Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cougars Win 7-on-7 Championship For Second Straight Year

7 on 7 Champions
For the second consecutive year, the Helena-West Helena Central Cougars have captured the East Arkansas 7-on-7 football league title.

The Cougars, who are picked to finish 2nd in the 2-4A in the Hooten's Arkansas Football rankings, have been expected to rely more heavily on the running game this season.  Consequently, the passing-dominated 7-on-7 success is pleasant news.

Head Coach Russell Smith said, "I have been pleased with the improvements that we have seen over the summer.  Our guys have been working hard on the practice field and in the weight room.  We have had a chance to work with multiple quarterbacks during the 7-on-7 season.  Now we will have a short break before preseason practice starts in August."

The Cougars defeated West Memphis, Forrest City, Earle, Trumann, and East Poinsett County to win the title.  The teams faced off multiple times over the past few weeks. 

Keith Hays is projected to be the starting quarterback for the Cougars.

Helena-West Helena will open the regular season at Cad Polk Stadium on September 5 against the Dollarway Cardinals.  That kickoff is set for 7:00 pm. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

CHS Algebra and Geometry Scores Improve

Great things happen every day in HWHSD!
Good news continues to come out of the Helena-West Helena School District as score reports on this year's Algebra and Geometry end of course exams show significant improvement for Central High School.

At last Monday's board meeting, new Superintendent John Hoy reported to the school board that the scores were up by 10% in Algebra and 8% in Geometry. He said, "I am pleased to report the improvement and look forward to building on these gains to increase student achievement."

School Board President Andrew Bagley was also happy with the gains saying, "This is just another example of great things happen every day in HWHSD. Our teachers have been working very hard and this is an example of that hard work. It's an exciting time to be a Cougar. We are a school district on the rise, and I encourage everyone to get on board and enroll their children in HWHSD."

School begins for students on August 18. Teachers return on August 11.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

HWH Booster Club To Purchase Floor for Cougar Gym; Southern Bancorp to Provide Community Sponsorship

Artist Rendering of New Floor at CHS Gymnasium
HELENA-WEST HELENA- In a statement issued today, the Helena-West Helena Booster Club announced its donation of a new wood playing surface to the Helena-West Helena School District's main gymnasium at Central High School, with Southern Bancorp supporting the effort as a community sponsor.

Andrew Bagley, School Board President and Booster Club Secretary, was overjoyed at the announcement saying, "The Cougars have needed a new floor in that gymnasium for many years. The current surface had become a safety issue since it was long past its scheduled life span.  This new floor will give the Cougars a first class playing surface that will last for many decades with proper maintenance.  It will be very similar to the courts used for the NCAA Tournament. The new surface will also improve the appearance of the facility and enhance CHS's chances of hosting conference and state tournaments."

He continued, "This development would not have been possible if it had not been for Southern Bancorp's sponsorship and for their willingness to finance the remainder of the purchase amount at a very affordable rate to give the Booster Club time to raise the rest of the funds, yet install the floor in time for this basketball season. I have no doubt that this community will aid us in our efforts on this project as it has in the past."

"This is a great opportunity for not only the student athletes at CHS, but also for the community as a whole," said Southern Bancorp Regional CEO Jimbo Boyd. "Southern is a community development bank, and as such we look for investments that create economic opportunity in the communities we serve. Not only will this new floor provide a safer, more reliable playing surface, but it will also serve as a launch point for attracting tournaments, teams and fans – which means more dollars for local businesses. This type of investment has a community-wide impact, and that's why Southern is involved."

HWHSD officials were also ecstatic with the news. Athletic Director Russell Smith said,
"This is a huge step forward for our athletic program. We want to be the best at every sport that we offer.  This will place our facility in the upper echelon of the facilities in our conference and with some other cosmetic improvements, we could easily get our facility to one of the top arenas in Class 4A. With 2500 seats and six dressing rooms, we certainly have one of the largest basketball venues in our classification.  I appreciate the hard work of our Booster Club board and members who work hard on behalf of Cougar athletics.  Our district is thankful that the Booster Club has been able to make this project happen using private funds and we are thankful to Southern Bancorp and our supporters in the business community."

About Southern Bancorp
Southern Bancorp is one of America's largest rural development banks and a U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with approximately $1.1 billion in assets, serving over 80,000 customers at 39 branches in both Arkansas and Mississippi. Southern invests in people and businesses in rural communities; empowers them to improve their lives; and helps them transform their communities. On the web at &

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cougars Lead Way for Phillips County Football with Preseason #10 Ranking in Hooten's

The Helena-West Helena Central Cougars have earned the respect of the state's leading high school football publication, Hooten's Arkansas Football, with a preseason top 10 ranking in Class 4A.  The ranking was the highest achieved among the three football playing schools in the Arkansas Activities Association.  The magazine is available locally at Wal-Mart.

