Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SPORTS >>Red Devils hoping for more focus

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville has no time left to fix the problems that plagued them in the first three weeks of the season. The Red Devils lost mercy-rule shutouts in two of the first three games, but they were non-conference games, which have no bearing on a team’s playoff hopes.

This week, working out kinks in non-conference is not an option; things have to be fixed because the Devils are embarking on perhaps the most difficult road trip in the state to Mountain Home.

After weeks one and two, a loss to Cabot and a win over North Pulaski, Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley felt the biggest area of concern was his team’s tendency to step outside of the things it worked on and prepared for.

He felt that got better last week, despite a 36-0 loss to Lake Hamilton. The new concern is focus.

“You have to be ready mentally as well as physically, and I think there’s been a lack of mental preparation prior to the football game,” Whatley said. “They practice hard and they’re ready to go physically, but the mental preparation is not there. In this classification, you have to have both if you want to succeed.”

Dropped passes were commonplace last week, as were off-sides and motion penalties. The most glaring problem from last Friday was motion penalties. The Red Devils were called for three on one set of downs after reaching the Lake Hamilton 6-yard line. There was also an off-sides penalty on the defense on a crucial third down for Lake Hamilton. Those are all things that Whatley believes comes down to focus.

“I thought the offense executed pretty well some of the time. It would have been a lot better if we’d catch the ball. I think the line did a good job, gave us time, we’re just not catching the ball, not lining up, just being lazy.”

Focus will have to be there Friday. Mountain Home runs a wishbone offense that requires discipline to defend. They’ve also shown some spread this year, but Whatley is concentrating on stopping the wishbone.

“They show you a little spread and they give you a lot of unbalanced lines,” Whatley said. “Their bread and butter, though, is the veer and the straight-line option.”

This week, though, Whatley is more concerned about his team scoring a touchdown.

“The main thing we’re going to work on is we’re going to try to find a way to get in the end zone,” Whatley said. “I may walk ‘em down there and show them that line with the big “G” on it, and see if we can’t step across it a few times.”

SPORTS >>Badgers set for real test

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers were still floating when they arrived for Saturday’s practice after coming from 29 points down to topple high-octane Vilonia the night before.

By Monday, though, it was back to business, and the Badgers began preparation for their first conference road game. Beebe makes the long road trip to Paragould this Friday to take on the Paragould High Rams.

Paragould won its opener, an annual non-conference affair with crosstown rival Greene County Tech, easily. Things haven’t gone as well since. The Rams were soundly beaten in week two by Pocahontas, then lost a heartbreaker to Trumann 16-12 last week.

Scores don’t always tell the whole story, and that’s what Beebe coach John Shannon believes about his team’s opponent this week.

Paragould gives opponents many things to prepare for. So when asked what the Rams do offensively, Shannon replied, “The question is, what do they not do? Watching film of two of their games, we saw them in about 29 different formations.”
So change the question to what do they do well?

“They run the ball pretty good,” Shannon said. “Their running back is a good back and their quarterback is a good runner. They’ve got a big ol’ offensive line, so that’s what we’re expecting. We’re expecting them to do what they’ve done well.”

Shannon also doesn’t count on Paragould making the amount of mistakes it made in its first few games. He believes if they play mistake-free ball, the Rams are dangerous.

“In the games they lost they turned the ball over a bunch of times,” Shannon said. “We can’t go in there expecting that though, we have to be ready for their best. When they’ve held on to the ball, they haven’t looked bad.”

Paragould coach Brian Carter agrees.

“We’ve moved the ball between the 20s,” Carter said. “We’ve just got to be able to put the ball in the end zone better than we have. We have to shore up some things in the kicking game too because that cost us last week.”

Paragould took a safety on a bad punt snap while trailing by two points to Trumann.

For Carter, the biggest task this week is to prepare his team for an offense that most of his players have never faced.

“They’re physical and they’re playing well,” Carter said of the Badgers. “They’re running an outstanding system that not that many people are running anymore. We’ve played spread teams so far, so it’s difficult to turn around and play that style. It’s a different mindset. We show the kids film, show them two or three things that Beebe’s doing well and try to stop it. It’ll be an adjustment. I don’t know if our kids are tough enough to stand up play that smashmouth style, but we’ll find out Friday.”

For all the accolades that comes with rallying from 29 points down, there’s still a reality to deal with, the reality of having fallen behind by 29 points. Beebe gave up 41 points in the first half alone last week, and that’s something that will have any coach anxious to fix some wrongs.

Shannon, though, believes he and his staff have spotted what went wrong.

“We’re just going to go back and hit fundamentals real hard,” Shannon said. “That was our problem the other night, we just didn’t tackle. We had people around the ball, but no one would make the tackle.”

Offensively, Shannon has little to complain about. His team has shown signs of significant improvement each week, and it culminated in Friday’s thrilling comeback.

“Friday night was kind of our coming out party offensively,” Shannon said. “The first two games I think the defense carried us. We were starting to get better on offense, but Friday we really put things together. (Fullback) Sammy Williams is figuring out where he’s supposed to hit the hole, and he’s running harder. He’s figuring out his role in this offense. I’m just real pleased with the progress and hopefully we can continue to get better.”

Progress will have to continue now that the real season is at hand, the part of the season when wins and losses make and break playoff hopes.

Shannon is pleased with what his team has shown so far, but knows it’s not as important as how they play in the games ahead, starting this week.

“We’ve accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of my kids,” Shannon said. But nothing we’ve done in the first three weeks will matter if we don’t carry it over into the important part of the season.”

SPORTS >>Cabot set for first Conway visit since ’96

Leader sports editor

This week’s matchup between Cabot and Conway will be a game between longtime rivals. While the game will be between familiar foes, it won’t be in a familiar place, at least not for the visiting Wampus Cats. Cabot and Conway have faced each other every season for the last 13 years, but have not played at Panther Stadium since 1996. The Wampus Cats walked away with a triple-overtime playoff victory in that last meeting in Cabot. Since then, the two teams always met in week one of the season in some sort of bowl or classic game.

They’ve played at War Memorial, Estes Stadium in Conway, and the past three years at Conway High School. The Wampus Cats have gotten the best of the Panthers the past two years. Already a heated rival, they aren’t expecting a warm welcome when they grace Panther Stadium for the first time in 10 years this Friday.

“I’m sure it’ll be a treat for us,” Conway coach Kenny Smith said. “They get us coming in there when they’re really on a roll. I think it will be nice though because of that wonderful facility they have there now.”

Smith coached at Cabot for three years, and has fond feelings for the hometown of his rival, but is quick to point out it’s a friendly rivalry.

“I have the utmost respect for Cabot,” Smith said. “(Athletic director) Johnny White is one of my very best friends. I love the support of the community. Cabot and Conway almost mirror each other in many respects. And I’m one person that’s been fortunate enough to live and work in both places.”

For his fondness for the city, it stops when game time starts. He’s quick to point out he wants badly to beat Cabot.

“I’m the kind of guy, I can turn on the weather channel, and if Cabot is 80 degrees, I want Conway to show 81,” Smith said.
When it comes to game preparation, Smith feels his team has its work cut out for it this week. He believes this is Cabot’s best team in several years, and says that he thinks Cabot’s coach thinks so too.

“I can tell Michael (Cabot coach Mike Malham) really likes this team,” Smith said. “I can tell by the play calling and some of the things he’s doing that he really has a lot of confidence in that bunch. This is probably the best offensive line he’s had in some time. I’m very impressed with that group. The backs are always the same. They’ve never had a back that didn’t run hard and that’s no different this year. They’re a north and south football team, and they’ve scored a lot points doing that this year.”

Malham does have confidence in the team, and has been pleased with its ability to move the ball and score, but didn’t like one thing he saw last week against Searcy. An old, nasty pest reared its head again in the first half of that game, fumbles.
“We do pretty good when we don’t put the ball on the ground,” Malham said. “We’d better not do that this week or it’ll hurt us a lot worse than it did.”

Malham didn’t believe that Conway’s outing against Bentonville was as bad as the score indicated. He has been impressed with the Wampus Cat offense in all three games.

“They’ve moved the ball on everybody they’ve played,” Malham said. “They had some mistakes and Bentonville got all the breaks in that one. We’ve got to get ready to play because this is definitely going to be the best team we’ve seen so far.”

Conway lost some key players before the season ever got started. It led to a rough opener, but things have steadily improved since a big opening loss to Bentonville.

The Wampus Cats played defending champion Fort Smith Southside to within one point, then beat Benton last week.

One of the players Conway lost was an All-State fullback, which is the feature position in Conway’s offense. The departed players was replaced by Ivan Mendoza, who has shown progress, and recorded his first 100-yard game last week.

“Ivan has done a great job for us since stepping into that role,” Smith said. “Obviously nobody likes to lose an all-state football player, but we’ve got kids stepping up and playing well.”

Lester Robinson is carrying the ball frequently from the wing back position, and returning All-State player Isaiah Jackson is back. Jackson did the most damage to the Panthers last year, and Malham remembers it well.

“He made us look bad last year,” Malham said.

Smith expects Cabot to key on him this week, but knows Cabot won’t sell out to stop him.

“He’s a threat to break it all the time,” Smith said. “He’s just that kind of player. What I like about this team though, is that they’ve had to step up and show something about themselves, and I think they have. I think they’ve gotten to the point that you can’t just say you’re going to stop Isaiah and you’ll stop Conway. But defensive coordinators aren’t stupid, and Cabot has an outstanding one. They see what all we have and I expect ‘em to be well-prepared like they always are.”

Cabot has stopped its opponents so far this year. The Panthers have given up just one touchdown and eight total points in three games. The offense has scored exactly 100 points so far, but has played in two mercy-rule shortened games by virtue of reaching 35 points so quickly.

Conway has shown improvement in dealing with big offensive lines, as evidenced by the different outcomes of the games against Bentonville and Southside.

Though Smith says there’s something a little different about playing Cabot.

“Against Bentonville, our interior people were getting wiped out,” Smith said. “Against Southside they did a nice job.

Southside was huge and we held our own. We didn’t get a win, but it was a much better effort. Against Cabot, you have got to be the aggressor. You can’t sit back and let them come to you or you’re beat because they’re aggressive. They are hard-nosed, aggressive kids and you got to meet ‘em. If you sit back and wait for them, they’ve done run over you.” That’s more like Southside plays, and we did a better job against them. We’d better keep improving too. They (the Panthers) have scored a lot and pitched two shutouts, so we’d better be ready.”

