Friday, December 16, 2011

TOP STORY >> City approves budget with modest raises

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council approved a $19.04 million budget on Thursday night that included 2 percent raises for all employees with a caveat. That caveat is a $1,000 cap.

Shortly after approving what the mayor called “a good, lean budget,” the council tied the city to a $2.4 million bill to update the communication center’s communication system. The annual payment of $600,000 starts in January 2013.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said everyone worked hard on the budget “and the public won’t see the effects of any of the cuts we’ve made.”

He added that there wasn’t a lot of fluff to cut, but the city tightened the budget by resetting priorities.

“We felt it was important to mange our resources so that we could show our appreciation to our hard-working employees. Hopefully, if the economy continues to improve, we can give a bigger raise in 2012,” the mayor said.

He said that the general fund budget is slightly higher than the amended 2011 budget but lower than the original 2011 budget.

“All departments worked hard to keep their budgets as low as possible but still all departments showed a slight increase over the amended 2011 budget.

Of the $19.04 million budgeted for the general funds, $12.5 million will go to public safety, $3.8 million to public works, $2.2 million to general government and $530,000 to the court.

The council also approved a $2.2 million street fund budget for 2012, a $1.9 million budget for sanitation and $1.2 million for the emergency medical fund.

Revenues set for the street fund come up short by $225,000, and that amount will have to be pulled from reserves.

In other council business:

Aldermen approved the 911 center enter into a $2.4 million contract with Motorola to replace the communications system to make everything digital in public safety. Both the mayor and Tabby Hughes, the 911 center director, said the current radio system was old, outdated and parts weren’t being made anymore.

Jim Durham, the director of city administration, said the 911 center could be close to a major disaster if the system isn’t replaced. “Our backup system is portable radios and landlines.”

It was explained to the council that the Motorola system was compatible to the state’s new radio system, and the state would take over the maintenance if the city went to the Motorola system. Durham said most cities in Arkansas are being faced with this requirement from the federal government. He called it one of “those unfunded federal mandates.”

The council approved a three-tier increase in sewer rates. In January, the base rate will increase to $12.95 for the first 2,000 gallons and then $4.54 per 1,000 gallons after that. In the second year, the base rate goes up to $14.63 and then $5.13 per 1,000 gallons and in the third year the base rate hits $16.39 and then $5.74 per 1,000 gallons.

EDITORIAL >> Gimmick shot down

We rarely get the chance nowadays to use the words “courage” and “principled” in the same sentence with any member of Arkansas’s delegation in Congress, but Sen. Mark Pryor afforded us just such an occasion this week. He voted against the Democratic and Republican balanced-budget amendments, then proceeded to explain exactly why both would endanger the country.

If someone runs a poll this week it surely will show a plunge in Pryor’s approval rating. Prospective opponents—Pryor is up for re-election in 2014—must be licking their chops in anticipation of the ad punchlines: “He voted to continue Washington’s reckless spending and runaway deficits.”

Pryor knew that and voted nay anyway. Who knew that he had it in him?

A constitutional amendment to require the federal government to operate with a balanced budget every year is one of those ideas that strike a chord with people. We all want to believe there is something simple that will solve grievous problems. Prohibition was once such an idea; later, term limits. Both were tried and made the problems they were supposed to conquer even worse. A constitutionally imposed balanced budget is another. It would make it nearly impossible for the country to confront a grave crisis, whether it arose from natural, economic or security threats, and each time such a crisis arose national policy would be dictated by a minority in Congress, not a majority. That sounds perverse, but that is how the budget-balance mandates work.

Balanced-budget amendments have always been political gimmicks, and this year they were no different. Republicans like the idea of a mandatory balanced budget when a Democrat is president and Democrats control Congress. It would make governing harder and more dangerous. So when Bill Clinton was president, Republicans came close to passing the resolution and sending the amendment to the states for ratification. When George W. Bush became president and the GOP controlled Congress as well, they said “Never mind.” We remember too well what happened. Clinton had balanced the budget four years running, and Bush and a Republican Congress sent them spiraling out of control. But there was no mention of a balanced-budget amendment in those years, though a few mischievous Democrats pondered raising it.

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives brought up the balanced-budget resolution last month and passed it. All four Arkansas congressmen, including the lone Democrat, the terminally fickle Mike Ross of South Arkansas, voted for it and promptly issued press statements congratulating themselves for their daring. All of them were confident that it would not pass the Senate and they would never have to face the consequences of their votes.

This week, Democrats and Republicans put their respective budget amendments before the Senate to give every senator a chance as well to get on record for a balanced budget and to issue statements boasting of their courage. Republicans voted for their amendment, and quite a few Democrats voted for the Democratic version. Both failed. Everyone in both parties who is up for re-election this year got to vote for the amendment along with anyone else who felt a little vulnerable.

Pryor certainly is in the latter category but he said no. He could have voted for the Democratic amendment in the safe knowledge that it didn‘t mean anything.

And this is what he said:

“As H.L. Mencken once said, ‘For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.’ This quote describes the balanced-budget amendment. While a balanced-budget amendment makes for an easy talking point, it is an empty solution. Moreover, it’s a reckless choice that handcuffs our ability to respond to an economic downturn or national emergencies without massive tax increases or throwing everyone off Medicare, Social Security, or veteran’s care.

“There is a more responsible alternative to balance the budget. President Clinton led the way in turning deficits into record surpluses. We have that same opportunity today, using the blueprint provided by the debt commission as a starting point. We need to responsibly cut spending, reform our tax code and create job growth. This course requires hard choices over a number of years. However, it offers a more balanced approach over jeopardizing safety net programs and opportunity for robust economic growth.”

That pretty much says it, though he might have added that the president in every national crisis, from the Louisiana Purchase to the George W. Bush wars, unbalanced the budget to respond.

By passing the balanced-budget resolution, or even voting for it, congressmen and senators can say, “Look, I tried so don’t blame me for the deficits.” Then they can go on doing the other popular things: opposing taxes, talking vaguely about big spending cuts in the future and blaming the president and government bureaucrats for economic problems because they regulate industries so vigorously that they won’t hire people.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Pryor’s vote at the top of the front page, but it did not carry his explanations, preferring to quote Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah instead. But the paper and his other opponents will remind us of the vote many times. We prefer to think of it as one of Mark Pryor’s better moments.

TOP STORY >> Observer back from Russia

Special to The Leader

While tens of thousands of Russians demonstrated against perceived widespread election fraud following the Dec. 4 parliamentary vote, a member of the Arkansas Election Commission says she personally saw problems but not direct evidence of fraud when she visited about a dozen polling places on election day as an official observer at Nozorossiysk, a commercial port on the Black Sea.

