Friday, August 05, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Dishonest Advertising

If you wondered about the destructive effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations and rich individuals and groups to secretly dump unlimited cash into “independent” political campaigns, some of the best evidence is surfacing here in central Arkansas. Last week, a shadow group called American Action Network ran the first huge newspaper ad attacking President Obama for trying to harm old people and praising Rep. Tim Griffin for defending them. Flyers carrying the same message will be arriving in seniors’ mail.

Griffin, like other vulnerable Republican congressmen, has taken some heat for voting for a radical plan to end the government Medicare program by privatizing it and shifting the costs to seniors and the disabled, starting with people who will reach Medicare age in 2021. The ads and flyers are supposed to reverse that impression of Griffin and 21 other right-wing congressmen and shift the blame to the president.

Beside a picture of Griffin, the ad carries the line: “Arkansas Seniors Can Count on Congressman Tim Griffin to Stand Up Against the Obama Medicare Plan.” The headline at the top of the ad says that President Obama has a Medicare plan to “balance the budget on the backs of seniors!” A picture of a stooped old man holding his back accompanies it.

That may sound counterintuitive to you. Isn’t Obama supposed to be the socialist who wants to spend all the taxpayers’ money on the elderly, the poor and society’s wastrels? But you tell us that he really wants to take away their benefits so that he can balance the budget?

The fact is Obama had no Medicare plan and, in particular, no plan to take away benefits from the elderly and disabled. But they can’t just make such stuff up, can they? There is an asterisk at the end of a sentence that says Obama’s Medicare plan would increase Medicare premiums, and that is how it would affect people’s benefits. To support the charge, the ad refers you in small type to an Internet website, which carries a long, murky “study” by the man who runs American Action Network, which purports to show how Medicare premiums would be raised “by as much as $208 per year.”

It turns out that the Medicare plan is not Obama’s at all but a bill by two Democrats who are the leading congressional champions of Medicare. It would require drug companies to give discounts for Medicare recipients on many high-cost drugs like they must do with Medicaid. In the debt-ceiling talks, there was some discussion of including that little budget-cutting measure in the big debt package that was being negotiated. The drug companies, naturally, opposed it, so Republicans did, too.

The little “study” argued that if the drug companies had to give discounts to the elderly on expensive brand-name drugs over the years, they would just shift the costs around and recover the money elsewhere. That would for some magical reason cause Medicare premiums to go up. It is the classic roundabout argument. Anything that is supposed to lower your costs will actually raise them. The argument boils down to this: If you force drug companies to sell their products more cheaply they will find a way to make even greater profits. So Obama is trying to give the drug companies bigger profits at the expense of seniors!

It is pure baloney, of course, but if you don’t follow the trail to the end the ads are convincing. People don’t like this black president with the Middle Eastern name, so they are willing to believe just about anything about him. Seniors are especially vulnerable, as the campaign against the health insurance reform bill in 2009 showed. The elderly were persuaded that “Obamacare,” as the Republicans called it, would slash their Medicare benefits when actually it improved benefits.

Who is paying for the ads for Griffin and the other 21 congressmen and who is responsible for the deceptions?

Not Griffin, of course. He can say he had nothing to do with them and his campaign treasury is not out a red cent. American Action Network came into being after the Citizens United decision paved the way for moneyed interests, including corporations, to spend boundless sums on political advertising as long as it was not coordinated with a candidate and did not specifically ask people to vote for him. It spent $25 million last fall for independent campaigns for Griffin and other Republican candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives.

All that is known about the group is its director and board of directors, made up of rich investors and corporate executives. From the list, you can guess that the money comes from Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies and the oil and insurance industries. It has to be a guess because the donors do not have to be identified. It shares offices with Karl Rove’s consulting firm. Griffin, you may recall, worked for Rove in the Bush White House political office. Rove arranged for Bud Cummins, a loyal Republican, to be dismissed as U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas to make room for Griffin, who needed to burnish his résumé for a coming congressional race.

The group revealed last month that it was spending $1 million on an early strike for 22 Republicans who had voted for the radical Medicare overhaul. Polls show it was a highly unpopular vote. One Republican has already taken a beating at the polls over the vote, and Griffin’s office has received calls from angry seniors.

So how do you turn the villain into the prince? You pit him against the hugely unpopular (in the South) president, even if you have to manufacture the issue. But, you know, it works, and Griffin doesn’t get his fingerprints on it. What a system. Thanks, Supreme Court!

TOP STORY > >Cabot rallies for transplant patient

Leader staff writer

An estimated 350 people gathered on a steamy Wednesday night at the Cabot High School flag pole to sing songs of worship and pray for the healthy recovery of a teenage liver-transplant recipient.

Cabot High School senior Kelly Cooper, 17, is at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where she had a liver transplant Thursday morning. Cooper has Wilson’s disease. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, the disease is an inherited disorder that allows too much copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and vital organs. Normally, excess copper is removed from the body with bile. It’s a treatable disease.

Cooper’s friend Kayla Kidd, also a 12th-grader, said the prayer gathering came about because earlier in the week, she could not sleep at night over concern about Cooper. She went to the social networking website Facebook and made an open invitation for anyone wanting to pray for Cooper to meet on Wednesday. After the prayer event, Kidd heard someone used Skype, a video-conferencing website to let Cooper’s family view the prayer gathering as it happened while they were in St. Louis.

“Kelly and I are really close. She’s positive and reaches out to others. She would be overwhelmed and happy seeing the support. We love Kelly a ton,” Kidd said.

“We’re very blessed she found a donor. We’re glad our prayers have been answered. We are praying for the donor’s family and for Kelly’s full recovery,” she said.

Many people at the gathering wore orange shirts, Cooper’s favorite color and Wilson’s disease-awareness color. “We can’t wait for her to come back and cheer on our Panthers,” Kidd said.

Cabot High School television and video production teacher Chuck Massey said when Cooper returns, she will be in her third year in the television program.

“She will be the first female sports director for Cabot High School TV,” Massey said.

“I think it’s so awesome that we are coming together as a community to praise the Lord even though it is a tragedy that brought us here,” Enkay Myers, a 12th-grader said.

On Friday morning, Kidd told The Leader that Cooper is doing well. Her surgery took five-and-a-half hours instead of the usual eight to 12. She is getting her color back. She is sedated and on a ventilator so her body can rest. Kidd is mailing photos of the prayer event to Cooper’s family.

Shirts, ribbons and bracelets supporting Cooper are being sold with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Cooper. Students are planning to wear orange shirts on the first day of school. Shirts can be purchased by contacting Alli Lamb through Facebook.

An account has been set up for Cooper at Centennial Bank to help pay her medical bills. Donations can be deposited at any Centennial Bank location under the Prayers for Kelly Cooper fund.

Kidd said a huge party is planned when Kelly gets better.

“Keep praying,” Kidd said.

TOP STORY > >Allegiance asks lease to expand

Leader staff writer

With the sale of North Metro to Allegiance Management still pending, the management group had to seek a temporary lease from the Jacksonville City Council on Thursday to bring over its long-term care facility from Little Rock.

Mike Wilson, chairman of the hospital board, told the council that the sale is still on track—Allegiance plans to buy the hos pital about $8.3 million--but the group has not found appropriate funding because of the current economic conditions. “But they are steadfast in their resolve to see the sale through,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the council had to approve the short-term 50-day lease to satisfy IRS requirements since Allegiance doesn’t own the hospital yet.

He added that the sale could be completed “within weeks, possibly months and the council might have to approve the lease one more time before all is said and done. I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

When the sale is completed, the lease will collapse or disappear, Wilson explained.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said that Allegiance has done a great job managing the hospital and recently spent $900,000 to remodel the facility.

“I say remodel, but they gutted a large section of it and rebuilt it. It looks like new. If you haven’t been to North Metro in awhile you need to see it now,” the mayor said. “It has truly become the healthy heart of the city.”

The 40-bed long-term-care facility is part of Allegiance’s plans to profitably increase the hospital’s services.

“We are close to making North Metro a full-care hospital again,” said the hospital’s chief executive officer, Jay Quebedeaux.

The council was concerned that bringing over the long-term care patients might take away from local residents.

But Quebedeaux told the council that the hospital has 113 beds and he wants to get every one of them filled. He said the long-term facility is just another service available to local residents.

The council unanimously approved the lease.

In other council business:

n In his monthly report to the council, City Engineer Jay Whisker said his department issued 17 building permits and eight business licenses during July. The engineering department also performed 160 inspections, mailed 188 warning letters to residents and businesses for maintaining unsightly or unsafe property and mowed 66 properties because the owners would not keep the property cut and cleaned.

n The aldermen approved a negotiated settlement in the case of a lawsuit filed by a fired deputy clerk. In a recent trial, the verdict went against the city and the city looked at appealing.

“We all know the verdict was wrong,” City Attorney Robert Bamburg said, adding that the settlement was the best course of action. Although no money amounts were discussed in public, the council was told that the settlement was for less than the original judgment.

TOP STORY > >Temps: Hot, hotter, hottest

Leader staff writer

Stay indoors is what everyone from weather forecasters, health professionals and city leaders are saying as local hospitals saw 21 victims of heat-related illnesses in the past week and Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher doesn’t want anybody to become victim 22.

July turned out to be the fifth-hottest and third-driest July on record and the high temperatures through the first four days of August averaged 105 degrees.

The 112 degrees recorded at Little Rock Air Force Base on Wednesday set a new record-high August temperature for the area. It was previously 111 degrees set Aug. 30, 2000, and was just one degree off the all-time area high temperature of 113 set in July 1986.

