With the current flu season off to an early and aggressive start, the board of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement is urging Arkansans to get the flu vaccine this week to be protected before gathering with loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday. The ACHI Health Policy Board voted Thursday to issue a call for Arkansans to get vaccinated now so that the upcoming holiday does not exacerbate an already accelerated flu season.
“We’re seeing a higher level of flu activity, both in cases and hospitalizations, than we’ve seen this early in the flu season in a long time,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “It can take a couple of weeks to receive maximum protection from a vaccination, and Thanksgiving is two weeks away, so please do not delay. Get your shot now.”
Thompson also recommended that anyone who has not yet received the updated COVID-19 booster vaccine, which targets both the original strain of the virus and the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, do so as soon as possible.
Public school absenteeism rates were at 8.6 percent last week, due to influenza according to the Arkansas Department of Health. In Cleburne County, the rate is 9.75 percent.
Since Oct. 2, 5,031 positive influenza tests have been reported to the ADH online database by health care providers, and is considered “vert high.”
Among flu antigen tests this season that can distinguish between influenza A and B virus types in Arkansas, 89 percent were influenza A, and 11 percent were influenza B. Three nursing homes are reporting flu outbreaks.
In the 2021-22 flu season, Arkansas reported 30 influenza-related deaths. So far this season, there have been nine.
During flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) produces a Weekly Influenza Report for clinicians and the report provides a snapshot of flu activity in the state. The report also compares influenzalike-illness (ILI) in Arkansas to activity in the U.S. ADH receives reports of only a fraction of flu cases since it only requires reports of hospitalizations, deaths, and outbreaks. It is important to understand that the information in the weekly update is representative of the timing and location of activity, but it does not reflect the overall burden of disease. It is presumed that there are many more people actually affected than the report shows. Clinicians and policy makers may find the report helpful in terms of communicating to colleagues and patients about the current status of the flu season.
Ask a Cleburne County 4th Grader what a Thesaurus is. They will tell you it is a word finder, Like a Dictionary only different, a word book. For more than 20 years, a local organization referred to as Arts and Letters, formerly Athena Club, has been providing a Thesaurus to each 4th grade student in Cleburne County.
This year 260 books were purchased and delivered to the elementary students. When the teachers were asked if this was still a valuable resource for the students, their replies were ‘absolutely.”
Even with the availability of online resources, the teachers still want the students to have the books to use and have for their own throughout their school years and beyond. The informal Arts and Letters organization intends to promote interest in and preservation of library arts, libraries, and historical societies. The focus is to enhance peoples’ lives through the arts.
The Cleburne County midterm election was robust with 55 percent turnout, better than the state’s turnout rate of 50.3 percent. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, 10,110 of the registered 18,370 voters in Cleburne County cast ballots in the midterm.
In the Justice of the Peace, District 7 race, Jacque Martin received 316 votes (50.9 percent) and Gary Euton received 304 of votes (49 percent). A difference of 12 votes.
Other local races were not as close. In the Justice of the Peace, District 2 race, Sam Henegar received 716 votes (78.1 percent) and Brittany Stubbs received 200 votes (21.8 percent). Cleburne County Circuit Clerk Heather Smith was reelected with 9,420 votes.
Heber Springs Mayor Kasey Griffin was reelected with 1,992 votes, and Heber Springs City Clerk Vicki McPherson was elected with 1,999 votes. In the race for Heber Springs Alderman, Ward 2, Postiion 1, Layne Tubbs received 290 votes (64.4 percent) and Kraig Leathers received 160 votes (35.5 percent).
Mayor Darryl Birdsong was reelected with 332 votes in Greers Ferry. In the Greers Ferry Alderman Ward 1, Position 1 race Scott Hartsfield received 192 votes (55.4 percent) and Tim Janssen received 154 (44.5 percent).
In the Greers Ferry Alderman Ward 1, Position 2 race, Mike Clevenger received 216 votes (62.6 percent) and Jay England received 129 votes (37.3 percent).
In the Greers Ferry Alderman Ward 2, Position 3 race, Randy ‘Cowboy’ Lance received 193 votes (56.2 percent) and Dustin Baker received 150 (43.7 percent).
Todd Henry received 196 votes (77.7 percent) and Tonia Shue received 56 votes (22.2 percent) in the Quitman’s mayor race. In the Quitman Alderman Ward 2, Position 2 race, Samantha Henry received 173 votes (72.6 percent) and Ellen Gardner received 65 votes (27.3 percent).
The city of Fairfield Bay had a four-way race for mayor and will have a run-off election. Jackie Sikes received 25 votes (21.9 percent); Daniel Feuer, received 36 votes (31.5 percent); John Conry received 35 votes (30.7 percent); and Linda Duncan received 18 votes (15.7 percent).
