Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NEIGHBORS >> Rotary speaker talks about potential of city dog park

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The president of the Jacksonville Dog Park Club discusses the advantages of a canine recreation area in Dupree Park.

Jacksonville Dog Park Club president Dan Limke told Jacksonville Rotary Club members Monday that with the help of a few successful fund-raisers, Dupree Park lies on the verge of becoming one of among the 700 stomp-and-sniff parks for which dog owners nationwide are howling praise and gratitude.

“Across the United States, these parks have opened a whole new set of services to exercise dogs, let them run off-leash legally, mingle, and live happier, healthier lives,” Limke said.

“Visiting Murray Park in Little Rock, and dog parks in Maumelle and Burns Park proved how popular and well-received they are. During one visit, we counted the arrival of 60 people in 90 minutes.”

The proposed area for the park consists of the wooded area at the southwest corner of Dupree Lake because of availability of shade and open ground, access to water and adequate parking.

Of the four acres designated for canine recreation, fences will need posting.

Limke said two separate sections would accommodate large and small breeds, and would grant access for mowing equipment and overflow parking for large events such as the Wing Ding Festival.

In its two proposals to Jacksonville city officials, the six-member dog park committee outlined benefits to local dog owners and demonstrated why Dupree Park would be the best location to install such enhancements.

Characteristics such as location, size, popularity, landscape, parking availability and proximity to the city’s animal shelter make it attractive and quite feasible, Limke said.

“Dog parks are places dogs are allowed to legally run off their leash, and benefit progressive communities by providing a specific area to socialize and exercise dogs in a safe environment,” he said. “Our goal as a club is promotion of responsible pet ownership.”

A fenced area consisting of two separate sections would accommodate both large and small breeds, while allowing access for mowing equipment and overflow parking. It also is surrounded by plenty of ground to buffer dog park activity from ballpark and residential areas to the north and east.

Limke said two long vertical rows will provide access through a five-foot rubberized fence with entrance gates at each side, preventing dogs from entering the lake adjacent to the park. The rubber fence will minimize urinary corrosion.

Limke said a portion of the cost to develop the dog park would be financed by general funds of Jacksonville Parks and Recrea-tion’s budget.

The dog park committee would generate funds toward the purchase of additional amenities such as benches, tables, lights and dog recreation equipment.

Various community fundraisers, private and corporate contributions and a vigorous publicity campaign are vital.
Limke said the time frame in which to secure funds to open the dog park is of primary concern.

Fundraising efforts are being scheduled to help pay the approximate $10,000 the dog club needs, which include dog washes, photo shoots, and a manufactured doghouse contest on Oct. 22.

Paved name inscriptions on brick walkways will recognize donors. “City funds won’t be available after this year, so we’ve only got a limited time to get this off the ground,” Limke said.

“The parks and recreation budget allocates available funding through the end of the year, which is why we’re doing all we can to get the word out and come up with as many ideas as possible to raise money for this.”

The dog park could likely become a source for additional revenue through rentals for dog-related activities. Limke believes visitors from in and around Jacksonville would enhance the local economy.

Maintenance and patrol of the park would include routine inspections to remove trash and leftover dog deposits, as well as examining fence conditions.

Limke said these responsibilities would become part of the regular routine of the parks and recreation employees, and Jacksonville Animal Shelter would include the dog park among its routine Dupree Park patrol.

Limke said city pet ordinances prohibit untagged and vicious dogs from the park.

“The same ordinances apply to the park as they do for a shelter,” he said. When asked of foreseeable circumstances of pet abandonment, he said, “Most abandoned pets are left at shelters, not at dog parks.”

As for cleanliness, Limke said, “Dog parks stay pretty clean. They’re self-policed; people are generally responsible for cleaning up after their pets.”

The growing popularity of dog parks nationwide keeps Limke optimistic about local enthusiasm.
“Across the country, so many people live in apartments with dogs who have no room to run,” he said.

“These parks become a social environment. It’s just as much for people as it is for dogs.”

Before Limke’s discussion, club president Thea Hughes announced a donation request to send a Jacksonville child to a five-day asthma camp in Little Rock in late July.

Members agreed by voice vote to donate $600, the amount given last year for the same cause.

Before adjourning, members expressed admiration and gratitude toward Jacksonville firefighters who volunteered time to reposition tombstones overturned at the vandalized Bayou Meto Cemetery.


Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Martin Street Youth Center has summer fitness classes for kids

Motivated by the national obesity woes among adults, the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department devised two exercise programs to teach youngsters the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Last week, Kids Fit and Reality Fit, programs targeting two different age groups, kicked off at the Martin Street Recreation Center in Jacksonville.

Children ages 8 to 12 will be in the Kids Fit classes and teenagers 13 to 15 can participate in the Reality Fit classes. Both pilot exercise programs are scheduled to run for the next six weeks, and Staci McHenry, aerobics coordinator for the parks and recreation department, will oversee them.

“The older class did the aerobics pretty well, but the younger ones, to keep their interest, will do active games like basketball, jump rope and dance,” said Cathy Brand, program manager for the department.

Brand said she hopes these classes will help the children develop a healthy lifestyle which will carry over into adulthood.
“It was a combination of myself, George (Biggs, director of the department) and the Jacksonville Health Coalition thinking about and discussing the possibility of a summer program of exercise for the kids.”

Between 1988 and 1994 and1999 and 2002, National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys show the U.S. has experienced a 45 percent increase in overweight youth ages 6 to 19.

After each class, youngsters and teens participating in the fitness programs are then taught about nutritional facts and instructed about healthy foods to eat instead of snacking on sugary treats. As an added bonus, the classes are free.

Minorities appear to tip the scale in being overweight. According to the American Heart Association website, 27.3 percent of Hispanic-American boys are considered to be overweight, while the percentage of overweight Hispanic-American girls is 19.6 percent.

Approximately 17.5 percent of young males of African-American descent 22.1 percent of young females in that group are considered overweight. However, 11.9 percent of Caucasian boys are considered overweight as compared to 12 percent of Caucasian girls.

NEIGHBORS >> Keeping the past alive

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Beebe Middle School enshrines McRae School’s former persona

What happens to the trophies and class pictures when small schools are forced to consolidate with larger ones?

With consolidation looming over several Arkansas schools two years ago and the possibility of all those memories being lost, the state stepped in and said the receiving school districts must make arrangements to store memorabilia somewhere on the consolidating school’s campus. But where?

