Friday, May 23, 2014

EDITORIAL >> When you’re in a tight jelly

While I was having breakfast the other day at one of our local eateries, the server brought individual packets of both jam and jelly with my toast and it got me thinking: Why are we always in a jam and never in a jelly?

I think crime would drop tremendously and the world would be a happier place if the worst that happened to us were to get in a jelly.

Getting into a jam just sounds so much more ominous. Being a single-syllable word it sounds harsh and curt and implies drastic measures need to be taken to get out of the jam.

But imagine being in a jelly — it would be hard to stay mad. You just can’t yelly at each other when in a jelly; it would be a bellyful of laughs.

The only time jelly every got in a jam was in the Tommy Roe song, “Jam up and Jelly Tight.”

Tight jelly? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Ever tried to get jelly to doing anything tight?

And how in the world did the world decide to pick on poor jam anyway. I mean both jam and jelly serve the same purpose, to add sweetness to the world of food. But take jam out of that world and it becomes mean, hard and backs us into a corner.

Historians, who have time to ponder such idioms, have determined that the origin of the phrase “in a jam” is unclear, but date the word “jam” back to the 1700s.

These experts have figured out that being in a traffic jam has increased the use of “in a jam” (along with excessive middle finger flexing) to talk about a problem or dilemma.

In addition to functioning as a negative noun in the context of “traffic jam” or other phrases, “jam” can also be a verb. In describing something that is excessively packed and unable to move, might say that is “jammed up.” Someone might also describe their own efforts to pack more things into a tight space as “jamming in.”

But jam is not the only food item to have an alter-ominous side. Look at the pickle.

Shakespeare himself wrote about being in a pickle. Why can’t we be in a cucumber?

A pickle is old, wrinkly, shriveled up from being thrown into the briny deep. It implies that we are knee deep in the brine ourselves. We lash out, claw out, fight back hard to get out of that pickle.

But a cucumber — that’s a different story. Solid, vibrant green, meaty — a vegetable at the top of its game. If we were in a cucumber we wouldn’t fight our way out, we’d be saying, “Wow, this stuff is pretty good.” Liken it to living in a mansion. Who would give it up for a one-bedroom 8-foot wide trailer?

So who do we call to get us in a jelly or in a cucumber and make the world a better place? Does it require a letter to Daniel Webster’s great-great-grandson or do we have to get the federal agriculture department involved? Maybe it’s time to start a letter writing campaign to one of our senators.

In the meantime, when it looks like you are about to get into a jam — think jelly and smile. — Rick Kron

EDITORIAL>>How voters did Tuesday

Back when Arkansas was a one-party state, Democratic primaries were tantamount to election because no Republican would challenge Democrats in the fall. In Lonoke County and many parts of the state, it’s the Republicans who are in the catbird seat as they face no Democrats in November.

Several local Republicans were elected in Tuesday’s primary, including Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley, who avoided a runoff after coasting to victory against former Sheriff Jim Roberson and deputy Steve Finch. Staley, 34, is still in his first term, but his focus on fighting crime and reaching out to inmates to turn their lives around has impressed voters.

A recent series in The Leader showed Staley understands the job. He’s tough but fair and about the same age as the inmates. They speak the same language: The sheriff tells them to straighten out their lives and hopes he’ll never see them again.

Many of Staley’s arrests will likely be judged by Ashley Parker of Carlisle, who defeated attorney Larry Cook of Cabot for circuit judge in Dist. 23, Division 3.

Republican Tim Lemons, who serves on the Lonoke County Quorum Court, won more votes than Darlene Byrd for the state representative Dist. 43 position held by outgoing House Speaker Davy Carter. Lemons garnered 1,728 votes to Byrd’s 1,091. Byrd had received former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s endorsement, but it didn’t do her much good.

For the Dist. 14 state representative seat, Republican Buddy Fisher nearly doubled up on Trent Eilts, 1413 to 777. Fisher will face Lonoke City Attorney Camille Bennett, a Democrat, in November.

A bigger surprise was Lonoke County Clerk Larry Clarke, a Republican losing to former Democrat-turned-Republican County Clerk Dawn Porterfield, 3,253-3,001. Clarke, who has denied all charges, was arrested the week before the primary for cyberbullying an online critic who had posted some harsh comments about the county clerk on her blog. Clarke’s legal troubles may have influenced at least some of those 252 voters who helped Porterfield win this time.

There will be a runoff for Assessor Jack McNally, who finished second in a three-way race with Jerrel Maxwell, who finished first, and Marsha Beck, who came in third. It will be her supporters who could decide who the next assessor will be.

TOP STORY>>Sherwood residents shoot down firing range

Leader staff writer

Sherwood officials have buried their plan to build an outdoor shooting range for the police department after residents near the proposed site circulated a petition opposing the project.

Those residents plan to speak at the Sherwood City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Virginia Hillman said a long-term goal for the site at 834 Trammel Road is to build an indoor training facility.

Police Chief Jim Bedwell said that would save at least half of the $6,500 spent per year on officers traveling to and from ranges outside Sherwood.

But, Hillman said, “I just don’t think (the outdoor range is) going to be a good move right now.”

She added, “We’re trying to get something that would give (police) the opportunity to train in our hometown.”

The uproar over the outdoor range began when city equipment was used this week to move donated dirt to the 5.13-acre lot that is zoned for single-family homes. The dirt came from the construction site for the new Mapco Express gas station being built at the intersection of Kiehl Avenue and Brockington Road.

Bedwell said the city bought the Trammel Road property for $18,500 using seized drug money. The entrance is a one-lane gravel road.

Virginia Jones is purchasing the house at 828 Trammel Road. The range would have been behind that property.

She called The Leader on Wednesday to say the city’s plan to build an outdoor range was “just not right.” Jones opposes it for the same reason some Jacksonville residents are complaining about the shooting sports complex there — noise.

On Thursday morning, she insisted that an indoor range wasn’t mentioned to her before then. “So I think that the idea of an indoor range somewhere in the future, which is what they’re saying because they don’t have the money now, was supposed to jolly us along,” Jones said.

She asked if an engineering study had been done and was told that one wasn’t needed until the building is constructed there, Jones continued.

About an indoor facility, she said, “I hope they don’t do it. I hope they don’t. If they do, they’re going to have to deal with this community again. I mean I might be OK with that if they really contained it…I’d rather it not happen.”

The outdoor range would have had six lanes and 12-foot berms on three sides with trees planted outside the berms.

The property it would have been on is just west of the Roundtop Filling Station, which is being restored and will be used as a police substation.

Bedwell said, “I think the impact would have been a lot less than (the opposition) thought.”

Jones said, “So many times that man has told me ‘you won’t even know we’re out there.’ Liar! Of course I’m going to know they’re out there.” She was frustrated that the chief and mayor were “blowing smoke” like that.

Jones added that officials agreed to work around her disabled daughter’s schedule so officers would only practice shooting once a month and not while her daughter was home.

She also complained about the city not hosting a comment period and seemingly bypassing the permitting process.

Bedwell at first believed the land was in the county, but later learned it is inside city limits. The chief explained that the permitting process would have been different if the lot wasn’t in Sherwood.

Since it is in the city, the Sherwood Planning Commission would have received a rezoning request, Bedwell said. Public hearings are part of that, he explained.

Bedwell added that he talked to several neighbors about putting in an outdoor range and they weren’t opposed to it.

His goals were to save the city money and keep officers in Sherwood rather than 20 to 30 minutes away so they could respond to an emergency in the city more quickly.

Bedwell said that, over the last four years, officers have spent 866 hours driving to and from the Cabot, Camp Robinson and Jacksonville ranges.

The ranges are free to use, but Jacksonville requires that one of their officers be with shooters from other agencies, Bedwell noted.

Bedwell said traveling to and from ranges put 29,400 miles on patrol cars, an average of 7,350 miles per year.

Having a range in the city would cut the associated costs in half, Bedwell noted.

The department uses the Bill Harmon Recreation Center or Sherwood Forest to hold training classes when rooms are available at those facilities.

Jones said she was told the city owned some property near Sherwood Forest and suggested that land be used for the outdoor range.

He also said the department has outgrown its current building at the municipal complex on Kiehl Avenue and there is no room on that property to build anything.

Bedwell added that five or six people are sharing an office designed for two occupants.

The chief said he hopes appropriated funds from legislators might help construct the indoor facility. “I think it looks better and is something we really need,” Bedwell noted.

Jones said she is still waiting to see how Tuesday’s meeting will go before she finalizes purchasing the house on Trammel.She doesn’t trust the mayor’s word that a range won’t be built.

Jones explained that she has spoke to several people, including mayoral candidate Doris Anderson, about the outdoor range and other issues. Anderson and others have told her Hillman is involved in a lot of “shenanigans” like building the outdoor range, Jones said.

Jones also contacted Alderman Mary Jo Heye. She and the mayor have butted heads on several issues, and some residents have told The Leader they expected her to run for mayor.

