Wednesday, December 12, 2007

OBITUARIES >> 12-16-07

GAVIN BROYLES

Gavin Wayne Broyles, 10 months, of McRae went to be with the Lord on Dec. 14.

Gavin was born Feb. 18, 2009 in Searcy.

He is survived by his parents, Jacob Broyles and Laura Williams, and two brothers, Kaden Williams and Aaron Broyles, all of McRae; grandparents, Louis and Gladys Williams of McRae, Bob and Sherri Broyles of Springdale and Cindy Smith of Little Rock, and great-grandparents, Helen Allen of McRae, Richard and Gloria Nails of Cabot and Liz Kurppies of McRae.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

CURTIS OBAL

Curtis Michael Obal, 24, died Dec. 12 at his home in Little Rock.

He was born Dec. 18, 1984 in Clovis, N.M., to Curtis Paul and Bobbi J. Obal.

He graduated from Cabot High School in 2003. In 2007, he graduated from UALR with a degree in political science. He received his MBA from Arkansas State University in 2009. Curtis was attending Bowen Law School at UALR. He was also a lance corporal in the Marine Reserves.

He served as a lifeguard at the Little Rock Air Force Base swimming pool. Previously, Curtis was employed as a law clerk for Neil Dininger Law Firm. In addition, he worked as an information technology technician at the ASU nursing school.

Survivors include his wife, Lauren LaNelle Keith Obal of Little Rock; parents, Curtis and Bobbi Obal of Cabot; two sisters, Nadine Marie Obal of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Elizabeth Mae Obal of Cabot; father and mother-in-law, Allen and Rhonda Keith of Jonesboro; aunts and uncles, Patsy Alexander, Mr. and Mrs. Ron Henderson, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Obal, Mr. and Mrs. Ron Crause and many cousins.

The funeral will be held at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at the Little Rock Air Force Base Chapel with Bro. Billy Cantrell, Chaplain Sean Randall and Chaplain Jeffery Scott officiating.

Interment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. before the service at the base chapel.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Iraq War Veterans Organization, Inc., Long War Veterans Organization, Inc., P.O. Box 571, Yucaipa, Calif., 92399.

Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

ISAAC SALAZ

Isaac I. Salaz, 79, of Beebe passed away on Dec. 13 with his loving family at his side.

He was one of the last original cowboys, born Jan. 25, 1930 in Cuba, N.M.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Mary Salaz; his children, Jenny Taylor and her husband Justin Moore of Beebe, Barbara Beasley of Dallas, Texas, Christie Taylor, Geraldine Duran, Larry and Lloyd Salaz, all of Denver, Colo.; his sisters, Francis Oliva of Ontario, Ore., and Theresa Salaz of Fort Collins, Colo., his brother, Andy Salaz, also of Fort Collins, Colo., several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation begins at noon with funeral services following at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

JACOB COOK

Jacob John “Jake” Cook, 73, of Jacksonville passed away on Dec. 12 at his home.

He was born Dec. 16, 1935 in Menlo, Iowa, to the late Ray and Audrey Jensen Cook.

Mr. Cook served eight years with the Navy with the See Bees. He then spent his next 12 years with the Air Force. He received the Bronze Star.

On June 16, 1962, he married Evelyn Rogers in West Warwick, R.I.

Mr. Cook was a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville and a member of the Jacksonville V.F.W.

He was preceded in death by two brothers, Ray and David Cook.

Survivors include his wife, Evelyn of the home; two sons, Christopher Cook of Cabot and Matthew Cook of Jacksonville; daughter, Nancy Hilpert of Sherwood; three grandchildren, Kristie, Stephenie and Joseph; two brothers, Jim Cook of Niceville, Fla., and Robert Cook of Des Moines, Iowa, and a sister, Patricia Norris of Dexter, Iowa.

A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church with Father Andy Smith officiating.

Entombment will follow at Chapel Hill Mausoleum with full military honors.

The family requests memorials be made to St. Jude Altar and Rosary Society.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

ARNOLD GUTIERREZ

Arnold Victor Gutierrez, 83, of Ward passed away on Dec. 13.

He grew up in an Army Air Corps family and proudly served his country during World War II. He was an avid hunter and sportsman and devoted many years to coaching high school football in southern Georgia.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Arnoldo and Victoria Gutierrez; sister, Romalda, and daughter, Victoria.

Mr. Gutierrez leaves behind his beloved wife, Kathie Gutierrez; sons, William and Michael, and daughters, Valorie and Linda.

He had two granddaughters, Aleia Gutierrez and Keevy Gutierrez; brother, Michael Gutierrez of Glennville, Ga., and a sister, Lenora Sullivan of Live Oak, Fla.

Family will receive friends from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

The funeral is at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 18 at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

EDWARD BLALOCK

Edward Barry Blalock, 56, of Hiram, Ga., passed away Dec. 11 in North Little Rock.

He was born in Hapeville, Ga., on July 5, 1953 to Edward and Helen Garner Blalock.

He was a member of the Conley Baptist Church in Conley, Ga.

Survivors include his parents, Edward and Helen Blalock of Jacksonville, and one sister, Michelle Blalock of Maumelle.

The funeral was Dec. 13 at Riverwood Cemetery in Maumelle with Rev. Cliff Hutchins officiating. Arrangements were by Wood Bean Family Memorial Center in Jacksonville.

MILERD PRIVETT

Mildred Stastney Privett, 98, passed away Dec. 11.

She was reunited in heaven with her husband, T.E. Privett; daughter, Rosemary Moody, and grandson, Joey Privett.

Mildred, famous for her coconut pies, learned to bake from her Czechoslovakian immigrant parents.

She owned Lonoke Lumber Company and worked into her nineties.

A lifetime member of Lonoke Book Club, she loved to read, garden and travel.

“Miss Mildred” taught Sunday school to preschool children at Lonoke Baptist Church for more than 70 years.

Mildred leaves behind her son, Thomas Privett and his wife Linda; granddaughters, Lisa Privett, Lizan Henderson and Kristi Terry and her husband Randy; great-granddaughters, Hailey, Hannah, SaraBeth and Allison; son-in-law, B.J. Moody and many friends at Lonoke Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The funeral was Dec. 14 at Lonoke Baptist Church.

Interment was in Lonoke Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Lonoke Baptist Church and Open Arms Shelter of Lonoke.

Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.

EDITORIALS>>Senate bill too intrusive

To the editor:

A Senate “thought crimes” bill targets Americans and the Internet as suspected terrorists.

If passed, this bill will set up a committee that will have the power to declare anything that does not fit its current agenda as an “extremist belief system.”

We do not need a government-appointed committee to label good, honest, hard-working Americans as heretics, witches, communists or terrorists. Bill S 1959 is scheduled to be voted on by the Senate in this current session of Congress.

Our First Amendment right of freedom of speech has been protected by the Bill of Rights for over 200 years. It is ridiculous to think that now after all this country has been through that we need a governmental committee to tell us what to say, think or do.

They will probably try to sneak this bill through during the Christmas holidays while everyone is distracted.

So if you value your freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, I urge you to contact your senators today and tell them to vote “NO” on S. 1959.

Call Senators Mark Pryor 1-877-259-9602 and Blanche Lincoln at 202-224-4843.

David Scolli
North Little Rock

EDITORIALS>>Uncovering Huck's past

An ancillary benefit of having a local boy run for president is that we learn a lot about our undiscovered past. When the favorite son gets into the upper ranks of candidates, nosey reporters come digging and disaffected friends and aides start talking.

The virtual collapse of the whole top tier of Republican presidential candidates and Mike Huckabee’s surge into the lead triggered a couple of revelations this week that might have remained secret forever.

They reflect on the development of policies in the Huckabee administration that people should have known. You may not remember Action America but you probably recall the huge nursing-home bed tax that Gov. Huckabee signed into law in 2001.

If you have a loved one who is a private-pay nursing home resident you have special reason to remember it — every month.
In a mammoth and highly favorable cover story in this week’s Newsweek, a couple of Republican confidantes and advisers to the former governor talk about the founding of Action America in Texas in 1994, soon after Huckabee was elected lieutenant governor. J. J. Vigneault and Greg Graves, political consultants to Huckabee, said he needed money and they helped him set up a political fund that was supposed to support his political activity.

It was set up in Texas, they said, so people in Arkansas wouldn’t know about it. They raised $119,916 — most of it from a single source, R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco giant. Word got out in Arkansas anyway and Little Rock newspapers pressed Huckabee for details but never got any.

In the Newsweek article, Huckabee said he spent the money lawfully and that he did not know who the donors were.

Specifically, he was unaware of the cigarette money and disputed Vigneault’s account that he met with Reynolds people at his Little Rock apartment to work out the arrangement.

Huckabee, according to Vigneault, even asked the Reynolds agent to step outside to smoke. Huckabee said he would have to see a photo of himself and the Reynolds people to convince him that the meeting ever took place. Why is that important? In the succeeding years, Huckabee stopped a Board of Health regulation banning smoking in restaurants (years later the legislature passed a law banning it and Huckabee signed it).

In 2001, the governor asked the legislature to raise taxes to prop up the troubled Medicaid program and it sent him two bills to choose between — a tax on nursing home patients and a cigarette tax increase. He vetoed the cigarette tax and signed the nursing home tax. Surely it was no quid pro quo!

Then there was the dispute all over the national media last week about Huckabee’s role in the release of the rapist Wayne DuMond, who went on to rape and kill one and maybe two women in a little Missouri town. Huckabee said he had nothing to do with it — opposed the man’s release, he said — but state parole board members and his own aide confirmed that he solicited the board’s favor for DuMond’s release.

