Friday, November 30, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Who’s biggest tax raiser?

Ernie Dumas writes: Mike Huckabee raised more taxes in 10 years in office than Bill Clinton did in his 12 years.
Clinton tax increases

- Increased the general sales tax from 3 percent to 4 per- cent (Act 63 of special session of 1983)

- Increased sales tax by half of 1 percent and extended the tax to used vehicles (Act 3 of 1991)

- Increased the corporate income tax from 6 to 6.5 percent for corporations with net incomes greater than $100,000 (Act 1052 of 1991)

- Levied a 16 percent tax on snuff (yes, there are a few people who still dip snuff) (Act 628 of 1987)

- Levied a 25-cent tax on each pack of cigarette papers (yes, there are people who still roll their own) (Act 1045 of 1987)

- Increased the cigarette tax from 17.75 cents a pack to 21 cents a pack (Act 399 of 1983)

- Increased the cigarette tax by a penny a pack (Act 1211 of 1991)

- Levied a 2 percent tax on certain tourism items like admission to theme parks (Act 38 of 1989)

- Increased excise taxes on mixed drinks sold for on-premises consumption (not wine or beer) (Act 844 of 1983 and Act 908 of 1989)

- Increased motor fuel taxes by 1 cent a gallon (1979)

- Increased motor fuel taxes by 4 cents a gallon (Act 456 of 1985) (Clinton vetoed the bill but the legislature overrode his veto.)

- Increased the tax on motor fuels by 5 cents a gallon

- Increased motor vehicle registration fees, 1979 (subsequently repealed)
Huckabee tax increases

- Imposed an income tax surcharge of 3 percent on tax liabilities of individuals and domestic and foreign corporations (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003). (It was temporary until revenues improved. The legislature repealed it in 2005.)

- Increased the sales tax by 1/8 of one percent by initiated act (but it was a personal campaign by Huckabee, who campaigned across the state for it and took a celebrated bass boat trip for 4 days down the Arkansas River holding press conferences in each river city to urge passage of the act)

- Increased the sales tax by one-half of 1 percent (Act 1492 of 1999)

- Increased the sales tax by 7/8ths of 1 percent and expand the sales tax to many services previously exempt from the tax (Act 107, 2nd special session of 2003)

- Collected a 2 percent tax on chewing tobacco, cigars, package tobacco, cigarette papers and snuff (Act 434 of 1997)

- Levied an additional excise tax of 7 percent on tobacco (Act 38 of 1st special session of 2003)

- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco permits (Act 1337 of 1997)

- Increased the tax on cigarette and tobacco – cigarettes by $1.25 per thousand cigarettes and 2 percent of the manufacturers’ selling price on tobacco products (Act 434 of 1997)

- Increased the tax on cigarettes by 25 cents a pack (Act 38, 1st special session of 2003)

- Levied a 3 percent excise tax on all retail sales of beer (Act 1841 of 2001 and extended by Act 272 of 2003 and Act 2188 of 2005)

- Revived the 4 percent mixed drink tax of 1989 and added a 4 percent tax on private clubs (Act 1274 of 2005)

- Increased the tax on gasoline by 3 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999)

- Increased the tax on diesel by 4 cents a gallon (Act 1028 of 1999) Note: Contrary to what Huckabee has said repeatedly in debates, speeches and TV shows, the 1999 gasoline and diesel taxes were not submitted to the voters and approved by 80 per cent of them. It was never submitted to a vote. It was the governor’s bill and it became law without a vote of the people. What the voters did approve in 1999 was a bond issue for interstate highway reconstruction but it did not involve a tax increase. Existing taxes and federal receipts were pledged to retire the bonds.

- Increased the driver’s license by $6 a person, from $14 to $20 (Act 1500 of 2001)
So which raised taxes more? It is hard to quantify. If you measured the increases in the revenue stream, the Huckabee tax cuts far exceeded Clinton’s but that would be unfair because the economy had grown and the same penny of tax would produce far more under Huckabee.

But if you look at the major taxes, I see the aggregate Huckabee taxes as greater, especially if you deduct the 4 cent gasoline and diesel taxes that Clinton vetoed in 1985 and that the legislature enacted over his veto.

Anyway, the sales tax is the big revenue producer. Both raised it by 1.5 cents on the dollar and both expanded it to cover a myriad of services. Clinton raised motor fuel taxes a little more, Huckabee cigarette taxes a lot more.

A further note: Huckabee claims credit for a major tax cut in 1997, saying it was the first tax cut in Arkansas history (there had been many prior to that) and that he forced the Democratic legislature to curtail its impulse to always raise taxes.

The facts: The omnibus income tax cut bill of 1997 was proposed by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker in the spring of 1996. It had multiple (7) features, all aimed at relief for middle-class families or the elderly. He asked interim legislative committees to expand on his plan. Tucker then resigned before the legislature convened after his conviction on Whitewater-related charges, and Huckabee took office.

At the legislative session that followed, the Democratic caucus of the House (88 of the 100 members) made the Tucker tax cuts its chief program. The bill was introduced with 83 sponsors (all Democrats) and all Democrats voted for it. It was unopposed. Huckabee’s tax cut was to give each taxpayer a check for $25 each fall, saying it would help offset the burden of sales taxes on groceries (the repeal of which he repeatedly opposed). The legislature rejected Huckabee’s plan and passed the Tucker bill. Huckabee signed it into law.

The 94 tax cuts that he said he fathered are similarly misleading. The vast majority of those were the usual exemptions and modifications of various taxes and fees that the legislature enacts every time it meets. They were not a part of Huckabee’s program with a few exceptions. Rather, Democratic legislators sponsored them, usually at the behest of whatever special interest benefited, and Huckabee signed them when they hit his desk. If you did a similar summary of Clinton’s years he could claim probably well over 100 tax cuts. Every Arkansas governor since World War II could claim dozens each.

If you counted all the tax benefits extended to corporations under the incentives enacted by the legislature under Clinton — and they were part of his programs, especially in 1983, 1985 and 1989 — the tax cuts would dwarf those under Huckabee.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SPORTS >>Trojans take over late, beat Lonoke

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Jackrabbits were looking to hand Hot Springs its first loss of the season Monday night during the first round of the Searcy Bank Classic basketball tournament at SHS, but instead suffered their first setback of the year with a 55-50 loss to the Trojans after controlling the tempo for most of the first half. The Trojans came out stronger for the second half, and took over by the 4:03 mark with strong play off the bench from Cainan Jordan after junior forward Frank Lewis put Hot Springs in position with a three-point shot to start the third quarter.

Lonoke went into the final eight minutes trailing 36-32, and could not make up the difference despite a three pointer from junior Clarence Harris that tied the game at 41-41 with 3:51 remaining. Lewis answered for the Trojans with four straight points to make it 45-41 by the 2:34 mark.

The brief outside shooting spree by Lonoke continued with a three-point shot by senior guard Bradley Spencer to make it a one-point game at 45-44. Hot Springs went strictly inside for the final minute of play, and the move paid off with 10 points, compared to only six points for the Jackrabbits, three of which did not come until the final three seconds.

“We needed to be a lot tougher than we were,” Lonoke coach Wes Swift said after the game. “We gave up loose balls, offensive rebounds, you name it. All of their shots came in the paint in the final quarter. We think we’re going to be a better outside shooting team than what we’ve been in the past, but we have to learn to go into the post on the pass when the outside shots are not there, and we didn’t do that. When we did, we got in too big of a hurry. We’re not going to panic, we’re just going to get better.”

Lonoke controlled the boards and the tempo for the most part in the first quarter. The Trojans struggled to match the Jackrabbits’ speed, allowing Lonoke to jump out to a 12-5 lead before Hot Springs rallied in the final moments of the opening frame to tie the game at 12-12 heading into the second period.

Harris hit his first shot behind the arc to start the second quarter to put the Jackrabbits up 15-2. Junior post Jordan Lambert added to that lead with a basket in the paint before a jumper by Hot Springs’ Alex Melton cut it back to a three-point game.
Lewis pulled the Trojans to within a point with a pair of free throws at the 4:45 mark. That maed the score 17-16, but Tony Jackson put up another three for the ‘Rabbits that was followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Spencer. Spencer drew the foul on the lay up, and put the free throw in afterward to give Lonoke a 23-16 lead with 2:44 left in the third quarter.

The Trojans needed a momentum shifter to stay in the game, and would find it on the defensive side of the ball in the final three minutes of the first half. Spencer’s three points from the shot and foul were the final of the first half for the Jackrabbits, but Hot Springs was able to add four more to its totals before the intermission. Willie Isadore added two of those with a pair of free throws at the 2:05 mark, and Jonathon Seymour broke a scoreless drought of almost two minutes by both teams with a jumper in the paint to set the half time score at 23-20.

Improved defense for the Trojans changed the game’s dynamic in third quarter. The easy drives and looks inside by Lonoke were sealed off by the HS defense, forcing a number of rushed and off-balance shots by the Jackrabbits that allowed the Trojans to take the momentum.

Spencer led the Jackrabbits with 26 points. Harris added 10 points for Lonoke. For Hot Springs, Lewis led with 14 points and Isadore added 12 points. The Jackrabbits are now 1-1 on the season, and will take on Batesville/Searcy Thursday afternoon in the opening consolation bracket. The Trojans impove to 2-0, and will take on Searcy/Batesville in the semifinals Thursday night.

SPORTS >>Searcy loses in double OT to Batesville

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Lions came close to avenging their only loss of the early season Monday night while hosting the opening round of the Searcy Bank Classic, but a free throw by Batesville’s Thomas Showalter with five seconds left to play in the second overtime broke a 52-52 tie, and secured the win for the Pioneers in a physical and spirited game that was close from the opening tip on.