“We didn’t want to just put it in a box somewhere,” said Hal Crisco, assistant superintendent of Beebe Schools and a graduate of McRae High.

So instead of storing everything, Crisco’s maintenance workers built display cases and painted and waxed the rooms on the second floor of the McRae gym and created a sort of museum for the former school that is now called Beebe Middle School McRae Campus.

By all accounts it was a hit with the McRae Alumni who gathered on the second Saturday in June as they do every year for the annual McRae School reunion.

This year, about 175 former students attended the evening get-together and several made their way to the upstairs of the gym to see the new home of their school memorabilia.

“Everybody was so appreciative,” said Eva Burris, a 1954 graduate and one of the coordinators of the reunion. “I’m sure there is still some sadness with losing the school…but the fact that they went above what they had to do showed that they are trying really hard.”

Among the trophies on new shelving were the ones Burris helped win in her senior year when the girls basketball team took county and region and went on to the state playoffs.

“We didn’t win state, but we went,” Burris said proudly.

Also there were the senior class pictures dating from 1941, old basketball uniforms and artwork by art teacher Margo Shoffner, to enhance the overall effect.

Dr. Belinda Shook, Beebe schools superintendent, said she was a little surprised by how well it turned out and was also very pleased with how well it had been received.

Not counting the labor, it cost between $2,500 and $3,000 to build the memorabilia room, Crisco said. And so far it seems worth it.

EDITORIAL >> Giving it all away

Warren E. Buffett, the shrewdest investor in history, has always been an iconoclast in the mercantile world. His uncanny and intuitive grasp of markets made him the envy of investors everywhere and often the object of their resentment. Buffett thinks the estate tax is the fairest tax on the books and should be raised, not eliminated as President Bush and wealthy families like the Waltons want. He opposed all those tax cuts for his class since 2001 and suggested instead that working people be given a holiday from payroll taxes.

Monday, the 75-year-old businessman announced that he was going to give 85 percent of his vast fortune of $45 billion or thereabouts to foundations that seek to combat disease and environmental misfortune in the third world and educational shortcomings in America. Here is the shocker: The name of Warren E. Buffett will not be on the door of any of the foundations, and his name will not be written across the skylines like those you see on the towering edifices at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus at Little Rock or other universities where rich men have their names enshrined.

The largest share by far, some $37.5 billion, will go to the philanthropic foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates. The rest will go to foundations run by his family, including his three children, which spend the money to promote literacy, end poverty and discrimination and restore the environment. Buffett said he was good at making money — how’s that for understatement? — but not good at spending it. He will leave it to the Gateses to see that his stupendous fortune will perform efficient good works. Gates and his wife, who already run the biggest philanthropic foundation in the world, said they hoped that the money would produce cures for the 20 major diseases afflicting poor countries and distribution of the cures throughout the third world.

History records generous and selfless men and women of wealth, including even a few who left their money anonymously to do good works, but Warren Buffett’s gesture puts him on a different level among history’s philanthropists, ahead of Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie. The Gates foundation, already by far the largest in the world, will more than double in assets, and its ability to elevate health and reduce suffering around the world will multiply. It will spend many times the aggregate of the United Nations on health and education around the globe.

It occurs to us that the timing of Buffett’s dramatic announcement is not a coincidence. This week or next, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress will make the final push to eliminate the estate tax forever, or at least to make it little more than a nuisance for the mega-rich. If they can bring Arkansas’ Sen. Mark Pryor over, Bush should get the bill in July. The estate tax, which averages about 19 percent, is collected on less than 1 percent of estates — this year on estates valued at more than $2 million ($4 million for couples). Family farms and businesses qualify for special exemptions, deductions and long grace periods that make the tax almost inconsequential for even the few that are large enough to owe taxes.

Buffett denounced the effort to repeal the tax Monday, as he has so often the last decade. He said he never intended to pass on dynastic wealth to his children and grandchildren, who nevertheless are and will be very wealthy people. Like Andrew Carnegie, an early exponent of the estate tax, he thinks vast dynastic wealth is undemocratic and un-American. Eliminating the estate tax and giving rich investors like himself far lower tax rates than other Americans pay, Buffett said, shifts the burden from the rich and corporations to poor and middle-class families, who ultimately will have to pay much higher taxes when the government’s staggering bills finally have to be paid.

American and global capitalism afforded him and others like him the special opportunity to aggregate great wealth, Buffett said, and they have a moral obligation not to hoard it like feudal aristocracies but to help the underprivileged and unlucky through philanthropy or fair taxation.

What a weirdo! May his example spread in this brave materialist world.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Good folks should get in the limelight

Leader publisher

(This is the second part of a two-part column that we’ve turned over to Jaynie M. McClain of Lonoke, whose cousin, Army Specialist Bobby West of Beebe, was killed May 30 in Baghdad at the age of 23. He was buried June 7 in Beebe as hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders protected the family from about 10 protesters from Kansas, who be-lieve God has punished America because it tolerates homosexuals.)

I became so irritated that night as I watched the local news. I mean, if you just watched the television news coverage, and weren’t there, you would have thought that there were 400 protesters from Topeka, Kansas, and six Patriot Guard Riders. They wasted all their film on six hate-filled individuals, while ignoring (for the most part) the sea of black leather, mingled with red, white and blue that was probably 400-500 strong.

As a Baptist myself, a member of Marshall Road Baptist in Jacksonville, I was very ashamed of the display of disrespect toward a serviceman and even toward a grieving family. I never would have thought that they would show up at a funeral I would attend. You hear about them going to funerals and it just doesn’t seem real until you are there and you see them. I don’t know what Bible they read, but the Bible that I read says that Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus just prior to Him raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus grieved with those who grieved. He didn’t show up at a funeral and protest the politics of the Roman government!

Bobby was not a homosexual. If they want to protest homosexuality, then they need to go find someplace other than a funeral to do it. Particularly the funeral of a young man who has just died to keep them free in a nation where they can express their opinions, no matter how offensive or wrong they are. For them to hold signs that say: GOD LOVES IEDS, GOD HATES YOUR TEARS, DON’T WORSHIP THE DEAD, GOD IS OUR TERRORIST and YOU ARE GOING TO HELL were extremely offensive to me both as a Christian and as a member of the grieving family. Not one of those signs spoke the truth about the situation.