Anyway, he said, there was no way any official could have imagined that DuMond would rape and kill if he were released.
He disputed an Internet journal’s report that there were letters in his file from women who were raped and threatened by DuMond pleading for him not to be paroled.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post posted a batch of letters from rape victims and family members — the names of the women blotted out — recounting their terrible experiences.

The journal said they were in Huckabee’s file on DuMond, supplied by a former aide. There are also police files on a DuMond confession, which he refused to sign. They make horrific reading.

You can read them at www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/10/new-documents-revealed-in_n_76186.html.

EVENTS>> Fall 2007

Cabot High School to start new PTSO group

Cabot High School is creating a Parent, Teacher, Student Organization (PTSO). The initial meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The meeting will be held in the LOFT at the high school.

The organization stresses that student success if contingent upon the best effort of all involved: students, parents and teachers. This is your opportunity to come and be active voice at Cabot High School—be part of the PTSO.


Beebe VFW to distribute free toys to children

The Beebe VFW 7769, 1405 E. Center St., will distribute toys free to children 12 years old and younger from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.
More than 800 brand new and wrapped toys will be given away to children who attend.


NARFE holding monthly meeting Thursday

Jacksonville Chapter 1597 National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) will host its monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Western Sizzlin Restaurant.

Members are asked to bring “white elephant” gifts, also bring non-perishable food or canned goods for the Care Channel. Come prepared to have Christmas Dinner and play plenty of games.


Tour of holiday lights planned in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring the Holiday Tour of Lights at 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 17 and 18.

The cost to participate is $2 per person. Those who wish to participate must register in advance and pay by Saturday.
According to Dana Rozenski of the parks department, the route is not yet firm and some residents are calling the department asking that their homes be included in the tour.

Rozenski, who is coordinating the event, says the department will use its van or a bus can be used if there are more participants. Last year about 25 people attended. This is the second year of the tour.


Cabot group collects toys for needy children

Cabot’s Christmas for Kids committee is collecting toys for local children. Now in its 31st year, the group serves about 700 families and nearly 1,100 children. Toys will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 21.

Boxes are in place for toy donations at all Cabot School District elementary and middle schools. They may also be dropped off at Express Printing, Cabot Kmart, all Community Bank locations, Waffle House and Dollar General.

Checks may be mailed to Christmas for Kids, 100 Gunsmoke Drive, Austin, AR, 72007 or they may be brought to the toy collection warehouse, 319 G.P. Murrell Drive in Cabot, the Cabot Schools warehouse in the industrial park off Hwy. 367 on the way to Austin. For more information, call one of the volunteers on the committee: Bill Holden at 743-3560; Randy Holden at 743-6171; Shelley Montoya at 605-3403 or Rita Stewart at 743-3560.


Sherwood church invites public to hear cantata

Sherwood First Church of the Nazarene on Hwy. 107, will hold its Christmas cantata “Noel - Jesus is Born” Sunday during its evening service beginning at 5 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

TOP STORY >>Ward passes private-club ordinance at council

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

On the chance a private, alcohol-serving club wants to come to Ward, the Ward City Council approved an ordinance Monday night establishing the rules and regulations for the operation of private clubs within the city limits.

By law, only private clubs are able to serve alcohol in a dry area.

The idea for the ordinance came about after Winthrop Ray Knight, owner of Dude’s 38 Special on Hwy. 38, submitted an application to the Alcohol Beverage Commission this time last year.

Knight applied for an ABC license for the new business he wanted to open in Ward, a family-oriented, sit-down restaurant where patrons have the option of having an alcoholic beverage with their meals – much like Chili’s in Jacksonville.

ABC denied his application and Knight has the option to appeal. The city council has kept abreast of ABC’s appeal agenda ever since, and to date, Knight has not been on it. There is no definite date with ABC on how long one can wait to appeal a decision. Come Jan. 18, it will have been a year since Knight was denied his application.

City Attorney Clint McGue said he heard Knight was trying to get on the agenda.

According to newly passed Ordinance 0-2007-05, Ward determined the business of manufacturing, transporting, storing, handling, receiving, distributing, selling, serving or dispensing any controlled beverage within the city is a privilege – a privilege the city is imposing regulations, requirements, restrictions, fees and taxes on.

In defining a private club, the ordinance states, “The nonprofit corporation shall have been in existence for a period of one year before application for a permit.”

And when the application for a permit is made, “the nonprofit must have no less than 100 members and must own or lease the property that gives reasonable comfort and accommodation of its members and their families and guests.”

Aside from the state (ABC) permit, private club owners must also have a permit issued by the city, which must be renewed each year. Within six months of the city issuing a permit, the holder of the permit must open for business and begin dispensing the products authorized by the permit.

Failure to do so results in an automatic forfeiture and cancellation of the permit.

The ordinance places restrictions on where the establishment can be – not within 100 feet of a single-family home, not within 100 yards of an alcoholic treatment center, and not within 1,000 feet of a church, school or public use area. The location must also be zoned retail commercial, either commercially C-1 (town-centered commercial) or C-2 (highway commercial) zoned areas.

In other business, the city council gave City Engineer Tim Lemons the go-ahead to begin the paperwork, permits and design needed to install a new, one-million-gallon water tower for the city’s Stagecoach water system.

Considered stage one of the project, the initial paperwork and permits would cost the city $240,000, money the city can borrow interest- and principal-free for the first three years, Lemons said.

That loan would be part of the total loan of about $2.7 million needed for the entire project.

The new water tank, which takes about 15 months to construct, is expected to be online in September of 2009.

The council unanimously approved to terminate the idea of holding a special census after learning it would cost $85,141, with $66,347 paid by the city in advance before any work is started.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Huckabee impressive, unenduring

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is way up there in the polls, pulling almost even with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination, although Huckabee badly trails all potential Democratic nominees.

Even if Huckabee eventually drops out of the race for lack of money — not to mention more revelations about his record as governor — you still have to give him credit for mounting a credible race on a shoestring budget.

He’s done well in a series of Republican debates: Folks from around Hope make good candidates because they talk a good game. More Americans are watching the debates, where Huckabee has outclassed the competition. He’s turned the debates into free commercials for his underfunded campaign.

Even his critics in Arkansas are impressed with the success the smooth-talking preacher from Hope is enjoying, however briefly.

Huckabee’s won the support of evangelicals and working-class voters, who make up the bulk of his support.

He’s their protest candidate, while big money is betting on the more famous faces in the race.

Likely voters are also seeking out Web sites to learn more about the candidates, including Huckabee’s position on the issues, which keep changing with his rise in the polls and the site of his appearances.

He favored trade with Cuba when he was governor, but now he’s against it.

He wanted to quarantine AIDS patients, but not anymore. He’d said states should have their own abortion laws, but now he’s for a nationwide standard. He tolerated illegal immigrants in Arkansas, but now he’s against them.

Politicians flip-flop all the time, but voters are still trying to find out where he stood on the issues before the campaign, where he stands now and where he might end up if he becomes president.

People around the country are reading our past columns online about Huckabee and his record while governor: They’re just finding out about commutations of prison sentences, huge tax increases that surpassed even Bill Clinton’s years at the state Capitol, as well as ethical lapses such as turning the expense account for entertaining at the Governor’s Mansion into a family slush fund.

This is the man who hijacked the state police plane for personal use and wore it out in a few years. It had to be replaced because of all the mileage he’d put on the plane, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

By contrast, his successor uses it strictly for business, saving the state about $250,000 a year.

The record speaks for itself – he commuted the sentences of twice as many criminals as all of his predecessors of the last 30 years combined and several more times than all the governors in neighboring states while he was in office.

He did it because he thought he could get away with it.

It wasn’t until this newspaper put the spotlight on his record that Huckabee finally got out of the commutation business in the last year he was in office, with a push from the state Legislature, which passed the law that demands the governor give reasons for his commutations.

No more, “Because I want to.”

He didn’t bother to read the transcripts of trials, showed little sympathy for the victims and their families and had a forgiving attitude toward thugs, killers and rapists.

He thought rapist Wayne DuMond, whose freedom he arranged with the state parole board, had been framed.

DuMond was the psychopath who later raped and killed a couple of women in Missouri, where he died in prison from cancer of the vocal cords.

Huckabee’s run of clemencies and commutations finally ended with his recommending parole for a depraved murderer named Glen Green, who killed a woman from Little Rock Air Force Base in 1974.

Green’s case has received less attention in the national media, but it deserves more scrutiny because it was right after Huckabee said he would commute Green’s sentence that the state Legislature stepped in and passed a law making it more difficult for governors to free violent criminals.

Governors must now explain their reasons for a commutation, which Huckabee would never do.

So he stopped issuing commutations, but it was too late for at least two Missouri women who were assaulted and murdered. Or does Huckabee think DuMond had nothing to do with either of those crimes?

TOP STORY >>New taxes for Gravel Ridge

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Probably the first thing Gravel Ridge residents will notice when they become part of Jacksonville or Sherwood is higher taxes at area restaurants and other places of business.

Currently Gravel Ridge residents, as part of the county, pay a 7 percent tax on all items purchased in the community. That breaks down to 6 percent for the state (the county gets a portion of that money back) and 1 percent for the county.

If Gravel Ridge ends up as part of Jacksonville through an election set for Feb. 5, then residents of that area will pay 9 percent on most business transactions and 11 percent on prepared foods such as their lunch order from a local restaurant.

Jacksonville’s tax includes 6 percent for the state, 1 percent for the county, 2 percent for the city and a 2 percent prepared food levy.

If Gravel Ridge is annexed into Sherwood—that city is bringing up the issue at its Dec. 17 council meeting—then residents would pay 8 percent on most items and 10 percent on prepared foods.

Sherwood’s tax includes the state’s 6 percent and the county’s 1 percent, plus 1 percent for the city and a 2 percent prepared food levy.

