Friday, August 09, 2013

EDITORIAL>>Pryor finds his voice

The question of the summer is, What happened to Sen. Mark Pryor? Often accused of being a fence-sitter, the soft-spoken senator said not once but twice this week that he was very proud of his vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. One of those forums was the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries, the club of the state’s most powerful men, who if they are like their national counterpart opposed the law when it was being drafted in 2009 and 2010.

As everyone knows, the big health insurance reform law that Democrats enacted alone is widely despised or just resented in Arkansas and across the South and Midwest. Didn’t our own Sen. Blanche Lincoln get clobbered in 2010 partly for having not only voted for it but also helped write it? And didn’t Rep. Mike Ross, who wound up voting against it, hang up his spikes last year because the Republicans were going to tar him for merely being associated with the party and the president who enacted Obamacare?

Has Pryor lost his senses? Has his mind been captured by Dale Bumpers, who cast unpopular votes in the Senate for 24 years and then came home and explained them in ways that convinced people he had done exactly the right thing?

Maybe there is a simpler explanation: Mark Pryor decided to be a senator.

His actions were exactly what the Founders had in mind when they created two houses of Congress, which had to agree on the passage of laws. A lower house, in which members had to face the voters every other year, would be sensitive to politics and the contemporary mood of people. In the upper chamber, senators were expected to take the long view, put themselves above momentary passions and do what was best for the country. They were given six-year terms to encourage them to do what was best rather than what was momentarily popular.

It didn’t work for Lincoln, who faced election a few months after the law’s enactment. She came home to find that a massive advertising campaign by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the Republican Party and other groups had cast the law’s image in stone. They labeled it “Obamacare,” although the president had little hand in drafting it and it was modeled after the Republican health reform bill of the 1990s and a mandatory insurance law in Massachusetts that was the handiwork of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican candidate for president.

It was, we were told, going to slash people’s Medicare benefits, have the government determine the care people received, end the revered “doctor-patient relationship,” stop treatment of the elderly sick and drive up everyone’s taxes, medical costs and insurance premiums. None of it was actually true, but people were assured that it was all buried in the law if you looked hard enough for it.

Senator Lincoln thought it was beyond her poor ability to persuade voters that all of that was wrong, so she tried to change the subject to her work on behalf of Arkansas farmers, businessmen and children. Ross, who now is running for governor, tells Democrats that he came home to South Arkansas in 2010 to find that voters throughout his district didn’t know what the bill did but were terrified of it. He knew he couldn’t change their minds alone, so he felt he had no choice but to vote against it.

And there was Senator Pryor in the lion’s den at the State Chamber Thursday, answering a question about Obamacare. Like other laws, it is far from perfect and he has sponsored bills to make changes, he told the businessmen, but when it came time to vote on it he concluded firmly that it was the right thing for Arkansas. He is convinced of it now more than ever.

He reeled off the benefits Arkansas people have realized. Parents can keep their children on their health policies until they are 26; seniors are getting additional help with their drug bills every year as Obamacare closes the wretched “donut hole”; people no longer have to pay deductibles or copayments for cancer screenings or other preventive care; tens of thousands of Arkansans get rebate checks every year because insurance companies overcharged them.

Come Jan. 1, when the last of Obamacare is implemented, insurance companies will no longer deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions or curtail their coverage annually or for a lifetime because of acute illnesses, and up to 500,000 Arkansans will have access to affordable health insurance, most of them with substantial government help with the premiums. Arkansas hospitals have cheered the law as a lifesaver. The American Medical Association, the foe of government health insurance since 1935, endorsed it.

Pryor noted that the Arkansas legislature, including most Republicans, had jumped at implementing the central feature of Obamacare—the private insurance exchanges where people can shop for the best plan for their family, starting Oct. 1. He might have noted that economy-minded legislators are crowing about how the state government’s new approach to reimbursing providers is driving down the cost of Medicaid and private plans. No one dares to mention that it is a part of Obamacare.

Nationally, health-care inflation has flattened, unlike anything that has happened in 40 years.

Republicans, including Pryor’s 2014 opponent, are trying to prevent the final implementation in January. The reason is simple. When the election rolls around next year, no one will have to wonder how Obamacare might change their lives. They will know. That is the best thing Mark Pryor has going for him. But he will have to do it on his own. He made an encouraging start this week. —Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY>>Mayor covers concerns

Leader staff writer

Besides the wet-dry issue, what had Jacksonville residents most concerned at Tuesday’s town hall meeting was “When will Graham Road be finished?”

Mayor Gary Fletcher quipped, “I’ve been called every name in the book over this project.” But when pressed for a completion date, he and City Engineer Jay Whisker said “We don’t know for sure.”

Whisker explained the the largest portion of the job is finished and things should move faster now. He said that the contractor hoped to be done in November, but the contract allows construction to continue through April. Weather will be a big factor,” Whisker said.

Fletcher and volunteers pushing to gather signatures calling for a vote on the wet-dry issue oeganized the town-hall meeting. It was the second one the mayor held in three years and lasted more than 90 minutes.

In the meeting, the mayor touched on a number of issues and projects and publicly ended the long-running riff between him and the chamber of commerce.

The mayor and Roger Sundermeier, a member of the chamber’s executive board, unveiled a banner showing their commitment to work together. The banner took the city’s slogan “Soaring Higher,” and added the word “together” to it.

Fletcher told the crowd of about 175 that he called the meeting because of a lot of “misinformation” floating through the city about the wet-dry issue and other city projects.

First, he made it clear that going wet and allowing alcohol to be sold didn’t mean there would be a proliferation of shabby convenience stores selling liquor and, he said, “There will be no additional liquor stores.”

He also updated the crowd on the shooting range, the proposed veterans home, widening of Hwy. 67/167 and status of an independent school district.

“If you think the Graham Road work was a mess, you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait until work starts on Hwy. 67/167,” the mayor said. Fletcher told the crowd that plans were to make the freeway six lanes through Jacksonville and work would start probably start early next year on the Redmond Road and Main Street overpasses.

The mayor said the $3.5 million shooting range construction was moving slower than he had hoped, mostly because of wet weather. He was still shooting for a fall opening. “It will be the finest facility in the state and is already drawing interest from clubs and groups in Missouri, North Carolina, Illinois and Nebraska.”

He said the state’s youth sport shooting association had about 7,000 members. “This will be a great opportunity for local businesses,” he said. The shooting range is projected to inject at least $5 million into the area’s economy.

“Plus, Graham Road will be finished, I hope, and it’ll be a nice drive to the range,” the mayor added.

When it came to the school district, he held up a picture of the new Conway High School and said, “That’s what our high school will look like one day soon.”

With little elaboration, he claimed that good news doesn’t always get out and that there were a lot of good test scores from area schools. He said the new middle school principal was pushing hard for more parent involvement.

“I don’t know how much you can help, but take an hour a week and give it to our schools,” he said.

The mayor said the petition requesting a vote on Jacksonville getting its own school district is in the hands of the state attorney general right now. “The city has met all state requirements to form its own separate school district,” he said.

The mayor said that there will be challenges along the way, “We still need to have patience as it will take time.”

Once the attorney general approves the petition and other related paperwork, it will then be up to a federal judge to allow the election. Once the election is set, the vote has to be yes for the new school district and even then the “new” district will go through a transition period — it will still be under the control of the Pulaski County Special School District for two years.

“It’s all about making sure we have a solid foundation first,” the mayor said.

Fletcher said the city is obtaining the closed Jacksonville Elementary School from PCSSD, but he isn’t sure what the city will do with the property. There has been some talk about turning it into an arts center.

But some of the buildings are so dilapidated that they will be torn down, and others have asbestos. “The cafeteria and two other buildings are still in pretty good shape,” said resident Roberta McGrath.

The mayor said he’d like to use part of the property to build a loop off the Main Street overpass to bring more traffic to the area that was blighted by the overpass.

TOP STORY>>Remington expands in Lonoke

Leader staff writer

The Remington Arms ammunition plant in Lonoke held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for a $32 million, 35,000-square-foot building. The expansion project, the first since the plant opened in 1969, will enable the company to increase ammunition production.

Remington will add around 50 to 100 skilled positions, with current Remington employees having the first opportunity to apply. The first production run is scheduled for June 2014. Remington has more than 1,000 employees in the state.

Remington makes ammunition day and night. The plant is producing more than 40 million rounds of ammunition each week.

Plant manager Jim Grahl-mann said the future demand for ammunition looks strong. The investment will increase capacity to meet the demands in the market.

Lemons Engineering Con-sultants of Cabot and Burns and McDonnell of Kansas City are working on the expansion project.

Gov. Mike Beebe and Sen. Mark Pryor spoke to local officials, elected leaders and Remington employees during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Beebe said the state is extremely happy about the expansion and the jobs will continue to stay and grow in the state.

“In our quest to attract new business, in our efforts to bring new industry, as we strive to provide new opportunities with new partners, we must never forget the ones we already have. Too many times we see people in other parts of the country, we see our sister states that forget to, as notorious Texas coach Darrell Royal use to say, ‘Dance with the one that brung us.’”

“We want to ensure we don’t forget our long-standing corporate citizens, who have been employers and contributors to our economy over some lengthy period of time,” he said.

“It is so much easier to expand existing businesses than it is to create new ones. It is so much more loyal to remember your friends that have invested with you over the years than to ignore them as you try to chase some new suitor,” Beebe said.

