Saturday, October 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Arkansas unhappy with just close call

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Certainly Bret Bielema prefers Arkansas’ last two close but no cigars vs. Alabama to the 52-0 embarrassment his debut Razorbacks suffered in 2013 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.

But calling those 2014 and 2015 close calls successes comparable to Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015 overcoming Alabama’s Crimson Tide?


Bielema’s nationally No. 16 Razorbacks, 4-1 overall and 0-1 in the SEC West, and nationally No.1 reigning national and SEC champion Nick Saban coached Alabama, 5-0, 2-0 in the SEC West, clash at 6 tonight on ESPN at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

On Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, Bielema was asked about the “secret of the success” that only the Razorbacks and Coach Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss Rebels among SEC teams achieved against Alabama in 2014 and 2015.

“Well, the difference is Ole Miss has had success,” Bielema replied. “We haven’t. We have been on the losing end every time. I know that we have done some good things, but we haven’t done enough to go over the top.”

The 2014 Razorbacks, led Alabama 13-7 in the third but ultimately were haunted by the Tide blocking an extra point. Alabama’s successful PAT after its tying touchdown allowed the underdog Tide to escape Fayetteville with a 14-13 victory.

Alabama’s second touchdown in 2014 was scored going hurry-up with Bielema trying to call timeout but officially unheeded.

“I might try a cartwheel next time,” Bielema said. “I was trying to get the officials’ attention but obviously it didn’t happen. Very frustrating.”

Last year in Tuscaloosa the Razorbacks led the eventual national champion, 7-3 at half but ultimately wore down and lost 27-14.

The Razorbacks have made up considerable ground on the Tide since Bielema’s debacle year inheriting the debacle of the 4-8 2012 season during which interim coach John L. Smith’s once eighth-ranked Razorbacks off Bobby Petrino’s 11-2 in 2011 figuratively went south upon Louisiana-Monroe upsetting them at Little Rock in the season’s second game.
Both those 2014 and 2015 games had a common denominator, Bielema and several Razorbacks said.

Alabama played four full quarters. Against high Tide, Arkansas could not.

“Our biggest thing is we’ve got to play a four-quarter game from start to finish,” Arkansas senior left offensive tackle Dan Skipper, a starter the past three annual SEC games with Alabama, said.

No letdowns anywhere, he said. Because Alabama can capitalize on anything at any time.

Offensively the Tide still runs with Pro-Set power but offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has successfully blended a Spread offense accentuating the pass receiving abilities of “off the charts,” Bielema said, wideout

Calvin Ridley and Mackey Award candidate tight end O.J. Howard.

And whether running Pro-Set or Spread, freshman Jalen Hurts gives Alabama the running quarterback it hasn’t had.

This season running quarterbacks bedevil Arkansas.

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight beat Arkansas with both his legs and his arm. TCU quarterback Kenny Hill and even Alcorn State freshman quarterback Noah Johnson made big plays and Arkansas won both games.

Defensively if the Tide just stops teams maybe they should take solace. At least it didn’t score on you, too. The Tide defense has scored five touchdowns off turnovers. Two punt returners add a touchdown each.

“You really don’t see any weaknesses in their defense,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos said. “Usually when you break a team down, you go, ‘We’ve either got to attack this or attack that.’ They’re pretty salty at all 11 spots.”

Other than the running quarterback, Alabama had all that the last two years and then some with 2015 turned pro Heisman Trophy running back Derrick Henry.
Arkansas still came close.

While these Hogs were emotionally hit by last Saturday’s unexpected death of starting center Frank Ragnow’s father, Jon, in Minnesota (Frank Ragnow was reportedly flying back to Fayetteville Thursday night but if he plays is entirely Ragnow’s choice, Bielema said) they have ingredients to beat Alabama, Bielema said.

They must, Arkansas players and coaches say, stay poised to play within themselves and not make critical mistakes trying to play beyond themselves.

“Alabama plays four full quarters of football and has very few lapses,” Arkansas senior cornerback Jared Collins said. “It’s tough to beat, but it’s possible.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot gets whumped by Conway

Leader sports editor

When a 5-0 team faces a 0-5 team, blowouts are expected, just not from the team with no wins. But that’s just what happened Friday at Panther Stadium. The Conway Wampus Cats fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, but utterly dominated from that point, scoring 37 unanswered points and pummeling the Panthers 37-14 in a 7A-Central Conference game.