But Jacksonville City Administrator Jay Whisker counters that as part of Jacksonville, Gravel Ridge would get twice-a-week trash pickup, plus once-a-week yard waste pickup and recycling pickup once a week.

“That’s a sanitation visit four times a week,” he said.

Plus, once a month the city comes around and picks up larger landfill items such as old furniture.

He added that the area would get police service from the city and that Jacksonville would supplement the area’s fire department and sewer system.

Whisker said Gravel Ridge gets its water service through Central Arkansas Water (CAW) and that would continue.

In Mayor Tommy Swaim’s 20-plus years of running the city, Jacksonville has not annexed county land through election.
“It has been done though,” the mayor said, “but it was before my time. An election was used to annex a portion of south Jacksonville near Valentine Road.”

He said the city could offer Gravel Ridge a number of excellent services like police, sanitation, and additional fire support.
“I’ve gotten a number of calls from residents out there thinking they are already in our city limits,” he said.

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said the city has talked about bringing in parts of Gravel Ridge for years.

“We’ve had residents call us about annexation and some already think they are in Sherwood because of their zip code,” she said.

The zip code for a portion of Gravel Ridge is 72120, the same as Sherwood, while the rest of Gravel Ridge is 72076, the same as Jacksonville.

The mayor said Sherwood has not tried to bring in Gravel Ridge before by an election process “because we didn’t want it to be perceived as a hostile takeover.”

“We would have preferred to wait and have them voluntarily petition us for annexing. But I do feel we are going to be offering the area an option to Jacksonville,” she said.

An advantage, she pointed out, is the millage rate.

“We have the lowest of the cities in Pulaski County and are the same as the county. That means on a $100,000 home, Sherwood and the county would be about $60 a year cheaper than Jacksonville,” Hillman said.

She also said Sherwood’s fire rating is lower than Jacksonville’s and that could mean savings for Gravel Ridge.

Most of Jacksonville’s growth to the west toward Gravel Ridge has been voluntary annexed as subdivisions were completed, according to Whisker.

Northlake, Stone Ridge, Base Meadows and Lost Creek subdivisions – all developments on the western side – have come into the city when the subdivisions were built.

“It’s part of the agreement the developers make with the planning commission. In exchange for city services, the subdivisions become part of the city,” Whisker said.

Currently, Jacksonville extends out Jacksonville Cut-Off to about the Bayou Meto bridge, about 1.5 miles from the intersection of Highway 107 and Jacksonville Cut-Off.

Sherwood’s city limits stop on Highway 107, about a half mile south of that intersection.

TOP STORY >>Accountant accused on retirement fund losses

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

Even as a letter in the Heber Springs Sun-Times praised Jacksonville accountant and city finance auditor Mack McAlister for his Thanksgiving generosity, the widow of a Jacksonville dentist filed a lawsuit seeking to recover more than $600,000 that McAlister allegedly bilked from the dental practice’s pension and retirement funds.

McAlister said Tuesday that he would be exonerated, that any losses resulted from the unsuccessful business ventures he and his friend Dr. Donald Griggs undertook.

The suit was filed Nov. 21 in Pulaski County Circuit Court on behalf of Patrice Griggs, widow of Donald Griggs and executor of his estate and the pension funds for the practice.

Named as defendants are McAlister, sued individually, and in his capacity as a principal in McAlister and Associates, PA; Pryor Mountain Quarry of Quitman and Lake Area Fish House of Heber Springs.

The suit alleges fraud, breech of fiduciary trust, breech of contract, conversion of funds, unjust enrichment and civil conspiracy.

Not specifically alleged or actionable, but implied, is breech of friendship.

Donald Griggs, who died in June 2006, and McAlister had been good friends for 29 years, McAlister said Tuesday.

In a handwritten letter in February 2005 inquiring where his money, interest and documentation were—an exhibit in the 46-page document—Dr. Griggs wrote to McAlister: “Mack, I consider you one of my best friends and I would do anything for you and I think you know it. Also, I always felt I could count on you, but Buddy, I’m beginning to wonder.”

“I only got involved in this because of you,” Griggs wrote of the $225,000 he had invested in Pryor Mountain Quarry, Inc.
“We were close friends for 29 years,” McAlister said, “involved in business transactions. Some were not as successful as we anticipated.”

Between February 2001 and January 2003, McAlister allegedly directed—with permission–$225,000 from the Griggs’ plans to Pryor Mountain Quarry, of which McAlister is president. The registered agent for the quarry is listed as Keith Moser, currently serving 188 months for widespread fraud.

Although McAlister allegedly promised to repay “loans,” pay 10 percent interest and convey 20 percent ownership in the quarry—and drew up papers to reflect that, no papers were ever executed or filed, according to the suit.

Barry Jewell, the lawyer who drew up the papers, was the lawyer for both parties, and was a former, although unindicted, law partner of Moser.

Plaintiffs allege that in May 2005, a month after Griggs wrote his (unacknowledged) letter de-manding his money back from McAlister, he nonetheless invested another $100,000 of pension plan money by cashier’s check, delivered to McAlister, this time payable to the Lake Area Fish House.

On Feb. 15, 2006, a second $100,000 from the plan was made payable to the Lake Area Fish House, also delivered to McAlister, according to the complaint.

McAlister originally represented the $200,000 as a loan to be repaid under the same terms as the Pryor Mountain Quarry, according to the suit. Again, no stock certificates or evidence of an equity investment were prepared or submitted by McAlister or the Lake Area Fish House.

Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Griggs inquired about that loan.

In September, Patrice Griggs received stock certificates for 75 shares, represented as 20 percent of fish house ownership, she said.

She said that in a meeting with McAlister, she was told the loan would not be repaid, and plaintiffs “would not receive profits, dividends or disbursements from the investment in the foreseeable future.”

Meanwhile, she has been subpoenaed by the government to document the funds or lack thereof in the retirement, pension and profit-sharing plans, according to the complaint. McAlister allegedly told her to provide the government with nothing but bank records.

In asking for actual and punitive damages, interest, court costs and attorneys fees, the plaintiffs allege that McAlister convinced his clients to invest to relieve his own exposure at the quarry and the fish house.

The complaint alleges that he failed to disclose inadequate capitalization and abnormally high risk of the ventures, failed to disclose the true financial situation of both and has used the funds for his own private purpose in an improper, unethical, unprofessional and illegal manner.

McAlister is chair of the Rebsamen Medical Center board of directors, former president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and a former Pulaski County Special School District board member.

McAlister’s firm has audited Jacksonville’s finances for more than 20 years.

“We always put the process out for bid and his firm comes in with the best bid,” Mayor Tommy Swaim explained.

“His audits have always been good and accurate. The private firm audits are always reviewed by the state, and we’ve never had any problems.”

The mayor added that the state just finished reviewing the last audit and found no problems.

The Leader could not reach either Patrice Griggs or her attorney, Tony L. Wilcox of Jonesboro.

TOP STORY >>General wants school built

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base wants to see a new elementary school at the base started much sooner than the 2009-2010 time frame currently called for in Pulaski County Special School District’s 10-year master facilities plan, Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz told the PCSSD board Tuesday night.

Schatz, the base commander, suggested that 50-year-old Arnold Drive Elementary, located on the base, be combined, if practical, with nearby Tolleson Elementary School in a new facility located on base property, but outside the fence.

The board has allocated $15 million for a new Arnold Drive school, which would be completed by 2011-2012 school year if the board doesn’t move up the start date.

“New facilities are needed immediately,” the general told the board.

“Airmen value education,” said Schatz, “and the educational opportunities here are not always on par with those (at previous stations).”

He said many choose to live in other school districts, send their children to private school or home-school them.

“Some must send their children to local public schools regardless of (the schools’) performance,” he said.

The general said he was starting an education campaign to bring parents, teachers and leaders together to identify programs and problems.

Schatz and several other officers were among 20 Jacksonville-area residents on hand to lobby the school board, but not all had the same agenda.

Jody Urqhart spoke for the World Class Education Organization of Jacksonville, asking board members Bill Vasquez and Danny Gililland to suspend the rules and vote during the meeting to include a new Jacksonville middle school on the 10-year plan.

Superintendent James Sharpe, announcing a special board workshop/meeting for 5 p.m. Monday in the boardroom, said he anticipated that a new Jacksonville middle school would be placed on the 10-year-plan at that time.

Bishop James Bolden, who lost his school board seat to Vasquez in September, challenged his successor to call for a vote on the matter immediately.

Jacksonville residents in attendance included Mayor Tommy Swaim, City Administrator Jay Whisker, First Arkansas Bank president Larry Wilson, Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien and state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville.

Schatz continues the campaign of his predecessor, Gen. Kip Self.

Self solicited the support of congressional and Jacksonville leaders to promote a new elementary school to replace either Arnold Drive, which is on base, or combine Arnold Drive and nearby Tolleson Elementary. District administrators signaled their intent to build a $15 million replacement last year when it appeared for the first time on the state-mandated school facilities master plan.

Changes to the existing plan, which must be submitted to the state by Feb. 1, call for construction of the new school during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school and fiscal years.

“We’re not in competition with Arnold Drive,” said Mark Wilson, a member of the World Class Education Organization of Jacksonville, which is working to get a new Jacksonville middle school built. He said anything that brings better academic facilities to the Jacksonville area is welcome.

Without inclusion on the plan, a new middle school building wouldn’t qualify for any state matching construction money.
Such a new school would cost roughly $30 million, according to Larry O’Briant, the district’s chief financial officer. Of that, the state could be expected to provide about $4 million, but only if the school is on the master facilities plan.

O’Briant said it could take about $200 million to build the necessary schools and make the necessary repairs throughout the district.

It would take an increase of 7.7 mills to raise that amount, according to Carey Smith of Stephens Public Finance Inc. He estimated that would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $154 a year in additional taxes.

