Wednesday, April 04, 2007

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers win three in 'Rumble'

IN SHORT: The Beebe fastpitch softball team went 3-2 and took fourth place in a tournament in Van Buren over the weekend.

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Lady Badgers took fourth place over the weekend in the 16-team Rumble in the River Valley fastpitch tournament in Van Buren. The Lady Badgers went 3-2 in the event after taking a week off for spring break.

The two losses were double Beebe’s loss total heading into the tournament, but Beebe head coach Terry Flenor wasn’t displeased with his team’s performance.

“Of course we would have liked to have won the tournament, but I believe we accomplished what we set out to accomplish,” Flenor said. “We were using this really as a way to get ready for this week. We hadn’t played over spring break and we didn’t want to come in and play a tough conference team like Wynne when we hadn’t played in 10 days or so.”

Beebe got a tough draw, opening with a local team. The Lady Badgers started the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Fort Smith Southside, and advanced to the winners bracket semifinal with a 4-1 win over Greenwood.

Once in the semis, Beebe was sent down to the losers bracket with a 2-1 loss to eventual tournament champion Vilonia.
In the losers bracket, Beebe handled Dardanelle with little trouble, beating the Lady Sandlizards 8-2. Beebe followed its best offensive game with its worst, losing a 4-0 shutout to Alma and ending its weekend of play.

“We feel like we can hit a little better than we are,” Flenor said. “We experimented with some things. We had some kids out of their usual positions, just trying new things and seeing what would work and what wouldn’t.”

Alma lost the right to play Vilonia for the championship to Fayetteville. Fayetteville, who had lost to Vilonia in the final of the winners’ bracket, forced a game two against the Lady Eagles, but lost the “if” game to take the runner-up spot.

Beebe’s record now stands at 14-3 overall. They are 3-1 in conference play and played a huge 5A-East doubleheader last night against Wynne. Look for details of that encounter, as well as the Lady Badgers’ Thursday non-conference matchup with Rumble winner Vilonia in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >>LR Lutheran easy for Lonoke

IN SHORT: The Jackrabbit baseball team got a 4A-2 sweep of the Lions Monday evening, winning two shutouts 10-0 and 14-0.

Leader sportswriter

It didn’t take long for the Jackrabbits to shake off the rust of a week’s vacation on Mon-day, sweeping Lutheran High School in a pair of 4A-2 conference games at Lonoke Municipal Ball Park. Lonoke took the opener 10-0, followed by a 14-0 rout in game two.

The Lions appeared to be outmatched in all facets on Monday. The ‘Rabbits lobbed repeated shots into the struggling Lutheran outfield seemingly at will, scoring as many points off of rudimentary Lion errors as actual hits in the opener before putting on a full-scale batting clinic in the nightcap.

Lonoke pitcher Josh Martin threw a no-hitter through four innings in the first game before Dwayne Lewis took to the mound for the fifth and final inning. Martin started out sending Lutheran three up and three down in the top of the first inning, with a strikeout on Steven Francis to retire the side.

Glen Evans led off for Lonoke in the bottom of the first with a bunt for an infield single, and then proceeded to steal second and third base while Luke Mitchell stood at the plate. Mitchell flew out, but Martin followed with a pop up that resulted in the first of many Lutheran errors.

Lions right fielder Brandon Crawford misjudged the ball, as it landed right beside him to score Evans and allow Martin to second.

Martin came in on a passed ball moments later to make it 2-0. The loose pitch was actually the third strike for Lonoke batter Lewis, but he scrambled to first while the Lions hustled to try and avoid the second run.

The ‘Rabbits put two more runs on the board in the bottom of the second with a two-run RBI from Evans that scored Josh O’Bannon and B.J. Manning to give Lonoke a 4-0 lead, but the bottom of the third would put the game away for the Jackrabbits.

Lewis and Scott started out the frame with a pair of doubles, with Scott’s hit scoring Lewis. Scott ended up trapped between second and third moments later, but played cat and mouse to perfection, eventually pulling the two basemen apart far enough to make the move to third, beating the throw for the steal.

Scott would then score on a sacrifice hit by Manning. Evans drove in the next run with a bunt that resulted in an infield hit to score Justin Neyland, and a single by Mitchell would score Neyland. Martin singled to score Mitchell, and Martin was then driven in by a big hit from Steele Gorbet that almost resulted in an inside-the- park home run.

Gorbet made his way around the bases as Crawford chased down the ball at the right field wall, and beat the throw to the plate. His chance to score the rare run was thwarted, however, when he failed to touch the plate during his dive across the end of the diamond, resulting in the third out.

Lewis took to the mound in the top of the fifth, striking out three with two walks allowed in between.

Manning went the distance for Lonoke at the mound in the second game, allowing Lutheran’s only hit of the entire evening in the top of the fifth inning. Manning threw a solid game, however, striking out 10 while giving up three walks and only the single hit to Jacob Pracht.

The Jackrabbits racked up four runs in the bottom of the first before going through the entire lineup during their next turn, resulting in 10 runs that would set the final margin.

Lonoke finished the evening with 19 total hits. The ‘Rabbits took game one with 10 runs, nine hits and no errors, with 14 runs, 10 hits and no errors in game two. Evans was 4 for 5 on the evening with a double; Mitchell was 3 for 5. Neyland went 3 for 5 with a double on the night, and Gorbet was 2 for 2 in the second game with two doubles. Lutheran committed two errors in both games, with only one hit in the final inning of game two.

SPORTS >>Hardball Badgers pound on Panthers

IN SHORT: Beebe’s baseball team returned from spring break with a big offensive showing and a 12-8 win over Heber Springs Monday night at Beebe High.

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers batted through the lineup in the first and fourth innings, piling up 11 of their 12 runs en route to a 12-8 victory over the Heber Springs Panthers Monday evening at Beebe High School.

The Badgers got 12 runs on 12 base hits and six Heber Springs’ errors. Beebe coach Mark Crafton was pleased with his team’s performance after taking over a week off for spring break.

“You always worry that you’re going to be a little sluggish after a long layoff,” Crafton said. “I was glad to see they came in here with a little spring in their step.”

Beebe committed five errors to go along with 13 Heber Springs base hits, but the Badger pitching did a good job of getting out of jams.

The Panthers got on the board first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning. Steven Bartlett got a one-out single to right field. After Beebe starting pitcher Logan Belew struck out Shawn Adcock, Jonathan Davis reached on an error at first base that would have been the third out of the inning. Teague Thomas then singled to left field to score Bartlett and give the Panthers their short-lived and only lead.

In the bottom of the same inning, the Badgers put four runs on the board to take the lead and would not trail the rest of the way.

Levi Denton started the rally by reaching on an error at shortstop with one out. Sean Robertson followed with a single to left and Kacey Belew got an infield single to load the bases. Jared Toney then got an infield single when his comebacker to the mound careened off the pitcher’s foot and into unmanned territory. Another error, this time at third base, allowed another Beebe run and set up a two-RBI single by Jacob White that capped the Badgers’ opening at bat.

Belew sat Heber down in order in the second, but the Badgers went down the same way. The Panthers added a run in the third to make it 4-2, and that’s when Beebe got its first break. Leadoff hitter Dewey Moffit doubled down the left field line to start the inning, but made a base-runner error moments later. Steve Bartlett then hit a hard shot to left, where the ball bounced off the glove of a diving Levi Denton. Moffitt had to wait to see if Denton would make the catch, when the ball hit the ground, Moffitt broke for third, but was beaten easily by the throw for the first out. Bartlett came around to score after a walk and back-to-back Beebe errors, but it was the only run the Panthers would score in the inning.

Beebe answered with an unearned run in the bottom of the same frame. Jared Toney reached on an error in centerfield, and scored on an RBI base hit by White, his third RBI of the game.

The Panthers tied it with three earned runs in the top of the fourth. Matt Morris, Shane Bryant, Mark Moffitt and Bartlett each got singles in the rally, with Bartlett’s two-RBI single to right field tying the game at five apiece.

The excitment of a close game ended in the next half inning, when Beebe sent 11 batters to the plate and scored seven runs to take command of the game.

Leadoff hitter Roger Glaude, who had hit two hard balls back to the mound, finally got one past the pitcher and into centerfield for his first hit of the game. Levi Denton, who also had hit the ball hard but failed to get on base, suffered some more bad luck when his line drive was snagged at shortstop for the first out. During Denton’s at bat, though, Glaude moved all the way to third base on an errant pick off throw to first base. Robertson singled to centerfield to score Glaude, and Kacey Belew got his second bunt single of the game to put runners on the corners for Jared Toney. Toney responded to the situation with a double in the gap between right and centerfield that drove in both runners.

After Justin Whitehead made the second out of the inning, White reached on Heber’s fifth error of the game, an error that also scored Toney from second.

Jared Mathis got an infield single and Zach Kersey, hitting for Logan Belew, singled to centerfield for an RBI. Another error off Glaude’s bat scored Kersey for the last run of the inning and gave the Badgers a 12-5 lead.

Heber rallied for three runs in the seventh, but after giving up four singles and a triple in the first six at bats, the Badgers got an infield pop up and grounder back to the mound to seal the win.

Toney and White each finished with two hits and three RBIs to lead the way for Beebe offensively.

Jared Mathis and Sean Robertson also had two hits and Robertson added a stolen base and an RBI.

Kacey Belew got two bunt singles from the cleanup spot in the lineup.

The win lifted the Badgers to 8-8 overall. They took on 5A-East leading Wynne last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that encounter in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.


The Judiciary Committees of the state House of Repre-sentatives and state Senate should make the honor roll for killing dangerous legislation. Monday, the Senate committee deep-sixed a bill to turn local policemen and sheriff’s deputies into immigration and national security agents.