Cabot quarterback and Razorback verbal commitment Jarrod Barnes was hurt early in the second half. That didn’t help matters much, but the Wampus Cats began their domination before halftime.

Cabot scored the first 14 points of the game, but in the second quarter, the offense stalled with Conway picking up the momentum.

Conway got the ball first and the Cabot defense shut it down. After Conway went three and out, Cabot put together a patented CHS drive. The Panthers 12-play, 61-yard drive that culminated in quarterback Jarrod Barnes squeezing in from 1-yard out o fourth and goal with 4:48 left in the first quarter.

Halfbacks Austin Morse and Adam Flores picked 32 of the first 36 yards of the drive, and Barnes kept for 20 yards on the option to set up first and goal an the score.

Conway again went three and out, and a subsequent 8-yard punt set Cabot up at the Wampus Cat 30-yard line.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, Conway failed to cover Cabot tight end John Wiens on his single-receiver route on Cabot’s first pass attempt. Barnes hit Wiens for an easy 30-yard touchdown pass. Mason Martin’s extra point put Cabot ahead 14-0 with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

Everything changed in the second quarter.

The Wampus Cats answered Cabot’s second touchdown drive with their own 60-yard scoring drive on seven plays.

Cabot then thwarted its own drive when Barnes dropped a shotgun snap and threw the ball away on third down.

Conway got it back on its own 37 early in the second quarter, and needed 11 plays to go 63 yards, including two third-down conversions. Tight end Jack Pillow bulled his way into the end zone on first and goal from the 10 after catching a short pass at the 3 and breaking several tackles. The extra point tied the game with 5:03 left in the half.

Cabot’s fourth drive went nowhere, and Conway had another chance to score before halftime. But a 45-yard field-goal attempt was no good, leaving the score tied at the break.

Barnes was injured returning the opening kickoff of the second half and missed the first two offensive series. Both sets of downs went three and out, and Conway scored after one of them.

Barnes returned to the field with Cabot trailing 21-14, and fumbled the shotgun snap on his first play. Conway covered it at the Cabot 17-yard line, and scored on the very next play when McCall Dail barreled straight up the middle for 17 yards.

The PAT gave Conway a 28-14 lead with less than two minutes left in the third quarter.

The Panthers finally got some offense going on their fourth drive, but it ended in disaster as well. Four plays gained 31 yards, but Barnes was picked off on the fifth play by Conway’s Logan Camp, giving the Wampus Cats the ball at their own 49.

Running back Michael George gained 20 yards straight up the middle on third and 4 to the Cabot 14. An illegal block made it first and 25 from the 29, but Conway made it all up on the next play. Quarterback Jovoni Johnson hit receiver Kylon Gary for a 29-yard touchdown play, and the extra point made it 35-14 with eight minutes left in the game.

Conway added a safety after two high Cabot snaps lost 31 yards and set the final margin.

Cabot managed just 136 yards of offense, and just 13 in the second half. Conway finished with 308 total yards.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke falls to Southside-Batesville

Special to The Leader

The Lonoke Jackrabbits hosted the Southside-Batesville Southerners Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium. It was homecoming for the Jackrabbits, but they could not come up with the victory to celebrate, falling 42-7 to Southside-Batesville. Turnovers and big plays by the Southerners contributed to the loss. Lonoke is now 2-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play while Southside is 4-2 and 2-1 in conference.

“We had a few turnovers that hurt us early,” said Lonoke coach Taggart Moore. “We had some stops on defense. We moved the football well. We just turned the ball over when we didn’t need to. Last week we had no turnovers, caused three, and that’s the difference in the game. We had some big plays, missed some tackles, just wasn’t our night. Hats off to Batesville-Southside, because they played great. They had a great game plan against us. We’re going to come back out next week and try to beat Helena.”

Dalton Smith returned the opening kickoff by Southside past midfield only to have the return negated by a block in the back call, so Lonoke started instead on their own 20-yard line. The Jackrabbits moved the ball down the field on carries by Xavier Hodge and Quarterback Logan Dozier to the Southerners 20-yard line before a fumble occurred and Southside recovered. Lonoke had picked up four first downs along the way, Dozier had a 15-yard carry, and Hodge a 19-yard carry.

