Thursday, June 23, 2005

EDITORIAL>> A new library for $20 a year

Libraries are a measure of our civilization.

When you drive into an old town with an ancient library that Andrew Carnegie had built in many parts of the country, you stop and look, and even when the library is closed, you look in wonder at the magnificent structure where generations of people of all ages had borrowed books that they might not have read without a good local library that stores the treasures of our civilization.

On Tuesday, July 5, Jacksonville will vote on a proposed 1-mill increase to rebuild its crumbling library. It is the oldest in the Central Arkansas Library System and has so many structural problems that it would cost less to build a new one for about $2.5 million.

Although Jacksonville would get a wonderful new library, the costs are modest. The average taxpayer would pay $20 a year if the millage passes.

That $20, of course, is on a home valued on the assessor’s books at $100,000. Assessed at 20 percent ($20,000) times .001 = $20.

That’s a rather modest investment in a library that is sorely needed and would help revitalize downtown Jacksonville.

Here’s a reminder to Jacksonville residents: Early voting has started at the Pulaski County Courthouse. Early voting continues next Monday at Jacksonville City Hall.

Otherwise, please vote on Tuesday, July 5 and help make reading fun again.

TOP STORY>> Leader gets 21 awards from APA

BY RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

The Leader has won 21 awards, including six first-place honors, in the Arkansas Press Association’s Better Newspaper News-Editorial Contest.

The paper placed second among large weeklies for its general excellence.

The APA presented the awards Friday at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock.

The Leader took first place among 35 competing large weeklies in the editorial category with editor and publisher Garrick Feldman’s commentary on the governor’s clemencies, “Make Him Explain It.”

The newspaper also took first place in the in-depth reporting for a series of articles written by Feldman and senior reporter John Hofheimer on Gov. Huckabee’s clemencies.

The Leader beat out all other large weeklies to garner top honors in the single sports action photograph category with David Parker’s “Red Devils Roll.”

The Leader’s Christy Hendricks took first place in the sports page design category. The Leader’s Hofheimer was also the gold winner for his coverage of agriculture in central Arkansas.

The Leader staff also took top honors in its division for its coverage of politics.

The paper placed second in sports column writing with sports editor Ray Benton’s piece entitled “Unrealistic Parents Drive Out Another,” picture page with its Christmas on Parade feature, graphics and design portfolio and page one design and layout.

The newspaper and its staff also won additional honors in the sports news story category, in- depth series reporting, single sports action photograph, photographer’s portfolio, editorial page, feature page, graphics and design portfolio, page one content and coverage of business.

“The Arkansas Press Association awards recognize the hard work of our talented staff,” said editor Feldman. “Our reporters, editors, photographers and designers are committed to producing a quality newspaper that serves our customers every day.”

EDITORIAL>> Do not weep for Asa

The state Ethics Commission ruled Monday that Asa Hutchinson cannot use a $150,000 carryover from his 2000 congressional campaign to help bankroll his campaign for governor.

It happens to be the law, as the Ethics Commission’s Republican chief counsel, Rita Looney, had advised, but it is also common sense.

Hutchinson raised that money nationally under different fund-raising rules, and it came from people who were interested in what he would do or not do in Washington, not how he would steer the government at Little Rock.

Arkansas’ campaign-finance law prohibits the transfer, the Ethics Commission said. Hutchinson complains that it is a little unfair (he can’t say it was a political ruling since it came from Republicans) and he has half a point. Attorney General Mike Beebe, the likely Democratic nominee, has a carryover from his old campaigns, in which he had no opponent.

The balance is less than half of Hutchinson’s, but the law permits a carryover from a campaign for state office. The issue is pretty much irrelevant to Hutchinson’s GOP primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who generally spends his own money.

The law should prohibit carryovers from all campaigns. Hutchinson, if he is elected governor, can have the legislature take care of that in 2007, although our guess is that his compunctions will dissipate when he’s an incumbent.

Meantime, the solution is for Hutchinson to give the excess federal political money to charity, as most politicians do, and then call on Beebe to do the same to level the playing field. Do not worry that Hutchinson will run short of campaign capital.

The money will flow like a raging river.

EDITORIAL>> Do not weep for Asa

The state Ethics Commission ruled Monday that Asa Hutchinson cannot use a $150,000 carryover from his 2000 congressional campaign to help bankroll his campaign for governor.

It happens to be the law, as the Ethics Commission’s Republican chief counsel, Rita Looney, had advised, but it is also common sense.

Hutchinson raised that money nationally under different fund-raising rules, and it came from people who were interested in what he would do or not do in Washington, not how he would steer the government at Little Rock.

Arkansas’ campaign-finance law prohibits the transfer, the Ethics Commission said. Hutchinson complains that it is a little unfair (he can’t say it was a political ruling since it came from Republicans) and he has half a point. Attorney General Mike Beebe, the likely Democratic nominee, has a carryover from his old campaigns, in which he had no opponent.