House Bill 2779, still another effort by northwest Arkansas Republicans to make criminals of employers who hire Mexicans who are in the country illegally. Police would be expected to arrest people who employ illegal aliens or otherwise “harbor” them.
“I want to show that we’re better than our Congress and our president,” Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, told the committee. “I want something done. People in my district want something done.”

It would put an impossible burden on local police, who would have to find out who is an illegal alien. Where would they go to find out? It’s a federal agents’ job after all. They are supposed to enforce the laws, too, not cops who are to be protecting folks from the real criminals, who are numerous enough. Landlords who rent homes to Mexicans and even employees of domestic-violence shelters that take in battered Mexican women could be jailed under the bill if they mistakenly took in someone who turned out not to be legal. The committee overwhelmingly rejected the bill. It was its best work of the session.
—Ernie Dumas


The Judiciary Committees of the state House of Repre-sentatives and state Senate should make the honor roll for killing dangerous legislation. Monday, the Senate committee deep-sixed a bill to turn local policemen and sheriff’s deputies into immigration and national security agents.

House Bill 2779, still another effort by northwest Arkansas Republicans to make criminals of employers who hire Mexicans who are in the country illegally. Police would be expected to arrest people who employ illegal aliens or otherwise “harbor” them.
“I want to show that we’re better than our Congress and our president,” Rep. Jon Woods, R-Springdale, told the committee. “I want something done. People in my district want something done.”

It would put an impossible burden on local police, who would have to find out who is an illegal alien. Where would they go to find out? It’s a federal agents’ job after all. They are supposed to enforce the laws, too, not cops who are to be protecting folks from the real criminals, who are numerous enough. Landlords who rent homes to Mexicans and even employees of domestic-violence shelters that take in battered Mexican women could be jailed under the bill if they mistakenly took in someone who turned out not to be legal. The committee overwhelmingly rejected the bill. It was its best work of the session.
—Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>Traumatic loss

A teen-age boy who plow-ed into a car while riding his skateboard in Little Rock last week suffered a head injury that was so severe he might have died or been permanently impaired but luckily the trauma unit of Arkansas Children’s Hospital was only minutes away. He survived and his chances are good.

Had he lived farther away his chances would have been much smaller, and that worse fate does befall hundreds of Arkansans who are grievously injured in the outlying regions. Arkansas is one of only three states that do not have a statewide trauma-care system and the only state without what is called a level-one trauma center.

With the state treasury bulging with surpluses ap-proaching a billion dollars and general revenues so flush that the legislature has been cutting taxes right and left, what a good time to take care of that shortcoming. After all, the legislature is appropriating tens of millions for a federal marshals museum at Fort Smith, the sports hall of fame and scores of subsidies for purely private undertakings of no discernible value to the general public. They had to get rid of that billion dollars some way.

A vast majority of lawmakers recognized the need. So did Gov. Beebe. The Senate and House of Representatives passed separate bills to provide money to train people at hospitals around the state on how to stabilize people with critical injuries and to match federal Medicaid funds for the trauma care. But the bills differed on how they would raise the money.

The House bill raised court fees and the Senate bill raised automobile insurance premium fees. Monday, leaders of the bodies got together to work out the differences, and each side insisted that its idea prevail. So they decided the hell with the whole thing and the hell with injured kids. Leave it for a future legislature. They wanted to adjourn the next day. Thus does foolish pride and pettiness again thwart the public weal. Be sure to visit the sports hall of fame and the grand marshals’ museum the next time in Fort Smith, but be careful on the way.
—Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>Huckabee a pauper

If like us you are obsessively following the national maneuverings for signs that Arkansas will raise another native son to the presidency of the United States, this has not been a good week.

First-quarter fund-raising is always monitored for evidence of who will be the front-runners in the raft of telltale primaries that will occur late in the coming winter. The campaign finance reports do not bode well for our man Mike Huckabee. He only raised about $500,000, most of it from Arkansas friends and a tiny fraction of the scratch raised by the big boys, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and the rapidly fading John McCain.

Romney, who is wresting away the mantle of “conservative governor” that Huckabee bids to assume, raised $23 million. Giuliani, the liberal New Yorker, took in $15 million and McCain $12.5 million. None, of course, approached the fund-raising of the leading Democratic fund-raiser, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who hauled in $26 million. Sen. Barack Obama is supposed to be close behind.

Huckabee said he was not disappointed with his haul. He still has $300,000 in the bank and he’s just getting started, he said. Brother Huckabee’s strategy is to throw everything into New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, particularly the latter two, in hopes of springing a big surprise in those first primary tests. That would catapult him into the headlines for the score or so of big primaries that followed in the next two weeks. He compares himself to Bill Clinton, who got into the race in the fall of 1991 only a few months before the primaries, but Clinton was in the front rank of Democratic candidates in fund-raising and organization in no time. President George H. W. Bush was considered unbeatable in 1991 and no Democrat was going anywhere a year ahead of the primaries.

But Huckabee owns considerable skills as a talker, and with unfamiliar audiences he is convincing about having been a wildly effective, tax-cutting, small-government conservative during his 10 ½ years as governor. He keeps getting pestered by right-wing groups like the Club for Growth, which challenge his small-government record. He raised more taxes than any previous Arkansas governor, though for good things in our view. The governor came out with still another book this month and the ultraconservative Washington Times, the foremost daily journal of conservatism, poked fun at it, referring to some of his ideas as “silly.” It said he clearly was shooting to be vice president, not president. Well, his supporters down here would happily settle for that even if the prospect was hair-raising for others.

OBITUARIES >> 04-04-07

Irene Krysiak
Irene Agnes Krysiak, 102, of Cabot, formerly of Chicago, Ill., passed away March 29.

She was born Sept. 9, 1904 in Chicago, Ill., to the late An-thony Zamier and Valeria Thomascheski Zamier.

She is also preceded in death by her husband, Ed-ward Krysiak; one son, Arnold Krysiak; three sisters, Alfreda Wagner, Mildred LaMaster and Florence Zamier; and two brothers, Chester Zamier and Gene Zamier.

Survivors include two daughters, Lorraine and husband Ber-nard Max of Franklin Park, Ill., and Geraldine and the late Robert Malchiodi of Horseshoe Bend; one daughter-in-law, Carol Hamann of McHenry, Ill.; eight grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great grandchildren; along with other family members and friends.

Visitation will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 14 with a funeral Mass following at 9 a.m. at St. John’s Brebeuf, 8301 N. Harlem Ave., Niles, Ill., with burial following at St. Adalbert’s Cemetery in Niles.

In lieu of flowers family re-quests memorials be made to the American Heart Association.

Cremation arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Waylan Hankins
Waylan Carl “Paw Paw” Hankins, Sr., 67, of Cabot, went to be with the Lord on March 30.

He was born March 26, 1940 in Pettus to the late Frank and Louia Hankins of England. He was retired from Timex and loved fishing, hunting, riding the four wheelers and most importantly he loved spending time with his wife, kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and family.

He was preceded in death by two sisters, Wanda Grover and Evelyn Palmer and one brother Wayman Hankins.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Carolyn Hankins of the home; four sons, “Chip” Waylan Carl Hankins, Jr. of Cabot, Tommy Hankins of Ward, Jimmy and wife Lisa Hankins of Ward, and Dusty and wife Stephanie Hankins of Conway; one daughter Carla and husband Kenny Hill of Mt. Vernon; one brother Bill Hankins of England; one sister Frankie Lee of England; 12 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, friends and loved ones.

Services were April 2 at New Horizons Baptist Church with burial in Sylvania Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Lynn Smith, Sr., 60, of Jacksonville, passed away April 1.

He was born Oct. 20, 1946 in Hot Springs to James Junior Smith and the late Grace Evelyn Walker Smith.

Smith loved country music, fishing, motorcycles and most of all spending time with his grandkids.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Sandra Lee Smith; three children he loved dearly; daughter, Tammy Martin and husband Glen of Glendale, Rhode Island; one son, Jerry Smith, Jr. and wife Stephanie of Cabot and daughter, Kara Smith and Jon Andrews of Beebe; father, James Junior Smith of Hot Springs; twin brother, Gary Smith and wife Linda of Jacksonville; 11 grandchildren, Brandon, Joshua, Tyler, Alexis, Cody, Dalton, Samantha, Lane, Chase, Cody and Payton; and other family members and friends.

Visitation will be from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 4 with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 5 at McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Larry Burton officiating.

Burial will be at 3 p.m. at Knoxville Cemetery in Knoxville. Funeral arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service.

Wanda Hartley
Wanda Lee Robertson Hartley, 81, of Beebe died March 31.

She was born March 25, 1926 in McRae to the late Winburn and Annie Rooney McAfee Robertson.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Ivan C. Hartley.

She was of the Baptist faith, a devoted Christian, and loved all of God’s creatures.

She was preceded in death by one brother, W.L. Robertson and wife Barbara of Beebe; one sister, Patsy Weaver of Beebe, who was her friend, companion, and caregiver for 21 years; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be Wednesday, April 4 at Mt. Springs Baptist Church on Hwy. 5 in Cabot. Memorials may be made to Mt. Springs Baptist Church, 15669 Hwy. 5, Cabot, Arkansas 72023.

Margaret Price
Margaret Frances Price of Beebe passed away April 2.

She was born on Sept. 13, 1925 in Seattle, Washington, the daughter of the late George Gordon and Ethel Mary Suddock.
She was a member of Antioch Methodist Church in Antioch.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Bennie Elvis of Beebe; her brother, Edwin Matthew and wife Agnes Suddock of Anchorage, Alaska; an infant grandson, Jared Price; and two daughters-in-law, Rena Fay and Peggy Price, all of Beebe.

