Saturday, October 25, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits upset Mustangs on road

Special to The Leader

The Lonoke Jackrabbits kept their playoff hopes alive Friday night as they traveled to Mustang Mountain in North Little Rock and defeated the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs 32-21. It was a beautiful night for week eight of high school football, and the Jackrabbits took advantage to raise their conference record to 2-3 and overall record to 3-5. The Mustangs are now 3-2 in conference and 5-3 overall.

“We knew this is one we had to have,” said Lonoke head coach Doug Bost. “We knew we had to come in and run the ball. We kind of got a different look on offense, put Justin Meadows back there, and he had a heck of a night. The line was blocking, Josh Coleman was lead blocking on a lot of those long runs, so I’m real proud of the offensive line and Josh.

“Ethan Holland had two big interceptions to stop drives for them. Being able to put offense and defense together, that was important. We gave up the one kickoff return, but other than that, special teams played good. We said we had to have all three phases coming in here tonight.”

Lonoke had 421 yards of offense while holding the Mustangs to 326 yards from scrimmage. Meadows led the Jackrabbits with 281 yards rushing and two touchdowns, Coleman had 70 yards, quarterback SaVonte Roundtree rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one. Braylon Harris had 206 yards for CAC.

After help from a Lonoke pass interference call, CAC scored on its second possession of the game, with Harris carrying the ball in from 6 yards out. The extra point was good by Justin Flanigan for a 7-0 lead with 4:25 to go in the opening quarter.

The Jackrabbits answered right back, with Meadows going 77 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the possession. The two-point conversion by Coleman gave Lonoke an 8-7 lead with 3:46 to go in the quarter.

Meadows broke free again for 57 yards on the next Jackrabbit possession, and the drive was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Rountree to Logan Dozier. This time the two-point conversion was no good, and the score was 14-7.

CAC took advantage of an interception by Cade Huckaby, a 36-yard pass completion from Noah Evans to Stephen Flanigan, and a 6-yard touchdown run by Harris to even the score at 14-14 after the successful PAT.

Lonoke turned the ball over again by interception with 1:47 to go in the half, but CAC turned it right back as Evans was picked of by Holland to the Mustang 18-yard line.

The Jackrabbits took advantage of the turnover as Rountree took the ball in on a keeper with 33 seconds to go in the half.

CAC tried to score quickly, but Holland intercepted again to end the half with the visitors ahead 20-14.

On CAC’s first drive of the third quarter, a bad snap over the head of the quarterback on fourth and 5 gave Lonoke excellent field position on the Mustang 28-yard line, but the Jackrabbits came up just short on a fourth and short, and were unable to capitalize on the mistake.

Neither team scored in the third, with the next score coming with 9:19 to go in the game when after a 30-yard pick up and another 8-yard carry to the 1-yard line by Meadows, Rountree leaped into the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good and the lead remained 26-14.

The Mustangs immediately answered as Zac Lilly returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 26-21. After forcing a Lonoke punt, CAC drove the ball to the Jackrabbit 15-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Coleman ran for 15 yards and a first down before Meadows broke free yet again for a 75-yard touchdown to set the final score at 32-21 with 2:21 to go in the contest.

Lonoke will visit Stuttgart next week. The Ricebirds lost 26-7 to Helena-West Helena.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot beats Mt. Home in big blowout

Special to The Leader

MOUNTAIN HOME – The Bombers kept pace with Cabot for one quarter, but then the Panthers ran away with the win, defeating the Bombers in Mountain Home Friday night 52-18.

Mountain Home marched 80 yards on fourteen plays ending with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle by senior quarterback Zane Walker. The extra point gave the Bombers a 7-0 lead.

Cabot’s first possession of the game stalled on the Bomber’s 47-yard line. On the ensuing possession, Panther defensive end Lino Garcia recovered a Bomber fumble on the 18-yard line. Cabot running back Kolton Eads needed only one carry to get in the end zone, scoring from 18-yards out. The extra point tied the game with 1:12 remaining in the first period.

Mountain Home enjoyed great field position after the ensuing kickoff as Dakota Sutterfield returned it 38 yards to the Bomber 45-yard line. The Bombers drive stalled at the Panther 17-yard line, and on fourth down Jose Hernandez made a 34-yard field goal to put the Bombers up 10-7 with 8:07 remaining in the first half.

But any momentum Mountain Home had ended on the ensuing kickoff. Jalen Hemphill fielded the kick on his own 14-yard line and outraced the Bombers special teams 86 yards for the touchdown. With 7:49 remaining in the firs half, Cabot led 14-10.

The Panther defense played stout on the next drive, including a 10-yard sack, and the Bombers were forced to punt. Cabot scored in six plays and 68-yards, capped by an 18-yard touchdown run by Hemphill with 2:49 left in the half.

Miscues by the Bombers derailed them with less than two minutes left in the second quarter. A false start penalty on first down pushed the Bombers back, and they were forced to punt four plays later.

Cabot would then have a 35-yard touchdown by Hemphill called back due to a holding call, and then a fumble on third and 20 that was recovered by Cabot seemed to have pinned the Panthers deep in their own territory. But penalties by both teams on the play, including a late hit by the Bombers, gave the Panthers a fourth down and 19 yards to go at midfield.

Eads then gave the Panthers a fresh set of downs by rushing 28-yards down to the Bomber 22-yard line. But Cabot still had to settle for a field goal.

Junior Christian Underwood made a 44-yard field goal with three seconds left in the first half to give Cabot a 21-10 lead at intermission.

Mountain Home got the ball first and had chance early in the third quarter to get back in the game, but a fumbled snap and two penalties led to a bad series and another punt.

Kolton Eads would then take over the game. On first and ten from his own 20-yard line, Eads plowed through several defenders and outraced the Bomber secondary for an 80-yard touchdown run. After the successful extra point, Cabot led 31-10 with 9:07 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bombers gambled on their next possession and went for it on fourth down from their own 42-yard line. Cabot smothered the Bombers for no gain, and took over deep in Bomber territory. The Panthers would need only eight plays to score, ending with a 5-yard touchdown run by Eads with 4:53 remaining that made it 38-10.

Once again the Bombers were forced to punt. On third and three from their own 35-yard line, Eads ran through arm tackles and sprinted 65-yards to another long touchdown run. The extra point gave the Panthers a 45-10 lead with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.

With the clock now running continually, the Bombers tried to hurry up their offense via the passing game. But on fourth down, Walker was intercepted by Kale Eddington at midfield. The Panthers needed only seven plays to put more points on the board, this time by Bryan Hill, who scored from 13 yards out. With the extra point, Cabot would lead 52-10 with 9:10 remaining in the contest.

The Bombers went on a 14 play, 71-yard drive to end the game. The Bombers threw up a Hail Mary from 28-yards out that was deflected by the Panthers defense secondary but somehow caught in the end zone by Bomber wide receiver Marcus May with 54 seconds left in the game. Walker ran in the two-point conversion to set the final margin.

Cabot ran the ball forty times for 413 yards, while attempting only two passes. Eads led the Panthers with 283 yards on only 16 carries, and touchdowns of 18, 5, 80, and 65 yards. Jason Schrunk contributed 40 yards, and Hemphill added 36 yards on five carries, including the 18-yard touchdown run.

Hemphill also had the kickoff return for a touchdown from 86-yards out. The Panthers also had one turnover and seven penalties; three of which were kickoffs that went out of bounds.

Mountain Home was held to 111 yards rushing on 44 attempts. Quarterback Zane Walker led the Bombers with 68 yards on 25 carries, and also added 105 passing yards. The Bombers had two turnovers, and also committed seven penalties.

With the win, the Panthers are 5-3 for the season, while the Bombers have lost 29 consecutive games.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe seals deal, earns No. 1 seed

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe volleyball team secured its first-ever conference championship in its first year in the 5A Central on Tuesday, beating North Pulaski in the regular-season finale by scores of 25-10, 25-9 and 25-16 at the Falcons’ Nest.

Beebe, who finished the regular season with a stellar 13-1 record in conference play, won Tuesday’s first two games handily, but North Pulaski put up a tougher fight in the third game.

The Lady Falcons (13-8, 8-6), who will enter next week’s Class 5A state tournament as the No. 4 seed from the Central, scored the first seven points of the third game to lead 7-0, but the Lady Badgers, the No. 1 seed from the conference, stormed back to win the game by nine points, and as a result, win the match in straight sets.

“I’m really proud of them,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “The first two games, we jumped on them early like we talked about. The third game was a disappointing start, but the finish was much better, and they know what it’s going to take.”

Beebe indeed jumped on North Pulaski early. The Lady Badgers scored the first 11 points of the first game before North Pulaski finally broke serve. Beebe’s Sarah Clark served 10 of the first 11 points, helping the Lady Badgers to the 11-0 lead.

North Pulaski answered with a 4-1 run to cut its deficit to 12-4, but Beebe soon got its lead back to double digits. Beebe pushed its lead to 20-8 with Abby Smith serving, and Smith served two more points after before the Lady Falcons broke serve.

