Wednesday, October 12, 2005



Carlis D. Hatfield, Jr., of Ward went home on Oct. 7 to be with his mother and father, and two sisters.
He was a retired Air Force master sergeant, and also retired from Remington Arms at the age of 55. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Mabel Hatfield; one daughter, Paula Jean Hatfield Peppers and husband Charles; two sons, Carl David Hatfield and wife Wanda Joyce, and Max Hatfield and wife Connie; six grandchildren, Kelly Michelle Passen, Stephen Eric Smith, Jessica Nicole Graves and husband Charlie, Becca Jean Peppers, Amanda Leigh Wood and Jeffery David Wood; six great-grandchildren, Jordan Blake Passen, Cody Spen-cer Passen, Skylar McCala Passen and Baliegh McKenzie Passen, Brennen Cade Smith and Summerlyn Skye Graves; and one sister, Jean Miller of West Palm Springs, Florida.
A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Funeral arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.


Rosemma Morris Hedrick, 84, of Carlisle died Oct. 8. She was the widow of Dean Hedrick and a member of Palm Street Church of Christ, Lonoke. Survivors include one son, Ray and wife Mary of White Bluff, Tenn.; her daughter, Mary Dulaney and husband Dewayne of Carlisle; two sisters, Cora Madar, Pine Bluff and Florence Losak, Searcy; and a brother, Ruben Morris of Lonoke.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Palm Street Church of Christ, with interment in Carlisle Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to Southern Christian Home, P.O. Box 649, Morrilton, 72110 or Children’s Home, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Paragould, Ark. 72451-9935.
Funeral arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.


Ila Mae Malone, 81, of Little Rock, died Oct. 10. She is survived by one son, David Malone and wife Deborah of Little Rock; a grandson, Michael and wife, Allyson Malone of Arlington, Va.; two great-grandchildren, Olivia-Lin Malone and Mia Rose Malone; and one sister, Vernie Gray of Jacksonville.
Graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17 at Old Austin Cemetery, by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Memorials may be made to Alzheimer’s Arkansas, 10411 W. Markham, Ste. 130, Little Rock, Ark. 72205-1409 or Pulaski Heights Methodist Church, 4823 Woodlawn Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72205-3755.

EDITORIAL >> Let us praise the masters

Of all the hysterical reactions to the scolding of the legislature by the special masters in the Lake View school case, Gov. Huckabee’s was the most incomprehensible. Masters Bradley D. Jesson and David Newbern embraced the governor’s old passion for school consolidation and made the case for him better than did his own administration back in 2003 and 2004.

But Huckabee was on the radio and in the prints this week condemning the masters and the Supreme Court justices who appointed them with stronger words than we have heard him use on anybody but environmentalists, whom he was fond of calling “wackos.”

In their first incarnation after the 2004 special session on the schools, the same two men reported favorably to the Supreme Court on the work of the legislature, including passage of a law consolidating some 50 school districts with the smallest enrollments. Huckabee considered the consolidation weak and hardly worth the effort. He had sought wholesale consolidation of schools to bring about the efficiency that the state Constitution seems to prescribe. The Constitution says the state must provide an equal education for all students, one that is suitable and efficient. Huckabee might indeed have had some reason to expect that the court would define efficiency in a way that would support his stand for comprehensive consolidation.

Neither the masters nor the Supreme Court, however, did that. The Court almost ignored the consolidation issue and Huckabee did not hide his disappointment. Nevertheless, when the Supreme Court in the late spring reopened the school case on the motion of some 40 school districts and appointed Jesson and Newbern as the fact-finders again to analyze what the legislature had accomplished toward making the schools constitutional, Huckabee praised Jesson and Newbern as men whose whole lives “scream integrity and honor.”

Four months later, their iniquities and treacheries know no bounds. He considered the masters’ report a personal attack on him and his leadership. It makes you wonder who told the governor what the masters wrote. They barely mentioned Huckabee.

He was most incensed about what they said about school consolidation.
Here is how they broached the subject very briefly at the end of the report, and Huckabee ought to take their words and renew his crusade:

“Gov. Huckabee, through counsel, was a participant in the hearings in 2004 as an advocate of achieving greater efficiency through consolidation. The governor is no longer actively participating in this case.” [That is undeniably true. This time, he did not have his own counsel and contributed nothing to the hearings.]
The masters point out that Huckabee’s chief fiscal man, Richard Weiss, testified at the hearings that serious inefficiencies continue to occur because the state has more than 250 school districts. Despite Weiss’ testimony and Huckabee’s earlier strong arguments on that issue, the masters said, the legislature this year ignored consolidation and its potential efficiencies.

“Apparently,” they continued “there is a new plan for district consolidation by default that results in even less efficiency.”

Indeed, the state does now have an operating consolidation plan, and it does, as the masters argue, produce even greater inefficiencies along with abiding harm to students. The masters make the case for the kind of formulaic consolidation that Huckabee sought in 2003 and 2004. He ought to praise them, not vilify them.
In the Pulaski County School District we are witnessing the insidious effects of that plan.
Under the stealth consolidation plan, school districts can fall into “fiscal distress,” “academic distress” or even “facilities distress” if their fund balances plummet, their pupil test scores do not measure up or they fail to modernize their facilities. The period takes several years but ultimately the downward spiral leads to a takeover by the state Education Department and then potentially forcible consolidation.
The masters documented how many school districts, owing to the perversity of state laws and their own peculiar geographical and wealth situations, do not have the money to maintain their academic programs or their facilities in repair so they exhaust their reserves. Sixteen school districts were in fiscal distress this summer, 66 were on academic probation and headed for academic distress. The state has not got around yet to determining what will constitute facilities distress.

Newbern and Jesson then got to the heart of the matter:
“The problem with the approach to consolidation as the result of failure is that it ignores what is happening in the classrooms during the years leading up to one or more of the distress conditions and the ensuing struggle to cope with it the local level.”

