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News Archive--December 2011


NEWS--Christmas Eve Power Outage in the Valley; UPDATED: Cause Reported

Many Valley residents experienced an extended power outage on Christmas Eve.  Starting around 7:50 am, the power would remain off for nearly seven hours.  With temperatures hovering in the low 40's, the power disruption meant that many Valley residents had to either bundle up or go out to public places to get warm.  Fortunately it was Christmas Eve and area stores and restaurants were open.
The outage affected more than 100 Valley residents, including most houses around Whittington Federal Park and businesses at the west end of the park.  Downtown Hot Springs was unaffected by the outage.  Power remained on at the east end of the Valley as evidenced by the outside lights at St. Mary’s of the Spring Church.
Initially Entergy reported that power would be restored by 10:30 am.  That deadline was pushed back to 1:00 pm only to be later revised to 3:00 pm.  Power was finally restored about 2:24 pm.
Several area residents were surprised by the timing and the length of the outage.  When the power went out there were no storms or high winds in the area; and the delays in restoring power (especially on Christmas Eve) proved disruptive for many with holiday plans.
Julie Munsell with Entergy explains that the outage was caused by a line switch malfunction--akin to an super circuit breaker on a main power line.  Unfortunately Entergy crews had to visibily inspect every section of the distribution line to determine if the "tripped" circuit was the result of downed line.  Many branches of this power line run through hilly terrain and all parts parts of the line had to be inspected before service could be restored.  It was finally determined that the line switch had failed and needed to be replaced.
- Posted 12/25/11 by MT
- Updated 12/27/11 by MT


FYI--Valley Trash Pick-Up Monday As Normal; No Delays Due to Holiday

The Hot Springs' Sanitation Department reminds all Valley residents that trash will be collected curbside in the Valley on Monday, December 26th. Trash collection in the city will NOT be delayed by one day due to the Christmas holiday. However, all other City offices, excluding public safety, will be closed on Monday.
Valley residents are reminded to have their trash cans curbside by 7:00 am on Monday to ensure pick-up.
- Posted 12/25/11 by MT

NEWS--Church's Food Program Receives Donation From Neighborhood Association

Hot Springs’ First Presbyterian Church, 213 Whittington Avenue, whose motto is "the church with a heart in the heart of the city," has launched its 2011 holiday charity programs.  Each Christmas the church’s pastor, Rev. Lacy Sellars, works with church members to aid the less fortunate during the holiday season.
This November church members began by decorating a mitten tree and in December the church’s Presbyterian Women then presented 175 pairs of mittens to the children and adults at First Step School.  In addition, the Presbyterian Women provided closet organizers for the Oaklawn Visual and Performing Arts School.  With help from the church’s Bargain Box Store, the church then filled these closets with clothes for those in need.
Vonnie Ensz, co-chair of the Church's Bargain Box, described another of the church’s holiday charity programs.  The church’s “Hugs, Prayer and Food” program provides specially-identified area families with food, emotional support (hugs) and spiritual care (prayers).  Ensz cites a tan sweatshirt she often wears as embodying the program’s goals.  The sweatshirt depicts the baby Jesus with the caption, “The Way in the Manger” –which embodies the Christian ideal of aiding people both physically and spiritually.
“Also over the holidays we give toys and presents to children at the Ouachita Children’s Center,” Ensz added.  “Our volunteers come across people in need almost every day and it’s rewarding to help.”

The Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association (WVNA) recently made a cash donation to support the “Hugs, Prayer and Food” charitable program at Hot Springs’ First Presbyterian Church. Pictured are volunteers from the Church's Bargain Box Thrift Store and members of the WVNA.  Front row, left to right: Jan Meyers, Judy Crawford, Ben Bumpas, Darthy Tyrity (WVNA Treasurer), Rev. Lacy Sellars, Jane Hynds, Betty Allshouse and Dick Kelley. Back row, left to right: Helen Bumpas, Kay Skoog, Mark Toth (WVNA President), Michael Carr, Charlie Feldman, Dolly Feldman, Jan Kelley, Bob Spindler and Karen DeMott.

