Wednesday, April 06, 2005

NEIGHBORS>> A C-130 named Lonoke

Best kept secret is out with naming of plane

Story and photos by John Hofheimer

hen the Arkansas Air National Guard dubbed a C-130 “City of Lonoke” in a Saturday morning naming ceremony, the highlight—for those not subject to air sickness—was an hour-long flight, including a few turns about 2,000 feet above Lonoke.

“I saw my house real good,” said Sharon Rudder, director of the Lonoke Head Start Program. “I could see the horses, the cows and the barn.”

Mayor Thomas Privett, who pulled off the paper taped over the plane’s new name, was not so lucky.

Privett stood peering out the window without seeing the town, he said later.

About 40 Lonoke-area residents, including several jersey-wearing football players, aldermen Dick Bransford, Michael Florence, Efrem Jones and Wayne McGee, Chamber of Commerce President John Garner and Sean O’Nale, captain of the Lonoke Police Department, were among those who attended the dedication and the City of Lonoke’s maiden flight—if a 43-year-old plane with more than 25,000 air hours on it can be said to have a maiden flight.

O’Nale, himself a member of the 189th Air National Guard Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, nominated Lonoke for the honor.

O’Nale served a tour of duty in Iraq.

Col. Dwight Balch, commander of the 189th Airlift Wing, dedicated the plane, tail number 62-1784, as City of Lonoke.
For the Air National Guard, which labors in relative obscurity, surrounded at the 6,600 acre Little Rock Air Force Base, the naming ceremonies are a way to publicize both its existence and expertise—tools that could help in recruiting, according to Tech. Sgt. Bob Oldham, the public information officer.

Cabot and Searcy also are among the eight towns with C-130s named for them.

The Air Guard has only 10 C-130s, so when all have been named, the process will start over to honor and educate other Arkansas towns and cities, according to Oldham.

Lonoke resident M. Sgt. Dickey Burgess, with more than 4,000 air hours under his belt, served as flight engineer as the plane flew over Greer’s Ferry Lake and around Lonoke.

The rear cargo door was opened as the City of Lonoke flew over the lake, and someone’s ball cap was whisked out the door, dancing in the slipstream then headed toward the lake.

Prior to the dedication ceremony and flight, Col. Jim Crumpton told the Lonoke guests that the 189th Airlift Wing has been the most decorated Air National Guard unit in the country since it was formed in 1925.

While President Bush is commander in chief of the regular Air Force’s 314th Airlift Wing at the base, the Guard answers to Gov. Huckabee unless it has been mobilized to active duty, said Crumpton, vice commander of the wing.

The 314th trains pilots, navigators, loadmasters, maintainers and others, but the 189th trains the trainers.

Its other duties include disaster relief, dealing with civil unrest and airport security.

In addition to training the teachers, the 189th has an operations group, a maintenance group, a mission support group and a medical group.

Also on the base, taking advantage of administrative services offered by the 189th Airlift wing, is the Guard’s 123rd Intelligence group, which assesses aerial photographs in real time and helps select targets for the war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan, Oldham said.

Right now, the 189th has 41 volunteers from its civil engineering squadron in Baghdad.

Members of the 189th come from 121 Arkansas towns and cities. Its annual payroll is $21.1 million, with an economic impact around the state estimated at $41.3 million.

Oldham said future recruits would not necessarily come from those attending the Saturday ceremony, but perhaps by word of mouth.

Air Guardsmen can earn a lot toward college, he said, and the threat of deployment into a combat zone is small when compared to the Army Guard.

“We planted a seed,” he said.

While nationally, the National Guard and the Reserves are having trouble meeting recruiting quotas, he said, “On the air side, our wing is at 97 percent capacity.”

“We love to have all these city leaders, businessmen and parents to see what we do on a daily basis,” Oldham said.
“We’ve been the best kept secret for several years. You can’t just drive on base anymore, so this is one way to get people out here to meet our people and see what we do.”

OBITUARIES>> April 6, 2005

Brady Rudd Hooper, 18 of Cabot died April 3 at his home.

He was born Sept. 29, 1986, in Bowling Green, Ken., to Greg and Sara Lu Rudd Hooper.

