Wednesday, September 26, 2007

SPORTS >>Panthers, Devils in weekend tourneys

Leader sportswriter

Only two points separated the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils from the finals of the Greenbrier invitational over the weekend. A second-round loss to Vilonia in a close 2-1 decision prevented the Lady Devils from a championship-round appearance, but the third-place consolation game did manage to bring a rare meeting with cross-town rivals North Pulaski.

Despite a short bench after losing junior Chastity Robinson to an ankle injury during last week’s game against Jonesboro, and two more players out for personal reasons over the weekend, the Lady Devils fared very well in their three matches at the tourney. They easily handled Batesville in their opening match to advance to the semifinals in two games, but would find the Lady Eagles of Vilonia a little more difficult to overcome.

Vilonia took the first game 25-18, but Jacksonville rallied back to win game two 25-23. This would set up a shootout in the final game of the best two-out-of-three tournament, and the Lady Eagles would need one extra point to claim the win, taking the semifinal round with a 16-14 win.

This would bump Jacksonville into the consolation bracket, to play in the third-place match against none other than the North Pulaski Lady Falcons. The Amanda Hill coached team made its way into the consolation game with a win over ? and a loss to?, to set up the classic showdown.

The Lady Falcons made a statement early in the match, taking game one by a score of 25-23. The Lady Red Devils, somewhat disheartened over not making the finals, had to dig deep to take game two, but came out swinging to tie the match at one game each with a dominating 25-15 win. The final game would decide it all, and Jacksonville would pull out the win 15-11.
Lady Red Devils coach Melissa Reeves says the last week has been somewhat unpredictable, but that the team continues to improve.

“I’m really proud of the way they played on Saturday,” Reeves said. “Despite everything that has been going on, they want to play their very best. They have been playing like I know they can play, we just need to get everyone back and on the same page.”

Lady Red Devils sophomore Crystal Washington stepped in for the injured Robinson on the front row, and played solidly throughout the tournament. Paula Burr was moved from the outside to the middle of the front row during the tournament. Reeves said that while their opponents got a lot in on Burr in the middle, it is hard to expect a player that has trained for the outside all season to step in to a different area of the court on a moment’s notice.

“They were really diffused after losing to Vilonia,” Reeves said. “We were at a bare minimum of players anyway, so we had to fight to get up for North Pulaski. We haven’t been fully prepared these last few games, and we have had a couple of disciplinary issues lately, but hopefully that is all worked out now.”

The Lady Red Devils hosted the Sylvan Hills Lady Bears last night after Leader deadlines.

The Cabot Lady Panthers ended up with a win and a loss at the ASU Invitational Tournament in Jonesboro over the weekend. After a solid tournament performance one weekend prior in Harrison, the Lady Panthers could not get past 5A powerhouse Nettleton in the second round of the ASU tourney, ending their day early after an up-and-down performance during morning pool play.

Cabot coach Terry Williams said the tournament was somewhat of a letdown, especially after a solid showing the weekend before and Harrison, and two conference wins during the week.

“We just couldn’t get in sync,” Williams said. “We never could get anything going it seemed like; we were just flat.” Williams was hard at work Tuesday morning trying to arrange a new lineup for a match that afternoon with Mt. Saint Mary, after three players were forced to sit out the contest with various ailments.

Cabot started out pool play with a two-game split with Hutchinson, Tenn., followed by a loss to Valley View. The Lady Panthers would not come up empty handed in the pool matches, however, beating Piggott in two games to set up a first round bracket match with the dreaded and enormous Lady Raiders.

Nettleton took both games easily, winning game one 14-25 before dominating in the second game to take an 11-25 win over the Lady Panthers. This would pit the Lady Panthers against Collierville, Tenn., in the consolation game. Cabot would take that game in straight games, 25-19 and 25-14 to finish in the top half.

SPORTS >>Story lines collide at Beebe

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have likely their toughest test to date when they travel to Little Rock to take on Catholic High Friday night in War Memorial Stadium. The 4-0 Panthers will be the favorites against the 2-2 Rockets, but than .500 record could be deceiving.

Catholic has played a tougher schedule that Cabot so far, and both of its losses have been against 7A teams that are currently undefeated. After starting 2-0 against 6A teams Sylvan Hills and Benton, Catholic dropped a very close game to Fort Smith Northside, then lost its conference opener 35-14 to top-ranked Bryant last week.

Cabot hopes to leave the Rockets with an 0-3 record against the undefeated, but head Panther Mike Malham isn’t expecting anything easy.

“This is just another one of those games you have to get ready to play or you could end up beat,” Malham said. “They’re playing a lot better than they did last year. They were playing a lot of young kids last year and they’ve got a lot of kids back, so we’d better get ready to play.”

The Panthers and Rockets played to a 7-7 tie in regulation last year. Both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime, but Catholic missed its extra point, giving Cabot a 14-13 overtime win.

The Rockets lost their best offensive player from that team to graduation, but still has some good hands that should have Cabot’s attention come Friday.

“That quarterback they’ve got is a good hand,” Malham says. “They do a few different things on offense and he’s pretty good at all of them. He can run a little bit and he can throw it pretty well.”

Catholic runs mostly out of the power-I formation, and will be the first team to do so that Cabot has played. Their new look isn’t something that concerns Malham as much as making sure his team sticks with the fundamentals of its own defensive scheme.

“I think our defense has done a good job for the most part,” Malham said. “They just have to keep playing proper technique and they should be ok.”

The injury bug finally crept up on the group of Panthers that started the season. Starting halfback Chris Bayles will be out indefinitely with a cracked bone in his leg.

His injury, though, comes just as Vince Aguilar, last year’s starter at fullback, returns from a knee injury. He played sparingly last week against Conway for the first time this season. He played mostly defensive end, but did line up at running back a few times and got a few carries late.

Junior Wesley Sowell will also see lots of time at halfback. He has carried a few times this year as well with good results.
“Sowell is the quicker of the two,” Malham said. “He’ll probably start back there.”

There were no major areas of concern after last week’s performance against Conway. Late in the game there was a fumble on an option play and a bad punt snap, but Malham was pleased with the team’s overall effort.

“(Sophomore quarterback Seth) Bloomberg is getting more comfortable and you can see that,” Malham said. “He hasn’t had to do much passing, but he’s running the option well and making good decisions. We just can’t put the ball on the ground and give up the big play. Overall I was pretty pleased with things last week. We’re just trying to get better at everything we do, a lot of repetition and make sure we have the fundamentals down.”

SPORTS >>Opponents get tougher

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers have likely their toughest test to date when they travel to Little Rock to take on Catholic High Friday night in War Memorial Stadium. The 4-0 Panthers will be the favorites against the 2-2 Rockets, but than .500 record could be deceiving.

Catholic has played a tougher schedule that Cabot so far, and both of its losses have been against 7A teams that are currently undefeated. After starting 2-0 against 6A teams Sylvan Hills and Benton, Catholic dropped a very close game to Fort Smith Northside, then lost its conference opener 35-14 to top-ranked Bryant last week.

Cabot hopes to leave the Rockets with an 0-3 record against the undefeated, but head Panther Mike Malham isn’t expecting anything easy.

“This is just another one of those games you have to get ready to play or you could end up beat,” Malham said. “They’re playing a lot better than they did last year. They were playing a lot of young kids last year and they’ve got a lot of kids back, so we’d better get ready to play.”

The Panthers and Rockets played to a 7-7 tie in regulation last year. Both teams scored a touchdown in the first overtime, but Catholic missed its extra point, giving Cabot a 14-13 overtime win.

The Rockets lost their best offensive player from that team to graduation, but still has some good hands that should have Cabot’s attention come Friday.

“That quarterback they’ve got is a good hand,” Malham says. “They do a few different things on offense and he’s pretty good at all of them. He can run a little bit and he can throw it pretty well.”

Catholic runs mostly out of the power-I formation, and will be the first team to do so that Cabot has played. Their new look isn’t something that concerns Malham as much as making sure his team sticks with the fundamentals of its own defensive scheme.

“I think our defense has done a good job for the most part,” Malham said. “They just have keep playing good angles and proper technique and they should be ok.”

The injury bug finally crept up on the group of Panthers that started the season. Starting halfback Chris Bayles will be out indefinitely with a cracked bone in his leg. His injury, though, comes just as Vince Aguilar, last year’s starter at fullback, returns from a knee injury. He played sparingly last week against Conway for the first time this season. He played mostly defensive end, but did line up at running back a few times and got a few carries late.

Junior?? Sowell will also see lots of time at halfback. He has carried a few times this year as well with good results.
“Sowell is the quicker of the two,” Malham said. “He’ll probably start back there.”

There were no major areas of concern after last week’s performance against Conway. Late in the game there was a fumble on an option play and a bad punt snap, but Malham was pleased with the team’s overall effort.

“(Sophomore quarterback Seth) Bloomber is getting more comfortable and you can see that,” Malham said. “He hasn’t had to do much passing, but he’s running the option well and making good decisions. We just can’t put the ball on the ground and give up the big play. Overall I was pretty pleased with things last week. We’re just trying to get better at everything we do, a lot of repetition and make sure we have the fundamentals down.”

EDITORIALS>>The real face of Arkansas

“This is a tragic day in the history of the republic — and Little Rock, Arkansas, is the scene of the tragedy,” began an editorial in the Arkansas Gazette 50 years ago yesterday morning. “In one sense we rolled back our history to the Reconstruction era when federal troops moved into position at Central High to uphold the law and preserve the peace.”

