Friday, January 24, 2014

TOP STORY >> DEA gives awards to JPD team

Leader staff writer

Drug Enforcement Admin-istration officials presented the Jacksonville SWAT team certificates of appreciation on Jan. 13 at the Jacksonville Police Department, 1400 Marshall Road, for its role in a Nov. 22 shooting in north Pulaski County.

When the team arrived early that morning at 2327 Backbone Road to search the home for narcotics, Mark Dodson, 53, allegedly opened fire on them using a 16-gauge shotgun.

Dodson was seriously injured when police returned fire, but he recovered.

He has been charged with felony counts of criminal attempt to commit capital murder and first-degree battery.

As of Friday, Dodson was being held at the Pulaski County jail on a $250,000 bond. His plea and arraignment is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 10 in room 220 of the Pulaski County Courthouse in Little Rock.

Officer Jerry Keefer was shot in the face and shoulder, while Sgt. Chris Schultz caught a few bullets in his vest. Keefer is a 12-year veteran of the department. He was released from the hospital a few hours after the shooting.

Schultz is a 7-year veteran of the department.

TOP STORY >> PCSSD signups next week for new students

Leader senior staff writer

The Pulaski County Special School District’s registration for first-time students and those transferring from other districts opens Monday and runs through Friday, according to Deborah Roush, the district’s communications director.

About 600 students are expected to register for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, according to Janice Warren, interim assistant superintendent for equity and pupil services. Space is available for 700.


Regular school registration next week will be done at the school where the new child will attend pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or elementary school, according to Warren.

Students headed to junior high or high school will go to one of three registration hubs.

Those in the west will register at Maumelle High School, others will go to Sylvan Hills High School or the district’s central office on Dixon Road, she said.

An additional summer enrollment registration will be held in August, right before school starts, she said.

Not yet determined or set is registration for the legal transfer of as many as 30 students from the PCSSD attendance area who want to attend Little Rock schools and another 30 students for North Little Rock schools.

According to the terms of the six-party desegregation settlement approved two weeks ago by U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr., PCSSD can allow an additional 30 students to transfer to each of those districts for four subsequent years, with a maximum of 150 students attending each.


“We’re in the process of getting procedures in place for legal transfers,” Warren said.

Dates and locations to register for those will be announced. Also, the district must decide how to parcel out those legal transfer slots if the number of applicants exceeds the number of slots.

Will it be done by lottery? Will students with siblings already in the program get preference or will those whose parents work or teach at schools in Little Rock or North Little Rock get preference? Warren said that’s among the procedures yet to be decided.

Once a student receives a legal transfer, it’s good through high school graduation, she said. It is not a reciprocal deal, according to Warren.

“Dr. Guess (PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess) says that when transportation (to those districts) stops, most M-to-M transfer and magnet school students will return to us,” Warren said. So PCSSD is not accepting legal transfers from the other two districts — and hasn’t in the past.


According to the agreed-upon terms of the desegregation agreement settlement, all M-to-M students from any of the three districts are eligible to continue in that program through graduation, regardless of the grade they are currently in.

Not so for students in the magnet school program. Those students may finish at the school they currently attend. A student at the Carver math and science elementary magnet school can finish there, for instance, but can’t advance to an out-of-district magnet middle school, according to the terms of the settlement.

TOP STORY >> Wintertime burn bans are issued

Leader staff writer

It may seem odd that burn bans are in effect now when temperatures are below freezing, but risk of wildfires is high across the state, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

About 40 counties — more than half the state — are under a burn ban.

Pulaski and White counties have been under burn bans since Tuesday, and Lonoke County has been a burn ban since Thursday.

“It is the weirdest (burn ban) I have ever issued,” White County Judge Michael Lincoln said.

He said, in his eight years in office, it is the first winter burn ban he has ordered. Lincoln said he is following the advice of the Forestry Commission and local fire chiefs.

“From what I hear, it is the uncut dry grasses in the fields that are causing a fuel issue. It is so unusual for the grasses to be so dry; you can see water in the ditches. Early in the morning there is moisture, but, when the winds kick up, it is gone,” Lincoln said.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin does not recall ever issuing a burn ban in the winter.

“Even though we had rain, it is still dry. The biggest factor is the winds,” Erwin said.

According to Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines’ office, the last time it issued a burn ban during winter was December 2005 and January 2006.

According to the National Weather Service, the waves of cold air are the culprits. With cold systems cutting through the state on an almost weekly basis, moisture from the gulf is being cut off.

Even though January’s precipitation is down just 0.11 of an inch, the problem is that most of that hit in one or two days. There has been nothing since.

Forecasters expect the trend to continue at least through Friday of next week.

After a mild weekend with temperatures Sunday hitting around 60, the cold bites back with Monday’s high slated for 38, and then Tuesday and Wednesday will not be above freezing. By Friday, it will seem almost summery with high temperatures in the mid-40s.

Central Arkansas Water said, when the temperature drops below freezing, residents should “leave a thin stream of water running from the cold-water tap because moving water is less likely to freeze.”


• Chief Carl Stracener with the Campground, Sylvania and Mount Zion (CS and Z) Volunteer Fire Department said it has responded to 13 grass fires in the past two weeks. Three of those fires have spread to buildings and homes.

“It’s worse than it has been in the past two to three years. People burning household trash on the ground caused all but one. One fire was caused by a cigarette thrown on the side of the road,” Stracener said.

According to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, it is against state law to burn household garbage.

• Lonoke Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jimmy Wallace said they had extinguished six grass fires this month, and two grass fires occurred on Thursday. A downed power line on Bob Long Road caused one fire. The other fire was started by a resident who was burning leaves and had it under control, but the fire department had to put it out to adhere to the burn ban.

Wallace said the fire department put out two fires in ditches. He is not sure if the causes were from cigarettes being tossed out of cars or by farmers who are clearing the ditches with fire, which is not uncommon, according to Wallace.

• Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department reported eight wildfires in the past two weeks. Chief Greg Baldwin said one fire burned a house down, and a second fire damaged a barn. Most of the fires happened last Saturday. The fire department serves the Woodlawn, Sylvania and Oak Grove communities.

Baldwin said, around noon last Saturday, Tri-Community Fire Department was called to its first fire of the day at a minnow farm off Earl Verser Road. Someone was cleaning up and burning a pile of leaves beside a barn. The wind pushed the flames to the barn.

“It burned a tractor and some equipment. It did considerable damage,” Baldwin said.

While crews were on the scene, a second fire occurred on Cinel Loop. Baldwin said a grass fire spread and burned down a house completely. After putting out those fires, the fire department was called again to help to extinguish four grass fires.

“We didn’t stop from noon to 8 o’clock that night,” the chief said.

Baldwin said Saturday was warm and sunny and some people wanted to clean up, but it was windy. “People were dying to get out and burn something,” he said.

• Austin Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Bettis said his department responded to two grass fires inside the city limits in the past two weeks.

“One fire approached a residence, but it was stopped before any damage occurred,” Bettis said.

• Butlerville Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Jody Webb said the department recently extinguished one grass fire in its coverage area near Prairie County, and it assisted other fire departments with two fires.

• Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson said his department put out four grass and brush fires in the past two weeks.

• Mountain Springs Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Andrew Williams said no wildfires have occurred in his area.

“I believe most of our people in the district are smart enough to know not to burn when it is windy,” Williams said.

• Lt. Butch Chapman of the South Bend Volunteer Fire Department said his department has responded to at least four grass fires.

Firefighters there also assisted another department with a grass fire that spread to a building.

• Fire Chief Randy Staley of the Ward Volunteer Fire Department said, in the past two weeks, the department has been called out to four grass fires and assisted other departments with three structure fires.


• North Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department Chief Randy Blakey said his department has responded to four grass and brush fires in the past couple of weeks. He blames low humidity and high winds for the increase in grass fires.

• Capt. Tommie Golden of the Gravel Ridge Fire Department said it responded to three brush fires in the past two weeks. One of the fires burned a small backyard shed.

• Runyan Acres Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ken Partridge said it has taken three calls for grass fires since Jan. 14.

“The way everything is, that’s not too bad at all. It is really dry. Everybody needs to be really careful. Don’t do any outdoor burning until we get some rain,” Partridge said.

• Jacksonville Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Thornton said the city had only one grass fire recently, which occurred Thursday, and they assisted the South Bend Volunteer Fire Department with another one.

“We don’t have a lot of rural areas in Jacksonville and don’t have the number of grass fires we used to have,” Thornton said.

• Fire Chief David Teague said the Sherwood Fire Department extinguished only one grass fire in the past couple of weeks.

“We don’t have but eight to 10 grass fires a year,” Teague said. He said those types of fires mostly occur in wooded areas of the county.


• Beebe Fire Department firefighter Patrick Valadie said it has responded to 10 grass and brush fires in the past two weeks.

Valadie said the number of fires have been evenly split between areas inside city limits and in the county.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady ’Rabs cruise past Dollarway

Special to The Leader

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits hosted Dollarway on Tuesday night at the Gina Cox Center and defeated the Lady Cardinals for the second time this season by a score of 54-29.

The Lady Jackrabbits (14-5, 6-1) had an 8-2 lead in the first quarter, but Dollarway tied the score at 8-8 with a three-point basket at the buzzer. Lonoke led at the half 22-13, and outscored the Lady Cardinals 23-8 in the third quarter to help secure the victory.