In fact, the temperatures have been so hot that water departments and utility companies breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when the local temperature leveled off at 97 degrees.

Jacque Davidson, chief nursing officer, said North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville has treated nine patients with heat- related illnesses since Monday, with five of those coming in on Tuesday. Monday and Wednesday saw two cases each.

On Monday, an 84-year-old came to the hospital with heat syncope — unconsciousness caused by excessive heat — and a 31-year-old sought out treatment for severe sunburn.

Tuesday saw one heat-stroke victim and four others were treated with heat exhaustion. All the patients were in their 40s with the exception of a 24-year-old who came in for heat exhaustion. Two more heat-exhaustion patients, a 34-year-old and a 52-year-old, were treated on Wednesday.

The patients included several men and women. Some were employed in jobs that require them to work outdoors.

St. Vincent Medical Center North in Sherwood, as of Friday morning, had treated 14 with heat-related illnesses within the last seven days.

All of those patients, who were mostly middle-aged working-class individuals, were treated and released for heat-related symptoms. No heat-stroke victims were treated, said Dayna Holden, marketing manager at St. Vincent Health System.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said no one has requested the city open a public heat-relief center, but he is prepared to call on 19 churches to serve as cooling-off places if the need arises.

The community center was opened last summer for that purpose, but Fletcher explained that he’d rather use the center as a second option because the majority of the building’s rooms are rented out most of the time for public and private events and meetings.

Fletcher also said he wasn’t pushing for quick completion of city construction projects because he understands the heat is burdensome to workers. Battalion Chief Bob Thornton with the Jacksonville Fire Department said it responded to one or two brush fires and a few medical assist runs in the past week.

The department is holding training indoors to keep firefighters at their best, not tired or overheated, for when they have to go out to address an emergency. Jacksonville and surrounding cities have been under a burn ban due to parched conditions.

Code enforcement is going about business as usual, said City Engineer Jay Whisker, although inspectors aren’t having a lot of problems with long grass because having no rainfall has stunted growth and is wilting yards.

Entergy Arkansas, Inc. and First Electric Cooperative asked customers to reduce their usage in order to avoid an overload of electrical lines that could cause power outages.

Utility workers have to be out in the heat, but they’ve been taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of fluids, said Entergy meter-reader supervisor Tommy Williams on Friday morning. He added that employees work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. to minimize exposure to the heat.

Jacksonville Senior Center has had a few walk-ins come in to cool off or get a drink of water, said activities director Betty Seales. She added that the center has a telephone-reassurance program, which is used to check on 50 to 60 shut-ins living in Jacksonville.

“Everyone is complaining. The heat is an imposition,” Seales continued, saying high temperatures have been hard on volunteers who bring food and other items to elderly residents because they have to walk to and from their vehicles when they make deliveries.

Out of July’s 31 days, 30 of them had temperatures above normal, so far in August, every day has been above normal.

The National Weather Service said July’s average high temperature of 97.7 degrees was the hottest in 13 years and the month, complete with eight 100-degree days, came in as the fifth-hottest July on record. The average low temperature of 76.1 degrees made July the second warmest on record based on low temperatures.

July only had five days of measurable rain and the area received less than a quarter-of-an-inch of rain the entire month.

Although certain groups — the elderly (age 65 and older), children, infants and people with chronic medical conditions — are more at risk for heat-related afflictions, North Metro’s Davidson emphasized, “heat doesn’t discriminate.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, air conditioning is the number-one protection from heat-related illness and death.

The center’s guide, located at, suggests those without air conditioning at home go to places with air conditioning, such as shopping malls and public libraries.

Measures people should take to avoid being overcome by scorching temperatures include:

 Drink plenty of fluids

 Replace salt and minerals lost from sweating by consuming sport drinks

 Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen

 Stay indoors

 Pace yourself and rests often in shady areas if you have to be outdoors

Warning signs of heat stroke may include a body temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, red, hot and dry skin (no sweating), rapid, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and fainting.

Warning signs of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. The person suffering from heat exhaustion may also have cool and moist skin, a fast and weak pulse rate and fast and shallow breathing. Untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.

Davidson added that once someone has had a heat stroke, he or she is predisposed to having it again in the future.

(Staff writer Rick Kron contributed to this article.)

TOP STORY > >Base transitions to more training and new C-130Js

Leader staff writers

“I foresee a strong future for the 314th Airlift Wing,” Gen. Edward A. Rice, Jr., commander of the Air Force Air Education and Training Command, said recently, despite transitions in training and in modernizing the C-130 fleet at Little Rock Air Force Base and throughout the Air Force.

Speaking to reporters re-cently at the C-130 rodeo competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force Base, Rice said the 314th would “continue to be a very important wing for the United States Air Force as we continue to modernize the force and as we deal with the budget challenges we have and make decisions about where we’re going to maximize our ability to provide defense for the American people.”

Part of the transition includes phasing out the Vietnam-era C-130Es and replacing them with C-130Hs currently assigned to the base and borrowed from National Guard units.

Col. Mark Czelusta will be at the stick in September to pilot the last of the legacy C-130E’s assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base to “the bone yard,” Czelusta said Thursday.

Czelusta, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, said the award-winning tail number 1855 would be the last Vietnam-era airframe to leave the base as the Air Force transitions its mid-load transport to C-130J and C-130AMP airframes.

The J model is state of the art; the AMP planes are older H model planes retrofitted with advanced avionics comparable to those on the J-model.

Originally, the Air Force and Congress had intended to simply transfer those planes to Little Rock AFB, the preeminent C-130 and C-130-training wing in the world, but powerful senators and congressmen protecting their home turf squawked so loudly that the terms were changed.

The 314th currently has 10 C-130Js and 20 C-130E and H aircraft, Czelusta said.

“That will climb to 13 or 14 J’s in a few years,” he said, and the “J” training capacity will double. That’s because there will also be more simulators.

The 314th Airlift Wing is also known as the C-130 schoolhouse, and nearly all crews and maintainers from U.S. forces and 40 or more allies come to the base for training.

About 550 or 600 Air Force airmen and employees will be replaced by about 710 reservists over the space of three or four years. The first 10 percent of them are already in place, Czelusta said.

The plan is to eventually completely equip the 19th Airlift Wing, an expeditionary force based at Little Rock AFB and commanded by Col. Mike Minihan, with the state-of-the-art C-130J, which can fly higher, longer, faster, haul a bigger payload and land and take off on shorter runways.

Meanwhile, the C-130H and the C-130AMP will fill in.

The Air Force Reserve has begun standing up a new unit, Detachment 1, 22nd Air Force, at the base. Along with the 189th Air National Guard Unit, it will be largely responsible for training crews and maintainers for the C-130H and C-130AMP, but the 314th will continue to do some legacy training despite its role training crews and maintainers for the new J model.

That training itself continues to undergo changes, with about 92 percent of all hands-on pilot training taking place in flight simulators, including four full-motion C-130J simulators, one C-130 AMP (avionics modernization program) simulator and one more of each on order.

Nobody can predict what weapons Congress will fund in these budget-cutting times, but Czelusta says the C-130J is “a proven platform,” satisfying the needs of U.S. forces in combat areas.

“The quality of training at Little Rock is second to none,” he said.

“We’re proud of the 314th brand,” he said. We’re efficient and effective.”

The 314th reports to Air Education and Training command at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.

“I think we’ve got a good understanding between all of the partners in the transition, so I’m very comfortable with the road ahead and the vision ahead in terms of how we’ll move from the current system to the more modern system and have a patching,” Rice said.

At Little Rock AFB, those partners include primarily the 314th Airlift Wing, the National Guard’s 189th unit and a new reserve unit being stood up on the base, Detachment 1, 22nd Air Force.

“I think we’re off to a good start here,” said Rice. “There’s more work to be done by all who are involved — guard, reserve, active duty. Understand the importance of the mission. Understand the importance of cooperation between the three elements.

“We’re always moving forward, so nothing is static. Everything, as you said, is in some state of transition. … across the board, whether it’s recruiting, training or education, we have an eye not only toward today but one eye on the future at all times,” according to the general.

“We work very closely with the air staff that sets the policies that not only govern how we train but our personnel policies for where we place people and how long they stay there, etc. Then we have to work very closely with all the major commanders who really provide us with the criteria we need to meet in our training programs. It is very complex.

“One of the features of that is a significantly increased use of simulators and simulation and like types of capabilities to enhance the way that we train and to do it in some cases more economically because we can do things in a ground-based environment that is less expensive than if we were to do them in the air,” Rice said. “I think, and I’ve believed this for a long time, that there’s still more we’ll be able to do to transition from aircraft environment to ground-based training environment.”

Depending on fuel prices, it costs between $3,500 and $5,000 an hour to train in the air, Czelusta said, but “only” $800 an hour in a simulator.

The base also has part-task simulators for individual tasks, which can cost as little as $10 an hour to operate, he said.

In all, it has about 80 simulators dealing with some aspect of training.

Last weekend, the 314th Airlift Wing took the title of best C-130 team in the world by winning the Gen. Joe W. Kelly Trophy for Best C-130 team at the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo at McChord Air Field, Wash.

The 314th Airlift Wing, flying the oldest C-130E in the rodeo, won five other awards, in addition to the best C-130 team honor.

The awards include:

 Best C-130 Team

 Best C-130 Airdrop

 Best C-130 Aircrew Award

nBest C-130 Maintenance Skills Team

 Best C-130 Maintenance Team and

 Best Overall Maintenance Skills Team.

