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Ashley News Observer- Features

Crossett native honored after overcoming adversity, injury
Crossett native Jeremy Hampton has been recognized as an Outstanding Scholar at Arkansas Baptist College (ABC).

Recruited by Offensive Lineman Coach Ashdone Bailey to play for ABC, Hampton entered college in the summer of 2016. He went with many challenges.

He had a bad knee injury and his uncle, Christopher Haynes, had been brutally murdered, a case in which they are still looking for the assailant. After the coaches were notified, they recommended to Hampton that he wait until the second session of summer or he fall to come to school. Determined to keep going, Jeremy went to summer school anyway. The president of the college at the time, O. Fitzgerald Hill, found out about his situation and — with tears in his eyes — met with Hampton, encouraged him and expressed how proud he was of him and his determination, and that he knew he would excel far beyond anyone’s expectations.

Hampton was red-shirted his first year, but his determination on the field and in the classroom has been noteworthy. As a result of his hard work, he has made the President’s List, The Dean’s List or the Honor Roll every semester. Additionally, he started for the Buffalos for the 2017 football season and had an outstanding year.

On Feb. 7, Hampton officially signed to play for the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

“I am extremely proud that Jeremy Hampton has an opportunity to further his education at the University of Arkansas-Monticello,” Bailey said. “He has been a model student for our football program on the field and in the classroom for the last two years. I recruited Jeremy and I admire him because he came off of a really bad knee injury in high school. Regardless of who told him he should leave football alone, he persevered and kept fighting for what he believed in. I know the future is very bright for him and will be cheering for him throughout this tremendous journey.”

M. Yvette Wimberly, the special assistant to the president and a Crossett native, said, “I am ‘Crossett Proud’ of him and I want to recruit more students from home and help them succeed, as well. Knowing his situation, I wanted to make sure he was holistically okay. He told me that his circumstances made him even more determined and had to do this.”

--For the complete story, see the print edition.

Crossett native, author to speak at Chamber banquet
The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce will honor local businesses and volunteers at its annual banquet in the multi-ministry center at First Baptist Church March 15.

This year’s featured speaker at the banquet will be Steve Smart, a Crossett native and oral surgeon who has recently published a crime thriller, “Fixation.”

In addition to serving as the speaker for the evening, Smart will have a book signing beforehand.

“I actually had someone from the community message me about possibly talking to him about selling his books at the chamber, and at that time we were looking for a speaker, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to help him get out his book — a lot of people from Crossett know him,” Chamber Director Randee Jo Langley said.

In the book, a pathologist performing an autopsy of a cosmetic surgery patient who unexpectedly died of an apparent complication from surgery discovers clues “which stir the Army hospital medical staff, the Korean populace and the local legal community,” the book’s blurb reads.

“Questions swirl, allegations are made, a trial ensues and a second death results.”

The book’s publisher says the book is based on true happenings, but that the author has filled in unknown portions with possible alternatives to move the story forward.

During the banquet, the Chamber will also recognize the director of the year, the volunteer of the year, the business of the year and will give out the Spirit Award.

The Chamber also aims to look back at 115 years of Crossett business, and is asking members to send in photos from the past for the event.

“We are trying to get old pictures of businesses and where they started at, and where they are now,” Langley said. “We are celebrating 115 years of this community and all the businesses in our community.”

Langley said the photos will be used in centerpieces in the tables and in a slideshow if enough are sent in.

Table sponsorship at the dinner, which comes with six seats, are $300. Individual tickets are $25.

The dinner will include pork loin, green beans, scalloped potatoes, roll, a drink and dessert.

Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Chamber of Commerce by phone at 870-364-6591 or 870-500-1216, or by email at

Hamburg students mount a 'Beauty' of a production with inaugural musical
It’s a tale as old as time — practice for months, and then take to the stage to show what you’ve done.

Hamburg School District students have been working all year, and it is finally time for the performances of their district wide production of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.”

“We have worked tirelessly to try and create the best performance possible, and I honestly think the Hamburg School District and community are going to be blown away by how much the students have accomplished,” Hamburg School District Choral Director Leigh Rice said.