“I know we played a lot better the second half,” said Lonoke head coach Nathan Morris. “I think we came out against a team we beat handily the first time we played them, but that was only their third game because of football. We didn’t out position them. We didn’t do that well blocking out wise and stuff. That’s something we’ve got to get better at. Blocking out is effort.

“The press worked with a group that hadn’t worked together as much, and I was pretty excited about how they moved. The biggest part about pressure is after something works, they get excited about it. That was good, because we’ve not pressed very well this year. That’s good to know going into the second time we play everybody.”

Jarrelyn McCall led the Lady Jackrabbits in the second quarter as she had seven of the team’s 14 points for the quarter.

Her two-pointer gave Lonoke a 14-10 lead, and Callie Whitfield sank a three-pointer with 5:52 to go in the quarter for a 17-10 advantage. Eboni Willis scored a two-point basket, but couldn’t hit the free throw to complete the three-point play. However, the lead was doubled at 20-10. Dollarway cut into the lead at 20-13, but McCall hit two free throws for the 22-13 halftime score.

McCall again was a contributor in the third quarter, starting her scoring with a two-point basket plus a free throw for the three-point play. Lonoke’s full- court pressure was effective as the Lady Cardinals turned the ball over four times in a very short span, one of those being a 10-second violation.

The lead built to 45-21 with 1:15 to go in the quarter, and the quarter ended with that score intact. McCall scored nine points of the team’s 23.

Ashlyn Allen had five points in the final quarter for the Lady Jackrabbits, including 3 of 4 free throws. Dollarway sank 4 of 6 from the line to contribute to the team’s eight points in the quarter.

Lonoke scored nine fourth quarter points to set the final score of 54-29.

McCall led all scorers with 20 points. Willis added 12 for the Lady Jackrabbits, Allen had seven points, Amanda Sexton had six, and Whitfield added five points for the home team.

Chandra Hayes led Dollarway with eight points.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe girls beat Forrest City

Special to The Leader

In all phases of Tuesday night’s 5A-East Conference game against the Forrest City Lady Mustangs, Beebe was just better.

The Lady Badgers were quicker, faster, better ball handlers and better decision-makers in their 67-52 win over the Lady Mustangs played on Bill Baxter Court at Mustang Arena.

Shredding Forrest City’s full-court press, the Lady Badgers made it look easy early by consistently beating Forrest City’s press for easy layups and hitting from long range when needed. Beebe led 14-6 after one period, 39-25 at the half and 52-39 to start the fourth period.

Beebe improves to 3-1 in the East and remains in a three-way tie for second with Greene County Tech and Nettleton. Forrest City slips to 1-3 in the conference and into a tie with Blytheville in the standings.

The Lady Mustangs trailed by just two points early in the first period, which would be the closest they would get for the entire game.

Back-to-back threes by Mollie Laws early in the third period kept the Lady Mustangs within striking distance before Beebe used a three from Kalela Miller, two free throws and a putback basket by Gracie Anders to push their lead to 50-32 at the two minute mark.

The Lady Mustangs answered with a 7 to 2 run to end the period which included two baskets by JaBrisha Hawkins and a field goal and free throw by Dominique Dillard.

Beebe pushed their advantage to 59-42 in the fourth and 61-46 at the five minute mark. The Lady Mustangs cut Beebe’s lead to 11 at 61-50 on two free throws by Sherelle McGowan with just over three minutes left in the game, but got no closer.

Hawkins finished with 12 points to lead the Lady Mustangs, while McGowan added 10 points. Jakayla Burke added nine points, while Deja Collins helped with eight and Laws and Dillard each finished with six.

From the foul line, the Lady Mustangs dropped in 12 of their 26 free throw chances.

Miller led Beebe with 21 points and helped put the game away in the fourth by hitting four of five free throws. Anders added 16 points, while Ashlyn Johnson helped with nine points and Madison Richey finished with six.

From here, the Lady Badgers will play at Greene County Tech on Friday.

Paragould defeated Greene County Tech 64-59 Tuesday to stayed unbeaten in the conference at 4-0.

Forrest City and Beebe will play a final conference game on Feb. 18.

Beebe moves into the 5A-Central conference next season while Valley View moves up from Class 4A to take their place in the East.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils earn pair of Central triumphs

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville basketball teams picked up a pair of 5A-Central Conference wins on Tuesday, sweeping the Helena-West Helena Central boys and girls at the Devils’ Den in Jacksonville. The boys held off a mid-game Cougar charge to win 68-57, while the girls controlled throughout in a 69-54 victory.

The Lady Red Devils got a balanced attack against what proved to be a two-man show for the Central girls. Four of Jacksonville’s five starters finished the game in double figures. For Central, freshman Keavonsheay Stackhouse and senior Tyra Hampton accounted for 76 percent of the Lady Cougars’ offense.

Jacksonville got the offense rolling early, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and going into halftime with a 41-23 lead. Though Jacksonville coach William Rountree thought the defense could’ve been better.

“I didn’t feel like we were on our A game defensively,” Rountree said. “Helena is really athletic and has one really good guard, and we didn’t do as well as I thought we could have at keeping her in check. But the number one objective is to win the ball game and we did that. I thought we did some good things and were able to win.”

The game became ragtag in the third quarter, and Central took advantage. The Lady Cougars outscored Jacksonville 19-14 in that quarter. That made it a 13-point game going into the fourth, but the visitors were never able to get the margin into single digits.

The short Lady Devils are usually at a considerable size disadvantage on the post. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday, and Jacksonville took full advantage.

Senior post players Markela Bryles and Ashli Evans both scored in double figures. Bryles had 23 while Evans scored 10. Evans, who is only 5-foot-6, drew praise from Rountree for her recent efforts.

“I thought Ashli has had great games the last two times out,” Rountree said. “She can expand her role. She passes the ball well. She doesn’t shoot a lot, but she takes good shots. When she brings her A game energy, she’s very helpful in making us a good team. The last two games she’s provided a spark when we really needed one.”

Also in double figures for Jacksonville were senior guards Keke Alcorn and Tiffany Smith, who scored 19 and 12 respectively. Stackhouse scored 23 and Hampton added 19 for Central.

The boys played their game without head coach Vic Joyner, who had to sit out after being ejected from the Red Devils’ win over McClellan last Friday. Assistant coach and athletic director Jerry Wilson was at the helm for the game, and thought the team started strong, but could’ve finished better.

“We came out and got after them and got a big lead, but we didn’t keep the intensity up,” said Wilson. “We got it back and got the win, so overall it was a pretty good effort.”

Jacksonville raced out to a 20-9 lead in the first quarter and was on the verge of blowing the game open. But the Cougars came back to within five by halftime. A quick burst to start the third quarter put the visiting team in front by one point, but the lead was short-lived. Jacksonville picked up the intensity and reclaimed control of the game.

Devin Campbell hit a three pointer off a steal that sparked a run late in the third. Jacksonville closed the quarter leading 47-42, and quickly pushed it to double digits again in the fourth.

Campbell finished with 18 points while Kanaan Jackson scored 15 and Tedrick Wolfe 10 for the Red Devils. Ricky Beechwood led Central with 15 points while Terrence Smith scored 11 and Anthony Lewis 10.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers bounce Central

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s stellar shot selection helped the Panthers build a 15-point halftime lead over Little Rock Central in Tuesday’s 7A/6A East matchup at Panther Arena, and sophomore forward Garrett Rowe helped thwart any comeback attempt by the Tigers in the second half, as the host team won convincingly, 59-37.

The first half of Tuesday’s game was a three-point frenzy, as the two teams combined to make 10 threes in the first two quarters of play.

Hunter York, Nick Thomas and Jeremiah Penner each made two three-pointers in the opening half to help Cabot to a 6 for 11 showing from beyond the arc. Central’s Sean Carrouthers hit 3 of 4 threes for the Tigers, who finished the half 4 for 10 from three-point range.

The difference in the half was that Central (5-8, 1-3) made just one two-point field goal and Cabot (11-5, 2-2) made six, equaling its number of three-point field goals. Cabot finished the first half 12 of 20 from the floor for 60 percent. Central finished the half 5 of 23 from the floor for 22 percent.

It was a close game after a quarter of play, but the Panthers still led, 15-13. Cabot’s high shooting percentage made the difference in the second quarter, as the host team took a 32-17 lead into halftime.

“We were 62 percent at Mountain Home Friday,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “We usually take pretty good shots and it was pretty distributed. Jeremiah, he sparked us in that second quarter when he came in and hit those two threes for us. This team, we love that kid. He’s a fun kid and when he does well they seem to respond.

“I thought it was a good team effort. We shot well and I thought we rebounded better. We didn’t rebound last week. And I think our young ones are growing up and getting better, too.”

Cabot outrebounded Central 25-16 for the game. The Tigers opened the second half with an 8-4 run, which cut the Panthers’ lead to 36-25, but that was close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.

The Panthers led 43-29 at the end of the third quarter, and junior two-guard Jake Ferguson drained a three-pointer at the start of the fourth to push Cabot’s lead to 17, leading 46-29. The majority of Cabot’s highlights in the second half though, came from Rowe, who scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in quarters three and four.