SPORTS>>Red Devils awarded rings

Special to The Leader

There have been plenty of celebrations following the Jacksonville Red Devils winning the Class 6A baseball state championship, but the best one yet happened Monday at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

The Red Devil players and coaches were treated to a luncheon sponsored by First Arkansas Bank and Trust, followed by what the players have been waiting for for weeks – the presentation of the state championship rings.

First, head coach Larry Burrows got to show off the championship banner that will be hanging in the gym, along with a giant framed photograph of the team.

Burrows passed out the rings to each of his Red Devils, ending with Most Valuable Player Jesse Harbin. D’Vone McClure missed the banquet, as he was playing in a showcase baseball tournament in Florida.

“That brought back all the hard work, everything we went through all year,” said Burrows. “It’s what you do that work for. Getting that ring is what you always talk about, so actually doingit is something pretty special.”

There were other presentations made during the banquet as well, both involving longtime Red Devil supporter Velma Warner Johnson. Tyler Crook presented “Mrs. Velma” with a necklace on behalf of the team in thanks of her support during the season, which included making it to every game, home and away, including Jacksonville’s spring-break trip to Panama, Florida for a tournament.

Mrs. Velma in turn presented the players, coaches, principal and athletic directors of the school and district with hand-stitched plaques to help remember the remarkable season.

Burrows also offered thanks to First Arkansas Bank and Trust president Larry Wilson for his support and contributions that made the banquet, parade and other celebrations possible.

Wilson responded by promising that there would always be a parade and banquet whenever Jacksonville wins a state championship. “This is such a great way to end what was a great season,” Burrows said. “We’re losing 12 seniors, so to be able to send them out like this with these rings is something special that I don’t think they’ll ever forget.”

SPORTS>>SH Bears battling familiar problem

Leader sports writer

Another year of August football practice yields a new list of challenges for Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow.

Withrow, now in his fifth season at the Bears’ helm, is adjusted to handling depth issues due to countless injuries to key personnel over the past half decade, and has made the most of squads thick with inexperienced underclassmen.

And with a new summer full of average numbers and another young roster, late vacationers are an added hindrance to Withrow in early 2011.

“We’re basically trying to find a way to establish some depth for the most part,” Withrow said. “We could crank the intensity a little bit more.”

Withrow expects around 55 players once the season starts, though some of the daily practice numbers have been as low as 40.

“We’ve had all sorts of issues,” Withrow said. “Some in this group have not been impressive as far as commitment. We’ve had all summer to vacation, and now, suddenly, you’ve got to go onvacation, but that’s me.

“For the most part, the ones we really need are here.”

The Bears will try and rebound from a difficult 3-7 result in 2010, a run that included a 2-5 record in the 5A-Southeast Conference. It was the first time in four years Sylvan Hills did not reach the postseason since former coach Ron Sebastian’s final season in 2006.

The Bears completed their first day of pads Thursday morning, which gave Withrow and the coaching staff their first full look at some of the projected starters. There could be as many as four sophomores on offense and anywhere from two to four on defense. But it’s not too far of a stretch for the Bears, who last year started several seniors with little or no varsity time.

“We had those guys who were seniors but had not played,” Withrow said. “Now, I’m looking in those groups, and we’re dealing with three or four sophomores on defense and another two or three on offense. I mean, we’re young.

“We’re young, but if they play hard and get after it, we’ll be okay. But it’s baby steps right now for sure, and with the second group, it’s ugly.”

Depth is the main motto for Withrow, but he does have a sure ace under center with junior quarterback John David Miller. Miller had varsity time early last season before a back injury sidelined him before the start of conference play.

Miller will lead the Bears on offense with their traditional spread offense.

“He’s not totally new to it,” Withrow said. “He’s got his good spots and his bad spots, but he’s getting more consistent.”

Withrow noted a need for more reps on the offensive line, but is also happy to have experienced seniors such as Ed Smith and Aaron Mack in the mix up front. Smith will be a three-year starter when the Bears hit the field against Vilonia on Aug. 29, the first of seven home games listed on the schedule for Sylvan Hills this season.

No team in this part of the country can escape the heat that comes with August workouts, but athletic director and assistant football coach Denny Tipton has led a successful safety campaign on the practice field up to this point.

“He’s taken it by the horns and got us organized,” Withrow said. “They’ve handled it pretty well. The first day in pads wasn’t much of a problem for us.”

SPORTS>>Carlisle shows drastic improvement Friday

Leader sports editor

The Carlisle Bison football team went full pads for the first time on Friday. Playing it by ear on Thursday, head coach Scott Waymire decided to just go shorts and shoulder pads on the first day teams were allowed to wear pads. That practice did not go as well as Waymire would have liked, but things got better Friday with the team fully suited up, especially offensively.

“Today was a lot better than yesterday,” Waymire said after practice Friday morning. “We came out with a little more intensity, got off the ball quicker, shot our hands better. It was just an all-around better day of practice. I’m pleased that they bounced back like that because we struggled a little bit yesterday.”

The team did some live scrimmaging on Friday, but didn’t go first teamers against first teamers. First team offense went against second-team defense, and vice versa.

Defensively, pursuit was good and run defense performed well. While there was some mixed results, the head Bison doesn’t think it’s anything to get too concerned with just yet.

“We’re flying to the football and stopping the run pretty good,” Waymire said. “Gave up a few big plays in the passing game and we’re going to have to work on that. But overall, I think they’re flying to the football and being aggressive, and that’s all you can ask of them at this point.”

There have been no surprises in the two-deep for Carlisle since the first day of practice, but Waymire says a few young players have shown some potential and some willingness to mix it up.

“Well you know with spring football and all the work we did over thesummer, you pretty much know who your guys are,” Waymire said. “We’ve had some sophomores step up and pop and some who are still a little hesitant. But we’re ok with that. We know eventually they’re going to catch on, get more comfortable and they’re going to come around.”

Next week’s focus will b e improving the intensity and execution from the first week.

“I know they’re probably going to be pretty sore in the morning, but they’ve got two days to get better and we’ll come back and get to work Monday,” Waymire said. “We’ve got some things to work on and we’ve got to get this thing rolling,” Waymire said. “We start playing football four weeks from today.”

SPORTS>>NP ladies solid up front, need defensive work

Leader sports writer

The core of North Pulaski’s preseason can be summed up in two words – ball control.

It was a common theme for coach Ben Belton as the Lady Falcons kicked off their third week of summer volleyball practice on Thursday. They lost three days of practice this past week because of scheduled work to the gym floor at the Falcons’ Nest, work that never occurred.

“The girls are coming along – they’re getting in shape,” Belton said. “Our big concern is ball control – receiving the ball and making good passes. We’ve got some people who can play on the front row.”

The Lady Falcons have experienced hitters returning with Stevie Hughes, Kelsey Whitmore and Shelby Floyd. But with the most-seasoned players up front, finding solid backline players has been a struggle for Belton. He stressed the importance of getting the ball to the setters as the top priority with the start of the season quickly approaching.

“We’re going to be okay at the front,” Belton said. “The back concerns me, a lot. Our ball control is not very good, and that’s all we’ve been working on. Ninety-five percent of our practices are on defense and on ball control. It’s not like it’s not going to happen. It’s going to happen, but how long it’s going to take us to get there, I’m not sure.”

The surplus of hitters has Belton rethinking personnel placement. The head Falcon is looking for ways to make the rotation work in a way that keeps his best athletes evenly dispersed between the front and back rows.

The Lady Falcons have yet to find a starter for the vital libero spot.

“Obviously, if I had thatdefensive specialist, I wouldn’t be as weak on the back,” Belton said. “Right now, our front row is our best back row. You can’t have both.”

North Pulaski has solid numbers with 14 players reporting, and average 12 per practice. Belton hopes to have the entire group together next week to make a final push before the season starts in late August.

The Lady Falcons missed out on going to team camps, but Belton has brought the information from those camps to the North Pulaski campus with guest coaches from UALR and Philander Smith College. Belton also utilized other high-school programs in the area, including his wife Pamela Belton, a volleyball coach at North Little Rock.

“We’ve had a lot of experience come in to help us be better, Belton said. “And they’re saying the same thing that I see. They’re doing the same drills that we were doing, and trying to pass the ball.”

Whitmore and Hughes have shined in early practices, and provide the team with senior leadership.

“They’re great kids,” Belton said. “They’re here early, stay late, shag the balls, pick up everything. You can’t ask for two better kids, and they’re seniors at that.”

The pair was part of the resurgence for North Pulaski’s volleyball program last year, Belton’s first as head coach. Now with new assistant Greg West, Belton hopes to expand the program even more in 2011.

“The girls are excited; I’m excited about this,” Belton said. “By far, of all the sports I’ve coached here, I’m enjoying this one most. I’ll be the first to say I’m not the most knowledgeable at volleyball. But this is the most fun I’ve had coaching a sport.”

SPORTS>>Beebe pops hard in first full-pad drill

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers had a lively first day of practice in pads Thursday, spending a lot of time in “Blood Alley” before taking the practice field for their first live scrimmage.

Blood Alley is a traditional drill that usually pits two linemen on each side of the ball, with a running back to carry the ball and a defensive back coming from the side after the play starts. The whole thing takes place between two tackling dummies that are laid down approximately five yards apart. Beebe held the drill inside the fieldhouse on Thursday. Players rotated rapidly and the pace was fast. Players who weren’t involved in the play stood encircled around the alley, shouting encouragement and cheering big hits.

Beebe head coach John Shannon was pleased with the intensity of the drill, and saw some things he might not have expected.

