Saturday, November 22, 2008

SPORTS>>Red Devils season ends in Pearcy

By PHIL SKAGGS
Special to the Leader

PEARCY — The fuse never lit for Jacksonville Friday night. Lake Hamilton’s suddenly inpregnable defense saw to that.

After snuffing an early threat, the Wolves posted their third straight shutout in a dominant performance, and David Church and quarterback Phillip Butterfield each ran for two touchdowns as Lake Hamilton rolled into the Class 6A semifinals with a 41-0 quarterfinal rout of the Red Devils at Wolf Stadium.

The win sets up a showdown next Fridat at 6A top-ranked West Memphis, which advanced with a win over Texarkana.

Church pace an effective Wolves ground game with 139 yards on 20 carries. He scored on a 4-yard run to cap the game’s first drive, and from 1 yard out on the 8-3 Wolves’ first drive of the second half.

The fourth of Brett Miller’s five point-after kicks made it 28-0, and the Arkansas Activities Association’s running-clock rule went into effect after Butterfield tossed a 30-play touchdown pass to Tauno Vannucci on the play following Vannucci’s 17-yard punt return.

Miller made it 35-0 with 3:34 left in the third quarter.

“Everybody was just blocking really well,” Church said of his big night, which ended after Kenny Rains recovered a Jacksonville fumble late in the third period. “They just couldn’t stop the run. Don’t stop what’s not broken, you know.”

Jacksonville’s offense, meanwhile, couldn’t get started after it first possession ended on downs at Lake Hamilton’s 27 yard-line.

The Red Devils, finishing 6-6, picked up three first downs on the drive, which started after a 58-yard Lake Hamilton drive for Church’s first TD, but were held to two the rest of the game.

The shutout runs the Wolf defense’s string of scoreless quarters to 13, dating to the fourth quarter of a 38-21 win over El Dorado. Lake Hamilton held Jacksonville to 81 total yards. The Wolves had 334.

Jacksonville’s only threat came after Patrick Geans ran for 24 yards on a fake punt from the Red Devils’ 29.

After two more first downs, the drive stalled at Lake Hamilton’s 27, with quarterback Logan Perry getting rushed into an incompletion by a blitzing D.J. Bell.

SPORTS>>Lonoke girls pull stunner, reach finals

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

It may be only November and it may be the finals of an early-season tournament, but it felt like March and the state tournament after Lonoke posted a stunning and impressive 57-50 win over Class 6A’s Little Rock Parkview on Thursday night.

Asiah Scribner posted her second double-double of the season and the Lady Jackrabbits rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to nail down one of the biggest wins of head coach Nathan Morris’ tenure.

“That win goes up there with the big ones as far as my years here,” said Morris, whose team must contend with 7A North Little Rock tonight in the finals of the RAPA Roundball Rally at Little Rock Hall. “We’re not even thinking about North Little Rock right now. We’re going to enjoy this. It’s a big one to come over here and make the finals of this tournament.”

The Lady Jackrabbits, state runners-up in 4A the past two seasons, used a 14-5 run early in the second half to overcome a 5-point deficit. Scribner’s drive and left-hand lay-up put Lonoke ahead 33-32 at the 9:56 mark and the Lady ’Rabbits never trailed again.

Lonoke won despite getting only two points from sophomore sensation Cara Neighbors, who contributed in other ways, Morris said.

“She’s a sophomore,” he said. “There were nights last year when our sophomores struggled. When you’re a sophomore, you’re going to have growing pains. But she came in and had a great second half, had some big rebounds in the second half.”

Neighbors, along with Michaela Brown and Ashleigh Himstedt provided the Lady Rabbits with sterling guard play, especially on the defensive end. Though Parkview’s outstanding guard Micah Rice managed to score 19 points, Lonoke’s pressure defense forced the Lady Patriots — 10-point winners over Cabot in the first round — into 19 of 61 shooting and 12 turnovers.

“Michaela frustrated Micah all night tonight,” Morris said. “Micah couldn’t get away from her. She and Ashleigh are two of the best defensive guards in the state.”

Himstedt was fearless all night, driving to the basket against the rangy Lady Pats, scoring 16 points and dishing out a pair of assists.

“Ashleigh was a bit unsung a year ago,” Morris said. “But she’s been doing that all summer. She’s been busting her tail to improve. Every time we had a team camp or an AAU tournament, she was there busting her tail.”

Lonoke looked overmatched early as Parkview raced to leads of 5-0 and 11-5. But Lauren Harper’s three-pointer sparked an 11-0 run and Scribner’s basket off an inbounds play had Lonoke up 16-11 with 5:06 left in the opening half. Three buckets by Ryven Jackson to close the half put Parkview up 24-20.

Brown’s three-pointer early in the second half narrowed the gap to two and Scribner’s putback basket and two free throws by Himstedt knotted it at 30 at the 10:43 mark.

Erin Shoemaker may have delivered the bucket of the night when she drilled a three from the left of the circle 10 seconds after Parkview had cut the Lonoke lead to two with seven minutes remaining.

After Rice got a steal and a bucket to once again cut the Lonoke lead to two, Shoemaker took a fast-break feed from Neighbors for a breakaway basket with 6:20 left, and Parkview never got closer than four the rest of the way.

Scribner led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“She’s really coming along,” Morris said. “She pulled down some big rebounds when we didn’t block out. She just out-athleted them and went and got the ball. And Erin came in for the second straight game and scored seven.”

Brown added 10 points to go along with two assists and four steals. Shoemaker had seven points and four rebounds off the bench. Lonoke make 16 of 45 shots and 22 of 35 free throws. They turned it over just 11 times.

“That goes back to our leaders with our guards,” Morris said. “And we had good bench play tonight. It was an all-around great win.”

Lonoke plays North Little Rock at 8:30 tonight.

CABOT 73, HALL 50

Shelby Ashcraft scored 19 points as Cabot bounced back from their opening round loss to Parkview.

The Lady Panthers (2-1) led 37-23 at the half.

Jenna Bailey added 11, Amber Rock eight, Stephanie Glover seven and Amalie Benjamin six. Cabot takes on Bald Knob in the fifth-place game at 4:30 today.

SPORTS>>Pulaski Academy pounds Badgers

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

A quick glance at the numbers and you might have thought that Beebe had hit upon the perfect formula for success against Pulaski Academy on Friday night.

The Badgers had 10 more minutes of possession time, rushed 45 times for 260 yards and passed for another 88. And the prolific Bruins had, for them, a modest 436 yards of total offense.

How then did it all add up to a 63-21 pasting and the second straight lopsided loss to end a Beebe season? Five turnovers is how. That, and a Pulaski Academy offense that appears all but unstoppable.

“It’s one of the best offenses I’ve ever faced in 18 years of high school football,” said Beebe head coach John Shannon, whose Badgers finished the season 9-3. “Their quarterback and those two receivers get all the credit, but what makes them go is that offensive line.”

Those two receivers — Carson McKnight and University of Arkansas signee Neal Barlow — combined for 11 catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Spencer Keith connected on 21 of 28 passes for 306 yards and six touchdowns.

“We had some different packages to try to confuse them,” Shannon said. “To try to get some pressure. But their offensive line is so good that he had all day to throw. Eventually, he’s going to find somebody. We got them in third and long a couple of times and they made the critical plays.”

Beebe’s sensational fullback Sammy Williams closed out his career with a 138-yard performance to finish the year with more than 1,700 yards. The Badgers had offensive punch throughout the evening, getting big holes for Williams, Brandon Pursell and Luke Gardner to run through.

But three first-half turnovers — one especially critical one down at the Pulaski Academy goal line — put the Badgers in a 42-7 halftime hole. That, despite the Badgers piling up 266 yards and 10 first downs. But Keith was already 19 of 23 for 272 yards by then.

The Bruins (11-1), who will face Greenwood next week, scored 63 points for the fourth time in 12 games, including the second straight week. They jumped on Beebe early and if the ground-oriented Badgers were to have any chance in this one, they couldn’t let that happen.

The Bruins scored a minute and 18 seconds into the contest on Keith’s five-yard pass to Caleb Jones, then added another quick score on D.J. Daniels’ 31-yard run with 8:06 left in the first period. Beebe quarterback Roger Glaude connected with Gardner for a 61-yard pass down to the Bruin 11, but the drive stalled and Glaude was picked off at the goal line and PA scored two minutes later on Keith’s 9-yard pass to Adam Beebe to make it 20-0 with 2:04 left in the opening period.

The Badgers mar-ched 93 yards on 10 plays to cut into the lead when Gardner went over from six yards to make it 20-7 early in the second period. But there was simply no stopping the Bruin machine on Friday. They answered with a 6-play, 66-yard drive with McKnight hauling in a three-yard pass from Keith to make it 28-7.

A fumble two plays later set up the Bruins at the Beebe 49. Four plays later, Barlow caught his first touchdown pass, this one from five yards. Whatever hope the Badgers still retained was lost when Williams fumbled the ensuing kickoff and PA recovered at the Beebe 28. Keith hit Barlow from two yards and the rout was on.

By halftime, Pulaski Academy had had the ball for less than eight minutes, but had converted all five of their possessions into touchdowns. The average drive was 50 yards and took an average of just a minute, 26 seconds.

Glaude hit Pursell in stride for a 49-yard touchdown pass to open the second half to make it 42-14.

“I was proud of the kids for not quitting,” Shannon said. “We knew the mercy rule was in effect for the second half and I challenged them to see what kind of character they had. That’s the proudest thing about this program, they never quit.”

But the Bruins scored three consecutive touchdowns with a continuously running clock, including one when Pete Lowery stripped Williams of the ball and ran it in from 29 yards.

“One thing we knew coming in we couldn’t do was turn it over,” Shannon said. “When you turn it over five times against anybody, it’s going to be a long night. It kind of sealed our fate right there.”

In addition to Williams’ 138 yards on 23 carries, Gardner added 51 on nine totes and Pursell 40 on seven. Pursell also caught four passes for 72 yards. Glaude was 6 of 9 for 88 yards.

The Badgers will say goodbye to a large number of seniors.

