Saturday, September 24, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Norths tough on Cabot in 7A-Central volleyball

Special to The Leader

The Lady Panther volleyball team’s two-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday with a heartbreaking 3-2 home loss to Fort Smith Northside in a 7A-Central matchup.

Senior hitter Maddie Brown shined in the match, but the Lady Panthers couldn’t take advantage of the momentum gained in a dominant game four, and dropped the deciding tiebreaker set 25-15. Overall scores in the match were 25-27, 25-22, 25-19, 15-25 and 15-9 for the Lady Grizzlies.

On Thursday, Cabot made it two losses in a row, falling 3-1 at North Little Rock, dropping to 2-5 in conference play and 9-7 overall.

In Thursday’s match, scores were 25-23, 23-25, 25-20 and 25-20 for the Charging Lady Wildcats.

“It’s always tough to play here because of the heat, and they’re a tough team,” said Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk. “But if we hadn’t given them a bunch of points in a row, I think we would be very competitive against them. All the games were tight. If we eliminate those unfocused moments, I think we can take them. We even practiced in a hot gym yesterday to get ready for this. It’s always tough when you have an air-conditioned gym, and you go to a gym where there’s no air. Most of the time when they come to our gym, we go five. We compete with them. Let’s hope that when they come back toward the end of the season, which is our last home game, being a home game, and last home game, we will show a little more focus and a little more fight. And we’ll just hope for the best.”

Set one was extremely close with neither team leading by more than two points. The set was tied 19 times as the teams battled back and forth before the Lady Wildcats finally prevailed.

North Little Rock had first serve, but Maddie Brown got the ball for Cabot with a kill. Brown got another kill for a 2-2 tie before the teams exchanged several unforced errors. Taylor Bell gave the Lady Panthers a 5-4 lead with a kill, but Imani Jackson answered with a kill for the Lady Wildcats to tie the set at 5-5.

Mollie Johnson scored a kill for Cabot to tie the set at seven, and Jackson’s kill tied the set at eight for North Little Rock. The Lady Wildcats went ahead by two, but Bell got the ball back for the Lady Panthers with a kill, and Regan Campbell tied the set at 10-10 with a service ace.

Bell had a big kill from the center of the net for a 12-11 lead, but North Little Rock again tied with a kill. An ace by Jada Curtis gave the Lady Wildcats the 14-13 advantage, but another kill by Brown tied the set once more.

The teams went back and forth until after Curtis gave North Little Rock the lead with a kill, Bell answered with her own kill, then an ace serve to give Cabot a 20-19 lead. Brown had two consecutive kills for a lead of 23-21, but the Lady Wildcats scored four straight to end the set at 25-23.
Set two was just as close as set one, but the score at the end was reversed, as Cabot was reversed. Mya Robinson had two kills to give North Little Rock a 4-2 early lead, but a kill by Brown and a block by Kallie Cavin tied the score at 4-4.

Again, the teams played evenly, with the largest lead three points. Two consecutive blocks by Bell and Johnson gave Cabot momentum and a 18-16 edge. Then, on Campbell’s service, a kill by Hannah Freeman helped the Lady Panthers to a 22-19 advantage. The Lady Wildcats tied the score at 23-23, but the Lady Panthers got the ball back for set point, and a block by Cavin gave them the win at 25-23.

Beneisha Williams had three kills in the set for North Little Rock.

The third set started out all Lady Wildcats, but Cabot rallied back to make it close. North Little Rock’s biggest lead was 18-8 before the Lady Panthers scored five consecutive points on the Freeman’s serve to cut the lead to 18-14.

The teams then exchanged points until the Lady Wildcats came out the winner.

Brown started the scoring on set four with a down the line kill, giving Cabot the 1-0 lead, but North Little Rock came charging back to lead 4-1 on an ace serve by Jada Bailey.

The Lady Panthers went on a run of their own to take a 7-5 edge on Johnson’s service. Cabot led 13-11 before the Lady Wildcats all but sealed the match with 10-0 run.

Brown finished with 20 kills for Cabot while Bell had 11. Cavin and Johnson finished with four blocks apiece. Maddie Brown also had 12 digs, while Kaelee Simmons led the team in that category with 21. Campbell had nine and Freeman eight.

Brown had 25 kills on Tuesday against Northside while Johnson had 10.

Defensively, Simmons finished with 28 digs while Brown had 22 and Leah Gerald finished with 17.

Johnson also had three aces, all three during a during a 14-1 run that turned the tide in game one to Cabot’s favor.

The Lady Panthers begin their second half of the conference round robin on Tuesday at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe’s fumble late lifts Warriors

Special to The Leader

A fumble returned for a touchdown by the Little Rock Christian Warriors proved to be the difference in Friday’s 44-33 victory over Beebe Friday at Bro Irwin Stadium.

It was Beebe’s only turnover, but the 14-point swing was more than the Badgers could overcome.

Beebe also suffered several injuries. Neither of the two co-starting quarterbacks, Mason Walker and C.J. Cauldwell, nor starting fullback Kahlil Anthony finished the game.

“The kids played hard,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “I’m proud of the effort we got. I thought we got after it the entire game, never quit, kept playing. We just made too many mistakes, and it came back to haunt us. Hats off to them, they’re a good team, but they’re in the same boat that we are. They’re young, but their youth beat our youth tonight. I’m proud of my kids. They never quit. They kept fighting the entire way.”

The Warriors hurry-up offense didn’t score on its first two drives, but only took three plays to score on the third possession. Chris Hightower scored from 27 yards with 1:28 remaining in the opening quarter.

Taylor Boyce returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Warrior 9-yard line. But Beebe turned the ball over on downs.

After forcing LRCA to punt, Beebe got on the scoreboard with a 48-yard, seven-play drive, capped by a 24-yard run by Nathan Clifton. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 7-6 with 5:36 remaining in the half.

The Warriors answered, moving from their own 16 to score on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Bowersock to Henley Bland. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score 13-6 with 2:55 remaining in the second quarter.