Aggression, though, is something that’s only effective if the ball doesn’t come loose. Taking care of the ball and playing smart defense will be the key for Cabot.

“If we don’t put the ball on the ground, and don’t give up the big pass over the top, I think we’ll give ourselves a chance to win,” Malham said. “If they’re going to beat us, make ‘em beat us. Let’s not try to give it away.”

OBITUARIES >> 09-19-07

Ethard Graham

Ethard W. “Dub” Graham, 78, of Romance passed from our world and into God’s arms on Sept. 16.

In his final hours, “Pappy” was surrounded by those who loved him and taught us one last lesson in dignity and grace.

Born in Lubbock, Texas, on Dec. 6, 1928, he is survived by the love of his life, Marie T. Graham, to whom he was married for 55 years; two daughters, Susan Dempsey and husband Larry and Raena Rawlinson and husband Mark; two sons, Myles Graham and wife Carol and Mark Graham and wife Kim; 11 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; two brothers and two sisters.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Evertt W. Graham and Dovie Dale Graham; one sister and one brother.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon, with burial at Grissard Cemetery in El Paso. Funeral arrangements will be by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Billie Morris

Billie Jean Hughes Morris, 70, of Austin passed away Sept. 16.

She was born Oct. 12, 1936 in Little Rock to the late Wilson Woodrow Hughes and Leanora E. Ellis-Hughes.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Rubert “Fats” Morris; mother, Leanora Hughes in October 2004 and father, Wilson Woodrow Hughes in April 1980.

Survivors include two sons, Garry McCormick of Austin and Harold McCormick and wife Laurie of Bossier City, La.; brother, Jackie D. and wife Shirley Hughes of Austin; sister, Judy and husband Art Hunt of Austin; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren and one great-grandchild on the way along with many other family members and friends.

Graveside services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Hickory Plains Cemetery in Hickory Plains with Bro. Nipper officiating. Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service.

Delia Waller

Delia Irene Johnsey Waller went home to be with her heavenly Father Sept. 14.

She was born to Harrison and Mary Ellen Johnsey on June 5, 1912.

She was a Christian of the Baptist faith and loved “God and His precious Son Jesus,” a favorite expression of hers.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Wilton Waller, a grandson, Lawrence Hogun and one great-grandson, Eddie Hogun; two brothers and wives and one sister and her husband.

Survivors include her daughter, Lilly Rucker; four grandchildren, Don Hogun and family of Red Bluff, Calif., Marilyn Hogun and family of Sandpoint, Idaho, Lillie Ann Ward and family of Exeter, Calif., Pam Coates and family of Carson City, Nev.; 12 great-grandchildren, 20 great-great-grandchildren and three great-great-great-grandchildren.

She loved her neighbors at Newberry Court and will be missed. She loved reading her Bible and clippings of Billy Graham, which she collected over the years.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. Burial will follow in Salem Cemetery.

Charles Wood

Charles Wayne Wood, 42, of Independence, Mo. died Sept. 15.

He was born August 2, 1965 in Little Rock to Gerald Wood and Sophia Radcliff Wood Harris.

He graduated from Old Main High School in Little Rock and was currently a member of Spirit of Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Kansas City, Mo.

Wood is survived by his daughter, Ashlyn Danielle Wood of Benton; his father Gerald Wood and stepmother, Shirley Wood of Sherwood and mother, Sophia Harris and stepfather, Jim Harris of Ward. Also surviving him are two stepsons, Zachary and Steven Cardinal and their mother Robin Cardinal; siblings, Harrell Stone of Ward, Becky Roberts of North Little Rock, Michael Stone of Ward, Johnny Lakey of Menifee, Monica Underwood of El Paso, Texas, Kathy Wages of North Little Rock, Karen Mullinex of Benton, Rod Borges of North Little Rock and Randy Wood of Little Rock as well as his best friend, Yale Turnham of Independence, Mo. and a host of family and friends.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with visitation from noon until service time. Burial will follow in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

Earl Rodgers

Earl Riley Rodgers, 78, of Beebe died Sept. 16 in Beebe.

He was born March 29, 1929, in Sikeston, Mo. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; five sons; four daughters and several grandchildren.

Cremation arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Katheryn Knox

Katheryn Fae “Kathy” Knox, 37, of Beebe, died Sept. 16.

She was born Feb. 26, 1970 in Chicago to Robert Allen and Katie Hobanez Price.

She graduated from Hobart High in Indiana in 1988 and served in the Army 34th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Platoon at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She was a member of Operating Engineers Local 150.

Kathy is survived by her husband, Johnny Knox; stepson, Clint Knox of Beebe; grandson, Ethan Knox of Beebe and brother, Allen Robert Price of Hobart, Ind.; brother-in-law Larry Knox (Deborah) of El Paso; sister-in-law Vickie Fowlkes of Beebe and many nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts and friends.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with family receiving friends from 9 a.m. until funeral time.

Lillie Brannon

Lillie Alice “Bomer” Brannon, of Lonoke passed away Sept. 17.

She was born Feb. 29, 1912 in Hannah, Okla., to the Late John James and Rose Alice Robertson Bomer.

She was also preceded in death by her brothers, Ott Robertson and Clarence Sherrell as well as her sisters, Lottie Hill and Susie Williams. Brannon was a protestant and lived most of her adult life in the central Arkansas-Pulaski County area.

Survivors include her son, David V. Brannon and wife Anita of Lonoke; three grandchildren, Rita Atkins and husband Joe of Franklin, Tenn., Denise McMahon and husband Greg of Sherwood and Elise Bills and husband Jimmy of Savannah, Tenn.; nine great-grandchildren, Will, Maggie and Ben Atkins, Jared Humphries, Brannon and Chance McMahon, Jeremy, Josh and Jayson Bills; two stepgrandchildren, Todd Yates and Brandi Brannon of Lonoke; as well as three stepgreat-grandchildren, Alicia, Mike and Lauren.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home chapel.
Burial will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Visitation will be at the funeral home from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 3022 S. 2nd St., Cabot Ark. 72023.

TOP STORY >>Buying golf course in Sherwood plans

Leader staff writer

Alderman Becki Vassar will ask the Sherwood City Council Monday night to give the city attorney permission to start negotiations to buy the North Hills Country Club golf course.

Vassar explained that this doesn’t commit the city to buying it and the ordinance contains no price parameters.

“It’s to show that we are serious about this property,” Vassar said, adding that it is “far too valuable as a greenbelt in the heart of the city” not to make a good-faith effort to buy the property.

“The ordinance will allow our attorney to talk to the property owner’s attorney. It’s a communication tool,” Vassar said.
Mayor Virginia Hillman said she has no problems with the proposed ordinance. “The city needs to explore the feasibility of buying the property and this is a good start,” she said.

Hillman still wants the public to have a major say and doesn’t want to use condemnation procedures to obtain the golf course. “If we buy it we need to pay fair market price for it,” the mayor said.

That price varies from a city-funded feasibility study suggesting Sherwood buy the property for $1.5 million to a city-funded appraisal that puts the property’s value at $2.215 million to the county’s tax appraisal of $3.1 million to Campbell’s $5.1 million offer.

Vassar said the city needs to do something as the six-month building moratorium the council placed on the 106 acres back in April is close to expiring. “We need a plan,” she said.

The moratorium issue is the center of a lawsuit that the golf course owners filed against the city in June.

The owners, Club Properties, have alleged that city had no right to place restriction on the property. At the time of the moratorium Club Properties was negotiating the $5.1 million deal with Campbell.

Campbell had plans to build a high-end gated community of 200 homes on the property. The moratorium thwarted the financing for that deal.

Campbell later came back to community leaders with a plan for just 34 homes and deeding a portion of the golf course land to the city for a park.

“I think this plans covers the three objections the city has—traffic congestions, overburdening the sewer system and keeping green space,” Rodgers said presenting the plan back in May.

His plan garnered no public support from aldermen who have been mum on the golf course since the lawsuit was filed even though Campbell is not part of the suit.

Ronald E. Bragg performed the city-funded appraisal, which cost $8,000. In his report, Bragg states “it is my opinion that the highest and best use of the subject property is no longer as a country club and golf course, but as single-family residential development, and as of the date of my inspection, May 8, 2007, it is my opinion that the subject property had a market value of $2,215,000.”

City Attorney Steve Cobb said even though Bragg recommended that the best use of the property would be as a single-family home development that “this of course does not preclude this property being used for a gold course, park or any other recreational use.”

After receiving the study, former Mayor Bill Harmon appointed what he called a blue-ribbon committee of Sherwood citizens to review the feasibility study. The consensus of the committee was for the city to proceed with attempts to purchase the golf course.

Vassar is looking forward to the golf course becoming part of the city’s parks system.

TOP STORY >>Cabot council, mayor set to talk

Leader staff writer

The Monday night Cabot City Council meeting was a short one in part because all the real business on the agenda was postponed until October to give council members time to talk with Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, who has been out of town.
The council tabled a resolution appointing Chuck Prater and reappointing David Hicks to the planning commission. An ordinance abolishing the council committees where city business is discussed before council meetings was read but not voted upon. That ordinance will be read again in October, and the council could decide at that time to read it for a third time or postpone the third reading and the vote to pass or fail in November.

The planning commission appointments drew sharp criticism from Alderman Teri Miessner, who asked that they be tabled until after she has talked to the mayor.

Miessner takes issue with the way the matter has been handled. Matt Webber, who is known in Cabot for community service work like the annual cleanup, is being removed from the commission after eight years.

Although the mayor said last week that he sent letters to all commission chairmen saying that no members would be reappointed unless there were extenuating circumstances, Webber was apparently unaware that his term was up and that someone else would soon fill his seat.

“I want to publicly apologize to Mr. Webber,” Williams said Monday night. “I wish it hadn’t happened, but it did.”

Although the reappointment of Hicks might appear to be a contradiction of the mayor’s new non-reappointment policy, the mayor said last week that Hicks’ departure from the planning commission during the administration of former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, meets his standard for “extenuating circumstances.”

Three years ago, the city council appointed Hicks to the newly created public utilities commission to run the water and wastewater departments. Stumbaugh insisted that Hicks resign as chairman of the planning commission saying he could not serve on two at the same time.

