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Wednesday November 25, 2015

White River Wonderland returning to Batesville’s Riverside Park

Riverside Park will be bursting at the seams with Christmas displays and decorations as the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Batesville present White River Wonderland in Batesville this holiday season.

Visitors will enjoy animation and music, dazzling light displays and breathtaking Christmas exhibits, sponsored in part by local businesses. One of the new displays this year includes a 31-foot snowman.

The spectacular light display crafted by Johnathan Abbott has made for a memorable attraction for those within and outside Independence County.

Strolling through the park is even more spectacular when visitors elect to purchase tickets for the horse-drawn carriage rides. Carriage tours along the White River park area will be available every day during December from Little Rock Carriage Company.

A synthetic ice-skating rink, sponsored by First Community Bank, will return to the Riverside Park amphitheater. Visitors to the park can elect to skate on a surface forty feet by forty feet that mimics actual ice from Saturday, Nov. 28 through Sunday, Jan. 3.

Skating sessions begin on the hour and end around ten minutes before the hour to allow a “line change.” A nominal maintenance fee of $5 per skater will be charged per session. Skates are included in the price, but visitors are welcome to bring their own skates. Party reservations can be made for groups under 25 people at a discounted rate. Reservations can be made by calling the City of Batesville at (870) 698-2427.

The hours of operation for the rink are from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays; 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays; 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. The rink will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Children under 18 should be accompanied by an adult.

“We are excited to offer the ice skating rink to residents and visitors of Batesville again this year,” said Mayor Rick Elumbaugh. “The skating rink was a big hit last year, and we expect that its popularity will only continue to grow. The rink is a unique addition to the already exciting attractions on the White River. First Community Bank’s generosity in sponsoring this skating rink has certainly enhanced the White River Wonderland project.”

“We enjoy being involved in partnerships that benefit our community,” said Dale Cole, chairman and chief executive officer of First Community Bank. “The Parks and Recreation Department works diligently to coordinate the White River Wonderland project, and based on the large number of spectators, it is a great community investment.”

Estimates from last year indicate that approximately 40,000 cars entered the park. The project is included in the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights, with 62 stops throughout state. 

WRMC welcomes general surgeon

Gary L. Bebow, administrator/CEO of White River Medical Center (WRMC), recently announced the addition of Dr. Anthony M. Abraham, general surgeon, to the medical staff. Dr. Abraham is seeing patients at the WRMC Surgery Clinic, located at 413 Virginia Dr. in Batesville. Also practicing in the clinic is Dr. John Lambert, general surgeon.

General surgeons are physicians who operate to repair injuries, correct deformities, prevent diseases, and generally improve the health of patients. They examine patients to determine if surgery is necessary and select the appropriate surgical procedure.

Dr. Abraham’s expertise and interests include breast cancer surgery, thyroid surgery, and abdominal surgery using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques. Dr. Abraham also accepts referrals for screen colonoscopy and EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) used to detect colon cancer and illnesses of the gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Abraham received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Florida. He completed his residency at Larkin Community Hospital, also in Florida, where he was named chief resident. During his time there, he also won several distinguished awards in surgical research.

“Dr. Abraham possesses great knowledge and experience in his skill,” said Bebow. “He collaborates well with our excellent team of surgeons, and we are excited he is here.”

Dr. Abraham and his wife, Natalia, reside in Batesville, and are expecting their first child in January.

“I really enjoy practicing in Batesville,” said Dr. Abraham. “This is a wonderful community dedicated to its people, and my wife and I are thrilled to be a part of it.”

He enjoys golf, outdoor biking, indoor spinning, and looks forward to hunting and fishing.

To reach Dr. Abraham, call (870) 793-4445. For more information about Dr. Abraham, visit 

Bob Copeland is the new manager of the Independence County Shooting Sports Range. Copeland, who started his new job Oct. 31, is from Romance, Ark. in White County.

Copeland was in the overhead door business for four decades until he retired last year. But five years ago, he began coaching youngsters who wanted to learn trap shooting. He has taken his team – Central Arkansas Trap – to the grand nationals the past three years.

He was familiar with the Independence County range because he brought his team to it to practice and compete.

“I was impressed with it,” he said, “because it’s always so well-kept.”

Copeland’s credentials are impressive, too. He is an Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA)-certified Level 1 shotgun coach, and a certified AIM coach. AIM stands for Academics, Integrity and Marksmanship. It’s the official youth program of the ATA. He’s also a certified National Rifle Association coach.

Copeland is a co-director of AIM in Arkansas, along with Renae Chambless and Devon Melbourne, both of Lonoke.

He plans to continue emphasizing youth sports, which was the primary reason for the shooting range. He says he plans to start an AIM team in Independence County. He also wants the range to host Arkansas Youth Shooting Sports Program tournaments.

Copeland says he will continue to promote the use of the range by businesses and organizations to hold tournaments, especially fund-raising tournaments that help the community.

“I especially want to support programs for battered women,” he said, such as the local Family Violence Prevention organization. “I want to give back to the community.”

The range is home to the Lyon College shooting team, which host tournaments here to raise money for scholarships, and to several high school teams, including Batesville and Melbourne.

Range fees were increased at the beginning of the year to help with the budget, but the governing board found that it had a negative impact on the number of people using the range, so the fees have been reduced. Currently, they are $6 for adults and $4 for students. If shells are included they are $7 more for each shooter, but Copeland says a majority bring their own shells.

The range is officially named the Paul H. “Rocky” Willmuth Shooting Sports Complex, named in honor of the man who led the effort to establish the facility to benefit area youth who are interested in the sport.

A five-member commission appointed by Independence County and the city of Batesville operates the range.

The range’s hours and more information can be found on its website, 

Kaylee Leddy of Cave City was inducted October 24 into the Arkansas Purple Circle Club in Little Rock.  Leddy had the Grand Champion Nubian Junior Doe and the Junior Dairy Goat Showmanship at the Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show. Rodney Baker, Arkansas Farm Bureau executive vice president, presented the award. The club is an awards program recognizing junior livestock exhibitors who earned championship honors at the Arkansas State Fair. It is sponsored by Arkansas Farm Bureau. Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private farm and rural advocacy organization of more than 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life. Photo Submitted