With half of 2018 now over, the Hope Star looks back at some of the top headlines in Hope and Hempstead County from January to June. Among the watch items for the rest of the year: City of Hope elections, the November General Election, the new Hempstead County Courthouse, and the Turner era begins as Hope High School's new football coach.

With half of 2018 now over, the Hope Star looks back at some of the top headlines in Hope and Hempstead County from January to June. Among the watch items for the rest of the year: City of Hope elections, the November General Election, the new Hempstead County Courthouse, and the Turner era begins as Hope High School’s new football coach.

The week of January 3:
• Beginning in January 2018, Hempstead County Deputies and jail personnel will be issued medication to help combat opioid overdoses. Deputies and jailers will be trained in the use of Naloxone, deputies will carry two doses of the medication with them in case they encounter someone who has overdosed on opioids or it can be used by the deputies if they are somehow exposed to the drug by accident.
• Whether it was case of “calm before the storm” or merely the cold weather outside Tuesday night, the Hope City Board saw a light agenda and finished up their business in near record time of 20 minutes, but the next meeting of the board will prove more consequential as several appointments are to be made.
• On Thursday afternoon as well as today, Friday, at the Graves Conference Room at Hope’s downtown BancorpSouth, Sylvia Brown, now the local face and principal spokesperson for the local Democratic Party, was holding informational sessions to re-engage with persons interested in local government, in particular, participating in local races in 2018.

The week of January 10:
•  In their opening meeting of 2018, the University of Arkansas Hope Board of Visitors heard reports and updates of stable enrollments, continued plans for expansion, and an overall economic impact of faculty and staff activities last Friday at Hempstead Hall.
• A former employee in the Clark County’s prosecutor’s office starts 2018 as a new deputy prosecutor for Nevada and Hempstead Counties as Kolby Harper was sworn in last week at the Nevada County Courthouse in Prescott by Circuit Judge Duncan Culpepper.
Harper, 31, is a native of Gurdon, and she previously served on the Gurdon City Council.
• Hatched from a convergence of factors one year ago as well as determination and vision, the Hope Downtown Network has survived — and even accomplished much — in its first year of existence, and on Wednesday, it saw a promising start to its second year with a sizable donation from local attorney Blake Montgomery.
• At its first meeting of the new year on Thursday afternoon, the Hope Tourism Commission heard from Pete Pessel, a regional baseball promoter from Texarkana, about bringing a 12-year-old tournament to Hope sometime in March. For AAU, it would be the tournament’s first visit in Hope, and it would likely be the catalyst for other age divisions and groups.

The week of January 17:
• For nearly three hours last Friday, the combined Southern Gospel talents of the Booth Brothers and Ernie Haase and Signature Sound both entertained and inspired an estimated crowd of 600 at Hope’s Hempstead Hall.
• Over the weekend, early forecasts had already called for an Arctic blast with a hard freeze expected Tuesday, but by early Monday evening, it was evident that far more was coming as rain and sleet, and later, snow was falling, and by early Tuesday morning, much of the Hope area was blanketed in four-inches of the white stuff. Snow flurries started falling in Hope at approximately 10:15 Monday evening and continued throughout the night.
• Fox News analyst and Arkansas gun-rights activist, Jan Morgan, shot her own fireworks in the new year by stunning the Republican Party with a challenge to incumbent Governor Asa Hutchinson, and she is now touring the state with a visit to Hope, hosted by the Hope Tea Party on Friday, January 26 at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum.
• It was 17 degrees with snow and ice around, but the Hope City Board bundled up and still met Tuesday night before an handful of people to conduct business, which mainly involved appointments to city boards and commissions, most notably the HWL Commission.
• The immediate past Hempstead County Sheriff announced his candidacy for the county’s top office, County Judge, in 2018 on Thursday afternoon, and he has formed a committee that includes his son as campaign manager. Jerry Crane, who served as Hempstead County Sheriff for 18 years, then retired to form a church in Perrytown and ministry, said Thursday that he is now a candidate for Hempstead County Judge.
• Prior to this week’s actual “big freeze,” the other “big freeze” story in the state was a January 9 letter from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson regarding tuition levels that went out to the presidents and chancellors of all of Arkansas’ four-year universities and two-year colleges.

