Friday, March 09, 2007

TOP STORY >>Helicopter crash kills a sightseer from Cabot

IN SHORT: Wife dies, but her husband survives Thursday accident while touring the island of Kauai.

Leader staff writer

A Cabot woman was killed after the sightseeing helicopter she and her husband were traveling in crashed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai Thursday afternoon.

Dead are Teri McCarty, as well as John O’Donnell of Rockaway, N.Y.; Margriet Inglebrecht of Santa Maria, Calif., and the pilot, Joe Sulak, of Hawaii.

McCarty died in the crash, but her husband James was taken to Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu in critical condition, along with two other passengers.

Three of the dead were killed on impact and a fourth died on the way to the hospital.

According to reports from KGMB television in Honolulu, the crash occurred as the pilot made a desperate attempt to get back to the airport because the chopper had developed hydraulic problems.

The A-Star executive helicopter, operated by the Heli USA tour company, crashed at the edge of the airport on the north shore of Kauai.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom as far as a mile away and the sound of crunching metal as the helicopter hit the ground about 200 yards from its normal landing pad. Witnesses said the impact of the crash destroyed the front half of the aircraft. 

The pilot was about two miles away from the Princeville airport when he radioed his dispatcher, reporting hydraulic problems, which had developed shortly after the tour began. 

The chopper made it back, but it crashed on the northwest end of the airport.  

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said that the pilot had more than 10,000 hours flying an A-Star, the model that crashed.
The craft itself had showed no significant problems in past FAA inspections, he said.

According to the FAA, the pilot was flying under visual flight rules. People in the area say the weather was clear.
“To help out with the situation we are going to put an assistance center to help with the families of the victims,” said Scott Ishikawa, Department of Transportation spokesman.

The spectacular scenic tour, which costs $240 per person, takes passengers across the lush island to see waterfalls, canyons, the rugged Na Pali coastline and humpback whales in the ocean.

Nigel Turner, chief executive of Las Vegas-based Heli-USA, said the helicopter was one of six in his Hawaii fleet.
He defended the safety of his helicopters, which also fly tours in Nevada.

“The company has flown over a million passengers.

This is our second accident in a million people,” he said.
He said he wouldn’t hesitate to put his own family in his helicopters.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Stackhouse label keeps blues alive

Jim O’Neal, co-founder of Living Blues magazine, is back in the record business with a new label after the demise of Rooster Blues, which issued some of the most important blues of the last 25 years, including several first-rate musicians from Arkansas, such as the late Larry Davis, as well as Willie Cobbs and Lonnie Shields, who are still performing.

Stackhouse Records is O’Neal’s latest venture, and he appropriately kicks off his new label with a reissue, “Keep It to Yourself: Arkansas Blues, Vol. I: Solo Performances,” originally issued on Rooster Blues in 1983.

The CD, which is issued in conjunction with the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, showcases several talented, but obscure, south Arkansas musicians who were recorded by Louis Guida during field trips in 1975-76.

The recordings were sponsored by the music department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a bicentennial grant. Photographs from the UAPB Blues Project can be seen online at the Arkansas Arts Center —

The CD has been selected as an outstanding folk recording by the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress. This is the music of the cotton fields and juke joints and prisons: Reola Jackson sang Bobby Blue Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You” at the Cummins Prison Women’s Unit at Varner.

The only musician blues fans around here will recognize is the ailing Cedell Davis of Pine Bluff, who recorded four songs for this CD, playing his guitar upside down and using a butter knife for a slide.

W.C. Clay performs the opening theme of “King Biscuit Time,” the long-running blues show on Helena radio station KFFA, as well as the title tune, both composed by Sonny Boy Williamson, an early star on “King Biscuit Time,” who is shown on the cover. He died in a boarding house in Helena.

Clay also does a spirited version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” (“Tell your Ma, tell your Pa, I’m gonna send you back to Arkansas”) and pretty much steals the show.

Other musicians are Nelson Carson, Mack White, Willie Wright, Herbert Wilson, Trenton Cooper (who boogies on piano) and Willie Moore, who does his own version of Calvin Leavy’s “Cummins Prison Farm,” here called “Willie’s Blues.” (Leavy, formerly of North Little Rock, is still serving a long sentence at Cummins for drug dealing, although he recorded “Cummins Prison Farm” in 1970, long before he was busted.)

The sound is terrific throughout, thanks to fine remastering that Jim O’Neal’s records are known for. He also wrote the biographical section of the liner notes, while Guida discusses how he came to record these wonderful but much underappreciated Arkansas artists.

This is essential material for all Arkansas blues fans, and a second volume of band performances is in the works. Perhaps the Delta Cultural Center and the Arkansas Arts Council could help with funding.

O’Neal has released several other Stackhouse CDs. (The label is named after Houston Stackhouse, a blues musician who spent some time in Helena and for whom a stage is named during the blues festival.) The most recent release is “It’s a New Day, Brother!” with the late Foree “Guitar” Wells and the Walnut Street Blues Band from Louisville, Ky., which was recorded in 1977, just before Wells’ death.

This ranks with the best of O’Neal’s old Rooster releases: Wells was a fine guitar player and singer, whose deep voice speaks of good times and bad. It’s probably the only record Wells made, apart from backing some well-known musicians in the studio and in clubs. (He played bass on a recording made in Little Rock with Fenton Robinson.)

“It’s a New Day” opens with the title song, with Wells displaying the confidence of a blues star, even though he lived much of his life in obscurity in Louisville.

O’Neal has an ear for unappreciated musicians and brings out the best in them. Like all his other CDs, the sound here is fantastic, the artwork first-rate and the liner notes detailed and informative.

O’Neal, who now lives in Kansas City — he started Living Blues in Chicago and his record labels in Clarksdale, Miss. — has also issued a second CD by D.C. Bellamy, who’s also from Kansas City and is the half brother of late soul singer Curtis Mayfield.

“Give Some Body to Somebody” is another carefully engineered CD that showcases Bellamy’s fine voice and versatile singing: It’s part church music and soul and blues and it’s all good.

We’ve also enjoyed “Prodigal Son” by a singer named Chester (Memphis Gold) Chandler of Washington, formerly of Memphis. This is more soulful blues with a fine sound.

Stackhouse CDs are available from You can find other CDs and LPs, as well as blues magazines and books and more.

The blues will never die, somebody said — thanks to blues scholars and producers like Jim O’Neal, who keep the music alive by issuing indispensable recordings of the world’s most amazing artists.
(Next: Rooster Blues)

EDITORIALS>>Making excuses for Libby

What a difference eight years make. A special prosecutor pursued President Clinton relentlessly through the ‘90s to see whether he had committed a crime in a 1978 private land transaction in Marion County, Ark. Finding nothing amiss, he investigated the president’s sex life and got him impeached for not being honest about his dalliance with an intern.

The right-wing commentators, the Emmett Tyrrells and Bob Novaks, said that it made no difference that there was no underlying crime behind the long Clinton investigation because lying under oath under any circumstances was grave enough to merit impeachment. That was December 1998.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, lied under oath and tried to obstruct an investigation of the unlawful exposure of a covert agent, and this week a jury convicted him. But the people who had cheered Clinton’s impeachment for lying about sex argued that Libby’s conviction was a perversion of justice. Since no one was charged with the crime of leaking the identity of the agent, Valerie Wilson, prosecuting Libby for his little lies was simple political persecution they cry.

Novak, whose column based on a confidential leak outed Mrs. Wilson, was saying this week that clearly no crime had been committed in identifying Wilson.

He said the federal Identities Protection Act of 1982 made it illegal to expose secret “intelligence activities overseas” and that Wilson was based in the United States so there was nothing wrong with outing her and, presumably, not much wrong with lying about it.

But the law makes no mention of overseas activities. It says it is unlawful to “disclose any information” that identifies any covert agent of the United States. Period. Wilson was a secret CIA operative working in Middle East intelligence.

Tyrrell and others used the same defense, many calling on President Bush to pardon Scooter immediately. Tyrrell repeated the same false stories that he has peddled about Clinton for years and added some to the Libby case. He said Wilson’s husband, who had been sent by the CIA to Niger to check on a rumor that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium, had lied by saying that he went on Vice President Cheney’s request. Wilson never said that.

Let there be no mistake. Leaking Valerie Wilson’s identity was no casual matter, and as Libby’s trial demonstrated it was not undertaken casually. Vice President Cheney wanted her identity known to punish Mrs. Wilson and her husband for the husband’s criticism of the administration’s handling of intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Libby was a willing agent.

Wilson’s criticism undermined the administration’s justification for invading Iraq. Libby’s lies and obstructions were trivial compared only with the gravity of what lay behind them: a cover-up of perhaps the most grievous mistake in American foreign-policy history. His lies did not hinge, as did President Clinton’s, on whether one considered oral sex to be real sex.

EDITORIALS>>Declare Dumas a disaster

Outrage of the week: President Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency refused to declare a disaster in Desha County, which was swept by devastating tornadoes two weeks ago. Disaster declarations are ordinary after natural catastrophes: tornadoes, droughts, floods and devastating rains.

But the residents of Dumas, who lost their homes and businesses and much of the public infrastructure, do not qualify. The law about disaster aid has a subjective nature, and George W. Bush and FEMA do not think Dumas is deserving. Arkansas’s senators and the congressman from the district, Mike Ross, wondered whether this bizarre decision had anything to do with the fact that Arkansas elected a Democratic governor last year and both senators and Desha County’s congressman are Democrats. No other explanation makes sense. If Asa Hutchinson had been elected governor instead of Mike Beebe, Bush would have declared the disaster in 24 hours.

Here’s another outrage: The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Arkansas’s statewide newspaper, denounced the senators and congressman, saluted the president and FEMA for denying assistance and told the people of Dumas to be thankful to be alive and that their suffering was not worse. Take care of yourselves, the paper told them.
We live indeed in parlous times.

EDITORIALS>>Deltic should pay back taxes

The news that Central Arkansas Water and Deltic Timber Corp. are nearing an agreement for the utility to buy 700 acres of Deltic timberland on the slopes above its public water intake on Lake Maumelle leaves us with two impulses: cheering and crying.

Cheering because the development might insure the purity of our drinking water for another generation. Deltic planned to build luxury estates on those slopes and the runoff would pollute the water.

But at what price? They are talking about buying the 700 acres from the big developer for $8.2 million. That is $11,714 an acre! That is some fancy price for water users to pay to protect their water from only one developer at only one source. The land might actually be worth that on the open market if a region’s water supply were not at stake. But the land is worth that only because the public utility happened to build a lake there for a public water supply and turn the rocky slopes from scrubby timberland into a scenic paradise. Otherwise the land would be worth $120 to $150 an acre rather than $11,714.

In fact, about $120, not $11,714, is what the company has said for years was the land’s worth when it assessed the property for school taxes. It pays perhaps 40 cents an acre a year in taxes. How does that compare to the taxes you pay on your little lot and home? Amendment 59 to the state Constitution allows that huge inequality.

