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A personal look - Mike Skarda


Sandra Patterson, Prairie County OEM Coordinator and Judge Skarda look over a county flood map.


Jeannie Lott, Prairie Co. Assessor explains the county’s online assessing.


to replace Butch Calhoun. By law he could not run for re-election after an appoint- ment. He then ran a successful bid for county judge in 2010. He has also served on the quorum court and the Des Arc School Board. “My dad always told me to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. I’ve always tried to live by that code. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way but I can look in the mirror and say that what I did was right,” Skarda said. “Growing up on a family farm and learning to work at a young age helped me prepare for my future. My dad gave me responsibilities at a young age. He listened to my thoughts and ideas which was also a great benefit.” Skarda and Karan, his wife, are both members of First United Methodist Church in


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Des Arc. Karan is assistant director of the State Board of Election Commissioners. “She’s one in a million,” Skarda said with a proud smile. “I certainly over married.” Karan is a former Prairie County Clerk and Circuit Clerk, and has also worked in the Auditor of State’s office when Jim Woods held that position. Te two have been married for 15 years. Outside of their public service careers, the Skardas own and operate Dondie’s White


River Princess, a restaurant that is widely known for catfish, shrimp and steaks and all the country fixings that go with them. It is located on the bank of the White River and some patrons travel hundreds of miles to dine there. Skarda said they serve more shrimp than any other restaurant in the state. He admitted it’s a lot of hard work, but they enjoy doing it. “I hadn’t planned to farm and own a restaurant but the opportunity presented itself and I thought it would be a fun venture. Karan and I are both people persons. We get to meet a lot of people through the restaurant, and have developed a lot of friendships there. Our customers become part of our extended family. We have also been able to use the restaurant to do fundraisers for many organizations and those in need. We both get more of a blessing than the people that we help.” Skarda said two men really had an impact on his development as a person. “My dad and John Rollins have had the greatest impact on my life. My dad taught


me how to work and to work hard,” Skarda said. “John Rollins, my high school football coach taught me to never give up. My athletic abilities weren’t that great but he had a way of making you feel that you were an All-American. And that is what I try to instill in people today. We, the people of Prairie County, can do anything if we put our heart and soul into it.”


Looking back on his life as he drove around Des Arc, Skarda recalled the town’s ameni- ties and pastimes. “In the 1960’s and 70’s, there was a movie theatre, skating rink, several grocery stores


and a variety of retail stores that supplied everything we needed to make this a great place to live,” Skarda said. “Te main attraction was dating which included driving up and down Main Street, just being a typical teenager.” Skarda’s father purchased the family farm in 1941 and Mike has rented another 1,200-


Prairie County Judge Mike Skarda sits on a pew in the First Presbyterian Church of Des Arc. Prairie County recently received the deed to the property and will work toward making it the new county library.


acre farm and farmed it since 1953. He said when his farming partners decide to retire that he will be right behind them. “My family has always been active in Prairie County. My father was a well-known lead- er in agriculture and in education. Both my parents instilled in us to be servants to our communities. Today, my three younger brothers are pastors at three different churches — two here in Prairie County and one in Pulaski County. Two of us have served on the Des Arc School Board.” Skarda has two daughters, one stepson and a granddaughter. Shannon, his oldest daughter, lives in New Orleans with her husband Mark. His youngest daughter, Ginger, lives in Tennessee with her husband Chris. Tey have a 16-year-old daughter named Ashlyn. “Ashlyn is my best buddy,” Skarda said. He also has one stepson, Vince, who is 24-years-old and farms in Des Arc. Vince and


Ariel are expecting a baby in November. He said he doesn’t have much time for hobbies beside Dondie’s, but manages a little time to tinker with an antique car. “I am in the process of restoring a 1967 Chevrolet, like the one I had in high school and college. My main hobby is running our restaurant with Karan. It’s a hard job but we


COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2013 31


COVER


t 63-years-old Mike Skarda has spent most of his life living and working in Prairie County. He was born and raised in Des Arc. His only real time away was the four years he attended college in Conway. He has served as county judge twice — first in 2006 until 2008 when he was appointed


STORY


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