For a state that’s known as being relatively quiet in the eyes of the news media (unless there’s a heavily fought presidential race taking place), 2015 was a definite time Arkansas had the nation’s attention at moments throughout the year. From celebrity antics to sports disgrace and school/legislative dysfunction, it’s turned out to be a wildly interesting year in the Natural State.
10. Where Was Spring?
Spring was not only a little late this year, but by the time April rolled around we were ready for summer to start already. After a lengthy bout of late winter weather from January to early March, Arkansas didn't feel the warmth of spring temperatures until May 2015, just a month away from the summer solstice.
9. Warm (and wet) Season's Greetings
Be careful out there, Arkansas. No one was dreaming of a stormy Christmas, but that's what we've got this year. A surprising stay of warm weather in the last month of 2015 led to severe storms just days before Christmas, leaving one Arkansas resident dead.
8. Huckabee Got Trumped
Huckabee is still out there stumping and trying to bump up support for his campaign, but is it really worth it now that Donald Trump has caught the ears, eyes, attention, and support of so many potential Huckabee voters? At least Huckabee's out there showing that never-give-up Arkansas spirit in his current run for the White House.
7. Indecisive Judges & Rulings
The legality of same-sex marriage in Arkansas has been a hot topic in the Arkansas Supreme Court in 2015. After legal rights were recognized in gay marriages last year, the issue still remains a controversial one.
6. Jermain Taylor Goes Nuts
Too many hometown heroes of the Natural State suffered a downfall this year. Former middleweight boxing champ and Little Rock native Jermain Taylor was arrested back in January for brandishing a gun and making threats in public. It's absolutely tragic and crazy that just 10 years ago Taylor was named "Arkansan of the Year" by local media.
5. The Would-Be Jonesboro Terrorist
A Facebook post from Jonesboro resident Brad Kenneth Bartelt let everyone know how homicidal he felt, but December 10th thankfully wasn't his day to go on a killing spree. Bartelt left his home that day armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and containers of gasoline and propane with him as he drove onto the campus of ASU Jonesboro, seemingly to go on a murderous rampage. After authorities arrived, Bartelt's homicidal rage turned to suicidal thoughts as he aimed the weapon at himself. After an hour, Bartelt was taken into custody and the story went viral, making national headlines.
4. Re-Homing & Exorcisms
Arkansas House of Representatives member Justin Harris probably meant well when he adopted three young girls. When issues of violence started happening in his household, Harris claimed the Arkansas Department of Human Services misled him about the adopted children's histories and disorders. Left to his own devices, it was reported this year that Harris subjected two of the adopted girls to exorcisms in an effort to cure their behavioral problems. With no positive changes, Harris moved the girls to homes where they were subjected to criminal abuse. The breaking of this story back in March added fuel to the burning current social issue of re-homing troubled adopted children to people without any legal mediation.
3. The Struggle of the LRSD
After years of struggling, the troubles of the Little Rock School District came to a head this year as superintendent Dexter Suggs resigned in April after allegations that Suggs plagarized his doctoral dissertation. If that wasn't enough, the Arkansas State Board of Education voted to take over the district back in January after the number of low-performing schools in the area became an unavoidable problem. The plans to open another middle school in wealthy, booming west Little Rock instead of putting more effort into rehabilitating already troubled district schools doesn't seem to bode well for the LRSD's future, either.
2. Asa Hutchinson Says No To Syria
After the terrorist attack in Paris back in November, many Americans took a hard stand on who and who cannot cross state borders. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson was one of the first of many governors around the country who took the even harder line of denying sanctuary to Syrian immigrants in an attempt to protect the state from potential harm.
1. Duggar Defamation
The year 2015 just wasn't the best for the Duggars. Sordid headlines, family drama, and rehabilitation for wayward son Josh Duggar made this the year that the '19 Kids and Counting' household, much like other reality TV families before it, fodder for late night TV jokes.
Strange days, indeed. Is it going to get any better (or maybe more interesting) in 2016? How did you feel about the Arkansas headlines you saw in the news this year? Make a prediction on how things will be in the year ahead!