“It was a great group of seniors,” Shannon said. “They won 17 games over two years and not many teams in the state of Arkansas can say that. We’re going to miss them a lot.”

As far as the second straight demoralizing finish to a season, Shannon said it was an opportunity to build.

“It’s makes us see how far we have to go,” he said. “Last season, we made it to the playoffs. This year, we made it to the second round. We’re making progress, but we have a ways to go to get up there with the powerhouses like Greenwood and PA.

But I’m happy as long as we’re making progress.”

SPORTS>>Red Devils cruise past Lions in season opener

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Red Devils opened their season with an impressive and tension-filled 63-54 win over Little Rock McClellan on Tuesday night at the Devils Den.

The Devils were in complete control until emotions began to run high in the third quarter. In that time, Little Rock McClellan cut a 39-24 halftime Jacksonville lead to 44-39, but the Devils were able to pull away late for the win.

The Lions bench appeared to be frustrated by what they saw as too-aggressive play by the Red Devils and that led to more aggressive play by McClellan. That eventually led to a brush between Jacksonville post Antwan Lockhart and the Lions’ big man.

“It was one of those games that had a playoff atmosphere,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “It’s a good thing to get challenged that early. We didn’t execute down the stretch like I wanted them to.”

The scuffle was broken up before any real damage was done and order was restored. The Devils didn’t let the tension distract them from their overall game plan, as Deshone McClure clicked off seven fourth-quarter points to help Jacksonville pull away late.

Joyner was pleased to see the maturity on the court when things got tense.

“They got frustrated – they got it down to eight and they couldn’t get over that hump,” Joyner said. “They were cross-talking, and I sent my captain over there to tell the officials. I knew it was getting ready to blow up. But we regrouped, and one of our guys even said let’s go beat them with our play and that’s what we did.”

The frustration for McClellan started early. McClure proved to be a big mismatch for the Lions’ smaller guards right from the start, and attempts at sealing off the standout with double coverage left teammate Laquinton Miles without a defender in sight.

He took advantage of that gift first at the 2:31 mark of the first quarter with a three-point basket that put Jacksonville up 15-9, and he struck from the far side of the arc again with 6:31 left in the half to extend the lead to 24-15.

Cortell Eskridge and Lockhart split duties on the low block. Eskridge outrebounded McClellan on both sides, and Lockhart pounded it inside for nine points in the first half. The Lions measured up to Jacksonville in height, but lacked the overall bulk and strength to contain the duo. That, combined with having virtually no answer for McClure’s speed, led to 11 trips to the foul line for the Red Devils in the first half alone.

Lockhart put up five points early on in the second quarter, and Miles added seven more in the final 1:30 of the half to give the Red Devils a 39-24 lead at the half.

Scoring was at a minimum for Jacksonville in the third quarter. The Lions took advantage with a 13-5 run during the period to make it a five-point Jacksonville lead at 44-39 heading into the final eight minutes.

Miles led the Red Devils with 24 points. McClure added 17 for Jacksonville. The Red Devils will host North Pulaski on Tuesday.

SPORTS>>Jacksonville girls fall to Benton in opener

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Improved defense in the second half gave the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils a chance, but missed opportunities at the free-throw line left them empty-handed against Benton on Tuesday at the Devils Den in a 49-42 loss in their season opener.

The Lady Devils went 2 of 10 at the charity stripe in the final period after cutting an early 24-12 Benton lead in the first half down to 36-35 in the final six minutes. The Lady Panthers’ excessive fouling, combined with the Lady Devil’s improved defensive rebounding in the fourth quarter, pepped up a game that threatened to be a snoozer in the first half.

Benton also took advantage of the Lady Devils’ slow start, rushing out to a 7-0 lead before Jacksonville junior post Jessica Lanier scored inside on an assist from Crystal Washington at the 5:24 mark of the first quarter.

The Lady Panthers held on to the momentum early on by switching from zone to man defense, but a flurry by senior guard Tyra Terry cut the lead to 12-9 by the end of the opening frame.

She started with a free throw at the 1:27 mark to cut the lead to 10-5 when Benton was called for a technical foul on an illegal substitution, and followed with a jumper off the glass moments later. Julie Davis added two for Benton after that, but Terry ended the quarter with a steal and coast-to-coast lay-up to cut it to three.

The second quarter started even slower for Jacksonville. The Lady Devils went 0 for 10 through the first 5:39 of the frame, allowing Benton to build a 24-12 lead.

The Lady Devils finally began to find Lanier again on the low block. The 6-0 junior hit two inside baskets in the final 1:46 to cut the lead at halftime to 24-17.

Terry and Lanier pulled the freight in the first half, but Apollonia Sims got in the mix during the third quarter. Sims hit a basket at the 5:58 mark, and then tacked on a free throw at the 3:52 mark to make the score 29-22. She had a scary moment later on in the period when she took a head-first dive into the front of the scorer’s table, but was able to shake it off and return for the final quarter.

Benton’s consistent scoring in the first half began to slow down in the third quarter. An early three-pointer by Davis and another basket at the 4:04 mark were the Lady Panthers’ only points until the final 1:24. In that time, the Lady Devils played catch up with a basket by Washington and two free throws by Sherice Randell. Terry finally pulled Jacksonville to within one score when she drove the paint for a basket at the 2:27 mark to make it 29-28.

The momentum traded hands a couple of times after that. Randell hit a three-point shot with 2:32 left to play to cut it to 43-42 Benton, but the Lady Red Devils missed 6 of 6 free throws in the waning moments to allow Benton to score the game’s final six points.

Terry led the Lady Red Devils with 12 points. Lanier added seven points and led in rebounding with 10. Washington and Randell each added eight points for Jacksonville.

SPORTS>> Jackrabbits move on to quarterfinals

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Any doubts that Lonoke might be rusty after having a bye week were quickly put to rest on Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium. The Jackrabbits scored on their first four possessions in the first half, and held off a third-quarter run by Warren for a 45-24 win in the second round of the 4A state playoffs.

The win puts the Jackrabbits (10-1) in the quarterfinals next week, when they will travel to Springdale to face Shiloh Christian Academy. The Saints (10-1) easily advanced to the quarters with a blistering 84-14 win over Clarksville on Friday.

A 52-yard touchdown run by Lumberjack senior running back Dedrick Hampton with 7:45 left in the third quarter pulled Warren (9-3) to within two scores at 31-18, and the ’Rabbits struggled to get their offensive rhythm back until the middle of the fourth quarter.

They finally put together their second scoring drive of the half on an eight-play, 37-yard drive that was capped off with a 6-yard sneak by senior quarterback Rollins Elam with 8:11 left to play to extend the lead to 38-18, then put up one ball,” Lonoke coach Jeff Jones said. “Their defense settled in and gave us fits there in the second quarter. They’re a fine ball club. We’re just fortunate to come out with a win.”

The Lonoke secondary came up big on the first two Lumberjack drives, intercepting quarterback Hayden Smith both times. Todd Hobson pulled down the first pick to set up a 36-yard scoring drive that put the Jackrabbits up 12-0 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Clarence Harris.

Darius Scott got the next interception on a rocket up the middle intended for Raheim Alford that gave Lonoke great field position at the Lumberjack 32-yard line.

It took the ’Rabbits only three plays to get the job done from there, with a 25-yard bomb from Elam to Michael Howard that put Lonoke up 18-0 with 4:36 still left in the opening quarter.

Elam needed every bit of his 13-of-16 performance in the first half. The senior had different fortunes altogether in the second half, going 1 of 12 for 24 yards and an interception. His made his only completion of the second half count, however, with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Howard at the 8:05 mark of the third quarter to lift the Jackrabbits to a 31-12 lead.

“I don’t know if it was sitting around getting cold or whatever,” Jones said. “Or trying to be too cautious with the ball. Maybe that was it, but we need to figure it out and get it corrected.”

Warren’s third-quarter rally began with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Quinn Franklin on the first play of the ’Jacks second possession of the half. Smith went for the two-point conversion but was shut down by the Lonoke defensive line.

They also failed to convert the two-point try following Hampton’s 52-yard scamper, as the Lonoke defense held them in check until Warren drove to the Jackrabbit 1-yard line as time expired.

“Our defense played outstanding,” Jones said. “We knew that they were a big-play team, and we were able to avoid that in the first half. But they came out in that second half. We knew we were going to get tested, and we did. It’s hard to stop that speed.”

Scoring came much easier for Lonoke in the first half. The first ’Rabbit drive went 70 yards, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Brandon Smith, the first of three TD runs for the junior tailback. Harris and Howard turned the Jackrabbit picks into points after that, and Smith scored on the first play of the second quarter on a 1-yard run to set the 25-6 halftime margin.

Elam was 14 of 28 passing for 177 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Smith had 17 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Howard caught five passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Clarence Harris rushed 24 times for 175 yards and one touchdown.

The Jackrabbits had 461 yards of total offense with 20 first downs.

Hampton led the Lumberjacks offensively with 207 all-purpose yards. He rushed 18 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and had seven receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown. Warren had 422 yards of offense with 13 first downs.

SPORTS>> Cabot falls short

By RAY BENTON
Special to The Leader

The Cabot Panthers dominated the line of scrimmage on first and second down Friday night against the Springdale Har-Ber Wildcats, but third down was all the visitors needed to win the game.

The 7A-West No. 2 seed converted three third-down and 10’s on its last drive of the game, a drive that put Har-Ber up for the first time in the game at 21-17 with 3:19 to go. Cabot threatened on the ensuing drive, but the Wildcats held the Panthers out of the end zone to advance to the semifinals of the playoffs. Cabot finished the season 9-2.

The Panthers took possession with 3:11 on the clock and promptly drove from its down 36 all the way down to the Wildcat 6-yard line. On first and goal with just over a minute remaining, an option pitch fell to the ground. Cabot covered, but it was an 11-yard loss and Cabot was forced to the air. On the very next play, Har-Ber’s Russell Reynerson intercepted a Seth Bloomberg pass at the goal line to seal the Wildcat victory.

Cabot coach Mike Malham gave Har-Ber its due credit for its final drive.

“They made some big plays when they had to have them,” Malham said. “That’s really all you can say. You just got to hand it to them.”

