School/Community News

December 17, 2009

The Dramatics Hit the Road

with Two Area Performances

Area residents were treated to two performances from the West Fork Middle School drama club, The Dramatics, on Saturday, December 12 at The Mercantile in Winslow and Unity Covenant Church in West Fork.

The free performances featured 23 students in grades 5-8 who were selected in fall try-outs from about 60 middle school students. The nearly hour-long performance featured performances from two teams, a black and gray team. The black team was comprised of four students that performed “A Word by Any Other Name”, an often humorous recitation between four students, that illuminated the origin of seemingly hundreds of words and phrases that have been derived from people’s names.

The gray team’s performance was a series of short skits by Jules Feiffer, the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, most notable for his comic strip Feiffer. Mr. Harvey, who leads this group of students and is also an eighth-grade English teacher, said, “These short vignettes are about these little things in life. It is very dear to my heart. I did (performed) this when I was in high school”. He said his students wanted to perform something difficult and had risen to the challenge in performing the series of skits, improving with every performance.

In addition to Saturday’s performances, The Dramatics also performed in front of their peers in a middle school performance on Friday afternoon. Helping Mr. Harvey are two other middle school teachers; Ms. Porter, a fifth-grade English teacher and Ms. Hillbrand, a seventh-grade math teacher. The Dramatics will soon hold try-outs and begin rehearsing for a larger spring performance.

"Black Team" members of The Dramatics perform Saturday at the Mercantile in Winslow. Seated left to right are Ryan Porter, Ellie Jones, Allison Banks, and Sofia Franco.

Mackenzie Greene and Jacob Womack perform in one of the "Gray Team's" many skits Saturday afternoon at Unity Covenant Church.

The Dramatics is comprised of 23 West Fork Middle School students, grades 5-8.


Days of Yore

December 14, 2009

This is interesting.

West Fork Industrial Commission?


City Government

December 9, 2009

Council concludes 2009

Ready for 2010


The West Fork City Council ended the year with comments from Mayor Jan Throgmorton.  She announced a community preparedness plan in the works that will be finalized in early 2010.

The plan resulted from meetings with department heads, EMS and the schools.  It establishes the Community Center as the designated shelter for residents.  In a prolonged weather emergency the schools will make showering facilities available.   She recognized city business manager Butch Bartholomew for his timely record keeping which allowed speedy reimbursement by FEMA for emergency expenses.

The mayor also “set the record straight” about the lack of questions and comments by council members regarding the 2010 budget at the November meeting.  She explained that the council members received their copies of the budget a month before the vote and had addressed questions to the city treasurer.  There are no secrets, she said, and all information is open to the public.  The council was commended for being active in city affairs.  Several attended a recent fire department appreciation dinner, she said. Many citizens have expressed their gratitude that the “corner” got cleaned up.

During the Public Forum portion of the meeting  resident Paul Libor expressed to the council his concern about the legal liability of the proposed Angel Statue in Riverside Park. Mr. Libor pointed to past Supreme Court rulings against placement of religious monuments in public places.  He suggested a church might be a more appropriate location. Mayor Throgmorton said the statue is “not religious and she is “willing to take the chance” on its legality. She noted the statue was recommended by the Parks Commission, adding that “anyone that knows their scripture knows that there are dark and light angels, so that covers that.” 

“It is a memorial, not to be worshiped,” she said. 

Councilman Drymon noted that several cities around the country had allowed the statue to be erected and that “we want it.”  Mr. Libor pointed out that the angel statue comes out of Utah.  The Public Forum ended and the council moved on to routine business.

Parks announced the “Small Town Big Lights” Christmas lighting contest.  The Police Department had 36 calls.  Police Chief Nelson reported on recent car break-ins. Joan Bachman reported the library made over $800 from Breakfast-with-Santa fundraiser  and the silent auction is ongoing. 

Fire Chief McCorkel explained the need to use home or cell phone, not house alarm system, to report an emergency. Business Manager Butch Bartholomew reported that year end updates are underway regarding property insurance and County Planning requirements. 