For all the children in those classrooms, it is a cruel thing and as patent a violation of the equal, suitable and efficient doctrine as anything you will find in the schools. Instead of bashing them, Gov. Huckabee should summon Jesson and Newbern to the Capitol and give them one of those certificates of merit, or whatever he calls it, that he gives to people whose deeds suit him.

TOP STORY >> PCSSD distress plan not accepted

Leader staff writer

The State Education Department has for the third time sent Pulaski County Special School District officials back to the drawing board to formulate an acceptable fiscal-distress improvement plan.
In a letter received by the district Wednesday, the education department informed the district that its most recent plan was “not approved.”

“We’ve already started working on that,” school board president Mildred Tatum said. “We just wish we had known exactly what they wanted.”

The letter, signed by Bobbie Davis, assistant commissioner of fiscal and administrative services, told acting PCSSD Superintendent Robert L. Clowers that the plan lacked sufficient specific timelines and detailed actions and depended too much upon verbal communications.

The submitted plan could include closing or consolidating one or more of the smaller schools in the district.
The district was found to be in fiscal distress April 11, but school officials said a meeting on Sept. 23 was the first time the department had asked for timelines.

The problems with the district’s various plan submissions have been complicated by lawsuits filed by teachers and non-certified personnel claiming that the district acted illegally by freezing pay and eliminating paid holidays.
The teachers suit tentatively has been settled, but negotiations and the suit with the non-certified personnel continue.

The plan submitted in June would have saved the district about $8.5 million, according to John Archetko, the district’s chief financial officer, but the education department refused to accept the plan, saying the district probably lacked the authority to freeze the teacher salaries.

The revised plan submitted in August — the one the state refused to accept this week — is intended to save PCSSD a total of about $5.2 million for the 2005-2006 and the 2006-2007 school years, Archetko said.
The biggest financial impact would come from eliminating block scheduling, forecast to save the district $1 million a year, and reducing the number of assistant principals, another $918,000 a year.
Other savings would come from reducing to the state minimums the numbers of principals, guidance counselors, media specialists, bookkeepers and registrars and also gifted and talented teachers.
The plan would move athletics, cheerleading and dance periods to after school, and identify and reconfigure financially or operationally inefficient schools.

“I’m disappointed it wasn’t accepted,” Clowers said Friday. “The cabinet met yesterday and today and will meet again Monday. We’ll meet as often as it takes to provide the additional information the department is wanting — markers and timelines and things that would trigger various things.”

For instance, if block scheduling is to be eliminated, there needs to be preparation. If some assistant principals will be sent back to the classroom, they need proper notification.
“At some point, the professionals on both sides need to sit down and resolve the matter, not just shoot paper back a forth,” said board member Jeff Shaney-felt.

“I’m a policy maker and accountant, an outsider. We have to let the administration do its job and the state do its job.”

“At the (Sept. 23) meeting, there were some verbal indications of changes they wanted to make to the plan,” said Julie Thompson, director of communications.

“They are asked to add detailed timelines and detailed savings.”
Thompson said 11 districts were put on fiscal distress in April.
One has been consolidated, Helena-West Helena has been taken over by the state and the department of education has approved five or six districts’ plans and continues to work with the others, including Pulaski County Special School District.

“I think this is a process that the department is going through,” Thompson said. “Right now, we’ve asked them to submit another plan by Nov. 1.

“Our bottom line is concern for the education of the children in Arkansas.”

TOP STORY >> Air Show 2005

Leader staff writer

United States Air Force Thunderbirds pilot Maj. Rusty Keen loves his job and it shows.
“I still can’t believe I get paid for this,” Keen said Thursday, just minutes after performing a series of arrival exercises and landing his F-16 fighter at Little Rock Air Force Base in preparation for the base’s 50th Anniversary air show today and Sunday. “I’m living a dream.”

Flying the F-16 in a show is “an adrenaline rush, like playing in the Super Bowl,” he said.
Keen said he was happy to be in Arkansas to help celebrate the base’s 50th anniversary, mainly in recognition of the local community support.

“It’s an absolute dream, representing all the men and women of the Air Force,” said Keen, an 11-year veteran who has flown about 200 hours of combat missions in Bosnia and Iraq.

Keen and the other members of the Air Force’s precision flying team, based at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, fly 90 shows a year between March and November. This weekend’s show is No. 75.
Next November, Capt. Nicole Malachowski will become the first female Thunderbirds pilot, according to Capt. Angela Johnson, the group’s public affairs spokesman.

Thunderbirds pilots serve two years on the team, with three of the six pilots replaced each year by three new pilots halfway through his first year, Keen said.

Keen, married and the father of two, is away from home 257 days a year, although his family sometimes joins him at shows.

This year, the Thunderbirds will also perform in Guatemala, El Salvador and Acapulco.
He is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University, where he played baseball and was a pole vaulter, he said.
When his two years are up, he will go back to flying F-16s similar to his Thunderbirds plane.
“Put a 20mm gun in place of the (smoking) oil pot and we’re ready to go to war,” he said.
From November through March each year, the pilots begin working on their formations, practicing two or three times a day — “very intensive, long days,” Keen said.

The planes start high and wide, gradually tightening up the formations and flying lower until, by the beginning of the show season, the four planes in the precision formations sometime have wingtips only 18 inches apart at 600 miles per hour, he said.

During the performance season, they leave home every Thursday and do arrival routines at the site of the approaching show.

On Friday they practice the show for Make-A-Wish Founda-tion guests and others and visit schools, hospitals or scouts, and have a briefing.

The shows are on Saturdays and Sundays and the group flies home to Las Vegas on Monday.
They practice again on Tuesdays and take Wednesdays off to take care of business and wash clothes, then hit the rack and get ready to start again.