“This is an example of progress by a long-standing corporate partner in the state of Arkansas who we never forget and will never forget. Manufacturing has been outsourced in many places. While the emphasis is of the new jobs of tomorrow — high-tech opportunities and research and development — Arkansas never gives up on the cornerstone that made America great. That is manufacturing,” Beebe said.

“If you can’t make stuff as a people, you’ve got a problem. We can make things in America with the best of them,” the governor added.

Beebe said incentives, geography, logistic and infrastructure are important, but the most important factor in a location of a business is the quality of the workforce. He credited the employees for the expansion.

Sen. Mark Pryor said, “Fall is a great hunting season in Arkansas. Shortly various seasons open and people like me will take their son hunting.”

He said hunters will go out with friends. It is a part of the culture in the state.

“When I’m out there hunting this fall and winter months, I’ll be using a Remington product. I have a Remington shotgun and always buy Reming-ton shells. This is because of you all. This state is very proud of Remington. We’re proud of what you do here. Proud of what you stand for. Proud of your confidence in us, and we really appreciate it,” Pryor continued.

“I think everyone here thinks Remington made the right choice to invest once again in Arkansas. They know here in Arkansas we have a great climate to do business. The workforce is key to that,” Pryor said.

“We in Arkansas are committed to good jobs for our people and we are committed to having manufacturing in our state. It’s something we are proud of and believe in and that is one of things I constantly fight for in Washington. I’m looking forward to the next expansion,” Pryor said.

After the groundbreaking ceremony, Pryor toured the plant with operations manager Roger Lynch. The senator saw how ammunition was made from start to finished product and packaged. He also shook hands and spoke with employees as they were working on the factory lines.

“It was great. I toured the plant eight years ago. It’s busy here,” Pryor said.

George Kollitides, chief executive officer of Freedom Group that owns Remington, said during the ceremony the plant expansion was “about Lonoke, it’s about the people here and the great workforce we have here.”

He said Remington has received a lot of support from local representatives and the chamber of commerce.

Lonoke Chamber of Com-merce director John Garner said, “We know Remington is going to be here. This investment solidifies the future for them and Lonoke.”

Garner said the expansion “brings in new, higher-paying jobs and enables Remington to catch up on orders they are behind on. It’s a big boost for the economy not only in Lonoke but central Arkansas.”

The expansion may also help ease the shortages of ammunition on store shelves and backorders caused by high demand from consumers.

Cabot Police Department spokesman Sgt. Keith Graham told The Leader, “We are having trouble getting it, and we’re a police agency. All the manufacturers are short-handed.”

“We ordered ammo in the beginning of spring and are not sure if we will have enough ammunition for qualifications and practice in the fall,” Graham said.

Graham said the ammunition shortage does not affect daily police duties, only training.

According to an article posted on the National Shooting Sports Foundation website, the shortage of ammunition is caused by strong consumer demand that manufacturers are unable to meet. The article said demand is being fueled by the “prevalence of scare-mongering rumors on the Internet.”

TOP STORYS>>Tests show strengths, weak spots

Leader staff writer

This is the first in a series examining Benchmark scores.

A disturbing trend ap-peared on the recently released Benchmark exams for third through fifth graders — the number of students failing the test increased sevenfold across the state.

That trend held true for the local area with nearly one-fourth of the students scoring below basic on the math portion of the test.

But there were positive exceptions to that trend — especially at Mountain Springs and Stagecoach elementaries in Cabot and two area charter schools — and nearly all schools did better in literacy than math.

In literacy, the trend was the opposite, with many third graders struggling, but the percentage improving through the fifth grade.

The third graders at Lisa Academy North were the best in the area in math and among the top in the state with all 46 students scoring proficient or advanced.

They were closely followed by students at Searcy’s Westside Elementary and Cabot’s Magness Creek. At those schools, 96 percent of the students scored proficient or better.

On average, 90 percent of Cabot’s third graders, across that district, are proficient or advanced in math.

Students receive one of four grades on the annual state- mandated exam that is used to rate students, teachers, schools and districts.

A student may receive a score of advanced, which is similar to an A, meaning he or she is working well above grade level. A student may also be proficient, roughly equivalent to a B and meaning the student is working on grade level.

A student may fall into the basic category, similar to a C, meaning the student can’t do grade level work without some help or assistance.

A student in the below basic category is working well under grade level and needs a lot of help to accomplish grade level work, closely related to a D.

Among fourth graders, the best in math in the area was Mountain Springs in Cabot, where out of 73 students, 97 percent were proficient or advanced and none were below basic. Stagecoach Elementary was right behind with 96 percent of its 95 fourth graders scoring proficient or better.

In fifth grade, the top math scores were lower. The best in the area was Cabot Middle School North at 85 percent proficient or better in math. It was followed by Cabot Middle School South and Bayou Meto Elementary in the Pulaski County Special School District. Both of those schools had 84 percent of its students make the grade.


The literacy benchmark tests a student’s ability to read, write and understand grammar at grade level. The best schools in the area in the literacy category were the third graders at Mountain Springs Elementary in Cabot and the fifth graders at the Jacksonville Lighthouse Upper Academy. Both schools had 96 percent score proficient or better.

Besides Mountain Springs, other third grade groups doing well were Lisa Academy North at 95 percent proficient or better and Searcy’s Westside Elementary where 94 percent made the cut.

At the fourth-grade level, 94 percent of the students at Cabot’s Eastside and Mountain Springs Elementary schools score proficient or better in literacy, followed by Sylvan Hills Elementary where 93 percent of the students made the cut.

After the Jacksonville Charter Upper Academy fifth graders, it was Southwest Middle School in Searcy and Cabot Middle School South at 92 percent proficient or advanced.

On the other side, PCSSD’s Warren Dupree, Harris and Pinewood elementaries had less than 50 percent of its students score proficient or advanced in math. Worse yet, Harris had almost twice as many score below basic than proficient or better.

Warren Dupree had 31 percent at below basic, Cato and Murrell Taylor Elementary schools were at 23 percent below basic, Pinewood and Sylvan Hills elementaries had 22 percent fail and Tolleson was at 21 percent.

In fourth grade, the worst math scores were posted at Warren Dupree where 65 percent of the students scored proficient or better, but 14 percent were below basic and Harris Elementary, where 61 percent made the grade, but 19 percent faltered.

At the third grade level in math, Pinewood and Warren Dupree had the lowest percent of students scoring proficient or advanced.

In literacy, Harris and Warren Dupree elementaries had the lowest percentage of third graders passing the test at 67 percent.

Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter third graders were just a point better with 68 percent scoring proficient or better.

Among fourth graders, Lisa Academy North was the only school in the area below the 70 percent mark in literacy. Out of its 48 fourth graders only 68 percent scored proficient or advanced.

At the fifth-grade level, less than half of Harris Elementary students made the cut. Just 45 percent of its 44 fifth graders scored proficient or better.

The next lowest was Cato elementary — 35 points higher with 70 percent of its students scoring proficient or better.

Here are results by grades:


In Beebe, 139 third-graders took the test at Beebe Elementary. In math, 85 percent were proficient or better, while four percent were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent made the cut, while 8percent were below basic. At Badger Elementary, 119 took the test and 83 percent were proficient or better in math, while 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 76 percent of the little Badgers made the cut, while 13 percent were below basic.

In Searcy, out of 93 Sidney Deener students 75 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 3 percent faltered. In literacy, 73 percent made the cut, while 12 percent were below basic. Out of 111 Searcy McRae Elementary students, 84 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 3 percent were below basic.

In literacy, 87 percent made the cut, while 7 percent faltered. At Westside Elementary 96 percent of the 98 students taking the math Benchmark scored proficient or better, just 1 percent were below basic. In literacy, 94 percent were proficient or better, while 4 percent were below basic.

In Lonoke, 82 percent of the third graders scored proficient or advanced in math, while 4 percent were below basic. In literacy, 71 percent were proficient or better, while 11 percent faltered.

At England Elementary, 92 percent scored proficient or better and 5 percent were below basic in math. In literacy, 73 percent made the cut and 15 percent were below basic.

In Carlisle, 92 percent of third graders scored proficient or better in math. There were none in the below basic category. In literacy, 79 percent made the cut and 8 percent were below basic.

In Cabot, Eastside Ele-mentary had 91 percent proficient or better and one percent below basic in math. In literacy, 89 percent made the cut and 6 percent were below basic.

At Central Elementary, 83 percent were proficient or better in math, while 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 84 percent made the cut, while 9 percent were below basic.

At Westside Elementary 87 percent did well in math with no students in the below-basic category. In literacy, 78 percent made the cut and 7 percent were below basic.

Southside had 91 percent score proficient or advanced in math and none below basic. The school was at 85 percent proficient or better n literacy and had 6 percent below basic. Northside saw 82 percent of its students do well in math and 6 percent score below basic. In literacy, 81 percent did well, while 11 percent were below basic.

Ward Central had 92 percent proficient or better in math and 2 percent below basic. In literacy, 85 percent made the cut and 6 percent were below basic.

Magness Creek had 96 percent proficient and none below basic in math. The school had 93 percent proficient or better in literacy and just 1 percent faltered.

At Stagecoach, 93 percent of the students did well in math and one percent scored below basic. In literacy, 89 percent were proficient or better, while three percent were below basic. Mountain Springs had 92 percent make the cut and 2 percent below basic in math. It had 96 percent, the best in the district, score proficient or better in literacy and 2 percent at below basic.