Beebe regained serving rights the next volley on a kill by Abby Hogue. Hogue got another kill on the next serve before NP scored its final point of the match, and Hogue got the game-ending kill from the corner of the net, thanks in part to a nice set by Clark.

Beebe was even more dominant in the second game. The Lady Badgers led by as much as 23-6. North Pulaski scored the next two points before Hogue made it game point with a kill from the corner.

The Lady Falcons got their ninth and final point of the second game on the next volley, but served the next one into the net, setting the final score of game two.

Megan Lewis made up for that game-ending serve into the net in game three, as she served the first seven points of that game to give the Lady Falcons the 7-0 cushion.

Beebe responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 9-9. Lady Badger libero Paige Smith served points eight and nine for Beebe, and followed with four more points from the serving line before NP broke serve on a kill by Raigen Thomas.

Neiagha Thomas served the next point for the host team, cutting the Lady Falcon deficit to 13-11, but that was as close as NP would get the rest of the way.

Beebe junior back row player Destiny Nunez served the final three points of the match, with the last one coming on a corner kill by fellow junior Jerra Malone.

Malone led all players with nine kills Tuesday. She also had five digs, which was one behind Paige Smith’s match-high of six digs. Hogue finished with eight kills and Abby Smith finished with seven. Teammate Gracie Rymel added four kills, and Clark led the way with a match-high 23 assists.

Kiarra Evans led NP with four kills, while teammates Raigen Thomas and Makiyah Brown added three kills each. Neiagha Thomas led the Lady Falcons with five assists and teammate Payton Mullen led NP with four digs.

Beebe and North Pulaski will both play Tuesday in the 5A state tournament at Valley View.

The Lady Badgers will face Batesville, the No. 4 seed from the East and last year’s 5A state runner-up, at noon.

The Lady Falcons will play at 2 p.m. against the tournament hosts, who are the East No. 1 seed and last year’s Class 4A state champion.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils topple North Pulaski

Leader sports editor

Homecoming night was a good one for Jacksonville, as the Red Devils routed crosstown rival North Pulaski 50-19 Friday at Jan Crow Stadium. The win makes Jacksonville 2-6 overall, but more importantly, 2-3 in the 5A-Central Conference. That means the Red Devils are still alive in the playoff race, and even still has a chance to finish as high as a No. 3 seed.

North Pulaski dropped to 1-6-1 overall and 1-4 in league play, and its playoff hopes are all but erased.

Most of the damage was done in a long, penalty-riddled first half, when Jacksonville built a 43-6 lead. The play of the game came late in the first half when Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham was trying to put the margin at mercy-rule level before halftime.

After North Pulaski went 32 yards in four plays, a triple handoff was lost on the third exchange and defensive lineman Anthony Fields recovered it for Jacksonville at the Red Devil 29.

Senior running back Treasean Lambert picked up 13 yards on first down, but it was called back for holding. On first down from the 26, Jacksonville went to the back page of the playbook for the final score of the half.

Quarterback Brandon Hickingbotham hit Courtland McDonald about 8 yards down field near the Jacksonville sideline. McDonald leaped to make the catch, then in the same motion, tossed to Fields for the old hook and lateral. The 6-foot-2, 281-pounder outraced the entire Falcon defense for the 76-yard scoring play. John Herrmann’s PAT was good, making it 43-6 with 2:21 left in the half.

“We practiced that on Thursday,” said Fields. “I knew when he called the play I had to take it to the house.”

The head coach explained why Fields felt he had to score on the play.

“He came to me and told me if I called the play he would score on it,” Hickingbotham said. “That kind of put some pressure on me. So I put the pressure on him and he delivered. We had some guys from the 1957 team talk to them at halftime, and he gets a play like that. That’s something he’ll remember himself for the next 57 years.”

North Pulaski’s lone touchdown came on defense when Jacksonville, already leading 16-0, had third and 2 at the North Pulaski 4-yard line.

The snap exchange went awry, and while most players were mixed up in the scrum for the loose ball, North Pulaski’s Brady Rhodes already had it and was all alone running down the visitors’ sideline. Jacksonville’s Lamont Gause chased him down at the 10, but Rhodes broke the tackle and scored to make it 16-6 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.

It didn’t take the Red Devils long to get it back. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Brandon Hickingbotham swung a lateral out to Lambert, who cut back inside and went 73 yards for the score. Herrmann’s extra point made it 23-6 with 1:19 left in the first period.

North Pulaski put together a lengthy but fruitless drive and turned it over on downs after 10 plays at the Jacksonville 37.

Gause went 19 yards on first down. Sophomore quarterback Rowdy Weathers hit Wesley Williams for 8 yards, then Gause got the remaining 40 on a sweep left for another score. A bad snap on the extra point left it 29-6 with 8:05 left in the second quarter.

North Pulaski then went three and out before punting and setting up Jacksonville at its own 46. Avery Wells went 8 yards on first down and Weathers hit Maurice Young for a 3-yard reception. After a loss of 1, Weathers hit Gause on a screen to the left, and Gause made two cuts and raced 44 yards for another touchdown. This time the extra point was good, leaving it 36-6 with 4:11 left in the half.

Jacksonville scored first in the second half on fourth and 14. Hickingbotham hit Williams for 34 yards over the top of the defense. Tyler Hooper’s PAT made it 50-6.

North Pulaski then put together a nine-play, 61-yard drive and scored on a 1-yard run by Rhodes. A failed extra point left it 50-12.

On Jacksonville’s next drive, Falcon sophomore Kristopher Johnson picked off a pass that was knocked into the air to give the Falcons possession at the Red Devil 43.

After two 8-yard runs and a 1-yard loss, quarterback Michael Barnes hit Killian Oelrich for a 28-yard scoring strike. Oelrich then hit the extra point to set the final margin with 2:10 remaining in the game.

“The NP players kept fighting,” Hickingbotham said. “That’s a tribute to coach (Teodis) Ingram and his staff, and the character of kids he’s got playing over there. They never gave up and kept competing until the end.”

Jacksonville’s first score came on the game’s first drive when Gause capped a seven-play, 58-yard drive with a 10-yard run up the middle.

After the Falcons went for it on fourth down and failed, Gause then went 23 yards in one play to make it 14-0 with 8:09 left in the first quarter.

North Pulaski started on its own 32 on the next drive, and ended up punting from its own 15. The punt snap was high and went out of the back of the end zone to make it 16-0 with 7:08 left on the clock.

SPORTS STORY >> Sickly Bears escape Lions

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills entered Friday’s 5A-Central game against McClellan with 20 of its players sick, and despite that and lengthy delays throughout the game because of penalties, the Bears managed to escape Little Rock with a 38-29 win and keep their perfect record in tact.

“We sent 20 guys home today throwing up,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “We sent them home, brought them back, gatorated them up as much as we could, and said let’s just get out there and survive.

“Our tailback’s (Fred Williams) not here. His backup (Tyler Davis), I think he sprained his foot. So we had to use (Andre) Collins, and he did a good job. He’s just a sophomore.”

Several other starters for the Bears either played ill or didn’t play at all, but the Bears gutted it out regardless. They scored the game’s first points on their second possession of the game.

After starting from their own 40, the Bears capped an eight-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Trajan ‘TD’ Doss with 6:03 left in the opening quarter. Zac Brown’s PAT gave Sylvan Hills a 7-0 lead.

McClellan (4-4, 3-2) answered on its next offensive series, thanks in large part to a muffed Sylvan Hills punt that the Crimson Lions covered at the Bears’ 34-yard line. On the next snap, tailback Pierre Strong took it to the end zone, and the PAT tied the score at 7-7.

Sylvan Hills (8-0, 5-0) answered with a 25-yard field by Brown on the next drive, giving Sylvan Hills a 10-7 cushion with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter. The Bears scored again about midway through the second quarter.

That second-quarter scoring drive lasted eight plays, and was capped with a 24-yard TD run by running back Marlon Clemmons. The PAT was good, putting the Bears up 17-7.

A costly fumble by the Lions at the goal line, which was covered by the Bears in the end zone, set Sylvan Hills up with first and 10 at their own 20-yard line with just a couple of minutes left in the half.

A 33-yard run by Doss on the third play of the drive helped set up a 35-yard TD pass from Doss to receiver Cameron Dews, and the PAT gave the Bears a 24-7 lead at halftime.

McClellan got on the board just 12 seconds into the second half. Strong received the second-half kickoff at the Lions’ 15-yard line, and he took it 85 yards for a McClellan score.

The Lions went for two, and got it after Trenton Lewis punched it in. The successful two-point try cut the Bears’ lead to 24-15 with 11:48 left in the third quarter.

Tyler Davis didn’t play in the second half because of his injury, and that allowed Andre Collins to get the bulk of the carries in the second half.

Collins carried three times for 14 yards on the Bears’ first offensive series of the second half, but the Bears scored on a 35-yard pass from Doss to Nathan Thomas on fourth and 4 with 8:53 left in the third quarter. Christian Balchen kicked the extra point, giving the Bears a 31-15 lead.