Har-Ber converted 7 of 9 third downs in the second half, and was 1 of 2 on fourth down. On their game-winning drive, the Wildcats hit passes for 21, 12 and 14 yards on three consecutive third and 10 situations. The final pass made it first and goal at the 1-yard line. From there, senior tailback Derek Binker plunged it in to put his team up.

Cabot took a 17-7 lead into halftime. Har-Ber cut a 10-0 deficit to 10-7 with 33 seconds left in the half, but the Panthers went 74 yards in five plays and scored on the last play of the half to go back up by 10. Sixty-eight of those yards came on an updated version of the now outlawed guard-around. This time it was halfback Wesley Sowell who was left alone for the big gain to the Har-Ber 6. It took three more plays, but on fourth and goal, junior fullback Michael James got the final yard for the score.

Cabot got it back to start the second half, but went three and out after a costly penalty. Sowell avoided major disaster when he chased down a high punt snap that sailed over his head to get the punt off, but Har-ber scored anyway.

The Wildcats converted three straight third downs on the scoring drive. When faced with third and 21 from the Cabot 34, a pass fell incomplete. In four-down territory, Har-Ber not only converted a first down on fourth and 21, quarterback Zach Faust found Josh McKinney for the score. The extra point made it 17-14 with 6:09 left in the third quarter.

The Panthers got inside the Wildcat 20 on each of its last three possessions, but came away empty each time. The first ended when Sowell was stopped inches short on fourth and 2. The second drive ended at the 20-yard line with a fumble on third and five.

Har-Ber coach Chris Wood was proud of his team and complimentary of the Panthers.

“We had to work awful hard to get into the end zone because of the way Cabot played us,” Wood said. “I thought they did a great job. It’s probably the best defense we’ve seen all year. They’re very physical against the run. They hit our quarterback more than he’s ever been hit, but we were able to make plays.”

Cabot totaled 294 yards while Har-Ber finished with 337. Faust hit 17 of 28 pass attempts for 321 yards and two touchdowns.

McKinney led the way receiving with nine catches for 145 yards and one touchdown. James led Cabot’s ground attack with 112 yards and two scores on 24 carries.

Friday, November 21, 2008

EDITORIAL >>State among ‘dirty dozen’

Our little state is not deemed worthy of many distinctions, but when it is, we usually wish that it were not. That was the case again this week when Arkansas made the list of the nation’s “dirty dozen” states, those belching the most mercury into the atmosphere.

The coal-fired electricity generating plants at Independence and White Bluff, to our south and north, are among the dirtiest in the land, as measured by the amount of mercury they emit, something more than 1,100 pounds between them last year. Coal-powered plants are the largest source of mercury air pollution, a poison that settles into lakes and streams and makes its way into the food supply and the human body.

Electric companies like Entergy Corp., which operates two of the three coal-burning plants in Arkansas, persuaded Congress when it passed the Clean Air Act in 1970 not to impose strict controls on existing power plants because cleaner plants would replace them. But the amount of mercury pollution has been growing, not slackening. The Independence plant last year increased its mercury emissions by 16 percent over the previous year.

The report on the dirty dozen by the Environmental Integrity Project caught our attention because we are about to raise mercury emissions — and even more dangerous greenhouse gases — even more. Two weeks ago, the state Department of Environmental Quality gave a combine of power companies an air-quality permit to build a big coal-powered generating plant at McNab in southwest Arkansas near Grassy Lake and the Little River. The state Public Service Commission a year ago signed off on the project, holding that the plant was needed to meet future power needs in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas and wouldn’t be an environmental hazard. Texas has outraged the companies by postulating that lots of the environmental costs of the plant could not be passed along to Texans, who will use most of the electricity from the plant when it is finished in 2012 or 2013.

We thought both Arkansas agencies were wrong. The power was not needed in the near future, certainly not in Arkansas, and conservation and other, cleaner generating fuels were better options than a coal plant when the power was needed. The Department of Environmental Quality, the agency that monitors pollution and licenses polluters, concluded that the plant and specifically its mercury emissions would be safely within the tolerable limits established by federal law and rules.

Mercury is removable and perhaps the hotter-burning supercritical technology that will be used at the John W. Turk Jr. plant in Arkansas will clean up the mercury. We will have to keep our fingers crossed.

But for sure it will not remove carbon dioxide, by far the largest cause of climate change. The three coal plants in Arkansas now emit nearly 30 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, and the Turk plant will add another 4 to 6 million tons.

Every molecule will stay in the atmosphere from 50 to 200 years. That is why the state Commission on Global Warming, Audubon Arkansas and other environmental groups have called for a moratorium on coal plants until sequestration technology has been proved to eliminate carbon from atmospheric emissions.

The state agency brushed aside these concerns because the federal Environmental Protection Agency has no standards for CO2. The U. S. Supreme Court said the Bush administration was wrong in not developing carbon standards under the Clean Air Act, and the administration has stalled. The Obama administration clearly will develop those regulations and the owners of Turk hope to have the plant far enough along that it cannot be affected by that development.

We are encouraged by reports that President-elect Barack Obama will appoint Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius to run the EPA.

She is one of several governors, Republican and Democratic, who halted plans for new coal plants in their states because of the deleterious effect on the climate. Clearly, the state government in Arkansas is not going to be a reliable steward of the air and waters of the state — and of the Earth. The new government of the United States may yet act in time. Let us hope.

TOP STORY > >Open house this weekend

Cabot’s merchant community has been preparing all week long for its annual Holiday Open House, a joyful event which heralds the opening of the Christmas season for area residents and their children.

The open house for most takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, although a few, like Kitchen Island in Cabot’s Village Green Center, will stage its open house beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. KitchenIsland will have Wheel of Fortune for customers to spin and there will be discounts on many items especially food and drink. In addition to refreshments, there will be door prizes.

For most of the merchants, the formal open house, during which they personally greet customers often with holiday themed refreshments, is the culmination of a weeklong decorating frenzy whose end result is a fancifully decorated shopping community like none other in the area. In tune with the approaching holiday season, merchants prepare to meet and greet new and old customers.

Double R’s Cabot location at 204 N. Second St. is preparing to offer customers a glimpse at the myriad of decorating possibilities for the holidays and will have on hand an exquisite collection of wreaths, garlands and specially selected decor items for which Double R is well known. For the open house, Double R is offering 10 percent off storewide.

Meditation and fitness experts at Yoga You offer a plenitude of gift certificates for those wishing to enhance their quality of life. A beginner’s yoga workshop begins Jan. 5.

Junebugz Apparel and Gift shop, 1904 S. Pine, Suite C, offers free Aromatique to the first hundred to visit on Sunday. The shop also offers free gift wrapping with purchase and a vast assortment of gift ideas.

A Savvy You Salon, 2790 S. 2nd, celebrates its first anniversary of making Cabot residents look their best in conjunction with the holiday open house. To celebrate they’re offering free T-shirts, balloons, makeovers and sample products.

Marty’s, in the Rockwood Center, has everything for the holidays and offers 20 percent off any purchase during Sunday’s event. The store has a plethora of gift ideas and is offering free hot cider and cheeseballs for shoppers in need of a break.

The Furniture Store, 111 S. Adams in downtown Cabot, offers discounts up to 70 percent for holiday decorating savings.
To furnish an entire room, an entire home or just pick up a new accent piece, visit The Furniture Store. There will be refreshments and complimentary 2009 calendars.

Grandma’s Collectibles will have two days of specials including door prizes and refreshments. The shop is located at 311 Kilgore.

The Littlest Cake Shop will have door prizes, refreshments and drawings for discounts. The custom bake shop also prepares dessert and party trays. There will be sweet treats to sample.

The Southside Shoppe at 707 S. Pine offers discounts up to 50 percent on selected items at the antique and collectable shop.

Delectable Creations, a bakery and eatery, invites shoppers to start their shopping experience with their lunch specials and complimentary taste testing of desserts. For one day only, the shop is offering 10 percent off on holiday orders.

Center Stage Playhouse, home of Cabot Community Theater, invites residents to tour the new facility which will be the setting for the “Sanders Family Christmas” performance later this month at 204 N. First St., Suite 2.

Merle Norman Cosmetic Studios, 924 W. Main St., is a setting for some beautiful gift giving with refreshments, door prizes, discounts and limited edition gift sets.

Southern D├ęcor and Hand-bag Express at 1004 S. Pine has a gift-giving assortment of purses, wallets, luggage and lots more.

Petals and Plants at 405 W. Main — a florist, gift shop and candy bouquet — will have door prizes, refreshments and drawings for discounts up to 25 percent on Christmas and 50 percent on fall items.

Cabot’s annual holiday open house is a fitting prelude to the city’s Christmas Lighting Extravaganza at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 downtown in front of city hall.

“Come join us for entertainment from some of our local elementary students, as well as a time of Christmas Carols,” said Karen Davis, the city’s operations director. She says Santa Claus will be on hand to flip the switch and light up downtown Cabot.

She says parents should bring their children and their cameras to take pictures with Santa or while riding the Christmas Express Train. “Bring your family and walk Cabot’s Christmas Wonderland,” she said.

TOP STORY > >Jacksonville budget for next year to top $18.6M

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville looks to bring in $18.6 million in 2009, and according to the expenditure sheet the output will be $19.2 million.

This $673,172 deficit quickly raised a red flag with Alderman Bob Stroud at the city council meeting Thursday night.

But Mayor Tommy Swaim and Finance Director Paul Mushrush just as quickly calmed Stroud’s fears.

The mayor said the city does not operate a deficit budget. “The deficit is just a numbers issue,” Swaim said, and then had Mushrush explain the specifics.

The finance director said what appears as a deficit is money that comes in that is earmarked by federal, state or city regulations for particular projects. “We have to show it in the general fund, but then it goes into the account for that specific use. It is money that we don’t get to spend for general operations,” Mushrush explained.

So were does that $673,172 go?

It goes into specific funds for scholarships, property loss payments, fire equipment payment for vehicle repairs started in 2008, but with the bills coming in 2009, and other contingencies. The aldermen took no action on the budget, but will spend the next two weeks going over the 31-page proposal and make final recommendations at the council’s next meeting Dec. 4.