The Badgers scored on a 61-yard touchdown scamper by Boyce. Again, the extra point was no good, and with 1:32 to go before the break, the LRCA lead was 13-12.

The Warriors took the ball on their own 41-yard line and on five pass completions, scored with 10.8 seconds on the clock to make the score 20-12 at intermission.

Beebe had a 50-yard run in it’s first possession of the half by Nathan Burnett to help move to the LRCA 9-yard line, but again could not score and turned the ball over on downs.

However, a Warrior fumble was recovered on the first play by Jackson, and Beebe had the ball on the LRCA 10-yard line. Burnett scored from two yards out. A two-point conversion was good by Boyce, and the score was tied at 20-20 with 7:26 to go in the third.

The Warriors answered with a score and extra point with 5:58 remaining in the quarter and the score was 27-20. Then, a Badger fumble was picked up and taken 62 yards for a touchdown by Andrew Casto, and the lead grew to 34-20.

Jackson picked up the following on-side kick and returned it to the LRCA 11-yard line. Boyce scored from eight yards out, Daniel Martinez’s kick was good, and the score was 34-27.

The Warriors struck again with 9:03 in the fourth to up the lead to 41-27.

A 46-yard run by Burnett set up a 1-yard run by Beebe quarterback Gage House. The conversion attempt was no good, and the score was 41-33 with 6:05 remaining.

LRCA scored once more, a 30-yard field goal by Hankins with 2:59 remaining to set the final score at 44-33.

Burnett led the Badgers in rushing with 116 yards and one touchdown. Boyce had 105 yards, two touchdowns, and one two-point conversion.

Beebe travels to Little Rock Friday night to face Pulaski Academy.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers pull away in fourth

Leader sports editor

The Catholic Rockets came with an obvious defensive game plan, and it took Cabot just a little while to figure it out. Once it did, it took control and rolled to a 35-10 victory in the 7A-Central Conference opener Friday at Panther Stadium.

“Well, we didn’t know what they were going to line up in defensively,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “So it took us a while to adjust on the fly. Once we got things going we did alright.”

Catholic was determined to stop Cabot quarterback Jarrod Barnes, and they did it aggressively and did it well for two and a half quarters. The Panther defense did its job to keep the Rockets out of the end zone in the first half, and Cabot’s halfbacks picked up the slack left by the Rockets taking Barnes out of the offense.

“Both halfbacks played well and the defense did a good job for us until we could get things figured out,” Malham said. “And of course, Jarrod, he made some runs in the second half and that’s a big advantage to have.”

Through three quarters, Barnes had five carries for -5 yards, as well as an errant pitch that lost 17 yards. But in the fourth quarter, he had five more carries, including touchdown runs of 41 and 56 yards as the Panthers pulled away.

“Sometimes he tries to do a little too much,” Malham said of Barnes. “I try to tell him, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with no gain. It’s better than losing 15 or 20 yards. But he believes in himself and he always thinks he can make it happen. And usually he makes something good happen so you take the good with the bad.”

Catholic got on the board first with a 30-yard field goal that capped a 13-play drive with 6:44 left in the first quarter.

Cabot also scored on its first possession after starting from its own 20. Junior halfback Adam Flores starred in the drive. He caught a 13-yard pass on third and 10 after a false start penalty. Later on third and 3, Flores took an option pitch right down the right sideline 49 yards for the score.

Mason Martin’s extra point made it 7-3 with 3:01 to go in the first.

After being pushed down the field on the opening drive, Cabot’s defense turned the tide for the rest of the half. The Rockets lost a yard on its next drive before safety Evan Hooper intercepted a Taylor Price pass at midfield and returned to the Catholic 31.

The Panthers wasted the opportunity.

Barnes made an ill-advised pitch as he was being tackled, and the ball sailed over halfback Austin Morse’s head. Morse chased it down, but the play resulted in a 17-yard loss.

An illegal procedure penalty moved Cabot back 5 more yards, and Barnes was dropped for a 5-yard loss on second down. An incomplete pass left Cabot with fourth and 37 from its own 42.

The two teams traded fruitless drives with Cabot’s defense forcing back-to-back three-and-out possessions by Catholic.

With 4:09 left in the half, Cabot took over on its own 7-yard line and went 93 yards for a 14-3 lead. Flores got a first down with a 12-yard run, and Morse then went 71 yards to the Catholic 7 to set up first and goal.

Two Braxton Burton runs and a Martin extra point later and Cabot led by 11 with 2:08 on the clock.

Catholic got a good drive going in its hurry-up offense, moving swiftly from its own 33 to the Cabot 14. That’s where linebacker Cody Nabors halted the drive with an interception at the 8-yard line with 44 seconds left in the half.

Cabot tried one long pass that was dropped at midfield before taking a knee to run out the clock.

Cabot got the ball to start the second half, but things didn’t go as planned. The Panthers went three and out, and Catholic scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 52-yard run right up the middle by Samy Johnson. The extra point made it 14-10 less than two minutes into the third quarter.

“That was not how we wanted the second half to start,” Malham said. “Thankfully we got a good drive right after that and I think we started wearing them down a little bit at that point.”

Panther defensive lineman Chris Jones covered a fumble on Catholic’s next drive, giving the home offense the ball at its own 40.

Morse went 13 yards on second down before Barnes made the play of the game. A run play designed for Barnes out of the shotgun saw the Razorback verbal commit run up his own lineman’s back about 20 yards downfield. Appearing hemmed in by the sideline, Barnes ran backwards a few yards, and then straight forwards again, dodging tacklers the whole way for a 41-yard touchdown run with 11:13 left in the game.

Spencer Nickell got Cabot’s first sack of the game on the ensuing drive. Nickell dragged Price to the ground with one arm while being blocked to the ground by a Rocket lineman. The play went for a loss of 22 yards, forcing Catholic to punt.

Cabot started its drive at its own 34, and needed eight plays to score.

Burton had a 44-yard run that was reduced to 22 because of a holding penalty. Barnes later went 26 yards to the 3 before Burton did the rest, making it 28-10 with 5:33 to go.