McClellan’s offense answered with a 10-play drive that was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Strong. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, making the score 31-21 Bears.

Sylvan Hills’ final points came with 9:37 remaining in the game. The Bears put together a six-play drive that ended with Clemmons scoring on a 9-yard run. The PAT gave Sylvan Hills a 38-21 lead.

The Lions answered with an 11-play drive that ended with an 8-yard TD run by quarterback Dalvion Childs with 5:04 left to play. Raoshun Young hammered in the two-point conversion, setting the final score.

Sylvan Hills finished with 359 yards of offense. McClellan ended the night with 268. Doss was 7 of 16 passing for 104 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Doss also had 65 yards rushing on 11 carries and one TD, but Clemmons led the Bears’ rushing attack, toting it 10 times for 108 yards and two scores.

The Bears return home for their conference game next week. They’ll host Beebe (3-5, 3-2) next Friday at 7 p.m.

Friday, October 24, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Helpful hints for ballot box

Changing a constitution, even the state Constitution, is a serious labor for voters since it either authorizes government or the citizens to do something or else forbids them to do it forever, at least until the constitution can be changed again. Altering a constitution is supposed to be a rare event since it tampers with individual rights or with the structure and powers of government.

That presumes that the amendments themselves are grave and not frivolous and that they are not political ax-grinding. So we take up the three amendments referred to the ballot by the Arkansas legislature last year and that appear on your general-election ballot. Judge for yourself whether any of them achieve the gravity that altering the state’s basic law requires. We would vote, somewhat reluctantly, for only one of them, but you will not be badly amiss if you vote against it, too.

We daresay 1 percent of Arkansas voters know much about even one of the three, which have gotten no publicity in the election cycle and received very little when the General Assembly adopted them in the heated closing days of the 2013 session. Let’s take them up in order.


This is easily the worst proposal on the ballot. It upsets the separation and balance of powers that are the bedrock of government in the United States. The amendment requires every administrative rule for implementing a law to be reviewed and approved by an interim committee of the legislature. Rulemaking is an executive function, carried out by agencies that will be implementing the laws.

If a new law, for instance, requires health insurers to cover some illness, the Insurance Department must prepare rules saying exactly how the law will be carried out in every imaginable circumstance. It will hold a public hearing on the rules before they are adopted. The amendment would give an absolute veto power to the small legislative committee, which could override the actions of a majority of the legislature and the governor and block the law from taking effect until the rules are changed to meet the demands of the band of legislators and the interests that opposed the law.

The jockeying to get on the committees would be unprecedented since it would give the members enormous power. Every group with an interest in legislation would be supplicants of the legislators. The invitation to graft and self-dealing would be formidable. You don’t want to subject even your own favorite legislator to the temptations. Vote no.


This amendment would stiffen the requirements for getting signatures to put a citizen act or amendment on the ballot—like the minimum wage law that is on this year’s ballot. Getting enough valid signatures to get a proposal on the ballot (not counting those referred by the legislature) is terribly difficult because tens of thousands of signatures will be struck because the signer is not a registered voter, signs the petition wrong or makes an illegible or otherwise invalid signature. Then there is a short period for getting enough good signatures to make up for the shortcoming.

If No. 2 is ratified, it will be still harder to get initiated laws on the ballot. The petitions would be dead if the valid names the first time did not reach at least 75 percent of the number required to get on the ballot. There could be no second effort to recoup the signatures.

The casinos at Oaklawn and Southland want the tougher requirements to make it hard for promoters of competing casinos to get a proposal on the ballot to legalize their gambling. But the amendment will make it harder for anyone who does not have the money to hire professional signature gatherers to get their ideas for reform before the voters.

If you believe in this form of citizen democracy—most states do not have initiative and referendum laws at all—then you don’t want to turn the process over to the big moneyed interests. Vote no.


This is a massive amendment, far too long for voters to read it in the poll booth. Everyone should conclude that most of the amendment is worthy. It imposes a fairly strict code of ethics on legislators and people in the executive branch. They cannot accept favors from lobbyists. That is a rule that has long been needed but the legislature, backed by lobbyists, has never been willing to impose such strictures on themselves or the fourth branch of government, lobbyists.

But the legislature extracted a price for the sacrifice. The amendment takes the power to fix the salaries of legislators and state elected officials away from the legislature and gives it to an independent citizens commission, which can raise the salaries without appearing to be self-serving and without risking reprisals from voters. Legislators and constitutional officers are, indeed, underpaid and rather than risk the ire of voters by raising their own pay they now find darker ways to get the money through unaudited expenses and per diem and by setting up a limited liability corporation and paying family members as legislative aides year round.

We would prefer even tighter restraints than the amendment imposes, but this is a long-needed improvement.

The zinger for many people—it probably will defeat it—is a weakening of the term-limits law. Now, a person can serve six years in the House of Representatives and then eight in the Senate before his or her legislative career is ended. The amendment would give every legislator 16 years, whether he or she served it in the House, the Senate or both. The people who put the term-limits law into place 20 years ago are fighting the amendment and that, no doubt, will bring it down.

We find ourselves lukewarmly for it.

TOP STORY >> Lennox, Hutcherson on Blue Note; Impulse back

Leader editor-in-chief

Annie Lennox’s new CD, “Nostalgia,” from Blue Note includes a stunning version of “Strange Fruit,” an anti-lynching song usually associated with Billie Holiday, who recorded it in 1937.

Lennox’s live music video posted this week by the Guardian newspaper is even more amazing. (Click here to view video.) After watching the three-and-a-half-minute video as she sings in a long red dress in front of an orchestra, you have to leave your computer, go outside for a minute and shake your head as you think about the power of music and how it can move us.

At the end of the video, the orchestra sits silently, as if the musicians are as moved by her performance as we are.

A pop sensation since she started out in the 1970s with David Stewart in the Tourists and the Eurythmics, Lennox sings mostly American standards on her new CD.

In addition to “Strange Fruit,” she also sings soulful versions of Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” and “I Cover the Waterfront,” as well as wonderful covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Memphis in June,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “The Nearness of You,” along with the Gershwins’ “Summertime,” Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s “September in the Rain,” Sammy Fain’s “I Can Dream, Can’t I?,” Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and Chilton Price’s “You Belong to Me.”

A nice program without a dull moment. Lennox trimmed this program of 12 songs from a list of more than 40 standards she considered recording, so there’s plenty more for a second and a third volume.

The great vibraharpist Bobby Hutcherson, who started recording for Blue Note at the age of 22 in 1963 (on Jackie McLean’s “One Step Beyond”), has returned to the label after a long absence with “Enjoy the View.” He leads an all-star group that includes David Sanborn on saxophone, Joey DeFrancesco on organ and trumpet and Billy Hart on drums, featuring compositions by Hutcherson, Sanborn and DeFrancesco.

Hutcherson’s mid-1960s Blue Notes are among the best from that venerable label, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Hutcherson’s “Dialogue” CD gets a top crown rating in the “Penguin Guide to Jazz CDs” and features such jazz giants as Andrew Hill on piano, multi-reed player Sam Rivers (who grew up in North Little Rock), trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Joe Chambers.

“Dialogue” is free-form jazz that has inspired Hutcherson’s current group to play at the top of their form. Sanborn, DeFancesco and Hart do a fine job evoking the music of those classic Blue Note records, but to hear Hutcherson play as well as he does at the age of 73 is something we should be grateful for.

Wayne Shorter, another labelmate from the 1960s, continues to perform at the age of 81. Blue Note last year released his “Without a Net,” a compilation of recent live recordings.

Those nostalgic for the 1960s will be pleased that Blue Note has revived the Impulse label, which flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. Known as “The House That Trane Built,” because of John Coltrane’s prodigious output there from 1961 until his death in 1967, Impulse continued sporadically in the 1980s and 1990s, mostly as a reissue label, although it also issued originals with Henry Butler, Horace Silver and McCoy Tyner and others, including “Underground: Live at Small’s,” which showcased young jazz artists who performed at the little jazz club in New York’s Greenwich Village.

But Impulse, with its black-and-orange label and spine, is going strong again under the Universal Group, which also owns Blue Note and Verve, another storied label that’s almost 70 years old.

The newly reactivated Impulse has just released a new CD with Butler, the blind New Orleans piano dynamo, who has teamed up with trumpeter Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9 Orchestra on “Viper’s Drag.” This is New Orleans jazz going up Dixie Highway to New York: It’s hot jazz updated a century later. It kicks off with Fats Waller’s “Viper’s Drag,” and moves on to Butler’s “Dixie Walker” and Jelly Roll Morton’s “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” “Wolverine Blues” and “King Porter Stomp,” Andy Gibson’s “I Left My Baby” (popularized by Jimmy Rushing and the Count Basie Orchestra), and several more Butler originals, including “Dixie Walker” and “Henry’s Boogie.”