The pilots have to be in peak condition — they can pull between six and nine Gs during their routines. Keen lifts weights and does aerobic exercises.
“It’s super exciting,” Keen said.

EVENTS >> October 12, 2005

Two senior driving classes coming up

There will be an AARP Driver Safety Program on October 19 and 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at First Arkansas Bank and Trust, 600 W. Main Street, in Jacksonville. The cost is $10 per person and attendance both days is required to complete the course. Interested participants may call 985-4068 for reservations or further information.
Another class will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 and Friday, Oct. 21 in the Health Education building of Rebsamen Medical Center. Arkansas law requires auto insurance carriers to offer a discount to qualified graduates, age 55 and older, of approved courses such as this one. Policyholders should contact their carriers for more information. A $10 fee for course materials will be charged and attendance both nights is required. All materials will be given. To register call Dick Wolfe at 988-4844.

Russell Cellular promoting safety awareness

Russell Cellular Satellite is promoting October as Safety Awareness Month and from Monday, Oct. 17 to Saturday, Oct. 22, ear buds will be given to anyone with a commercial driver’s license.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 22, which is Morgan Amber Nick Day, parents can get ‘Have You Seen This Child?’ photos.
For more information, contact Leann or Jenny at 985-1400.

Retired federal employees plan meeting Thursday

The Jacksonville Chapter No. 1597 of NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees) will host its monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Western Sizzlin in Jacksonville.
Speaker will be Becky Griffith from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

SPORTS >> Panthers in a must-win situation

Leader sports editor

Cabot is in quite a predicament as it approaches its homecoming game this Friday night against Mountain Home. The Panthers are 1-5 overall, but more importantly are 1-2 in conference play. That record is only good for fifth place in the current AAAAA-East standings. Three teams, including Mountain Home, are tied for first at 3-0, and Jacksonville is 2-1 and in fourth place.

West Memphis and Jacksonville are heavy favorites to win, while Forrest City is slightly less favored to beat Sylvan Hills. That means a Cabot loss would probably put the Panthers two games behind fourth place with only three games remaining.

“It’s tough right now, but there’s still a lot to play for,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We just need to get it together and win these last four games. If we do that, we’re still looking at a good shot at the three seed at least.”

Cabot suffered a big setback last week when it lost 6-0 to Forrest City. The irony of the loss is that the offense, which has been pretty consistent and productive all season, broke down at key times while the defense, which has struggled mightily against the pass, almost completely shut down Forrest City’s spread offense.
“The defense played well,” Malham said. “When you only give up six points, you should win the ballgame. Just when the defense stepped up, the offense took a break.

“We blew some assignments at key times. We had it down there at the 12 going in and missed an assignment and put it on the ground. We had it again down around the 30 and did the same thing. We didn’t lose them, but we lost a down and it hurt us. We can’t keep doing that.

“We’re still looking to get it all together at the same time.”
It has to happen this week, and Malham and the Panthers know that they can’t afford another loss and a 1-3 league record.

In order to beat the Bombers, Cabot will have to stop Mountain Home’s suddenly potent wishbone attack.
Mountain Home posted the first mercy-rule win in school history last week against Jonesboro.
The Bombers won’t have as much of a speed advantage as some teams have had over the Panthers this year, but they’ve been extremely efficient while winning their last five consecutive games.

“They’re not the fastest team in the world, and they’re not very big,” Malham said.
“Some of the teams we’ve played have really dwarfed us. Mountain Home does have good quickness and they play hard. They’ve found ways to get it done, which is what we’ve got to do.”

Cabot’s injury report is looking a little better than last week. Halfback Raul Gault, who led the team in rushing two previous weeks, is back after missing the Forrest City game with a concussion he suffered in practice.
Fullback Richard Williams is out indefinitely with a knee injury, so Alec Tripp will stay at the fullback spot he filled last week.

SPORTS >> Devils set for Searcy

Leader sports writer

Friday’s game between the Searcy Lions and the Jacksonville Red Devils will be important to both teams for very different reasons. The Red Devils are trying to keep their momentum intact as the season winds down and secure a spot in the AAAAA playoffs and possibly at least a share of the conference championship. Searcy is simply looking for a victory to get rid of the dreaded goose egg that currently resides in its win column.
Despite Searcy’s struggles this year, Jacksonville head coach Mark Whatley says his Red Devils are in no way taking the winless Lions for granted. A team’s record has little significance when it comes to game time, according to Whatley.

“It’s a new football game,” Whatley said. “They are going to get after it, they are going to fight hard and play hard. They look like they are getting better every week. It’s going to be like any other AAAAA East Friday night. You better have your A game with you when you go, they’re no different from anyone else.”

The Red Devils are coming off their second conference win of the season against county and conference rival Sylvan Hills. Last Friday’s win over the Bears helped improve Jacksonville’s record to 2-1 in the East and 3-3 overall.

Searcy suffered another tough loss on the road last week at the hands of West Memphis. The Lions have had a trying season full of injuries and missed opportunities. Last year, the Lions went eight weeks into the season before getting their first win against Jonesboro at home in a game that no one expected them to win. Searcy hopes to pull he same type of late-season upset this Friday.

Searcy has used the spread offense exclusively this season under first-year head coach Bart McFarland. Their closest shot at a win this season was the conference opener at Cabot.

The Lions scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter, only to have the Panthers tie the game at the half.
Cabot wore the Lions down in the second half with a series of interceptions, and took the win away from Searcy.
“We’ve seen some spread offenses before, they seem to be running out of it a lot right now more than anything,” Whatley said. “Anytime people are in the spread, they want you to bust a coverage or two or line up wrong. It makes you aware of where everybody is on the field; hopefully that won’t be a problem for us defensively.”
Jacksonville will also spread the field, and has also been running out of the spread more often in the last two weeks.

