Home Uncategorized Little River County Extension Agent honored with retirement reception

Little River County Extension Agent honored with retirement reception

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joe paul stuart

Carolyn Myers
LITTLE RIVER NEWS
Freelance Writer
ASHDOWN – “Being a
county agent is as close
to farming as you can get
without farming,” Joe Paul
Stuart said with a laugh, explaining
how he came to be
the University of Arkansas
Cooperative Extension Service’s
agent for Little River
County. “I wanted a career
in agriculture. That’s what
I went to college for. I tried
teaching but found out pretty
quick I didn’t like that,” he
said, with a grin and quick
duck of his head, a gesture
familiar to those who know
him. “So I decided to apply
for a job as a county agent
and eventually was located
here in Little River County.”
Joe Paul and Marsha Stuart,
both natives of Nashville,
Ark., and their two young
daughters moved to Ashdown
in August 1992. The
girls are grown and married
now. Amanda and David
Bell and son Logan live in
New Boston, Texas, and
Shelley and Rex Herring live
in Wickes. Rex is the county
agent in DeQueen. Stuart,
who is retiring in January,
2016, after 30 years with
the University of Arkansas
Co-operative Extension Service,
will be sorely missed
by his co-workers in the Extension
office located on
the University of Arkansas’
Cossatot campus in Ashdown.
At the retirement
reception held for Stuart on
Friday, Dec. 18, Roxie Jones,
longtime administrative
assistant to Stuart, said the
whole office is happy for him but
wish they could keep him.
“He always told me that I
couldn’t retire before he did,”
Jones said, “and now here
he is leaving. I know that
changes come and he is looking
forward to retirement. I
just hope I don’t cry.” Other
co-workers echoed her sentiments.
Stuart, a member of
Little River County Cattlemen’s
Association and an
advisor to the county Fairboard
and Farm Bureau, has
worked closely with cattlemen,
rowcrop farmers, land
owners and home gardeners.
He is well-known for his
horticulture programs and
his cattle expertise, and has
always been ready to answer
questions from citizens about
anything agricultural. And
in that respect, he has had
some odd questions asked.
He related an incident, saying
“One woman called and said,
‘My potato plants are growing
good and are covered with
blooms but none of them are
setting potatoes.’”
“I guessed pretty quick
she didn’t know that potatoes
grow underground,” he said,
grinning. With a shake of his
head and a chuckle he added,
“Then another person called
and wanted to know how to
grow spaghetti…” Stuart has
been popular with county residents
and with other county
agents as well. Eight of his
peers from surrounding counties
were among the large
group who gathered at his
retirement reception to wish
him well. Stuart has always
worked closely with the 4-H
program.
Through the years he has
worked with the students,
helping them with projects
and at the county fairs they
attended. Two students at
the reception spoke of their
fondness for Stuart and their
appreciation of his help. Aliana
Lewis said, “I really like
him a lot and I wish he didn’t
have to leave. It’s going to
really be weird at 4-H camp
without him.”
“Yeah, it is,” Allei Merrell
added.
“He’s always willing to do
anything for 4-H, like teaching
us about safety issues, especially
gun safety and all that.
We did archery one year and
that was really fun. Everybody
likes him a lot and we hate
to lose him.” Beth Phelps, U
of A Cooperative Extension
Service District Director of the
Ouachita District, presented
Stuart with a set of custom
carving knives as a retirement
gift. The Little River County
staff gave him a portable grill.
The Little River County
Cattlemen’s Association
President Mickey Vaughn
announced that one of the
association’s gifts to Stuart
was not dry. He explained
that the group had purchased
a large ice chest and had a
famous scene – the “End of
the Trail”- painted on it but
Vaughn couldn’t bring it to
the reception because the
paint was still wet on it. That
brought quite a few humorous
comments from the audience.
The Cattlemen’s Association
also gave Stuart a monetary
gift in the form of a check.
Stuart looked at his gifts and
quipped, “Now I just need
some steaks.” Roxie Jones
didn’t miss a beat. “That’s
what that check was for!” she
called out. Angie Lewis added,
“And we expect to come over
and eat sometime!”
Stuart expects to have
plenty of time for cookouts
and fishing and whatever
comes up. When asked what
he plans to do when he retires,
he grinned and ducked
his head and quickly said,
“Whatever I want to do right
then, that’s what I’ll do.” Then
he added, more seriously,
“No, I’ll have more time to be
with my family and tend to my
cattle. And before too long,
I’m gonna take my grandson
fishing!”
This writer joins with Stuart’s
many friends in wishing
him good health, good times
and good luck.
Happy Retirement, Joe
Paul!