Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pharmacy Robbery Under Investigation

Roland police are investigating the robbery of Johnny's Hometown Pharmacy at 303 E. Ray Fine Blvd. in Roland at 9:30 p.m. Monday, and have a video of the robbery as it occurred. They report thousands of dollars of prescription drugs were stolen, but do not yet have an exact dollar amount. David Goode, Roland assistant police chief, said anyone with information is asked to contact him at the Roland Police Department at 918-427-3252. Goode said the pharmacy is taking an inventory to determine how much was stolen, and will know exactly how much is gone because pharmacies must keep exact records. "They will know down to the last pill," Goode said. Goode explained the robbers gained access by breaking in the front door of the pharmacy. He said alarms went off, and police were dispatched immediately, but the robbers were gone by the time police arrived. "They were in and out real quick," he said. Police had no suspects as of Wednesday, Goode said, and he asked for the public's assistance. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wreck Sends One to Hospital

One person had to be rescued from his pickup truck by the Sallisaw Fire Department's Jaws of Life, placed on a backboard and transported to Sequoyah Memorial Hospital in Sallisaw, after a head-on collision Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of Maple and Dutch Street in Sallisaw. Sallisaw police were not releasing the names of those involved until the report on the collision is completed. Witnesses said two pickup trucks were passing when one went over the center line and struck the other head on. The collision caused the second truck to veer off the roadway, break through a privacy fence and into a residential yard. The Sallisaw Fire Department was also called to the scene for what was believed to be a resulting fire, but the smoke was actually stream from a broken radiator. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Interstate Temporarily Blocked

Law enforcement officials reported at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday that a disabled semi tractor-trailer was broken down on a one-lane stretch of Interstate 40, west of Sallisaw, and blocking traffic. It was reported traffic was re-routed to U.S. Highway 64  on the Dwight Mission exit through Vian to re-enter the interstate for approximately 30 minutes. According to officials the interstate is now clear and traffic is returning to normal.

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Cherokee Nation Offers College Housing Assistance

The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is accepting College Housing Assistance Program applications for Native American students starting Jan. 2. Students can find applications for the 2015 spring semester at Deadline is Jan. 16.

The housing program will provide up to 125 students with $1,000 per semester for housing costs. Applicants must be full-time students at an accredited college or university and seeking a bachelor's degree for the first time.

"The Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation is dedicated to helping all Cherokee citizens with housing needs, especially our citizens furthering their education and enhancing their lives," said HACN Executive Director Gary Cooper. "This program is designed to ease the financial burden that accompanies pursuing a college degree and allow the citizen to focus more on earning their education." 

The College Housing Assistance Program is funded through the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act designed to assist low-income Native American students. Eligible applicants must be a member of a federally recognized tribe and have a permanent address inside the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional boundaries. Students must also meet NAHASDA income guidelines with priority given to Cherokee Nation tribal citizens.

For more information, please call 918-456-5482.

By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Friends of Library Re-organizing at Sallisaw

Every library needs friends, and patrons of Stanley Tubbs Memorial Library in Sallisaw will be holding a meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at the library to determine if there is enough interest in re-organizing a Friends of the Library group for the Sallisaw library. Carrol Copeland, president of the library's advisory board, said friends groups help libraries in many ways and with many chores. He said library friends help with fundraising, even visiting the state legislature to ask for funding. They also help with library programs, help straighten books in the stacks, and can even help with landscaping. The Muldrow Friends of the Library conduct a golf tournament to raise money for buying books. The Sallisaw library, Copeland said, is in need of new furniture.

Copeland said, "There's always something to do, and there are a number of chores that volunteers can do. The chores are not usually big, and there are lots of jobs that are not all work. It could be fun. We hope to have a float in next year's Christmas parade." Copeland said he hopes that a good group of volunteers can be organized so that the various chores can be shared and no one person is required to do all the work. He concluded, "The main purpose is to raise funds and promote the library." By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Dale Phelps Promoted

Arvest Bank announced Tuesday that Dale Phelps II has been promoted to assistant vice president. Phelps is the Community Bank Lender of the Sallisaw location. He has over eight years of lending experience and an educational background in economics from the University of Oklahoma. Phelps is the president of the Roland Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the SIC and Educational Foundation in Sallisaw. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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OHP Troopers Plan Crack Down on Impaired Driving

Oklahoma State Troopers plan to crack down on impaired driving over the New Year's holiday.