“One I was pretty impressed with was my little sophomore Daniel Gann,” Shannon said. “I thought he held his own against Tyler Love, who’s a three-year starter for us.”

Shannon also mentioned Brandon Custer and Brody Welcher as players who stood out in the physical drill.

The team went straight from there to the practice field, where ones worked against ones for quite a while. Backup quarterback Brandon Purcell had to take the snaps with the first team offense. Starter Dustin Stallnacker is out with an ear infection and can’t wear a helmet.

Purcell, along with the rest of the offense, performed very well.

“I think we’re further along execution-wise offensively than we usually are at this point,” Shannon said. “Even with the backup quarterback, we still moved the ball. We did a good job with the quick-hitting plays and our option was pretty good.”

Sophomore Eric Thorn showed signs of the potential he possesses.

He broke loose for two touchdowns on his first four carries.

“Thorn ran the ball hard and he ran tough,” Shannon said. “And once he got to that second level he was able to make some moves and break a few tackles. With him it’s just going to be a matter of whether he wants to play like a sophomore, or play up to his capability. I think if he plays up to his capability, he’s got a chance to be one of the best backs we’ve ever had around here.”

With the offense performing so well, it might be seen as a concern about the defense, but Shannon doesn’t see it that way.

“This is pretty typical for us when we’re first starting out,” Shannon said. “It’s hard for anybody to just line up and stop our offense when you haven’t gone against it in a while. It started like this in spring and by the end, we were having some trouble moving the ball against them.”

Shannon also pointed out how well he thought his defense did at the team camps in Conway.

“We saw a lot of different offenses over there and we’re going to see a lot more of that kind of offense than the one we run,” Shannon said. “I thought the defense did really well over there.”

Beebe will only go twice a day two times next week, on Monday and Friday, with afternoon practices Tuesday through Thursday due to teacher meetings.

SPORTS>>Malham impressed

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers suited up in full pads for the first time on Thursday and went through some spirited hitting drills. The team didn’t do any full scrimmaging until the Friday afternoon session, but head Panther Mike Malham was pleased with the intensity the team showed when it finally was able to make some contact.

“The kids were hitting pretty good,” Malham said. “You know they always are. If you’re not excited about the first day of pads, you probably don’t need to be out here.”

The Panthers are an extremely young team this year, with only 13 seniors and 41 sophomores, the rest of the 84 being juniors. That can mean some uncertainty for coaches as it pertains to how the team will work, focus and execute. So far, this young Panther squad has done well.

“Everything is going good,” Malham said. “There’s a pretty good attitude out there; they’re willing to work and learn. When you only have three or four back on both sides of the ball, you got a lot of inexperience out there. We still got a lot to learn and a lot of work to do to get there. But things are going about as good as can be expected.”

One of the high points of practice so far is the play of experienced quarterback Zack Craig, who is one of the returning starters. Craig led Cabot’s high-scoring offense all year last year before going down to injury in the final week of the season.

He’s back this year and having a strong preseason.

“Zach is looking good,” Malham said. “We’re counting on him to have a big year for us. He’s executing well and just having an all around good summer.”

Handling fullback duties, the focal point of Cabot’s Dead T offense, is junior Ian Thompson. He’s been at the top of the two-deep since spring and has performed well.

“He came out of spring looking pretty good,” Malham said. “We hadn’t really had any real liveaction for him, so we’re anxious to see how that goes. But he’s looking pretty good.”

Cabot is fairly deep at the position. After the two deep, Malham says there are a couple of good athletes on the defensive side who could step in and perform well if needed.

“We’ve got some athletes over there, but we’re going to leave ‘em there if we can. We really want to two-platoon everybody if at all possible.”

The heat hasn’t had a major negative impact on Cabot practices. There are a couple of starters sitting out practice at the moment with minor injuries, but nothing major enough to affect the depth chart.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

EDITORIAL >> The new austerity

With only hours to spare, the government raised the debt ceiling yesterday and restored its honor as a nation that stands by its full faith and credit. Whether your impulse was to cheer or to weep, you had every reason.

The first impulse is to celebrate that a big majority of both houses of Congress decided in the end to be adults—that really was in question—and to put the nation’s well-being ahead of their political vanity and ideology. All of the Arkansas delegation, Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman and Congressmen Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Mike Ross, did what duty required and voted for the complicated agreement that raised the debt ceiling and permitted the government to pay its debts and meet its obligations to its citizens.

Crawford and Griffin had said early on that they had no problem in letting the government close up shop and renege on its obligations to its creditors, vendors and citizens. Griffin, apparently influenced by leaders of his own party and the alarm of the business community, came around gradually to say they would not let the country go into default, and Crawford surrendered on the final roll call. Crawford had said it was no big deal, which was an understandable attitude because he had welshed on his own debts a few years ago by declaring bankruptcy and it turned out very well for him.

Sixty-six Republicans in the House, mostly the tea-party class, wanted to take the government down, whatever the consequences. Ninety-five Democrats voted against the agreement in protest of the perilous parts of the debt deal—drastic cuts in discretionary spending that will reduce aid to American schools, cut benefits to many of the neediest citizens and end assistance for the unemployed.

But the debt deal and the votes on the debt ceiling are cause for relief, not for mirth. It should never have come to this—indeed, it never did in all our history or any other nation’s. The public debt, though serious, is not the country’s most grievous problem. Unemployment and a nearly growthless economy are. The debt-ceiling crisis has made those matters worse. The already anemic rate of growth slowed to a halt and joblessness went up when the markets and consumers saw that a cataclysm might lay ahead when the government hit the ceiling, first in May when the limit was technically reached and then on August 2, when the Treasury Department’s legerdemain with the books would reach its end.

The deal struck among leaders of both parties in both houses and President Obama does not require large immediate cuts in discretionary spending, and that is the good part. Obama insisted that the cuts not be immediate, that is in this or the approaching fiscal year, to give the economy more time to heal. Huge cuts in assistance to local governments, farmers, the national parks, regulatory agencies and medical assistance would drive the country back into recession, perhaps deeper this time than the one that hit the country in the winter of 2007-08.

A few people remember, by the history books if not personally, what happened in 1936, when President Roosevelt thought the country had recovered enough from the Great Depression to slash spending and move back toward a balanced budget. Unemployment had fallen from 24.9 percent when he took office in 1933 to 14.3 percent. After his budget retrenchment, it soared to 19 percent over the next year. It took the great stimulus of World War II to get us out of that recession.

Restoring the country to even the anemic economy of 2007 would do more than anything else to eliminate the deficits and forestall future debt limits. The government’s revenue from income and social-insurance taxes fell by nearly $600 billion a year in the economic collapse. That alone accounts for 40 percent of the deficit in each of the past four years. The economic collapse accounts for $2.3 trillion of the accumulated $14.3 trillion national debt. Getting back to the peak of the George W. Bush economy would make the deficits manageable. Going back to the full-growth economy of Bill Clinton would eliminate the deficits entirely. Remember that we had four straight years of budget surpluses.

Though Republicans continued to insist that the series of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations between 2001 and 2004 are not responsible in any way for the deficits, the record unmistakably says differently. Some $500 billion a year of the deficits is a continuing reflection of those tax cuts. Even Congressman Griffin, a fierce defender of the tax cuts for the rich—he was a White House underling at the time—acknowledged in an op-ed article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week that federal revenues fell sharply between 2001 and 2007, but he tried to say that the recession and revenue shortfall were caused by the 9/11 attacks. Treasury records show that he was wrong about that. The recession started in March 2001, the month the big tax cut bill was introduced, and ended in October, the month after the 9/11 attacks. The economy began to grow modestly in October. No, the tax cuts and not 9/11 caused the revenue decline.

President Obama and Democrats tried to get a tax program included in the debt-reduction package: restoration of the 38 percent tax marginal rate for very high incomes that existed in the roaring ‘90s and closing tax loopholes for hedge-fund managers and others that reward companies for moving jobs out of the country. House Speaker Boehner seemed ready to strike a deal to make some tax legislation part of the deal with big spending cuts, but a rebellion in his party forced him to back down.

The president caught hell from his party for backing down on the taxes, but in the end he had no choice. Had he not, the country this morning would be in default and we would all face a much grimmer future. He was not in a celebratory mood when he signed the bill yesterday afternoon. Who could be? — Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> Rodeo winners show true grit

Leader staff writer

commander, said at the social, with tongue in cheek, after emphasizing the importance of Team Little Rock beating out other bases worldwide, regardless of which wing claimed victory.

Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander, agreed and thanked the 19th Airlift Wing for all the help it’s given its sister wing.

“We’re enabled by leadership…this is a partner wing that gets it. It’s not about the patch you wear. It’s about the mission,” he added.

Local businesses and communities were also applauded at the social. Supporters included Jacksonville Advertising and Planning Commission, Cabot Advertising and Planning Commission, city of Jacksonville, Sherwood Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Entergy, First Arkansas Bank and Trust, Golden Corral, Doubletree Hotel, Central Arkansas Water, Texas Roadhouse, Hilton Garden Inn and Diamond Bear.

All the teams at rodeo set up hospitality tents.

Rodeo is the Air Force’s and Air Mobility Command’s premier air-mobility competition. The competition, held last week at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., draws the “best of the best” from air forces around the world.

LRAFB was pitted against more than 40 teams and 2,500 people from U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and several foreign countries that participated in the events.

Participants aren’t the only ones who received a warm thank you from those who attended the social at Southern Oaks Country Club in Jacksonville.