Southside couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and turned the ball over on downs. The Jackrabbits turned the ball right back, though, as Dozier was intercepted by Kinser Tosh. This time the Southerners took advantage of the short field and went 30 yards in five plays. Mason Anderson had a 17-yard carry, then a three-yard run into the end zone. The extra point was good by Alex Branscum and the score was 7-0 with 1:28 remaining in the opening period.

Lonoke started the ensuing drive on its own 35-yard line and moved all the way to Southside’s eight-yard line. Dozier had completions to Isaac Toney for gains of ten and nine yards and a run of nine yards on which he was injured. Will Miller came in for one play to replace him and picked up a first down on fourth and one. Back in the game, Dozier’s pass on the next play was picked off by Anderson and taken 92-yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 7:41 to go in the half.

Lonoke turned the ball over on downs, but Jared Moore dropped Southside quarterback Josh Millikin for a loss of 14 yards to help force a punt.

The Southerners moved the ball all the way to the Jackrabbit 10-yard line on their next possession before Dylan Smith got Lonoke on the scoreboard with a 90-yard pick six. The extra point was good by Mario Reyes, and the lead was cut to 14-7 with only 14.4 seconds remaining until intermission. However, on only two plays the visitors struck again on a 20-yard run by Anderson and then as the half expired, Millikin hit Anderson for a 45-yard touchdown pass, extending the halftime lead to 21-7.

The Jackrabbits forced a punt on the first possession of the second half, only to be pinned at their own 8-yard line. Lonoke was driving down the field, having moved the first-down markers four times before on fourth and eight, Will Miller, now in at quarterback, was intercepted. Southside fumbled the ball right back on the next play, but then Miller was intercepted again, this time for a touchdown by Dawson Blevins. After the extra point, the score was 28-7 with 46.3 seconds remaining in the third.

Southside scored again with 8:28 to go in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard keeper by Millikin to up the advantage to 35-7. They then forced a Jackrabbit punt, and Anderson returned the punt for a touchdown to set the final score at 42-7 with 6:03 left on the clock.

Lonoke finished with 234 total yards of offense of which Hodge had 102 rushing, while the Southerners had 265 yards.

The Jackrabbits will host Helena-West Helena Central Friday night.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears take two from the Lady Titans

Special to The Leader

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bear volleyball team hosted the Jacksonville Lady Titans on Thursday in a 5A/6A District 4 match-up. The Lady Bears (11-10, 7-4) had won in straight sets at Jacksonville and got the win at home, but in a hard-fought four sets with scores of 24-26, 31-29, 26-24, and 25-18. With the loss, the Lady Titans are 6-12 overall and 6-6 in conference play.

“It was a typical Sylvan Hills, Jacksonville match,” said Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway.

“Every time that we’ve played them, whether it’s been conference or non-conference, we’re evenly matched. Tonight some things didn’t go our way, some things didn’t go their way, and we came out on top. It was hard-fought on both sides. She’s done a heck of a job with her team. I thought ours started out real strong, and then had a let up. In the end, I think that we did some things, we covered the ball, and we were getting some hits. I think at the end we were a little fresher.”
“It was a tough and hard-fought match,” Jacksonville coach Savannah Jacoby said. “I was pleased with set one, two, and three, not so much set four. I think they got a little tired, got a little down and couldn’t get back up from it. But overall, I’m pleased with that match, and I told them that.”

Sylvan Hills pulled out to a 11-3 lead in set one, largely on the serve of Grace Turner and kills by Anna Snyder and Tori Langley. An ace by Brittney Eskridge and a kill by Basia Brown brought Jacksonville to within 7-12, and then 12-14 on two net serves and a hitting error by the Lady Bears.

Neiagha Thomas got the ball back for Sylvan Hills with a kill, then served an ace and got two additional points on her service for a 18-12 advantage. A kill by Taylor Toombs for the Lady Titans, followed by a kill tip by Turner for Sylvan Hills, then an ace by Toombs made the score 19-16.

A kill by Cory Tessman started a four point swing by the Lady Bears. Tessman had another kill, followed by a kill by Kaelei Atkins to up the lead to 23-16. However, the Lady Titans fought back on the serve of Rebecca Brown to tie the set at 23-23. The score was also tied at 24, before a service ace by Eskridge gave Jacksonville a 25-24 lead. Set point also went to the Lady Titans for the 26-24 first set victory.