We were there to honor Bobby, a soldier, not to worship him; apparently they don’t know the difference. We were there to remember him with tears at a life cut short and smiles at good memories. Bobby would not have wanted us to worship him, he knew who God was. God does not hate our tears, on the contrary the psalmist said that He captures our tears (Psalm 56.8) and puts them in His book. It also says that God is close to the brokenhearted and that He heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147.3).

Psalm 116.15 says, “Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Bobby is alive in heaven today. His death was not the act of a vengeful god, but of a loving God who removed him from a world of pain and death. God doesn’t love improvised explosive devices — that’s like saying that God loved what the terrorists did on Sept. 11. IEDs are inventions from the minds of those who don’t want any religion in the earth except for their version of radical Islam.

As a born-again Christian and a Baptist, I would like for you and others to know that true Christians would never, ever picket at the funeral of anyone. I was very ashamed of the antics of those so-called “Baptists.” I might consider a picket for Osama Bin Laden, but certainly not at the funeral of an honorable man or woman who served this country in the military, as law enforcement, firefighters, or as first responders. These are the ones who have stood between this nation and tyranny for over two hundred years.

One of the saddest things is that they are bringing their children and teaching them that such disrespect is acceptable. One teenage boy was standing on the American flag. I know that seeing that sight hurt each of those veterans and active duty people who saw it. This does not fall under the admonition of the Shema in Deuteron-omy 6. 4-9, does it? The people of Westboro Baptist Church have more in common with the KKK than they do with followers of Jesus Christ.

After checking out one of their many Web sites, I found that basically, everyone except for the members of their own church is hell-bound in their eyes. They were critical this week of the Southern Baptist Convention (my church is a member of this denomination) stating: “WBC to picket the idolatrous Southern Baptist Convention as they worship the 10-foot graven image of Billy Graham at the Greensboro Coliseum.” The people of Westboro were planning on being there on Tuesday and Wednesday to picket there. The bottom of the flier on their Web site says: “The worshippers (Southern Baptists) and the worshippee (sic) (Billy Graham) are all Hell-bound heretics.” So, my family is actually in pretty good company being on their hit list: all Southern Baptists, Billy Graham, one of the most respected evangelists of all time, and our military.

Jesus sat down and ate meals with the dregs of His society, prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans. His words of anger were said to the self-righteous of His day who thought they were so much better than all the rest, the self-righteous who thought that they were the only ones who were right, the only ones who were truly serving God.

The photos that I took were of the positive scenes of the day, and to remind me of my cousin. Bobby died doing what he loved and wanted to do. He was willing to go to a foreign country and attempt to show them what liberty feels like. The liberty that the people of Iraq want is the same liberty that the protesters from Kansas were exercising so rudely at his funeral.

I’ve heard it said that we are losing the old warriors of the Greatest Generation at the rate of 2,000 per day. I have wondered what our nation would be like when this patriotic group was gone. But after Bobby’s funeral, I have found that their place is being taken by their children…The Patriot Guard Riders, the people who have never served but respect those who have chosen to serve, and the young men and women who are serving their nation today in bases around the world. Perhaps as the Greatest Generation of World War II veterans have passed away, they passed along their fervor for this nation to the next generation.

Those young men and women in the armed forces today deserve our respect and our gratitude. They are all that is standing between us and another, perhaps even more devastating Sept. 11 attack. One wonders if the people from Kansas have given even a passing thought as to why terrorist attacks have hit the other western nations of Britain and Italy, but not in America again. Were it not for the military of the United States in the past and those currently serving, we would be speaking the language of some conqueror as a defeated people. Instead, most of us live our lives from day to day, not fearing a suicide bomber, or political retribution from the party in control. We are safe in our homes because of men and women like my young cousins, my stepson, my husband, my father and the countless others whose faces are a sea of desert camo, or jungle camo.

I cannot sing “America” without crying especially the line that says, “who more than self, their country loved and mercy more than life.” Now, besides thinking of the aging warrior who is my beloved dad, I will think of the face of my eternally 23-year-old cousin.

Thank you, Bobby, for your service to us, for the sacrifice that you were willing to make so that I can go to bed each night without fear. I will never forget you for that.

Thank you also to your older brother, Patrick, for his continued service to our country in Iraq. We all are so grateful to him and all those like him who have chosen the frontlines of defense.

Thank you, Garrick for the sensitive article on the funeral of a hero. Thank you also for realizing that the people from Kansas are not representative of everyone who calls themselves a Christian and a Baptist. Please, may no one associate all Christians as being like the people from that church. We are not. Most of all, we would have the good sense not to protest at a funeral.

TOP STORY >> Firefighters help right headstones

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Jacksonville’s Bayou Meto Cemetery makes repairs and tries to figure out how to keep vandals away.

Jacksonville firefighters have cleaned up historic Bayou Meto Cemetery, where vandals broke and toppled about 200 headstones last week.

“Boy, they saved our necks,” said a grateful Vestal Johnson, chairman of the Bayou Meto Cemetery board of directors.
Although many of the damaged headstones are being repaired, it’s unlikely the oldest ones will ever be fixed, according to cemetery historian David Brannon.

Saturday morning, Scott Moon, president of the Jack-sonville Firefighters Union, and Scott Teague, another firefighter, along with John-son surveyed the damages caused by vandals who have not yet been arrested. Johnson told firefighters about all the headstones in the back row of the cemetery that were pushed to the ground.

“It’s a crying shame what they did here, but we’re here to do all we can for our citizens,” Moon told The Leader. “We can get him (Johnson) everything from landscapers to front-end loaders.”

Moon, a 14-year veteran of the Jacksonville Fire Department, and Teague, a seven-year veteran, walked the grounds to see the damage first-hand. Johnson, who is retired, pointed to a headstone lying on the ground with only the base to mark the gravesite.

“She was a teacher when I was in elementary school,” Johnson said as he looked at the destruction.

Moon said he could not believe what the vandals had done. “I guess we’re turning into a big city, but this just isn’t normal for Jacksonville,” he lamented. “We’ll be more vigilant from now on.”

Johnson is making plans to repair the damaged headstones. “I believe they call it tiger glue, and it’s expensive,” he told the firefighters.

Over the weekend, firefighters spread the adhesive material onto the exposed bases of approximately 180 headstones.
On Monday, some of the older headstones had sticks propping them up to keep them from tipping over again. Over the weekend, firefighters, coping in the summer’s heat, reattached the headstones to their original bases.