Searcy has had a great deal of trouble stopping the run this year. With the quickness of Red Devil junior tailback Justin Akins, and speedy receivers like Levar Neely and Marcus Hildreth, as well as Eugene Cherry and Justin Sebourn, who have emerged as offensive threats in recent games, the Lions will have to improve on their ability to contain fast players.

Offensively, the Lions have moved the ball successfully, but have committed more turnovers than any other team in the conference.

EDITORIAL >> What’s politics without hypocrisy?

No democracy and no political party can dispense fully with hypocrisy, but we thought the Arkansas Republican Party engineered more of it than one small group should be permitted in a single week.

First, the party condemned Attorney General Mike Beebe, until recently the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for governor in 2006, for going wobbly on the energy companies. Gasoline and heating bills are going up, up, up and the Republican headquarters wanted consumers to know that Beebe was at least partly responsible. Specifically, he had allowed Entergy Corp. to ask for a big rate increase for residential customers and then to put part of the increase into effect on Oct. 1 on an emergency basis while it awaits a hearing and determination by the state Public Service Commission.

Now, it is true that Beebe in his long years in the state Senate has been a friend to the light company more often than a tribune of the ratepayers, and he will have to answer for that. Realizing, like the Republicans, that energy costs are a volatile political issue, Beebe called on energy companies — gas and electric — to hold down their prices this winter no matter what their wholesale and energy-acquisition costs are. When the Republicans attacked, Beebe bragged that his little utility division had helped get tens of millions of dollars in rate reductions for consumers since he became attorney general.

But the specifics were illuminating. Beebe asked the PSC to order a reduction in the emergency rates that Entergy put into effect because the utility should not punish ratepayers for problems the company had with railroads that contracted to deliver coal to the utility’s Arkansas generating plants. The Republican office said that Beebe should have opposed the rate request if he thought it was not justified. When the party was told that he had indeed filed his opposition, only after it took effect, it said he should have opposed it earlier.
The problem with all this is that the attorney general has little to do with utility rates.

He can oppose them, to the same effect as can you. The agency that does set the rates is the Public Service Commission, whose commissioners were appointed by the governor and whose staff serves at the governor’s pleasure. On the recommendation of the PSC staff, which said Entergy should be allowed to install the emergency rates, the PSC went along with the utility.

Did the Republican Party condemn Gov. Huckabee or his Republican team at the PSC? Not as of when we went to press. Huckabee has been as chummy with the energy companies as Beebe. The party, when pressed, said it had no position itself on whether people should pay higher rates for electricity.

On the same day as it was lambasting Beebe for being soft on the power company, the Republican headquarters said it had filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission against Jimmie Lou Fisher, the losing Democratic candidate for governor in 2002 because some people who gave money to retire her campaign debt wound up giving more than the $1,000 limit per person for a campaign. The excess gifts, the GOP said, amounted to $15,853. Some 25 contributors, including U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, gave more than the limit.

Snyder’s gift was long ago adjudicated. He gave money to Fisher’s campaign in the 2002 party primary and the check did not get recorded in campaign accounts until after the primary election, which made it appear to be a general-election contribution.

Two days later, Gov. Huckabee piled on. He was outraged that people may have exceeded the individual contribution limits to a Democrat. He wanted punishment exacted for such inexcusable violations. Sloppy bookkeeping is not a valid excuse, he said. He would be watching what the Ethics Commission did with the complaint.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story reporting the governor’s outrage gallantly did not resurrect this from the newspaper’s own files on April 29, a mere five months earlier:

“The Republican Party of Arkansas has agreed to pay a sum of $360,000 civil penalty within the next six months for violations of federal campaign finance law during the 2000 election cycle, the Federal Election Commission said last Thursday.

“The FEC found that the party accepted excessive contributions and failed to properly report finances.
“The penalty represents the largest fine ever levied by the FEC against a state political party, a commission spokesman said ... The FEC said it found that the state GOP:

“‘Failed to properly account for more than $2 million in media and other expenses during the 1999-2000 election cycle. That failure resulted in excessive use of nonfederal or “soft money” for those expenses.
“‘Failed to properly report more than $600,000 in transfers received from Republican national party committees.
“‘Failed to disclose specific information about a “significant proportion” of its contributions and spending during this period.

“‘Received $28,500 during the period in excessive contributions from individuals and $11,500 in contributions that were from sources prohibited under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

“‘A previous FEC audit of the party during the 2000 election cycle found that the party spent $331,021 more than allowed on the 2000 campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey of Pine Bluff. Dickey was unseated by Democrat Mike Ross of Prescott in a close race for the state’s 4th congressional district seat.’”
You never know when memories will fail. The paper’s omission of that little background in its coverage proves again that while hypocrisy does have its wages, truth goes a-beggin’.

TOP STORY >> Schools prepared for major emergencies

Leader staff report

Emergency management in schools is no longer restricted to knowing what to do if a fire breaks out.
In fact, fires aren’t even on the top of the list anymore for potential dangers to children. But local schools have developed plans for dealing with threats, wherever they come from.
Many of the plans are similar because they come from programs sponsored in part by the Wilber D. Mills Educational Cooperative in Beebe.

Jean Ann Bell, school and community coordinator for Searcy School District, lists the threats by the numbers that would be read over the schools’ speaker systems in her school district to alert teachers to take action without unduly alarming the students: 1, hostage incident; 2, fire; 3, tornado; 4, earthquake; 5, shooting; 6, bomb threat; 7, intruder; 8, chemical spill; 9, suicide; 10, shelter in place, protecting children inside the building; 11, reverse evacuation, getting everyone back in the building.

“We have six schools and each one has a plan crafted just for that school,” Bell said, emphasizing that every teacher has a copy of the color-coded plan and would refer to it in an emergency.
The district still has fire and bus drills to make sure students can get away from a building quickly if necessary, she said.