Batesville senior Brandon Owens had a chance to end things for the Pioneers during regulation, but his reverse layup attempt that had been solid on two other drives fell short, forcing extra quarters. The regulation-ending trip by Batesville was set up by a 35-foot three-point attempt by Lions senior guard Brandon Coleman that hit nothing, including net, with 28 seconds remaining. A successful three pointer by Detrick Nelson with nine seconds left in the first overtime brought the Lions back from a 50-47 deficit to set up the second OT.

The second overtime went scoreless until the 1:12 mark, when Zack Harrison drove in the paint for two to give Batesville a 52-50 lead. Nelson answered right back for Searcy with a basket to tie, setting up another last-second duel for the win.

Searcy’s chance to steal the win came on the ensuing Pioneers’ possession. Senior guard Logan English picked a Batesville pass and got it out to Nelson, but his shot off the glass wouldn’t fall. Showalter pulled down the board for Batesville, and drew a foul from Nelson to set up the game-winning trip to the stripe.

The Lions took the early lead in the first quarter off three straight goals in the final 3:15 seconds, including a three pointer by English that gave Searcy what would turn out to be the largest lead of the night by either team at 13-6. Batesville answered in the final 32 seconds with a backdoor shot by Harrison, followed by an inside jumper by Showalter to send the Pioneers into the second quarter trailing by two at 13-11.

The equality of the two squads really began to show itself in the second quarter. Two straight baskets by Erick Oyemaja to start out the frame put the Pioneers on top for the first time all night at 15-13, but a free throw by Aaron Coleman cut the already narrow lead in half for the Lions at the 5:39 mark.

A put-back by Jordan Evans also drew a foul, and Evans swished the free throw to put the Lions back into the lead at 17-15. Evans repeated the same shot moments later to give Searcy a 19-15 lead before a three pointer from Eric Watson cut the deficit back to one for Batesville.

The officials acknowledged the extreme physicality on the next Searcy possession when they called a double foul on Searcy’s Nathan Williams and Batesville’s Showalter. Williams scored on a reverse lay up at the 2:26 mark to tie the score at 22-22, but the contact exchanged by the two on the way to the basket was not to the officials liking, and the foul totals for both teams increased simultaneously.

The Pioneers hit the final two baskets of the half to take a 29-26 lead at halftime, but the combined efforts of Evans and Williams in the third quarter put the Lions back out front 36-35 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation. Searcy led most of the fourth quarter, but a lay up by Owens at the 1:01 mark tied the game at 45-45 before Aaron Coleman’s hasty shot sent the game into overtime.

Evans led the Lions with 16 points while Larry Kilpatrick, Nathan Williams, English and Nelson all finished with seven points each. For Batesville, Harrison led with 16 points, while Ashton Sledge added 12 points, and Showalter finished with nine points, seven of which came from the free throw line. The Lions fell to 2-2 with the loss, with both losses coming at the hands of Batesville. The Pioneers stayed perfect with a 3-0 record, and advanced to the semifinal round where they will face Hot Springs Thursday night. The Lions moved to the consolation bracket with the loss, and will play Lonoke Thursday afternoon.

SPORTS >>Falcons topple Devils

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski boys were dialed in from the start, and called out Jacksonville in the second quarter en route to an 80-76 victory over arch-nemesis Jacksonville Tuesday at NPHS. The Falcons carried a 16-point advantage into halftime, which turned out to be just enough to hold off a 33-point Red Devil surge in the fourth quarter to earn the victory. The Falcons hit 15 of 17 free-throw attempts in the final period to counter Jacksonville’s offensive explosion.

North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper credited his team’s composure and willingness to stick to the game plan for the victory.

“They were focused on what it was we had planned to do, and they stuck with it,” Cooper said. “We knew Jacksonville was coming. They always have a run that they’re going to put on you. When that came, we took a shot. I’m using fighting terminology here, but they had us wobbled. And when you’re wobbled, you throw haymakers.”

North Pulaski’s haymakers came in the form of huge three pointers by Cliff Harrison and Kyron Ware that erased much of the ground Jacksonville had gained.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner believes North Pulaski simply wanted to win more than his team.

“it was obvious,” Joyner said. “They got every loose ball. They out-rebounded us and they don’t have anybody on that team that can play above the time we can. They’re young, but they have a bunch of kids that have been in wars together. This team hasn’t and we’re not competitive all the time. We looked up and saw we were down, and we started playing in the fourth quarter, but we shouldn’t have been in that situation. That’s the same way we practice. Until we get someone on this team that’s going to take some intitative, recognize when we need to pick it up and be a leader, this is going to keep happening.”

The two teams took a while to get going offensively, and both got hot at the end of the first quarter. The period ended with the Falcons leading 13-12, but it was all North Pulaski in the second quarter.

The Falcons started the period on a 6-0 run sparked by two transition layups by Cooper. Another bucket in traffic by Ridge Williams turned a 13-12 lead into a 19-12 advantage with 5:56 left in the half.

Jacksonville’s Cortrell Eskridge broke the run with two free throws, but it was only a temporary pause in the NP blitz.
Kyron Ware nailed a three pointer with 3:40 to make it 26-17 and that set off a 12-1 Falcon run.

Miles made another free throw to make it 26-18, and NP scored the next nine straight points.

Daquan Bryant made it a 10-point game with an offensive rebound and stickback. After an Appleby missed three, Ware made two free throws. Miles then missed a three on Jacksonville’s end Bryant got another putback to make it 32-18. After another fruitless trip downthe floor for the Red Devils, Williams got the rebound, sent the outlet pass to Jo Agee, who then found Williams trailing the action for a three pointer to give NP its biggest lead of the game at 35-18 and force a Jacksonville timeout with 1:57 left in the half.

The action settled down from that point with both teams in the double bonus, and the two teams went into intermission with NP leading 39-23.

Jacksonville made a run to start the third quarter, but the two three pointers pushed NP back out to a 13-point margin at the 2:22 mark of the period. Jacksonville’s final bucket was the closest the game had been since early in the second quarter.

Aaron Cooper led all scorers with 25 points, including 15 of 15 shooting from the foul line.

Ridge Williams turned in a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards, while Harrison also contributed 15. Ware added 11 for the Falcons while DaQuan Bryant scored eight.

LaQuentin Miles led Jacksonville with 18 points while Terrell Eskridge and DeShone McClure scored 16 apiece. Antwan Lockhart added 11 for the Red Devils.

The two teams will meet again next Tuesday, this time in the Devils’ Den at Jacksonville High.

EDITORIALS>>Huck flip flops

It is hard to say whether Mike Huckabee is betrayed more often by his memory or his principles. Running for president, at any rate, is hectic and may just stretch our former governor’s capacity.

Huckabee has told many untruths about his record and his past stands during the course of the long campaign for the Republican presidential nomination but one of the strangest occurred in Iowa the other day. A big part of his campaign in that state where evangelical conservatives predominate in the Republican Party has been his staunch and unrelenting opposition to abortion. While most of his Republican opponents have shifted around on the issue over the years, he has been steadfast always. He is running new ads in Iowa this week driving home that point.

A week earlier, he had attacked Fred Thompson, the former senator who once did a little lobbying for a pro-choice outfit, for espousing the idea that a national constitutional amendment outlawing all abortions was wrong. Thompson said it was an issue that ought to be left up to the individual states, a traditionally conservative stance on any issue going back to John C. Calhoun.

Huckabee said it was preposterous to say that such a deep moral issue should be left up to the states. If abortion is immoral in one state it is immoral in all of them, he said. He was “shocked” at Thompson’s stance. He claimed that he had always believed in a federal ban on abortions.

But a short time earlier Huckabee had sat down with the conservative essayist John Hawkins for a long conversation about the issues. He was asked about abortion. Huckabee said the legality of abortion should not be settled at the national level but should be left up to the states. This is the direct quote from the transcript, which until recently you could access on the Huckabee presidential campaign website:

“I’ve never felt that it was a legitimate manner in which to address this and, first of all, it should be left to the states, the 10th Amendment. . .” The 10th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution is the states-rights doctrine.

If many of these mispronouncements get circulated around Iowa it could hurt Huckabee in the caucuses Jan. 3. His secret is safe with us. We do not circulate in the Hawkeye state.

EDITORIALS>>New coach, same results

Nothing is more earthshaking in these latitudes than a change in head football coaches at the state university, and after a full year of turmoil and recriminations Arkansans woke up yesterday to find that they do not have Houston Nutt to kick around anymore. The head coach of the football Razorbacks for 10 years is headed to the University of Mississippi.

We find ourselves philosophical about the development knowing that the Nutt family will not be in distress — he landed a contract for $9.5 million at Ole Miss — but we know that for most people his leaving evinces either pain or joy. Nutt and university officials insisted that he left entirely of his own accord but it is more likely that the story was polite consideration to preserve his marketability. The chancellor, John White, does not have a perfect record of candor in these matters.

Every Razorback coach is controversial but Nutt raised it to new heights. It was not altogether of his own doing.

Midseason last year, a book came out that quoted the star freshman quarterback of the Razorbacks as repeatedly ridiculing Nutt while he was a senior at Springdale High School and being recruited by Nutt and every major school in the country. It cast a pall over the team, although Nutt said he didn’t mind the gibes. But then the young man was benched, the Hogs lost three straight and the recriminations began. The coach had too-eager friends. One sent nasty emails to the sports editor of the statewide newspaper and another to the quarterback calling him names and saying that he ought to pack up and leave.

He promptly left for the University of Southern California, along with the star freshman wide receiver. The offensive coordinator, the two players’ old high school coach, quit and went to the University of Tulsa.

Losing the first three conference games to lower-ranked opponents this fall did not help, but the Freedom of Information Act was Nutt’s undoing. FOI requests turned up a thousand text messages between Nutt’s state-supplied phone and a television reporter and a mean email, apparently from Nutt’s wife on his account, wishing harm to the quarterback’s mother. The man could have done with less ardent friends and family, but he and his bosses at the university did handle the situation badly.