Rowe made three free throws early in the fourth quarter that helped push the Panthers’ lead to 19, and got a big-time putback with 3:42 to play that put Cabot up 21, leading 53-32. Rowe hasn’t missed a shot from the field in the last two games. He went 6 for 6 from the floor in last week’s win over Mountain Home, and finished 7 for 7 from the floor Tuesday.

“He had 16 the other night at Mountain Home,” Bridges said of his sophomore forward. “He’s coming on and he’s catching up to the game now. He’s getting used to what we do and what we expect out of him, but I think we’re coming together well and understanding what we do and we’re understanding each other better, too.”

Cabot finished the game 21 of 41 from the floor for 51 percent, bettering Central’s 13 of 41 showing for 32 percent. The Panthers also shot well at the free-throw and three-point lines. Cabot made 8 of 16 shots from three-point range for 50 percent, and made 9 of 12 from the line for 75 percent.

Conversely, the Tigers made 6 of 17 from beyond the arc for 35 percent, and 5 of 15 from the stripe for a less than stellar 33 percent.

Carrouthers led all scorers with 20 points. Rowe was the only Panther to finish in double figures, but seven more Panthers contributed to the scoring efforts.

York finished with eight points. Thomas, Penner, Adolfo Iglesias and Hunter Southerland each scored six points. Michael Smith scored four and Ferguson added three points.

The Panthers continued conference play last night at home against West Memphis. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader. The Cabot boys will resume 7A/6A East play on the road Tuesday at Jonesboro. Tip-off Tuesday starts at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Time to fix health care

If you want to know what’s wrong with health care in the U.S., read an in-depth article in last Sunday’s New York Times. Much of the article is about a professor at the University of Central Arkansas who underwent an expensive procedure at the Arkansas Skin Cancer Center in Little Rock to remove a small cancerous spot on her cheek.

The story is online at

Since the Little Rock newspaper ran about half of the article, readers missed the comments at the end from a UAMS dermatologist who questioned the need for such an expensive procedure.

Professor Kim Little, who teaches history at UCA, underwent an expensive Mohs surgical procedure that ran the cost up to more than $26,000. The operation involved a dermatologist, an anesthesiologist and an ophthalmologist who is also a plastic surgeon.

The UAMS doctor told the reporter the Mohs procedure was unnecessary and the operation should have been done for much less.

But when you’re told you have a cancerous spot on you cheek, who’s going to do comparison shopping?

Although Professor Little has insurance, she has a huge deductible and wasn’t happy about paying several thousand dollars for the operation out of her own pocket. She finally negotiated her portion of the bill down to about $4,500, which should have been the cost of the entire procedure.

Multiply Professor Little’s experience by several million and you can see why we spend an astonishing $2.7 trillion a year on healthcare.

As medical bills keep rising, it appears the Arkansas Legislature, rather than addressing the problem of high health-care costs, is determined to defund the state’s short experiment with the so-called private option, which insures thousands of Arkansans with the help of federal subsidies at no cost to taxpayers.

The state legislature last year narrowly ap-proved the private option, which was crafted by Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy), House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot) and others. It was a smart move that other states are emulating. The program is completely funded through Medicaid, which will cover all costs for the next several years and as much as 90 percent after that. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars will insure thousands of Arkansans. As a result, dozens of hospitals in our communities will stay open and will no longer have to write off billions of dollars in uncollected debt.

But legislators like Rep. Joe Farrer (R- Austin) hope to kill the private option, which will create a huge deficit in the state budget if they succeed. Thousands of Arkansans will lose their insurance and hospitals like North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville, where Farrer is a physical therapist, could close. North Metro, like almost every hospital in Arkansas, depends on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. If Farrer gets his way, those funds will go to poor states like West Virginia and Kentucky, where hundreds of thousands of people are being insured for the first time.

When you’re in the legislature, people like Farrer are eligible for government insurance, but for less fortunate Arkansans, the private option is critical. Unfortunately, a two-thirds majority is needed to reapprove funding for the private option. That’s a high hurdle as more Republicans are leaning against it. One key Democrat, Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, who supported the private option, has been replaced by a Republican following Bookout’s resignation for ethics violations.

“The Arkansas private option has become a national model for states seeking flexibility under the Affordable Care Act,” Gov. Mike Beebe said in his radio address last Saturday. “It has already brought insurance coverage to more than 77,000 Arkansans, with tens of thousands more soon to qualify. It has attracted younger people to our insurance exchange, a necessity to keep insurance affordable in the future. The anticipated influx of federal funds will save an estimated $89 million for our state in the next fiscal year.”

“If the private option fails,” Beebe warned, “many Arkansans will lose their health care and tough cuts will need to be decided for other state services, as well.”

The governor, along with Speaker Carter and Sen. Dismang, cannot let that happen. Let’s hope they can persuade their colleagues to do the right thing. The private option will provide coverage for those who need it and keep our hospitals open, so Joe Farrer can continue working as a physical therapist and will never have to turn away a patient without insurance.

TOP STORY >> Schools rewarded for improving

Leader staff writer

A total of about $425,000 has recently been awarded to 10 area schools for excellence in student performance, academic growth and graduation rates (for high schools).

The Cabot School District had five schools receive monetary awards. Searcy had four, and Beebe had one.

The Pulaski County Special School District had two schools honored, but the schools were south of the river.

Cabot Middle School North and its counterpart, Cabot Middle School South, were recognized for being in the top 10 percent of state schools in student performance and academic growth for the 2012-13 school year. Cabot North was awarded $77, 935, and Cabot South received $71,222.

Cabot’s Mountain Springs Elementary was also in the top 10 percent and received $39,083.

Two other Cabot schools finished in the top 20 percent for performance and academic growth. They were Cabot Junior High North, receiving $55,231, and Magness Creek Elementary, getting $16,326.

Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman said, “We were very pleased with the news that our district will receive over $200,000 in incentive funding for performance and growth. We have teachers and students working very hard across our school system and the additional funds are validation of the good work that they are doing.

“The integration of technology into our schools is a priority. A challenging aspect of this exciting aspect of education is the associated costs with providing the devices for students to use in the classroom. We will use the funding to provide additional Chromebooks and charging stations for those schools earning the rewards.”

Searcy had two schools in the first tier (top 10 percent) and two schools in the second tier (top 20 percent).

Ahlf Junior High School and Westside elementary were in the top 10 percent, receiving, $57,262 and $41,867, respectively.

In the top 20 percent were McRae Elementary and Southwest Middle School. McRae received $20,403, and the middle school got $46,188.

Beebe Elementary School was in the top 20 percent and received $17,980.

The state awards schools the equivalent of $100 per student if the school is in the top 10 percent and $50 per student if it is in the top 20 percent.

According to Dr. Tom Kimbrell, the state’s education commissioner, the award-winning schools “were identified by assigning a percentile rank for the measures of each school’s performance, growth and graduation rate.” An average score was determined and those in the top two tiers were rewarded.

Overall, the state gave out about $7 million to more than 200 Arkansas schools.

The rewards program was established by Act 1429, sponsored by Sen. Johnny Key (R-Mountain Home) during the 2013 General Assembly.

State law requires that winning schools spend the reward money on personnel costs — like bonuses and contracted services to maintain and improve student performance — or supplies and materials for educational programs.

A committee that includes the principal, teacher and parent representatives will decide specifically how the funds will be spent.

Of the 206 state schools honored, 108 were in the top 10 percent and 98 fell between 10 and 20 percent.

Just 14 high schools were rewarded, along with 71 middle and junior high schools and 121 elementary schools.

On average, the reward schools are less poor and have a smaller minority population than the state. Just 47 percent of students in reward schools receive free-and-reduced lunch (state average 61 percent) and 23 percent are minority students (state average 36 percent).

TOP STORY >> Nephew, senator uphold MLK legacy

Leader staff writer

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asked, “What are you doing to help others?” his nephew told a crowded gym Monday during the MLK community-empowerment summit and carnival at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

The nephew, Isaac Newton Farris Jr., said his aunt asked the holiday be changed to a day of service 10 years after Congress established it.

Farris explained that a day of service is what the civil rights activist would have wanted if he were alive today.

Farris continued, “When people talk about helping somebody, the first thing that comes to mind is money. Money is fine. I’m sure we could all use more of it.”

But he said money isn’t everything. Farris said helping others could be as simple as picking up a newspaper at the end of someone’s driveway and bringing it to them.

“It takes a certain mindset,” to serve others, Farris continued. He said, “The more you do, the more impact it has on your life.”

Farris told the audience he hoped that the day of service to honor his uncle would encourage people to spend two days, three days, seven days or even more time helping others.

To those in the audience who performed acts of service on Monday, Farris said, “You are an inspiration to the nation.”

Other highlights of the event included guest speaker state Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) and a demonstration by Anderson’s Taekwondo Center.

Chesterfield pointed out that King advocated for education and the right to vote.

She also said he wanted people of every race to enjoy all of what America has to offer, which now includes affordable health care.

“It is not acceptable that women pay more for health insurance than men. The Affordable Health Care (Act) says that’s not going to happen anymore. It is unacceptable for people to go into bankruptcy because insurance companies have capped the amount that can be paid for catastrophic illnesses thus plunging too many people into bankruptcy because we have so many illnesses that cost so much money.”

Chesterfield also said it was unacceptable that poor people couldn’t afford preventive care and had to visit emergency rooms to see a doctor.

