Top 8 Stories of 2022
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - 2022 had its fair share of insane headlines in Northeast Arkansas.
Our first memorable story took us to Monette, AR, for the rebuilding of a town after an EF-4 tornado.
The Monette Manor Nursing Home took a direct hit from the storm. During the tornado, 20 people were trapped inside the home.
Nurses and staff used their bodies to shelter residents from flying debris as the winds tore off the roof.
Sadly, one person was killed.
Back in July of this year, the community came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new building. Administrator Kevin Stewart says this was a big step for the community.
“I think this event here is what has kept a lot of us going as far as looking towards the future and what opportunities that might bring.”
Drought plagued most of Arkansas and Missouri during the summer months of 2022.
Farmers were forced to use supplies that were stocked up for the winter.
In July, portions of Northeast Arkansas were included in a D3 category on the National Drought Monitor. We spoke to Chance Battles, a farmer in Sharp County, and experienced the dry conditions. Battles said that no matter what would happen during the drought, he trusted in his community.
“Everybody is in it together, though. That’s what you’ve got to keep in mind. All your neighbors are going through the same thing you are. I think one thing we’ve got in this community is people care about each other, and we depend on each other.”
He was indicted for 11 counts of wire fraud in December 2020.
Holliday was convicted for taking more than $1.5 million in county money for personal use. He agreed to pay $1,579,057.03 in restitution to Craighead County.
Craighead County Judge Marvin Day made this comment to us after the sentencing.
“We appreciate the hard work of the US Attorney’s office and are thankful for Judge Moody and his consideration of our victim impact statement. Any sentence is “never enough,” but we understand that justice has been served. The citizens of Craighead County are glad to have this matter behind us.”
In October, the man who beat Izard County Native Rebekah Gould to death with a piano leg and dumped her body on the side of a road back in 2004 pleaded guilty to her murder.
On Oct. 18, William Alma Miller waived his right to a jury and was sentenced to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections with the possibility of parole.
During Miller’s sentencing, Gould’s Father, Larry Gould, spoke to the entire courtroom, saying, “You took her from her own future. You took away a chance for a girl to dream.”
The 2004 murder made residents of Izard County uneasy, but Chief Deputy Charley Melton said he thinks the case closure would ease some fears.
“I’m very excited that it’s closed. I hope it brings closure to a lot of folks. Over the course, there will be questions that are not answered, and that’s the nature of the beast. I hope that people are at ease. As Mr. Miller said today, he was the only one involved, nobody else was, and that he acted alone.”
It took investigators 16 years before they tracked Miller down in Oregon and arrested him.
Then on the same day of Miller’s sentencing, just on the other side of Region 8, Paragould experienced a day that most will remember.
The first incident happened near the 100-block of South Rockingchair Road around 7:14 am on Oct. 18 regarding an unwanted person.
When police arrived, a suspect opened fire on the police. Officers returned fire and struck the male subject, who would later die.
Officer Owen Mundy was wounded by the suspect but was expected to be okay after being flown to a Memphis hospital.
The last time an officer was shot on the job in Paragould? 1911.
While that scene unfolded, a stabbing happened elsewhere in the city, then, a second shooting that afternoon during an attempted robbery.
Captain Brad Snyder of the Paragould Police Department said the day was just out of the ordinary.
“Tuesday was what I call a statistical anomaly. This is just something that does not happen often.”
Election day in November was a big one in Craighead County. Multiple county positions were on the ballot and a measure to cut funding to the Craighead County Public Library.
Citizens voted yes for a petition to cut the mills for the county’s property tax from 2 mills to 1 mill on real and personal property that supported the operation of the library.
Vanessa Adams, Director of the library, said employees would have to lay employees off at the end of the year and could need to reduce hours to more employees.
The First United Methodist Church has seen some controversy over the past few months.
In July, the church voted to disaffiliate and break away from the principal Protestant denomination over an ongoing homosexuality debate.
To disaffiliate, the church needed ratification by a simple majority of the annual conference.
Nov. 19, the Arkansas Annual Conference of United Methodist voted against the church’s disaffiliation. Then, on Dec. 15, the church moved to disaffiliate from the UMC.
After the meeting was held, Senior Pastor John Miles was suspended.
UMC Bishop Gary Mueller said the meeting was not authorized in accordance with UMC’s structure, which gave just cause to suspend Miles.
Currently, the story is still developing. A lawsuit has been filed in an attempt to keep its current church building, but twelve judges have recused themselves from the FUMC lawsuit.
Finally, a major story in the final two months of the year.
Deaths while on the job. On this list, you’ll see a death occurred on Nov. 9 at Riceland Foods. 64-year-old Stanley House of Jonesboro was killed after losing his footing and falling.
Then, just five days later, on Nov. 14, at PECO Foods in Pocahontas, the company said a team member was involved in a “Fatal Accident.”
PECO Foods did not release any additional information or the name of the employee that was killed.
The company did confirm the death of one of its team members but didn’t give any information on how it happened. The worker was a 48-year-old man whose name was never released.
Then on Dec. 12, on Johnson Ave in Jonesboro, two men were buried after a trench collapsed.
According to a police report, 31-year-old Austin Neth of Walnut Ridge was killed when the trench collapsed. The other man, 39-year-old Matt Buckley of Maynard, suffered injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital. The report revealed that both men were employed by SDT solutions.
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