The balance is less than half of Hutchinson’s, but the law permits a carryover from a campaign for state office. The issue is pretty much irrelevant to Hutchinson’s GOP primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who generally spends his own money.

The law should prohibit carryovers from all campaigns. Hutchinson, if he is elected governor, can have the legislature take care of that in 2007, although our guess is that his compunctions will dissipate when he’s an incumbent.

Meantime, the solution is for Hutchinson to give the excess federal political money to charity, as most politicians do, and then call on Beebe to do the same to level the playing field. Do not worry that Hutchinson will run short of campaign capital.

The money will flow like a raging river.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

OBITUARIES>> June 22, 2005

James larry Wigginton, Sr.

James Larry Wigginton, Sr., 56 of North Little Rock, passed away June 19 at Baptist Hospital in North Little Rock. He was born April 19, 1949, in Sherwood the son of Bulious and Millie Jean Hill Wigginton. He was preceded in death by his mother and a son, James Wigginton Jr. James was an Army veteran and worked in carpet laying and flooring for 30 years.

Survivors include his father and step-mother, Bulious and Sandra Wigginton of North Little Rock; a daughter, Tonya Rettstatt of Cabot; eight brothers, Billy Eugene, Jerry Allen, William Walker, Sr., Warren Buford, Glenn Wayne, Steve Michael, Gary Lee and Darrel Lynn; four sisters, Mary Illgner, Anna Mae Wright, Brenda Sanders and Betty Lou Chafton; a half-sister, Holly V. Watson; three grandchildren, Jessica Marie Mitchell, Justin Lee Edward Mitchell and Samantha Sue Rettstatt, and a special friend, Ethel Bargiel.

Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Wednesday in Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville with Darrell Wigginton officiating. Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Funeral arrangements are by Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Jodie Ray Carlock, Jr.

Jodie Ray Carlock, Jr., age 1, died June 18. He is survived by his father and mother, Jody and Misty Carlock; sisters, Brittany and Alexie Carlock, all of the home; grandparents, Sammy Hopkins, Mary Hopkins of Ward and Cindy Raper of Lonoke; great grandmothers, Shirley Oliver of Ward and Charity Alexander of Wright; great-great grandmother, Marie McIntire of Ward; and aunts, Patty, Kathy and Kathey of Ward and Christy of Beebe. He was preceded in death by his grandfather Bob Raper and uncle Rickey Raper.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel, Lonoke with interment in Monk Cemetery.

Nellie Garland

Nellie Izeta Burton Garland, 91, of Austin, left this world to be with her Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, on June 19.

She was born in Mt. Vernon to the late Rufus Talbert and Georgia Ann Burton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Belton “L.B.” Garland; a daughter, Vernell Garland; a son, Roy Lee Garland; a brother, Jimmy Burton; a sister, Berthel Bratcher; a grandson, and a great-grandson.

She is survived by four sons, Donald Garland of Tupelo and Tommy Garland of Cabot, Charles Garland of Austin and Larry Garland of Clarksville; a daughter, Bobbye Theiring of Cabot; 19 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Austin Station Baptist Church, with burial at Beebe Cemetery.

Rena Fay Price

Rena Fay Price of Beebe, 69, moved to her heavenly home Sunday evening, June 19 after a courageous four-year illness.

She was a devoted wife, “mom” and “grandmom.” She loved spending time with her family and especially enjoyed her grandchildren. Riding the motorcycle with her husband, traveling, antique shopping, and collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia were some of her other favorite activities. Rena Fay was born Feb. 17, 1936, in Strawberry. She graduated from Beebe High School and worked for many years at Short’s Clinic, Burrow’s Drug Store, Bank of Cabot, ASU-Beebe, Beebe Public Schools, and First Security Bank.
Her parents, Clyde and Oddie Mae Conyers; two brothers, Arthur and Tommy Conyers, and her first husband, Chester Fecher, preceded her in death.

Surviving her are her husband, Charles Price; her daughter, Sherry Fecher Sowell and her husband Rick and their children Tiffany, Juli and Daniel; and her sons Charles Fecher and his wife Nuria; Garrick Price and his wife Kathy and their children Kaitlin, Jake, and Kara; all of Beebe; her brother James Conyers of Bremerton, Washington; and her sister Betty Copeland of Little Rock.

Rena Fay was a member of Beebe First United Methodist Church. A memorial service will be held there on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to Beebe First United Methodist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 247, Beebe, Ark. 72012, the American Cancer Society, or Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204. Arrangements by West-brook Funeral Home in Beebe.

John Dennis

John Edward Dennis, 65, died June 17. Survivors include brothers and sisters, Charles Dennis, Carroll Dennis and Sally Kemp of Carlisle, and Bernice Bell of Pine Bluff. He was preceded in death by his parents, Eber Dennis and Ethel Rice; brother Roy Dennis and sister, Marie Clark.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Carlisle with interment following in Flat Bayou Cemetery in Altheimer.

Arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke. The family will receive friends 12-1 p.m. Wednesday at the church.