Then a few months later when the public utilities commission was revamped into the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, with more authority than its short-lived predecessor, the mayor not the council appointed the members, and Stumbaugh did not appoint Hicks.

Since Williams took office in January, the city council has met in committees to discuss proposed legislation.

As the committee system was explained then, all proposed legislation was to be assigned to at least one of three committees.
And just like the state legislature, if it didn’t pass out of committee, it wouldn’t make it to the full council.

But in reality, the ordinance establishing the committees did not exclude the mayor or council members from bringing legislation to the full council that was not passed at the committee level.

Aldermen Miessner and Becky Lemaster learned that last month when the council passed a resolution from Alderman Eddie Cook calling for non-partisan elections in 2008.

Miessner and Lemaster, who are Republicans and want partisan elections, said the resolution didn’t make it out of committee and that it shouldn’t have even gone before the full council.

The day after the August council meeting, Lemaster asked City Attorney Jim Taylor to draft legislation abolishing the committees.

The council this week did pass an ordinance establishing a fine schedule for city residents whose malfunctioning alarm systems waste the time of firefighters and police officers.

Section 6 of the ordinance says residents will be fined these amounts for more than three false alarms in a three month period: $100 for the fourth, fifth or sixth false alarms; $250 for the seventh, eighth and ninth false alarms.

The emergency clause was not attached to the ordinance at the request of Police Chief Jackie Davis, who told the council he wants residents to have time to make necessary repairs to their systems.

In other business, the association that runs the soccer program in the city told the council that more restrooms, paved parking, a bigger concession stand and lights are needed at the soccer fields.

Sabrina Blankenship, spokesperson for the association, told the council 1,140 children play soccer in Cabot and the economic impact to the city is great.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>No troops when you need them

Most people in Little Rock resented the arrival of the 101st Airborne Division to ensure the integration of Central High School 50 years ago  — many of those troops were flown into Little Rock Air Force Base — but almost exactly the year before, I would have welcomed the 101st into my native Hungary.

That was back when the Soviets reoccupied Hungary after they crushed a people’s uprising. Hungarians pleaded for help from the West, but none arrived.

I often wonder what would have happened if President Eisenhower had sent the 101st into Hungary in 1956. That move could have started World War III, but as my fellow Hungarian emigre Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, might have said, the doomsday option isn’t necessarily the end of the world.

As it happened, Eisenhower weighed his options and decided Hungary wasn’t worth risking a world war over, although I’m not sure the Soviets would have fought us on the ground in Hungary.

In any event, the Soviet empire began to crumble 30 years later, starting in Hungary, and the rest of the empire fell a few years after that without a shot being fired.

Eisenhower was a far more capable general than many people realize, and he had good political instincts, too. Although he avoided a confrontation with the Soviets over Hungary, he knew he couldn’t let Faubus and his fellow insurrectionists defy court orders to integrate Central High School. Ike had no choice but to send the troops to Little Rock.

Since I know several (white) people who attended Central in 1957, I’ve written about their experiences during the integration crisis and their resentment at being assigned minor roles during the upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations.

I don’t know Ralph Brodie, the former Central star athlete and student council president, but his book, “Central in Our Lives: Voices from Little Rock Central High School, 1957-59,” written with Marvin Schwartz, does a lot to correct the misconception that few white students acted honorably during those dark days.

The forgotten young white men and women, now well into their 60s, are bitter, perhaps for good reason, but not as bitter as me: I was a little kid living in a lousy refugee camp in Austria back then because the West allowed the Soviets to retake Hungary.

Sure, that’s ancient history and it happened on the other side of the world, while just across the river, Central shaped the future of the civil rights movement, as well as the lives of its young people and changed the course of its politics as Winthrop Rockefeller succeeded Orval Faubus and put the racists out of business.

Faubus, who tried to prevent nine black students from entering Central so he would keep his job, and the ringleaders who egged him on have long been discredited. They didn’t care about education — they closed down a high school that was ranked 38th in the U.S. academically and had 22 National Merit semifinalists — or even about athletics — they wrecked a national-champion football team just to keep nine kids out.

A lot of people lost their minds over Central, and a lot of others didn’t even have minds to lose — they were that dumb.
But the world next week will honor those black and white kids who learned together, prayed together, joked together. They survived tough times, and many of them did very well, including Ernest Green, Central’s first black graduate, who has excelled in business and politics, and Brodie, who became a prominent tax lawyer.

It took 50 years for Brodie to tell his story. The book includes interviews with some 100 participants in the Central drama, who showed up for classes in defiance of the demagogues. Only a tiny minority caused trouble at Central, and most of them, if they’re still alive, will stay away from next week’s festivities.

Brodie has been invited to speak, and when he embraces the Little Rock Nine, imagine if you could turn the clock back 50 years and make it seem as if September 1957 were a routine start of another school year — no troops, no mobs, no hatred.
Nothing to be scared of but Latin, as one of the students entering the school said 50 years ago.

TOP STORY >>School patrons choose winners

Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District Zone 6 challenger Bill Vasquez beat incumbent Dr. James Bolden, III, by nearly 100 votes in Tuesday’s school elections.

With 100 percent of the precincts in, Vasquez had collected 427 votes to Bolden’s 328.

“We are extremely jubilant,” Vasquez said. “We ran a grassroots campaign and focused on putting children first. We will now do whatever it takes to put the children first,” he said after hearing that he had won the school board seat.

But the PCSSD election did not run smoothly.

At least 60 people were turned away from the Jacksonville Community Center Tuesday as they attempted to vote for either Bolden or Vasquez to represent Jacksonville area schools for the next four years.

One voter had the chief judge at the Jacksonville polling site call Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien’s office after he, a long-time Zone 6 voter, was told the only ballot he could vote was for Mildred Tatum in Zone 1 in Little Rock.

O’Brien’s office ran the Jacksonville resident’s information through the commission’s computer and found that he was indeed eligible to vote Zone 6.

“They (O’Brien’s office) admitted they made a blunder with their mapping and will have to fix it,” the voter said.

Vasquez said he had received a number of calls from parents who tried to vote, but were turned away. He said most of the problem had to do with the boundaries of the Jacksonville zone, which has a gap in the center of the city.

“These parents send their children to Zone 6 schools, so they thought they were in that zone, but the way the zone is cut, they weren’t,” Vasquez said.

In the Cabot School Board election, incumbent Jim Coy retained his Position 3 seat by a landslide.

Coy received 183 votes against opponent Arthur Evans’ 44 votes.

“I’m very excited to be re-elected and serve another five years,” Coy said. “I appreciate the confidence of the voters in re-electing me and look forward to driving some more changes within Cabot schools.”

Ken Kincade, who was unopposed, also won in Cabot, receiving 204 votes.

Incumbent Richard Pennington was re-elected to the Zone 3, Position 2 seat on the Lonoke School Board, beating Darrell Park by a mere two votes.

Pennington received 44 votes against Park’s 42 votes to represent Lonoke schools for the next five years.

Pennington hopes to expand Lonoke’s vocational programs, decrease the number of students who require remediation in college, and improve facilities at the high school.

Incumbent Ray Kelleybrew, who was unopposed, also retained his Lonoke seat, receiving 20 votes.

On the Beebe School Board, Brenda K. McKown claimed the open five-year seat against Christopher Mark Goss.

McKown, the former president of the McRae School Board, garnered a total of 270 votes against Goss’ 161 votes.

She intends to use her past board experience, along with her knowledge of the educational process, to continue to push for higher education for the Beebe district. She also wants to continue improving the district to ensure a better education system for all students in the Beebe school system.

Leader staff writer Rick Kron contributed to this article.

TOP STORY >>AF milestone

Leader staff writer

The Air Force celebrates its 60th anniversary this week, festivities are being held throughout the country, including a military ball hosted by Little Rock Air Force Base Saturday evening at the Statehouse Convention Center.

The Air Force was established Sept. 18, 1947.

Little Rock AFB has been an established Air Force base since October 1955.

Of the close to 700,000 airmen who make up the total Air Force (active duty, civilians, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve), 6,014 are stationed here at Little Rock AFB, and more than 500 local airmen are deployed in support of the global war on terror.

Thousands of retired Air Force members and their families, about 25,400, also live in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas.
A number of official events were held Tuesday in the nation’s capital in honor of the Air Force’s 60th anniversary, including a birthday celebration attended by members of the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Air Force Service Pilots, Vietnam veterans, Berlin Airlifters, Medal of Honor recipients, Air Force astronauts and family members of the first chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. Carl A. Spaatz.

“The events here in the national capital region not only gave us a chance to reflect on our remarkable Air Force heritage, but also gave us the opportunity to celebrate our 60th birthday as an independent service,” said Brig. Gen. Janet A. Therianos, director of the Air Force 60th anniversary task force.

She described the events as a way to capture the spirit of the past and the enthusiasm for the future, and “bestow honors to the sacrifices of all who have given so much for our country” by recognizing “those Americans who volunteer to selflessly serve our great country.”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne heralded the Air Force’s 60th birthday as an opportunity to reflect on the nation’s progression in powered flight, rocketry and access to space.

“We also honor the extraordinary achievements and gallant sacrifices America’s airmen have made in the defense of freedom. Born of the revolutionary ideas of military aviation and rocketry and forged in the fire of combat throughout the wars of the 20th century, a handful of visionary pioneers helped shape the most dominant Air Force the world has ever known,” Moseley and Wynne said in a statement.

While marking this milestone in Air Force history, the two congratulated the airmen who make up today’s Air Force.

“Total Force Airmen of the U.S. Air Force past, present and future can take pride in their roles in the Air Force’s success,” they said. “Your service, dedication and sacrifice guarantee our ability to fly, fight and win for America and into the future.”

TOP STORY >>Schatz tells of goals at air base

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base commander Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz last week addressed the Air Force’s three current priorities: win the global war on terror, develop and take care of the airmen and recapitalize and modernize the force.

“Fifty-three percent of active duty are online supporting Combatant Command requirements every day,” Schatz said during the September LRAFB Community Council luncheon. “Little Rock has more than 515 airmen deployed, about average for every day of the year.”

More than 31,000 airmen are deployed worldwide with 60,000 Airmen stationed forward, he said. “Our operational mission is vital to saving lives in Iraq. Little Rock’s mission has direct (impact on the global war on terror) – C-130s capabilities have kept more than 6,900 convoys off Iraqi roads,” the commander said.