The week of January 24:
• Black History Month will prove to be a bit of a happy Homecoming locally this year as Hope native and United States Magistrate Judge-designate Doris L. Pryor will come up to deliver the keynote speech for Black History Month on Monday, February 5 at Hempstead Hall.
• An estimated crowd of 540 on Sunday at Hempstead Hall saw plenty of pretty girls, Broadway-style singing, clever special effects, athleticism, and colorful costumes jammed into a brisk and entertaining one-hour extravaganza that was “Skatetacular Dreams on Ice.”
• Three local individuals, all first time candidates, announced their entries into various races this week, and all challenging existing incumbent office holders. This group included Hope’s Allen Flowers, a Democrat, for Hempstead County Judge; retired businessman Steve Atchley for Justice of Peace in District 7, and Nicholas Ward for Hope School Board.
• The Hope Watermelon Festival is among a group of finalists for the 2018 Class of the Arkansas State Food Hall of Fame as recognized by the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Hope Chamber Director Beckie Moore announced at Wednesday’s Board of Directors meeting.
• Two nationally known figures, and later, a legendary Southern Classic Rock group will headline a convergence events happening in Hope over the next seven days. The weekend will include visits by Arkansas Governor’s candidate, Jan Morgan, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and at the Annual Ark-La-Tex Outdoor Expo, 38-Special will perform as the headline act on Friday, February 2, also at Hempstead Hall.

The week of January 31:
•  The Hempstead County Quorum Court found itself in controversy again as its first meeting of the new year saw two issues, unpaid “Comp Time” for county employees, and the County Extension office at the forefront before a capacity crowd, mostly of county employees and irate farmers.
• Two nationally known figures from Arkansas visited Hope over the past weekend, one a hometown favorite son who went on to become Arkansas governor, the other seeking to be governor this year, both greeted by big and enthusiastic crowds. Saturday night saw the appearance of Hope native Mike Huckabee before an estimated dinner crowd of 600 from throughout Arkansas at Hempstead Hall. Approximately 24 hours earlier, Huckabee’s fellow Fox News analyst Jan Morgan brought her campaign for governor to the Hope’s Fair Park, hosted by the Hope Tea Party.
• While Hope native Doris Pryor, who will be back in her hometown on Monday for Black History Month, emerged from Hope High School in the 1990s on her way to an appointment as a United States Magistrate Judge, other Hope natives and Hope graduates from that period have also gone on to stellar careers in government service. On such individual is Hope native Rickey Gulley, who was a 1998 Hope High School graduate, and was recently named as Command Sergeant Major in active duty in the Army National Guard.
• In addition to speaking at the 100 Anniversary of the Hope Rotary Club on Saturday night, former Arkansas governor and Hope native Mike Huckabee was on hand to distribute four “Rotary Club Mike Huckabee Servant Leadership Scholarship” awards, each for $1,000, to students from each of Hempstead County’s local high schools.  Recipients included: Britni Leann Cottingham of Blevins, Jocelyne Jazmin Mejia of Hope High School, Morgan Renee Hooker of Garrett Christian, and Christy Renee Randle of Spring Hill.  Huckabee, himself, was a 1970s-era recipient of the same Hope Rotary Scholarship, when he graduated from Hope High School.