“Their election officials were dedicated and experienced—voting was fine, but quality of process deteriorated during the count, with apparent manipulations including several serious indications of ballot stuffing,” said Susan Keith Inman, paraphrasing part of the preliminary report from the organization she represented.

Inman is the former director of elections for Arkansas and for Pulaski County, and founder and president of the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association.

“I didn’t witness ballot stuffing, but some others did,” Inman said Monday.

She was part of about a dozen people, including four Americans, to observe the elections in the Krasnodar territory. At the invitation of the Russian Federation, team members were recruited under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, a multinational organization that dates back to before the end of the Cold War, Inman said.

In all, the OSCE sent 160 observers, mostly from Europe and Central Asia, she said.

Separately, the U.S. State Department sent observers.

She said she heard reports of protests and demonstrations but didn’t witness any.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the NBA team, the New Jersey Nets, said Monday that he would challenge Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for president in the March election, signaling more trouble for Putin, currently prime minister and the former president. Putin has dominated Russian politics for more than a decade.

Prokhorov’s announcement comes in the wake of widespread protest against Putin and his party, United Russia, over the allegations of election fraud.

Despite the alleged fraud, United Russia lost about 20 percent of its seats in the Duma, the lower house of parliament, but hung on to a narrow majority.

Putin’s former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, said he was ready to form a new party.

In its preliminary report, the OSCE found the election “problematic,” Inman said. “That’s why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out critically,” she added.

Also among its preliminary findings, the OSCE noted that result protocols were not publicly displayed in more than one-third of polling stations observed. Throughout election day, observers also reported a number of instances of obstruction to their activities, in particular during count and tabulation.

“That’s the issue that puts a cloud on the election,” Inman said. “At the tabulation center — it closed down, and you can’t see what’s going on. They would go into rooms we couldn’t go into, and they (were supposed to) post numbers, but they were not doing that. They said their computer system was down,” according to Inman.

“My area was Krasnodar territory. The actual city is Nozorossiysk, a commercial sea port,” Inman said.

“Election officials seemed knowledgeable and voters would come in with identification, sign their names, get paper ballots, and directed to a voting both with a curtain. There, they would check a box next to the candidate they wished to vote for, Inman said. Some places had electronic voting and ballot scanners.”

She said members of her group were up until 5 a.m. while officials counted ballots behind closed doors.

Among unusual things she witnessed — election officials and observers took ballot boxes to hospitals and jails to allow people confined there to vote.

While many polling places in the United States are churches, not so in Russia, she said. Most seemed to be in cultural centers, municipal buildings, hotel lobbies and schools.

Since Inman began work as a volunteer, she has also been sent to observe elections in Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Moldova, Kurdistan, Tajikistan and Belarus, some more than once.

Inman says she generally goes once a year to monitor elections.

The observers are not paid, but the OSCE makes and pays for flight and hotel reservations and reimburses the volunteers for other expenses..

TOP STORY >> Smokers get big break in 2012 budget

Leader staff writer

With a vote of 11-1, the Lonoke County Quorum Court passed its $6.9 million budget for 2012 Thursday night without the planned $50 a month surcharge for workers who use tobacco that would have increased revenue by about $30,000, but with the $126,000 that will be gained from cutting support to the cities for their district courts.

JP Bill Ryker voted against the budget because Lonoke and Carlisle have a court order from a lawsuit they won against the county in 1991 that lays out how much of the fine money they will be reimbursed for hearing county misdemeanor cases in their district courts.

JP Tim Lemons, chairman of the quorum court’s budget committee, opposed the surcharge when it was considered by the committee. He said it would be discussed after the first of the year by the insurance committee.

Ryker agreed with Lonoke City Attorney Camille Bennett and Carlisle Mayor Ray Glover that a new state law that says counties must pay only the salaries of the judge and head clerk unless other arrangements are made does not supersede their court order.

“Just so you know, I am authorized to file suit to enforce the agreement,” Bennett told the quorum court and County Judge Doug Erwin.

Altogether, the county will gain about $30,000 by not paying Lonoke and Carlisle the amounts they requested for 2012.

Lonoke requested $57,272, and the county intends to pay $41,035. Carlisle requested $44,558, and the county intends to pay $31,276.

“We can appreciate that you’re trying to balance your budget, but you’re doing it on the backs of the cities,” Glover said.

Ryker said none of the other cities took the initiative to let a court decide the matter, so they should be reimbursed according to state law.

The county’s mayors have known for less than a month that the quorum court was considering cutting funding to their courts.

In their search for revenue, the quorum court’s budget committee and the county judge learned that the county supported every district court at different levels. But Cabot got more than any of the others—half of all expenses, including the salaries of two probation officers and bonuses.

In 2011, the county contributed $143,861 and was expected to contribute $158,870 in 2012. But the budget approved Thursday gives Cabot only $59,904, half the salaries of the judge and two clerks.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said this week that all the talk about cutting funding to district courts has made him think that it is time to ask the state legislature to consolidate the courts. One court in the northern part of the county and one in the southern part should be enough to handle the case load, he said.

In other business, the quorum court passed with a 7-5 vote the first reading of an ordinance for budget reform like the one in Pulaski County that sponsor JP Joe Farrer said is responsible for Pulaski moving from a $7 million deficit to an $11 million surplus.

The ordinance was supported by all the Republicans except JP Larry Odom. The Democrats voted against it.

If passed after two more readings, the ordinance will require the county’s elected officials, such as the clerk, sheriff and assessor, to get approval from the quorum court to move money in their budgets between spending categories. The ordinance also says that cumulative annual transfers that exceed 20 percent of the budget amount of the original line item in the same category must be approved by the quorum court.

Sheriff Jim Roberson spoke against the proposed ordinance.

“I don’t think there’s an elected official here who agrees with this,” the sheriff said.

Ryker told Farrer that an opinion from the attorney general said it was illegal.

And Odom said it wasn’t necessary because the only elected official who ever goes over budget is the sheriff and that can’t be helped no matter who holds the office.

“I spent the day trying to figure out how I can support this,” Odom said. “I can’t support it.”

Farrer, in his first year on the quorum court, said lack of foresight on the part of the “prior quorum court was to blame for the county’s financial problems.”

The county built the $6 million jail with a one-year, one-cent sales tax but didn’t ask voters for money to run it.

Odom, the chairman of the jail committee that got the jail built with 40 extra beds that could be rented to raise money to run it, called Farrer’s statement “malarkey.”