"We are strongly encouraging people to be responsible during the holiday celebrations," said Capt. Paul Timmons, OHP spokesperson. "We applaud those who take on the role of designated driver and ask that they take their responsibility seriously. Those who choose to drink and drive will bear the consequences of stepped-up enforcement."

Because New Year's Eve is a holiday associated with alcohol-related celebrations, Troopers say they stand ready to enforce impaired driving laws with zero tolerance. This year's New Year's Eve crackdowns are part of the state's ENDUI campaign, announced by Gov. Mary Fallin at a Capitol press conference in November. The new initiative involves the OHP as well as law enforcement officials from across the state. In a statement to the media, Oklahoma Highway Safety Office officials said Oklahoma was rated 51st in the nation in making improvement related to the number of alcohol-related deaths.

"We are well aware of this problem, and it is a top priority for Troopers statewide to embrace the mission of ENDUI and make progress in bringing down the number of impaired driving fatalitites and injuries," Timmons said. "One way we plan to do that is by being highly visible and cracking down on impaired drivers during the New Year's holiday. We urge everyone to plan for alternative transportation or to designate a driver if their holiday celebrations include alcohol." By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Five Injured in Saturday Crash

Five persons, including four from Fort Smith, were injured at about 8 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 40, five miles west of Checotah. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported two women from Fort Smith were changing a flat tire, in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 at the 269 mile marker, when a 2013 GMC pickup truck struck their 2012 Chevrolet Traverse, which was parked on the side of the interstate. The OHP reported Tyler Glover, 21, of Checotah was transported by LifeFlight to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa where he was admitted in stable condition. He suffered internal trunk injuries, and head and leg injuries, the OHP reported. Cassie May, 24, and Laura Owens, 24 both of Fort Smith were injured when the pickup struck the Traverse. May and Owens were both transported to a Muskogee hospital where each was treated and released. A third woman, Shanece Osborn, also of Fort Smith, was also transported to the Muskogee hospital. A one-year-old male of Fort Smith was also treated and released at the Muskogee hospital. The OHP does not release the names of juveniles. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Muldrow Man Pleads Guilty in U.S. Court

A Muldrow man has pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Terry Wayne Hyatt, 34, entered the guilty plea in U.S. Federal Court in Muskogee. The crime is punishable by not more than 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The charge arose from an investigation by the Muldrow Police Department. Hyatt was indicted in November. The indictment alleged that Hyatt, on Feb. 13, 2014, was in possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce. Judge Kimberly E. West accepted the guilty plea and ordered a pre-sentence report. The defendant will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service pending sentencing. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Tournament Bounces into Action Monday

Sequoyah County area coaches are gearing up for the 16th annual Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic. Teams have been seeded, brackets created, and now everyone is waiting for the action to begin. Some of the coaches were asked if there are specific teams they expect to be tough this year, and what players on their teams would be the ones to watch.

Dean Armstrong, coach of the Gans Grizzlies boys, said he expects Roland to be the team to beat this year. On his own team, he says Hunter Fletcher is his player to watch. Hunter has averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds per game so far this season.

Scott Lowe, coach for the Roland Lady Rangers, says all the teams present a challenge. "It's a big deal to all of the teams because we're very familiar with each other and there are lots of bragging rights on the line." Coach Lowe thinks his players to watch will be Mikiah McDonald, who is his leading scorer, and Sadie Carter, a dynamic guard who can score and distribute.

Tanner Ryan, coach of the Gans Grizzlies girls, expects a tough tournament, but his girls are ready to compete. He says his senior player, Shoana Remy, is the Gans girl to look out for because she is physical and has a knack for getting to the rim.

Robert Brunk, coach for both the Central Tigers boys and girls teams, thinks the boys side will be very tough this year. "This big schools are always tough to play against due to their size and athleticism." He expects Roland to be top seed, with Muldrow and Sallisaw right with them. He also believes Vian, Stigler, Gore and Gans will be improved over last year. "There always seems to be an upset at some point during the week," Brunk said, "whether it is in the first round or third round, and that is what makes it fun to watch."