The week of February 7:
• In what was supposed to be a special meeting Monday for grant money instead revealed continued divisions within the Hempstead Quorum Court over what to do about the Cooperative Extension office and the fate of the County Agent’s position.
• In a special statement Tuesday morning, Hope Water & Light, the City of Hope’s utility company that serves much of the population in Hempstead County, announced the installation of new meters for both residential and business customers starting February 12.
• In a time of national awakening on Women’s issues and empowerment, it was timely and appropriate that two of the keynote speakers leading Black History Month activities locally happened to be two highly accomplished and powerful public servants, both African American women with southern Arkansas Roots. Hope native Doris Pryor, now a United States Magistrate Judge, took the stage at Hempstead Hall before an audience of several hundred students, and the previous Thursday, it was Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, also in Hempstead Hall, as the lead speaker of the UAHT Multicultural Club’s Black History program.
• After all was wrapped up, the 2018 Outdoor Expo turned out to be an almost identical replay of 2017, right down to the cold snap and inclement weather on the final day. As the year before, a combined two-day estimate of over 1,300 people flowed into Hempstead Hall last weekend for the second annual event, which also included over 900 for the 38 Special concert.
• Much of Tuesday night’s meeting of the Hope City Board proved to be routine business until a man, identified as Wayne Pemberton, got up during Citizen’s Requests and claimed he had issues with the Hope Police Department regarding excessive traffic warnings.

The week of February 14:
•  The cold, damp, and rainy weather outside didn’t deter the community’s appetite for spaghetti as Tuesday saw by yet another big turnout at Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church's now 60th annual event for both lunch and dinner. Church Parish Council President Judy Micco said Tuesday late morning that given the inclement weather that the takeout business was especially brisk.
• With the Hempstead County GOP announcing its filing fees and dates last week, the Hempstead Democratic Party made its own announcement on Monday night as the official filing period starts next week, Thursday, February 22. Hempstead County Democratic Spokesperson Sylvia Brown said, “Democrats recognize the importance of everybody participating in the electoral process — from getting on the ballot to voting to attending community and civic meetings.”
• Students in grades 9-11 participated in a “Math Day” on the Hope High School campus on Wednesday. Judee Gunter, math specialist and instructional facilitator, said the day-long program involved “hands on” activities for students.
• After alternating its annual GOP Lincoln event over the past few years, the Hempstead County Republican Party is holding its signature occasion two years in a row with 2018’s dinner following up 2017’s luncheon. The previous before was in 2015.

The week of February 21:
• A record crowd of over 190 showed up at Hempstead Hall on Monday night as the Hempstead Republican Party saw an all-star cast of state, regional, and local officials attend the 2018 Lincoln Dinner as it was called this year.
• Hempstead County’s current County Judge Haskell Morse first announced back in December 2017 that he intended to seek a third term in 2018. With official filing set for Thursday, Morse faces plenty of company of company as he puts his own record of three years up to the voters.
• In the aftermath of the Florida shootings, no less than eight Arkansas schools in the past eight days have received some type of threats, social media posts, or seen student arrests, and Hope High School joined that number — twice — this week as alleged social media posts sparked concern and police visits.
• A number of familiar faces in statewide and congressional offices filed for re-election on Thursday, the opening day of the 2018 filing period.  Filing continues until Thursday, March 1. As recorded by the Secretary of State’s office at 5:00 p.m. the following regional and local candidates filed papers, including incumbent Christi McQueen for Prosecuting Attorney, District 08-North; Angilynn Taylor, challenger, for Prosecuting Attorney, District 08-North; incumbent Larry Teague for State Senate District 10; and incumbent Danny Watson for State Representative District 3.

The week of February 28:
• The Hope School Board voted Monday to extend Superintendent Bobby Hart's contract by a year.  This action came after an executive session when the board discussed his recent evaluation.  Hart will now have a three-year contract.
• Some 50 family members, friends and other supporters braved nasty weather Saturday to see Hope High School senior David Dixon and junior Jordyne Weston named Mr. and Miss Hope High School in pageant competition at Hempstead Hall on the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus.
• Even before Thursday’s 12 noon filing deadline, local county races in 2018 were already guaranteed to see more candidates and more competitive races than known in recent memory, and as deadline finished, 37 persons had filed for various positions, according to a listing made available by the Hempstead County Clerk’s office.
• Thursday proved to be not only a busy day for statewide candidate filings and offices, but also for Hope Attorney Blake Montgomery as he received new statewide responsibilities of his own, being named by Governor Asa Hutchinson to the seven-member Arkansas Public Defender Commission. The Arkansas Public Defender Commission oversees all public defender operations in the state of Arkansas, including Hempstead and Nevada counties.