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne had rolled into the city the previous day, and that morning they escorted nine black students past the sullen crowds and through the portals of that magnificent building. Every school day for the rest of the year the soldiers would protect those youngsters — so skinny and scared and vulnerable when we see those old photographs and TV footage now.

That day and particularly the two school days immediately preceding it, the whole world got a visage of what they assumed was Little Rock and Arkansas, the twisted and demented faces of the mob that gathered at the school to scream racial epithets at the nine youngsters and to beat black adults who showed up, including a Memphis photographer who was crippled by a thrashing across the street from the school at the hands of a band of white men and never recovered.

The pictures, some of the most famous being those by Will Counts, a young photographer for the Arkansas Democrat, flashed around the world, appearing on the front pages of newspapers from St. Louis to Tokyo. They made history books and anthologies, documentary films and movies, and in the past week many of them surfaced again in the media on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, to horrify another generation.

The pictures from Little Rock were a galvanizing force in the civil rights movement. The country and the rest of the world saw the frightening face of bigotry and ignorance and thus the pictures may have done more than all the court decisions and the legislation at the federal and state levels to advance the civil rights cause.

As that Gazette editorial on Sept. 25, 1957, observed prophetically, Gov. Orval E. Faubus had dealt “a major and perhaps lethal blow to the cause of segregation which he purported to uphold.” Three weeks earlier, defying orders of the federal courts, Faubus had used Arkansas National Guard soldiers to prevent the black students from entering the school and gave impetus to the mob impulses of hundreds of men and women who would pour into town to support the governor.
But what a profoundly different picture went out from Central High yesterday morning. If that could only have been us 50 years ago. . . A thoroughly integrated and ebullient crowd of thousands — children and adults, seemingly about even black and white — stood and cheered lustily as each of the Little Rock Nine, some now stooped or in a wheelchair but every one vibrant, made a short talk from a platform in front of the famous portals of still the handsomest school in America.
Yes, Bill Clinton, the former president, made still another good speech. His wife and the odds-on favorite to be the next president was there, too, though she did not speak.

Little Rock’s new mayor, Mark Stodola, made a stirring and visionary talk about the need to destroy still more social and economic barriers in his city. Gov. Mike Beebe was thoughtful and appropriate. The president of the 2007 senior class at Central gave a remarkable speech that actually overshadowed the talks of the big politicians. There were other talks by notables.

But none approached the brief remarks of any of the nine. They seemed not to speak from text or notes, but the occasion brought from each a few moments of unsurpassed eloquence.

They told funny stories, they expressed gratitude to each other and to the parents who saw them through the ordeal, and they were optimistic and they were forgiving.

All but one had fled Little Rock after school, never to return except for these occasions.

Speaking at a breakfast Monday morning in the Great Hall of the Governor’s Mansion, Ernest Green, the first black graduate of Central, recounted the successful and beneficent lives of the nine after their rendezvous with history at Central.
Referring to those who blocked their paths at Central in 1957 and the silent ones who wanted them to fail, he asked, “What could they have been afraid of?”

Seeing and hearing these intelligent, cheerful and reassuring men and women in the twilight of their lives at the place that transformed their own lives as well as the country, everyone in the international audience surely wondered the same thing. What could people have been afraid of?

The whole extraordinary week of ceremonies and dialogues about what it all meant was redemptive for the city and the state, we would like to think. Arkansas got to show the world its better nature.

Now if they could apply the lessons to their continuing divisiveness. Starting with the Little Rock schools, and all our schools.

OBITUARIES >> 09-28-07

Tristan Six

Tristan Wyatt Six, 10, of Garner went to be with the Lord Sept.23, as a result of a four-wheeler accident.
He was born Feb. 20, 1997.

He was preceded in death by great-grandparents, Luther Six of Garner, Bud and Ellen Jones of Beebe, Robert and Eva Schoonover of Hunter, Gene Gamble of Little Rock and D. L. Holmes of Beebe.

He is survived by his father and mother, Larry “Bucky” and Michele Six; two brothers, Larey Six and Tommy King; one sister, Megan Six, all of Garner; grandparents, Dr. Larey and Rita Six of Garner, Jerry and Vicki Davis of Cabot, Jerry and Vickie Whittenburg of El Paso, Ronnie and Margaret Schoonover of Brinkley, and Gerald “Pawpaw” and Tonya “Mawpaw” Mathis of Beebe; two great-grandmothers, Freda Six of Garner and Maxine Holmes of Beebe; aunts and uncles, Charles and DeAnna Renneker, Casey Six, Brittany Whittenburg, Tonya and Michael Todd, Jeremy and Christy Ramsey, Matt Whittenburg, Jeremy and Deidre Whittenburg; and a host of cousins, friends and family.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Union Valley Baptist Church, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Funeral arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Carrie Wood

Carrie Lee Wood, 48, of Cabot passed away Sept. 23.

She was born April 20, 1959 in Little Rock.

She was preceded in death by her father, Henry Howell, mother, Donna Howell and stepfather Carlee Howell.

Survivors include daughters, Terrie Billings and husband Albert and Linda Williams and husband Jimmy; son, Phillip Wood and wife Melissa, all of Ward; grandchildren, Samantha Wood, Justin Billings, Zacary Williams, Hunter Williams, Makinzee Wood and Little Wood to be; sisters, Pam Miley and Melissa Eldrid; and brothers, Gene Howell and John Howell; along with many other family members and friends.

Graveside services will be at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Sylvania Cemetery in Ward with Pastor Aaron Hill officiating and Mike Myers, Rance Hill, Johnny Garrianger, Jason Howell, Jimmy Williams and Brad Howell as pallbearers. Funeral arrangement will be by Thomas Funeral Service.

Mandi Amos

Mandi Amos, 28, loving daughter and granddaughter, of Jacksonville, passed away Sept. 24.

She is survived by her mother and step-father, Benita and Sammy Crook III of Jacksonville; her father, Lesley Amos; two brothers, Greg Rogers and Bryan Amos; one sister, Leigha Crook Garrity; and one grandfather, Vernon Ford.

Family requests memorials be made to the American Diabetes Association or the Arkansas Kidney Foundation. Graveside services were held Sept. 25 at Serenity Garden Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Graveside service arrangements were made by Wood Funeral Home of Jacksonville.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Classmates meet, recall friendship

Ernest Green, perhaps the best known of the Little Rock Nine, was walking up a couple of flights of stairs at Central High School after Tuesday’s ceremony marking the integration of Central 50 years ago this week.

Green was walking quickly up the stairs as if he were still 17, and he was heading for the physics class where three white students had befriended him.

The floors were shiny and the walls clean. Even if they’d been spruced up for the anniversary, the old school was holding up well. Central is perhaps the most famous high school in the world, where history was made and American society changed forever.

Green had been back at the school several times before, he told me when I caught up with him, but this was his first reunion with the three students in the physics lab.

“I first came back to Central in 1977 or 1978, when I was assistant secretary of labor,” Green told us when we were on the third floor, still walking toward the physics lab.

He’d given the commencement address back then, but the reunions with other classmates and anniversary celebrations weren’t held for another decade.

The 50th anniversary was a sure thing as students approached old age and perhaps wounds were finally healing.

We arrived at Room 309, Mr. Barnes’ old physics class. Inside were Green’s former classmates — Glynnys Oakes Johns, Charles Oakley and Steve Swafford, the students who had helped Green with physics.  

No one remembered Mr. Barnes’ first name, and his students thought he was long dead, but they didn’t think it was a big deal to have a black student in their class and were eager to make friends with him.

Green had missed three weeks of classes, because the mob outside wouldn’t let the Little Rock Nine in, except for a few hours, until federal troops escorted the Little Rock Nine into the school on Sept. 23, 1957.

Green, now an investment banker in Washington, sounded bitter when he recalled Barnes’ refusal to help him catch up with three weeks of lessons.

“Physics is a difficult subject,” Green said as the group stood near a lab table not far from where they’d do their lab assignments.

Swafford, an engineer from Houston, said they were building radios or other electronic gadgets and did their best to ignore the noisy mob outside.

Johns, a retired math and algebra teacher from Dallas, had invited Green to sit with her group at lunch, even if some of the white kids resented it.

She told Green, “We thought you were the best dressed boy in the school.”

Green, wearing a suit and a tie but with a small paunch hanging over his belt, smiled and said, “With all those cameras, we wanted to make sure we were well dressed.”

Oakley, Swafford and Johns insisted that they had no problems with blacks going to their school.

Green, too, thought integration wouldn’t be a problem at Central. He said he’d worked at a country club the summer before and talked to some Central students, and he didn’t think there’d be any problems.

“We were shocked” when the troubles started, he said.

But the Little Rock Nine weren’t harassed in the classroom, he added.

“The problem was in the hall and physical ed and the showers, and they’d steam up the locker room,” Green recalled.
Through the physics classroom’s windows, you could see the front of the school and the street out front where the mob screamed and threatened the Little Rock Nine.

A half-century later, you could tell the four former classmates in the physics lab were among the brightest kids at Central. Oakley, a lawyer from Sunnyvale, Calif., said the troublemakers were the less intelligent kids who did not succeed later in life. One could infer they did not grow up to be lawyers, teachers, engineers and investment bankers.

Oakley thought the troublemakers “would get over it” and leave the nine black students alone.

Green, Central’s first black graduate, and the other civil rights pioneers had been honored by former President Clinton and other luminaries earlier that morning. The national and worldwide media covered the anniversary as a milestone that pushed the civil rights movement forward.