The church also learned that six area boys could not afford to pay their annual membership fees in the Boy Scouts.  Hearing of this need, the church sponsored each scout, collecting enough to pay their membership fees as well as other scouting related expenses for 2012.  The six boys are members of Scouting Troop #1, the oldest continually-active Boy Scout Troop in Arkansas.
Upon learning of these charity programs, the membership of the Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association voted unanimously to aid these worthy efforts with a cash donation.  As John Lewis, the Association’s vice-president explained, “Our members are keenly aware that some families are having a hard time this holiday season and they felt that making a cash donation to the church’s ‘Hugs, Prayer and Food’ program is a great way to help the less fortunate in our community.  The First Presbyterian Church has been an institution in the Valley for one-hundred and thirty-five years and they are committed to helping the less fortunate through their numerous charitable programs.  The Neighborhood Association is proud to be able to support their efforts.  This is the third year in a row that the Neighborhood Association has been able to aid the Church’s holiday programs.”
- Posted 12/25/11 by MT

NEWS--Artchurch Announces December Events

The Valley’s own Artchurch Studios, 301 Whittington Avenue, has announced several holiday events for the month of December.  These events include public concerts and a crafts workshop for children.
The Artchurch is also partnering with the Arkansas School for Math, Science & The Arts to display artwork produced by the School’s students and staff.   The artwork will be available for public viewing an hour before each event listed below.  There is no admission fee to view the artwork.
The scheduled holiday events at the Artchurch include:
-  Dec 14th, 2011, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Acousticatz, a Bluegrass/Folk Group, will perform in concert.  In lieu of a set admission fee, attendees are asked to make a donation at the door.
-  Dec 15th, 2011, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, “A Blue Christmas” Concert with Ben "Swamp Donkey" Brenner, Blues Singer/ Songwriter.  In lieu of a set admission fee, donations will be accepted at the door.
-  Dec 16th, 2011, “A SongBird Sessions” performance by singers/songwriters Kennedy Elizabeth & Oona Love.  In lieu of a set admission fee,  donations will be accepted at the door.
-  Dec 17th, 2011, from 9:00 am to Noon, a “Christmas Craft Workshop” for kids ages 6-11.  There is a registration fee of $20/per student.  Please register with Terri Taylor Menefee by calling (501) 282-8343.
If you need more information about any of these events or about the ArtChurch in general, please contact Anna Williams, Artchurch Director of Events, at (501) 617-9437.
-Posted 12/12/11 by MT


NEWS--Habitat Dedicates 44th Home in the Whittington Valley

Under clear but sometimes windy skies, more than fifty people gathered mid-morning on Saturday, December 2nd, 2011 to dedicate a new house in the Whittington Valley. The three bedroom, one bath residence, built by Garland County Habitat for Humanity, is located at the west end of the Valley on Regal Street, just across from the city park. The comfortable house--with dark sage colored siding, distinctive shutters and a covered front porch--will be home to Camille Hannah and her daughter.
On Saturday, December 2nd , 2011, Habitat for Humanity dedicated their newest house here in the Whittington Valley. Camille Hannah (left) and her daughter Floridia (right) at the dedication of their new home.
The dedication started with Steve Trusty, Board president of Garland County Habitat for Humanity, welcoming everybody. After the pledge of allegiance, Habitat Interim Executive Director Sue Ann Albers introduced the new homeowner, Camille Hannah and her daughter, to the assembled well-wishers. An opening prayer was then offered by Pastor Charles Smith of St. Thomas Baptist Church.
At home dedication the Neighborhood Association (WVNA) presents a “Welcome to the Valley” gift bag.  Pictured (left to right): Camille Hannah, the new homeowner holding gift bag, and her daughter; Sue Ann Albers, Interim Director Garland County Habitat for Humanity; Steve Trusty, Habitat Board president; John Lewis, WVNA vice president; and Mark Toth, WVNA president.

Several guests then addressed the assembled group.  WVNA Board members Mark Toth and John Lewis presented the new homeowner and her daughter with a “Welcome to the Valley” gift bag containing homemade brownies, a set of the Association’s handmade greeting cards, note paper and other gifts.  Members of the "Sew What" Quilting Bee presented a beautiful handmade quilt to Ms. Hannah, adding that a home should always be a place of warmth.  Members of the “Brush Strokes” artists group presented a large painting of one of Hot Springs’ downtown bathhouses to the new homeowner.  The Whitfield Garden Club told how they had placed a sweetspire plant in the yard which should grow more beautiful over time.  The Rice Depot provided Ms. Hannah with a well-stocked refrigerator and other stables.
At the dedication, Habitat volunteers served refreshments, including cake.
Vicki Crabtree from the Community of Christ Church presented the homeowner with new dishes and flatware.  Christ of the Hills church provided Ms. Hannah with yard care tools and equipment.  And Steve Trusty, Habitat Board President, presented Hannah and her daughter with a new bible.  Finally, Gordon Hegg, Habitat’s Construction Supervisor, presented Hannah with the house key.