If Central Arkansas Water accepts the settlement and avoids a trial over the condemnation value of the land, it should at least insist on this: The company should be required to pay to the county collector for distribution to Pulaski County schools a delinquent property tax for each of the past 20 years based on a value of $11,714 an acre instead of $120 an acre. That might make the deal a trifle more palatable for taxpayers and water users.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

SPORTS>>Jacksonville coach proud of his team’s achievement

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville couldn’t pull off two major upsets in the Class 6A state tournament in Jonesboro last week, but that fact doesn’t diminish the improbable run the Red Devils made to the semifinals. It all ultimately ended when the tournament host, and twice conqueror of Jacksonville, Jonesboro, put the Devils away Saturday night in the semifinals. That came only after the East conference’s four seed knocked off the Central winner and the state’s overall top-ranked Little Rock Hall in the quarterfinals.
That win messed up what most thought would be a battle of the “Big Four” that has been spoken about since midseason.
For the last several weeks, the talk has surrounded Jonesboro, Forrest City, Hall and Parkview. The other three made it to the semis; Jacksonville ruined the expected quartet. It was expected by most, but not all, especially not Jacksonville.

“We weren’t worried about pre-determined this or that, we just came out here to play,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said after his team dismantled the No. 1 Warriors 75-55. “I’ve been in the position they were in. I’ve been No. 1 and I know what it’s like. The pressure was on them. They were the ones that had to prove they deserved to be ranked where they were. All we had to do was come out and play our game.”

Jacksonville’s game against the small but speedy Warriors was pound it inside, and pound it inside it did. Senior post player Gerron Riddles and sophomore post Antwan Lockhart combined for 22 points. Late in the game when Hall had to resort to fouling, the Red Devils shot free throws better than any other time this season.

Hall kept it close through three quarters, and threatened Jacksonville’s lead every time. The defense always found a way to step up, and the Red Devil post players always came through with a key basket or rebound at the opportune times. Leading the way in that regard was senior Gerron Riddles, who had one of his best games of the season.

“It’s the state tournament and it’s just time for the seniors to step up,” Riddles said. Senior leadership was a reccuring theme after the game, and Riddles’ sentiment was reiterated by senior guard LaMark Trask, who came off the bench to get some key off-side offensive rebounds, something he has found a knack for in the last few games.

“I struggle wtih my shot so I have to find ways to make up for that and contribute,” Trask, one of the more vocal players on the team, said. “The seniors talked about stepping up, but we all talked about it. We all knew it was time for people, seniors, junior, sophomores, all of us, to start stepping up and making plays and stop making mistakes.”

Joyner felt his team was awry at the start of the season, which made what it accomplished late in the year that much more satisfying. “We had some internal strife there for a while,” Joyner said. “We had to play all those game on the road right in a row and we got a few losses, got a few people upset, thinking they weren’t being used enough, or in the right way. But I loved coaching this team because we had a bunch of kid that grew up right in front of my eyes. Once everybody accepted their roles and realized it was for the betterment of the team, this team came around.”

Joyner started specifically with Trask, whose remarks after the Hall game were reiterated by Joyner. “LaMark Trask started doing the things he could do,” Joyner said. “We wanted him to use his ability around the basket instead of hanging around outside and trying to force himself to be a shooter. We tried working on his shooting early in the year, but we needed him to around the basket. We started posting him up on guards because he’s got good post moves. And he showed a knack for finding the ball. He had two huge offensive rebounds for us against Forrest City, and that’s what he kept doing. He started doing the things that would most benefit this team.”

Joyner also spoke highly of his point guards. Sophomore Antonio Washington pulled his game under control late in the year, and junior Tirrell Eskridge became one of the most talked about players no one knew about at the state tournament.
“One of the keys to this team’s resurgence was the point guards,” Joyner said. Tirrell grew up so much. I had more people at that tournament ask me about him than any other player.”

Joyner said the key to Riddles’ improvement was a commitment to getting in shape. “People say his shot was better and his footwork was better, but he always had all of that,” Joyner said. “What made the difference for him was his commitment to the physical training. He was able to move and maneuver a lot better and keep going longer because he was in shape. Another thing that helped us is that the guards finally realized that when the inside game is good, it makes the outside game better, and G always came through when they threw down in there.”

Senior Kajuan Watson led the team in scoring, was usually the one the team turned to when a big play was needed, but that was no surprise to Joyner from the beginning of the year.

“Kajuan was the only one on this team that had really been through the rigors of a whole season at this level of ball,” Joyner said. “He’s the only one that had been through the wars and he knew he had to be a leader on the floor and he did that.”
Joyner saved some is his highest praise for senior post player Norvel Gabriel, who did the little things that make a team good.
“Plain and simple, Gabe got the job done,” Joyner said. “He didn’t usually score a lot, but he did all the dirty work. He banged around with all those big boys in this league, led us in rebounding. He’d even start the break and get the assist. He got down and dirty and he got vocal late in the year. You take into account everything he did, that kid is a man. If you take him off this team, we don’t win 17 games, no way in the world. He made a huge different to this basketball team.”

One of the biggest advantages of getting to the semfinals was the experience it gave the younger players, even the ones that didn’t get on the court. Jacksonville loses seven seniors off this team, but has some talented underclassmen that Joyner is expecting to step up next season.

“Like I said, we’re trying to get this program used to be in this position. That’s why we brought all those young kids with us, to get that hunger. You get to see why you run all those miles and lift all those weights. You see the excitment of the kids on the bus and in pre-game. We’re trying to get this program used to being in that situation, and this team took a great big step for this program by accomplishing what it accomplished this year.”

SPORTS>>Cabot gets second win over Devils in Classic

Leader sports editor

A few Red Devil mistakes combined with good Panther hitting and a dominant closer resulted in a 7-3 Cabot victory over Jacksonville Monday night in the second round of the First Arkansas Bank and Trust-Red Devils Classic baseball tournament. It was Cabot’s second win of the season over the Red Devils, the first being a 6-5 win in the first week of the season.
Cabot improved to 7-2 overall and advance to the tournament championship against the winner between Sylvan Hills and Greenbrier, which took place Tuesday night after Leader deadlines.

Cabot grabbed the lead early with three runs in the top of the second inning. With junior right-hander Jon-athan Parker on the mound, Cabot kept Jacksonville scoreless for the first two innings while it built a small lead. The three runs in the second came on just one hit. Shayne Burgan started the inning by drawing a walk. He was moved to second base by Justin Free’s sacrifice bunt. Logan Lucas then walked and Daryle Murphy was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out.

Nine-hole hitter Corey Wade then roped a single to left field to drive in Burgan and Lucas and give Cabot a 2-0 lead with one out. Powell Bryant then hit a fly ball deep enough to centerfield to score Murphy from third base.

Jacksonville went down in order in the bottom of the second, but Jacksonville sophomore pitcher Tommy Sanders did the same to Cabot in the top of the third. The Red Devils got back into in the bottom of the third. Jacksonville nine-hole hitter Tirrell Brown scorched a line drive off the scoreboard in left on the first pitch of the inning to make it 3-1. Bryant retired the next two batters, but walked Cameron Hood with two outs. Hood reached second base on a wild pitch, stole third and scored when catcher Colin Fuller’s throw was low and off-target and rolled into left field.

Cabot went back up by three with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Murphy singled with one out. Two batters later, Bryant singled to left field to score Murphy’s pinch runner #55. There left fielder Seth Tomboli let the ball get past him which allowed Bryant to advance all the way to third base.

Drew Burks then hit a one-hopper back to Sanders, but the right-hander mishandled it, allowing Bryant to score and leaving Burks safe at first. Sam Bates and Fuller then hit back-to-back singles, but things got confusing on Fuller’s hit, which ultimately ended the inning.

Fuller’s single to left field was also misplayed by Tomboli and rolled past him. Bates spotted the error from second base, and the shortstop took off for third. Burks, however, didn’t see it and stayed at third base. Bates ran past Burks on the base paths, which resulted in Bates being called out, but the umpires didn’t make the call until many other things, including an apparent Panther run, took place.

Bates standing on third forced Burks to run home. Throw to catcher Zach Thomas easily beat the Cabot first baseman to the plate, but was high and over Thomas’ head. It also gave Fuller time to advance to second base before the bizarre play ended.
Once it ended, the two umpires consulted with each other, and declared Bates out on the base paths, negating the run scored by Burks. Cabot still ened the inning with a 5-2 lead, but that shrank to 5-2 when Jacksonville scored in the bottom of the fourth without a hit.

Parker hit Tomboli to start the inning and end his night on the mound. Cabot went with senior southpaw Justin Haas in relief. Haas walked the first batter he faced, Ricky Tomboli, on four pitches, but was nothing less than dominant from that point.
Brown sacrificed the Tombolis up a base. Seth then scored on a passed ball to make 5-3.

Cabot added two more in the fifth on three singles by Burgan, Lucas and Murphy. Haas did the rest. He fanned the side in order in the bottom of the fifth, struck out two more in the sixth and retired the side in order again to close the game.
After walking Ricky Tomboli to start his relieft duty, Haas finished with 12 straight put outs, including six strikeouts.
Parker wasn’t bad in his starting role. He three innings, giving up one earned run on three hits, with a strikeout and four walks.

Mattison, Brown and Sanders got the hits for Jacksonville. Sanders pitched five innings, giving up seven hits and striking out three.

Murphy went 2 for 3 with an RBI andtwo runs scored. Wade and Bryant each went 1 for 4 with two RBIs. Bates, Fuller, Burgan and Lucas each picked up a hit for the Panthers. Cabot will play at 6 p.m. Thursday in the tournament title game.

SPORTS>>Lady Jackrabbits topple Star City, vying for state

Leader sportswriter

BALD KNOB – Lady ‘Rabbits post player Asiah Scribner punched Lonoke’s ticket to the 4A state championship game when a rebound off a bricked three-point attempt from Star City’s Brittany House fell directly into her hands, sending the 6’0” freshman to the line with a 36-34 lead during Saturday’s semifinal matchup with 21 seconds left. Scribner hit both ends at the line, giving Lonoke a two-possession lead at 38-34, as the Lady Jackrabbits went on to take the win 50-45 over the Lady Dogs.

As has been for the Lady ‘Rabbits from the start of the post season three weeks ago, the win was both by team effort and perseverance over late-game rallies from their opponent. The Lady Dogs turned up the heat in the third quarter with a man press that caused a pair of ten-second calls on Lonoke, and caused head coach Nathan Morris to burn time outs three different times.

The Lonoke faithful filled up a good portion of the stands, with the student section on the visitors side, and parents and boosters on the home side behind the Lonoke bench. The Lady Jackrabbits celebrated their win by running over to both groups, as Morris received congratulations from boys coach Wes Swift and various members of Lonoke faculty and township. Morris finally made it to the impromptu media area after a brief celebration in the team locker room, doing his best to hold his composure as the players filed out behind him with huge smiles and congratulatory hugs all around.