Many of the participants are now in the history books. There are many villains — the angry mob, the hysterical students and, above all, Gov. Faubus — and there are the heroes — the Little Rock Nine, President Eisenhower, who made sure they could enter the school, and all the decent people of Arkansas, including the three students in physics who reached out to Ernest Green.

Yesterday, Arkansas celebrated the Little Rock Nine but also other great Americans like Glynnys Oak Johns, Charles Oakley and Steve Swafford, who can hold their heads high because they did what was right back in 1957.

TOP STORY >>Traffic issue big concern for district

Leader staff writer

With Cabot’s population expected to be pushing 25,000 in the coming years, traffic congestion around Cabot’s 14 schools is a problem district officials are working on fixing.

“The traffic flow around the schools seems to be better,” Superinten-dent Dr. Tony Thurman said recently. “There is still a lot of congestion but this is due to the large number of vehicles around our school sites during drop-off and pick-up times.”
Last Wednesday morning at Cabot Junior High South, a ninth-grader was hit by a vehicle during student drop-off as she crossed Panther Trail in front of the school.

She exited a vehicle on the passenger side, walked behind the car, and was hit by an SUV as she crossed the street, not in a crosswalk. She was released from the hospital the same day and is doing fine, Thurman said.

According to witness statements, it appeared the 14-year-old stepped out between cars to cross the road, and not seeing the Chevy Blazer on her right, walked into the path of the SUV, which was moving at a slow rate of speed.

CJHS Principal Henry Hawkins said she was back at school the next day and besides from a few bumps and bruises, the accident scared her more than anything.

Occurring in front of the school, Hawkins said the accident has made student drop-off a bit better.

“The parents are more aware of what they need to do and our resource officer is now on that side of the school to monitor traffic,” Hawkins said. There are also new crosswalks on the west end of the campus, which Hawkins said were put in before the accident occurred, for students to get to the shopping center at Hwy. 89 and Panther Trail after school lets out.

He said they do have a crosswalk guard at that location now too. They are also in the process of brainstorming ideas of what else needs to be done in order to make sure an accident like this one, or worse, doesn’t happen again.

“We’re trying to decide if we need barriers to keep students from walking across the street or is there another viable solution,” Hawkins said.

Aside from last week’s accident, Hawkins said traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up is doing better, especially compared to the first week or two of school.

“Parents have a routine now and they don’t all bombard us at the same time,” he said, adding some parents arrive earlier or later to try and avoid the congestion.

Before school started in August, the city and district worked together to alleviate the traffic congestion during the morning and afternoon when parents are dropping off and picking up children at school. However, the changes only worked at two of the three schools experiencing the worst congestion.

“We did work with the city on two locations, Southside Elementary and Cabot Middle School South, this summer, and those plans have worked well,” Thurman said. “We had more difficulty with Northside Elementary and continue to consider options.”
At Northside, city officials hoped to stack cars on E. Mountain Springs Road to keep them off Locust, but parents were told to go back to the old way until the city and district have built a loading area on the campus.

“Our pick-up times in the afternoon have improved steadily since the beginning of the school year,” Thurman said. “It’s also important to remember that congestion is worse and there are more vehicles dropping-off and picking-up when we have poor weather conditions, like rain,” he said. Jerrel Maxwell, Cabot’s director of public works, said E. Mountain Springs Road isn’t wide enough to have cars stopped on the shoulders while waiting to get on campus. Cabot schools worked with the city to build a new parking lot for about 40 employees, which took them out of the mix during rush hour.

The district also has approved building a loading area for 100 cars (the city will provide the labor and equipment and the district the materials), but work has not been started yet.

TOP STORY >>PCSSD seeking judicial release

Leader senior staff writer

He is awaiting feedback from the district’s two new school board members and from the desegregation consultant hired by the state before proceeding with efforts to extricate the district from decades of court desegregation oversight, Pulaski County Special School District Attorney Sam Jones said Tuesday.

At least one of the two new members favors an independent Jacksonville district.

Bishop James E. Bolden III, a vigorous and outspoken advocate for Jacksonville-area schools and for a stand-alone school district, was unseated in the Sept. 18 school board election by Bill Vasquez, who says he also strongly favors a Jacksonville district.

“Our children will be best served and educated when the citizens of Jacksonville have local control over the schools our children attend and not before,” according to Vasquez. I call upon the PCSSD to seek full unitary status immediately and stop playing semantics at our school board meetings.”

Unitary status for PCSSD is a prerequisite for any possible Jacksonville district.

PCSSD, the Little Rock School District and the North Little Rock School District have been conjoined by a 25-year-old desegregation agreement that has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars—more than $62 million this year alone — and currently impedes a stand-alone Jacksonville school district favored by many residents.

District Judge Bill Wilson has released the Little Rock District from the agreement, ruling it had met the desegregation objectives, and the North Little Rock District filed for unitary status on Friday.

Like the other two districts, PCSSD will have until October 31 to file for unitary or partial unitary status and to file for compensation for attorney costs, according to state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, who wrote the enabling legislation.
Unitary status would mean the district could stand on its own as a desegregated entity.

“In my opinion, North Little Rock is fully unitary,” according to Bond, and “I think (PCSSD) is too, particularly in student assignment.”

He said PCSSD secondary schools are 46 percent black and primary schools are 43 percent black.

Jones said PCSSD had directed him early last summer to petition for partial unitary status based upon student assignment.
He said whether or not the district would seek wider unitary status was not yet decided.

Armor, a professor at the George Mason (Virginia) School of Public Policy, has researched and written about desegregating schools and related civil rights issues, according to a George Mason website.

He has consulted on and testified as an expert witness in more than 40 school desegregation and educational adequacy cases.

“If I get wind of an opinion that (Armor) thinks PCSSD is unitary in other areas, such as staffing, I will report to board at the appropriate time in October to see if the newly constituted board wants to expand the petition to include other areas,” Jones said.

Armor will spend time doing research and interviews and look at which elements seem to be in compliance with desegregation plans, according to Julie Thompson, spokesman for the state Education Department. She said his report would be given to the state Legislature, which authorized the hiring of a consultant and as much as $250,000 to reimburse school districts for legal fees in pursing unitary status.

TOP STORY >>Growth in Cabot at 25,000 by 2010

Leader senior staff writer

Cabot, already the largest town in Lonoke County, could have 25,000 residents by the regular 2010 census, according to Jonathan Lupton, a Metroplan urban planner.

“If I were a bettin’ man, based on Metroplan’s track record, they’ll hit it right on the head,” said Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams. “The housing slowdown is temporary. When interest rates slow down, the growth will continue. Forty percent of the base population lands here.”

Based upon regular census data, projections and the special November 2006 census, Cabot could have 25,290 residents by then. The town already has doubled in population since 1995, according to figures provided by Lupton.

The town has increased by an average of 1,003 people per year since 2000.

Meanwhile, Ward has applied to the Census Bureau for its own special census and is awaiting an official reply, according to Deborah Staley, Ward’s administrative assistant.

There are some indications that Ward now has nearly 4,450 residents, rather than the 2,580 found in the 2000 census. At about $60 a head in state turnback money, the difference in population could amount to about $112,000 a year, according to Mayor Art Brooke.

“Right now we have 2,580 people paying the way for about 4,000 or more,” the mayor said.

Using building permits and water customer records, the census bureau estimated in 2005 that Ward had 3,271 residents.
“We got a population estimate from Metroplan of about 3,489,” he said, “about a 35 percent growth rate.”

If his in-house estimate is correct, the population has pretty much doubled in seven years, the mayor said. Staley said the growth was attributable in part to the appeal of the Cabot School System. She said people liked having the big city amenities without the hassle of traffic and crime. She said much of new residents were young families. Brooke said development in the subdivisions continued unabated and that much of the appeal was the homes, which average only about $150,000.

Ward is a bedroom community from which people could easily commute to Conway, Cabot, Little Rock and Beebe.

If the special census verifies his estimates, Ward would surpass Lonoke to become the second largest town in Lonoke County.
Since the 2000 census, Cabot has grown an estimated 46 percent, Ward 35 percent, Austin 20 percent and the unincorporated communities 16 percent. Lonoke, the county seat, grew by just 3 percent and the county as a hole grew 22 percent from 52,828 to an estimated 64,470.

Carlisle grew by 1.5 percent, while England lost 9 percent of its population and the conglomeration of other small communities lost 3 percent.

Pulaski County grew 5 percent from 361,474 in 2000 to an estimated 378,491 in 2007, according to Metroplan analysis. Maumelle grew 48 percent, Wrightsville 18 percent and Sherwood 15 percent, while Jacksonville grew 5 percent from 29,916 in 2000 to an estimated 31,349 this year.

Migration to Lonoke County increased by 9,460 residents and grew by 38,938 in Pulaski County.

In the Central Arkansas area—now officially the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway Metropolitan area, the Median household income for 2005—the most recent available data—was $42,089, more than $4,000 a year less than the national average.

The median value of the owner occupied unit locally was $108,700, nearly $60,000 less than the median cost and value a home nationwide.