Nickell got another sack on Catholic’s first play of the ensuing drive, this one for a 7-yard loss. A 2-yard run by Johnson and an incomplete pass forced Catholic to punt again.

Cabot took over on its own 44, and Barnes went 56 yards to the left side for the final score of the game. Martin’s extra point set the final margin with 3:41 to go.

Cabot finished with 437 yards of offense while holding Catholic to 287.

Barnes finished with 10 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He had five carries for 132 yards in the fourth quarter. Morse had seven carries for 102 yards. Flores had six carries for 76 yards and a 13-yard reception.

Johnson finished with 25 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown for Catholic.

Price was held to 10 of 21 passing for 96 yards by the Cabot defense.

The Panthers (4-0, 1-0) will travel to Fort Smith to take on the Southside Mavericks next Friday. Southside, also 1-0 in conference, ran its overall record to 2-2 on Friday with a 23-20 win over Conway.

SPORTS STORY >> Bear defense shuts down LR McClellan

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears won a huge conference opener Friday at Blackwood Field in Sherwood. Other than a few mishaps, the Bears dominated the defending state runner up McClellan Lions en route to a 41-20 win in an early but crucial 5A-Central matchup.

“That was the biggest win we’ve had in a while,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “Last year, that was a game we wanted back really bad. So everybody wanted to play well in this one, and we really did. The defense was outstanding.”

The Bears scored two touchdowns over a two-minute span late in the second quarter to take a 28-12 lead into halftime, and continued to dominate defensively in the second half to preserve the victory.

McClellan converted a fourth and 2 to keep a scoring drive alive midway through the second period. Two plays later Caleb Hendrix went 46 yards on a misdirection play for a touchdown that made it 14-12 with 6:12 left in the half.

But Sylvan stole all the momentum from that point.

After taking over on the 33 and converting one first down, quarterback Jordan Washington hit Payton Terry with a deep pass inside the Lion 20. A penalty after the catch moved it back to the 31, but it was still good enough for a first down.

A facemask penalty at the end of a Washington run moved it to the Lion 13, and tailback Deon Youngblood did the rest on a direct snap. Mendoza made it 21-12 with 3:26 left in the second quarter.

Sylvan Hills then recovered a pooch kickoff at the McClellan 40 to keep possession of the ball. Facing fourth and 7, Washington hit Youngblood inside the Lion 10-yard line.

On third and goal, McClellan was called for pass interference in the end zone, giving Sylvan Hills a fresh set of downs at the 4, and Washington scored on a keeper up the middle for a 28-12 lead that it took into the locker room.

That momentum carried into the third quarter. Washington converted a third and long with a 12-yard run to midfield, then hit Jamar Porter inside the 10-yard line.

After another Washington run to the 1, Youngblood takes another direct snap for the score. The extra point failed, leaving Sylvan Hills with a 24-12 lead with 9:19 left in the third quarter.

After failed drives by both teams, McClellan scored on its second possession of the half when quarterback Davion Childs hit Pierre Strong with a 39-yard touchdown pass. Strong also converted for two points to make the score 34-20 with 58 seconds to go in the third.

McClellan then thought it had a fumble recovery on the ensuing possession, but roughing the passer was called, giving the Bears the ball back and a first down on their own 38.

Two plays later on third and 5, Washington hit Ryan Lumpkin with a short pass. Lumpkin shook a defender and got to the McClellan 27. Another first down moved it to the 13, and McClellan was called for pass interference on first down.

A series of penalties ended up moving the Bears back to the 13, but Washington converted on fourth and goal from the 2 and Mendoza’s kick set the final margin with 6:50 to play.

“I really think we dominated every phase of the game,” Withrow said. “You know, I expected us to win because I knew how much we wanted it. I don’t know if I expected us to win like we did. Again I have to look at the defense. They’re just better. The players have gotten better. They’re bigger, faster. I think our plan is better. We attack more. The kids are more aggressive. They’re just doing a lights out job right now.”

Things didn’t begin well for the Bears. McClellan ran the game’s opening kickoff back for a touchdown and took a 6-0 lead after Sylvan Hills stopped the two-point conversion attempt.

The two teams traded punts and the Bears started their second drive at their own 32. The Lions were called for pass interference on third and long, keeping the Bears’ drive alive, and setting up a go-ahead touchdown.

Two more plays set up another third and long, this time Washington kept for a 15-yard gain to the McClellan 35. On the very next play, he kept again on a delayed quarterback sneak up the middle for a 35-yard touchdown run.

Tito Mendoza’s extra point made it 7-6 Sylvan Hills with 3:52 left in the first quarter.

Sylvan Hills got another stop and got the ball back on their own 21 after a Lion punt.

The Bears converted four more third and longs on the drive, one a 7-yard pass to Jamar Lane on third and 6. Later on third and 4, Deon Youngblood took a direct snap 12 yards to the Lion 43.

On third and 10, Washington kept for 12 yards to the 31, and then 13 more to the 18 on the next play.

Another Washington run got it to the 11-yard line. A false start penalty moved the ball back, but Washington kept again and made to the 2-yard line to set up first and goal.

A sixth-straight Washington keeper pushed it into the end zone with 8:45 left in the second quarter and a 14-6 Sylvan Hills lead.

Washington finished going 13 of 28 for 200 yards passing. He also carried the ball 28 times for 144 yards and four touchdowns.

Friday, September 23, 2016

TOP STORY >> Cabot Lions start fundraiser

Leader staff writer

Motivational youth speaker Tom Thelen of Michigan brought his bullying-prevention program to Cabot’s students in fifth through 12th grades and their parents on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thelen is the author of “Victimproof,” a book about bullying in school and how to try and prevent it.

As a student, Thelen was bullied and he spoke about his experience. He speaks about overcoming the victim mindset and how to respond to bullying.

One of Thelen’s stops was at Cabot Middle School North.

“Bullying is intentional. It is a power grab, and it is repeated,” Thelen said.

