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Looking back on Carlisle’s top events for 2013

Cranford Construction of North Little Rock closes down Court St. on April 17 for street paving. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
Cranford Construction of North Little Rock closes down Court St. on April 17 for street paving. (Photo by Allison Goodman)
The Carlisle School Board welcomes new high school principal Brad Horn and elementary principal Karen Norton on Monday night during the board meeting. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
The Carlisle School Board welcomes new high school principal Brad Horn and elementary principal Karen Norton on Monday night during the board meeting. (Photo by Allison Goodman)
Matt and Richard Morris check the depth of the seeds planted on their farm land south of Carlisle. The Morris family was selected as the 2013 Lonoke County Farm Family of the Year. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
Matt and Richard Morris check the depth of the seeds planted on their farm land south of Carlisle. The Morris family was selected as the 2013 Lonoke County Farm Family of the Year. (Photo by Allison Goodman)
More than $5,000 of damage was done on July 5, to the T-Shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques building, and $4,000 of damage done to Bill Keathley’s Ford Ranger, owner by Old South Furniture and Antiques, after the building and truck were struck by a Pennsylvania fugitive who passed out while driving West bound on U.S. Highway 70. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
More than $5,000 of damage was done on July 5, to the T-Shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques building, and $4,000 of damage done to Bill Keathley’s Ford Ranger, owner by Old South Furniture and Antiques, after the building and truck were struck by a Pennsylvania fugitive who passed out while driving West bound on U.S. Highway 70. (Photo by Allison Goodman)
Allison Goodman The Carlisle Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the police and court building on Oct. 12.Buy Photo
Allison Goodman The Carlisle Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the police and court building on Oct. 12.
Carlisle city streets were an icy shade of white on Friday, Dec. 6, after wintry mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain move throughout central Arkansas on during the early morning hours, causing the school and many businesses to close. (Photo by Allison Goodman)Buy Photo
Carlisle city streets were an icy shade of white on Friday, Dec. 6, after wintry mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain move throughout central Arkansas on during the early morning hours, causing the school and many businesses to close. (Photo by Allison Goodman)

City gets new police and court building

In January, Arkansas Metal Builders (AMB) was awarded the $470,000 bid for construction of the new police and court complex. The city held a ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site Feb. 11. After eight months of construction, a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the building was hosted by the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 12. The 4,300-square foot building houses a court room, holding cells, kitchen area, evidence room, dispatch area as well as chief of police, state police, court clerk and other additional offices. The building also features a state of the art security system, sally port and fenced recreational yard for prisoners.

The city was able to fund construction of the building through a seven-eighth of a cent sales tax increase passed by voters in September 2011

Citgo robbed at gunpoint

On Feb. 3, the Carlisle Police investigated a robbery on at the Carlisle Citgo, located at 1504 Bobby L. Glover Highway.

During the initial interview, Carlisle Police Sergent Todd Turner said officers were dispatched to the convenience store after receiving a 911 call at 2:13 p.m. of a robbery. Turner was the first officer on scene.

Upon arrival, Turner said he learned that the cashier had been robbed at gunpoint by two black males, who made off with over $1,000 in cash. He said, the victim, James Walter of Carlisle, saw the suspects enter the convenience store and retrieved Mt. Dews from the cooler. It was not until Walter opened the register for the cash purchase did men pull out their black semi-automatic pistols and demand money from the register. After handing over all the cash from the register, Walter was then told to lay on the floor while the suspects fled the scene. Turner said Walters remained in the floor until two customers entered the convenience store shortly after the robbery took place.

Both suspects were both described to have been wearing grey hooded sweatshirts. One was said to have been wearing an orange Miami Heat ball cap and the other a red Cardinals cap. The suspect fled the store in what appeared to be an older model green Mercury Cougar. The car was last seen on surveillance heading north toward Interstate 40.

Turner said no one was injured during the robbery. He said fingerprints were recovered from the scene, although it is not known if they will prove to be the suspects. According to Tuner, surveillance videos were turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance in enhancing the footage.

Around 4 p.m., shortly after hearing of the robbery, the police department was contacted by the Dollar General store, located down the road from the gas station, of possible information on the suspects. Turner said two black males accompanied by a white female carrying a large bag entered Dollar General. Both men were wearing grey hoodies.

Turner said the suspects in this case were seen exiting from a red Monte Carlo and not the green Mercury Cougar involved in the robbery. To the officers’ surprise, the woman was seen taking an unknown quantity of merchandise from the store.

Ironically enough, the customers who found Walter in the floor of the gas station were the same two males seen on the surveillance video from Dollar General.

City street paving

Bids opened at noon on Tuesday, March 19, for the second phase of the street paving millage projects. Phase two required 3,000 tons of asphalt for the paving of 50 city streets. Five bids were received, the highest from Tri State Asphalt of Lockesburg for $96.25 per ton totaling $288,775 and the lowest from Cranford Construction of North Little Rock for $67.90 per ton totaling $203,700. With the approval of The Carlisle city council unanimously accepted the bid from Cranford Construction for $203,700 and authorized Mayor Ray Glover to negotiate an additional 1,000 tons at $67.90 per ton to pave old State Highway 13, which has now been incorporated as a city street. Funding for this project was provided through the seven-eighth of a cent sales tax increase passed by voters in Sept. 2011

The final phase of the city street improvement was completed in October. There were 1,504 tons ordered through Cranford Construction of North Little Rock for the final phase. The total cost of the final phase was $102,120.60.