In PCSSD, Bayou Meto had 84 percent of its third graders score proficient or better in math and 3 percent were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well and 12 percent were below basic. Clinton Elementary had 82 percent proficient or better in math with 4 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent did well and 7 percent were below basic.

At Warren Dupree, 69 percent scored well while 6 percent were below basic in math. The school had 67 percent score proficient or better in literacy and 18 percent below basic.

At Harris, 74 percent did well in math and 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 67 percent were proficient or better while 13 percent faltered.

Tolleson had 84 percent proficient or better in math and 2 percent in the below basic category. For literacy, 70 percent scored well while 20 percent were below basic.

Sherwood Elementary had 91 percent proficient or better and none below basic in math. It had 74 percent score well in literacy and seven percent below basic.

Sylvan Hills had 92 percent proficient or better in math and none in the below basic category. In literacy, 79 percent did well and 6 percent were below basic.

At Cato, 90 percent of the students did well and 2 percent were below basic in math. In literacy, 80 percent scored proficient or better, while 5 percent faltered. Pinewood had 68 percent make the cut in math and 7 percent below basic. While in literacy, 70 percent did well and 15 percent were below basic.

Arnold Drive Elementary had 93 percent score well in math and 2 percent below basic. It had 91 percent do well in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

At Oakbrooke, 82 percent scored proficient or better in math and none were below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well but 5 percent were below basic. Murrell Taylor had 76 percent score well on math and none in the below basic category. It had 77 percent score proficient or better in literacy and 10 percent were below basic.

Lisa Academy North had 100 percent of its third graders score proficient or advanced in math. In literacy, it was 95 percent doing well and 4 percent below basic.

The Jacksonville Charter School had 88 percent do well in math, but 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 84 percent made the grade and 2 percent faltered.


Beebe Elementary had 93 percent of its fourth graders score proficient or advanced on the math Benchmark an one percent score below basic. On the literacy exam, 93 percent also did well and 1 percent was below basic.

At Badger Elementary it was 92 percent proficient or better and 1 percent below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

At Searcy’s Southwest Middle School, 86 percent of the 323 fifth graders scored proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well with 3 percent below basic.

In Lonoke, 72 percent scored proficient or better on math and 10 percent were below basic. On literacy, 79 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Out of 51 England Elem-entary fourth graders, 74 percent were proficient or better while eight percent were below basic. In literacy, 76 percent did well and 8 percent were below basic.

Among Carlisle students, 87 did well in math and 2percent were below basic. The school had 92 percent proficient or better in literacy with none in the below basic category.

At Cabot’s Eastside Ele-mentary, 89 percent were proficient or advanced in mat and 2 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Central Elementary had 87 percent do well in math and 5 percent at below basic. The school had 94 percent proficient or better in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

Westside students were 85 percent proficient or better in math and 6 percent scored below basic. In literacy, 93 percent were proficient or better while 1 percent was below basic.

At Southside, 92 percent scored well in math, while 2 percent falter. The school had 95 percent make the cut in literacy and 3 percent ended at below basic. Northside students were 87 percent proficient or better in math while 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 86 percent made the cut and 5 percent were below basic.

Ward Central was 84 percent proficient or advanced in math with 8 percent below basic. For literacy, the school was 79 percent proficient or better and had no one score below basic.

At Magness Creek, 91 percent made the cut in math and there was no one below basic. In literacy, 90 scored proficient or better and there were no students below basic.

No one scored below basic in math or literacy at Stagecoach Elementary. In math it was 97 percent proficient or better and 94 percent in literacy.

Mountain Springs had 97 percent proficient or advanced in math and none below basic. In literacy, it was 94 percent proficient with one percent below basic.

Out of the 48 students at Lisa Academy North, 75 percent made the cut in math and 10 percent were below basic. In literacy, just 68 percent were proficient or better and 6 percent were below basic.

Jacksonville Lighthouse was 88 percent proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent did well and 2 percent faltered.

In PCSSD, Bayou Meto students were 88 percent proficient or advanced in math with 2 percent below basic. In literacy, 82 percent made the cut and 4 percent were below basic.

At Clinton Elementary, 79 percent were proficient or better in math and 5 percent below basic. The school had 86 percent do well in literacy and 2 percent below basic.

Warren Dupree was 65 percent proficient or advanced in math with 14 percent below basic. In literacy, 80 percent did well and 5 percent faltered.

Harris Elementary was at 61 percent proficient or better in math with 17 percent below basic. In literacy, 75 percent made the grade, while 6 percent were below basic.

Tolleson students were 88 percent proficient or better in math with 6 percent below basic. The school had 86 percent of its students make the cut in literacy while 6 percent faltered.

Sherwood Elementary was 74 percent proficient or advanced in math with six percent below basic. In literacy, it was also 74 percent proficient or better with 3 percent below basic. Sylvan Hills had 84 percent make the cut in math and 3 percent score below basic. For literacy, 93 percent did well and 2 percent were below basic.

Cato Elementary had 79 percent make the cut in math while 6 percent were below basic. In literacy it was 80 percent proficient or better with 4 percent below basic. Pinewood had 72 percent at proficient or better in math and 4 percent below basic. The school had 84 percent make the cut in literacy and none scored below basic. Arnold Drive was 78 percent proficient or better in math but 6 percent were below basic. In literacy, 90 percent did well and 3 percent faltered.

Oakbrooke had 86 percent proficient or better in math and 6 percent below basic. In literacy, 88 percent made the cut and 6 percent faltered.

Murrell Taylor had 75 percent make the grade in math while 13 percent were below basic. The school was 74 percent proficient or better in literacy with 3 percent below basic.


Fifth graders struggled mathematically almost across the board but did much better in literacy.

Out of 229 Beebe Middle School fifth graders, 60 percent were proficient or advanced in math, while 18 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent made the cut, while 3 percent faltered.

At Searcy’s Southwest Middle School, 79 percent did well in math and 10 percent were below basic. For literacy, 92 percent were proficient or better and just 2 percent below basic.

Only 56 percent of Lonoke Elementary students were proficient or better in math and 12 percent were below basic. The school had 81 percent do well in literacy and 5 percent scored below basic.

In England, 62 percent of the fifth graders scored proficient or advanced, while 19 percent were below basic. In literacy, 74 percent made the cut, while 8 percent faltered.

Carlisle Elementary had 63 percent of its students do well in math, with 20 percent below basic. In literacy, 86 percent were proficient or better and 2 percent were below basic.

At Cabot Middle School South, 84 percent of the students scored proficient or better in math and 7 percent were below basic. The school had 92 percent proficient or better in literacy with 1 percent in the below basic range.

Cabot Middle School North was 85 percent proficient or better in math with 5 percent below basic. The school had 90 percent make the cut in literacy, while 2 percent were below basic.

Lisa Academy North had 76 percent make the cut in math while 8 percent were below basic. The school had 84 percent do well in literacy and 8 percent below basic.

Out of 49 fifth graders at Jacksonville Lighthouse Middle school, 78 percent scored proficient or better in math and 8 percent were below basic In literacy, the school’s students were 88 percent proficient or better and two percent were below basic.

At the Lighthouse Upper Academy, 81 percent did well in math and 7 percent were below basic.

Lighthouse Upper Acade-my hit 96 percent proficient or better in literacy with none below basic.

At PCSSD’s Bayou Meto, 64 percent did well in math, but 19 percent were below basic. In literacy, 83 percent were proficient or better with 4 percent below basic.

Clinton Elementary had 65 percent score proficient or better with 15 percent in the below basic range. The school was 82 percent proficient or better in literacy with 4 percent below basic.

At Warren Dupree, only 43 percent were proficient or better in math and 31 percent were below basic. But in literacy it jumped to 77 percent proficient or better with 4 percent below basic.

Harris had just 28 percent make the cut in math and 50 percent were below basic. In literacy, the school was 45 percent proficient or better with 18 percent below basic.

Tolleson had 71 percent make the grade in math, but 21 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and six percent faltered.

Sherwood Elementary fifth graders were 72 percent proficient or advanced in math, while 14 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and two percent were below basic.

Sylvan Hills had just 56 percent make the cut in math and had 22 percent in the below basic range. In literacy, 81 percent were proficient or better with none below basic.

Oakbrooke students were 73 percent proficient or better in math and 16 percent below basic. In literacy, 84 percent were proficient or advanced with 7 percent below basic.

Cato had 66 percent make the grade, but also had 23 percent score below basic. In literacy, 70 percent made the cut and 7 percent were below basic

At Pinewood, 48 students scored proficient or advanced in math and 22 percent were below basic. In literacy, 88 percent did well and just 2 percent were below basic.

Arnold Drive had 71 percent make the cut in math, but had 21 percent at below basic. In literacy, it had 79 percent proficient or advanced with 8 percent below basic.

At Murrell Taylor, 52 percent were proficient or better in math with 23 percent at below basic. In literacy, it jumped to 82 percent proficient or better with 2 percent scoring below basic.

SPORTS STORY>>Bears making fast start

Leader sportswriter

Numbers and experience are both in Sylvan Hills’ favor as the Bears enjoyed a solid first week of fall football practice. The group went from 6 am to 11 am all week, making for longer sessions compared to several other local teams. A total of 64 players, including 16 seniors, took to the practice field behind Sylvan Hills High School this week.

“I like what we’re doing, and I like our effort,” Bears coach Jim Withrow said. “We’ve retained a lot, and that’s good. We played all those sophomores and juniors, and we’re a little farther along than what we would be normally. The kids are doing well; they’ve done what we’ve asked of them. For the most part, we’ve come back in pretty good shape. When you’re doing stuff all summer, that’s kind of what happens.”