Members of a youth dance group from New Beginnings Christian Ministry performed a praise dance as a housewarming blessing for Hannah and her daughter.  The new homeowner, Camille Hannah, then addressed her friends and neighbors.  She began by saying “Just how thankful I am--to the Lord, to all the volunteers, my church, my family, to everyone.”  She thanked Habitat for Humanity for providing her and daughter with a wonderful new home.  Finally Albers closed the dedication by encouraging everyone to tour the new house and enjoy the supplied refreshments.
Habitat's latest home in the Valley is inspected by well-wishers, friends and family of the new homeowner.
Construction of the house was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore--a building materials and home furnishings resale center operated by Garland County Habitat for Humanity.  The ReStore sponsors construction of several Habitat homes each year.  Larry Brogdon, manager of the ReStore, told the assembled crowd how the ReStore was currently in the process of relocating and the move to the new store at 350 Malvern Avenue should be completed by January 2nd, 2012.
Since 1996, working with volunteers in the community, Garland County Habitat for Humanity has built safe and affordable houses for families who otherwise might never own a home.  Each new homeowner is required to invest “sweat equity” in their new house, spending at least 100 hours working on their residence--with family and friends allowed to make up the balance of the 350 required hours of “sweat equity.”  During the dedication, Habitat Interim Director Albers praised the new homeowner’s dedication to hard work and added that through this process Albers and Hannah had become friends.
This is the ninety-fourth house built by Garland County Habitat for Humanity; and their forty-forth home in the Whittington Valley.  Habitat sells each of its houses to its new owner; with the sale being financed by a twenty-year, zero percent mortgage.  Garland County Habitat for Humanity expects that it will complete its 100th house sometime in 2012.
- Posted 12/5/11 by MT

NEWS--Church’s Holiday Food Drive Receives Donation from Neighborhood Association

The Valley's own Roanoke Baptist Church, located at 315 Whittington Avenue, begun its 2011 Holiday Food Drive by delivering boxes of Thanksgiving foods to needy families in Hot Springs.   The Church will continue its Food Drive by delivering meals for Christmas.  The Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association provided a cash donation to help fund this worthy community activity.
The Neighborhood Association makes a donation to the Roanoke Baptist Church’s Holiday Food Drive. Pictured are members of the WVNA and the Roanoke Baptist Church’s "Willing Workers Ministry." Left to right: Mark Toth, Rev. Leon Massey, Rev. Bobbie Hampton, Darthy Tyrity, Rosa Jackson, Katherine Brown, Michele Hampton, Dorris Hampton, Eddie Brown, Sally Blake, and Andre Jackson.
According to Leon Massey, Senior Pastor at the Roanoke Baptist Church, the church’s membership believes in helping the larger Hot Springs community.  “Our holiday charity programs begin each year with our Thanksgiving food drive,” Massey explained.  “Our church members prepare and distribute boxes of food to needy area families.  The boxes contain everything for a Thanksgiving Day meal, including a turkey.
“In addition we have several programs aimed at the less fortunate, with a specific focus on families and children,” Massey added.  These programs include a student tutoring program for grade and high school students.  “In general our youth programs seek to improve learning skills, promote leadership and enhance communication skills,” Massey said.  “And being the holidays, we have a Christmas play the children put on and a program to provide toys to needy children.”  The church also provides clothing to those in need and assists those less fortunate with a secret Santa program.
The Whittington Valley Neighborhood Association, hearing of the Church’s Holiday Food Drive, was determined to aid this worthy effort.  The non-profit Neighborhood Association, established in 1988, promotes cooperation and mutual assistance among Valley residents and with Hot Springs at large.  As Mark Toth, Association president, explained, “Our members decided to aid charities that help the needy this holiday season.  And making a donation to the Roanoke Baptist Church, with all of the good things they have done in Hot Springs for nearly one-hundred and fifty years, as well as being a vital institution in the Whittington Valley, was a choice that our members unanimously supported.”
- Posted 12/5/11 by MT
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