Brunk said he plays a lot of young kids, who play hard and can be exciting to watch. "I hope that is what people see when they come to watch us, and I hope whether they see Shade Nofire, Wes Busch, Austin Brown, John Philpot, Ty Gibson, or any of our hard-working players have a good game night, that they get their money's worth and see an exciting game."

The tournament will get rolling on Monday with Sallisaw girls vs. Stigler girls at Stigler-6:30 p.m.; Gans girls vs. Roland girls at Sallisaw-6:30 p.m.; Stigler boys vs Vian boys at Stigler-8 p.m.; and Gans boys vs. Muldrow boys at Sallisaw-8 p.m. Complete brackets of teams and times can be picked up at any Sequoyah County Armstrong Bank location. By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Present Thief Arrested

A man wanted by police for stealing firearms and Christmas presents from a Sallisaw residence was located and arrested by the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Dept. Tuesday night according to Sheriff Ron Lockhart.

Danny Trudeau, 44, (pictured above) was arrested last night at the Sallisaw residence of his mother, Brenda Brazell. Brazell had just picked up Trudeau from the McIntosh jail. According to authorities, she denied her son was at her residence when questioned by Sequoyah County deputies. A search of the residence revealed Trudeau hiding in the home. Trudeau was arrested in connection with the burglary of a Sallisaw home that occurred on Friday, Dec. 19. Brazell was also arrested on suspicion of  harboring a fugitive. 

According to Sheriff Lockhart, Trudeau also faces charges from an outstanding warrant of second-degree burglary and possession of a firearm while on parole. Lockhart added that Trudeau has been selling stolen firearms and the sheriff's dept. is following up on leads of individuals who have purchased firearms from Trudeau.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sheriff's Dept Searches for Christmas Present Thief

The Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department is currently looking for Danny Trudeau, 44 (pictured above), on charges of Burglary 2nd Degree, Possession of Firearm after Former Conviction Felony. According to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart these charges stem from a burglary that occurred in Sequoyah County last Friday. 

Trudeau allegedly broke into a residence and stole firearms and Christmas presents from the home. Authorities were able to recover some of the firearms and presents this morning in McIntosh County, Lockhart stated. Trudeau is also wanted as a person of interest in other burglary cases. "We know that Mr. Trudeau has been selling the stolen firearms and if anyone has purchased anything from him they need to contact the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Dept.," said Lockhart. "We are following up on leads of individuals that have purchased firearms from Mr. Trudeau and it would be better if these people contact us."

Lockhart added, "It takes a sorry individual to steal Christmas presents and we will not tolerate his actions. We will do everything possible to put Mr. Trudeau in jail where he belongs." There is an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Trudeau at this time. Trudeau was driving a black Saturn SUV but that vehicle has been seized. If anyone knows of Trudeau's whereabouts they are asked to contact the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Dept. at 918-775-9155.

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Area Basketball Tournament Named for Sponsor, Armstrong Bank

It all started with an idea, fielded by a group of coaches from Sequoyah County. Years of traveling to basketball tournaments in other locations in other counties, through inclement and often unpredictable January weather, and being dependent on the issue of an invitation to participate, convinced those coaches there must be a better way.

How could they organize a tournament, pit local teams against each other, indulge town to town rivalries, and give the teams an outlet to play in a tournament outside normal league play?

In 1999, a group of coaches approached Armstrong Bank with their idea. They wanted to organize a Sequoyah County tournament, and wondered if Armstrong Bank would be willing to assist in some way. They asked if the bank would even be willing to sponsor the event. The answer was a resounding "Yes."

The first tournament was organized in 1999 and executed in January of 2000, and all Sequoyah County basketball teams were invited to participate, regardless of class size. The teams were evaluated, organized and seeded; brackets were developed, and a primary site and secondary sub-site were identified for the tournament. That first tournament was a great success, and every year since, local area teams, including Webbers Falls in previous years, and Stigler in recent years have competed for the trophies and accolades that accompany them.