She is survived by one daughter, Margaret Ruth and husband Winston Douglas Vines of Cabot; two sons, Edwin Clinton and wife Jan Price and Charles Gordon Price, all of Beebe; six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 5 at Antioch Community Church. Burial will follow in the Antioch Cemetery at Antioch.

Memorials can be made to The Gideons International, P.O. Box 1165, Searcy, Ark., 72145.

Drew Griffin
Drew Alan Griffin, 16, of Cabot, passed away April 1 in Perry County. He was born Aug. 20, 1990 in Little Rock to Tammy Marline Griffin.

He was a student at Cabot High School. Drew was a loving son, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He was a comedian, and a gifted musician, coached by his loving grandfather, J. C. Caughron, who was a musical hall-of-famer.

Drew loved his friends and family deeply, and his one wish would be that everyone have a peace and understanding with God, as he did.

Survivors include his mother, Tammy Lackey of Cabot; grandparents, J. C. Caughron and wife Ann of Cabot; uncle and aunt, Tony Griffin and wife Denise of Vilonia;  great-grandmother, Margaret Cunningham of Bryant; great-aunts, Faye Camp of Alma,   Teresa Biggs of Springfield, Mo.,   Martha Cunningham of Bryant, and Karla Garrett of Siloam Springs; 16 cousins and a host of friends.

He was preceded in death by his great-grandfather, Troy F. Cunningham and a great-uncle, Troy Lee Cunningham. Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 5 at Pinecrest Memorial Park with Rev. Kenneth Posey officiating under the direction of the Beasley-Wood Funeral Home of Mena.

Visitation will be Wednesday, April 4 at the funeral home. There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 7 at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established at Arvest Bank under The Martha Cunningham Memorial Fund for Drew Griffin.

Pallbearers will be Tony Griffin, Tyler Pharr, Justin Stinson, Chris Staggs, Gaylon Marshall, and Ben Whitmire.
Honorary pallbearers will be Noah Horton, Andrew Crittenden, Leon Biggs, Jacob Womack, C. J. Ward, Drew Shaffer, Brett Pratt, and Steve Horton.

EVENTS>>Spring 2007

The Sherwood Fire Department, in cooperation with Central Arkansas Water, is conducting the first phase of the year 2007 flow-and-drain tests on public fire hydrants in the Sherwood, Sylvan Hills and Brushy Island areas this month.
Because the inspections involve the increased flow of water from fire hydrants, customers occasionally may notice discolored water during the process. The inspections began Sunday and will continue through Monday, April 30.
The increased flow of water from the hydrants occasionally causes the scouring of manganese that has built up on the lining of water mains. The scouring can result in discolored water at the customers’ taps. The water is bacteriologically safe but can stain clothing so customers are advised not to wash clothing in the water. It is advised that customers check washing machines for discolored water before washing clothes.
Customers who experience discolored water at the tap for an extended period of time (more than an hour) during the testing should call CAW at 501-377-1239. For more information or questions call the Sherwood Fire Department at 501-835-0342.

The Central Arkansas Development Council will be distributing U.S. Department of Agriculture food commodities beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Jacksonville Care Channel at 201 North Elm Street in Jacksonville and New Dora Baptist Church, 317 Jamison Ave. in McAlmont. Income eligibility guidelines apply.

The Holly Grove AME Church’s annual “Soldiers of the Cross” parade will begin at Fireworks World at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 7 at 8920 Landers Road in North Little Rock. The parade will be followed by a fish fry and flea market at the Holly Grove Church, 7007 Hankins Road in North Little Rock. The church’s youth will present an Easter program at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 8 followed by a baptism during the 11 a.m. worship service.

In observance of Child Abuse Awareness Month, the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center, Open Arms Shelter and CASA of Lonoke County will host a “Blue Ribbon Lunch” to raise the public’s awareness concerning child abuse. The lunch will be held at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, on the lawn of the Lonoke County Courthouse. The public is invited.

TOP STORY >>Sherwood hiring golf expert

IN SHORT: Consultant tells committee that the North Hills Country Club could become a profitable entity for the city.

Leader staff writer

The city of Sherwood should know within a month’s time how much money it would take to bring North Hills Country Club up to par if the city manages to keep control of the property.

Mayor Dan Stedman hired Texas firm, WPD Golf Management and Consulting on Monday after Bill Dowling, president and founder of WPD, addressed the golf course committee saying he believed the 90-acre golf course could be a profitable entity for the city within two years.

Dowling said it would take about three weeks for a due diligence study to be conducted, after which a business plan, marketing study and cost study would be able to tell council members if the project was worthwhile.

“I firmly believe an amenity like the golf course in the town of Sherwood would be a good thing,” Dowling said. “The facility can be brought back, no question; but do a due diligence before you jump into the frying pan,” he told committee members.
The council in March granted the mayor the power to sign with a company to do a feasibility study, which falls under the heading of professional services and therefore does not have to go out for bid.

Dowling’s study will cost about $25,000 with travel expenses for the team of four to complete and will show how much money will have to be spent to turn the golf course back into a profitable entity.

A big positive for the golf course, Dowling told the committee, is that North Hills is a Robert Trent Jones, Sr., golf course and to market it as such. Jones, an acclaimed golf course architect, has designed courses in all 50 states.

“I’ll be totally shocked if it (the feasibility study) doesn’t come back as a positive,” Dowling said, adding the property today is not worth anywhere near the selling price.

The 90 acres has supposedly been sold to a group that wants to turn the golf course and clubhouse into a high-end gated community of $400,000 to $500,000 homes. No plans for the proposed subdivision have been submitted to the city yet.

The property closing is said to take place April 14. The current owners have said they plan to turn the water off May 1. The mayor envisioned the green space becoming a miniature Burns Park as the acreage not only includes the golf course, but also a swimming pool, tennis courts and the clubhouse. If the land becomes a housing development then Sherwood could become the only city of its size in the state without a golf course within its city limits.

Members of the committee include Aldermen Becki Vassar and Keith Rankin, City Attorney Steve Cobb, Linda Nickle form the city’s economic development department, City Engineer Michael Clayton, Parks and Recreation director Sonny Janssen and Cheryl Ferguson with the city’s advertising and promotion department.

TOP STORY >>Lincoln plans vote for farm subsidies

IN SHORT: Senator tells farmers in Lonoke that she understands their concerns over imported catfish and high production costs and vowed to help them all she can.

Leader staff writer

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln spoke Monday afternoon to a mixed crowd of row crop, fish and dairy farmers who filled the meeting room of Lonoke’s Community Center in the hope of hearing good news about the next farm bill and that the trade agreements that are currently being hammered out will be in their favor.

What they got was Lincoln’s assurance that she understands their concerns about competition from Chinese catfish and the high cost of production of all crops and she will do her best to make sure the 2007 bill gives them at least as much as the 2002 bill which currently provides them with subsidies.

What she couldn’t give them was much hope that the disaster relief she hopes to include in the new farm bill will provide relief for the rising costs of farming or that the catfish sold in restaurants will be labeled with the country of origin so restaurant owners can opt to buy fish produced in America.

What she tried to make clear was that the 2002 bill is a good bill that should not be altered for 2007 just to be more accommodating to other countries considering that those countries have offered little to help American farmers.

“What’s on y’all’s mind?” Lincoln asked after a short talk about the importance of continued research to ensure that Arkansas farmers are competitive in the world market, renewable fuels and restoring funding for rural development projects.

“I’m a catfish producer and what’s on my mind is China,” was the first response to her question.
In fact, China was on the mind of many of the producers who attended the gathering.

In addition to wanting country of origin labels on China’s channel catfish sold to restaurants, the farmers wanted to know if the reason China can sell for less is because the farmers are subsidized.

“Even though we’re selling everything we have and we’re getting the best price we ever have, we have a sense of impending doom,” a producer told Lincoln.

A cotton farmer was concerned that China had all but stopped buying from America. Nine million bales of cotton went to China last year, he said. That accounted for 40 percent of cotton sales.

“We sold 1 million bales (to China) this year and the rest is sitting in warehouses,” he said.

One dairy farmer talked about how dairy farming is a dying business in the state and pointed out that it would be good if China would buy a little more milk.

Lincoln and the farmers talked about the importance of Southern farmers whose extensive and expensive irrigation systems would likely be the only ones still producing crops during a severe drought.

“You have a security in the way we grow our crops,” she said.

If those farmers are forced out of business because of high operating costs, the crops they produce would likely be produced in other countries with cheap labor, chemicals banned in this country and using farming practices that are not tolerated here, she said.

She told the farmers that she understands that the high cost of production should be considered for disaster relief but that most of Washington doesn’t.

“America has to start seeing money spent on agriculture as an investment,” she said. “An economic loss should be as important as a crop loss.”

TOP STORY >>Bondsmen face murder charges

Leader senior staff writer

As the corruption trial of Bobby Junior Cox and Jay and Kelly Campbell raced toward chaos Monday, Special Judge John Cole applied the brakes, granting attorney John Wesley Hall’s motion for a mistrial in Cox’s case and severing Cox’s trial from that of the Campbells.

Cole also disqualified Prosecutor Lona McCastlain from trying Cox, ruling that it would be a conflict of interest.
On Friday, Ron “Bear” Tyler testified that Cox had solicited him to kill McCastlain and star witness Ron Adams and also to burn down her house and the Lonoke County Courthouse.

Hall argued successfully that if McCastlain was an intended murder victim, she should not be prosecuting the man alleged to have ordered her hit.

McCastlain informed lawyers for both Cox and fellow bail bondsman Larry Norwood that she intended to charge them with solicitation of murder.

According to Hall’s motion, McCastlain emailed him the following on Saturday afternoon:

“I want to inform you that I intend to file charges against Bobby Cox for solicitation to commit capital murder. The State Police will be putting an affidavit together for that. Also, I will file a motion to revoke bond on Monday or Tuesday.”