Many of those headstones weighed between 400 and 500 pounds. After spreading the glue, several firefighters lifted the headstones onto their bases.

Meanwhile, Jo Purnell-Johnson of Alaska arrived at the cemetery to visit her father’s grave, which had been spared. “I’m shocked…this is Arkansas and I thought this was the land of pride.”

Jerry O’Riley, who accompanied Pumell-Johnson to the cemetery, was also saddened by the possible loss of older headstones.

“They hit the 1800s’ headstones,” O’Riley said. “That’s a piece of history gone.”

As chairman of the local cemetery board, Johnson estimated there could only be about a 10 percent chance that those buried under the headstones from the 1800s still had living descendants.

Some historic headstones were broken into more than one piece, making chances slim for their repairs to stick.
By Monday, “tiger glue” turned into “gorilla glue,” which cost about $100, according to Johnson.

Either way, plans to shore up security appear necessary considering the damage.

Johnson said there have been problems at the cemetery before, but nothing of the magnitude experienced last week. “Now, we’ve had a little trouble with beer drinkers before,” he said as he pointed to the southeast area of the cemetery.

A plan for installing fences has been underway for about a year, according to Johnson. He estimates it will cost about $150,000 to construct a fence to enclose the cemetery.

But the Arkansas Department of Highway and Transportation doesn’t want a fence too close to North First Street, which runs along the cemetery. “They wanted us to jut the fence line in, and it wouldn’t be straight across,” Johnson said.

But Johnson says a compromise is likely. Shrubbery will be placed along a small strip of land on the front section where the historic headstones are located. “I think they thought we might be burying some more people here,” Johnson said ruefully.
Someone visiting from out of state suggested that the cemetery board should operate a dog park there.

A fee could be charged for dog walkers and the cemetery would not only become more secure with increased foot traffic but also increase its income to help with the cemetery’s upkeep.

The Association for the Preservation of the Historic Congressional Cemetery in Virginia makes about $23,000 a year from dog walker fees. Johnson said he would not be opposed to the idea, but the cemetery board would have to vote on the proposal.

TOP STORY >> Audit by state

Leader staff writer

Accounting irregularities discovered in an annual state audit spurred the Beebe City Council on Monday to hire Leonard Fort as the interim code-enforcement officer, replacing Alan Ridings temporarily.

Council members told The Leader they couldn’t comment on the decision pending an internal investigation in the code-enforcement department budget.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance and Adminis-tration Division of Joint Legislative Audit told The Leader that auditors couldn’t comment on “accounting irregularities” or how long the investigation might take.

Fort had been the city code-enforcement officer from 1991 to 1999.

In other business, the city condemned two properties and pledged $1,400 toward a Fourth of July fireworks display.

The condemned properties are an abandoned home at 112 W. Illinois St. and the burned remains of a home at 613 California St.

The city’s Fourth of July celebration will be held at 4 p.m. at the Beebe Fire Department.

There will be a horseshoe competition, poetry reading, a martial arts demonstration, music by the Luke Williams band and a 30-minute fireworks display at dark.

The event is free.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood agrees to second pay hike

Leader staff writer

Sherwood city employees will be seeing larger paychecks at the end of July as the council passed a 2 percent pay raise Monday night.

This will be the employees’ second pay raise of the year and will cost the city an additional $77,000.

Mayor Bill Harmon explained that the 3 percent pay raise given to employees in January didn’t match the cost of living, but the council felt it couldn’t give any more at the time, but it promised to look at funding again in mid year.

“We’ve got the money now,” Harmon said. “This will put our people in very good shape.”

The pay raise will go into effect July 10 and appear on checks at the end of that month.

In other council business:

- Alderman Dan Stedman took his government hat off and put on his Rotary Club hat and presented the city with a $5,000 check from the civic organization.

He also thanked the city for all of its help with the recently completed veterans memorial project.

- Alderman Becky Vasser questioned why the city’s street sweeper was used only four times in the past month. She said it needed to be used more.

The mayor said the problem was that the sweeper driver had to be used to operate other vehicles too.

“If anyone calls for their street to get swept, we’ll do it, even if we have to get a supervisor out to operate the sweeper.” Harmon said he hated that the “high-dollar piece of equipment” wasn’t being used enough.

- Sharon McMinn told the council that the city’s Fourth of July festivities would be on the Fourth from 6 to 9 p.m. at Sherwood Forest, off of Maryland Avenue.

She said entertainment would include the Air National Guard Band of the Smoky Mountains, plus a number of local youth bands.

She also said there would be a “surprise” this year, but wouldn’t elaborate.

- Herschel Bowman, chairman of the city’s Keep Sherwood Beautiful Committee, which is just getting underway asked for one or more aldermen to also serve on the committee and wanted a resolution officially making the group a city committee or commission. “Eventually we’d like to be a non-profit group with a full-time executive director.”

He reminded the council that the group was “not here to pick up litter, but to prevent it.” The anti-litter group will meet at 4 p.m. July 11 at the Harmon Recreation Center.

- In his monthly report to the council, Police Chief Kelvin Nicholson said his patrol division worked 77 accidents, made 18 DWI arrests, 16 drug arrests and nine arrests for domestic battery in May.

During May, 653 individuals were booked into Sherwood’s detention facility. There were also 1,386 hot check charges and 554 criminal charges filed during the month.

More than $163,000 worth of property was reported stolen in May through thefts or burglary. Police recovered almost $57,000 worth of stolen items during the month.

- The council approved the preliminary development plan for Jayroe Subdivision, Phase I, Lot I. The plan calls for a duplex to be built on the vacant lot.

- The council approved a resolution adopting Pulaski County’s hazard mitigation plan. Jack-sonville adopted this plan a few months ago.

All cities need to have some sort of hazard plan in effect in order to obtain pre- and post-disaster funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The county’s plan would satisfy the federal requirements.

TOP STORY >> Growth to leave one city behind

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Cabot could pass Jacksonville in 10 years, Searcy and Sherwood not far behind.

Cabot could pass Jacksonville in population in about 10 years based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Sherwood and Searcy could do it in about 30 years.

Also, Lonoke County will grow at a pace more than seven times faster than Pulaski County. White County’s growth will be three times faster than Pulaski County.

Based on census projections from July 2000 to July 2004, Cabot is growing at a rate of 1,040 new residents a year, Searcy is adding 372 new residents a year and Sherwood about 250 residents.

