Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TOP STORY >> Looking back at the year’s stories

Compiled by RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

This is the first 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 January to June 2011.


“Mystery of birds falling on Beebe by thousands” — Strange occurrence under investigation.

“Charter school seeking infusion of funds” — Lighthouse would not only expand to air base, but wants $12 million construction loan for junior and high schools.

“For Cabot, new team at city hall” — Cypert names former Alderman Eddie Cook as personnel director to meet demands of growing city.

“Sherwood freezes most pay” — Only golf course employees are in line for salary increases.

“Austin, Ward $1M cities” — North Lonoke County towns double their size and increase budgets.

“Trainers laid off at air base” — Lockheed says 23 are out of a job, but losses could have been worse.

“Base commander: Build new schools” — Col. Minihan offers more land to school district as well as charter school on LRAFB perimeter.

“Lonoke QC shakeup leaves Odom isolated” — A lonely voice 20 years ago when GOP was struggling, JP says he’s now being tossed aside.

“Communities dig out after record snow” — The area is slammed hard as weathermen correctly predict up to six inches of snow over the weekend, closing schools, businesses and offices.

“Charter school expansion approved” — Lighthouse to build new middle school on LRAFB and a high school on North First.

“Will Bond to lead Democratic Party” — Gov. Beebe picks Jacksonville native to head embattled party.

“Chamber submits priorities for PCSSD” — Group tells district official that Jacksonville needs new schools to stop losing more students.

“Will city save golf course?” — Jacksonville mayor asks Foxwood residents and others what it would take for the closed facility to be profitable.

“Ex-clerk could go to prison” — Cassandra Williams admitted to taking money from Lonoke sheriff’s office but has made no restitution.

“Lawmakers get down to business” — Eddie Joe Williams and Jonathan Dismang, the area’s newest senators, and their colleagues are in their second week at the Capitol.

“Not everyone on board with PCSSD superintendent” — Tensions simmer as Charles Hopson’s contract is revised to please state auditors.

“Lonoke County gets more jailers” — At least 18 jailers should staff the detention center.

“Greystone residents fight for golf course” — Exclusive area in Cabot could lose one of its major draws as bankruptcy looms.

“Jacksonville military museum lands C-130” — Little Rock Air Force Base is retiring one of its old cargo planes.

“Sherwood to fix sewers” — City council approves plan to improve the town’s aging system.

“Deal set for Austin City Hall” — Mayor says the town is ready to close on the old health clinic.

“Plans call for a new elementary on air base” — Replace Arnold Drive and Tolleson with a school on base; demolish Jacksonville Middle School and Elementary, district is told.

“Cabot could allow inside firing range” — Committee is considering letting residents practice indoors at old plant.

“Sherwood stabilizing financially” — Mayor Hillman gives state of the city report and predicts more improvements this year.

“Deficits worry Griffin” — Congressman says debt could lead ‘to our next Pearl Harbor,’ calls for spending cuts, including defense.

“Dallas-area developers study Jacksonville sites” — Group that visited city this week (late January) builds shopping centers all over the country.

“Odom proposes funding plan for jail” — Lonoke County JP crunches the numbers and finds $292,000 from several sources to pay for jailers and nurse.

“AG&FC concludes trauma killed birds” — More results confirm that tragedy did not involve poisoning.


“Plan to save Greystone is goal in Cabot” — Residents are told to pool their resources and buy memberships so the golf course stays open and the community isn’t hurt.

“Joint Education center dedicated” — Governor, commander and mayor all agree college complex will boost higher education in the area.

“Save our schools, parents plead” — North Pulaski patrons told high school consolidation imminent in new building plans.

“Big Reserve unit coming to base” — As many as 700 reservists and civilians will keep older planes flying.

“Another Diamond School award in Cabot” — Despite being on improvement list, middle school earns distinction.

“Earthquakes from drilling feared” — Disposal of drilling waste into deep wells could be responsible for recent tumblers.

“Mayor says city can’t fund Greystone” — Cypert insists golf course needs support from Cabot residents.