The week of March 7:
•  One member of the Arkansas General Assembly representing Hempstead and Nevada Counties, who was up for reelection in 2018, apparently will not face any opponents and return to office for another term as the dust settled from statewide filing completed last Thursday. State Representative Danny Watson, a Republican, who represents both Hempstead and Nevada counties as part of State House District 3, did not draw an opponent for either the May 22 Primary or November 4 General Elections.
• A citizens petition seeking to change the governance structure of the City of Hope was presented Thursday to Mayor Steve Montgomery — as he was attending a Tourism Board meeting and the Hope Star was preparing for press - for inclusion on the May 22 ballot, and prior to the City of Hope Board elections later this year.
• With emerging wind power options as well as solar, SWEPCO VP Brian Bond said Thursday that he was  optimistic on renewable energy growth as well as existing generation resources like the Fulton Turk Plant at the south end of Hempstead County.

The week of March 14:
•  Coming off an acclaimed 2018 Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce banquet earlier this month, it signaled that the organization’s troubles and challenges of March 2017 were perhaps, finally, in the rearview mirror. One year later, March 2018, a heralded banquet video is posted on the Internet, and Thursday morning, now seasoned Chamber Director, Beckie Moore, was already looking to build on 2017’s successful revival of the Hope Watermelon Festival, working on the website for the 2018 Hope Watermelon Festival.
• As the Vietnam War raged at its peak in 1968, 50 years later a series of celebrations and parades are being organized across the nation to honor those from that often-misunderstood conflict.  In downtown Hope, a Vietnam Veterans Parade is being organized for Thursday, March 29.
• As the Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce banquet commenced Monday, the United Way also saluted its top annual business donors as well as its director of the past 25 years, Paula Pack.

The week of  March 21:
•  The only possible surprise on Monday, March 12, when the Hope/Hempstead Chamber of Commerce named both Jerry and Twyla Purden as “Citizens of the Year” was that it had not previously happened before 2018, especially given both of their already long and distinguished histories of community service in Hope and Hempstead County. Whether as a couple or individually, their resumes are impressive.
• Shortly after being named as the 2018 Hempstead County Educator of the Year at the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Monday, March 12, Spring Break happened, and Thomason and his family were on the way to Florida. Such quick movement didn’t surprise local Hempstead historian Mark Keith, who said “He is always on the go; he is always doing something.”
• Over the past three years, a virtual roll-call of County music superstars and legends have paraded into Hope’s Hempstead Hall, among them Trace Adkins, Ronnie Milsap, Sara Evans, Clint Black, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Joe Diffie. Award-winning artist Travis Tritt joins that heralded list as he brings a full band with him to perform live at Hempstead Hall on Friday, April 6.

The week of March 28:
• Investigation into a weekend fire that destroyed the South Main Family Dollar retail outlet on Saturday was still continuing, a spokesman with the Hope Fire Department confirmed on Tuesday. In a brief statement late Tuesday afternoon, Kayleigh Painter, who is Dollar Tree’s manager of Media Relations, said “We are thankful that no customers or associates were injured as a result of this incident.  Our first priority has been relocating our associates to work at other Family Dollar locations.  We do not have a timetable for reopening at this time.”
• An estimated crowed of 200 Master Gardeners, home enthusiasts, and home owners showed up at Hempstead Hall on Monday night to hear speakers, trade tips and see exhibits at the annual Hempstead County Master Gardener's Spring conference. The evening’s keynote speaker was Kitty Sanders, a “Master Naturalist” from Fayetteville, who spoke about butterflies and the importance of pollinating insects to the ecosystem.
• Hope Mayor Steve Montgomery (right) read a proclamation Tuesday night setting the proposed special city election to reorganize Hope’s form of government for July 10. Although there would be no cost to the city if an election is held as part of a countywide run-off, Montgomery said “There’s no guarantee there’s going to be a run-off.” and later voiced his belief that the election should stand on its own.
• By virtue have having a half-dozen events, including its own signature main event, in the month of April, almost the entire month of April from beginning to end is shaping up to be “Relay for Life” month in Hope.