Norma Winfrey

Norma Jean Winfrey, 53, of Romance died June 17. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Winfrey and her father, Loy Henderson. She is survived by her mother, Billie Hendrickson; two sons, Daniel Winfrey and Randy Winfrey; her daughter, Dayna Reynolds; three grandchildren, Samantha, Tiffany and James Ray; and two brothers, Johnny Hendrickson and Steve Hendrickson. Graveside services were held Monday at New Floyd Cemetery.

Mary LaVelle

Mary Lou LaVelle, 71, of Beebe, died June 17.

She spent her career in the apartment and hotel business, having retired in New York. After retirement, Lou moved back to her childhood town of Beebe.

She was a member of the White County Republican Women and served on the Beebe Planning and Zoning Commission and the Beebe City Council. She also founded the Depot Art Gallery in Beebe. She was a member of Beebe First Presbyterian Church. She is survived by her son, Roy, and wife Joan Lavelle of Jekyll Island, Ga., and her daughter, Rose LaVelle of Beebe; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren and her three cats whom she loved dearly, Precillia, Bobby Jo and Castaway.

After visitation, at Lou’s request, she was cremated, and a private memorial service will be held on the beach at Jekyll Island.

Larry Peterson

Larry David Peterson, 42, died June 17 at his home in Cabot. He was born Nov. 13, 1962, in Little Rock to Jeanette and Gene Peterson. Larry was a devoted husband and is survived by his wife of 14 years, Anna Kay Elmore Peterson; other survivors include his mother, Dorothy Jeanette Peterson; his father, Thomas Gene Peterson; three brothers, Tom-Ed, Robert and Johnny; two sisters, Rita Adams and Karen Privitt, all of Lonoke; and a host of other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his sister, Pat Stout.

Funeral services were Monday at Lonoke Apostolic Church with burial at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or ALS Association for Lou Gehrig’s Research, 27001 Agoura Road, Calabasas Hills, Calif. 81301. Arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home.

EDITORIAL>> A new library for $20 a year

Libraries are a measure of our civilization. When you drive into an old town with an ancient library that Andrew Carnegie had built in many parts of the country, you stop and look, and even when the library is closed, you look in wonder at the magnificent structure where generations of people of all ages had borrowed books that they might not have read without a good local library that stores the treasures of our civilization.

On Tuesday, July 5, Jacksonville will vote on a proposed 1-mill increase to rebuild its crumbling library. It is the oldest in the Central Arkansas Library System and has so many structural problems that it would cost less to build a new one for about $2.5 million.

Although Jacksonville would get a wonderful new library, the costs are modest. The average taxpayer would pay $20 a year if the millage passes. That $20, of course, is on a home valued on the assessor’s books at $100,000. Assessed at 20 percent ($20,000) times .001 = $20.

That’s a rather modest investment in a library that is sorely needed and would help revitalize downtown Jacksonville.

Here’s a reminder to Jacksonville residents: Early voting has started at the Pulaski County Courthouse. Early voting continues next Monday at Jacksonville City Hall. Otherwise, please vote on Tuesday, July 5 and help make reading fun again.

NEIGHBORS>> Idea House

IN SHORT: Benefit is set in Cabot for Open Arms on July 9-10

By Sara Greene
Leader staff writer

Years ago at church, Rhonda House, of Uniquely Southern Homes Inc. of Cabot, asked a group of children if they had a prayer request. A little girl asked for prayers for one of her friends but told House she couldn’t tell the group her friend’s name. When House asked the little girl why not, the answer moved her.

“She said, ‘Because her daddy’s been sexually abusing her and her mommy does drugs so the Department of Human Services is going to take her to a safe house shelter and she doesn’t want anybody to know,’” House said.

Since then, House said she’s felt God calling her to work with Open Arms Shelter for abused and neglected children in Lonoke County. Opened in 1986, the shelter has provided safe housing to over 1,400 children. As House found out more about the organization, she realized the group had a need for more room. She organized efforts and materials that resulted in a building for the shelter to store clothing for the children in racks and closets. Previously, shelter workers dug through garbage bags full of wrinkled clothes to find appropriate sized clothes for the children at the shelter.

Last year, House became part of the fundraising committee for Open Arms and began planning the first-ever Cabot’s Avenue of Dreams Home Spectac-ular to be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9 and from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday, July 10 to benefit Open Arms Shelter.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or at the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, Community Bank locations, First Security Bank locations, Dillard’s in McCain Mall and David Claiborne Ltd. in Sherwood. All proceeds from ticket sales goes to Open Arms Shelter for Children. Maps for the Avenue of Dreams are available at ticket locations and at www.cabotavenueofdreams.com. Information on all the participating businesses will be available during the event.

The 26 homes in the Avenue of Dreams are scattered throughout Cabot in The Park on Mountain Springs Road, West Oaks, North Magness Creek, The Berry Patch, Krooked Kreek, Silver Streak and Greystone. In Greystone, the homes are in neighborhoods such as Wellington Place, Valhalla, Cobble-stone, Water’s Edge and Georgetown. The homes on display range in size from 1,800 square feet to over 2,900.