“Foresight my rear,” Odom said to Farrer.

Under Odom’s leadership, the jail committee decided against a plan to go with a Memphis firm that would have built a jail with 40 fewer beds for the same $6 million price tag. Those extra beds were always intended to support the jail, Odom said.

“Throw your track record up against mine, and you’ll see yours don’t have much in it,” Odom told Farrer.

The only unanimous vote Thursday night was to deny a request from Assessor Jack McNally who wanted to give his employees Christmas bonuses.

JP Tim Lemons said the county is giving 3 percent raises in 2012 and he opposed giving some employees more than others.

“If we can’t do it for every county employee, why should we do it for just a few?” Lemons asked.

McNally said the fund he proposed to take the money from was growing and that its legal uses were limited. His employees had worked hard and made many improvements over the past year including making possible online assessments, he said. A little extra money might keep that momentum going.

“And it’s Christmas,” he said.

But the quorum court showed by its vote that Lemons had spoken for all of them and the tone of McNally’s last statement indicated that he wasn’t pleased with the answer. “Thank you all very much. Merry Christmas,” McNally said after the vote.

SPORTS >> Carlisle’s coach receives award

Leader sports editor

A stellar season didn’t end with a championship for the Carlisle Bison, but did end with a fitting honor for head coach Scott Waymire.

On Monday, Waymire was named the Farm Bureau class 2A Coach of the Year.

Waymire graciously accepted the award, but gave credit to players and coworkers.

“It’s really a team award,” Waymire told The Leader on Tuesday. “Everyone worked hard and the players and coaching staff deserve as much credit as I do.”

Waymire and staff were charged with rebuilding a team that lost almost its entire starting interior from a year ago. That squad advanced to the quarterfinals. This year’s team was picked by most to win its conference, but few predicted a perfect regular season and a trip to the state championship game. Carlisle finished the season 13-1 and as state runners up in class 2A.

SPORTS >> Overtime isn’t kind to Lonoke

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke ladies suffered a tough loss on the road at Southside-Batesville on Monday. The Lady Southerners hit a bank shot at the buzzer to send it to overtime, and rode that momentum in the extra period to a 53-46 victory. Southside was the preseason favorite to win the 4A-2 Conference, and Lonoke coach Nathan Morris can’t help but feel his team let one, it should have had, get away.

“That’s about as bad of a heartbreaking loss as we’ve had around here for a while,” Morris said. “We actually feel pretty good coming out of it considering it was a road game at the odds on favorite home floor. But the loss stings, don’t get me wrong.”

Lonoke held a 27-13 lead late in the second quarter. Southside hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it an 11-point game, and continued a slow but steady comeback throughout the second half.

The Lady Southerners didn’t do it without some help. Lonoke missed eight of 10 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, including the front end of three one-and-one trips.

“We’ve actually been a pretty good free-throw shooting team,” Morris said. “Our average isn’t great, but we’ve got girls shooting a high average. We just haven’t been in many pressure situations this year. Hopefully, you know, we’ve been in that situation now and that won’t happen to us again. We’ll learn from our mistakes.”

Lonoke’s weaknesses had been rebounding and transition defense. Morris said his team did better in those categories for the most part. There were just a couple of instances where breakdowns hurt.

‘In any game like this you can look back, not just at the last few minutes, but any time in the game, and see things you think hurt you.” Morris said. “We missed two free throws and let a girl dribble the distance of the floor without turning her too much and let her get a good shot.”

The Lady Jackrabbits have battled injuries most of the season and have played very few games at full strength. The team was closer to full strength Monday with the addition of sophomore Savannah Holman. Senior Mary Davis joined the team in last night’s game against DeWitt. Senior Kaitlyn Tate is playing injured, and Morris was pleased with her effort against Southside.

“She broke her nose and has been playing with the mask,” Morris said. “She probably played with her best focus in a couple of games. It’s great to see a kid presented with a little adversity step up to the challenge.”

Lonoke’s play in Batesville has Morris as optimistic about the season as ever.

“Southside is the team people expected to be at the top,” Morris said. “Now that I’ve seen all but one of the teams in our league in person and see what this league entails, when we get these girls back we’ve had injured, I see we’re capable of finishing at the top of this league. We’re going to have road blocks in the way. You get back to the dynamics of bringing it every day and getting this team to come together. But that’s the challenge and the fun part of what we do.”

Derrika Mays led a balanced Lonoke attack with 10 points Monday. Four other players scored at least seven.

The Lady Jackrabbits do not play again until Dec. 28 in the opening round of the Beebe Holiday Classic.

SPORTS >> Deeper lineup key to Victory

Leader sportswriter

England did not let its severely limited depth become a factor against a Cabot team still trying to catch its breath from a three-day tournament over the weekend as the Panthers limped to a 61-51 victory over the Lions in a non-conference game at Panther Arena on Tuesday.

The Panthers (7-0) had the benefit of two separate groups to split playing time while the Lions competed with only six players. But England proved to have fresher legs while Cabot looked somewhat sluggish, particularly on defense.

Junior Sam Howe led the way for the Panthers with 18 points while senior post player Justin McMahan added 12 as Cabot capitalized on its slight size advantage over the guard-laden Lions.

“I was worried about that game because of the week before we had,” Panthers coach Jerry Bridges said. “They were a hard matchup for us with all their guards. It’s rare that we have an advantage in the post, we just should have gotten the ball to Sam and Justin a little more than what we did.”

Cabot built a 24-14 lead by the 3:54 mark of the second quarter only to watch the Lions go on a 9-2 run to cut the margin to 26-23 at halftime. England held the Panthers’ lead to single digits through most of the third quarter as well as guards Josh Fudge and Lawrence Tatum came up with big shots to help the outmatched Lions keep it close.

“They wouldn’t go away,” Bridges said. “I’ll give this group credit – some of the teams in the past would have lost that one, but this group found a way to win. I was to the point where I told (assistant Lee Wimberley) I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted to get the win and get out of there.”

Howe and McMahan got to work immediately with a pair of baskets each in the first four minutes of the opening quarter before the second group checked into the game at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter. That helped the Panthers to a 10-5 lead, and sophomore post Josiah Wymer scored on a putback of his own missed shot to make it 12-5.

The Lions answered back with a three pointer by Fudge and a putback from Tre Means to cut it to 12-10. Michael Smith and Clayton Vaught answered for Cabot before Tyrik Harris got the last word in the opening period with a jumper that made it 16-12.