The week of April 4:
• Like a department store Santa handing out gifts, SWEPCO’s Jennifer Harland swept through the region on Tuesday morning with grants for both the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce and the Southwest Arts Council.
• The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Iron Horse Shooting Team competed in the ACUI Collegiate Clay Target Championships in San Antonio, Texas, on March 26 to April 1. The Iron Horse Team finished seventh place in all-around American events for their division and eighth place in high overall points.
• Municipal improvements were high on the agenda for the Hope City Board meeting April 3 as they voted unanimously to move forward with the construction of the Hope Pavilion on Elm Street at the corner of 3rd Street.
• As the 2017-18 high school sports seasons comes to a close, two of Hope High School's recognizable student-athletes earned special honors as cheerleaders. Senior Tristen Jones and junior Jaidyn Simington both received high prestigious accolades during cheer season for this year's school year.
• With the GOP Primary looming six weeks away and counting, insurgent GOP candidate Jan Morgan continued hopping the state with appearances in Hope and Ashdown on Thursday, and upcoming speeches in nearby Louisville and Texarkana. Morgan has been mounting a primary challenge to incumbent Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is looking to reelected to a second term this fall.

The week of April 11:
• The unexpected Winter blast over last Saturday - now seemingly passé with Spring-like climate this week - seemed an unlikely time to have a Chili Cook-off in a parking lot, yet hardy folks like Terry Grant were braving the cold temperatures, cooking up a recipe for growth and expansion at the New Life Pentecostal Church of Hope, which sits on the border between Hempstead and Nevada counties.
• Mickey Gilley, the 1976 Country Music Entertainer of the Year, and Gold Record recording artist Johnny Lee will perform their world-famous Urban Cowboy Reunion Tour at the 42nd Annual Hope Watermelon Festival on Friday, August 10, at 8:30 p.m.
• A formal site visit by a team from the Arkansas Department of Education is set for April 23 at noon to determine the feasibility and community support for a school-based health clinic proposed for the Hope High School campus through an ADE grant program.

The week of April 18:
• The Hope Academy of Public Service in the Hope Public School District is among 175 schools across Arkansas to receive a monetary award from the state for academic growth; and, HAPS has also been named an “A” rating school under new state guidelines for public school accountability.
• The original dinner play production of 'FRAMED' Murder Is Art opened to an enthusiastic crowd estimated at 128 at Hempstead Hall on Thursday, and completed its two-night run on Friday despite inclement weather.
• Garrett Memorial Christian School Lady Saints softball team remains dominant on the diamond to post impressive home victories as the reigning AACS state softball champions. The Lady Saints shut out Christian Ministries 16-0 and 15-2 along taking out school rivals' Columbia Christian 14-1.
• On Senior Night, the Hope Ladycats lost a hard fought encounter on the diamond to school rivals' Magnolia Lady Panthers 16-5 Tuesday evening at Ladycat Stadium to conclude their conference series match-ups. Featured seniors Andria Curtis, Tristen Jones and Morgan Gray all were recognized on Senior Night following game competition and provided valuable efforts during competition despite defeat on their night.
• The 2018 Hope FFA Rodeo Junior Queen competition at the 59th Annual Hope FFA Rodeo features five contestants competing for honors. 2018 Rodeo Queen contestants include Kylee Bruce, daughter of Pheonix Newton of Clinton Primary School; Ava McWilliams, daughter of Judy McWilliams; Ali Bree Hargraves, daughter of Jake and Katlyn Hargraves of Garrett Memorial Christian School; Savannah Fields, daughter of Bryan and Pam Fields of Garrett Memorial Christian School and Zoey Cox, daughter of Tina Smith of Clinton Primary School.