Overall, the proposed budget of $18.6 million for 2009 is about $700,000 or four percent higher than the 2008 budget of $17.9 million.

Close to two-thirds (62.8 percent) of the expected revenue is projected to come in through sales taxes, followed by intergovernmental funds at 10.8 percent, operating transfers at 6.2 percent, utility franchise fees at 5.8 percent. Reserved fund balanced will make up 3.5 percent of the revenue, 3.5 percent will come from charges for services, fines at 3 percent, property taxes at 2.3 percent and other sources will provide 2.1 percent of the income.

Most of the expense for the city (64 percent) will be to fund public safety — police, fire, the 911 communications center and animal shelter, followed by public works at 23 percent, general government expenses at 10 percent and judicial branch 3 percent of the revenue.

In all areas, salaries and wages will swallow up about half the city’s revenue, at 46.6 percent; contractual services will cost 17.7 percent; retirement contributions will take up 11.4 percent of the budget; capital outlay at 8.7 percent; health insurance at 7.8 percent; supplies and materials at 4.2 percent, and other benefits eat up the remaining 3.7 percent of the budget.

The street fund, which is separate from the proposed general fund budget of $18.6 million, will operate next year on about $2.7 million, up about $700,000 from 2008. Most of that income (51.9 percent) will come from the city’s share of the state gasoline tax, another 12.6 percent from the county road tax, 23.8 percent from reserved balances, 8.1 percent from grants and 3 percent from interest.

Nearly half (47.2 percent) of that income will be spent on capital outlay; 34.1 percent on personal services; 15 percent on contracted services, and 3.7 percent on supplies and materials

Another fund, not part of the general budget, is sanitation, which is projecting a 2009 budget of $1.3 million, up $20,000 from 2008. Nearly all of that, 93.4 percent, will come from fees and charges for the service, 4.5 percent from other operating income and 2.1 percent from nonoperating income.

Expenditures include 47.2 percent on salaries, wages and employee benefits, 15.3 percent on landfill fees, 12.4 percent on supplies and materials, 9.6 percent on services and other expenses, 8.9 percent on depreciation, 5.2 percent on repairs and maintenance and 1.4 percent on utilities and other expenses.

The emergency medical services fund is also separate from the general fund and is looking at a $1 million budget for 2009, up about $90,000 from 2008. Most of its money (60.1 percent) will come in through service fees, 39.2 percent through operating transfers and less than 1 percent from membership fees.

The bulk of that revenue (66.2 percent) will be used to pay salaries, wages and employee benefits, 22.4 percent for other expenses, 5.5 percent for supplies and demands, 3.3 percent for services, repairs, maintenance and other expenses and 2.5 percent for depreciation.

Based on the general fund budget projections, what is going up or down next year on the revenue side?

Building permits, along with electrical and plumbing permit income, are projected to drop about 20 percent.

Insurance tax turnback for the police and fire departments is expected to drop from $984,000 to $538,000.

Revenue from the city’s Splash Zone and recreation center activities is expected to increase by $25,000.

Dupree Park admission income is expected to increase from $25,000 to $80,000.

Collection of court fines will go up from $535,000 to $545,000.

Franchise fees will go up about $42,000.

The city expects about $700 more on its alcohol tax, going from $18,100 to $18,800.

What is going up or down on the expenditure side?

The cost of running city hall is expected to go up about $150,000.

The police department needs $500,000 more than in 2008.

The fire department is also asking for an additional $500,000 for its 2009 budget.

The cost of running the judicial department is projected to drop about $4,000, going from $507,115 to $503,107.

Parks and Recreation expenses are going up about $160,000.

Salary expenses will jump $400,000.

Health insurance is project to rise just $14,000.

The cost to heat the city’s buildings is expected to jump from $70,566 to $88,965.

The cost of gas oil is projected to jump $78,000 from $197,859 to $275,931.

Building repairs and maintenance will drop from $427,567 to $291,627.

Capital outlay for equipment will jump from $822,472 to $1,269,675.

Capital outlay for construction will rise $120,000, going from $265,467 to $384,217.

TOP STORY > >Lonoke QC approves spending $6M in ’09

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

The Lonoke County Quorum Court Thursday night approved a $6,086,499 general fund 2009 budget, which includes an across-the-board 4 percent pay hike for county employees.

That was an increase from a year ago which also includes one new position in the county clerk’s office and two new deputies in the sheriff’s office. It also includes a full-year’s pay for the third circuit judge’s position and rent and utilities for the third courtroom.

In addition to the county general fund, the quorum court approved special fund budgets that include $4.25 million for the road and bridge department; $1 million for the county library; $577,000 for solid waste management; $371,000 for emergency 911 service; $219,000 for county recorder; $193,000 for the regional library; $145,000 for the jail general improvement fund, and $123,000 for jail maintenance.

County Judge Charlie Troutman said the revenues and the budget were a little larger than last year, but couldn’t say what last year’s budget was.

He said revenues this year — even late this year — were good. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” said Troutman.

“Today the county’s in good shape. In 12 months I hope I can say the same,” he said.

The Quorum Court unanimously approved a revised personnel policy, which was not as far-reaching as personnel policy committee chairman Jeanette Minton had once hoped.

The policy changed starting salaries in the sheriff’s office administrative jobs, dropping them to the starting salary of other clerks.

It also reinforced the need for jobs — other than deputy jobs — must be advertised for two weeks before filling them.

Minton tried earlier this year to get the county to commission a job evaluation and salary administration program, which would have renamed and restructured some jobs according to duties and then suggested salaries for those positions that would be competitive with similar jobs in neighboring counties, both in government and private industry.

It would have cost more than $30,000 but should attract quality employees and keep them from defecting to similar, higher paying jobs elsewhere.

In other business, Assessor Jerry Adams announced that the Cabot branch of the assessor’s office had moved into new quarters at 1604 S. Pine St.

The court voted 11-1 to add CASA, the child court advocacy group, to the county’s voluntary tax check off, which includes other nonprofit corporations.

Quorum Court member Alexis Malham voted against the measure, as she does every time the court renews or adds to the voluntary tax, because the state has told the county that it is unconstitutional.

Quorum Court member Larry Odom reported the county is making progress in efforts to buy the rest of the block where the county jail is located. Construction on the new jail could be started next year.

A free meal will be served at the Lonoke Community Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, according to Quorum Court member Virgil Turner.

TOP STORY > >Teachers to get holiday raise

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

Cabot teachers received an early Christmas present this week in the form of a $750 raise; checks will be issued before Christmas break. The raise brings Cabot School District’s starting teacher salary to $36,300 a year for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience.

A total of $612,000 – raises with benefits – was approved in the district’s budget for all salaried staff earlier.

The Cabot School Board also approved the purchase of 16 acres of land along Hwy. 5 for the district’s ninth elementary school, planned to open in the fall of 2010.

“Go buy you some land, Tony,” board president Brooks Nash told Superintendent Dr. Tony Thurman after the board unanimously approved the $160,000 purchase.

Located a half-mile from the Mountain Springs Road and Hwy. 5 intersection, the property is owned by Bill and Mildred Ray.

Although it’s not within the Cabot city limits, Thurman said the district had discussed annexing the property into the city limits with Mayor Eddie Joe Williams and said annexing “would certainly be our preference.”

“We have worked with the city to ensure that this site was acceptable for both the city and the district,” Thurman added.

The final drawings for the new elementary are being worked on, and Thurman said the district wants to start dirt work as soon as possible.

“We will also begin developing a traffic plan for the intersection of Mountain Springs Road and Hwy. 5 since there is currently no turn lane from Hwy. 5,” Thurman said.

The new elementary will help relieve the overcrowding at Magness Creek and Northside Elementary Schools and would require a rezoning of the district.

“Zoning would not begin until the semester preceding the opening of the school since enrollment patterns, building capacity and growth trends over the entire district would need to be as current as possibleto ensure that all zone changes have a positive impact on all district elementary schools,” Thurman said.

Cabot’s millage rate, which increased by 3.9 mills last year for a total of 39.9 mills, has been rolled back to 39.5 mills, district comptroller Kelly Hayes told the school board.

According to Thurman, the rollback will cost the district more than $200,000.

The rollback is required by Amendments 74 and 59 and is based on the increase in the assessed value of property in the district.

There is a cap on the amount of increase that can be generated in one year, Hayes told the board.

Since the assessment of property will not change once confirmed, the district is required to reduce the millage rate.

“It happens across the state, particularly in growing districts like ours,” Hayes said.

The school board unanimously approved the personnel policy committee and administration’s joint recommendation, a decision 649 certified employees voted for and five voted against.

The recommendation also calls for adding one experience step to the first four columns of the certified salary schedule.

In addition, the classified staff received a raise of 20 cents an hour and bus drivers will receive an additional 50 cents a day; registered nurses are paid based on the certified staff salary schedule.

In other school board business, Thurman gave the board an update on district-wide buildings and grounds projects, saying the district was finalizing the footprint for the Junior High South science addition; Junior High North was on schedule for completion by July 2009; the Eastside Elementary addition was almost complete; the installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning units in the gymnasiums across the district was finished and all units were functioning; the parent drop-off lane at Northside Elementary was complete and working well and had taken many vehicles off of Locust and Mt. Springs Roads; and the addition at Westside Elementary was going slower than they liked, but they are hopeful it will be complete by the end of the school year.

Additionally, a Junior High North student was expelled for the remainder of the semester for a Level II drug infraction following an open expulsion hearing in which his parents appealed to the school board concerning the entire disciplinary action handed down by JHN administration.

The board decided to expel the 14-year-old for the remaining four weeks of the semester and then place him in the Alternative Learning Environment (ALE) for the spring semester. If he was not placed in ALE, he would be expelled for the remainder of the school year; while expelled, a student cannot attend any other public school.

The student’s parents emphatically said he would not be going to ALE.

According to JHN officials, a student was caught smoking marijuana on campus and upon further investigation it was found the student had given the drugs to the student caught smoking.

Other students said the 14-year-old youth had purchased the dime bag weeks earlier.

Three other students involved did not file an appeal against the disciplinary action taken and will be attending ALE in the spring semester.