“We’re just going to enjoy this,” Morris said. “We’ve got a week to get ready for whoever we end up with, so we’re going to enjoy ourselves and get prepared the best we can. I think it is too hard too explain how great this is right now, I don’t think it’s even fully set-in yet.”

Lonoke worked the key several times before going inside to either Calisha Kirk or Jenny Evans on most possessions. Guard Kristy Shinn only made two attempts from three-point range, but both were good for six of her total eight points.

Shinn did not lead in scoring on Saturday, but still reminded Lady ‘Rabbits fans why she has been a favorite to watch for the past two years with an incredible 35-foot shot at the third quarter buzzer. Shinn was under heavy pressure from Star City junior post Tammie Thornton as soon as she caught Scribner’s inbound pass, but took the ball only long enough to set up her aim, jumping up off-balance to launch a shot that hit all cords to extend Lonoke’s lead back to six, 33-26 heading into the final eight minutes.

“Every now and then you get lucky, I guess,” Morris said of the shot. “I guarantee you, we have had shots like that go against us before, so we’ll take it.”

The Lady Jackrabbits were patient offensively for the entire contest, but the first three minutes of the second quarter almost seemed like nap time. Freshman guard Michaela Brown held the ball beyond the key out of any timing zones, and proceeded to stare down House, waiting for the Star City standout to make her move. House finally took the bait, and Brown dished to Kirk, who found Scribner in the lane for the shot to give Lonoke a 14-6 lead by what was then the 4:24 mark, with the possession beginning in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter.

The substitutions for Lonoke were few and far between, with junior Hayley O’Cain relieving Scribner on a couple of occasions, but not until the 2:57 mark of the second quarter. With the offensive game plan focused inside, O’Cain was not much of an offensive threat, but her presence, along with Shinn, would not allow the Lady Dogs to concentrate all their pressure down low. Kirk acted more as a diversion in the first half, with only a single basket through the first two frames, while Scribner came away with eight first-half points and Evans five. When Star City focused more attention to Scribner in the second half, Kirk started making her move, scoring five points in the third quarter, including 3 of 4 at the foul line.

While Lonoke and Star City both had good size inside, Lonoke’s Brown made being the smallest player on the court work to her advantage, using her speed to thwart pressing attempts by the Lady Dogs throughout the fourth quarter.

“The thing with this team right here is, we had a commitment to take it one game at a time,” Morris said. “Even during the conference race, that’s what they’ve done. One practice at a time, one game, and that’s how we’ve continued on. We did a good job today of handling all that pressure from Star City. They are very well coached, and for the most part, we were able to that and not let it bother us.”

Evans and Scribner led Lonoke with 10 points each. Evans added seven rebounds along with one steal and two assists to her totals, while Scribner had a pair of steals and three rebounds. Kirk finished with nine points, seven rebounds, one steal and three assists. Shinn finished with eight points, and Brown had six points and three assists. For Star City, Thornton led with 15 points, while House added 10. Lonoke won the rebounding battle 21 to 15 over the Lady Dogs.

The Lady Jackrabbits will face a familiar foe in this Saturday’s 4A state championship game in Hot Springs, former conference rival Central Arkansas Christian. Lonoke played CAC on of their closes games during last year’s unbeaten season for the Lady Mustangs during the second conference game at Mustang Mountain.

SPORTS>>Raiders beat Ramblers, odds

Leader sports editor

The Riverview Raiders didn’t bother with predictions or forecasts. They played basketball to the best of their abilities, and it’s gotten them to the state championship game for the first time in school history. The Raiders qualified for the Class 3A state title game against the Hughes Blue Devils by beating rival Rose Bud for the fourth time this season, and the third time by just one point.

Riverview beat the Ramblers by 10 in Rose Bud in their first meeting, the last three have been settled by a single tally, including Saturday’s 43-42 win in the semifinals at Harrison.

The doubting began at the end of last season when All-Star, Division I signee Cory Cooperwood graduated, and took his 25 points and 13 rebounds per game with him after leading the Raiders to the semifinals. This year’s team didn’t start as quickly and doesn’t boast 30-plus wins like last year’s, but it has done two things that last year’s team didn’t do. It went undefeated through conference play, and it now has advanced to the state championship game.

The doubting began again when the Raiders struggled to close out the regular season, going down to the wire with teams they had beaten much easier earlier in the year. They went on to lose to Harding Academy in the district tournament, but put it back together to win the regional, including their second one-point win over Rose Bud, and take a No. 1 seed into state.
Many picked Riverview to fall out in the first round to a Lamar team that went 26-1 through the regular season, but stumbled in the regionals and entered state as a four seed. The Raiders handled the Warriors with little trouble, winning 62-47 in a game that wasn’t that close.

The quarterfinal matchup was certain to be the Raiders’ demise. It was a matchup against top-five ranked and tournament host Valley Springs. The vastly pro-VS crowd made up the most vocal of Riverview’s detractors, but not the only ones. The Raiders answered the challenge by knocking the hosting hopefuls out of the tournament by three points, 46-43.
Meanwhile, league foe Rose Bud was pulling off an even bigger upset by beating undefeated Prescott to force a fourth matchup with their arch nemesis.

The Ramblers got two open shots at the end of the game to beat Riverview, but couldn’t get either to fall, leaving the Raiders and the Blue Devils standing to determine state supremacy in the 3A classification. Riverview’s leading scorer Tony Hall was held to just 11 points by an outstanding Rose Bud defensive game plan, but even that didn’t stop the Raiders. Riverview coach Danny Starkey spoke about how that was another supposed weakness that his team had to overcome.

“Well we had so many doubting us for so many different reasons, everyone was sure that if you can stop Tony you can stop us,” Starkey said. “Well they pretty much stopped Tony, but we had other kids step up and make plays. We have other kids on this team that can play, and they did a great job of proving that. Tony is a great team player and he’ll do what he needs to do, even if he’s not scoring.”

Among those that stepped up was junior point guard Bo Banks. Banks is not normally looked to for point production, but dropped in 14 to lead the team in the semfinal thriller.

“He recognized what was going on, the way they were shadowing Tony, and he took his opportunities to capitalize on that and get to the basket,” Starkey said. “Dominique Baker is another kid that I think stepped his game up. He got us some important baskets. He drove to the basket at the right times. He made some great passes. Ben (Jones) stepped in there and played really well. Thatcher Cooperwood elevated his game and played smart. And Joe Overstreet, my goodness he plays hard, and he played as hard as he ever has Saturday.”

The Raiders and Blue Devils play the very last state championship games to close three days of title basketball at the Hot Springs Convention Center. The two teams are set to tip off at 7:45 p.m.

EDITORIALS>>Libby takes the fall

Yesterday was a hard day in one of the hardest times any president has had to face since Pearl Harbor. Only Bill Clinton’s impeachment may have been harder, for the president and for the beloved country. A federal jury convicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, of four counts of obstruction of justice and of lying to the F.B.I. and a grand jury. Libby cut a sad and almost sympathetic figure at the end because he seemed nearly incidental in the coordinated scheme to stop the unraveling of the administration’s duplicity in making war on Iraq.

The blow fell on Scooter Libby, who could someday serve some time and pay a fine if Bush does not pardon him, but it fell symbolically on an administration that used him to cover up the most horrendous blunders in the nation’s history and then dumped him. Libby’s own criminal actions were transparent, but he made the case forcefully that he was the fall guy for the White House.

Libby’s conviction seemed a natural part of the cascade of dispiriting developments in the war, which now consumes the administration like solar fire. The streets of Baghdad are covered afresh daily with blood and sinew, and the toll of American lives climbs as the president’s new surge strategy nears a month in duration.

The worst blow of all was the torrent of news over the weekend about the government’s mistreatment of and disdain for its wounded fighters — that unending caravan of young men and women who went to war one person and returned home quite another, disabled, scarred and emotionally broken. Their government demanded so much and returned so little. Stories of the mistreatment at Army medical facilities and the administration’s concerted effort to slow and deny benefits to crippled soldiers who it argued were mentally retarded or malingerers had dribbled out for three years, but the Washington Post last week finally put it all together. It was bad because Bush and Cheney have used the troops to parry critics of their conduct of the war. Criticism is unpatriotic because it dispirits and undermines the troops, they said.

Bush and Cheney said this week that they grieved at the medical failures, and the president appointed still another independent commission to find out what went wrong and how to fix it. A study commission is supposed to get the story off the front page, but this one will be to no avail.

But poor Libby. Did he deserve his fate for lying to protect his superiors? Libby, of course, said he never intentionally deceived the investigators. He just forgot about those conversations with reporters and with his boss, the vice president, because he had bigger concerns.

The question most Americans surely must be asking is why no one was ever charged with the original crime, exposing a secret agent, which both the president and his father described as a crime about as grievous as you can commit. Libby and, it turned out, others in the administration leaked to reporters the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, a Central Intelligence Agency operative, in violation of the law. Her husband, unbeknownst to the world, was Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat. The CIA had dispatched Wilson in 2002 to look into a rumor that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium in Africa so that he could make nuclear bombs. Cheney wanted the story buttressed. But Wilson returned and reported to the CIA that the rumor was “highly doubtful.”

The administration dismissed his conclusions and used the rumor anyway as a justification for invading Iraq in 2003. But Bush and Cheney didn’t describe the uranium story as a rumor but as a fact. When they continued to do that even after the military itself debunked the nuclear claims in the wake of the invasion, Wilson wrote an op-ed article in The New York Times revealing his investigation and conclusion.

Seeing both its deceptions and rationale for the war unraveling, the administration set about furiously in the summer of 2003 to stanch it. It sought to discredit Wilson by planting the story that his wife was a CIA agent and that she had been interested in arranging a junket for her hubby. When her outing by columnist Robert Novak on our editorial page forced the president to order an investigation, the administration, or at least the vice president, set out to thwart the investigation. Scooter was the willing instrument and he will pay the price.

At the trial, it seemed that everyone had been trying to get her identity into the media: Karl Rove, the president’s political adviser; Richard L. Armitage, a deputy secretary of state; even Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary who had stood in front of reporters in the summer of 2003 insisting that no one in the White House had leaked her name. Fleischer came clean to the special prosecutor in exchange for immunity.

Why did the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, and the grand jury not charge anyone with identifying a secret agent? Fitzgerald never said, but it became clear nevertheless. The vice president, if not the president himself, directed the outing, but under national security law they may legally declassify any national security secret. It would be hard to pin a crime on someone who had the power to render it a legal act even if had not actually exercised it.

We excuse the president. He said early on that he would fire people who leaked the information if they worked for him. They did, but he didn’t. The evidence proved conclusively that Cheney was trying to get the word out to destroy Wilson’s credibility and punish his wife, but not Bush. He may have been once again simply out of the loop in his own administration.
That, after all, is the sadness for the country and its peril: a president so weakened by self-revelation of its incompetence and insecurity that it can hardly govern. It is a long time until January 2009, and until then the United States needs divine providence.