Jacksonville lags behind, according to the estimates, with a growth of 135 new residents per year.

If the trend continues, Cabot will surpass Jacksonville in just over ten years. In 2017, Cabot’s population will be 33,127 and Jacksonville’s will be 32,355.

Searcy will overtake Sherwood within 20 years, and both could overtake Jacksonville 10 years after that.

In 2026, Searcy’s population, according to estimates, will be 28,601 and Sherwood’s will be 28,014. Cabot will be over 42,000 and Jacksonville just under 34,000.

Many variables can come into play between now and then. If Jacksonville gets its own school district, proponents say that will bring more growth to Jacksonville.

If Sherwood gets to annex 2,000 acres later this summer, bringing its northern boundary up to the air base, that would increase Sher-wood’s growth potential and landlock Jacksonville’s growth efforts in that direction.

For example, North Little Rock, which is already landlocked, is projected to lose about 300 residents a year.

At some point Cabot and Jacksonville will face annexation issues on borders between the two cities and there could even be future land issues between Jacksonville, Cabot and Lonoke.

Cabot has already had land issues with Ward and Austin and could have some with cities to the north such as Beebe as growth continues.

According to the Census Bureau trends, Lonoke County is growing at a rate of about 3 percent or 1,565 new residents a year—70 percent of that growth is just in Cabot. The county’s population is projected to grow from 52,828 in 2000 to 68,478 in 2010.

White County, based on estimates, will grow about 1.3 percent a year or 833 new residents, going from 67,165 in 2000 to 75,495 in 2010.

Pulaski County, meanwhile is growing at a rate of about .3 percent or 997 new resident a year.

At that rate, Pulaski County will grow from 361,474 in 2000 to 371,444 at decade’s end.

For other cities in the area, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts growth, albeit small.

Austin’s growth is estimated at nine new residents a year, going from 608 in 2000 to 698 in 2010.

Beebe is expected to grow by 104 residents a year, going from 5,057 in 2000 to 6,097 in 2010.

Lonoke has an estimated growth of 55 people per year, going from 4,294 in 2000 to 4,844 in 2010.

McRae will increase its population by nearly five people per year, going from 662 in 2000 to 707 in 2010.

Ward is expected to grow by about 100 people a year, going from 2,612 on 2000 to 3,612 in 2010.

TOP STORY >> Cabot looks to future

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Candidates running for mayor of the second fastest-growing city in Arkansas share their ideas on how to support additional residents and their needs.

Conventional wisdom holds that a city that doesn’t grow becomes stagnant, which is just a step above dying, so growth is good.

If that’s the case, Cabot is in good shape since the latest annual estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau say Cabot is the second-fastest growing city in Arkansas among cities with populations above 10,000.

But with that growth comes the problems of traffic congestion, water and sewer systems that are stretched to the limit and crime – just the sort of problems that come to the forefront in an election year. And here’s what the candidates for mayor say about how they would deal with those problems.

Alderman David Polantz:

“I’ve never lived anywhere that people wanted to live where traffic wasn’t a problem…where the demand wasn’t bigger than the resources. “There’s no simple solution. You’ve got to have a council willing to deal with the complex problems. There’s no fairy dust. Nothing changes over night. You’ve got to have focus, determination, vision and heart,” he said.

Cabot is growing not just because of the good school district; it also is growing because people want to live where they feel safe. Since he has been on the council, he has always pushed for money for fire and police, he said.

Improving the traffic flow is a major issue, he said. The city is working on traffic congestion and it is a little better since the light in front of city hall was taken down and the timing on others was adjusted.

But before any of the $2 million in bond money that is now available for roads is spent, the city needs to decide priorities with a traffic study like the one Metroplan is doing for the city, he said.

Former Alderman Eddie Joe Williams:

“Cabot is growing because of the proximity to Little Rock and the access to Little Rock,” Williams said. “It has a lot to offer that we benefit from. And people love neighborhood schools.”

“But it does present problems and that’s why it’s imperative that we elect a manager. The growth is inevitable because it’s just part of our culture to want to get away from the hustle and bustle. “The solution to growth problems is to plan five or 10 years ahead,” he said, adding that he believes much of the existing traffic problems that have the city in gridlock during rush hour are intersection problems that could be managed better.

Management is the key, he said. With a growing city like Cabot, nothing is stagnant.

“We’ve got to continually manage the problems,” he said.

There’s little doubt that the growth will continue, he said, but if everyone works together it should be possible to retain those qualities that are attracting new residents now.

“If we make up our minds to work together – the city, the chamber of commerce, the schools – we will continue to be a great town,” he said.

Former Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Kenny Ridgeway:

“Growth is not good unless it is under control,” Ridgeway said. “People want a safe and wholesome place to raise their children and grandchildren. “At the top of the ladder is traffic, traffic, traffic, but sidewalks also are an issue and so are water and sewer. “If you’re going to be mayor of Cabot, you’ve got to have a comprehensive plan.”

The city should bear some of the cost of growth, but some should come from the private sector through “reasonable impact fees,” he said.

“A lot of the new homes will be bought by young families. You’ve got to have a plan that covers parks.

“You’ve got to have a plan for keeping costs down. Look at the growth of employees. Is it out of control? You’ve got to keep insurance rates down by working to keep employees healthy
“The county and the city must start to work together in long-range planning,” he said. “And the mayor needs to be someone with a short learning curve so he can start to work as soon as possible.”

Alderman James Glenn was not available for comment at press time.

OBITUARIES >> 06-28-06

James McLean

James Dewey McLean, 38, of Cabot, went to be with the Lord on June 24. He was born Jan. 28, 1968 in Little Rock to Dewey and Barbara McLean.

He was preceded in death by his father Dewey “Sonny” McLean; grandparents, Henry McLean and Gertrude McLean Henderson and Antone Valentine.

He is survived by his loving wife of 15 years, Traci Gills McLean and one son, Devin McLean, both of the home; his mother, Barbara Mc-Lean; one sister, Barbara and husband David Wilson, all of Cabot; one brother, Brian and wife Melinda McLean of Jacksonville; his godparents, Paul and Peggy Fulford of North Little Rock; his father-in-law James Gills, sister-in-law, Kristi and husband Greg Gibson all of Cabot; brother-in-law, Michael and wife Jill Gills of Utah; nieces and nephews, Brandon and Kristi Wilson, Page, Jared and Emily Gibson and Lyra Gills; along with numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and beloved friends.
Memorial Services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Old Austin Baptist Church on Hwy. 38 in Cabot.

Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Olga Stroud

Olga Stroud of Beebe went home to be with the Lord on June 25 at the age of 74.

Stroud, who loved her Lord first and her family second, was born Feb. 10, 1932, at Turtle Creek, Penn., to Louis and Anna Vranich. She was preceded in death by her parents, four brothers and two sisters. She is survived by her husband, Robbie Stroud; two sons, John Stroud and his wife Connie, and Robbie Stroud and his wife Denise; and two grandchildren, Riley Stroud and Heather Stroud, all of Beebe.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home. Burial will be in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

Lillian Jessome

Lillian Elizabeth Burley Jessome, 84, of Beebe, went to be with the Lord on June 26. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank A. Jessome and more recently, by her mother, Katie Mae Burley, 101 years old, who was lovingly cared for by Lillian until her death. She was also preceded in death by two sisters, Evelyn Koch and Lucille Webb, both of Little Rock.

She is survived by one loving daughter, Cheryl Jean Maack, who accompanied her mother, aunt, and uncle on many trips to Orange Beach, Ala., and Estes Park, Colo., where they loved sightseeing and just being together. She is also survived by twin grandsons, Robert Allen Maack and wife Autumn, of Cabot, and John Michael Maack and wife Kara, of Sherwood; three beautiful great-grandchildren, Ash-lynne Kate, Abigail Marie, and Carter Joseph; two sisters, Naomi Kemp of Beebe, and Jeanette and husband Ernie Wild, of Hot Springs; one brother, Fred and wife Dolores Burley of Oklahoma; special daughter Vanda Gatlin John-son; a host of loving nieces and ne-phews; and many loving friends and neighbors.

She had many friends and enjoyed being a member of The Ageless Divas chapter of the Red Hat Club for the past three years.
She was born in Ozark and moved to Little Rock when she was 8 years old. She worked for the telephone company until retirement after 27 years. She was a member of Beebe First United Methodist Church and formerly a long-time member of Lifeline Baptist Church in Little Rock. Although Lillian’s family and friends mourn her death and will miss her greatly, they celebrate the life she lived and the Christian example she set.

Visitation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. today at Beebe First United Methodist Church.

Graveside service and entombment will be held at 2:30 p.m.. Thursday at Pinecrest Cemetery, Little Rock by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society, 901 North University, Little Rock, Ark., 72207 or First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 247, Beebe, Ark., 72012.

Katie Dean

Katie Mae Dean, 93, of Cabot died June 20 in Searcy. She was born April 20, 1913, in Cabot to the late Louis Harper Baker and Genettia Isadora Baker. She was a homemaker and the oldest living member of Mountain Springs Baptist Church.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Oscar David Dean; three children, infant twins, infant daughter, Paulette Dean; a grandson, David Stutzman; two brothers, George W. Baker, Mon-roe Baker, and two sisters, Sa-vanna Dillard and Nettie Mize.

She is survived by eight children, Bobbie Stanley and Cora Guess, both of Cabot, Leland Da-vidson of Austin, Marcine Stutz-man of Ward, Dale Dean of Chino Hills, Calif., Phyllis Dean of Cabot, Michael Dean of Norwalk, Calif., and Sharon Studler of Cabot.  

She is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, seven great-great grandchildren and countless nieces, ne-phews, cousins and friends.

Funeral services were June 23 at Mountain Springs Baptist Church with Bro. Donnie Hines and Dr. J. Roland Spears officiating. Burial followed at Mountain Springs Cemetery under the direction of Cabot Funeral Home.

Charles Gernold

Charles Kirwan Gernold passed away on June 23 at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock. He was born May 7, 1937, in Helena, Mont., to Charles and Marie Kirwan Gernold.  

When he was 4-years-old, the family moved to Seattle, Wash. He was raised in the Catholic faith, and attended Catholic schools thru the eighth grade.

In 1953 the family moved to Los Angeles, and he graduated from University High School and received an associate degree in business from Santa Monica Junior College.

He was a driver for UPS for 13 years after which he worked several jobs.

He met his wife of 28 years, Pat Wingate Leigh in Arkansas in July 1977. In July 1978, they moved to the San Francisco area for Pat’s job with the VA.

The next year they relocated to the Miami area, and after 16 months, moved to Los Angeles.

He retired from the Simi Valley, Calif., School District in March 1995.

In early 1995 they moved to Arkansas to be close to Deborah Blackiston and her family.  He shared many good times with the three grandsons attending school and sport activities.  He loved all sports.

He was preceded in death by his parents and in-laws, Pat and Ethel Wingate and stepson Avery Leigh.

He is survived by his wife, Pat; stepdaughter, Deborah and husband, Robert Blackiston and their three sons, Josh, John and Matt.

He has one sister, Kaye Perram and two nieces of Los Angeles; one aunt, Dorothy Gernold Traver of San Francisco, and a special cousin, Kittie Ann Taaler of Sidney, Neb.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Kidney Foun-dation of Arkansas, P.O. Box 453, Little Rock, Ark. 72203 or First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 1023, Cabot, Ark. 72023.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Cabot Funeral Home with arrangements by North Little Rock Funeral Home.


SPORTS >> Gwatney wins three of four

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: The Jacksonville AAA team beat Morrilton 6-3 Monday night for its third win in its last four games. They will host the annual 4th of July Classic this weekend before beginning the final stretch of the regular season.

Jacksonville’s AAA baseball team is on a nice upswing after struggling through the first half of the American Legion baseball season. After going 2-1 in the Sheridan Wooden Bat Classic, with wins over Little Rock Red, 17-0, and Conway, 5-1, and an 8-0 loss to Conway, the Chevy boys came from behind to defeat Morrilton 6-3 Monday night at Dupree Park.

The three wins in the last four games lift Jacksonville’s season record to 7-9 as they head into hosting the annual Gwatney Chevrolet 4th of July Classic that begins Thursday.

“They are starting to play a little better,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hicking-botham said. “We had a bad, bad game against Benton down there in Sheridan, but we’ve had three or four pretty solid games other than that one.”

In Monday’s game, Morrilton grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning by add-ing two runs to the one it scored in the first, but that’s as many as the Cogswell Motors team would get off starting pitcher Casey Winstead.