Sharpe and the district board are exploring the feasibility of putting such a millage increase before district voters to finance school construction and repair, perhaps as early as next August. The district already is committed to completing the $13 million Chenal Elementary School for the 2008-2009 school year. A new, $25 million Sylvan Hills Middle School is slated for construction through 2010-2011 and occupancy in 2011-2012.

The new $40 million Oak Grove High School is on the same schedule. Before adjourning, the board considered decertifying the Pulaski Association of Support Staff, but apparently decided to discuss it later, after getting more information and making sure the union president could attend the meeting.

SPORTS >>Red Devils ‘grow up’ at Conway

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils ended up with third place in the Conway Invitational over the weekend. Jacksonville lost 68-57 to Benton in the semifinal round, then defeated the hosting Wampus Cats 53-48 Saturday in the third-place game. The team improved its overall record to 2-4 on the season.

In Friday’s game, Jacksonville was able to force a tempo that wasn’t to the Panthers’ liking, but wasn’t able to stop senior guard Brandon Jones, who piled up 34 points on the Red Devils.

Benton, who likes to sit back in a zone and play a slow style of ball, was forced to run with Jacksonville when the Red Devils came out with heavy pressure for the first time this season. The two teams traded baskets for most of the first half, but a couple of key mistakes at the end of the half by Jacksonville turned the game. With less than two minutes left in the half, Jacksonville committed two consecutive turnovers that Benton turned into points. It went from tied at 20-20 to Benton entering halftime with a 25-20 lead.

“That was the turning point of the game because we weren’t able to deal with going into halftime on a downer like that,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “I had a bunch of emotions and pouting and stuff to deal with before I could even make any adjustments. That set the tone in the third and they were able to get some distance.”

Jacksonville upped the tempo again in the fourth and tried to mount a comeback. Benton’s 49-33 lead at the end of the third was too much to overcome, despite Jacksonville’s game-high 24 points in the final frame.

Senior guard Terrell Eskridge led Jacksonville with 17 points while sophomore DeShone McClure added 15.

On Saturday, the Red Devils not only ended the tournament with a win, but also “grew up” somewhat, according to Joyner.
In a volatile atmosphere and a rowdy, very pro-Conway crowd, Jacksonville maintained its composure down the stretch to pull out a big win.

Jacksonville scored 38 of its 53 total points in the first and fourth quarters, scored five in the second and 10 in the third.
Their defensive pressure was enough to send the Red Devils into intermission clinging to a 22-17 lead, but that changed in the third when Conway exploded for 19 to take a 36-32 lead into the final frame.

It got worse from there. The Wampus Cats pushed the lead to as much as 10 points with just four minutes left in the game.
That’s when Jacksonville grew up.

Trailing by double digits with less than half a quarter left to play on the opposition’s home floor, the Red Devils not only rallied to get back into it, but won going away, closing the show with a 19-4 run.

Guards LaQuentin Miles and Eskridge led the comeback offensively, but it was the play of junior point guard Stanley Appleby that drew much praise from the head Red Devil.

Appleby had been the backup point guard to Eskridge through the first several games of the season, but took over the spot on a more full-time basis in order to move the 6-foot senior to the two and give the team another scoring threat.
Joyner believes he did a great job.

“Appleby played the best game he’s played since he’s been here,” Joyner said of the North Pulaski transfer. “He was aggressive and played with some confidence. He found the open man. He just did what we need him to do.”

The main thing that Joyner bragged about was the composure his team showed. Unlike the night before, when his team got down on the scoreboard, it didn’t get down on itself.

“We grew up a little bit,” Joyner said. “I’d like to say we grew up a lot, but we’ll have to wait and see how long this lasts. If this team will take that attitude into the rest of the season, we’ll be able to look back on this game as the game when we grew up, because that’s how it’s going to be in conference games. It’s going to be hostile and there’s going to be calls we don’t like, hostile crowds and we’re going to have to overcome those things. So I’m not going to say right now that this got us over the hump, but you can see progress.”

Miles led the Red Devils with 14 points against Conway while Eskridge finished with 11.

Jacksonville played at Little Rock Central last night after Leader deadlines, and will host a return match against crosstown rival North Pulaski on Friday.

SPORTS >>Falcons knock off Warriors, take fifth

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Warriors did not appear ready for battle against North Pulaski during the fifth-place consolation finals of the Ortho/Arkansas Invitational basketball tournament at Central Arkansas Christian on Saturday. The Falcons turned in a solid team performance, mixed with a runaway show from sophomore forward Da Quan Bryant on their way to a 66-53 win over Little Rock Christian Academy to close out their run in the three-day tourney. Bryant scored five points in the first 30 seconds of the contest to set the tone for North Pulaski, and went on to make plays on nearly every inch of the court to repeatedly crush Warrior attempts to put themselves back in the game.

Little Rock Christian made its runs in the second half, but never got any closer than a very brief one-point deficit toward the end of the thrid quarter. For NP coach Raymond Cooper, the confidence displayed by his team in the game was a welcomed change to the lackluster performance during the opening round on Thursday.

“We had been talking about working with a mind set of better self-discipline,” Cooper said after the game. “And talking about coming out and playing the basketball the right way – with good focus. We got them all in the same mind set, and I think they are beginning to understand that this is the way you are supposed to go out and play.”

Cooper was also able to inject his unique brand of humor in comparing Saturday’s win and Thursday’s loss.

“We have two teams at this point,” Cooper said. “The one you just saw today, that team can go out and compete with anyone in the 5A-East Conference on any given night. The one you saw Thursday, that bunch can be beaten by any team in America, including ladies’ programs.”

Byant’s performance agasint Christian in the first quarter was all bravado, as he scored eight points in the first eight minutes to lauch the Falcons to a 10-6 lead by the 4:37 mark. His first points came off the opening tip, as he took quckly took the ball down for the score and drew a foul on his way to the goal. Bryant converted the free throw, and was right back in scoring position when Joe Agee came away with a steal on the ensuing Christian possession. Agee got the pick and quickly dished it to Bryant, who found himself all alone under the bucket for the easy two.

A pair of back-to-back threes for Christian’s Mark Muncie in between a basket for NP’s Kyron Ware pulled the Warriors to within one, but Bryant would strike again, this time from the outside with a three-pointer to extend the Falcons’ lead back to four.

Cliff Harrison backed up Bryant’s early histrionics with eight points of his own in the remaining three minutes of the first frame. His shot off the glass at the 3:06 mark put the Falcons up 16-7, and a reverse move in the paint for two off a steal by Dave White gave North Pulaski its first double-digit advantage of the game at 20-10 with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Warriors kept pace for most of the second quarter, and went into halftime only trailing by five at 35-30. Christian gave its biggest challenge of the game for the third quarter, and was able to pull to within one near the end of the frame. Ware enjoyed a productive run in th third quarter with six unanswered points for North Pulaski that gave the Falcons a 43-34 lead mid-way through the period, but Brad Harell mounted an outside attack in the final 2:40 of the third quarter that resulted in three consecutive three-point baskets that pulled Little Rock Christian to within one, 47-46 with 41 seconds to go until the final quarter.

Bryant closed out the game just like he started it, with a energetic performance that resulted in three steals, along with six more points. His first steal only resulted in a free throw, but he took his final pick at the 3:18 mark coast to coast for a layup to give the Falcons at 59-48 lead that only grew in the final minutes.

Bryant led all scorers for North Pulaski with 20 points, and added eight rebounds, five steals and four assists. Aaron Cooper and Ware each added 14 points, and Harrison added 12. For the Warriors, Tanner Bailey led with 19 points, while Harrell added 14 points. The win improved the Falcons’ record to 3-4 on the season.

SPORTS >>Bruins get back at Cabot

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Panthers struggled most of the way, but made Pulaski Academy sweat it out late during a close 61-59 loss Saturday in the championship game of the Ortho/Arkansas Invitational basketball tournament Saturday night at Mustang Mountain on the campus of Central Arkansas Christian.

Momentum did not find its way to Cabot’s side until the final two mintues of the contest, but shaky free throw shooting in the final 15 seconds of the game prevented what would have been an incredble comeback by Cabot.

David Camp ended up as game decider for PA, when a foul by Tim Lawrence during a loose-ball scramble sent him to the line during the final second of the game for the Bruins.

Junior shooting guard Adam Sterrenberg tied the game for the Panthers moments earlier when he hit the back end of a two-shot free throw attempt, but Camp’s all-net foul shots gave the Bruins the lead for the final time to pull out the win.

“I think people got thier money’s worth on that one,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said of the exciting finale. “I’m proud of the way our kids battled back. They are growing up and starting to realize that you have to play hard from buzzer to buzzer when you compete at this high a level.”

The Panthers had a difficult time with Pulaski Academy senior Hansen Bartlett, who wreaked havoc on the Cabot D with several strong drives to the hole. Bartlett’s 14 points were a nice cap to a successful tournament for the PA senior, but Sterrenberg also had his moments of glory in Saturday’s finals for the Panthers. The junior engaged what would turn out to be a near game-stealing rally with 1:32 left in the game with an inside shot that pulled the Panthers to a 59-51 deficit, and followed a rare four-point play by point guard Trey Rosel with a three-pointer that brought Cabot to within a single point with 47 seconds left to play.

One Panther who did not enjoy Saturday’s finals was junior post player Miles Monroe. Monroe was held to a pair of second quarter baskets by the Bruins defense for one of his lowest scoring totals of the season, but also had to endure the relentless heckling of the obnoxiously-spirited PA student section.

Constant taunting during any play remotely involving Monroe was curiously looked over, and his final foul after a conversation between Academy post Cruise Williams and a game official late in the fourth quarter only added insult to injury for the 6’3” standout. The youngster kept his composure through the tough situation, but the emotion on his face showed as he walked to the bench to take a seat for the remainder of the game.