At the closing ceremonies, it was announced that about 100 civic leaders had attended rodeo to cheer on the competing teams. LRAFB boasted about 10 of those, including rodeo veterans and first-time attendees.

Former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim has attended rodeo since he became mayor in 1987, missing only one or two, he said.

“They’re (rodeos) all the same, but different, too. You do the same events, but different things happen…I think anytime the Army is active on two or three warfronts, these people train. This (rodeo) shows our people can deliver. It (rodeo) gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of generals and colonels who can help us (the community).”

This was Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher’s first rodeo, and he was awed by it.

“Some people have to turn on the television to see heroes. We live among them,” he said. “It (rodeo) makes you realize this country is in good hands concerning the military…The best thing about this is that every city likes to brag about its assets. The greatest asset we have is our people. When you see our military compete not only nationally but internationally, it gives you a great sense of pride.”

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said what he enjoyed at his first rodeo was the physical-fitness challenges.

“There were several things that impressed me. First and foremost is the competitive spirit,” he added.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) attended two rodeos while he was the Cabot mayor. He said he understood his third more because he’d been to the competition before.

Williams added that he could tell budget cutbacks had been made this year because some of the simulations were less realistic and obstacle courses were less complex.

He also said the best part of his trip was finding out that the 314th’s E-model, the oldest C-130 at rodeo, had earned a perfect 600 out of 600 on an inspection.

Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) said she had learned a lot from attending her first rodeo, including the importance of teamwork.

“No matter what team you were on, everyone was pulling for everyone,” she said.

TOP STORY >> Legislators learning new districts

Leader staff writer

Several area legislators are being moved into new districts where most of the residents didn’t even vote for them in the last election.

The changes are happening because of legislative redistricting every decade. Unless the new district lines for the Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives are challenged in federal court, they become effective 30 days from their approval on July 29.

What that means for sitting senators and representatives, said Tim Humphries, legal counsel for the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissions, is that like it or not, they will soon find themselves responsible for a group of voters who didn’t put them in office.

What many will do, he said, is to continue to listen to the needs of those who elected them while getting to know those in the new district, especially if they intend to run for re-election. If they take that route, the job of some is about to get a little harder, he said.

Dist. 48 Rep. Davy Carter (R-Cabot), lives in new Dist. 43 and like all other state representatives and senators will have to run for office in 2012 in his new district.

“I no longer have Ward or Austin. It’s basically Cabot city limits now.

“I hate to lose them. I hate that I don’t get to keep representing them, but we’ve grown (in population) so much that the territory had to shrink,” Carter said.

Dist. 49 Rep. Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) now lives in new Dist. 45, which is smaller on the east and west sides than Dist. 49. He got into office less than a year ago with the help of several volunteer fire departments that he won’t represent if he is elected in 2012 to represent the new district.

He has lost El Paso, Romance, Antioch, Floyd and Center Hill on the west and Georgetown and Griffithville on the east. But he has picked up Higginson.

“I hate to lose those folks, but I’ve got them until the next election, and I’m proud of that,” Gillam said.

Gillam said there is really no good time for an incumbent’s district to change but he had to lose 3,000 and the new lines are as fair to everyone as they could be.

What Carter and Gillam lost in the redistricting is now part of new House Dist. 44, which includes Ward and Austin in Lonoke County and Rose Bud and Pangburn in White County. That seat is up for grabs since no representative currently lives there.

Dist. 15 Rep. Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke), lives in new Dist. 14, which is larger than his old district in area. But he says he is pleased because the new district is made up of small towns, rural communities and farmland. The goal of keeping like areas together was a success in new Dist. 14, he said.

“I’ll be representing the people I know and feel the most comfortable with and I think I can do them a good job,” said McCrary, who runs the business end of his family’s farm operation in Lonoke County.

The area around Cabot’s Rolling Hills Country Club that was part of Dist. 15 is not included in Dist. 14. Walls said he also lost part of Prairie County but gained part of Jefferson and Arkansas counties as well as Pulaski County’s Scott area.

Dist. 43 Rep. Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood) will run next year in new Dist. 41. Nickels said the area he serves is changing very little. He loses the area between Jacksonville Cato Road and Old Box Road to Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville), but his job, if re-elected in 2012, will remain the same.

“My district is made up of working-class families and small businesses and I don’t see a change,” Nickels said.

Dist. 41 includes the North Lake area of Jacksonville, about two-thirds of Sherwood and Gravel Ridge and the Windsor Valley-Indian Hills area of North Little Rock.

Perry, who was elected in Dist. 44, will have to run in Dist. 42 in 2012.

His territory shifted west to Hwy. 107, but he told The Leader recently that he is content with the change.

Dist. 42 Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) will lose most of her Pulaski County territory when her new Dist. 40 becomes official. Territory in Jacksonville, Maumelle, North Little Rock and Sherwood will be gone and she will be left with part of north Pulaski County and a lot of Faulkner County.

English has one term left before she is term-limited. She said she had seriously considered running for Mary Ann Salmon’s Dist. 31 Senate seat since Salmon is term-limited and can’t run again. But now that the lines have been redrawn, she doesn’t live in Salmon’s district. She’s in Dist. 29, Sen. Eddie Joe Williams’ new district.

English said she wouldn’t run against Williams, but she hasn’t ruled out the possibility of moving into Salmon’s new Dist. 34 so she can run for that seat despite the changes in the lines.

The new legislative plans have each House district with about 29,150 residents and each Senate district with about 83,300 residents.

TOP STORY >> Criticism is voiced on lines in Senate

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said this week that he would have preferred that his city not be divided into two Senate districts, but at least it is no longer in a district with Searcy.

Jacksonville will be split into Senate Dists. 30 and 34.

Even with two Senate districts instead of the one that was created after the last census, the area is more compact and therefore more advantageous to the people and the two senators who will represent them for the next 10 years.

“The senators can be more visible,” he said. “Stretched out like it was wasn’t fair to the senator or the people.”

Fletcher said he is not dissatisfied with Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy), who was elected in 2010 and represented Jacksonville in Dist. 29.

“I like Jonathan,” he said. “But every city has its own issues, and the people who represent those cities should feel connected.”

“You really had to use a lot of imagination to hook Jacksonville up with Searcy,” Fletcher said. “That was the craziest thing I ever heard of.

“They talk about the Fayetteville finger. I think Jacksonville got the finger 10 years ago,” he said.

Fletcher said he thought Cabot and Jacksonville should be in the same Senate district since Jacksonville has Little Rock Air Force Base and Cabot is where many military families live. But he said Jacksonville also has much in common with Sherwood, North Little Rock and Little Rock, so he won’t complain.

Sen. Linda Ches-terfield (D-Little Rock) is the incumbent in new Senate Dist. 30, which includes the eastern part of Jacksonville. Sen. Mary Anne Salmon (D-North Little Rock) has the western part in the new Dist. 34 but won’t be able to run because she is term-limited.

Dist. 30 also includes McAlmont, College Station, Sweet Home and Wrightsville.

Dist. 34 also includes Little Rock Air Force base, Sherwood and North Little Rock.

Lonoke County, which was put into one Senate district 10 years ago, is divided again. Dismang, who was elected to serve Dist. 29—which included Searcy, Beebe and Jacksonville— now lives in Dist. 28, which still includes Searcy and Beebe, but otherwise is a farming district that runs south from Searcy and includes all of Lonoke County except for the Cabot School District, the southwestern quarter of Woodruff County, about one-quarter of Monroe County, all of Prairie County and most of the northern half of Arkansas County.

Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) was elected to serve Dist. 28 but now lives in Dist. 29, which includes Cabot, Ward, Austin, El Paso, Floyd, Vilonia and a section of northern Pulaski County.
Williams said this week that the new district is not the one he wanted because he wanted Lonoke County to stay in one district and he had developed a good relationship with his constituents in Prairie and Arkansas counties.

“But the new district is compact,” he said. “It’s conservative and it’s easy to get around in.”

Williams won in every county in 2010 and he said he believes he can win in the new district. He said he also thinks Dismang stands a good chance of winning in his new district.

Dismang’s base of support is in the area around Searcy and Beebe, Williams said, but if one Republican can win in farming country he doesn’t see why another Republican would have any trouble doing the same thing.

“As long as Obama is the head of the ticket, people will continue to vote conservative,” Williams said.

The state Board of Apportionment on Friday approved new boundaries for House and Senate districts on a 2-1 vote.

Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel voted for the plan they developed together. The lone Republican on the board, Secretary of State Mark Martin, voted against it.

The Beebe-McDaniel plan reduced the number of black-majority House districts from 13 to 11, a change that has upset some lawmakers.

Their changes also resulted in four cases in which an incumbent representative could face an election challenge from another incumbent.

Those districts are in the Paris, Altheimer, Pine Bluff, Camden, Magnolia and Pocahontas areas.

Those changes couldn’t be helped, Beebe said, because of population shifts.

“You can’t make everyone happy,” Beebe told reporters. “Some people are happy and some are unhappy. But it was really challenging to protect the minority vote.”

The new plans have each House district with about 29,150 residents and each Senate district with about 83,300 residents.

Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate. Those margins have been dwindling over the years, and GOP leaders think they can win control of one or both chambers in the 2012 elections.

SPORTS >> Seniors set fast tempo for Carlisle on first day

Leader sports editor

The Carlisle Bison took the field Monday with a large group of seniors, lots of earlier preparation and good numbers. It all resulted in a great first two days of practice.

Head coach Scott Waymire credits the seniors for setting the positive tone and the fast tempo.