Nutt by any measure was not a great coach, but he was pretty good and better than what the program had had for a dozen previous years. He took the team to two division championships and consistently to bowls. His record in the Southeastern Conference was barely above .500 — 42 to 38 — but in the toughest conference in the country that ain’t too bad. Arkansas has had only one demonstrably great coach in a major sport — Nolan Richardson — but fired him after a mediocre season and a crabby remark.

If it wants to hire a proven great coach, the university will have to pay even more than the unseemly fortune that it was paying Houston Nutt and the rest of the athletic department. It probably will pay more but be prepared to be philosophical when the results are no better or much worse.

EVENTS>> Fall 2007

Pancake breakfast set for local Lions Club

The Jacksonville Lions Club will have its fall pancake breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m. at the Jacksonville Boys Middle School cafeteria.

Businesses may buy packages of 22 or 11 tickets for $100 or $50 or individuals may purchase tickets for $5 for adults and $3 for children.

This is a popular fundraising event for the Lions and proceeds go to help the visually impaired or to local projects for the elderly and children. All the money raised goes back into the community.

Following the breakfast, the club will have its annual Golf Ball Drop at Dupree Park. To purchase tickets, call 982-2175.


Community Bank grilling hamburgers, hotdogs

Community Bank will be grilling hamburgers and Petit Jean hotdogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Hwy. 64 to welcome its three newest employees Brad Jordan, Stephanie Ungerank and John Wooten. The bank invites you to stop by, grab some lunch and welcome the newest team members to Beebe.


Sherwood police group to meet Tuesday

The Sherwood Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (SCPAAA) brings Sherwood citizens police academy graduates together to promote and enhance community relations between the Sherwood Police Department and Sherwood citizens in all phases of law enforcement.  

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sherwood Council Chambers on Kiehl Avenue. When business is concluded, we will have potluck — good food, fellowship, and a fun time.

Beginning in December meetings will be held on the first Tuesday of each month at the Sherwood council chambers at the municipal complex building that houses the Sherwood Police Department on Kiehl Avenue.

The group’s Website is www.freewebs.com. For more information, call 519-4339. 


Ward Animal Shelter to hold annual chili cook-off

The Ward Animal Shelter will hold its third annual chili cook-off at 5 p.m. Dec. 1, following the city’s Christmas parade and tree lighting.

Area businesses and citizens will have a pot of their secret recipe chili available to be judged by the public. The top three competitors will receive trophies.

The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under.

Everyone is invited to come out and join the shelter for a night of fun, complete with a cake walk, silent auction, pictures with Santa, coloring contest and Aunt Blueberry the clown.

All proceeds will go to the Ward Animal Shelter for its various needs.

For more information, call Lola or Aleks at 501-843-2271.


Church offering free pictures with Santa Dec. 9

Landmark Baptist Church at 1701 General Samuels Road in Jacksonville is offering free pictures with Santa from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9.


Sherwood’s Festival of Lights and tree auction set

Sherwood’s third annual Festival of Lights and auction will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday at the Bill Harmon Recreation Center, 51 Shelby Road in Sherwood. For more information, call the center at 501-835-6893.

Local businesses have donated beautifully-decorated artificial Christmas trees for a silent auction. This is a way to purchase the perfect tree without battling holiday crowds.

Proceeds generated by the auction are divided between Sherwood’s four elementary schools.

The trees may be viewed beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m. and on the following days during normal business hours. Bidding begins at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Saturday.


Christmas lighting in Cabot this Saturday

The public is invited to attend Cabot’s Christmas Lights Extravaganza at 6 p.m. Saturday in front of City Hall. The city encourages downtown shoppers to watch Christmas carolers and the arrival of Santa during the annual ceremony.

Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras to take pictures with Santa. There will be drawings for prizes from local businesses and Santa will flip the switch and light up downtown Cabot. Families are sure to enjoy a walk through the Christmas Wonderland.

For more information, contact Karen Davis at 843-3566.


Cabot’s Santa Shack is open at local Wal-Mart

Cabot City Beautiful’s 11th annual Santa Shack is now open at Cabot Wal-Mart. Children are able to see Santa Claus and tell him what they’d like him to bring them for Christmas.

There are free candy canes and photos available.

Santa is on site to visit with kids from 6 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m.; also noon to 2 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. On Sundays the jolly old fellow will be at Santa Shack from 1 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
Santa will be available until Saturday, Dec. 23. Proceeds will go to Cabot City Beautiful’s community projects.


Annual Christmas for CASA event slated Saturday

The third annual Christmas for CASA event, hosted by CASA of Lonoke County, Inc., will be held Saturday at Marlsgate Plantation in Scott.

The event begins at 11 a.m. Admission, lunch, entertainment and tour will be provided for $50 per person. Space is limited.
For reservations, call 501-676-6533.

Reservations are confirmed with payment on a first-come, first-reserved basis.

OBITUARIES >> 11-28-07

Margaret Bolls

Margaret Skipper Bolls, 87, of Carlisle went to be with her Lord Nov. 26.

She was born June 12, 1920 in Morrilton, the daughter of Ira N. Skipper and Goldie Tucker Skipper of Tucker Mountain.
The Skipper family moved to a farm near England, where she graduated from England High School in 1938.

She was married in 1940 to Charles Bolls and together they had six children. She was a life-long Methodist and a member of the Carlisle First United Methodist Church. She was a past owner and administrator of Golden Years Manor in Lonoke, member and past president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club and member of the Progressive Club of Carlisle and the United Methodist Women.

She was also an associate member of the Carlisle High School Alumni Association. She loved being with her family, spending many happy moments involved in their activities, attending parties and events and spending time “on the farm” with her grandchildren. Over the years, she traveled extensively with both her children and grandchildren.

The “little ones” were her pride and joy and always brought a smile to her face in her final days.

Her lessons for those who loved her were those of compassion, tolerance and love for others.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a son, Charles Clayton Bolls; a daughter, Rebecca Jaine Bolls Sage; two brothers, Nevelle Skipper and H.C. Skipper; and two sisters, Opal Skipper Haley and Catherine Skipper Hicks.

She is survived by one sister, Beatrice Skipper Thurman and husband Lester from Mountain View; four daughters, Betty Peters and husband Johnny of Jacksonville, Peggy Bailey and husband Tuney of Little Rock, Judy Henry and husband Gerald of Hot Springs, and Nancy Rollins and husband Thomas of Cabot; 13 grandchildren, Wendy Faught of Conway, Viki Vinson of Beebe, Stuart Sage of Carlisle, Billy Stephenson of Lonoke, Tucker Clyburn of Little Rock, John Sage of Fayetteville, Lindsey Clyburn of Cabot, Jason Sage of San Francisco, Calif., Wilbur Owen of Conway, Amy Rollins and Amanda Kincade, both of Cabot, Janna White of Berkley, Calif., and Julie Pelino of Shanghai, China; 20 great-grandchildren; Crystal Holland, Karac Howington, Wesley and Spencer Vinson, Mackenzie Clyburn, Nicole Sage, Natalie and Stuart Faught, Ian Owen, Ryan, Landon and Jayleigh Sate, Kailee Walker, Malia Clyburn, Jackson, Clayton and Hudson Kincade, Asher Acosta, Parker and Deven Strom; three great-great-grandchildren, Connor Beiker, Hunter and Saylor Holland; as well as brother and sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews and friends.

The family will receive friends at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at Carlisle First United Methodist Church with burial to follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens in Lonoke.

Serving as pallbearers are grandsons and great-grandsons.

Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center in Carlisle.

The family wishes to give thanks and gratitude to the staff of Golden Years Manor who loved her and gave her exceptional care and who became part of her family.


Ruben Tate

Ruben Hankle Tate, 71, passed away Nov. 26.

He and his family have owned and operated a full-service gas station, serving Lonoke for the past 37 years.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Flossie Kyzer Tate; children, Timothy A. Tate and Lynn Horton of Lonoke, Judy Summers of Conway, Betty Ussery of Greenbrier and Ruben Tate of Beebe; one brother, Johnnie Tate of Lonoke; three sisters, Ellen Greenhaw of Oklahoma, Doris Stivers of Lonoke and Mildred Middleton of Pleasant Plains and 16 grandchildren.
Two brothers and two sisters preceded him in death.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke Wednesday, Nov. 28. Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 in Sunset Memorial Gardens in Lonoke.


Eva Ball

Eva Mae Ball, 86, of Beebe died Nov. 24.

She was born Feb. 8, 1921, at Vilonia to Charles Fanieul and Nora Belle McDaniel Robinson.

She was preceded in death by her husbands, Oakley Thomas and Clyde Ball, and her parents.

She is survived by three sons, Corky Thomas and wife Debra of Beebe, Donnie Thomas and wife Donna of Sheridan and Ronnie Thomas of Sheridan; one daughter, Freida Bell and husband Jasper of Lonoke; four grandsons, Jay Bell, Chris Bell, Donnie Thomas, II and Joey Thomas; four granddaughters, Bailey Thomas, Shelbie Thomas, Rhonda Adams and Crystal Kimzey; four great-grandsons; four great-granddaughters and one great-great-grandson.

Graveside services were Nov. 27 at Hazen Cemetery at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.


Carl Walker

Carl Thomas Walker, 81, of Carlisle died Nov. 9 surrounded by his loving wife, children, grandchildren and extended family.
He was born July 8, 1926 in Holly Grove to the late Elsie Malichi and Ovie Lester Jones Walker.

He was in the Army and later was a farmer by trade.

He enjoyed the outdoors, especially when he could go hunting with his kids and grandkids.

He was also preceded in death by an infant son, Thomas Ray Walker; brother, Cecil Walker; sisters, Ella Mae Rollins, Deloris Walker and Betty Lou Putt.

Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Francis Walker; children, Bonnie Myers of Las Vegas, Bill Walker and wife Shirley, Wen-dell Walker and wife Sue, all of Lonoke, Vanessa Graham and husband Mickey of Hickory Plains and Mike Walker and wife Jo Sara of Carlisle; sisters, Elizabeth Nail and Molly Quinn of Cotton Plant, Oma Jenkins of Covington, La. and Barbara Ray of Miami, Fla.; nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Funeral services were Nov. 12 at Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke. Burial was in Old Carlisle Cemetery.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>County too poor for sick inmates

Beebe police recently arrested James E. (Big Ed) Fuller for selling crack cocaine out of his apartment.

They found 63 packets of cocaine in his shirt pocket — they don’t call him Big Ed for nothing — and he was taken to the White County Jail, but they soon released him without bond on account of his poor health, even though he has a long criminal record.

When police arrested Big Ed, who’s 58, they could smell a strange odor coming from his legs, where they found maggots eating into his flesh. The jailers decided to rush him to the hospital, where doctors treated his infection, which may have been drug-related.

Big Ed may be an accused drug dealer, but he qualifies for Medicaid. The federal government is sometimes generous to a fault, but once you’re in jail, your benefits are cut off and it’s up to the county or the state to pay your medical bills.

Fuller is formerly of Jacksonville, and maybe Pulaski County could have afforded medical treatment for him if he’d been arrested there, but White County has even less money than Pulaski County.

His medical bills could run into thousands of dollars, which White County couldn’t pay back even in installments.

Afraid of mounting medical bills, the White County prosecutor’s office had him released on his own recognizance since he’s not considered a flight risk. Big Ed has a court appearance on Tuesday, and because of his criminal background and multiple drug charges, he faces 10-80 years and possibly life in prison.

Several other Fuller clan members have also been arrested on drug charges.

Beebe Police Chief Wayne Ballew hopes breaking up the alleged drug ring would help clean up his town.

But he wasn’t too pleased that Big Ed got out of jail without bond. He said he and Mayor Mike Robertson are working hard to put dealers behind bars, but it doesn’t help when they get an easy pass from jail.

“I wasn’t aware the county would have to take responsibility for him financially,” Ballew told us, referring to Fuller’s health problems. Ballew says Big Ed’s in pretty bad shape. “His leg is so bad, he could be looking at amputation,” the chief said.
Still, Ballew has little sympathy for Big Ed.

“He’s one of the major drug dealers in Beebe,” he insisted.

“The drug problem is really bad in Beebe,” he said. “They’re doing it so openly, they think they can get away with it.”

“We’re working hard to solve the drug problem in Beebe,” Ballew continued. “It’s the biggest concern of people in Beebe.”
Once Fuller’s convicted, the state prison system will have the funds to pay all of his medical bills. Till then, the chief has this warning for drug dealers:

Ballew said, “We’ll do everything to arrest them and put them in the penitentiary” — where a competent medical staff should attend to all their medical problems.

TOP STORY >>McCastlain will oppose Whiteaker

Prosecuting Attorney Lona Horn McCastlain of Cabot is running for circuit judge, Second Division of the 23rd Judicial District in Lonoke County.

She’s challenging Judge Phillip Whiteaker, who is seeking a fourth term.

In making her announcement, McCastlain said, “I am excited about the opportunity of serving as a circuit judge. Having practiced in every court in Lonoke County and many courts throughout the state, I understand the absolute necessity of a fair and impartial judge. I have instilled in those who work with me the importance of maintaining the integrity of the judicial system.”

McCastlain expounded on that concept by saying, “Every person who enters the courtroom has the right to have his or her case heard fairly and objectively. Each case must be decided based on the law applied to the facts.”

As a prosecutor, McCastlain said that she has “worked diligently to protect our system of justice by ensuring that the people and the defendant receive a fair trial.”

McCastlain added, “I will guarantee the people of Lonoke County that I will continue to ensure that justice is served in the courtroom. After prosecuting hundreds of cases and being in the courtoom for 14 years, I am ready for the bench.”

McCastlain was born and raised in Cabot and is the daughter of Geraldine and the late Dean Horn. In 1985, McCastlain married Lt. Col. Bruce McCastlain, who is serving in Iraq.

The couple has a 6-year-old son, Max.

McCastlain graduated from Arkansas State University with a bachelor of science in education and later the Seattle University Law School. After graduation, she returned to Arkansas and worked as a deputy prosecutor in White County before starting her private practice in Cabot in 1995. McCastlain practiced in virtually every area of the law with a strong emphasis in domestic relations and business law. She was voted the best sttorney in Lonoke County for three separate years.

In 1999, McCastlain became the first elected female prosecutor in Arkansas and is the only female elected prosecutor in the state.

McCastlain has tried many high-profile cases. In 2001, McCastlain was one of only 23 prosecutors in the nation to be singled out for recognition by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

McCastlain has served on the Arkansas Sex Offenders Assessment Commission since she was appointed by the governor in 1999.

The commission implements rules and regulations governing risk assessment of sex offenders and drafts proposed legislation governing sex offenders.

McCastlain’s office spearheaded bringing the Child Advocacy Center to Lonoke County to enhance the investigation and prosecutions of child physical and sexual abuse. She was also instrumental in organizing a drug court- treatment program in Lonoke County.

McCastlain is a member of First Baptist Church in Cabot and is a member and past president of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, a member and past president of the Lonoke County Bar Association, and a member of the Cabot Lions Club.
McCastlain is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association and the National District Attorneys’ Association.

TOP STORY >>Economic department doesn’t pay off for city

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Following Jacksonvillle’s lead, Sherwood’s economic development department is no more.

Urged by Aldermen Steve Fender and Becki Vassar, the council voted 7-1 Monday night to drop the department’s funding from next year’s budget.

“I’ve got to call her (Linda Nickle) and let her know she doesn’t have a job before she reads about it in the newspaper,” said Mayor Virginia Hillman after the city council meeting.

Hillman, along with Alderman Butch Davis, pushed hard to keep the department alive, but lost.

Vassar questioned a number of other line items in the budget, especially the need for more police officers and patrol vehicles.

In the end, no vote was taken on the city’s proposed $18.36 million general fund for 2008. “I’d like to have us just discuss the budget tonight and vote on it at our December meeting,” the mayor said.

The council agreed, but still voted to eliminate the economic development department, saving the city $76,940.

After Hillman opened up the budget discussion among council members, Fender very quickly said the city needed to get rid of economic development. “We’ve tried to make it work for 12 years and I don’t feel like we’ve made any progress. The concept is not working. How long do we have to go on with this?”

He added that it was the council’s “charge to spend taxpayers’ money wisely” which brought chuckles from the audience.
Vassar said she also had problems with the program. “Jacksonville did away with it and the chamber took over the responsibilities. It has never performed like it is supposed to. We are not getting the return for the money,” she said.

According to the city’s own Web site on the office of economic development, the city has attracted more than 900 full-time jobs and 300 part-time jobs in the past 16 months.

The mayor said the recommendation to cut the program was hasty.

“If this has been a problem for so long, why is it now just an issue?” the mayor asked. She added that the current person had just been in the position full-time for two years and progress had been made.

Hillman added that in Jacksonville the person connected with the chamber who was working on economic development had left and Jacksonville is looking at recreating a city position again for that job. “They don’t have a proven way either,” she said.

Fender held to his position and made a motion to eliminate the department, Vassar seconded the motion and the council approved it 7-1.

Vassar then went on and questioned the need for more police officers. Addressing Police Chief Kel Nicholson, she said, “When we gave you three officers last year that was supposed to be it. What has happened?”

The chief simply said more crime. The mayor added that crime was up.

“It’s higher than it used to be. If we don’t act now, we will never regain that low crime rate. Do we want to compare us to our lower rate of 10 years ago or to Little Rock?” she asked.

Nicholson also said the new officers were needed in preparation of the opening of the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the annexation of 2,000 acres north of the city.

“Wal-Mart means increased hours and man power, and depending on how those 2,000 acres are developed will stretch our services,” he said.

The chief also made it clear, “If we don’t need the money, we don’t ask for it.”

Vassar also questioned the need for eight new vehicles for the police department. Nicholson said he doesn’t ask for the vehicle, but lets the city mechanic decide when vehicles need to be replaced.

Alderman Davis said the mechanic verified that the police vehicles to be replaced “are wrecks.”

TOP STORY >>Impact fees haven’t caught on

By JOAN MCCOY AND
JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writers

In response to developers, who have cited a decline in new single-family housing permits since the city began charging and collecting impact fees about a year ago, the Cabot City Council has suspended those fees for at least six months.

Metroplan executive director Jim McKenzie said Monday that the impact fees—which developers generally pass along to home buyers—probably had little effect on the Cabot-area’s new-home construction decline in the midst of a large-scale national downturn.

Councilwoman Teri Miessner will chair a committee to determine the extent to which impact fees are slowing development, but no criteria have been established yet for making that determination.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said the committee would have to look at data and perhaps interview developers in neighboring communities to determine the part impact fees have on declining new- home starts.

In the first half of 2007, Cabot issued only 122 new single-family permits, compared to 145 in the first half of 2006. But in the first half of 2006, before impact fees were imposed, new housing starts already were down 102 from the first half of 2005, according to Jonathan Lupton, a Metroplan city planner.

Since data are available for only the first six months of 2007, Lupton used figures for the first six months of previous years as a means of comparison.

McKenzie said that when gas prices rise people want to cut gas taxes and when housing starts decline, people want to end impact fees, but that roads still need building and repairing and city services and infrastructure still need construction and maintenance, and that’s what those fees go toward.

In Cabot, of the money collected so far, $36,023 is for wastewater; $24,269 for roads; $1,736 for the library, $10,693 for parks and $25,389 toward fire protection, totaling roughly $100,000.

In central Arkansas, only Cabot and Conway have real impact fees.