Sam Howe’s three-point basket with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter gave the Panthers their first double-digit lead of the game at 35-25, but Harris answered for England with a three, and Tatum hit the back end of a two-shot foul to cut the lead again, this time to 35-29.

Cabot finally took control late in the third quarter with a driving lay-in by Howe to make it 37-29, and McMahan made it 39-29 with a inside basket off a steal and assist from junior point guard Bryan Shrum. Shrum got another steal with 1:23 remaining in the third, this time taking it down for the score himself to give the Panthers a 43-31 lead.

The Lions hung tough but ultimately could not keep pace with a Cabot team that needed every ounce of effort from both of the five-man groups.

“We’re going to keep going with that,” Bridges said. “That other group plays defense just as well as the first group. They may not be capable of scoring like the first group, but at times, they’ve lifted us. The kids are believing in it, so we’re going to keep doing it as long as it’s effective, and we’ll just take it one quarter at a time.”

McMahan added seven rebounds to go along with his 12 points while Wymer also had seven rebounds for the Panthers.

Adam Rock finished with eight points for Cabot while Arthur West had seven points. Fudge led England with 14 points, with 12 points for Tatum and 11 for Harris. The Panthers hosted Springdale last night after The Leader deadlines.

SPORTS >> Bears and Red Devils showcase talent

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills get to take another big stage today in the Ron Crawford Arkansas Hoops Challenge at Maumelle High School, though not against each other. Jacksonville takes the floor against Razorback commitment Dederick Lee and the Clarksville Panthers at 3 p.m.

Sylvan Hills, with Kentucky-bound Archie Goodwin, takes on perennial powerhouse Pulaski Academy to close the event at 8:20 p.m. Pulaski Academy features Texas Tech commitment Dusty Hannahs, who was Goodwin’s teammate on the Arkansas Wings AAU team. The pair meet in the marquee game of the event.

Big games are featured all day long between several of the state’s top schools, and features several of the state’s top prospects.

Lee, a junior, committed very early to the University of Arkansas as a sophomore. He was drawing interest from other major schools including Memphis, Missouri and Baylor, but had only received offers from Arkansas and Tulane at the time of his verbal commitment.

He is averaging 27 points per game so far this season. The Panthers have amassed an 8-4 record against a very tough schedule so far. Losses in the Panthers’ schedule include Jacksonville-conference mates Jonesboro and Little Rock Parkview.

The Bears’ Goodwin is the biggest name in the tournament. There have been, as expected, large crowds at every Sylvan Hills game, but since the 6-foot, 5-inch guard signed early with the Kentucky Wildcats, there hasn’t been the same frenzy surrounding Bears’ games as there was a year ago.

Sylvan Hills will face a Pulaski Academy squad that is only 5-3 so far, but will be full strength for the first time this season after finishing football season with a state championship just a week ago.

Eight games are on the docket, beginning at 11 a.m. with Strong facing Shiloh Christian. Strong hasn’t had its team together all season. The Bulldogs also won the class 2A state football title. They are led by 6-5 small forward Stetson Billing. Billings has drawn interest from Louisiana Tech.

The second game features teams from opposite sides of the state with East Poinsett County taking on Siloam Springs. The Benton Panthers face Springdale at 1:40 before Jacksonville squares off with Clarksville.

At 4:20, Fayetteville gets another shot at Jonesboro. The Hurricane beat Fayetteville by 10 last week in the championship game of the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway.

Familiar foes take the floor at 5:40 with Parkview facing Mills. Bobby Portis and the Hall Warriors then battle Forrest City at 7 p.m.

Look for details of the Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills games in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader, as well as results from the rest of the showcase games.

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers overpower 2A champion Lions

Leader sportswriter

Cabot simply had too many weapons for 3A powerhouse England as the Lady Panthers used their superior depth to down the Lady Lions 74-49 at Panther Arena on Tuesday.

Senior Melissa Wolff scored a career high 36 points, and also came away with 14 rebounds and five steals as the Lady Panthers dominated the boards against an England team dependent on the play of its go-to star in senior Janeka Watkins.

Janeka Watkins poured in 29 points for the Lady Lions along with five steals and four rebounds, while twin sister Jameka added nine points for England.

The Lady Panthers led throughout and took complete control in the second quarter despite England’s ability to handle Cabot’s full-court defensive pressure. The Lady Lions showed offensive discipline with just four first-half turnovers, but junior Elliot Taylor denied them of most second-chance shot opportunities with strong defensive rebounding. Taylor finished the night with a game high 16 rebounds, and scored all of her 13 points in the second quarter.

Wolff, the 6-0 University of Arkansas signee, gave notice early that it was going to be her night with a three-point basket at the 6:37 mark of the first quarter to put the Lady Panthers up 5-2, and hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to make it 9-6 with 5:09 left to play in the first.

She extended the advantage to 16-8 with a basket and a free throw after drawing a foul from Engalnd’s Jasmine Taylor on her way to the hoop with 3:24 remaining in the first, but Jeneka Watkins kept the Lady Lions in it with a pair of layups that cut it 16-12.

Wolff started the second quarter with a basket to put Cabot up before Taylor took over the scoring. Taylor took an assist from Wolff off a steal and scored to give the Lady Panthers a 22-14 lead with 7:08 left in the half, and followed a Laci Boyett basket with another score to complete an 8-0 run for Cabot to make it 26-14 with six minutes remaining in the half.

Taylor closed the half strong with a three pointer off an assist from Sydney Wacker to give the Lady Panthers a 29-15 lead with 4:43 left until halftime before Wolff assisted her on her next basket that extended the advantage to 31-15.

She added a putback at the 2:44 mark and then stole the ball for a coast-to-coast layup that gave Cabot a 35-20 lead. Ally Van Enk closed out the quarter with a free throw to give the Lady Panthers a 36-21 lead at halftime.

Wolff did most of scoring inside in the first half for 12 points before opening things up from the outside in the second half.

She went 4 for 5 from behind the three-point line and continued to score inside as well. Point guard Jaylin Bridges assisted Wolff with a backdoor pass for a layup that gave Cabot a 40-21 lead at the 6:37 mark of the third quarter, and Wolff’s three pointer with 6:11 left in the third upped the margin to 42-25.

Boyett added 10 points for Cabot and senior guard Micah Odom finished with seven points. Aria Dunbar had eight points for England.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers faced off with Springdale at home Friday after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that matchup on Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Cabot boys and girls are off the entire Christmas break and will resume play on Jan. 3 at home against Greene County Tech. Conference play in the 7A Central gets started on Jan. 6 at home against Conway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Protecting our water

When public and private interests collide and hundreds of millions of dollars of future wealth are at stake, it can get messy. It is a political fact of life that in such competitions private interests are most apt to prevail.