Three types of bullying are physical, verbal and social.

“The kid who was bullied and felt hurt tries to get back and settle the score. Sometimes, they hurt other people, not with their fists but with words. It is important to not give someone who is bullying you a negative reaction. That is what they are looking for. You give it to them and you’re giving them power,” Thelen said.

Thelen said when he was a student he kept his anger and hurt inside and carried it around like a backpack, and it became heavy.

“I was the class clown. I was covering it up pretending I was fine. The biggest bully in all my life during those school years was my dad. I should have talked to a trusted adult,” Thelen said.

He said things got worse and he was almost kicked out of school, until he had a teacher who believed in him, when he didn’t believe in himself. She found help with a three-week counseling program that worked on character.

“Character is who you are in your heart. Character starts with the way you feel. Then it moves to things that you think about. It turns into the words that you say, then into the things you do. It then becomes a pattern and those habits become your character,” Thelen said.

“When you give up revenge, you break free from bullying. You might be bullied, but you don’t have to be a victim. Create a healthy boundary. When you learn to be the change inside yourself you can make change in others,” he said.

After the program, sixth-grader Alyssa De La Paz said the program inspired her to talk more about bullying and not to do it, because it could affect people later in life.

Sixth-grader Carson Mun-day said Thelen’s program inspired him to tell an adult if he is bullied and for them to tell the bully to stop.

Nicholas Hazeslip, also a sixth grader, said it inspired him to make a change.

“I’ve overheard kids saying they are going to bully someone, but not physically because they don’t want to get caught,” Hazeslip said.

“And they think it is alright,” sixth-grader Moira Haslip said.

“Words are more powerful than actual actions,” De La Paz said.

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot helped bring Thelen to the Cabot School District.

TOP STORY >> Bully prevention in Cabot

Leader staff writer

Motivational youth speaker Tom Thelen of Michigan brought his bullying-prevention program to Cabot’s students in fifth through 12th grades and their parents on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thelen is the author of “Victimproof,” a book about bullying in school and how to try and prevent it.

As a student, Thelen was bullied and he spoke about his experience. He speaks about overcoming the victim mindset and how to respond to bullying.

One of Thelen’s stops was at Cabot Middle School North.

“Bullying is intentional. It is a power grab, and it is repeated,” Thelen said.

Three types of bullying are physical, verbal and social.

“The kid who was bullied and felt hurt tries to get back and settle the score. Sometimes, they hurt other people, not with their fists but with words. It is important to not give someone who is bullying you a negative reaction. That is what they are looking for. You give it to them and you’re giving them power,” Thelen said.

Thelen said when he was a student he kept his anger and hurt inside and carried it around like a backpack, and it became heavy.

“I was the class clown. I was covering it up pretending I was fine. The biggest bully in all my life during those school years was my dad. I should have talked to a trusted adult,” Thelen said.

He said things got worse and he was almost kicked out of school, until he had a teacher who believed in him, when he didn’t believe in himself. She found help with a three-week counseling program that worked on character.

“Character is who you are in your heart. Character starts with the way you feel. Then it moves to things that you think about. It turns into the words that you say, then into the things you do. It then becomes a pattern and those habits become your character,” Thelen said.

“When you give up revenge, you break free from bullying. You might be bullied, but you don’t have to be a victim. Create a healthy boundary. When you learn to be the change inside yourself you can make change in others,” he said.

After the program, sixth-grader Alyssa De La Paz said the program inspired her to talk more about bullying and not to do it, because it could affect people later in life.

Sixth-grader Carson Mun-day said Thelen’s program inspired him to tell an adult if he is bullied and for them to tell the bully to stop.

Nicholas Hazeslip, also a sixth grader, said it inspired him to make a change.

“I’ve overheard kids saying they are going to bully someone, but not physically because they don’t want to get caught,” Hazeslip said.

“And they think it is alright,” sixth-grader Moira Haslip said.

“Words are more powerful than actual actions,” De La Paz said.

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot helped bring Thelen to the Cabot School District.

TOP STORY >> Council aspirant in Beebe quitting

Leader staff writer

Beebe alderman candidate Joe Morgan ended his campaign for a seat on the city council on Tuesday. Morgan was running against Alderman Matt Dugger, who is seeking re-election for the Ward 3, Position 1 in the general election on Nov. 8.

Dugger was first elected to the city council in 2014.

Dugger and his attorney, Tim Blair of Cabot, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 13 questioning Morgan’s eligibility to run for public office. Morgan may be disqualified for holding any office of trust in the state with one of his two misdemeanor convictions, writing a hot check and theft.

They also requested to have the White County Election Commission remove Morgan’s name from the ballot. If Morgan’s name is on the ballot, the White County Election Commission should not count any votes cast for him, the lawsuit requested.

The Leader contacted Morgan, but he did not return phone calls.

Morgan posted on the Joe Morgan for Beebe Alderman Facebook page on Tuesday evening that he was withdrawing.

“So this is how my opponent chose best to defeat me, and through the advice of my attorney he accomplished his goal and I must withdraw. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, but there is a such thing as a more qualified one. However, my opponent chose the easy road, and decided not to let the citizens decide who they wanted to represent them. To me this shows he only has his own interests in mind and not that of the citizens.

“But with that said I am forgiving, and pray he represents the citizens in a more upstanding manner than how obtained the position.

“Thanks again to everyone for all of the support. I will be back in 2018!!” Morgan wrote.

Dugger told The Leader on Wednesday, “I feel nobody should be above the law or be able to bend and cut corners to achieve personal gain. I don’t feel I should have to defend myself, when (Morgan) is not eligible for office. The only reason I got a lawyer is because I didn’t think justice would have been served otherwise.”

Morgan filed a petition with White County District Court on Sept. 2 to seal the records of his criminal convictions that he believes restores his eligibility to hold office.

However, his petition was filed after the election filing had closed on Aug. 19. Morgan filed to run for office on Aug. 3.