Then she criticized the new law requiring voters to have identification cards at the polls. She said IDs are OK for privileges like getting on a plane or buying alcohol. But voting is a right and everyone should have access to it, Chesterfield said.

She said less than 50 percent of this country’s population is registered to vote.

“I’m tired of people telling me ‘my vote doesn’t make a difference.’ I think if 51 percent of the people in this country voted it would make a difference,” the senator said.

Chesterfield emphasized the importance of vocational schools and job-training programs as important parts of the education system.

“We’ve got to provide opportunities for that and stop talking only about you’ve got to go to college. No, you’ve got to be career ready,” she said.

Chesterfield challenged the audience to be “culturally competent.” She also said, “I would dare you to get wisdom. I would dare you to get knowledge. I would dare you to get understanding. There is a challenge before each and every one of us to greatness. There is a challenge before each and every one of us to service.”

During the taekwondo de-monstration that preceded Chesterfield’s address, master Richard Anderson spoke of how his students — some raised in broken homes and others raised in loving homes — know right from wrong.

The students entered the gym chanting, “Just say no; don’t do drugs.”

Later, they told Anderson a person who cheats, steals, lies, takes drugs, abuses alcohol or wears baggy pants is “a low- down dirty dog.”

Anderson said the responsibility for keeping children on the straight and narrow falls to the older generation and their parents. “We’ve got to do a better job,” he told the crowd.

Anderson also shared the story of his instructor, Ricky Gaston, who became his student at age 12 and now has a 4-year-old son enrolled at the center.

Gaston was raised by his grandmother because his mother and father were absentee parents. In his neighborhood, the kids had no choice but to join a gang, Anderson said. One day, Gaston was so angry with his father that he and his brother threatened to kill their father.

Anderson said, “I grabbed them and pushed them up against the fence saying ‘that’s your father. You can’t do anything about that. You cannot be like him.”

Gaston’s son, Trey, chanted positive mantras while showing off his taekwondo moves at the event.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, the Jacksonville chapter of the NAACP and the city sponsored the summit and carnival, which featured a petting zoo, horseback riding and vendors.

Jacksonville also celebrated the holiday with a citywide cleanup.

TOP STORY >> NLR choice for VA site is not final

Leader staff writer

The Arkansas Veterans Commission voted 9-3 at a meeting Tuesday morning to recommend a golf course in North Little Rock near Fort Roots as the location for a proposed new veterans’ home.

A location in Searcy was the runner-up commissioners discussed during the meeting at the state capitol.

Two sites in Jacksonville were also finalists, but they “didn’t measure up” to the others, according to commission chairman Bob Schoenborn.

He also said, “I don’t think there is any doubt Jacksonville is veteran-friendly,” and many commissioners commented that the community has a great attitude. Commissioner Tom Thomas said, “You cannot ask for people to be more patriotic in that area, Jacksonville.”

Cissy Rucker, director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans’ Affairs, is tasked by the state Legislature to make the final choice of a site for the veterans’ home.

Remaining tight-lipped about the decision, she said after the meeting that all 20 sites the commission­ers considered for the $23 mil­lion, 100-bed facility are still in the running.

Rucker also said she would select the site for the home within two weeks.

One of the Jacksonville sites is 30 acres of privately-owned farmland on Military Road and the other is a 20-acre site near Little Rock Air Force Base.

The Military Road site was at the bottom of a 45-degree slope and that may mean it floods, Schoenborn said.

The commissioners have previously voiced concern about the LRAFB site being in the flight path of C-130 aircraft and requiring the acquisition of an enhanced-use lease agreement with the Department of Defense.

Rucker said, “Every site has good. Every site has negative. You have to weigh them.”
Of the North Little Rock and Searcy proposals, she said, “I think they’re both good sites. It’s just going to come down to which site I think is best for the veterans.”

The director also told commissioners, “There is no time limit on this because we don’t know when we’re going to get the money…I’ve been over these proposals so many times I could recite them. When a decision is made, just know that it is not made lightly. It will be the best for Arkansas veterans.”

The money she was referring to is $14.5 million approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the project. The state legislature has voted to chip in the rest — $7.5 million.

Rucker said federal funds might not become available until the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The state veterans’ home, which will replace a Little Rock facility that closed for mismanagement several years ago, is 19th on a federal list of priorities.

The director explained that there is enough federal money appropriated this fiscal year to pay for 18 projects.

But, she continued, “It’s not bad news. It gives us some time to work on the design” and preparing for construction. Rucker said not getting the money this fiscal year is “not a total surprise.”

Her deputy director, Charles Johnson, added, “We’re well positioned.”

Rucker also said, if a project doesn’t work out or more money is appropriated, Arkansas could receive funds for the veterans home this fiscal year.

If the site Rucker chooses doesn’t work out for any reason, she will reconsider all 20 proposals. “This (process) has been transparent, clear and fair,” the director noted.

Schoenborn, the commission’s chairman, was optimistic about the federal funds. “It was the one department not affected by sequestration. It was one department that saw an increase in funds,” he said.

Four commissioners visited the two Jacksonville sites and the North Little Rock site on Jan. 13. They had previous­ly visited Searcy’s site.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said after hearing about the commission’s vote Tuesday afternoon, “I’ll always believe that Jacksonville, when it comes to serving our military people, I can’t think of anyone who does it better. A lot of work went into putting that proposal in. It is what it is...It was out of our power to make it happen. We gave it our best shot.

“It’s not final. It certainly wasn’t a good start to getting to the final decision. It wasn’t very encouraging for the commission to not vote for (our sites),” he said.

Schoenborn said the North Little Rock golf course “looked good.” It is federally-owned land across from Fort Roots and near the veterans hospital in Little Rock.

The golf course also has a lake stocked with fish, commissioner Terry Williams Sr. pointed out.

Schoenborn said he is concerned about dealing with bureaucracy in transferring the lease on the North Little Rock site. If that holds up the process, the chairman said he would build on the Searcy site “in a heartbeat.”

Another reservation several commissioners have about the golf course is the amount of dirt work that might be needed to get the project shovel-ready.

Williams said the North Little Rock golf course offers “serenity.”

Commissioner Tom Thomas said that he is partial to Searcy’s site because he is from there, but that isn’t the only reason Searcy would be a good choice.

Thomas said, “This is the first time Arkansas will have a VA home built…What is the best way to take care of our veterans? What can you give them besides a site?”

He said Harding students who are studying several medical degrees offered by that university need internships to graduate. They could complete internships at the new home instead of traveling outside Searcy, Thomas said.

He also noted the Searcy Regional Economic Development Corp.’s offer to pay utilities for the veterans’ home for three years and the flat land at that site. There is an adjacent 15 acres the city said could eventually be offered if the home needed to expand.

Another commissioner questioned how far Searcy is from the VA hospital in Little Rock. According to Google Maps, Searcy is a 50.5-mile and 52-minute drive from Little Rock. A Greyhound bus to Little Rock stops in Searcy twice a week.

Williams added that, when the commissioners visited the two Jacksonville sites, the bus driver didn’t slow down at the Military Road location and  the group couldn’t get through the LRAFB gate to look at all of the second site because the vehicle didn’t have the right insurance,

But, Williams said, “I like Jacksonville. I’m retired military…I love the area.”

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers get first East win at Hangar

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers picked up their first conference win in three tries when they traveled to Mountain Home and beat the Bombers 49-30 Friday.

Cabot took control early with a 15-2 run to take a 17-4 lead in the first quarter. Senior Adolfo Iglesias came off the bench to spark the run, scoring seven points on the low block. Iglesias finished with a season-high 14 points, including 12 in the pivotal first half.

Iglesias converted a three-point play late in the second quarter to give the Panthers their biggest lead of the half at 25-10.

After going into halftime with a 27-13 lead, the margin grew to 20 points when the Panthers (10-5, 1-2) answered an opening bucket by the Bombers with an 8-0 run that made it 35-15. Mountain Home (5-9, 0-3) would get no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

“We didn’t need to start 0-3,” said Cabot coach Jerry Bridges. “You never know going on the road, but I was really proud of my guys. We played like we cared. I didn’t feel like we played against Marion like you need to play. Friday night I thought we got back to playing hard, and we executed well.”

After an abysmal rebounding effort and getting into foul trouble against Marion last Tuesday, Bridges decided he had to sacrifice one thing in order to accomplish another.

He played Friday’s game almost exclusively in a matchup zone, instead of his preferred man defense.

“I just don’t think it’s a good rebounding defense for us,” Bridges said. “But it did keep us out of foul trouble and kept them off the free-throw line. And we didn’t rebound against Marion anyway. We had one defensive rebound in the whole first half in that game and played man the whole time. That’s what I mean about the effort. It just wasn’t there in that game and that was disappointing. We played like we cared at Mountain Home and hopefully we’ll keep doing that.”

Sophomore Garrett Rowe led Cabot with 16 points while Derek Curtis led Mountain Home with 13.

In a girls game where points were a premium, Mountain Home made the most of two runs that led to the Lady Bombers’ 26-22 win. After falling behind 15-8, Mountain Home scored the last five points of the second quarter and the first seven points of the third quarter before settling into a defensive struggle and prevailing.

The 12-0 run gave the home team a 20-15 lead with 5:20 left in the third quarter, and the two teams combined for just 13 more points the rest of the game.