Last year, the plan was put to a real test, she said, when a chemical spill at Bryce Corpora-tion, which makes bags for potato chips, forced Sidney Deener Elementary to evacuate to a nearby church.
Bell said she has records showing the school district has had an emergency plan since 1993.

Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent for Cabot School District, says Cabot’s written plan isn’t that old, but Cabot does have a history of figuring out how to deal with threats.

In the late 1990s the district had a rash of bomb threats that took emergency workers away from their other duties, took students out of class and made everyone unnerved.

When a call came in, the school would be evacuated. Dalton said he went online to research how to handle a bomb threat and learned that they were doing it wrong.

Students were in more danger crowded into a stadium or while they were leaving the school building, he said.
So officials decided that instead of evacuating, they would lock down the school, and have teachers examine their rooms for objects that didn’t belong there.

Once the lockdowns were started, the bomb threats stopped, he said.
The district also has updated plans for all the other threats as well and teachers know the codes and what to do in an emergency, he said.

Some local churches are part of the plan and would be used as shelter if necessary, he said.
But Cabot is a large district with campuses all over town. So in most cases, if students had to be removed from one campus, they could be sheltered in the activity building of another, he said.
Hal Crisco, assistant superintendent for Beebe School District, said depending upon the situation, Beebe has plans for locking down the campus and plans for evacuating. The plans are closely coordinated with the city’s fire and police departments who also take part in drills.

The district also has two tornado shelters large enough to hold everyone on campus.
Currently, the middle school which was moved to McRae this year, does not have a tornado shelter, but Crisco says the district hopes to secure a grant to help pay for one there.

“I think we’re prepared for just about any type of situation,” said Gerald Tatum, safety and security coordinator for the Pulaski County Special School District.
Each school is required to have its own plan, he said. Each plan is different — what happens in the southeast part of the district may not happen north, he said.
Each year, there is a new plan, Tatum said, because there are different teachers and administrators.
The emergency kit would include an overhead view or map of the campus, a list of emergency assignments, evacuation routes, a traffic control map and other things including water and bandages.
Daisy Bates Elementary is the district school closest to the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

Last school year, coordinating with the office of emergency management, the district practiced an evacuation, calling in buses, loading them with students and driving them around to the front, according to Tatum.
The first buses arrived 15 minutes after the beginning of the exercise — a make-believe explosion at the Arsenal — and within 25 minutes of the exercise’s beginning, all students had been loaded on buses, Tatum said.
“It’s the district’s responsibility to get the drivers headed that way to evacuate,” he said. In a real evacuation, the students would be taken to Clinton Elementary in Sherwood.

Some schools, such as Harris Elementary, Jacksonville Elemen-tary and others, are located near railroad tracks, making them more vulnerable to train wrecks and the resulting spill or escape of dangerous chemicals.
“They need to know whether to shelter in place or get buses and transport,” Tatum said. “We’ve supplied schools with emergency kits and sufficient supplies to shelter students for three or four hours.”
Current attendance records also are important in an evacuation, so that officials and parents can determine if everyone is accounted for.

That’s particularly important in middle or high schools, where students change classes all day.
“When all is said and done, the accountability of where your child is the biggest thing,” Tatum said.
He said enough drivers had cell phones or pagers to assemble a group for an evacuation and that the buses had radios that would allow communication in case an escape route or destination had to be changed on the fly.
“We have traffic-control officers. Every administrator should know how to evacuate the school and we practice alternate routes,” he said.

“We’ve had a crises plan,” said Lonoke Superintendent Sharron Havens.
“We’ve worked with the city police and fire department and people from the Office of Emer-gency Services.”
She said the plan hadn’t been updated this school year, but that the district may look at some alternative evacuation sites.
Currently, if a school had to be evacuated, the students would probably walk or be transported to a different Lonoke school, but if all the schools were under some sort of threat, they would consider go-ing to the National Guard Armory or area churches.
Lonoke schools would host students from the England School District if they had to evacuate because of a mishap at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, where chemical weapons are stored and destroyed.
In the event that buses were needed for an evacuation of the district’s entire student population, buses would have to make two or more trips.

District personnel perform routine fire drills and have a crisis phone tree.
Some of the teachers also attended crisis training last year with the Criminal Justice Institute to know how to react to a bomb threat, an accident, a missing child or a fire or gas leak, as well as an intruder on campus.
“The secretary and staff know who to call, where to go and whet-her to lock down or leave the school,” Havens said.

The only drills practiced are for fire — which would involve leaving the building — and tornado, which would require staying in a secure part of the building, she said.

Leader staff writers John Hofheimer and Joan McCoy contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >> Stumbaugh ready for next campaign

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stum-baugh was right at home Monday night when he addressed the Lonoke County Republican Committee about his race for Congress.

Having served as chairman of the growing organization, he was familiar with the members, and they responded with a $2,000 donation to his campaign.

That brings his campaign fund to $22,000 even before fund-raising efforts have begun in earnest, but Stumbaugh told the group of Republicans that he would need $500,000 to $750,000 to beat Cong. Marion Berry, D-Ark. That meant he would not only need their money, he would need their help in raising more.

Stumbaugh’s promises were the same he has made since he announced his candidacy in August. He will work for economic development by getting money for highways and insurance plans for small businesses.
The First Congressional District is widespread with divergent needs, but Stumbaugh said the farmers in the Delta would not be forgotten. He asked why the federal government isn’t supporting the development of grain-based fuels that would help farmers survive and help everyone else get to work a little cheaper.
The mayor alluded to the change in district lines that combined hill country with the Delta and brought in more Republican voters, a change that would help put him in office. Changes also included Baxter County becoming a part of the First District as a result of redistricting, the growth of Cabot in Lonoke County (which votes a high percentage Republican), the changes in voting trends in Searcy County, Stone County, Independence County, Cleburne County, Prairie County, Craighead County, Greene County and even Arkansas County (Congressman Berry’s home county).