In the Ward 3 race, Don Bailey received 58 votes (55.2 percent), and Bella Comas received 47 votes (44.7 percent). In the Ward 2 race, Robert Otis received 34 votes (30.3 percent) and Ruth Krotz received 78 votes (69.6 percent).
Scott Barker received 62 votes for mayor and Wayne Weatherford received 63 votes for city recorder.
As of noon Tuesday, 906,597 voters casting ballots. The state has 1,799,136 registered voters. Arkansans voted in their first woman governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders with 567,553 (63.1 percent) votes statewide. Huckabee Sanders received 8,251 votes in Cleburne County, which was 81.2 percent of the votes cast.
Incumbents also did well across the ballot: U.S. Senator John Boozman got 588,754 votes statewide (65.8 percent); U.S. Congressman (District 1) Rick Crawford got 150,963 votes statewide (74.3 percent); U.S. Congressman French Hill (District 2) got 147,700 votes statewide (60 percent); and U.S. Congressman Steve Womack (District 3) got 147,985 votes statewide (63.7 percent). Bruce Westerman, currently a U.S. Representative, won election to the U.S. Congress (District 4) with 153,657 votes. Secretary of State John Thurston won reelection with 596,500 votes (67.1 percent) statewide, and Commissioner of State Lands, aptly named Tommy Land, won reelection with 608,022 votes (68.9 percent).
Current Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge won the race for Lieutenant Governor, with 573,714 votes (64.3 percent) statewide. Current Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin was elected Attorney General with 602,081 votes (67.7 percent) statewide. Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan won the race for Auditor of State, and current State Representative Mark Lowery will become the Treasurer of State.
Issue No. 1., which would allow the General Assembly to call itself into session failed, with 519,486 votes (60.9 percent)against, statewide.
Issue No. 2, a ballot reform initiative, failed narrowly with 508,403 (50.4 percent) against, statewide.
Issue No. 3, which would create the ‘Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment,’ also narrowly failed with 437,937 (50.4 percent) against, statewide.
Issue No. 4., which was an amendment to authorize recreational marijuana, failed with 502,033 (56.2 percent) votes against, statewide.
The Little Rock VA Regional Office now has a satellite office located at the John L. McClellan VA Medical Center to assist Veterans, spouses, and survivors with their VA benefits needs.
“We are excited to have a claims representative assigned to this convenient location for Veterans,” said Little Rock VA Regional Office Executive Director Sammie Quillin. “This provides us the perfect opportunity to meet with Veterans where they already are and to better serve their needs.”
VA Regional Offices provide financial and other forms of assistance to Veterans and their dependents. This includes disability compensation, survivor’s benefits, pension and fiduciary service, education and training, vocational rehabilitation and employment assistance, life insurance coverage, and home loan guaranties.
VA disability compensation (pay) offers a monthly tax-free payment to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving in the military and to Veterans whose service made an existing condition worse.
The new Veterans Benefits Satellite Office is in Room 1C-151B at the John L. McClellan VA Medical Center, 4300 West 7th Street. The hours of operation are Tuesdays, 8 a.m. – noon, and Thursdays, noon – 4 p.m.
“Many Arkansas Veterans live in rural areas and this satellite office is a convenient stop when they are already in Little Rock for a medical appointment,” said Quillin. “Ultimately, it will save them time, travel, and expense. It is our duty and honor to assist them with their VA benefits.”
The main office of the Little Rock VA Regional Office is in Bldg. 111, 2200 Fort Roots Drive in North Little Rock. It is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A Veteran Assist Phone Line, 501-370-3829, is staffed Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Veterans and their family members may also take advantage of VA’s Visitor Reporting Engagement Application (VERA), a new, easy-to-use, online tool, to schedule in-person or virtual appointments with VA benefits counselors. For more information about VA benefits, go to http://benefits.va.gov/benefits/ or call 800-827-1000.
Meet Kiwi. Kiwi is a male domestic short hair kitten. He is solid black and was brought to the shelter where he had been found in the motor of a vehicle. No harm was done except for the tip of an ear which is hardly noticeable.
Kiwi has been in foster care since his arrival and loves it. But Kiwi wants his own place. Would you be willing to adopt this sweet loving kitten. Fill out an application at Heberspringshumane society.com. Kiwi is purring to meet you.
HSHS WISH LIST: Dog/Cat food (wet & dry),copy paper, fleece throws (Walmart under $4), Dawn, hand disinfectant, detergent, bleach, paper towels, toilet paper, volunteers, fosters, adopters, and of course money.