“Mrs. McCastlain now paints herself as a victim and prosecutor in the same role,” Hall argued.

No new trial or hearing date has been set for Cox, who sat on the sidelines through the first month of testimony, only to be thrust into the spotlight late last week by Tyler’s testimony.

That testimony was in a hearing and the jury was out of the room, but McCastlain had intended to call him as a witness and the defense feared it would ruin the opportunity for Cox or the Campbells to get a fair trial.

Hall said Tuesday that with McCastlain disqualified, Cole took the next logical step, which was to declare a mistrial.
Hall said that McCastlain also called counsel for bail bondsman Larry Norwood over the weekend to say that Norwood would be charged with solicitation to commit capital murder.

Hall speculated that Cox and Norwood might be tried together.

McCastlain said Tuesday that once the state police investigation is completed, it would be up to a special prosecutor to decide whether to proceed with the solicitation to commit murder charges.

So far, the only known evidence of the alleged murder and arson scheme comes from Tyler, who defense attorneys say is unreliable and a known liar.

Hall, who will no longer sit elbow to elbow at the defense table with Patrick Benca and Mark Hampton, attorneys for the Campbells, says his client has a huge stake in Benca’s argument this morning for a directed verdict.

If Cole rules there is not enough evidence to find Jay Campbell guilty of running a continuing criminal enterprise, then there is no way Cox could be guilty of participating in that enterprise.

Cox currently is charged with participating in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and with intimidation of a witness.

TOP STORY >>Campbell defense will start Thursday

IN SHORT: Former firefighter testified Tuesday that he was the fall guy in a meth-manufacturing conspiracy designed to find a fugitive friend who ran out on a $130,000 bond.

Leader staff writer

After a month-long parade of prosecution witnesses, defense attorneys for Jay and Kelly Campbell will get a turn at bat when testimony in the sprawling corruption, drug and theft trial resumes Thursday morning at Cabot.

The defense is expected to ask Special Circuit Judge John Cole for a directed verdict of not guilty Wednesday, among other motions, while the court deals with transcripts and other housekeeping in the absence of the jurors.

The Campbells’ trial continues without former codefendant bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox after Cole severed his trial from the others Monday.

No new date has been set for Cox’s trial for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and possibly for solicitation of capital murder.

“I am thankful we can finally get into our end of the case now,” said Patrick Benca, former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell’s lawyer.

The defense case is expected to take seven to 10 days of testimony—maybe 27 witnesses—according to Benca. He said his client would testify in his own defense. Attorney Mark Hampton said he would decide later whether to put his client, Kelly Campbell, on the witness stand.

Cox, Jay Campbell and Larry Norwood are the three charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine.
Jay Campbell is charged with running a continuing criminal enterprise, and his wife and Cox are charged with participating in that enterprise.

Prosecutor Lona McCastlain maintains that Jay Campbell and bailbondsmen Cox and Larry Norwood had Ronald Adams cook a batch of meth. She said the idea was to sell meth to Roger Light so that Lonoke police could bust and pressure him to reveal the whereabouts of Gene Beasley. Beasley jumped bond, leaving Cox and Norwood responsible for a $130,000 bail bond.

Light said he had been best friends with Beasley since “the first day of first grade” in 1964.

Adams testified last week that he had cooperated to cook the meth, and Tuesday, Light told of buying methamphetamine from Adams on Sept. 7, 2004, and being stopped and arrested minutes later by state troopers and Lonoke Police Capt. Sean O’Nale in Lonoke County, about 14 miles outside of town.

Light, a former Little Rock firefighter now employed by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman as a driver on his road crew, said that after he was arrested, he was questioned by O’Nale, an FBI agent and the bail bondsmen who seemed interested only in finding Beasley.

The state has entered a mind-numbing array of telephone records as evidence, tracking minute by minute calls between Adams, O’Nale, Jay Campbell, Norwood and Cox as that day unfolded.

He said O’Nale found the methamphetamine in his sock and took him to the Lonoke city jail.
Ten minutes later “Cox walks in saying he’s there to help me,” Light testified.

“If I could tell them where Gene was, all these charges would go away,” he said.
“I didn’t know where he was.”

“This was all about Gene,” said Light. “O’Nale said ‘I guess you know by now you’ve been set up.’”
He said there was little interest in where he got his drugs, whether he sold, whether there was a drug problem at his fire department…

Deputy Prosecutor Stuart Cearley asked, “Most of the questions dealt with Gene?”
“That was the basic point,” Light said.

Light said he told them, “If he’s anywhere, he’s in Jacksonville, Florida, with his sister.”

Light later agreed to call Beasley’s sister in Florida to see if she new where he was, but she didn’t or wouldn’t say.

Light said Campbell came into the interrogation to tell him to cooperate with Cox and the others and to pretend that he had found a call from Beasley on his cell phone. He told Cearley that when McCastlain talked to him about testifying in the Campbell trial, “She made it perfectly clear that she was offering me no deal.”

O’Nale, Campbell’s second in command, testified that Campbell had asked him to help arrest Light and that he knew Light was believed to have information on Beasley.

But he disagreed with Cearley that the questioning of Light was “all about Beasley.”

The same day, Campbell called Lt. Jim Kulesa of the sheriff’s office to report that he had found a meth lab out in the county and had put it in his car and brought it to town.

“Meth labs should be left in place,” Kulesa said.
Adams—the confessed cook—left a partial fingerprint on a piece of the lab, according to earlier state Crime Lab forensics experts.

TOP STORY >>Change orders may not get paid

IN SHORT: Cabot City Council budget committee tried to decide Monday night whether or not $100,000 spent on construction changes were properly handled.

Leader staff writer

The budget committee of the Cabot City Council spent more than an hour Monday night trying to determine whether almost $100,000 in change orders made during the construction of the new community center were legal or not.

In the end, they decided to have City Attorney Jim Taylor contact Taggart Foster Currence Gray Architects Inc., the architectural firm that designed the building and reportedly approved the changes and authorized payment, to see if documentation of any kind was available.

The only thing that seemed clear was that the council didn’t approve many if any of the changes and most were not written down but came as verbal orders from former Public Works Director Jim Towe, whom former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh put in charge of the project soon after construction began. Before Towe took over, Parks Director Carroll Astin was in charge.

Alderman Ed Long directed some barbed comments at Dale Walker, who worked under former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh as his finance director.

Long wanted to know whether Walker ever questioned the legality of paying for change orders without council approval when they were for more than the mayor’s maximum $10,000 spending limit on construction.
“Didn’t it smell a little funny?” Long asked.

Walker told the committee that he did as he was instructed and paid bills that Stumbaugh or Towe authorized.
“Once it was approved by the mayor and Jim Towe, I cut the check,” Walker said.

“A lot of people spend a lot of time in jail for that,” Long responded.

“Although Long later apologized for the comment, he told Walker he meant what he said and that Walker should have resigned if he was uncomfortable working for Stumbaugh.

Walker pointed out that state audits under his watch had been good.

He also said many city employees found it difficult to work for the former mayor. Long responded that they also should have resigned.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said he had nothing to do with the change orders and that he would not pay the bills without council approval.

The center was completed before he took office.

“This baby was born before Jan. 1,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to rock it.”
Alderman Ken Williams, a lawyer and a former city attorney, made it clear that he thought Mikel Kullander, the Little Rock contractor who managed the project, was not blameless for the quandary the city is in.

“If nobody’s got any written change orders, I think you owe this city a lot of money sir,” Alderman Williams said.
“And I do too,” Long said.

Kullander told the committee that even though the list of change orders the committee was looking at was for $97,673, much of that had already been paid because the changes were made early in the construction.But Mayor Williams said his limited research showed that at least $92,000 in change orders had been submitted for payment two consecutive months since he took office.

He refused to authorize payment because the bill was more than his spending limit and sent the matter to the budget committee for review.

With such a heady topic to discuss, the committee only touched on the amended 2006 budget that must be passed before the annual audit by the state.

According to that amended budget, the city spent $966,961 more than it budgeted last year. “This is it whether you like it or not,” said Alderman Eddie Cook, committee chairman.

Mayor Williams told the committee that he is holding expenses down and has cut the money spent on salaries from 86 percent of the budget to 76 percent.

Monday, April 02, 2007

SPORTS >>Devils can't close 'Canes

IN SHORT: Jacksonville rallied to tie Jonesboro late in the first game of a twin-bill, but lost in the bottom of the eighth before facing a rout by the Hurricane in game two.

Leader sportswriter

A 5-4 loss in eight innings to Jonesboro Tuesday in the first game of a 6A-East Conference doubleheader was a heartbreaker for Jacksonville, but paled in comparison to the 13-3 rout suffered by the Red Devils in the nightcap.

Jacksonville led the second game 3-1 through the first three innings, but after Jonesboro rallied in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead, it was all downhill from there.

It was the Devils who rallied late in the opener, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh inning to erase a 4-2 deficit.
Jacksonville loaded the bases early in the final frame of regulation, and pulled to within one on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Hood.

Jason Regnas took to the plate following Hood’s RBI, and tied the score with a SAC of his own.

The Red Devils denied the Hurricane a winning run in the bottom of the seventh, but gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to allow yet another close game to slip out of their grasp in the late going.

Seth Tombolli threw a strong game at the mound for Jacksonville, going seven innings before being relieved for the final inning, resulting in a no-decision for the sophomore hurler.

Jacksonville seemed determined to claim the win during the second game, until the Hurricane stepped things up in the fourth inning.

Tommy Sanders took to the mound to start the contest, and pitched impressively through the first three innings.
Caleb Mitchell came away with the biggest offensive play for the Red Devils in the contest with a two-RBI single in the top of the first inning.