In one month, C-130s and C-17s reduce ground convoy requirements by airlifting the equivalent of cargo carried by 3,500 trucks allowing the ground forces to re-task their troops for other duty, Schatz added.

The Air Force also flies about 430 combat missions in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility every day.

“On average, 108 C-130 missions are flown each day over Iraq and Afghanistan. On any given day in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, C-130s move 163 short tons of supplies and equipment and 1,800 people throughout the combat zone,” Schatz said.

In developing and taking care of the airmen, Schatz described them as amazing, innovative, everywhere and in demand.
“Our airmen are flawlessly performing their mission no matter the constraint. We need their (innovative) ideas to recapitalize our Air Force,” he said. “They are deployed around the world at all times to fight the long, global war on terrorism and keep our great nations safe; other services recognize that our training and people are second to none,” Schatz said.

According to Schatz, who will be promoted to brigadier general Sept. 28, Air Force weapons systems must be recapitalized to remain viable in the fight, as well as modernizing the aircraft fleet. Currently, the average age of Air Force aircraft is 24 years – “older than the airmen we’re recruiting,” Schatz said.

“We have some of the oldest and most tired C-130s in the Air Force,” he said, adding, “We’re retiring older E models and bringing online the new J.”

Col. Mark Vlahos, 314th Airlift Wing vice commander, told The Leader that although the C-130E models, which are more than 40 years old, continue to prove their reliability and effectiveness, they still need to be replaced.

“The C-130J is a technologically advanced platform that climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance,” Vlahos said. “The J-model ensures Team Little Rock’s ability to support the nation’s combat airlift capability with world-class training and combat ready aircrews long into the future,” he said.

According to Air Mobility Command headquarters at Scott AFB, Ill., base realignment and closure-directed realignments and current C-130J acquisitions, 52 C-130s (22 C-130Es, 14 C-130H3s and 16 C-130Js) will be based at Little Rock AFB by the end of fiscal year 2009.

Air Force efforts to recapitalize the intra-theater airlift fleet and retire C-130E models are ongoing, AMC officials said.
In addition, the 314th Airlift Wing will have 24 C-130s for training, bring the total to 76.

LRAFB focus areas

Schatz is also focused on ensuring airmen and their families have the tools needed to successfully deploy, accomplish the mission and handle the stresses that come with a high operations tempo.

Schatz told the base community council that he plans to focus on improving the education opportunities for the children and Airmen of LRAFB with projects like the joint-education center, an Arnold Drive Elementary School replacement, Pulaski County Special School District unitary status and an independent Jacksonville school district.

“We continue to work with the Pulaski County Special School District to secure funding to replace Arnold Elementary School with new construction,” he said. “We have a site selected across the street from North Pulaski High School. I mentioned this to Cong. Vic Snyder (D-Little Rock) when he visited and also to the Lt. Gov. Bill Halter when he visited.”

Schatz has also met with PCSSD Superintendent James Sharpe earlier in the summer about the quality of schools in the area.
“The ultimate goal is the best education possible for the children of our airmen – they deserve no less,” Schatz said. “I told him I supported a Jacksonville independent school district as the best way to achieve the goal of the best resourced schools for the children of Little Rock Air Force Base.”

He will also continue to advocate for infrastructure recapitalization and improvement and get the privatized housing project back on track. “Little Rock is an enduring base that needs to replace older facilities. We need to develop a long-range plan to do this smartly, to include a runway, dormitories, community center and some flight line buildings,” Schatz said.

The base broke ground two weeks ago for two new buildings, a new headquarters for the 463rd Airlift Wing and a corrosion control facility, as part of Little Rock’s expansion under BRAC. The Senate, on Sept. 6, approved $9.8 million for runway repairs on base.

“We currently have over $60 million in new BRAC military construction on the books, which is great,” he said. According to Schatz, housing privatization at Little Rock AFB is a key goal.

“We will likely see a new developer brought in to replace American Eagle; all local subcontractors will be made whole as a result of the selling, restructuring of the project,” he said. Schatz hopes to begin construction again around June 2008.
“The goal is to have the best available home for our airmen and families.”

EDITORIALS>>Good choice to lead Justice

The name and face of Michael Mukasey are unfamiliar to 19 of every 20 Americans, which may be his strongest recommendation to be attorney general of the United States. Mukasey, a former U. S. district judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan, may be the conservative ideologue that the president assumes him to be, but he is neither a Washington insider nor a confidant of the president.

Mukasey should be an independent arbiter of the law and a devotee of the Constitution, and that is what the nation ought to expect and what it has sorely missed. The relief was palpable when the White House let it be known over the weekend that the president would not choose another crony for the job but would turn to someone with a reputation for sticking to the law without favor.

Alberto Gonzales had changed the definition of attorney general. Most of his career had been spent in the political service of George W. Bush, and only the title changed when Bush moved him from presidential counselor to attorney general. When he turned the Justice Department into a Republican recruitment office and threw out district attorneys, including the prosecutor for the eastern district of Arkansas, because they had not advanced the party’s election goals, even Republicans in Congress had enough.

The president’s first choice to replace Gonzales apparently was Theodore Olson, who if anything is a fiercer partisan than Gonzales. He had a central role in the infamous Arkansas Project, a shadowy effort of right-wingers led by the weird billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife to concoct smears against Bill and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s. Senate Democrats made it clear that Olson would not be confirmed.

Whatever the president’s motive, he deserves the nation’s thanks for restoring independence to the Department of Justice. Mukasey said he would support federal prosecutors, not undermine them. That is good enough for us.

EDITORIALS>>Ripping off the elderly

We are in parlous times when the state government must set up barriers to protect people from the perfidy of the federal government. That bizarre circumstance came to pass this week when the attorney general and state insurance commissioner announced a program to halt the victimization of elderly people by health insurance salesmen.

Insurance salesmen are persuading elderly Medicare beneficiaries to leave the traditional Medicare program for one of the “Medicare Advantage” policies that the Bush administration urges people to acquire. As Attorney General Dustin McDaniel described it: “These are private insurance companies making money selling policies to people that they do not want, need or understand, and that is wrong.”

People buy the policies with the promise of lower premiums and much better benefits than Medicare and then often discover that their costs are higher and the benefits worse. Their doctor may not even honor the Advantage policy. Since the Republican Congress adopted the Bush plan, which is aimed at eventually dismantling Medicare, about 8 percent of the elderly in Arkansas have switched to a Medicare Advantage plan by a private company. Insurance Commissioner Julie Benafield Bowman said complaints from victimized elderly people have been especially strong from retirement areas like Baxter County.

The attorney general has set up an office to take complaints and advise people about Medicare coverage. The trouble is that, unless someone commits ordinary fraud, such as forging a customer’s name to a policy application, it’s all perfectly legal under the Medicare Modernization Act, which Congress passed late one night in 2003.

The act was the first step toward the privatization of Medicare. It pays insurance companies, with your tax money, to provide medical coverage to the elderly. A Medicare Advantage plan costs taxpayers on average 12 percent more than traditional Medicare, the margin of course covering the insurance company’s profits. The subsidy to the insurance companies amounts to about $50 billion over five years and speeds the day of Medicare’s insolvency. The Medicare administration subtly encourages people to turn to Advantage plans.

Bowman said the plans sound enticing to many elderly people because they may have smaller monthly premiums. But higher co-payments than traditional Medicare make the plans costly to chronically sick people.

Democrats have not done much with their new majority in Congress, but they deserve credit for having some remedy for the Medicare scam. A House bill would roll back the Medicare subsidies to insurance companies and use the $50 billion instead to expand health insurance for children. Bush promised a veto if the bill passed — he wants no more children insured and no insurance company disadvantaged — and Democrats do not have a sufficient majority to overcome the veto.

A remedy will have to await the next election. Meantime, we will have to be content that at least the state’s chief law-enforcement official and top insurance regulator have a sense of duty to the vulnerable.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SPORTS >>Conway breaks down Panthers

Leader sportswriter

Visiting Conway dominated at the net against the Lady Panthers in Tuesday’s 7A-Central Conference matchup at the Panther gymnasium with a 3-0 sweep. Cabot (5-2, 1-2 conf.) did keep things close in the final two games after an easy Lady ’Cats’ win in game one.

In fact, the Lady Panthers appeared to have great momentum in the early stages of game two, rushing out to a 7-3 lead before Conway (8-3, 2-0 conf.) regrouped to come back and overtake the lead by the middle stages of the frame.

The hitting duo of Bridget Thomas and Chelsea Sublett gave the Lady Wampus Cats a dual threat, with Thomas’ precision hits finding holes all over the Cabot side of the floor, and Sublett’s hits simply overpowering blocks at the net by the Lady Panthers.

Junior hitter Torey Hendrix gave the Lady Panthers momentum at the start of game two with three early kills that helped Cabot take the lead, as starters Katie Mantione and Erika McCaghren rested on the bench. Mantione’s entry back into the match moments later resulted in another Cabot kill, forcing the Lady ’Cats to regroup facing a four-point deficit.

Three straight kills from Sublett took Conway from an 11-10 deficit to a 13-11 lead, and the Lady Wampus Cats would never trail again.

Conway got off to a blistering start in game one, taking a fast seven-point advantage that would hold up for the remainder of the frame. Thomas’ near-perfect placement caused problems for the Lady Panther defense, and helped Conway take a 25-17 win.

The Lady Panthers’ most aggressive play would come in the early going of the second game, with Hendrix leading the way at the net with assists from Cherie Barfield and Morgan Young.

The Lady Wampus Cats took over the lead by the mid-point of the game, but kills by Young and McCaghren evened things up at 14-14. Mantione kept Cabot in the game with a kill and a block, and another block by Ashton Seidl pulled the Lady Panthers to within one, 23-22. A Conway error made it 23 all, but the Lady ’Cats took the final two points to secure the win, taking a 2-0 advantage in the match.

Conway held the lead throughout the third and final game, but the Lady Panthers stayed within striking distance most of the way. Janell Reando had a strong performance for Cabot in game three with a pair of kills and an ace, along with two kills and a block for McCaghren.

The lead began to stretch for Conway in the ladder stages, but Cabot had one final rally in them before Thomas closed out the game for the Lady ’Cats with a trick pass and a tip for the final two points to take the win 25-23 and a 3-0 overall win.