“This gives people a chance to see the latest trends in building, and home decor and shows off some of Cabot’s neighborhoods,” said House.

Uniquely Southern Homes Inc. built The Idea House at 21 Cossatot Circle and another home at 20 Blanchard Drive.

The Idea House is 3,164 square feet, furnished by Dillard’s of McCain Mall, decorated by Nina Butler Interiors of Cabot and features state of the art amenities such as a Sharp drawer microwave and ODL Tubular Skylights.

“When I found out it was benefiting Open Arms Shelter, I was on board,” said Butler. Her d├ęcor color-scheme was inspired by the subtle hues in the stucco back splash in the kitchen.

“Nothing went inside this house without meeting Nina Butler’s approval,” House added.
House says her favorite room in The Idea House is the theater room.

The room boasts twin rows of leather reclining seats, a 130-inch projection screen and sound system from Sound Ideaz in Cabot as well as a mini-bar complete with refrigerator, microwave and sink. It also has a retro ticket booth equipped with a telephone.

“Not only is it fun, but if you get a phone call while watching a movie, you can step inside the booth and close the door for privacy,” House said.

Artwork from Cynthia Delahunt of CD Creative Studio in Cabot is displayed in the theater. The paintings depict scenes from classic movies such as Rhett Butler embracing Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” and Fred Astaire dancing with a lightpost in “Singing in the Rain.”

The outside of the home is landscaped and the porch features a phantom screen. A remote control lowers a screen wall around the porch to provide a bug-free environment for evening enjoyment.

House credits Butler and designer Katie Pierson, of KDS Interiors of Sherwood, for their support in the Cabot Avenue of Dreams Home Spectacular.

Pierson is the designer of Uniquely Southern’s second home on the tour, 20 Blanchard Drive, just around the corner from The Idea House.

She’s been involved in Arkansas Symphony Designer House, a benefit open house for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

“I worked on the Symphony House in Little Rock,” Pierson said.

“Each designer had to design a room and it has been a fun challenge to do an entire home for the Avenue of Dreams.”

Visitors who visit at least ten homes of the homes featured during the Avenue of Dreams will be eligible to win prizes during the estate sale. The grand prize is a $2,500 Hearth Falls fireplace, a combination gas fireplace and fountain.

The Sumner Design Group decorated the interior of builder Joe Cunningham’s showcase home located at 11 Cossatot Circle.

“The designers have furnished this incredible interior with gorgeous furniture pieces from around the world, one of a kind accessories, and custom floral arrangements,” said Heather McCarty, senior interior designer.

The Sumner Design Group will host a lecture series at 11 Cossatot Circle beginning Tuesday, July 5 with “Color Psychology: How To Make Your Interior Space Work for You,” by Tracy L. Sumner. “Understanding and Learning How to Implement the Principles and Elements of Design,” will be presented Thursday, July 6 by Heather McCarty followed by “Children, Pets and Indestructible Fabrics: How to Live in Your Luxury Home” by Lesley Haugha-boo on Friday, July 8.

The lectures are from 6 until 8 p.m. each night.

Tickets are $20 per night or $50 for all three nights. Seating is limited and food and drink are included.

Additionally, Sumner Design Group will throw an “End of the Show” party at the home at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9.

Party tickets are $35 and must be purchased in advance by Friday, July 8. Food and drink is included in the ticket prices and a silent auction will be featured during this event.

For more information or tickets for the Sumner Design Group events please call (501) 690-3037 or (501) 351-1101.

SPORTS>> Piranhas top Bryant-Lonoke team

IN SHORT: The Cabot Piranhas youth swim team got its first win of the season Saturday against the Lonoke-Bryant consolidated swim team at the Lonoke Community Center.

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Piranhas got their first win of the Central Arkansas Swim League season Saturday by barely defeating the Bryant-Lonoke consolidated team 498-480.

Cabot head coach Debbie Skidmore was surprised at how close it was, but was pleased by the effort of her team.

“I thought for a while we might lose,” Skidmore said. “But they pulled it out. There were a lot of highlights. A lot of the kids swam really well.”

Cabot’s Darby Harmon won all five events in the 8-under girls division to lead the way for the Piranhas. Harmon not only won the events, she improved her status from bronze swimmer to gold swimmer in three of the five events, including the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, and to silver swimmer in the other two.

Lonoke’s Kayla McGhee won all five events she swam in the 6-under division, and had the best time in four of the five.

She was the only swimmer above the bronze level of the backstroke when the day began, so she won the silver backstroke race. But her time was beaten by Cabot’s Caitlyn Cun-ningham in the bronze race. Cabot’s Elaine Helpenstill also improved to silver in the backstroke and finished with the third best time overall.

McGee did have the fastest times in the freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and kickboard races, and took first place in all four events.

Riley Young finished just be-hind her teammate Harmon in the backstroke, and moved up to the Silver level with her time of 27.69.