Jacksonville added another run in the opening inning for a 3-0 lead, but the bats went silent for the remaining four innings of the run-ruled affair.

Things went south for the Red Devils in a hurry in the bottom of the fourth.

The Hurricane quickly made up the two runs they trailed by at the start of the frame, and began to build an advantage of their own.

Sanders was relieved by Regnas, followed by virtually the entire pitching staff of Jacksonville’s squad.

“We just didn’t respond very well,” Red Devils coach Larry Burrows said of the Jonesboro rally. “It’s pretty disappointing, really. We were so close in the first game, but we just couldn’t finish it off. We had a good lead going in the second game, but once we lost that, we weren’t very tough then.”

The losses drop Jacksonville’s record to 5-10 overall for the season and 1-5 in the 6A-East Conference.

Burrows says there is little reason for a team possessing the Devils’ talent to be in the slump that his squad is facing.

“That’s five in a row now that we have lost at the end,” Burrows said. “We’ve given up so much late in games that we shouldn’t have. We have enough seniors out there on the field; someone needs to step up and make a play. We were one or two plays away in all of those games from having a win.”

Jacksonville will return to action on Tuesday with a 6A-East doubleheader against Searcy at the brand-new Searcy High Sports Complex beginning at 3:30 p.m.

SPORTS >>Southpaw sensation

IN SHORT: Panthers pitcher Justin Haas is headed to Iowa to play baseball for Clark College, but says his heart will stay in Cabot. The senior visited the NCAA Division III school last week and came back with the offer.

Leader sportswriter

Every school longs to have student athletes who perform on the field and in the classroom, and if they become leaders in their community, it is considered a bonus. If that is the case, Cabot High School hit a record lottery with senior pitcher Justin Haas.

Haas has been the ace pitcher for the Panthers since his sophomore year, and has been vital to the basketball program as well. When he was interviewed for this feature on Thursday afternoon, Haas had just come back from Iowa. His trip to Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa, was a productive one, landing a full athletic scholarship for baseball at the soon-to-be NAIA program.

“They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Haas said. “There are new coaches there, and they want me to come in and help them rebuild their program.” The new coaches will give Haas an Arkansas connection right off the bat. Former University of Ozarks coaches Chad Harris and Justin Jennings are now over the baseball program at Clark.

One’s first impression of Haas is the curiosity of how a young man with that small a stature can pitch effectively, but Cabot High School assistant coach and head legion coach Andy Runyon says the southpaw’s technique is second to none.

“There are a lot of kids who can throw well, but he knows how to pitch, which is becoming a rarity nowadays,” Runyon said. “He throws three pitches consistently. He’s not the type of player who will throw it by a lot of guys, but he can catch them with a fast ball a lot of times when they are ooking for the breaking ball.”

Haas was named to the 5A-East All Conference first team last year, and will most likely grab the same accolade in the 7A this year. His GPA stands at 3.3. He intends to major in either education or journalism, leaning slightly toward education. Haas wants to someday return to Cabot, and fill the shoes of current head coach Jay Fitch whenever he retires or moves on to other endeavours.
“Maybe (CHS athletic director) Johnny White will read this and save me a spot,” Haas joked. “Cabot is my home. I love the people, the size of the town, just everything about it. It’s going to be kind of weird going up to Iowa, but hopefully it will be worth it.” He was quick to acknowledge the help of not only Fitch, but also Runyon and basketball coach Jerry Bridges as people who have helped shape who he is as an athlete and individual.

Haas is also a part of one of the closest-knit groups of students at any school seen in quite sometime. Along with teammates Colin Fuller, Corey Wade and Justin Free, the groups has participated in athletics together since grade school.
He believes the closeness of the players at Cabot gives them an instant advantage when it comes to facing some of the 7A-Central’s larger programs.

“I believe that it’s the X-factor,” Haas said. “If you have great team chemistry, you have a pretty good idea of what everyone is going to do. We all know that Cory is for speed and Free is for fundamentals, and so on. Some of the Little Rock schools, they are just meeting each other when they join the team. I have known a lot of these guys since the first grade, so I absolutely think it gives us an edge.”

Although he did not mention it on his own, Haas is very involved in the community. Runyon was not at all hesitant to brag on the activities Haas takes on in his spare time, including working with special children.

“We went to Northside Elementary a few weeks ago to read for some of the kids,” Runyon said. “And Haas was one of the first people I thought of to take. He had a good time, and the kids had a good time. It was a successful day, and we will probably do it again in the future.

“He comes from a great family background. His brother, Cody, has special needs, and he comes out with him to a lot of the stuff they do during the summer. Those are two quality young men, right there.”

As for life after Cabot High School, Haas says his absence from the town will most definitely be only temporary.
“My roots are here,” Haas said. “This place is all I know. Shoot, I can even see myself running for mayor one day.”

SPORTS >>Mild-mannered hero

IN SHORT: Taylor Roark has a subdued personality, but on the field as Sylvan Hills’ three-year starting catcher, his Mr. Hyde-side takes over. The senior has also taken care of business in the classroom with a 3.6 GPA.

Leader sportswriter

Being a starter on such a traditional powerhouse team as Sylvan Hills might be stressful for some young men, but you would never know it by talking to Bears senior catcher Taylor Roark. The 17-year-old is as easy going as it comes, his voice never altering from his somewhat monotone speech, regardless of the topic.

What he might not show in outward enthusiasm, however, he makes up for and then some with his record in the classroom and on the field. Roark boasts an impressive 3.6 GPA, and recently scored 27 on his ACT.

His baseball stats measure out just as staggering. Roark’s batting average so far in the ’07 season is .465, up from his already solid .400 average last year as a junior. He has crossed the plate 26 times this season, and has landed 13 steals without being picked. As impressive as those stats may be, they are nothing compared to his on-base average of .708, a number that Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton says is very hard to come by.

“That’s just downright impressive,” Tipton said. “He has been our lead-off batter for the last two years now. He always sets the tone for us offensively. He is a gifted athlete, not just behind the plate, but he can play shortstop, pitcher and outfield as well. He is probably one of the most versatile players we have. Other coaches know what he is capable of, and they always seem to try and throw around him.”

Roark grabbed first-team All Conference honors for the AAAAA-East last season as a junior. Despite the numerous accolades that can be brought to his attention, Roark’s attitude and philosophy never seem to waiver.

“I guess I’m pretty laid back,” Roark said of his demeanor. “I think that’s why I like going to school here. The discipline is pretty easy, it’s kind of laid back too.” The term ‘laid back’ is one you will hear often when listening to Roark. It was also spoken when he described his front-running college prospect, Henderson State University in Monticello.

“I like the coaches there,” Roark said. “I would also have a good opportunity to play early there. I also like the campus, it’s real laid back.” Roark is verbally committed to being a Reddie, but also has interest from Arkansas State. He says he is still leaning towards Henderson, but won’t make a final decision until the deadline of national signing day on April 4.

Roark was also a two-year starter on the Bears football team as a wide receiver. Although he did not earn an All-Conference spot in football, his baseball prowess earned him a spot in the Xtra Innings Classic at UALR last summer, as one of the top 88 juniors in the entire state. While some might gush at the honor, Roark, ever the competitor, looked at it as an opportunity to size up the competition.

“I got to play with a bunch of good players,” Roark said. “Watching other guys from this conference and surrounding conferences, I got to pick up on their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, it is something we can use when we face some of those teams.”

Sylvan Hills’ second-round loss at the hands of Fayetteville last year in the AAAAA state playoffs was among one of the biggest shockers in the 2006 baseball season. The Bears were predicted to go all the way by many, but a controversial call in the second inning that ruled a Purple Dogs runner safe when Roark tagged him three feet from the plate served as a springboard for the underdogs, and led to an 11-0 shutout of the heavily-favored Bears.

Roark says the team has not forgotten about that moment, and has used it as a point of motivation in preparation for his senior year of baseball.

“Last year hurt,” Roark said. “To get run-ruled by Fayetteville was something we took with us into the off-season. It left a sour taste in our mouths; it’s definitely not a good feeling. We know we have to step it up this year if we want to contend for the title.”

EDITORIALS>>Integrity counts

If none of his superiors at the Department of Justice understood it, Bud Cummins at least knew the majestic principle that was at stake in the purge of U.S. attorneys who were not deemed to be “loyal Bushies,” in the immortal words of one of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s lieutenants. It was the integrity of the judicial system and public confidence in that system.

Cummins was the young Republican firebrand who was installed as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas after President Bush’s victory in 2000 and then fired last year to make way for an operative from the White House political office and the Republican National Committee.

Cummins had loyally covered for his bosses until they publicly suggested that the other seven district attorneys who were fired for political reasons after the 2006 election were let go because they were incompetent.

It turned out that the Justice Department’s own records had ranked them among the top performers in the country until Karl Rove and Harriet Miers of the presidential staff were heard from.

The prosecutors were either pushing too hard on Republican graft or not hard enough to nail Democrats before the ’06 election.

Speaking at the Clinton School for Public Service, Cummins said the attorney general had a sacred obligation to “firewall” the prosecuting attorneys from party pressures, whether from the White House Office of Political Affairs or from members of Congress.

By failing to do so and by obliging those partisan interests, Cummins said, the attorney general has caused the public to wonder if politics lies behind every prosecution. He said he was sure that was plaguing federal prosecutors now in federal courtrooms across the country.

He said he and thousands of other Bush supporters won government appointments in 2001 and that there was nothing wrong with that system.

But once sworn to impartially enforce the laws, he said, his obligation was to the public and not to his party or to the peculiar political interests of the president and his political staff.

We never had an occasion to be so proud of Cummins or to lament his departure. But we think he was wrong in one assessment.

