Tuesday, December 27, 2016

TOP STORY >> 2016 Year in Review

Compiled by RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

This is the first of four articles recapping all that was 2016. The first three will recall the top headlines of the year and the fourth will be the Top 10 storylines of the year.

The first four months of the year brought a mix of sadness, happiness, sprinkled with a dose of old-fashioned politicking. A murderer received just one sentence while a firefighter was gunned down. Area students enjoyed a snow day or two, while Sherwood mourned the loss of a former alderman. Businesses grew, floundered and promised to do better, all while this paper turned 30 years old.


• Several Beebe residents were evacuated as floodwater rolled through their neighborhoods after a recent deluge of rain.

• Funding drive to collect more than $200,000 started for the Lonoke County Boys and Girls Club in Cabot.

• Jacksonville rethinks its planned increase in business fees.

• After a rousing opening a year ago, North Metro cuts ties with its wound center.

• Motorists are pleased to see Kerr Station repairs are finally over.

Paramedics criticized for slow response times in Lonoke.

JNSPD disputes attorney John Walker’s claim and data, saying current building plan is best for new district.

Killer of real estate agent gets life without parole.

North Metro CEO Mike Randle says hospital will be saved.

Jacksonville aldermen upset over actions of water commissioners who gave away property to Sherwood.

Mental exam requested for John (Jack) McNally, former Lonoke assessor who is facing multiple fraud and theft charges.

State test scores cast pall over area’s schools as many campuses rank near the bottom.

Sherwood firefighter shot and killed while responding to an early morning medical call while volunteering for the East Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department.

Remington Arms plans a $12 million expansion of its Lonoke facility.

Staff can be armed in all Lonoke County buildings, except for the jail.

Area schools close as record-breaking five to seven inches of snow is dumped over central Arkansas.

Austin and Ward consider combining resources to respond to emergencies.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher touts new school district and economic impact of the air base in his annual city report.

JNPSD approves list of principals to head its schools during its first year of operation.

Edwards buys Knight’s Super Foods in Jacksonville.

Rep. French Hill backs idea of widening Hwy. 89 as a possible replacement for defunct North Belt Loop.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announces that Sig Sauer will be building a facility in Jacksonville.


Pipeline route leads to discovery of possible pauper’s cemetery near Jacksonville.

Cabot City Council is asked to authorize $7.5 million to spend on north Hwy. 67/167 interchange.

Millage vote considered critical to new school district.

Reserves fly last C-130H mission.

District 29 Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) faces Justice of the Peace R.D. Hopper in primary race.

Despite a big $2.9 million IRS lien, North Metro is optimistic about the future.

Cost to fix Lonoke’s Palm Street to run $280,000.

Lonoke County Judge Erwin nets two opponents in Republican race to keep his seat.

Attorney Mike Wilson’s lawsuit stops state money trough to local groups.

Millage overcomes anti-tax opposition.

Voters approve 7.6-mill property increase to help fund new school district.

ASU-Beebe gets new chancellor after Eugene McKay retired after 21 years in that post.

Governor doesn’t want state healthcare plan called Obamacare.

Tussling, jostling at some early voting primary sites.

Cabot School District puts spotlight on teen suicide prevention.

Pink clothes mark PCSSD’s firing of all Jacksonville-based teachers.

Cabot Kroger goes supersize.

A hero is remembered in Beebe although body has still not been recovered from the Korean War.

JNPSD hires several key personnel as district prepares for its first school year.


Clinton, Trump sweep primary races and most Lonoke Republicans retain seats.

Backlash as Jacksonville raises licensing fees.

Leader celebrates its 30th year in business.

Jacksonville refinances $15 million in wastewater bonds to $2 million in interest payments.

It is announced that Sherwood is getting a large multi-level medical clinic at Hw. 107 and Brockington.

$15.3 million in bonds used by Jacksonville North Pulaski to purchase and upgrade needed school facilities from PCSSD.

Leader newspaper is once again honored by state association for its excellence in advertising.

Both PCSSD and the fledgling Jacksonville North Pulaski School District detaching from it will get new starts in the 2016-2017 school year.

Local attorney Mike Wilson files suit to stop General Improvement Funds “giveaway.”

Contractor wants to work out plan to repair main route to Lonoke schools, which started to fall apart after the firm previously worked on the road.

Judge gives new Jackson-ville school district a year to get on feet before having to demonstrate desegregation plans.

Lonoke County candidate for coroner who dropped out of the race is still on ballot, but hopes to lose in runoff.

Jacksonville apartments owned by state Rep. Donnie Copeland (R-North Little Rock) are condemned.

PCSSD data breach tracked to an ex-employee.

Jacksonville A&P fearing a lawsuit refuses to fun military museum,

Military patients are booted off rolls as Humana and health facilities become embroiled in dispute.

40th anniversary of deadly tornado that devastated Cabot, killing five and injuring 64.

Sherwood refinances $6 million in bonds, saves thousands

State announces PCSSD to get back local control; Sherwood voters will have a say on the board.

Austin set to remodel and expand its city hall.

Cabot parks director leaves for Fayetteville job.

First class of Lighthouse seniors celebrate.


“Lt. Dan” Gary Sinise and his band performed at Little Rock Air Force Base in support of the military.

Superintendents explain how schools dropped from A to C on state report card when criteria are tweaked.

If governor doesn’t restore funding to county libraries, then state Rep. Camille Bennett will offer amendment.

Base prepares to fight Zika virus.

Austin to double size of city hall.

Design for $6 million Sherwood library is unveiled.

Bond Consulting Engineers celebrate 50 years in business.

Funeral home is guilty of abuse of corpses.

New Cabot sports complex ready to open.

Cabot Junior Auxiliary hosts Strawberry Festival.

State report cards grade schools.

Alderman arrested and charged with felony in voter fraud case.

Musical parody puts down Jacksonville, praises Sherwood.

Economic Arkansas honors Jacksonville’s Pat Wilson.

High performances by Cabot, Beebe, Searcy and Lighthouse schools recognized.

Longtime alderman, community servant and veteran Butch Davis dies.

Ward to spend $4.8 million on treatment plant.

Base unit focuses on defusing bombs.

New $2.6 million Cabot library inundated with visitors.

Jacksonville and Cabot push for Hwy. 67/167 interchanges to spur development and ease access to I-40.

Lonoke Jail repairs uncovers bank vault.

Driver survives getting turned around and jammed between two bridges on Hwy. 67/167.

World War I exhibit opens in Cabot.

• Insurer clarifies Tricare change.