City Treasurer Kristie Drymon announced that census worker jobs are available. The pay is $11.25/hour and $.55/mile.  Those interested should call her office for details.  The AARP will be offering income tax filling assistance for seniors.

Enforcement Officer for Boston Mountain Solid Waste District, Michael Harp, made a presentation about his agency’s duties and responsibilities.

Frances Hime presented an update on progress at the Heritage Gardens site.  Two people have been hired.  Grants are available from the Watershed Alliance Board to help develop the site.  The Schools is involved with development of a science education building. The RRC will run the store.  Hime explained to the council that the drip irrigation, raised beda,  and no till gardens will save on water bills. 

The final council meeting of 2009 ended at 8PM.

City Government

December 6, 2009

Sunday Editoral

December 6, 2009

Sunday Editorial

Regular readers of the Sunday Editorial are by now familiar with the format.  We put on the dunce cap, admit to a factual error we committed in a recent post or print article, apologize, say we’ll try harder in the future,  then go to defend ourselves from what we consider an unwarranted criticism of our reporting.  We’ll do the same thing today.

The factual error occurred in “Big lights” article in the December Print Edition.

Merchants unite to light up the town

Over 20 West Fork businesses and churches have banded together to sponsor West Fork’s first Christmas lighting contest. The event called “Small Town Big Lights” is the brainchild of the city’s West Fest Committee, which was responsible for the wildly successful 2009 West Fest celebration in September.  Participants can sign up at City Hall and must live within the City Limits to participate. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners. Judging will be December 21  beginning at 6:30. 

Our error, we were informed by a reliable source, was that the idea for “big lights” originated with the Parks Department, not the Festival Committee.  The tidbit of information came to us in a conversation about the Festival Committee.  We assumed incorrectly.  We were wrong – we apologize- we’ll try harder in the future.  The other criticism went beyond factual error.  The commenter objected to the tone and perceived  maliciousness imbedded in our report on what didn’t happen at the Nov. 12 City Council Meeting.  Was this something personal?  Were we trying to make the council look bad? Here is the article as it appeared in the December print edition.(available at the Library, restaurants, BeeVee’s and by subscription)

Budget approved without discussion                         

 At the Nov. 12 City Council meeting Budget Ordinance No. 410 was voted on and passed unanimously.  There was no discussion on the million dollar budget.  No councilmember asked a question.  No one made a comment to indicate to the voters their budget priorities. 

The 2010 Budget document was not included in the packet of documents sent to council members for their review prior to the meeting.   The Budget was hand delivered to some council member’s hours before the meeting.  Some members may not have seen the Budget before the meeting. 

There was no mention of a $10,000 retirement payment to two long time employees who were paid lump sums because they worked for the city prior to the 1991 implementation of the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System.        The controversy associated with eliminating a police officer position, which was not discussed directly in any of the public budget committee meetings was also not discussed by the council.

Admittedly, reporting on something that didn’t happen could be problematic.  We first posted an editorial on line about that meeting on Nov. 17 and soon received an email from a reader who pointed to our vagueness on the issue.  We pulled the post.  Was it news or editorial?  The editors discussed it and decided to treat the event as a news article – let the readers have their own opinion.  Reporting on something that didn’t happen is not  unusual.  Sometimes things are conspicuous by their absence.  Lack of any comment by even one of the elected officials regarding  2010 budget, the first budget in twelve years with deep cuts in services,  seemed news worthy. 

We can’t report on events out of the public view. The meeting had an “executive session” – closed to the public.  Maybe the council members did discuss the lump sum retirement payment or eliminating a police position – but they didn’t do it in public. That’s the meat of the matter. They didn’t give the electorate a clue as to where they stood. 

No one associated with the Zephyr has any personal “ax to grind” or is out to make anyone appear in a negative light. We call it like we see it.  No doubt, feathers will be ruffled and boats will be shaken. Our job is to inform citizens.  The town leaders’ job is to tell us where they’re leading us and why.

 We take the first amendment seriously and see an independent press as essential to a free and democratic society.  We will work to make Government, at all levels- national, state, county and city to be accessable, open and transparent.   Even in a small town.