Hooper was a senior at Cabot High School where he was an active member of the Air Force Jr. ROTC. Hooper served as Rifle Team Commander and in 2004 he received the Distinguished Cadet Award. He was a member of Cabot First Baptist Church. Brady belonged to the Youth Group, First Student Ministries and Bulgarian Mission Team. He was also in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) for the U.S. Marines Corp where he was scheduled to join the Corp. following graduation. Brady was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Savanna Rudd.

He is survived by his parents, Greg and Sara Lu Hooper of Cabot; two brothers, Ben and Brandon Hooper, both of Cabot; maternal grandfather, Charles and his wife Jackie Rudd of Leesburg, Florida; paternal grandparents, Alvin and Marguerite Hooper of Altamonte Springs, Fla.; aunt, Suzan Hutchinson of Charlotte, N.C., three uncles and their spouses, David and Joann Rudd of Leesburg, Fla., Chuck and Dian Hooper of Ocoee, Fla., Ted and Christy Hooper of Lucedale, Miss.; four cousins.

Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Cabot with Rev. Dennis Phelps and Rev. Randy Monroe officiating. Burial will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville.

The family suggests memorials be made to Bulgarian Child, Inc., 7522 Campbell Road, Suite 113-172, Dallas, Texas 74248 or Gideons International, 2900 Lebanon Road, Nashville, Tennessee 37214. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Vivian Irene Nichols, 103, of Jacksonville passed away April 4.
She was a member of Bethel Assembly of God.

She is survived by two daughters, Margaret Hardcastle and Avis Mitchell, both of Jacksonville; sister, Audie Smith, of North Little Rock; grandchildren, J.C. and Mike Hardcastle, Sherry Burton, Tammy Wheat and Karen Johnson and seven great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by three brothers, one sister and her husband, Cleve Nichols.
Memorials may be made to Bethel Assembly of God Building Fund, 7311 West Republican Road, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m., Wednesday at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will be in Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Arrangements by North Little Rock Funeral Home.

Wayndlle “Lee” Leon Moore, 67, of Jacksonville passed away April 5. He was born Jan. 23, 1938, in Winnsboro, Texas, to Hugh and Doris Patrick Moore.

He retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years of service. During his military career he was a Purple Heart recipient and received the Staff Service Medal from the Republic of Vietnam. After his retirement from the Air Force he worked as a police officer for the city of Jacksonville and Sherwood. He was a member of the VFW Post 4548. He was preceded in death by his parents and grandson, Jacob Gray. Survivors include his wife, Linda Moore; children, Gina and Lyle Gray of Tupelo, Miss., Terri and Steven Bennett of Jacksonville, Patrick and Pam Moore of Salinas, Calif., Shawna and Paul McNiel of Cabot, Chad and Tina Moore of Cabot; sister, Sara Demlow of Dallas, Texas, and brother, Gary and Nola Moore of Garland, Texas; grandchildren, Nolan McNiel, Zack McNiel, Brandon Schiefelbein, Kiefer Richmond, Blakley Moore, Allen Duncan, Carie Gobbell, Channille Moore and Jordan Moore; great-grandchildren, Chandler Duncan, Tyler and Brent Gobbell.

Graveside services will be 11 a.m. Thursday in Chapel Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Jacksonville. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Doris Elaine Welch, 83, passed away April 2.

She was preceded in death by her husband, John Welch and is survived by her sister, Kathyrn Barrett of Lonoke; nieces and nephews, Ruby Gagliano, Peggy Benton and Lon Pool of Lonoke, Jane Shaw of North Little Rock, Margaret Byrd of Jacksonville, Jack Felts of Sheridan, Regina Duckett of Little Rock and Charles Pool of Searcy. Funeral services were held Monday at Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke with interment in Lonoke Cemetery.

Harold Keith McLoud, 36, was taken from us suddenly April 2.

He was preceded in death by his father James H. McLoud. Survivors include his mother, Mary Evelyn McLoud of Lonoke; one brother, Louis Elwood “Woody” McLoud of Seattle, Wash.; aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews along with a loving community of family and friends. Funeral services were held Tuesday at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke. Memorials may be made to Arkansas AIDS Foundation, P.O. Box 1208, Little Rock, AR 72203 or World Vision, P.O. Box 9716, Mail Stop 238, Federal Way, WA 98063-9716 or First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 152, Lonoke, AR 72086.

SPORTS>> Cabot soccer shuts out JHS

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panther boys and girls soccer teams swept Jacksonville for the second time this season, and this time it really meant something.