The Lady Panthers rebounded for a conference win at Bryant on Thursday. The junior varsity started things off with a win in two games, 25-20 and 25-16 before the varsity team swept the Lady Hornets in straight games, 25-12, 25-22 and 25-14. Morgan Young and Torey Hendrix led the way for Cabot, with Young recording five kills on no errors and Hendrix grabbing 10 kills on one error.

“We’re still working on a lot of things,” Cabot coach Terry Williams said. “We did some good things Thursday that we really didn’t do against Conway Tuesday. We’re still open to improvement, but I think things have gone okay for us so far.”

Cabot will play in the Russellville invitational tournament this weekend. The Lady Panthers will share a pool with Alma, Vilonia and conference rival Mt. Saint Mary.

SPORTS >>Cabot keeps streak alive versus Lions

Leader football writer

CABOT – If the Searcy-Cabot series involved a traveling trophy, the Cabot Panthers might be looking to give it a permanent foundation.

The Panthers (3-0) wrapped up their nonconference season here Friday night with a 35-0 win over Searcy, the 12th consecutive time Cabot has beaten the Lions dating back to 1992.

Searcy, which hasn’t won since the final week of the 2005 season, fell to 0-3 with its 13th consecutive setback, tied for the fifth longest losing streak in Arkansas.

Cabot physically dominated the smaller Lions, holding Searcy to just 29 yards of offense and three first downs. The Panthers, meanwhile, didn’t attempt a pass and didn’t need to. Cabot ran the ball 59 times for 364 yards against a Searcy defense that kept the Lions in the game thanks to several first-half turnovers by the Panthers.

Cabot led just 13-0 at the half. After the Panthers scored on their first two possessions, they fumbled the ball away on their next three, including one deep inside their own territory. Jarrod Overstreet recovered for Searcy with just more than a minute to play in the first half at the Cabot 4-yard line. Two carries by fullback Aaron Lynch moved the ball to the 2, where Trace Madden was stopped for a one-yard loss. Ryan Wilbourn then missed wide left on a 20-yard field goal attempt.

“That goal line stand was big,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said afterward. “We were planning on going down and scoring and being up three scores at the half. If they score right there, then all of a sudden it’s a one-possession game.”

It was the best chance Searcy would get to crack the scoreboard. The Lions got the ball just four times in the second half and punted on three of those, never leaving their side of the field. Searcy also had the ball when the clock ran out.

Searcy coach Bart McFarland had a simple answer for the Lions’ offensive woes.

“They’re a good defense, that’s what the problem was,” McFarland said. “Everything we tried, they were all over us. That’s a playoff team right there.”

One possession after Cabot opened the second half by punting – for their only time in the game – the Panthers found some cushion when fullback Michael James bulled his way in from two yards out. Quarterback Seth Bloomberg’s two-point run gave Cabot a 21-0 lead with 2:43 left in the third quarter.

James, like Bloomberg a sophomore, led the Panthers’ attack with 130 yards on 21 carries. Chris Bayles, a junior, added 90 yards on just 10 carries.

“We’re a young football team,” Malham said. “The offense did a great job tonight. If we can continue that into conference play, we’ve got a chance to be in the thick of things.”

Senior running back Jordan Carlisle stretched the Cabot lead to 28-0 with a two-yard TD run with 6:22 to play and Wesley Sowell capped the scoring with a 6-yard run with 1:11 left.

McFarland stopped well short of praising his team’s effort against the Class 7A Panthers.

“We’ve played some good teams in nonconference, but we really need some confidence right now,” he said. “Next week is a new season for us. We’ve got to regroup and get ready for it.”

Cabot was dominant to begin the game, scoring quickly on its first two possessions.

After a snap over the punter Wilbourn’s head on the Lions’ first possession, the senior ran down the ball and avoided the rush to get away a kick, something Wilbourn found himself doing most of the game.

It took Cabot just five plays before James ran the final 22 yards for a 6-0 lead with 8:46 left in the first.

After another bad snap on another Searcy punt, the Panthers drove 82 yards in just six plays with Bayles getting the final 44 untouched through the left side for a 13-0 lead.

Searcy begins 6A-East play at Marion next Friday. Cabot hosts Conway in the 7A-Central opener for both teams.

SPORTS >>NP ladies slowly take over to defeat Badgers

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Falcons recovered from a difficult opening game to take a 3-1 win over Beebe Thursday night at the North Pulaski High School gymnasium. The momentum was slow to build in the contest for North Pulaski (3-4, 1-3 conf.) in the 5A East Conference matchup, but the NP ladies were in complete control by the end of game three. Beebe (2-7, 0-4 conf.) began to show fatigue by game four, but frequent hitter substitutions for North Pulaski gave the home team fresher legs for what would be the final game.

“We’ve talked a lot about momentum,” NP coach Amanda Hill said. “How important it is in volleyball, and we’ve done some drills together to emphasize momentum. It took the kids a while to finally realize how important that is, but once we started doing it, I think it rattled Beebe a little bit, and gave us that extra boost of confidence that we needed.”

Hill attributed the better communication from her team in the last three games to added confidence after giving up the first game.

“That just comes with confidence,” Hill said. “When you have that confidence, you’re able to communicate better, and it looked a lot smoother than it did in that first game. When one team gets on a roll, it seems to always take some of the wind out of the other team.”

Beebe hitter Stephanie Faught posed serious problems for the Lady Falcons in the first game. Faught was the strongest of the Lady Badger net players, and a strong service game from teammate Micah Cox helped Beebe overcome a 15-10 deficit to take the lead in the late going.

A kill by Emily Rodgers tied things up at 19-19, and she followed that with an ace to give the Lady Badgers the lead and eventual 25-21 win.

The Lady Falcons didn’t let the loss in game one rattle them. In fact, the back-row play improved dramatically, but it would take a little longer for things to pan out on the front row.

It was errors from Beebe that mostly led to the early lead for the Lady Falcons in game two. North Pulaski used the hits into the net by Beebe to build up a 17-10 lead before NP setter Gabriella Cuellar made the play of the game on a kill attempt by Faught.

Cuellar dove out of bounds to knock the ball back to the Lady Badgers after a reactionary hit by Kalayah Anderson when Faught drove the ball straight to her.

Beebe was not able to return it, and the Lady Falcons’ lead increased to 18-10 en route to a 25-18 win that tied the match at one game each.

Once North Pulaski’s overall offense picked up steam in game three, the Lady Badgers struggled to stay in the game.

Jennifer Peters generated opportunities all over the court for the Lady Falcons in the third frame, and Tauneishia Ridgeway and Anderson thwarted most of Beebe’s kill attempts.

North Pulaski sophomore front row players Ashley Bures and Rae Robinson also seemed to improve their timing at the net, recording some impressive kills in the final two games after a number of errors early on.

Faught and Cox lost some of their energy during the final game, leaving teammate Megan Hensley as essentially the lone points generator for the quickly depleting Lady Badgers squad.

North Pulaski took the third game decisively at 25-14, completing the 3-1 win for the Lady Falcons’ first league win of the season.

The Lady Falcons will play at Paragould on Tuesday before returning home on Thursday to take on the Blytheville Lady Chickasaws.

The Lady Badgers will host Nettleton on Tuesday, and will remain at home on Thursday when the Lady Rams of Paragould visit for another 5A-East Conference matchup.


Life can resume in the Natural State because the University of Arkansas has a new athletic director, or at least an athletic director in waiting for the day the Frank Broyles retires. Few people even in sports circles have heard of the man, Jeff Long, but Arkansas will pay him $450,000 plus perquisites.

There was a day when the athletic director of a university was the worn-out head football coach, and his remuneration was approximately in line with the less exalted status.

But no more.

Jeff Long will be paid far more than any non-athletic official of the university or, indeed, of the entire state government — six times as much as the governor. Long had been a minor administrator in several university athletic departments before becoming the athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh.

Broyles, after a half-century at the university, was allowed to announce his retirement early this year after the university’s Board of Trustees privately expressed its dismay at the mess that he and the head football coach had made of contentions over several freshmen football players.

Broyles asked to be allowed to retire at the end of year, and the board with proper good grace obliged. There was a feeling that Broyles had lost his magic touch. The basketball program, the best in the nation only 10 years ago, was an embarrassment, and Broyles had to hire as the new coach a lightly regarded coach who had a mediocre record in one of the weakest conferences in the land.

Jeff Long no doubt will steer the sports program wisely, and we wish him well. Our problem is with the university governance that offered the gentleman a five-year rollover contract at a sum far out of sync with the job’s relative importance. Chancellor John White disagrees.

He said the 2.5 million people of Arkansas considered themselves “winners” only if Razorback athletic teams excelled. The state needs to pay a high salary to an athletic director who will produce super teams so that the people of Arkansas can feel good about themselves.

Not since H.L. Mencken has anyone said anything so degrading about Arkansas. We only pray that he is not right.

EDITORIALS>>Wedding – 'not'

A Fayetteville girl, her fiancé and her mother have sued to enforce the strict wording of a botched act of the legislature that would let children of any age marry as long as the parents consented. Now a judge will determine whether the law is the crazy version outlined in one inept sentence or the cleaned-up version of the Code Revision Commission.

That is what courts are for. The question needs to be quickly dispelled because amid the confusion county clerks are beginning to take the law into their own hands. One clerk said Friday she was just ignoring the whole law and following the old law, although that would seem to be the one thing a clerk should not do. That law was repealed. It made 17 the legal marrying age for girls and 18 for boys.

Meantime, there is no call for the governor to summon the legislature back to the Capitol to take the wandering word “not” out of the sentence. A legislative session requires a minimum of three days and it is not cheap. That may have to be done if the Arkansas Supreme Court rules that the errant “not” is indeed the law.

The sponsors of the legislation, introduced at the request of judges, intended to make the marrying age uniform at 18 because the gender distinction probably made the old law a violation of the equal-protection clause of the United States Constitution. An exception would be if the girl under 18 was pregnant and she had the consent of her parents to marry. The effect of the extra word was to allow children of any age to marry.

Tim Hutchinson of Lowell, a former state representative, filed the suit to force the Washington County clerk to issue a marriage license to the couple. Following the cleaned-up version of the law, the clerk refused.

Hutchinson said the legislature should meet to change the law because the Code Revision Commission has authority only to correct typographical and punctuation errors and that its deletion of the word “not” set a bad precedent.

But a typographical error is precisely what the stray “not” is. The word makes the rest of the act nonsense. A well established rule of common law is that courts interpret a law as best they can to make all the parts of the law fit.