Armstrong Bank meets every year with the coaches to plan and execute the tournament. Team rosters and photos are collected, programs are printed and distributed, free of charge. T-shirts are provided for all team members and cheerleaders every year, complete with the tournament logo as a memento of the event, free of charge. A hospitality room is provided at both tournament sites for officials, coaches and administrators at the schools with refreshments provided by Armstrong Bank. Brackets are displayed and updated after every game by the bank staff. Trophies for the winning teams are presented, compliments of Armstrong Bank. Bank employees volunteer their time to distribute programs, prepare food trays, serve food and maintain the hospitality rooms at both locations. 

Sequoyah County area school superintendents met recently with representatives of Armstrong Bank to determine the official name for the annual area basketball tournament, changing it from the generic Sequoyah County Basketball Tournament to officially naming it "The Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic," Schools and bank representatives (pictured above) present at the meeting were: Lucky McCrary, Superintendent of Gore Schools; Randy Wood, Superintendent of Roland Schools; Jody Webb, Regional President, Armstrong Bank; Larry Henson, Superintendent of Sallisaw Central Schools; Eric Riggs, Vice President/Branch Manager Armstrong Bank, Sallisaw; Larry Calloway, Superintendent of Gans Schools; Treye Girdner, Vice President/Branch Manager, Armstrong Bank, Muldrow; Scott Farmer, Superintendent of Sallisaw Schools; Victor Salcedo, Superintendent of Vian Schools; Ron Flanagan, Superintendent of Muldrow Schools; and Lee Bennett, Vice President/Branch Manager, Armstrong Bank, Vian.

Coaches, administrators and bank staff are currently preparing to launch the 16th annual Armstrong Bank Sequoyah County Area Classic. This year's primary site will be Sallisaw and the sub-site will be Stigler. The tournament dates will be Jan. 5 through 10. 

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Cherokee Soldier's Prayer Goes to National Museum

The late Cherokee citizen and U.S. Army veteran Woodrow Roach carried the above copy of the Lord's Prayer in Cherokee while serving in Italy and the Philippines during World War II. The copy of the prayer is now in the permanent collection of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The late Woodrow Roach of Tahlequah fought for the U.S. Army from 1944-45 and believed the prayer to be his good luck charm while serving in Italy and the Philippines.

Roach's family says they donated the prayer to the museum as a way to honor their patriarch's sacrifice.

"Our family has so much respect for veterans and the sacrifices they all make," said Della Boyer, of Denton, Texas, Roach's granddaughter. "We just wanted to share a special piece of our family history with others from around the world. I know there will be many veterans and families that can relate to my grandfather carrying this prayer with him during the war. Many soldiers needed that one thing that gave them comfort and security during very trying times."

Thirty-two years old when he went to war, Roach close to fight for his country even though the Army said he could opt out since he had three young children at home. He completed his basic training at Fort Chaffee at Fort Smith and then joined the fight in Italy.

While serving in Italy, a road grader of the Army came under fire and blocked the path of Roach and the other men. Roach crawled to the grader on his stomach and moved the machine so the men could proceed down the path and fight back.

After his heroic efforts, Roach was sent to the Philippines and transferred to an engineering company that built bridges since he was able to operate heavy machinery.

"I'm not surprised that my grandfather would crawl out in enemy fire to move the grader. He was a little bitty guy who could kick butt and take names later," said Boyer. "He was tough, but he cared about his fellow man."

After completing his service, Roach worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and taught at Sequoyah High School for several years. 

The date for showcasing Roach's prayer at the museum has yet to be determined. 

The National Museum of the American Indian is located on the National Mall in the nation's capital. The museum possesses an expansive collection of Native American artifacts. photographs and other objects. The museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution, which consists of 19 world-class museums, nine research centers and a zoo.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

State Rep. John Bennett Concerned about School Funding

State Rep. John Bennett, Republican from Sallisaw, said last week he is concerned about school funding, after Preston Doerflinger, Oklahoma's Secretary of Finance, announced Dec. 17 that the state's income was sufficient to trigger a cut in personal income tax. Doerflinger said the estimate for general revenue fund collections for the next fiscal year is about $60 million more than the February 2013. That triggers a personal income tax rate decrease from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, beginning in January 2016. Doerflinger said that would save about $85 per year for the average tax payer, and would cost the state about $147 million annually. If revenues continue to increase, a second cut, to 4.85 percent, is possible in 2018.