Williams’ dispute over a call in the third quarter resulted in a technical, but the otherwise consistant officials let his vocal displeasure toward what ended up as a double foul between he and Monroe slide in the late going. He would not be a factor in deciding the hard-earned win for the Bruins late, but his unsportsmanlike actions put a bit of tarnish on an otherwise impressive performance by the Bruins.

Austin Johnson went to the line with a chance to give Cabot its first lead of the game since the opening minute with 15 seconds left to play. He missed both ends, but the Bruins knocked the ball out of bounds going for the rebound to give possession back to the Panthers with a stopped clock.

Sterrenberg went for the winner with 10 seconds left and drew a foul. He also missed on the front end of the two-shot attmept, but swished the second shot to tie the game at 59-59. The Bruins missed what appeared to be the final shot of the game, but Camp was able to draw the foul before the buzzer to set up the game-winning trip to the line.

Monday, December 10, 2007

SPORTS >>North Pulaski dominates briefly, fades late at CAC

By JASON KING
Leader sports writer

For six minutes, the Falcons looked darn near invincible. The other 26 minutes would be a struggle, however, as Pulaski Academy dominated the second half of play to take an 80-65 win over North Pulaski Thursday night on Mustang Mountain during the opening round of the Ortho/Arkansas Invitational basketball tournament at Central Arkansas Christian.

The Falcons overcame an early deficit to steal complete momentum from the Bruins in the closing moments of the first quarter on their way to building an impressive 38-26 lead with 3:25 left in the first half. It would turn out to be the only swing of momentum for North Pulaski in the game, as Pulaski Academy found a way to control the boards during the second half, and found an unstoppable offensive threat in point guard Hanson Bartlett.

North Pulaski found itself in a hole right away. The Bruins rushed out to an 8-1 lead by the 5:43 mark of the first quarter, but Desmon Blair quickly evaporated that deficit for NP with three huge shots. Blair’s first jumper in the paint made it 8-3, and he followed a Du Quan Bryant basket with a three pointer that pulled the Falcons to within two at 10-8. He then followed a PA turnover with another shot behind the arc to give North Pulaski its first lead of the first quarter at 11-10.

The Bruins briefly took back the lead on a basket and free throw by Spencer Keith, but Bryant tied the score again moments later with a pair of free throws with 3:01 left in the opening frame to make it 13-13. Cruise Williams got the lead back for PA on the ensuing trip with a bucket and foul, and a shot by Bartlett scored to put the Warriors back up by two scores, but a three pointer by Dave White pulled the Falcons back to within one.

Pulaski Academy still lead 19-18 with less than 30 seconds left in the first quarter, but Ridge Williams started a spark at the end of the frame that would pull the Falcons through most of the following period.

His first shot came in impressive fashion off a rebound of a missed free throw by Cliff Harrison. Harrison hit the front end of his foul line trip to pull NP to within one, but Williams’ rebound off the glass turned into one of the most dazzling plays of the game. Harrison pulled down the board underneath the goal in heavy traffic, and quickly spun to the right. He then drove back into the lane quickly and got off the shot before the PA defenders could contest. That gave the lead back to the Falcons at 20-19, but Williams was not done.

Williams got the ball off a PA turnover moments later, and sunk a three-point basket to give the Falcons a 23-19 lead heading into the second quarter.

It looked like the second quarter would belong to the Falcons. White stayed strong outside with a three pointer that lifted NP to a 27-21 advantage, and baskets by Kyron Ware and Kelvin Parker put the Falcons up by eight at 31-23 with 4:24 left in the first half.

Sophomore Aaron Cooper put the Falcons up by double digits with a pair of free throws at the 4:06 mark, and hit a basket moments later to give North Pulaski a 38-26 lead. The Warriors made a brief run with a basket by David Camp and Bartlett to cut it to six, and would make an incredible run in the final minute to tie the game at halftime 43-43.

The Falcons kept pace with Pulaski Academy in the first part of the third quarter, but the Warriors eventually built a 10-point lead, mostly from the free throw shooting prowess of Bartlett. The PA guard 10 for 14 at the charity stripe in the second half alone, drawing fouls on nearly every trip into the NP paint. He converted some baskets to add fouls for three-point plays; others were traditional two-shot fouls that he converted with good accuracy.

The Falcons’ outside game had completely faded by the fourth quarter, allowing Pulaski Academy to hold court in the final eight minutes, and late fouls by NP would only increase the margin in the final minute.

Williams led the Falcons with 14 points. Cooper added 13 for North Pulaski, while Desmon Blair finished with 10 points.

Harrison added eight points, with seven points from Bryant and six for White. For PA, Bartlett led all scorers with 23 points, 13 of which came at the foul line. The Warriors advanced to play Little Rock Christian in the winner’s bracket last night, while the Falcons took on Clarksville in the consolation bracket.

SPORTS >>JHS win gets the monkey off back

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils put a W in the record books Tuesday night in the first round of the Conway Invitational. The Red Devils beat Morrilton 58-39. In the process they showed signs of the team head coach Victor Joyner wants to see.

“The defense played a lot better,” Joyner said. “We gave up 80 points in our last game, so to come out there and only give up 39 was obviously a big improvement.”

The Red Devils jumped out early and maintained a sizeable advantage for the rest of the contest.

Full-court pressure created steals and easy transition buckets in the first quarter. Junior forward LaQuinton Miles was the benefactor of many of those breakaways. He sparked the first-quarter run with 11 of his game-high 16 points in the opening frame, including a pair of transition dunks.

Jacksonville led 23-12 at the end of one period, but failed to put Morrilton away until the fourth.

The second quarter resembled the first defensively. Jacksonville continued to create turnovers, but failed to convert the turnovers into points.

“We didn’t put them away because we started making a bunch of mistakes,” Joyner said. “We’re just trying to be more aggressive right now and I think we did that. It’s just our inexperience that’s getting in the way right now. We’re going to have to play our way into shape and play our way into some experience. We’re being aggressive defensively, but we’re forgetting to box out on the shot. We got too many guys running up the floor before we have the ball. We’re probably going to keep making mistakes for a while, but if we’ll continue to be aggressive, some of that other stuff will come along. We got to learn to crash the boards harder too. The Devil Dogs cut into the Red Devils’ lead by halftime, but only by two points. Jacksonville went into intermission leading 34-25.

The margin grew back to 11 by the end of the third at 46-35, but the Red Devil defense clamped down again in the fourth quarter and allowed just four points. Jacksonville’s superior depth aided the fourth-quarter run.

“We played everybody,” Joyner said. “We played about 12 guys and we had ‘em pretty gassed in the fourth quarter. We got ‘em sped up and out of their game plan. There were some positive things to come out of this win. It’s always important to get that first win.”

Miles’ 16 led all scorers. DeShone McClure added 11 for the Red Devils.

The victory lifted Jacksonville to 1-3 on the season. They played tournament host Conway last night after Leader deadlines, and will finish the tournament today in either the tournament championship or the third-place game.

The Lady Red Devils lost their first-round game to the hosting Lady Wampus Cats. They will also be in action today to close out the tournament.

SPORTS >>Cabot hands Lions second loss in three days Tuesday

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The instant rematch wouldn’t be nearly as close.

The Panthers put together four quarters of solid basketball on their way to a 59-35 win over the Searcy Lions Tuesday night at the Cabot High School gymnasium. The two teams had played to the final buzzer just three days prior, but Cabot relied on inside domination of the boards, along with a bruising assault on both sides of the court by senior post Sam Bates in the final five minutes of the first half to make the second round much less dramatic.

“I thought we really got in gear there during the second half,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “We got them down, and we kept them down. That’s something we didn’t do a week ago.” Bridges was also pleased with the performance from his big senior during the runaway second quarter.

“He’s done that in other games here before,” Bridges said. “He has the capability. Sam is one of those guys that always brings a lot of energy into his performance. I thought he played a lot better defense than he has in a while tonight as well.”

The Panthers served instant notice that this would not be a repeat of their first matchup, rushing out to a 10-0 lead by the 5:11 mark of the first quarter. Bates and junior Adam Sterrenberg set the tone for Searcy’s long night, with an opening basket by Bates, followed by eight straight by Sterrenberg. Three long-distance rim rattlers by Sterrenberg, two of which were three pointers, put Cabot out by 10, and both would put in another basket after a Searcy timeout to extend the lead to 14-2 before a three-point basket by Aaron Coleman put the Lions briefly back into a single-digit deficit at 14-5.

Sterrenberg’s early hot hand cooled somewhat, but Austin Johnson kept the momentum of the outside game for the Panthers alive with a three pointer from beyond the top of the key at the 2:37 mark to put Cabot up 17-8, and hit a free throw moments later to increase the lead back to 10.

Searcy made its only major run of the night in the final two minutes of the first quarter. The Lions held momentum through the break between quarters, and quickly shrunk the Panthers’ lead with some impressive moves to the basket by junior forward Jordan Evans. Evans put his first points of the night on the board with an inside shot at the 1:41 mark of the first quarter, and made two unanswered baskets at the start of the first quarter to pull the Lions to within two at 18-16.

The opportunity to tie didn’t last long for Searcy. A three pointer by junior Jack Bridges put Cabot up by five, but the Lions answered in part with a pair of free throws by Coleman at the 5:57 mark to close the lead to 21-18 for the Panthers.

That’s when big 33 took over for Cabot. Bates drove inside for a shot and foul with 5:18 left in the first half, and followed that by getting his own rebound off a miss on the next trip after a Searcy turnover for a put-back shot. Sterrenberg took a shot from behind the arc that was just off on the following possession, but Bates was there once again for the board and second chance score. He capped off his eight-point frenzy in style, with a clean pick of Nathan Williams that he took coast to coach for the layup with 3:18 remaining in the half to put the Panthers ahead 29-18.