“Sherwood passes Jacksonville” — Cabot, Ward, Austin, Beebe continue rapid growth; Lonoke down a few.

“PCSSD plans for schools bring praise, some gripes” — District’s facilities project moving forward, but not everyone pleased.

“Foxwood club gets offer” — Jacksonville golf course to get new attitude and become private under new name.

“Cities analyze census data as they set plans” — Even though there was growth in most areas, some expected more.

“City eyes state fair land” — Jacksonville officials say the 450-acre site has other possibilities if fair doesn’t come.

“Jacksonville tries smaller annexation” — Businesses along Hwy. 67/167 agree to come into city limits after voters said no.

“New jail might remain vacant” — The $6.2 million detention center in Lonoke lacks long-term operating funds.

“Funding available for reservists on base” — New budget calls for 200 more reserve jobs soon.

“Seniors will get $410,000 safe room” — Jacksonville center has been approved for a shelter from storms.

“Austin boom town” — Once a tiny community, the city north of Cabot has grown dramatically.

“Liquor wars on county line” — Owner of Ace Liquor wants to stop a store going in next door because it wasn’t properly advertised.

“Sherwood plans for a new library” — City considers a two-year tax hike to fund two construction projects.

“National Geographic in Beebe” — One tenth of U.S. blackbirds roost in the White County town.


“Leader starts 25th year”

“Lonoke rebuilds after small twister” — Community grateful it wasn’t worse and no one was injured.

“Vasquez sees school district growing again” — PCSSD board president says building more schools and remodeling others will mean growth for the district and better opportunities for students.

“PETA says fireworks killed birds” — Beebe City Council says it doesn’t need outside advice, although mayor warns roost will grow and more will die.

“Millage hike sought for gym” — Lonoke seeks tax increase to pay for a modern, all-purpose facility.

“Jail worries Cypert” — Cabot mayor fears Lonoke facility won’t accept prisoners from his city.

“Jacksonville finally set to expand north” — One resident calls area along Hwy. 67/167 ‘Sodom and Gomorrah.’

“Base puts $712M in economy” — LRAFB pumps $12 million more into area last year compared with 2009.

“Animal shelter asks for Taser protection” — Cabot workers say they are afraid of feral creatures and must defend themselves.

“Schools plans move ahead” — Architects hired to design two new PCSSD elementary schools and a middle school for Jacksonville.

“Cities still demand space in Lonoke county jail” — Mayors want to send their prisoners there since towns paid for facility.

“More foreigners train at air base” — Hundreds come here from 42 nations to learn to fly C-130s with 314th Airlift Wing.

“LRAFB sees undercount by census” — Jacksonville says wrong population numbers could cost city $40 million.

“Cabot gets set for new high school building” — District hopes to open $14.9 million facility soon after school begins in the fall.

“Lonoke County sheriff needs funds for jailers” — Sheriff Jim Roberson wants to hire more guards, but quorum curt isn’t sure how to pay them.

“Earthquakes rattle nerves” — Those who live near gas-drilling areas are looking to Japan if things should go wrong.

“The Leader earns 11 awards at advertising banquet March 18.

“State fair move seems doomed” — Jacksonville and Little Rock mayors differ on the need to relocate the event to a new site.

“Investors ready to resurrect Foxwood” — Venerable golf course in Jacksonville will reopen April 1 for members.

“Error keeps funds away from Cabot” — City still demands $1.1 million from federal government to build a north ramp on Hwy. 67/167, but the money went instead to Clay County.

“Funds needed for new jail” — Jacksonville mayor is supportive of Pulaski jail expansion.

“Sherwood looks at fees for builders” — Growing city wants developers to pay more to cover maintenance and extra costs, but not everyone is in agreement.

“Bill approved targeting JHS” — Rep. Mark Perry’s proposal would hasten state takeover of failing schools in Arkansas.

“Lost cemetery rediscovered” — Denominations partner to clean up and uncover story of historic graveyard in Lonoke County.

“Grim anniversary for Cabot twister” — It was 35 years ago (March 29) when deadly tornadoes hit town.


