Friday, December 30, 2011

TOP STORY >> From world champions to test results

Compiled by RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

This is the second of a two-part series looking back at 2011 through selected headlines from The Leader. This is what appeared in the world of print from July through December.


“Ward looks for new police chief” — Mayor Art Brooke takes over police department until a successor is found and praises departing chief.

“Newest judge holds his first PCSSD hearing” — Marshall tells parties in lawsuit he’ll step down if they want him to quit.

“Sherwood assured North Belt still viable” — Project is not doomed, even though state has no money and a developer is fighting for his land.

“Keeping drunks out of jail” — District court offers intensive instruction for those charged with DWI.

“Mayor wants to hear about his proposals” — Cabot Mayor Cypert invites residents to speak up on his $75-million bond program.

“First day is productive” — State commissioner is looking toform an advisory board with Bobby Lester and others to help school district.

“Base asks Jacksonville utility for help” — Commission is ready to maintain, repair and upgrade aging infrastructure at LRAFB.

“Sherwood ward lines locked in” — City council makes sure Gravel Ridge stayed together for voting.

“Will North Belt be given a year?” — Commissioners will tackle subdivision plans and controversial apartment idea.

“Prosecutor isn’t sure new pot law will help” — Lesser penalties for larger quantities could ease crowding, but Larry Jegley isn’t sure.

“City attorney may challenge anti-burn rule” — An old law requiring cremation for the disposal of dead animals is questioned.

“Reprieve for road in Sherwood” — Subdivision is turned down, but developer says he wants to work with city.

“Country club in Cabot to be auctioned off this summer” — Greystone continues to struggle as revenues fall far short of what’s required to stay afloat, but city doesn’t want to take it over.

“Hot enough to sting your eyes” — It’s dangerous to be outside in this heat wave, but some workers have no choice.

“Appeal possible in ruling on firing” — Jacksonville loses a wrongful-dismissed case, but city insists it was right to fire clerk.

“Women file suit over their arrest” — Laotians claim they’re victims of bias, want money back.

“Sentence extended 8.5 years for Cabot resident” — Judge adds another prison term on top of 10 years behind bars for George Thompson.

“Cabot mayor gets earful” — Mayor Cypert hosts a town meeting on priorities at the community center.

“Benchmark results here show improvement” — Test scores show Cabot, Searcy, Beebe tops; others move up, but not PCSSD.

“Lonoke County Jail now state-of-the-art” — County is getting a lot for its money, from seven cellblocks to improved security.

“Muhammad murder trial jury selected” — Alleged shooter killed Conway soldier and injured another from Jacksonville two years ago.

“FEMA is asked for aid” — Jacksonville officials meet with federal agency to seek compensation or losses this year.

“Elementary on air base bright spot on testing” — Arnold Drive outscores others while Jacksonville Middle School ranks lowest on Benchmark.

“Two teens charged in stabbings” — One suspect is asking to be tried as a juvenile instead of an adult.

“Islam is blamed for shooting” — Defense concedes accused did the shooting, but blames actions on conversions.

“Liquor stores grandfathered in” — Move gives city more control, but lets existing liquor stores stay in business.

“Coach gets 60 days, five-year probation” — Former Abundant Life principal pleads no contest to sexual-abuse charges.

“Jegley: Killer will never get out” — As Abdulhakim Muhammad is taken away to maximum-security prison for life, his parents and victims’ kin share tearful hugs.

“Team loud and proud as security forces win” — LRAFB airmen score well in rescue, fitness, finance and arrival times at the competition.

“Gunfire ordinance loaded with blanks” — Ban would have affected people who live in unincorporated areas.

Paper wins top honors again from state group” — Leader grabs record 27 awards, named best large weekly by the Arkansas Press Association.

“Cabot bests state on testing” — Schools in the district continue to do well on annual math and literacy tests.

“Redistricting shifts lines in many areas” — Eddie Jo Williams gets Cabot area and north Pulaski County, and Jonathan Dismang gets rest of Lonoke County.

“Wing is crowned world champion” — 314th Airlift Wing wins top C-130 honors at military competition in Washington.