Morgan plead guilty in November 2007 in Searcy District Court to violating the Arkansas hot check law, a Class-A misdemeanor, and was ordered to pay $217 in restitution and fines. Then in August 2013, he pleaded guilty in Searcy District Court to theft of property, a Class-A misdemeanor.

He was fined $1,000 and was sentenced to 20 days of community service and a year of supervised probation, whch he completed.

The victim made a report of the theft with Searcy Police in October 2012. The man told police that in May 2011 he loaned Morgan a Taurus .38 Special handgun to use for a security job Morgan was working. When the man tried to get his pistol back, he discovered Morgan pawned the gun at Guns Plus in Searcy.

Morgan refused to give the gun owner any of the money. The gun was sold in January 2012 at a Conway gun show. The gun was valued at $400.

Morgan worked for the City of Beebe from 2001 to 2005 as a dispatcher and later as a police officer. He returned as a part-time officer in 2006 to 2007.

Morgan worked for the White County Sheriff’s Office in 2008 as a patrol deputy.

Morgan currently works for the Arkansas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America as safety director and manager of education and training.

He serves on the Little Rock Workforce Development Board and was appointed by the Gov. Asa Hutchinson to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee.

TOP STORY >> McNally receives six years for fraud

Leader staff writer

Circuit Court Judge Sandy Huckabee on Friday sentenced former Lonoke County Assessor John (Jack) McNally to six years in prison on several felony charges.

A stoic McNally, wearing a tan short-sleeve button-down shirt, was handcuffed at the Lonoke County Courthouse and taken into custody by the state Department of Correction after the ruling and began serving time immediately. He will be eligible for parole after serving a year in prison. McNally was ordered to pay $3,892 in restitution on the balance of a county credit card he misused and pay a $1,000 fine.

McNally, 59, pleaded guilty in June before a jury trial was to begin on the felony charges of one count of fraudulent use of a credit card, one count of possession of firearms by a felon, one count of violation of voter eligibility and two counts of violation of political practice pledge for falsification.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham requested McNally be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

McNally entered a not guilty plea to the charges in July 2015.

He was arrested in May 2015 after State Police completed an investigation following a lengthy legislative audit. Graham requested an investigation in November 2014 after irregularities showed up in the state legislative audit report.

McNally served as county assessor from January 2011 to December 2014, but lost his race for a third, two-year term to Jerrel Maxwell.

State Police discovered during the investigation that McNally had been convicted in 1986 for theft of federal government property.

According to the affidavit, he pleaded guilty then, was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation for three years. The original indictment was for five counts of theft of 4,804 camouflage cold-weather field coats made under contract for the Defense Department.

That federal felony conviction made it illegal for McNally to vote, hold office or possess a weapon.

There was nothing in court paperwork to indicate his record had been expunged, as the former assessor said he believed, according to the most recent affidavit.

State Police also obtained copies of a “Political Practices Pledge” form and a “Candidate Filing Form Affidavit of Eligibility” from the county clerk’s office. McNally signed both in 2010 and 2014. They indicated he was not a felon.

A State Police investigator interviewing McNally at his home in April 2015 seized a loaded .38-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun that was in plain sight.

According to the legislative audit report, McNally opened a fuel credit card account in the county’s name in 2011. As of July 2014, the balance owed was $2,329. Charges on the card for personal fuel totaled $11,333. Payments were made for $9,004.

State law prohibits elected offices from lending credit to private individuals. According to the affidavit, McNally said he used the fuel while on county business.

McNally was represented by attorney Hubert Alexander of Jacksonville.

Alexander told Judge Huckabee during the sentencing hearing that McNally has not been in trouble with the law in 30 years and recommended McNally receive probation instead of being sent to prison.

“The local politicians are licking their lips. They want to send him to the penitentiary and make a big example of him,” Alexander said.

“He had a gun at his house — big deal,” Alexander added.

Alexander said McNally had not cost the citizens of Lonoke County.

“Who did he hurt? Nobody except other politicians. It is going to make headlines in tomorrow’s paper,” Alexander said.

McNally, without family present, took the witness stand. He explained why he did not mark that he was a felon on the political practice pledge.

“I believed the federal charges were expunged,” McNally told the court.

The gun McNally had was for home protection, he said.

“I was wrong. I’m guilty. I’m terribly sorry for the crimes I have committed,” McNally said.

McNally said he was a heavy equipment operator for Welspun pipe company. He planned to work for seven more years, until retiring at 67.

He said his wife has been supportive and his children are worried about their father.

A riled-up Graham said the sentencing is not a political cause. “In January 2011, McNally raised his hand and was sworn in as assessor. McNally knew he was a felon. He knew it was a lie and that he wasn’t supposed to be there,” the prosecutor said.

“Voting is sacred. This is not personal. He hurt thousands of people who voted for him. He did it repeatedly until he was defeated,” Graham said.

He said McNally was a felon and does not have the right to have a gun. He did not purchase his gun at a store the right way, he had to get it from an individual, Graham said.

“He stole from the federal government and Lonoke County. What he did was an outrage. We can’t tolerate this. We need to hold people accountable,” Graham said.

Huckabee said people place trust in the election system. Elected officials take an oath to support the Constitution and to faithfully perform the duties of office.

McNally betrayed that trust, the judge said.

In 2006, McNally was also the subject of a three-week investigation as a Cabot code- enforcement officer.

He was accused of taking lawnmowers, barbecue grills and a swing set from a backyard so it could be mowed.

He wasn’t prosecuted then because there was not enough evidence to support criminal charges.

EDITORIAL >> They serve and protect

The recent town hall meetings hosted by police departments in Jacksonville and Lonoke look even more impressive following the fatal police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, N.C.

The two local police departments hosted town hall meetings at their community centers at the same time on Sept. 8 and reassured residents they’re getting well served while their rights are being protected.

Jacksonville Police Chief Kenny Boyd and Lonoke Police Chief Patrick Mulligan spoke to about 45 people in each town. Their aim was to tell residents that their police departments respect the needs of their communities and will do everything to avoid needless violence.