He said no one should blame Karl Rove, the president’s political director, for wanting to fire prosecutors who weren’t doing their political bidding or for pressuring the Justice Department. “Karl Rove gets paid to think up silly ideas,” he said. That’s what political consultants like Rove, Dick Morris and James Carville do, he added. The attorney general just has to shield American prosecutors from them.

But there is a difference between Rove and the others. Rove is a salaried employee of the public; the others were private political consultants. Rove and his staff, regardless of the name of the office, and the White House counsel’s staff cannot be paid to use government power to affect election outcomes. The federal Hatch Act prohibits it. It also raises questions about obstruction of justice.

While top Justice Depart-ment officials were squirming this week from revelations of their electronic correspondence, the point was made even clearer at hearings in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about abuse of the General Services Administration by the White House political operation.

Rove’s top aide and the GSA administrator, Lurita Alexis Doan, held a Power Point videoconference with 40 GSA regional administrators where the White House man identified key Democrats in Congress that Republicans thought they had the best chance to beat in 2008 (our Mark Pryor, who is up in ’08, was almost certainly on the list) and key Republicans who were considered weak and vulnerable to Democratic opponents.

Doan wanted everyone to think about how the government contracting agency could help undermine the Democrats and strengthen the Republicans.

That violates the Hatch Act or nothing does. Doan, a wealthy government contractor until Bush hired her last May to run the government contracting agency, said she didn’t exactly remember all of that happening but there were ample witnesses.

Bud Cummins was too charitable about electioneering by government employees, including those in the White House. We don’t think he really meant it. But he knows that it has no place in American jurisprudence and it is too bad that his principles are not universally shared.

—Ernie Dumas

EDITORIALS>>Surplus trough

With almost $1 billion in surplus funds piled up in the state treasury, you knew that it was not going to be pretty watching lawmakers, the governor and their key constituencies fight over the lagniappe. If you’ve ever slopped a litter of squealing pigs you have a good image. A few will climb into the trough with all four feet.

Gov. Beebe and legislative leaders produced a plan for spending this week and while it could be a lot better, we expected it to be much worse. It still has a grab-bag of some $40 million for projects pushed by lawmakers for their home districts, and we anticipate that Mike Wilson will mark the sparrow’s fall and sue those that clearly violate the constitution’s prohibition against local and special legislation.

Half of the surplus will be dedicated to repairing and modernizing public school facilities, which will be a healthy start on the monumental obligation to provide equal and suitable education, including the physical facilities, for every child in the state.

Thank you, Gov. Beebe, for insisting upon that. He will get some $100 million for highway improvements, $50 million for a rapid-closing fund in case he has a chance to nail down a manufacturer for the state, $44 million to pay back the federal government for former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s bumbling misuse of federal Medicaid funds, a down payment on a cancer research institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and $30 million or more for a risk-capital fund for technology industries.

But there is more, much more, and lots of it of dubious importance to the public welfare: $25 million to build a museum for United States marshals at Fort Smith, $6 million to make improvements to War Memorial Stadium for the big crowds at the two Razorback games each year, and sums for Boys and Girls Clubs and a raft of private projects scattered among the precincts of the 135 senators and representatives. Gov. Beebe holds out the possibility that he could block the release of funds for any of them that he deems to be flatly unconstitutional. We will depend on Mike Wilson’s good legal instincts and persistence to hold him to that.

OBITUARIES >> 03-31-07

Emil Hardke
Emil Donald Hardke, 76, formerly of Carlisle, died March 27 in Pine Bluff.

He was born March 3, 1931 in Hazen to Emil August and Lois Miller Hardke.

Hardke was a member of First Baptist Church of Carlisle. He served in the Army as a sergeant in the Korean War and was a retired farmer of Prairie County.

His parents and a son, Emil Joe Hardke, preceded him in death.

Survivors include his wife Ruby Hardke; a daughter, Carla Rene Konecny of Little Rock and one son, Burt Marcotte Hardke of Pine Bluff; four grandchildren, Brittney Wood of Conway, Joseph Evans of Stuttgart, Zachary Hardke and Shelby Hardke of Pine Bluff.

A memorial service was held at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke March 30 with Rev. David Lee officiating. Memorials may be made to Little Rock Veterans Administration Hospital.

Boyd Hughes
Boyd Hughes, 77, of Garner, died March 28 at his home.

He was born Aug. 21, 1929, at Marcella, to John R. and Myrtle Jenkins Hughes.

He was a retired master chief electricians mate from the Navy and was a veteran of the Vietnam and Korean conflicts. He was owner/operator of B-Mart Garden Center in Beebe for 30 years.

Boyd was preceded in death by his wife, Betty Corene Hughes; a son, Joseph Ralph Hughes; grandson, Christopher Hughes; three brothers and one sister.

He is survived by one son, Mike Hughes and his wife Betty of Conway; one daughter, Judy Hughes Melton of Little Rock; one daughter-in-law, Tracia Jungkurth of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; three grandchildren and soon to be great-grandson; two sisters, Ruby Allender of Concord and Loveta Owens of Beebe.

Funeral will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 31 at Westbrook Funeral Home. Graveside service with military honors will be at 2 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at Pleasant Grove Cemetery near Mountain View.

Gilbert Wolgamot
Gilbert Lee Wolgamot, 50, of North Little Rock, died March 29.

He served in the Navy.

He is survived by his mother, Christine Callahan of Quitman; father, Forrest Wolgamot of Yuma, Ariz.; three children including Shelby C. Wolgamot; one sister, Susan Gibson and family of Tiller; one brother, Phillip Brizie and family of Alexander; and many aunts, uncles, nieces and a host of friends.

Visitation will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 31 at Free Will Baptist Church in Romance. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. at the church with pastor Robin Covington officiating. Burial will be in Rosebud Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by Wood Funeral Home of Jacksonville.

Alton Evans
Alton Ray “Sonny” Evans, 65, of Beebe went to be with the Lord March 30.

He was born June 16, 1941, at Floyd to Austin and Pearlee Horton Evans.

He was a wonderful husband and devoted father and grandfather who loved playing with his grandchildren Lindsi and Landon. Sonny farmed for most of his life and retired from Pioneer Seed Company. He was a member of Beebe First Church of the Nazarene and was well known for his promotion of gospel music.

He was preceded in death by his father, Austin Evans.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Fay Evans; two sons, Allen and Lisa Evans of Beebe, and Jeff and Sarah Evans of Springdale; two grandchildren, Lindsi and Landon Evans of Beebe; his mother, Pearlee Evans of Beebe; one brother, Harold Evans of Beebe; four sisters, Opal Jean Muncy of Aurora, Col., Shirley Canales of New Mexico, Joyce Johnson of Alexander, and Sharon Zardo of Beebe; and several nieces and nephews.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral will be at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 1 at Beebe First Church of the Nazarene, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

EVENTS>>Spring 2007

First United Methodist Church of Beebe will hold an Easter egg hunt Friday, April 6 at Daniel Park. There will be four egg hunts, the first hunt – for ages birth to 3 – begins at 5 p.m. The hunt for children ages 4 and 5 will begin at 5:10 p.m., ages 6 and 8 at 5:20 p.m. and ages 9 and over at 5:30 p.m. For more information call 882-6427.

The First Annual Thunder Roads Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial Poker Run will kick off on Saturday, May 12 with breakfast and registration at 8 a.m. at South Bend Fire Station No. 1, 4421 Highway 294 (Military Road) in Jacksonville. First Bike Out will be at 10 a.m. and the Last Bike Out at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at the end of the ride. The Run is sponsored by South Bend Fire & Rescue, Ward Fire Department, Vilonia Fire Department, and North Pulaski Fire Department. A $20 ticket includes a poker card, t-shirt (to first 200 people who register), door prize ticket, and meal ticket. Co-riders pay $10, which includes a poker card, door prize ticket, and meal ticket. For more information, contact Brenda at 276-0244, Kenny at 944-4856, Tim K. at 650-5059, Tim T. at 454-3170, or email

The music department of Second Baptist Church, 1117 North James in Jacksonville, will present their annual Easter pageant at 7 p.m. April 6,7 and 8. The pageant title is “Jesus, We crown you with praise.”
It will be presented with full drama, costumes and choir, featuring solos by Robby Francis, Dawn Peeples, Chuck and Tricia Thomas, Linda McAlister, Derrell Vann and Cristy Walter.
There is no admission charged and everyone is invited to attend. Preschool childcare will be provided.

The adult choir and drama ministries of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville will present the Easter musical “No More Night” at 6 p.m. on April 7 and 8. Nursery will be provided. Free admission. For more information call 982-1519.

Miss Jacksonville 2007, Rhonda Allen, will partner with Jacksonville Wal-Mart Supercenter to raise awareness and support for Children’s Miracle Network from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. She will also be at the supercenter at the same time April 7. On April 7, the Easter Bunny will also be presenting a storytime with photos and information on Children’s Miracle Network.
This organization of hospitals such as Arkansas Children’s Hospital provide quality care, research, and education for more than 17 million children. For more information on the awareness event or to help with a donation call Allen at 501-554-2709.

TOP STORY >>Local youth, like parents, neglecting health

IN SHORT: Drug and alcohol use is rampant among Jacksonville school children as their parents struggle with obesity’s effects.

Leader staff writer

Youth in Jacksonville and neighboring cities are often at greater risk than other Arkansas children of harming themselves and others.

Officials from the Division of Health and Human Services (DHHS) met in Jacksonville on Thursday about the declining state of north Pulaski County residents’ health.

In addition to severe medical problems facing adults, they said that youth are following in their parents’ footsteps in neglecting their health.

Hayes Miller of DHHS’s Family Services agency said about 21 percent of sixth graders in north Pulaski County have already experimented with alcohol and about that same number have been suspended from school, according to the “2005 Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment Student Survey.”