“Searcy, Beebe schools score near perfection” — Lonoke and Carlisle show bright spots in annual tests, but areas of improvement needed.


“Rodeo winners show true grit” — Little Rock Air Force Base team back as world champions after competition in Washington, get feted by community leaders.

“Legislators learning new districts” — Cabot House District shrinks because of rapid growth in the city in the last decade.

“Criticism is voiced on lines in Senate” — Cities in area are going to new districts, and not everyone is happy.

“Base transitions to more training and new C-130Js” — As the Air National Guard and a new Reserve unit assume greater responsibilities, a general sees a strong future for the 314th Airlift Wing and more upgrades.

“Temps: Hot, hotter, hottest” — Triple-digit heat has health officials and others issuing warnings to stay inside if possible.

“Allegiance asks lease to expand” — Jacksonville City Council approves plans to bring unit I to provide long-term care.

“Local banks take hit in big Ponzi scheme” — Lawyer said he had improvement-district bonds, which were fake.

“Armory in Cabot trains for overseas” — Guard unit is in new $10 million facility and will go overseas in June 2012.

“Junior high schools hit the mark” — Cabot and Lonoke pupils do well on algebra and geometry end-of-course exams.

“Rainfall showers savings on fields” — Farmers can stop irrigating for a while as sudden storm ends dry spell.

“Cutting budget, helping people” — Congressman tells constituents the path to prosperity is less spending.

“In state’s hands, PCSSD starts over” — Superintendent says he is focused on the first day of school and having a productive year.

“New JHS principal sets priorities” — Henry Anderson explains to students, parents and staff how he intends to fix failing school.

“Air Base home to charter school” — Commander hails opening of new middle school at LRAFB.

“Cabot district sees gain of 200 students” — Despite a slowdown in growth of new housing, attendance reaches record high, and schools see smooth opening as starting times are adjusted.

“Lonoke jail welcomes visitors to new facility” — County detention center can hold 136 prisoners and can add 120 more beds.

“Group to meet with state on new district” — Parents push for construction of elementary and middle schools in Jacksonville.

“Jacksonville balances it 2010 budget” — City has to dip into reserves, but its total worth jumps to $1.3 billion.

“Enrollment in PCSSD is continuing to decline” — Troubled district loses 200 students from two years ago, but Sherwood is up.

“City to get new police station for $5.5 million” — Old Vertac site transforming into state-of-art emergency-response facility.

“Neighbors gripe about Sherwood apartments” — Homeowners complain about residents, but manager defends them.

“A big salute to rodeo winners” — Best C-130 team, modernization program and new Reserve unit win applause.

“Cabot plans to build new fire station” — Committee to get a look at fourth station that will have a training facility.

“Beebe council endorses sales tax vote for roads” — One-cent levy for White Count would pay for Searcy bypass and other improvements.

“Cabot, Beebe score over state average” — Two districts best state average, while PCSSD scored below as more students take exam for college.

“Cabot to build two fire stations” — Mayor says growing town needs more firefighters soon.

“Lonoke-White water project back on again” — Greers Ferry would be the source for the long-planned pipeline to serve area communities.

“Jacksonville awaiting trucks” — Contractor has until Sept. 8 to deliver trash rigs or agreement is void.

“New Lonoke High School opens” — Modern facility gets good marks from both students and facility.

“Pair accused in murder no strangers to legal system” — Drugs, theft and prostitution among previous charges.

“Wings celebrate trophies” — The 314th and 19th wings combine to win a record eight awards at the air rodeo competition at McChord AFB.

“Residents fire off on fireworks” — Most at the public hearing are opposed to the idea of easing the ban on pyrotechnics in Jacksonville during holidays.

“FEMA aid running dry” — Federal agency broke, and state and cities have no money to compensate flooded homeowners.

“Future unclear after Greystone closes its doors” — Although closure of golf course was expected, nearby residents are hoping it can be brought back to life and more new homes built.

“Serial-killer suspect ruled sane for trial” — Cabot man is charged with murders in Vilonia and Jacksonville.

“Middle school awes parents” — New $31.5 M facility opens to excellent reviews in Sherwood.

“Victory salute for airmen” — General gives trophy to 314th Airlift Wing after winning at McChord.