Communication and community were two words used often at the town hall forums, where respect for individual rights do not obviate the need to serve and protect law-abiding residents.

“We can improve the police department with community relations,” Boyd said. He urged residents to come forward if they have concerns about the police and avoid potential problems before they get out of control.

Police officers often have just seconds to decide if their lives are in danger. If they make the wrong decision, they’re branded as villains and will be charged with manslaughter and become a national story.

Boyd said a good police department starts with recruiting, “so you do not get bad cops. There is a screening process to maintain the integrity of that officer. We have monitors in place. We will have some that slip through, absolutely. We will address those as they come to us,” Boyd said.

Mulligan, who expressed similar sentiments, is determined to serve the people of Lonoke with integrity and respect. “I might have to arrest someone, but I’ll hand them a card and say call if we can help you in any way,” Mulligan said in explaining his philosophy to serve and protect. “I had spent a lot of time visiting church leaders about the community and this was the next step.”

Mulligan also looks ahead before there’s trouble. He said he offers free counseling and free anger management classes in the jail led by local pastors, for prisoners and parolees. “In some jails, people are locked up and forgotten. That doesn’t help in any way with rehabilitation. We talk and visit our prisoners and see what we can do to help them when they are released.”

That’s how you make a difference in law enforcement. Good policing pays dividends in the future. Both town halls were effective and, especially since the tragic news in Tulsa and Charlotte, they should be held more often not just in Jacksonville and Lonoke but throughout the area. We don’t need to make national headlines here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Cabot court near a deal?

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert and District Judge Joe O’Bryan may be nearing a compromise that would restore probation services to the community.

The mayor and judge will meet Thursday to decide on a probation company. Cypert says when the judge picks a new company to hire, the city can have probation services within 30 days.

Jeffrey Everetts, who provided probation services for O’Bryan, was arrested four months ago for sexual assault and other charges, including sexually assaulting probationers he was supervising. Since then, Cabot’s court has not sentenced anyone to probation, and anyone who had been on probation was released from oversight.

It is the only court in The Leader’s coverage area that does not have a probation system in place, but that may soon change.

The judge ignored the mayor’s proposal in June to hire Pro Trac Development after the city fired Everetts. The mayor hadn’t heard from O’Bryan about the plan and said the judge prefers another company, Southwest Probation Services of Arkadelphia. Cypert said that is good enough for him, too, and that “the city of Cabot is committed to getting probation services back.”

The judge may not have been in much of a hurry to restart probation services because the court has done surprisingly well without it: Revenue has increased some and people are paying fines at higher rates than before probation was ended.

Cypert believes that privatizing probation services is practical and can be executed responsibly despite the recent problems. Before hiring a company to track probationers, the city was spending $110,000 annually on two full-time employees to do the job.

A private company receives no money from the city. Instead, probationers pay a monthly fee to the company while they complete their sentences.

Restarting the court’s probation is a good first step in rebuilding the community’s confidence.

A little more than a year ago, O’Bryan was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, who accused him of attacking her in a drunken rage. She later dropped charges, but that incident made people wonder if O’Bryan is fit for the job.

O’Bryan was suspended from the bench while his assault case was pending, but once it was dismissed, he was given his robe and gavel back by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which handles judicial disciplinary matters.

All of this comes amid a runoff election set for Nov. 8 between the judge and his opponent, Ward City Attorney Clint McGue, who topped O’Bryan back in March and who says he wants to end the stalemate in Cabot’s court. Sheriff John Staley is also eager to have probation services restored.

The Cabot City Council needs to invite O’Bryan to present his plan for hiring a new probation services provider and describe the types of miscreants who are now unsupervised.

TOP STORY >> Festivals on Saturday

The Lonoke County Fair and Livestock Show kicks off Wednesday and runs through Saturday at the fairgrounds in Lonoke.

Gate admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children, youngsters under 6 years old are free. Parking outside the fairgrounds is $2.

The carnival opens on Wednesday. Arm bands for carnival rides are $15 on Wednesday and Thursday and $20 Friday and Saturday.

The county fair parade through downtown Lonoke will start at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Rodeo Queen horsemanship competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Redneck games and mutton bustin’ is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission for the Redneck Games is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

The 40th annual Sherwood Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave. Admission is free.

Sherwood Fest will have medieval themed contests to participate in throughout the day. The Conquer the Climb 5K run will start at 8 a.m. at the Sherwood Forest Trail. An archery contest is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Castle building using recycled materials will be at 12:45 p.m. in the Forest Room Stage.

A hammer throw is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. A tug-of-war will be at 1:45 p.m.

Horseshoes pitching contest is at 2 p.m. Pie-jousting is happening at 2:45 p.m.

Sherwood Fest will have rides and inflatables. The purchase of a $5 armband allows for unlimited access to the ride and inflatables.

There will be a live pony carousel, an obstacle course, sumo wrestling, moonwalks, jousts, slides and other inflatables.

A kids zone will have free crafts, games and balloon animals.

Searcy’s Get Down Down-town festival will be held from 6 till 10 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m. Saturday.

There will be several stages with live country and Christian music. Admission is free.

Festivalgoers are advised to bring lawn chairs.

Festiville in Jacksonville will begin at Dupree Park from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30 and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1 Admission and parking are free.

The 20th annual Beebe Fall Festival will be held from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Beebe Ballpark. The free event will have live entertainment, vendors, the Miss Beebe Fall Festival Pageant, carnival rides, an antique car show, a kids zone, food vendors, a duck-calling contest, a chili cookoff and more.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The Larry Weathers Band played at the Woodlawn Community Center on Hwy. 31 last Thursday. From left, Fred Staley on banjo, Danny Cobb on guitar and Weathers on guitar. The community center for senior citizens is in an historic school building and hosts a lunch every Thursday.

Leader staff writer

Even before climbing the first step to Woodlawn Community Center on at 10070 Hwy. 31, the smell of home cooking and music fill the air. Once inside, center members Dorothy Henry and Anita Weathers pop out of the kitchen long enough to greet people with a smile, welcoming them inside.