“Having a good group of seniors is always a good thing,” Waymire said. “They set a good tempo and everything was really positive. The guys hopped around. You know battling the heat that everyone’s had to battle so far is tough, but our guys kept a good tempo and did a really good job.”

Effort in the heat and execution in the heat can sometimes be two different things. Waymire believes his bunch did well at both.

“Like anybody else, you start pretty good then you have to fight the fatigue, fight that sun bearing down on you and you lose concentration. I don’t think we did that. The kids were still excited towards the end of practice and kept up that concentration, and we hope to do that in the fourth quarter too.”

Again, Waymire gave most of the credit for the high spirits and focus to his seniors.

“I’ve been pleased with the whole group of seniors,” Waymire said. “Everybody’s getting shots, everybody’s getting reps. These 14 seniors have stepped up and done the job. If they carry that throughout the season, good things are bound to happen.”

Carlisle took part in Pulaski Academy’s 7-on-7 league over the summer, and also hosted two team camps which were mostly made up of much larger schools.

Teams like Pulaski Academy, West Memphis and Lonoke were on hand for the Bison team camp, along with smaller schools like DeWitt and England.

“It was a good mixture,” Waymire said. “We tried to get our kids to go against good competition. We think that’s what makes us better to line up against those teams. Those teams have some speed and size that we may not see all year long. It makes them understand the importance of things like leverage, and all those things you don’t always think about.”

Waymire’s bunch came through the camps injury free, and should be well-prepared for the first day of pads, which will be either Thursday or Friday.

“Our guys are used to contact, we just have to get back to carrying those pads. We’re going to just see where we are when the time comes. We may go full pads on Thursday and we may just do shorts and shoulder pads, then go full pads on Friday.”

SPORTS >> Falcons showing great work ethic

Special to The Leader

New North Pulaski head coach Theodis Ingram is finding out about the ups and downs that come with coaching the Falcons, and he’s found several things he likes.

Coming in as a late hire, Ingram wasn’t able to coordinate any teams camps for the Falcons, so Monday was really the first day he’s been able to see his new team at work.

“I’m definitely seeing some things I like out there,” Ingram said. “I was really pleasantly surprised by the work ethic the kids have. I know football hasn’t been so great here in a while, but the attitude the kids have is great.”

Keeping those attitudes and spirits high is one of the priorities of the coaching staff. Ingram wants his assistant coaches to keep everything positive. Ingram and his staff coach fast, with a lot of intensity and that should prove beneficial to the Falcons as the season wears on.

The Falcons spent a lot of time Monday working on fundamentals, which is something virtually every team should stress. Not having the chance to work full 11 on 11 at team camp over the summer, the Falcons are a little behind in learning Ingram’s Wing-T offense, but should catch on quickly. An offense based heavily around running the ball, Ingram likes to effectively throw play-action passes from the formation as well.

“We’ve got an athletic quarterback and a really good fullback and tailback combo that I’m excited about,” Ingram said. “We don’t have a lot of size, so this will be a quick-hitting offense. Quick runs, and quick passes. We’re not going to drop back seven steps.”

Shyheim Barron and Marvin Davis are battling for the quarterback spot, with both showing similar skills. Barron has seen plenty of action under center, but had to give it up last year after injuring his hand. Willie Frazier and Derek Hart are both very good and very quick at fullback and tailback. Nick Dunn has impressed Ingram as the wingback in the offense.

While Ingram liked what he saw in the backfield, some of the other positions are an unknown just based on the low numbers right now. The Falcons had 35 senior high players on the field, but are expecting to boost that number to at least 45.

“One thing I’ve learned is that the kids here are so spread out with the school district being so spread out,” said Ingram. “Some aren’t close to here, so that makes it harder to try and get on them to come out and play.

“We do need more athletes here, and I think that’s coming. But the ones we do have have all shown me they have the right attitude and are ready to work. That’s really not something you can coach.”

SPORTS >> Offensive line sets the tone for Badger football

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers had a great first day of football practice Monday morning and afternoon. The Badgers had a very productive summer, doing conditioning and weight training twice a week, and participating in six weeks of team camps at Conway High School against a variety of teams that presented different looks.

The result of all the summer work paid off on the first day. Head coach John Shannon is in high spirits after just a couple of days of practice.

“I really feel like we’re kind of ahead of where we are normally at this time,” Shannon said. The heat didn’t really bother us too bad yesterday. The mornings were really humid and the afternoons were really hot, but we handled it really well and I thought practices went really well.”

One of the highlights of the first day was the work of the team’s experienced offensive line. With two three-year starters and two two-year starters, Shannon is looking to the offensive front for leadership, and he felt he got it Monday and Tuesday.

“I’m really pleased with the effort they’ve given us,” Shannon said. “They worked hard, had a lot of enthusiasm and gave everything they’ve got. We ran offense for about 45 minutes straight, non-stop, and they didn’t miss a beat.”

Ethan Boyce and Tyler Love will start for the third year at tight end and guard. Steven Savage is in his second year at tackle and Lucas Ratz is a two-year starter at the other guard position.

The offense as a whole turned in a good first couple of days. On Tuesday, the team did 30 minutes of 7-on-7 and 40 minutes of offense again. Execution began to tail off a bit near the end, but Shannon was still pleased with the effort.

“To line up and go for 45 minutes, just running play after play after play and not making any mental mistakes is pretty good,” Shannon said. “You could tell they weren’t as fresh at the end as they were when we started, but effort-wise I thought we handled things really, really well.”

Dustin Stallnacker has earned the starting nod at quarterback.

“He earned it in the spring and had a pretty good summer,” Shannon said. “He’s done a lot of good things, he just hasn’t done it in game situations. We’re really anxious to get him out there and see what he can do.”

He’s joined in the backfield by one of four sophomores who will figure into the starting rotation. Eric Thorn, who was a 1,000-yard back on the freshmen team last year, takes over starting duties at fullback this season in Shannon’s Dead T offense.

The other three sophomore starters are on defense. Daniel Gann will see plenty of time at defensive tackle. Dusty Skinner will play nose guard and Marcus Burns will see action at safety.

“This sophomore class is one of the most talented groups to come through here in a long time,” Shannon said.

Providing the leadership for the youthful group on defense is senior Bradley Gann. He is a three-year starter at linebacker and will captain the defense.

“He’s our leader on that side of the ball,” Shannon said. “We’re going to depend a lot on him.”

Beebe will try to maximize the single practice it will have on Thursday, the first day of full pads. The squad will see its first full-team scrimmaging during the morning session.

SPORTS >> Cabot ready for season

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers were 84 strong on the first official day of practice for the 2011 football season. The number was no surprise to head coach Mike Malham. It’s the same bunch he had working all summer long, due to long-standing rules of the CHS football program.

“There were no surprises because if they weren’t here all summer they wouldn’t be on the team,” Malham said.

Conditioning was not a problem due to the summer work. Panthers came in twice a week over the break for conditioning work and weight training.

“We ran them pretty good this summer,” Malham said.

As a result, the squad showed up Monday ready for work.

“It’s not like it used to be when you had to worry about them showing up in shape,” Malham said. “Our kids are in pretty good shape, so we’re not worried about that.”

Every coach who’s been in the game as long as Malham’s 31 years has seen almost everything, but the 2011 Panthers are a uniquely young squad.

Of the 84 players, there are only 13 seniors. There were 31 juniors and 40 sophomores practicing Monday, and a half dozen or so of those sophomores will figure into the rotation this season.

“It’s a young bunch,” Mal-ham said. “You always worry when you have to play that many sophomores, but there are some pretty good players in that sophomore class. You just go with what you got.”

Effort was good throughout practice, but things began to wane a bit towards the end, according to Malham.

“The afternoon got a little hot on them and you could tell that,” Malham said. But overall it was pretty good I think. They gave a good effort.”

Cabot started lifting weights at 6 a.m. and hit the practice field an hour later for the morning session. They came back at 1 p.m., but had to cut the afternoon session short when a driving rainstorm with huge lightning popped up all of a sudden.

The team could’ve finished on the indoor practice field, but with just a few minutes left, Malham gave a short talk and cut the team loose once inside.

Because of new rules instituted this year by the Arkansas Activities Association, teams are no longer allowed to have two consecutive days of two-a-day practices because of growing heat-related health concerns. So Cabot went just once on Tuesday, much to Malham’s chagrin.

“We’ve never had a problem with the heat,” Malham said. “Just keep ‘em hydrated, give them plenty of short water breaks and just use a little common sense.”

Monday, August 01, 2011

SPORTS >> Sherwood dominates CASL MOC swim meet

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The Sherwood Sharks made it nine seasons in a row without a loss in the Central Arkansas Swim League, and also brought home top team awards in the 2011 Meet of Champions last Saturday at UALR.

Not only did Sherwood win team awards, the team also brought down several MOC records.

The Sharks won nearly every relay in the morning session, which included all qualifying league swimmers 10 and under. They broke league records in three of them.

The boys 6-under team of Jake Hale, Maddux Bowen, James Cureton and Michael Potts smashed by seven seconds the old record of 1:50.18 in the freestyle relay.

Vincent Jaworski, Nicholas Heye, Tristen Bowen and Joseph Potts broke the record in the boys 10-under freestyle relay, finishing in 1:01.43, beating the old record by less than a second.

The girls 8-under freestyle relay team of Maycee Broadway, Olivia Tipton, Isabelle Sexson and Alyssa Riley finished in 1:13.72, beating the old record by just over a second.

Even more records were taken down by Sherwood swimmers later that afternoon when everyone else under 18 competed.