“BBC crew filming blackbirds’ deaths” — British look at the New Year’s Eve demise of 5,000 birds.

“Cigarettes cost jailer job” — A newly hired guard is accused of bringing smokes to new facility and possibly selling them.

“Jacksonville enrollment is still dropping” — The city continues to lose students even as the rest of the district sees increases in Sherwood and Maumelle, where new schools have been built.

“Residents in Lonoke split over principal” — Longtime educator fights suspension from top high school post.

“Gas pollution poses danger, report claims” — Group accuses state of poor oversight in area, but lawmakers disagree.

“Cabot welcomes new armory” — The new $10 million facility is hailed as an important addition to a growing community.

“Officials to study source of floods” — Corps will pay most of the cost to find out how to control flooding.

“$25 million loan used for water to Jacksonville” — Department will borrow funds to bring water from Maumelle and Winona lakes, as well as pay for pipes and new tank.

“Kids say, ‘Dad shot my mom’” — Pulaski County sheriff is investigating the deaths of two residents.

“Sergeant brings pieces of trade center to base” — Steel beam and metal part shaped like Arkansas displayed in processing center.

“Highway priorities presented” — Cabot mayor brings wish list, including two new interchanges, road widening.

“Towns pick up revenues” — Cabot, Ward and Austin grow in population and get bigger share of sales tax as Lonoke County drops.

“Plea made for better city streets” — Lonoke officials consider cutting spending to make road improvements.

“Helping troubled districts not easy” — After grants, some schools do better, but others struggle.

“Cabot schools pass a record $76M budget” — District can’t spend it all yet but must wait for state approval.

“Jacksonville cuts budget by $803,000” — As city’s population declines, its county tax also drops.

“Principal’s job in jeopardy” — Northside Elementary’s Suzanne Proctor suspended with pay.

“Prosecutor asking for more security” — Graham tells justices armed guards are needed to prevent violence.

“PCSSD looks for a new finance director” — Embattled district loses another top official after state takeover.

“Lonoke murder threatened on Facebook” — Dead man’s sister points to threats online against brother after nightclub fight.

“Air Force faces spending cuts” — Gen. Schwartz sees a period of austerity, but predicts eventual rebound.

“FBI releases crime rates” — Beebe, Lonoke and Jacksonville above state average, while Cabot, Carlisle, Sherwood, Ward and Searcy below average.

“Automated trash service has kinks” — Jacksonville educates residents about new system and common mistakes.

“Four caught in Texas for murder here” — Authorities arrest suspects in Longview for a shooting death Sept. 18.

“Accused refuses to make deal in slaying” — Wife pleads guilty, while husband has trial set for Oct. 27 in Lonoke County.

“Three senate districts in Jacksonville’s future” — New legislative boundaries mean three senators, one representative for the city in the Legislature next year.

“Water project can start” — Construction will get under way with $50 million provided by state and federal agencies.

“Family grieves over murder” — Parolee dies in a car wreck after leaving a note at scene of his girlfriend’s murder.

“Sherwood decides it wants out of PCSSD” — City wants to follow Jacksonville in a growing exodus from troubled school district.

“Cabot has cash to buy old bank” — City has plenty of reserves to purchase property.

“Lonoke tightens control of police” — Alderman’s relative who was murdered raises alarm bells for council.


“$20M project considered” — Cabot plans largest water park in state on 200 acres; also ball fields, pools.

“Grant pays for police to issue more tickets” — Federal funding puts more cops on the street to make Jacksonville safer.

“Census shows diversity in several communities” — Jacksonville has most varied population and vacant homes; Sherwood has most homeowners.

“Separation talk does not worry superintendent” — School district focuses on education, ignores Sherwood’s call for going alone.

“Murder suspects arrive in Lonoke” — Four people are in the county jail after they return from Longview, Texas.

“Public safety priority for city” — The $6 million Jacksonville project will have a sprawling law-enforcement complex.

“$25M water projects set” — Jacksonville City Council approves plan to finance five major upgrades to system.

“Sherwood recycling will start on March 1” — Biweekly pickup will be funded with a $2.76 monthly garbage-rate increase.

