that cuts in spending might be found by reviewing travel and training expenses to offset his department’s estimated $25,000 shortfall.  The Police budget shortfall is about $149,000. Police Chief Nelson was not present. The committee briefly discussed the high cost of health insurance for the force.

The health insurance issue was brought up again later in the evening by an audience member. West Fork has historically been generous with providing coverage for employee’s families. The mayor advised against removing employees families form coverage in the same year there will be no raises.

For Parks, the problems have risen from trying to satisfy citizens’ expatiations. Furnishing sports equipment, tennis court lighting, umpire costs, irrigation water, and of course the need to pay off bonds that financed building the park system were all matters of concern.

In the mist of the meeting when the doom and gloom rhetoric seemed to engulf the room like some horror movie fog, Chief McCorkel offered a spontaneous comment, “We’re in better shape than most towns our size. The public needs to be told in a nice way, they need to know we’re short on money – we can get through this”

Even in times of abundance, the budget process is not always easy. But when the game gets scarce or the crops dry up, things can get ugly. The next meetings will October 21 at 5:30. Meeting adjourned at 7:02.

Welcome to the small town budget meeting.


September 24, 2009

We received a comment about our coverage of the angel statue.  She said, “Speaking as a parent who has lost a child I think the angel is a wonderful representation of their lives. It seems to me that not wanting the angel is a slap in the face to the children who have been lost.”

First of all we want to say how sorry we are for your loss.

It is not this paper’s place to make judgment on the grieving process.   However, the way we as a town want to address proposals that involve our community should be a public decision.  There is no record of this dedication of park land being voted on or  being discussed by the City Council.   This year it is the Angel of Hope memorial, next year it could be something else

The Zephyr’s coverage is not aimed directly at this particular memorial.  We’ve made no statement of our position except to imply that the dedication of public land for use by a private organization should be discussed in a public forum and both parties’ interests should be protected through legal documents signed by the appropriate officials.

 Neither events nor things make us a community.  Rather it is how, we, as a group of citizens, communicate and make decisions together, whether it involves grief, celebration, or even protest.      We encourage everyone to become engaged in the issues of West Fork and public officials to invite us all to participate in a transparent exchange of ideas regardless of how delicate they may be. 

  Respectfully yours.

City Government

September 22, 2009

Angel Statue Questions Remain

 Another freedom of information request by the West Fork Zephyr seeking details about the           commitment of land for a statue in Riverside Park revealed nothing new.  The first request was for minutes of park commission meetings. The record of a November 12, 2007 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting was located which stated:  “Debbie Rodgers gave a presentation about the ‘Angel of Hope.’  The location will be in Riverside Park. Butch needs to ok the use of the land. Voice vote. Unanimous. Motion carried.”  (“Butch” refers to Butch Bartholomew, the city business manager). At the meeting were John Selph, Chairmen, Sue Ogle, Rodney Drymon, Bobbi Hennington, Vicky Mesplay and Brian Bowerman.

The second request was for copies of any “contracts, agreements and/or understandings,                correspondence, emails, faxes, records of phone contact, records of meetings, any letters of assurance, letters of intent and any record of any communication” between the City of West Fork and the Northwest Arkansas Share Parent Support Group, Inc (NWA Share). No new information was found.  Other than the park commission’s  November 2007 minutes, there is no mention in any public document about the angel statue. There is no record of public discussion. The issue was not brought before the city council.  It is unclear why the Parks Commission felt they needed the city business manager’s approval for a private organization to use land in the park.  There is no record of Mr. Bartholomew giving his “ok”.  In fact, there is no record of any city official, elected, appointed or employed ever “signing off” on the project.

The issue seemed to have been forgotten for twenty months.  Then on September3, 2009 the city announced to the press that in five days, on September 8th at 5:00pm the “the NWA Share Parent support group will dedicate the site of the future home of the Christmas Box Angel of Hope at the Riverside Park in West Fork.  This site will also put the Riverside Park on the national historic register. The Angel of Hope has become known as a memorial to all children lost in death to their families.”  However, on September 8 the dedication was rescheduled to September 16, because, as Mayor Throgmorton explained “it would allow time for the parks department people to attend.” 

The site dedication was held on September 16.  SHARE group representative Debbie Rodgers and Mayor Throgmorton spoke briefly.  John Selph and Butch Bartholomew placed a sign marking the
“future home of the Angel of Hope”.  The event was broadcast on local television.

city hall 1


September 21, 2009

West Fork Tigers sling through the mud to victory.

Let's go Tigers!

Let's go Tigers!