Local man kidnapped on Easter

In April, a Carlisle man was returned home safe after being kidnapped on Easter. According to a report from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s office, around 6:25 p.m. on Sunday, March 31, the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a female who related that her boyfriend had been taken from their residence at gun point. The caller said two male subjects came to their residence on North Walter Chapel Road near Carlisle produced hand guns and took her 57-year-old boyfriend and her boyfriend’s white Ford van. Deputies responded to the scene. Sheriff John Staley, Capt. Kevin McCoy and Lt. James Kulesa responded.

Initial investigation revealed the two white male subjects came to the residence and related they were looking for a dog. The subjects then produced handguns at which time the female 911 caller and a male friend were able to run out the back door into an adjacent field. The two male subjects then took the 57 year old boyfriend and his van.

A search of the area was initiated and an ACIC/NCIC message was dispatched. Troopers from the Arkansas State Police responded to assist, and the Arkansas State Police helicopter Air 4 was airlifted to assist in the search. The female caller related she did not know who the two male subjects were and believes her boyfriend did not know them.

Around 9:37 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office was notified the abducted male had been located by a White County Deputy on Bostic Road in White County. A male subject identified as Steven King, 52, from Searcy had also been detained by the White County Deputy. Initial investigation revealed the victim had been tied up and left in a vehicle. The victim was able to get out of the vehicle, at which time he ran to an adjacent residence and called for help. King was detained as he was attempting to locate the victim. The victim did receive injuries, however he did not require transport to a hospital. The van and the white Nissan truck used in the abduction were located and impounded.

King was arrested for the offenses of kidnapping, aggravated residential burglary, aggravated assault, and felony terroristic threatening.

School district hires new principals

In May, the Carlisle School board unanimously voted to hire two new principals during their regular monthly school board meeting. Brad Horn of Cabot was hired for the position of high school principal for the 2013-2014 school year. Horn, who was a teacher for the Cabot School District at the time, had taught for 14 years in both the secondary and mid-level grades and is a Navy veteran.

Karen Norton of Warren accepted the position as elementary principal for the 2013-2014 school year. She has worked in the school system for 17 years and was named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year in 2002. At the time of hire, Norton was the assistant principal at Monticello Intermediate School.

Morris family named Farm Family of the Year

In June, Carlisle’s very own Morris family was selected as the 2013 Lonoke County Farm Family of the Year. The DBA Merlin Morris Farms Inc. and MGM Farms, Inc is family owned and operated by the three generation; owner Becky Morris, Emily Morris Neil, Matthew Morris and Richard Morris.

Morris farms was established in 1892 by Richard’s great grandfather, John Morris. Since then, six generations of Morrises have stepped forward on the original Morris land. They currently farm 1,500 acres of farm land south of Carlisle. Crops raised on the farm include corn, rice and soybeans.

The Farm Family of the Year is selected by the Lonoke County Family Farm Selection Committee.

Local business damaged in single vehicle accident

On July 5, a Pennsylvania fugitive left behind a path of destruction in town after passing out behind the wheel of his car.

Around 3:09 p.m. that Friday afternoon, Carlisle Police officer Ronnie Long arrived on scene to a single vehicle accident. Long said it appeared that the drive, identified as Eric Kurtz, 38, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was traveling West bound on U.S. Highway 70 in his 1999 red Saturn when he passed out from unknown reasons.

Long said Kurtz then appeared to have accelerated the vehicle, crossing the East bound side of the highway, continuing heading West. After crossing the east bound lane, Long said Kurtz then drove off the roadway, first hitting a power pole, the striking a parked Ford Ranger and then driving into the side of the the T-shirt Shop and Old South Furniture and Antiques store front, located at 109 E. Park Street, before coming to a stop.

According to Long, Kurtz said he is a diabetic and must have passed out. Long said Kurtz could not recall anything that happened before the airbag in his vehicle deployed.

After refusing his right to be transported by ambulance to the hospital, Kurtz was taken into custody. According to Long, Kurtz is currently on parole and had numerous warrants out for his arrest. He was cited for no insurance and careless, prohibited driving.

Kurtz’ reign of terror left an estimated $9,000 in damages to the building and a Ford Ranger, plus the additional cost of replacing the power pole.

Winter weather closes school

Carlisle public school students had a four-day weekend, following winter weather that moved through Arkansas on Dec. 6.

In anticipation of the severe weather, Carlisle superintendent Jason Clark called school off on Thursday, Dec. 5 prior to the winter weathers arrival.

Following the arrival of the wintry mix during early hours of the morning, roadways became increasingly hazardous as the day progressed. With temperatures continuously dropping throughout the day and well below freezing by the evening hours, accumulation began to freeze on the roadways.

After a second round of wintry mixed through the state over the weekend and driving conditions remained hazardous on the following Monday morning, Dec. 9, closing schools yet another day due to road conditions. Clark said. the northern end of the school district had very little thawing on bridges, culverts, and less traveled roadways.

Classes resumed on Dec. 10, only using two of the snow days built into the school calendar. Last day of school will now be June 2, 2014. Students will also attend school on Presidents Day, Feb. 17, to make up an additional day of school. The Carlisle School District has five predetermined snow days in the district annual calendar.

City receives Quality of Life award

In December, Carlisle was named the Arkansas Business, Quality of Life winner for cities with a population fewer than 5,000. The City of Distinction program is designed to honor outstanding initiatives in cities across the state. It serves as an opportunity to thank city employees and collaborators, gain the appreciation of city residents and to feel proud of the outstanding contributions made to better the city. As a finalist, Carlisle was featured in the December 2013 issue of the Arkansas Business magazine.

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