Butler calls this music “rhythm IN blues.” He and Bernstein and the band play old-time jazz and blues and swing brought up to date “with modern flavors, agile arrangements and a vitality that never allows the historical focus to limit itself,” according to the informative liner notes by Ashley Kahn, author of “The House That Trane Built,” “Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album” and other books.

This is the band Stephen Colbert should hire next year for his new “Late Show” on CBS.

Another Impulse CD showcases a concert by bassist Charley Haden and guitarist Jim Hall recorded at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1990. It’s a 75-minute program of classic jazz (Thelonious Monk’s “Bemsha Swing,” Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark,” Ornette Coleman’s “Turnaround”) and Haden’s “First Song” and “In the Moment” and Hall’s “Down from Antigua” and “Big Blues.”

This is not a flashy program, but it’s a CD you want to listen to over and over. You’ll hear the gentle interaction between these two great musicians and the response from an appreciative audience.

Sadly, Hall passed away last year and Haden earlier this year.

Impulse has issued an-other duet CD, “The Art of Conversation” with the Philadelphia-born pianist Kenny Barron and the British bassist Dave Holland. Recorded last spring in New York, the CD features compositions by the two musicians, along with Charley Parker’s “Segment,” Monk’s “In Walked Bud” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Daydream.”

They keep the conversation going for almost an hour, and it’s always dazzling and provocative, like listening to Bud Powell and Paul Chambers, but this time in superior stereo.

TOP STORY >> Davis takes on Heye

Leader staff writer

Sherwood Alderman Mary Jo Heye is facing former Alderman Butch Davis in her bid for re-election to the Ward 2, Position 1 seat.

Heye said she is running for re-election because “I believe in giving back to my community that has given so much to me. And I truly see Sherwood as a diamond in the rough with so much untapped potential.”

She continued, “I have the background, the leadership and the creativity to help transform Sherwood into the premier community of central Arkansas.”

Davis said he wants his old job back because “I don’t like the way the other person did things. First thing first, you have to be dedicated to the residents. And, if you’re not dedicated to the residents, you shouldn’t be in it.”
The retired Army veteran added that he is more available to constituents because he is retired.

Heye said her bachelor’s degree in economics from Texas A&M University plus professional and civic experience qualifiesher to serve on the council.

The certified USA coach continued, “My leadership and vision took the Sherwood Sharks from one of the smallest teams in central Arkansas to the largest summer swim program in the entire state.”

Heye served as Arkansas Swimming’s administrative vice president and represented the organization at the National USA Convention. She received the 2013 Conoco Phillips Arkansas Swimming Volunteer of the Year award.

The alderman was also recognized as the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce’s Woman of the Year in 2010.

Heye, a certified Municipal League official, served on the league’s Public Safety Advisory Council, the league’s Extra Large First Class Cities Council, the Sherwood Parks and Recreation Committee and the Sherwood Street Committee.

She has been a member of the Sherwood Chamber and Rotary Club and served on both of their boards.

Davis doesn’t believe any kind of education qualifies a person to be an alderman.

He served on the council from 1998 until 2012.

Davis has been inducted into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame, suffered a gunshot wound to his spine while fighting in Vietnam and is the city’s military liaison.

Davis is also a member of the executive councils for Little Rock Air Force Base, Camp Robinson and Camp Pike.

He has organized annual parades and started a community garden in the Indian Hills subdivision accessible to all Sherwood residents.

Heye said planning, progress and participation are the most pressing issues Sherwood is facing.

“We need better long-term strategic planning. We need a vision of what we want this city to look like in the future and come together as a community to make those goals reality,” she said. “In order for us to be attractive to young families, we need to be more progressive.”

Heye suggests that the city needs sidewalks, especially in its older neighborhoods, trails, bike lanes, green spaces and parks.

She continued, “We are keeping our citizens in the dark. We need to be more transparent and make it easier for our citizens to be a part of the process.”

The alderman suggested televising council meeting for free on Comcast, web streaming all committee and council meetings and making recordings available for citizens to view at their convenience.

Heye said, “Openness and transparency will encourage more participation. The more involved our citizens are, the stronger our community is.”

Davis said the most pressing issue facing Sherwood is its need for a new library and other infrastructure.

A proposed 1.3-mill increase — roughly $200 per year for the owner of a $150,000 home — to fund the construction and furnishing of a new library is on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Davis said the Amy Sanders Library needs to be replaced and a new library should be built elsewhere. He added that the police department is also “very busy” and could use more space.

Heye moved to Sherwood in 1992 from Germany.

Her eldest son, Trey, was born in Germany, but her other children — Christopher, Thomas, Ian and Nicholas — were born after the family settled here.

Trey passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 6, 2000, from a “medical error,” the alderman shared.

She ran the Sherwood Sharks swim team from 2001 until 2012 and was elected to serve on the city council in 2010.

Heye was born in Houston and grew up in Conroe, Texas. She has also lived in Phoenix, Ariz., where the alderman worked in property management and was a loan officer for a mortgage lending company.

Davis said he moved to Sherwood in the ‘70s and attended John Tyler Community College in Virginia.

He enlisted in the Army at age 16 and has been married to his wife, Judy, for 49 years. They have one daughter, two sons and three grandchildren.

Heye said, “My candidacy is about the future of Sherwood. And the future of Sherwood is quality of place. Quality of place is an economic issue, a determinant of quality of life and an enhancer and protector of our property values.”

Davis said he wants voters to know he is honest and trustworthy. “I have no hidden agendas or motives for running.”

TOP STORY >> Butler vs. Williams

Leader staff writer

Alderman Toni Butler is running for re-election to her Ward 3, Position 1 seat against Beverly Williams.

Butler is in her 12th year on the council. “My sole purpose for being an alderman is to be an advocate for the citizens. I consider being elected an honor and want to continue to help better the wonderful community in which we live,” she said.

Butler continued, “An alderman’s goal should be to listen and take action when necessary. We should be easily accessible in some form to receive concerns and questions from the citizens.”

Williams said, “Since my retirement, I have enjoyed the opportunities to volunteer in my community more frequently. Through those opportunities, I realized that I wanted to offer my services to the growth and further development of my city with an emphasis on Ward 3, which is ‘The Original Sherwood.’”

Butler said she is qualified because “in my previous jobs experiences, as well as being fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom, I had opportunity to interact and be involved with the public in various ways.”

She said she worked with her neighborhood to unite in opposing a public swimming pool being built at the end of Coolhurst Avenue.

Butler explained, “Now the pool is where it needs to be…At that time, our alderman would not listen to or return our calls. I know how it felt to be ignored. I want to be and consider myself the alderman who listens and cares.”

Williams said she brings communication skills, understanding of governance and grant writing experience to the table.

The candidate was a school administrator for 30 years.

“Communication was essential as we worked to implement local school, district and state governance and saw its impact on schools, the students, the families and the communities,” Williams said.

As assistant commissioner for the state Education Department, the candidate said she helped draft legislation, establish rules and regulations to implement existing laws and implement numerous federal and state guidelines.

She added, “Educators are creative in seeking grant opportunities to fund projects. Cities often need similar grant writing skills to fund unfunded one-time expenses/enhancements.”

Butler said flooding is a major problem for Sherwood. “We have old underground lines in our city that could cause problems at any time,” she noted.

Butler also said the animal shelter has outgrown its facility and should consider expanding.

“They are doing an amazing job now, but could do even better with more room,” the alderman said.

Butler said the city is losing funds on The Greens at North Hills golf course and club. She believes a solution should be sought to make that venture more profitable.

The alderman continued, “These are just a few of the things that, handled correctly, can help our community begin to reach its full potential.”

She said the council should be more transparent and provide any information requested that can be legally provided.

“This availability will better equip the citizens to become more aware in what or how they may wish to become involved,” Butler concluded.

Williams said the most pressing issues facing Sherwood are its continued pursuit of a standalone school district, economic development and creating and maintaining aesthetic enhancements in all wards.

The candidate co-chairs the Sherwood Public Education Foundation committee that is following steps to detach from the Pulaski County Special School District.

Butler has lived in Sherwood for 32 years. She has been married to her husband, Gene, for 44 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.

The family attends Sylvan Community Church.

Butler is a Sylvan Hills High School graduate and completed 1.5 years of college.

She took and taught dancing for 33 years, and was a substitute teacher at Oakbrooke Elementary.

Williams was born and raised in North Little Rock. She graduated from North Little Rock High School and has lived in Sherwood for 38 years.

The candidate has been married to her husband, Bill, for 43 years. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College in Conway and a master’s degree from University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

She is also licensed as a mathematics, physical and computer science teacher.

Williams was the Sherwood Chamber’s 2013 Woman of the Year, served on its board of directors and was secretary of its Military Liaison Committee.

She was Sherwood Rotarian of the Year in 2013, President of the Year for 2012-13 in that Rotary district and Sherwood’s club was Club of the Year at the same time.

The candidate established the Rotary Club scholarships and its summer reading program that gives every fourth grader attending local schools a book to read.