That, alas, is what is about to happen with the zoning dispute at Lake Maumelle, the principal source of water for nearly 500,000 of us in the metropolitan region. The Pulaski County Quorum Court is about to vote on a land-use plan for the Maumelle watershed that sprawls across the western part of Pulaski County and beyond. The basic issue is simple—whether the county should be able to restrain development around the lake to protect the quality and safety of the drinking water for the next 50 years or developers and landowners should be free to make of the land whatever they like—but the details are not simple at all, and the unlikely fusion of interests make it impossible to say what the practical best course of action is.

The municipal water system built Lake Maumelle in 1957-58 by damming the Big Maumelle River. Its sole purpose was a water supply for the metropolitan region, although fishing and sailboating are allowed. The 70 miles of forested shoreline through the mountain valleys provide rare vistas, and it was only natural that as Little Rock grew westward the lake became increasingly attractive for residential and commercial development. Deltic Timber Corp., one of the largest developers in the state, picked up 12,000 acres and hopes to develop upscale subdivisions along the slopes and valleys above the lake.

Central Arkansas Water, which owns the lake and the water system, worries about the corruption of the water supply if intense development along the shores and in the watershed occurs. It has happened in many cities. CAW has been battling Deltic for four years and succeeded in blocking legislation that would have prevented the utilities, the cities and the county from ever exercising any control over land use in the watershed. But the developers may get their way anyway.

The utility’s watershed planning committee developed a watershed plan, but it has been waylaid on its way to the Pulaski County Quorum Court. Deltic had major amendments attached to the plan to allow far more dense development than the committee first intended. The plan originally would have allowed the development of some 6,000 to 7,000 new homes in the 79,000-acre watershed in three counties, but the amendments have raised that, by one analysis, to about 36,000 homes, or a population of 91,000. That would be a city of about the combined size of North Little Rock and Jacksonville draining its residue into the water supply.

The Central Arkansas Water Board and the County Planning Board have signed off on the revised plan, although they had reservations. Groups interested in protecting the future water supply, mainly Citizens to Protect the Maumelle Watershed, oppose the plan. They have been joined by people on the other side—way on the other side, those who want little or no regulation of land use.

They include tea-party groups across the state and Americans for Prosperity, the lobbying arm of the Koch brothers, the oil and gas billionaires who oppose government regulation of anything at any level. The Farm Bureau has thrown in with them and denounced the already neutered zoning ordinance, calling the claim of water-quality protection a subterfuge for a plot to stop growth. The Farm Bureau actually wants the taxpayers of the county to pave all the dirt roads in the Maumelle watershed, which would enhance the development.

Republicans on the quorum court are supposed to be preparing a remedy that would meet the demands of the foes of all land planning.

So the practical choices now seem to be a badly flawed ordinance that would permit dense development that will degrade the water of our children and grandchildren, or something perhaps much worse. This Hobson’s choice does not entertain the needs of 400,000-plus people and their descendants, but it is how the world works today.

The only rational voice seems to be that of the League of Women Voters, which says adopt the flawed ordinance as the best that is possible at the moment and then work to somehow strengthen it some day. We would hazard the forlorn guess that any future changes would be in the direction of dirtier, not cleaner, water. That also is how the world works today.

TOP STORY >> Academy to lose charter

Leader staff writer

The Beebe School Board on Monday approved dropping Badger Academy’s state charter.

Badger Academy, an alternative learning education school since 2007, will no longer be a conversion charter school but will continue to be in the school district and serve at-risk youth.

Assistant superintendents Scott Embrey and Rick Duff explained that the change is needed because the state has instituted an accountability requirement for such small schools, which the district cannot meet.

Badger Academy may have four to five at-risk students in a grade level who are tested on the Benchmark exams. Poor test scores have put the school in its second year on the school improvement list. Embrey said Benchmark scores are usually based on at least 40 students in a grade level at a school.

With the change, Badger Academy’s seventh- and eighth-grade students’ test scores will now be included with Beebe Junior High School scores. Badger Academy’s ninth through 12-grade students’ test scores will be part of Beebe High Schools’ results.

In other business, John McMorran with Lewis Architects Engineers presented a preliminary artist’s rendering of the new $3.6 million middle school in McRae to the Beebe School Board on Monday.

The two-story school will be 25,000 square feet built on the middle school property. Construction is set to begin in the summer. The state is providing 63-percent of the funding for the building.

The middle school will have a 4,200 square-foot tornado shelter. The cost of the safe room is $882,000. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding $659,950 and the district is paying $222,050.

A new drive connecting Hwy. 13 to the middle school will help improve traffic flow.

Also on Monday night, three adult students received their high school diplomas at the board meeting after completing graduation requirements through the Second Chance program at Badger Academy. Keith Madden, director of alternative learning education programs and principal of Badger Academy, presented the diplomas.

According to Madden, Jessica Presley dropped out in 2010 during the second semester of her senior year. Presley wanted to go to college and learned about Second Chance.

She started the program in January, completing three credits of math, English and world history, which she needed to graduate.

She finished in the fall and will attend Arkansas State University-Beebe in January.

Nick Mason would have graduated in the May. He needed a half credit of 11th-grade English, a half credit of 12th- grade English and a credit of world history. With the Second Chance program, he was able to complete the credits needed to earn his diploma. Mason is enlisted in the Army.

Chase Weatherly only needed a half credit of world history to graduate. Weatherly could not accept his diploma in person because he left Sunday for Texas to work for a pipeline company.

Madden said 11 people have earned diplomas from Beebe since the program began four years ago.

The program is for 18- to 21-year-olds needing to complete credits hours for graduation.

Students interested in earning their diploma through the program can contact 501-882-8413. The program starts again in January.

In other action, the board approved purchasing a new $25,501 electronic sign from Ace Sign Company to replace the 10-year-old electronic sign that broke. Parts for the sign are obsolete.

The sign will have up to 68 colors with animation. It will show time, temperature and messages.

It will be installed inside the old sign enclosure along West Center Street.

Board members approved the purchase of the Pruett’s property on Lemon Street for $55,000. The property is about a half-acre. It is located in the middle of the district’s property.

The board approved selling four vehicles in need of repairs: a 1991 and a 1993 66-passenger buses, a 1987 Ford F-350 truck and a 1995 Chevy Lumina. If interested in the vehicles, contact assistant superintendent Hal Crisco.