“We have an opportunity to beat Marion Berry,” Stumbaugh said. “The only place Marion Berry is going is back to Gillett.”

The only negative comments came from Steve Bonifant, a former member of the Lonoke County Quorum Court who asked what Stumbaugh planned to do about the problem of illegal immigrants who he said are overburdening the country’s entitlement program.

“This is a hot-button issue and you’ve got to be able to nail it,” Bonifant said.
“The strongest thing I’ve heard from you that really resonates is (Berry’s) ineffectiveness.” Stumbaugh answered that he would welcome Bonifant as a member of a campaign-strategy team. But for now, all he could say is that his opponent was against empowering the military to stop illegal immigrants at the borders.

Asked by one member of the committee if he would remember them when he makes it to Wash-ington D.C, Stumbaugh answered that aside from what he had already promised, all he could offer is a room for the night when they come to town for a visit.

“You can stay at my place,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Commission decides on manager to run utility

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s water and wastewater utility , which will become independent of the mayor and city council on Jan. 1, now has a general manager.

The Cabot Water and Waste-water Commission, which will take over the city utilities at the first of the year, has hired Tim Joyner, an engineer with the water company that supplies the Pine Bluff area.
Joyner’s salary will be $77,500 a year, plus benefits.

Joyner, 44, has turned in his resignation in Pine Bluff and will start to work in Cabot on Oct. 31. His family will move from White Hall when school is out.
“I have a strong desire to move back to that part of the county. I’m originally from Searcy,” Joyner said Tuesday.

Asked how he intends to spend the two months he has to get ready for the change from city to commission control, Joyner said he intends to get to know how everything works.

“I’m going to have to get really familiar with the system. That’s my major task for the next two months,” he said.

Joyner has a degree in civil engineering from Memphis State University and 15 years of experience. It took the commission three months to find him after turning down the current public works director, water manager, wastewater manager and at least five other applicants.

Hiring a general manager was critical to the commission taking over water and wastewater because, the commissioners lack the expertise to run the utilities on a daily basis and as they have pointed out, that isn’t their job.

Asked Tuesday if there is still time to complete all the work of separating the utilities from the city, commission chairman J.M. Park said he thinks it is possible.

“I think we will if we don’t run into any major conflicts with the city,” he said. “There might be a few loose ends. There always is with a transfer of this magnitude, but not anything we can’t clear up later.”
The commission as it exists today is the successor to the Cabot Public Utilities Commission which was created by an overwhelming vote of the people in November 2004. But that commission was not autonomous. It still answered to the city council. So at the strong urging of former City Attorney Ken Williams, the council abolished the utilities commission and replaced it with the water and sewer commission, a form that gets its authority from the state to operate city utilities independent of the mayor and city council.

In re-creating the commission, the council said it wouldn’t relinquish control until January 2006. In the interim, the commission was supposed to get ready for the transition by getting its books in order, hiring a general manager, devising a plan to assume responsibility for the city employees which work for water and sewer now and dividing the equipment that is now shared with the street department.
So far, only the equipment part has been dealt with. The commission has hired an attorney and they have advertised for an accountant to help with the books.

Currently, the city general fund gets 5 percent of the revenue, about $200,000 a year, from the water department. That money helps pay for fire and police protection. Some council members were concerned that the commission would keep all the revenue and talked about a possible 5 percent franchise fee like that collected from other utilities.

But Park says he doesn’t think the council needs to worry. State law provides for the city to collect 5 percent and he doesn’t think anyone on the commission would even try to fight it.
Park said city employees who now work for water and wastewater need not fear for their jobs when the commission assumes control in January. “They’ll get to keep all their fringe benefits,” he said. Sick leave and vacation time will carry over.

The public works director is the only employee who will not be retained, he said. But the hope is that the mayor will keep him on to run streets, engineering and code enforcement.

TOP STORY >> LRAFB celebrates its 50th birthday

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base personnel are calling the 50th Anniversary Air Show this past weekend a success with more than 150,000 people in attendance.

The record attendance for an air show at Little Rock Air Force Base is about 200,000, according to a spokesperson.

Traffic getting on and off the base was the biggest problem for visitors. Despite the best efforts of the Jacksonville Police Department, traffic heading to the air show backed up onto Hwy. 67/167 for eight miles in both the northbound and southbound lanes, according to radio traffic updates.

“I know on Saturday, traffic got backed up on Hwy. 67/167 North to the Redmond Road exit,” said Robert Baker, chief of the Jacksonville Police Department.

“When you try to get 65,000 people in one spot, there’s bound to be traffic congestion,” Baker said, adding no traffic accidents or injuries from the air-show traffic were reported.

“We saw several issues with parking and long lines of people waiting to get through security checkpoints on the first day,” said Lt. Jon Quinlan, deputy chief of Public Affairs for the 314th Airlift Wing.
The base opened the back gate to allow traffic to enter off Hwy. 107 and 100 additional security personnel were helping direct traffic and pedestrians.

“There were still a lot of problems with traffic flow,” Quinlan said.
The air show is normally held in July but this year the air show was moved to October in order to coincide with the base’s 50th anniversary. Quinlan says base officials are considering moving the annual air show from July to October permanently.

“This type of weather seems to work out well for the air show,” Quinlan said.
Once on base and parked, spectators had to pass through a security checkpoint where officials collected more than 150 pocketknives from spectators. Spectators could take the knives back to their vehicles, but many opted to leave the knives with security personnel at the checkpoint.

Long lines were reported on both days of the air show for virtually all the food and refreshments at the show, whether it was a $2 beer or a funnel cake. One food vendor ran out of French fries and a beer vendor ran out of cups.