The area where the range would have been is in the ward she represents. Heye is up for re-election in November and is facing off against former Alderman Butch Davis for the seat.

Heye said this was the first she’d heard of police officers needing a range.

She was also concerned about residents not being informed of the range plans via signs and permitting.

Heye is not opposed to building a range if police need it. “I do have an issue with the city going out without due diligence and buying a property in a residential area that could affect these people’s property values,” she said.

“The whole thing was very odd,” she said. Heye asked, if the site had been in the county, “Does that make it OK?” Her answer was no.

TOP STORY>>Funding minority students

Leader senior staff writer

An innovative, $10 million plan would track, tutor and guide at-risk Pulaski County Special School District students from ninth grade, sending them to college on some Saturdays and, upon graduation, to a three-week, on-campus, summer immersion, then on to college with scholarships.

That’s if U.S. District Judge Price Marshall approves the motion filed Friday morning by the Joshua Intervenors and PCSSD.

Oversight and guidance would continue in college, particularly for students with remedial needs.

The Joshua Intervenors and PCSSD agreed upon the Dr. Charles Donaldson Scholars Academy, intended to address disparity in the academic achievement of minority and economically disadvantaged students, but at the immediate expense of some existing elementary programs, instructors and support staff not specifically required by state law.

The plan would help 250 to 500 PCSSD seniors immediately and prepare 8,000 to 10,000 PCSSD students over the next four years for college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Philander Smith College, Joshua attorney John Walker and PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess said at a hastily called press conference.


“There have been a lot of momentous days at PCSSD,” Guess said in opening, “but none more significant than today.” He called this the launch of “a new venture that we hope will have a dramatic effect on the children who need a dramatic effect.”

Walker said, “I hope it is momentous. But I have a history of entering into agreements with the three districts (including Little Rock and North Little Rock) and seldom did any reach true fruition. It didn’t reach the students.”

As far as unitary obligations, “This doesn’t release them from anything,” Walker said of PCSSD. “It obliges them to do more and different.”

“It combines the collegiate approach to K-12 education and commits the colleges to help in some way they have not in the past,” he said.


“I have never retreated from the idea that there must be integrated education,” Walker said.

That may be so, but people familiar with the long-standing adversarial relationship between Walker and PCSSD believe it has morphed into one of cooperation and collegiality in the past year or so.

Regarding the new initiative, it was begun when Walker read of the success Donaldson’s program had with other students and asked him to create a similar plan for PCSSD, Donaldson said after the press conference. He said it took eight or nine months to adapt his existing program to fit the district.

Donaldson, who is technically retired, hasn’t been paid for his efforts, but Walker said Donaldson and Amber Smith, the Donaldson Scholars Academy’s summer bridge program coordinator, would likely have salaries written into the final agreement.


Styled as a supplement, amendment and modification to desegregation Plan 2000 for student achievement, the plan would help prepare students from the time they enter ninth grade for college and college life, including a component called Summer Bridge when students would spend three intensive weeks living in college dorms, taking classes and leaving behind their car keys and cell phones, according to Donaldson.

Donaldson, vice chairman emeritus of UALR, nodded out the window in Guess’ Central Office, saying, “I taught next door at Fuller.”

“Hold us accountable,” Donaldson said. “We will achieve something not previously achieved.”

“We genuinely believe every student can achieve, if we help create a vision including college graduation,” said Smith. “We utilize relationships and pair high school students with current college students. We are academically rigorous, hands on and with cultural activities. And fun should be incorporated with learning.”

Smith said 100 percent of the students in the program last year achieved proficiency in at least one area.


Students enter the program in ninth grade. They must complete a student and parent/guardian contract, and they will be assessed from entry in the program through grade 12. Assessment will include monitoring grade-point average, diagnostic exams for deficiencies, ACT scores and progress toward high school completion.

During fall and spring semesters, students attend Saturday Academy some weeks to work on identified deficiencies and to strengthen motivation to learn and continue to college.

Each summer, after graduation, students will attend Philander Smith or UALR to better prepare for college. Those sessions will be three weeks—that’s the Senior Summer Bridge Academy. Underclassmen will attend four-day sessions each summer.

Completion may lead to a scholarship, and successful college work—a 2.27 grade point average with 27 credits earned a year—will lead to scholarship renewal.

Student-specific learning styles will determine the best approach for each, helping curriculum development which “will blend traditional and contemporary teaching methods, including peer-to-peer, group learning, technology assisted, videos, songs, games and motivation,” Smith said.

Students can graduate from a PCSSD high school with as many as 12 college credits in some circumstances by taking on-line courses and concurrent or enrollment.

The $10 million to fund the program will come from cutting programs, and the state’s desegregation payments for the next three school years, $3.33 million per year.

While largely for the benefit of the black students championed by the Joshua Intervenors, the program will also be available to other low-income students regardless of race.

“We’re going to repurpose some of the (state) desegregation money to create a new focus,” Guess said. “A new direction aimed at achievement and how to serve these students.”

Walker said the new program does not satisfy the requirement for equitable academic achievement, one of the remaining impediments to the district’s achieving unitary status, but that it was a step in that direction.

Guess submitted $1.5 million worth of cuts to the 2014-2015 PCSSD budget, the largest being to Alternative learning education administrator, who earns $105.671 a year.

A home-school consultant will be cut from each of nine elementary schools and home- school counselor from each of three secondary schools. Fourteen certified Saturday teachers will be cut, two high school classified employees and four middle school teachers are among the positions expected to be cut, according to Guess’ proposals.

He said some programs being cut could be absorbed into others.


The proposed budget for the Donaldson Scholars Academy for the 2014-15 school year is $1.8 million, leaving a balance of $1.533 million from the $3.33 million desegregation funding.

The lion’s share of those expenses is $806,250 for scholarships and technology — three-quarters of it for scholarships, the rest for computers.

Another $300,000 is for three-weeks room and board on those two campuses for the Summer Bridge program.

Then $238,000 goes toward salaries and benefits for program coordinators at each college, a counselor, consultant, advisory board, research analyst and administrative assistant.

Although the preliminary funding of $3.33 million a year is for three years, that money is expected to run the program for five years or longer, and Donaldson said they hope for a share of the $75 million President Obama is making available for education of at- risk students and another $20 million for historically black state universities.

The current Donaldson Scholars Academy also receives money from corporations such as the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Bank of America.

Among those at the press conference, throwing their prestige and support to the program that lacks only approval by the district judge were Donaldson, Smith, UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson, Dr. Janice Warren, PCSSD’s vice superintendent for equity and pupil services; Dr. Lloyd Hervey, interim president of Philander Smith, and Dr. Logan Hampton, UALR vice provost for student affairs.

Warren said the program is like nothing she’d read about, and that “Failure is not an option. Student achievement is what we’ll experience.”

Hampton called it “an historic opportunity,’ and said he expected “great results from a new population.”

Hervey called it an opportunity for culturally significant education. “We are elated, looking forward to a long partnership.”

Anderson said he had admired Walker for many years and gave credit to Donaldson, Hampton and Smith. “It gives a boost to some children who need a boost,” he said of the Donaldson Scholars Academy. “It’s awfully important that we make education opportunity real for all students at the college level.”

TOP STORY>>Bus driver glad hijacker’s plea will avoid trial

Leader staff writer

Shelia Hart is relieved that the man who held her and 11 children at knifepoint during the Oct. 17 hijacking of a Pinewood Elementary bus has been sentenced to 55 years with the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

“I was satisfied with it. I’m just glad it’s finally over,” the heroic bus driver told The Leader on Friday. Hart has been praised for keeping the man and the children calm during the incident.

The hijacker, 22-year-old Nicholas John Miller, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 11 counts of kidnapping. He will be eligible for parole in 13 years and nine months.

Hart was glad that she, and especially the kids, didn’t have to go through the ordeal of testifying.

The bus driver added that she has been doing well since the hijacking and hasn’t needed counseling, although it was offered to her and the kids.

Hart said, “I’ve had a lot of days that I’ve thought about it, but it’s getting better.”

During the hijacking, Miller had “psychotic symptoms” like hallucinations and delusions because he had taken “four shots” of methamphetamine, according to a report submitted to the court by the Arkansas State Hospital.

He was also abusing marijuana at that time.

Miller has smoked marijuana since age “12, as much as I could everyday” and methamphetamine since age “14, about two-three times a week up to everyday,” the report continues.

The morning of the incident, Miller allegedly told his father, “People are after me…They are trying to kill me.”

He told doctors at the State Hospital that he had taken four shots of meth before realizing that it wasn’t meth. There was “something wrong” because “my heart started pounding and I got very paranoid,” Miller said, according to the report. The report also states, “He was remorseful of what he did.”

Miller did not “have the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct” or “the capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law,” according to the report.

On the day of the hijacking, he allegedly ran from relatives and tried to steal a car from a woman he saw at 1010 N. First St. in Jacksonville.