“City services in one place” — Jacksonville complex serves street, fire and police departments.

“Principal is back on job” — Phynaus Wilson sorry he tried to keep consultants out of Lonoke High School.

“Hopson: Betrayed by state in ouster” — Ex-superintendent’s claim he was told there would be no takeover of PCSSD is denied by commissioner.

“Ward raises meter fees to pay for water project” — Monthly charge of $5 will help cover the cost of bringing more water to town.

“Group pushes school choice to raise scores” — Foundation director says Arkansas needs more options, such as charter schools and vouchers, to help kids.

“Gay-Straight Club forming at CHS” — New student group presents its by-laws as it becomes Cabot school’s 40th club.

“Principal loss job at a long hearing” — Overflow crowd supports Suzanne Proctor, but many couldn’t get in meeting room.

“Jacksonville plant hires more workers” — National Swage is making parts for important construction projects around the world and adds new machines.

“C-130s takeoff in virtual flight” — Nearly $200 million worth of simulators train crews from all over the world for real flight conditions.

“DNA evidence leads police to murder suspect” — The man who is accused of killing an elderly Sherwood woman has a long record of drugs and violence and a reputation as “couch hopper.”

“Deal signed to hold U.S. prisoners” — Federal inmates will help pay for Lonoke’s new $6 million 138-bed county detention facility.

“Air base rated ‘satisfactory’” — Commander praises airmen as exceptional group “with can-do attitude.”

“Mayor: City set for big growth” — Times are tough, but Fletcher certain Jacksonville growth will “snowball.”

JPs agree to center lease deal” — Lonoke County will buy building that houses Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center.

“How much of a rate hike?” — Public hearing will determine size of Jacksonville sewer increase and who will pay.

“Cabot budget tells spending details” — Council members get first look at proposed expenses for 2012, a total of $10.4 million.

“PCSSD still struggling, Guess says” — Interim superintendent wants to reshape failed district, but chamber group is told he may not have enough funds to work with.

“Neighbors feud over fence” — Both sides air issues, concerns, differences over fencing safety and bias at Sherwood City Council meeting.

“Cabot offers small businesses help” — Technology center official will offer expertise a city hall to local enterprises in need.

“Arts center planned for school site” — In a town hall meeting, Mayor Fletcher and PCSSD superintendent discuss opportunities for closed site.

“Vietnamese on goodwill tour” — Top journalists visit Washington, Little Rock, Jacksonville and San Francisco on fact-finding trip.

“Son is certain murder victim was harassed” — Sherwood woman refused to give ex-convict money, which may be why she was killed by drifter, son says.

“Fund will aid military students” — Pentagon offers reading program to schools near Little Rock Air Force Base.


“Fireworks fun fizzles in city” — Jacksonville committee decides against holiday use of popular pyrotechnics and raise fines instead.

“Ward woman honored” — Billie Jean Dougherty inducted into Senior Arkansans Hall of Fame for fighting payday lenders.

“Cabot group plans free Thanksgiving meal” — The event this year will be held at Grace Fellowship.

“Cops busy rushing to apartment complexes” — Park Crest has about 300 calls a year, not all crime-related, and other units also report problems.

“Limiting building in Cabot is sought” — City is told that Kerr Road infrastructure can’t support putting in apartments.

“Griffin: Don’t jeopardize defense” — Congressman fears reductions would be harmful as more Republicans oppose cuts.

“For PCSSD, infusion of more funds” — The fiscally distressed school district will get extra money because of quicker tax collections, which will help it avoid a deficit and more layoffs.

“Cabot dealing with cyberbullying” — School district, along with local and state police, are working together to investigate crude attacks.

“A water line is dedicated to J.M. Park” — Late banker helped improve quality and increase availability in Cabot.

“Jacksonville serious contender for state fair” — After voters reject sales tax hike in North Little Rock, Jacksonville offer more appealing.

“State lists 22 schools as faltering” — Poor test scores put them on the improvement list, while eight more failed to reach federal requirements and are on alert.

“Benefit for young transplant patient” — Fitness center plans equipment marathon for 11-year-old Jacksonville girl.