New rules for this season state that conference teams will play each other twice during the regular season, but only the second meeting between each school will count towards the conference record.

Monday’s Cabot victories, 8-0 for the boys and 4-0 for the girls, gives both teams a 1-0 record against AAAAA-East competition.

“That’s the way the rules are, but that’s not how we approach things,” Cabot boys coach Clark Bing said. “We’ve gone into every game with an attitude to play as hard as we can to get the win. Maybe some teams haven’t been as intense about the first meetings, but that’s not how we’ve done it.”

The rules, however, aren’t lost on Bing, who recognizes the magnitude of the upcoming stretch of matches against conference rivals, Searcy, Sylvan Hills, Jonesboro and Mountain Home, all within the next two weeks.

“It’s a very important stretch for us,” Bing said. “We did ok the first time through, but we’ve gotten a chance to watch some film and see some things that we needed to work, and now’s the time to go out and execute it.”

Execute it they did Monday night, piling on five goals before halftime en route to the blowout victory over a short-handed Jacksonville team.

Bing knew that the Red Devils were missing a few key players, but was still pleased with how his team executed.

“Jacksonville is a quality team,” Bing began. “I don’t know the whole situation as far as why they were missing some guys, but they play really hard.

“They’re the best Jacksonville team I’ve seen in a while. They beat a Jonesboro team that we tied, so that says something. I just think this was one of our better games all year. The whole team played really well together. That’s been a strength of ours all year long, but it was really pretty good against Jacksonville.”

Sean Engin performed the hat trick with three goals to lead the Panthers Monday. Rodrigo Alves scored twice while Stuart Leiby, Jonathan Tapia and Chris Faber added one goal apiece.

Engin leads the team in scoring, but overall the Panthers have a balanced attack.

“It’s a plus when you don’t have to rely on one guy to carry you offensively, and we don’t have to do that,” Bing said. “We’ve got about six guys that can put it in the goal for us.”

Bing again went back to team unity as the key ingredient to success, and gave most of the credit to his senior class.
“We’re a real senior-laden team. We have 20 guys and 11 of them are seniors. I’m just really proud of the leadership they’ve shown and cohesiveness they bring to the team.”

The Lady Panthers also got a shutout win. Trina Bell scored with 12 minutes remaining in the second half to give Cabot all the goals it would need for the win.

Junior Kim Sitzmann added three more anyway to set the final margin.

The Cabot boys are 4-1-1 and the girls are 3-3 overall and all the games have been against fellow AAAAA-East teams, but because of the new rules, both teams are technically just 1-0.

Next up for Cabot is the return match against Searcy. The Lions are the only team to beat the Cabot boys this year, a 6-1 shellacking to kick off the season. The Panthers are 4-0-1 since that match, and hope for a better showing Thursday at Searcy.

“That was our first game and it was really an eye-opener,” Bing said. “You’d have to say Searcy is the favorite to win conference, and they gave us an early indication of where we would have to be to compete for it. I know we’ve gotten better since then, but it’s always tough to go to Searcy and get a win. We’re looking forward to it.”

SPORTS>> Errors abound

IN SHORT>> Lady Devils make several mistakes, rebound

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils were handed their first loss of the season over the weekend in the Lady Goblin Fastpitch Invitational in Harrison.

Eventual tournament champion Bryant handed Jacksonville that loss 4-2, but Lady Devil assistant coach Phil Bradley says the opposite happened, his team handed Bryant the win.

“We gave ‘em every one of their runs,” Bradley said. “We’re not undefeated anymore, but there’s still no one that’s beat us. We gave it away.”

The Lady Hornets only garnered three hits in the game, which was the most in a game off sophomore pitcher Jessica Bock this season, but two throwing errors by catcher Whitney Conrade, and an asleep outfield, gave Bryant all the runs it would need to secure the win.

Both errors came when Bryant was attempting to steal. One throw sailed into centerfield, another to left, and both got by the outfielders and rolled to the fence, and both allowed two runs to score.

Jacksonville rebounded with a 2-0 shutout win over Harrison. Bock piled up another 19 strikeouts in the victory and another no hitter.