Another three-pointer for Bridges just before the buzzer gave the Panthers a 34-20 lead at halftime, and put a finishing touch on a first half that saw Cabot outshoot Searcy 66 percent to 40 percent, a margin that would only grow more in the second half, along with the Panthers’ lead.

Sterrenberg led all scorers with 22 points for Cabot, while Bates added 16 points and 10 rebounds, nine of which were offensive. Bridges and Johnson each added six points for the Panthers. For Searcy, Evans led with 15 points.

Cabot improves to 5-2 on the year, and will play at Beebe next Friday after taking part in the Ortho/Arkansas Invitational tournament over the weekend at CAC. The Lions fell to 2-5 on the year with the loss, and will host Beebe on Tuesday.

The Searcy Lady Lions made the night a split with a rather easy 50-40 win over the Lady Panthers in the opener Tuesday night. The speed and ball-handling prowess of Searcy junior Shantel Neely proved to be a tough pair of obstacles for the Lady Panthers to overcome.

That, along with a struggling shooting performance for Cabot allowed the Lady Lions to blaze through a 20-point first quarter, and overcome a sluggish quarter of their own in the first four minutes of the second frame.

The Panthers needed more outside offense from their senior combo of Leah Watts and Lauren Walker, but the real story would be the domination in the paint by senior Searcy post Taylor Clark, with second half help from sophomore standouts Lauren Harrison and Kristen Celsor.

“That’s something we’ve really tried to address during the last couple of practices,” Lady Lions coach Michelle Birdsong said. “We did really well for the first couple of games, and then we were just terrible on the boards after that. It took us a little while to get situated in the second quarter when they stepped up their defense, but I thought we did a nice job in the paint all night.”

Neely led the Lady Lions in scoring with 15 points and six rebounds, with nine points and nine rebounds by Clark. Celsor finished with eight points, and Harrison added seven. For Cabot, junior post Shelby Ashcraft led in scoring with 11 points, with 10 points from Walker.

The Lady Lions improved to 9-1 on the season with the win, and will host Lake Hamilton next Friday. The Lady Panthers fell to 3-3 on the year, and will take part in the Lady Chiefs Invitational tournament this weekend at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Mo.

OBITUARIES >> 12-08-07

Dorothy Landa

Dorothy Lee Landa, 84, of Jacksonville passed away Dec. 5.  She was born Sept. 6, 1923 in Jonesboro to the late James and Ela Gregg.  

She worked for the military in personnel at Memphis Municipal Airport’s Fourth Ferry Group, where she met her husband, Joseph. They were married for 61 years and during that time she worked as a homemaker.  They were members of the Second Baptist Church of Jacksonville.  

She was preceded in death by her parents; three sons, Michael Landa, Gregg Landa and an infant son, James Thomas Landa; and by one brother, Jon Griffin.  

She is survived by her husband, Joseph Landa of Jacksonville; one son, Robin Landa and wife Terri of Birmingham, Ala.; one sister, Sue Griffin Kuhn of Jupiter, Fla.; and grandchildren, Robin Landa and Erin Landa.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.  There will be a private family burial in Jonesboro following the funeral service.


Rasco White

Rasco Hollis White, Sr., 86, of Searcy died Dec. 5.

He was born Sept. 21, 1921, at Dewitt to James Hollis and Bessie Lee Davis White.

He was a retired farmer and an Army veteran of the Second World War. He was a member of Trinity Baptist Church of Searcy.
He was preceded in death by a son, Rasco Hollis White, Jr. and his parents. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; children, Larry Thomas White and wife Mary of Conway, Christopher Cansler and wife Carolyn of Dallas, Texas, Brenda Rose Moreland and husband Tom of Ft. Smith, Linda Canfield and husband Kenneth of Searcy, and Tracy Thomas and husband Steve of Beebe; 12 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews who loved him.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.


Ollie Stivers

Ollie Mae Stivers, 85, passed away Dec. 4.

She is survived by her children, John Stivers of Woodlawn, Don Stivers and Rickey Stivers of Little Rock, Maxine Ellison and Tammy Pounds of Benton, Ruby Wagner of Cabot, Mary Johnson and Veda Good of Lonoke, Shirley Basinger of Bald Knob, Ruth Reed of Judsonia and Lisa Rhodes of Hensley; 29 grandchildren, 51 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Funeral services were Dec. 7 at First Assembly of God Church in Lonoke officiated by Rev. Bobby McElroy and David Good. Burial was in Concord Cemetery. Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

EDITORIALS>>DuMond trips up Huck

Having climbed into the upper bracket of presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee last week faced the inevitable: questions about his long tenure as governor of Arkansas and not merely from bloggers and the conservative rich men’s club that has been chasing him relentlessly and futilely for six months. CBS, ABC, Fox News, CNN and major newspapers took their first long looks at the record of those 10 ½ years. It was a giddy but also rough week for our man.

We had anticipated this week and, in case he found us, had advised Huckabee on this page months ago that he needed to be candid and perfectly truthful about everything, even — especially — his occasional blunders. It is a lesson that politicians — Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon poignantly but also many others — learned too late to their everlasting regret. People will accept mistakes and forgive them quickly. Deception has a much longer life.

Thus Huckabee had to know from the day that he entered the presidential race a year ago that the sorrowful case of Wayne DuMond would surface and that he would have to deal with it. It has popped up from time to time all year but in out-of-the-way venues. Occasionally, a host on a national network like Fox News would ask him about it without pressing. Huckabee would say that that the rapist and killer was cut free by his predecessors, Jim Guy Tucker and Bill Clinton, and he washed his hands of it. The host always took the earnest preacher’s word and that was it.

For the uninitiated, Wayne DuMond was convicted of raping a Forrest City cheerleader and sentenced to life in prison. He had been the suspect in other rapes and while he was in the Army a murder, but the rape of Ashley Stevens was his only conviction. Before his trial, men broke into his home and castrated him. He always maintained his innocence and his spunky wife carried on a crusade to free him. As lieutenant governor, Huckabee took an interest in DuMond’s case, became convinced that he got a raw deal and promised to free him.

Several months after ascending to the governor’s office in July 1996, he acted. He sought and got a meeting with the state parole board. Behind closed doors — the recording secretary was sent from the room and the media were not notified, in violation of the law — he made his pitch to the board for DuMond’s release. What transpired there has always been in dispute. Several board members later said he had strongly urged them to parole DuMond and they agreed, and he always maintained that he didn’t. Shortly, the board voted 4-1 to parole DuMond. Huckabee issued a statement that day endorsing the decision and wrote a “Dear Wayne” letter to the prisoner saying that he was pleased that he was gaining his freedom. Therefore, he did not have to commute his sentence to time served so that he could walk out.

DuMond had learned something from his earlier encounters with rape victims, who were threatened with death if they told anyone. Ashley Stevens did. DuMond went to Missouri where he soon raped a young woman. He saw to it that there would be no more Ashley Stevens to tell on him. He murdered the young woman. He was the suspect in another woman’s rape and murder in the same neighborhood, but DuMond died in prison without standing trial for it.

Until late this week, Huckabee accepted no blame whatsoever for what happened, although he said he felt great sorrow for the victims and their families. In one famous line, he apologized for Clinton and Tucker. (The parole members were holdovers from the administrations of those men.) Neither Clinton nor Tucker nor anyone else, Huckabee said, could possibly have anticipated that DuMond would rape again and murder women. He said he had strenuously opposed DuMond’s parole after realizing that he would not be supervised. Of course, the record of his own words released by his office the day of the parole disputes that claim.

Then this week the online journal of Ariana Huffington carried more details about what Huckabee knew and what he did. Huckabee’s clemency aide and a current Huckabee backer said he attended the parole meeting with Huckabee and that the governor made an urgent plea in DuMond’s behalf, saying that the courts had been “nefarious” in sentencing him. And the governor received letters from other women in east Arkansas who said DuMond raped them but who were afraid to stand in court against him. A Forrest City police report recording DuMond’s admission to another rape — he later recanted the confession and the woman did not prosecute — was sent to Little Rock. The governor’s aide said one rape victim called the office to plead for the governor not to turn DuMond loose and the aide put her on the phone with Huckabee. It didn’t sway him.

Huckabee first denied that he had heard from other women about DuMond but, confronted with his aide’s account and the existence of the letters, he said he might have got one or two. Thursday he came as he ever would to accepting some blame, saying that everyone, including him, makes a regrettable mistake from time to time. “No one is perfect,” he said.

To this day, Huckabee’s decision to free a psychopath like DuMond seems unfathomable, but we also are sure that he acted at the time from honest compassion and that he believed that he was doing the Christian thing. As he pointed out on other occasions where he sped the release of violent felons and a businessman with a string of DWI convictions, the Constitution gives the governor clemency power so that he can exercise humanity when the cold machinery of law cannot.

But truth also is a Christian duty, and Huckabee will learn that it can be a political expedient, too.

EVENTS>> Fall 2007

Jacksonville Federal Employees will hold meeting

Jacksonville Chapter 1597 National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) will host its monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Western Sizzlin’ restaurant.

Members are asked to bring “white elephant” gifts, also bring non-perishable food or canned goods for the Care Channel. Come prepared to have Christmas dinner and play plenty of games.


Candle lighting ceremony on base Monday

Rabbi Pinchus Ciment of Chabad in Little Rock will light Hanukkah candles at 5 p.m. Monday in front of Little Rock Air Force Base chapel. Hanukkah is the Festival of Light, which celebrates the Israelites’ victory against foreign occupation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem.


Cabot High has new Parent-Teacher Organization

Cabot High School is creating a Parent, Teacher, Student Organization (PTSO). The initial meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thurs., Dec. 13 in the LOFT at the high school.