Free throw shooting killed Cabot’s comeback attempt. The Lady Panthers missed 6 of 7 free-throw attempts in the third quarter after pulling to within 20-18.

Mountain Home’s Hannah Gaines finally hit a short jumper to make it 22-18 on the first possession of the fourth quarter. After that, neither team scored for more than six minutes. Cabot’s CoCo Calhoon finally broke the scoring drought when she converted a steal into a transition layup to make it 22-20 with 1:42 left in the game.

Cabot went with full-court pressure after the layup, and almost got another steal. But Mountain Home got the loose ball and found Gaines under the basket for an uncontested layup.

Mountain Home (4-11, 1-2) fouled Anna Sullivan with 10 seconds left, and for the first time in the game, a Lady Panther hit both free throws. Cabot fouled with six seconds left and Sydney Blevins made both foul shots to set the final margin.

Breelyn Arms led all scorers with seven points. Calhoon led Cabot (10-7, 1-2) with six.

SPORTS STORY >> Rebounding dooms Bears in double OT

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills had several chances to put Little Rock Christian Academy away on Friday, and after two overtimes, wished they had capitalized on one of them. Instead, the Warriors hit shots at the buzzer to force one, and the a second overtime, and went on to a 60-58 victory over the Bears in Sherwood.

“This game comes down to rebounding,” said Sylvan Hills coach Kevin Davis. “It’s something I preached all week. That’s why you saw a smaller lineup tonight. The guys that crash the boards in practice got to play. But we didn’t bring it to the game at crucial times.”

Indeed, both of LRCA’s game-tying buzzer beaters came after offensive rebounds, and the Warriors won the rebounding battle 31-23 despite Sylvan Hills getting the last five redounds of the game, including four on the offensive end.

“If we just turn and get a body on someone and block out either time, this game is over,” Davis said. “But we just sort of became spectators and they kept playing to the buzzer. And we were in, man, so it’s not like there’s any reason we couldn’t find a body. We were in between them and the goal when those shots went up. We just didn’t do our job. There were some other things we could have and should have done a lot better on the offensive end, but ultimately this game comes down to rebounding.”

Little Rock Christian Academy overcame a five-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter after watching the Bears end the third period on a 7-0 run.

It’s something Sylvan Hills did repeatedly, but could never put the game away. Sylvan Hills’ pressure forced the Warriors to cough the ball up 26 times in the game, including 11 steals by the Bears.

But each run was followed by a scoring drought.

Sylvan Hills fell behind early when LRCA’s Alex Croom scored the first nine points of the game for the Warriors, who jumped out to a 9-3 lead. The Bears pulled to within 13-10 by the end of the period, then held LRCA to without a field goal until the 1:50 mark of the second period, taking a 24-19 lead into halftime.

But in the third quarter, the Bears didn’t score until 2:36 remained and Ronnie Hinton’s basket tied it at 27. Christian scored right after and that’s when the Bears’ 7-0 run began. They started the fourth quarter up 34-29. It grew to 38-31 with 5:20 left, but the Warriors went on a 10-2 run and took the lead at 41-40 on a layup by Croom with 2:21 left in regulation.

Neither team scored again until Sylvan Hills point guard Cordy Winston got a steal and hit a floater with 41 seconds remaining to put the Bears up 42-41. The Bears got another steal, but just as Winston was streaking into the passing lane for what would have been an open layup, Warrior coach Austin Trembley called timeout.

It didn’t help much, Hinton stole the ball after the inbound pass and was fouled with 25 seconds remaining. He made both free throws to give the Bears a 44-41 lead.

Warrior point guard Cole Hendrixon missed a three pointer with five seconds left, but forward Graham Tate got the rebound, kicked out to Croom, who let go of his shot just before the buzzer and drained it to tie the game at 44 and send it to overtime.

LRCA got the first lead of more than two points in overtime on a Hendrixon three pointer that made it 49-46 with 1:56 left.

Amani Armond answered for the Bears with 1:11 left. Croom then missed an uncontested layup with 38 seconds remaining and Hinton gave the Bears a 50-49 lead with 26 seconds remaining.

Hinton then got another big steal and was fouled. He made 1 of 2 foul shots with 19 seconds left for a two-point Bears’ lead.

After a timeout, Croom let fly a three-pointer with eight seconds left, but Cates again got the rebound and put it back in to force the second overtime.

The Bears led 56-53 with three minutes left in the second overtime on an Armond putback, but the Warriors scored the next seven points, five by Croom. His two free throws with 1:19 were the last points the Warriors would score, and all they needed.

Winston set the final margin with 1:00 to play after a Hinton miss and a Tre West rebound.

The Bears got what they needed after Winston’s bucket. Sylvan Hills fouled Peyton White, who missed the front end of a one-and-one and Sylvan Hills’ David Johnson got the rebound with 30 seconds left.

Winston missed with 18 seconds to go. West got the rebound but his putback was off the mark. Croom got that rebound, but he put the ball on the floor and got tied up, resulting in a jump ball that gave the Bears possession again with 12 seconds remaining.

Davis called timeout to set up a play for Hinton, but his squad didn’t run the play. Instead, Winston passed to Armond, who shot a three pointer from the top of the key and missed. West got another offensive board, but his putback also missed as time expired.

“We were inbounding it under the basket, and we were supposed to get the ball to Ronnie on the baseline,” Davis said. “He was just supposed to get it up there, just get the shot up. That’s a shot I’ve seen him make 1,000 times, and even if he missed, we had Amani on the low block for that backside rebound. We just didn’t run it. I can’t tell you why.”

Another factor contributing to the loss was that the Bears had their worst outside shooting night of the season. They made just 2 of 19 three-point attempts and shot 42 percent from the floor overall. The Warrriors hit 49 percent of their shots, including 17 of 31 two-pointers. They also made 8 of 9 free throws while Sylvan Hills hit 16 of 26.

Croom led all scorers with 29 points while Hendrixon added 11 for the Warrriors. Armond led the Bears with 21 while Hinton scored 11.

The Bears traveled to Pulaski Academy on Tuesday after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

On Friday, they will make the short trip up Jacksonville Cutoff to take on archrival North Pulaski in what has become a crucial 5A-Central Conference game for both teams.

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits' adjustments knock Heber off its perch

Leader sports editor

The 4A-2 Conference is a mess in boys basketball, and Lonoke has played a huge role in making that mess. The Jackrabbits further cluttered the field by traveling to league-leading Heber Springs on Friday and knocking off the Panthers 52-40.

Brenton Bryant started in place of senior point guard Tykel Gray, who has been ill. The sophomore came through with two big shots to open each of the halves. After falling behind and going into the second quarter trailing 16-12, Lonoke outscored Heber 14-10 in the second quarter to send the game into halftime tied at 26.
That’s when adjustments took place, especially defensively.

“We didn’t really adjust defenses, we just adjusted how we played our man defense,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “It was really more of a re-focusing on what we had worked on in practice. Heber does a really good job with their motion offense. They get you to chasing and can pull you away from the ball. We had to rethink, are they just running us out of the play here? We did a much better job of staying in position and taking away easy baskets in the second quarter. We talk about those things all the time, but when you get in a game and start flying around, it’s sometimes easy to forget.”

The refocusing led to holding the high-scoring Panthers to just 14 points in the second half. Lonoke also gave up only 14 points in the paint and three offensive rebounds, something the Jackrabbits have struggled with this season.

“We definitely did a better job of taking care of the lane and forcing them to shoot jump shots,” Campbell said. “And rebounding has been an Achilles’ heel for us. But we only gave up four second-chance points. That’s important. That’s what got us beat in a couple of games. So you can see what taking care of that will do for you.”

The game’s results leaves Dollarway alone atop the conference standings at 5-1. The one loss was a 20-point loss to Heber Springs. Lonoke, Heber Springs and Newport are all 4-2 with the Greyhounds owning wins over the other two second-place teams. Newport’s losses were to Dollarway and Stuttgart.

“There’s no doubt everything is still up for grabs in this conference,” Campbell said. “It’s probably going to come down to the very last week the way things are shaking out so far.”

Senior post player Blake Mack led Lonoke with 19 points while Jamel Rankin added 12.

The Jackrabbits hosted Dollarway on Tuesday in another big matchup. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader. They will travel to Clinton on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> McDonald, Seahawks headed for Super Bowl

Leader sports editor

In a season that began with the most disappointing moment of his career, Jacksonville native Clinton McDonald will finish it at the pinnacle of all football pursuits when the Seattle Seahawks nose tackle lines up across from Denver Broncos center Manny Ramirez in the 2014 Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in New Jersey.

McDonald and the Seattle Seahawks made a defensive stand in the end zone on Sunday to preserve a 23-17 victory over archrival San Francisco in the NFC Championship game. The season began with McDonald being released by the Seahawks just before the first week of the season, despite starting every preseason game and having his best game in the final week of preseason.

The New England Patriots showed some interest in picking up McDonald, but after a week-one win over Carolina, Seahawks general manager John Schneider called McDonald at his parents’ home in Jacksonville and asked him to return to the team.

That was on Thursday before Seattle hosted San Francisco for the first of three games against the 49ers this season. McDonald got the call on Thursday, flew back to Seattle on Friday, signed on Saturday and was on the field that Sunday.