TOP STORY > >Cabot seeks road funds

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

The appreciation dinner this week in Cabot for the Arkansas Highway Commission was more than a gathering of every influential elected or appointed official in Lonoke County as well as aides to members of the state’s congressional delegation. It was an opportunity for the mayor to thank the highway department for all it has done for the city in the past two years and also point out that there is more to be done.

While guests dined on brisket and twice-baked potatoes, prepared by the cooks at First Baptist Church and served by Cabot’s ROTC kids, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams narrated a 15-minute virtual tour of Cabot showing improvements, such as wider streets, striping for more lanes and additional traffic lights, made with the help of Highway Department money or expertise.

“Even a simple permit can be a pain in the butt sometimes,” Williams said. “But you guys make it possible for us, and for that I say, ‘Thank you.’”

But gratitude aside, what the mayor told the commissioners he wants now is money to build a north interchange in Cabot – $20 million to be exact.

“We have just so much money, Eddie Joe. You know that,” Carl Rosenbaum, the commissioner for the Cabot area, said before turning the microphone over to Scott Bennett, the highway department assistant chief engineer for planning, who further explained why a north interchange for Cabot is not likely to happen soon.

Bennett said fuel consumption has been down and that gas tax contributes heavily to his department’s budget. Funding from the federal government also is down.

Altogether, the highway department has only about $900 million coming in and only about $267 million that the commissioners can spend in their districts. And the cost of simply maintaining existing roads in their current condition is estimated at $1.6 billion over the next 10 years.

“We’re going to do the best we can with what we have,” Bennett concluded. But in a later interview with the mayor it was clear that he doesn’t give up that easy.

Approval for the $10.8 million armory that will be going up next year was supposed to take five years to fund, but Cabot had a plan and pushed for the armory and was ready with the land when others weren’t. It will be built beside the $7.2 million overpass (connecting Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38) that could open in the next 30 days. Now Cabot is ready for a north interchange connecting U.S. 67/167 to Arkansas Hwy. 367. The overpass was the first phase, he said. It’s time to get started with the second.

“You have to have an overpass before you can have a north interchange,” he said. “That’s done. Now it’s time to move on to the next step.

“Somebody’s going to get it. It might as well be Cabot. We’re here. We’re committed. We’re not asking for a handout; we’re asking for a hand up,” he said.

In the meantime, the mayor is widening Locust Street to get it ready for the increased traffic load that he believes will be dumped there when the new railroad overpass opens. The $2 million in bond money the city had to work with when Williams took office was used on the projects that were highlighted in his presentation to the highway commissioners. But he said there is still about $75,000 that came from the impact fee, now discontinued, that that can be used to complete work on Locust, which could include a traffic light.

The overpass and Locust Street will become the new bypass for traffic congestion downtown, he said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TOP STORY > >Tax collections above projections

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville will take in almost $200,000 more than it projected in taxes for the city’s advertising and promotion commission by the end of the year.

The recession has not hit the city’s restaurants or motels based on the latest tax-collection figures presented at the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission meeting Monday night.

City Finance Director Paul Mushrush had predicted that the two-cent hotel-room tax, along with the two-cent prepared-foods or hamburger tax would bring in $619,900 during 2008 for the commission to use on marketing, advertising and events that promote the city. Now, the tax collections are predicted to hit $808,500.

Mushrush told commissioners that the next few months will be very interesting. “We usually get a big decline in hotel receipts the last quarter of the year,” he said.

“But the September take was strong, and the October figures, with the air base open house, should also be strong,” Mushrush explained.

He said just about every month in 2008 has been a record setter for the hotel-room tax.
The 2 percent hotel- room tax has been collected since 2005, but the prepared food tax, also known as the hamburger tax, is still in its first year.

For September, the latest month available, the hotel-room tax brought in more than $9,800 and the 2 percent hamburger tax brought in more than $62,500.

Based on restaurant-tax collections, Chili’s Grill and Bar has taken in more than $3 million in annual sales. The three McDonald’s combined have taken in more than $2.5 million so far this year and Western Sizzlin comes in at $1.6 million.

A two-cent tax from just those restaurants comes to $142,000 a year.

Restaurants doing about $1 million in gross sales include New China, both Sonics, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.

Those that have brought in about $500,000 to $900,000 in gross receipts include Chicken Country, KFC, Little Caesar’s, Mexico Chiquito, Papa John’s Pizza, Papitos Loco Club, Pizza Hut, Popeye’s Chicken, Rally’s, Crooked Hook Catfish Restaurant, Burger King, Starbuck’s, Subway, Arby’s, Cici’s Pizza, Waffle House and Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Even though the tax numbers don’t show it yet, Mushrush is worried about the recession.

“A recession affects discretionary income, which is your hotels and restaurants,” the finance director said.

With that in mind, he presented what he called a conservative rough-draft budget for 2009, calling for revenues to come in at $810,000, well above this year’s original projections.

The parks and recreation department, by ordinance, gets 50 percent of whatever comes in. That would leave about $400,000 for the commission to pay its advertising and marketing agency, the Sells Agency, and to fund a variety of special projects.

Commission chairman Mar-shall Smith expects the commission to spend about $150,000 with the Little Rock agency.

Take away other administrative expenses, and that leaves about $200,000 for projects and activities, such as the military museum, Wing Ding, the Patriotic Spectacular, Reed’s Bridge Civil War Battlefield Park, Keep Jacksonville Beautiful and other projects.

The commission will finalize its 2009 budget at its Dec. 15 meeting and that will allow commissioners to see another month of tax collections and also give the Sells Agency an opportunity to present marketing ideas for next year.

So far this year, the agency designed a new logo for the city, “Soaring Higher,” rented billboards south and north of the city to promote various activities, event and images.

Currently, the billboards push the fact that the city has 10 hotels and 60 restaurants.

TOP STORY > >Why Obama must hold Hillary close

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader editor-in-chief

President-elect Barack Obama is said to be considering Hillary Clinton for secretary of state to discourage her from challenging him for the Democratic nomination in 2012.

He’s hoping that holding her close will discourage Hillary from entering the primaries should his administration falter. That’s right: He hasn’t taken office yet, but potential competitors are lining up just in case Obama turns out to be a one-shot wonder.

Mike Huckabee is one of many potential candidates looking toward 2012, and he has written a campaign book, portentously titled “Do the Right Thing,” which reviewers say perfectly reflects his character: He’s a whiner who must settle scores with everyone who has slighted him, including members of the media as well as his competitors in this year’s Republican primaries.

The verdict: Although he’ll make a million bucks off his book, almost everyone says he’s too petulant to lead his party out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.

Some of us half expected Huckabee to show up at the Re-publican Governors Association meeting in Miami last week, but since he’s no longer a governor, he couldn’t steal Sarah Palin’s thunder. But she, too, will become a rich author: There are rumors she’ll make a $7 million book deal, and she can buy all the clothes she wants at Neiman Marcus and Saks and won’t have to return them either.

Huckabee and Palin might make a dream ticket in 2012 at least among certain party faithful, who would decide who will lead the ticket. Those who know him best think Huckabee would make an excellent second banana.

But Obama won’t be a pushover four years from now. If he saves us from another Great Depression, as most Americans believe he will, then there’s not much hope for a Palin-Huckabee ticket or a Huckabee-Palin ticket in 20012.

Their party has too many problems for a comeback anytime soon. The best summary we’ve seen of what ails the GOP came from one of the speakers at that Republican governors convention.

After his party suffered the worst back-to-back elections since 1930-32, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota told his colleagues that the GOP “cannot compete in the Northeast. We are losing our ability to compete in the Great Lakes states. We cannot compete on the West Coast. We are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic states, and now the Democrats are winning some of the Western states.”

There’s more bad news: “We cannot compete and prevail as a majority party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” said Pawlenty, who lost out to Palin for the party’s vice presidential nomination.

In short: You can’t win elections with angry white guys.

“We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time,” he added hopefully, but history is not on the GOPs side: The Conservative Party of Britain hasn’t been able to pull it off and has been out of power for 12 years.

Pawlenty might have added that the South is no longer solidly Republican, which makes presidential races almost unwinnable for the GOP. Although the party did better in 2008 than in 2004 in Arkansas and some Appalachian states, Republicans this month lost Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

It was just as bad in the Midwest: Indiana, Michigan and Ohio all went for Obama. He also dominated in the Northeast, winning big in Pennsylvania, making this election a Republican nightmare. It just hasn’t sunk in yet.

Huckabee and Palin, both happy campers, think Republicans didn’t get their message out this November, which should have been what — that they’re the party of bailouts and economic busts? No wonder they were hiding George W. Bush during the election.

A failed presidency will hurt the Republican Party for decades. It hasn’t had a charismatic leader since Ronald Reagan, whose successors squandered his legacy.

The party no longer produces heavyweight thinkers like William Buckley and Milton Friedman, who helped build the modern conservative movement. (Buckley’s only child, Christopher, endorsed Obama.)

As the country moves toward a mixed economy, conservative thinkers are unlikely to solve the nation’s economic problems anytime soon. Perhaps in a decade, when we’re back on the road toward prosperity, smaller government will be in vogue again.

Till then, Americans are hoping Obama can rescue them from the global economic debacle. If he succeeds, the Democrats will once again dominate politics for decades.

If he fails, expect double-digit unemployment and a worldwide depression.

We could then ask Bro. Huckabee to lead us in prayer.

TOP STORY > >MEMs cuts ambulance service in Cabot

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

Cuts in Medicare have made it difficult for ambulance services to pay for themselves, so in Cabot, where MEMS has the exclusive franchise, the city began paying a subsidy this year that was estimated at $50,000 but will actually be about $62,000.

But that price will likely be cut in half in 2009, because MEMS has suggested taking away at night one of the two ambulances that have been assigned to Cabot.

Since MEMS is owned by Little Rock and cities are not allowed to give away services, Cabot and other areas where MEMS would have lost money were required to pay a subsidy.

Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County are not charged a subsidy because they generate enough income without it.
Cabot’s subsidy was contingent on Lonoke also using the service and sharing one of the ambulances that is stationed in Cabot.

But Lonoke could not pay the $87,000 subsidy MEMS requested and went with another service in April.