The Lady Devils closed the tournament by handing previously undefeated Greenbrier its first loss, 2-1. Conrade atoned for earlier mistakes by picking up the hits that drove in both runs in the game. Her double in the first inning scored Somer Grimes, and her single in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and became the game winner.

Jacksonville was back at home Monday for a non-conference game against Sheridan. A couple more mistakes gave Sheridan a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Devils tied it in the fifth and scored three in the sixth to prevail 4-1.

Jacksonville’s run in the fifth inning was the only earned run by either team, and was the cause of much controversy.

Whitney Belew entered the game to pinch hit with runners on first and second. She sent a line drive down the right field line that landed fair, but rolled into foul territory, past the temporary fence and all the way to the corner of the main fence.

Both base runners scored easily and Belew was tagged out at home.

After some discussion between the home-plate umpire and the field ump, the ruling was made that it was a ground-rule double.

One run was counted, while Conrade, the runner at first, and Belew were sent back to third and second base and the out at home was erased. Jacksonville couldn’t add another run in the inning, but got three off Sheridan errors in the sixth to secure the victory.

Bock gave up just four hits and recorded a season-low nine strikeouts in the victory. Jacksonville has a 6-1 record on the season.

EDITORIAL>> Glover again comes to school's rescue

Tax-increment financing, which in the King’s English means stealing from school children, looked like it was dead a few weeks ago when Attorney General Mike Beebe spelled out clearly what it meant.

Now it has new life in the final days of the General Assembly. Schools and libraries will not be safe from it until the legislature adjourns sine die.

TIF, as the tax gimmick is called, allows local governments to create special development districts to aid private developers who want to build shopping malls or other private developments but want the taxpayers to help foot the bill.

A portion of the property taxes that were voted for schools, libraries or other government entities would be siphoned off for 20 or 30 years to pay for improvements that would benefit the private developer.

Many such districts were underway in prosperous parts of the state until the attorney general said that the money would be drained not just from the local school districts where the developments would occur but from every school and every school child in Arkansas.

But development interests came up with a bill that would exempt some entities from the tax loss, thus diluting the opposition.

Community-college districts, po-lice and firemen’s pension funds and county hospitals would not have any of their taxes transferred to the development under the bill. Schools and libraries, of course, still would bear the burden.

Monday, the bill failed to get out of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee on a 3-3 vote. Rep. Bobby Glover of Carlisle voted against referring the bill to the Senate and thus kept it tied up.

He deserves the thanks of every school patron in the state.

But the session isn’t over, the bill isn’t dead, and Glover will face pressure to vote the bill out so that the financial interests can work their magic on the Senate floor.

Let us hope that he continues to see his solemn duty to protect the children of our community and the state.

EDITORIAL>> Lake Maumelle fight not over yet

Not much that the legislature has done in 90 days advanced the public welfare, but it did at least kill a nefarious plan to allow developers to corrupt our drinking water if they could make enough money by doing it.

Friday, Circuit Judge Willard Proctor made that victory for the public manifest by declaring that Central Arkansas Water could condemn 300 acres that developer Rick Ferguson wanted to convert into a residential subdivision on the north shore of Lake Maumelle.

The water company wanted the land to prevent polluting development along the shores of the lake, which it had built for the municipal water supply.

Ferguson had resisted the condemnation by claiming that he was being singled out.

Judge Proctor had held up a ruling while the legislature considered a bill written for Deltic Timber Corp. that would emasculate the utility’s eminent domain authority.

Deltic wanted to build a huge luxury subdivision along the peaks and valleys of the lake’s south shore, right above the intake for the municipal water supply for Central Arkansas cities, including Sherwood, Jacksonville and Cabot.

The bill sailed through the Senate in near record time but eventually died in the Cities, Counties and Local Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, chaired by Jacksonville’s Will Bond. Bond and House Speaker Bill Stovall of Quit-man were pivotal in stopping the bill.

But the water supply still isn’t safe from polluters, not yet. Deltic, the giant timber and development company that was spun off from the global petroleum giant, Murphy Corp. of El Dorado, still intends to exploit the gorgeous scenery that it acquired along the lake. The bill will resurface in the 2007 regular session of the legislature, or earlier at a special legislative session if it can change the dynamics of the House before the next election and get the support of Gov. Mike Huckabee, who would control the agenda at a special session.

That is why it is essential that Central Arkansas Water move swiftly to consolidate its victory. It can do that by beginning condemnation proceedings against the Deltic land sooner rather than later.