OBITUARIES >> 3-07-07


Tricia Collins, 38, died Feb. 28. Survivors include her children, Nathan Munnerlyn of Hazen, Erica Munnerlyn of Judsonia and Brooke Whitehead of Jacksonville; one grandson; her father, Willie Crane of Lonoke; three brothers; two sisters; her boyfriend, Matt Gilpin; special friends, Teresa Johnson and husband Jerry; and Nina Gilpin.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 at New Testament Baptist Church. Funeral arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.


Doris Louise Ellenburg Cummings, 72, of McRae died March 4 in McRae. She was born Jan. 15, 1935 in Arkansas County to Pryor and Susie Thompson Ellenburg. Survivors include her three sons, William Cummings, Jr. of Russellville and Ronnie and Kenneth Cummings, both of McRae; a daughter, Twyla Turner of McRae; eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 7 at McRae Pentecostal Church of God with burial in Bayou Meto Cemetery in Dewitt.

Funeral arrangements are by Westbrooke Funeral Home in Beebe.


Robert J. Cordell III, 24, died March 1. He was born April 23, 1982. Survivors include his fiancé, Christine DeSalvio; a son, Christopher DeSalvio of the home; his mother, Keri Cress; a sister, Rachel Sanders; his father, Bobby Cordell and wife Robbin; brother, Blake Cordell; grandfather, Burr Cordell and wife Diane; grandmother, Marlene Miller; great-grandmothers, Vesta Hallmark and Gladys Glover, all of Lonoke; aunt, Tanya Talley of Conway and many relatives and friends.

Funeral services were March 4 at New Testament Baptist Church, officiated by Rev. Doug Hambrick. Burial followed in Sunset Memorial Gardens. Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Melba Odell Strickland, 91, of Jacksonville died March 3 in Jacksonville. She was born Jan. 26, 1916 in Enola to the late William and Mattie House Curtis. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by six brothers, two sisters and her husband, Clarence Strickland, in 1991.

She was a member of First Assembly of God Church in North Little Rock and a member of the Jacksonville Senior Citizens Center. In 1972 she founded the Pathfinders School in Jacksonville where she served as a teacher’s aid for many years.
She is survived by one son, Randy Strickland and wife Mary of Jacksonville, and two grandsons, James Strickland and his wife Sara and John Strickland.

Funeral services were March 5 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home’s Chapel. Burial was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Steve Sowell, 54, of Austin passed away March 2. Steve was employed at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Fort Roots for 23 years, most recently in the employee health unit. As a talented instrumentalist and vocalist, he brought tremendous joy to all who heard him. He thoroughly enjoyed playing his saxophone and Hammond B-3 organ while performing with Blues DeVille and the Honky Tonk Heroes.

Riding four-wheelers with his kids was a favorite weekend pastime. “A big man with a huge heart, Steve always had a joke to tell and a prank to pull,” according to his family. He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Sowell.

Survivors include his wife, Teresa; daughter, Stephanie; two sons, Alex and Ryan; his mother, Jerri Sowell, all of Austin; his brother, Rick Sowell and wife Sherry; two nieces, Tiffany and Juli, and nephew, Daniel, all of Beebe. Special thanks go to the intensive care unit staff at St. Vincent Hospital and Arkansas Hospice. Memorials may be made to the Cabot High School Band Boosters, 401 N. Lincoln, Cabot, Ark. 72023.

Funeral was March 5 at First United Methodist Church in Beebe. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Service of Beebe.


Mary Lois Miller Pierce, 58, died March 2. She is survived by her father, James E. Miller, Sr. of Sherwood; daughters, Sherry Wise and Lisa Stivers of Lonoke; one son, Stacy Carnes of Austin; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; a sister, Deborah McDaniel of Sherwood, and brothers, James E. Miller, Jr. and Billy Wayne Miller, both of Lonoke. She was preceded in death by her mother, Lois Miller.

Funeral services were March 5 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke with burial in Lonoke Cemetery.


Robert “Bob” E. Huggins, 59, of Cabot passed away March 2 at his home. He was born Aug. 6, 1947 in Selmer, Tenn., to the late John and Helen Reddell Huggins. He was a CNC operator for 15 years with Dassault Falcon Jet until he retired in 2001. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Jimmy and Johnny Huggins and granddaughter, Angelina Celeste Huggins.
He is survived by his wife, Peggy; three sons, Chris Huggins and fiance Lydia of Cabot, Jeremy and Jason Huggins, both of Cabot; two daughters, Tami and husband Clint Skiver of Cabot and Kristi and husband Adam Moreno of Jacksonville; six grandchildren, Austin Huggins, Dakota Huggins, Christian Huggins, Blake Swafford Huggins, Tyler Moreno, Kaitlynn Swafford Huggins; four sisters, Betty Summerow, Gayla and husband Larry Hartley, Anita and husband Gene Coffey, Jo and husband Ronnie Church; brother, Kenneth Huggins and numerous nieces and nephews.

Services were March 5 at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot. Burial followed at Sumner Cemetery. The family would like to express their appreciation for the special care that was given by Dr. Brad Baltz, Linda Head and the entire staff at Baptist Health Medical Center at 10A oncology.

The family suggests memorials be made to the hospital or Baptist Health Hospital. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Ruth Ann Jones, 62, of Austin, died March 1 in Little Rock. She was born June 27, 1944 in St. Genevieve, Mo., to the late Leonard Joseph and Zola Grace Clifton Kirchner. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Richard Kirchner in 1999.
She is survived by her companion, Cotton Price; four sons, Kenny Sledge of Conway, B.J. Sledge of East End, Chris Sledge of Cabot and Billy Jones of Austin; sister-in-law, Mary Kirchner; four grandchildren, Sara Stone, Corey Sledge, Hunter Sledge and Kylee Sledge; two great grandchildren, Eric and Haley Stone, and three nephews, David Kirchner, Richard Kirchner and James Kirchner.

Funeral services were March 6 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Robert Schenebeck, 86, died March 2. He was born Dec. 13, 1920 south of Carlisle. He served in the Air Transport Command as a pilot in Scotland during the Second World War, served on Lonoke City Council eight years and was Lonoke County co-ordinator for emergency services 17 years.

He was preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Sue Schenebeck and a brother Eric Schenebeck. Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Peggy Billingsley Schenebeck; he also leaves daughters, Linda Brown and husband Ed and Susan King and husband Rich, and a son, Robert Jr.; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; a niece; two nephews and numerous cousins.

Graveside services were in Lonoke Cemetery March 5 with Bro. Jimmy Wallace officiating. Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home.


James Hugh Bulice, 47, of Cabot passed away March 3. He was born Oct. 15, 1959 in Little Rock to Roy and Helen Bulice.
Survivors include his wife, Pam Bulice of Cabot; two sons, Jeff Fugatt and wife Susan of Ward and Bryant Bulice of Cabot; one daughter, Nikki Griffin and husband Craig of Ward; his parents, Roy and Helen Bulice of Cabot; three brothers, Clayton and wife Laurie Bulice of Conway, Harvey and wife Sharon Bulice of Cabot and Gary and wife Melissa Bulice of Cabot; five grandchildren, Lane Fugatt, Ryan Fugatt, Ethan McCoy, Eryn McCoy and Evan McCoy; along with numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and friends.

Funeral services were March 5 at Mt. Springs Baptist Church in Cabot with burial at Mt. Springs Cemetery. Memorials may be made to a local Lions Club. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> First-class care, pay essential for military

The scandal over the shabby treatment veterans receive at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and elsewhere tells only half the story. We’ve known for a long time that veterans often get second-rate medical treatment, but this scandal goes all the way back to when service- men and women sign up for the military and are paid far less than they deserve.
Washington tries to rein in spending on the backs of our military, offering low pay, inadequate equipment and second-rate health-care services that might make a Third World country proud.

They risk their lives every day — as many as 10 soldiers have died so far this week in Iraq — while defense contractors make billions — a couple of former Halliburton executives run Walter Reed — but ordinary service members are paid a pittance, about what an unskilled worker makes in the civilian word.

What’s worse, when service members lose their limbs and their eyesight, they’re sent to roach-infested hospitals with peeling paint and leaking roofs so the government can show the taxpayers that the budget is under control. What kind of saving is that? It would be better to cut bureaucrats’ pay and make contractors accountable and build hospitals and rehab centers that are the best in the world.

The White House and the Pentagon promise they’ll do better, but when Washington officials are constantly dodging accusations — Scooter Libby’s conviction on obstruction of justice charges on Tuesday creates more problems for this beleaguered administration — you wonder if anybody’s still in charge.

You get the feeling this administration can’t wait for its term to end and let somebody else solve the nation’s problems.
But there’s plenty more blame to go around:

Here’s a gallery of some of the worst legislators in Arkansas. They voted for the payday lenders who exploit service members:Senators Barbara Horn of Foreman, Bob Johnson of Bigelow, Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, Paul Miller of Melbourne and Terry Smith of Hot Springs.

Call them at the legislature and tell them our service members deserve better treatment. Get rid of the payday lenders and raise military pay — double it as far as we’re concerned — so service members don’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck.
To paraphrase the Russian writer Dostoevsky, the degree of civilization can be judged by how we treat those who have served their country.

TOP STORY >>Inspectors focusing

Leader staff writer

The House Education Committee discussed a bill last week that would protect public school buildings from fire hazards and ensure regular fire inspections for all public school buildings in Arkansas. If passed, it would place accountability for inspections on local fire departments, which local departments until now have shared with schools. Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson said the Cabot School District is cooperative in the inspection process, sending a courtesy letter when inspections near.

“They send a letter to request the inspection, and we send reports of the completed inspection back,” Robinson said. “All 12 schools in the district, the A.C.E. campus (Academic Center of Excellence) and even some daycares are inspected,” he said.
In Beebe, Fire Chief William Nick said he prefers the school calling when an inspection is near.

“We’re not full-time, so it would be easier for us with inspections if they call, but we have it on our calendar,” Nick said.
Sherwood Fire Chief Mark Mahan said he had read a little bit about the House bill, but that if the bill is passed, the fire de-partments also need the ability to enforce their findings.

“There needs to be something that gives us leeway and ability to enforce our findings, the authority to hold the school responsible for correcting things,” Mahan said. “We can make suggestions all day long, but it does no good to make suggestions if they don’t listen to them,” he added.

Arkansas law requires schools to be inspected twice a year, at least seven days before Christmas break begins and at least seven days before the end of the school year for the district. The four schools that comprise the Lonoke Public School District are inspected bi-annually by the Lonoke Fire Department, the only district inspected by a volunteer fire department.
Of the local PCSSD schools, six receive their bi-annual inspection by the Sherwood Fire Department and the Jacksonville Fire Department inspects 12.

Mahan said his department inspects Sherwood schools three times a year. “Anytime the schools are closed for a week or more, we go in and inspect them before students come back,” Mahan said. A common oversight found in school inspections involves fire extinguishers with out-of-date tags, improper use of extension cords and egress clutter. In his one-and-a-half year tenure, Robinson has found no major violations with Cabot schools.