The only major obstacle for Withrow and the coaching staff this week has been the implementation of a new rule by the Arkansas Activities Association that states players cannot make full contact during the first week of fall football prac tice. The previous rule was three days with helmets only and no contact before full pads and contact on the fourth day. Pads are still permitted on the fourth day, but not contact.

“I’m trying to figure out who made that rule,” Withrow said. “We’ve hit all summer at team camp, so we’re going to take three days with T-shirt and shorts, I kind of get that, but then we’re going to put on shoulder pads and a helmet, and stand around and look at each other. I haven’t figured that out yet. I don’t really understand it, but whatever they want to do, we’ll go by the rules. I’m still trying to figure out who made that up. It obviously was someone who has never coached football.”

Junior quarterback Trajan Doss has performed well over the summer and has been given more responsibility from the coaches as one of seven returning offensive starters. Junior linebacker Kylan Wade has also had a good summer, while defensive ends Matt Thompson and Daniel Molden have also played well during the first week of fall. Withrow said junior Marlen Clemmons has played great during 7-on-7 days and team camps on both sides of the ball.

There is plenty of depth developing at most skill spots, but even with the improved numbers, finding an adequate number of linemen is still proving to be a task.

“We’re trying to develop some younger ones,” Withrow said. “We have five we like, and we’re trying to get to seven to help us out. That’s the one thing I’m very concerned about. I’m also concerned about pass defense, obviously, but we’re getting better every day at pass defense the more we play.

“The problem we’re having with linemen is that we’re simply short of them. If we get a lineman hurt, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

SPORTS STORY>>Locals big for UA women

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ women’s basketball team left Fayetteville on Thursday for Italy and a 10-day trip of sightseeing plus three exhibition games against Italian professional teams.

“They are professional teams but they are not the Italian National team,” Razorbacks coach Tom Collen said of the opponents’ caliber. “We want to enjoy the tour and see the sights and we look forward to playing the games and rolling these kids out there and giving them a chance to play and roll out in the fall with a head start.”

Six freshmen, including nationally heralded 6-3 forward Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville, will make their Arkansas debut on tour.

“She is probably the highest ranked player that they ever signed,” Collen said, going back to days of successful predecessor coaches Gary Blair, and John Sutherland. “It’s been so long ago I don’t know if Shameka Christon (the All-American from Hot Springs playing in the WNBA) and Ruby Vaden (of Osceola) were ranked as high as she was but they were very good out of high school. It is a big step for our program that we were able to keep a player of her caliber in state. She could have gone to anywhere in the country, Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas A&M … they all recruited her hard. They all offered her. But this is where she always wanted to be. We need her to step in and be impactful. She certainly has the talent. But she is a freshman and there is a learning curve for her, too, but there is an opportunity for her to play right away and I think she knows that. And my best guess is she is going to take advantage of that and make it happen.”

Jackson arrives as the Razorbacks lose their biggest post players, Sarah Watkins and Quistelle Williams, from last year’s team.

Their graduations, plus the transfer of sophomore starting guard Dominique Wilson to North Carolina, should make for another year of versatile 6-0 guard-forward Melissa Wolff of Cabot playing all over the court.

Wolff was used in spurts last season, sometimes extensively and sometimes very little.

“Her most difficult thing was we kept moving her all over the floor,” Collen said. “When Dominique Wilson emerged she lost minutes at the two. With Keira Peak (a returning senior starter) and Dominique Robinson (her career ended by injury) being juniors last year, she had difficulty getting minutes at the three. I think she is one of those veterans, even though only a sophomore, that has the opportunity to rise up and play a pretty important role for us. She is going to be everywhere from the off guard to the small forward to the high post. We like her versatility. She may eventually settle into one position but we think she gives us a lot of flexibility.”

Collen says Peak needs to consistently peak this season.

“Keira had moments where I would have voted her the SEC’s most outstanding player early in the year,” Collen said. “But this is her time and she has got to step up consistently. We need her to be an All-Conference type of player. She has got that in her.”

Collen said he needs continued improvement from returning posts Jhasmin Bowen and Joey Bailey, He also bragged on junior Calli Berna of Fayetteville.

“She is the best point guard in the SEC for taking care of the ball and involving her teammates,” Collen said. “She must shoot more often and with more accuracy this season.

SPORTS STORY>>Third day of camp best for Panthers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team went to the Benton team camp this week with its entire roster healthy, available and intact for the first time since last October. Results were what one would expect. The Lady Panthers were sloppy on the first day, better on the second day and played its best volleyball of the summer on day three.

Cabot coach DeAnna Campbell couldn’t be more pleased with the progress the team showed over the course of the camp.

“We got a lot done,” said Campbell. “The first day was bumpy but we played better and better with every match. Early on there were some communication errors because we haven’t been a full unit. You could see them getting more and more comfortable and they got better. We accomplished a lot.”

Cabot won every match it played on Tuesday after losing to Central Arkansas Christian and Benton on Monday. That earned them a match against perennial powerhouse Conway in the first round of bracket play. The Lady Panthers played the Lady Wampus Cats point for point to 18, but a few mistakes allowed Conway to pull away and advance.

“What I liked about playing Conway was, it’s such a great program gram sometimes you can see teams are beat before the match starts,” Campbell said. “My girls went out there like it was any other team and didn’t show any fear at all. They played them like they would play anyone else. What got us was our game speed. To play at that level and win, we’re going to have to transition faster. We can do anything any other team can do. We just have to get faster at it to win at that level.”

Campbell singled out the five returning senior starters as the players who shined the most.

“Everyone did well,” Campbell said. “There’s not a kid who didn’t do well. I can see a big difference in their junior year to now. Lakin (Best) did a great job with all the things we have her doing. She’s an all-around athlete and we’re going to ask a lot from her this year. Taylor (Bitely) played big for us. Becca Moffett came back after not playing last year, and by the end of this camp you couldn’t even tell she’s been gone. She was rusty the first day but she played extremely well the rest of the camp.

“(Kaitlyn) Pittman did a good job over on the left side after playing right last year. She’s really sneaky and she gets her points off making smart plays. And Bailea (Uhiren) did great setting for us. She was a hitter for us last year and she was spot on that second day. We beat Fountain Lake 25-11 and then beat Central 25-9, largely because she was setting us so well.”

Cabot will play in a benefit jamboree at Conway on Thursday, Aug. 22, then opens the regular season hosting a tri-match with Jacksonville and Lonoke on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

SPORTS STORY>>Badgers parlay strong summer

Leader sportswriter

Small details have been the focus for Beebe during the first week of August football camp. The Badgers stuck to three hour morning workouts in more favorable conditions before the mugginess of the afternoon heat took over throughout the week.

A total of 54 players, including 12 seniors, took to the practice field for the Badgers, with the sophomore and junior classes splitting even at just over 20 players each.

“The kids have been working hard,” Badgers coach John Shannon said. “We’ve got quite a few returning starters, so everybody is excited. Of course, you’re always excited this time of year. We feel pretty good, we had a really good summer, and had some good team camps over at Conway. I feel like with the returning starters we’ve got a chance to be better than we were last year. We’re hoping that if we can stay healthy and get a few breaks here and there, we can compete for a conference championship.”

Team camps and 7-on-7 football kept the Badgers busy throughout the summer along with mandatory workouts. That has given Shannon and the coaching staff a leg up this August with the majority of players turning out for fall already in shape.

“When I started coaching, you didn’t see the kids all summer long,” Shannon said. “The two weeks we had for two a days were basically, if nothing else, to get the kids back in shape. Now, we’ve got the kids year round, and we don’t spend near as much time conditioning in preseason camp.

“It’s more about repetition, because we have everything in. We can spend the preseason now just getting the kids all the reps until they know it like the back of their hands instead of just trying to get everything in on top of conditioning.”

Junior quarterback Aaron Nunez has looked good during the summer as a returning starter, along with three-year starting lineman Race Payne, who reported to camp in better shape than in recent years.

Gus Wisdom will be a three-year starter at linebacker, and has shown strong leadership over the summer. Shannon has also been pleased with the efforts of Jessie Glover, who will move to outside linebacker this year after starting inside last season.

“We will still be pretty young this year,” Shannon said. “We’re counting on some of these sophomores. Our sophomore class has probably got some of the best skill kids we’ve had since we’ve been here. Some of those kids are going to have to step up and play for us at skill positions. We’re returning about half the offense and a little over half of the defense from last year.”

Full contact is not allowed during the first week of fall practice as part of a new rule by the Arkansas Activities Association. That has changed the priorities of teams across the state, including the Badgers.

“Just the little things, like making sure we’re lined up right,” Shannon said. “Concentrating on our first step, our reads for defense, making sure the kids understand what we want. It’s just been a lot more teaching the first few days. On the offensive side, it’s just been making sure we know who to block and what calls to make.”

Most coaches have expressed unhappiness to-wards the new no-contact rule during the first week.

Shannon pointed out that taking away contact, and the opportunity to practice twice a day for the first week, takes away from the overall experience.

“I’m not a big fan of it either – I’m old school,” Shannon said. “This is my 23rd year, so I’ve been doing this for a while. I tell the kids all the time that my favorite part of the entire year is these two weeks of two-a-days. There’s nothing else going on, there’s no school, it’s just football all day long. I feel like we’re cheating the kids with them not going through two-a-days.