“District plans to dismiss teachers” — Administration, union at odds over how to fix Jacksonville High School.

“PCSSD: A state takeover unfair” — District hopes it can escape fiscal-distress label; move forward on new Jacksonville schools.

“New law lets city buy pipes” — Cabot will be allowed to purchase Ward water lines within city limits.

“Ward to sell bonds to improve sewers” — Mayor says he’s worried residents will have to pay more, but the council decides it’s time to bring plant into compliance.

“New deal keeps all operating for now” — LRAFB civilians were prepared to be furloughed until stalemate resolved.

“Jacksonville welcomes Little Rock Expo Center” — A year of successful Memphis Flea Market shows prompts the relocation of a major attraction.

“Council spends money on trash” — Jacksonville will buy new trucks and containers for approximately $1.3 million.

“Upgrades sought for base” — Rep. Griffin wants another simulator and to speed up avionics program.

“Funding parks is a puzzle for city” — Sherwood finds it cannot use impact fees to build new park in Gravel Ridge.

“Revelation Riders spread religion at bikers rallies” — Cabot motorcycle club is part of a growing Christian movement on wheels around the country.

Robbery behind pawnshop killing” — Joe Pipkin likely murdered during a stickup at his Hwy. 367 business.

“Storms sweep into area with 80-mph winds” — Power outages close schools in Lonoke County, leave others in dark.

“Parents, teachers upset by closure” — Many oppose closing Jacksonville Elementary before new school is built.

“Cabot fixing problem for kindergarten tests” — Vendor provided wrong practice materials for youngest pupils in school district.

“Pit bulls will get a reprieve” — The Cabot City Council decides to let vicious dogs move out of town.

“Allegiance, city set to sign deal to sell hospital” — Mayor pores over final paperwork that hands Jacksonville facility over to Louisiana firm for $8.3 million and major improvements.

“Fair feud deepens for cities” — Jacksonville is not worried about North Little Rock’s latest proposal.

“State to get last word on school plans” — Education Department will decide fate of $104 million PCSSD building program, which could depend on outcome of fiscal distress designation.

“Sirens sounded too often in storm?” — Cabot mayor wants to find out if system can be improved before the next round of bad weather.

“Sherwood can’t spend more for key services” — City’s budget panel hears requests for raises, but no funds available right now.

“Air base digs out after tornado” — Cleanup starts after homes and planes damaged; Col. Minihan thanks community for outpouring of support.

“High school hit, but plans are to reopen it April 29” — Despite the destruction of the auditorium and several classrooms, North Pulaski will hold classes and go ahead with prom at the end of the week.

“Storms cut wide swath across area” — Few spared as tornadoes and high winds swept through Arkansas.

“For air base, it’s recovery, going to war” — People and organizations open their hearts to help out.

“PCSSD has spending plan” — School district budget cuts $7.9 million; hopes to get out of fiscal distress and build three new schools in Jacksonville.

“Appeal sent state on designation” — PCSSD says it’s financially sound, opposes Education Department takeover.


“Huge rain pummels area, then moves on” — May rain on top of April totals, thunderstorms, tornadoes keep area saturated.

“Funding could run out for a big water project” — To complete pump station to help farmers, $350 million in federal and $190 million in state funds needed.

“Planting seeds of Afghan democracy” — Jacksonville soldier helped teach nation’s farmers modern techniques.

“Officials hear gripes about rising water” — Second 100-year flood in 18 months leaves many frustrated and looking for help and answers.

“Residents blame landfill for floods” — Residents near landfill say their problems have worsened as water has no place to go but into their homes.

“Missing man found dead in floodwater” — The body of a Butlerville driver who went past barricades finally located 150 yards away.

“Officials work on reducing flooding” — FEMA will assess damage as Jacksonville vows to work on drainage and make other improvements in the city.

“Jail ready to take in prisoners” — Lonoke County still trying to figure out how much it will cost to operate.

“Legislative audit slams PCSSD” — Lawmakers say they are tired of excuses as Education Department considers takeover.