If the law is that a girl “not pregnant” can be married at any age, as the botched sentence says, then the following language that sets out in detail how a pregnant girl can go about getting married would make no sense. You must assume — and the courts are obliged to make the assumption, too — that the legislators intended to make some sense when they enacted the law.

Gov. Beebe is right. Save the taxpayers some money and let the legislature lie doggo while the courts explain how the law works.

OBITUARIES >> 09-15-07

Pearl Sanders

Pearl Sanders, 89, died Sept. 12.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles H. Sanders.

Survivors include her children, Virginia Edwards of Lonoke, Addie Hubbard and Eddie Sanders of Alabama and Charlene Madden of California; sister, Louise Barnhart of Cato; many grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren and other relatives.

Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16 at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Herbert Greer

Herbert L. Greer, 85, of Jacksonville, son of Fred and Nellie Greer made his final flight Aug. 30 and was buried next to his wife of 63 years, Hazel Jean Greer.

Herbert was born in Chelan, Wash., Sept. 25, 1921 and was the eldest of three bothers and three sisters.

He is survived by his son, Ronald Lyndon Greer; daughter, Linda Diane Greer; grandson, Jonathan Daugherty; granddaughter, Susannah Cox and two great-grandchildren, Gracie and Jake Cox, all of Jacksonville.

Mr. Greer served 23 years in the Air Force, serving his country during the Second World War and Korea. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and has published his memoir “Fire From the Sky — A Diary Over Japan.”

The funeral was officiated by Dennis Carrow on Sept. 5, followed by entombment in Rest Hills Memorial Park with Military Honors. Arrangements were by Griffin Leggett Funeral Home.

“Yet from those of our number who fly no more, we must accept a trust – the trust of men who gave their lives in order that there may be a free life for others – and should we, in the future, treat lightly the foundations of that free life, we will have betrayed these men to whom, for all time, must we be indebted.”

James Douglass

James “Steven” Douglass, 50, of Ward passed away Sept. 10.

He was born May 7, 1957 in Little Rock.

Steven was an avid fisherman and the vice president of Douglass Services Incorporated. His loving wife, Angela Marie Douglass precedes him in death.

Survivors include son, Steven “Brent” and wife Lynn Douglass  with their children; Frankie, Amber, Jacob and Zachary, all of Jacksonville; son, Bobby Wayne Foreman of Jacksonville; mother, Janet Douglass of Jacksonville; father and step-mother, Jim and Mary Douglass of Cabot; two sisters, Diane Bowlan and husband David of Jacksonville and Jill Douglass of Jacksonville; step-brother, Mark Dewey and wife Cin-dy and their two children, Christy and Charley, all of Bentonville; as well as a host of friends and family.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Dr. Carol Goddard officiating. Burial will follow in Bayou Meto Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Dennis Chamblee

Dennis W. Chamblee, 85, of Ward, formerly of Buckeye, Ariz., went to be with the Lord Sept. 6.

He was born March 26, 1922, at Romance.

He is survived by his children, Phyllis and Dennis; siblings, Emma Madding, Joe Chamblee, Laura Eubanks; grand-children, Stacey, Shannon, Russell; and nine great-grandchildren.

Wondle was preceded in death by parents, Dewey and Geneva Chamblee; siblings, Moline Cook, James Marshall, Daphene Brewer, Lelan, Dewey, Jr., and grandson, Brent Chamblee.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Apple Hill Cemetery.

William Taylor

William Alvie Taylor, 78, of Cabot, went to be with the Lord Sept. 11.  

He was a member of McArthur Assembly of God Church and a retired master plumber.

He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Mamie McClellan Taylor; four children, Connie Jones and husband Jim of Clinton, Phillip Taylor and wife Debbie, Stacy Taylor and wife Gloria, and Paula Snipes, all of Cabot; one brother, Bobby Joe Taylor of North Little Rock; and one sister, Mary Viala of Sherwood. Also surviving him are eight grandchildren, Jerry Wylie, Lance Witcher, Josh, Caleb, Alex, and Danielle Taylor, Megan and Brooke Richardson; and one great-grandchild, Lawson Taylor.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Dora Taylor; one son, Michael Dean Taylor; and three brothers, George, Lewis and Outhor Taylor.  

Funeral services were held Sept. 14 at McArthur Assembly of God Church with the Rev. Larry Burton officiating the services.
Burial followed at Forrest Hills Cemetery in Alexander.  

TOP STORY >>Mayor chooses commissioners

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ decision to replace city commissioners when their terms expire to give more residents the opportunity to serve came as a surprise to the first commissioner to lose his seat and angered two city council members who say the mayor preaches teamwork but doesn’t practice it.

Alderman Teri Miessner said during a budget and personnel committee meeting this week that when it was time for the mayor to appoint a new member to the parks commission, he asked council members for suggestions. But no one knew that Planning Commissioner Matt Webber was about to be replaced and that included Webber.

Questioned by Miessner, City Attorney Jim Taylor explained that the mayor appoints commissioners and the city council approves them. By state law, he said, the council doesn’t get to consider anyone that the mayor doesn’t want to appoint.

Miessner conceded that the mayor might have been within his statutory rights to replace Webber, but his actions did nothing to promote the teamwork he espouses. Alderman Becky Lemaster agreed.

Webber, who attended the meeting at Miessner’s request, told the aldermen who were present that he felt like he had been blindsided by the mayor’s decision. He heard “through the grapevine” that his term had expired Aug. 10 and that the mayor intended to replace him, he said.

Contacted Friday while he was on a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia with Metroplan to look at mass transit systems, Williams said his intent was only to bring new blood into the city’s commissions. “I sent a letter out when I first came in (to the commission chairs) so there wouldn’t be any surprises,” the mayor said, adding that eight years was long enough for Webber to sit on the planning commission.

“This city is full of great people who will bring new ideas and who want to serve,” he said.

Webber explained in an email to The Leader how he felt about being replaced: “I fully understand and appreciate the state statute, which allows the city mayor to select for appointment whomever he wishes,” Webber wrote. “That has not been the main issue with what has transpired over the past month or so. The biggest contention, that I have had, was the manner in which this whole matter was so poorly handled. I am very disappointed in the lack of respect that has exuded throughout this dilemma.

“Unlike elected officials, commissioners, in my opinion, do not pay as close attention to their terms of office. Since there is not an election process, the term length may go unnoticed by the individual, until they are courteously notified that a re-appointment is being considered or not-considered. If a commissioner has served the community well, has worked harmoniously with fellow commissioners and has not created any discord or problems…why not give that commissioner the option to continue serving. The experience-level is very valuable. If he/she declines, then by-all-means, a replacement should be sought.

“At the August City Council meeting, there was an individual being considered for appointment to the planning commission.

Chairman Ron Craig approached me and asked if I knew who this person was. At that time, I had no idea that my term was either expired or soon-to-expire. At about the same time that I told Ron that I didn’t know who the person was, the council was called to order. If it had not been for one or more alderman asking for a bio on Chuck Prater (and subsequently being tabled), he would have been voted on that night. I don’t know if he would have been voted onto the planning commission, but the possibility is very likely. Again, I had no idea, at that time that this person was to replace me.

“Let’s just say that Mr. Prater had been voted on that evening and the vote passed. Had I not gotten wind of this, in the next couple of days following the council meeting, and I had not confronted the mayor, I would likely have shown up at the next planning Commission meeting and there would have been someone sitting in the chair that I usually occupy. Can you say ‘awkward’?

“It is no secret that I have occasionally butted-heads with some engineers and developers in the past. I take the planning of our community very serious. I have never been one to just rubber-stamp something that is presented to me. I am going ask questions. If something doesn’t seem right, I’m going to dig. Evidently some folks don’t like that. To some, I am considered an outsider – an enemy. I have been accused of being anti-development. What a bunch of malarkey! Nothing could be further from the truth. What I want is smart development!”

Williams said Prater, whom he intends to appoint to the planning commission, is retired from the Air Force. He runs a cabinet shop and is not involved in development.

“He’s very methodical,” Williams said. “In his line of work, he understands how important it is to get it right the first time. And he doesn’t have an agenda.”

TOP STORY >>Construction starting on new library

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville officials broke ground Wednesday on the city’s first library in 38 years.

The Esther D. Nixon Library should be ready for its readers in 14 months, according to Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) Director Bobby Roberts.

The library will be built on Main Street across from Jacksonville Shopping Center. It will sit on 2.6 acres of land with a park and a gazebo.

The building will be 13,500 square-feet, compared to the old library built in 1969 with 9,265 square feet.
Many people attending the event agreed the new library is a plus for the city.

“This is a wonderful start to the downtown revitalization of Jacksonville. It will have curb appeal for the city. It will attract residents to come to the downtown area,” said Joe Crim, vice president commercial loan officer at Jacksonville’s Metropolitan National Bank.

“This is a project that shows patience pays off. It will better serve the citizens of Jacksonville,” Mayor Tommy Swaim said.

The new facility will have reading nooks, study rooms, a multipurpose meeting room for the community to use before and after library hours. It will have more computers and have wireless Internet access. The library will have an expanded collection of books for adults and children, depending on shelving space, Carrie Snodgrass, CALS media liaison, said.

“It’s a great day for Jacksonville. The library will have new energy and excitement,” said Alderman Kenny Elliott.

Swaim said money is still needed for the library and there has been lots of funding from private citizens to help the library.

Sue Khoo, owner of Unique Furniture, had a kung-fu fundraiser in June for the library. The event raised nearly $5,000 according to Khoo. She also mentioned 500 books were donated by Key International Centre for research and consultation company, Tianjin, China. A solar hot water system for the building with complete installation was donated by Jiangyin Wanlongyuan Technology Co. of Jiangsu, China.

The old Nixon library is limited on space, Jamie Melson, former library staff member said.

“During the summer reading program, we had between 65 to 100 people in the library. It doesn’t accommodate the growth of the community.

“Keeping the library anchored on Main Street is important for area businesses,” she said. The importance of the library is evident for people like Amy Miller, former library assistant manager, who believes it can help build her community.

“A library used as a community resource helps build the whole community,” she said.

Wilkins Construction of North Little Rock is building the $3.6 million library. Funds for the library are from a $2.5 million bond issue, $450,000 from the Central Arkansas Library System, $400,000 from capital improvement funds and $300,000 projected from the sale if the old library building is sold.