“It’s something that every kid needs to go through, because it builds character, it builds toughness, and you bond together as a team because you’re together all day long.”

SPORTS STORYS>>Devils ahead of last year

Leader sports editor

The Red Devil football team has made big strides in one week of official fall practice. The team had a big head start this year.

First-year offensive coordinator Adam Thrash started working with the team in December of last year. Head coach Rick Russell was the longtime JHS defensive coordinator and his scheme was already well known to several returning defensive starters.

“We’re way ahead of where we were at this time last year,” Russell said. “We had a busy summer, an active summer. Lots of participation and the kids are just ahead. It’s been a great first week.”

Numbers aren’t quite as high as Russell would like them to be, with about 45 out for practice on Friday for the first day with helmets and shoulder pads. Two more showed up on Friday wanting to play but were held out of practice pending physicals. Several took off the pads and stopped the contact after suffering stingers, which Russell supports.

“I feel really good about the talent we have to put on the field, but we’re not very deep so we’re not taking any chances,” Russell said.

Russell stressed playing hard and with aggressiveness during the off-season in years past, and it backfired last year with injuries to key players before the season started.

He’s already practicing without one of the best receivers on the team after a freak accident in 7-on-7 competition put Terrell Moore out of action at least through week one of the season, and possibly through all nonconference games.

“He gets the boot off on Sept. 5 and starts therapy,” Russell said. “After that it’s up to him and the doctors. It’s a pretty bad injury to his foot so we’ll just wait and see. You just can’t tell right now.

“But we’re doing things a little different this year and we’re being a little more cautious. We don’t want any injuries that could be prevented.”

Depth isn’t as much of an issue in the skill positions. Russell says he has more capable skill players this year than in any other, but linemen depth is a major issue. JHS lost two starters to grades; the impact of which the head coach says the team can take. But it can’t take much more.

“I still feel really good about the starters we have,” Russell said. “Losing two of them hurts our depth, and you can never have too much depth on the lines, but I still think we have a solid group of starters. Staying healthy from this point is going to be key for us.”

Senior Reggie Barnes continues to flourish in the starting quarterback role in Thrash’s spread offense. Sophomore Brandon Hickingbotham has also drawn praise from the OC, and junior Caleb Price continues to improve, according to Russell.

Coaches also expect numbers to pick up next week. AAU basketball, which ended this week, kept a few players out of the first week of football practice. Several other players who participated in summer workouts and 7-on-7 were gone this week for various reasons. Russell expects between 55 and 60 players on the field by the end of next week.

Jacksonville’s Red-White game is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

EVENTS >> 8-10-2013


Pinewood Elementary School and The Black Star Project are sponsoring a Million Father March this coming school year.

On the first day of school in more than 600 cities across America, men will take children to school to help keep our children safe and to help them become better students.

Men and women of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds are invited to participate. In Pulaski County Special School District, school begins on Aug. 19.

Be at your your child’s school on the first day.

For more information, call 501-982-7571.


The Jacksonville chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold its monthly meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, 1013 Ray Road. For more information, call 501-982-7752.


Hope’s Closet asks Cabot residents to donate school supplies for students in need during a collection drive from 7 a.m. until noon Friday and Saturday at the Cabot Walmart parking lot.

Items needed include notebook paper, spiral notebooks, one-inch binders, No. 2 pencils, 24-count crayons, glue sticks, yellow highlighters, backpacks, colored pencils, Pink Pearl erasers, black dry erasers, Crayola 10-count markers and three prong-pocket and pocket folders in red, blue, yellow or green.


The Arkansas Antiquarian Booksellers Association will host its 28th annual book and paper show today and Sunday at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive. Admission is $5. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call Jeff Baskin at 501-590-0071.


The Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department will feature Dupree Park as the park of the month from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday.

Visitors will gather near the dog park for free food and community fun. Bring your friends, family and dogs.

Visit for more information or call 501-982-4171. Dupree Park is at 1700 Redmond Road.


The Men’s Ministry of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Cabot will host a Men’s Fellowship Fish Fry at 6:30 p.m Saturday, Aug. 23 in the church’s fellowship hall. The meal will be catered by N & N Family Restaurant of Cabot. Roy Thompson will speak.

There will be a lot of door prizes. Tickets are $10 per person and are available by calling 501-988-4989, 866-212-7874 or e-mailing

The church is on Zion Hill Road near Hwys. 89 and 107, about seven miles west of Cabot.


H.O.P.E.’s (Helping Out People Everywhere) will hold its annual Community Back to School Summit from 10 a.m. until noon Sat., Aug. 17 in the Evangelistic Ministries Church parking lot, 101 N. Elm St. in Jacksonville. There will be free food, entertainment, back-to-school supplies and school uniforms.


Cabot Community Theatre will kickoff its 2013-2014 season with “Steel Magnolias” on Sept. 27-29 and Oct. 4-6. Reservations are required and may be made starting on Aug. 26. Actresses include Autumn Watson, Larrissa Kohler, Shann Nobles, Scarlett McLain, Cecelia Wilson and Kathy Whitt.

Donations wanted for ‘barking lot sale’ Sept. 14

The Jacksonville Animal Shelter at 217 S. Redmond Road is still accepting donations for its barking lot sale fundraiser that will be held at 7 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 at the shelter.

There will also be a dog wash that day to benefit the shelter and an adopt-a-thon from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.


The Grand Prairie Civil War Round Table will be meeting at the Lonoke County Museum in downtown Lonoke, 215 SE Front St., at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Shawn Fisher, a history professor at Harding University, will present a talk titled “James Wolfe Ripley and the Sinews of War: Body Armor and
Repeating Rifles in the American Civil War.”


Jacksonville AARP will begin a drivers-safety class at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21 at St. Jude’s Catholic Church on MacArthur Drive. The course costs $14 for non-members and $12 for AARP members. Bring your AARP card with you.To register, call 501-982-4891.


The Jacksonville Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association will be hold a free children’s identification event at Walmart on John Harden Drive from noon until 3 p.m. Aug. 17-18 to educate the public about keeping up-to-date information on children for police in case of an emergency.

OBITUARIES >> 8-14-2013


Dewey Coleman Faught, 78, passed into the arms of God on Aug. 10, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Mr. Faught was born on Feb. 6, 1935 in Jonesboro. He was the son of the late Mack Dewey Faught and Thelma Faught of Bay (Craighead County). He was also preceded in death by his sisters, Margie Hutson and Joann Hill. Mr. Faught was an active member of Victory Baptist Church in Cabot and was retired from the Air Force and the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, where he served as executive director, secretary and treasurer for more than 22 years of dedication to the community that he loved.

He graduated from Eudora High School in 1953 and attended Florida State University, Arkansas State University at Beebe and the University of Central Arkansas, receiving a degree in liberal arts and agriculture. He also studied business administration while at UCA.

Mr. Faught retired in July 1974 as a senior Air Force master sergeant after more than 23 years of honorable service. A veteran of the Korean, Vietnam and Cold War, he also served in the Navy as active reserve for more than two years.

He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 57 years, Jane Powell-Faught; five sons, Stephen Blain Faught and his wife Teri, Michael Dean Faught and his wife Jessica, Bruce Allen Faught and his wife Kary, all of Cabot, Brian Keith Faught and his wife Stacy of Jacksonville and Neil Wade Faught and his wife Thena of Mayflower; 17 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Military memorial services will be held at Victory Baptist Church at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 officiated by Rev. Ben Leonard. Interment will follow at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Cabot.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home and Crematory. The family suggests donations be made to Victory Baptist Church.


J.T. Glover passed away in his home in El Paso on Aug. 11. He was born on Oct. 21, 1936 in Guy (Faulkner County) to the late Herman Eugene and Lora Alice Lamar Glover.

He graduated from Guy High School and served in the Army in the early 1960s. He married his wife of 53 years, the former Dorothy Hunter, of Pangburn. He was an employee of Orbit Valve for 33 years. J.T. was a member of Mars Hill Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Lora Glover of Guy and grandson, Zackary Peach of Vilonia. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Glover; a son, Bobby Glover and his wife Tara; a daughter, Mary Bronson and her husband Jason; sisters, Wilma Jean Evans of Conway, Joyce Battles and her husband Bobby of Greenbrier and Florene Stephens and her husband David of Guy; brothers, Jerry Glover and his wife Edra of Guy, Jim Glover and his wife Sheryl of Greensboro, N.C., Gary Glover and his wife Jennie of Guy, B.F. Glover and his wife Sharon of Guy, Bruce Glover and his wife Vicky of Saltillo and Mickey Glover and his wife Kayla of Quitman; eight grandchildren, Tyler Glover, Miranda Smith and Dustin Smith, Maribeth Glover and Cheyenne Glover, all of Conway, Nick Peach of Little Rock and Alex Peach and Skylar Glover of Vilonia; two step-grandchildren, Zack and Elizabeth Bronson of DeWitt; one great grandchild, Thomas Stevens of Conway; one step-grandchild, Glenn of Vilonia; special nephews, Hank Nonnemacher, Chad Hunter, Michael Hunter and Colton Hunter, and a special friend of the family, Kyle Thompson.

J.T. was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He enjoyed gardening, fishing, hunting, playing cards, and most of all, spending time with his grandchildren. Spending many hours at the ballpark watching practices and games of all sorts. He never tired of bragging on the accomplishments his grandchildren had achieved.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 at Mars Hill Church of Christ in Vilonia. Burial will follow in Grissard Cemetery with David Riley officiating.