That woman, Karlena Lipari, told Miller she didn’t have a car. He said it would be in her “best interest” to give him her car, according to a police report. She repeated that she didn’t have one.

Lipari then saw four children about to get on the school bus at a regularly scheduled stop nearby. She kept them from boarding it, but Miller got on the bus.

He showed the knife to Hart, who has been taking kids to and from school for 20 years.

Miller told her to drive from the scene and Hart complied, according to the police report. Later, he drove it, but allowed Hart to instruct him on how to work the controls.

Lipari, the parent Miller had approached near the bus stop, called 911.

Jacksonville police caught up with the bus at the 3700 block of North First Street near Little Rock Air Force Base. At speeds around 40 mph, Miller was followed from there to Hwy. 367, John Harden Drive and Hwy. 5 in Cabot — where the 20-minute, 9-mile chase ended.

During the chase, the bus struck a guard rail support on Hwy. 367, ran a stop sign and ran a red light by turning left.

Cabot police put out a spike strip on Hwy. 5/Mountain Springs Road. Miller slowed down and veered off the road, coming to a stop, when he saw it.

The State Hospital’s report states that, when the hijacker finally stopped, investigators and witnesses said they heard Miller say, “People are trying to kill me. The only way to get away from them is to hijack the school bus…to save my life…no plans to hurt any children…not to get (expletive) up on drugs…I am going to prison…drive the bus to Arizona or until gas run out.”

The hospital’s report also offered a glimpse at Miller’s life.

He had abused cocaine, ecstasy and Xanax until 2010, it states.

Miller told doctors that he had recently started seeing “images and shadows” and experiencing insomnia for three to nine days.

The California native separated from his wife in July. She and their 2-year-old son live in Jacksonville.

Miller was living with his grandmother in Jacksonville, according to the report.

He dropped out of Jacksonville High School after completing ninth grade.

For six months, Miller had a job at a carpet warehouse in Arizona. Then he was fired for fighting with a coworker.

Miller has had several run-ins with the law.

He was arrested for the May 28 breaking and entering of a vehicle and theft of property. A Sherwood Police Department-issued $400 shotgun and $400 in cash were stolen. Fingerprints were found at the scene.

Miller wasn’t prosecuted for the theft charge but pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain to the breaking and entering charge. He was sentenced to two years of probation that would have ended on Sept. 25, 2015.

Miller was arrested on Aug. 6 for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was pulled over and a syringe with residue was found in his car.

His most recent arrest, with the exception of the hijacking, was for terroristic threatening and third-degree domestic assault. The incident occurred on Oct. 8.

Miller’s wife said she went to pick up some money from him to help pay for diapers and food their son needed, according to the police report.

He took their son out of the car seat when she arrived, went inside the residence at 1000 Richard St. and began to change the baby’s diaper, she said.

His wife told police that his behavior was odd and she believed “he was high on methamphetamine, which is his normal choice of drugs,” according to the report.

Miller’s wife said she would not let him see their son if he was going to stay on drugs. That is when they began to argue and his wife decided to leave with the baby.

She told police Miller threw a dirty diaper at her face and then pushed her into the living room. He grabbed her by the neck and threatened to choke and kill her, his wife said, according to the report.

SPORTS STORY>>Lonoke’s new look ignites new energy

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits took the field for their first spring football practice on Monday with some new faces and a new look. Lonoke took to the practice field dawning purple helmets as opposed to the traditional white helmets from years past.

It’s a fresh new look that’ll go along with the Jackrabbits’ new uniforms that’ll arrive later this summer – a look Lonoke coach Doug Bost says his players are excited about.

“The kids are excited,” Bost said. “They love them. I tell you what; it’s also our year for new uniforms. We’ll get those in around July. We knew this year we were getting new uniforms, so we thought, hey, let’s just change up the helmets, too, and we showed them off to the kids about a month ago and they’re excited about it.”

Other than the new helmetsthe players were excited to try out, Bost said it was just good to get all of his players back on the football field and be in a practice setting again.

“It’s exciting,” Bost said. “This year we had a bunch of kids play baseball – about 13 – and their season ended about two weeks ago. So we’ve got the whole team out there. I think our numbers are right at 48 (players). It’s just been good to get out there.

“We feel like we’ve had three good days of practice. We’ve done an hour of defense, an hour of offense. We’ve got a lot back from last year that are very familiar with our offense and defense, so that’s been real good.”

The most noticeable returning starter on offense is junior running back Josh Coleman. Last year as a sophomore, Coleman ran for 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Jackrabbits, who finished the season 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the class 4A state playoffs.

“He’s definitely a big part of our offense,” Bost said of Coleman.

Besides Coleman, Bost said he and his staff feel good about the rest of the talent they have at the skill positions, including junior Mark Odom, who played receiver some last year, as well as the rest of the receiving corps.

“Mark Odom is a kid that moved here from Cabot last year. He didn’t get a lot of playing time, but he’s the fastest kid that we have. The receivers are going to be good for us. Justin Meadows, he started the last six games for us. We feel real good about our skill guys.”

Savonte Rountree, a junior, is expected to take the starting quarterback job, but Bost said that sophomore Logan Dozier will get plenty of reps at the position as well. Dozier quarterbacked the junior Jackrabbits to a conference championship last fall.

Bost will have to find some players to fill in on his undersized offensive line. Three starters graduated from last year’s team, but center Chance Bronson and right tackle Jacob Vandiver are returning starters up front.

That’s one area Bost will have to sure up, but he said he feels good about where they currently stand on the defensive side of the ball.

Bost said he’s got seven to nine starters already in mind for his 4-3 defense, all of whom have varsity experience, including leading tacklers Ethan Holland, a middle linebacker, and outside linebacker Chandler Elmore.

“Those were our two leading tacklers,” Bost said. “They’re both back in their linebacker spots. We feel good about defense.”

Overall, Bost added that the transition from offseason workouts to spring drills has been relatively smooth.

“It’s been pretty smooth,” Bost said. “Spring time and summer time you want to get those back-ups plenty of reps, and they need to know the plays as good as the first group does.

“You never know what can happen. You want to have somebody that can step in and know what to do. We really want to give those guys a chance to get in there and show what they can do.”

SPORTS STORY>>Jacksonville all offense in spring drills

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils don’t have a head football coach and most of the remaining staff has been busy with spring sports and state tournaments, but about 50 players have still come out for spring football practice with offensive coordinator Adam Thrash overseeing activities.

And it’s been an offensive-oriented seven practices so far.

“We put in a basic man defense and that’s what we’ve been working against,” said Thrash. “But it’s been an offensive spring. We’re teaching them man because that’s the easiest thing to learn and we’re young. I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to be playing all the time, but that’s what we’re going with now.”

Thrash wasn’t specific about what kind of offense the team has been working on, apparently because there is no specific offense.

“Our offense is going to be a surprise,” Thrash said. “I know me to run a full spread being from Pulaski Academy, but we’re doing a little bit of everything.”

Personnel has dictated the schemes, according to Thrash.

“We’ve got Lamont Gause, an All-State running back, back, and we have to get him the ball,” Thrash said. “We’ve also got some speed on the edges and we have to get the ball out there, too. We’re trying to find creative ways to get the ball to the playmakers. That’s basically what our offense is about.”

Thrash wouldn’t even rule out a loaded backfield and two tight end sets.

“That’s an option,” Thrash said. “That’s a possibility. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. When you spread them out there are fewer to block and fewer mistakes to be made blocking. When you bring them in you have more blockers and fewer people to beat once you’re past the line. So we’re not ruling out anything.”

Thrash also says there has been lots of heavy conditioning work, and that enthusiasm and work ethic have remained high in spite of the tougher practice sessions.

“We have guys that want to be here,” Thrash said. “When I call practice, they want to keep working. And that’s great to see.

“We have conditioned hard. What we’re trying to do is like what (Nick) Saban said. ‘We want to get the right guys on the bus and the wrong guys off the bus.’ And that’s happening. We’ve got quite a bit fewer here now than we did when spring started. We’re weeding out the ones who are just here for a jersey.”

Some former players have helped out with practice, including Razorback sophomore Kevin Richardson – who has helped the defensive backs.

While Jacksonville lost some speed to graduation and transfer, a couple of new faces will help fill that void. Tresean Lambert and Jaylon Tucker have been out for spring drills after running two legs in Jacksonville’s state championship 4x100-meter relay team.

Lambert has been working with the offense and Tucker with the defense, but Thrash, knowing the precariousness of his situation as one of dozens of applicants for the head-coaching position, says that could change.

“I want to two-platoon and Tucker would be a defensive guy,” Thrash said. “You can’t have all your best guys on one side of the ball. But that’s not my call. It’s nobody’s call at the moment so that’s what we’re going with.”

Jacksonville has used seven of their 10 available practices and will complete their spring allotment next week.