Harmon, Alex Caple and Payton Binns made for a 1-2-3 Cabot finish in the butterfly.
The Bryant team dominated the 10-under division, but Cabot nullified that by doing the same in the 12-under girls class.

Bryant’s Megan Matthews managed to slip into a plethora of point-scoring Cabot 12-year olds that was led by standout Megan Owens.

Owens won the gold indepen-dent Medley race, while Faith Blair and Jenni Vaughan finished first and third in the Silver. Erin Loraditch, Emma Fulham and Rachel Moore, all from Cabot, finished one, two and three in the bronze IM.

Owens and Blair took first and second in the Gold freestyle. Matthews took first in the silver race, but Vaughan and Stephenie Odom were right behind. The Cabot quartet of Rebekah Koon, Amanda Baltz and Fulham and Loraditch finished first through fourth in the bronze freestyle.

Owens won the gold race in the backstroke, but her time was bested by Bryant’s Matthews in the Silver race. Blair and Baltz took second and third in the Silver backstroke, while Koon won the bronze race.

Cabot put three gold swimmers in the girls 12-under breaststroke, and they finished one, two and three. Stephenie Odom won the event with Owens and Blair not far behind.
Vaughan and Loraditch finished in the top two spots in the bronze breaststroke, while Lonoke’s Kristen Wood took third. Those three, plus Cabot’s Katie Burchfield and Rachel Moore all moved up to the silver level with their times in the event.

Blair won the gold division butterfly with Owens coming in second and Matthews third.
Loraditch, Odom and Baltz finished in the top three spots in the bronze butterfly race.
Cabot’s Ashley Baird had the best times in every event in the 14-under girls competition, while Vicki Lovelette turned in the best times in four of the five events in 16-under races.

Lonoke’s Mindy James beat out Lovelette in the IM, and both swimmers moved up to the gold level in the race.

Dylan Owens won every event for Cabot in the 6-under boys division. John Santiago and Michael Rakoski, along with Lonoke’s Brandon Herecamp and Jeffrey Riggs, did most of the damage in the 14-under boys division.

Cabot will host its first meet this year when Lakewood visits the Piranhas at the Jacksonville Community Center. Lonoke will go back on the road when it visits Sherwood.

SPORTS>> Gwatney AAA team improves to .500

IN SHORT: Jacksonville’s AAA American Legion team swept Sheridan on Saturday, the team will split with Searcy Monday to move to 5-5 on the season.


By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville Gwatney Chevrolet AAA Legion team improved its record to 4-4 over the weekend with a doubleheader sweep of Sheridan. Shortstop Mitchell Regnas led a set of hot Jacksonville bats, going 4 for 5 at the plate in game one and leading the Chevy boys to a 6-3 victory.

Blake Cochran went the distance on the mound, striking out seven and picking up the win.

“They played pretty good, a few of ‘em hit the ball extremely well,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said.

Three singles got Jacksonville on the board first, but the home team came back to tie the score in the bottom of the same frame.

No one scored in the second, but the two teams traded runs in the third to even the score at 2-2.

A pattern began developing as a scoreless fourth inning was followed by each team collecting one run in the fifth to keep the score knotted at three apiece.
After another scoreless inning, Jacksonville finally put some distance between itself and its host in the seventh.

Gwatney started the inning with two walks. Josh Mansfield then singled in one run.
Back-to-back doubles by Neil Hatcher and Regnas brought in the next two and set the final margin.

Jacksonville picked up 13 hits as a team with Regnas leading the way, but other Jacksonville players turned in nice performances as well.

Outfielder Trey Smith went 3 for 3 while fellow outfielders Walt Winer and Hatcher each got two hits in the win.

Jacksonville only got four hits in a 2-0 game-two victory. Regnas went 2 for 2 in that game and was 6 for 7 at the plate on the day.

The Jacksonville team stayed at .500 Monday with a doubleheader split with Searcy Crain AAA.

Jacksonville took game one 4-1, but fell apart in game two to lose 9-1.

Kyle West got his fifth home run and Neil Hatcher his second to lead Gwatney in the game one victory.

Justin Akin got the win on the mound.

In game two, Jacksonville had a man on second and no outs while holding a 1-0 lead.
That’s when a bunt attempt went bad and the ensuing reactions were worse.

The ball hit the plate, bounced up and hit the batter.

The home plate umpire called the batter out, which drew protests from the Jacksonville dugout.

Hickingbotham and assistant coach Travis Lyda converged on home plate and vehemently argued the call. The umpire tossed Lyda before sending Hickingbotham back to the third base box with a stern warning.

The Jacksonville squad responded negatively to the incident, and began making mistakes that cost the team four unearned runs.

Jacksonville played Cabot AA in a doubleheader last night. Both teams begin play in the Sheridan Wooden Bat Classic Thursday.

TOP STORY>> Bank appeals ruling on new Ozarks branch

IN SHORT: First Arkansas Bank files an appeal to have Bank of the Ozarks’ Jacksonville branch approval reversed.

