Week in Review 2-18 to 2-24

Man pleads guilty to torching two houses he owned

Mark Dennis Mucha of Lakeview pled guilty to setting fire to two residences he owned and was given six years probation during a session of Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday.

Prosecutors reduced Mucha's charges from arson to two counts of reckless burning.

According to investigative records, the 42-year-old Mucha called 911 just after 3 a.m. May 15th last year to report he had just "lit his house on fire". The structure was located along Hickory Flats Lane. A female called 911 just before 5 a.m. on the same day to report that Mucha had stopped by her residence and told her he had burned down his house and was going to the police station to turn himself in.

At about 5:18 a.m., Mucha called 911 again to report he had also set fire to a structure he used as a second home located along Buffalo Rapids Lane in the Buford area.

According to electronic records maintained by the Baxter County Assessor's Office, the Hickory Flats residence was listed as a single-family dwelling containing 1,564 square feet. The living area in the building along Buffalo Rapids Lane was listed as approximately 850 feet. Both structures were reported to have had a combined worth of approximately $270,000 and both were destroyed in the fires Mucha set.

Mucha eventually turned himself in at the Ozark County, Missouri Sheriff's Office. He reported what he had done and told deputies there that the Baxter County Sheriff's Office was looking for him.

A Baxter County Sheriff's investigator interviewed Mucha at the Ozark County jail, but Mucha said little in reference to the fires other than he "vaguely remembered doing it", but did not want to discuss it further with investigators and gave no motive for burning down his own property. He refused any other comment and did not shed light on the motive behind his actions during any of his several court appearances leading up to Thursday's plea and sentencing.

In 2013, Mucha was charged with aggravated assault and 3rd degree battery after he allegedly attacked a person with a small wooden bat after he discovered several people trespassing on his boat dock located on Bull Shoals Lake. The victim in that case had cracked ribs and a laceration to the head which took 13 staples to close. In September 2004, Mucha pled guilty to 3rd degree battery. The more serious charge of aggravated assault was dismissed by the state.

In the earlier case, Mucha was given 23 months probation and ordered to pay more than $3,000 in victim restitution.


Flippin man who intentionally causes accident pleas not guilty

A Flippin man, 33-year-old Raymond Spangler, Jr., who allegedly intentionally rammed another vehicle his girlfriend was in with her ex-boyfriend, entered a not-guilty plea in Marion County Circuit Court Wednesday. Spangler was ordered to reappear in court March 14th.

According to the arrest affidavit from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, a traffic accident on Highway 101 was reported near Flippin on the evening of January 17th. Dispatch advised a white SUV rammed another vehicle driven by 37-year-old Nathias Hall multiple times until it was sideways in the roadway. Dispatch also stated the driver of the SUV was still at the scene taunting the alleged victim.

When deputies arrived on scene, they observed the SUV in the northbound lane facing south and a green and white pickup truck sideways in the northbound lane facing east. When they made contact with the SUV driver, later identified as Spangler, he continued driving at a slow pace saying he couldn't put his vehicle in park.

He was instructed to pull off into a driveway.

When questioned, Spangler stated he was following the vehicle in front of him, and the driver slammed on the brakes. He said he was following the truck too close, attempted to swerve and struck the back bumper.

Hall told deputies he went to Spangler's residence to pick up his ex-girlfriend, 35-year-old Melissa Adkerson, who reportedly now dates Spangler. Hall claimed Spangler was mad and chased them in his vehicle. He said Spangler rammed the back-end of his vehicle and caused the accident. Spangler reportedly struck the truck a second time causing Hall to lose control and skid sideways
to a stop.

The girlfriend, Adkerson, confirmed Hall's story.

When deputies spoke with Spangler a second time, he stated he was attempting to stop Hall because he wanted to make sure Adkerson really wanted to go with him.

Spangler faces a felony count of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

He is free on a $10,000 bond and was ordered to have no contact with Hall and Adkerson.


Indicted Arkansas lobbyist to be transferred to Missouri

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ An indicted lobbyist in Arkansas has agreed to be transferred to Missouri, where he faces federal charges of conspiracy and accepting bribes.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the indictment was released Thursday for Milton Russell Cranford of Bentonville.

The indictment says that nonprofit Preferred Family Healthcare in Springfield, paid consultant Donald Andrew Jones nearly $974,000 between 2011 and 2017. Federal prosecutors say either Cranford or his lobbying firms and former state Rep. Eddie Cooper of Melbourne are accused of taking kickbacks from Jones totaling $264,000.

Records show Cranford was arrested Wednesday and is being held at the Washington County jail. He appeared at a transfer hearing the next day in Fayetteville and didn't oppose his transfer to Missouri. No hearing date has been set in Springfield.


MHHS senior awarded National Merit Finalist Scholarship

Mountain Home High School Career Academies senior Kara Smeltzer has been awarded a prestigious National Merit Finalist Scholarship. Smeltzer was named a semi-finalist last fall.

She plans to attend Baylor University in preparation for medical school. She eventually plans to serve underprivileged children through a medical ministry. Her parents are Eric and Anna Smeltzer.

Smeltzer says, a love of learning and a supportive family, along with awesome teachers and school staff, have made it possible for her to pursue her dream. She says all in all, she strives to serve the Lord in everything she does, whether in anatomy class, on the ultimate Frisbee team, or in a foreign country.


MHHS ROTC cadets qualify again for U.S. Navy super drill meet

For the second consecutive year, Mountain Home High Schools' ROTC cadets have qualified to attend the U.S. Navy Super Drill Meet in Louisiana March 9th through 11th. Prior to last year, it had been 16 years since MHHS had a team qualify.

Mountain Home Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jake Long says the local high school is one of 144 Navy high schools in a five-state region. Only 13 schools made it to the super meet.



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Dr. Long says there is a second bit of good news involving the ROTC cadets' rating for the Navy National Academic Exam.



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The questions require the cadets to shift mental gears as the questions cover everything from military history to health, safety, first aid, CPR/AED, land navigation, marksmanship, color guard, drill, and leadership.

Long says the ROTC program is more than prep work for entering a branch of the armed forces.



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Bud Zorman serves as the instructor for the MHHS ROTC program.

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