Many spectators came out to see specific acts such as the Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 aerial demonstration team or the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber’s slow fly by appearance on Sunday.
“We came out to see the whole show,” said Tina Ridge of Benton who attended the Sunday show with her husband and two teen-age children.

Black smoke boiled from the airfield as the Commemorative Air Force Dixie Wing reenacted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a Japanese Nakajima B5N Kate replica and an A6M Zero replica. Doug Jackson and his Japanese A6M Zero replica “Tora 101” participated in the reenactment.

Four of the Red Baron Pizza Squadron’s vintage Boeing Stear-man biplanes performed aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, barrel rolls and a heart drawn in the sky with the planes’ smoke plumes. The smoke plumes allow spectators to follow the plane’s flight path. The smoke is a biodegradable, paraffin-based oil pumped directly into the exhaust of the aircraft where it is vaporized into smoke. The smoke burns efficiently and does not pollute.
Heather Kennedy of Cabot and her son Chandler, 6, attended the air show both days.

“We had to leave early yesterday (Saturday) so we came back today to see the Thunderbirds,” Kennedy said.
“I like all of them,” Chandler said of the planes. “I liked the black pointy plane (the B-2 Stealth Bomber).”
Spectators learned about the combat uses of the C-130 Hercules aircraft during a combat capabilities exercise. Cargo, heavy equipment and more than 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N. C. parachuted from the planes onto the airfield in a demonstration of securing an airfield. Gusty winds on Sunday afternoon sent several of the paratroopers off course, causing them to land in the trees on the other side of the airfield.
With parachutes tangled in the branches, several paratroopers either had to unbuckle their parachute harness to drop to the ground or dangle until helped down by fellow paratroopers.

Afterwards, individual performers kept the crowd’s eyes skyward with the aerobatic maneuvers of Michael Hunter, the world’s only insulin-dependent air show pilot. He flew his red-and-white Laser 230 monoplane as part of his Flight for Diabetes performance.

Hunter’s own dream of becoming a fighter-pilot ended when he was diagnosed with diabetes in 1981 at age 17 and was told he’d never fly again due to a world-wide ban on diabetic pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted the ban in 1997 due to advances in diabetes control. And, after being told for 20 years that he would never fly, he made history as the first diabetic person to receive a FAA low-altitude aerobatic airshow license.

The state-of-the-art equipment in his cockpit includes a compact blood glucose meter and an insulin pump that automatically administers insulin to him every three minutes. Hunter even checks his blood sugar during his performance, while flying 200 mph upside down, in order to demonstrate how easy the latest diabetes management tools are to use.

“I remember how limited I felt when I was diagnosed, and I want to prevent children from feeling that way,” Hunter said.

“It’s important that they see that diabetes can be controlled and does not have to keep them from achieving their dreams.”

A lost-and-found area set up next to the Jay Jay the Jet Plane area helped 30 lost children get safely returned to their parents after becoming separated in the crowd.

A car accident on Hwy. 67/167 about 4 p.m. delayed the Sunday afternoon finale performance of the Thunderbirds as the pilots waited for a hospital helicopter to fly the accident victim to Little Rock.
“Safety of the citizens of Ark-ansas is our number-one concern so we’re waiting until the helicopter clears our air space to begin our show,” explained Cpt. Dave Haw-orth, Thunderbirds pilot and narrator.
When the Thunderbirds took to the skies it was non-stop action to a mix of energetic and patriotic music.
The six planes flew in two groups for most of the 30 or so maneuvers. Two soloists demonstrated the F-16’s agility in daring crossovers and eight-point rolls. Other planes demonstrated the control required for close group formations such as the trail to diamond formation where the Thunderbirds smoothly transition from a straight line into a diamond formation in the blink of an eye. The highlight was a trademark Thunderbirds maneuver, the calypso pass where a pair of Thunderbirds fly in the same direction, mere feet apart while one plane flies upside down.

Following the conclusion of the air show on Sunday there was a traffic jam of spectators trying to leave the parking area on the flight line.

“For security reasons our flight line was configured so there were only two main exits for people to leave, and with the large turnout we had some problems flowing 67,000 people and their cars through our exits,” Quinlan said.

TOP STORY >> CAW is winner of land dispute

Leader staff writer

The contentious struggle between Central Arkansas Water and Deltic Timber Corp. over ownership and control of 706 acres of prime development land on the banks of the Lake Maumelle drinking water reservoir ended late last week when Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie M. Pierce signed an order condemning the land and giving CAW ownership.
All that remains is a jury trial to determine the price CAW must pay Deltic for the land, which it had intended to develop into mini-estates.

Lake Maumelle is the primary source of drinking water for parts of central Arkansas, and CAW has agreements to supply water to Jacksonville, Sherwood and Gravel Ridge, so both the quality of the water and the cost of the land are important to area customers. CAW also will supply water to the Cabot area beginning in about a year, according to Steve Morgan, CAW’s director of regionalism and future water source.

CAW put $3.85 million in an escrow account, which Deltic may now withdraw, according to the judge.
“The clerk is directed to deliver the funds on deposit to the defendant, or its designee,” Pierce ordered.
The $3.85 million figure was based upon an independent real estate appraisal, but the actual amount Deltic will receive will be determined by a jury trial, according to Sam E. Ledbetter, CAW’s attorney. Ledbetter said Monday that no trial date had been set.

“They are taking the money out,” said Jim Harvey, chief executive officer for CAW. “I hope that’s a good sign.”
The $3.85 million figure amounts to $5,460 per acre.

Meanwhile, CAW won a two-week jury trial in September against Waterview Estates, in which Waterview sought unsuccessfully to block condemnation of 301 acres, also on the immediate Lake Maumelle watershed.
A jury trial tentatively set for the week of Nov. 14 will determine the cost of that acreage. CAW’s deposit in that case was $765,000, or about $2,500 per acre.