Mike Williams, the new Jacksonville fire marshal, said no major infractions were uncovered recently and that Jacksonville area schools are safe. Mahan said the main problem his department sees at schools in Sherwood is neatness, or rather the lack of it.

“They are bad about storing cleaners and mops in electrical closets, where the breaker boxes and electrical circuits are,” Mahan said, adding, “that’s an easy fix though, they can fix that in five minutes.” Nick said Beebe schools do a good job during inspections and that there are not many things that they have to go back about.

Sharron Havens, superintendent of Lonoke schools, said during their last school inspection, which occurred Sept. 7, 2006, the fire department commented on the number of items in classrooms. “There is a comment in our report that some teachers have too much stuff in areas of their room,” Havens said.

That ‘too much stuff’ would best be described as classroom decorations that pose as combustible hazards in the room – flammable things hanging from the ceiling or too much on the walls that would feed a fire. Sprinkler systems
Most schools in the Pulaski County , Cabot, Beebe and Lonoke districts were built when building codes did not require sprinkler systems.

Williams said none of the Jacksonville public school buildings have a sprinkler system, which could save lives and property if a fire breaks out. “A lot of lives and property have been saved because of them,” Williams said.In Beebe, the newer school structures have sprinkler systems, the auditorium has sprinklers over the stage, and all school kitchens have sprinklers, but not all the schools, Nick said.

“It would be expensive for the district to install sprinklers in the schools that don’t have them, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to do,” Nick said. Sprinkler systems can cost upwards of $250,000 to install, depending on the size of the building. Mahan said there were not very many schools in his area that have sprinkler systems;
“there may be one in the system,” he said.
Only the new $7.5 million Lonoke Middle School that opened in February has sprinkler systems.

In Cabot, Robinson said only the new part of the high school has sprinklers. “None of the grade schools, junior highs or middle schools have sprinklers,” he said. Cabot lost its $9 million Cabot Junior High North building last August after a malfunction inside a fluorescent bulb caught the ceiling on fire inside a media center storage closet.

The fire spread through the 8-year-old building, which had no sprinkler system, after getting into the attic. At the time, Chief Robinson said he didn’t know if sprinklers would have helped the school because the attics are not usually sprinkled.
But upon further research, Robinson told The Leader that if CJHN had installed sprinklers, the outcome might have been different.

“If the school had installed sprinklers at that point in time, the sprinkler heads were required to be mounted in the attic, so sprinklers would have made a huge difference, if they were installed correctly,” Robinson said. By law, local school structures met all requirements of existing building codes at the time they were built.

Current code for school structures requires a sprinkler system throughout the building for buildings larger than 20,000 square feet, Jacksonville’s Williams said. Today’s code also requires no wooden trusses used for roof construction.
Cabot’s new $6.6 million Stagecoach Elementary will have a metal roof and a sprinkler system throughout its 83,313 square feet.

The 30 portable trailers that were brought in to house students after the CJHN fire were placed with emergencies in mind.
Robinson said the clearance between and around the trailers is enough to allow a fire truck through; an extra road was also built around the trailers to get the truck through. Other precautions at the trailer campus include second doors added for egress, all trailers alarmed with fire detection and notification, and all have fire alarms.

“The building large enough to allow sprinklers has a sprinkler system too,” Robinson said.

TOP STORY >>Witness: Campbells took drugs

Leader staff writer

A former Pulaski County deputy testified Tuesday that he gave former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly Campbell some of his prescription painkillers several times and later he and his son sold them Ecstasy a few times.
Defense attorneys for the Campbells said William Boyer, a former Sherwood resident, would have told prosecutors anything to help expunge his son’s record.

Prosecutor Lona McCastlain has charged the Campbells with about 72 counts, mostly drug-or-theft-related, including operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Co-defendant Bobby Junior Cox, a bail bondsman, faces four counts. Jay Campbell, Cox and bail bondsman Larry Norwood also are charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Kelly Campbell is charged also with having sex with two of her husband’s inmates and with supplying them with alcohol, drugs and a cell phone.


In a hearing during a jury recess, defense attorney Patrick Benca said that although both Boyer and his son Jeff had been convicted on drug charges, Boyer never implicated the Campbells until sometime in 2005, almost exactly when Jeff Boyer sought to have his record sealed. McCastlain said that when her office was contacted to support Jeff Boyer’s petition, she replied that it would be improper for her to take any position on expunging the record with the Campbell trial pending.
“As far as (Jeff Boyer’s) credibility, I have to let at least that much in,” ruled Special Judge John Cole.

“You may inquire for purposes of impeachment,” he told Benca.

Jeff Boyer has yet to testify. Bill Terry, head of the state Act 309 inmate work program, said the entire investigation that grew into the current trial grew out of a taped telephone conversation between Kelly Campbell and one of the two Act 309 inmates she is alleged to have had sex with many times.


“(Act 309 inmate Shane) Scott told me everything,” said Terry, including allegations of inmates doing personal work for Mayor Thomas Privett, the Campbells and others, of inmates going fishing or swimming at the community center with the chief and his family, and also the alleged sexual encounters.

Shortly thereafter, Terry terminated Lonoke’s Act 309 program. Prosecutors called witnesses to explain the Act 309 inmate program and its limitations, and through testimony of those inmates and two former Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers, began laying groundwork for charges that Kelly Campbell had sex with two of the inmates and provided them with contraband.

Former Dispatcher Cortney Cocourek said Kelly Campbell came by the jail two or three times a week, often to visit with the Act 309 inmates, particularly with Scott. She said she would more frequently come in through a back way that didn’t involve coming by the dispatcher or signing the log.


Her attorney, Mark Hampton, argued that although prisoners weren’t allowed to have sex other than on authorized furloughs, and it would be a crime for employees and officers to have sex with inmates, Kelly Campbell, neither an employee nor an officer, would have committed no crime by having sex with an inmate under current law.

The official charge is supplying contraband, with the assumption that she herself was that contraband, Hampton said.
Kelly Campbell “asked me once if I knew anything going on between her and the inmates, and said she was counseling them, particularly Shane Scott,” Cocourek testified.

Mallory Cole, a department dispatcher, also said Campbell came to visit Scott and sometimes picked him up at lunchtime and occasionally after work, although only a police department or city employee could properly take him from the jail. Cole said Kelly Campbell told her that “she and Scott were good friends and she loved him.”


Under cross-examination, neither Cole nor Cocourek nor anyone else called so far, said they ever saw Kelly Campbell in any sort of physically improper contact. Terry Crook, an Act 309 inmate who admitted that he and Scott didn’t like each other, said Scott went missing while doing maintenance work at the Lonoke ball field and when they finally found him, he and Kelly Campbell were coming down the stairs from the glassed-in scorers booth.

Crook said Scott, having taken hydrocodone, was afraid he was about to be drug tested and that he tried to intimidate Crook urinating in a bottle for him, because Crook was clean. Crook said Kelly Campbell brought Scott two bottles of golden seal, alleged to flush urine and thus beat urine drug tests. The prosecution also laid groundwork for the charges that the chief improperly used those inmates for work on his property. Act 309 inmates are state prisoners on loan to cities and counties to do work on city or county property.


To combat testimony that Campbell took $265 to have five lots bush-hogged for a private citizen, then had five inmates do the work, Benca asked a former Lonoke Act 309 inmate if Campbell paid them for the work. The inmate, Crook, said each was paid $50.

Benca asked if the city had halved the allowance it paid the 309s and when Crook said yes, he asked if Campbell was trying to offset the loss of that income by finding them a little paid work. Crook said he guessed so. Monday, more prosecution witnesses testified that they had prescription medications missing after visits by the Campbells.

Ray Lackey and Rick Pennington were among the Lonoke pharmacists called to discuss purchases by the Campbells, or instances in which Kelly Campbell had someone else’s prescription filled or attempted to. Kelly Lackey Waller, who cried and trembled during her testimony, said she smoked ice—methamphetamine—with Kelly Campbell. Waller’s husband borrowed $500 from Kelly Campbell for their honeymoon and when she couldn’t pay it all back, Kelly Campbell told her how and what to shoplift at Wal-Mart—merchandise that could then be returned and the money used to repay the Campbells. She was caught and charged with theft of property.


She said Kelly Campbell told her, “I just had the best sex I had in 10 years,” and said it was with an Act 309 inmate. Waller also testified that while she was on her honeymoon and the Campbells had the key to her home, she came back to find electronic equipment worth about $11,000 missing, as well as her prescription medication.

Among other residences the Campbells had opportunity to take prescription drugs from was Mike Brown’s, director of the Lonoke Community Center who found drugs to be missing at one point. Brown said Kelly Campbell took his prescription for gout, brought him back some gout pills and later filled his painkiller prescription, for which he was charged. She never brought him the drugs.

Brown described Jay Campbell as “my best friend.”

TOP STORY >>Jail wants state help to repair bad roof

Leader staff writer

The Pulaski County Detention Center is housing about 100 prisoners more than it has room for and has a roof that may fall in any day on about 160 felons. The bad roof could force the county to crowd the prisoners into another facility or release some of them.

District 15 Justice of the Peace Steve Goss of North Little Rock, along with State Rep. Sandra Prater of Jacksonville, are pushing the state to give the county $1.5 million in one-time money to take care of the roof problem. Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay and others are asking legislators to increase the rate of pay the state pays the county for keeping state prisoners from $28 a day to $48.

“It costs us $48-$50 a day to feed, care and keep state prisoners,” Goss said, adding that on a daily basis, 150 of the prisoners in the county jail are state prisoners. The jail can house 880 prisoners, but according to Goss it’s currently home to about 100 more inmates. John Rehrauer, spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said the daily inmate counts has been around 925. Both Sherwood and Jacksonville recently passed resolutions supporting the county’s effort to get money from the state to make the much-needed jail repairs.

The resolution, being pushed by Pulaski County officials, is asking the state for $1.5 million to make repairs to the county jail roof and other improvements. If this work is not done, according to the resolution, the county will have to move 162 prisoners, all felons, to “a less secure area of the facility, which causes great concern for the safety and well-being of citizens and jail personnel as well as other inmates housed in the facility.”

There’s even a possibility that the jail will have to release some of the prisoners if repairs are not done. “We don’t have the money at the county level to make the repairs,” JP Goss said, “and I don’t know who else to plead to.” He said it’s just a matter of time before the roof falls.

“We thought it might happen back in January when we had all that rain and ice,” Goss said. Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim told his aldermen that the county is meeting resistance from the state because the county has not done a good job handling their expenses.

“Governor Beebe is not inclined to do this, but it doesn’t hurt us any to support it,” Swaim said. Alderman Terry Sansing was concerned that the resolution was a ploy to get around the controversy of pork-barrel projects. Local attorney Mike Wilson took the state to court over the use of its General Improvement Funds for “pork-barrel” or local projects. Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg said this was not the case as the state houses prisoners in the Pulaski County jail, so state funds may be used.