By Sara Greene
Leader staff writer

First Arkansas Bank and Trust quietly continued its battle against Bank of the Ozarks by filing an appeal recently in Pulaski County Circuit Court. On May 6, Arkansas Bank Commissioner Robert H. “Bunny” Adcock approved Bank of the Ozarks’ application to construct a branch at 901 W. Main St. in Jacksonville. The appeal asks the court to reverse that decision. Bank of the Ozarks and Adcock are listed as respondents in the appeal.

“We can’t comment on pending litigation,” said Candace Franks, attorney for the Arkansas State Bank Department. “The state has 20 days to reply to the appeal.”

Donnie Farmer, senior vice president of Bank of the Ozarks, said he could not comment on the appeal or the status of the property at 901 W. Main. Farmer, a long-time Jacksonville resident, had been slated to manage the new branch.

The appeal hasn’t deterred Bank of the Ozarks, according to Susan Blair, executive vice president of Bank of the Ozarks.

“We’re even more eager to do business in Jacksonville,” Blair said. “It’s a vibrant community. Just look at the expansion of the Little Rock Air Force Base.”

The base is tentatively slated to get about 3,900 new jobs, if the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) commission approves a recommendation making LRAFB the nation’s primary C-130 training facility.

Bank of the Ozarks submitted an application last December to the Arkansas State Bank Department to construct a branch in Jacksonville. First Arkansas Bank and Trust filed a formal protest against the application with Adcock’s office on Jan. 12 .

Adcock and the Arkan\sas State Bank Department examined the application, protest and responses before approving the application. First Arkansas Bank and Trust reviewed the decision and decided to appeal in circuit court.

In the appeal, First Arkansas Bank and Trust states “the economy in Jacksonville is stagnant” and deposits are not growing. It takes Adcock’s order to task for failure to have an administrative hearing and “cherry picking statistics for Pulaski County and Arkansas instead of the correct market, Jacksonville.”

The appeal further states Bank of the Ozarks failed to meet its burden of proof while Jacksonville’s population is growing, if at all, at a marginal rate, less than half of one percent per year.

“This action is not about anti-competitive measures,” said Larry T. Wilson, chairman, chief executive officer and president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust. “It is all about the Bank Department rubber- stamping branch applications with little or no regard for the real needs for banking services of any particular market and the health of the institutions already operating in those markets.”

Wilson said six banks with 13 locations and the state’s largest credit union is evidence there is already significant banking competition in Jacksonville.

“It was particularly interesting to see that the Bank Department appeared to accept everything submitted in this case by Bank of the Ozarks as factual and completely disregarded or discounted each and every fact submitted by us,” said Wilson. “One would think that since we have been operating in the market for over 45 years that we would have more insight into the market than a bank that has never had a presence here.”
Jacksonville has six banks and the Arkansas Federal Credit Union that serve a population of 29,916.

In addition to First Arkansas Bank and Trust, the Jacksonville banking industry has US Bank, Community Bank and Metropolitan National Bank, as well as Bank of America, the country’s largest bank, and Arvest Bank, the largest bank in the state. In Lonoke County, Cabot has seven banks serving an estimated population of 40,000 over a five-mile area surrounding the city limits. Community Bank started in 1903 as the Bank of Cabot. It has five locations in Cabot and two in Jacksonville. First Arkansas Bank and Trust opened a branch in Cabot in 1994.

South of Jacksonville, North Little Rock has 12 banks serving a population of about 63,000.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s spring 2005 profile, Arkansas banks headquartered in Arkansas posted record earnings of $454 million in 2004.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Cooperation, First Arkansas Bank and Trust had a first- quarter income of $1.2 million and total assets of $262 million. Bank of the Ozarks had a first-quarter income of $7.8 million and total assets of $1.7 billion.
“The general public can easily see that the number of branch banks in the state has mushroomed in the last few years even though the public’s needs were being met by the banks already in place and can’t understand why it is happening,” said Wilson.

“The state Bank Department doesn’t seem to see the same picture,” he added.

According to the FDIC, there were 168 banks in Arkansas in 2004.

TOP STORY>> Sewage rates may double in Cabot

IN SHORT: Aldermen move toward raising sewer costs to build new treatment plant.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council took the first step toward raising sewer rates to pay for a new treatment plant Tuesday night, opting to double rates for the average user over the next three years while barely increasing rates for customers who use 2,000 gallons or less.

Technically, the council didn’t vote to raise rates but only on the option that will be advertised before a public hearing is called. After hearing from the public, the council could tweak the ordinance before setting the new rates.

But whether rates will actually go up could be up to city voters who could elect instead to pay for the sewer treatment plant by continuing an existing one-cent sales tax.

David Hicks, who lost his seat when the Public Utilities Commission was re-created about a month ago to become the Water and Wastewater Commission, addressed the council during the public comment portion of the meeting, saying he was part of a group of concerned citizens who would launch a petition drive to refer the question to voters.