She is also a leader in the club’s ethics awards for middle and high school students.

Williams is the Little Rock Air Force Base’s 314th Airlift Wing Honorary Commander through 2016, a member of the St. Vincent North Family Patient Advisory Council and has attended North Little Rock First United Methodist Church for 32 years.

Butler said she wants voters at the polls to know she is “always considering their best interests and attempting to find ways to lessen costs and at the same time bring in revenue to improve our community.”

The alderman said she takes her job seriously and has no conflicts of interest.

“I will not rubber stamp any issue and promise to only make decisions based on your feedback and an honest heart. I will listen and do my best to find a solution. I will always put Sherwood citizens first,” Butler said.

Williams said, “I hope the voters know that I have a deep love for this city, I am passionate about its growth, and that I have a high level of energy and the knowledge to help us move forward.”

TOP STORY >> Attorney vs. minister in Dist. 14 race

Leader senior staff writer

Lonoke City Attorney Camille Williams Bennett, a Democrat, and minister Buddy Douglas Fisher, a Republican, are seeking the Dist. 14 House seat currently held by Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke), who is term limited and now serving as Bennett’s campaign treasurer.

Fisher, 44, and his wife, Sherry, have been married for 33 years and have two grown children. He said he’d been in ministry for 30 years and is president of Buddy Fisher Ministries Inc., which he described as an evangelistic ministry in which he travels and ministers to churches, teaches seminars. “I also minister in prisons across Arkansas regularly,” he added.

“I love my state and my community. There are several issues, including many immediate financial shortfalls that are facing Arkansas. I believe I can be a conservative voice on many of these.”

Asked if he’d favor discontinuing private- option health insurance, he said, “I haven’t heard anyone say they want to take insurance away from folks or burden our hospitals. I believe the concern is in the cost of the program.”

Fisher said middle-class working families shouldn’t be burdened with more taxes to pay for a program that can sustain itself long-term.

“There is a solution for everyone. It’s just going to take putting minds together and searching hard to find it. I’m eager to be a part of those conversations.

“I am 100 percent committed to being pro-life, and I have the Arkansas Right to Life endorsement. I have an A rating and the endorsement of the NRA, and I am very committed to defending the second amendment of our Constitution and our right to bear arms.

“I am committed to our schools and believe that we should have more local control,” Fisher said. “I am endorsed by the Arkansas Education Association.”

Bennett, in addition to her job as Lonoke’s city attorney, is on the board at her church and at Scott Connections, the historic Scott Plantation settlement. She works as a volunteer for the Arkansas Heart Association and volunteers for animals rescue groups.

“I decided to run because we need some moderate, middle-of-the-road people willing to work for the district and not for themselves or any political party.”

She says her varied background would make her efficient. Bennett has worked in state and local government, has been a district judge and represented businesses in her private practice. “I’ve been working since I was about 14,” she said.

As for her position on the Private Option, “as long as we have Obamacare, we have to have the private option. It’s the only opportunity to sustain local hospitals.

“Every problem facing our district seems to come back to lack of appropriate education,” Bennett said.

“We’re leaving some of our children unprepared for the workforce,” she said. “Pre-K is one of the best things we can offer.”

Bennett said 70 percent of prisoners can’t read at a fifth- grade level, nor can 70 percent of pregnant or unmarried mothers.

“Just working hard with your hands doesn’t get you much in the way of employment,” she said, noting that a person working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns about $13,600 a year. “That doesn’t get you off welfare.”

Then they have to apply for subsidies to try to make ends meet, she continued.

Bennett has worked as a national compliance director for USABLE Life Insurance Company and was appointed Lonoke District Court Judge by Gov. Mike Beebe to fill a vacancy.

She worked five years as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division.

Prior to that, she practiced law for 13 years and was assistant to Commissioner Helen G. Corrothers on the United States Sentencing Commission.

Married to Wayne Bennett of Lonoke, the candidate says she will fight to protect Second Amendment rights.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle’s 2A playoff hopes on line again

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison will look to keep their playoff hopes alive on Friday when they travel to Brinkley for a 2A-6 Conference matchup that’ll kickoff at 7 p.m.

Carlisle enters the week-eight matchup with a 3-4 overall record and 3-2 record in conference play. With the three conference wins, the Bison are currently fourth in the 2A-6 behind Hazen, Des Arc and McCrory.

Hazen and Des Arc are both unbeaten in league play with 5-0 records, but one of those two will take their first loss Friday as they’re matched up against one another. McCrory enters week eight with a 4-2 record in league play.

Brinkley enters week eight with a 3-3 overall record and a 2-3 record in conference play. Brinkley, Clarendon and Palestine-Wheatley each have two wins in league play, but the Tigers hold the tiebreaker over the two, having beaten both teams earlier in the season.

Even though Carlisle has the slightly better record in league play, the Bison and Tigers look to be evenly matched on paper. Each has already faced the top two 2A-6 teams in Hazen and Des Arc.

Both Carlisle and Brinkley were blown out by the No. 3 ranked Hornets, but the Tigers put up a much tougher fight than Carlisle did against Des Arc. The Bison fell 34-0 at Des Arc in week four.

The week before, the Tigers lost to the Eagles by a slim 42-40 margin at Brinkley. Palestine-Wheatley is the only other team in the conference that both Carlisle and Brinkley have played, and the Bison and Tigers each shutout the Patriots by scores of 22-0 (Carlisle) and 36-0 (Brinkley).

Carlisle’s win over PW came last week at home, while Brinkley had a bye last week. Like Carlisle, Brinkley likes to run the ball, and it’ll do it with leading rusher Daquan Greene (6-2, 220).

The big junior paced the Tigers’ backfield last fall with 907 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, earning him All-2A-6 honors as a sophomore. Brinkley prefers the run game, but has shown it can throw it if it has to.

Senior Case Harrell (6-0, 170) is the Tigers’ quarterback. He led Brinkley to its first playoff win since 2002 last year, passing for nearly 500 yards and eight TDs in 2013. Harrell has two receivers in Johnny Aldridge (5-8, 150) and Jacksonville transfer John James (5-7, 140) that run sub 4.5 40-yard dashes.

An advantage for Brinkley going into Friday night’s game will be its size on the offensive and defensive lines. The Tigers average 291 pounds across the offensive line, anchored by 6-0, 380-pound senior center Tyrek Jones.

Defensively, the Tigers have had problems stopping opponents. Brinkley has allowed 27.4 points per game in conference play, but the Tigers have already played the top three teams in the 2A-6.

Carlisle has struggled on defense as well this season, allowing a slightly lower 24.4 points per game in league play thus far. The Bison defense held PW and winless Marvell to a combined 12 points, but against Hazen, Des Arc and Augusta (1-6, 1-5), the Bison gave up a total of 110 points, including 38 to Augusta.

SPORTS STORY >> Toughest stretch in front of Bears

Leader sports editor

After cruising through most of the bottom half of the conference, the undefeated Sylvan Hills Bears embark on a three-game stretch against three of the 5A Central’s top four teams. At 7 p.m. this Friday, the Bears will travel to McClellan to take on the 4-3, 3-1, Lions. In its first four conference games, Sylvan Hills has averaged 48.5 points per game and a 36.5-point average margin of victory - 28-22 win over Jacksonville being the only remotely competitive game of the four.

Those four teams sported a combined 4-24 record. McClellan presents a different challenge and head Bear Jim Withrow fully understands that.

“Honest to goodness, to us they look a lot like Helena, who always gives you fits,” said Withrow. “They’re big. They’ve got some guys that can run. Their running back is quick as a cat and they’ve got that huge fullback, and together they make a tough one-two punch.”

The Crimson Lions have shown an increase in its usage of the Dead T offense as the season has progressed, though they still run multiple offenses. Withrow believes the Lions will present the biggest challenge his defense has faced since week two against Hot Springs Lakeside, a game the Bears won 48-35.

“They get in the T and they try to jam it down your throat,” said Withrow. “I don’t think they’re a true T team. They try to do multiple things and that’s one thing I’m glad about. This is our toughest test in conference so far, and that’s what we’ve talked about to them all year. Our last three are against the potential playoff teams, and it’s good because we need to be tested going into the playoffs.”

Withrow was pleased with his team’s execution in last week’s 56-6 win over North Pulaski, especially after what he thought was a subpar performance for his squad the week before at Jacksonville.

Quarterback Tra Doss played hurt the entire game and Withrow believes that made a big difference, but was still glad to see his team get back to executing like it had before.

“What people don’t realize is that Tra didn’t practice all week before Jacksonville,” Withrow said. “He practiced one series on Thursday and that was it. Last week he got in there and played really well.”

The Bears are in great shape in the injury department as well. Everyone is expected to be healthy and ready to go on Friday.

“We played everybody on our roster last Friday night,” Withrow said. “We’re as good as we can be – knock on wood. This Friday we’ll start with who we wanted to start with the whole year. This time of year though you just hold your breath, because if you want to make a run, you have to stay healthy.”