The organization stresses that student success is contingent upon the best effort of all involved: students, parents and teachers.


The Leader seeks your ‘Community Angels’ picks

The Leader seeks nominations for a holiday retrospective on members of the community who dedicate much of their time and energy to serving the public, including those in need.

If you know anyone who deserves to be recognized for their hard work serving our community, please e-mail leadernews@arkansasleader.com or call 982-9421.

TOP STORY >>Toy story: Buy them carefully

By CHRISTY HENDRICKS
Leader staff writer

The once-whimsical world of toys has changed.

In the 1920s, the teddy bear was introduced and Raggedy Ann dolls were among the most popular toys available. In the 1950s it was Mr. Potato Head, ant farms and Barbie. In the 1980s it was Cabbage Patch Kids, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nintendo. Homemade toys such as sock monkeys and wooden toys have also been popular through the years and the risks such toys imposed were little to none.

But things change. Homemade, handmade and wooden toys are no longer regular items found in homes with children. Today one will find video game systems, remote control toys, Easy-Bake Ovens, Baby Einstein toys and other magnetic or battery-operated gadgets.

The risks these toys pose have become an issue this year.

Since January of this year, there have been more than 150 recalls of children’s products and toys for reasons ranging from lead paint exposure to laceration hazard.

A Jacksonville child was hospitalized before Halloween after swallowing Aquadots, which were coated with the chemical gamma-hydroxybutric acid, also known as GHB, or the date rape drug. Most of the items recalled were made outside of the United States.

The much-publicized recalls have concerned shoppers and many are taking precautions during this holiday season.

“I would definitely say it’s affected my shopping. There are so many different toys that my 8-month-old used to be able to play with and now I’m worried what I can and cannot buy. What’s going to be recalled next week?” asked Bailey Fitzpatrick, a Cabot resident and mother of one.

“I’m more aware of what I buy for my kids and whether it was manufactured in the USA or not,” said Sara Burks, a Ward resident and mother of two, while shopping for Christmas gifts.

“I’m afraid to buy anything from China because I would hate for it to be recalled and have to take it away from my child,” said one Cabot mother of three.

Another shopper says she “really hasn’t (been affected) because I haven’t really thought about it.”

Most local retail stores, however, do not seem to be affected by the recalls.

“I think the public is aware of it. I get a lot of questions,” said Bob Covert, owner of The Toy Box in Searcy. “We haven’t been affected that much. We only carry one line (of toys) that has been recalled.”

The Toy Box carries mostly educational and developmental toys. The store also carries some old-fashioned games and toys.
In addition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall lists, a group known as World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., or W.A.T.C.H., publishes a “10 Worst Toys” list annually.

This year, the list included “The Dora Explorer Lamp.”

Buddy Childress, a Des Arc resident, was recently jailed after removing the dangerous toy from the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Searcy. He told the store manager that the lamp was on the dangerous toy list.

After speaking to the manager twice, asking him to remove the item from the shelf, Childress called police and told an officer what had happened inside the store. He told the officer that he intended to destroy the lamp and would be waiting for the police outside the store.

Childress was escorted to the back of the store by employees before police arrived, but not before he had the chance to stomp on the lamp.

When police arrived, Childress was arrested and taken to White County Dentention Center, where he was booked and given a ticket for shoplifting.

Wal-Mart has pressed charges and the case will be heard in court Dec. 13.

The W.A.T.C.H. list of the “10 Worst Toys” can be found at www.toysafety.org/worstToyList_index.html.

Consumers can visit the Consumer Product Safety Com-mission’s Web site, www.cpsc.gov, to find a list of recalls.

The CPSC has also released the ABC’s of Toy Safety, which includes the following tips and things to look for when buying for children.

Ride-on toys – Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be sized to fit.

Small Parts – For children younger than age 3, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

Magnets – For children under 6, avoid construction sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

Projectile toys – Projectile toys such as air rockets, darts and sling shots are for older children. Improper use of these toys can result in serious eye injuries.

Chargers and adapters – Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

To choose appropriate toys for children:

Be a label reader. Look for toy labels that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide.
Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Look for sturdy construction, such as tightly-secured eyes, noses and other potential small parts.

For all children under 8, avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.

Once the gifts are open:

Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things.

Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings or neighbors.

Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.

TOP STORY >>Base awards medals

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

In a celebration of military heritage, Brig. Gen. Wayne Schatz, commander of Little Rock Air Force Base, pinned three of the Air Force’s top medals on six service members from the past and present in a medal presentation ceremony on base Friday.

Schatz, service members at LRAFB and community members recognized three local veterans from the Vietnam era, who returned with the country’s highest decorations for bravery while serving in that conflict, but were never properly recognized and never personally presented their decorations.

“What we do today is set things right and recognize them publicly – do things proper,” Schatz said. “We’ve learned some lessons over the years, and recognizing our heroes is something we hold important for our armed forces, both past, present and future,” the general added.

Capt. Ret. Jerry R. Johnson and Tech. Sgt. Ret. Roy E. Mattocks were presented the Distinguished Flying Cross for their brave actions while performing their duties during Vietnam.

Master Sgt. Ret. James D. Smith was presented his Bronze Star and Purple Heart earned during his two tours in Vietnam.
Three current Little Rock airmen — Lt. Col. Geoffrey S. Ellazar, Tech. Sgt. Arnold E. Aschenbeck and Tech. Sgt. Darrell J. Horka — also received the Bronze Star for their service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Johnson served 12 years in the Air Force, from 1960-72, and was assigned to LRAFB as a navigator in the 61st Airlift Squadron at one time. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his extraordinary achievement on Dec. 6, 1970 while flying at night, armed reconnaissance mission on an AC-130 gunship in Laos.

According to the medal citation, Johnson’s actions led to the damage or destruction of 12 hostile supply vehicles and, without regard for his personal safety in the face of 220 rounds of hostile anti-aircraft fire, destroyed large amounts of supplies and ammunition destined for use against friendly forces.

Mattocks spent 21 years in the Air Force, ending his career as a first sergeant for the 16th AS, the predecessor to the 53rd AS.

He began as an aircraft mechanic and crew chief, and while serving in Vietnam in 1968 as a flight engineer, flew C-130 re-supply, container delivery airdrop missions to South Vietnamese troops at a remote outpost. In four passes over the drop zone, Mattocks and his fellow crewmembers were shot at by the Vietcong three times as they successfully delivered four loads of needed supplies.

Smith served in the Army for 20 years and was part of the 101st Airborne. During his first tour to Vietnam in 1965 as part of the 32nd Combat Engineers clearing road mines in-country, a sniper shot him, earning him the Purple Heart.

He received the Bronze Star during his second tour to Vietnam in 1969 while serving as a platoon leader for Company G, 801st Maintenance Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, Airmobile.

“His dedication to duty and professionalism contributed to the successful completion of convoy missions,” Johnson’s Bronze Star citation states.

Ellazar, deputy commander of the 314th Mission Support Group at LRAFB, received the Bronze Star for his service while serving as the inaugural commander for a unit in Balad, Iraq.

As commander from December 2006 to June 2007, his leadership over 390 rotational airmen delivered unparallel support to 12 Army and coalition joint task force mission areas across Iraq.

This was Ellazar’s second Bronze Star. He received his first for work during a prior rotation in Iraq.

Aschenbeck, a member of the 314th Readiness Squadron, and Horka, part of the 314th Logistics Readiness Squadron, received their Bronze Stars for what the general described as their “fantastic job leading their airmen” while commanding ground convoy missions.

“They did a phenomenal job getting the job done in what is traditionally not an Air Force mission,” Schatz said.

Aschenbeck successfully completed 13 convoy missions during 104 days in the Iraq area of responsibility; Horka successfully completed 14 convoy missions in 102 days.

Schatz said it was important to all families to see their loved ones properly recognized.

“We couldn’t do our duty without your love and support and we thank you for that,” he said.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Pearl Harbor marks 66th anniversary

(This column about the late McLyle Zumwalt first appeared here on Dec. 9, 1989 and is reprinted to mark the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.)

Most people think of retired Col. McLyle Zumwalt as one of the organizers of Pathfinder, which trains the developmentally and physically disabled in Jacksonville.

Many people remember him as the commander of Little Rock Air Force Base from 1966 to 1970, when he retired to go into business and helped build Pathfinder into the largest private organization of its kind in the state.

But even those who know him well probably don’t realize how much he accomplished in the military.

He trained bombing crews and commanded several bases, but it might astonish you to discover that he played a role in the nation’s atomic program.

In 1945, while he was assigned near Albuquerque, N.M., he provided air support for the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

While attached to the Manhattan Project, Zumwalt worked with Gen. Leslie Richard Groves, who headed the atomic program and kept the temperamental scientists in line.

Zumwalt met most of them: J. Robert Oppenheimer, the genius who was torn over the awesome power he was about to unleash; Dr. Edward Teller, the hard-charging Hungarian immigrant who later developed the H-bomb and had no qualms about it (and was the driving force behind Star Wars, which terrified the Soviets and eventually led to their downfall), and scores of other scientists who rallied around Gen. Groves and got the job done.

America had made its mind up to win the war, and nothing less than unconditional surrender was acceptable. That happened just over three years after America’s humiliation at Pearl Harbor, when the Axis powers seemed invincible.

Zumwalt is a Pearl Harbor survivor, and he spoke at the state Capitol marking the anniversary of that attack when America was caught off guard and yet quickly recovered and marshaled all of its resources to defeat two great totalitarian powers.

Since the Capitol rally was organized by the group Arkansas Peace Through Strength, the Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance had a clear message: America must not leave itself defenseless.

“We were unprepared to go to war at the time,” Zumwalt told us. “We were trying to build a fighting force in the Pacific and in the U.S., and if the Japanese had destroyed our carrier fleet, they would have had control of the Pacific.”
That didn’t happen.

