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College Church of Christ collecting for Jonesboro tornado victims

SEARCY — The College Church of Christ has decided to reach out to Jonesboro, following the tornado that struck the town Sunday. Mike Caldwell, a church member, said they have two different trailers they are loading. “One is for food and the other is for cleaning supplies,” Caldwell said. “We will start collecting at 9:00 a.m. and we will see what happens.”

Caldwell said he serves on the disaster response team and this is just one of the things they are doings. College Church of Christ will have their donation areas set up at the corners of Race and Grand. As soon as they fill the trailers, they will be sen to citizens in need in Jonesboro. Caldwell said he has informed other churches and the Searcy Police Department so everyone can help get the word out to help support Jonesboro.

Family seeks to spread attention, money to others

JONESBORO — In the photo, a young doctor wearing teal scrubs holds his hand up to a window, where his 13-month-old son is pressing his hand on the opposite side of the glass.

Alyssa Burks didn’t expect the photo to go viral when she first posted the photo of her husband, Jared, and their son, Zeke.


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Jared Burks, a resident physician, had been living apart from his wife and son for more than two weeks to protect them while he treats patients who have contracted the coronavirus. The photo depicts father and son seeing each other, but separated by glass.

On Saturday, the Burks family’s home was destroyed in the EF-3 tornado that struck Jonesboro.

When the story of their loss was covered by CNN, ABC, NBC, USA Today and other national media, the attention brought the Burks family donations from around the world.

Alyssa’s best friend, Evan Clower, set up a GoFundMe to collect money for the couple, and money started pouring in. Her original goal was to collect $2,500, but the account has gleaned more than $119,550.

Alyssa said the family just wants to redirect the attention they’ve received to the larger community, where so many people need help.

“We feel like we’d like to spread the attention to others who are in the same situation as us,” she said.

The family has to buy a new home and all new furniture, but after that Alyssa said they’d like to use the extra money to help others who have lost their homes.

“We’re doing our best to spread this blessing and pay it forward,” Alyssa said.

Alyssa urges people to donate to the Arkansas Red Cross or focus on individual families in the area.

“I have been so amazed by the response, and I think that it’s really been incredible to see the good in people after,” Clower said.

Alyssa said the family isn’t sure how much they’ll be able to donate to others but that it’s important to them that others receive some of the blessing, too.

For now, the family is staying with Alyssa’s parents, but they’ll need a new home soon, especially when Jared goes back to work for UAMS Northeast, and they’ll need to re-establish social distancing.

“We’ve got to figure something out soon, so we can do our best to reduce the spread of potential coronavirus,” Alyssa said.

But the couple has struggled to find available homes. Many of the homes they would be interested in are also in areas hit by the tornado. People are also reluctant to show their homes amid the virus.

“It’s kind of just slim pickings right now it feels like,” Alyssa said.

Jared said the donations will help the family to get back on their feet and help others in their community.

“There’s a lot of people struggling right now as well,” Jared said.

It’s hard to know how to help in this time of social distancing, but Jared said people can even do simple things like bringing people food and water.

“So it’s a difficult time you know social distancing and doing your part and staying indoors and doing your part and helping your community,” Jared said.

National Forests announce temporary closure of recreational areas

HOT SPRINGS — To protect public health and safety and align with federal, state and local guidance, Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests officials are announcing the temporary shutdown of recreational areas and campgrounds for the safety of visitors and staff.

Effective immediately, some recreation areas and campgrounds are temporarily shut down. Some campgrounds and cabins have not yet opened for the season, and will remain shut down. Dispersed camping is still available on both forests. On the Ouachita National Forest, all restrooms are shut down.

For a list of closures, more information and updates, visit the websites of the Ouachita National Forest at www. or the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at osfnf/. Updates can also be found at the Ouachita National Forest Facebook site at and Ozark-St. Francis National Forest at www.facebook. com/ozarkstfrancis/.

The Ouachita and Ozark- St. Francis National Forests continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and evaluate potential impacts and adjustments to reservations and our reservation policies through Reservation holders will be notified via email and/or cell phone text messages of any changes affecting their reservation. Visitors will receive a full refund for any cancelled reservations.

By closing campsites and group recreation sites, the USDA Forest Service is taking necessary measures to safeguard the health of employees and the public. The health and safety of employees and the nearby communities is always the top priority at the USDA Forest Service, a news release states.

Visitors are primarily responsible for their own safety. Keep in mind, trails and roads may be open for use, but visitors are asked to recreate responsibly and follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while visiting national forests. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing or motorized activities that increase the chance of injury or distress should be avoided. For the most current and accurate information about COVID-19, contact local health officials or visit the CDC website at Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available at

NE Arkansas pair facing felony forgery charges

PARAGOULD — Police have arrested two men in separate incidents on unrelated charges. In one incident, an investigation into an alleged forged check led to the arrest of a Jonesboro man. Paragould police arrested Danny J.W. Wade, 25, on a charge of one count of second-degree forgery, a Class C felony.

According to a probable cause affidavit sworn by detective Cpl. Jacob Higdon, the arrest was the result on an investigation into a Jan. 14 incident. In the incident, Wade reportedly went to the drive-through of a local bank, and attempted to cash an allegedly fraudulent check in the amount of $2,683.73. The bank refused to cash the check, at which point Wade reportedly left the scene, leaving the check with the teller.

Wade was booked into the Greene County Detention Center on Wednesday. His bond had not yet been set as of press time.

In the other incident, police arrested Jacob Lowell Jesse Smith, 26, of Paragould, on a charge of one count of possession of between two and 10 grams of a Schedule I/II controlled substance, a Class C felony; plus numerous misdemeanor charges. That arrest occurred, according to a probable cause affidavit sworn by detective Cpl. Aaron Gamber, on Wednesday morning after police Cpl. Gunner Fultz reportedly observed a Ford Ranger run a stop sign while headed north on Rector Road at its intersection with Bard Road.

Although Fultz reportedly attempted to stop the vehicle, it continued north until it reached Gunner Loop at which point it turned left and into the driveway of a vacant residence. The vehicle continued on through the carport of the residence and into the back yard, where it sank into the mud and caused slight damage to the yard.

At that point, the driver (later identified as Smith) reportedly debarked the truck and allegedly disappeared around the corner of the residence. However, Fultz was able to take him into custody quickly.

According to Gamber’s affidavit, Smith was allegedly found to have discarded 5.7 grams of methamphetamine, found in the grass on the driver’s side of the truck. A search of the vehicle also reportedly produced two marijuana cigarettes, one of which was partially smoked. Smith remains in the Greene County Detention Center on $50,000 bond.

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