“Pryor: Without deal, most cuts target defense” — Senator warns budget agreement is needed or half the cuts come from military.

“Mayor is adamant about no pay raise” — Aldermen won’t get raise but insist Cypert get one, though he says no again.

“Lonoke: We’re doing better” — Superintendent Tackett tells school board test results don’t tell whole story.

“‘Double-dip’ ends at last for treasurer” — Lonoke County official doesn’t want comment about losing her second paycheck after the state retirement system determines she was ineligible.

“Not guilty pleas in murder case” — Four defendants appear in court Nov. 18 and face up to 40 years in prison but seek mental tests.

“Council approves limited fireworks” — Permits will be needed if people want to pop off on July 4th.

“Campus in Cabot finished” — High school complex gets approval from city; first game Dec. 5.

“Jacksonville dedicates burn tower” — Fire department will train crews by setting the center ablaze during exercises.

“Reserves taking off” — Even in a time of budget cuts, a huge new unit is taking shape at the base under a charismatic commander.

“For Air Guard, doing more on a small budget” — Although it gets only 6 percent of Air Force funding, the commander says the ANG does more than five times what it’s given.

“Cabot approves $10.4M budget” — Mayor plans to ask voters to extend one-cent sales tax for new fire station.

“Sherwood must lower spending” — Committee looks to slash $1.3 million in expenses as the city struggles to balance its budget by February.

“Black Friday helps more than stores” — All-night fast food, diner see benefits from the holiday shopping kickoff.

“First look at $19.7M budget” — Sherwood still expects to purchase five police cars and an automated garbage truck.

“Business is healthy for clinic” — Doctors offer sliding-scale payments based on patients’ income.

“State Rep. Perry asks commission to support skeet range” — Jacksonville A&P may help with $2.2 million, 160-acre shooting facility off Graham Road.

“Two ex-commanders here named general” — Otey follows Hyde as they both earn their first stars and key posts in the Air Force.

“Cabot will hire more officers as necessary” — Police chief says city is doing fine, but someday he might need to expand staff.

“District courts seen draining county budget” — Lonoke County officials complain they don’t know how the money is spent.


“Jacksonville balks at high rate increase” — Council wants smaller incremental hike and will look at two plans.

“Districts change absence rules to state standards” — Schools here allow eight to 12 absences before repercussions set in.

“Dispatcher exonerated in shooting” — State Police probe concludes Lonoke Sheriff’s deputy was justified.

“Cabot court faces $100,000 loss” — Lonoke County Quorum Court wants to cut support for municipal courts.

“City will dip into reserves” — Jacksonville will need $860,000 from its rainy-day fund to pay bills.

“Alternative plan for state fair” — Jacksonville could use a 445-acre site for a large exhibition complex, mayor says.

“Arts council paints a rosy future” — An enthusiastic group of artists and their patrons are pushing for a local arts center.

“Group seeks help to spread cheer” — Charitable giving has been hit by the economy, and Christmas Alliance can tell.

“More students qualify for free school meals” — Local districts gave away free or reduced meals, but most were under the state average.

“Alternate ‘state fair’ is possible” — Jacksonville officials say the 450-acre site has many possibilities.

“Jacksonville considers sewer-rate plans” — Utility needs an extra $1 million to cover costs and capital improvements.

“Mayor: Need two court districts” — As Lonoke County considers cutting support, Cypert says it’s time to consolidate six courts.

“Ward must fluoridate water soon” — Not everyone is happy about seeking a $120,000 grant to make fluoridation in town possible.

“City gives state fair deadline” — Board isn’t sure it can make the financial commitment, so Jacksonville might do its own fair.

“Observer back from Russia” — — Commissioner sees firsthand as Russians struggle to build democracy.

“Smokers get big break in 2012 budget” — Tobacco surcharge not included as Lonoke Quorum Court approves $6.9 million budget.”

“Jacksonville schools faulted on race” — As enrollment continues to drop, federal oversight office says schools are racially imbalanced and underutilized.

“Shift of residents brings new wards” — Air base population change, lower census numbers force realignment of Jacksonville boundaries.

“Not everyone happy with fees” — One Jacksonville alderman complains that new rates penalize the small users and give big users a break.