Stovall, whose stubborn insistence that the Deltic bill not become law on his watch, will not be the speaker in 2007.

Chances are that the speaker will be Rep. Benny Petrus of Stuttgart, a supporter of the bill and a minion of corporate interests like Deltic. Petrus and Bond are the candidates for speaker in 2007.

Deltic’s swarm of lobbyists have operated a hospitality room from Petrus’ private apartment in the state-owned Capitol Hill Building across the street from the Capitol.

Deltic and other friendly interests will be lining up commitments from legislators to vote for Petrus in the speaker election.

So you thought it would be illegal, or at least unethical, for private lobbying operations to be run from public property?

This is the Arkansas legislature. There is no time for nettlesome ethical questions.

There is too much private greed to be assuaged.

TOP STORY>> C-130J called ‘magnificent’

Plane performs well, but its future uncertain, general says


Lt. Gen. John R. Baker, vice commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., flew a new C-130J transport plane to Little Rock Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon and pulled up between two hangars.

It was a tight fit, but he had perfectly taxied up to a crowd of airmen and local dignitaries who, under overcast skies, watched the arrival of the $66.5 million plane from Marietta, Ga., where Lockheed-Martin manufactures the C-130Js, whose future production is in doubt as the Bush administration is looking to save $5 billion by eliminating dozens of airplanes, ships and weapons programs from the defense budget.

The general, who later told us he had no idea if the C-130J will stay in production, stepped off the plane and looked like he had enjoyed his flight and hoped Lockheed-Martin would keep making the planes.

After the plane’s engines were turned off, Baker addressed the crowd that had gathered in front of the huge C-130J maintenance hangar. Since they are bigger than the old transport planes, the C-130Js need bigger hangars and have their own flight simulator training center not far from the hangar.

Baker said it was good to be back in Arkansas, where he plans to retire someday. Looking like a pilot who couldn’t be more pleased with his new plane, he declared the C-130J “a magnificent machine. It’s performing extremely well, despite what you might have read.”

Recent newspaper reports have pointed out problems with the plane, including engine troubles, as well as an inability to airdrop supplies, discharge paratroopers, conduct search-and-rescue missions and function well in cold weather.
During a press conference, Baker said those problems were cited in a report that is two years old.

He insisted that “85 to 90 percent of the problems have been fixed.”

“Commanders love it,” he added.

A newspaper recently reported that the C-130J was kept out of Iraq because of the alleged flaws, but Baker said that wasn’t true.

“It’s been in combat and is doing extremely well,” he insisted.

He sounded like someone who didn’t want the bean counters in the Pentagon to kill the new plane.

Critics point out that the plane’s cost has gone up more than 30 percent from the original $50 million price tag from a decade ago.

They think the C-130Js are not as good as the old Hercules planes that have flown for half a century, although Baker insists the new planes are far superior to the old C-130s.

Col. Timothy B. Vining, the inspector general with the 314th Airlift Wing at the air base, called the arrival of the C-130J “a great day for our base, our community and our country.”

“The delivery of our second C-130J model represents the continuing evolution of Little Rock Air Force Base and our mission to serve our country,” Vining continued.

“We welcome the magnificent aircraft to our inventory and look forward to using it to train C-130 crew members fully prepared to serve in combat and humanitarian relief missions around the globe,” the inspector general said.

Vining gave the general a ceremonial key “that symbolizes the official delivery of Aircraft 03-3142 to the C-130 Center of Excellence.”

The base should receive five more C-130Js this year, but that could be it, unless Congress gets its way and keeps funding production.

Congress and the Air Force love the plane, arguing that the aging C-130s, many of them 40 years old and grounded because of cracked wings and other problems, are long overdue for replacement.

Baker made the same point, saying that as the old Hercules become less dependable, the military needs a new backup transport plane.

“If we’re going to have problems with the Hercules, we need to replace them with the C-130Js,” he said.

The debate over the fate of the C-130Js continues in Congress and at the Pentagon.

“I have no idea of its outcome,” the general told us.

TOP STORY>> Catholics celebrate pope’s life

IN SHORT>> Catholics pause to remember the Holy Father’s passing in local masses. Services are planned for the rest of the week.