Josh Hale, Brendan Daugherty, Ian Heye and Thomas Heye won the 12-under freestyle relay with a record-breaking 54.38.

Erin Woodward, Camryn Jenkins, Elizabeth Franks and Delaney Haralson turned in a record-breaking 56.92 in the girls 12-under free relay.

In the boys 18-under relay, Quanderrius Doss, Devin Scott, Austin Clay and Will Axsom finished in 45.69, which was good enough to beat the old record, but still only good enough for third place, as the Otter Creek and Bryant teams also broke the record with even faster times.

12-year old Delaney Haralson was the meet’s top overall performer. She won four of the five individual events and took second in the fifth, and she broke the league records, which she herself already held, in all four wins.

She beat the old record in the individual medley race by 1.40 seconds with a 1:07.89 finish. Her butterly time of 31.50 beat her own old record by two-tenths of a second. She beat her backstroke record by .16 by finishing in 31.64. She also beat the freestyle record of 28.30 with a Saturday finish of 27.69.

Her closest competitor throughout the meet, Kayla McGee of Lonoke, also beat her old record, but couldn’t beat her new one, taking second place at 28.10. McGee won the breaststroke to stave off a Haralson sweep.

On the boys side, Thomas Heye won three individual events and broke records in two of them. In each case, he also broke his own records. He shaved .73 seconds off the record in the breaststroke, finishing in 34.91, and cut over two-and-a-half seconds off the individual-medley record he set last year, finishing in 1:05.21. He also took first place in the freestyle, and finished second in the backstroke and butterfly.

12-year old Erin Woodward also performed well, earning the team several points by getting two second and three third-place finishes, and competing very closely with Haralson and McGee. Together, the threesome dominated the gold level in every event.

10-year-old Anna Jaworski and six-year-old Michael Potts won four events each in the gold level. Nine-year old Joseph Potts won three events in the 10-under category.

Other Sherwood gold-level winners included Will Axsom, who won the 18-under freestyle, Maycee Broadway won the 8-under girls freestyle, Cross Engel took first in the girls 10-under backstroke, Nicholas Heye won the boys 10-under breaststroke and Michael Sexson won the boys 8-under butterfly.

Sherwood’s Mike Hathaway, Philip Stanely, Kaiden Wilson and Michael Sexson won the boys 8-under freestyle relay, while Cross Engel, Brianna Hanley, Kayla White and Anna Jaworski won the girls 10-under freestyle relay.

The Sharks had an extremely long list of swimmers score points in every race and category, turning in one of the most collectively productive meets ever for the already very accomplished team.

SPORTS >> Arkansas Heat take second in Division II final

By Chad Matchett
Special to The Leader

The Arkansas Heat 17U team capped off a successful AAU Division II season by traveling to Las Vegas for the West Coast National Championship and brought back some hardware from the tournament.

It wasn’t quite the hardware coach Karoma Smith and his players wanted, but finishing second in the nation isn’t too bad.

The Heat lost 46-43 to the North Bay Basketball Association out of California in the tournament finals.
“That’s a big accomplishment for these kids,” said Smith. “They know they can compete with the best in Arkansas, and now they all know they can compete on the national level.”

Made up of some of the best talent in central Arkansas, the Heat have won back-to-back AAU Division II state championships. They came just a break or two away from winning their first national championship.

The Heat are well represented with local talent. Aaron Smith and Brandon Brockman will both be juniors at Jacksonville High School this season. Braylon Spicer will be a senior at North Pulaski, while Trey Smith will be a senior at Sylvan Hills.

“This is my first group of graduating guys I’ve coached,” Smith said. “I just wish I could have had them when they were even younger. These few years since the oldest ones were freshmen have flown by. They’re a great group to coach.”

The Heat looked like they might be bringing another championship back to Arkansas early on in the tournament finals against NBBA. Quickness and tenacity helped the Heat burst out to a 12-point lead midway through the first half.

Perhaps thinking it would keep being that easy, the Heat lost their focus and much of their intensity as NBBA came storming back. After a barrage of three-pointers before the buzzer, the Heat were looking at a 24-23 deficit heading into halftime.

“That wasn’t the first time that happened in the tournament. We lost 12- and 15- point leads in a couple other games in bracket play,” said Smith. “I told the guys that if you want to be a champion, then you can’t lose your focus like that. You just can’t keep giving away these big leads.”

The halftime speech had the desired effect, it just wasn’t immediately apparent on the court. NBBA stayed hot from beyond the arc while building up a 12-point lead of their own.

A timeout and a defensive switch to a 1-2-2 press led to more steals for the Heat and more turnovers for NBBA. Jacksonville’s Smith and Brockman made baskets on three consecutive trips down the court to cut the deficit down to six points.

“Aaron Smith was one of our kids who really stepped it up in the second half,” Smith said. “He hit some big shots for us down the stretch.”

One of the shots was as high percentage as it gets as Smith had a thunderous two-handed dunk after a steal and pass from Brockman. That dunk helped to really change the momentum  and fire up the crowd and the Heat.

With just over three minutes left in the game, the Heat switched to a somewhat unconventional strategy and began fouling to send NBBA to the free throw line. The California team had struggled all game from the line and the final minutes were no exception. The strategy helped the Heat pull within one point. The Heat had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds when Markell Lovelace of Mills was fouled attempting a long jumper just inside the arc.

Lovelace missed the front end of the one-and-one and NBBA was able to get down court for a layup that put them ahead 46-43.

The Heat still had enough time to get up court and give Lovelace a decent look at a three-pointer, but the ball flew just off the mark. The Heat fouled with .9 seconds left in the game, and while NBBA missed its free throws again, the rebound went went its way to end any hopes of a miracle for the Heat.

“I’m so proud of how much this group of young men has accomplished,” Smith said. “They’ve grown as young men and as basketball players. They’ve come a long way this year and really since I first started coaching them.”

SPORTS >> NP duo earns fifth in World Championships

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski High School fishing duo of Cody’s finished in the top five of the High School Fishing World Finals last weekend on Lake Dardanelle.

Cody Mecalo and Cody Seats made up one of only seven two-man teams to advance to the final round, qualifying seventh, and finished fifth out of 113 teams from 23 states to compete in the event.
NPHS actually had two teams in the top 15. Another NP duo of John Ball and Kendall Long finished 14th overall.

It’s just the second year for NP’s fishing team, headed by coach Robbie Walker, who started an unofficial fishing club at the school four years ago.

“We’ve had some kids from the start that had pretty good knowledge on this sport,” Walker said. “They’ve just jumped right in and really taken off with it. This team has enjoyed a lot of success and we’re having a lot of fun.”

Ball and Long took second place in the state fishing tournament last season.

“Those two were really close to qualifying for the final day too,” Walker said. “They lost two that last day that would’ve put them in there.”

Seats and Mecalo also lost a big one on the final day.

“That fish would’ve put them higher, but it wouldn’t have made the difference in winning and losing,” Walker said. “Those kids who won it from Arizona really caught some good fish.”

The Phoenix duo of Thomas Chambers and Brandon Koon were three pounds ahead of second place to win the event, and earned a $4,000-per-year, renewable scholarship from Bethel University in Tennessee. It’s a total prize package of over $33,000.

Chambers’ and Koon’s total catch was 19 pounds, eight ounces. Kendal and Cody Chesser of Dover, who won the Arkansas state title, finished second at 16 pounds, eight ounces. A team from North Carolina was third with Greenbrier taking fourth. Rounding out the final-round top seven were teams from Kentucky and South Carolina.

The event was hard fishing with low totals. Patience was the key for the North Pulaski team, which pulled in almost all of its qualifying catch just before weigh-in.

“It was hard,” Cody Mecalo said. “We caught lots of fish, we just couldn’t seem to get on any keepers the whole day. The whole tournament was hard. It was hot, we had to fish slow and just be patient.”
The team just missed out on the final cut last year, making this year that much sweeter.

“I really don’t know if I have the words to describe how it felt to make that last day,” Mecalo said. “We were so close last year and slipped up. It was nerve racking during that weigh-in. We only made it by 14 ounces, but it felt really good.”

SPORTS >> Devils have some size up front this season

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville has a new old face heading up its high school volleyball program. Justine Rial is back after a year off from coaching to enter a master’s program at UCA. Rial coached volleyball 2008 and 2009 before leaving for a year. She also played for JHS and graduated in 2004. She played softball and volleyball at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge before coming home to start her coaching career.

This year’s Lady Red Devil team has some new faces to the new head coach, but there are some familiar ones as well.

“My seniors, I know them from when they were sophomores,” Rial said. “It was a pretty good group. The rest of them I’m working on getting to know and getting them ready to play.”

There aren’t many seniors to begin with. One that Rial knows will play a key role is libero Taylor Ruple.

“Taylor did a lot for me as a sophomore,” Rial said. “I heard she did great things last year and I expect her to be one of the team leaders.”

Also Haley Hickingbotham will be a senior on the front row.

“She will be crucial for us up front blocking and spiking,” Rial said.

The seemingly always undersized Lady Devils may not be so undersized this year. While it still can’t be classified as a big team, there will be some height on the front row.

“We have two or three who are around 5-feet-10 to six feet,” Rial said. “We’re always so undersized it seems, usually around 5-8. I’m really excited about it. This is nice this year to have a little bit of size up front.”

SPORTS >> Panthers young

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

Youth will be the main feature on the 2011 Cabot volleyball team, which will be coached this year by DeAnna Campbell, the first person besides Terry Williams to coach Cabot volleyball in more than two decades.