SPORTS STORY>>Lady Panthers fall in round two

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot girls’ soccer team won its first-round game in the class 7A state tournament with a 4-3 win over Rogers Heritage on Thursday, May 15 at Bentonville High School, but fell to the tournament hosts and defending state champions the next day, losing by the final score of 3-0.

Even though Cabot won a share of the 7A/6A-East Conference championship for the second year in a row this season, because of point differentials, it entered the state tournament as the No. 3 seed from the Central division behind No. 1 Mount St. Mary and No. 2 Little Rock Central, the only team to beat the Lady Panthers in conference play this year.

The Lady Panthers entered their first-round matchup against Heritage with their top 11 players healthy, but the Lady War Eagles struck first on the scoreboard to lead 1-0.

Cabot’s top scorer, Jessica Souza, pulled the Lady Panthers to an even 1-1 score with a stellar one-on-one goal that shot into the upper portion of the net. Heritage, however, once again took the lead with a corner kick that Cabot failed to clear.

Sydney Farquharson scored the next goal for Cabot on a one-touch half volley to the right upper portion of the net after getting on the end of a crossing pass from Souza. The score was 2-2 at the half.

The Lady Panthers appeared to take the lead for good when Devin Patterson scored in typical fashion by getting on the end of a Codee Park corner kick that gave Cabot a 3-2 lead. Souza scored shortly after receiving a crossing pass from Anna Applegate that made it a 4-2 game.

Heritage kept at it and earned a penalty kick that led to the final goal of the game, and Cabot held them off for the remainder of the first round to advance to the second against Bentonville.

The tournament hosts proved to be the superior team as they ended Cabot’s season with a 3-0 triumph over the Lady Panthers. All three of the Lady Tigers’ goals scored in that game came in the first half.

“We just couldn’t get going in attack,” said Cabot girls’ coach Kerry Castillo. “Defensively, we were also breaking down. The stigma of Bentonville along with some apparent stage fright seemed to be our Achilles’ heel. In the end, they were just the superior team on that day.”

Even though Cabot lost the game, Castillo is proud of his team for its accomplishments this season, especially the senior class, which joined the program the same year Castillo took over head coaching duties.

“They came in the same year I did,” Castillo said. “A year earlier, the program saw only one win. Now, we’ve made the playoffs for four consecutive years, been co-conference champions for two years in a row now, and have taken the program from a one-win season in 2010 to eight in 2011, 10 in 2012, 13 in 2013 and 15 in 2014.

“That is a testament to the foundation those seniors laid with much hard work and sacrifice of their time to get better. We’ve lost two years in a row in the quarterfinals now, signifying that we’re one of the top eight teams in 7A.

“We will only become more successful as time passes and younger girls see how successful they can be and how successful we can be. I have lofty expectations for our future and it’s due to this year’s group of seniors for building us one year at a time for their high-school career.

“I wish I could do more to express my gratitude to them. They are very special to me.”

The Lady Panthers ended their season with a 15-5-2 record and a 6-1 record in conference play.

SPORTS STORY>>Heptathlon Top 10 deep with locals

Leader sports editor

Four local competitors finished in the Top 10 of the 2014 high school heptathlon that took place Wednesday and Thursday at Cabot High School. Three Lady Panthers, including Lexi Weeks, Tori Weeks and Danielle McWilliams, and Beebe Lady Badger Madison Richey finished third, fourth, seventh and ninth respectively out of 66 competitors in the seven-event meet.

Payton Stumbaugh of Springdale Har-Ber won it for the second time and set a new heptathlon record with 5,210 points. She also avenged her loss last year to Crossett’s Kelsey Herman. Stumbaugh, a senior who will run for the University of Oklahoma next year, won the heptathlon her in 10th grade while Herman was injured. Herman, who will run for the University of Arkansas next year, won last year and took second this year with 4,956 points.

Lexi Weeks finished with 4,423 points; Tori Weeks was just 42 points behind that with 4,381. Bryant’s Melinda Murdock was fifth. Forrest City’s Dominique Dillard took sixth. Bentonville’s Logan Morton was eighth and Parkview’s Jada Bylark rounded out the Top 10.

The three Cabot entries are all juniors and were the only non-seniors in the Top-10.

McWilliams didn’t run track at all her sophomore year, but came back this season and became a key contributor for the Lady Panthers’ team, which finished fourthin the class 7A state meet and third in the Meet of Champions.

“I didn’t run my sophomore year because I wanted to focus on basketball,” said McWilliams. “But things change. I wanted to come out and try it this year. I really did not expect to place this high at all, so I’m very happy with my performance.”

Richey finished fifth two years ago and 11th last season as a junior. She was happy to be back in the Top 10, but even happier that her total score reflected her improvement.

“My sophomore year was my highest finish, but my lowest point total,” said Richey. “My points have gone up every year so I’m pleased with that. The competition is just getting really strong. There are a lot of talented athletes out here.”

Stumbaugh and Herman had the best marks in two events each, while Des Arc’s Kirby Smith, who finished 14th overall, had best marks in discus and shot put. Melinda Murdock turned in the best time in the 800.

Tori Weeks had the second-best discus throw at 98-4.75, was second fastest in the 800-meter race at 2:21.53 and was the only athlete besides the top two to jump farther than 18-feet in the long jump.

Herman set heptathlon records in the long jump and high jump, going 18-11.25 and 5-9.25 respectively. Stumbaugh won the 100-hurdles and the 200-yard dash.

Lexi Weeks was third best in the hurdles behind the top two, and had the third best time in the 200 and 800.

Cabot could enter as many as five athletes in next year’s heptathlon. Each team is allowed two competitors in addition to any competitor that finished in the Top 10 the previous year.

“The twins, of course, did really well last year,” said Cabot track coach Leon White. “I felt like Danielle had a chance to do really well even if she didn’t know it. I knew she was fast, that’s why I recruited her to come back out and run for us.”

Only one area athlete finished in the Top 10 in the boys’ decathlon. Beebe sophomore Connor Patrom finished eighth with 5,214 points. Rogers-Heritage senior Daniel Spickes won with 6,488 points.

Har-Ber senior Sain-Thomas Mathew was second, Bentonville senior Jordan Patrick third, Hamburg sophomore Lorenzo Watkins fourth, Crossett sophomore Travern Caldwell fifth, Melbourne junior Dalton Romero sixth, NLR senior Clayton Smith seventh, Lake Hamilton junior Donell West ninth and Sheridan senior Tyler Wallace rounded out the Top 10.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

EVENTS >> 5-28-14


The annual McRae school reunion will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at McRae Middle School, which is now part of the Beebe School District. The class of 1964 will be honored as they mark their 50th anniversary.

Dinner, which is $6 per person, will be served at 6:15 p.m. “If you went to school at McRae but did not graduate from McRae, still come. We would love to see you. I’m sure you will see someone you will know,” according to a news release.


The Alzheimer’s Association holds a monthly support group meeting at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Cabot United Methodist Church. The meetings are hosted by Cindy Jones, Linda Vining and Jane Gunter. For more details, call 501-259-0646.


“The Nerd” will be performed at the Cabot Community Theatre on Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 1. Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society. The shows on May 30-31 will include dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the performances start at 7:30. A matinee, without a meal, will be at 2 p.m. on June 1. Call 501-941-2266 for reservations. The theater is at 204 N. First St.


The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce will hold its quarterly luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 17 at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive.

Andrew Parker, the director of governmental affairs for the Arkansas State Chamber, will speak. Tickets are $15 for members and $30 for nonmembers with advance registration or $40 after June 10. Call 501-982-1511 to RSVP or email


Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held five times a week at the Lonoke County Christian Clinic, 502 Richie Road.

Closed discussions are held at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. An open discussion is held at 8 p.m. Fridays, and an open-book study is held at 10 a.m. Saturdays. A closed meeting for women is held at 6 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, visit


Austin Springfest will be held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.

The festival, which will raise money for the city’s volunteer fire department, will kick off with a parade at 10 a.m., a beauty pageant at 11 p.m., dance performances at 1 p.m., a Lonoke County police dog demonstration at 2 p.m., military police dog demonstration at 3 p.m. and the Luke Williams Band will perform from 4 until 6 p.m.

McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear will also be on hand. The event will include a dunking booth and a silent auction.

The Austin Community Auxiliary, which is sponsoring the festival, is asking for donations of baked goods for a cake auction. They may be dropped off at city hall on Friday.

To rent a booth or for more information, call Austin City Hall at 501-941-2648 or Mayor Bernie Chamberlain at 501-941-8974.


The Shepherd’s Center at Beebe United Methodist Church is seeking bridge players for its weekly game at 1 p.m. Wednesdays. Beginners are welcome. For more information, call Pat Graham at 501-843-2930.

SPORTS EVENTS >> 5-28-14


The Lonoke County 4-H Club is sponsoring a shooting sports camp on June 9-11 that will feature classroom education and hand-on activities. The first two days will be basic skills in archery and pellet rifles and campers will receive a hunter education certificate. Day three is advanced training and will include muzzleloaders and shotguns. To attend advanced camp students must have completed 3rd grade and attended and completed basic camp.