“What affects one of us will at some time affect all of us,” Miller said, noting that nearly half of sixth graders who said they drank alcohol did it in someone else’s home. About one-third who drank found the alcohol in their own homes.

The number of children who drink and use drugs increases as they get older along with suspensions, being drunk or high at school, arrests, drug dealing, violent attacks and carrying weapons.

“We can tell the kids not to drink or do drugs over and over. They know we don’t want them to do it, but if they see adults doing it, we have to look at the adults and change their attitudes toward alcohol use,” Hayes said.

Martha Phillips, Director of Pub-lic Health at DHHS, said that many preventable, but severe medical problems are the leading cause of death among central Arkansans.

“I would say obesity is at an epidemic level,” Dr. Phillips said about north Pulaski County, where 62 percent of people are obese. She said that other health challenges exist here, most notably heart disease, cancer and stroke.

“These are the hardest to deal with because these are where people have to make the hard decisions about smoking and nutrition,” Dr. Phillips said.

Poor nutrition, smoking and lack of physical activity are what generally cause most deaths in the state, she said.

Cancer rates are the only stratum that has decreased recently, because public awareness of the need for preventive screenings has risen due in part to health fairs, many of them conducted by the Jacksonville Health Improvement Coalition (JHIC). JHIC meets the third Thursday of every month at 1:30 p.m. at Rebsamen Medical Center. An upcoming forum on drug and alcohol use prevention among children for parents, grandparents and counselors is being planned for August.

The coalition would eventually like to open a charity clinic for the uninsured and medically underserved in Jacksonville, JHIC president Kristen James said.

Many Arkansans are uninsured, Phillips said. In north Pulaski County, 14 percent of people have no health insurance and 13 percent do not have doctors.

“A marker of a developed society is a place where someone can go where their medical history is known, not just where they can treat acute medical problems,” she said.

The uninsured, elderly and African Americans account for most of the medically underserved population in Arkansas but Phillips said that 13 percent of Pulaski County residents between the ages of 18 and 39 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure and heart disease are leading causes of stroke.

Arkansas is first in the country for rates of death by stroke, although that number is declining slightly, possibly due to increased blood pressure and cholesterol screenings and better emergency medical services.

Dr. Phillips said that prevention of deadly diseases can start any time, but children especially need to be educated on how to lead healthy lives.

“We need more playgrounds, walking tracks and healthy options in vending machines. It starts young,” she said.

TOP STORY >>State grades performance

IN SHORT: One out of four students in Lonoke and the PCSSD don’t graduate from high school. Cabot, Searcy and Beebe students fare better.

Leader staff writer

Barely more than 75 percent of Pulaski County Special School District students graduated from high school in 2006, and of those who went on to college, more than 60 percent of them had to take remedial courses, according to the recently released statewide school performance report.

The district fared poorly in spite of spending $8,561 per student during the 2005-2006 school year. In central Arkansas, only Lonoke spent more at $9,145. PCSSD also had the highest average teacher salary in central Arkansas at $48,604.

The county school district also had a grade inflation rate of 36.2 percent. The state computes the grade inflation rate by comparing high school report grades with ACT scores.

PCSSD also has 18 schools on the state’s improvement list, according to the statistics available on the state education department’s web site.

Conversely, Searcy has a higher graduation rate (84.4 percent), a grade inflation rate of just eight percent and a college remediation rate of 27.7 percent, while spending $2,000 less a year per student and $4,000 a year less per teacher.

Cabot’s graduation rate was just over 80 percent, with grade inflation just one-third of PCSSD and a college remediation almost half of the Pulaski County district, while spending $7,479 per student and $44,694 per teacher.

Performance reports
The annual school performance reports list how well each school and district did on benchmark and end-of-course exams, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the number of schools on the state improvement list, number of students retained through the eighth grade, attendance rate, dropout rate, graduation rate, college remediation, ACT scores and expulsions to help give the state, districts, and parents an overall view of performance.

According to the performance report, 99 percent of the district’s teachers were completely certified, 44 percent had master’s degrees and one percent had advanced degrees. The district retained 219 students in the 2005-2006 school year. Most (57) were retained in first grade followed by 52 sixth graders and 48 seventh graders. The graduation rate was 75.5 percent, while the dropout rate was 4.6 percent.

The district had a grade inflation rate of 36.2 percent and a college remediation rate of 61.1 percent.

Students taking the ACT had an average math score of 19, a 20 in English and a composite of 19.8.

On the annual norm-referenced exam (ITBS) given to students in grades third through ninth, the fourth graders had the best percentile score in the district, scoring a percentile rank of 67 in math concepts and estimation. Ninth graders had the worst percentile score, with a 43 ranking in reading comprehension, meaning that 57 percent of ninth-graders taking the test across the nation outscored them. The district spent $8,561 per student during the year and teacher’s salaries averaged $48,604.

According to the performance report, 98 percent of the district’s teachers were completely certified and 38 percent had master’s degrees. The district retained 102 students in the 2005-2006 school year. Most (49) were first graders, followed by 22 second graders and 20 third graders. The graduation rate was 80.5 percent, while the dropout rate was 4.2 percent.

Students taking the ACT had an average math score of 21.7, a 23.6 in English and a composite of 22.4. The district had a grade inflation rate of 15.2 percent and a college remediation rate of 35 percent.

On the annual norm-referenced exam (ITBS) given to students in third through ninth grades, fourth graders had the best percentile score in the district, scoring a percentile rank of 80 in math concepts and estimation. Ninth graders had the worst percentile score, with a 56 in reading comprehension, meaning that 44 percent of ninth-graders taking the test across the nation outscored them.

The district spent $7,479 per student during the year and teacher’s salaries averaged $44,694.

According to the performance report, 99 percent of the district’s teachers were completely certified and 37 percent had master’s degrees. The district retained just 11 students in the 2005-2006 school year. Ten of those were first graders and the other was a second grader. The graduation rate was 74.5 percent, while the dropout rate was 4.9 percent.

Students taking the ACT had an average math score of 20, a 20.3 in English and a composite of 20.4. The district had a grade inflation rate of 15.9 percent and a college remediation rate of 46.9 percent.

On the annual norm-referenced exam (ITBS) given to students in third through ninth grades, fourth graders had the best percentile score in the district, scoring a percentile rank of 71 in math concepts and estimation. Ninth graders had the worst percentile score, with a 47 in reading comprehension, meaning that 53 percent of ninth-graders taking the test across the nation outscored them.

The district spent $9,145 per student during the year and teacher’s salaries averaged $39,379.

According to the performance report, all of the district’s teachers were completely certified and 46 percent had master’s degrees.

The district retained 60 students in the 2005-2006 school year. Most (18) were in seventh grade, followed by 17 in the first grade and 13 eighth graders. The graduation rate was 84.4 percent, while the dropout rate was 4.5 percent.

Students taking the ACT had an average math score of 22.7, a 23.2 in English and a composite score of 22.6.

The district had a grade inflation rate of eight percent and a college remediation rate of 27.7 percent. On the annual norm-referenced exam (ITBS) given to students in third through ninth grades, fifth graders had the best percentile score in the district, scoring a percentile rank of 82 in math concepts and estimation. Ninth graders had the worst percentile score, with a 57 in reading comprehension, meaning that 43 percent of ninth-graders taking the test across the nation outscored them.

The district spent $6,341 per student during the year and teacher’s salaries averaged $44,456.

According to the performance report, 99 percent of the district’s teachers were completely certified and 32 percent had master’s degrees.

The district retained 55 students in the 2005-2006 school year. Most (19) were first graders, followed by 17 seventh graders. The graduation rate was 81.5 percent, while the dropout rate was 4 percent.

Students taking the ACT had an average math score of 20.9, a 22 in English and a composite of 21.7.

The district had a grade inflation rate of 18.5 percent and a college remediation rate of 40.7 percent.

On the annual norm-referenced exam (ITBS) given to students in third through ninth grades, fourth graders had the best percentile score in the district, scoring a percentile rank of 74 in math concepts and estimation. Ninth graders had the worst percentile score, with a 52 in reading comprehension, meaning that 48 percent of ninth-graders taking the test across the nation outscored them.

The district spent $6,470 per student during the year and teacher’s salaries averaged $40,970.

TOP STORY >>Witness is either a hitman or a liar

IN SHORT: Ron Tyler, a witness for the prosecution, testified that bondsman Bobby Cox asked him to kill the prosecutor, star witness and burn down the county courthouse. The defense claimed that all of Tyler’s statements were lies.

Leader senior staff writer

Either Ron “Bear” Tyler, a super-sized prosecution witness from the netherworld of bounty hunters, felons, drugs and biker hitmen, was lying through his unruly walrus moustache Friday or else bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox recruited him to kill prosecutor Lona McCastlain and star witness Ronald Adams and to burn down the Lonoke County Courthouse.

Lying is exactly what Tyler was doing, according to defense attorney Mark Hampton, who is not only on the defense team for former Lonoke police chief Jay Campbell, his wife Kelly Campbell and Cox in this sprawling corruption trial, but who previously defended and befriended Tyler, who still considers him his attorney.

“Your honor, that was perjured testimony my client just gave,” Hampton said when Tyler was excused from the hearing, which was held in the absence of the jury.

“Your honor, this is the train wreck we’ve feared from the beginning,” Cox’s lawyer, John Wesley Hall told Special Judge John Cole. “This goes to cumulative error.”

Hampton, Hall and Patrick Benca said they had scant advance warning about Tyler’s testimony and would need a delay of weeks to effectively defend against it.

“The state can’t drop this on us at 9:10 in the morning,” said Hall.

McCastlain said she had told the defense all along that Adams’ life had been threatened.