District 11 Justice of Peace Bob Johnson of Jacksonville said, “I’m for it (the state money), and definitely hope we get it.”
The sheriff is going to meet with the county’s Ways and Means Committee and show the group how much the extra prisoners are costing the county.

“We can’t afford to spend much more,” Goss said.

TOP STORY >>Sherwood showdown

Leader staff writer

In a showdown between the Sherwood City Council and the mayor Tuesday night—the mayor lost.
Mayor Dan Stedman was told, in a 6-1 vote, to fire the person he had recently hired to run the city’s public works department.

Stedman called it a “sad day for the city.” The council called for the 6 p.m. meeting in a letter Monday to the city clerk, and after listening to the mayor and a full room of resident who mostly supported him, aldermen quickly voted against the mayor without publicly offering any reason.

After the meeting some aldermen said the concern was that the person the mayor had hired to run the department, Lee Church, was a problem in the city’s fire department and it wasn’t right to move a problem from one department to another.
Yet other council members were upset because they had not been consulted as they had been in the past when other mayors ran the city.

Once the meeting opened, Alderman Charlie Harmon, the son of former Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon, quickly made a motion to rescind Stedman’s hiring of Church as the public works director. No one was fired to make the hiring of Church possible.
An engineer on the city’s payroll had temporarily filled the department’s top job since last year. That person is still with the city.

The mayor started his defense, saying he was voted in by 62 percent of the residents and carried every precinct to run the city. Harmon interrupted, “Is any of this relevant ?” “Yes, it is,” Stedman said, adding that the alderman would have an opportunity to respond. But when it came time for Harmon to respond, he along with the rest of the council sat quietly, waiting to cast their vote.

Stedman told the council that in the 65 days that he had been mayor that he had worked every day. “I’ve been in the day-to-day trenches,” he said. “I have the authority to obtain my own department heads.” He called the council’s decision “government at its worse. Neither I as the mayor, or Lee Church, have been given the opportunity to succeed or to fail.”
After the mayor spoke, the public was given a chance to weigh in on the debate, according to the agenda. Harmon again spoke up and asked that public comment be limited to about 10 minutes, so the question could be voted on at 6:20 p.m. The council agreed.

About 10 residents spoke, nine backing the mayor, including his wife. She called the council “cornbread mafia” for their backdoor attack on the mayor. “Other than Tom Brooks, who even called me to get the mayor to change his decision, who have you heard from?” she asked the council.

“Several other people,” Alder-man Becki Vassar said, but refused to release any names. Resident Mike Anderson said, “I support the mayor. He should have the choice.” Anderson’s wife, Doris, was more succinct. “You all asked me last year for help to get Sherwood to vote in four-year terms. I can change that.”

She said she called some of the aldermen to see what the problem was. “All I was told was we have the votes and we’ll do what we want,” she told the council and audience. “How do you know you had the votes? Did you have an illegal meeting?” she asked.

“I support the mayor as the city’s CEO,” said resident Julann Carnes. “To politicize the Public Works Department is very, very inappropriate. To do so jeopardizes the service.” Herschel Bowman said he also thought the mayor should make the hiring decision. His only question was if the mayor’s choice was qualified.

“Church has all the qualifications. I did all the interviews and he was the most qualified,” Stedman said. Richard Seville gave the council a stern warning. “Don’t go to the good-old-boy system. Leave it alone.” Local businessman Mike Presson was the lone dissenter during public comment, saying that it was a disgrace that a “small disgruntled group was stopping the council from doing their job. I take it personally.”

After the public had its short say, aldermen were given a chance for discussion and rebuttals. No one on the council said anything and Harmon called for the vote. The only alderman to support the mayor was Butch Davis. Aldermen David Henry missed the meeting.

Monday, March 05, 2007

SPORTS >>Season ends for Rabbits

IN SHORT: Lonoke won its opener against Dollarway, but couldn’t repeat the same success against Huntsville Thursday.

Leader sports writer

BALD KNOB — A great season came to an end on Thursday afternoon, as the Lonoke Jackrabbits watched Huntsville go on a 15-4 run in the third quarter to secure a 42-29 in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament.

The Eagles closed out the final 4:37 of the third frame with 11 unanswered points, which proved to be more than enough down the stretch in the defensive struggle. Both teams shot poorly in the first half, leading to a 17-16 Huntsville lead at the intermission.

Lonoke’s offensive troubles continued into the second half. Turnovers and offensive fouls kept the ‘Rabbits behind the eight ball for much of the third and fourth quarters, allowing Huntsville to slowly take control of the game’s momentum.

Marcus Bell helped the Eagles out to the initial lead with a three-point basket at the 7:22 mark of the first quarter.

Sophomore post Jordan Lambert answered for Lonoke with a put back of a Clarence Harris miss on the following possession.

The only Lonoke lead of the game occurred at the beginning of the second quarter, when Sammy Coleman hit a jumper at the 7:21 mark to give the ‘Rabbits a 9-8 lead. Stanley Staggers increased that lead moments later with a basket, but a basket and free-throw for Huntsville’s Dustin Todd would tie things up at 11-all with 5:16 left in the first half.

Lonoke’s shooting was its best by far in the second quarter. Three pointers from Coleman and defensive ace Brock Clement kept the Jackrabbits out front for most of the second frame, until two baskets by Cooper Trumbo in the final minute of the half put the Eagles back out front. Inside shots by Coleman and Bradley Spencer at the buzzer fell just short for Lonoke, sending them to the locker room with a one-point deficit.

Harris led Lonoke with seven points. Coleman had six, wheile Tyrone Dobbins added five points for the Jackrabbits. For Huntsville, Trumbo was the only double-digit scorer for either side with 16 points.

Wednesday’s opening round game with Pine Bluff Dollarway was a successful one for Lonoke, as the ‘Rabbits took advantage of poor Cardinal shooting to claim a 47-38 win. Lonoke led by as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter, until a small Dollarway rally in the final three minutes narrowed the gap.

“We figured if we could get to the fourth quarter with the lead, they couldn’t use their size advantage,” Jackrabbits coach Wes Swift said.

“They would be forced to chase our little guys. That was the plan, and it seemed to work for us.”
Lonoke showed tremendous patience offensively throughout the game, often holding the ball as much as two minutes before finding the shot they wanted.

Rebounding was a non-issue for the ‘Rabbits, especially on the offensive side.

The Dollarway posts proved ineffective against Lonoke inside, with most of the ‘Rabbit scores coming from beyond the low block. “We didn’t want to get into an up-and-down game,” Swift said. “As powerful as they are on the boards, the more you go up and down, the more shot opportunities and rebounding opportunities they get, so we just tried to be as patient as we could with the pressure they put on us. They try to make you play fast. I’m proud of my guys. They played well; they’re growing up.”

Harris led Lonoke with 15 points. Spencer finished with 14 points.

Staggers and Coleman each added seven points for the Jackrabbits.

For Dollarway, senior Tyrone Clay led all scorers with 16 points. The Jackrabbits finished with a final record of 23-10 for the season.

SPORTS >>Devils advance with win

IN SHORT: Jacksonville survived the first round of the 6A state playoffs with a close 57-51 win over El Dorado on Wednesday.

Leader sports writer

JONESBORO — The Jacksonville Red Devils got off to a very late start to their first round Class 6A state tournament game against El Dorado Wednesday in Jonesboro, but they departed from the norm and took care of business early in a 57-51 win that advanced the team to the state quarterfinals for the first time in several years.

Jacksonville grabbed an early lead only to watch it dissipate in the third quarter, but the Red Devils reclaimed control and put the game away midway through the fourth when they went up by 10 on a three-point play by junior point guard Tirrell Eskridge.

The scheduled 8:30 p.m. tip-off didn’t get started until 10:20 thanks to two overtime games earlier in the day. Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was not a man of many words after the win.

“It’s so late I’m just glad everybody stayed awake,” Joyner said. “We’re going to be so tired, and a team like Hall coming up. It’s going to be an uphill battle.”

The Red Devils didn’t make themselves climb any mountains in the fourth quarter Wednesday, although the Wildcats did keep it close most of the way.

El Dorado trailed by four early in the third quarter when post player Donovan Shaw got hot from mid range. Shaw scored 10 points in the third, including eight straight for the Wildcats that gave his team a one-point lead twice in the period.

Each time Shaw gave El Dorado the lead, however, Jacksonville senior Norvel Gabriel answered with a bucket to take it right back for the Red Devils.

Despite Shaw’s best efforts, Jacksonville finished the period up 41-39 and never trailed in the final frame.

The first two minutes of the fourth were marred by El Dorado misses and Jacksonville turnovers. Kajuan Watson finally put an end to the scoring drought with two free throws at the six-minute mark.

El Dorado pulled within one when a Shaw free throw and a bucket by Kelvin Steward made it 43-42 with 4:29 left. After a bucket by Red Devil post Antwan Lockhart, El Dorado trimmed it to one point again, this time with a layup by post player Martezo Rogers. That’s when Jacksonville began to pull away.

Post player Gerron Riddles scored to make it 47-44 with 3:05 left. After Rogers missed the front end of a one-and-one, Gabriel took a pass off a penetration and dish by Eskridge and drained a three pointer to match the Red Devils’ biggest lead of the game.

Shaw missed at the other end, and Eskridge got behind the Wildcat defense. He took an outlet pass from Gabriel off the rebound, hit the layup and added a free throw to put the Red Devils up 53-44 with 1:26 to go to seal the win for Jacksonville.
Trask would add another free throw to make it a 10-point game after another Wildcat miss. Gabriel, Watson and Eskridge finished the scoring for Jacksonville from the free-throw line. Jeremy Green hit a three at the buzzer for El Dorado to set the final margin.

Shaw led all scorers with 20 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Green added 13 for El Dorado.

Riddles led the Red Devils with 14 points and was the only one of 10 Red Devils to score in the game to hit double figures. Gabriel added eight points and eight rebounds while Eskridge finished with seven points.

Jacksonville out-rebounded El Dorado 32-24.

The Red Devils advanced to play No. 1 ranked Little Rock Hall, the team that knocked them out of the state tournament last year, Friday night. Look for details of that game, and any subsquent games from the Class 6A state tournament in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >>Early exits

IN SHORT: Four local teams move on to weekend play, the rest come home.

Leader sports writer

A large number of local Leader coverage teams made early exits from their respective bracket in the state playoffs this week.
In all, a total of 13 local boys and girls teams took to the court in various parts of the state, with four teams still in the hunt as of yesterday afternoon.

The Lonoke girls, East region No. 1 seed, will play today at noon against Star City, South No. 3 seed, in the 4A semifinals at Bald Knob. The Cabot Lady Panthers faced Rogers last night after receiving a bye as the No. 2 seed from the Central Conference.

Rogers entered the tournament as the West No. 3 seed, and beat Central No. 6 seed Russellville 49-27 in the opening round on Thursday.