Camp is open to children ages 5-19 and cost is $50. Space is limited. Applications are available at the Lonoke County Extension Service. For more information, contact Keith Perkins at 501-676-3124.

OBITUARIES >> 5-28-14


Lomelia (Tootsie) Dean Fye, 93, of Little Rock passed away peacefully from natural causes on May 23.

Willie Lomelia Dean, the middle of three girls, was born July 5, 1920, in El Paso to the late John Hollie Dean and Ann Blassin-game Dean.

Her family moved to Beebe, where she proudly graduated from Beebe High School in 1939. Tootsie went on to briefly attend classes at what is now ASU-Beebe before she met her husband, Dan Fye, at a USO dance. They were married July 28, 1942, in Little Rock.

Dan, being career military, was stationed around the United States, as well as Europe. During their 34 years of marriage, they lived in Vermont, Georgia, California and Germany to name their favorites.

Tootsie loved traveling and enjoyed making friends, attending parties and volunteering with several civic organizations wherever they went.

Along with her service, she enjoyed making a home and raising their three children: Liz, Mike (Dan) and Pris. During summers and holidays, they would take their family to the working ranch near Mount Magazine, where Tootsie’s parents lived. Tootsie enjoyed spending time with her parents, sisters, nieces and nephews.

After Dan retired from the service and instructing at Culver Military Academy, the couple relocated to Little Rock to be closer to Tootsie’s parents and other family. She most enjoyed cooking, entertaining, antiquing, collecting rocks and listening to big band and orchestral music.

She will be most remembered for her quick tongue and sharp wit. You never knew what she would do or say when she walked in the room, but you were more than certain not to forget it once she walked out. That is how she will be remembered best by those who knew and loved her.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Dan Fye; older sister, Hollye Byrd Arnold; daughter, Liz Friedricksen, and son, Mike (Dan) Fye.

She is survived by daughter, Pris Houchens and her husband Bill of Sheridan; grandsons, Don Friedricksen of Ithaca, N.Y., Brandon Fye of Franklin, Tenn., J.D. Houchens of Little Rock; sister Ann Harris of Little Rock, and nieces and nephews.

The family extends its heartfelt thanks to the staff of Sheridan Nursing and Rehab for years of dedicated care.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 29 at Grissard Cemetery in El Paso, where she will be buried among family.

Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.


Jerry Ned Grober, 71, of Conway passed away May 24.

He was born on Dec. 7, 1942, in Fort Smith to the late David Elwood and Jean Gower Grober.

Jerry retired from the Air Force after 20 years, including serving in Vietnam. He later worked in civil service health profession recruiting for the next 27 years. He was a member of the Sherwood Moose Lodge No. 942 since 2006.

He was predeceased by his parents; his wife of 45 years, Wilma Faye Anderson Grober, and his son, Lenny Grober.

Jerry is survived by two daughters, Verna Waddell and her husband Gerry of Lonoke and Nedra Davidson and her husband Larry of Missouri; four grandchildren, Crystal Demster and her husband Damon, John and Kyle Davidson, and Courtney Southerland and her husband Garret; one sister, Karen Jenkins; three brothers, David Grober, Eddie Grober and Jerry Milam, and a special friend, Debbie Ford.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Wounded Warrior Family Foundation, P.O. Box 231464, Montgomery, Ala. 36123. Enclose note: In honor of Jerry Grober.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday, May 30 at Roller- Owens Funeral Home Chapel in North Little Rock. Interment will follow at noon at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.

The family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m. Thursday, May 29 at the funeral home.


Levetta Barker Wilson, born Aug. 23, 1944, left this earth on May 24 to go on a fishing date with her husband on Heavenly Ponds and enjoy the outdoors again.

Levetta is survived by her children, Sherry Ward, Keith Wilson, Teresa Stuckey Hunt and Johnny Jr. Wilson; her numerous nieces and nephews who she considered her children; 15 grandchildren (one very dear to her heart); seven great-grandchildren who she loved like her own, and two siblings, Margaret Morrow and Bobby Barker.

She was preceded in death by her husband Kenneth R. Wilson; her mom, Ora Walsh; her dad, Lee Barker, and many others.

Levetta was a loving and giving person; she never met a stranger. She always made sure that there was always room for more.
She loved life, earthly possessions meant nothing, and friends were like family and family was everything. “No fighting,” she would say, “Go outside, not in my house.”

She enjoyed fishing, hunting, friends and family above all. She loved to cook whoever’s favorite dessert or meal just to see them smile.

She loved to laugh and see everyone enjoy the simple pleasures. She was a God-loving woman. A church, she would say is not a building, it was the people and they could serve God wherever they were. She was an upfront person who told you the truth whether you wanted to hear it or not.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 28 at Gravel Ridge General Baptist Church in Sherwood with Bro. Robert Hunt officiating. Interment will follow at Sumner Cemetery in Cabot.

Memorials may be made to the Wilson Fund c/o Robert Hunt 15915 Hwy. 107 Sherwood, Ark. 72076.Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Eleanor M. Gilbert Staton of Quitman (Cleburne County), formerly of Cabot, passed from this life May 24 and is now at rest with her heavenly father. She was born Aug. 27, 1929, to Sarah and Earl Gilbert in Auburn, Neb.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Erma, Mildred and Carrie.

Eleanor was a member of Kaley Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Quitman and a former member of Charity Missionary Baptist in Ward.

She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Wayne; son Darrel and wife Joni of Quitman; daughter Brenda of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; son Earl and wife Debbie of Mayflower; sister Lola Fae Ramer of Benton, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 6 until 8 p.m. Thursday, May 29 at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home in Cabot.

The funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 30 at Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home with burial to follow at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot. The family would like to thank the staff of Arkansas Hospice of Faulkner County for their loving care.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Prairie Union Cemetery c/o Elizabeth Sowden, 29 Kali Court, Vilonia, Ark. 72173 or to Mt. Carmel Cemetery, P.O. Box 1092, Cabot, Ark. 72023.


Glen Norman Jones, 66, of Collierville, Tenn., passed away on May 24.

He was born Jan. 4, 1948, in Rexburg, Idaho, to the late Glen (Bud) and Barbara Jones.

Mr. Jones was a proud veteran who served in the Marine Corps.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sharon Jones.

He is survived by his daughter, Tracy Carter, of Collierville, Tenn.; three grandchildren, Christopher Carter, Jesse Carter and Kayleigh Carter; siblings, Don J. and wife Dorothy Jones, Debbie and husband Russ Genter, Bud H. and wife Liza Jones, and numerous nieces and nephews.

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

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 31 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Faye Skillern, 65, died May 24. She was retired from First State Bank in Lonoke. She was preceded in death by her parents, Charlie and Allie Mae Evans Horton, and sisters, Earline Hill and Barbara Tippitt.

Survivors include her husband, Jim Skillern; four children, Shari and her husband Jeffery Gustin of North Little Rock, Dana and her husband Rex Kyzer, Jared Skillern of Lonoke and Jennifer Elmore of Bryant; four grandchildren, Andrew Gustin, Evan Kyzer, Abby Kyzer and Mitchell Elmore; siblings, Mick Horton and his wife Carolyn, Carl Horton and his wife Sandra, Sue Walker and her husband Wendell and Patsy Lassiter and her husband Ronnie, all of Lonoke, and Judy Carpenter and her husband Doyne of Carlisle and numerous nieces and nephews.

The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 28 at New Testament Bapist Church. Burial will follow in Brownsville Cemetery.

Arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home.


Joseph Henry Cunning-ham, 66, of Carlisle died on May 22.

He was born on Oct. 23, 1947, in Little Rock to the late Bill and Marie Cunningham.

He spent most of his career working in construction. He recently retired from Wood Grain Mill Works. He was a farmer. He served as a Carlisle city councilman for several terms, was a volunteer fireman for 25 years and fire chief. He was also a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and a member of the Army National Guard.

He is survived by his amazing wife of 47 years, Chloe Cunningham; son, Wally Cunningham of Conway and his wife Nid; daughters, D.J. Duckworth of New York City and Jo’el Cunningham of Little Rock; grandchildren, Corbin Duckworth of New York City, Tro, Keeta and Henry Cunningham of Conway; brothers, Bill Cunningham and wife Charlene of Lonoke, Thomas Cunningham and his wife Janie of Beebe, Richard Cunningham and wife Susan of Carlisle and his sister Jeanne Percefull and her husband Larry of Carlisle; 13 nieces and nephews and 12 great- nieces and nephews.

A Rosary service was held May 26 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

A funeral mass was celebrated at St. Rose Catholic Church on May 27. Burial followed at Carlisle Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital or St. Rose Catholic Church.Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home.


Letha Kathryn Mills died May 23. She was born and raised in Carlisle.