Perhaps because the houses cost less, sub-prime loans—high interest loans to marginal borrowers—in the Metropolitan area accounted for about 15 percent of mortgages, while nationally, sub-prime loans accounted for nearly one in five mortgages.
In area towns with populations greater than 5,000 in Lonoke, Pulaski, Saline and Faulkner counties, the number of single family housing permits issued in 2006 was 2,899, down from 3,412 in 2005. Single-family building permits in Cabot, which hit a high of 499 in 2004, declined to 387 in 2005 and rebounded to 416 for 2006. New starts in Jacksonville have increased every year since 1999, when there were 63 starts through 2005, when there were 186. In 2006, the number dropped to 126. Sherwood experienced a decline from 287 in 2004 to 259 in 2005 and 218 in 2006.

The multi-family housing permits in the metropolitan area, which are less consistent than single-family permits, saw only 969 units in 2006, down from 2,162 two years earlier. Of those 2006 permits, Cabot had 152, Jacksonville 34 and Sherwood four.

TOP STORY >>A 4-star general stars at events

Leader staff writer

Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz arrived Saturday at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History with a six-member security detail as a special guest at the 10th anniversary luncheon of the Eaker Chapter of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society.
The four-star general is commander of the Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The command manages air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense. He was accompanied by Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz, Little Rock Air Force Base commander.

Besides visiting the museum, Schwartz honored the DFCS members by attending their luncheon. A Flying Cross medal is awarded for actions a serviceman makes beyond normal duty during a flight. It can be an act of heroism or a rescue, said Gary George, a DFCS member who lives in Jacksonville.

“The people here today are pure Americana. These are the people who mustered the courage to do what was necessary,” Schwartz said about the DFCS members after the meeting.

After the luncheon, Schwartz spoke to the group about the importance of the Air Force transporting MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles to the Middle East. The vehicles have a v-shaped underside to deflect the explosions from mines and improvised explosive devices.

He mentioned the veterans hospitals are important to the servicemen in the military. “The VA is important in a huge way. If we don’t keep our contract (with the servicemen), there would not be a volunteer force.”

He added many of the VA hospitals in the nation, “have not been blessed with Fisher houses, similar to the Ronald McDonald houses.” The houses let family members stay near a serviceman during hospitalization. There are more Fisher houses to be built near the veterans hospitals in the future.

Schwartz was able to visit the museum and with the 22 DFCS members through the intervention of Schatz and the Air Force Base.

“We were aware the general was in town. It was serendipity, because he was here for the 60th anniversary ball, and it was the 10th anniversary of the DFCS. We asked Schatz to make it happen,” said retired Col. Bill Kehler, museum board member and DFCS member, “We also sweetened the pot with catfish from Grampa’s Catfish House, Gen. Schwartz’s favorite restaurant.”
Schwartz said it is important for children to know about history and to keep a place like the museum alive so kids can understand the past.

He attended the meeting with his wife, the former Suzie Ptak, who graduated from Jacksonville High School. Her parents Pat and Jerry reside in Jacksonville.

Earlier in Schwartz’s military career, he was stationed at the Little Rock Air Force Base. He was a student of C-130 qualification training in 1974 to 1975. Then from 1977 to 1979, he was a C-130 E and H flight examiner for the 61st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

“Jacksonville is a place where you can be comfortable, (where) people in uniform are respected,” Schwartz said.

George said, “Rick Ivbar, a chapter member who lives in Gravel Ridge, was the general’s loadmaster when they were stationed in Taiwan during the Vietnam War. The general was a captain at the time.”

Museum workers spoke highly of the general’s visit. “I thought it was fantastic that he took the time out of his busy schedule to visit the museum,” museum volunteer Pam Biernacki said.

She continued, “It was a privilege for him to show respect and to honor his predecessors, who served before him.”

“He was very personable. He was impressed with the museum and the extent of the contributions the ordinance plant had on Jacksonville,” said DannaKay Dugger, museum coordinator.

She added, “He was pleased with museum efforts on working with the Decatur Tuskegee Airman chapter to build a black military history exhibit.”

The Distinguished Flying Cross Society meets on the first Saturday of the month at the Flight Deck Restaurant at Central Flying Service at Little Rock National Airport.

Nationally, the DFCS has 5,000 members. The local chapter was founded in 1997 by Jim Farrar, with 13 members. The chapter has grown to 110 members, according to George.

TOP STORY >>Air Force celebration

Leader staff writer

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, III., received a warm welcome home Saturday night during the Air Force’s 60th anniversary ball at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.
Schwartz, who was guest speaker for the event, manages global air, land and sea transportation for the Pentagon.

A command pilot for 4,200 hours of flight hours, he served at Little Rock Air Force Base twice during his early career, from October 1974 to January 1975, as a student during C-130 initial qualification training and from December 1977 to October 1979 as a C-130E/H flight examiner with the 61st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

His wife, the former Suzie Ptak, is a Jacksonville native who graduated from Jacksonville High School.

Brigadier Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz Jr., commander of the 314th Airlift Wing and installation commander for LRAFB, introduced Schwartz.

Schwartz talked about community involvement and pointed out that LRAFB would not be where it is today without the support it’s received from community supporters.

“I see a lot of familiar faces out there and I sincerely hope you accept our thanks for all you do,” Schwartz said. “You, sitting out there tonight, are a textbook example of what an Air Force, Central Arkansas, Jacksonville, Lonoke community can do together. This is also what makes us feel at home.”

Those in attendance included Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim; Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams; Larry Wilson, chief executive officer of First Arkansas Bank and Trust; Arkansas Federal Credit Union president Larry Biernacke, along with their wives, as well as many other local executives, community and civic leaders, military personnel from all branches and many civilians.

Each person in attendance was there with one purpose — to show support for the Air Force’s local mission and its mission as a whole. Schwartz praised Jacksonville for raising $1 million to purchase the land for the air base.

“That set a standard back then,” Schwartz said. “Community involvement. Tonight we continue to follow in those community-involvement steps. Suzie and I salute you.”

He stressed the importance of air, space and land services coming together but he said that was not always the case.

“The Wright brothers had problems trying to get the contract for their flying machine and they failed the first few times but through persistence and community involvement they finally got the contract,” Schwartz said.

In the last 60 years, Schwartz noted that the country has seen a lot of new technology.

“My job lets Susie and me travel and we see it over and over again,” he said. “We cannot deploy and redeploy without civilian patrons who allow us to do it effectively. It takes all of us working together.”

With that Schwartz thanked the supporters for coming out to the ball and showing their support.

“Keep up the good work and keep working together to accomplish the same goal,” he said. “You support us to do our jobs. You are the good people who persuade and support those to do the good job. You enable us to serve and do what we can for you. We are all of a joint team. Continue in the fight, we are all essential to the success of the tasks before us.”

He said that in his current position, he knows all too well how important it is to work together.

Schwartz received a standing ovation from the crowd for his words of encouragement.

Capt. Anthony Cooper, chief of public affairs for Schwartz, later called Schwartz a very accomplished commander. Cooper, a Navy officer with TRANSCOM, the formal name of the organization — the United States Transportation Command which Schwartz commands — was at the ball to show his support to the commander, TRANSCOM and the Air Force.

“Responding to the needs of the Department of Defense’s war-fighting commanders is TRANSCOM’s number-one priority,” Cooper said. “This is what Schwartz does.”

Schwartz coordinates transportation worldwide using both military and commercial transportation resources.

USTRANSCOM is made up of the three military components which handle military transportation efforts across the world. These include the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, located at Scott AFB, the Navy’s Sealift Command in Washington and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command in Alexandria, Va.

Before being stationed at Scott, Schwartz traveled all over the world in his career with the Air Force.

After first being stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, he was stationed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines with the 776th and 21st Tactical Airlift Squadrons as a C-130E aircraft commander. He was there until October 1977 and re-stationed to Maxwell AFB in Alabama as a student in the squadron officer school until December 1977, when he was then assigned to the 61st Tactical Airlift Squadron at LRAFB as a C-130E/H flight examiner until October 1979.

From October 2002 to October 2004, he was director for operations for the Joint Staff in Washington, and from October 2004 – August 2005 he was director for the Joint Staff in Washington before being assigned in September 2005 as commander of U. S. Transportation Command, Scott AFB, Ill.

Monday, September 24, 2007

SPORTS >>Cabot dominates Conway

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers had little trouble getting their foot on Conway’s neck Friday night at Panther Stadium, but there was a little trouble finishing the kill. In the end, it was still a sound Cabot victory, as the Panthers came away with a 28-9 win over the rival Wampus Cats in the 7A-Central opener for both teams.

When Cabot fullback Michael James scampered 44 yards for a touchdown just one minute into the second quarter, it put the Panthers up by three touchdowns and Conway never really threatened to make a game of it.

“The defense did a pretty good job of keeping everything in front of them,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “The Jackson kid scared me every time he touched it. With him you just hold your breath. We did a good job containing him. When you run it sideways we have a chance. It’s when they tried to pop him up there through the middle that scared me most, but the defense did a good job.”

After stopping Conway and forcing a punt, Cabot was marching for a fourth score first-half score when a fumble at the Conway 9-yard line was picked up by Dustin Hopper and returned to Cabot’s 39-yard line, where the Wampus Cats took over with 2:55 left in the first half.

Two rushes and two passes got Conway a first down at the Cabot 9-yard line. A seven-yard reception by Isaiah Jackson made it second and goal at the 2, and an off-sides penalty offset a two-yard loss by Jackson to make it third and goal at the 2.

Cabot pushed Conway backwards from there. Quarterback Ryan Kotch tried a keeper to the left side, but was brought down by a host of Panthers for a three-yard loss. Out of timeouts and the clock ticking down to zero, Conway lined up quickly and got the snap off just in time. Kotch rolled left and hit tight end Chris Harris in the end zone, but Cabot’s Zach Coy jarred the ball loose with a big hit before Harris came down. That preserved Cabot’s lead heading into the lockeroom at 21-0.