Hicks, as well as most members of the former commission, favored paying for the $16 million sewer treatment plant with the sales tax, but he council, turned down that proposal saying the council promised when the tax was put to vote in 1999 that it would sunset when the bonds to pay for water improvements were paid off.

Furthermore, if the tax was to be used again later, it should be for something besides utilities which are supposed to be self-supporting, they said.

Alderman David Polantz was opposed to raising rates to pay for the sewer plant when the plans for the plant have not been drawn. The estimated cost is about $16 million, but Polantz said he was unwilling to spend tax money without knowing an exact cost.

“My fear is that if I tell an engineer I’ve got $16 million to spend on a plant, I’m going to end up with an $18 million plant,” Polantz said.

J.M. Park, chairman of the Water and Wastewater Commission who had earlier presented the proposal that was eventually selected told Polantz that with both state and federal environmental agencies closely monitoring the problems with the existing plant, the whole question was really out of their hands.

“You don’t have a choice,” he told Polantz. “The city doesn’t have a choice.”
Dennis Benson, with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, addressed the council saying the city has already had to pay about $25,000 in fines because of pollution problems at the plant and more are coming because the plant is still out of compliance.

The plant is simply too small, he said.

“You’ve got a one-ton load you’re trying to carry with a three-quarter ton pickup,” he said.

Compounding the problem is infiltration from broken sewer lines allowing rainwater to get into the system. Benson said that in the past three years, there have been about 100 overflows from manholes that left raw sewage on the ground.

“Even the EPA is looking at this city and wandering when they’ll get their act together and get something done,” he said.

Prompted by Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, Benson told the council that ADEQ would look favorably on the council raising sewer rates to pay for building a new plant, enough so that the fines might not be as large as they would be if the council did nothing. At press time, it was not known how Hicks announcement about the possible referendum would impact the city’s precarious position with ADEQ and the EPA or how long it could delay plans to build a new plant.

In other business, the council passed a resolution for partisan elections in the city. Alderman Patrick Hutton, a Republican, sponsored the resolution as he has twice before. But always before, he was alone in wanting to separate the Democrats from the Republicans at the council table.

Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Gina Burton, who is active in the Republican party, spoke for the resolution saying knowing which party a candidate belonged to made it easier for her to vote.

If she knew the party, she also knew where the candidate stood on such issues as abortion and gun control, she said.Polantz disagreed saying those issues did not play into the work required of a city council. However, partisan elections might produce more candidates which were sorely needed in Cabot.

The vote for partisan elections was 4-3. Hutton, Polantz, Eddie Cook and Jerry Stevens voted for the resolution.

Aldermen Odis Waymack, Tom Armstrong and James Glenn, voted against it. Alderman Bob Duke abstained saying he would not run for re-election. The mayor provided the fifth vote needed for the resolution to pass.The council discussed, but did not approve an annexation and rezoning of 50 acres near Greystone where developers intend to build condominium-style apartments and patio homes as well as a commercial complex.

Council members said they were not opposed to the development and Duke said as he understood, the plan was to build “the best of the best.”

However, some members of the council said they needed more time to look over the ordinance before they vote to pass it.

The matter will be taken up again in July.

TOP STORY>> Lesson: FOI law must be obeyed

IN SHORT: Beebe board told to hold more of its meetings in public as critic is silenced.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

The Beebe School Board sat through a lesson on the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act Monday night at the request of a White County deputy prosecutor who has heard complaints for several months that the board conducts too much of its business in secret.

Teacher for the evening was Paul Blume, general counsel for the Arkansas School Board Association. Stewart Kirby, the complainant and general thorn in the flesh of the Beebe School Board, was thrown out of the class when he tried to ask a question.

Kirby said the next morning that he only wanted Blume to clarify for the board that he was entitled by law to be notified not only of a change in the date and time of regular meeting but also of a change of location. The board recently started meeting in the new storm shelter instead of the intermediate library.

But Blume flatly refused to respond saying the in-service he was conducting was for the board and no one else.

“I’m not answering your questions,” he told Kirby.

Dr. Kieth Williams, the superintendent, opened his cell phone and started dialing the Beebe Police Department as Kirby explained that the policy book for the school board said the board president could allow anyone to speak during a meeting.

Butch Rice, board president, settled the matter by telling Kirby he would not be allowed to speak and followed up the next morning, Kirby said, with an email threatening his arrest if he ever became unruly in a meeting again.

The unusual meeting was the culmination of months of discord between Kirby and the board that he has been closely scrutinizing and writing about on a website he created, the “Beebe School Examiner” at http://www.bbschoolexaminer.blogspot.com/.

Lorrie Belew, a member of the board, asked Blume if there was anything that could be done about Kirby’s website. At what point would his comments be considered libelous?
The board members works free because they want what’s best for the children, she said, but Kirby uses their names on his website with impunity.

“It’s really kind of a scary website, really,” she said.

Blume answered that it isn’t liable if it’s true.

Kirby’s two latest entries posted in May deal with Williams’ July retirement and the FOI class held Monday.

