I read the article about Mr. McCain…sounded like a very nice person..I hope people told him while he was living that he was a great person. [Editor’s Note: I’ll be honest and say that although I have lived here my entire life, I was not familiar with him, but like you, as I read about him, I came to appreciate his contribution to the community and his work ethic] *** I recently heard that they are planning to turn the old hospital in West Memphis into a prison hospital. That is very sad to hear, something like that is the last thing that the town needs. That will only make it even less desirable to live there than it already is. [Editor’s Note: I appreciate your opinion on the hospital potentially becoming a Department of Community Correction center. Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s] The only thing that will save and eventually revive the towns of West Memphis and Marion is for them to pass ordinances like those in places like Collierville,TN. [Editor’s Note: If only it were as simple as passing a slate of ordinances] Examples being: No government housing of any kind [Editor’s Note: Pretty sure that’s illegal], no mobile homes within the city limits [Editor’s Note: Grandfathered in], no visible chain link fences [Editor’s Note: Are there invisible chain-link fences], only approved business allowed [Editor’s Note: Already a law], only approved earth tone colors for buildings and houses [Editor’s Note: Because house colors are the problem?], strictly enforce existing laws against loitering, noise and laws pertaining to the upkeep of property and tear down dilapidated houses and neighborhoods with excessive crime [Editor’s Note: Who’s going to cut that check?]. Also put a mandatory minimum square footage requirement on all homes built in the future [Editor’s Note: There are no new homes being built in West Memphis and the ones being built in Marion are huge], and if they could pass a law requiring anyone who receives government assistance to take a monthly drug test it would change things greatly [Editor’s Note: Good idea, shot down in court]. Maybe even make illegal to rent or sell property to anyone who had been convicted of a sex crime [Editor’s Note: Illegal]. I seriously doubt that any of these things will ever get done, but if they would that area would most certainly change for the better and run off all the undesirables and make decent people want to live there again. It makes me sad to see what has become of my hometown I know that there are still many good people there, but I think everyone would agree that it has been on a downward spiral for the last twenty-five years or so. I would love to see it become a thriving community again where people would feel good about raising their families and get off the most dangerous cities in America list. I pray that my suggestions would reach the right people and get set into motion. I miss my home, but home just ain’t home anymore. [Editor’s Note: I get what you’re saying. I really do. But most of what you suggest simply isn’t feasible. I wish I had some counter-proposals, but I don’t. True change in this community begins in the home. We have, in many parts of the county, a culture of dependency and low self-worth, with families locked into a cycle that perpetuated that same culture. A few have been able to break that cycle, but it’s hard and often there’s not really anyone encouraging them to make the effort] *** How is jury selection done now? I recently heard it was no longer based on being a registered voter, it is by legal driver license in the state? Can you please advise, curious! Thank you! [Editor’s Note: It’s actually both. Straight from the Arkansas Judicial System’s website (courts.arkansas.gov) jurors are “chosen through a random selection process of persons whose names appear on the current voter registration list or a combination of voter registration and drivers license listings. I will not, however, that I have been licensed to drive since 1990 and registered to vote since 1992, and I have never been called for jury duty] *** I just visited Crittenden Memorial park. I was shocked to see sunken graves, also head stones faded flowers, strewn everywhere even small markers torn down. Why is it not being cared for? [Editor’s Note: While I don’t claim to know the ins-and-outs of cemetery upkeep, I’d imagine that there is far less maintenace and grounds work done in the winter time. I’d be surprised if you didn’t see some “spring cleaning” being done pretty soon… although, I’m not sure what you can do about the ground itself shifting]

By John Criner Outdoors Columnist

Wapanooca National Wildlife Refuge located near Turrell, Arkansas, on old highway 77, is one of more than 560 National Wildlife Refuges, (NWR) found in the United States. Wapanocca, Big Lake, Cache River and Bald Knob are part of the Central Arkansas Complex of NWRs with headquarters in Augusta, Arkansas. These refuges were created to protect and enhance the resting and feeding grounds of migratory birds creating a chain of stepping stones along major migration routes. Wapanocca became a NWR in 1961 when the federal government acquired it from the old, pre 1900 Wapanocca Outing Club. The most famous member was the outdoor writer Nash Buckingham whose book “Da Shootingest Gentleman” can still be found in book stores. A very enjoyable outdoor book to read. Jared Nance is the 13th manager since the refuge was created and lives with his wife in Jonesboro. He is the past manager of Big Lake NWR. Nance is a graduate of Murray State University in western Kentucky where he received a degree in wildlife biology. He is of the new class of refuge managers that are very people and technology oriented. He knows how to manage the swamps and greet the patrons to the refuge. He feels like an old friend after visiting only a short time. When the lake first opened to the public it was known for its monster bream. After a couple of years, the fishing just died. No fish. The lake was dying due to siltation from Big Creek which was it’s only source of water. The fish eggs were simply covered by mud and silt and could not hatch. The lake was drained and the lake bottom was allowed to dry for two years. The lake was then stocked with bream, bass, crappie and catfish. There had not been a stocking since then. The water now used to maintain the lake is natural run off and from a non siltrated source. Wapanocca is not connected to the Mississippi River. Fishing opens March 1, 2016 and closes October 31, 2016. The free boat ramp that is large and in great shape is located over the railroad track off Hwy. 77, a few miles south of Turrell. A refuge permit is required to be on the refuge and can be obtained from the refuge headquarters or online. There are no permits available at the boat ramp. Fishing is permitted from sunrise to sunset. Of course your boat must be registered. State fishing limits apply but no frog taking is allowed, day or night. Headquarters are just under the railroad tracks on the way into Turrell and are open 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The headquarters are fun to visit and bring out the kids. They will really enjoy the presentation. Speaking of kids, congratulations to manager Jared Nance. He will become a daddy to a baby boy in about two months. It won’t be long before he is catching big Waponocca bream. I fished Wapanocca several times last year and usually had good luck. The bass, crappie and bream are good. I did find a bed of real keeper bream with several in one pound range. I did see several nice catfish at the ramp. There is plenty of easy parking and the folks I visited with were more than helpful in launching boats. During the week, the ramp and lake is not crowded. You need to bring your own bait and drinks as there is not a concession at the ramp. The opening week appears to be successful with a good crowd of people catching some nice fish. Crappie have been the fish of choice and several nice stringers have been taken along with some bass. Opening Saturday had the boat ramp and parking lot full of fishermen. Fishing should improve as spring brings warm weather and serious spawning. Thank you and keep the pictures and stories coming. Take a kid fishing and Wapanocca is a great place to enjoy. Lakeside Taxidermy mounts a great fish at a reasonable price and you will get it back fast. Papa Duck 870-732-0455 or 901-482-3430 jhcriner@hotmail.com

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