Conway first imposed impact fees in 2003 and since then, first- half housing starts declined from 287 in 2003 to 248 in 2004, increased to 266 in 2005, and fell to 236 in 2006 and 170 in the first six months of this year, Lupton said.
He said impact fees probably were among the factors.

In Jacksonville, Mayor Tommy Swaim said there had been no serious talk about instituting impact fees.

Both Mayor Art Brooke of Ward and Mayor Wayne McGee of Lonoke say there has been no move to institute impact fees there.
Neither Little Rock nor North Little Rock have impact fees, according to McKenzie.

“What we have seen over the past couple of decades in the Metroplan area is that building activity runs hot for a while, cools off, and moves to another community,” McKenzie said. “I’m not sure if that’s what’s happening in Cabot. But nothing that happens in building can be separated from the situation nationally.

“Given the national situation, Cabot impact fees having significant impact—I’d be doubtful,” said McKenzie. “But I’m not an expert.”

He said there still needed to be some way to fund municipal services. If the Cabot council hadn’t called for the moratorium or a freeze on the amount collected, the impact fee would have doubled this month from $1,272 to $2,196 on a 3,000 to 3,900 square-foot house.

The fee is also scheduled to increase in 2008 and 2009. By the third increase, the impact fee on a house that size would be $4,037.

Overall, the number of single family permits issued in central Arkansas towns of 50,000 or more increased from 1,867 in 1996 to 2,899 in 2006, but that 2006 figure represented a decline of about 500 permits from 2005.

Between 2005 and 2006, new starts in Cabot nudged up 29, but decreased in Benton, Bryant, Conway, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Maumelle, North Little Rock and Sherwood—in other words, in every other large city or town in the area.

The previous year, Cabot single-family permits declined by more than 100.

TOP STORY >>Salaries in Cabot set to go up in '08

By RAY BENTON
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams asked in his proposed 2008 budget for $10,000 to be divided as he wants as pay raises among his department heads. The council committee that met Monday to discuss his proposal decided to increase that amount by $68,000, of which $16,200 would go to raise the mayor’s salary.

The committee, which is presided over by chairman Eddie Cook and includes Becky Lemaster, Ken Williams and Tom Armstrong, proposed the biggest pay increase for the mayor. The proposal, which was set in motion by Alderman Williams, would increase the mayor’s pay in 2008 from $68,800 to $85,000 annually. The police chief, fire chief and public works director would all receive increases of $10,000 each, while the operations director would receive an increase of $8,000.

Those positions are held by Jackie Davis, who is police chief; Phil Robinson, fire chief; Jerrel Maxwell, public works director, and Karen Davis, director of operations.

If the mayor accepts the committee’s budget, those department head salaries will be $77,600 for the police chief, $73,700 for the fire chief, $57,200 for the public works director and $48,500 for the operations director.

Mayor Williams had proposed a standard 5 percent increase across the board for the positions considered by the committee.
The Budget and Personnel Committee members proposed more substantial increases in an attempt to bring Cabot’s pay scale in line with other cities similar in size.

“What we’ve done,” Cook said, “is taken a look at salaries of cities of like size, and with that comparison, tried to align our salaries with that. Cabot is lagging way behind most everyone the same size, and even many cities smaller than us.”

During the meeting, Williams called Cabot’s salaries for the office of mayor and other department heads “embarrassing,” in comparison to towns of similar size and population.

Cook said the committee was aware of Cabot’s lower pay scale for mayor and department heads, but was still a bit surprised that the final tally ended up as high as it did.

He also doesn’t expect Williams to accept the proposal.

“He’s probably going to fight us,” Cook said. “He knows we’re off in Cabot, but it’s going to be hard for him to stomach that kind of increase for himself.”

The committee proposes that the money to pay for the increases come from the 2009 carryover, which is $168,991. That does not affect the budgeted savings of $750,000 by the end of 2008.

“We would prefer the increases come from the carryover rather than department budgets be cut elsewhere,” Cook said.
The increase for department heads comes to $54,200, but an extra $16,800 was included for the seven members of the planning commission.

They’re paid $100 per month, which is $1,200 annually for each member. That will increase, under the committee’s proposal, to $300 per month and $3,600 annually for the seven members.

That’s a total of $71,000 in increases, but a final proposal to freeze the city attorney’s pay at its 2007 level knocks approximately $3,000 off the mayor’s proposed raise for that office.

If the mayor rejects the proposal, it will go back to the budget and personnel committee.

The measure will be brought before the full council at the next city council meeting on Dec. 17.

TOP STORY >>Lincoln hopes for base funding

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

She has high hopes for funding both the Joint Education Center and runway repairs—each to the tune of about $9.8 million—in a veto-proof military-construction budget before adjourning for the holidays, Sen. Blanche Lincoln said Tuesday at a meeting of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council.

Lincoln said she expected the military-construction budget to be bunched with other budget bills coming out of the Joint Conference Committee.

Previously, the proposed $37 billion military construction and veterans affairs budget seemed headed for approval, attached to funding for the departments of labor, health and human services and education. It also included $840,000 for a new National Guard Armory at Cabot.

Originally slated to be 80,000 square feet, inflation has reduced the center to about 55,000 square feet with a price tag near $15 million.

Jacksonville has set aside $5 million from a dedicated tax passed by residents in 2003 to pay for its share.


NEW SCHOOL NEEDED

After Lincoln spoke, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz challenged members of the community council to press the Pulaski County Special School District to make the building of a new school for the combined enrollment of students at Arnold Drive and Tolleson elementary schools a high priority.

The base has promised to lease land for a new building outside the airbase gates for $1 a year if PCSSD would build a new school. It’s currently on the 10-year facilities master plan for comple tion in 2014, but Schatz said it should be moved up in the schedule.

“I’ll talk to the school board,” Schatz said. “Whatever is needed.”

As a school in need of replacement not only in the district but also in the needy Jacksonville area, Arnold Drive Elementary is in competition for funding with the Jacksonville middle school.

Schatz also asked community council members to make a goal of raising the level of performance of area schools.
“It’s good for the future of the base and of the community,” he said.


LINCOLN IN IRAQ

Lincoln told the community council of her recent visit to Ramadi, Iraq, with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware.

While they traveled to the region by commercial airlines, they flew in a C-130 to Baghdad, with crews which had trained at Little Rock Air Force Base.

She said that she initially supported President Bush in pursuing the war, but now the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Malik has failed to meet benchmarks and guidelines.

“‘They’ve not shown the determination or the will,” she said.

She told of going to an economic development meeting in Ramadi, where a large group of 300 leaders including sheiks met with U.S. generals and other brass. Lincoln, the only woman there, hung back, she said, until Gen. Allen invited her to the head table.

“They need to see that you are at the table,” the general told her. “Sunni, Shia, women, children—they all need to be at the table.”

Lincoln said the local sheiks had permitted and encouraged the young men of their clans to join the local police and army. She said the Iraqis are looking to the U.S. military leaders for help and guidance. “Iraqis want to rebuild. They want security and they look to the army soldiers.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

SPORTS >>Vilonia sweeps Beebe in pair of close contests

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Vilonia completed a sweep over both Beebe teams Tuesday night at Badger Sports Arena, but didn’t have an easy time in either game. The Eagles outlasted a furious charge from the Badgers in the final minute to pull out a 50-48 win, while the Lady Eagles held off a stubborn Lady Badgers team to end up with a 62-50 victory to hand the hosts their first loss of the season.

The officials proved consistent throughout the night with a total of 15 traveling violations called during the final game, none of which was more damaging to the Badgers than the one called on junior guard Zack Kersey with 19 seconds left to play after a three-pointer by Will Scott pulled Beebe to within one score at 48-46. A pair of free throws by Vilonia in the final 10 seconds secured the win, with a last second shot by Kersey setting the final score.

The Eagles got their first lead of the game at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter with a jumper and foul shot from post player Cody Wood. Clayton Clements answered a Beebe basket by Antony Forte with a three-point shot that extended Vilonia’s lead to 7-4 with 4:02 left in the opening quarter, and a Wood jumper off a steal gave the Eagles a 9-4 advantage.

Vilonia led 15-9 at the end of the first quarter, but the Badgers came out stronger in the opening minutes of the second frame.

Kersey started things off for Beebe with a transition shot that pulled the Badgers to within four, and senior Charlie Spakes followed that with a steal and coast-to-coast shot to make it 15-13. He also drew a foul on the play, but could not convert the free throw to make a one point game.

The Eagles came back with two unanswered baskets by Jordan Riley and Clements, increasing Vilonia’s lead back to five at 19-14. The offense stalled for Beebe from there, with baskets from Kersey and Jordan Gierach making up the only points for the Badgers in the final 6:30 of the first half.

Another early run by the Badgers to start out the second half erased Vilonia’s 24-18 halftime lead down to only a 26-23 lead by the 4:39 mark of the third quarter. Kersey erased half of the deficit with a three pointer in the first minute, and added a free throw along with a charity shot by Gierach to pull within three, but the Eagles finally broke a five-minute scoreless streak with an inside shot from Clements at the 2:58 mark.

Scott added his second shot beyond the arc with 1:17 left in the third quarter to make it a two-point game, but a shot by Riley for Vilonia in the final seconds made it 32-28 heading into the final eight minutes.

Scott launched his third three-point shot with 19 seconds left in the game to cap off a Beebe run that started with an old-fashioned three-point play by Kersey with 4:54 remaining, and proceeded through a 18-9 Badger run in the final half of the last period.

The miracle chance Beebe had been waiting for when Riley’s inbound pass for Vilonia went out of bounds, giving the Badgers possession at mid court with 19 seconds still left. Kersey took the inbound pass and drove into the lane, but used too much extra foot movement for the officials’ liking.

Kersey led the Badgers with 12 points. Gierach added 10 points for Beebe, and late surges by Scott and Dante Miles left them with totals of nine points and eight points respectively. For Vilonia, Riley led all scorers with 13 points, while Clements added 11 points for the Eagles. The Badgers are now 2-1 on the season.