Leader staff writers

Jacksonville Catholics gathered for Mass Tuesday night to celebrate the life and mourn the death of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church on McArthur Drive honored the pope throughout weekend masses and during a Monday night rosary service.

Masses, rosary and funeral vigils are planned for the rest of the week at area Catholic churches such as St. Jude’s and Immaculate Conception.

The pope’s funeral Mass and burial will take place Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Jude will have a Mass at 8 a.m. Friday, and there will be a memorial Mass at St. Andrews Cathedral in Little Rock at noon.

Immaculate Conception in North Little Rock will hold a funeral vigil on Thursday night and a memorial Mass on Friday.
John Paul II’s death on Saturday has caused both contemplative pause and a flurry of activity within the Roman Catholic world.

“We treat the Holy Father’s death as we would the death of a member of our own parish,” said Father Les Farley of St. Jude’s.

Farley has been a priest for 11 years and this is the first time he has dealt with a pontiff’s death. For many young Catholics Pope John Paul has been the only pontiff they’ve ever known.

“We don’t want to look too far in the future in regards to who the next pope will be. We want to pay proper respect to the Holy Father,” the priest said.

Jeanne Tucker of Sherwood said Pope John Paul was “one of the most charismatic and outspoken” popes in history.
“He opened up the Catholic Church and the world. You could just look at him and tell he was a good person. He will be greatly missed,” she said.

Even though Tucker has the highest respect for the pope and his accomplishments, she still feels he did let pass the chance to make some important reforms in the church.

“Our lack of priests has been a major issue. Too many good people are leaving the calling of the church to marry and have families. I would have liked to see the pope allow priests to marry,” Tucker said.

For Jacksonville’s Michael Goodman, John Paul was the only pope he’s known.

“I was born the same year that he was selected. He was a great pope. I hope that the next one will have similar views and be equally outspoken,” Goodman said.

Catholics like Goodman aren’t the only ones talking about the new pope. In Ireland, Paddy Power, a popular online betting service, is placing odds and taking bets on who the next pope will be.

According to Paddy’s, an Italian and a Nigerian cardinal are neck-and-neck to be selected as the next pope.

John Paul followed by just John or just Paul are the top bets for the new pope’s papal name.

TOP STORY>> Bill would open up clemency process

IN SHORT>> Cited for “mastery of the legislative process,” Sen. Bobby Glover has crafted a more rigorous, transparent clemency and pardon and parole bill that seems headed to become law.

Leader staff writer

With the apparent blessing of Gov. Mike Huckabee, state Sen. Bobby Glover’s bill to make the clemency process more transparent passed the Senate on Monday 34-1 and was forwarded to the House, where it landed in the House Judiciary Committee.

“During this whole session, we’ve passed bills to soften sentencing (to help with jail) overcrowding,” said Glover, the Car-lisle Democrat. “We’ve finally done something for the victims of crime.”

“Sen. Glover deserves a lot of credit for picking this issue up for crime victims and law enforcement officers,” said Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley. “We got torpedoed earlier with SB190, but he was dogged making the (clem-ency) process more accountable.”

“Glover has mastery of the legislative process,” he added.

“Glover backed us up after we had trouble getting SB190 out of committee,” said Jegley. “He met with the governor’s representatives and crafted a compromise that I and other prosecutors could support to ensure accountability.”

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain was enthusiastic about the bill. “Bobby has worked so hard on this and he’s come up with something that everybody can live with. We support it.”

Its new provisions would require the governor to file his reasons for granting each clemency, pardon or parole. The bill would prohibit a prisoner-applicant whose clemency petition was denied from applying again for four years. Currently, an inmate may apply yearly.

Glover’s bill would give the Post Pardon Transfer Board subpoena power and require it to conduct an investigation of each person applying for clemency, pardon or parole.

After the board made a recommendation, the governor would have 240 days to act on the application.

Glover said the increased time is intended to take the haste out of the governor’s deliberation.

It would require notification of victims or their families, and the appropriate law enforcement offices and prosecutors of the application and allow time for their responses.

Applicants would have to sign their petitions under oath and include certified copies of the judgment and commitment orders.

The clemency process and the governor’s use of it became an issue to central Arkansans last year when Huckabee announced his intention last year to grant clemency to three convicted murderers.

One of those was Glen M. Green, the Little Rock Air Force Base sergeant who attempted to rape, then beat to death and threw in Bayou Meto Helen Lynette Spencer, a Gravel Ridge teenager. He was sentenced to life in prison in May 1976.

