Week in Review 2-4 to 2-10

Man waiting to go to prison on drug charges arrested for selling more drugs

Dennis Amaral, who was sentenced to five years in prison in late November last year on drug-related charges and was free on bond waiting on bed space to open in the state prison system, has picked up new charges for selling methamphetamine.

Amaral was arrested Tuesday after selling a substance to a person working with law enforcement. The confidential informant was told by Amaral to meet him at an apartment complex located along Hillcrest Road in Mountain Home. Amaral provided the informant with what was represented as one-half gram of methamphetamine.

The bond allowing Amaral to be free must be approved by a judge and they are only rarely approved. Fourteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge said he was against the issuing of the type bond which allowed Amaral to be free pending his entry into the state prison system.

The 42-year-old Amaral made a first appearance in Baxter County Circuit Court on his new charges Thursday and entered a not guilty plea. He was ordered to reappear next week.

Amaral was sentenced to five years in prison in late November for selling substantial quantities of methamphetamine in 2016. In one case he was accused of selling a total of slightly more than 20 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential informant on several occasions in June and July 2016.

In the second case, Amaral was arrested in August 2016 at a residence along East 8th Street in Mountain Home. According to the probable cause affidavit, the person renting the house told investigators she let Amaral stay at the residence for a period of several weeks.

A written consent to search the home was provided and approximately 54 grams of a crystalline substance, digital scales, used syringes, firearms and slightly more than $1,300 in cash were seized.

Amaral was also charged with possession of a defaced firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Civil suits have also been filed against Amaral to seize the cash found in the search of the house along East 8th Street, along with a 2003 PT Cruiser.

At one point, Amaral entered Care Center Ministries, an organization for people battling addictions. He left the organization without completing the prescribed program laid out for him.

Ironically, Amaral was once active as a drug rehabilitation counselor himself. He was listed as a member of the Arkansas Legislative Task Force on Substance Abuse Treatment Services in 2012.


Cotter man pleads no contest to injuring girlfriend in domestic altercation

Austin Hamby of Cotter appeared in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday and entered a no contest plea to charges stemming from an altercation with his girlfriend during which he is alleged to have kicked her and hit her with his fists causing injuries serious enough to require hospitalization and emergency surgery.

He was sentenced to seven years probation and was ordered to pay $12,727 in medical bills incurred by the victim.

According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Sergeant Brian Williams of the Cotter Police Department was called to Baxter Regional Medical Center to interview the victim in the case. Williams reported the victim related the details of a violent domestic disturbance taking place shortly after midnight on February 27th last year. The victim said the 28-year-old Hamby had kicked her and also hit her in the back with his fist while she was carrying her six-month-old daughter.

Williams reported Hamby kicked his girlfriend in the midsection in such a manner the injury required reconstructive surgery to repair.

When Williams questioned Hamby, he is alleged to have admitted to the incident.

Fourteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney David Ethredge said the victim in the case had pressured the state to drop the charges all together but, due to the severity of the woman's injuries, he was not willing to take that step.

When reviewing the plea agreement, Judge Gordon Webb commented that he was apparently more offended by what Hamby had done than the victim was.

Judge Webb told Hamby he was "a very fortunate person" the victim did not want the case prosecuted. He said "the court feels this is an extremely lenient punishment given the nature of what you did".

Hamby was sentenced under provisions of Act 346, meaning if he stays out of trouble during his probation period, he can petition the court to have his record sealed.


Local resident places in the Miss Arkansas State University Pageant

Henderson resident, 20-year-old Brooke Barnes, placed second runner-up in the 44th annual Miss Arkansas State University Pageant Tuesday. Barnes is currently a junior business major at ASU in Jonesboro and will receive a $250 scholarship for the win.

The annual event is presented by the Delta Theta chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

Barnes says she participated in her first pageant when she was just 18 months old. In an interview with KTLO, Classic Hits 101.7 and the Boot news she says the first pageant she remembers was Turkey Trot at the age of 8. At one point she counted her crowns up to 50 and stopped counting. Each of the crowns represents winning a pageant.

Barnes says it's not the first-place finishes that mean the most to her, it's the camaraderie.


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Barnes recommends any young person thinking about competing in pageants to get involved.


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She hadn't competed in any preliminary contests after her teens years because she was intimidated of the transition to the larger scale. The process is different than any other competition she's experienced. When her sorority put her up for this year's competition, she just couldn't say no.

Barnes is a Mountain Home High School graduate and the daughter of Tammy and Nevin Barnes.

Cori Keller of Stuttgart was crowned Miss Arkansas State University. Keller is an exercise science major and a chancellor's list student.

Emily Doggett of Jonesboro, an exercise science major, was first runner-up. She also was named Miss Congeniality and won the interview segment of the pageant.

Other runners-up were Madison Cate of Rector, an elementary education major, who came in third; and Kylie Henderson of Manila, a nursing major, who placed fourth.