Conway’s best drive of the game opened the second half, but even it needed some help from Cabot.

Facing third and seven at their own 48-yard line, Conway’s Kotch threw hastily under heavy pressure. His pass, intended for Jackson, was picked off by sophomore Joe Bryant at the 22 yards to the Conway 43. But the play was nullified by a penalty for roughing the passer, which also gave the Wampus Cats 15 yards and an automatic first down at the Cabot 37.

Seven plays later, Jackson ran up middle for the final six yards. The extra point made it 21-7 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

When Cabot finally got the ball back – Conway held it for the final three minutes of the first half and first eight of the second – it was back to business as usual. The Panthers plowed through the Conway defense for 67 yards on 11 plays. The big play of the drive was a 24-yard run by James on third and four. James also got the final carry, a five yarder that made it 28-7 with 10:34 left in the game.

Conway’s next drove got to the Cabot 25, but was taking too much time. Facing fourth and 15 from the Cabot 30, Kotch hit receiver Mike Askew, but for only eight yards. Cabot took over with five minutes left in the game, and gave Conway two more points.

A fumbled pitch lost 15 yards on third and seven. A high punt snap sailed out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 2:59 left.

Conway committed its first turnover on the first play of the next drive, and Cabot ran out the clock for the win.

Conway coach Kenny Smith was worried most about Cabot’s front line on offense, and his worries were realized last night.
“the difference in the whole deal is Cabot’s offensive line,” Smith said. “They have a tremendous offensive line. We knew that all week long. They did a fantastic job tonight. Defensively, they’re going to send 11 red helmets to the football. That’s coach (Randall) Black’s style, and they really were all over us in the first half. We made some adjustments in the second half and moved the football a little bit. But they’re a good football team. Their interior is just some big strong kids and they made the difference.”

Senior halfback Jordan Carlisle led the attack in the first half. He carried 11 times for 93 yards in the first two quarters, including one for a touchdown.

The Panthers took the ball to start the game and marched 79 yards in 13 plays to go up 7-0 with 6:43 left in the opening quarter. The key play of the drive was a fourth and three conversion. Sophomore quarterback Seth Bloomberg kept on an option for 10 yards to keep the drive alive.

Michael James got the final carry, the first of his three touchdowns in the game.

Cabot forced a three and out, then bulled its way 55 yards on nine plays to go up 14-0 with 1:16 left in the first.
The first seven plays covered 23 yards, the last two were 16 apiece by James, and then Carlisle for the touchdown.
After forcing a second three and out, Cabot wasted little time with what amounted to the kill shot. Spencery Neuman returned the punt to the Conway 47-yard line. Junior halfback Chris Bayles ran three yards, and James did the rest. He bounced off one tackler, put his hand on the ground, popped back up and outran the Conway defense the rest of the way for a 44-yard touchdown run. Kicker Steve Lamb hit the third of his four extra points to make it 21-0 with 10:59 left in the half.
Cabot finished with 312 total yards to 159 for Conway. Cabot had 246 total yards in the first half.

James led all rushers with 119 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Carlisle added 117 yards on 17 carries and one score.

The win lifts Cabot to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Conway dropped to 1-3 and 0-1.
The Panthers will travel to Catholic next week while Conway will host North Little Rock.

SPORTS >>Big plays lift Beebe to rout of Paragould

Leader sportswriter

The Paragould High School Rams knew that the Beebe Badgers liked to run the ball. They focused all week on stopping the run in practice. However, stopping the run in practice and doing it in the game are two different things. On Friday night, the Badgers ran all over the Rams in a 35-0 rout at Ram Stadium.

“We couldn’t get anything going offensively to give our defense a break,” Paragould coach Brian Carter said. “We’ve got to find a way to get first downs and we’ve got to find a way to move the football.”

The Rams are now 1-3, (0-1) as they were shut out for the first time this season. The Badgers did not throw one pass in the game as they moved to 4-0, (1-0).

After such a great performance last week against Trumann, running back Kelsey Reely was shut down for most of the game on Friday.

Reely did break off a big kickoff return for nearly 50 yards which put the Rams into good field position.

“We’ve got to find a way to be consistent. If we can do that, then sometime down the road we can be a good football team,” Carter said.

All week long, Carter talked about having to score when in the red zone. The Rams only reached the red zone once and were stuffed by the intense defense of Beebe.

“We couldn’t knock them off the football,” Carter said. “Right now, we are just not a very good offensive team. That’s my fault.”

The first Beebe score came on a one-yard run by Sammy Williams with 6:53 left in the first half. Roger Glaude added the point after to put the Badgers up 7-0, and the lead would only increase as the game continued.

It would be Kyle Williams that struck on the next two touchdowns in the second quarter. The first touchdown run would come at the 8:55 mark in the second quarter from five yards out, and the second one was a buzzer-beater from two-yards out with only 10 seconds left until the intermission. Glaude successfully converted both extra points to give the Badgers a 21-0 halftime lead.

Offensively the Rams looked sluggish against the tough Badger defense as they had problems moving the ball down the field. Nothing was consistent for the Rams, but junior quarterback Tyler Arnold did fairly well compared to the rest of the team. Arnold did throw two interceptions which killed the Rams momentum but Arnold looked good running the ball. Arnold had 10 carries for about 20 yards.

It would be the Williams and Williams connection for the Badgers again in the second half, but instead of nickel and dime runs, the duo opened up the field in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for the Rams.

Sammy struck early in the third with a 49-yard rumble with 10:22 left in the third quarter, and Kyle would set the final interval moments later on a 3-yard zip for the end zone at the 4:06 mark.

“We’ve got some weapons offensively, we just got to find a better way to move the football,” Carter said. 

Sammy Williams finished the game with 15 carries for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Luke Gardener had two carries for 74 yards, and Brandon Parcel had six carries for 72 yards.

The Badgers finished the game with 304 total yards of offense.

Defensively, the Badgers were dangerous as they caused two turnovers and held the Rams to very few yards of offense.
“They are the best defensive team we have seen by far,” Carter said. “They do a nice job, and they are faster than what we thought and that showed tonight.”

The Badgers are now 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the 54A-East Conference. They will host North Pulaski, a 39-13 winner over Greene County Tech on Friday, at Bro Erwin Stadium next week.

SPORTS >>It’s over, NP beats Tech

Leader sportswriter

Falcon Stadium had an electric buzz in the air on Friday night over homecoming 2007 for North Pulaski High School, but the real fireworks would not begin until the final gun sounded, when the Falcon faithful looked to the scoreboard and saw a result they had been waiting on for 32 games, their team on top 39-13 over Greene County Tech.

It was a long overdue and well-deserved win for North Pulaski, who relied on incredible kickoff returns of 82 yards and 80 yards respectively by junior Jerald Blair. Blair was the first Falcon to touch the ball in the contest, and did so dynamically with an 82-yard dash that tied the game at 7-7, and repeated that feat at the start of the second half to put the Falcons on top for the first time in the game at 14-13.

The North Pulaski defense moved backwards on the Eagles’ first possession, but they would give up very little from that point on, dominating the second half to take their first win in almost three years.

“It’s over!” North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon declared after the game. “It feels good for me, but it’s great for them. We stop one streak, and we start a new one now. So we’re going to get after it.”

The defense did solid work in the first half despite giving up a last-second touchdown pass for GCT to give the Eagles a 14-13 lead at the half, but they would shut Tech down altogether in the second half. The Falcons gained confidence with every succeeding play, and the NP crowd grew louder with every tick of the clock.

The final four North Pulaski scores went unanswered by the Eagles, giving the Falcons a winning conference record, and emotion that had not been felt on their own field in quite some time.

“I’ve got four seniors that have stuck with me through all of this,” Bohannon said. “But we only have nine total; the rest of them decided to go somewhere else. Well, they can go if they want to start all over again. I’ll take these kids here and this win anytime. This feels wonderful.”

Falcons senior running back Melvin Tenner made it obvious from the early moments of the game that he was not to be denied. Tenner had one first-down run in the first half in which he literally dragged six GCT linemen 24 yards down to the Tech 21-yard line. Tenner would end up missing a 26-yard field goal attempt moments later, but his statement to the GCT defenders on his brutal second-quarter runs straight at the Eagles’ line seemed to have a profound impact on their mindset in the second half.

Blair’s second run back of an Eagle kickoff for a score to start the second half gave the Falcons a charge, and Greene County Tech would never have momentum in the game again. The run only put North Pulaski up 14-13, but the enthusiasm on the sideline made it obvious that this game would not have the same result as the previous 32.

‘There’s no way to explain this in words, it’s just great,” Tenner said after the game. “If you think about it, we’re tied for first place in the conference. That’s a big step for North Pulaski football right there. We all came out here with a mindset tonight to just play a game like it’s fun. We work hard on the practice field, but we came out here tonight and did our thing and had fun.”

Tenner’s kickoff after the run back by Blair went about six yards deep in the end zone, giving the Eagles first and 10 at their own 20. They would drive all the way down to the Falcons’ 20, but the defense would step up again to deny Tech of a score. A 35-yard field goal attempt by Tripod was well short, and the Falcons would take over at their 20 with 8:06 left in the third quarter.