Neighboring First United Methodist Church could buy the old library. Jacksonville and CALS are in a partnership with the new library. The city will provide furniture and CALS will provide staff, supplies and materials for the library.

TOP STORY >>$1.5M deficit hurts PCSSD as pupils lost

By Aliya Feldman
Leader staff writer

With little discussion, the Pulaski County Special School District board approved a half million dollars in expenses amidst a warning of a $1.5 million projected deficit caused by the loss of nearly 500 students.

Superintendent James Sharpe said Tuesday that the last few weeks proved the district was “off to a tremendous school start,” but the Teachers Association reported class sizes beyond the district’s allowable number.

The budget vote was moved to a special meeting on Wednesday after members asked the superintendent for details.

At that meeting, Chief Financial Officer Larry O’ Briant said he projected a $1,549,952 deficit for the 2007-08 school year.
Employees’ salaries and benefits make up 85 percent of the budget at $87,450,100 and operating expenses total $42,881,022.

“There is very little money the Board has control over because it’s determined by personnel,” O’Briant said, referring to the largest portion of the budget. “You have very little money to juggle around,” he said.

O’ Briant said the district is “just holding in there.” The state identified the PCSSD as being in fiscal distress until this year.

O’Briant blamed the deficit on a failure to keep students enrolled in PCSSD schools. The district receives $5,770 in state and local funds for each student. This year, 460 fewer students are attending PCSSD schools, causing a loss of almost $3 million.

Board members have noticed the students’ exodus.

“I have gotten comments that they are moving to subdivisions,” President Gwendolyn Williams said, noting that the appearance of the buildings drives parents away from being interested in the schools. “I don’t like how we have advertised our schools,” she said. “We need to do more to promote them.”

“Children leave because AP courses are not offered in Jacksonville,” James Bolden said. He said that the brightest students are leaving in search of the advanced classes students can take for college credit.

Bolden received good news on Tuesday when the Arkansas Highway Department gave the Jacksonville Middle School for Boys a grant that will be used to build new sidewalks around the school. Bolden also introduced an item to name the boys school’s gym in honor of Eugene Stuckey, who has been a coach there for 37 years. The board approved it unanimously.

O’Briant said Jacksonville schools will receive an approximate $250,000 for building improvements. The middle school for girls will get new roofing over the cafeteria and some classrooms. The high school will get new roofs over the auditorium and media center.

The board voted on Tuesday to purchase a new Chevrolet Malibu for $12,259, approved a salary increase for administrators totaling $409,114 and formally hired Arkansas Educational Consulting (AEC) to negotiate a contract between the district and the support staff. AEC’s services will cost the district $25,000.

Teachers Association president Marty Nix said Tuesday that teachers are reporting teaching beyond the allowable number of students. She said PCSSD has a “well-established” teacher-student ratio of 150 students per teacher. Nix said many teachers are teaching seven or eight classes, which could mean some are seeing over 200 children a day.

Teachers have also reported problems with new computer systems intended to encourage communication between parents and teachers, Nix said. The programs, Edline and Gradequick, are web-based services that allow parents to view grades and class assignments. Many teachers have reported entering data only to find it has later been lost.

“Teachers don’t have computers, Internet or five or six hours to spend on Saturday only to get back to school to find the data is gone,” Nix said. Board members did not respond to either of Nix’s concerns.

TOP STORY >>School candidates face off Tuesday

Leader staff writer

School board elections are Tuesday and candidates in local districts are urging residents to get out and vote.

Voting will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at all area polling locations. Look for election results in the Wednesday edition of The Leader.

Polling sites have been consolidated this year for board elections in the Pulaski County Special School District and the Cabot School District.

For the local PCSSD seat, Zone 6 between incumbent Dr. James Bolden III and Bill Vasquez, the two major polling sites are the Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center in Sherwood, and the Jacksonville Community Center.

According to Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien, all voters will go to their regular precinct locations to vote, unless they live in an area with combined polling locations. “PCSSD is an odd shaped district and we want voters to be aware of what zone they are in,” O’Brien said, adding 95 percent of residents will vote at their normal precinct.

First Baptist Church, 401 N. 1st St., is also a polling site for PCSSD’s Zone 6 seat.

Zone 6 is split into two areas along Hwy. 67/167. The boundary area of Zone 6 to the west of Hwy. 67/167 includes Hwy. 107 to the southern boundary of precinct 30 down to Jacksonville/Main to Hwy. 67/167, but excludes Delta, Tara Mount and Lisa, continuing south along Hwy. 67/167 following Precinct 32 and 33 southern boundaries until hitting Oneida and heading northwest.

The Zone 6 area located to the east of Hwy. 67/167 boundaries include Hwy. 67/167 to the Lonoke County line, east to the Lonoke County line and then south running parallel with Governor Wells. The western boundary extends to include the Melrose/Yellowstone area off Redmond Road and does not include the Pinewood, Park, Beverly and some Carolyn, Keaton and Nina areas.

A map of the zones is available online at by following the links for PCSSD.


The two polling sites for the Cabot School Board election are the Family Life Center at First Baptist Church of Cabot, and the Youth Center at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church of Cabot.

Each polling location will have four voting machines.

Residents of York, Cabot Wards one and two, Butlerville Township, Austin and Caroline, Austin Station and Caroline, Austin Station and Magness Township, Ward City and Ward Township will all vote at First Baptist Church.

Residents of Cabot Wards three and four, Oakgrove Township, Eagle, Gray and Goodrum will all vote at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

Arthur Evans and incumbent Jim Coy are running for Position 3; Ken Kincaid is running unopposed for Position 7.


Beebe School District residents have numerous polling sites available to vote for either Brenda K. McKown or Christopher Mark Goss for the open school board seat.

Beebe residents, as well as Prairie County residents within Beebe schools, will vote at the Beebe Church of Christ. Other locations include: in Antioch, the Antioch Church Fellowship Hall; in El Paso, the El Paso Community Center; in Floyd, the Floyd Fire Station; in Garner, Garner City Hall; and in McRae, the McRae Multipurpose Building.


Lonoke residents will have the opportunity to vote Tuesday at the Lonoke Depot.

Incumbent Ray Kelleybrew is running unopposed for his Zone 1, Position 3 seat; incumbent Richard Pennington and Darrell Parks are running for the Zone 3, Position 2 seat; and Mike Brown is a write-in candidate for a one-year term.

TOP STORY >>School candidates face off Tuesday

Leader staff writer

For the first time in 12 years, the Pulaski County Special School District Zone 6 school board seat is being contested.
Bill Vasquez is challenging incumbent Dr. James Bolden, III, for the seat he has held since 2003.

Voters across PCSSD, as well as Cabot, Lonoke and Beebe school districts, have the opportunity to elect their next school board representatives from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at area polling locations.

To better inform residents of their choices for local school board candidates in this year’s election, The Leader posed questions to those facing opposition. The following information and answers are from candidates in the Pulaski County Special, Cabot, Lonoke and Beebe school districts.


On the PCSSD board, Dr. James Bolden, III, who is seeking his second term, is running against Bill Vasquez for the Zone 6 seat with a four-year term.

Bolden, 49, has lived in his district for 13 years and has two children, a seventh- and ninth-grader.

He is a retired combat veteran with 24 years of military service and is the founder and senior pastor at Evangelistic Ministries Church in Jacksonville and also owns Lil Motivators Childcare. Vasquez, 50, has lived in the district for 20 years and has six children who have all attended PCSSD schools in his zone; his youngest is a sophomore at Jacksonville High School.

Vasquez has 22 years of military service with the Air Force and spent his final years as an instructor/evaluator pilot for the Arkansas Air National Guard here at Little Rock Air Force Base with the 189th Airlift Wing. He currently works for Lockheed Martin as a C-130E flight simulator instructor pilot at LRAFB, is the volunteer soccer and golf coach at Jacksonville High School and is a member of the booster club there.


On the Cabot School Board incumbent Jim Coy is facing opposition from Arthur Evans for the Position 3 seat, which has a five-year term.

Coy, 45, has lived in the Cabot district for 13 years and is the father of a Cabot High School junior. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in sales and marketing and is a sales executive for Acxiom Corporation. He has served as chairman of the policies, personnel and curriculum and instruction committees of the Cabot School Board during his five years on the board.
Evans, 58, has lived in Cabot for 14 years and is the father of a senior at CHS. He attended the University of Arkansas majoring in accounting with a minor in economics and is the assistant facilities manager at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock.


On the Lonoke School Board, incumbent Richard Pennington faces Darrell Park for the Zone 3, Position 2 seat, which has a term of five years.

Pennington, 54, has lived in the Lonoke School District for 15 years and is the father of twins in the eighth grade. He has a Bachelor of Science in pharmacy from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science , is a pharmacist and owns Lyons Drug Store.

Park, 45, was born and raised in Lonoke, graduated from Lonoke High School and has lived there all his life. He has two children in Lonoke schools, a senior and an eighth grader, and works for the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.


Running for the open seat on the Beebe School Board, with a term of five years, are Christopher Mark Goss and Brenda K. McKown.

Goss, 34, has lived in the Beebe-McRae area all his life and graduated from McRae in 1991. He has three children, a ninth and sixth grader and one in Beebe’s new pre-kindergarten program.

He is self-employed; he and his parents operate Goss and Son Meat Company in Romance and with the help of his children, operates Goss and Sons Lawn Service.

McKown has lived in the district for 27 years and served on the McRae School Board for 10 years, serving as president of the board when that school consolidated with Beebe three years ago.

Her youngest daughter is a senior this year and her oldest daughter is a graduate of McRae High School.

She is the director of administration for Catlett and Stodola, PLC, a law firm in Little Rock; Catlett Tower Partnership, an office building in downtown Little Rock and Catlett, Inc., an international business company; she is also a legal assistant to Mr. Catlett, prepares budgets, accounts receivable and payable and reports.


Q. Why did you decide to run for school board, or if the incumbent, run for re-election?

Bolden: I am seeking re-election for the PCSSD Zone 6 seat because the children are my major concern in the Jacksonville area and the Pulaski County district with major emphasis on Jacksonville area students.

Vasquez: I decided to run for the school board because, as a concerned parent, I want the best for my children and the children in our community. I believe that the tax dollars from Jacksonville need to be used on the children in Jacksonville – we have been paying taxes for too long to see our students continually left out when it is time to discuss school improvements and new construction; also running because some of our campuses are still not yet fully handicapped accessible, and because the bathrooms in many of our schools seem less than satisfactory.