Since then, MEMS has lost $68,000 in Cabot, Jon Swanson, MEMS executive director, told the city council Monday night during the regular, monthly meeting.

The solution, Swanson said, was either take away one of the ambulances at night or more than double the price of the subsidy to $112,454. Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, anticipating that the council would not oppose the reduction in the number of ambulances in the city, included the smaller subsidy of $28,000 in the budget he presented to the council last month.

Swanson assured the council that taking away the ambulance during the evening hours would likely not have a negative impact on the service offered because most of the calls in Cabot come in during the daytime hours.

During the day, MEMS responds to an average of one call every three hours compared to one call every 10 hours at night, he said.

Furthermore, Swanson said, a backup ambulance stationed just outside the city in Pulaski County would move into Cabot as soon as the ambulance stationed there was called out.

But if a second call came in before the backup ambulance was in place, there could be a delay in answering a second call of up to two minutes, he said.

The mayor pointed out that when Lonoke also used MEMS, the second ambulance assigned to Cabot was frequently out of the area anyway because it went to Lonoke.

The council took no action on lowering the subsidy by reducing the number of ambulances in the city, but passing the budget as drafted will also be a “yes vote” for those changes.

In other business, the council annexed by ordinance a 20-acre area at Linda Lane and Campground Road that was completely surrounded by the city.

The so-called island is one of six that could eventually be taken in by a vote of the city council even if the people who live there object.

There are two more islands located on the other side of Campground on Diederich Lane as well as two houses in front of Silver Streak Subdivision, one house on First Street and the city sewer ponds.

So far, only the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission has said annexation is completely acceptable.

Although he did not speak during the Monday meeting, Jimmy Woosley, whose family’s acreage was included in the annexation, has voiced opposition many times in the past. Neither did any member of the council speak except to vote “yes” for the annexation.

But members have said recently that annexation was necessary to impose the city’s building regulations on the owner of a mini-storage that is going up on 10 of the 20 acres that were annexed.

The annexation was the first in recent history if not the first ever to be annexed over the objections of the property owners.

By state law, cities may annex an area that is surrounded on all sides by that city without the permission of the people in that area.

Cities may also take territory through a petition of the property owners who want to be annexed and through elections where people in the area to be annexed and city residents get to vote on the outcome.

In Cabot, most annexations have been through petitions by landowners with plans to build subdivisions who want those subdivisions located inside city limits for the utilities, and fire and police protection.

TOP STORY > >Board considers booting Sharpe

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

With the jobs of Superintendent James Sharpe and several top administrators perhaps hanging in the balance, the Pulaski County Special School District Board took five minutes in an emergency meeting Tuesday night to hire a lawyer to review their contracts and the board’s power to hire and fire the staff members.

By a 4-0 vote, the board hired Sam Jones of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard law firm to do that review.

Jones is already the board’s attorney in matters dealing with desegregation.

Board vice president Bill Vasquez convened the meeting, board member Tim Clark made the motion and treasurer Gwen Williams and Charlie Woods voted for it.

Board president Mildred Tatum was out of state and members Shana Chaplin and Danny Gilliland were absent.

Jones’ orders are to review those contracts of “the superintendent, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, executive directors and directors of PCSSD with reference to board policies, contract language and the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal

Act in order to advise the PCSSD board of the legal authority to act on personnel issues concerning those positions.”

Jones has been asked to report back to the board before its special meeting next Tuesday.

“The board wants to know what can we do and when can we do it?” said Vasquez.

The current concern stems from engineering reports that found the roofs of two district schools, including Clinton Elementary School in Sherwood, questionable.

Some people think the report of the deficiencies took too long to reach the superintendent, who then evacuated Crystal Hill Elementary students to portable buildings at Maumelle Middle School almost immediately and the evacuated Clinton School students beginning Monday. Their classes will be held at First Assembly of God Church in North Little Rock beginning this morning until further notice.

“The district is working on behalf of your children to be sure they are out of (school buildings) with questionable roofs and in somewhere where they can work on their education,” said Vasquez. “Mr. Sharpe took care of that.”

Sharpe has hired Dave Floyd, retired director of the Arkansas Division of Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation, to look into the process by which administrators learned of the problem and acted to safeguard the children.

Sharpe said Tuesday night after the meeting that Floyd’s report should be completed before the special meeting.

The executive board of the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers reportedly had a unanimous vote of no confidence in Sharpe’s handling of the matter when they met Saturday.

PACT, the district’s powerful teachers union, has been a vote short of getting its way on the board for several years, but with the resignation of Pam Roberts from the board and the unopposed election of Tim Clark, the teachers now have a 4-3 majority on the board—Williams, Vasquez, Clark and Tatum.

TOP STORY > >Church site working for pupils, staff

By JOHN HOFHEIMER and NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writers

Like a jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces or may-be not enough, dozens of district and church hands on Tuesday pieced together a picture of school-as-usual for 750 displaced elementary school students from William Jefferson Clinton Elementary Magnet School.

Together the teachers unloaded eight rental trucks full of boxes, tables, supplies, filing cabinets and books to First Assembly of God Church in North Little Rock, where they will attend class until further notice.

Engineers have said the roof structures at Clinton and Crystal Hill Elementary schools were suspect and evacuated first Crystal Hill and a week later Clinton, while Baldwin and Schell Engineers of Little Rock assess the damage and determine whether the roofs must be replaced or can be repaired.

Meanwhile, Crystal Hill’s students started back to school in portable classrooms set up at Maumelle Middle School last week, and today, if all went according to schedule, Clinton should have started back in borrowed quarters at the First Assembly of God.

Bus students were to be picked up this morning at the usual time by their usual drivers and delivered to their usual teachers — but at the Assembly of God rather than at Clinton, according to Brad Montgomery, head of Pulaski County Special School District transportation department.

At the end of the school day, the process will be reversed.

“We have some tables too large that need to go back,” one teacher told principal Jackye Parker, who set up a temporary office in the lobby of one church building.

“There is some craziness. Moving always is somewhat stressful,” she said, asking to have those tables taken back to the elementary school.

WANTED TO HELP

“It’s going to be great,” said Youth Pastor Patrick Lander. “We realize we are part of the community and wanted to help. When they called on us we knew this was something we had to do.”

The church has helped out similarly in recent years after a school fire and a tornado.

Lander said they could accommodate the district “as long as it takes. Our people are very flexible. We’ve just been rearranging and making it happen.

“Our entire staff and several volunteers are helping them move in. There’ve been no major problems yet,” he said. Workers trooped up the halls in good humor with boxes and tables, usually coming back empty handed or with an empty hand-truck.

They have been working long hours — lots of overtime — for about 10 days now, first moving Crystal Hill classes, then the Clinton classes.

Teachers busily worked to make their borrowed classrooms as inviting and similar as they could.

“To be uprooted is tough, but we’ve been welcomed here with open arms,” Parker said.

NO TIMELINE

“We have no expected timeline,” she said. “We hope it’s very temporary.”

The move will last at least a few days while engineers, architects and district personnel determine what is needed to stabilize — or replace — the roof at Clinton. The school was built in 1994, and the wood roof and trusses were treated with a fire retardant that eventually contributed to the bowing, cracking and buckling of roof trusses, according to district spokesman Craig Douglass.

The church building has 38 classrooms, some of which will have double classes and two teachers in them. Also, on Wednesday evenings and on Sundays, there will be Sunday school classes in the rooms.

The district will bring in breakfast and lunch for the students.

“Our intent is to make it resemble (our school) as much as possible,” Parker said.

“It’s going well,” said April Jarvis, a fourth-grade teacher in her first year. “It’s been a wild year.”

Both parents and teachers are concerned that their youngsters — as young as kindergarten — could be disoriented by the change.

“The transition will not prevent us from teaching and being caretakers for these children,” Parker said. “This will be our home away from home.”

PARENTS MEETING

The spacious sanctuary at First Assembly of God was overflowing with school patrons who had come to get the lowdown on relocation of students to the church while the Clinton Elementary School building is inspected and possibly repaired.

Principal Parker exhorted parents to “think of this simply as an inconvenience. It is only temporary. We have a home to return to after repairs are made.”

A cadre of Pulaski County department heads was present to reassure parents and field questions about all aspects of the complex relocation maneuver.

Food services, morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up, bus transportation, extended care, classroom locations, busing for walkers, postings on EDLINE, and the automated transfer of the school’s phone number to be answered at the church were a few of the details covered in a lengthy handout given to all who came in the door.

Newton and Janet McNew, whose youngest child, Anna, is a first-grader at Clinton and are themselves graduates of the district, weren’t too pleased with the proceedings.

They were among a significant number of parents who over the weekend received an automated phone message from the district telling them the meeting was Monday night, then never got a call back to correct the error.

“I have lived in Sherwood since 1966 and graduated from Sylvan Hills, and I have never seen such poor management of a building,” Janet McNew said. She wondered how it could be that highly educated folks in charge of decisions about school-building construction could make such errors in judgment.

RELOCATION NECESSARY?

As he was leaving the meeting, Joe Homan, whose son is a first-grader at Clinton, expressed skepticism that the relocation was necessary, in light of the fact that a licensed engineer said the building was safe.

“It’s being over-cautious,” he said. “And why didn’t the district use last Thursday and Friday when the teachers were out for the AEA conference, and the weekend, to get in the building, make an assessment? Maybe this is something that could have waited until next summer.”

Gregg Keys, the parent of a pre-K child, was impressed by what the district had pulled together in less than a week.

“I think this is amazing. I think they have thought of everything that could have been thought of. What amazes me is the short time – to put all this together and find a place is amazing.”

EDITORIAL >>Beebe’s grocery tax

It is scarcely wise to second-guess Gov. Mike Beebe on budget matters. He was the acknowledged master of the budget for 20 years in the legislature, and his tight budgets have continued to produce treasury surpluses in the midst of a troubled economy.

Still, we wonder about Beebe’s up-front commitment to cut the sales taxes on groceries another penny next year, the second payment on his promise to shed the grocery tax as quickly as economic conditions permitted.