He writes on the retirement: “Did you get an invitation? I wasn’t invited to Dr. Williams’ surprise party. He was given a barbecue grill by the board. I hope they took up a collection because they are limited by law if it was paid for with school money. Also, staff and faculty gave him an envelope of cash. Give me a break. He is not going to be unemployed. He already has a new job. And why would anyone give him money considering that he was paid almost 100 grand a year plus benefits and lived in a house owned by the school? I’m sure I am not the only one who would have given him money to retire some years ago. 

He writes on the Freedom of Information class: “According to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office the Beebe School Board will be having a training session on the Freedom of Information Act. This is “to ensure that the FOIA is not violated by the Board and that the law is understood thoroughly.” The FOIA is very simple. Meetings are to be held in public expect for certain personnel matters and that is it. A student can request a closed expulsion hearing but the board cannot. Nothing else should be talked about behind closed doors.

Dr. Williams you cannot destroy public records. Dr. Williams you cannot ignore FOIA requests. There are laws you must follow even if you think you are above them.”
Specifically, Kirby says Williams refused to show him a copy of the board policy book which is a public document and that he failed to notify him of the change in location of the regular meetings.

He would like to be notified about special meetings which he says the board holds to circumvent the FOI. As Blume explained to the board after Kirby left, the press must be notified, of special meetings, but not the public.

His reference to destroying public documents was to Williams’ shredding applications for superintendent. He provided the press with the names of the applicants but no other information. He shredded the resumes after the board saw them, he told Blume.

And that is apparently acceptable according to Blume, who said the FOI makes the documents public as long as they exist, but the school district can’t hand over documents that have been shredded.

But his talk was also full of warnings since failing to comply with the FOI is a criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $200 and 30 days in jail. He told board members they need not fear “talking shop” if they happen to meet on the street. Put don’t turn chance meetings into mini school board meetings and discuss actions that the board will take.

If in doubt, be cautious. “If you’re going to err, err on the side of being public,” he said.

TOP STORY>> Roads to go one-way

IN SHORT: Change along Hwy. 67/167 corridor could start next Monday evening

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

Barring last-minute glitches, commuters will awaken Tuesday morning to find Landers and Warden roads between McCain Boulevard and Wildwood Avenue converted to one one-way roads, according to the state Highway and Transportation Department.

A decade in the planning and two years in the making, the one-way frontage roads will essentially form a counterclockwise loop running south on Warden and north on Landers, according to Farrell Wilson, special projects coordinator for the department’s public affairs office.

The conversion will make the roads safer and able to carry more traffic, Wilson said.
The frontage road conversion is part of a $22.5 million reconstruction that includes widening Hwy. 67/167 from McCain Boulevard to Wildwood Avenue.

As the main corridor in and out of central Arkansas from the north, approximately 80,000 vehicles travel the highway each day, with about 24,000 vehicles traveling on the frontage roads, she said.

Motorists on Landers will be able to cross over to Warden under a newly elevated section of Hwy. 67/167 at Five Mile Creek—site of the old Wal-Mart—or at Wildwood.

Southbound motorists on Warden wishing to cross over to Landers may do so at Five Mile Creek or at the elevated flyover located just yards north of the McCain Boulevard overpass, Wilson said.

Wilson said that to make the one-way conversion as safe and convenient as possible, the newly constructed turnaround at Wildwood and the underpass at Five Mile Creek would be opened at the same time that the frontage roads are converted.

It will take a few additional days to open the McCain Boulevard turnaround ramp, because it must be graded to smoothly meet the temporarily closed northbound lane of Landers Road.

“Reducing indirection for the convenience of motorists in this area has been a top priority for AHTD planners on the project,” said Dan Flowers, director.

“Initially, there may be some confusion as drivers adjust to this change, but once they become accustomed to the new travel patterns, motorists will see a significant improvement to the traffic flow and safety within this high-traffic corridor.”

“Indirection” refers to the current need for motorists entering or leaving the highway to negotiate on-coming traffic, a practice universally recognized as dangerous.

Depending on the weather, Wilson said the one-way conversion could begin as early as next Monday evening and would involve closing one lane on each frontage road, allowing motorists to get used to the new arrangement and also allowing the contractor—Muskogee Bridge Company—to resurface the closed lane.

Traffic on the frontage roads will always travel the same direction as the traffic in the adjacent lane of Hwy. 67/167. Frontage road traffic must yield to traffic exiting the highway.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said conversion of those frontage roads and completion of the six-laning of the highway this fall between McCain and Wildwood won’t make much difference to traffic in Jacksonville, but plans call for the eventual widening of the highway through Jacksonville, and the frontage roads between Vanden-berg Boulevard and James Street could be converted to one-way, with new crossover structures that would allow motorists to get from one to the other.

Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Bids may be let in September for widening the next section of Hwy. 67/167 between Wildwood and Keihl and also from I-40 through the McCain Boulevard interchange.

A new entrance ramp from Warden to southbound Hwy. 67/167, roughly across from Dillard’s department store, also will be part of the next project.