That land, owned by Rick Ferguson, was “not as critical,” as the Deltic land, according to Harvey.
Kate Althof, coordinator for Citizens Protecting Maumelle Watershed, said members were pleased that the former Deltic land would remain forested and protected by CAW, but cautioned, “There are still a lot of unanswered questions. This is only the beginning. The lake is not safe.”
With a two-year watershed management study underway, “There are a lot of competing interests on how the lake will be used,” she said.

“It depends on the plan and its implementation, and political will.”
Althof said the management study’s technical advisory committee would discuss clean-water standards with the policy-advisory committee Oct. 20.

Lake Maumelle water purity now is so high that the water could be degraded and still meet state and federal standards. She fears there will be pressure to lower the standards to those levels.
“The an-swer will not be purely science,” Althof said.

In an ef-fort to avoid condemnation and proceed with its upscale development plans, Deltic tried during the most recent session of the state legislature to pass legislation that would have stripped CAW of its power to condemn land.

The state Senate easily passed Deltic’s proposed new stealth law, but by the time it got to the House, CAW, environmentalists, clean water activists and others organized a formidable defense of the need to retain CAW’s condemnation rights and the need to protect the pristine drinking water source.
The bill died in a house committee.

Then Deltic proposed leaving the land touched — neither developed nor condemned — for two years, while a watershed-protection study and plan was completed.

The Central Arkan-sas Water Commission, while committed to proceeding with the study, refused that offer.
Instead the board ordered its attorneys — Ledbetter and Bruce McMath — to attempt for two months to negotiate a settlement with Deltic.

When the time limit expired without Deltic even naming the price it wanted for its land, the commission at its September meeting ordered the attorneys to begin condemnation proceedings.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood to get 500 jobs

Arkansas News Bureau

Cardinal Health Inc., of Dublin, Ohio, announced Tuesday it is opening a call center in Sherwood that will create 500 new jobs by the first of next year.
The call center will be located in a 71,000-square-foot office space at the Furniture Row Building, 5422 Landers Rd. at Hwy. 67/167.

“Call center employees will provide telephone support such as product and billing information to our 50,000 customers including hospitals, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies,” said Jim Mazzola, of Cardinal Health’s media relations office. “We were impressed with the enthusiasm showed by local and state officials.”
Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon says the city has very little unemployment, but the new company will be an economic boost.

“When you have 500 workers making $30,000 in your town, they’re bound to spend some of that here eating at restaurants and hopefully buying homes,” Har-mon said.

Cardinal Health made the announcement at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Gov. Mike Huckabee, who attended the morning ceremony, called Cardinal “one of the true gold standard names in health care.”
“Arkansas is becoming increasingly known as a great epicenter for health care,” Huckabee said, citing the region’s long list of world-class hospitals and health-care facilities. “This city and this area has become ... a place of destination for people who need to get fixed.”

“It is not too surprisingly with that wonderful whirl of activity that other great health-care providers and entities would be interested in this marketplace,” the governor said.

In Cardinal Health, Huckabee said Arkansas will be gaining a corporate citizen with a “sterling reputation.” He said the benefit of adding more than 500 jobs will affect Central Arkansas and the region.
“You know if you bring 50 jobs to an area, it is important,” Huckabee said. “But when you bring 500 jobs to an area, it is significant and certainly worthy of a great announcement of a great company.”
Steve Peale, Cardinal Health’s vice president of customer service project management, said that the company chose the Sherwood facility after a nationwide search that began in the summer.

Peale said the new call center, expected to be operational by January, will begin hiring immediately. It will serve as one of Cardinal Health’s two national customer-service centers.
Just over a week ago, the health-care services giant announced it would locate a 81,900-square-foot call center in Radcliff, Ky., about 30 miles southwest of Louisville. That call center is expected to come online at the same time as Little Rock’s in early 2006.

Both call centers will provide support services for Cardinal Health’s 50,000 customers Monday through Friday. The company manufactures and distributes pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, offers clinical services to hospitals and develops automation systems. It ranks 16th on the Fortune 500. The Fortune 500 is an annual listing by Fortune magazine of the 500 largest US industrial corporations, ranked by sales.

“We are on a very rapid process to get these two call centers up and running,” Peale said. “We did look at the entire United States and we could have picked anywhere in the country, but we chose the Little Rock area ... because it had the quality of labor that we were looking for, and it had the education skills and the quantity of people that we are going to need to make this successful.”

Peale did not provide specific information concerning the salaries that will be offered at the call center, but said Cardinal Health will hire for both hourly and salaried workers. He said the wages and benefits “will be competitive.”

According to the company’s Web site, www.cardinalhealthcareers
.com, the benefits package will include medical, dental and life insurance, stock purchase and 401K retirement programs and tuition reimbursement, along with training and career development.

And although Cardinal Health is a healthcare provider with an annual budget exceeding $75 billion, the jobs that are coming to Arkansas will be categorized as customer service and telemarketing jobs under the state’s statistical guidelines for Arkansas workers.

Cardinal also will have to compete with another healthcare titan and the world’s largest flower delivery company for call-center employees. Also, announced in early September that 250 new call center jobs were coming to Sher-wood, where workers soon will begin taking calls from FTD customers from across the world wishing to place an order with a retailer within the company’s vast international-delivery network.
Once fully operational later this month, shifts at the center will run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. During peak seasons, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valen-tine’s Day and Easter, the center will hire as many as 200 to 250 additional temporary workers, officials said.

According to labor information from the state Department of Workforce Services, the average annual salary for telemarketers in central Arkansas is $21,524. Entry-level positions start at $13,387, statistics show.
However, positions at the 730-worker Southwest Airlines reservation and call center in Little Rock were making as much $18 to $20 an hour before that facility closed in November 2003.