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City gets clean audit

The city of Newport has gotten a clean audit.

According to information made available by the Newport City Clerk’s office, the report presented by Mayor David Stewart to the November meeting of the Newport City Council, the 2020 Legislative Audit revealed no findings.

“No issues came to our attention that we considered necessary to report to management,” said the report.

The Mayor also showed the council the traffic sign erected at the crosswalk on Remmel Avenue. Stewart told the council the first night it had been erected a vehicle had run over it, causing it to become bent. He told the council the Street Department had straightened the sign out to the extent possible and re-erected it.

But the following night, a vehicle again ran over the sign, and someone had pulled the sign up and disposed of it on Calhoun Street. After council discussion, the sign was to be straightened out and again re-erected at Remmel Avenue.

Stewart informed the council that the city budget should be ready for council action by Dec. 1. The Mayor is to hand-deliver a copy of the budget to each council member no later than that date.

Stewart also informed the council that Paragould-based SkyFiNet, a company that offers high speed internet and cable service, has contacted him about bringing its services to Newport. SkyFiNet has reportedly requested to meet with the city council after the first of the year to present an overview of its services. According to its web site, SkyFiNet already offers Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH), cable TV and cable internet service in Corning; cable TV and internet in McCrory with the ability to register for FTTH; and cable TV and internet in Fairfield Bay. FTTH internet is also available in Oak Grove Heights.

Stewart also told the council that streets in the Galeria subdivision have required numerous repairs due to collapses of concrete, which lacked reinforcing steel bars (rebar) in several areas. He added that through a contractor, the areas with the collapses are being cut away, with SB2 gravel being used to fill the large holes under the collapsed areas. Holes are then drilled into the existing concrete, pins are placed with steel bars and concrete is poured to effect the repairs.

“There wasn’t any rebar, any wire, any anything there [to reinforce the concrete],” he said. “This was probably [as along as] 40 years ago that this was done.”

Students learn leadership and life skills

The Swifton Middle School Leadership & Life Skills class comprises 44 seventh-graders and is taught by Mrs. Prisscilla Callahan.

Students are taught various team building skills, health & wellness techniques, qualities that encompass being a good leader and everyday life skills to be a successful teen and adult.

Students have been learning about the Congressional Medal of Honor Character Education Program and the six characteristics that are demonstrated by those who receive the medal.

Those characteristics include courage, sacrifice, integrity, patriotism, commitment, and citizenship.

Each morning students from this class volunteer to say the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom for the entire middle school. After learning proper flag etiquette, the students began raising and lowering the flags on the middle school campus.

'Shop Til You Drop' holiday campaign begins

The Newport Area Chamber of Commerce has kicked off the 2021 “Shop Til You Drop” holiday campaign at 27 participating locations in Newport.

By visiting local retailers, everyone 18 and older will be eligible to register for more than a dozen great prizes including:

$1,000 Shopping Spree Grand Prize

$250 Mini Shopping Spree

LED Snowman & Tree from 2 Chicks Florist & More Co.

Blue Bridge Bag of Coffee and Blue Bridge Candle from Blue Bridge Brews & Bakery

Milwaukee 2-Tool Combo Pack from C&M Ag Depot

30-Ounce Yeti Rambler Tumbler from Churchman Building Center

Sunglasses from CustomEyes Vision Care

$100 Gift Certificate from Darling’s Fine Things

Gallon Tyler Diva Wash from Darling Pharmacy

“Merry & Bright” and “Believe” Christmas Signs from Factory Connection

Two $25 Gift Cards from Farmers Oil Corp.

15 percent Off Wine Products Discount Cards from George’s of Newport

Christmas T-Shirt from iCare RX Pharmacy

Glass Curio Cabinet from Jones Home Furnishings

$50 Gift Card from Postmaster Spirits

$25 Gift Card from Rae’s Clothing Co.

Sandwich Platter & Dozen Cookies from Subway inside Walmart

To increase chances of winning, customers are encouraged to stop by all locations. Participating businesses include 2 Chicks Florist & More Co., Attention Medical Supply, B&C Tire, Blue Bridge Brews & Bakery, C&M Ag Depot, Charee’s Emporium, Churchman Building Center, CustomEyes Vision Care, Darling’s Fine Things, Darling Pharmacy, Eddie’s Auto Parts & Glass, Factory Connection, Farmers Oil Corp., Fathead Pizza, Frankie’s Café, Gates Eye Care Center, George Kell Motors, George’s of Newport, Harris Ford, iCare RX Pharmacy, Jones Home Furnishings, Norman & Baker Pharmacy, Penny’s Place, Postmaster Spirits, Quick Lane, Rae’s Clothing Co., Red Tie Meat Shop and Subway in Walmart.

Drawings will be held on Friday, Dec. 17. The $1,000 shopping spree must be spent in at least five of the participating locations. Participants must be 18 to enter.

Speights: Rise in COVID cases was expected

Health officials expected the recent increase in coronavirus infections as more activities moved inside, but Dr. Shane Speights said people can still control the size of the increase.

“We had a good downward trend going and then hit a plateau about Oct. 26th of about 450 cases per day,” Speights, dean of the Jonesboro campus of the of the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, said of Arkansas’ statistics. “Now, we are seeing about 600 cases per day. There are several contributing factors that are responsible for what we are seeing.”

He said events surrounding Halloween had the same effect of typical holidays where more people from different family units gathered in close proximity. Another factor is the reduction in the number of people wearing masks, he said.

“It’s really unfortunate that this has become a political conversation instead of a scientific one,” Speights said. “Study after study now shows that appropriate mask wearing does reduce the risk of COVID spread. I can certainly understand the reason for the debate, and the fatigue of mask wearing, but it doesn’t change the science.

“Finally, we knew that cooler weather would contribute to the spread of disease as people start spending less time outside, and more time indoors where closer interactions and poorer air circulation occur. This happens even in non-COVID years with the spread of influenza and common respiratory viruses.”

Speights said several academic models have predicted a relatively mild COVID fall and winter.

“But it really depends on individual decision making – vaccination, mask wearing, travel habits, etc.,” Speights said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays go.”

He said he hopes the region experiences a “bump” and not a “spike.”

In Northeast Arkansas, Greene, Jackson and Cross counties actually had declines in new cases in the past week, the Arkansas Department of Health indicated. Craighead County had 163 new cases in that seven-day period, a 9.4 percent increase.

On Monday, the health department reported 17 new cases in Craighead County. Mississippi County recorded nine new cases and one death, followed by Greene County with seven.

Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county Nov. 15 through Sunday:

Jackson – 62 new cases (decrease of 11) 106 active cases (decrease of 3); 46 deaths (unchanged).

Craighead – 163 new cases (increase of 14 from last week); 255 active cases (increase of 43); 248 total virus related deaths (increase of 2).

Greene – 65 new cases (decrease of 18); 119 active (unchanged); 124 deaths (unchanged).

Lawrence – 69 new cases (increase of 16); 96 active (increase of 19); 60 deaths (increase of 2).

Poinsett – 45 new cases (increase of 20); 63 active (increase of 14); 102 deaths (increase of 1).

Mississippi – 92 new cases (increase of 9); 162 active cases (increase of 29); 147 deaths (increase of 4).

Randolph – 28 new cases (increase of 8), 44 active cases (increase of 11); 63 deaths (increase of 1).

Cross –12 new cases (decrease of 6), 23 active cases (decrease of 1); 66 deaths (increase of 1).

Clay – 29 new cases (increase of 8); 42 active cases (increase of 8); 74 deaths (unchanged).