Since then, he has turned in his best season as a professional since being drafted by Cincinnati in 2009.

He has recorded 36 tackles, third among defensive linemen on the team, and 5.5 sacks, also third on the team.

Already small for his position, McDonald has accomplished all this while 12 pounds lighter than he was last season. He makes up for his 285-pound frame with bullish strength and better quickness. Near the end of the regular season, Seattle coach Pete Carroll talked about McDonald’s improvement since returning to the team.

“He’s more active,” Carroll told writer Clare Farnsworth. “He did lose some weight. He just seemed to be quicker and by far the best we’ve seen him. It just seemed like something happened. It’s like a light went on or the sense of urgency changed.”

McDonald becomes the second former Jacksonville Red Devil to play in the Super Bowl. Exactly 29 years and one week earlier, Dan Hampton played for and won a Super Bowl ring with the Chicago Bears, beating the New England Patriots 46-10 on Jan. 26, 1985. Hampton was also a defensive tackle and is now in the National Football League Hall of Fame.

McDonald was recruited out of Jacksonville High School as a linebacker and signed with Memphis University. He was moved to defensive end his freshman year by defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn, a move McDonald, at the time 245 pounds, didn’t like. He was moved to the interior of the line his sophomore year, though he was still only 255 pounds.

Displaying the work ethic that has made him an effective NFL linemen despite being so small, McDonald built himself into a professional-caliber player. He is one of the strongest players on the Seahawks squad, and his short stature, 6-foot-2, combined with his strength, makes him a strong pass rusher from the inside, though he has become an all-package player.

McDonald’s position in the Seahawks scheme isn’t one that’s necessarily supposed to put up big numbers. He has earned a reputation as a workhorse who makes teammates better.

“Clinton is a guy who is having a terrific year,” Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said in December. “He’s really provided some inside rush for us. The ability to have a guy who can push the pocket where the quarterback can’t step up, and now have the outside guys get him, that’s the dirty work.”

McDonald has also been active in his hometown since becoming a professional. He is a Gold level contributor to the Jacksonville High School Booster Club, and last year began a football camp for local youths called the Clinton McDonald Iron Sharpens Iron Youth Football Camp. The name for which he took from a verse of Scripture in the Book of Proverbs. The Seahawks and Broncos will kick off Super Bowl XLVIII at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils alone in first place

Special to The Leader

Both the Jacksonville Red Devils and the McClellan Lions were undefeated in conference play Friday night when the Lions played host to the Red Devils.

The game was close all the way, but Jacksonville (14-3, 4-0) prevailed for the 80-74 victory.

The score was tied at the end of the first quarter and McClellan (9-7, 3-1) led by two points at the end of the first half of play.

The third quarter was as close and as contested as well, with several calls that were questioned by Jacksonville head coach Victor Joyner. So strong were his objections, he received two technical fouls and had to leave the gym with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Keith Hayes shot the four technical free throws and made two to give the Lions a 51-47 lead. However, the Red Devils came back to outscore McClellan 31-21 in the final quarter to secure the victory.

“The sequence of calls, there was a sequence of about four or five calls that went against us,” said Joyner. “It was the same in the first half. My kids had to go to the hole and take two hits and they go to the free throw line. My kids were fighting an uphill battle, but the kids kept playing. My kids did a great job under all that adversity. They kept playing. That’s the whole key. They persevered and they came through.

“They get after it. They want to speed you up,” Coach Joyner said of McClellan. “If you can’t play in the 70s and 80s you’re going to have trouble with them. We were able to rest guys and we have guys that can finish around the basket. We have some great finishers.”

Jacksonville’s Kanaan Jackson tied the game at eight in the first quarter with a dunk, and the quarter ended knotted at 12.

The Red Devils struggled early in the second quarter with McClellan’s full-court press, turning the ball over and allowing the Lions to build a 27-19 lead with 3:53 to go in the quarter.

Damarion Freeman sank two free throws to trim the lead to 27-23 with 2:53 left. LaQuawn Smith and Sergio Berkley added baskets to help the Red Devils pull to just a 32-30 deficit at the half.

McClellan scored the first five points of the second half to build the lead to 37-30. The lead grew to 41-32, but Jackson hit a two-point basket plus one free throw and then added two free throws to pull the Red Devils to within two points at 45-43. After the technical free throws, Jacksonville forced a five second call on the Lions, and Devin Campbell hit two free throws for a 51-49 Lion lead.

McClellan built a 57-51 lead in the fourth quarter before Tedrick Wolfe tied the game at 58-58 with two free throws for the Red Devils. Andre Jones hit a three-pointer to give the Lions a 61-58 lead, answered by Campbell’s three-pointer to tie the game at 61-61.

The game was then tied four times with neither team leading by more than two points until Jacksonville went ahead 74-70. Hayes hit two free throws for the Lions to cut the lead to 74-72, but Smith answered with two free throws to up the Red Devil advantage to 76-72 with 41 seconds to go in the game.

Jacksonville led 78-74 with 17 seconds left and scored at the buzzer to set the final score at 80-74.

Jacksonville had four players in double figures in scoring. Campbell led the Red Devils with 20 points, Jackson added 17, Wolfe had 12 points and Berkley 10 points.
Hayes had 19 points for McClellan and Jones added 18 points.

Monday, January 20, 2014

TOP STORY >> Award honors Myers' legacy

Leader editor

The family of the late Oliver W. (Dub) Myers has established a leadership award for students of Jacksonville, North Pulaski and Lighthouse high schools who are also members of the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.

Myers, who died in 2012 at the age of 82, was a brigadier general in the Arkansas National Guard who went on to have a long career in business in Jacksonville and was frequently involved with community service.

The $500 Dub Myers Emerging Leadership Award will help pay for school-related expenses like books, clothes, transportation, equipment or other fees. It is available on a competitive basis annually to students with a minimum grade point average of 2.5.

“Throughout his life, he was in service to his country and community in roles both formal and informal. He quietly made sure that children in the community had the supplies they needed to succeed in school and in life. He never forgot that, in his sophomore year in high school, people in his community recognized his leadership potential and helped him with resources he needed to succeed in high school, college and throughout his life,” according to a news release.

Born in Crowley’s Ridge, “Dub never forgot his modest roots and looked for ways to help others fulfill their potential based on merit and without prejudice. He proudly appointed the first African American officer to a command leadership position in the Arkansas National Guard, and he was the first to recommend a female officer for a command,” it continued.

“(He) was a leader, and he believed that every human being had potential but might need a little help. His motto was ‘don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’”

A selection committee — two Boys and Girls Club board members, the club’s director, a club volunteer and a member of the Myers family — will consider applicants’ grades, community involvement and extracurricular activities. The award will be presented at the club’s spring banquet.

Applications must include a letter of recommendation from a school faculty member and one from a community member or fellow student. They are available at the Boys and Girls Club, which is open from 1 until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Call 501-982-4316 for more information.

TOP STORY >> JP quits quorum court

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County District 7 JP Adam Sims turned in his resignation during the Thursday night quorum court meeting, saying that he was unable to effectively represent the people of the Furlow area who elected him.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin said after the meeting that the quorum court will declare a vacancy during the February meeting and supply Gov. Mike Beebe with a list of possible replacements, but the choice is the governor’s alone.

“Sometimes things happen that are beyond the control of anyone,” Sims read from a prepared statement. “This is one of those times. As we all know, I have not been well for over a year. I have missed many meetings and not been able to represent my district in the manner it needs to be represented.”

Sims was injured while working at a railroad shop in North Little Rock in November 2012. He’s had two surgeries so far to correct the damage that was done.

Sims, 45, was first elected in 1994 when he was 25 years old. He served two terms and was re-elected five years ago.

“There’s a lot more to this job when you’re in an unincorporated area than when you’re in the city,” Sims said during a later interview.

He counts among his successes a community park that he worked for as well as two day-long community gatherings.

Sims also successfully op-posed on the behalf of the people in his district a halfway house for women and the construction of a crematorium.

More recently, he has tried unsuccessfully to persuade the county judge to put more money toward beaver bounties to encourage year-round trapping.

“If I was well, I would have hung in there,” Sims said. “They come to you because they know you, and they expect you to get something done.”

But because of the pain and family responsibilities, his work in his district had suffered, Sims said, and it was better to resign.

“I wish you well and I wish your family well,” Erwin said when Sims finished reading Thursday night. Sims smiled in acknowledgement but told Erwin, “I’m still going to fight you on the beavers.”


In other business, quorum court members asked how much the county owes the cities of Lonoke and Carlisle.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has declined to reconsider its approval of a special circuit court judge’s ruling  that the county must pay half of all expenses of the district courts in those cities and not just half the salaries of the judge and one clerk.

Geoff Thompson, the county’s attorney, said he couldn’t answer the question because the amounts had not yet been determined.

County Clerk Larry Clarke, responding to their question, said the budget would have to be amended to add the expenditure.

Since January 2012 — when the county stopped paying half of all expenses, saying the state law had changed and all that was required was half of two salaries — Carlisle has not taken any county money to help run its court. So the county is holding about $58,000 for that city.

Lonoke has taken the offered half salaries but said in an appeal to the state Supreme Court that the county owed almost $28,000 a year for half of all other expenses as allowed by a court order in 1991.

City leaders were called to a meeting with Erwin in late November 2011 to discuss the payments the county makes to cities to help run district courts, where the county’s misdemeanor cases are heard.