Bennett said, "While I support the general policy of low taxes, I do have concerns about the state budget. We are going to have difficult budget choices to make in the years ahead. I plan to continue to advocate for our schools and other essential services to come first over other state interests."

Bennett said the state could still face budget problems. He said the recent drop in oil prices, as well as lower prices in agricultural commodity markets, could continue to put pressure on state revenues.

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Shelby Howard Services Will Be Held Tuesday

Services for Shelby Dawn Howard, 20, of Muldrow will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the First Assembly of God in Muldrow, under the direction of Mallory-Martin Funeral Home in Sallisaw. Miss Howard died Dec. 19 at Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville, Ark., following a vehicle crash Dec. 12 on U.S. Highway 64, east of Roland. Burial will follow in the Cottonwood Cemetery.

Miss Howard was born July 18, 1994, in Fort Smith, Ark. She was a protestant and was employed as assistant manager at The Buckle in Fort Smith. She was also a barrel racer and was a former member of the Old Fort Days Dandies. 

Viewing will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at the funeral home in Muldrow. The family will visit with friends from 6 to 8 p.m.

Survivors include her fiance', Bubba Powers of Muldrow; her mother and stepfather, Felecia and Kevin Mackey of Van Buren; her father, Mike Howard of Muldrow; three sisters and two brothers-in-law, Amber Hesson of Fort Smith, Amanda and husband Chris Squires of Cedarville, Ark., and Heather and husband Mitchell Marshall of Muldrow; and one brother, Talmadge Howard of Fort Smith; and other relatives and friends.

Pallbearers will be Avery Short, Bobby Opdycke, Jaren, Matt and Bret Armer, and Woody Woodruff.

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Judge Seeks 'Active Retirement'

Associate District Judge Dennis Sprouse is not planning a quiet retirement. "I've applied for an active retirement," he said recently. Sprouse said his active-retirement plans include continuing his association with the Sequoyah County Drug Court program, which helps non-violent offenders become productive citizens, and he plans to continue teaching business law at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Sprouse, 62, will leave his place as Sequoyah County's associate district judge shortly after the new year, as newly-elected Kyle Waters takes over. Sprouse has been on the bench for 28 years. But he didn't start out to be a judge or even an attorney. He explained, "I didn't start out to be a judge. I wanted to be a Methodist minister." After graduating from high school in Coalgate and preparing for college, Sprouse ran into the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, and tested high enough to get into law school. He chose that path, after graduating with a bachelor's degree from Oral Roberts University of Tulsa. He then obtained a law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1977. He set up shop as an attorney in Sallisaw in June 1978. Sprouse, who didn't plan on being a judge, said it may have been a signal when he was elected to Boys State in high school, and, at Boys State, was elected to the Boys State Supreme Court, no small achievement in itself, and somewhat of a surprise to the future judge. 

Sprouse was a practicing attorney in Sallisaw for eight years before the suggestion was made that he would make a good special district judge for the county, which is in Judicial District 15. He explained, "Judge Bill Ed Rogers called and was kind enough to visit with me, and Judge Green did too. Judge Rogers nominated me. Nine other judges had to sign off on it." The nine other judges in the district had to approve Sprouse too, which they did upon Judge Rogers' recommendation. In 1986 Judge Sprouse became Sequoyah County's special district judge, a post now filled by Judge Lawrence L. Langley. As the special district judge, Sprouse said he oversaw divorces, misdemeanors, protective orders, small claims, and criminal docket arraignments, among other chores. In 2010 Associate District Judge A.J. Henshaw decided to retire. That post is filled through election. Sprouse ran for the post in 2010 and was unopposed. Sprouse said he could not even guess at how many cases he had overseen in his 28 years on the bench.