The Cougars are also picked to finish second in the 4A-2 conference, just behind Newport.  Those two teams will have a top-10 clash in Cad Polk Stadium on September 26.  The Cougars open the season at Cad Polk on September 5 against Dollarway.  All Cougar games will be broadcast by Delta Force 3's KCLT 104.9 FM and online via and via the Radio Loyalty app for smartphones.

Barton comes in picked to finish second in the 3A-2 conference behind Harding Academy but is not in the preseason top 10.

Marvell, in its second year under Barton alum Jessie McGruder, will look to build off its season ending win over Palestine-Wheatley last year in the 2A-6.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

HWHSD Making Major Technology Upgrades

The Helena-West Helena School District is investing in technology upgrades over the summer that will place it in the upper echelon of school districts in the state in terms of technology capacity.

The project, being paid for out of NSLA funds with restricted uses, will greatly benefit the district and position it well for the instruction required in the digital age.  Superintendent Suzann McCommon said, "Our school district will now have excellent network access and capacity in every classroom.  Very few districts will be able to compare with what we will have when this project is finished."

The project will result in an increase of over 400% of hard wired Ethernet connections available in each classroom.  Also, the wifi network capacity in each classroom will also be drastically improved. 

School Board President Andrew Bagley was particularly excited about the project.  He said, "With all tasks in society requiring some use of technology, it is important that our students become familiar with using these devices daily.  Instruction is requiring more incorporation of technology in the classroom.  All of the testing is moving online.  In fact, we were one of the pilot districts for online testing this year and our network performed admirably prior to these upgrades, which is a testament to our leadership, our technology staff, and the assistance of technology personnel from the Great Rivers Service Cooperative."

Bagley continued, "This is just another example of great things are happening every day in HWHSD.  Our school district is moving in a positive direction and the people of this community can have confidence supporting us in our efforts to continue moving forward.  Parents can feel confident enrolling their children in our schools.  It's an exciting time to be a Cougar."


Friday, June 13, 2014

Willis Fires Long-Time Ally Bobby Jones

Mayor Arnell Willis

According to information obtained late Friday evening, Helena-West Helena Mayor Arnell Willis has fired long-time political supporter and Sanitation Director Bobby Jones.

No official reason has been obtained at this time and it is not yet known if Jones will appeal and appear before the City Council this coming Tuesday.  However, it appears this is the culmination of a series of events over the past month that have had the two at odds.

Jones, who orchestrated a vote-hauling operation in 2010 that provided Willis's margin of victory over former Mayor James Valley, had refused Willis's directive to attend a council meeting to discuss a resident's complaint.  Willis then suspended Jones for three days.

According to our sources, Jones responded by providing a local law enforcement agency with some allegations concerning Willis improperly using city funds to purchase parts for vehicles not owned by the city and for making threats to harm City Councilman John Huff, who has been a vocal critic of Willis.

We will update as we receive more information.

Cad Polk Stadium Bleachers to Get Major Renovation

The Helena-West Helena School Advisory Board approved a major renovation to Cad Polk Stadium's bleachers at their monthly meeting Monday night and Department of Education officials have signed off on the plan, which means Cougar Football Fans will see a noticeable upgrade to the football stadium on Friday nights this fall.

Getting a makeover soon
School Board President Andrew Bagley announced the renovation Friday morning on the "Community Conversation with Reverend Jarvis Smith" program on KCLT 104.9 FM. Bagley said, "This investment in Cad Polk Stadium is long over due and I thank those School Board members who voted to support the project and for Ms. McCommon and Mr. Reed working so hard to get this project approved.  Cougar Fans have been wanting this done for years and I am so happy for Athletic Director and Coach Russell Smith who has worked so hard to keep our football program competitive.  It is time we started providing the resources to make the facility upgrades that we so desperately need."

Roped off and ready for work to start
While the Helena-West Helena School District is paying for most of the project, the Helena-West Helena Booster Club has received contributions that will cover a portion of the project, including a grant from the East Arkansas Planning and Development District with the support of Representative Chris Richey and from a contribution from the Helena-West Helena A and P Commission.  Bagley, who is also one of the Booster Club Officers said, "I want to thank our donors and our officers for their support.  It's a team effort as we keep things moving in the right direction in HWHSD.  Great things happen every day in HWHSD because of the good people we have supporting the district, its students, and its programs."

Smith was elated with the news as well.  He said, "Our facilities have been way behind most programs we play.  I am so happy for our athletes, our fans, and our program that this is going to happen.  I am hopeful that this is just the beginning and that our fans will fill up Cad Polk Stadium this fall and support our teams. Our kids are working hard right now to put a winning product on the field."

The project will use the existing bleacher frames, but all of the seating will be new.  The seating will be brought up to current codes and will include handicap accessibility.

The first senior high home game is September 5 against Dollarway.  The first home conference game is September 26 against Newport.  Homecoming is slated for October 10.