Campbell has been teaching in the Cabot School District for the last six years, but isn’t new to the sport. She previously coached at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, Canyon High School in Texas and most recently at Central Arkansas Christian in North Little Rock.

She left coaching six years ago with two small children and a husband who also coaches, but with the daughters now older and interested in volleyball, the time was right to get back into it.

“It just so happened that my girls started showing an interest in volleyball, and just at the same time is when coach Williams started talking about retiring, so it all just fell into place,” Campbell said.
The new face at the helm will be joined by several new faces on the court. The Lady Panthers’ 19-person roster includes 11 sophomores, five juniors and only three seniors.

“We are very young,” Campbell said. “We’re going to have very few that  have much varsity experience, so we’re kind-of starting from scratch. We’re taking our young ones step-by-step and getting better each day.”

The team has been going through summer workouts since July 5, and just completed a skills camp that was provided by Arkansas State University at Cabot’s home gym.
“That was a really good thing because they came here, and those things are always very helpful, especially when you have such a young team.”

The main focus in the summer workouts has been ball control. The team is not blessed with a lot of height, although it wouldn’t be considered a small team, but it is, according to Campbell, an athletic bunch.

“We’ve got some quickness and some athleticism, so we feel like if we can make fewer mistakes than our opponents, we can win a lot of matches,” Campbell said. “So we’re really stressing ball control, especially with passing. I think we’re going to be able to get to a lot of balls this year, and we’re really working on making good passes once we do that.”

Progress is always an early key with a young squad, and Campbell says the team is making progress in leaps and bounds.

“They’ve made huge improvements,” Campbell said. “It’s really a smart group and they learn fast, and they’re really trying to learn to do things the right way, the right technique, the right form. It’s been a really productive summer.”

The players on the team have noticed the progress as well.

“They’re excited about it,” Campbell said. “The more they see the results, the harder they work. They’re asking to stay after practice and work some more. Things are really going in a good direction.”

The team just started conditioning work in earnest this week. The squad alternates running and lifting, running before practice on one day, then lifting after practice the next.

The squad is going to Jonesboro on Saturday for a team camp with other schools in the area. After that one-day camp, the Lady Panthers will take part in a four-day camp at Hendrix College in Conway that begins next Monday.

EDITORIAL >> Put controls on lottery

In the vast realm of government, there is at least some good news in these moribund days. The people who oversee the Arkansas state lottery, or a few of them, are beginning to act like public stewards.

A committee of the Arkansas Lottery Commission rejected lottery director Ernie Passailaigue’s plans to give one of his protégés a $12,457 raise by creating still another new position in the lottery hierarchy and promoting her to the job. The committee also said no to a $2,166 raise for the chief legal counsel, who it is safe to say has not performed at a stellar level.

This is pocket change in a $4 billion government and even in the lavish payroll of the Arkansas lottery, but refusing the raises is a radical development that gives some hope that this rogue government agency might someday become a sensible servant of the people.

One of the phalanx of associates that Passailaigue brought with him from South Carolina is now the lottery’s “product director,” and Passailaigue said she was absolutely irreplaceable. She helps manage the scratch-off lottery tickets, the lottery’s big seller. So to keep another state lottery from hiring her away, he wanted to give her a big raise, to $89,000. To do that, he created a new job, “director of product development.”

The state personnel director said it was a large raise for a job requiring dubious skills and that it was being given when salaries in the rest of state government were frozen. Steve Faris, a former state senator who was recently appointed to the Lottery Commission, did not think either raise could be justified at the moment, so the raises were sidetracked.

Faris and Bruce Engstrom, a Little Rock accountant, have brought a little vigilance and vigor to the Lottery Commission since they were appointed in the spring. They have had the audacity to question Passailaigue’s decisions and recommendations and the lottery’s manifold shortcomings. Also Thursday, it was announced that the lottery’s controller and chief financial officer had quit. Engstrom had been furious that the controller, who was supposed to be a CPA but wasn’t, had been unable to prepare an audit that met basic accounting standards. They had to hire one to get it done. Passailaigue had been defending his hiring of a chief fiscal officer without accounting skills for a job that clearly required them.

It has been like that from the start, when the newly minted Lottery Commission hired Passailaigue, a politician who started the South Carolina lottery, by offering him a giant boost in salary. Passailaigue makes considerably more than the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer combined. He brought with him several lottery employees from South Carolina, all at salaries far beyond those of major department heads of government. They supervise the out-of-state gambling vendors that bring in about $95 million a year for college scholarships.

You know some of the lottery’s troubles—the lavish, undocumented expense accounts, the audit failures, the extravagant vendor contracts, the shortfall in scholarship revenue. And Thursday, former state Rep. Robbie Wills revealed that he was a lobbyist for Intralot, the big gambling contractor that does a lot of the lottery business in Arkansas.

Wills, as speaker of the House of Representatives in 2009, sponsored the legislation establishing the lottery and giving it unparalleled fiscal latitude. It is free of many of the restraints under which other state agencies must operate. The legislation and the constitutional amendment that authorized it established the peculiar freewheeling culture at the lottery.

As for Wills, can you spell revolving door and legislative ethics?

TOP STORY >> Redistricting shifts lines in many areas

Special to the Leader

The state Board of Apportionment on Friday approved new boundaries for House and Senate districts on a widely expected 2-1 vote.

Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel voted for the plan they developed together. The lone Republican on the board, Secretary of State Mark Martin, voted against it.

Rep. Mark Perry of Jacksonville saw the boundaries of Dist. 44 shift west to state Hwy. 107. “It’s a little bit of a change,” Perry, a Democrat, said. “I’m content. I’ll do my best to represent the people of District 44 wherever they are.”

Perry said one positive change was on the Senate side, where Jacksonville is no longer part of a district that also includes Beebe and Cabot.

“We can be happy or mad about them (new district lines) but when it comes down to it, we’ve got to work with whatever we’re given,” Perry said.

The air base will be in new Dist. 34, and Jacksonville will be split between new Dists. 34 and 30 in Sherwood and North Little Rock.

Senate Dist. 28, currently held by Eddie Joe Williams, and Senate Dist. 29, currently held by Jonathan Dismang, both Republicans, will essentially exchange much of their districts.

Little Rock Air Force Base, now served by Dismang, will be included in a district with Sherwood, and most of Jacksonville will be included with North Little Rock.

Lonoke County, which Wil-liams represents, will be split. The Cabot School District, where Williams lives, will be the only part of Lonoke County that he will serve. His new district will be Dist. 29. Williams’ district would lie between Jacksonville and Searcy but not include either, but it would take in Beebe and McRae.

The southwestern quarter of White County, which includes part of Searcy, will be Dismang’s new district, Dist. 28. That new district also includes Lonoke County (excluding Cabot), the southwestern quarter of Woodruff County, about one-quarter of Monroe County, all of Prairie County and most of the northern half of Arkansas County.

“I hate to lose Jacksonville and the air base,”Dismang said. “It’s been an honor and a privelege.”
He added that his new territory is  much the same ground that Gov. Beebe represented. “From Searcy to DeWitt, I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”  Dismang said  the new district is a very rich area in culture and he is looking forward to serving the people in that district.

Dismang represents Jacksonville now, but that part of the existing Dist. 29 won’t become Williams’ territory.

Sen. Mary Anne Salmon lives in the new Dist. 34, but she is term limited, so the seat is open. Sen. Linda Chesterfied serves in Dist. 34, which will become Dist. 30.

The Board of Apportionment is responsible for redrawing state legislative district lines every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census. The state General Assembly redraws the lines for seats in Congress, and it did so this year while in regular session.

Beebe, McDaniel and Martin sat together at a small table in the old Supreme Court chamber in the state Capitol for the vote. To Martin, Beebe said, “I’ve got a plan. He (McDaniel) has a plan. Our plans are a lot alike.” Martin smiled and nodded, acknowledging beforehand that he would be outvoted.
Beebe made a motion that the board approve his House and Senate plans on separate votes. After McDaniel voted for Beebe’s House maps, Beebe again turned to Martin. “I assume you’re a ‘no,’” Beebe said. “I’m a ‘no,’” Martin replied.

Beebe and McDaniel also voted to keep apportionment staff and office in place for another 30 days to work with county clerks on the changes and be ready anytime after that in case there’s a court challenge to any of the new boundaries. Martin appeared supportive of that idea but still cast a ‘no’ vote.

Reached in Seattle, where she has been watching flight crews from Little Rock Air Force Base compete in the Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Rep. Jane English, a Republican from North Little Rock, said she hasn’t seen maps for her district in several days.
“They were kind of fuzzy, and it was hard to tell what the lines were,” English said. “If I had an opinion, I’d certainly give it. The governor had his plans, and that’s what we got.”
Other area lawmakers couldn’t be reached Friday.

The Beebe-Mc-Daniel plan reduced the number of black-majority House districts from 13 to 11, a change that has upset some lawmakers. Their changes also resulted in four cases in which an incumbent representative could face an election challenge from another incumbent. Those districts are in the Paris, Altheimer, Pine Bluff, Camden, Magnolia and Pocahontas areas.

Those changes couldn’t be helped, Beebe said, because of population shifts.

“You can’t make everyone happy,” Beebe told reporters. “Some people are happy and some are unhappy. But it was really challenging to protect the minority vote.”

The new plans have each House district with about 29,150 residents and each Senate district with about 83,300 residents.

Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate. Those margins have been dwindling over the years, and GOP leaders think they can win control of one or both chambers in the 2012 elections.

Leader staff writers Joan McCoy and Rick Kron contributed to this report.