The reduction, assuming the legislature adopts it, will move the tax to 2 percent. He can take it down to one-eighth of 1 percent, which is the recreation levy that Mike Huckabee installed in the state Constitution.

While Arkansas tax collections, unlike nearly all the rest of the country, remain fairly stable, Beebe ought to know that it will not last. The state treasury will not escape the pain of a deep recession that is settling across the land — indeed, the world.

By next summer, Beebe will need that $40 million or so that the penny of sales tax would produce.

The option will be the painful curtailment of services like medical care for the poor.

Beebe is right that the grocery tax is regressive, like the state’s whole tax structure.

The grocery tax actually is now no more regressive than the sales tax generally because some 300,000 of the state’s poorest acquire more of their food with food stamps or under another of the federal nutrition programs that exclude the sales tax.

It would be better to provide a fundable income tax rebate to low-income families, but the legislature has refused that option as recently as 2007.

We have another solution for the governor. He can reduce the tax on groceries and shore up revenue for hard times at the same time. He can ask the legislature to close one of the worst loopholes in the tax code by requiring multistate corporations to file unitary income tax returns. They duck taxes on their Arkansas profits by hiding their income in passive subsidiaries postofficed in tax-free states like Delaware and Nevada.

Beebe can satisfy his compassionate and practical impulses simultaneously, the essence of good governing.

—Ernie Dumas

EDITORIAL >>Huckabee’s latest tome

No sooner had he been eliminated from the Republican presidential sweepstakes than Mike Huckabee got down to the business of getting out another book. Sure enough, he beat everyone else to the market to capitalize on the momentous 2008 campaign, and this week he began a tour of Republican states to push sales. When a buck is to be made no one is going to beat our former governor to the throttle.

“Do the Right Thing,” as Huckabee titled the little volume, will win no literary awards and neither will it be long pondered for its keen analysis of the body politic and the most transforming election in 75 years. That is only partly because he rushed to finish the volume before much had happened beyond his own defeat. He said he finished it in June, long before the Republican Convention. One worshipful reviewer said the book was disappointing because people would have liked to know what Huckabee made of the economic cataclysm that did more than anything to cost Republican John McCain the presidency.

But the other thing that devalues the book as a political science tract is that its principal mission is to get even. Doing the right thing, it turns out, is settling scores with your opponents and those who should have supported you but backed someone else.

Turning the other cheek is not an impulse that often moves the former evangelist.

His main quarry is Mitt Romney, the slick former governor of Massachusetts, whose flush campaign crashed in the fall of 2007 a full year before the election. Romney appears more often in the book than anyone except Huckabee himself. Smarmy, arrogant, profligately rich, slippery and politically deaf, Romney is an easy target. Huckabee exults in Romney’s embarrassing defeats after spending obscenely in the early caucuses and primaries. He accuses Romney of flip-flopping on issue after issue for political advantage, a practice that Romney shared with no one so much as Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s campaign became the polar opposite of his 10-year reign in Arkansas, when he enlarged government, built debt and raised personal taxes more than any governor in Arkansas history. He ran for president as an unrelenting foe of taxes and big government. Back in Little Rock he had called for people to treat unlawful immigrants as Jesus would have treated them, but sensing a different impulse in the national Republican base, he tried to outdo the nativist Tom Tancredo in his attacks on immigrants.

The Club for Growth, the right-wing rich man’s coterie, gets its come-uppance. Bankrolled by Little Rock’s Jackson T. Stephens Jr., the club dared to call attention to Huckabee’s fiscal record as a taxer and spender in Arkansas.

So do all the huckstering evangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, who stiffed their fellow preacher in the Republican campaign and supported the sinful Rudy Giuliani or John McCain or else the Mormon Romney. Opportunists all, Huckabee maintains.

There is a measure of truth in all his characterizations and there is deserved pride in what he did, making a creditable bid for the nomination for president of the United States without money and with nothing more than a smile and a quip. He got a plurality in eight states, five in Dixie and three along the border, which was more than anyone but McCain and Romney.

By writing so quickly, Huckabee missed the point. It is not a season for getting even but for charity and concert. Maybe in four years or even one year, but not now.

But Huckabee was writing for 2012. People need to fix the mess, he said.

“It starts now. It starts with me,” he said, adding “and it starts with you.” That is the Huckabee we know.

SPORTS>>Lonoke draws tough Warren

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

They say hard work is its own reward. For Lonoke coach Jeff Jones, it has to be, because the Jackrabbits’ reward for their perfect run through the 2-4A Conference and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs is a second-round matchup with perennial power Warren.

The Lumberjacks (9-2) will visit James B. Abraham Field this Friday after they easily defeated Pulaski Oak Grove in the first round last week in a 41-6 blowout.

“That’s something else, isn’t it?” said Jones of a Warren match-up. “They say that you’ve got to play them sooner orlater, but I would much rather see them later rather than sooner. They’re a whole new beast for us, there’s no doubt about it. They are better than anybody else we’ve seen this year.”

The Jackrabbits (9-1) earned a first-round bye after claiming the 2-4A Conference championship. They have hardly been tested since a Week 2 non-conference loss at Beebe, beating conference opponents by an average margin of 26.4 points.

First-round byes can be a double-edged sword. It provides an opportunity to get healthy, but it also brings the risk of rust and loss of intensity. Jones, who has never coached a team that received a playoff bye, said he probably would have preferred to have his ’Rabbits out on the field last Friday.

“You’ll probably have to ask me that after Friday night,” Jones said. “This is my first experience having a week off, but off hand, I don’t really like it. I would just as soon be playing someone.

“If it was a situation where you knew for sure who your opponent was going into the week off, it would be one thing. But as far as the playoffs go, you don’t know, so all we could do is go over fundamentals and try to take care of ourselves.”

Running back Dedrick Hampton led the way offensively in Warren’s rout over the Hornets, rushing 15 times for 187 yards and four touchdowns, and Courtney Haskell added 92 more yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The Lonoke offense has proven as tough as any in Class 4A this year. Led by senior quarterback Rollins Elam, the Jackrabbits have two Division I prospects in senior receiver Clarence Harris and junior fullback Morgan Linton. Linton has received attention primarily for his defensive efforts at linebacker, but his offensive blocking has also helped lead to a number of big plays by Harris and junior running back Brandon Smith.

Michael Howard leads the Lonoke receiving corps, which also includes Harris, Linton and fellow two-way player Joel Harris.

Howard has 850 yards receiving, while tight end Harris has 570 yards on 32 catches. He is also the leading tackler on defense with 105 stops this year.

Elam is just shy of 2,200 passing yards on the season, while all-purpose Clarence Harris has 980 total yards, 600 of which have come on the ground.

Lonoke and Warren look fairly equal on paper — and on the field too, for that matter. Both teams use spread formations with split backs, and both have incredible team speed. Warren’s win last week was led by the ground attack, but Warren is also a prolific passing team.

“They run an offense very similar to ours, with the shotgun and two backs in the backfield,” Jones said. “They use motion a lot like we do, and I think coach (Bo) Hembree just takes what’s there. They have capabilities in both passing and running, so we’re going to have to defend the whole field.”

Warren coach Bo Hembree is hopeful to have starting junior quarterback Hayden Smith back this week. Smith went down with a broken leg in Week 5, but took some snaps last week during the Oak Grove game. The Lumberjacks have lost three quarterbacks to injury this season.

Smith’s status was still questionable as of Monday afternoon, but Hembree was optimistic.

“He played two series last week,” said Hembree, who led the Lumberjacks to an unbeaten 14-0 record and 4A state championship in 2006. “We’ll just have to see how he passes this week, but I would definitely feel a lot better about things with him in there.”

As to any advantage or disadvantage to Lonoke’s week off, Hembree said it’s how the players respond that matters most.

“I’ve been on both sides of that,” Hembree said. “We had a week off back in ’06 and went to the state championship game. It all depends on the kids and how they focus. I feel like both of us have a real test on our hands. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out on the field.”

SPORTS>>Lady Jackrabbits win big against Lady Warriors

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

As bad as Little Rock Hall was on Monday night in the opening round of its RAPA Roundball Rally, it was a little difficult to assess the new-look Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits, even after they walloped the Lady Warriors, 65-22.

One thing is for certain: The Lonoke girls are not going to be the slow-down, grind-it-out team of last season.

“Yeah, we’re going to try to push the ball more,” head coach Nathan Morris said. “We had a lot of bangers last year and not a lot of overall team speed. And the people that did have speed have another year of experience. That’s kind of why we want to run a little more this year.”

The other thing that’s obvious is that, despite the loss of a starter inside and an outside shooting specialist to graduation, the Lady ’Rabbits have a lot more weapons this season.

“We’ve got a lot more scoring options, no doubt about it,” Morris said.

Lonoke took advantage of poor, quick shots bythe Lady Warriors and raced past Hall’s pressing defenders for lots of easy transition baskets. The Lady ’ Rabbits were led by sophomore guard Cara Neighbors, who picked up where she left off as a freshman during Lonoke’s run to the finals last March. Neighbors scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and snagged a pair of steals in a little less than three quarters of play.

“She’s just a sophomore,” Morris said, clearly impressed by the young phenom.

Junior Asiah Scribner added 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Ashleigh Himstedt chipped in with 11 points and two steals.

Another junior, Michaela Brown, was a ball hawk and a playmaker on Monday, grabbing five steals and dishing out five assists, while scoring eight points.

The mismatch was apparent from the get-go, with Lonoke scoring the game’s first 14 points over the first six minutes of the game. Hall got its first field goal at the 9:01 mark, then made only five more the rest of the game as Lonoke’s pesky defense forced the Lady Warriors into 24 turnovers and just 6 of 32 overall shooting.

It wasn’t just the returners who were making contributions on Monday. Morris got to play a lot of players and almost all of them made contributions. The biggest came from Erin Shoemaker, who pulled down four rebounds and scored seven points off the bench. Sister Emily Shoemaker grabbed six boards and scored four points.

Lonoke looked solid in its first outing of the season, making 25 of 54 shots, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. Of its 16 turnovers, many came late in the game with the youngest players in. The Lady ’Rabbits out-rebounded Hall by a whopping 47-18 margin.