TOP STORY >> Support ministry helps patients

Leader staff writer

When Faith Baptist Church of Cabot began its Faith Support Ministry and Keep the Faith Foundation for Kids with Cancer, members discovered what patients need most: Encouragement and financial assistance.

Faith Support Ministry, founded in 2004, is a program geared toward adults diagnosed with cancer. It has served 545 families and raised $32,758.

Keep the Faith was founded in 2007 in memory of three children, Dakota Hawkins, Jazlyn Ferguson and Caleb Sims. Dakota inspired everyone with his constant reminder to keep the faith.

Keep the Faith was also established to serve children diagnosed with cancer after the program’s leaders realized families dealing with a child struggling with the disease had different dynamics and different needs from those served by Faith Support Ministry.

Keep the Faith has served 112 families and raised $81,409.

“One difference between them (the programs) was that we realized one of the greatest burdens on those families is the financial burden because one parent has to quit their job to stay home to take care of the child,” said director Elaine Moran.

The primary purpose of both programs is to nurture patients spiritually.

The main way volunteers help adult patients through Faith Support Ministry is with handmade encouragement cards.

“When we first started doing this, I never imagined we would hear back from people. An amazing thing happened. We started getting back a lot of responses from people we were sending cards to. The people who have sent cards have formed relationships with those people. That has been very, very special. It’s been such a blessing that we didn’t anticipate. We were so blessed by the ministry and the people we were supporting,” Moran said.

When someone gives the group a name, volunteers send the patient a care package that includes a lap-sized monogrammed blanket, a “Psalms of Encouragement” CD and a letter telling recipients who gave the ministry their name.

The letter also says volunteers hope the blanket will keep them warm and remind them that they are being prayed for.

The blanket features patients’ first names, the words “Faith Support Ministry” so they know the gift giver and a verse from the Bible: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

After the package is sent, a volunteer is assigned to send them the cards.

Moran said divine intervention has helped the group’s programs, explaining that in one instance she was late getting a care package sent off.

The son of the patient called and said the package arrived at just the right time. He and his father were driving home from a doctor’s appointment, and his father kept saying he needed a blanket. When they arrived home, the package was in the mail, and the blanket was the perfect size.

Moran shared some quotes from e-mails she has received about the programs.

One e-mail said, “Please convey to everyone in the ministry how vital and important it is to us. You are doing amazing work.”

Another e-mail read, “You joined us through the power of prayer as we struggled, cried, gave up on, feared, hoped and faced the next climb on this mountain. Thank you for the cards that helped lighten our burden. Please never stop praying.”

The program has helped families to provide a good Christmas, but it does not have annual holiday events, other than volunteers sending patients Christmas cards.

One major fundraiser is held each year for the programs.

The Keep the Faith community and statewide Pennies From Heaven Fundraiser kicks off in March.

The Faith Support Ministry 5K is held on the first day of CabotFest. This year, special teams participated to support a specific patient with special needs so that every $15 out of $20 went to that patient. $7,200 was awarded after the event.

Other efforts to generate financial assistance for families include Keep the Faith’s annual Hallelujah Harmony Quartet concert.

The foundation also receives money from fundraising by the ROTC, Cabot Cruisers car show, Jacksonville/Cabot Real Estate Council, Kiwanis Club of Cabot and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Michael W. Ray Post No. 4548.

Faith Support Ministry hosts the annual Faith Support Ministry Christmas gift and craft fair and is funded by memorial donations, honorariums and private donations.

SPORTS >> Cabot tops Benton for first place in tourney

Leader sportswriter

There are several added advantages to the new Panther Arena.

Perhaps one of those advantages for Cabot coach Jerry Bridges is the power of clairvoyance.

After all, he did correctly predict senior J.D. Brunett’s wild three-pointer outburst in the third quarter of the Panthers’ 59-34 clubbing of Benton in the championship game of the Cabot Pre-holiday Basketball Tournament on Saturday.

Brunett went to the locker room at halftime with six points off of three field goals, but finished the game with 21 points – 12 of which came from three pointers, and three more from a trip to the line after being fouled while trying to hit another in the third quarter to help the Panthers pull away even further from their comfortable 36-16 halftime lead.

“Yeah, it’s funny, we were walking down our hallway to go do our pregame there in the classroom,” Bridges said. “And J.D. made the comment, ‘I haven’t made a three here yet – I’m 0 for 10,’ or whatever. And I said, ‘Ah, J.D., I just look at that as you’re due, son. And he was due.

“When he makes one, we try to set him up real quick, because he can bust off three or four in a row before you blink, and that’s what happened.”

Brunett’s first three at the 6:02 mark of the third quarter put Cabot up 39-20 and his second just over a minute later made it 42-22. He struck a third time with 4:23 left in the third before drawing a foul on his next attempt. Brunett hit all three free throws to extend the lead to 48-23, and ended the quarter with another long three at the buzzer to give the Panthers an insurmountable 53-26 lead.

That left Cabot in need of four more points to activate the continuous clock for the sportsmanship/timing mercy rule, which it got from two inside baskets by senior guard Arthur West to give the Panthers a 57-26 lead with 7:11 left to play.

“Never in my dreams did I expect that,” Bridges said. “Benton’s a good team, and I think it’s more of a factor that we played one of our better games. I don’t think they played one of their better games, but I think we had a little to do with it.”

Cabot established its fast pace early, and also showed off its depth with two separate squads which split playing time essentially down the middle. The starting group of Brunett, West, Adam Rock, Sam Howe and Justin McMahan gave way to Bryan Shrum, Ryan Stafford, Michael Smith, Clayton Vaught and Josiah Wymer with 3:36 left to play in the first quarter, and again at the 3:35 mark of the second quarter.

The third-quarter switch happened in the middle of Brunett’s hot streak, which kept Stafford on the bench as Bridges allowed Brunett to finish out the frame.

“When we’re working in those groups, all 10 of them believe in defense,” Bridges said. “And we’re going to play tough on the defensive end, and I thought we did that.”

The first group pushed the Panther lead to 24-15 in the second quarter before the next group outscored Benton 12-1 during the remainder of the half. Benton kept itself in the game early with offensive rebounding and a number of second-chance shots before Cabot’s defensive pressure took away many first looks for the other Panther team.

“What we tried to do was stop their leak outs,” Bridges said. “They like to bust out. They want you to play fast, and what we tried stress to them before the game was to not get in a hurry. We want to attack their pressure, but look for the open spots to pass over, and let’s see if we can get a high-percentage shot.”

West added eight points for the Panthers.