The Lady Badgers had plenty of solid offensive performances on Tuesday, including 20 points for junior standout Ty O’Neil, along with a 16 point performance from fellow junior Neshia Upchurch, but couldn’t shake the Lady Eagles’ dominating senior Amanda Curtis. Curtis finished with 24 points to lead the Lady Eagles.

The bulk of Upchurch’s points for Beebe came in the final quarter wtih a total of nine points, including a pair of three-point baskets. Senior Emily Bass had a solid offensive performance with eight points, but it was her total of four steals that kept the Lady Badgers in the game that was otherwise dominated by the Lady Eagles, particularly in the paint. The Lady Badgers are now 2-1 on the season.

SPORTS >>LR Central holds off charging Red Devils

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville basketball team defined not getting over the hump Tuesday night in a 59-58 loss to Little Rock Central. The Red Devils had four possessions in the final minute while down by one point. Two of those came in the final seven seconds. Each time, guard penetration was stopped and a shot in traffic was no good. The last one came just a fraction of a second before the buzzer, and the Tigers got the rebound to seal the win.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was disappointed with his team, not because of a lack of effort, but for a lack of execution.
“We did not run the play I called once in the last minute,” Joyner said. “I called the same play four times and we didn’t run it once. The last two times we had guards that panicked and forced something that wasn’t there. We just didn’t execute when we needed to the most.”

Joyner was proud of the way his team battled defensively and created several fast-break buckets, but he felt the offensive execution was lacking throughout the game.

“When we were forced into a half-court offense, we weren’t patient at all,” Joyner said. “We had guards not waiting for the second option. Our little 6-foot-3 postmen were trying to post up those three trees Central had in the middle and forcing bad shots. If we would’ve just run our offense and kept moving the ball, we could have shot layups. We just weren’t patient.”
Jacksonville took its first lead since early in the second quarter when a Lockhart layup with 6:20 remaining put the Devils up 49-48. A few seconds later, after a defensive stop, senior guard Terrell Eskridge hit two free throws to make it a three-point lead.

That’s when Tiger senior Erick Brooks took over.

Central began utilizing its considerable height advantage for the first time in the third quarter. The Tigers stretched their lead out to as much as seven points in that period before Jacksonville mounted its comeback early in the fourth.

After taking a 51-48 lead, Jacksonville got another defensive stop, but Brooks stole the ball and hit a layup at the other end.
After a Jacksonville miss, no one got back defensively, and Brooks initiated the most exciting play of the night. Leading a fast break, instead of taking the host himself, he careened the ball off the glass for trailing 6-6 teammate Alandise Harris, who caught the ball in the air and slammed it home, igniting both sides of the Devils’ Den.

Harris, though, was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim, and Jacksonville’s DeShone McClure hit both free throws, giving Jacksonville a 54-53 lead with 4:51 left in the game.

Few points came in the way of field goals over the next couple of minutes. A series of trips to the free-throw line left Jacksonville with a 58-57 lead with 1:48 left, but the Red Devils would not score again.

The game’s final points came in the midst of a wild series. McClure stole the ball from Central, only to have Brooks steal it right back and hit a layup with 37 seconds left to set the final margin.

Jacksonville had three consecutive possessions in the final 37 seconds. The ball never went back to Centrals’ side of the court, but it wasn’t enough.

On the first try, junior forward LeQuitin Miles slipped and fell as he tried to take his man off the dribble. He recovered the loose ball and called timeout with 16 seconds left.

On the second possessions, McClure forced a tough shot that was blocked by Harris (his eighth of the game) into the hands of 6-6 teammate Chukwudi Ekeh, who was fouled.

It was only Jacksonville’s sixth team foul, so the ball was placed under the Jacksonville basket, where Lockhart knocked the inbound pass back into Ekeh’s hands, who was still standing out of bounds.

That gave Jacksonville one last chance, but Eskridge’s looping shot over Harris’ outstretched arms banged off the backboard and into Ekeh’s hands.

The loss dropped Jacksonville to 0-2 on the season.

While Joyner was upset at his team’s execution, he’s still optimistic about its potential.

“A lot of what we did wrong tonight has to do with only practicing an hour a day, and being so inexperienced,” Joyner said. “The one thing I can say is that, for the most part, they battled. We had one or two incidents where we sort of quit, but we’re going to take care of that ASAP, I guarantee you that. As whole, though, this team will battle, and we’ve got some talent. When we get our execution down, when everyone learns their role and we start running our offense like it’s supposed to run, we’re going to be alright.”

Brooks led all scorers in the game with 22 points, but Central coach Oliver Fitzpatrick didn’t like that statistic.

“We got away from going inside and that’s why the game got close again in the fourth quarter,” Fitzpatrick said. “Jacksonville did a good job of making hard on us, but if we would have stayed with that, it shouldn’t have gone down to the wire like that.”

Ekeh added 14 for the Tigers.

Lockhart led the Red Devils with 13 points. Mclure score 11 and Miles added nine.

Jacksonville bested the Tigers in every statistical category except shooting.

Central made 24 of 47 field goals, including six of 12 from three-point range, while Jacksonville made just 22 of 58, including three of 12 from outside.

Jacksonville out-rebounded the Tigers 28-20, got 10 steals to just four for Central, and forced 19 turnovers while committing just 14. Seven of those came in the second quarter alone.

The Lady Red Devils fell 68-34 to the Lady Tigers, but the game wasn’t as one-sided as the score may indicate. Central didn’t reach the mercy rule limit until late, and there was never a huge run that put the Lady Red Devils away.

Central slowly and steadily added to its lead throughout the contest.

Jacksonville will be back in action next Tuesday when it travels to crosstown rival North Pulaski.

SPORTS >>Falcons lose to Robinson; second time in five days

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

For the second time in five days North Pulaski lost a close one to Pulaski Robinson Friday. After falling to the Senators in the Stuttgart Invitational, the Falcons dropped an 84-81 decision in overtime at Robinson High in Little Rock.

North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper was upset last week about his team losing to a team it had beaten several times over the summer in camps, but learned that the Senators added a couple of players to the roster since then, players who have made an impact.

“Actually, taking a good close look, they have a pretty good team,” Cooper said. “We did a lot better than we did the first time, but we still have a long way to go.”

Cooper noted the 84 points given up.

“I know it was overtime, but we haven’t given up 84 points since I’ve been here,” Cooper said. “Even that first team I had that wasn’t really very good, that team still played hard on defense. We have to get better than we’ve been.”

Cooper still isn’t too down on the team, taking the bulk of the blame for the poor defense.

“I’m not trying to make excuses for the players, they still have to take some responsibility, but most of it is my fault,” Cooper said. “I’ve focused more on offense than defense so far. You can see that because we’re actually being too aggressive. We’re gambling too much and trying to steal every ball, and we’re giving up easy shots. From here until January, the main focus of every practice is going to be defense.”

Robinson built a 12-point lead in the first half and went into intermission holding a 41-29 advantage. Most of the damage in the first half was done on the inside, where Robinson posted up its 6-foot-8 center on a series of Falcon guards.

North Pulaski’s two biggest players, which are only 6-3 and 6-2, spent much of the game in foul trouble.

Starting post DaQuan Bryant played only 12 minutes of the game.

North Pulaski was able to counter from the outside in the third quarter. It’s an understatement to say that sophomore guard Aaron Cooper got hot. Cooper hit five three pointers in the third quarter alone, sparking a 26-point period for the Falcons.
It still wasn’t enough for a lead, but at 58-55 heading into the fourth, it was much closer than it had been in the first half.
When time expired, the scoreboard read 74-74, and North Pulaski took early control in the extra frame.

With less than a minute remaining, North Pulaski led 81-77, Robinson ended the game on a 7-0 run.

Trailing by four, Robinson missed the front end of a one-and-one and NP got the rebound. The whistle then blew, and NP was called for a violation for talking to the shooter. Cooper argued that his team was talking to each other about who would block out the shooter, but it fell on deaf ears, and Robinson got another opportunity at the line.

This time, both were good and it became an 81-79 game.

NP was fouled and missed its free-throw, but got the ball back by forcing a turnover.

The Falcons gave it right back on the inbound play when an NP player ran down the baseline looking for an open teammate.
Robinson answered by hitting a three pointer to take the lead for the first time in OT.

NP missed at the other end and had to foul. Robinson hit both free throws to set the final margin.

Cooper reiterated that he feels his team showed definite signs of improvement.

“I’m not happy about being 0-3 by any means, but it may be good for us now,” Cooper said. “It’s going to make us a take a good look at what we’re doing wrong and give us an urgency to correct it. The effort was there Friday, and when you’re getting that effort, you can stop worrying about that and get to work on the execution.”

Neither team shot well from the floor, and both were terrible at the free-throw line. Robinson made 23 of 43 attempts at the foul line, while North Pulaski was even worse. The Falcons made just 10 of 24 from the charity stripe.

Cooper led the Falcons with 25 points while Kelvin Parker added 15.

Graylon Smith and Stephan Orange scored 19 apiece for Robinson.

North Pulaski will host crosstown rival Jacksonville next Tuesday.

EDITORIALS>>Be thankful

Are you rich or poor? Short or tall? Thin or fat? Black, white or brown? Male or female? Employed or unemployed? A member of the haves or the have nots?

It doesn’t matter because whatever your current station in life, we all have something to be thankful for—family and friends, of course.

But most importantly, we should be thankful that we are in a country that allows us the opportunity to move up life’s ladder, even here in central Arkansas.

America’s history is a cornucopia of people moving up: The poor becoming rich, the mailroom clerk becoming the company’s president, even a shoe salesman (Harry S. Truman) becoming president.

That’s what makes this country great. Everyone here has a chance. It’s not a right, but a true opportunity to achieve. Just look all around you.

Let’s be thankful for that, and as we pursue our personal goals and dreams, let’s work together to keep our country a place where dreams can and do come true.