It’s an invitation that’s hard to resist.

From there, the two women usher visitors into a large assembly room, filled with long benches and a stage.

A few minutes later, Henry, who is famous for her deviled eggs prepared with jalapeno pepper relish, has her arms elbow-deep in dishwater. She’s on kitchen cleanup duty as Cecilia Anderson and Weathers are uncovering the various dishes and putting a spoon in each, slicing desserts and setting out Styrofoam plates for their weekly potluck luncheon.

Despite the prep work and cleanup, Henry says, “I come for the fellowship and fun.”

Marilyn Lewis seconds Henry’s endorsement.

Every Thursday starts with live music or speakers at 10:30 a.m. in the center’s large assembly room and is followed by potluck at noon. After lunch, there’s a spirited game of Mexican dominoes, except the second Thursday of each month—that’s bingo day.

By the time the usual crew of about 12 to 15 arrive, the 20-foot island running nearly the entire length of the large kitchen is filled with casseroles, strips of perfectly breaded fried chicken, cauliflower in a cheesiest of sauces, tasty great northern beans and old favorites that are now a rarity like liver and onions.

There’s more, like white and wheat rolls, warm and ready for a pat of butter, and a bevy of homemade pies and cakes, already sliced and there for the taking — although it can be a tough decision.

Henry adds, “I always enjoy coming.”


From the other room, riffs of George Strait’s “The Fireman,” played by the Larry Weathers Band, fill the kitchen. They are a few members short this day, but it doesn’t seem to hurt their performance.

Anita Weathers, who is the mother of Larry Weathers and known for her egg custard pie and other mouthwatering dishes, says, “I’m Larry’s No. 1 fan.”

And from the number gathered — Dorothy Williams says the crowd of about 25 is larger than usual — it seems the band has plenty of fans.

In fact, Larry Weathers is known throughout the region for his covers, as well as the gospel and country songs he’s penned.

While proudly admitting her bias for her son’s music, Anita Weathers says, “He always draws a crowd.”

David Neal, a first year member, says, “The music keeps me coming back,” but he also enjoys the companionship.

With his plates and hands full, Ray Cass made his way from the kitchen into the dining room to find a seat. Just about the time he was ready to sit down, he announced he had to return the kitchen for a glass of sweet tea.

He says he’s been coming to the center “for quite a while,” and goes on to say, “I always enjoy the programs and the potluck.”

He says some members make a small donation instead of bringing a dish to share, but he won’t comment on who is the center’s best cook — safer that way.

Andy Childress, who rarely misses a Thursday lunch, gets around the question of the best cook by saying, “We have the best cooks. The food is the best.”

Diana Weathers says, “It’s all good. They take care of us.”


Originally, the Woodlawn Community Center was the Woodlawn School, a two-room schoolhouse built in 1921.

Martha Dawson, then Martha Coleman, remembers those days well while sitting in the center’s dining room before last Thursday’s lunch — it was the fifth, sixth and seventh-grade classroom back in the day.

She points to a corner, saying that’s where she received her only “lickin’” by, now deceased, teacher Hartford Harris while in grade school.

Seems day after day, she lingered outside instead of hurrying in when the bell signaled it was time to take her seat.

She says she tried to get out of the way of his paddle that day by jumping over a rail but Harris still managed to nail her behind.

The kitchen, she says, was the first-, second- and third-grade classroom, and during Dawson’s second-grade year, her boyfriend, JE Fields “went through a lot of pencils.”

Dawson’s desk was positioned next to the pencil sharpener that year.

She also remembers jumping through the large windows that lined the south side of the upper-grade classroom in order to beat the boys to the baseball field. The kids played ball nearly every day, she remembers.

During holidays and other times, kids put on plays, sang and competed in math and spelling bees, and the school was a source of community pride, but that all came to an end in the spring of 1950, when, Dawson says, the school’s doors closed for the last time.

The school was a center of the community, so it’s not surprising that “It was like a funeral that day,” she says.

The schoolhouse sat empty for several years, says Anderson, who was Woodlawn Community Center president for 10 years.

Then a few years later, the Woodlawn Community Center was founded and one of its missions was to maintain the building. It still is, Anderson says.

Members donated their money and their time to a kitchen redo, including putting the island, a new refrigerator, stove, freezer and icemaker. They replaced old floors, bad wiring and painted the place inside and out, and put on not one roof, but two, “because the first new roof leaked and had to be redone,” Anderson explains.

Behind the stage, there’s an original mural and outside by the front door, the old school bell remains at the ready should it ever be needed.

Williams, a local writer who occasionally writes about the Woodlawn community, keeps the center’s written and photographic archives updated, while member Ruby Kittell made curtains for the two classrooms and the large assembly room. She also covered the assembly room bench seating and dining room chairs, with help from her husband, Roy Kittell.

It took her about five days a week for six months to finish the entire project.

Ruby Kittell says, “It was a small contribution compared to what this center means to me and the whole community.”

Anderson says, “So far, we’ve put about $160,000 into it.”

The money has come from donations, fundraisers and a little grant money that the nonprofit was eligible for because the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

“We’re still working on the building,” Anderson says.

More than that, she says they’re looking for new members and welcomes all to their Thursday activities and potluck luncheon.

“Whether you bring a dish or not, everyone is invited,” Anderson says.

For more information about activities at the Woodlawn Community Center, call Cecilia Anderson at 501-676-3695.

TOP STORY >> Air base expo thrills crowd

Leader staff writer

Zach Wacaster, a ninth grader at Magnet Cove High School, and his mother Wendy Wacaster found a shaded seat on a lowered loading ramp of a C-17 cargo plane. Sarah Potter positioned herself and her two children as near to the Little Rock Air Base runway as possible.

Potter wanted her kids “to see where daddy works” and one of the C-130s he co-pilots, while the Wacasters wanted the opportunity to see the large transport plane up close at Arkansas Military Expo on Saturday, along with 30,000 other visitors.