Pallbearers are Tyler Glover, Dustin Smith, Tom Sweeney, Nick Peach, Alex Peach, and Kyle Thompson. Honorary pallbearers are Skylar Glover, Chad Hunter, Colton Hunter and Michael Hunter.


Nancy Grace Eckelhoff, 78, of Beebe passed away Aug. 11 in North Little Rock. Mrs. Eckelhoff was born Jan. 22, 1935 in Little Rock to Harry Vance Smith and Martha Bottorff Smith.

Mrs. Echelhoff is survived by two sons, Glen Eckelhoff and Louis Eckelhoff and his wife Carla, all of Cabot; two grandchildren, Taylor Krisell and Madison Carlton, and two great-grandchildren, Cailyn Carlton and Issac Carlton. She was preceded in death by her husband, Gilbert Louis Eckelhoff; her parents and one sister, Vance Woollard.

Graveside services were August 13 at Sunset Memorial Park in West Helena with Dr. J. E. Hughes officiating. 

In lieu of flowers, the family ask memorials be sent to Arc of Central Arkansas, 2004 Main St. Little Rock, Ark. 72206-1526.


Arthur Douglas Bohannon, 82, of Jacksonville passed away Aug. 10 under the care of the Hospice ward of St. Vincent’s Infirmary in Little Rock, surrounded by his loving family.

He was born in Medford, Mass., Feb. 20, 1931, the son of Raymond D. and Mildred Boyd Bohannon. He graduated from Keene High School in 1950. On July 10, 1953, he married Gloria Faye Shapland of Tillamook, Ore. They celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2013.

Mr. Bohannon entered the Air Force during the Korean War and served his country for 22 years, including two tours of duty during the Vietnam War.

After honorable discharge from the Air Force as a senior master sergeant, he attended the University of Central Arkansas and graduated in 1980. He taught vocational education at Northwood Junior High School for 14 years, receiving numerous awards as an outstanding teacher. He was a faithful member of the Park Hill Christian Church in North Little Rock for 20 years singing in the choir, serving as a diaconate and serving on the outreach committee.

Mr. Bohannon loved singing, played the piano by ear and was a regular entertainer for the USO during 1950’s in Rapid City, S.D. In 1955, he performed as a vocalist on the “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” television show. He was a member of the Diamond State Barbershop Chorus of Little Rock. He served in numerous capacities, including three years as president and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

In addition to singing, Mr. Bohannon was involved in the Boy Scouts of America for over 20 years, serving as scoutmaster of Troop 170 of Little Rock Air Force Base for numerous years. In 1977, he received the highest award in Scouting, the Silver Beaver Award, which is given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it.

He loved his family and was extremely proud of his wife of 60 years and his three children and their accomplishments. In his retirement years, he continued to sing, enjoyed golfing, woodworking and traveling.

Survivors include his wife, Gloria F. Bohannon of Jacksonville; his children, Daniel D. Bohannon and his wife Kaethe of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., Aileen Faye Durkee and her husband Kevin of Fair Haven, Vt., and Kenneth Bohannon of Chickasha, Okla.; grand-children, Danielle and Dana Bohannon of Fort Walton Beach, Joshua Durkee and his wife Mercedez of Atlanta and Alexandra Bohannon of Oklahoma City; great-grand-children, Isabella Durkee and Xavier Durkee of Atlanta and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 at the Park Hill Christian Church in North Little Rock. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 at Arkansas Funeral Care in Jacksonville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Bohannon’s memory to the Park Hill Christian Church.


Kyle Wayne DeBlock, 22, of Cabot died Aug. 11.

He grew up attending church at the Assembly of God in Cabot and was a graduate of Cabot High School. Kyle was a shift leader at Brick Oven Pizza Company and a member of the Wicked Wings Riding Association.

He was preceded in death by his aunt, Darla DeBlock, and his grandparents, Ralph and Virginia Robinett, and J.L. Branch.

Survivors include his father and stepmother, David and Natalie DeBlock of Cabot; his mother, Staci Robinett of Ward; brothers, Jacob Robinett, James Wakefield and Corey Branch Jr.; sisters, Kayleigh Bennett, Felicia DeBlock and Shelby Branch, and his paternal grandparents, Gerald and Joanne Baker.

Visitation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14 in the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thurs-day, Aug. 15 at McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville. Burial will follow at Monk Cemetery in Ward.

The family suggests donations be made to the American Red Cross or Pulaski County Humane Society.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Emmer Diane Tucker, 67, of Jacksonville went home to be with her Lord and father on Aug. 12. She was born Dec. 29, 1945, in Dumas to the late Harrison Coulter and Emmer Coulter.

She was a loving, wife, mother and grandmother, who will be missed dearly by all who knew her. She was a member of Antioch Baptist Church in McGehee and loved hummingbirds, flowers and fishing.

She is survived by her husband of 11 years, Jimmy Tucker; a son, Greg Burchfield and his wife Shannon; her mother, Emmer Coulter; step-children, Mary Ann Bowman and Sherry Bjork; siblings, Harriett Gill, Rusty Watson Coulter, Reba Bondhus and Debbie Heisser; grandchildren, Nathaniel, Gabrielle and Madison Burchfield; step-grandchildren, Jennifer and Josh Holman, and Nicholas and Nathan Bowman, and a host of nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. Wednesday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Johnny Lee Cooper, 83, of Cabot went to be with his Lord on Aug. 9 in Jacksonville.

He was born on Dec. 12, 1929, in Judsonia to the late John D. and Jenni Rowland Cooper.

He was also preceded in death by wife, Aileen, five brothers and three sisters.

Johnny is survived by a daughter, Mary Thompson and her husband Larry of Conway; a brother, Billy Cooper of Cabot; two grandsons, Jimmy Cooper of Searcy and Bryson Jones of Conway, and a host of other family and friends.

Graveside services were held Aug. 13 Chapel Hills Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.


Emogene Stewart Lambert, 67, of Cabot died Aug. 7. She was born June 19, 1946 in Searcy to the late J.E. and Edith Mae Wheetley Stewart. Mrs. Stewart was a member of First Baptist Church Cabot and volunteered in the church’s First Care program. She was also a school teacher for 31 years in Cabot.

In addition to her parents, Mrs. Lambert was preceded in death by her husband of 38 years, Paul Allen Lambert; two sisters, Clarice Smith and Wilma Juanita Fulks, and a brother-in-law, James Smith.
Mrs. Lambert is survived by her son, Ray Allen Lambert and his wife Melissa of Austin; three grandsons, Jake, Nicholas and Isaac Lambert; a sister, Eva Overturf and her husband Paul of Austin; two brothers, Wayne Stewart and A.J. Stewart and his wife Rita, all of Ward, as well as a sister-in-law, Sallie Wilson and her husband Richard of Moss Point, Miss., and a brother-in-law, Hollis Fulks of Austin.
Funeral services were Aug. 12 in the chapel of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home with Dr. Ken Overturf officiating.

Burial was at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home and Crematory.


Jessie Doyle (J.D.) Bryant, 79, of Little Rock died Aug. 8. He was retired from Borden Dairy and was an Army veteran. He is survived by one son, Tony Bryant of Joplin, Mo.; grandchildren, Hannah McGilvra and Jesse Bryant; one brother, Woody Bryant of Austin, and one sister, Ann Elmore of Lonoke.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Joann Bryant; his parents, Charles Marshall and Lillie Pearl Bryant, and two sisters, Louella Johnson and Louise Mowrer.

Graveside service was Aug. 13 at Pine Crest Memorial Park in Alexander. Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.

SPORTS EVENTS >> 8-14-13


The Leader would like to hear from all coaches in all sports in our coverage area. Please e-mail results, statistics or information to or fax to 501-985-0026 or call 982-9421.


The DU banquet season gets underway in August with the Jacksonville Membership Banquet, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 at the old Walmart building in Jacksonville.

Food, drinks, guns and many other Ducks Unlimited items will be featured at the event. Tickets are $40 per adult, $60 per couple and $25 for children under 16. Sponsorships are also available at $250 for four people. Corporate tables of eight are $500 and $750 for 12.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting or by calling Matt Robinson at 501-412-8055.


The final chances to register for the Beebe Soccer Association’s fall season is Saturday, Aug. 17. Registration will be from 9 a.m. to noon next to the tennis courts on Center Street. Participants are also encouraged to bring used and outgrown soccer equipment to donate to the Pay It Forward program.


A day at the golf course can help buy a pair of eyeglasses for a local child or a vision screener for an elementary school. It might even provide a local senior with glaucoma surgery. The Cabot Lions Club is hosting their annual charity golf tournament on Monday, Sept. 9 at Rolling Hills Country Club. Entry fee is $400 per team in the four-person scramble, and proceeds go directly toward providing eye exams and purchasing eyeglasses for local school children and in-need adults.

Entry fee includes greens fees, cart, two mulligans, door prizes and a steak and potato dinner. Entry deadline is Sept. 2. Opportunities are also available for corporate and hole sponsorships as well as donations for door prizes.

For more information, contact the Cabot Lions Club at 501-920-2122.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville a finalist for veterans home

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has made the first cut in the battle to become the home of the state’s new veterans’ home.

A task force narrowed down the choices from 61 parcels of land down to four — Jacksonville, Russellville, Benton and Fort Chaffee.

In all four proposals, the land site will be donated to the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs to build the facility that could house about 100 veterans.

The only veterans’ home in the state is in Fayetteville. One in Little Rock was closed last year because of abuse and mismanagement.