EDITORIALS>>Score one for pollution

David Newbern, the former Supreme Court justice who continually gets summoned from retirement to safeguard the public interest, nearly did so again this week. He objected to building a new coal-fired electricity plant in southwest Arkansas that will belch 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gases a year into the atmosphere to speed the planet’s warming. But Newbern was in the minority as the state Public Service Commission granted a certificate to Southwestern Electric Co. to build the plant.

How we wish he had prevailed. Newbern, who was twice called on to distill the truth from the miasma of the Lake View school-funding suit, called the decision of his fellow commissioners — he was a special commissioner appointed by the governor when the ethically conflicted third member was forced to step aside — “shortsighted” and later “unconscionable.” We tend toward the latter assessment.

Now we can only hope that one of the other government bodies in three states that must pass on the need for and environmental compatibility of the plant will view the issues as wisely as Newbern.

In the view of the majority, the global effect of the plant was just too small to matter that much when you have a chance to build a plant in Arkansas, create a few jobs, ratchet up local tax property tax collections and help Texas and Louisiana meet their power needs for the next few years.

If you can’t solve the problem of climate change down here in little old Arkansas, why not make it just a little bit worse? Even if polluting coal plants are the chief cause of global warming, everybody else has been building them because coal is so abundant.

Justice Newbern explained why not in a simple and eloquent summary of the central question.

“The momentum of ‘business as usual’ will make the necessary changes difficult for both the public and the power industry,” he wrote, “but we must turn the inevitable corner and begin now to refuse to countenance the further degradation of our atmosphere without taking every reasonable step to nurture and promote cleaner, more efficient alternatives.

“To allow an increase in atmospheric pollution in this instance is shortsighted. This commission and the regulatory agencies of other states, as well, should lead the effort to reduce atmospheric pollution by example.

“Even if the emissions to be allowed in this case, including the annual production of 5,280,000 tons each year of carbon dioxide, will constitute only a small addition to the pollution being emitted in Arkansas and elsewhere in the United States and in the world, the example we set by our approval presents an example for the people of our state, region, and nation that is unconscionable.”

Business as usual, however, is no longer the construction of coal plants. In state after state, plans for coal plants have been cancelled the past year by the companies or state regulators. Arkansas thus becomes an example not for solution but for furtherance of the problem. The majority’s analysis was faulty for two other reasons. It said the issue was whether to build a plant fueled by coal or cleaner-burning natural gas and that the price of gas was too unpredictable.

But discoveries and shale technology make gas supplies as plentiful and almost as reliable as coal for the immediate future.
The economics give coal only a slight advantage, which ought not offset the huge environmental advantages of gas. But it need not have reached even that fulcrum. As Newbern observed, the commission might have ordered the utility to invest in conservation, postponing the need for additional generation for who knows how long?

Perhaps until the industry develops reliable technology for capturing all the carbon emissions making coal as clean as gas or cleaner. Arkansas ranks near the bottom of all the states in energy efficiency. Here was a chance to improve that statistic and help the planet, too. SWEPCO will now proceed with work at the site in the heart of one of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the region.

But it will need the approval of Texas and Louisiana regulators, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. There is no reason to be hopeful about any of them.

OBITUARIES >> 11-24-07

Iris Crabb

Iris Leann Crabb, 37, of Austin passed away Nov. 20.  

She was born Sept. 12, 1970 in Beebe to J.W. and Debbie Rowlett Finley.  

She was employed with Dreamline Manufacturing.  

She is survived by her parents; two children, Adam Burroughs and Max Emerson, both of Austin; brother, Scott Finley of Austin; and one grandchild, Addison DeHaven Burroughs.  

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 at the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.  Burial will follow at Grissard Cemetery in El Paso.  


Shawn Bisbee

Shawn Richard Bisbee, 30, of North Little Rock passed away Nov. 14.

He was born August 27, 1977 to Don Ricky Bisbee and Sheila M. Boyd Rogers in Little Rock.

He was preceded in death by his “Me Maw,” Izetta Gail Boyd.

He is survived by his mother, Sheila M. Rogers and Joe Retstatt of Cabot; father, David Rogers of North Little Rock; aunts, Tonya Belew of North Little Rock, Tina Berry and husband Bruce of Little Rock and Cindy Broyles of Little Rock; cousins, Jason Moore, B.J. Berry, Shane Berry, Brittany Broyles, Macey Belew, Dusty Moore, Jessie Belew, Robert Broyles and Jake Broyles.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Rev. Paul Hollingsworth officiating.


William Moss

William R. Moss, 64, of Beebe went to be with the Lord Nov. 21.
He was a 35-year employee of Chrysler Corporation in Indianapolis, Ind. He attended Cornerstone Bible Fellowship in Sherwood.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; three daughters, Donna Toney of Lithia, Fla., Julie Weber of Valrico, Fla., and Kim Wash of Jacksonville; eight grandchildren, Paul and Kimber Toney, Breanna, Bethany, Hannah and Sam Weber, Kristen and Chandra Wash; two sisters, Wilma Pierson and Barbara Stratton of Indianapolis, Ind.

Graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 24 at Beebe Cemetery with arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.


Donald Crandell

Donald Louis Crandell, 80, of Ward passed away Nov. 21.

He was a retired school teacher having taught in Arkansas and Indiana for 36 years.

He received his bachelor’s degree at University of Central Arkansas in Conway and Master’s at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Wilma Crandell; and brother, Roy Crandell.

He is survived by his sister, Frances and husband Billy Joe Bailey of Ward; nieces and nephew, Deborah and husband Ed Balentine of Ward, Lynette and husband Wayne Farnsworth of Ward and Danny Crandell of Damascus; four great-nieces and one great-great-niece.

There will be a private service performed by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

TOP STORY >>Historic squadron deactivated

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base’s 53rd Airlift Squadron is preparing to stand-down as a training squadron and will be reactivated next year as an operations squadron.

The Blackjacks, part of the base’s Air Education and Training Command (AETC) under the 314th Operations Group, will deactivate in January when the squadron closes.

As directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), they will be reborn in the spring as the newest member of the 463rd Airlift Group, performing worldwide airlift missions and direct support to war fighters.

“After Jan. 11 this chapter of the Blackjacks’ epic saga comes to a close,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Tom Gilster said.
“The 53rd AS will officially furl its flag under Air Education and Training Command and reconstitute under Air Mobility Command sometime in the spring, giving the Air Force one more active-duty, combat-ready, tactical airlift squadron.”

As a C-130E formal training unit, the 53rd has trained combat airlifters in the finer arts of C-130 tactical employment since October 1993.

“Through our proud AETC history, more than 7,387 student warriors from the U.S. Air Force, our four sister services and 31 partner nations have passed through our doors,” Gilster said. “Second-to-none aviators, maintenance, life support, squadron aviation resource management, administrators and support staff professionals have kept our aircraft aloft for more than 121,000 flying hours,” he said.

Once a full house operating 20 C-130Es, the squadron’s few remaining pilots, co-pilots, flight engineers and loadmasters continue to produce qualified Department of Defense and international C-130 crew members.

Some Blackjacks have moved to the 62nd AS, the sole remaining C-130E formal training unit (FTU), to continue their role in the FTU mission while others have moved on to other squadrons on base.

Gilster said 13 of the Blackjacks’ flight engineers and loadmasters moved to the 62nd on Oct. 12.

The majority of the squadron’s remaining instructors will also don the 62nd’s Blue Baron patch.

“In fact, this transfer of expertise has been underway since July; squadron leadership decided a phased migration of personnel, training, aircraft and support would be the best course of action,” Gilster said.

For the next month, the 53rd AS will be flying only four training lines a day compared to at least 10 lines, the minimum normally flown.

They will have their final formation flight as an AETC squadron in December just before the base’s Christmas break.

“Though soon an AETC memory, our Blackjack legacy will live on in our graduates, alumni and proud heritage. Under AMC, our Blackjack traditions of integrity, service and excellence will march ever onward, reaching new heights and setting new standards answering our nation’s call,” the commander said. “Under any command, executing any mission, our Blackjack motto will always remain: “Primus cum Plurimi … First with the Most.”

This is the third deactivation in the long history of the 53rd, having last been deactivated in 1993 before moving to LRAFB and absorbing the assets of the inactivated 16th AS, which flew and conducted initial upgrade training in the C-130A and E models.


HISTORY

The 53rd traces its origins to the 53rd Transport Squadron activated in May 1942 at Pope Field, Fort Bragg, N.C. flying brand new C-47 Skytrains. A month later the squadron received a new primary mission of transporting airborne infantry and paratroopers into combat and was redesignated as the 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron.

After “the war to end all wars,” the 53rd was located at Orly Field, France as part of the European Air Transport Service.
In April of 1948 the squadron was transferred to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, converted to flying the C-54 Skymaster aircraft, and participated in the Berlin Airlift.

The C-54 was a four-engine transport aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II and was one of the most commonly used long-range transports of the U.S. armed forces during World War II.

At the outbreak of the Korean War, the 53rd was sent on temporary duty to McChord AFB, Wash., to participate in airlift operations to Japan.

They returned to Washington in November 1952, stationed at Larson AFB, flying the C-124 Globemaster.

For the next 14 years, until being deactivated in July of 1966, the 53rd flew the Globemaster all over the world providing needed airlift in support of contingencies and humanitarian aid missions.

From 1972 to 1993, the 53rd flew the C-141 Starlifter at Norton AFB, Calif., with the 63rd Military Airlift Wing.

The C-141 was a military strategic airlifter introduced to replace slower, piston-engined cargo planes such as the C-124 Globemaster II; it was in service for almost 40 years until the Air Force withdrew them from service on May 5, 2006, replacing it with the C-17 Globemaster III.