Winstead settled in, and the Jacksonville bats came alive, starting in the bottom of the third inning.

Leadoff hitter Josh Mansfield singled to start things off. He moved to third on a sacrifice by Neil Hatcher, and scored on an RBI single by Trey Smith. Kyle West then walked, and a pair of pitches got by the catcher to allow Smith to score and cut Jackson-ville’s deficit to one run.

The Gwatney team tied it in the fourth inning. Randy Peeples led off with a bloop single in the infield. Three batters later, and with two outs, Peeples stole second base and scored on a single to right field by Hatcher.

Jacksonville tallied another single run in the bottom of the fifth inning after Winstead sat Morrilton down in order in the top half of the frame.

Kyle West led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice by Tim Payne. Zach James doubled to right field, but West had to hold up at second to see if the ball would be caught. He only managed third base on the shot to the wall.

Peeples then struck out, but the catcher dropped the ball. Peeples outran the catcher down the first base line, and instead of throwing to first for the out, the catcher turned and tried to pick West off at third. The throw was off, leaving everyone safe and the bases juiced with one out.

Tyler Uptergrove then hit a hard grounder to third base that could have been an easy force at home, but the Morrilton third baseman threw to first, allowing West to score and giving Jacksonville its first lead of the game.

Trey Smith took the mound in relief of Winstead in the sixth inning, and fanned the side in order, bringing Jacksonville back to the plate where it posted the final two runs of the contest.

With two outs and nobody on, West again walked, his third walk of the game with the final two coming on eight combined pitches. Payne was then hit with the first pitch of his at bat, and the two runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball.

James then hit a high pop fly to shallow right field. West and Payne were running throughout the flight of the ball, and when the Morrilton second baseman dropped the ball, both runners had already crossed the plate for the 6-3 lead.

Smith got his fourth straight K to start the seventh, gave up a walk and drew two fly outs to secure the save and the Jacks-onville victory.

Smith and Hatcher led the team with two hits apiece. Winstead got the win, throwing five innings, while giving up five hits and two earned runs. He struck out six Morrilton batters.

The Jacksonville A team also beat Morrilton Monday, taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning and holding on for a 10-9 victory.
Morrilton pitching hit Jack-sonville’s first four batters in the first inning, and all four scored to give the Gwatney team the early cushion.

The A team also hosted a doubleheader against Benton last night after Leader deadlines.

Look for details of these games, and early round details of the 4th of July Classic in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >> Ex-Red Devil, Rebel transferring to UALR

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Former Jacksonville Red Devil basketball standout and Ole Miss Rebel Mike Smith is transferring to UALR. He and Ole Miss teammate Brandon Patterson (Altheimer) will sit out this season and begin play in 2007.

LITTLE ROCK – It’s been a whirlwind of a post high school basketball career for former Jacksonville Red Devil Mike Smith. The latest move for the 6-foot-7 forward will be back towards home.

UALR head coach Steve Shields announced today that Smith and Brandon Patterson (Altheimer) are transferring to UALR from Ole Mississippi, where each player just completed their freshmen seasons.

The duo will begin taking classes at UALR this summer and will join the Trojans for the 2007-08 season after sitting out the upcoming year to abide by the NCAA transfer rules. Patterson, a 6-6 guard, will have two years of eligibility remaining, while Smith, a 6-7 forward, will have three years left beginning in 2007-08.

Smith signed with Arkansas St. in high school, but was academically ineligible to play Division I basketball. He enrolled at Laurinburg Prep Academy for one year before signing with Ole Miss.

“I’m excited to have Brandon and Mike return to their home state and join our program,” said Shields. “I think both guys will be high-impact contributors for our team after sitting out the upcoming year.”

Smith played in 29 games as a true freshman at Ole Miss, averaging 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while shooting .479 from the field (23-of-48). He posted career-bests of nine points and a game-high 11 boards against Alcorn State. He matched his career high with nine points against Tennessee and added seven rebounds, both of which were personal highs in SEC play.

The 6-7 forward was a 2004 All-Arkansas selection at Jack-sonville High School and averaged a double-double in leading the Red Devils in points and rebounds his senior year.

After high school, Smith attended Laurinburg Prep and averaged 10.2 points, five rebounds and three assists in helping lead Laurinburg Aca-demy to a 40-0 record and the 2004-05 prep school national championship.

“Mike is a strong post player who can step out and shoot the ball from the three-point line,” said Shields. “I’m very excited about his ability to stretch opposing defenses.”

Patterson was a two-time All-Arkansas selection at Altheimer, as well as the 2004 Southeast Arkansas Player of the Year. He led Altheimer to back-to-back 2A state titles as a junior and senior, earning state tournament most valuable player honors both years.

Altheimer went a combined 63-3 during its two title runs, with Patterson averaging 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 4.3 blocks per game as a senior en route to earning First Team All-State accolades.

At Ole Miss, Patterson averaged 5.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game as a freshman, and ranked second on the team with 36 made three pointers.

He scored a career-high 19 points against Tennessee Tech that year, thanks in part to a 5-of-8 effort from three-point range. As a sophomore, Patterson played in all 30 games with 11 starts, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.

“I remember watching Brandon play a lot at the high school level. He brings a great knowledge of the game to our basketball team,” said Shields. “He is highly skilled and brings some flexibility from the standpoint of being able to play a couple of positions.”

The addition of Patterson and Smith, and the departure of forward Chris Thornton, gives UALR 14 scholarship players for the upcoming season, one more than the NCAA maximum. The Trojans return seven letter winners (including three starters) and three redshirt players from last year’s squad, which ended the year with a 14-15 record.

The University of Arkansas-Little Rock sports information department contributed to this story.

SPORTS >> Former head Hog gives talk in Cabot

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: The winningest football coach in University of Arkansas history appeared before an enthusiastic crowd at the Cabot Rotary Club’s June meeting Monday.

Former Arkansas Razorback football coach Ken Hatfield was the guest speaker at the annual Rotary Club banquet in Cabot Monday night. Hatfield was coach of the Razorbacks from 1984 to 1989, and was also a player on the historic 1964 team.

Just prior to Hatfield’s speech, outgoing Rotary president Sandy Huckabee showed a brief film clip of Hatfield’s historic punt return in the ’64 game against Texas. Hatfield said seeing the footage always brings back gre-at memories, and revealed that it was the center who actually made the game-saving play when he snapped the ball early on fourth down after noticing that there were 12 Texas defenders on the field.