"I can't even begin to know the number of cases," Sprouse said. He did remember one year when the number of felony and misdemeanor cases was overwhelming. That was in 2005 when 756 felony cases were filed in district court. "That was the high point," he recalled. "It was just mind boggling when we  hit that number. I could hardly keep up with it. In criminal cases, you are overwhelmed with drug cases over the years." Sprouse said there is no one case that was overwhelming. "It is the victims who are overwhelming."

Sprouse explained, "There certainly were some sad cases. The child abuse cases, the victims are so young and helpless. It's the impact on that life, on the victim, who will have to deal with that trauma forever." Sprouse said the judges, the attorneys, and all others may have to face that traumatic crime for a short period of time. But it's the victim who will live with that crime for the rest of his or her life. And, "In murder cases, that person is gone forever. That's a forever thing, because the trauma is still there."

Sprouse said watching over the courtroom when a child must testify perhaps about the abuse they suffered is difficult. "It is an eye opening experience when a child is testifying...they are actually reliving the event. Now we have counselors available. Those are things we've come to realize over the past few years."

The needs of both the victims and the perpetrators have perhaps encouraged Judge Sprouse to help organize two programs in the county, the Sequoyah County Drug Court and Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA.

"The Sequoyah County Drug Court is my passion," Sprouse said. "I think we're doing well." He explained that then District Attorney Dianna Barker Harrold came to him with the idea for the drug court. The program offers assistance to non-violent offenders from several different areas--the judiciary, prosecution, defense, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social services and treatment communities. In Sequoyah County, People Inc. provides the counseling services. But at the beginning, Sprouse said, "I wasn't a fan of drug court. I was not interested in being warm and fuzzy." But the approval of a retired judge for the program was progressing slowly. Barker Harrold asked Sprouse to step in. "I told her I'll do it for a couple of months, and I'm still doing it 16 years later." The local program began in 1998. Sprouse said he changed his mind about the drug court program."I quickly saw there were opportunities we gave them to change. But they have to want to change. I came to believe I should give them the opportunity and the tools they need to change, and if they don't, well the prisons are still there. The prisons didn't go anywhere." Convicted drug offenders, if found offending again, will lose their probation status and must serve their time in prison.

Sprouse said he has found that the recovering addicts do well if they give back to the community, If they don't, "They unravel." Sprouse said addicts are consumers, who consume, or take, everything from jail food to court-appointed attorneys. But if they give back to the community, through church, clubs, etc., they are less likely to relapse. Sprouse said overseeing those in rehab is somewhat like being a parent. He said, "You want to know, Number 1, who they are with; Number 2, where they are; and Number 3, what they are doing. Relationships are the biggest factor. If they decide to be with the wrong people, well..." Sprouse continued. "I started off pretty green and dumb, but I learned. It didn't take a whole lot of work for me." Sprouse said he would like to see more funding for the county drug court. The program is funded for 50 to 60 participants, and twice that many need help, and often find it even when there's not enough money.

Sprouse said he would also like to have a Family Drug Treatment Center, which also cares for the children in a drug-infected family, and leads to the CASA program. Many families that lose custody of the children are involved in drugs. Through a family program, the children could be reunited with a healthy family more quickly, rather than staying in foster care. The CASA volunteers are the unpaid volunteers who speak to the children and represent the children in courts and other areas. With Sprouse's help, CASA began last year, and last week the volunteers held their first Christmas dinner party. Sprouse said it is planned for the program to expand early next year and add more CASA volunteers, who are badly needed.

Sprouse is hoping that his active retired judge application will be approved so that he may continue to work with the drug court program. "As a volunteer, drug court gives me the opportunity to give back to my community," Sprouse said. His other plans for retirement include traveling with his wife, Debbie, a retired teacher. They are discussing visiting New England to see the fall colors, and a trip to Oregon and the west coast. Sprouse is also active in his church, First Assembly, and plans to continue teaching evening business law classes in Fort Smith. Sprouse said he had one bit of philosophy to leave with the new Associate District Judge Kyle Waters.

"When you work with an institution, your in-box is always full, and it will be full when you leave. You just hope it's not the same stuff."

Judge Sprouse concluded by thanking his community. "It really has been a privilege to serve the county. I have enjoyed it and the people I work with. I have been blessed to work with good folks."
By Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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