Erwin said then that, because there were so many different agreements and some were not in writing, it was impossible to understand how the cities were reimbursed for hearing county cases.

But, he said then, the new law said the county only had to pay for half the salaries of the two top employees and the county intended to follow the law. At that time, the Cabot District Court expected to get more than $159,000 from the county, but that amount was cut to about $60,000.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert attended the Thursday quorum court meeting. When asked if he also intended to file suit or otherwise pursue a larger reimbursement for the Cabot District Court, the mayor said, “No comment.”

TOP STORY >> 'Our time is now,' mayor tells council

Leader staff writer

“Our time is now,” Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher said during his state of the city report, which was read at Thursday night’s city council meeting.

“There is a new day dawning for Jacksonville as we start 2014, but as we face the future, we also need to reflect on the past as the ground work to bring about this promising future,” he said.

A stand-alone, locally-controlled Jacksonville/north Pulaski school district and the largest trap- and skeet-shooting range in the state will greet that new day on a four-lane Graham Road.

Jacksonville could also see a new state veterans’ home and a vote on whether to allow alcohol-by-the-drink sales.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. approved a settlement in the 1989 desegregation case that also permits Jacksonville to break away from the Pulaski County Special School District.

Advocates have been working toward the detachment for more than 30 years. Fletcher said they have gone through “six feasibility studies, endless town-hall meetings, discussions, frustrations from the condition of facilities; lack of vision, control and professionalism; of school boards ignoring the needs of our city and its children.”

The next step in the detachment process is a September election — if approved by the state Board of Education — in which voters will decide whether they want their own school district.

About the election, Fletcher quipped, “By the way, that will be 34 weeks from Tuesday, if anybody’s counting.”

Another accomplishment looming on the horizon is the $3.5 million trap- and skeet-shooting range on Graham Road. A soft opening for the facility will be held within a week or two, officials say.

Fletcher added that the $3.6 million widening of Graham Road for one mile, which has been underway for two years, is nearing the finish line. “And what better timing as the state-of-the-art trap-shooting facility will be hosting shooting events this spring that will draw people from all over the country to this area,” the mayor said.

Fletcher also said the city’s proposed site for a new state veterans’ home is in the top three and a decision on where to locate the facility will be made soon.

Of the wet/dry petition, he said the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce has collected 1,471 or the 4,839 it needs to get the issue on a ballot.

Fletcher said, “It has the potential to level the playing field and make it easier to attract nice family restaurants on the national chain level. It is costing our city when our citizens go to another city to eat by using our local money to support another city’s tax base. The money needs to stay in our own hometown, financing city services and projects. I have maintained all along that no city has the potential that Jacksonville has, yet our hands are tied to do anything about it.”

The mayor recalled the “ups” of 2013 too, such as completion of the $6 million public-safety complex that houses the police department, police/fire training grounds, the 911 center and a FEMA safe room on Marshall Road; the passing of a state law that allowed Jacksonville and Sherwood to petition for a vote on whether to allow alcohol-by-the-drink sales, completion of the new Lighthouse Charter High School and the covering of a dangerous drainage ditch on Redmond Road.

Fletcher said the public safety building “brings about a more organized system and even carries over into a higher degree of professionalism due to the pride each (police officer) has.” And the nearby grounds mean firefighters and police officers don’t have to go elsewhere, including out of state, for training, he said.

The mayor also praised former Fire Chief John Vanderhoof, who retired after more than 40 years with the city and after taking Jacksonville from an better ISO rating of 2 from 3.

Fletcher said the new chief is local and set himself apart from other candidates with his “energy, frankness, vision and preparation to carry out his vision along with his qualifications and training.”

Alan Laughy, the assistant chief at the fire department on Little Rock Air Force Base, was hired to replace Vanderhoof.

The mayor added that the 911 center now participates in the statewide AWIN network. AWIN and the state maintain the transmitter site, which saves Jacksonville between $65,000 and $100,000 annually, Fletcher said.

One “down” Fletcher mentioned was the 14-week sequestration when civilian employees at Little Rock Air Force Base were furloughed one day per week, losing 20 percent of their pay. And, shortly after the furloughs ended, the 17-day government shutdown sent the same people and more workers home. The mayor said, “Let me say here that, with the challenges that do face our military, and I can tell you by knowing and observing the leadership of our base personnel, that they will adapt and come through stronger than going in.”

Despite trying economic times, “believing the public wants results, not excuses, we have trudged ahead plowing the fields with persistence and making the city and its potential known on a national level,” Fletcher continued.

About Jacksonville’s controversial contract with Rickey Hayes of Retail Attractions, an Oklahoma-based economic development firm, the mayor said, “As anyone with real estate experience knows, due to the high cost of investment and compounded by lack of raw developable commercial property, the wheels turn slow. But the good news is there is serious interest in Jacksonville and the market it has. We look forward in the very near future to several announcements.”

Hayes has been under contract with the city for several years. The only business he has been credited with recruiting to Jacksonville is Firehouse Subs, though they were in the process of opening several locations in Arkansas.

With its aging population, Fletcher continued, the financially-troubled North Metro Medical Center is more important than ever, he pointed out.

The mayor said, “The personal care and time they give each patient is unmatched by many of the much larger facilities. This hospital has been faithful to this community for over 50 years and was there for thousands of people in times of great need and made a difference. I call upon our city to be there for her as she works to make this transition to survive in a very difficult field in today’s environment, as her success is really our success.”

Fletcher also said, “I believe that cities that have a strong future will be those that focus on three areas. These areas are education, health care and economic development.”

The mayor thanked department heads, their staffs, council members and other officials for their hard work.

Of the council, Fletcher said, “I know quite a few of the 500 or so mayors around the state and we talk on a regular basis. It is so common to hear of intergovernmental fighting and bickering. In some cases, there is nothing short of just pure hatred that makes the people’s business suffer.

“I know sometimes a harmonious relationship of mutual respect and common focus and priorities becomes boring to some folks, but the byproduct of such relationships is strong progress and a healthy future,” the mayor said.

EDITORIAL >> New district, new opening

On Sept. 16, almost exactly nine months from today — your typical gestation period, by the way — Jacksonville-area residents can deliver a newborn school district.

That’s if the proposed Jacksonville/north Pulaski County school district makes it to the annual school election ballot, and if voters living within the boundaries of that district approve the plan.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. — smart, friendly, good-humored and sartorially splendid in his bowtie and suspenders that he wore, or we imagined he wore — cleared the way for a new district when he accepted the desegregation agreement settlement. That settlement specifically approved by name Jacksonville’s pursuit of a new district.

That’s huge to the folks in this neighborhood, although Sherwood residents who also want their own district were left high and dry. They seemed resigned for now to denial of their intention to forge their own district from PCSSD as well.

Also huge in the settlement Marshall approved is language that limits the state’s financial obligation to desegregation of Pulaski County school districts to about $260 million over the next four school years. PCSSD would get about $80 million of that, although a new Jacksonville district would get a slice of it too.

All six parties with any known stake in the desegregation agreement agreed to the settlement, which was among the reasons Marshall said he felt comfortable approving it.

The six are the Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special school districts, the state Education Department, the Joshua Intervenors and the Knight Intervenors.

No one involved with the case can remember detachment — a chunk of an existing school district being broken off as a separate district — but about 1,300 words of state code prescribe the steps and requirements for creation of a school district by detaching territory from an existing one through either election or petition, how to initiate detachment and creation of a school district by detachment.

The law clearly states that detachment is only possible if it doesn’t interfere with desegregation efforts. Marshall was satisfied that a Jacksonville-area district would have little or no effect on the racial balance of PCSSD and that both districts would have sufficient money to operate and to continue desegregation efforts.

PCSSD and the Joshua Intervenors are cordially pursuing unitary status along a separate track that also runs through Marshall’s court.

We find this encouraging. PCSSD is currently in year three of fiscal distress and therefore under direct control of the state Education Department, with Commissioner Tom Kimbrell acting as the PCSSD board.

Little Rock and North Little Rock districts have both been declared unitary — that is desegregated — but PCSSD is still lacking in unitary status in several areas, including the expensive area of safe and updated school facilities.

Assuming a Jacksonville detachment, if it’s possible to assume such a thing after decades of false starts, promising developments and disappointments, the new district would carry with it all the desegregation deficiencies.

It seems likely, however, that the new district would not labor in fiscal distress under state control, but would get a fresh start.

Regardless of a Jacksonville detachment, PCSSD is likely to propose a millage increase of at least 5 mills, from the current rate of 40 mills.

Whatever the millage rate at the time of separation, the PCSSD rate would apply in a Jacksonville-area district until a new school board proposed a change and brought it to the voters.

That millage increase is necessary so the district can afford to build its way out of the decrepit and aging buildings housing its students here.

Currently, the North Little Rock rate is 48 mills and Little Rock’s rate is about 46 mills.

Many things will be necessary to bring detachment to a vote, but some, like a petition with sufficient signatures and a recent feasibility study, are already complete.

Then, with a “yes” vote, officials from PCSSD and Jacksonville/north Pulaski — with help from the state — will have to thrash out a thousand details about dividing money, debt, school buses and other assets.