The week of April 25:
• Assistance with maintenance of Rose Hill Cemetery did not come to a vote and was not on the agenda for the April 17 Hope City Board of Directors meeting, but the discussion, led by concerned citizen Hazel Simpson, covered the issue of sunken graves and excessive flooding of many of the grave plots.
• A nearly year-long as well as month-long frenzy of activities comes full circle as the main event, the 2018 Hempstead County Relay for Life comes to life on Friday night. Now, over 20 years and running, RFL has not lost any of its local charm or mission, and it brings back several familiar faces in addition to its most well-identified and enduring longtime local leader, Jessie Lewis.
• One year ago, five major local events had converged on the first weekend in May; in 2018, the now-6th annual Train Day in downtown Hope headlines the weekend, Saturday, May 5, mostly on its own, but will also bring many new elements — street vendors, a “Country Rock” concert, a petting zoo and 500 free hot dogs — to more than carry the day.
• As the Train Day headliner concert, new style “Country Rap” artist Charlie Farley will be in decidedly in comfortable surroundings when he arrives in downtown Hope on May 5. The Arkansas native was raised outside nearby DeQueen, and even as an emerging crossover County star, Farley still lives in Arkansas, and maintains a close musical and personal ties to his roots.
• Hope High School Bobcats and Ladycats tracksters competed hard and strong at the 5A South Conference meet hosted at Camden High School on Tuesday against several competitors in the conference representing in field and running events.

The week of May 2:
• Under sunny skies and warm weather, an estimated 300 people attended the 2018 Relay For Life at Hope’s Fair Park last Friday night.  The main event was the culmination of both a busy month and year for the Hempstead County Relay for Life, and as usual, it was equal parts celebration, reflection, and fun.
• The “Hope of the Future” project, part of Hope’s one-of-a-kind ARTpark development, gets its official kickoff at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 5 as part of the annual Train Days Festival.
• The Hope Public School Board met in special session Tuesday to address end of the year business, including resignations and replacement hires, accepting the resignation of HPS Co-Athletic Director/Hope High School Head Football Coach Jay Turley in the process.
• Mariano Padilla, a professional artist and muralist from Buenos Aires, Argentina, spent most of four days painting his interpretation of an Arkansas Razorback on an 8x10-foot sidewalk “canvas” in the 100 block of E. Division Street in downtown Hope.
The home for this one-of-a-kind painting is ARTpark, a parking lot and adjacent sidewalks in the 100 block of East Division St.

The week of May 9:
• As he did in May 2017, one year later Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was back in Hope for a mid-afternoon visit on Friday and right back on Smith Road off Highway 29 North. This time, Hutchinson was in town to transfer the deed of the state-owned Arkansas Migrant Center over to Hempstead County.  Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, on hand for the transfer ceremony, said county will repurpose the 72-room facility into a "Juvenile Behavior Center" for young people.
• The now sixth annual Train Day celebration over the weekend saw perfect skies and hundreds of people converge in downtown Hope throughout the day and early evening for the ever-growing and evolving event.
• Prior to the University of Arkansas at Hope having its 2018 graduation ceremony on Tuesday night, on Friday, May 4, there was the annual joint gathering of the faculty and staff along with the Board of Visitors at the University’s year-end luncheon.
• A proud hometown native with a well-known traditional strong family name has officially been hired as the new Hope Bobcat Head Football Coach and Co-Activities Director of Hope Public Schools. Phillip Turner, a 1997 Hope High School graduate and former standout Bobcat, was hired as the new head football coach and co-activities director.
• The University of Arkansas at Hope's Class of 2018 received their diplomas before another capacity crowd of over 1,500 parents, grandparents, relatives and friends in Hempstead Hall Tuesday night. UAHT saw 191 students participate in the commencement exercises for May 2018, and the Class of 2018 was actually the third-highest enrollment in the school’s history, behind last year’s record number in 2017, and the previous record year in 2016.

The week of May 16:
• As most of the country celebrated Mother’s Day over the weekend, Hempstead County saw two of its biggest flagship schools celebrate graduations on both sides of the holiday; on Friday, May 11, Hope High School held its graduation ceremony, while the following Monday, May 14, Spring Hill High School had its graduation. Both ceremonies were held at Hempstead Hall on the campus of University of Arkansas at Hope.
• In a month-long stream of local celebrations, the new Bank of Tom Bean branch had one of its own on Tuesday as it held its formal grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony before a crowd of well-wishers, city officials, and Chamber members.
• The Hope City Board voted unanimously Tuesday night in support of an economic development plan for disadvantaged areas of Hope and Hempstead County.
• As Hempstead County Bicentennial Chair Richard Read made his remarks at Thursday’s Hope Rotary Club luncheon, he wittingly said “You’ve got mail… on December 15, 2068” as he provided an update on the year-long celebration including the introduction of a “Hempstead Time Capsule.”