Community mourns loss of Dr. Maxwell Cheney

The Twin Lakes Area is mourning the loss of Dr. Maxwell Cheney, a well-known physician who practiced in Mountain Home for over 52 years and remained active in the medical community until about a year ago. Dr. Cheney died Thursday in Mountain Home.

His former partner, Dr. William "Bill" Snow, says Dr. Cheney was still reading EKGs for Baxter Regional Medical Center until about a year ago, although he ceased seeing patients about four years ago.

Dr. Snow practiced alongside Dr. Cheney in their red brick clinic at the corner of Seventh and Shiras Streets in Mountain Home. Before practicing medicine, the two squared off on the high school basketball court, with Dr. Snow playing for Mountain Home and Dr. Cheney for Calico Rock. But it was in medical school that their friendship grew. Afterwards they went their separate ways, with Dr. Snow going into the military. Dr. Cheney would also serve a year in the National Guard.

Dr. Cheney had established his medical practice when Dr. Snow returned to Mountain Home from the military.


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Dr. Snow says Dr. Cheney loved his patients and his community.


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Dr. Cheney was instrumental in improving healthcare in Mountain Home. His accomplishments include establishing the second medical clinic in Mountain Home, starting a renal dialysis unit, placing the first pacemaker at Baxter Regional Medical Center, serving as chief of staff several times at BRMC and most recently being honored by the Mountain Home Education Foundation for his dedicated community service to the sports program.

But Dr. Snow says his colleague's accomplishments stretched even further.


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Dr. Snow says his former colleague was one of the nicest people who ever tread on this earth.

Visitation for Dr. Cheney will be held Friday, February 16th from noon until 9:00 with family receiving friends from 6:00 until8:00 p.m. at Roller Funeral Home Chapel. A private service will follow on Saturday, February 17th.

He is survived locally by his wife, Joan Marie; one of three sons, Mark Cheney; one daughter, Dr. Lori Cheney, all of Mountain Home.

Memorials may be made to the Donald W. Reynolds Library, Joyce Cook Memorial Scholarship Fund at Cumberland Presbyterian Church or the Mountain Home Christian Clinic.

Arrangements are under the direction of Roller Funeral Home.


MH Public Schools addressing AMI polling feedback

The final numbers have been tallied for a recent poll provided for parents of students in the Mountain Home Public Schools to submit feedback concerning the Alternative Method of Instruction (AMI). The AMI plan allows students to do school work at home during inclement weather or emergency days.

Superintendent of Mountain Home Public Schools, Dr. Jake Long, and other faculty members across the district, are evaluating the feedback to determine how the AMI days were received and what improvements the school district can make.

This was the first year AMI days have been available for Arkansas schools. State lawmakers passed Act 862 of 2017 allowing school districts to have up to five days of paper and/or electronic lessons, along with email or phone access to their teachers. On AMI days, students are given digital and/or hard-copy content depending on the school they attend, and the district does not have to make up the day as a result.

Students are given four AMI days and two cyber days giving a total of six.

Dr. Long reports 821 parents responded to the survey. He says anytime the district receives over 800 responses, they have good data from which to work. Responses were categorized according to which school the respondents' children attend.

One of the poll questions asked if the AMI days were an effective method of alternate learning during inclement weather. Long says 81 percent said "yes" and 18.3 percent said "no."


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AMI Poll
...the grade levels
Dr. Long says the poll reveals 76 percent of parents say their child clearly understood the homework expectations. Twenty-three percent said "no." He says that tells him a greater effort needs to be made to explain expectations.

The work given to students to take home was presented in a variety of methods, including paper packets and electronic options, possibly adding to the confusion.


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Some teachers had each assignment labeled "AMI Day One," others offered six assignments for students to choose per each day school was out of session. Long says there should be an electronic and a paper option at every grade level so every student has a choice.

Should the students not get their homework done, they have a week after returning to the classroom to make up the work. Long says that idea was submitted in the initial plan and has proved to be a good idea.

Long says parents also enjoyed the opportunity to engage in learning with their child as part of the homework requirement for younger students. Other parents said with the bad weather and having to go to work, they just didn't have the time. He hopes the seven-day window to do make-up work will help with that situation.

Some parents wondered whether teachers were actually working during the AMI days. Teachers have a contracted amount of school days to complete each year.


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Long says the AMI days are a work in progress. The district is going to ensure there will be options for students who don't have computers at home. Teachers are going to ensure homework is relevant to the work students are doing at the time. How many consecutive days AMI work will be given will also be taken into consideration.

Another idea being contemplated is a way to keep a portion of school campuses open on snow days for parents who have to go to work, regardless of weather conditions. Long says although buses may not be able to run, he wants to explore options of staff being on hand to supervise students, provide lunch for them, assist them with their AMI assignments, and provide them with extended learning opportunities.

He says a questionnaire was given to staff members regarding the possibility. A good number of administration and teachers have said they think the idea is feasible and they would be able to come to work on inclement weather days.

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