If the negotiations become heated, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers outpace Lady Pats

Special to The Leader

The Cabot Lady Panthers (10-6, 1-1) picked up their first win in the 7A/6A East on Tuesday night at home, defeating the Marion Lady Patriots (8-4, 1-1) 56-43.

The Lady Panthers outscored Marion 11-5 in the second quarter to lead 24-19 at the half and finished strong, outscoring the Lady Patriots 18-11 in the final quarter.

“The only thing better than 0-1 in conference is to be 1-1 in conference,” said Cabot assistant coach Charles Ruple. “Everyone is pretty even in the conference, I think. We started three sophomores, shook off a couple of minor injuries and played well. We had two girls in a lot of foul trouble and neither one fouled out. Anna Sullivan did a very good job. She was one away from a double double with nine rebounds and 22 points. Rachel Allgood played a really good game for us. Alyssa Hamilton had 11 rebounds along with six points and two blocked shots.”

The first quarter was evenly played with the score tied 9-9 with 3:02 to go, and the quarter ended 14-13 in favor of the visitors.

The Lady Panthers came out strong in the second quarter, holding Marion scoreless for the first seven minutes, but allowing the Lady Patriots five points in the final minute of the quarter. The third quarter was almost a repeat of quarter number one, but this time Cabot had the 14-13 edge with Sullivan leading the way with six points.

Cabot started the fourth quarter with a quick basket by Danielle McWilliams and led 40-32. Raven Morrow hit a three-point basket with 2:30 remaining in the game to pull Marion within three points at 44-41. Cabot answered with CoCo Calhoon sinking two free throws, Sullivan adding a basket and Sullivan with two free throws on the next possession to bring the lead back up to 50-41.

After the double bonus went into effect for the Lady Panthers, they closed out the game by hitting 6 of 10 free throws.

Dahlia Bell scored for the Lady Patriots with 6.5 seconds left to set the final score of 56-43.
Sullivan led Cabot with 22 points, Calhoun had 10 points, and McWilliams added nine points.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke pulls away from Marianna

Leader sportswriter

After a close first half of play in Tuesday’s 4A-2 Conference matchup at the Gina Cox Center, Lonoke separated itself in the second half by getting to the line and making all but one of its 14 free-throw attempts, which helped the Jackrabbits to a double-digit, 63-50 win over Marianna.

Both teams came out hot from the floor, making their first four shots from the field, which led to a 9-9 score. A three-pointer by point guard Jamel Rankin put the Jackrabbits up 12-11 with 3:35 remaining in the opening period.

Rankin’s three was followed by a Blake Mack free throw and a three-pointer from two-guard Darian Young, which put Lonoke up 16-11, but by the end of the quarter, Marianna got another basket to cut the deficit to 16-13.

The score remained tight throughout the second quarter as neither team could get any separation from the other on the scoreboard, and as a result, Lonoke narrowly led 30-28 at halftime. The Jackrabbits separated themselves in the third quarter.

Lonoke outscored the Trojans 17-6 in the third quarter to lead 47-34 at the start of the fourth. The Rabbits got their first double-digit lead of the game with 1:31 remaining in the period on a pair of free throws by Tykel Gray, which made the score 44-34.

With 41.2 seconds left in the period, Rankin set the third-quarter margin by making 3 of 3 free throws after being fouled hard on a baseline three-point attempt.

Lonoke made just 4 of 10 free throws in the first half, but in the second, the Jackrabbits made their first 11 attempts at the stripe, and finished the half 13 of 14 from the line for a stellar 93 percent.

“You’ve got to have stops and you’ve got to have possessions that result in points – somehow,” said Lonoke coach Dean Campbell. “Whether it’s a made bucket, at the free-throw line – you do all that work to get to the free-throw line and then you come up empty handed.

“There’s a ratio we look at as far as points per possession, and if you can crawl close to the one point per possession, you’re going to be pretty good. It kills you when you go a possession and you don’t come away with anything. We’ve talked about it, we’ve harped on it. For the season, we’re at 61 (percent) from the line and we probably finished pretty close to that for the game.”

Lonoke finished the game 17 of 24 from the stripe for 71 percent, bettering Marianna’s 3 of 9 showing at the line for 33 percent.

Both teams were efficient from the floor. The Rabbits finished 21 of 48 from the field for 44 percent. The Trojans were 20 of 39 from the floor for 51 percent.

The Jackrabbits (13-2, 3-2) made it a point to attack the basket throughout the second half, which led to their plentiful free-throw opportunities. Marianna (7-8, 2-2) had just six attempts from the stripe in the second half and made just two (33 percent).

Marianna cut the Lonoke lead to 10 at the start of the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, but Lonoke responded with a 12-4 run to gain its largest lead at 59-41 late in the game.

Campbell subbed for some of his starters as the game wound down, and Marianna was able to clean up the score as a result.

The Rabbits outrebounded the Trojans 24-20 for the game, and finished with two fewer turnovers than Marianna’s 17. Lonoke’s scoring was very balanced as well.

Mack and Rankin led all scorers with 14 points each. Mack had the most complete stat sheet as he finished with game highs in rebounds (eight) and steals (seven). Young scored 13 points for Lonoke. Gray had eight. Darrius McCall scored seven and sophomore Jawuan Bryant added six.

Marcus Cooper led Marianna with 12 points.

Lonoke played at Heber Springs last night after deadlines in a 4A-2 showdown with the Panthers.

Heber Springs entered last night’s game as the only undefeated team in conference play. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

The Jackrabbits have another big conference game Tuesday against Dollarway at home. Tuesday’s game will tip-off at approximately 7:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils surge late, beat Falcons

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils are developing a habit of being in tight games through three quarters and winning handily. That’s what happened on Tuesday when the Red Devils turned a five-point game into a 16-point win, beating crosstown rival North Pulaski 66-50 at the Devil’s Den. Jacksonville, 13-3, 3-0, was also in a scrap with Little Rock Christian in its previous game before blowing out the Warriors by 33.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner welcomes the new trend. He watched his team struggle over and over in the second half earlier in the season; often blowing huge leads in the second half. But the head Red Devil still wasn’t entirely pleased with Tuesday’s performance.

“That was an ugly game,” said Joyner. “Both teams. I’m sure Roy (North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson) wasn’t very happy either. These kids won’t settle down and run their sets. We’ve got people too worried about their points, taking one dribble and shooting.”

If the action wasn’t adroit, it was exciting, especially in the first half. The archrivals went back and forth throughout the first two quarters. There were six ties and seven lead changes.

The visiting team went up 5-2 after Arren Scruggs hit a three pointer, but Jacksonville dominated on the glass and went on an 8-0 run, with seven points coming on second-chance opportunities. But North Pulaski answered right back with six straight to take an 11-10 lead with 3:38 remaining in the opening quarter. At that point, the Falcons were 5 for 5 shooting, but their inability to keep Jacksonville off the offensive glass kept the home team close early.

North Pulaski led 14-12 until freshman Tyree Appleby drained a three pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter with the game’s fourth lead change.

Jacksonville threatened to run away late in the second quarter. Sophomore guard LaQuawn Smith sparked a Jacksonville run with two steals that turned into points for the Red Devils. Smith also scored four points and had four rebounds in the second quarter as the Red Devils built a 30-22 lead.

North Pulaski, 8-6, 1-2, answered right back with eight in a row for the sixth and final tie of the first half. Another Scruggs three pointer, his third, finished the run and tied the score with 30 seconds left in the half. Jacksonville’s Sergio Berkley sent the home team into the locker room with the lead when he hit a three pointer at the buzzer.

North Pulaski’s RaShawn Langston quickly tied the game again with a three-point play to open the second half. Jacksonville post player Kanaan Jackson took over for a period from that point. Jackson and fellow post Tedrick Wolfe combined to score the next eight points of the game. North Pulaski closed to within 45-40 by the start of the fourth quarter, but could never tie or take the lead the rest of the way.

Jacksonville scored the first six points of the fourth quarter. Smith capped the run with a nifty spin move for an open layup that made it 51-40 and forced coach Jackson to call timeout 1:50 into the fourth quarter.

The margin was still at 11 points with 4:21 remaining when Roy Jackson was hit with a technical foul. Devin Campbell made both free throws and North Pulaski never got any closer the rest of the way.

The Red Devils put a stamp on the win with 56 seconds left when Damarion Freeman lobbed a pass to a soaring Wolfe for an alley-oop dunk.

“It really came down to rebounding and free throws,” Roy Jackson said. “They beat us on the boards. I think (Kanaan) Jackson had 12 points, and not once did he get the ball on the low block and turn and score. They all came on putbacks. We just didn’t do a good job there. And we didn’t hit free throws. We didn’t shoot nearly as many as they did, and we didn’t make the ones we got.

“But I was proud of my kids. That’s an emotional game and they played hard. They fought back a couple of times. Things just didn’t go our way.”

North Pulaski made just 4 of 13 free-throw attempts while Jacksonville hit 19 of 31. The Red Devils, however, made 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter to keep North Pulaski at bay. North Pulaski hit 21 of 57 shot attempts while Jacksonville went 22 of 60. The Red Devils outrebounded the Falcons 40-29. Kanaan Jackson finished with 18 rebounds to go with his 12 points. Wolfe and Berkley also scored 12 each while Smith led the Red Devils with 14.

Langston led all scorers with 21 points while Scruggs added 14.