I am also running because concerned parents asked me to; we are not pleased with the direction we see the district going and the lack of interest and resources being directed to schools in the Jacksonville area – we see our children as being equal to and just as deserving as any other child in the district.

Q. What do you feel you would bring, or do bring if the incumbent, to the school board?

Bolden: If re-elected, I will bring the very presence of the community’s concerns, hopes and visions as I have always done at every board meeting I have attended. I have always, even before getting on the board in 2003, fought for Jacksonville’s vision.

Vasquez: I bring a lifetime of experience as a professional educator; what is taught and how well it is taught and learned by our children is critical to their success or failure as they begin life’s journey on the road to achieve their dreams.

As a military pilot and officer for nearly 22 years, I have learned to tackle the hard problems and choices of life head on and to seek solutions to problems, not to turn my head away and hope they will disappear. I have also dealt with large programs concerning large amounts of money and am not intimidated by the financial decisions of the $131 million Pulaski County Special School District budget or the challenges of facing our school district in the 21st Century.

Q. What are the areas that you see as needing to be addressed in your district?

Bolden: First, getting unitary status so that we can proceed in the process of getting our own school district here in Jacksonville. Second, while doing this, always making sure that we get what we deserve in the Jacksonville area of more advanced placement courses, better facilities, and quicker response to our area needs while ensuring that every child in PCSSD gets the same opportunity.

Vasquez: Pulaski County has to address both the academic achievement gap between majority and minority students as well as substandard benchmark test scores and accelerate the use of modern technology in the classroom. The answer to the achievement gap and test scores is the same – student literacy. It stands to reason that regardless of race, a student’s academic success more than ever before is tied to their literacy skills; we simply must ensure our children learn to read and read well.

To accomplish this we must take full advantage of educational technology in our classrooms, particularly in the core subject areas. The district needs to immediately seek to invest in Smartboard technology in all core subject classrooms to facilitate the use of Internet and interactive technologies in math, science, history and English.

These technologies not only enrich the learning experience for our children, they allow our teachers to be more efficient and effective in the classroom. We must make a commitment to help our children succeed by ensuring our educators have the tools they need to reach and teach our children.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish if elected or re-elected?

Bolden: I will continue my support of my fellow board members while also pushing for our own district that will give us better opportunities in our Jacksonville area. Remember: Proven leadership with proven results.

Vasquez: I hope to bring education in Pulaski County into the 21st Century. Today’s student is technologically savvy and is not afraid of being challenged intellectually in the classroom. Today we know more about teaching and learning than ever before and with modern technologies we can help even the most severely challenged students find success. But, we cannot successfully educate our children if we choose to retain the status quo; we must continually change and improve to be successful.

Our schools are entering a new era in education; we must empower our students with the learning skills they will need for a lifetime, not just to get to the next grade level. Our children must become lifelong learners to meet the challenges of the workplace, at home and in the community as technology advances in the future.

Q. What are your views on a Jacksonville district?

Bolden: I am 100 percent in favor of it and it is long overdue.

Vasquez: Jacksonville cannot become an independent school district soon enough to satisfy the citizens of our city, but we are up to the task. We believe we have the most to gain or lose from the success or failure of our schools and are ready to go the extra mile to ensure our students succeed.

Q. What are your thoughts on Jacksonville opening a charter school in the future?

Bolden: I believe the two will complement each other.

Vasquez: Without an independent Jacksonville school district, as well as a major commitment to new school construction in Jacksonville, a charter school is inevitable and may come regardless of whether we become an independent district.

However, as an American, I don’t see the competition from a charter school as a threat to education but as an enhanced educational opportunity for those seeking an alternative to the traditional public school setting.


Q. Why did you decide to run for school board, or if the incumbent, run for re-election?

Coy: I am running for re-election (to the Cabot board) because I feel that I have the competency and servant attitude to be a great board member. I also feel it is a great way to give back to the community.

Evans: I want to be on the school board because I desire to see the kids continue to get the best education possible.

Q. What do you feel you would bring, or do bring if the incumbent, to the school board?

Coy: As an incumbent, I would continue to find ways to improve the processes already in place. In my current role as a sales executive for Acxiom Corporation, my main responsibilities include solving complex problems, resolving conflict and negotiating large multi-million dollar contracts. Most, if not all, of my skill sets have been used in my current roles as a Cabot School Board member.

Evans: My management and abilities and the understanding of the budget process. I also have the ability to see both sides of any issue.

Q. What are the areas that you see as needing to be addressed within your district?

Coy: The No Child Left Behind unfunded mandates – state mandates that require additional paperwork for teachers with an already jammed-packed day. To resolve this, I will work with our state senator and state representative to minimize the paper- work and give back more time for instruction.

Evans: The need to stay ahead of the growth curve financially. I will closely monitor the budget and try to plan years ahead for new facilities and teachers.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish if elected or re-elected?

Coy: I will continue to find ways to save money in our budget in order to fund raises and save money for future growth.
Evans: I will help make the Cabot School District even better than it is today.

The Cabot Teachers Association also submitted questions for Coy and Evans:

Q. How do you feel about the salaries/benefits provided by our district in terms of recruiting and training the best possible employees?

Coy: I feel our benefits are competitive with other districts our size. We have done a great job of recruiting top talent from other districts and new college graduates.

Evans: They are low, especially for experienced employees who have “topped out” in step increases.

Q. What priority do you believe needs to be given to efforts to significantly increase employee salaries in the district?

Coy: Top priority is we need to continue to find ways to improve the current process and save money for additional raises.
Evans: They have to grow as the district grows.

Q. If our district were to receive unexpected funds, what would you list as the top three priorities for these monies?
Coy: Teachers’ salaries; benefits; teachers’ salaries.

Evans: Buy new equipment (copiers, computers, etc.); new facilities and upgrades to old facilities and needed supplies for teachers.

Q. What types of things do you believe the school district can do to improve community relations and build more community support?

Coy: Continue to engage the superintendent with all the different civic organizations in the community and when a major decision faces the district, we need to form community groups to help drive that specific decision.

Evans: Doing more of what the district has been doing.

Q. If you wish to obtain information about the condition of the school system regarding student, teacher and support personnel morale; the physical quality of the environment that exists for learning; the curriculum or any other school related issues, to whom or where would you go?

Coy: I would interact directly with the person responsible for that information. If you did not have access to the people responsible for that information, I would go directly to central office and ask for direction on where to find the data.

Evans: While surveys would be a good starting point, going to each school and talking to the employees would be the best way of getting firsthand knowledge.


Q. Why did you decide to run for school board, or if the incumbent, run for re-election?

Pennington: I have been on the (Lonoke) board for 15 years and will run for one more term only.

Park: I am running because I think any parent should be concerned about and interested in their children’s educations. What better way than to be involved in the decision-making that pertains to that education?

Q. What do you feel you would bring, or do bring if the incumbent, to the school board?

Pennington: I bring experience and a concern for a quality education to the Lonoke board.

Park: An open mind; I’m willing to listen to all concerns.

Q. What are the areas that you see as needing to be addressed within your district?

Pennington: Lonoke High School facilities and expanded vocational offerings.

Park: I love the Lonoke School District. We are fortunate to have good administrators, teachers, students and board members. I want to see that continue.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish if elected or re-elected?

Pennington: I hope we can expand our vocational programs, decrease the number of students who require remediation in college and improve our facilities at the high school.

Park: We have a good school system and I want to continue this trend and have Lonoke School District known as a quality school district that does an excellent job of preparing its students for furthering their education and preparing them for life.


Q. Why did you decide to run for school board, or if the incumbent, run for re-election?

Goss: I’ve always been involved in my kids’ educations and with their different school functions. My kids will be in Beebe schools for the next 14 years; being on the school board is another way to get involved.

The schools we have now are second to none; they’ve done a really good job with our facilities and it’s something I would like to be part of. Running for school board has been on my mind for a couple of years now and with my youngest in school now, I can take a more in-depth step in their education and have more than a spectator position in their education.

McKown: Our district is experiencing constant growth. I believe my past experience on the board, along with my knowledge of the educational process, can contribute to continuing the program. I have been involved with building programs, the annexation and other aspects of school management. In addition, my background in law will provide another perspective to planning and progress.

Q. What do you feel you would bring, or do bring if the incumbent, to the school board?

Goss: I’m not out to change the world, but just want to have a deeper and more active role in Beebe schools.

I think we are better off after consolidating McRae with Beebe; being from there and graduating there, I felt both sides of the spectrum, but I see the benefits of what we have now.

McKown: I bring experience and knowledge, as well as numerous hours of school board continuing education.

All board members are required to obtain continuing education hours each year; over my ten-year period, I was fortunate enough to attend many training sessions to help me in the role of a board member.

Q. What are the areas that you see as needing to be addressed within your district?

Goss: There are not any areas I feel need addressed. We’re at the onset of the gas industry now and there are a lot of decisions that we will have to make once we start seeing that county income. We’re having growing pains right now, but that’s a good problem to have; we purchased land and a building, but we need more.

I look forward to seeing the schools develop more. I think we are one of the top in the state for academics, our campus facilities are out of this world and I look forward to the growth we will experience in the next five, 10, 15 years.

McKown: It is my desire to continue to push for higher education for our district. Although our district continues to exceed state and federal standards, we must strive to educate our children with higher levels of education at an earlier age.

For instance, there are universities and hospitals in our state that cannot find enough qualified employees to fill positions requiring higher levels of education; these companies look outside of our state and in many instances, out of the country, to fill these positions.

Concurrent credit and advanced placement classes, which I support, give our students opportunities to fill this void.
In addition to providing increased educational opportunities at the secondary level, the district has also implemented the pre-K program on our campus. Successful programs and curricular offerings such as these are examples of what I would like to see continued and expanded in our district.

I would also like for the EAST Lab to continue expansion for every grade to ensure every child has the opportunity to be a part of this program while a student at Beebe schools.

Q. What do you hope to accomplish if elected or re-elected?

Goss: I would like to see our students have the tools and resources that can help them prepare for their future and college. I think a lot of the time we let them down by not giving them the tools they need. I want to see us provide all we can to get them (the students) able to meet the challenges that come with graduating.

McKown: We have a quality education system of which I am very proud. I believe our teachers and administrators are some of the best to be found.

If elected, I hope to be a part of the continued improvement toward a better education system for all students in the Beebe school system.