“Sherwood will reconfigure its map for wards” — Northern expansion and addition of 8,000 residents call for change in boundaries for aldermen.

“Beebe plans new school for McRae” — A $2.9 million project.

“Another record for air drops” — Squadron that includes 41st AS helps deliver more pallets.

“Lonoke County pits JPs vs. JPs” — New census means many incumbents could face each other for quorum court next year.

“Jacksonville taxes up; Sherwood mulls hike” — Neighboring towns facing different financial realties, but only one looking to raise rates.

“Alderman case will likely be dismissed” — Judge tells Les Cossey that as long as he stays out of trouble, charges will be dropped.

“‘Boot camp’ business expo a success” — Jacksonville chamber’s event featured more than 60 companies.

“Two named in bribe scheme” — Former board president and Jacksonville principal were conspirators.

“Damage on base near $100 million” — LRAFB officials believe it will cost tens of millions of dollars to fix C-130s, homes and buildings.

“Bribe plot entangles 2 districts” — Mike Nellums is on the way out after fiasco; Tim Clark accused of payoff.

“Ruling: PCSSD wasted money” — District will meet today (May 25) to determine its options on deseg funding.

“Man dead after shootout in Cabot” — Police respond to domestic disturbance in the Village Square complex.

“Spending cuts proposed for solvency plan” — PCSSD passes 35-point financial program to get fiscally distressed district back on its feet.

“Cabot paying teachers to take early retirement” — School district to hire younger replacements, hoping to save $1.9 million.


“Rebuilding to start at North Pulaski” — Debris has been removed from the high school, which took a direct hit from April 25 tornado, Millions of dollars in construction to get under way soon.

“Technology grant to JHS worth $2M” — Over the next three years, the troubled high school could get as much as $5.7 million if it does well.

“Huge award in wreck” — Cabot woman, survivor of collision with dump truck, receives compensation from Lonoke County jury.

“Animals no longer dumped at landfill” — Practice called a violation of state law, so Cabot will resume incineration.

“Jacksonville pool repairs to run $1M” — Chlorine and moisture made ceiling and roof unsafe; closed for the summer and expansion possible.

“PCSSD takes another hit” — Disband board, panel says; Hopson answers he can’t undo mistakes of past decade in a year.

“Cabot gets school for ninth-graders” — District receives go-ahead to build a campus for one grade, then for 10th grade.

“Lottery winner in $2M drug bust” — Several suspects are arrested in a wide sweep in Lonoke and White counties.

“Breaking up PCSSD seen as a solution” — Despite threatened state takeover and drawn-out court suit, it could be an opportunity for Jacksonville to form its own district, lawmaker says.

“Redrawn districts pit pals, enemies” — New Lonoke JP lines will force friends and adversaries to run against each other.

“Jacksonville acts on expansion” — City will take in north business corridor along Hwy. 67/167.

“Farm-raised catfish may be thing of past” — Rising cost threatens Southern tradition.

“Lester: Local control two years away” — Former superintendent says he will stay for a few weeks before long-term chief comes in.

“Support for state takeover” — Jacksonville residents applaud move, but construction uncertain.

“Crossett’s principal leads JHS” — Former PCSSD teacher and administrator looks forward to coming home.

“North Belt hits a dead end for lack of funding” — Sherwood’s upcoming decision on whether or not to remove bypass from the street plan could put the project on permanent hold.

“Lester: I’m still backing district” — He says taking temporary post (interim PCSSD superintendent) doesn’t mean he has abandoned Jacksonville.

“Lonoke voters approve $5.7M to build school facility” — Residents and donors fund multi-purpose building at high school.

“Jacksonville’s $500,000 facelift” — Intersection at Main, Dupree and James gets a whole new look.

“New chief appointed for PCSSD” — South Arkansas educator moves from a district that has much in common with the Pulaski County schools.

“Mayor: $75M for Cabot needs” — Cypert proposes road and other upgrades and eliminating parks and recreation commission.

“North Belt still has chance to remain in plan” — Sherwood commission votes to keep right of way on master street plan.