SPORTS STORY >> Hobbling to Mt. Home

Leader sportswriter

Cabot’s 7A/6A-East matchup at winless Mountain Home this Friday night at 7 p.m. would normally be chalked up as an easy win for the Panthers, and even though they’ll still be heavily favored to win the week-eight matchup, Cabot will have to play at least the remainder of its regular season without its top two playmakers.

The Panthers (4-3, 2-2) took the field last week against Little Rock Central without two-way starter and the state’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Jake Ferguson.

Ferguson tore his meniscus in the Panthers’ blowout win over West Memphis the week before, and sophomore quarterback Jarrod Barnes didn’t play in the second half of the team’s 17-3 loss to Central after he broke his thumb late in the second quarter.

Barnes and Ferguson both have been ruled out for the remainder of the regular season – maybe even the playoffs.

“We lost the two guys we could least afford to lose,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “Jarrod broke his thumb and will have to be in a cast for probably four-to-six weeks. So he’s probably done for the season.

“Jake, he’s got rehab for the next four weeks. So unless we can make it to the second round of the playoffs we may not see either one of them again.”

Ferguson was also the team’s backup quarterback, so the Panthers had to turn to third-string QB Logan Melder for the second half of last week’s game at Central. Melder starts at corner in the Panther secondary, and in order to keep him fresh on defense, Malham said halfback Jess Reed will likely take over quarterback duties from here on out.

“We’ve got a whole week to get ready to go to Mountain Home,” Malham said. “Of course, they’re not doing real well this year. They’re 0-7, and hopefully, we can go up there after a three-and-a-half hour bus trip and take care of business.

“We’re probably going to move Reed over from one of our halfbacks and let him take some snaps at quarterback. I think he’ll do a pretty good job. He’ll be a little more mobile. He should be able to run the option a little bit. Melder plays on defense, so that forced him to go both ways.

“Hopefully, Reed can handle the quarterback chores, and we won’t have to mess with our defense. We can keep him (Melder) over there.”

Without Ferguson, the Panthers’ offense, for the most part, went back to a two tight end set against Central, but the handful of times they did go with a split end, tight end Jack Teague lined up at the position, and Malham said he’ll likely continue to do the same when the Panthers go to that formation.

Without Ferguson at safety, Malham said they’ll likely move one of their linebackers into the secondary and make adjustments from there.

As for Mountain Home, on offense, the Bombers have struggled to find an identity, as Malham said they’ll line up in several different formations.

“They’ve done a lot of things,” Malham said. “They’ve done more things than we need to work on. They’ve been in a Double Wing, a Stack I, the Triple I, then they’ve been in Spread stuff. They’re still searching, I think.

“We just need to go down there and play our base defense and play strong, and hopefully we can take care of the ball on offense.”

Defensively, the Bombers base out of a 4-3, but Malham says his offense might see more of a stacked front on Friday night.

“I don’t know,” Malham said. “We don’t usually see many four fronts with what we do. Those four fronts become five- or six-man fronts really quick against us.

“We just need to keep working on the same things we work on every week, and hopefully our kids know we’ve been through all kinds of fronts. So they should be able to make the right calls and get the right schemes going.”

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville hosts Falcons

Leader sports editor

The gauntlet is run, but there’s no room for relaxation for the Jacksonville Red Devils. The team has faced the 5A Central’s top three preseason teams in a row the last three weeks, and now gets ready to host North Pulaski in the hometown rivalry game – a game that will almost certainly end the playoff hopes of the loser.

Each team enters the game with less-than-impressive 1-6 records, and both teams are 1-3 in conference play and mixed up in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference.

Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham, however, thinks both teams are better than their records indicate.

“They have some good players and at times have looked like a quality football team,” said Hickingbotham. “And I know those kids will be extremely excited. They’ll bring another level and we’re going to have to try to match it.

Jacksonville has some players nursing some injuries. Seniors Zac Watkins and Keilen Richardson will know Thursday if they’re able to play on Friday. North Pulaski has no new injuries, but will still be without running back Kalise Vines and lineman Tracy Reed. Lineman Keaton Nichols should return for Friday’s game.

Both teams suffered blowout losses last week to the two teams leading the conference, Jacksonville losing 55-7 at Pulaski Academy and North Pulaski falling 56-6 at Sylvan Hills.

Despite the bad loss and record, Hickingbotham likes the way his team has responded.

“I think North Pulaski is a little bit better than their record shows, and I think that’s how we are,” Hickingbotham said. “We don’t practice like a 1-6 team. Monday the kids started a little slow, but we got a spark and took off from there. We (the coaches) were talking about the character of these kids after practice. They were getting after it and that says a lot about their character compared to what it’s been in the past – because I’ve seen it the other way.”

The Red Devils will get back to trying to re-establish their run game, but has to improve its blocking in order to do so. After good showings in close losses to Beebe and Sylvan Hills, the Red Devils produced very little offense against Pulaski Academy.

“We made some progress blocking and then it seemed like we went backwards,” Hickingbotham said. “That’s frustrating and that’s what we’re talking about this week. We’re going back to the details. We have to tackle better, wrap up when tackling, and take the right steps when blocking people.”

North Pulaski has struggled to get its offense going in many games, but has shown good defense at times. The Falcons’ linebackers are a particular concern for Hickingbotham.

“Number 40 (Brady Rhodes) is definitely a guy we’ve got to be looking for and knowing where he’s at all times. He’ll hit you. You put him beside 24 (Kilian Oelrich) and they’ll smack you. Forty reminds me of that safety from Benton we played. He’s just always around the football.

“We’ve shown the kids film and I think they realize this is a football team with some quality players and the ability to play better than they have so far. We expect to get their best and we have to be ready for it. We can’t afford to lose another one and expect to make the playoffs.”

EDITORIAL: Top award for 19th AW

The Air Force Historical Foundation recently presented its James H. Doolittle Award to the 19th Airlift Wing for its contribution to airpower for more than 80 years. It’s an amazing history from the early decades of air combat to the modern era.

In making the award, the foundation noted that the 19th Airlift Wing “has displayed gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps while accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions in multiple conflicts, and thus has made a sustained, significant contribution to Air Force history.”

The 19th AW, also known as the Black Knights, arrived at Little Rock Air Force Base in 2008 and flies the all-new C-130Js in the Global War on Terror. It is the largest C-130 wing in the world and is part of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Air Force Base.

Col. Patrick Rhatigan, commander of the 19th AW, along with Command Chief Master Sgt. Rhonda Buening, accepted the award in Arlington, Va. Also attending were Brig. Gen. Gregory Otey, former 19th AW commander, Sens. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) and Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot), Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher and others.

“To be recognized with an award named after one of the most innovative and courageous airmen in the history of flight is truly an honor,” Rhatigan said at the ceremony. “The story of the 19th is not about the aircraft or the missions they’ve accomplished. The story of the 19th is a story about airmen — airmen who are the foundation of our success, then and now.

The 19th has flown bombers during the Second World War, Cold War, Korea, the Cuban missile crisis, as well as in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf and then was re-formed as the host wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The 19th AW has flown, fought and won with the motto: “In Alis Vincimus”— “On wings we conquer.”

One of the most decorated groups in the U.S. military, the 19th AW has been making military history since 1927, when it started out as the 19th Observation Group, one of 15 original combat air groups in the Army. It became the 19th Bomb Group in 1932. In 1941, the group moved its 35 B-17 Flying Fortresses to Clark Field in the Philippines in 1941.

On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese carried out a surprise attack on Clark Field, destroying all the 16 B-17s on the ground. The group had 16 planes left and led the attack on the Japanese fleet near the Philippines, Japanese-controlled Formosa, the Dutch East Indies and Papua New Guinea. In 1944, the 19th was re-equipped with the B-29 Super fortress and led the attack on Tokyo in February 1945.

During the Korean War, B-29s bombed North Korea and were later absorbed into Strategic Air Command. The planes were on constant alert during the Cold War, ready to attack the Soviet Union.

The 19th made several moves over the next decades and evolved into the 19th Refueling Wing, setting distance records for the longest flights without refueling. The wing continues its missions to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, with several hundred airmen deployed overseas since 9/11.

Six years ago, the 19th Airlift Wing found a new — and we hope, permanent — home at Little Rock Air Force Base. As noted in the citation that accompanied the Doolittle Award, the wing continues its tradition of gallantry as it carries out its many missions in often hostile environments.

We salute the Black Knights of the 19th Airlift Wing, along with their partners, the 314th Airlift Wing, the Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing and the Air Reserves’ 913th Airlift Group.

May they remain a beacon of hope and a symbol of freedom around the world for at least the next 87 years.

TOP STORY >> Is a life worth a million dollars?

Leader editor-in-chief

Almost half the parolees in Arkansas who serve a fraction of their sentences commit more crimes soon after they’re freed.

About two dozen parolees have been charged with murder this year, according to the Department of Correction. Victims’ families know their loved ones would be alive today if parolees like James Michael Davis and Arron Lewis had stayed in prison longer.