Blair’s highlights were not limited to kick returns. The junior all-purpose player also came away with the most impressive reception of the night. On third and 17 at their own 44, Falcons quarterback A.J. Allen threw to Blair on a slant, but GCT defender Trevor Deangelo stepped in front of Allen’s pass. The two went up, and while Deangelo had the ball in the air, it would be Blair that came down with it after picking it clean from Deangelo’s hands for 17-yard gain. Jeremy Flint would cap off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter to put the Falcons up 20-13.

What little life the Eagles had left was completely knocked out of them on their next drive, when cornerback Orlando Hicks swiped a Tripod pass at the NP 29-yard line. Hicks barely stayed in bounds on the interception catch, but dragged his foot just enough before the paint to get credit for the pick.

The first play of the final quarter would be the beginning of the end for the Eagles, as Tenner plowed his way 13 yards for only the second offensive touchdown for the offense at that point. That gave the Falcons a 26-13 lead, and the remaining 11:54 of the game would be all North Pulaski.

The next drive for Tech stalled out at midfield, and the Eagles would hand the ball over on downs. Tenner, who had been the workhorse all night while teammates performed dazzling feats all around him, put an exclamation point on the win with a perfect 32-yard halfback pass to Thurman for the final score of the game with 6:49 left to play.

One more interception by Blair added insult to injury for Tripod and the GCT offense, as the Falcons ran out the final 5:29 of the game.

Senior offensive guard Jimmy Mecalo was one of many Falcons overcome with emotion after the game. Even in the thrill of the big win, Mecalo was of the mindset that there were also Falcons on the field that could not be seen, as he referenced former teammate Chris Matthews, who parished in a tragic auto accident earlier this year.

“We get down, but we get back up,” Matthews said as he tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears. “I want to thank God and my friend Chris. I wish he were here with us. I felt like Chris was in my heart, and with the team helping us to victory.”

Tenner led the Falcons with 164 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also had one completion on one attempt for 32 yards and a touchdown. Blair had 265 yards of all-purpose offense, including two touchdowns. The Falcons finished with 332 total yards; compared to 224 for Tech. Tripod completed 8 of 18 pass attempts for 87 yards and one touchdown with four interceptions.

The Falcons are now 1-3 overall, and 1-0 in the 5A-East Conference. They will travel to Beebe next week to face the unbeaten Badgers, a 35-0 winner over Paragould last night.

EDITORIALS>>Still down and out

“Arkansas 8th in U.S. in growth of income” trumpeted the headline above the fold of the Friday edition of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. A few more such hopeful news items and Arkansas people may feel good about themselves even if the football Razorbacks continue to lose, notwithstanding the University of Arkansas chancellor’s formula for maintaining the self-esteem of Arkansas people. It hinges on winning Razorback teams, he said. Alas, people must not read the news too closely or critically. These headlines have been appearing with some regularity in the public prints for at least 50 years. The aggregate and per-capita rate of growth in personal income in Arkansas is greater than the national average and for short periods its growth percentage ranks among the highest in the United States.

There is a caveat: that word percentage. In the second quarter of the year, personal income in Arkansas grew by 1.6 percent, compared with only 1.2 percent for the nation as a whole. Every couple of years since the Commerce Department began publishing the income and gross domestic product figures by states, Arkansas newspapers have picked up on a higher growth rate for the state. The state Chamber of Commerce often forecast future parity with the rest of the nation as the trend continued.

In fact, rather than catching up, the state was often falling farther behind. If you start with a very low base even a small dollar increase in per-capita income from one year or quarter to the next can loom large compared with the growth in a state with a much higher base, like Connecticut, even though growth in the other state might have been more robust. The chamber finally caught on and no longer calls attention to the encouraging percentages.

Arkansas’s per-capita personal income is about 75 percent of the national average, slightly less than it was three years ago. Each year, Arkansas is either 47th or 48th among the states in per-capita income, just about where it was 50 years ago. Its per-capita income growth has exceeded the national average, percentagewise, most years since 1981. But Arkansas was about $2,500 behind the national average that year and now it is about $8,000 behind. So there is not much to cheer about, except that the agricultural sector is making a little more headway than in much of the country, accounting for much of the quarterly gain.

The chancellor may be right about us. We need the Razorbacks. Go Hogs. Beat Kentucky.

EDITORIALS>>An initiative we don't need

We are in for another season of pious ranting about homosexuals and cohabiting sinners. The last one was 2004, when Arkansas and several other states amended their constitutions to prohibit any sort of public recognition of homosexual relationships, either marriage or civil union, that might convey rights upon them like inheritance or hospital visitation.

The Arkansas Family Council filed a proposed initiated act this week that would prohibit cohabiting couples from adopting children or serving as foster parents. It will easily obtain the roughly 62,000 voter signatures to get the proposition on the 2008 ballot and everyone running for public office next year will have to declare his or her support for the proposition. The Family Council tries to have some social proposition dealing with gays or abortion on the ballot at each election. It provides a marvelous distraction from the issues of the day.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the first proposition earlier this month because the ballot title carried a preamble telling people why they should vote for the proposal: rearing kids in homes of unmarried people would lead to child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and poverty. The Supreme Court has ruled that ballot titles must be neutral, telling voters in the polling booth only what the act or amendment would do. The Family Council deleted the arguments and resubmitted it. That is indeed better, although the Supreme Court almost certainly would have tossed the proposition off the ballot next fall if McDaniel had let the illegal language stay.

Arkansas, like nearly all the other states, had no such restrictions on adoption or foster care until a state board imposed a ban on foster care in households inhabited by homosexual men or women. A trial judge and the Arkansas Supreme Court voided the requirement because it exceeded the board’s authority under Arkansas law. The legislature in its wisdom refused early this year to grant the board that authority or to impose the ban itself, so the Family Council rigged up an initiated act to do the job.

The Family Council underestimates the voters, who will recognize the meanness and danger of the proposition. The trial of the foster-care ban proved that children reared in homes where gays or lesbians resided were in no greater danger of abuse or emotional and mental problems than children reared in heterosexual settings.

More to the point, the number of neglected and abused children needing loving homes far exceeds their availability, and the state disserves these needy youngsters when it declares whole categories of parents off limits on some quasi-religious premise.

The proposal would strangely let unmarried or gay men and women adopt or house foster children as long as the parent didn’t share a bedroom with another adult. We will need a resolute band of bedroom police armed with warrants to monitor compliance if the proposition is enacted. It is too bad that in the year 2008 we must confront such a dismal prospect.

OBITUARIES >> 09-22-07

Maybell Neal

Maybell Bacus Neal, 86, of Beebe died Sept. 19.

She was born May 1, 1921, at Jacksonport to Jesse James Powell and Cora Bell House Powell.

She was the greatest mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and she had the biggest heart.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer Bacus; a daughter, Margaret Martin; a son, LeRoy Bacus; her parents and brothers, Bill and John Powell.

Survivors include a son, Elmer Carl Bacus, III of McRae; five daughters, Margie Stephens of Mt. Vernon, Norma Jean Foster and Christine Young of Beebe, Patricia Secrest and Lorine Bacus of Florida; two sisters, Effie Addington of Oregon and Lucille Addington of Oklahoma; 30 grandchildren, 66 great-grandchildren and 34 great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Beebe Cemetery.

Maudie Stringfellow

Maudie E. Stringfellow, 92, of Beebe went to be with the Lord Sept. 20.

She was born March 26, 1915, at Mountain Home to Andrew and Eller Grant Carson.

She is survived by one son, Don Whitman and wife Odette of Beebe; one stepson, Garry Whitman and wife Katherine of Blackwell, Okla.; one daughter, Linda Sellers and husband Ed of Vilonia; nine grandchildren, Tracy, Scott, Rex, Ronnie, Charles, Wayne, Patricia, Susan and Shelly; 21 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Plyna Doris of Cave City and Coy Foster of Norfolk.

Funeral will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Antioch Cemetery.

Raymond Johnson

Raymond Dale Johnson, 52, of North Little Rock departed this life on Sept. 7 to join his parents, Ella Jean and Raymond Johnson.  

He was born August 19, 1955 in Sparta, Wis.

He worked many years for Simpson Printing Company and Walkins Printing Company as a pressman.  He was a Baptist and a member of 47th Street Baptist Church, North Little Rock.  He was a husband, father, brother and friend and will be missed by all.

He is survived by his wife, Gail Lloyd Johnson; daughter, Tennille Cook and husbandPete; grandchildren, Gabrielle Clark and Lindsey Cook; sisters, Doris Hudson and husband Jack and Darlene Johnson; nephew, Kevin Hudson, and nieces, Kim Hudson and Karley Stoll; “special” brothers, David Sublett and Lynn Simpson; and “special” sister, Kathy Barber.

A memorial service will be held at the Shelby Smith Pavilion in Burn’s Park in North Little Rock on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 11 a.m.  with dear friend and neighbor Elder Eddie Mill officiating.  

This celebration is open to all friends and family.

 The family requests no flowers; however, a love offering may be given for Dale’s favorite tree, the dogwood at service.  
A special “thank you” to the nursing staff in the ER and ICU at Baptist Health-North Little Rock as well as Drs. Haley Shaw and Agustin Fernandez for his recent care and to Moore’s Funeral Home in Jacksonville for all their assistance.  

Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

James Graham

James Howard “Jimmy” Graham, 58, of Des Arc walked through Heaven’s gates early on Sept. 19.

He was born at home in Hickory Plains on Sept. 1, 1949.

He had been in a coma since suffering a brain aneurysm on April 15, 2006.