Jacksonville entered the 6A tournament in Jonesboro as the East No. 4 seed. A win over
South No. 5 seed El Dorado on Wednesday put them in a matchup with South No. 1 seed Little Rock Hall last night.

Riverview is still in the Harrison-hosted 3A state tournament after beating Region 1 No. 4 seed Lamar in the opening round on Tuesday 63-47.

The West No. 2 seed Raiders took on Region 3 No. 2 seed Valley Springs, who annihilated Region 4 No. 3 seed Genoa Central 53-17 on Wednesday.

As for the exits, Sylvan Hills fell to Lake Hamilton in the opening round of the 6A tournament 71-58, ending the Bears’ rebuilding season with a final record of 7-22. Both Searcy teams advanced to the quarterfinal round before making their exits on Thursday.

The Lions, East No. 3 seed fell to Parkview 66-50 to end their season with a 19-11 record. The Lady Lions almost pulled off a huge comeback against lake Hamilton in the second round, but ended their season with a 21-5 record as the result of a 58-51 loss to the Lady Wolves Thursday night. The Lonoke Jackrabbits, East region No. 3 seed, advanced with a win over Dollarway 47-38 in the first round, but lost Thursday to Huntsville 42-29.

North Pulaski joined the Beebe girls at the 5A state playoffs in Paragould on the Greene County Tech campus.

The Falcons, No. 3 seed from the East Conference, fell to Southwest No. 2 seed Arkadelphia 62-56. The Lady Badgers also fell in the opening round with a 76-43 loss to Little Rock Fair. The Lady Badgers were the No. 3 seed from the East; Fair was the Southwest No. 2 seed.

Be sure to catch the Wednesday sports edition of The Leader for full results on Lonoke, Cabot, Jacksonville and Riverview over the weekend.

EDITORIALS>>Our military deserves thanks

Our subject today is competence — those who do their job, especially in the public sector, without grandstanding, as if to say, “It’s all in a day’s work. That’s what you’ve hired us for.”

You look around, and you’ll find competent people running local and state governments — it might be a stretch to include the federal government — but let’s definitely include our neighbors at Little Rock Air Force Base and at Camp Robinson.

They’re in harm’s way every day, saving lives in Iraq and doing good work everywhere. Airmen from LRAFB fly in supplies, replacing delivery trucks that are at risk of getting blown up by roadside bombs.

Our airmen have replaced more than 5,000 of such convoys, saving dozens of lives, if not hundreds.

Members of the Arkansas National Guard’s 39th Brigade Combat Team are also serving their country in war-torn Iraq, as well as in tornado-damaged Dumas and elsewhere around the state and the globe.

According to the Talmud, if you save one life, it’s as if you’ve saved the whole word.

Our thanks to those men and women in the armed services who make America safe and proud.

EDITORIALS>>Payday stooges

It’s easy to make fun of payday lenders and their lobbyists, who have a reputation of showing up at the Capitol in their checked suits and wide ties, smelling of cheap cigars and cologne and wearing little pinkie diamond rings.

But you shouldn’t underestimate their very effectiveness down in the legislature. They buy off legislators on the cheap and get their way when it comes to circumventing the state’s usury law, which caps interest rates at 17 percent. They charge at least 10 times that much, calling it a fee instead of interest.

Payday lenders have been buying off legislators for a decade, when they first started moving into Arkansas, charging outrageous interest rates, despite Arkansas’ reputation for being tough on usurers. Payday lenders can now make hefty profits by charging interest rates that would make a mobster blush.

On Tuesday, they bought off enough senators on the Insurance and Commerce Committee to kill a payday lending bill that would have fined the storefront operators every time they violated the state’s usury law.

The lenders made $500 campaign contributions to five of the senators on the committee who ran for office last year and effectively killed the bill by refusing to let it move on to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Imagine that: $500 will buy you a vote in the legislature, although looking at the senators who run interference for the payday lenders, you would think they’d want a little more for their vote, perhaps their own storefront operation when their terms are up, which can’t be too soon as far as we’re concerned.

North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays told the committee how his brother-in-law fell behind on payments after he borrowed money from a payday lender.

“This is not an avenue,” Hays said. “This is a trap.”

The rogues’ gallery that took the payday lenders’ filthy lucre includes these appalling senators who put special interests ahead of the people:

Senators Barabara Horn of Foreman, Bob Johnson of Bigelow, Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, Paul Miller of Melbourne and Terry Smith of Hot Springs.

They, along with the payday lenders, are our choice for the worst people in Arkansas.

Although the House recently passed the bill, 90-3, that didn’t exactly scare the payday lenders since they knew they had most members of the Senate Insurance and Commerce Committee in the bag. Only one lonely voice stood up for the ordinary people of Arkansas.

Sen. Jim Argue (D-Little Rock) was the only member of the Insurance and Commerce Committee who voted for the bill, and we salute him for his decency. He can take comfort knowing that the fight isn’t over. If the legislature doesn’t act, the courts will eventually chase the money changers out of Arkansas.

Gov. Beebe could show more leadership and find a committee that would push for a vote in the Senate and banish the money changers forever. This is an industry that Arkansas does not need.

OBITUARIES >> 03-03-07

Bobbe Johnson
Bobbe Lynn Johnson, 70, of Lonoke passed away Feb. 25 in Little Rock.

She was born Sept. 4, 1936 in Lincoln, Neb., to Orville and Norine Marshall.

Survivors include her children, Kimberly Green of Lonoke, Robin Johnson of California, Lois Clark of Cuba, and Christopher and Gregory Johnson both of Colorado; nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Memorial services will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 3 at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville. Donations may be made to the family for expenses.

Vertis Parker
Vertis Parker, 74, of Sherwood died March 1.

She was born May 16, 1932 at Ward to George and Maggie Forsyth Ingram.

She was an active member of her church and Eastern Star, and enjoyed bowling.

She was preceded in death by her parents; brother, Wallace Ingram; and sister, Betty Jeanne Womack.

Vertis is survived by her husband of 45 years, Ed Parker; two daughters, Laura Hammock and husband Charles of San Antonio, Texas, and Carol Simmons and husband Mike of Atlanta, Ga.; one sister, Artis Jones of Baltimore; three grandchildren, Sarah Hammock, Maggie and Shawn Simmons; nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and friends.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Funeral services will be at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4 at Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church with burial in Monk Cemetery.

Bessie Norman
Bessie Lee “Jobe” Norman, 93, died March 1 in Beebe.

She was born Oct. 19, 1913 in Mt. Vernon.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Orlan; her parents Bradley and Mae Ussery Jobe and her brothers, Farris, Madison, and Bradley Jr.

She is survived by a daughter Bessie Mae Griffin and husband Robert of Cabot; a son, Jimmie D. and wife Ruby of Jupiter, Florida; four grandchildren, Brent B. Norman, Shela Norman, Leslie Griffin and Bradley Griffin; six great grandchildren and one great-great grandson.

She participated in many activities and positions of leadership in her church both at Romance and Beebe until her health declined.

The pastor and/or visiting pastor always knew where there was a good home-cooked meal in the oven. Many people in White County, especially the members at Romance, will remember Bessie Lee’s faithful service and leadership in the White County Home Demonstration Club.

She was honored for over 50 years of membership and leadership by the County Council.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at Roller-Daniel Funeral Home.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4 in the chapel of Roller-Daniel Funeral Home in Searcy with burial following in the Romance Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her memory to the Hospice of White County Chapter at 112 Brantley Road Searcy, Ark. 72143.

Alex Gorman
Alex Gorman, Jr., 74, of Cabot died Feb. 26 in North Little Rock.

He was born on July 28, 1932 to the late Alex Sr. and Elsie Louise Knight Gorman in Mobile County, Ala.  

Alex was a member of Mt. Zion Methodist Church and United Auto Workers Union.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Gorman of the home; three children, Rebecca Lasaca, Jennifer Cabral and Michael Gorman, all of Calif.; one sister, Barbara Temple of Calif.; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.  

Memorial services were March 1 at Mt. Zion Methodist Church with Rev. Paul Wooley officiating.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice of Mt. Zion Methodist Church. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home. 

Oscar Tozer
Oscar Tozer, 95, of Des Arc died Feb. 28.

He was a retired farmer, business owner and handyman.

Graveside service was March 2 in Beebe Cemetery by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Jimmy Belote
Jimmy L. Belote, 71, of Mayflower passed away Feb. 26 at Conway.  

He was born Oct. 28, 1935 in Little Rock to Lucille Harmon Belote and the late Archie L. Belote.  

Jimmy was a builder and had served in the Air National Guard.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Faye Belote; a daughter, Tina Reeves of California; two sons, Rick Belote of Conway and Jimmy Lee Belote of Clinton; his mother, Lucille Harmon Belote; a brother, Fred Belote; 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Graveside services were March 2 at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements were under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Gladys Bean
Gladys Irene Bean, 76, of Cabot passed away Feb. 25.

She was born March 15, 1930 in Seminole, Okla., to the late Robert L. Alston and Mary Love-Alston.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Leslie Bean, in 1984 and two sisters, Lena and Pauline.

Survivors include two daughters, Linda and husband Paul Richardson of Rogers and Sandra and husband Don Harrod of Hot Springs; two sons, Leslie W. and wife Susan Bean of Benton and Robert and wife Donna Bean of Conway; 10 grandchildren, Michael Richardson, Rick Rich-ardson, Michelle Terry, Tony Richardson, Jim-my Bodtke, Donna Kaye Taylor, Eric Bean, Aaron Bean, Tiffany Bean and Sunde Bagwell; and 13 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were Feb. 29 at McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Larry Burton officiating. Burial was at Floral Haven Memorial Gardens in Broken Arrow, Okla.

In lieu of flowers please send memorials to Arkansas Cancer Research Center in Little Rock or to McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville.

Funeral arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

EVENTS>>Winter 2007

Tickets are on sale for the Cabot Scholarship Committee’s 12th annual Roast and Toast banquet that will be held at 7 p.m. April 12 at the Cabot Junior High South cafeteria.
Tickets are $25 a person or $200 for a table of eight and are available at all local Cabot area banks as well as from Cabot Scholarship Foundation board members. Dinner will be catered by Colton’s Steakhouse in Cabot.
Cabot native Jerry Waymack will be the guest of honor and roastee at the event. He will be roasted by his son Darrin and friends Harold Bibbs and Will Feland. More than $25,000 in scholarships was awarded last year in 29 scholarships that went to over 25 recipients.

Simply Delicious Restaurant located at North Pulaski High School  will be closed for two weeks while students prepare for the Pro-start Culinary Contest held March 8 and 9.  The restaurant will be closed from Feb. 26 through March 9.  It will reopen on March 12.  