She was preceded by her parents, Kelly and Beatrice Campbell, and her husbands, Ross L. Mills and Rudy Kober.

She is survived by her children, Virgle Lee Harvey Jr. and Jimmy Dean Mills and his wife Jan; one brother, Wayne Campbell and wife Shirley; grandchildren, Barry Dean Mills and his wife Lori and Kelly Denise Harvey; great-grandchildren, Hunter Mills, Morgan Mills and her husband Cody Burnett and great great-grandchildren, Fisher and Layne Burnett.

She retired from Missouri Pacific Railroad and in retirement loved sewing, taking care of her flowers and caring for her grandchildren and nieces and nephews children.

The funeral was held May 27, with Bro. Chris Garner officiating.

Burial followed at Arkansas Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be appreciated by Arkansas Hospice or Panola Missionary Baptist Church.

Arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >> Chief set to run against mayor in Jacksonville

Leader publisher

It’s not often that a department head runs against his boss, but Jacksonville Police Chief Gary Sipes on Monday filed as a candidate to challenge Mayor Gary Fletcher in November.

Sipes, who says he will retire soon, promises to bring a different style of leadership to the city. Fletcher refused to say Tuesday if he’ll dismiss Sipes. “This is a personnel issue that I cannot discuss publicly,” the mayor said.

“I will stay focused on what is best for the city and provide services to the people,” he continued.

Fletcher, 59, said he is concentrating on getting Jacksonville voters to approve a new school district on Sept. 16.

He is seeking his second full term. A longtime alderman, Fletcher was elected mayor in June 2009 to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Tommy Swaim, who resigned in the middle of hissixth term. Fletcher was re-elected in 2010.

Sipes, 57, said he’s unhappy about the cuts made in the police department, including no raises in the last two years and higher insurance premiums for his staff averaging about $70 more a month.

“We know we have problems in Jacksonville,” Sipes said in an interview Tuesday. “I want to bring back life to Jacksonville.”

He said he gathered 56 signatures Saturday and filed just before the noon deadline Monday.

Sipes, who lives in Foxwood Estates with his wife DeJuanna, said he’s not happy with the noise at the new firing range.

He said the shooting range backs in to his yard. He said he would recommend limiting shooting hours from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Sipes said he wants to in-volve community leaders and ordinary people in decision making. “How do we make the city better?” he said.

Sipes, who is also responsible for the city’s code enforcement, says funds have been cut to go after code violations.

He wants to revive Sunny-side Addition, where dilapidated buildings such as the old convenience store on Graham Road should be torn down, he said. “We can figure out what needs to be done, and we can make them work,” the chief said.

As chief, he meets with his officers to find out what they’re thinking. “They can speak freely and share new ideas,” Sipes said. “This is what I want to do for the city.”

Sipes said a new school district will help Jacksonville move forward. Although a native of Pine Bluff, he said his three sons were educated in Jacksonville. The schools were in bad shape then, and they’re worse now, Sipes said.

Swaim hired Sipes as Jacksonville police chief in 2008. Sipes had first applied for the position about a decade ago and was one of the finalists, but the job went to Jacksonville’s own Capt. Robert Baker.

Sipes then applied for and was hired to lead the Benton Police Department for five years.

When Baker announced his retirement in March 2008, Sipes reapplied for the position and got the job.

Before his stint in Benton, Sipes was director of code enforcement in North Little Rock and a 21-year veteran of the police department.

Sipes, as Benton’s police chief, tried to live by a creed that he posted on the police department’s website.

In the creed, Sipes stated that “as a law-enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder, and to respect the constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality and justice.”

Sipes also promised to “keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint, and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life. I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department.”

Leader staff writer Rick Kron contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >> Staley, Lemons are winners in GOP’s primary Lonoke County Clerk Clarke loses; assessor faces runoff

Leader staff writer

More than 6,000 Republicans turned out for Lonoke County’s primary elections Tuesday that saw Sheriff John Staley keep his badge by solidly beating former Sheriff Jim Roberson and former deputy Steve Finch by about 3,000 votes.

Staley received 4,270 votes to Roberson’s 1,211 and Finch’s 951.

Lonoke County Clerk Larry Clarke, a Republican, lost to former Democrat-turned-Republican County Clerk Dawn Porterfield, 3,253-3,001.

Republican Tim Lemons garnered more votes than Darlene Byrd for the state representative District 43 position held by outgoing House Speaker Davy Carter. Lemons garnered 1,728 votes to Byrd’s 1,091.

For the District 14 state representative seat, Republican Buddy Fisher nearly doubled up on Trent Eilts, 1,413 to 777. Fisher will face Lonoke City Attorney Camille Bennett, a Democrat.

The county assessor’s position will have to be decided in a runoff in three weeks, along with the ButlerTownship constable race as no one got 50 percent of the vote in either race.

The run-off will be between Assessor Jack McNally, who finished second in a three-way race to Jerrel Maxwell. Marsha Beck came in third and it will be her supporters that will decide who the next assessor will be. In Tuesday’s primary, Maxwell got 2,765 votes to McNally’s 1,979 and Beck’s 1,438.

In Butler Township, Justin McAllister was the top vote getter with 113, followed by Roger Williams at 78, Jody Webb with 77 and John Huett Sr, garnered 46 votes. The runoff will be between McAllister and Williams.

Two races were decided by just two votes. In the District 6 justice of peace race, Jerry Cole outlasted Lee Linville by two votes and incumbent Efrem Jones remains the Lonoke Ward 5 alderman, beating Phillip Ford, 32 to 30. Both are Democrats and there is no Republican candidate for the Ward 5 position.

In other Lonoke County races:

n Circuit Clerk Deborah Oglesby kept her job handily, defeating Denise Brown, 4,381 votes to 1,921.

n In the race for District 5 justice of the peace, Adam Justice garnered 370 votes to Gregg Kidd’s 342.

n In the District 8 justice of the peace race it was Tate House easily beating Bryson Harpole, 402 to 176.

 The District 10 JP seat went to Bill Ryker, who defeated Robert Depriest III, 242 votes to 114.

 District 12 JP seat will go to Matt Sanders who beat Patricia Ann Knox by 39 votes.

 Coroner Mark Thomas will keep is job as he defeated Linda Meadows, 3,878 to 2,294.

 Ronnie Thrift won the Carlisle Township battle by beating Greg Renner, 227 to 79.

 The Lonoke Township constable will be Dean White, who garnered 252 votes compared to Steve Morgan at 160 and Adam Ingle with 64.

 Jane Derning may have only received 29 votes, but it was enough to keep her Ward 1 position on the Lonoke council as her opponent, Fred Ibbotson, fell short with just 11 votes.

In House District 41, Republican Karilyn Brown of Sherwood defeated Alan Pogue, 1,283-929.

There were no surprises in the state races.

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross blasted by Lynette (Doc) Bryant to become the Democratic candidate for governor. On the Republican side, Asa Hutchinson handily beat businessman Curtis Coleman to set up a Ross-Hutchinson duel for the governorship.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin solidly defeated Andy Mayberry and Debra Hobbs for the Republican nod for lieutenant governor. He will face Democrat John Burkhalter in November.

Republican Leslie Rutledge beat David Sterling and Jacksonville resident Patricia Nation for attorney general. She will face Democrat Nate Steel in November.

French Hill takes the nod as the Republican candidate for the District 2 congressional seat as he gathered more votes than Conrad Reynolds or Ann Clemmer. He will face the former North Little Rock mayor, Democrat Henry Patrick Hays, in November.

Dennis Milligan got the Republican nod for state treasurer, beating Duncan Baird. Milligan will face Democrat Karen Garcia in November. Republican Andrea Lea moves forward in the state auditor race, beating Ken Yang. She will face Democrat Regina Hampton.

In the State Supreme Court, Associate Justice Position 2 race, Robin Wynne keeps her seat by defeating Tim Cullen.

EDITORIAL >> Salute a vet this weekend

President Abraham Lincoln said, “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.”

To that end, there are two major military ceremonies in the area this week and an opportunity to salute those who have died defending the country by placing flowers on veterans’ graves.

First, all schools, church groups, individuals and others are invited to meet at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock at 3 p.m. Thursday to place flags on the gravesites of local military heroes.

Flags will be provided, but it would be a good idea to bring a screwdriver to make the necessary holes in the ground.

On Saturday, the Jacksonville Museum of Military History will commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and dedicate its new exhibit with free admission, a military-vehicle display, a bluegrass band and free food.

The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs will celebrate Memorial Day at 10 a.m. Monday, again at the veterans cemetery.

Free shuttles will run from Sherwood Forest from 8:30 until 9:55 a.m. and resume following the ceremony. Shuttles are equipped for those with disabilities as well.

The Veterans Coalition picnic will be at Sherwood Forest following the ceremony.

Memorial Day was originally called Deco-ration Day, and there are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with more than two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.

There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Whether attending these events or not, everyone should take time this weekend to personally thank a vet.