“We were rebuilding as fast as we could come up with the equipment,” Zumwalt said. “Pearl Harbor solidified every American.”

The U.S. was caught off guard, but the devastation that was Pearl Harbor did not please the admiral who had organized the surprise attack.

“He said, ‘I’m afraid we’ve awakened a sleeping giant,’” Zumwalt recalled.

It was just before 8 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 at Hickman Field outside Pearl Harbor when 2d Lieut. Zumwalt, 22, saw the first Japanese plane approach the airfield and drop torpedo bombs on the flight line below.

More than 360 other planes followed in two waves over a two-hour period. Zumwalt, who had been in his apartment when he noticed the first plane approaching, immediately ran to the air strip and saw airmen dying all around him.

There had been extra guards on duty to prevent sabotage on the ground.

“The thing that made it so devastating is that we had reinforced sabotage alert,” Zumwalt said. “We had more airmen there. The aircraft were parked so we could get maximum security.”

Instead, the planes were sitting ducks as the Japanese continued their ferocious bombing.

“They strafed us from almost plane level, and they left us when they ran out of ammunition,” Zumwalt said. “The base commander was trying to save planes and was caught on the ramp, and the only protection he had was how close he got to the pavement.”

Zumwalt went on, “I was the officer guard for a week prior to Sunday, and I got acquainted with most of the men. Most of the security people were lost in the first attack. I knew most of those boys.”

“The flight line was the worst place to be,” Zumwalt continued. “You’re trying to function for two hours moving the airplanes and moving the wounded, but the Japanese kept coming.

They were hitting all their targets. They lifted the roof off a large maintenance depot. We lost 188 planes and 63 were damaged. We had 30 planes left.”

Out in the harbor, the destruction was just as terrible. Four battleships were sunk and others damaged. Thousands of servicemen were dead and wounded.

“We only had one B-17 left,” Zumwalt said.

There were a few more of the less sophisticated B-18s left.

“The next day, we took off. I flew out in a B-18, which had three 30-caliber guns you cranked up manually,” he said, giving you an idea how much catching up the country had to do. Eventually, the fighting forces caught up with the enemy and delivered stunning blows in the Battle of Midway and Wake Island and Guadalcanal, where Zumwalt saw action.

“We had broken the Japanese code,” he said, “and we were able to be alerted that they were approaching. We didn’t know exactly when and where, but we knew they were coming.”

Things had changed since Pearl Harbor, but its lessons are no less valuable than they were in 1941. Just ask the survivors.

TOP STORY >>Hope for new health unit high

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

The new health department that Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams hoped would be approved for funding this year wasn’t, but Dr. Paul Halverson, director of the Arkansas Department of Health, was in town Friday in part to look at the site where the mayor wants the building to go, so hope that it will be approved in 2008 is running high.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ll be funded, but it’s not a given,” said Milton Garris, administrator for the health departments in Cabot and Lonoke.”

Halverson does not sit on the committee that will recommend in March which projects will be next in line for 90 percent state funding, but Garris said Halverson’s recommendation for a new Cabot facility would carry weight with the committee and with the board of directors of the Arkansas Department of Health which will vote on the committee’s recommendations in April.

Currently, Jacksonville, Star City and Cabot, in that order, are in line for funding. But Ed Barham, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, said after the meeting in Cabot that the order could change during the March committee meeting.

“We have more needs than we do funding,” Barham said. “But we do believe this is a worthy project and we’d like to be able to help.”

Proponents of building a new facility like Williams, Garris and District Director Carey Woods, say that at 1,200-square-feet, the old facility is too small for a growing area like Cabot.

Woods said the Cabot Health Department needs to expand its services for women and children, and to place more emphasis on communicable diseases like tuberculosis that are on the rise. “It never really went away, but it’s making a comeback,” Garris said.

Williams is determined to keep the downtown area alive and for that reason he wants the proposed 16,000-square-foot facility to be built on the vacant lot beside the old post office on South First Street that housed the public works until recently when that city department moved to the old Community Bank building beside city hall.

The plans for the new facility have already been drawn by architect Bob Schelle. The city will donate the lot.

To make such a large structure fit in the relatively small space, it will be attached to the old post office. Williams said the fa├žade of that old building will be updated to make it match the new one.

Halverson was complimentary of the plan that Williams laid out and appeared pleased with the location.

He also commented on how important it is for growing cities to attempt to improve infrastructure to meet the needs of residents.

Williams said the location of the current health department is the worst possible.

It is located beside the library and senior citizen center, but if someone doesn’t know where those two facilities are it would be nearly impossible to give directions to the health department, he said.

The proposed new facility would be easy to access and within walking distance of pharmacies.

TOP STORY >>Land feud renewed between two cities

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville will vote on annexing the Gravel Ridge area on Feb. 5, and then the expectation is that Sherwood will vote on annexing the same area, although no date has been filed with the Pulaski County Election Commission.

But ultimately, it could be Gravel Ridge’s choice which municipality gets the 2,500 acres of about 2,000 people.

Jacksonville City Administrator Jay Whisker, who served six years as the city engineer, said that in the Jacksonville election both the residents of Jacksonville and Gravel Ridge will vote. In the Sherwood election, it would be the residents of Sherwood and Gravel Ridge voting.

Since the cities have the larger voting blocking, annexations of this type are usually approved.

Whisker said if both Jacksonville and Sherwood approve the annexation, then a third election will have to be scheduled for just the residents of Gravel Ridge.

“The question then for them won’t be if they want to be annexed, but into which city do they want to be annexed,” Whisker explained.

What would Jacksonville or Sherwood gain by annexing the Gravel Ridge area? Both land and population. Both cities are running out of affordable or usable land for housing and commercial developments. Gravel Ridge would instantly increase the population of either city by about 8 percent. Good news for Jacksonville, which has remained relatively stagnant over the past 10 years. For Sherwood, an additional 2,000-plus people would bring it closer to surpassing Jacksonville’s population.

Annexation also brings in a tax base of homes and more than two-dozen businesses. That tax base could help Jacksonville bolster its efforts for its own separate school district.

Besides available land for development, the proposed route for the North Belt Freeway goes through a portion of Gravel Ridge, and at least one off-ramp, near Kellogg Valley, will exit into Gravel Ridge, opening that area up to additional development.

By picking Feb. 5 as its date to vote on the Gravel Ridge annexation question, Jacksonville is saving money. The annexation question will piggyback on to the presidential primary vote scheduled for that day. This means the state will pay most of the election costs.

“Jacksonville will have to pay the extra printing cost for the ballots and maybe for a few poll workers,” explained Melinda Allen with the county election commission.

That will amount to a lot less than the normal $10,000 to $20,000 cost for a special election.

Gravel Ridge will be the second piece of acreage that Jacksonville and Sherwood are in competition for.

The first area is 2,000 acres of undeveloped land north of Sherwood and west of Jacksonville. Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines and a lower court have approved Sherwood’s annexing that area, but Jacksonville has appealed to the state Supreme Court. The case may not be settled until after the Gravel Ridge issue is resolved.

Jacksonville City Attorney Robert Bamburg said the first round of responses from the city’s appeal is not due until the end of the month, and then the parties will have another 90 days to respond.

“It’ll probably be at least March before the court has everything it needs to make a ruling,” he said.

If Sherwood ends up with both annexations, its city limits will stretch at least seven miles in a south-north direction, from exit 3 off Highway 67/167 to the northwestern edge of Little Rock Air Force Base, effectively blocking any westerly expansion of Jacksonville.

The undeveloped acreage currently in dispute is owned by four individuals or companies. The owners of the acreage—Greg Heslep, Byron McKimmey, Metropolitan Realty and Lilac LLC.

They volunteered to come into Sherwood in early 2006. Sherwood accepted the voluntary petition, but Jacksonville objected.
The issue was directed to the Pulaski County Quorum Court, where Villines ruled in favor of Sherwood taking in the land.
Jacksonville appealed again and the case went to circuit court where Sherwood won again.

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

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

Jacksonville also has planning jurisdiction over the area, which includes complying with the Air Force’s restrictions on commercial and residential growth in the area.

The Air Force requires low density housing in the areas off its runway as a safety precaution. Sherwood has said it would honor the development agreement with the military.

TOP STORY >>Guard unit back from year-long Iraq duty

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

Master Sgt. Terry Martin of Cabot returned home Thursday after a year-long deployment in Iraq.

Martin is a member of the 77th Aviation Brigade’s Army Airspace Command and Control Team (A2C2) based out of Camp Robinson.

He was one of six members of a team that returned Thursday night. Members were responsible for ensuring airspace safety through ground fire and air mission coordination for all aviation assets in theater.

Loved ones greeted Martin at the Little Rock National Airport.

The A2C2 Team promotes the safe, efficient and flexible use of airspace. According to the Army, airspace control enhances air defense operations and allows for more flexibility in operations. The A2C2 team is necessary to protect and monitor a combat zone and also develops and implements plans to support ground troops’ maneuvers.

High numbers of aircraft and weapons systems must share airspace without hindering each other’s duties. Joint airspace duties are necessary to ensure the effectiveness of air, land and maritime forces. The A2C2 team left Arkansas on Nov. 25 last year for an abbreviated training period prior to heading overseas just one week later.

With the return of this group of soldiers, the Arkansas National Guard still has 300 soldiers and airmen mobilized in Iraq. More than 3,000 more are preparing for deployment with the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for that unit’s second tour of duty during the Iraq war.

With more than 10,000 soldiers and airmen, the Arkansas Guard has supported the mobilization of more than 8,000 troops since Sept. 11, 2001. According to the Guard, many of Arkansas’ troops have served in two or more mobilizations.