Graham was a member of Hickory Plains Missionary Baptist Church for 48 years where he served as a young adult Sunday school teacher. He was a co-founder and member of Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years.

He was serving as president at the time of his stroke. He was also an active member of other community organizations.
He graduated valedictorian of the Class of ’67 at D.A.H.S. He was a Vietnam veteran. He farmed with his dad and brothers all his life. He loved his family and church, and he also enjoyed hunting and fishing with his brother-in-law and best friend, Teddy Jones.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Leo and Juanita Graham.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Brenda Taylor Graham; two sons, Brad and wife Jennifer and Derek and wife Nikki Graham of Crossroads; one daughter, Tracy and husband Jon Ruelle of Jacksonville; eight grandchildren, Sydney, Heather, Trint, Tori, Austin, Lilly, Dylan and baby Abbigail; two brothers, Bobby and wife Mamie and Mickey and wife Vanessa Graham of Hickory Plains; two sisters, Anita and husband Jimmy VanHouten of Des Arc, Sandy and husband Chris Todd of Beebe; 17 nieces and nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

Funeral was Sept. 21 at Hickory Plains Missionary Baptist Church with Pastor Tony Crye and Hospice Chaplain, Brad Vaden officiating. Burial was in Hickory Plains Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 West 12th Street, Little Rock, Ark., 72204 or Hickory Plains Missionary Baptist Church, P.O. Box 405, Hickory Plains, Ark., 72066.

Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Louie Hill

Louie A. Hill, 97, of Beebe passed away Sept. 13 and went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

He was born Dec. 13, 1909, to the late Charlie and Sally Hill and lived all his life on Hwy. 64 west of Beebe.

He was a long-time member of Union Valley Baptist Church where he served as choir director for many years.

He was a farmer and a carpenter and retired from Allstate Trailer Co in Jacksonville after working there 30 years.
He also worked at the Jacksonville Ordnance plant during the Second World War.

After retirement, he spent much of his time helping neighbors and friends with household repairs and projects and also delivering the beautiful birthday, anniversary, and wedding cakes made by “Miss Roe”.

He lost his beloved wife of 69 years, Roberta Dale Hill, and son, Dalton Hill, in 2001. He was also preceded in death by two sisters and one brother.

He never met a stranger and will be remembered for his sharp wit, practical wisdom and strong faith. He always had a story, many of which were fondly referred to as “Lou-isms”. One favorite was when he talked about how times were so tough on Highway 64, if you wanted to rob someone, you had to do it on credit.

He looked forward to his heavenly reunion with “Roe and Dalt”.

Survivors include his daughter, Wanda Price and husband Ferrel; grandchildren, Barry Sproul and wife Tracy, Ronda Shelman and husband Larry, all of Benton, JeanBeth Hill and husband Charles Galloway of Little Rock, and Lt. Col. Eric Price and wife Judi of Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. and great-grandchildren,Bradley and Corey Shelman, Dylan and Conner Sproul, and Amelia, Ryan, Robert Price. He is also survived by his sister, Charlene Melland of Albion, Neb., along with many other relatives and friends.

Funeral services were held Sept. 16 at Union Valley Baptist Church in Beebe.

A graveside service followed at Stoney Point Cemetery in Beebe with arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.
Memorials can be made to Union Valley Baptist Church, 932 Hwy. 64 West, Beebe, Ark., 72012.

The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to the staff at Benton Health Care Center for their loving care of Mr. Lou.

Pappy enjoyed showing the ways of the farm to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they spent time with Granny and Pappy. We will miss you Pappy.

Helen Travis

Helen “Polly” Travis, of Lonoke passed away Sept. 19.

She was a member of Lonoke Methodist Church.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Norwood Travis; parents, Walter and Ethel Lewis; two brothers and three sisters.
Survivors include son, Charlie and wife Florence Travis; daughter, Pat Jones; one brother, Ed Lewis of Beaumont, Texas; four grandchildren, Lance Travis, DeeDee Travis, Teresa Routon, and Jeff Jones and five great-grandchildren. Funeral services were Sept. 21 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Jimmy Wallace officiating. Burial followed in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

TOP STORY >>Foreclosures hurt homebuyers here

Leader staff writer

Tired of having a landlord, Blake Barnes bought a house without concern that it could lead him to financial ruin.
Barnes bought a three-bedroom house in Cabot in 2005, when real estate was booming and mortgages were easy to get. No one at the real estate or mortgage agencies dissuaded Barnes, who was 21, from buying.

“I put down $200 for a $79,900 house,” he said, after aking one mortgage at 6.5 percent and another at 10 percent. “It was the only way they said they could get the house for me,” he said about taking out two mortgages. “I had an excellent credit rating and got the house for almost nothing down.” He initially paid $640, which he kept up until his monthly bills increased.
“My payments went up to $688, with utilities, truck payments and insurance, I got into a little bit of trouble. Payments started to slip,” he said.

After two years in the house, he is facing foreclosure.

Marshall Crawford of Neighbor-hood Works, a nonprofit created by Congress, said trillions of dollars in mortgages will reset by year’s end so homeowners who have been able to pay their mortgage bills until now may be at risk of missing house payments. “When you look at statistics for Arkansas, subprime rates are up and they will reset by the end of the year. Lenders focused here and were aggressive,” Crawford said.

Neighborhood Works provides funding and program training for organizations in Arkansas that help people facing foreclosure.

The state’s realtors are supporting government action to offset the loan crisis.

“Arkansas ranks 17th in the nation in foreclosure rates, so some home-owners in the Natural State may be relieved to know that help might be on the way,” said Ethan Nobles of Arkansas Realtors Association.

The real estate boom inspired mortgage financers like Countrywide Financial, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, to increase the number of subprime mortgages given to people considered high risk.
People with good credit are also defaulting on their mortgages according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
More than 5 percent of loans across the country were delinquent, up from last year. Delinquent loans do not include homes in foreclosure. MBA reports loans in foreclosure made up 1.4 percent of all outstanding loans this month.

With home sales down, real estate agents are wondering what will attract buyers. “In many instances, sellers will find themselves competing for buyers with other homes that are similar to the ones they own,” Nobles said.

On Aug. 31, the Federal Housing Administration presented a plan that Nobles said the National Association of Realtors “advocated a good number of changes outlined in the plan for the better part of the year.”

FHA claims the plan, called FHASecure, should help 240,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Realtytrac, an online company that lists nationwide foreclosures, has 650,000 houses listed in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure proceedings.

Families who qualify for the FHA plan must have strong credit histories and must have been making mortgage payments on time before their mortgages reset.

They must also have 3 percent cash or equity in the home, be employed and make enough money to make future mortgage payments. Homeowners who face foreclosure are also at risk of predatory lenders who promise to save them from losing their homes if they sign the titles to their homes over.

“With the foreclosure rate running at a record-setting pace, I can understand why many homeowners are willing to do anything or sign anything to keep from losing their homes,” Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said.  “At the same time, though, they should read the fine print, get advice from trustworthy professionals, and consider all their options before refinancing.”

McDaniel recommends reading loan documents to understand what the lender can do if payments are not made, working with the lender and contacting a financial counselor.

“I think I got in a hurry,” Barnes said about purchasing his home. “Look at all your options. Just because you think you can afford it, it doesn’t leave room for error,” he said.

The Family Service Agency offers free help to Arkansans in financial trouble. Visit their Webpage at or call 1-800-255-2227.

To find out about the FHA Secure program, call the Arkansas HUD office at 501-324-5931. Victims of foreclosure-recovery scams can contact the Public Protection Department of the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1-800-482-8982.

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville appeals ruling on annexation

Leader staff writer

The 2,000 acres of undeveloped land north of Sherwood and west of Jacksonville that Sherwood just annexed could still end up in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s City Council unanimously voted Monday to appeal to the state Supreme Court a circuit court decision that allowed Sherwood to annex the land.

Even though the court decided earlier this summer for Sherwood, the order was just recently filed. Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg said the city had 30 days from the date of filing to appeal, if the council desired. The council desired and gave Bamburg the approval to issue the appeal.

The undeveloped acreage is owned by four individuals or companies. The owners of the acreage—Greg Heslep, Byron McKimmey, Metropolitan Realty and Lilac LLC--volunteered to come into Sherwood in earlier 2006. The city accepted the voluntary petition, but Jacksonville objected.

The issue was directed to the Pulaski Quorum Court where County Judge Buddy Villines ruled in favor of Sherwood taking in the land. Jacksonville appealed again and the case went to circuit court where Sherwood won again.

The property owners told Circuit Court Judge Kilgore Collins that it was financially more beneficial to be part of Sherwood rather than Jacksonville.

Jacksonville leaders had invested millions of dollars in water lines and utility infrastructure in the area, always assuming that the land, which reaches up to the back side of Little Rock Air Force Base, would eventually become part of the city.

Jacksonville also has planning jurisdiction over the area, which includes complying with Air Force’s restrictions on commercial and residential growth in the area. The Air Force requires low density housing in the areas off its runaway as a safety precaution. Sherwood has said it would honor the development agreement with the military.

“We are just as interested in doing the right thing with the Air Force as Jacksonville has been,” said Bill Harmon, mayor of Sherwood at the time the circuit court ruling came down.

“The developers wanted to be in our city and we wanted them to be in the city and now they will,” Harmon said after the last ruling.

At that time, Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said, “It’s a disappointment to us. We did the things we needed to do to show that the land shouldn’t be annexed by Sherwood, but the judge ruled against us.”