During Vietnam, 53rd aircrews airlifted hundreds of Vietnamese refugees out of Pleiku, a town in central Vietnam.
The aircrews averaged only 20 minutes on the ground per aircraft between lifts; one crew was credited with carrying 388 refugees on one mission.

The 53rd is credited with flying the first C-141 into Hanoi on March 3, 1973 to pick up returning POWs during Operation Homecoming.

History was made yet again when in April of 1973 a Blackjack crew flew the first USAF aircraft to enter China in more than 30 years when it airlifted passengers and equipment to Peking, China, where the office of the first U.S. representative to the People’s Republic of China was being established.

For the next 10 years Blackjacks deployed all over the world.

In 1982 and 1985, the 53rd was selected as the Military Airlift Command’s Outstanding Strategic Airlift Squadron of the Year.
One crew, on the first C-141’s flight into Hanoi since Operation Homecoming, made national headlines when they airlifted the remains of six servicemen who had been missing in action since the war in Southeast Asia.

In December 1989, they operated six of the 17 C-141s to air drop and six of the seven aircraft to air land U.S. forces into Panama during Operation Just Cause.

While supporting Operation Desert Shield, the Blackjacks launched the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade from El Toro, Calif., and flew F-117 support missions from Tonopah, NV.

When Desert Shield escalated to Operation Desert Storm, the 53rd airlifted the first shipment of patriot missiles to Tel Aviv, Israel to aid in their protection from impending SCUD attacks.

The end of the Gulf War marked the beginning of a long line of humanitarian relief missions performed by the Blackjacks.

In April 1993, as the Air Force began its force-wide reorganization, the squadron was deactivated at Norton AFB, and in October 1993 was reactivated at Little Rock flying the C-130 Hercules, changing their mission from worldwide deployment to training all Air Force, DOD and selected foreign national personnel in the operation of the C-130.

TOP STORY >>Tax shows eating out popular

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Do people eat out a lot?
The answer appears to be yes, based on the prepared food tax amounts collected by Jacksonville, Sherwood and Cabot.
People spend more than $7.26 million a month in area eateries, mostly at fast-food places, according to tax records from the three cities.

In Cabot alone, through the first nine months of the year, the city has collected $504,310 in prepared food taxes meaning more than $33 million was been spent so far this year on eating out.

Jacksonville, which initiated a two-cent prepared food tax, also known as the hamburger tax, that started Oct. 1, is just in its first month of reporting, but with 45 of 69 businesses turning in the tax so far for October, it appears people spent more than $2.5 million in the city’s eateries in just that month.

Jacksonville businesses have until Dec. 1 to turn in their October tax collections. Cabot collects a 1.5 percent fee from 70 businesses, and based on taxes remitted for the month of September, more than $2.8 million was spent in Cabot in September on prepared foods.

Sherwood, which charges a two-cent levy like Jacksonville, collected $39,509.47 in hamburger tax from 45 businesses in September, meaning people spent about $1.96 million on prepared food in September.

McDonald’s led in total sales in Jacksonville and Cabot, while Sonic was the top grosser in Sherwood.

In Jacksonville, the three McDonald’s restaurants sold more than $404,000 in prepared food in October.

The September figures show that the three McDonald’s facilities in Cabot sold more than $445,000 in prepared foods.
In Sherwood, the three Sonics brought in $5,106 in tax money on sales of $255,300.

The Sherwood McDonald’s brought in $144,900 from the sale of prepared foods in September.

Coming in a close second to the McDonald’s restaurants in Jacksonville is Chili’s Grill and Bar, bringing in about $346,000 in prepared-food sales in October. Western Sizzlin, based on the tax amount paid, brought in $172,000 in receipts, followed by Knight’s Super Food store at $150,000, Wendy’s at $145,000 and Taco Bell had $128,000 in prepared food sales in October.

In Cabot, closely behind Mc-Donald’s was Colton’s Steak House, with sales of about $141,500 for September followed by Kentucky Fried Chicken at $145,787, Taco Bell at $137,662, Sonic (on Hwy. 321) at $136,330, and the Dixie CafĂ© at $134,598 in September sales.

In Sherwood, Wendy’s came in third behind Sonic and McDonald’s with September sales at about $121,500 followed by Sam’s Club with $106,000 and Shotgun Dan’s with $103,400.

The hamburger tax in all three cities is used to fund advertising and promotion commissions which uses the money to support the cities’ parks and recreation departments, to market the cities and help fund various activities and events to help bring tourists into the area.

TOP STORY >>Fire chief: Funding will save vehicles

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

A large fire engine with sirens blaring as it races to the scene of a medical emergency is a fairly common sight in Cabot. When a resident calls 911 for an ambulance, the nearest fire engine also rolls and more often than not gets there first.
Cabot firefighters are trained as emergency medical technicians and their fire trucks are stocked with lifesaving equipment. In fact, the fire department is written into the contract as the first responder assisting MEMS, which provides ambulance service in the city as well as to much of central Arkansas.

But many members of the Cabot City Council are concerned that running expensive fire fighting equipment for medical emergencies is hard on the equipment and an unnecessary expense to the city. In response to that concern, Fire Chief Phil Robinson has asked for $15,000 in his budget for a pickup equipped for medical emergencies. It is not possible to stop running first response for ambulance service, he says, because too many times the paramedics need their help.

The Leader talked to other fire departments to find out why the chief is so adamant about backing up the ambulance service and learned that his position on the matter is the same as many fire departments in the area, the state and across the nation. When minutes waiting for an ambulance to get across town can mean the difference between life and death, firefighters drive whatever vehicle is available to get to the patient sooner.

“We can get there a whole lot quicker and start working on the patient,” said North Little Rock Fire Department Capt. Bobby Higdon. Most fire stations have only two bays, one for a pumper and one for a ladder truck, he said, so most fire stations don’t have a rescue truck. If they do, the firefighters use it. If not, they drive a pumper.

All North Little Rock firefighters are at least trained as EMTs Higdon said, and some are trained as parmedics. All know how to use defibrillators and can get a heart beating again before the ambulance even gets there.

In Jacksonville, the fire department runs the ambulance service, so the firefighter who puts out the fire in your kitchen one week might well be the paramedic who comes to your aid next week.

Battalion Chief Joe Bratton said all firefighters are trained to also work on the ambulance and they cycle from one job to the other.

So one week they might be the ambulance driver and the next week they might be the firefighter in a pumper truck who is the first on the scene to assist a patient with chest pains.

“If someone is two blocks away having a heart attack, it just makes sense for the fire department to respond,” he said.
Bratton said the Jacksonville Fire Department has run the ambulance service since 1980 when it took over from the police department, which started the service in 1976.

Volunteer fire departments, like those in Beebe, Ward and Austin also provide medical assistance and run as first responders to supplement ambulance services in their areas.

TOP STORY >>Lenders’ decision to bring appeal

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Attorney Todd Turner on Friday promised a Supreme Court challenge of the state’s payday lending law in the wake of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims’ decision Tuesday that found high-interest, short-term payday loans constitutional.
Twice previously the state supreme court remanded Sims’ decision back to him.

Although payday lenders routinely charge at more than 20 times the state’s constitutionally set 17 percent annual interest rate cap, Sims found such loans and the law allowing them constitutional.

Turner, who has fought payday lenders in Arkansas, called the decision a disappointment, but “no surprise. (Sims) indicated last year he thought it was constitutional.”

Turner said it would seem obvious that charging several hundred and even several thousand percent for a loan is not legal when the state constitution caps interest at 17 percent, but judges tend to presume statutes as being constitutional.
The payday lending industry got special legislation approved in 1999 defining the monies paid were “fees” not “interest” and thus exempt from the 17 percent interest cap.

“We’ve had judges in several counties declare (the statute) unconstitutional in individual check cashing cases,” said, Turner, but the payday industry didn’t challenge those decisions, fearing that the state Supreme Court would declare the entire law unconstitutional statewide.

Turner said he hoped the Supreme Court would hear the appeal within six or eight months. He said briefs would be filed and the court would likely ask for oral arguments.

Turner is arguing a separate case affecting payday lenders on December 6. He is trying to force the surety bonding companies to make good on unpaid judgments against the lenders.

Nationally, payday lenders are on the defensive, following new legislation limiting interest on loans to members of the military and their families and various rulings by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The Community Financial Services Association—the trade group for about 60 percent of the nation’s payday lenders—last week ordered its members to put poster-sized fee schedules at each store where customers could see them.

In Central Arkansas, only Advance America—traded on the New York Stock Exchange—and Arkansas Check Cashers, owned by Cosby Hodges of Fort Smith, are members of the CFSA.

According to the association, 594 percent is the legal amount of interest that can be charged in Arkansas for a $100, 14-day loan.

Anti-payday loan activist Hank Klein says actually the Arkansas Check Cashers law allows 572 percent interest on that loan, the highest of any of the neighboring states.

Oklahoma allows 391 percent, Tennessee 460 percent, Missouri 521 percent, Louisiana 524 percent and Mississippi 572 percent.

Some states, including New York, Massachusetts and Texas don’t allow payday loans.

South Dakota, on the other hand, has no interest limit, which is why some lenders have chosen to attach themselves to institutions in that state.

The CFSA says its members provide an important service to people needing small amounts of cash over a short period of time to deal with sudden auto repairs, buy medication or for other purposes.

But a recent study in North Carolina, which outlawed payday loans in 2006, found that absence of storefront payday lending had “no significant impact on the availability of credit for households in North Carolina. The vast majority of households surveyed reported being unaffected by the end of payday lending,” saying they used an array of options to manage financial shortfalls.

Payday lenders say they are falsely accused of an array of sins.

The say they don’t target low-income people but that most of their customers earn between $25,000 and $50,000 a year. They don’t target seniors, 68 percent of their customers are younger than 45, only 4 percent older than 65. Nearly all have at least a high school diploma.

“One hundred percent have steady incomes and active checking accounts, both of which are required to receive a payday advance,” they say.