Without a long continuance, the defense attorneys want a mistrial or the severance of Cox’s trial from that of the Campbells.
Cole denied—for now, he said—motions for both.

Cox is not charged with trying to solicit arson or murder, but the state is introducing 404B evidence in support of the overriding charges against the three defendants of participating in a continuing criminal enterprise. Jay Campbell is charged as the kingpin of that enterprise.

The defense attorneys say Tyler is unreliable, untruthful and that his testimony would prejudice the jury against their clients far in excess of its value to the prosecution.

On any other day, Cole’s decision to replace a juror who thought he had seen someone with a bugging device standing near Jay Campbell would have been the big news.

On any other day, the testimony that Cox, fellow bail bondsman Larry Norwood and his son Goose Norwood had pistol whipped the father of two men wanted for skipping out on bonds might have been the story’s lede.

But on this day, Tyler owned the witness stand, which he filled with bulk, swagger, folksy humor, menace and startling testimony.

It’s still undecided whether or not Tyler will take the stand again to repeat his testimony, this time before the jury.

Hall said if Tyler testifies before the jury, he would call his defense teammate Hampton to impeach that testimony. One possible outcome is that Tyler will testify but that the Cox trial will be severed from the Campbell trial, with one or the other continuing with the same jury and the other reset for a new trial, according to lawyers on both sides.

Hall said he would need four to six weeks to investigate Tyler, his background and his allegations, including whether or not he ever talked to the FBI in Dallas.

“This is so explosive and we’ve got no opportunity to defend,” Hall told the judge.

Tyler said he was imprisoned seven times since 1977, when he was hired to steal the remains of Elvis Presley. He said Hell’s Angels killed his mother and shot his children.

He said Cox had asked him to kill Adams and driven with him to the man’s house to case it, and also to McCastlain’s house.
Cox, Jay Campbell and Norwood are charged with conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and Adams was the meth cook in that conspiracy.

The prosecution alleges that Campbell and the bail bondsmen cooked up a scheme for Adams to cook meth to sell to a second convicted criminal so they could arrest him and try to make him give up a friend who had fled leaving Cox and Norwood holding the bag for a $130,000 bond.

McCastlain said if Adams had been killed before he testified, the state’s case would have fallen apart.

He told McCastlain that he didn’t want to kill anyone and that he made contact with an FBI agent in Dallas to report Cox’s alleged solicitation.

On cross-examination, Tyler told Hall that people had solicited him to kill people four or five times.
“Have you ever killed anyone,” Hall asked.

Tyler refused to answer.

“I have a right to ask,” said Hall.

“You have a right to kiss my ass,” said Tyler.

After conferring with a court appointed attorney during a recess, Tyler returned to the stand where he apologized, saying “You can get on edge when you’re going to put the heat on someone.”

“Have you ever taken money to kill someone?” Hall asked.

“I take the fifth amendment,” said Tyler.

“Have you taken money to beat someone?”

Again he invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. He admitted setting fires for profit because, he said, the statute of limitations was passed. “I have burned down several places.”

Tyler, who was kicked out of the witness-protection program, once got his mail at Hampton’s address and the attorney was surprised to find that Tyler also used that address on his driver’s license. Tyler had embraced Hampton’s father Friday morning before the trial.

Tyler testified that he’d known Cox for years and knew Jay and Kelly “from the street.” He said he had met them several times at Hampton’s office.

But Benca, Jay Campbell’s lawyer, said Tyler had misidentified both Campbells Friday when asked to point them out from the witness stand. Outside the courtroom, Tyler said he testified against his old friend Bobby Cox because “it’s the right thing to do.”

TOP STORY >>Roads improving at rapid pace

IN SHORT: Cabot projects include the access road and bridge near Wal-Mart, improving the downtown rail crossing, and a traffic signal at Hwys. 5 and 89.

Leader staff writer

The million dollar road from Highway 5 to Wal-Mart in Cabot now has a name and a bridge over the big ditch that separated it from the store and it will soon have a top coat of asphalt.

The new road, expected to be open in about two weeks is one of four projects that might have caught the attention of area residents who drive the highways and streets around Cabot.

Workers also have recently been on First Street and on the Highway 89 railroad crossing.

Additionally, permanent traffic lights are now operating at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 89 and a temporary light should be in place within four weeks at the top of the hill on Highway 5.

County project
The road to Wal-Mart is a county project that the city refused to help with until this year when Mayor Eddie Joe Williams asked the council to contribute $250,000 to pay for a $150,000 bridge and to help pay for the asphalt.

Still, Williams said County Judge Charlie Troutman allowed him to come up with the name. When the asphalt is down and the signs are up, the road will be called S. Rockwood.

The contract for paving was awarded to Rogers Group, a Cabot company. Troutman said Friday that it would likely take 4,500 tons of asphalt to cover the 2.5- mile-long road. At $53.66 a ton, the asphalt is expected to cost $241,200.
“I had maintained all along that we were looking at a May 1 open date,” Troutman said. “But we’ll probably beat that by two weeks.”

Before the new road opens, it will have to be striped and guard rails will be installed. The quarter-mile stretch that is inside the city limits will have sidewalks.

The county also has been working on First Street replacing narrow, 80-year-old bridges with culverts. The city is paying for materials for that project. Williams said not all the bridges were replaced with culverts. Over the years, the water that once ran under the bridges had changed directions so the bridges that were no longer needed were pulled out and the holes in the street were filled.

Troutman said the asphalt to cover those culverts has not yet been bid. Former Alderman Odis Way-mack paid $2,400 for the engineering on that project last year as part of his unsuccessful effort to get the mayor and city council to allow Troutman to do the work.

At that time the council was considering hiring the work done for $750,000, using money from a $2 million bond issue for streets. Waymack and Alderman Tom Armstrong wanted the council to instead pay the county $75,000 and also contribute $400,000 toward building the road to Wal-Mart and the extension of Willie Ray Drive to Austin, for access to the interchange on U.S. Hwy. 67-167. The council was divided on the issue and former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh was openly opposed to it.

He questioned Troutman’s motives for building the road, asking him during one council meeting if he owned property along the right-of-way.

Troutman said he didn’t, that his property was on the highway. Stumbaugh also said that since there had been no engineering on the First Street project, Troutman had no way of knowing if the culverts he proposed to install would be adequate, so Waymack paid Adam Whitlow to calculate the location, size and number of culverts needed.

Even with the report in hand, Waymack could not muster enough council support to allow Troutman to do the work. But last month, the new council voted unanimously to pay $250,000 for the road that will be called S. Rockwood. As for the culverts on First Street, the new mayor is paying for them as Troutman bills him. He doesn’t have to ask the council’s approval since the bills fall within his spending limit.

Crossing replaced
The railroad crossing on Hwy. 89 was closed much of Wednesday while workers replaced the worn concrete pads between the tracks. The timing was important because 20,000 vehicles use the crossing every day making it arguably the most used crossing between Little Rock and St. Louis.

Williams retired from driving trains to become Cabot’s mayor and although he doesn’t take full credit for the work on the tracks being scheduled for the week when school was out for spring break, he admits that having connections with the railroad didn’t hurt.

Jerrel Maxwell, the head of Cabot Public Works, said he has received some complaints that the ramp to the overhauled crossing is too short making crossing rough. But that problem should be fixed by the middle of the week, he said.

There are two tracks at the crossing. Only the track on the west side was repaired. Williams said the one on the east side will be repaired after school is out for the summer.

Highways 5 & 89
Although the roadwork continues on Hwy. 5, a permanent traffic light to replace the temporary light the county installed at the intersection of Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 89 is now up and running.

Work on Hwy. 5, which included installation of a traffic light, was already scheduled in 2004 when three teenaged girls were killed there when they turned into the path of an 18-wheeler. The three girls, Alicia Rix, 16, of North Little Rock, Jae Lynn Russell, 16, of 8226 Centennial Road and Taylor Hall, 15, of 128 Almond Cove, Sherwood. Rix and Hall were students at Sylvan Hills High School. Russell was transferring to Sylvan Hills from North Pulaski High School.

According to the state police report, Russell, the driver, and Rix died on the scene. Taylor was airlifted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Campus where she died from her injuries.

The driver of the truck, Clayton Brown, 47, of 1691 Windchime, suffered minor injuries. Based on state police and witness reports, the girls were at a stop sign eastbound on Hwy. 89 when a pickup ahead of them pulled out onto Hwy. 5. The girls followed and ended up in the path of Brown’s southbound truck.

At the time of the accident the intersection was equipped with flashing caution lights and a stop sign, but no traffic signals. State Rep. Sandra Prater, whose daughter was friends with the girls who were killed, led the effort to get a temporary traffic signal in place until the permanent one was installed.

Prater learned from the state Highway Department that Pulaski County, Lonoke County and Cabot would have to pay for the temporary signal, but Lonoke County picked up the whole bill. A permanent traffic signal is scheduled for July installation at the top of the hill on Hwy. 5 between the new commercial section of Greystone and the older residential part. But a temporary signal should go in with three or four weeks according to Cabot’s public works director.

“I won’t let them open that shopping center out there without those lights,” Maxwell said. “You’ve got people coming out of the shopping center and people coming out of Greystone and people coming off that hill both ways going 60 miles an hour. It would be a disaster waiting to happen.”

According to Ellen Hill with the state Highway Department, the focus now is on widening the highway not the Main Street-Redmond Road overpass. However, it is obvious that there are problems with widening the overpass because of “right-of-way issues.”

“It’s something our engineers will have to work on,” Hill said.

Currently there are two lanes on each side and no room for a third and no funds are available.

In other local work, the Rogers Group of Nashville, Tenn., has begun moving dirt for a new, safer northbound Hwy. 67-167 on-ramp at T.P. White Road just north of Vandenburg Blvd. The $2 million job should be completed by early next year.