The task force, which includes a representative from the American Legion, one from the VFW and the chairman of the Arkansas Vet Centers, will visit sites Aug. 19 and 21.

The task force, along with Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), head of the Veterans’ Home Task Force, and Cissy Rucker, director of the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs, will also be part of the visiting team.

The group will visit Jack-sonville on Aug. 21.

“We are very excited,” Mayor Gary Fletcher said Tuesday.

“We are the perfect fit. I feel we have an exceptional place that exceeds what the VA wants,” he added.

Amy Mattison, who heads the chamber of commerce, said Tuesday, “We are a strong military town. Look at Little Rock Air Force Base, look at the joint education center, this will complete the circle.” Sheadded, “We love our men and women in uniform.”

The criteria set by the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs for the site included requirements that it be at least 20 acres of level and, preferably, free undeveloped land.

The site must be zoned for residential or light commercial use, have utilities, easy public access and be near motels, hospitals, restaurants, shopping and public transportation.

English said the task force has to treat building the veterans’ home like a business rather than just an emotional project because legislators want it to be sustainable. The state has applied for a federal $18.1 million matching grant to construct the facility while Arkansas lawmakers have agreed to use $7.5 million in surplus funds to match the grant.

The city of Jacksonville sent in a proposal under the flag of the chamber of commerce offering the state 40 to 57 acres of land off General Samuels Road near Swift Road. The parcel is close to the air base, shopping and eateries. The Jacksonville site is mostly timberland, but at one time was home to a chemical facility. It does have utilities, and North Metro Medical Center is just a mile away. Public transportation is also nearby.

The mayor believes the city-chamber proposal donating the land is the right thing to do. “We did it in 1954 to bring in Little Rock Air Force Base and would like to have history repeat itself,” he said.

Fletcher said, “We think we’ve got the best site. It’s a very centralized location with easy access. I can’t think of a better place.”

If the city’s site is selected, the mayor said, “We’re going to do all we can to make it a first-class facility, and we’ll treat it like a gem in our community.”

The Russellville site was proposed through the Arkansas Valley Alliance for Economic Development. In the proposal, the group is offering 22.5 acres free of charge for the new facility.

The site, which is located between Sixth Street and Tyler Road, is, according to the alliance, properly zoned, has utilities, is completely above the flood plain, easily accessible and about four miles from the nearest hospital.

The Fort Chaffee site is part of Chaffee Crossing, which is land Fort Smith obtained when Fort Chaffee was closed several years ago. The home would be part of the redevelopment of 7,000 acres of the former Army site, which is managed by the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority. “The land would be a gift from the FCDA and is ripe for this type of development,” wrote the FCDA executive director in the proposal.

The Saline County Econo-mic Development Corporation, in its proposal, will donate 20-plus acres on the grounds of the Arkansas Health Center. “Utilizing an existing state resource such as the Arkansas Health Center property would seemingly be a prudent business decision,” Shane Broadway, the group’s chairman, said. The total site encompasses about 500 acres and, Broadway said, presents itself as a park-like setting.

The center, wherever it is built, could help create up to 100 jobs.

English hopes a final site decision will be made by the end of August, but no work would begin until the state secures the federal grant.

TOP STORY >> Civilian layoffs ending on base

Leader senior staff writer

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday announced that mandatory furloughs for about 600 civilian employees at Little Rock Air Force Base and hundreds of thousands throughout the department are being reduced from 11 days this fiscal year to six.

The employees generally worked four days a week instead of five, with a corresponding 20 percent cut in salaries.

Many of those employees already have been furloughed four days, meaning they face only two more reduced-work weeks and checks until the end of this fiscal year in October.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that a new round of furloughs may be necessary in the 2014 fiscal year to help balance the budget, particularly if the sequester remains in place.

According to a transcript of Hagel’s remarks, the number of furloughed days was reduced thanks to savings from careful budgeting because Congress allowed the movement of money from acquisition accounts to day-to-day operating costs and from the furloughs.

“We also sharply cut training and maintenance,” Hagel said. “The Air Force stopped flying in many squadrons, the Navy kept ships in port and the Army cancelled training events. These actions have seriously reduced military readiness.”

“We are also experiencing less-than-expected costs in some areas, such as transportation of equipment out of Afghanistan,” the secretary said. “Where necessary, we have taken aggressive action to transfer funds among services and agencies.”

The department was able “to make up our budgetary shortfall in this fiscal year with fewer furlough days than initially announced.

“This has been one of the most volatile and uncertain budget cycles the Department of Defense has ever experienced. Our fiscal planning has been conducted under a cloud of uncertainty with the imposition of sequestration and changing rules as Congress made adjustments to our spending authorities,” Hagel said.

“As we look ahead to fiscal year 2014, less than two months away, the Department of Defense still faces major fiscal challenges. If Congress does not change the Budget Control Act, (the Defense Department) will be forced to cut an additional $52 billion in FY 2014, starting on Oct. 1,” he said. “This represents 40 percent more than this year’s sequester-mandated cuts of $37 billion. Facing this uncertainty, I cannot be sure what will happen next year, but I want to assure our civilian employees that we will do everything possible to avoid more furloughs.”

TOP STORY >> Liquor sides speak out

Leader staff writer

“I was born here 33 years ago, and the city hasn’t changed,” lamented Tasha Smith. “We are stagnant. People, you have got to stop voting against everything and vote for change.”

Smith was one of about a dozen Jacksonville residents who spoke positively for the wet/dry issue, compared to two who spoke against the idea of bringing more alcohol into the city at Tuesday’s town hall meeting.

At issue is the effort to get the 4,400 signature required to allow a vote on turning the city completely wet, which would allow restaurants to sell alcohol and some stores to sell beer and wine.

No additional liquor stores will be allowed under the new law to be decided by voters.

Mayor Gary Fletcher and supporters for turning Jacksonville wet called for the special town hall meeting at the city’s community center.

About 6,500 residents were notified about the meeting through the city’s CodeRed telephone system, and about 175 showed up for the meeting that started to dwindle down after 90 minutes.

The mayor covered a wide range of subjects, and when he came to the wet/dry issue, he gave four reasons the vote was needed, all centering on expanding the city’s tax base to keep up its services.

First, he said, the 2010 census showed a 1,500 dip in the city’s population.

“Actually the city went up some, but the population on the base dropped because of housing issues. That drop in population cost us a million dollars in federal funding,” the mayor said, adding that the city wouldn’t recover from that until the next census.

The mayor also blamed the lack of taxing Internet sales as hurting the city, as well as the sale of lottery tickets, which are untaxed.

“Can you guess how much money is spent in the 72076 zip code on lottery tickets in a year? It’s $9.6 million — money not being spent on food, clothes or other taxable items.,” he said.

Fletcher also said Jackson-ville was facing an uneven playing field. “Everyone knows we worked real hard to bring Buffalo Wild Wings to Jacksonville. They were even looking at specific lots, but then saw all the hoops the company would have to jump through because of the dry restrictions and moved down a few miles to Sherwood.”

In a moment of exasperation, Fletcher said he was very fond of Sherwood’s Mayor Virginia Hillman, “but I want to recapture our people. I’m tired of supporting Sherwood.”

The mayor made it clear that the wet/dry issue was not a spiritual issue, but an economic one.

“I’m a born-again Christian, and we are saved by grace, not rules,” he said to loud applause. “I would not jeopardize my soul if I did think I was right. Not one more person is going to start drinking because we are a wet city.”

But D’Ann Hill, wearing a “Don’t sign the petition” tag, disagreed.

“Love of money is the root of all evil. There is no amount of money that can pay for even one alcohol death,” she said, adding that people never see the evils of alcohol on billboards or ads. She said restaurants and other alcohol establishments would be built on the backs “of those being killed by alcohol.”

Another woman, Michelle Poole, also against the idea, asked who in the crowd would allow a business on their corner or neighborhood that sold alcohol. A large number of hands instantly shot up.

Jim Durham, the director of administration, explained that, even though convenience and large stores like Walmart could sell beer and wine under the law, it would not be automatic.

“First they would have to seek approval from the Alcohol Beverage Control board, then through the city’s board of adjustments, then the planning commission and the city council, and even if everyone approved it, the mayor could still veto it. It won’t be an easy process, and your elected officials will take it very serious.”

Ivory Tillman, a prominent member of the local NAACP, said he supported the issue. “We are losing a lot of tax dollars. They are going outside the city limits. It would behoove us as citizens to allow alcohol to be sold here. It’s about tax dollars, not legislating morality,” he said.

He mentioned growing up in Texarkana, where one side was wet and the other side was dry. “Just because they lived on the dry side didn’t make them bigger Christians then us on the other side,” Tillman said.

Tasha Smith chimed in with a passionate plea: “We have to learn to listen and understand change. We need to give our city a chance. You’ve got to care.”

Someone in the audience hollered that the 33-year-old should run for office. “Maybe next year,” she quipped.

Sami Richter said Jackson-ville needed to thrive again.

“We are trying to turn our town into an upscale community, not let it become an inner-city slum. You don’t see Sherwood turning into a slum. We are intelligent enough to control and police ourselves. Let’s do something more than just grow old here,” she said.

The city needs about 4,400 signatures from residents inside Gray Township, which encompasses about 90 percent of Jacksonville, to get the issue on the ballot.

A recent University of Arkansas study shows Jacksonville losing at least $600,000 annually because so much of the town is dry.