For as writer Cynthia Ozick said, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”

Let’s not do that this Memorial Day.

Remember, it is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

— Rick Kron

EDITORIAL >> Chief wants to be mayor

When Gary Sipes was hired as Jacksonville’s police chief in 2008 he promised to keep his “private life unsullied as an example to all.”

And he’s done that, but he has sure thrown a curveball into the mayor’s race.

Sipes, 57, has every right to run, but it creates a conundrum for both the chief and his opponent, Mayor Gary Fletcher.

Fletcher, 59, is the boss. Sipes is the employee. Sipes, like all department heads in the city, serves at the pleasure or behest of the mayor.

So, if Sipes continues as police chief much longer, what does that do to the chain of command? If he disagrees with the mayor in a department head meeting, is he disagreeing as the police chief or as the political candidate?

Should Fletcher exercise his right as mayor and ask for Sipes’ resignation to prevent friction in the line of duty? Or would that alienate voters and look like retribution? Should Sipes resign in good faith?

If he stays on and doesn’t win, with all the mud that might be tossed back and forth between him and Fletcher politically, he most assuredly would be asked to leave in November.

Of course if he wins, he will be happy to leave the police chief position. Sipes has pretty much hinted he’ll leave voluntarily this summer.

Sipes, a former director of code enforcement in North Little Rock and a 21-year veteran of that city’s police department, tried for the Jacksonville police chief job in 2004, losing out to homegrown Capt. Robert Baker. Sipes went on to become the chief of police for Benton.

When Baker retired, Sipes tried again for the Jacksonville job and was selected by former Mayor Tommy Swaim. When Fletcher became mayor, he could have sought out a new police chief, but was pleased with the selection of Sipes, and as an alderman had approved the pick.

This should be an interesting contest in November. Fletcher and Sipes both have several decades of valuable experience in municipal government. Both men have their supporters. It will be interesting to find out who will rally behind the candidates as Jacksonville voters prepare to form their own school district this fall.

When Sipes applied for the police chief position, he made it clear that “this was not a spur-of-the moment thing.”

Let us hope that his decision to run for mayor was also not a spur-of-the-moment thing because win-or-lose, it will change the city’s leadership team for years to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devil bats go quiet in state upset

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s baseball season came to a disappointing end Monday in the semifinals of the class 5A state baseball tournament. The Red Devils could not find the answer to the pitcher they were facing, committed a string of early errors and otherwise endured a lot of bad luck in a 7-0 loss to Pulaski Academy, 17-11, at Dupree Park.

The Red Devils had swept the Bruins in a conference doubleheader just two weeks ago at the same field, but weren’t able to duplicate that on Monday. Pitcher Colin Castleberry kept the Red Devil hitters off balance all game long, despite working on short rest after pitching seven innings and more than 120 pitches on Friday.

“The day belonged to Castleberry,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “When you get this far, you have to hit and you have to score. Everybody’s either throwing their third guy or working on short rest, so you have to hit. We just didn’t do it. We didn’t seem in sync the whole game. We were pressing for some reason. I felt like going in we were the best-hitting team in the tournament, but hats off to Castleberry. He did a great job.”

Pulaski Academy catcher Blake Wiggins, who has signed with Arkansas but is also considered by some scouting agencies as one of the nation’s top 40 high-school prospects, also put on a show, hitting two home runs and picking off a Jacksonville base runner at second base.

His first home run came with two outs and two strikes in the first inning and gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead. It stayed 1-0 until the top of the third inning, despite two Jacksonville errors in the second inning.

Back at the top of the lineup to start the third, PA leadoff hitter Tony Chacko singled to left and Bryce Bartlett followed with a single to right to put runners on the corners. Jacksonville intentionally walked Wiggins to load the bases with no outs. Jacksonville pitcher James Tucker then issued his only unintentional walk of the game to Merritt Osment to drive in Chacko and make the score 2-0.

Hunter Freeman hit into what should have been a double play with a grounder to shortstop, but Derek St. Clair didn’t field the ball cleanly, and his hurried throw to second was off-line and sailed into right field, allowing two runs to score and leaving runners on the corners once again.

Caden Haws then hit a fly ball to deep center field that scored Osment.

Castleberry hit the first batter he faced, but retired the next 13 in a row before Jacksonville’s Ryan Mallison broke up the no-hitter in the fifth inning with a single just beyond second base. St. Clair then reached on an E6 to put two on with one out, but Castleberry struck out the next two batters.

Wiggins hit his second solo home run in the top of the fifth inning to make it 6-0.

Jacksonville leadoff hitter Courtland McDonald got the Devils’ second and last base hit to start the bottom of the sixth inning with a double down the third baseline.

But on the next at-bat, a breaking ball in the dirt caused McDonald to think about trying to steal third. By the time he decided against it, it was too late. Wiggins caught him too far from second base and came in behind him with the throw for the first out of the inning.

Jacksonville relief pitcher Kaleb Reeves walked the bases loaded with one out before giving up an RBI single to Chris Hays to set the final margin in the top of the seventh.

The Bruins got only five base hits, but Jacksonville helped them out with five walks, two hit batters and five errors.

Castleberry went the distance, giving up just two hits while striking out eight

Saturday’s 6-2 quarterfinal win against Vilonia was a better night for Jacksonville. Playing in front of a standing-room only crowd at Hickingbotham Field, the Red Devils fell behind 2-0 in the second inning when Vilonia eight-hole hitter Cody Earnhart followed a Jacksonville error with a two-run home run to right-center field. But they were the only two runs the Eagles would score and the deficit didn’t last long.

Playing as the visiting team, Jacksonville, 24-6, got both runs back in the top of the third. Laderrious Perry got a leadoff single and Deaundray Harris’ sacrifice bunt turned into a base hit when he beat the throw to first. McDonald then sacrificed the runners to second and third and Blake Perry walked to load the bases. Reeves then walked to drive in a run, and Greg Jones’ fly ball to center field scored Harris and tied the game.

No one scored in the fourth, but Jacksonville added three in the fifth on one swing of the bat. After seniors Harris and Blake Perry walked, fellow senior Reeves hit a three-run blast over the fence in right-center field to make it 5-2.

“I can’t really say too much about those three without getting choked up,” Burrows said of his seniors. “They’ve done it right. They’ve worked hard and improved so much. They’re all three great kids and they mean a lot to this baseball team.”

Vilonia loaded the bases with two hits and a walk in the bottom of the seventh. Leadoff hitter Drew Estes stepped to the plate representing the tying run, but he popped up foul to the first base side, where Harris made a leaping catch next to the fence, catching the ball with his bare hand after it initially popped out of his glove.

St. Clair went the distance on the mound and gave up just four base hits – three to Earnhart. He struck out six, walked one batter and hit one. Seven-hole hitter Chase Marshall got Vilonia’s other hit, while the first five batters in the Eagle lineup combined to go 0 for 14 with five strikeouts.

Harris went 2 for 2 with one walk and scored three runs for Jacksonville. Jones also had two base hits, including a double, and two RBIs. Reeves went 1 for 3 with four total RBIs.

SPORTS STORY >> Tech defeats Lady Bears in quarterfinals

Leader sportswriter

Saturday’s class 5A state softball tournament quarterfinal round between Sylvan Hills and Greene County Tech was a pitchers’ duel throughout, but the Lady Eagles got a timely RBI hit from cleanup hitter Elizabeth Gatlin in the top of the seventh to beat the Lady Bears 1-0 at Jacksonville’s Dupree Park.

Sylvan Hills’ senior ace Michelle Sorensen had another dominant performance in the circle. She threw all seven innings and finished with 12 strikeouts, and gave up just two walks, two hits and the one earned run that came in the top of the seventh inning.

The only problem was that GCT’s senior ace, Shayna Beaver, was just as dominant, as she too threw all seven innings and finished with a game-high 15 strikeouts. She gave up three hits to the Lady Bears (20-7), but issued no walks and no runs.

“These kids, they played the best game they played all year and just happened to lose,” said Sylvan Hills coach Mark Anderson. “They gave it all they had.

“I feel terrible for them for how it ended, and the way they played I just don’t feel like it should’ve ended that way, but somebody has to lose and it happened to be us today.”

Neither team was able to muster a hit their first time around the order. Sorensen retired eight of the first nine Lady Eagle batters she faced, five of which were strikeouts, and the other three were 1-3 groundouts.

Beaver, though, retired all nine Lady Bears batters their first trip around the order – eight of which were strikeouts.

“This was the probably the best one all year as far as a pitching duel,” Anderson said, “with each pitcher taking care of everybody up and down the lineup, but something always falls right for somebody and it hurts the other team.”

Sorensen broke the Lady Bears’ hitless streak in the bottom of the fourth with an infield single, and sophomore Tori Crites singled in the bottom of the fifth. Both runners advanced to third base in those innings, but never crossed home plate, keeping the game at 0-0.

