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Disaster

Arkansas’ entire congressional delegation Friday backed Gov. Mike Beebe’s request for a federal disaster declaration for Van Buren County and 14 others in the state hit hard by recent winter storms.

Early last week, Beebe asked President Obama to issue a major disaster declaration for Crawford, Franklin, Independence, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Newton, Polk, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Sharp and Van Buren counties.

The wintry mix of freezing rain and snow moved through the state on Dec. 5 and 6, leaving about 62,000 homes without power and many roads and highways impassable. One death was attributed to the storm.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., along with GOP Reps. Tom Cotton, Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin and Steve Womack, also signed a letter Friday to Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in support of the governor’s request for a disaster declaration.

The legislators noted that Beebe’s request is the fourth in 2013, which they described as a “particularly difficult year” for Arkansans affected by natural disasters.

The declaration would make Arkansas eligible to receive federal aid to help the state, cities and counties recover from infrastructure damage. State and federal damage assessments totaled more than $8.6 million.

Trees

Christmas trees don’t have to go in the trash after Christmas. In fact, all those trees can be put to good use in Greers Ferry Lake.

The Corps will use donated trees — live ones only with all ornaments and tinsel removed — to create fish habitat in the lake by placing fish shelters made of bundles of Christmas trees. To donate your tree, drop it off until Jan. 17 at Sandy Beach near the boat ramp in Heber Springs, Devils Fork Park’s high-water boat ramp near Greers Ferry/Fairfield Bay, or Choctaw Park’s boat ramp in the Clinton area.

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