The few restaurants in the city that are allowed to sell liquor, like Cancun and Chili’s, are doing well. The Jacksonville Chili’s rates among the most profitable in the state, bringing in receipts of $3 to $4 million a month.

In July, the city council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the wet vote.

The resolution supports the efforts of the city, the chamber and volunteers to get enough signatures to have a vote on repealing the dry designation of Gray Township.

In Jacksonville, the dry area encompasses some of the most desirable land that national restaurant chains are looking at, according to Fletcher. It is roughly bordered by Maddox Road to the north, the county line to the east, the Bayou Meto Creek to the west and Wooten Road to the south.

“With the air base here and its $780 million impact, Jacksonville ought to be home to every name-brand restaurant around. But we are not because of the alcohol restrictions,” Fletcher said.

Most of what is now Jacksonville became dry in December 1954, while more than half of Sherwood became dry in 1956.

So why is this vote even needed since Gray Township doesn’t even exist anymore? That political entity may be gone, but the laws voted on remain in effect.

So state Sen. Jane English (R- North Little Rock) and Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville) pushed a bill through the 2013 legislative session giving residents in defunct townships a chance to decide on the issue of being wet or dry.

English said the bill came at the urging of North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville officials and their chambers of commerce.

These Jacksonville businesses have petitions that residents can sign: The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Unique Furniture, First Arkansas Bank and Trust’s main branch, America’s Best Value Inn and Suites, Victory Lane convenience store, Double R Florist, Merle Norman, the Military Museum, Main Gate Storage, Crafton’s Furniture, Mighty Vikings Football and city hall.

They are also at Saving Jacksonville Headquarters (Crestview Plaza), Toneyville Gas Station, Stonewall Home Owners Association, Davis-Miller Automotive, Papito’s Mexican restaurant and Branscum Realty.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers experienced, players learning new roles

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther volleyball team had a busy and productive summer, but head coach DeAnna Campbell wants to squeeze in a little bit more work before the season begins on Aug. 27.

The Lady Panthers were in Bryant on Monday and Tuesday participating in their third team camp of the summer, but the first one with the whole team.

Injuries have kept two key players out of game action and the loss of two key seniors from last season has Campbell shuffling positions.

“They were the only two seniors we lost, but they were both really key players for us,” Campbell said of libero Hannah Montgomery and setter Brilee Staten. We’re moving people around to fill those roles and I almost wish we had one more team camp before the season starts to get more comfortable in these roles. Now that we finally have everyone, I’m not sure there are any left, but I’m going to try to find one for us to get just a little more game-type experience.”

Montgomery was the best passer in the league last season. Senior Becca Moffett, who didn’t play as a junior, will play the biggest role in filling that gap. But the business of filling that gap will be a team effort.

“Hannah probably passed 80 to 90 percent of our balls last year,” Campbell said. “No one is going to step in and do that right away. We’re working on that being much more of a team effort. Everyone will do that now. We’re going to have a lot players in roles they aren’t used to playing, so getting them to warm up to the idea is one of our biggest challenges.”

Two players will fill Staten’s role as setter, and both were outside hitters last year. Bailey Uhiren and Lakin Best will alternate at setter, and both will likely be full-time players.

“They’re going to set when they’re on the back row and hit when they’re on the front,” Campbell said. Lakin led us in kills last year, so it’s going to be a big change for her. But she’s just an athlete. She’s a natural volleyball player. We just have to get her some experience. She just got back from her injury and played for the first time on Monday. She’s done a great job in practice, I’d just like for her to have more game experience before the season starts.”

Senior Kaitlyn Pittman will move from the right side to the left this year and junior Haylee Callison will replace her on the right side.

Lakin played middle last year because she had to, but Callison is ready. Haylee is coming off a stress fracture in her back and she’s just getting to full strength, but she started for us last year and we’re looking for good things from her.”

Taylor Bitely is another returning starter. She played exclusively on the front row last season, but will play on the back row in 2013.

Only three juniors return after having a roster of 10 sophomores last year, but Campbell says this year’s group of sophomores is very talented, and some could push their way into the rotation this season.

“Of course all five seniors are back and have important roles, and all the juniors that are back are key players,” Campbell said. “The sophomores are very athletic and they’re gamers. I think I’m going to have a separate backup for every player this year, and that’s something I’ve not had since I started here.”

With the shuffling of players, mental mistakes have been the biggest issue of the off-season. Skill level is at its highest since Campbell took over three years ago, but the errors that come with new positions are still too frequent.

“The skill is there,” Camp-bell said. “Communication is getting better and better. Everyone is doing different jobs so the communication is changing, but we’re getting better at that. If we can overcome the simple, mental mistakes, we’ll be fine. If we can get this group to gel, get it cleaned up and looking polished, we’ll be very competitive this year.”

SPORTS STORY >> JHS fills almost all coaching openings

Leader sports editor

Coaches come and go frequently in sports, but not very often is one school left to fill as many voids as Jacksonville had to fill this summer. JHS athletic director had the task of finding personnel for seven vacancies left at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

State championship winner Katrina Mimms left the biggest void when she stepped down as head girls basketball coach, and Wilson wasted little time filling that role. He hired former Carlisle boys coach William Rountree in June for that job.

While not a head-coaching position, Jacksonville got another big hire in Adam Thrash stepping in as offensive coordinator. Thrash replaces Barry Hickingbotham, who was also the head softball coach. Hickingbotham will be on the football and baseball staffs for the state’s other Red Devils.

Thrash is a former Pulaski Academy quarterback who attended the University of Alabama as an invited walk-on. He worked with the team in spring and summer installing a fast-paced spread offense. The Red Devils have fared well in 7-on-7 competitions this summer.

Max Hatfield and Jeremiah Clennon stepped away from football. Hatfield is now heading up the renewed JHS golf program while Clennon is focusing on baseball’s off-season.

Former Jacksonville star running back Terrod Hatcher takes over Hatfield’s role as head ninth-grade coach. Hatcher was an assistant for Russell during his two years at North Pulaski, and took over for Russell as NPHS head coach for one year after Russell took the Jacksonville job.

The ninth-grade boys also get a new basketball coach after the departure of Tirrell Brown, who left JHS to take high-school positions in football and basketball at North Pulaski. Lenny Cooper comes to Jacksonville from Oklahoma.

The ninth-grade girls get a new head coach as well. Wilson stepped in last year and filled the role that was vacated too late in the summer to find a replacement. This year, Crystal Scott takes over the JHS freshmen after spending one year as athletic director and head coach at Pine Bluff Dollarway High School. She was also a head basketball coach at Stuttgart and coached track at Dollarway.

Toya Allen also comes from Dollarway as the new middle school assistant girls coach to Susan Cheatham.

Volleyball coach Kendra Sauheaver gets a new assistant, another former Devil. Whitney Conrade played at North Pulaski and Jacksonville.

Josh Nation also moves from assistant football coach to head coach at JMS. Nation was also an assistant high-school softball coach and will continue in that role. There is still an opening for the head softball coaching position.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke taking it slow early on

Leader sportswriter

Slow is generally undesirable when it comes to football, but with a full week of practice where pads and contact are limited, slow is exactly the approach Doug Bost and the Lonoke coaching staff is taking during the first week of fall football practice.

The Jackrabbits are in good shape from a numbers standpoint with a roster right at 50 players after a successful spring and a summer full of team camps and 7-on-7 action. That gives Bost the luxury of ironing out the small details for a week until full contact can begin the second week.

“With spring practice, you have two solid weeks,” Bost said. “And of course, you’ve got your team camps and 7 on 7 all summer. This first week, it’s just helmets, so you’ve got to come back and slow everything down, make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ll take three full days to install the offense and just really slow everything down. That’s about all you can do in helmets, work on a lot of technique.”

Conditioning is also a priority for Lonoke during the first week. With a good portion of offensive and defensive work done in the spring, the Jackrabbits are already familiar with the play book with plenty of time for review before the start of the season on Sept. 6 against Star City.

“We stopped a lot of the running so we could focus on the plays back in the spring,” Bost said. “We picked our running back up all through July, and of course, this whole month now, there’s a lot of conditioning, getting ready for that first game.

“You go Sept. 6 and you’re playing on Friday night, it’s probably going to be 100 degrees, so this is a time where you get your conditioning down. If everybody is here that we think, it should be 50 kids. We might be minus four or five, you never know, but 50 are what we’re counting on.”

The Jackrabbits have been through a lot of changes at quarterback over the past year with the graduation of D.J. Burton in the spring. Two other prospects did not work out at the position before Bost settled on former receiver Cody Smith.

“Cody Smith, we’re working him at quarterback,” Bost said. “We’ve probably been to four or five team camps, and he’s really moved us, especially in the run game. He’s really looked good. We’ve done a lot of reading as far as the D linemen, and he’s getting real good at doing that. I’ve been real pleased with how he’s looked.

“The linemen, we’ve said we have to keep them healthy this year. There are a lot of them we are counting on for both sides of the ball, and they’ve looked real good this spring and summer.”

Smith is a senior with good feet to match his hands, which seems to fit Bost’s style much better than the pocket passers he was looking at a year ago. Behind Smith will be sophomore Savantee Roundtree, who led the junior Jackrabbits last season.

“That goes back to ’09 when we had Michael Nelson,” Bost said. “He could move. The offense that we run, we’re a lot better with that. Even with Savantee, he’s a big, tall kid, but he ran a 4.9 the other day, so he gives us speed back there. Any time you have a mobile quarterback that’s a dual threat, that puts pressure on the defense, and that’s the angle we’re really working.”