More than 22,400 parolees are out on the streets in Arkansas right now, often serving as little as one-sixth of their sentence.

Even Dina Tyler, the longtime prison spokeswoman, finds that frightening.

“That’s a scary thought,” she said after we asked her to look up the number of parolees in the state.

“No one is watching them as they’re wandering off from Supermax,” she said, referring to the high-security Varner Unit.

They’re on their own once they go free. The recidivism rate is 40 percent — almost 9,000 parolees will eventually return to prison. Some of them will be petty criminals all their lives, while others will turn into murderers and rapists and armed robbers.

Tyler told us 23 parolees have been charged with murder this year, including Lewis, 33, who is accused of killing a realtor last month, and Davis, 39, who killed a couple near Cabot last year.

Davis was recently found guilty and given two life sentences without the possibility of parole. Tyler said he won’t hurt anyone outside prison again.

Those 23 accused murderers may represent a small number of parolees, but that’s two murders a month, hundreds of victims every decade.

How much is a life worth? Sure, taxes would go up if Arkansas spent $100 million more on prisons, but are those victims’ lives not worth at least $1 million each?

Earlier this year, one parolee in Little Rock allegedly killed a man during a holdup 32 hours after the thug was released from prison.

Over the weekend, a Little Rock man was killed in a home invasion in the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Wesley Wooley III was charged Tuesday for that murder. He was placed on probation just last month for drugs, drug paraphernalia, fleeing and weapons possession.

Let’s do the math: Tyler says, for certain crimes, a prisoner will serve one third of his sentence. But, under the prison emergency act to ease overcrowding, that sentence often becomes one half of one third, or one-sixth of the original sentence.

In 2010, Davis, of Conway was sentenced to 96 months in state prison but served just 10 months for residential burglary, theft of property, forgery, possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal mischief.

Davis served his sentence concurrently, and, with good behavior, an eight-year sentence dropped to less than a year.

A few months later, Charles Smith and Tracey Mills invited Davis to live at their triplex on Charles Drive off North Stagecoach Road on Hwy. 38 between Cabot and Ward.

Lewis, who was from Gravel Ridge, is back in prison, accused of killing Beverly Carter of Scott. He had been convicted of crimes in northwest Arkansas, Kansas City and Utah as far back as 1998. He was only 17 when he was convicted of first-degree robbery.

He was also convicted of interstate commerce of a stolen vehicle in 2003, aggravated assault on an officer in 2007, deactivating an anti-theft device in 2008, along with three counts of theft.

Lewis was paroled in August 2013, 13 months before he allegedly met Carter at a house she was showing in Scott. Her body was discovered in a shallow grave near Cabot on Sept. 30, a few days after her disappearance.

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Graham says, “Almost everyone we deal with is on parole. People are surprised when they find out how little time these parolees serve in prison.

“You can’t put anyone in prison in Arkansas without letting someone out,” Graham said. “It’s a revolving door. Obviously, they’ll let people out who will cause trouble.

“We’re limited with only so many jail beds,” he continued.

Graham also advocates more training for parolees before they leave prison so they can find jobs. That will take more money, of course.

The big talkers in the legislature who say our parole system is broken should figure out how much it would cost to keep more prisoners behind bars and train them for a better future when they get out.

The parole board this week voted to require a quorum before it can consider parole applications. It’s a start, but Arkansas is a long way from having a system that protects the innocent.

Just ask the families of Beverly Carter, Charles Smith, Tracey Mills and others.

TOP STORY >> Issues for trio key to victory

Leader staff writer

Answering a second round of questions from The Leader, the candidates in the Sherwood mayor’s race — Mayor Virginia Hillman, Don Berry and Doris Anderson — shared their thoughts on a new library, establishing a standalone school district, economic development and more.

About the Nov. 4 vote on a proposed 1.3-mill increase — roughly $200 per year for

the owner of a $150,000 home — to fund the construction and furnishing of a new library, Hillman said, “It’s a ballot issue. It’s a choice of the public. My vote counts as much as another person’s vote. We all have a vote, and I would encourage people to exercise their vote on it.”

If voters approve the tax for a new library, the mayor continued, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) would appoint a committee to run public hearings on its design, location and other details. The public would be asked for their input at those hearings, and the city would not administrate that project, she noted.

But Sherwood does have an appointed representative, Mike Berg, on the CALS Board of Trustees, the mayor added.

Hillman also said she wasn’t involved in the council’s decision to move the election from a special election date to the general election date.

The current Amy Sanders Library, built in 1989, has not room to expand, doesn’t have enough parking and has run out of room for children’s programs, the mayor continued.

While the city owns the building and pays its utilities, CALS furnishes the library and pays the staff’s salaries, she said.

Hillman continued, “There’s a possibility that (CALS) may not continue, in the future, maintaining our library, if we’re not willing to make improvements to the building…We’re getting a very good service for our citizens with CALS operating that library, and we are not financially able to operate our own library in the manner that they do. Those are just some things to consider, not a scare tactic.”

Berry said he was pleased with the date of the election being moved.

But, he noted, “Like nearly every single private citizen of Sherwood, I have no idea what the library envisioned by CALS and our library proponents will be like or where it will be.”

Berry said he fears twice as much will be spent on a library that is just like the one in Jacksonville. “We need to be creating an attraction that makes Sherwood a destination. We need to be raising the bar,” he said.

The candidate questioned whether citizens want more than a library, such as a knowledge and technology center that ties a CALS-operated library into a site that shares space with local middle, high and vocational school programs.

He also wondered if the city could partner with the Museum of Discovery to have an attraction that includes interactive learning exhibits.

Anderson said she is opposed to the current city administration’s effort to increase property taxes and real estate taxes as a way to fund facilities and infrastructure.

“There are urgent needs and issues that the city should address, and priorities must be set. An unbiased citizen survey would reveal issues that matter most to the people of Sherwood, and that should direct the city’s actions. Ask the people what they want,” she concluded.


All of the candidates support the Sherwood Public Education Foundation’s effort to break away from the Pulaski County Special School District and form a standalone school district.

Hillman said she had been involved since the get-go, attending every meeting of the foundation’s committee.

She said the foundation had already acquired a feasibility study showing it’s financially feasible for Sherwood to have its own school district and that the city detaching would not significantly impact the racial balance of PCSSD.

The federal desegregation case settlement approved by all parties in January allowed Jacksonville, which had been pushing to detach for 30 plus years, to break away from PCSSD. But it halted other detachments until after PCSSD is declared unitary — desegregated.

Now that Jacksonville has voted to detach, Sherwood faces another obstacle. A state law requires that the school district being detached from have at least 15,000 students.

PCSSD won’t have that when Jacksonville takes up to 4,500. Any proposed school district must have an enrollment of at least 4,000 to detach.

But supporters of a Sherwood school district have approached legislators to amend the law to allow their detachment after PCSSD is declared unitary.

Hillman said, “We’re going to continue working. We are closer than we’ve ever been. Now, we’re still a ways off, but we’ve made great progress.”

She has a lot of faith in the foundation’s diverse, appointed committee and its co-chairs, former PCSSD administrators and teachers Linda Remele and Beverly Williams.

Hillman also emphasized the importance of being involved in schools now.

“I have had a lot of educators comment to me that they appreciate the support that I have, that I give to the public school system,” she said.

The mayor volunteers at Cato Elementary School on Wednesday mornings, reading to kids as part of the Our Kids Read tutoring program.

Hillman added that she has encouraged city employees to spend one hour per week volunteering at local schools. “In my time here at the city, our chamber has also become more involved. We’ve all become involved in education, and I’d like to think I’ve had a part in that. Good schools make good business and vice versa.”

Berry agreed. He said, “The No. 1 determinant to a viable and economically growing community is for that community to have local control of its public school system.”

Berry said he has said that since 2007 and supports the following:

 The foundation’s first objective of working within the plan for PCSSD to achieve unitary status.

 The Jacksonville/north Pulaski community’s campaign to begin its school district.

 The foundation selecting interim school board candidates, vetting them through aldermen and working directly with the next governor and the state Education Department to make sure the candidates are appointed when the time comes.

 That interim board shadowing the Jacksonville/north Pulaski interim school board to “school themselves on the issues Sherwood will encounter next.”

Berry continued, “We have much work ahead of us to get to that great day when we have local control, but that day will be here sooner than we expect. That’s when the really hard work begins, but the reward to our community, to our school system staff and to our future — our children — will be justifiably achieved.”

Anderson said, “I support local control of schools, and would support a Sherwood school district.”


Hillman said, during her term, the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce and the city worked in collaboration to hire an economic developer. “That partnership is working very well for the city. I think that is very evident.”

In the last few years, new businesses that have come to Sherwood include, but are not limited to, Custom Aircraft Cabinets, TeleTech, CVS Pharmacy, Mapco, Buffalo Wild Wings, On The Border and Ace Hardware.

