9/28/08 – Fouke buzzes with talk of raid, Alamo arrest

Texarkana Gazette
September 28, 2008
By: Jim Williamson

Fouke buzzes with talk of raid, Alamo arrest

FOUKE, Ark.—Five days after Tony Alamo Christian Ministries was raided, its controversial founder was arrested by FBI agents in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Those events have become significant in bringing this community of 800 people closer. There seems to be a sense of vindication and not a sense of embarrassment.

Chad Richardson, eating an order of fish with all the trimmings for lunch Friday, said law enforcement agencies were too slow in their investigation.

“It took too long. What took them so long?” Richardson asked.

Dean Langdon, a Miller County justice of the peace, said the law enforcement agencies had to collect evidence.

“It’s hard to get evidence and get information,” said Langdon, sitting at the same table.

Richardson said Alamo gives the appearance of organized crime.

“If he is an underworld character, don’t do it within the church,” he said.

Fouke was bombarded with television news trucks last week as the chain of events began taking place. Telephone calls to city officials from newspapers on both coasts were common.

Life continues despite what has happened at the Alamo ministries.

Humor was on display at Sheryl’s Country Kitchen with three signs.

A round metal sign on the wall next to a booth says, “Manure Movers of America.”

Near the cash register, a sign lists the costs for some things not on the menu: complaining—10 cents; whining—20 cents; pouting—25 cents and crying—50 cents.

Some here say the humor is needed to offset the accusations made against Alamo. The FBI arrested him for allegedly transporting minor children across state lines for sexual activity.

Lorene McCrary, working in the Country Kitchen, was blunt in describing Alamo as a “lunatic.”

As the raid started Sept. 20, the atmosphere became similar to a tailgate party. Residents who lived near the compound sat their lawn chairs where they could watch members of the various law enforcement agencies maneuver and the helicopter circle overhead.

Pizza was ordered from the Monster Mart convenience store so residents could eat and watch the movement at the compound.

“Fouke was pretty busy that night,” McCrary said.

The Tony Alamo Christian Ministries gives the appearance of serenity for visitors entering Fouke on U.S. Highway 71 from the north. The landscape of miniature carnations and pansies are appealing to the eye.

Near the flowers sits a guard in his vehicle watching over the building. Another guard sits in his vehicle a few hundred feet to the south on Circle Drive.

At night, the church and a residential area on Circle Drive gives the appearance of a holiday season welcoming visitors.

Alamo moved to Fouke in 1998 after being released from federal prison in Texarkana, Texas. He had been sentenced to six years for tax evasion and served four years.

Alamo’s current residence is a 9,648-square-foot, ranch-style house on the Fouke compound, according to the records in the Miller County Tax Assessor’s office. None of the property is listed under the name of Alamo or the Ministries.

The Alamo building and gym includes 7.95 acres and was purchased for $304,000 on Sept. 15, 2004, according to the assessor’s records.

The taxes are current. The county recently received a tax payment of $5,789.40. The assessed value of the compound is listed at $944,200 for the land and the buildings.

Paulette Smith, superintendent for Fouke School District, said the students haven’t seemed surprised at the raid and arrest.

“I would guess to say, maybe it’s been a long-term discussion in the community and in the different homes. It probably wasn’t a surprise and the families were aware of the situation,” Smith said.

Since the children living at compound don’t attend the Fouke schools, Smith said there have been no disruptions.

On Friday morning, the discussion in Jerry’s General Store was the Alamo arrest.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Brittany Mixon, a daughter of Rodger Mixon, a Fouke councilman and a minister.

Mixon questioned some of the Alamo actions two years ago and became the subject of Alamo’s radio broadcast.

In the program, Alamo criticized Mixon as a blind leader, called him an imp, weasel, Nazi and a liar.

When Mixon had a heart attack, Alamo sent flowers to the Little Rock hospital treating the councilman.

“We rejected the flowers. We knew he didn’t send them for a good cause,” said Brittany Mixon. She said some of the Alamo members shopped at the store, but after the Alamo church was questioned about alleged activities, the members stopped buying fuel and groceries.

The owner of the store, Jerry Frazier, said the community is coming together and perhaps time does heal all wounds.

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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