The game got off to a good start with touchdowns by the hometown Tigers and  by Prairie Grove .   Garrett Eakins scored first for West Fork.  This was followed by Lee Gaesswitz with Isaac Muggy throwing the pass; then they did it again.  The game belonged to West Fork.  Logan Genz  made a touchdown  in the 3rd and 4th quarters, and Dakota Smith made all the kicks with the final score 35 – 16 .

Judy Tiller in the ticket booth.

Judy Tiller in the ticket booth.

Lots of other activity was going on in the stands and around the field. 

You're never too young.  Robert Hogan with son Maliki

You're never too young. Robert Hogan with son Maliki


Deanne Seaman (L) & April Hawthorn sell items for the Quarterback Club

Deanne Seaman (L) & April Hawthorn sell items for the Quarterback Club

Tiger cubs

Tiger cubs


Luke (R) & Laurel with Dad John Bailey at 1st football game & concession stand visit

Luke (R) & Laurel with Dad John Bailey at 1st football game & concession stand visit

Band members keeping an eye on the game

Band members keeping an eye on the game

Fans support the Tigers

Fans support the Tigers

Other Sports

Other Sports


Cheering us to victory.

Cheering us to victory.

Community News

September 20, 2009

Fiber Arts Fair a Success

In a classic native stone building a few miles south of Winslow on scenic 71 is the home of the Ozark Folk Ways Heritage Center.  On Saturday the center was the host of the second annual Fiber Arts Fair and Competition.  The juried show with $1,500 price money attracted  some of the most creative artists in the region.   This was a neighborly up close and personal gathering that included demonstrations of quilting, rug hooking and weaving with lots of questions being answered. 

The Ozark Heritage Center supports local artists and craftspersons by offering their work for sale in the Golden Hands Gallery.   The gallery is a cornucopia of some of the highest quality, most original work the Ozarks has to offer.

It would be hard to pick winners among all the entries, but the judges were able to name 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in eight different areas as well as Best of Show.

Claire Detels’ shawl won Best of Show with judges saying ,  “This stands apart. . . . it is a wonderful combination of color, texture, variety of technique. . . . it is hard not to touch.”


First place winner in the Quilt category was Sherron Hays with Alice McKee and Laura Hendryx receiving 2nd and 3rd place respectively.



Hooked Work blue ribbon winner was  Vicki Hardcastle.  Wilma Hill won the red ribbon and 3rd place, also.


Erin Chapman captured first place in Felting with Vicki Hardcastle in 2nd place.DSCF1051

One of the few men seen at the show, Joey Arnold,  garnered the number one spot in Weaving.   Debra Dubois took 2nd and 3rd place.DSCF1050

The Hand-Spun category had as its top winner Carol Alford.  Connie Wright models the shawl below.  Carol Alford also won the number two spot and Phyllis Neal honored in third place .


The only award in Lace Making went to Carol Alford for her “nice craftmanship and symmetry.”


Freda Miller was given 1st and 2nd place in Basketry with “nice whimsical details” and good craftmanship”



Unfortunately the camera battery  gave out,  and the winners in 2 other categories were not shown.  The Blue Ribbon in “Other Category” went to Erin Chapman with second place to Becky and Buchanan and third to Freda Miller.

Faye Coffman came in first place with her socks in  Needle Art, Alice McKee in number two position and Phyllis Neal winning third.

Community News

September 17, 2009

 Park land dedicated for statue

A dark and heavy sky, swollen river and ground soaked from several days of rain was the stage for

Debbie Rodgers interviewed by teevee reporter

Debbie Rodgers interviewed by teevee reporter

the dedication of a site  for a statue memorializing lost infants and children.  The project is the work of the Northwest Arkansas Share Parent Support Group (NWA SHARE) whose mission is “to serve those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life.”   More information is available on their web site:

For several years the group has been raising money for the placement of the statue in northwest Arkansas, called the Angel of Hope.  They have about 1% of their goal.  When asked about the suitability of the location in Riverside Park, a board member, Scott Tankersley said other private locations in Fayetteville and Springdale including a cemetary had declined the group’s offer to erect the statue.  He said he is aware that Riverside Park is in a flood prone area but the site design will be done by the Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Arkansas and he is confident it will be secure.

john, butch,sign hammer

About twenty-five people attended the ceremony.  Mayor Jan Throgmorton introduced Debbie Rodgers who spoke briefly about the group and their belief in the  importance of having a place where bereaved parents and others can come and remember their children and “be inspired by the hope the statue brings.”  The honor of hammering in a sign marking the location went to Parks Commission Chairmen John Sleph and city business manager Butch Barthlolomew who commented later that the city was,  “Glad to help any way we can.”

Photos of the statue and more on the story are at Zephyr post “The Mysterious Angel of Riverside Park” dated September 10, 2009.angel sign

SHARE projects