Wendy Wacaster explained that the C130s often fly over their home in Magnet Cove and she suspects it’s one of the Air Base’s flight paths.

Zach Wacaster was surprised at the C-130s size, saying, “They’re bigger than I thought.”

According to the Air Force base public affairs office, “The C-130 is a cargo aircraft capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.”

It can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel.

The Air Force base is home to about 50 C-130s, including 40 bigger, more powerful state- of-the art C-130Js.

The C-130, along with the C-17, were open for tours at the military expo in Jacksonville.

The C-17 is the military’s second largest aircraft, and the C-17 Globemaster III is the Air Force’s newest, most flexible cargo aircraft. It’s capable of a rapid delivery of troops or cargo, and can be used as tactical airlift, for airdrop missions or medical evacuations.

It was the first open house in four years and marked the Air Force’s 69th anniversary. Col. Charles E. Brown Jr., 19th Airlift Wing commander, said, “It was time.”

Brown said the expo brought together “all facets of our mili tary, our reservists, our citizen soldiers, our Guardsmen, our active duty, our civilians and our contractors and showcase what they bring to the fight on behalf of the state of Arkansas and the nation each and every day for the expo.”

Brown said the Air Force is celebrating its 69th anniversary this year.

Mary Claire Durr was part of the Beebe High School ROTC team that demonstrated their marching skills.

“I’ve had so much fun,” she said after her team had finished.

Her mother, Margo Hum-phrey of Beebe, was happy that the Air Force base was showcasing its assets.

“The military is a big part of the Arkansas community,” she said.

In fact, according to the base’s 2015 economic impact statement, they are worth about $511 million to central Arkansas and employ about 12,600 people.

Humphrey is the wife of Col. Dennis Humphrey, who is the commander for the Army National Guard Marksmanship Training Center.

“It was a good event,” he said.

There were approximately 30 different types of aircraft on display at the expo, from the latest unmanned aircraft to old World War II Warbirds — this term is used for retired military aircraft that have been restored to flying condition.

Sgt. Jesse Brown, operator, and Sgt. Dee Mathis, maintenance, were available to talk to the public about the surveillance applications and capabilities of one of the military’s smaller unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft known as a drone.

The craft has a 14-foot wingspan and the operator, sitting at a computer screen, can push it to altitudes of 15,000 feet.

It has a camera that combines color and infrared technologies, and “At 3,000 feet, I can read a newspaper,” Brown said about the drone’s capabilities.

It can also be used for search and rescue.

A few feet away, the maintenance crew of an unmanned drone, an MQ Predator, with a wingspan of 55 feet and cruising altitude of 25,000 feet talked about the growth potential of unmanned aircraft whether used in military or civilian applications.

“It’s one of the best ways to save lives,” one crew member said.

The early morning’s low cloud cover lifted and by early afternoon, the sun beat down on the estimated 30,000 visitors from around the state.

The cloud cover kept the planes grounded, but base personnel had planned for such a contingency, Brown said.

They had numerous activities designed to keep visitors busy, and Brown said it was the state’s largest public military event since 2012.

The expo had assets from the Air National Guard, other active duty bases and Army National Guard partners, including remotely piloted aircraft, artillery equipment, a T-6 aircraft from Laughlin Air Force Base, military vehicles such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV/Humvees), as well as a Blackhawk helicopter.

The air base’s canine unit from the 19th Security Forces Squadron, showed their stuff.

The expo also included static displays, and about 40 vendors.

In addition to military displays and activities, nearby community members like Cabot’s fire department participated in the event.

Fire Chief Phil Robinson brought the department’s 1949 pumper truck, and said, “If we had to use it, it could pump water.”

The old truck was also an attraction, especially to the younger crowd like Wesley Richardson, who said, “It’s really cool.”

He also noted that its long seat was more like a couch and there were no seatbelts in the truck.

Robinson said people love to take photos of their kids by it.

Inside, an open airplane that served as display area and a cooling station, 4-year-old Broden Scott was fascinated by the M240B machine guns on display.

The kids could actually look through the gun sites, and Broden’s dad, Glen Scott, a C-130 loadmaster, said, “He’s having a good time.”

Since the base’s runway is being rebuilt for about $108 million, they had to forego their traditional air show that included certain aircraft demonstrations, including the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds.

These aircraft require runways longer than the 6,000 feet currently available, but the work has not curtailed routine training flights, according to Brown.

The runway was built in the 1950s and needed a major overhaul.

Brown said the airshow is a big draw, and he hopes the renovations will be done in time for the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels to make a possible appearance by 2018.

The work has half of the runway closed, but there was enough open to accommodate smaller craft, paratroop demonstrations and a C-130J cargo drop demonstration.

The show also included a six-ship Little Rock C-130 formation flight, an Arkansas Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter demonstration featuring the fast rope teams from Camp Joseph T. Robinson, a Helo Hoist maneuver and a parachute demonstration with personnel from Fort Smith.

Crowds seemed enthralled as announcer Jerry Homsely offered commentary, much like an announcer at a baseball game, about various aircraft, including an original T6 Texan that buzzed overhead, pointing out the pilot’s impressive aerial feats such as barrel rolls and other training maneuvers.

The T6 was a basic flight training aircraft.

In addition to military exhibits and demonstrations, there was a kids zone and other activities and attractions such as Arkansas Circus Arts stilt walkers, a rock-climbing wall, a petting zoo, nine large infatables, two giant slides, a bounce house, obstacle course, jousting and more.

Brown said he was pleased with the event, which was at least nine months in the making, “I am having a blast.”

More so, the community was able to see how their tax dollars are being spent, he said.

Janice Burlison, who had traveled from Heber Springs that morning to attend the expo, was sporting a military lapel pin that Navy Recruiter Petty Officer 2nd Class Elton Jefferson had given her.

She in turn was going to hand it to her 94-year-old father, Lloyd Crockett, who had served in the Navy during World War II.

She wasn’t disappointed that she had made the 90-minute drive, saying, “I love it.”