The mayor added that Jacksonville had spent a lot of time, money and effort in preparing that area for the city’s future growth.

Jacksonville has argued in court that the land would be better served as part of Jacksonville, and that the city had utilities already in that area. Jacksonville also has plans to build a water tower on the 600-plus acres owned by Metropolitan Realty.

Jacksonville also felt that the Bayou Meto, which runs through the area, provided a natural boundary line between the two cities.

“We’ll just have to wait,” Swaim said Tuesday, “And see what the Supreme Court decides.”

TOP STORY >>Murder suspect is held in Cabot

Leader staff writer

Cabot police are working their first homicide in more than 16 years after the body of Kevin Wayne Bell, 39, was found in his South First Street home just before 10 p.m. Thursday.

According to Sgt. Dwayne Roper with the criminal investigations division, Bell had been shot five times with a 9-millimeter pistol.

A suspect with a long criminal record, Shawn Kelly Yielding, 36, also of Cabot and an acquaintance of Bell’s, is in custody at the Cabot Detention Facility. The murder weapon has yet to be found.

Yielding is charged with first-degree murder and has a $100,000 bond. He will appear in Lonoke County Circuit Court Tuesday.

This is not Yielding’s first run-in with the law. According to Roper, Yielding was found guilty of second-degree murder in June 2000 in White County and has also had a few misdemeanor charges over the years.

In August 1999, Yielding was arrested for stabbing and killing a man at a Searcy apartment complex after a verbal altercation over $20, the White County prosecuting attorney’s office said. He was initially charged with first-degree murder but plead down to the lesser charge.

He was sentenced to 12 years in the Department of Corrections and was out on parole, the prosecuting attorney’s office said.
The length of time Yielding actually served for that sentence was not known at press time.

During the initial investigation, police learned neighbors had seen a gold Buick leaving the neighborhood earlier in the evening.

“The wife knew the car and the suspect and gave us a few addresses to look at,” Roper said.

Forced entry had been gained into the home through the back door.

“It seems there was not a struggle but rather a surprise entry into the home,” Roper said.

Yielding’s wife called the police, saying he wanted to talk and peacefully turned himself in, but he remains silent on what occurred.

“He has not made a statement yet,” Roper said during a press conference Friday morning.

Bell was an auto paint and body worker and the father of four. His parents lived in Cabot years ago and his father, Jerry Bell, was a local pastor.

“We are investigating this to the fullest,” Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said. “We’ll do our very best to leave no stones unturned.”
“When things like this happen, we do our very best to investigate them and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Williams said.

TOP STORY >>Two die as driver goes wrong way

Leader staff writer

Two were killed and three were injured in a three-vehicle collision Thursday night north of Jacksonville when a woman drove onto the wrong side of the freeway reportedly somewhere in White County and ran head on into a pickup driven by members of a Texas church group on their way to northeast Arkansas where they were building a church.

Candace J. Hazlatt, 58, of 64 Stonewall Drive, Jacksonville, and Amanda K. Barfield, 32, 101 Jamie Drive, Whitehouse, Texas, were killed in the collision.

Barfield’s husband William, also 32 and, Bradley D. Jordon, 37, 201 Eastgate, Whitehouse, Texas, the driver of the pickup, were injured.

Jacqueline L. Harris, 47, 110 Dean Street, Searcy, a nursing instructor on her way home from late shift clinicals who was driving behind Jordon also was injured.

Seven of Harris’ students who were ahead of her on the freeway escaped injury, but the driver of one of the two cars they were in had to swerve off the road near Austin to avoid being hit head on.

State Police say it is not known why Hazlatt was driving south in the northbound lane on Hwy. 67-167.

Test results for alcohol and drugs will not be available for about a week.

Hazlatt’s husband George Hazlatt, said he was not aware of any medical condition that would have caused his wife to be unaware that she was driving on the wrong side of the road but that she did take several medications including Zanax, which is prescribed for anxiety.

The vehicles collided at 11:20 p.m. in the northbound lane near the liquor stores just outside Cabot in Pulaski County.

Nursing student Jesaca McCartney, of Beebe, said Hannah Plexico, the driver of the car she was riding in had time to move over and avoid hitting the car driven by Hazlatt.

“We moved over and she zoomed past us,” McCartney said. “We came within inches of being sideswiped because when we got over we were behind another car and the rear end was still over in the other lane a little. We called 911 and they were already aware of it.”

McCartney said the nursing students who were ahead of them in traffic were not injured when driver Sarah Peel was forced off the road. Nursing classes were canceled Friday at Harding University.

Brenda Westphall, secretary to the pastor of Southern Oaks Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, the church that Barfields and Jordan attended, said they had been helping build a church in Alicia, Arkansas for about six months.

Alicia is in Laurence County between Newport and Walnut Ridge.

The congregation had outgrown their small building so Southern Oaks members had volunteered to provide most of the labor to build a new one, Westphall said.

“This was their last trip. They took the steeple and doors,” she said. “There were 16 or 18 of them. About half were already up there and the rest were going up last night.”

In Whitehouse, where the Barfields and Jordon lived, City Manager Ronny Fate said the city court opened late to honor Amanda Barfield, who was the court clerk there.

“She was well-liked,” Fate said. “She was quite a gal.”

TOP STORY >>POW/MIAs recognized in ceremony held Friday

Leader staff writer

Airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base gathered Friday to honor a special group of patriots during a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony.

“We meet here today to honor those who once were bound and remember those that are still missing,” Chaplin Tony Wade said during the prayer. “As we honor their sacrifice, we renew our commitment to the Airmen Creed – ‘I will never leave an Airman behind.’ This is our creed, this is our commitment,” Wade said.

Former prisoners of war Silas B. Legrow, Audrey T. Harris, Thomas W. Bonds, Marion Morgan, Wayne Elliott and David O. Bowlan were honored for their sacrifices during the ceremony. All are Arkansas residents.

“Their presence here today is a testament to human perseverance and is proof positive that our government will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to repatriate every American prisoner of war,” Sr. Master Sgt. John Spillane, of the 29th Weapons Squadron and ceremony coordinator, said.

Friday’s ceremony on base, as well as others held throughout the country, was about honoring and remembering – remembering those captured and repatriated, and remembering those who have not yet returned.

“Currently there are more than 88,000 Americans remaining missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War,” Spillane said.

The six Arkansans honored Friday all returned home and epitomized the military code of conduct, a guide for the behavior of military members who are captured by hostile forces that was established in 1955 by President Dwight Eisenhower.

“They have demonstrated they have not forgotten that they are Americans. They have fought for the freedoms we enjoy every single day in our great country. They are responsible for their actions and dedicated to the principles that make our country free,” Spillane said.

Legrow, who lives in north Pulaski County, was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion in the Philippines. After four months of brutal fighting, no ammunition, with medicine running low and two days of rations left, his unit commander surrendered to the enemy to prevent an all-out slaughter.

After his capture he was forced to march to San Fernando, Pampanga, as part of the Bataan Death March. During the 10-day march without food or water, 1,500 prisoners died within the first 40 days, some from falling behind and 50 more died each day thereafter. Legrow was repatriated in August 1945.

Harris was sent to Korea in July 1950 where his unit was constantly engaged by North Korean forces. In January 1951, while on mobile patrol, his unit was ambushed by Chinese forces; 10 died and seven were captured. He was held at three different camps and was released in August 1953 after two years and seven months.

Bonds voluntarily joined the infantry in WWII and was a B-24 copilot. He was shot down and captured in Italy after flying 19 missions over enemy territory. He returned with honor at the end of the war.

Morgan joined the Army at 19 and spent a total of six years in Korea and 32 months as a POW. He wrote a book about his experiences called “Telling the Folks Back Home.”

Elliott was drafted into the Army at the age of 18.

In France in 1944, his unit lost communications with its commanding regiment and was engaged with enemy forces, quickly becoming outnumbered.

His units’ weapons became ineffective and eventually were no longer able to inflict damage upon the enemy. The unit could no longer resist.

After their capture, he and his unit endured an 11-day forced march through the snow to a Stalag POW camp. He was repatriated in May 1945.

Bowlan was an Army Air Corp engineer and top-turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator.

On May 10, 1944, while flying his 25th mission over enemy territory, his aircraft was shot down.

He suffered burns and was captured and hospitalized for two months and eventually transferred to POW camp Stalag Luft Four.

In February 1945, all prisoners who could walk set off to the west on the Black March. He and 6,000 other American and British airmen marched more than 600 miles in 87 days.

He was repatriated April 16, 1945 and later wrote “I was a guest of the Germans for 342 days.”

Base commander Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne Schatz felt truly inspired Friday by the honored POWs.

“What I feel most today is inspiration. To be amongst our guests today is truly inspiring, we are in debt of gratitude for your services,” Schatz said. “I for one hope to God if I were ever in that situation that I came back as honorably as all of you have,” he told those honored.

To pay tribute to those who could not be there with them, a table set for five was reserved to honor Americans still missing from each of the five services — Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

On the round table, which recognized the everlasting concern for those missing, was a white tablecloth symbolizing the purity of motives when answering the call of duty; a single red rose representing the loved ones who have kept the faith as they await their return and answers; a vase tied with a yellow ribbon symbolizing the nation’s continued determination to look for the missing; a slice of lemon on each plate to remind all of the bitter fate of those captured and missing on a foreign land; a pinch of salt for tears for those missing and the families that seek answers; inverted glasses and empty chairs to remind everyone that those missing are not in attendance.