After a scoreless six innings, Beaver walked with one out in the top of the seventh. The Lady Eagles (19-10) brought in a pinch runner with Gatlin at the plate, and the runner was able to advance to second base on a passed ball at the plate.

Gatlin worked Sorensen to a full count before she singled to center field, driving in the game’s lone run. Crites got her second hit of the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Beaver got her 15th strikeout of the game the next at-bat to end the game in the Lady Eagles’ favor.

It was a tough end to another successful season for Sylvan Hills, and it was the final game for seniors Sorensen, Ashley Broadway and Jordie Flippo, all of whom played pivotal roles in the Lady Bears’ success in their time with the team. Anderson said all three of those players will be missed.

“They all have good leadership qualities,” Anderson said of his seniors. “They’re great ballplayers, which helps, because when they’re great ballplayers everybody wants to listen to you. Nobody listens to the person that’s not very good.

“That helped them to be leaders because they all can play, and because they have played every year they’ve been a part of different situations pretty much every year. They’ve learned and they’ve helped the team learn from different things. So they’ve been a big part of building the program here.”

Crites led the Lady Bears at the plate, going 2 for 3 with two singles. Sorensen was 1 for 3 with a single. Beaver and Gatlin had GCT’s two hits.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ousted in semifinals

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers got past the quarterfinal round of the class 7A state baseball tournament at North Little Rock’s Burns Park with a 2-0 win over Little Rock Catholic on Saturday, but came up short against defending state champion Fayetteville in Monday’s semifinal round, losing 5-0 to the Bulldogs.

On Saturday, Dylan Bowers scored the only run Cabot would need on a ground ball to first base by Lee Sullivan in the top of the second inning. In the last inning, Kason Kimbrell gave the Panthers an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Braden Jarnigan, setting the final score at 2-0.

Cabot ace Zach Patterson had another stellar outing on the mound in the team’s shutout win over Catholic, the No. 2 Central seed. He threw all seven innings for the Panthers, the No. 6 Central seed, finishing with six strikeouts, while giving up just two walks and three hits.

The Panthers outhit the Rockets 10-3, with seniors Riley Knudsen, Kimbrell and Grayson Cole leading the offense with two hits apiece. Monday’s game with the reigning champion Bulldogs, the No. 1 West seed, proved to be a much bigger challenge.

Cabot was never able to match Fayetteville’s three-run second inning. Fayetteville added another run to its side of the board in the fourth inning, and set the final score in the fifth with another run scored.

Fayetteville outhit Cabot 9-5 in the game, and the Bulldogs were able to get the timely hit in the second, fourth and fifth innings. As a team, the Panthers couldn’t figure out how to get the timely hit against Bulldog senior pitcher and University of Arkansas signee Kyle Pate.

“I think anyone that was hitting could see that their pitcher brought his good stuff,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin of Pate. “Hats off to him, he had his good stuff today. He pitched like a pro guy.

“He was able to throw 2-1 sliders for strikes, and got some swings and misses out of that. But our guys competed. They weren’t scared, and so I’m proud of them for that.”

Cabot starting pitcher Adam Hicks had his stuff early on as he retired the side in the first inning, but the Bulldogs started the second inning with four-consecutive singles, which led to a 2-0 lead for Fayetteville.

Cody Davenport started the rally with a single to center field, and Andy Pagnozzi followed with a single to the gap in left field. Shortstop Drew Tyler also singled to left field the next at-bat, and Blake Power drove in Davenport and Pagnozzi with a single to straightaway center.

Tyler scored the third and final run of the inning from third base on a bad pickoff move at first base.

In the bottom of the fourth, Fayetteville went up 4-0 on a no-out, RBI single to the gap in left field by designated hitter Ethan King. Tyler scored on the play. He was hit by a pitch two batters earlier, and got in scoring position with another single by Power the following at-bat.

The Bulldogs added their final run their next at-bat. Davenport, the team’s cleanup hitter, got the fifth inning going with a stand-up double down the left-field line. He stole third base before Gavin Tillery, who came in to relieve Hicks on the mound in the fourth inning, struck out Pagnozzi.

However, the Bulldogs set the final score on a two-out single to the right-field gap by Tyler that scored Davenport. Pate, who finished with a game-high nine strikeouts on the hill, retired the side in the top of the seventh to advance the Bulldogs to the championship game for the second year in a row.

Even though Cabot lost the game, it was an excellent playoff run the six-seeded Panthers were able to put together. They barely made it into the state tournament as the six seed, and they beat Rogers Heritage in the first round before upsetting Catholic in the semis. Both teams were higher seeds.

“It was a season of ups and downs,” Goodwin said. “Our seniors were really, really unselfish, and they just kept showing up. We kept telling them all along, we were better than our conference record showed.

“From day one in September, I told our guys the most important thing in this whole thing is to be playing your best in May. Our seniors did something that only one other team in the history of Cabot has done. So I couldn’t be more pleased with this group.”

Sullivan led the Panthers (17-13) at the plate against Fayetteville (31-3). He was 2 for 3 with two singles. Hicks, Coleman McAtee and Logan Kirkendoll had one hit apiece for Cabot.

Davenport, Tyler and Power led the Bulldogs offensively with two hits apiece. Fayetteville will play Bryant, the No. 2 West seed, in the class 7A state championship game Friday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Bryant beat Conway 2-0 on Monday to advance to Friday’s championship game, which is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panther jumps 14’

Leader sports editor

Another meet and another state record gone to the wayside as Cabot’s Lexi Weeks shattered her own record in the pole vault that she set just last week at the class 7A state meet.

Competing Saturday in the Meet of Champions at Heber Springs, Weeks, a junior, became just the second high school girl this year to clear 14-feet, shattering the record she set last week by 5.5 inches.

She then tried 14-3.5 to break the national record set just last month by Desiree Freier of Justin Northwest High School in Dallas, but had to settle for another state record. Freier, a senior who has committed to the University of Arkansas, went 14-3.25 at the Texas Relays in April. She also cleared 14-9 last week, but that event was moved inside due to bad weather and the jump was on a disputed runway.

Weeks, Freier and Kaitlyn Merritt of Santa Margarita, Calif., have all cleared 14 feet in outdoor competitions this year, but Merritt’s jump was in an exhibition. Her official high this season is 13-9.

Tori Weeks of Cabot took second in the pole vault, clearing 12-6. She has cleared 13-2 this year.

Cabot track coach Leon White has seen the quality of female jumpers in Arkansas increase tremendously over the last few years.

“It’s really amazing what’s going on here in this little state where we’re able to produce so many good pole vaulters,” said White.

“But just overall, we’ve seen a huge increase in heights among the best high school girls. Just this year we’ve got three high school girls that have gone 14 feet. That would win the SEC outdoor championships, and these girls are just going to get better. Tori is right there too, reaching heights very few girls her age have ever hit. It’s really incredible what they’re out here accomplishing,” White said.

Lexi Weeks and teammate Danielle McWilliams placed in the 400-meter dash. Amanda Dillon of Har-Ber High won the event and blew away the field with a time of 56.27. Weeks was fourth at 1:00.21 and McWilliams took seventh, finishing in 1:01.46.

Those two teamed up with Tori Weeks and Rachael Hall to take third in the 4x400-meter relay. They took second by .01 seconds to Fayetteville in the class 7A meet, but Har-Ber dominated the MOC race, winning with a time of 3:55.99. Fayetteville was second at 3:58.74 and Cabot a distant third almost four seconds behind Fayetteville.

Cabot junior Micah Huckabee bounced back from a disappointing second-place finish in the 7A state meet to beat her conqueror Katie Andrews of Bentonville in the MOC. Huckabee finished almost seven seconds ahead of Andrews with a winning time of 11:32.24.

Cabot senior Rachael Hall took fifth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.75. Hall is a senior, but White believes was the most improved athlete on the team.

“I told her that when she raced with all the best of the best and placed in there with them,” White said. “She has worked so hard and gotten so much better than where she was just a year ago.”

Beebe’s Taylor McGraw took fifth in the 800-meter race behind runners from Fayetteville, Bryant, Harding Academy and Bentonville. Lady Badger senior Madison Richey finished seventh in the triple jump by going 33-8.75. Jayda Baylark of Parkview won with a distance of 37-1.

A few local athletes showed well at the boys’ meet as well. Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter sophomore Jordan McNair lost for the first time this year, but still placed in the 100-meter dash, finishing eighth.

Cabot’s Brayden Mercantel took sixth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:39.62.

Jacksonville High School’s 4x100-meter relay team finished seventh with a time of 43.40. The Red Devils were exactly one second behind winner Little Rock Central in one of the most exciting events of the meet.

Red Devil Danial Curly tied for second with six others in the high jump by clearing 6-2. Demetrius Taylor of Texarkana won the event at 6-4, a mark Curly cleared in the 5A state meet.

Beebe’s Race Payne took seventh in the shot put with a distance of 49-6.25, seven feet short of winner Jeffrey Rogers of Catholic High.­