The genesis of the work came when Rice and another high school teacher, Hillary Young, presented the idea of a district wide theater program to the superintendent and all of the school administrators within the district.

After the program was approved, Rice began working with Young and eight other teachers to build it.

In September, the group began working on “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” by hosting auditions for students in third through 12th grade.

“This production was a huge undertaking, but it has been an absolute pleasure watching these students of all ages flourish on the stage,” Rice said.

The show is scheduled to have four daytime performances for the students and staff of Hamburg School District.

The daytime performances will be Wednesday and Thursday, but will not be open to the public.

The performances on Feb. 9 and 10 will be public evening performances for parents, family members and community members.

The admission charge for the evening performances will be $5 per ticket.

--For the complete story, see the print edition.

CMS Beta qualifies for nationals
The Crossett Middle School Beta Club qualified for national competition when its members attended the state conference in Hot Springs Jan. 24 and 25.

Beta Sponsor Melissa Martar Bays took 65 middle school students to the convention, and the group won six awards.

The robotics team won first in the Beta Robotics competition, but the students said it was not like their usual robot tournaments. The theme was “Divide and Conquer,” and Ella Grannon said that she and her teammates decided they would create a search and rescue scene to divide and conquer.

Grannon said she got to control the robot first, and her task was to guide the robot to hit a button releasing plastic pieces that represented people in need of rescue.

Once the plastic pieces were released, Tressa Richards used the robot to move the pieces to the area they designated as hospitals. The last three team members, Kaden McCloy, Blake Buford and Sam Rial, were tasked with moving separate stacks of pieces, which represented people stuck in their houses.

The team won first place with their robotics display and are now preparing their robots for nationals.

Another group — composed of Jaelyn Caenly, Stormie Stivers, Ashlynn Kubiak, and Christina Swartz — won second prize in the T-shirt contest. The students designed a t-shirt using the assigned theme “Beta on My Mind.” Canley said they made a few different designs and had the entire club vote on which design they should enter at the convention.

Trinity Foster entered into the speech competition with a speech titled, “Beta Minds Think Alike.” She won second place, and Martar said Foster is already preparing to take first at nationals.

“She is already talking about how she wished she would have been a little more animated and she is already thinking about how she can improve before nationals, “ Martar said.

Eighth grade Beta member Robbie Jo Freeman said her group won in the banner contest. Freeman, along with Dalton Barnett, Dayley Mcdonald, Alaina Rawings and Cari Beth Meeks created a banner for their competition. The theme was also “Beta on my Mind,” and the team chose to use a fortune teller to portray that idea.

“We used a fortune teller with a crystal ball, because fortune tellers read minds,” Freeman said.

Keeten Thompson entered an essay and Ryan Green entered her recyclable art. Green’s art won first place in its category and Thompson’s essay won second in the essay completion.

Green said she is not really an artist, but she likes the environment, so she chose recyclable art.

Both students plan to compete in nationals this summer.

Cooper Williams said this is his second time to go to a state competition and this summer will be his second time to go to nationals.

Williams said that last year he entered in the speech category and didn’t qualify for nationals. At the last minute, however, a student competing in the Tower of Power competition was unable to go to nationals and Williams went in his place. The experience prompted Williams to compete in the Tower of Power this year at the state convention.

In the competition, the students build a tower of straws, and the tower has to be tall but also strong enough to hold a tennis ball.

This year, Williams joined with team members Ali Thurman, Chase Golden, Tyrique Jones and Mary Kate Mashburn to build their tower, and the team placed second.

Williams said they plan to practice more and hope to bring home a title from nationals.

The group will travel to Savannah, Ga. in June to compete at the National Beta Convention.

Grass fire ignites from roadway spark
The Crossett Fire Department responded to a grass fire on the northern side of First Avenue near area of the 100 block shortly after 1 p.m. Monday. Crossett Fire Chief Bo Higginbotham said the fire appeared to have started from a spark on the street side of the grassy area and burned back to the railroad tracks before being contained. (VERSHAL HOGAN/News Observer)