Thursday’s semifinal matchup with Parkview, 51-41 winners over Cabot on Monday, will provide a much better test for Lonoke.

“We’ve got some kinks to work out,” Morris said. “But we’re just happy to get a chance to play in a real game.”

SPORTS>>Badgers must slow down PA

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

In the next few weeks, NFL Films will air a segment about Pulaski Academy head coach Kevin Kelley, specifically his unorthodox philosophy that going for it on fourth down is almost always preferable to punting, even deep inside your own territory.

Well, a quick glance at the Bruins’ astonishing offensive numbers this year will have you asking, has Pulaski Academy even faced a fourth down this season?

The Beebe Badgers will be the next team that tries to force some four-and-outs against the prolific Bruins, when they travel to Little Rock this Friday night for a 5A quarterfinal battle.

“It’s one of the best offenses I’ve seen in my 18 years of coaching,” Beebe head coach John Shannon said of Pulaski Academy, which scored 63 points in a game for the third time this season. “They do it well. Their quarterback puts it on the money, they’ve got outstanding receivers and their running back does a great job running the ball. They are very deserving of the recognition they’ve got.”

Pulaski Academy has not punted once this season, though even Kelley admits there might have been a few times when it should have. Given the numbers, it’s hard to imagine when that might have been.

The Bruins are putting up 50 points a game. Quarterback Spencer Keith is 311 of 494 for 4,248 yards and an almost inconceivable 59 touchdowns through 11 games. They have a running back in D.J. Daniel who has rushed for another 1,400 yards. Receiver Neal Barlow, who has committed to the University of Arkansas, has hauled in 73 passes for 1,199 yards and 18 touchdowns, good for a distant second on the team.

The Bruins’ leading receiver is Carson McKnight, who has caught 105 passes for 1,593 yards and 16 TDs. Daniel has another 68 catches for 900 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“As far as yards per game, this is the best offense we’ve ever had here,” Kelley said. “Part of it is it’s the best offensive line I’ve had here. We have three starters up front who started as sophomores.”

Pulaski Academy opened the season with a 46-29 loss to West Helena but has ripped off 10 straight wins since, including a 63-39 victory over Alma in the first round last week.

Shannon figures that, against such a proficient machine, his Badgers may have to gamble a little bit more than usual.

“They’re not like West Helena as far as speed, but they have decent speed,” said Shannon, whose Badgers are red hot themselves after easily dispatching Blytheville, 35-22, in their first round game to run their winning streak to five. “But they put you in binds with the routes they run. You debate whether you drop a bunch and try to cover them, or pressure their quarterback.

“And you think they just run those quick routes, but they go vertical, too, and go for the throat.”

The key, of course, will be to try to keep the ball out of the Bruins’ hands as long as possible. If anyone is capable of doing that, it is the Badgers’ Dead-T, grind-it-out offense, which rests on the other end of the offensive spectrum from the Bruins. Beebe had three uncharacteristically short scoring drives last week, two of which were the result of 60-some yard touchdown runs by fullback Sammy Williams.

“Beebe is one of those teams that probably just as soon wouldn’t rip off a 50-yard run,” Kelley said. “They’re happy making three, four, five yards a carry. That’s tough to defend. They’re going to try to limit our possessions and that could be tough.

On the other hand, if we get a couple of stops early and get a lead, it could be tough for them to come back on us.”

Kelley said his club has not faced a Dead-T offense all season. The Bruins are allowing nearly 27 points a game, a stat that is misleading for several reasons.

“The defense has actually played pretty well,” Kelley said. “But we’ve had a lot of big leads where we put in our younger guys on defense. And the other thing is, we score quick, onside kick a lot and go for it on fourth down. We give our opponents a short field a lot of the time.”

What concerns Kelley about the Badgers is just how efficient they are at running their offense.

“They are very good at what they do,” he said. “They’ve got a mission, to make three yards a play. As I understand it, four times three is 12 and that’s a first down. Their linemen are disciplined and their backs take very good angles.”

But the Badgers are conceding nothing. They have been playing their best football both offensively and defensively the past five weeks and their confidence is sky high, no matter who the opponent.

“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing the past five weeks,” Shannon said. “They’re going to get their points. We just need to get a few stops, and then keep their offense on the sidelines.

“But the kids are excited. We feel like we deserve to be one of the top eight teams in the state. They’ve earned it. We feel like we can compete with anybody in the state. We need to make sure we’re in the ball game in the fourth quarter. Then if you get a few breaks, you have a chance to win.”

SPORTS>>Lady Panthers fade in opener vs. Parkview

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

Cabot head coach Carla Crowder got her first look at life without Lauren Walker and Leah Watts on Monday night in the first round of the RAPA Roundball Rally at Little Rock Hall.

Walker, who has since moved on to South Alabama, and Watts pitched in 37 points a game a year ago for the Lady Panthers. It was obvious in a 51-41 loss to Parkview on Monday just how much Cabot misses that scoring punch and the surehandedness of Watts running the offense.

After jumping out to a quick 12-4 lead, the Lady Panthers began to wilt in the face of Parkview’s intense man-to-man defense. A 10-1 run midway through the first half gave the Lady Pats their first lead, which turned out to be a permanent one.

Cabot committed 31 turnovers in the contest, resulting in 18 fewer shot attempts than Parkview. That allowed the Lady Pats to overcome 16 of 54 shooting and to survive a 4-rebound advantage for the Lady Panthers.

“We just didn’t play very well,” said Crowder. “We can’t practice against anything as quick as Parkview. That’s something we have to get used to.”

Stephanie Glover was the only consistent scorer for Cabot, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Her weave through the lane, followed by a couple of Amalie Benjamin buckets and Brooke Taylor’s court-length drive for a lay-up had Cabot up 12-4 six minutes into the contest.

At that point, the Lady Panthers were taking pretty good care of the basketball and moving it around. Three of their first six buckets were assisted. Meanwhile, Parkview couldn’t hit a lick, missing 15 of its first 16 shots. But the turnovers began to mount for Cabot and, by the 6-minute mark, Parkview had mounted a 6-point lead and had out-shot the Lady Panthers 24-9.

A lay-up by Amber Rock and two baskets by Glover had Cabot back within a point with four minutes remaining, but Parkview closed out the half on a 7-1 run to lead 27-20 at the half.

That manageable deficit quickly grew to 19when Parkview opened the second half on a 14-2 run. A pair of Glover free throws were the only points for Cabot over that period as the Lady Panthers fell behind 41-22. Cabot’s first bucket – and one of only four in the second half – came on Glover’s 10-footer on the baseline with 8:59 left.

The Lady Panthers stayed within shouting distance and were within 11 on a pair of Jenna Bailey free throws with 4:11 left. Cabot got as close as 49-40 on two more Bailey free throws with a minute remaining.

Rock scored eight points, while Bailey added six points, two assists and two steals. Arkansas-Little Rock signee Shelby Ashcraft struggled to a 3-point, 8-rebound performance. Benjamin added five.

Cabot made 13 of 36 from the field, missing all five of its 3-point tries. The Lady Panthers made 15 of 25 free throws. Parkview was led by Micah Rice’s 13 points.

Cabot takes on Little Rock Hall on Thursday at 5:30. Hall was crushed by Lonoke on Monday night , 65-22.

SPORTS>>Devils head south for 2nd round

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville’s fight for playoff survival will continue this Friday when the Red Devils travel to Pearcy to face Lake Hamilton. The Wolves (7-3) received a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed out of the 6A-South Conference. Jacksonville (6-5) barely got by Sheridan in the first round last week 13-12 to advance. And if the Red Devils hope to have a chance, they’re probably going to have to get their offense back in gear after managing just a pair of touchdowns against the Yellowjackets.

“We had 13 points taken off the board,” said Whatley, whose team survived by blocking a pair of extra points. “That makes a big difference, but the kids didn’t get upset over what happened. They kept fighting, and just went out there and kept playing football.

“This bunch is a pretty resilient team. Last week, they just kept battling and kept fighting. They weren’t getting upset or blaming the officiating or anything like that, they just kept doing their jobs.”

No one received more preseason buzz than Lake Hamilton senior quarterback and Tulsa signee Philip Butterfield. Butterfield helped lead the Wolves to the 6A state title game last year, where they suffered their only loss of the season, 13-0 to Texarkana.

They did not repeat as conference champs this year after losing to eventual champs Pine Bluff in Week 5. The Zebrashanded Lake Hamilton its only league loss in a wild 73-66 shootout.

“Their quarterback is very dynamic, and they have good receivers,” said Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley. “It’s hard to get pressure on them. They’ve been grooming for a championship for three years with this bunch. Our defense will have to play the best game they’ve ever played.”

Though more high profile, Butterfield is not the only senior in Lake Hamilton’s offensive arsenal. Wide receivers Josh Proffit and Tauno Vannucci are also dangerous players in their own right. Butterfield has had solid success finding both players during the year.

Running backs David Church and D.J. Bell give the Wolves an extra dimension that keeps defenses honest.

“They just do so much,” Whatley said. “They will stretch you all over the field. They use multiple formations. They do a lot, and do it well. We’re going to have to have good tackling, and lining up correctly will be one of our biggest challenges because of all the different formations.”

Butterfield and the Lake Hamilton offense base out of the spread, but can also go to the wishbone and Wing-T.

The Red Devils have their own up-and-coming talent in sophomore quarterback Logan Perry, who has played beyond his years during much of the 2008 season. His 11-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Demetris Harris late in the Sheridan game was the difference, with Brandon Harris’ point-after-kick providing the game-winner.

“(Logan’s) not young anymore. He just turned 16 this past Saturday,” Whatley joked. “He’s not a 15-year-old kid anymore, he’s an old man now – we’re ready to go.

“He’s had a great year, and he’s had some great guys around him,” he added.

The odds appear to be stacked against the Red Devils this week, but Whatley said that stranger things have happened this year, and since the start of the playoffs for that matter.

“This has been a crazy year and a crazy playoff season,” Whatley said. “Who would have thought that a No. 6 seed like Marion would go and play a El Dorado to within one point, and that Watson Chapel would go up and blow out Mountain Home. No one out there expects us to win, but no one expected any of that to happen either.”