Top Stories For Aug. 26

Covid-19 Cases, Cafeteria Plan Headline Aug. 26 Issue

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Covid cases grow locally

One local physician says the Covid-19 virus is spreading through Stone County faster than anywhere in Arkansas and that the number of cases could top 500 by Labor Day.

“I know people are fatigued, but folks we are blowing it in Stone County in a big way,” Dr. Eric Spann said last week on his frequent podcast, “What’s Up Doc?”

And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that an increased number of household gatherings during the last six weeks is mostly responsible for hot spot increases, Spann said he believes a local four-day church revival where participants failed to practice social distancing, and where mask use was low and singing was involved, was the trigger for a new outbreak the extent of which is yet to be determined.

Of the 175 people who attended the revival, some 100 are now likely infected, Spann said. Forty-one have tested positive and another 50 to 60 are self isolated because of contact with infected persons.

“It’s really not a matter of people being intentionally rebellious, and some of the churches are doing very well, but churches in particular need to be the best example of all in obeying guidelines and protecting one another and our fellow citizens by following good advice from those who’ve trained and taken oaths to protect our health,” Spann said.

Spann said a second church created a similar situation with large, unprotected gatherings, the effects of which won’t be known until some time this week.

“I’m not an alarmist, and I’m certainly not against the church,” said Spann, who also describes himself as a biblically trained theologian. “But we could easily be looking at another 200 to 400 Covid-positive cases by Labor Day.

See the full story in the Aug. 26, 2020 issue. 


Cafeteria options expanded

Tobby Wetmore believes good food can change a person’s life.

It’s a philosophy he brings with him as school begins this week, and as he takes on responsibility for feeding some 1,500 students five out of every seven days.

When the Mountain View School District made the decision to outsource its food service management, it was Wetmore, a Chartwells company chef, who got the call to lead the transition. Trained by some of the most reputable chefs in the business, Wetmore spent most of his career in the Kansas City and St. Joe, Mo., area prior to a move to Jonesboro where he managed a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant. That restaurant became part of a group its management closed earlier this year as a result of the Covid-19 virus effects on food service.

Though his chief responsibility is the management and direction of a large kitchen team across multiple sites, Wetmore is most passionate about bringing variety and quality to student food choices.

“We’re bringing more menu options to students that are really chef-inspired menus,” Wetmore said. “And we put a lot of effort into our presentation. What I’ve found as a chef is if it’s visually appealing and if there are more options, people will eat more.”

Wetmore said Chartwells brings hundreds of chef-inspired recipes to the lunchroom. The menu includes freshly made pizza, hamburgers, salad, a Latin bar, and more. Another benefit is the company’s access to staff dieticians and marketing managers.

“As much as possible, we’re trying to avoid that lunchbox mentality,” he said. “We want the kids to come here and enjoy good food, in what really is a restaurant-type experience. We want to give them the best in everything that we do.”

See the full story in the Aug. 26, 2020 issue. 

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