The former head Hog told a number of jokes and humorous stories in his brief speech. He also praised the work of the Rotary Club, comparing them to the center on a football team.

“Real success is giving,” Hatfield told the audience. “When you can take your talents and use them to benefit others, you will make the world a better place.”

After Hatfield’s speech, Huckabea announced Jeff Spann as the new Rotary Club president. Spann spoke briefly to close out the evening, announcing the goals of the club for the coming year.

A number of people lined up to get Hatfield’s autograph afterward. Not surprisingly, the coach was still ready to talk football.
“For me, it was good to coach where I grew up,” Hatfield said. “It was very special, and I feel like the most blessed guy in America to be able to coach at my Alma-mater.

Hatfield also told The Leader about the advantages of coaching in the old Southwest Conference versus the SEC of today.

“When we played in the Southwest Conference, there was a lot of tradition to call on. You could get the players fired up telling them about a game that happened 25 years ago. It was all the same teams for all those years, so you had a lot of ways to relate to the players. There’s not as long of a tradition in the SEC, which makes it a little harder.”

Hatfield was also complimentary of the Rotary Club, and its members.

“I really enjoy banquets like this,” Hatfield said. “It’s a chance for the members to tell their spouses ‘thank you for sacrificing your time.’ The understanding of the members’ spouses is important to the success of this club, and that’s what these banquets are all about.”

OPINION >> Searcy’s Dacus coming on strong for Hogs

Leader sports columnist

FAYETTEVILLE — Sometimes last spring it seemed Reggie Herring shorted the Razorbacks a scholarship.

The Arkansas defensive coordinator/linebacker coach would expound after the early spring practices about the Razorbacks having all walkons behind linebackers Freddie Fairchild, Desmond Sims and Sam Olajubutu until the freshman cavalry officially rides in come August.

“Uh, coach, Weston Dacus is on scholarship, too.”

Nobody makes that omission now. None have since mid-spring. The junior two-year letterman from Searcy really came on with a rush, Herring and head coach Houston Nutt both remarked.

“He cut loose,” Nutt said last week. “It’s like suddenly he stopped thinking and just started playing and making plays. I was really proud of Weston Dacus.”

He was proud, and relieved, too. Relieved because if the Razorbacks opened the season against Southern California tomorrow instead of Sept. 2, the once-forgotten man would be a one-man second-team. He’d be the backup both for Sims in the middle and Olajubutu and Fairchild on either side.

The Razorbacks have promising freshman linebacking help on the way with scholarship signees Adrian Davis, Rosenberg, Texas; Wendel Davis, Sweeny, Texas; Chip Gregory, Allen, Texas; Ryan Powers, Athens, Ala. and Van Stumon, North Little Rock, in the fold. But counting early on freshmen is like betting your future on a roulette wheel’s spin.

The odds are not stacked in your favor.

Just go back to last year with Freddie Fairchild. Fairchild became a good player as last season went on, and Herring and Nutt firmly believe he will become a great one.

But when the former Little Rock Central star, with an extra year of prep school seasoning at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, debuted as a starter in Los Angeles three games into the season against Southern California, he looked more lost in L.A. than the Beverly Hillbillies first driving into town. Not that Fairchild was the Lone Ranger looking lost in the 70-17 debacle against Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Lendale White and Co., but the Trojans certainly exploited him as good teams do against a rookie.
By the season’s end, Fairchild was doing plenty of exploiting with 59 tackles, including two sacks, and a pass deflection and three quarterback hurries. He may perch on stardom now.

“Freddie Fairchild put on 18 pounds of muscle since last year.” Nutt said. “He got better each day.”

So did Dacus once he turned it around starting the second week of spring drills.”

That’s huge news for Arkansas needing a seasoned linebacking hand in reserve.

Dacus’ 2005 campaign tends to get overlooked because he opened the season as a starter but was quickly replaced in the middle by Pierre Brown and Clarke Moore and also stymied on the depth chart by Fairchild’s development.

However, Dacus’ 2005 was not in vain. Appearing in all 11 games, he had 26 tackles, including one and a half sacks, broke up a pass, was credited with two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble. Dacus was a mainstay in the kicking game.

“He was our leading tackler on special teams,” Nutt said.

So the forgotten man perhaps never was all that forgotten. Mark it down. The Razorback coaches know they return four scholarship linebackers from 2005 to 2006.

SPORTS >> All Stars relish experience

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills duo Raefe Jenkins and T.J. Fenton excel during the annual football classic in Razorback Stadium.

What was supposed to be five local players battling for the East squad in the 2006 All-Star football game last Friday turned into just three, and one of those got in on one play. Searcy place kicker Tanner Gibbs scored the East’s only points with a field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Sylvan Hills Bears Raefe Jenkins and T.J. Fenton started and played almost the entire game for the East team. Jenkins played tight end and carried every other play into the huddle from the sideline, working closely with legendary coach Frank McClellan, who was coaching his final game after a storied career that included five consecutive state championships in the 80s and 90s, and a national record 65-consecutive victories.

Fenton started at inside linebacker, and played every defensive series except those in the second quarter when the substitutes took the field.

Also invited to the game were Harding Academy quarterback Zach Tribble, and Jacksonville wide receiver Lavar Neely.
Tribble suffered a minor injury during practice on Wednesday, and sat out of the game for precautionary reasons.
Neely left Fayetteville for undisclosed reasons during Tuesday’s practice.

The East struggled to move the ball and suffered a 20-3 loss, but Jenkins and Fenton were still ecstatic after the game.
“This whole week has been awesome,” Jenkins said. “It’s truly been a blessing. God’s blessed me with this opportunity to play here, and make a few new friends and give me an experience that I’ll never forget.”

“It’s been a real good week,” Fenton said. “Coach McClellan, it’s an honor to get to play for him. Being up here with all these D1 prospects, in a big stadium with a hall of fame coach, it’s been great.”

Jenkins was also excited and honored to play for McClellan. Being one of the two signal carriers, Jenkins got closer to the legend than most others at the camp, and was inspired.

“I loved playing for him,” Jenkins said. “His leadership and motivation was awesome. He’s an amazing coach. I wish I could have played for him for him in high school. I just lived too far away.”

Jenkins is headed to North Texas where he’ll continue his football career, while Fenton will play for Southwest Baptist in Missouri.