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Heber Springs to represent state at Ms. Elite U.S. Woman of Achievement

Rena’ Kelley achieved a college education thanks to one teacher’s belief in her potential. Now in her role as an educator, Kelley works to provide the same types of opportunities for students she meets.

Kelley, an adult education instructor at ASU-Beebe Heber Springs Campus, will advocate for single parent scholarships as she represents Arkansas at the Ms. Elite U.S. Woman of Achievement Leadership Weekend Nov. 18-21 in Scottsdale, Ariz. The mission of Woman of Achievement is to recognize and develop women leaders in their communities. Two events are held annually – The U.S. Woman of Achievement Leadership Weekend and the International Woman of Achievement Leadership Weekend. Women from cultures nationally and worldwide are invited to present women’s issues they face in their home states and countries. The events provide various workshops and networking opportunities for women to learn new ways to overcome challenges from their peers. Both events culminate in cash grants to women demonstrating outstanding contribution in community service, academic achievement, and the arts.

“I’m nervous but excited,” Kelley said. “Women will have an opportunity to hear other people’s platforms and learn new ideas on how to overcome challenges. People from across the nation will attend. It’s a great networking opportunity and a chance to share about the work you’ve been doing in your area.”

Kelley, originally of Russellville, said without the support of her middle school physical education teacher, she would have considered a career in the military in order to be able to attend college.

“We didn’t have the money for me to go to college. I got to go to college because one teacher saw potential in me. I probably would have joined the Navy or the Army otherwise because there was no way I could have afforded to attend college,” she said.

Kelley displayed an aptitude on the balance beam during class, which prompted her teacher to encourage her to attend a summer camp for gymnastics. Kelley could not afford the camp and did not have a means of transportation. Her teacher asked her mother for permission Kelley to attend the camp, offering to provide her transportation and pay for the fee.

“My very first meet, I got first place on beam. When I got into high school, I qualified every year to go to the state meet. I had some colleges looking at me, and that’ how I got to go to college. I went to UCA on a gymnastics scholarship,” she said.

Kelley earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a certification in physical education and science. She went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Education and also holds a coaching endorsement for K-12. Throughout her career in education, Kelley has taught at public schools as well as the community college. She has taught biology and general science, adult education, and has served as a cheerleading sponsor and gymnastics coach. She has volunteer coached soccer, softball, and basketball.

Along with her passion for students, Kelley’s community service involvement garnered her the nomination for the Ms. Elite U.S. Woman of Achievement title. She is a member of the Heber Springs Rotary Club and was the founder of the club’s Cinderella Prom program designed to help students who could not afford formal wear for prom. Kelley also started the Dress for Success Closet at ASU-Beebe Heber Springs, which provides gently used business attire for students to give them foundational pieces to begin their professional careers.

About 80 students were engaged in a math escape room in Mr. Kyzer’s math class at Heber Springs High School. The escape room was used as a review about their unit on the properties of right triangles. They solved problems about right triangles as clues to open several types of locks to gain access to the inside of their rewards box. If they gained access to the inside of the box, they got their choice of points rewards or retake rewards they could use on tests or quizzes to help improve their grade.

Escape Room

Mrs. Sanders Preschool class helped her make cereal bars using only three ingredients. The students were able to help measure, pour, and stir to make the treats.

Making treats

November is National Adoption Month (copy)

Right now, there are about 349 children and teens in Arkansas whose parents’ parental rights have been terminated and are currently seeking a forever family.

November is National Adoption Month. It is a time to encourage others to learn about adoption and recognize the many children who are still waiting.

Recently, the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) launched the Every Day Counts campaign as a reminder for people that every day these children and teens spend in foster care is a day too long because every day counts!

The agency says the most significant needs right now are families for sibling groups and older teens.

In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 574, which directed the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs, and the Senate Interim Committee on Children and Youth to conduct a study of the best practices for reducing the number of children in foster care.

As part of that study, members recently received a report from DCFS on reducing the number of children in foster care.

Arkansas became one of the first states to implement the landmark federal Family First Prevention Services Act. More commonly known as Family First, it is the first major federal child welfare reform effort in decades and impacts every piece of the child welfare system.

Now, in-home services providers are using approved programs eligible for federal funding. These programs emphasize safely preventing children from entering DCFS custody or reunifying them with family as quickly as possible if out-of-home care is necessary.

Family First changes also reinforced the direction in which Arkansas had been heading: that children in foster care should be placed with family until they achieve permanency. The law includes reforms to help keep children safe with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care. At the same time, the law stresses the importance of children growing up in families and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting to meet their needs when they do come into foster care.

