Friday, December 30, 2016

TOP STORY >> 2016 Year in Review

Leader staff writer

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

The middle months of 2016 included beginnings (the new school district and Lighthouse’s first graduating class) and endings (the last graduating class from North Pulaski High School), fireworks, rain and a change of command for a major part of the base, cities look for more revenues and The Leader is named the best in its category.


Legislature must tweak law to allow school board voting as part of the general election.

Cabot puts plans on hold to expand senior center and build new fire station.

By a 5-2 vote, the new Jacksonville school district agrees to adopt the Titans as its new mascot.

Plans going forward on SIG Sauer ammunition plant in Jacksonville.

State says Northwood Middle School, Sherwood and Clinton Elementary schools improved.

The air base slates a scaled down open house called Arkansas Military Expo.

Road improvements seen as key to growth in area.

Lonoke and contractor reach agreement on repairs of main road to the high school.

State-issued report cards show a mix of good and bad in the area.

After budget issues closed it, Ward Public Library looks to reopen.

State and local officials tour completed $58.9 million Lonoke White Public Water Authority project at Greers Ferry Lake.

Residents tell Cabot council to shut down a suspected meth house.

Cabot’s new $13.5 million sports, aquatic center opens.

North Little Rock man arrested in shooting at Family Dollar parking lot.

Jacksonville school district says no to most student transfer requests.

Jacksonville’s Light-house Academy graduates its first class of seniors, 60 students.

North Pulaski High School, set to become a middle school, graduates its last class of seniors, 143 students.

New high school for Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District will be built and open within three years on site of old middle school.

Sherwood wants to put a $5 million bond issue on the November ballot to quicken improvements to city parks.


New school district still cautious over salaries.

School district not eligible yet for state construction funds.

Members of Little Rock Air Force participate in ceremonies marking the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.

Cabot cuts ties with tarnished probation firm.

Cabot, other area cities, to make changes over probation programs.

New group works to help rejuvenate Jacksonville’s downtown.

Lonoke County quorum court to increase security.

New Jacksonville school district hires its “A-team” for curriculum.

The last of 28 new C-130Js lands at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Tragic 1953 Coast Guardsmen death recalled by brother and others.

Census data shows Beebe and Cabot are growing fastest.

Former Lonoke County assessor pleads guilty to multiple felony charges.

Beebe puts sales tax on ballot to support fire department.

As part of a modernization program, it was announced that all C-130s on the base would be upgraded.

The Leader newspaper named the best in the state for the eighth time in nine years by the Arkansas Press Association.

World War II veteran Wilmer Plate, 97, of Jacksonville receives the French Legion of Medal in ceremonies at the state capitol.

Local funeral director found innocent in abuse of corpses case.


Cabot moves its Fourth of July festivities to its new sports complex.

Patriotic festivals, events and fireworks abound.

A Cabot quilt honors local First World War soldiers.

Area mayors review plans for widening I-30.

Lonoke qualifies for UCA program, which will look at ways to revitalize the city.

Cabot bringing all of its laws together in one codified book.

Police investigate the shooting death of an 18-month old boy.

Austin firefighters driving a newly purchased truck from Texas are in a fiery crash killing two after tires blow out.

State tests show most high school juniors in the area aren’t ready for college.

Storms rip through the area leaving thousands temporarily without power.

Runway construction on air base stalls over quality.

New era starts at the 314th Airlift Wing as Col. Daniel DeVoe replaces Col. James Dryjanski.

Local police mourn loss of officers after Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings.

Cabot looks at closing Fairlen Ward Park and turning it into a walking trail.

Owners try to sell Southern Oaks Country Club in Jacksonville.

Metro trends show that Cabot, Ward and Austin are thriving, while Jacksonville growth is stagnant.

PCSSD fifth grade test scores beat state averages.

ADA suit worries Sherwood leadership as it could take months to inventory walkways for compliance.

Sherwood wish list of projects grows to $17 million.


Move on to consolidate 911 calls in Lonoke County.

Little Rock Air Force Base spends less, but still has a $631 million impact on local economy.

Area students score better on English portion of state test than the writing part.

New Jacksonville school district brings in motivational speaker to kick off its first year.

Ward finally gets new police cruiser it won through a national program.

New director of Central Arkansas Library System talks library futures and construction projects.

Austin residents not happy with four-lane highway plan that would connect Cabot’s north interchange with Lewisburg Road.

Record rains hit area and base gets almost 6 inches in the first two weeks of August, putting it on track to be one of the wettest on record.

Cabot seeks $250,000 parks grant to upgrade Richie Road pool and playground.

Beebe alderman resigns after pleading guilty to voting twice during the primary election.

Lonoke eyes a bond issue for needed upgrades and improvements.

Sherwood’s hot check court focus of ACLU suit that claims the court stacks the deck against defendants.

As construction work continues, Hwy. 67/167 sees another shift in highway lanes.

Jacksonville bans Pokemon Go players from loitering or parking around city hall.

New Cabot facility will double space for senior citizens center.

Jacksonville Middle School is being demolished and cleared to make way for a new high school on the 30-acre site.

Jacksonville Animal Shelter, under management of Hedy Wuelling, has drastically reduced the number of euthanized animals.

Sherwood hot check division only covers about 4 percent of city budget, not the 12 percent claimed in federal lawsuit.