Howe and McMahon led the way the night before with 10 points each as the Panthers clobbered Searcy 52-20.

The 6-0 Panthers have played impressive team basketball since the first game, and continue to show improvement.

“That’s just good chemistry,” Bridges said. “I mean, it’s nothing I’ve done. They’re just really blue-collar kids who aren’t afraid to work hard. They take their coaching and, man, I love them.

“I’m telling you, back in April, we weren’t a very good team. And they just kept working hard and kept getting better and better. Heck, we’re becoming a pretty decent team I think now.”

SPORTS >> Devils take third at Conway

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils are finished with their early-season experimenting. Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner was trying to utilize some players in different positions to an attempt to add diversity to an already talented lineup in preparation of the grueling 6A East conference schedule. After losing for the second time this season on Friday the experiment is over.

Jacksonville (6-2) bounced back from that loss to Fayetteville in the semifinal round of the Wampus Cat Invitational in Conway by beating the host team 56-48 on Saturday to take third place. With a home game against North Pulaski, a showcase at Hall and the Red Devil Classic left before conference play begins, the Red Devils will go back to putting players where they are more naturally suited.

“Now that we’ve seen the teams in the league and everybody running the speed press, we’re going back to letting the guards handle the ball,” Joyner said.

Joyner has experimented with letting some of his natural post players move out to play a guard position.

“That’s all it was,” Joyner said after the tournament. “Mainly we were trying to get a couple of post players to learn the three for the games against teams with big guards. It’s just not panning out so we’re going to go back to how we’ve been doing it, putting the ball in the hands of the guys that are used to handling it.”

Jacksonville led Fayetteville 35-28 with four minutes left in the third quarter last Friday and appeared to be in control of the game. The Bulldogs, who had a size advantage over the Red Devils, who usually enjoy that advantage, began pressuring. Jacksonville did not respond well to the pressure and did not score again until it trailed 40-35 with five minutes left in the game.

As time wound down, Jacksonville began fouling and was able to force overtime.

Fayetteville helped out by missing the front end of three-straight one-and-one free-throw attempts. Jacksonville made them pay by hitting two big three pointers that erased a six-point deficit.

In overtime, it was rebounding that led Fayetteville to victory. The Bulldogs dominated on the boards the entire fourth quarter and overtime, but it was the last one that sealed it.

The Bulldogs missed two free throws with the game tied and seconds remaining, but 6 feet, 9 inch Malik Fields, who finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds, got the rebound and putback with .5 seconds on the clock.

“We had a game plan that made us able to move at least one of their big men out of the paint so we could get some rebounds,” Joyner said. “When we got down we got a little desperate and couldn’t run the plays we were running to get those big boys out of there.”

Conway tried to pressure Jacksonville as well, but the Devils handled it much better than it did in its two losses.

“In the Conway game we didn’t have the turnovers because we had guys handling the ball that were used to handling it,” Joyner said.

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers cruise to Pre-Holiday championship

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers christened their new gymnasium in dominant fashion by winning their own Cabot Pre-Holiday Basketball Tournament with a 73-52 victory over Nettleton in the championship game at Panther Arena on Saturday.

The Lady Panthers (5-2) made quick work of Searcy the night before in the semifinal round. Earlier in the week they handled Harding Academy 66-46.

Focusing their attention to a Lady Raiders team that proved able to run the floor with Cabot at times, the host team’s full-court defensive pressure was all that was needed to turn a potentially close game into a one-sided affair.

“I thought we played a lot better defensively,” Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder said. “We just have to continue to be strong and rebound, and to stop dribble penetration. I thought toward the end, we did a better job of that.”

Senior utility player Melissa Wolff led the way for the Lady Panthers with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five steals while junior Taylor Elliot added 13 points and nine rebounds.

Elliot gave Cabot an early 5-1 lead with repeated trips to the foul line in the first two minutes. She missed the back end of her first attempt but was otherwise spot on, and got her first field goal moments later with a slashing jumper in the lane with an assist from senior post player Laci Boyett to put Cabot up 7-4.

It turned out to be a night of committee scoring for the Lady Panthers as point guard Jaylin Bridges also found her touch from the outside for 11 points. Boyett turned in another gritty inside performance and finished with 12 points, but the hard-nosed play of the night belonged to 5-4 senior guard Micah Odom, who gave three quarters of tough defensive play before finding her way to the rim in the fourth quarter for seven points.

“She always does a good job,” Crowder said. “She’s just such a battler and a hard worker. It’s a real pleasure to coach her.”

Wolff left few areas of the new court untouched as she used Cabot’s press to pick up quick steals that she converted herself or dished to open teammates in transition. Her three-pointer at the 5:24 mark of the first quarter gave the Lady Panthers a 12-4 lead before Ally Van Enk scored to give Cabot its first double-digit lead.

Nettleton kept pace with Cabot for the most part in the opening quarter but was not finding the same shot selection. The Lady Raiders did make a run early in the second quarter to cut the lead to 28-27 with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter. That turned out to be the closest they would come, however, as the Lady Panthers dialed up a stifling press that held Nettleton to two points for the remainder of the half.

Boyett scored with a putback under the goal at the 2:25 mark to make it 30-27 off a steal by Wolff, who was the beneficiary of the next turnover when Sydney Wacker stole the ball at midcourt and found Wolff headed toward the goal to make it 34-27. Wacker scored inside off a Wolff miss with 1:34 left to play before Nettleton scored to end the half.

Boyett led the Lady Panthers the night before in their 50-25 semifinals victory over Searcy with 13 points while Wolff and Bridges each added 10 points. Odom had six points while sophomore Britnee Broadway led the Lady Lions with 13 points.

The Lady Panthers are now 3-0 in the new Panther Arena after sweeping the tournament.

“This is just awesome – great facility,” Crowder said. “We’re so proud to be here. We’re happy to win this tournament, and to win in our own facility the first week we opened it, it’s exciting for us. And our kids enjoy playing in here.”

SPORTS >> Bulldogs too Strong for Carlisle

Leader sports staff writers

Carlisle’s mascot is the Bison, but it was a Bulldog that thundered downhill throughout the class 2A state championship game Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. Strong’s Kenneth Dixon turned in a record-setting performance as the Bulldogs beat Carlisle 45-20.

The Bison weren’t full strength in the second half. A controversial play knocked senior starting quarterback Zac King out of the game with less than a minute left in the first half and his team threatening to score. Strong held a 16-point lead at the time, and went on to win 45-20, relegating Carlisle to runner up for the fifth time.