The priority is to place children with safe and appropriate relatives and fictive kin. DCFS staff have worked hard over the last several years to ensure children are placed with relatives and fictive kin when safe and appropriate, with 41 percent of children placed with relatives statewide as of September 30, 2021 as compared to the 28.1 percent of children who were placed with relatives statewide as of March 30, 2019.

While we continue our study and work to reduce the number of children entering the foster care system, we encourage you to explore how your family may be able to help.

If you are thinking about adoption, DCFS is encouraging you to fill out an application, go through the process and take the training.

As part of the Every Day Counts campaign, Project Zero took on the challenge of creating a short film about every child currently waiting. Project Zero is a non-profit organization with a mission to promote adoption through the foster care system with the ultimate goal of finding a forever family for every child who is waiting.

You can find the short films and more information about each child on Project Zero’s Arkansas Heart Gallery. We’ve posted the link at www.arkansashouse.org.

The Heber Springs High School Swim Team debuted at a meet in Batesville over the weekend and did an amazing job. The team still have room for any 9th-12th grade student interested in joining.

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Quorum court, city council meet Thursday

It will be a busy week for officials in Cleburne County this week.

A public hearing is for ambulance service in the county is set for 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18 at the county court building, 922 S. Ninth Street.

The public is invited to attend.

The November quorum court meeting will follow the public meeting. On the agenda is a request to appoint Rebecca Prince to fill a vacancy on the Cleburne County Library Board.

A plethora of ordinances will be discussed finalizing budget items for 2022, including fire department sales tax fund, sheriff’s office pay scale, and compensation, rural fire department fund, board of equalization compensation, starting salaries, number of county positions and salaries per position, including quorum court members.

Ordinances regarding ambulance service throughout the county will be discussed as well.

Across town at the Heber Springs Community Center, the city council will meet at 6 p.m.

Included on the city’s agenda under new business is an interlocal agreement with Survival Flight.

Other items include a recycling truck grant update, getting a trailer for the street department, discussion on the airport lease, discussion on a alcohol tax, and appointing a new council member to Ward 2, position 1.

Resources offered for caregivers

This November, the UAMS Arkansas Geriatric Educational Collaborative (AGEC) will recognize National Family Caregivers Month by hosting educational events for those persons caring for a loved one.

The AGEC is partnering with community organizations to host online and in-person programs to help provide information and training, which can be used to ease the burden for family caregivers. The COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges of increased social isolation and loneliness for caregivers. These unpaid guardians play an important role in both caring for older adults and ensuring they stay healthy in uncertain times.

Programs include “Creating a Dementia Friendly Home,” “Caregiver Resources,” “Creating a Caregiver Binder” and an online Memory Café. You can find information about all the upcoming events at https://agec.uams.edu/ community-events/.

Can’t make the scheduled program date and time? Replays of the Facebook programs can be found at https://www.facebook.com/uamsagec.

In Arkansas, one in four adults are caregivers and more than a third provide care for at least 20 hours per week. Most of the care that older adults receive comes from unpaid family members, friends or other caregivers.

If you would like to receive a monthly newsletter about upcoming programs, please email agec@uams.edu and ask to be added to the email list for the AGECaring Friends Newsletter.

The UAMS AGEC is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program grant.

FBI Seeks Information about Billy Jack Lincks for Morgan Nick Investigation

For over 26 years, the disappearance of Morgan Nick has remained a troubling mystery for Morgan’s family, her community, and law enforcement.

As many remember, 6-year-old Morgan was taken from a parking lot area near the Wofford baseball field during a little league game on June 9, 1995. The person responsible for taking Morgan has never been identified.

Today, law enforcement may be closer than ever to identifying this person. Based on their ongoing investigation, FBI agents are seeking any information about Billy Jack Lincks.

Lincks was born and raised in Crawford County, Arkansas. He served with the U.S. Army during World War II and then worked at Braniff Airlines in Dallas, Texasfrom 1962-1974. He returned to Van Buren sometime in the late 1970s.

Approximately two months after Morgan’s 1995 disappearance, Lincks attempted to abduct a young girl in Van Buren at a location eight miles from the Wofford baseball field where Morgan was last seen.

Lincks died in prison in 2000.

The FBI is requesting help from anyone who knew Billy Jack Lincks.

Whether it was through school, work, church, or any social activity, the FBI needs information about Lincks and details about his entire life.

Remember, every piece of information about Lincks’ life is important – no detail is too small or insignificant. If you knew Billy Jack Lincks or have any information about him and his life, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.