The week of May 23:
• Blevins High School and Garrett Memorial Christian School celebrated high school commencements to finish off a month-long string of area graduations; both occasions packed with parents, relatives, friends and well-wishers.
• If Warner Brothers studio ever needed a new “Wonder Woman” for a reboot, it may want to consider Rayleigh Hart as an ideal candidate.  The 18-year-old, who graduated both from Garrett Memorial on Sunday and the University of Arkansas at Hope on May 8, has managed to achieve in the past 12 months, what takes many her age two or three years.
• In the Hempstead Primary election storyline, at least two new faces will emerge in county government in 2019, while another county incumbent faces a runoff, and three incumbents did survive Tuesday challengers to serve another term. In unofficial results from Tuesday night, the major local races saw Jerry Crane emerge in the GOP primary for Hempstead County Judge ousting incumbent Haskell Morse and a second challenger Greg Jackson. Crane finished with 1,261 while Morse had 645 and Jackson come in with 292.
• The other incumbent toppled Tuesday was longtime District 6 Justice of the Peace Lynn Montgomery, after 55 years of service, was unable to withstand the challenge of Troy Lerew, Sr.  By a razor thin 10-vote margin, Lerew emerged 143 to 133 for Montgomery, and with no Democrat in the race, Lerew is set to succeed Montgomery in January 2019.

The week of May 30:
• The big takeaway from the May 22 Primary election was the upcoming showdown that will see former Sheriff Jerry Crane and Democrat Allen Flowers vie to be the next Hempstead County Judge in November. Incumbent County Judge Haskell Morse came up short in his bid for reelection, but he remains Hempstead County’s top governing official until clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2018.
• Before the November General Election, some local voters in parts of Hope as well as Stover Springs will see a runoff elections for the Justice of Peace seat in Hempstead County’s District 7. The seat is currently held by first-term incumbent Mikki Curtis, who is seeking a second elected term, and she has been gamely challenged by retired Hope businessman Steve Atchley.
• Having played football at Spring Hill High School, local Family Nurse Practitioner Devin Shepard knew of the southwestern Arkansas heat well before he returned to Hope to join the CHRISTUS Family Medicine Clinic last fall. And with daytime high temperatures predicted to be as high as 103 over the next five days, the recent days of extreme heat in the area have caught Shepard’s attention and concern as it has much of the local population.

The week of June 6:
• In the summer blaze of downtown Hope on Saturday, a dedicated group of individuals were powerwashing old structures and doing the unglamorous task of cleaning debris from buildings and sidewalks. Headed by downtown business owner Bob Irwin, folks like Mark Ross were driving a folklift, Toby Neff was elevated 30-feet with a sprayer, while John Akin and John Caldwell were hand picking weathered roofing, wood and nails from the ground as they spent a good portion of five hours cleaning up the old Tae Kwon Do building.
• The Southwest Arkansas Arts Council (SWAAC) is featuring the artworks of mother and daughter, Lisa and Caley Pennington, through June 29, at the Art Station Gallery at 200 East Division Street in Hope. Both of the Penningtons are teachers – Lisa at the University of Arkansas Community College in Hope and Caley at Arkansas State University-Beebe.
• During the recent Parade of Lights EMS Week celebration in Little Rock, Jamie Pafford-Gresham, CEO for Pafford EMS, learned that she has been selected to be inducted into the Arkansas EMS Hall of Fame.
• The ongoing restoration and resurrection movement in Hope is not limited to downtown as the Hope Lions Club officially acquired rights Tuesday to the ancient concession facility once known as the Hope Band Boosters stand.