Green was convicted for beating Spencer with martial arts fighting sticks, running over her with a car and throwing her partially nude body off a bridge, but the governor wouldn’t have known that from reading Green’s application for executive clemency and commutation of his sentence.

“This is an agreed-upon bill,” said Glover, meaning that Huckabee agreed with it and would sign it if passed.
“It shouldn’t have much problem (in the House),” said the senator.

He said he didn’t know who would handle the bill for him in the house judiciary committee.

TOP STORY>> Cabot to vote on higher taxes for projects

IN SHORT: Public to decide in two months if higher mills should pay for community center, railroad overpass.

The Cabot City Council, meeting in special session Monday night, agreed to let voters decide if they’ll pay higher taxes to fund the community center and the railroad overpass on Polk Street.

Voters will be asked in less than two months to increase city millage from 3.5 to 4.5 and pass $2 million in bonds for both projects.

If passed, the increase would add about $20 to the tax on a $100,000 home.

Alderman Patrick Hutton was the only holdout to a unanimous voice vote to have City Attorney Ken Williams draft the ordinances that would be the ballot titles for the election.

During discussion about funding the two projects, Hutton talked about creating a priority list of city projects and fund them as cash becomes available.

He remained silent during the vote, saying neither “yea” nor “nay” when the mayor asked who was for or against the election.

Hutton said after the meeting that he thought if was important to present options to increasing city taxes.
“I just didn’t want it to be a rubber stamp,” he said.

Alderman David Polantz, who was shut out on every piece of legislation he tried to get before the council last month, carried the discussion on the proposed millage increase during the Monday night meeting. It was his idea, and he told the council he had worked several hours to provide the information they needed to know about the proposal.

The millage increase would bring in about $180,000 a year, according to Dale Walker, city finance director, more than enough to pay back 20-year-bonds for $2 million.

Polantz told the council that even though it is uncertain whether federal money that will pay for 80 percent of the railroad overpass will be available this year, it would be far worse for the money to be there and the city not have its 20 percent match of about $1 million.

The overpass is actually scheduled for 2008, but Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan, the agency in Little Rock that distributes federal highway dollars, says it is likely Little Rock will not be ready for some of its projects this year, so Cabot’s overpass could move ahead.

The city is short about $1.2 million on the bid construction price of $4.2 million for the new community center. The city has saved about $260,000 toward the overpass and Union Pacific has agreed to pay at least $75,000. So bonds of $2 million would allow both projects to begin this year.

The council agreed that the ballots also would say that the millage would be rolled back once the bonds are retired.

Construction was supposed to begin in January on a $3.5 million community center but when the bids were opened in December, the low bid, which did not include the already completed dirt work was $4.2 million.

The plans drawn by Taggart, Foster, Currence and Gray Architects, Inc., of Little Rock included a basketball gymnasium and a swimming pool. When the bids came in high, Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh told the architects to redesign it to cost less while retaining all the amenities voters approved almost two years ago. The architects made some changes, but not enough that the center could be built with available funds.

Polantz told the council Monday night that if voters turn down the millage increase, the council will have some hard decisions to make in June about paying for the overpass and community center.

Since safety is the driving force behind construction of the overpass, it should take priority over the community center, he said.

With more businesses coming to Cabot, the city sales tax will likely bring in about $200,000 more than anticipated this year, Polantz told the council. So the city could borrow the money for the overpass and pay it back within five years as state law now allows, he said.

The mayor agreed that was an option but said it would be difficult to pay back 600,000 in five years.
For about two months, Polantz has talked about increasing franchise fees for businesses like the electric companies and gas companies that do business in Cabot. Polantz proposes using the money to establish a city-owned and operated ambulance service.

The city attorney told the council that his research shows the gas company charges a franchise fee of $2 a year for each meter. Last year that amounted to $9,000 in the city coffers. But if the city increased that fee to 4.25 percent as allowed by state law, the gas company would have to pay the city about $200,000 a year.

The council made no decision about increasing franchise fees, which also would be a tax increase for city residents.

Hutton said such an increase might make it unnecessary to increase the city millage, but Polantz and other members of the council said franchise fees would not legally support a bond issue and neither would they be available in time to start the railroad overpass.