A Harp’s grocery store is slated for Gravel Ridge and there is a new 5,300-square-foot retail at the North Hills Shopping Center, and Whit Davis is opening a store on Brockington Road.

The mayor continued, “We are positioned for growth. We have a lot of undeveloped property to the north that is very attractive for growth.”
She noted that the first phase of a residential development near Oakdale and Brockington roads includes more than 80 homes with the project eventually slated to bring more than 800 homes.

That development will include a 10-to 15-acre park with a fishing lake that developers have agreed to donate to the city, Hillman said.

She also touted work that is underway to build a park in Gravel Ridge on Glade Road off North Valley Drive, which intersects with Jacksonville Cutoff.

Hillman said the property was eventually donated and the city didn’t have to pay back taxes on it. Getting that deal was a long process, she noted.

The mayor also said the city has received a $30,000 grant to build the park. Workers were installing playground equipment there a few weeks ago.

And another park is underway at the Stonehill Subdivision off Brockington, Hillman added.

Berry said, “The most critical component of economic development is in having a quality, trained, technologically-oriented workforce available. I don’t support enticing businesses to an area with tax breaks or other financial perks.

“If we have money to spend as a city or region, we need to focus on our young people and attracting young people from elsewhere to come here for the opportunity we provide them,” Berry said.

The candidate said that starts with strengthening the school system to produce high-quality graduates.

Berry continued, “Sherwood has the oldest demographic in central Arkansas. We need to change that, not only to grow, but to protect the future of our existing citizens and their property values.”
He would like to see technology, information technology and aerospace companies in Sherwood in addition to other light industry.

“We don’t need to import all our businesses. Our smart people here, our new graduates, can be the innovators and incubators of our future growth,” the candidate said.

Anderson said, “Sherwood has outstanding opportunities for growth and development. The economic development partnership with the chamber should be continued.

“A strong alliance with regional and state partners would increase visibility of Sherwood as a strong candidate for prospective businesses, employers and developers. Markets, restaurants, hotels and destination shopping centers are needed the meet the expectations of today’s consumers.”


Hillman said, “One of the greatest strengths that we have is our potential for growth. Our new motto is ‘close to the action, far from the noise.’ We are an attractive option for people.”

She counted the implementation of automated trash pickup and curbside recycling among the accomplishments of her administration. The mayor noted that the trash trucks would be paid off this month or next month.

Hillman also said the city hired more police officers, adjusted their salaries to better compete with other agencies, increased the percentage of streets being overlaid and annexed Gravel Ridge with 73 percent of its residents voting to join Sherwood instead of Jacksonville.

The mayor was also proud to announce that the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization that usually does not endorse candidates, has endorsed her.

Hillman then touted the Roundtop filling station restoration project, an effort funded mostly by grants and donations.

Berry said, “Sherwood’s main strengths are its people, its location and its untapped resource – land.”

Anderson said, “Citizens and city employees are the strongest advocates for Sherwood, and the city’s most valuable assets.”

She continued, “Sherwood has a strong sense of pride, community and volunteerism; and we should capitalize on that.

“Sherwood citizens give thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours to charitable efforts because they care. Community spirit and fellowship run deep. Sherwood firefighters are overwhelmed by support during their ‘fill the boot’ efforts for MDA and ALS,” Anderson said.


Hillman said, “We have always been…very dependent on sales tax.”

The mayor said the city should diversify its revenue streams.

She touted the council’s recent vote to levy franchise fees on utility companies and said bringing in more new businesses would help.

Another option for Sherwood would be to charge more for services. But, the mayor said, “There’s got to be a balance between what they cost and what people can pay.”

Hillman concluded, “We’ve done well with what we have.”

Berry said, “(The city’s) weakness is a malaise brought about by a perspective that we are just a bedroom community. Leadership has let opportunities pass, such as the North Belt and not taking the lead on establishing an independent school system sooner.

“We cannot be a follower any longer. Sherwood must lead, and we have the talent and the room to grow to be the top destination for business and residential growth north of the river.”

Anderson said, “The salaries of city employees should be reviewed and compared to other communities. Adjustments for competitive salaries to keep trained and experienced employees may be necessary.

“The loss of police officers and other city employees to other cities and counties for better pay and benefits is detrimental to the city.”


Hillman said, “The mayor’s job, part of it, is the day-to-day operations of the city.”

She noted that Sherwood has very capable employees and department heads.

The mayor said, “We are the touch point” for citizens to have their needs addressed.

She said, “That’s what we’re here for.”

Hillman also said discussion of impact fees ended in January 2012, when the council tabled indefinitely the ordinance adopting them.

Berry said impact fees are charged to developers for the capital infrastructure needs that the city and citizens would have to pay for otherwise.

The candidate said that makes sense to him but continued, “Is there an adverse impact of these fees making Sherwood developments more costly? Perhaps, but consider this: If developments come with functioning attractions in a community well designed and a city resourcing itself to grow and become stronger for all citizens, including those in mature Sherwood and developing Sherwood, that is a good story to be telling businesses that consider moving here.”

He also said the city should consider all aspects of how impact fees may help Sherwood grow without burdening residents or funds being pulled from existing programs to pay for new infrastructure.

One of Berry’s final thoughts were that leaders must listen.

The candidate said he would obey the law, uphold ordinances, integrate the fire districts into a city program and serve as Sherwood’s “freedom of information officer.”

Anderson doesn’t support impact fees because they increase the prices of houses and development and are passed on to new homeowners. “Keeping home prices affordable and competitive with other communities is important in helping Sherwood to continue to grow,” she said.

Anderson continued, “A safe city is the No. 1 priority of every city. Without a safe city, you do not have neighborhoods where people want to live, work, shop and participate in community activities.”

She said, “There are infrastructure needs that must be addressed. Road repairs, drainage issues, added sidewalks, curbs and gutters, city beautification and parks and recreation are some areas that should be addressed through budgeted and planned programs.”

The candidate noted, “Basic needs must always be addressed first. The city has spent thousands of dollars on master plans, and these need to be reviewed to move forward with some of the recommendations in those plans. Master plans should help guide the city to address other deficiencies.”

Anderson said every department head should give an oral report at each council meeting and city offices should be open for business at times that are convenient for citizens.

Sherwood should also publish a directory on its website and make online services available so that businesses and residents can interact with the city government, Anderson said.

She concluded, “People need access to city leaders. We all should communicate and work together for Sherwood.”

TOP STORY >> Fletcher, Sipes: They both won

Leader staff writer

“My supporters think I won the debate,” said Jacksonville mayoral candidate Gary Sipes, the city’s former police chief, “And I’m sure the mayor’s supporters think he won.”

Both Sipes and Mayor Gary Fletcher were asked about their thoughts on the one and only debate between the two candidates held last week at the community center.

The mayor said that, overall, he was pleased. “I received really good feedback. People said I did better than I thought I did,” Fletcher said.

“Personally, I felt hampered by the time restraints. There just wasn’t time to respond back to claims made,” Fletcher said. “I would have liked it if we had had another minute each to respond. Time goes by quickly up there on stage. But we both agreed to the rules of the debate.”

Sipes agreed, saying there was a lot that didn’t get said. “But overall, the debate went well.”

The challenger said it was his first debate. “I’m not a politician, and I’m very critical of myself. I wish I had some prior training in debating.”

He went on to say that there were some distractions. “It’s a shame some acted like children,” Sipes, said, referring to certain audience members, not Fletcher. “The mayor and I are not arch enemies.”

Sipes continued, “I tried hard to stick to the points.”

Fletcher would have liked to have had more time to respond to Sipes’ claim that the city was $12 million in debt.

“The city is financially sound. Cities go into debt to accomplish projects and then pay off the debt.” The mayor likened it to most people who go into debt to buy a house and then pay it off. “Why is that OK for the individual, but not the city?”

Fletcher said part of the $12 million debt includes the library, which is being paid off by a tax voted on by the residents. And the cost of the new automated garbage trucks and containers are being paid off with the rates, he said.

Fletcher said that leaves the shooting range, the new radio system (required by the state) and the public safety building.

He added that the total indebtness of the city may be $12 million, but Cabot is at $39 million and Fort Smith is at $30 million. “I don’t know of a city that is trying to grow that is not in debt. We are investing in the city.”

One point Sipes has made that he didn’t make during the debate is that the mayor has been in city politics for 36 years. “It’s time for a change,” the former police chief said, adding, “We’ve got to be able to say no when we don’t have the money.”

Sipes said he wanted to make it clear that he would have public hearings to give citizens opportunities to voice their opinions.

With early voting starting, both candidates have supporters and signs out near the community center, the city’s site for early voting through Friday, Oct. 31. Residents may also early vote at the Pulaski County Administration Building in downtown Little Rock.

Sipes said there are still a number of events he will be attending and speaking at, plus he’s going door to door.

Fletcher is doing likewise. “Unfortunately, I’m not knocking on as many doors as I’d like. I don’t have the luxury of that time because I’ve got a job to do. I’ve been the mayor for five years now, and people know if I’m doing a good job.”