The Literacy Council of Lonoke County is planning a spring garage sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 9 and 10 and would like donations of items set aside during spring cleaning.
The garage sale is a fund-raiser to raise money for books and materials for students and tutors participating in the program. Donations are tax deductible. Drop off donated items at the Literacy Council office behind the Lonoke County Courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Junior Auxiliary of Jacksonville is preparing for its biggest fund-raising event of the year. The second annual Mardi Gras in March Casino Night will be held at the Foxwood Country Club from 6 to 9 p.m. next Saturday.
The evening will include a variety of gaming tables, $25,000 in play money, heavy hors d’oeuvres, drink tickets, a silent auction, party favors, and great prizes at the end of the evening. Tickets may be obtained by a tax deductible donation of $50. Space will be limited to the first 130.
All proceeds from the event will go to fund Junior Auxiliary projects benefiting under-privileged children of Jacksonville. For more information or to purchase a ticket, contact event chair Amanda Stanisor at 501-982-9440 or

The third annual Junior Auxiliary of Cabot Bunko Bash charity fundraiser will be held Saturday, March 17 at the Cabot High School cafeteria. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and games begin at 6 p.m. Cost to play is $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Those interested in playing can register at Knight’s Super Foods in Cabot or by mail to J.A. Bunko Bash, P. O. Box 267, Cabot, Ark. 72023. Make check payable to J.A. of Cabot. Deadline for mail-in entries is March 10; must be 18-years-old to play.
Prizes will be awarded for most wins, most bunkos, and most losses.
Bunko Bash is a charity fund-raiser that enables the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot to help the needs of children in the Cabot School District.
For more information call Paula at 501-843-6274 or email

Danny Gunter of Cabot, who works for a drilling company, last weekend was seriously injured when he fell 28 feet while working. He has some broken bones, extensive muscle damage, and has been diagnosed with a very serious condition known as ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), lung damage caused from the force of the fall along with the ingestion of the matter that was in the bottom of the pit that he fell into.
Anyone wishing to contribute towards his recovery may do so at any Arkansas Federal Credit Union Branch. For more information, call Teri Miessner, the Cabot branch manager, at 501-533-2310.

Arkansas State University-Beebe is offering students a chance to start eight-week online classes Monday, March 12.  A wide selection of general education and business classes will be offered including Arkansas history, college algebra, and the freshman English sequence.
ASU-Beebe offers an entire Associate of Arts degree online. A complete list of Term IV offerings can be found online on the ASU-Beebe homepage,  Students interested in taking online classes may contact the ASU-Beebe Office of Admissions at 1-800-632-9985.  For more information about online learning, contact the Office of Distance Learning at (501)882-4442.

TOP STORY >>High-profile witnesses kick off trial

IN SHORT: As the corruption case begins, prosecutors present circumstantial evidence that the Campbells stole drugs, but no one could confirm on the stand that drugs were taken in their presence.

Leader staff writer

Some well-known Lonoke-area residents testified Friday that former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly Harrison Campbell took prescription painkillers, or that such drugs were missing after visits from one or both Campbells, as the first witnesses took the stand at Cabot.

The trial was moved to Cabot to prevent disrupting circuit court at Lonoke for the three to six weeks of the trial.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain has charged the Campbells with about 72 counts, mostly drug-or-theft-related, in-cluding operating a continuing criminal enterprise. Co-defendant Bobby Junior Cox, a bail bondsman, faces four counts and will not be much in evidence in the early phases of the trial, according to his lawyer, John Wesley Hall.

Jay Campbell is charged as the kingpin of the continuing criminal enterprise and the other two with participating in that enterprise.

The former chief also is charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine with bail bondsmen Cox and Larry Nor-wood. Norwood is being tried separately.

Most of the balance of Jay Campbell’s charges are for residential burglary for theft of drugs or other items of value.

Kelly Campbell is charged also with residential burglary and stealing prescription drugs or obtaining them by fraud, with having sex with two of her husbands’ inmates and with supplying them with alcohol, drugs and a cell phone.

Cox, in addition to the criminal enterprise and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, is charged with intimidating a witness and terroristic threatening.

Many of the charges against the Campbells stem from visiting friends at their homes—particularly after illnesses or operations when the resident might have painkillers.

Prosecutors allege that Jay Campbell would occupy the residents with friendly conversation while his wife excused herself to the bathroom and rummaged for prescription painkillers.

Kelly Campbell’s lawyer, Mark Hampton, cross-examined witnesses, asking whether they actually saw her take any drugs. No one did.

Jay Campbell’s lawyer, Patrick Benca, routinely asked if his client was ever out of sight of the witness or had any opportunity to have stolen drugs. No, he was told.

Among those who testified were Brother Jimmy Wallace, former Lonoke County Circuit Clerk Becky Wilson and her husband Mike Wilson, Alderman Woody Evans and former Alderman Jackie Moore and his wife Donna.

Under questioning by Mc-Castlain, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Stuart Cearley and Deputy Pro-secutor Jack McQuary, many witnesses said Friday that they still attend church with the Campbells and some had close friendships that seemed to unwind as they suspected that the Campbells might have stolen drugs and other things from them and sometimes broken into their houses.

One after another, the witnesses took the stand to testify about the Campbells and their missing prescription painkillers. In some cases, one or both Campbells are charged with taking the drugs, in others, the state filed no charges but offered evidence merely “as evidence of motive, opportunity and intent.”

None of the prosecution witnesses seemed eager to testify against their former friends but most said they were no longer friends.

The Moores testified that they had twice vacationed at Gulf Shores with the Campbells, the first time sharing a condominium.
Moore said he had known the Campbells for nine or 10 years. In 2003, after suffering lower back problems and kidney stones, Moore had hydrocodone to help with the pain. He kept his pain pills on top of the refrigerator, he said, and discovered one day that one bottle was empty.

“Kelly was the only one I remembered (who had been in the house),” Moore said.

Moore’s wife Donna discovered that several pieces of her jewelry were missing, including her class ring. She identified the jewelry from the witness stand. The state has said it would prove Kelly Campbell took those items.

Hampton cross-examined both Moores, asking if their children played together in one another’s homes and bedrooms and whether there might be another explanation for how Donna Moore’s jewelry ended up at the Campbells’.

Jackie Moore said “the Terminx guy” was the only other person who might have been in the house—and that he was Jackie’s cousin and friend for decades.

Neither Campbell is charged with theft of drugs from the Evans home because the statute of limitations had expired.
That is known as “404B” evidence, and Special Judge John Cole warned jurors that evidence might not be considered to prove the character of a defendant or “to show that he acted in conformity.” It is “not to be considered to establish a particular trail of character.”

It took two and a half days to seat the jury of six men and six women, with two male and two female alternates for a marathon trial that could see as many as 300 witnesses called and last as long six weeks.

No sooner had the state laid out its case in opening arguments against the three codefendants Thursday afternoon than each defense lawyer began distancing his client from the others.

Jo Lynn Martin Talley, who had been friendly, if not friends, with Kelly Campbell for many years, said she arrived home one day to find two back doors broken in. She backed out of the drive, went to the Lonoke Police Department and returned with two officers who made sure there were no criminals in the house.

At Talley’s request, they began dusting for fingerprints.

Chief Campbell arrived in a few minutes.

“He asked me if any drugs were missing,” said Talley. “I was thinking more like T.V.s and VCRs,” she said, noting that she hadn’t found anything missing.

“I got a phone call five minutes later from Kelly Campbell saying her fingerprints were going to be all over my house,” Talley said.

She said Kelly Campbell told her that she had seen that the house had been broken into and went in to make sure Talley was okay, then left, locking the broken doors behind her.

Talley testified that Campbell had never been to her new home and that the broken doors would not have been visible from the street.

Talley said that weeks later, she was cleaning the drawers in the bathroom and noticed that a bottle of hydrocodone cough medicine was missing.

Later, Kelly Campbell came to M&M Florist, where Talley worked, followed her into a back area and said “Jo, I would not steal anything from you.”

“Why are your fingerprints all over my house?” Talley asked her.

During opening arguments Thursday, McCastlain called Campbell an experienced lawman, very charismatic, a family man and a good father.

She said he was the kind of man that friends could leave their house keys with when they were out of town—and that he betrayed that trust.

She said the goals of the continuing criminal enterprise were money, drugs, receiving personal services from Act 309 inmates, sex and gratification and continuing without detection.

McCastlain alleged the conduct of the enterprise included diverting money from cash funds seized in arrests, improper arrests, exploitation of the Act 309 inmates, residential burglary for prescription drugs.

The conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine was part of a convoluted plot to force a criminal to reveal the whereabouts of another who skipped out on his bond, leaving Cox liable for a $130,000 bond, according to the prosecutor.

Although all three defendants are being tried at the same time, the guilt or innocence for each will be determined separately.
In his opening argument Thursday, defense attorney Hall said Cox was guilty of nothing and that as a bail bondsman, he has extraordinary powers, such as the power to search a home without a warrant.

He said McCastlain was almost done with her opening statement before she even mentioned his client. He said the continuing criminal enterprise charge required that his client be found guilty of two underlying violent crimes or for personal gain, and that wouldn’t happen.

When you listen to all this testimony, Hall said, ask yourself, “What does this have to do with Bobby Cox?”

“Bobby Cox’s case is based on snitches,” Hall said, for a “get-out- of-jail-free card.”

“You may not hear from me for a couple of weeks,” said Hall, implying his client had nothing to do with most of the charges.

Defense attorney Benca said the state would present two types of witnesses—felons and drug users on the one hand, and the former and current friends from whom the Campbells allegedly stole. He said those people didn’t press charges and were testifying only because they had been subpoenaed.

Benca said that if Kelly Campbell had stolen the alleged medication, it required a leap of faith to believe that Jay Campbell knew that’s what she was doing and was an active participant.

You won’t hear of Jay taking drugs, having a drinking problem, improper sex or failing a drug screen, Benca said. “He had no motive to take anything.

“Jay is devoted to his wife, stands by her and believes in her,” Benca said, “but he’s not responsible for her choices.”

“Listen to every witness, determine their credibility,” said Benca. “Let the smoke clear and see what’s left. There will be no fire.”

Defense attorney Hampton told the jurors that novelist John Grisham couldn’t have come up with a more outlandish story than the one McCastlain wanted them to believe. “To believe that Jay Campbell is the mob boss of Lonoke County—it is absurd.”

Still, he seemed to lay the groundwork for a defense that Kelly Campbell was more a victim than a criminal. She suffered a number of medical problems and underwent a series of back surgeries that left her in chronic pain, he said. The mother of three had miscarried three times and “lost her father,” suffering heartache. He said she was “very vulnerable, but a good mother and a good wife.

He said jurors would hear private and intimate things because of the nature of the state’s charges. “It’s going to be embarrassing at times,” said Hampton. “She’s made some bad judgments she’s not proud of, but if Jay can forgive her, I’m asking you to forgive her.”

As for the elements of the continuing criminal enterprise, “there’s no proof she knew of any of those acts,” he said. “Did her husband really commit those acts?”

Hampton said that the vast majority of testimony against the Campbells would be given by convicted criminals who might be eager to get back at the chief by destroying his family.