The Bison (13-1) had first and goal after the late hit on King, but fumbled it on two of the next three plays, losing the second fumble and all the momentum they would have taken into halftime if they had been able to score.

Carlisle coach Scott Waymire doesn’t believe King’s departure was the difference between scoring and turning the ball over.

“We’re real fortunate to have Chris Hart,” Waymire said. “They’re both starting quarterbacks. Both of them could start for a lot of teams in the state. We didn’t pick up a blitzing linebacker. It’s just one of those things.”

King lined up at wide receiver for the second time in the game and made a 17-yard reception to the Strong 5-yard line. Dixon met King and forced him out of bounds at the end of the play, then grabbed King’s jersey, spun him around and flung him headlong into the concrete retaining wall that closes in on the sidelines near the end zones of War Memorial Stadium.

King was down for several minutes and ended up with a broken hand and missed the rest of the game. Dixon was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, but was not ejected from the game, despite pleadings for the Carlisle sidelines and fans.

Carlisle’s offense was still effective, but with King out of the game, was not effective enough to keep up with the unbelievable performance turned in by Dixon, who ran for a state championship game record 348 yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries.

Waymire still praised his team.

It’s a heartache I promise you,” Waymire said. It’s just one of those things, you can’t ever swallow it but I’m proud of the guys to accomplish this. A lot of young men dream of playing in the state championship game that never reach that dream and these guys did. It’s going to hurt for a while, but when they look back on it they know they had a tremendous senior year and a terrific year in 2011. I’m very proud of them and proud to be their football coach.

Strong coach Shane Davis was jubilant play, and that’s a heck of a football team over there. Our kids came out and played hard, and they were prepared.”

Carlisle hurt itself by committing three turnovers, two lost fumbles and an interception, inside the Strong 10-yard line.

It didn’t take long for Dixon to make a statement Saturday night. He ran 63 yards around the left tackle for a touchdown on the first play of the game. He also ran in the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs a quick 8-0 lead.

Not only did Dixon set the state championship game rushing record and tie the record for rushing touchdowns in a final, but a crowd of 4,688 watched as Dixon became the state’s single-season rushing leader.

The 5’11, 210-pound Dixon, who has verbally committed to Louisiana Tech, broke the single-season rushing record on a 35-yard run with 8:52 left in the game. He finished the season with 3,153 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns on 315 carries. On his sixth carry of the game, Dixon also became just the ninth player in state history to rush for 6,000 yards in a career.

“It feels great man, it feels great,” Dixon said after being asked how it felt to set the state rushing record. “I can’t thank my offensive line enough. Those guys work hard for me. They know that every time I score a touchdown it’s like them scoring a touchdown as well.”

Dixon assuredly would have set the record sooner if Strong hadn’t had two open dates on its regular season schedule.

“Ever since I was little my dad had me work on my game,” Dixon said. “It’s just something I grew up on. My dad taught me everything I know.”

Nettleton’s Derek Lawson set the previous single-season rushing record in 2006 when he ran for 3,090 yards and 36 touchdowns on 335 carries.

“I’m glad,” Davis said about Dixon setting the single-season rushing record. “We were wondering if he’d be able to do it knowing what kind of defense Carlisle has. They’ve shut down so many high-potent offenses, and we’ve wondered if he’d be able to do it, and I’m glad he did.”

Carlisle’s offense took a bit longer to move the ball as they gained their yards in small chunks. On fourth down of its first drive, Carlisle coach Scott Waymire called a successful fake punt when senior quarterback Zach King hauled in a 23-yard pass from punter Deric Herring.

Just four plays later, Carlisle turned the ball over on downs when Hart’s pass fell incomplete.

Strong capitalized on the Bison turnover as the Bulldogs went on an 86-yard on 11-play drive that ended with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dixon to junior wide receiver Jamarian Ford on the first play of the second quarter. The two-point conversion was no good and Strong led 14-0 with 11:52 left in the second quarter.

Carlisle’s offense managed to move the ball into Bulldog territory the following drive, but a Bison fumble resulted in another turnover. Strong’s offense was moving the ball as usual, but a few mishaps forced the Bulldogs into third and long.

On third down, Dixon’s pass was intercepted by sophomore defensive back Austin Reed. Two plays later, sophomore fullback Bo Weddle ran 44 yards for a Bison touchdown with 4:05 left in the half. The two-point conversion was no good after a fumble on a double handoff attempt.

Strong followed by going eight plays for 64 yards, capping off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Dixon with 0:55 left in the half. Lamar Williams punched in the two-point conversion to make the score 22-6.

Despite having less than a minute to work with, Carlisle moved the ball to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line when Hart hit King for the 17-yard reception that resulted in his game-ending injury.

Carlisle ended the drive on a fumbled snap that was covered by Strong linebacker Antonio Green and the score remained 22-6 going into the half.

Carlisle opened the third quarter with a 56-yard touchdown run by Weddle on the first play of the half. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Bison trailed 22-12.

On Strong’s first drive of the half, a clipping penalty threatened to thwart the Bulldogs’ momentum, but Dixon erased the bad play with his third touchdown run of the game. This one came from 40-yards out with 8:47 left in the third quarter. Williams ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 30-12.

Carlisle moved the ball deep into Bulldog territory yet again, but another turnover inside the Strong 10-yard line killed the drive. Hart’s pass was intercepted by Dixon, but the Carlisle defense got the ball back on downs. Carlisle got another shot but also couldn’t convert on fourth down.

Strong responded with another touchdown run from Dixon, this one from 39 yards. Arriun Gatson ran in the two-point conversion to give Strong a 38-12 lead with 1:33 left in the third quarter.

Another Bison turnover on downs resulted in a seven-play drive that ended with Dixon scoring his fifth and final touchdown of the night, this one from 27 yards. Williams kicked the extra point to make the score 45-12 with 6:42 left to play.

Carlisle answered with a nine-play drive that ended with Hart finding Herring for a four-yard touchdown pass. Hart ran in the two-point conversion with 4:37 left to set the final margin.

“At this point you go with what got you here,” Davis said. “There’s no reason to change anything now, and that’s what we did. We went with what got us here and it paid off.”

Strong (11-3) finished with 468 yards of offense with 393 of those yards coming on the ground. Carlisle finished with 382 yards of offense with 221 coming on the ground.

On top of Dixon’s 348 rushing yards, he completed four of nine passes for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Weddle led the Bison rushing attack with 166 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Hart completed 11 of 21 passes for 138 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Ty Vaughn led the Bison defensively with nine tackles, while Weddle finished with eight.