The week of June 13:
•  Due to an age change in January, Hope High School graduate Brooke Cornelius found herself with a fifth and final shot at the Miss Arkansas crown starting this week in Little Rock, while a one-time winner of the Miss Southwest District Fair crown, Reagan Grubbs, makes her first appearance on the Miss Arkansas stage as the reigning Miss Southern Arkansas University.
• An estimated crowd of 50 showed up Tuesday morning in the parking lot adjacent to the First Baptist Church in downtown Hope and almost directly across the street from the old downtown branch of Farmers Bank to celebrate the groundbreaking for new downtown branch of Farmers Bank.
• As the Miss Arkansas Pageant starts today, the big national pageant news happened last week as Miss America Pageant officials announced the elimination of the traditional swimsuit competition, and additionally, saying that the evening gown competition will be modified and reduced in significance. Regionally respected pageant director Suzi Powell, who oversees events in both Hempstead and Howard Counties, said “These are ‘beauty’ pageants, and it seems like they are trying to take the ‘beauty’ out of the pageant. I am not crazy about these new ideas, and in fact, I think some of it is ridiculous.”
• A one-time Miss Southwest District Fair Queen scored an early category victory at the Miss Arkansas Pageant as Reagan Grubbs, now completing as Miss Southern Arkansas University, was named as an Alpha award Lifestyle and Fitness winner in the Swimsuit competition on opening night Tuesday.
• The old saying “Something old can be something new again” certainly meant something as a previous closed local restaurant reopened under a new name in Hope on Wednesday night. Scottie’s Steak & Seafood made its debut for dinner, opening in the old Boonies Restaurant building located at 504 W Compress St.

The week of June 20:
•  Brooke Cornelius, a 2012 graduate of Hope High School now residing in Little Rock as a second-year law student, made a late run in the Miss Arkansas Pageant over the weekend, winning a preliminary Thursday and landing a spot in the Top 10 on Saturday night and completing for the crown.
• With a brisk performance, county music star Lorrie Morgan proved to be full of surprises in a Friday, June 15 performance before an estimated crowd of 650 at Hempstead Hall.
• An estimated crowd of 200 was believed to have physically attended the second coming of “Summer in the City” event, but scorching temperatures in downtown Hope were believed to have kept many in air conditioned homes and cars on Saturday.
• The Hempstead County Economic Development Corporation’s 32nd annual meeting on Tuesday night proved to be mostly about touting existing Hope business and investments and the contributions of local companies.
• A well-known and respected Hempstead farm family with 30 years of experience was formally named as 2018 Hempstead County Farm Family, joining a select group of family farms that were honored in ceremonies across the state as Jeff and Jane Collums were visited by a group of state district judges on June 13.
• The Hempstead County election storyline for 2018 continues to be one of change as another incumbent was unseated in Tuesday’s special run-off. Retired Hope businessman Steve Atchley emerged over first-term incumbent Justice Mikki Curtis by an unofficial count of 55 to 42 in a run-off limited to the Quorum Court’s District 7, which included a small portion of Hope and the Shover Springs area of Hempstead County.

The week of June 27:
• In a special Hempstead County Republican meeting on Monday night, local officials took the occasion to celebrate several victories of GOP candidates in the county races and recognize those still in races, including Jerry Crane, who faces Democrat Allen Flowers, for Hempstead County Judge in November’s General election.
• Pafford’s 2018 Stars of Life, paramedic David Richardson and his partner/wife, EMT Lori Richardson, recently met with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Senator John Boozman, Representative Rick Crawford and Ashley Shelton from his staff, and Representative Bruce Westerman as part of the festivities surrounding the American Ambulance Association's Stars of Life program.
• In an unusual coordination of multiple operations, four nearly concurrent drug raids were executed and arrests made throughout the region Wednesday afternoon with one instance happening at a well-known restaurant franchise in Hope.
•The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, has awarded $2,963,781 in grants for projects in 58 Arkansas counties—including Hempstead County—through its County Courthouse Restoration Grant, Historic Preservation Restoration Grant and Main Street Downtown Revitalization Grant programs. The Hope Downtown Network received a $1,000 Main Street Downtown Revitalization Grant.