In set two, each team pulled ahead by several points at the start, but after the set was tied at 9-9, there were 16 more ties before the home team went ahead 30-29 and a kill by Lydia Young gave them the 31-29 marathon victory. Tessman and Snyder each had two kills in the set for Sylvan Hills, while Eskridge and Basia Brown each had two for Jacksonville.

Rebecca Brown gave the Lady Titans the first point of the third set with a kill. Jacksonville led 8-6, but Thomas hit a crosscourt kill to the corner for a point for the Lady Bears. The teams were tied at 8-8 before two services aces by Lindsey Holt gave the Lady Titans a 12-8 advantage.

The score was tied again at 14 before Jacksonville again jumped in front 19-14, with Eskridge and Kayla Rearden recording kills along the way. The Lady Bears bounced back and went ahead 22-20 on an ace by Tessman. An off-speed kill by Rebecca Brown tied the score again at 24 all, but Sylvan Hill scored two to take the set, 26-24.

The fourth and final set stayed close, with the score staying within two points most of the way until the Lady Bears pulled away 21-14. Jacksonville again fought back to get as close as 18-23, but hit the ball into the net and then a tip fell just wide to give the last two points to Sylvan Hills for the 25-18 final set victory.

Friday, October 07, 2016

TOP STORY >> Historic district forming

Leader staff writer

In just under nine months, the Jacksonville Historical District Board has made several big announcements that will change the face of the city’s original downtown.

First came the notice that 19 buildings near or along Front Street had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Next, the old city jail on Center Street got a rehabilitation.

Then on Wednesday, the Jacksonville Historical District Board signed a purchase agreement with Jim’s Pawn Shop owner Jimmy Pate.

It’s now officially the pro-perty of the Jacksonville Historic District.

Former board president and Jacksonville Alderman Barbara Mashburn handed Pate a $1,000 check, or the first payment installment of his $10,000 asking price.

He reduced the price of building, appraised at $150,000, because he said his now deceased parents loved that building and “he wanted to make them proud,” Mashburn later reported.

Because of illness, Pate was recently forced to close his business.

But the cash-strapped Jacksonville Historic District didn’t have the money to buy the 4,976-square-foot building that was built in 1917 and refit it as the Jacksonville History Museum.

The nonprofit started asking for donations and has about six months to pay off the balance. They made the first payment, but there is a matter of $3,000 that needs to be secured by the board before Dec. 15 in order to pay of the property taxes that are due, Mashburn said.

The building “needs a lot of tender love and care,” and a new roof, but the group is undaunted by the challenge, she said.

The National Register makes the group eligible for federal and state grants that they otherwise would not have been able to obtain, and the historic district board’s new president, Roberta McGrath, said, “We’re focused on finding the money for a new roof.”

Mashburn said the historic district can now apply for a $10,000 emergency grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program that could be used for roof repairs.

Mashburn is optimistic, adding, “It (the building) will look great again, something that the citizens of Jacksonville will be very proud of, and will be able to show their children and grandchildren about the early days when they were young.”

Prior to ownership by the Pate family, it was Carlisle’s Department Store, Pace’s Department Store. The building was originally owned by Marion J. Henry and his sons, Alonzo and Robert, proprietors of Henry Bros. Mercantile.

In addition to cash, a few items of historical value have been donated to the museum.

“I am beyond thrilled,” Mashburn said after handing the Jim’s Pawn Shop purchase agreement to McGrath.

Mashburn, along with 15 board members, are working hand-in-hand with the city on development of a Front Street art district.

The city museum and Roberta’s Hair Salon and art gallery, owned by Bonham, will be a cornerstones of the district, but the hope is to add a depot.

While the original Front Street depot is long gone, Mashburn said the train historians at the Arkansas Railroad Museum in Pine Bluff did a little research and found the blueprints for the structure built in the late 1870s.

The board hopes in the future to find the money to build a new depot, and once completed, it would possibly house a café, Bonham said.

In fact, the mayor, Mashburn and Bonham envision an art district, peppered with eateries, coffee and other shops.


Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher supports the board’s efforts, saying, “We would appreciate any donations.”

During her research of the district for the National Register designation, Mashburn said she’s uncovered a colorful history and believes the structures are worth saving.

It’s the oldest area in the city, dating back to about 1872 with the construction of the Cairo and Fulton rail line.

The area is already zoned commercial and is ready for investment and developers, and Mashburn said she believes the historic district is the perfect spot for an arts district.

Both Mashburn and Fletcher believe the rehabilitation of the historic district will complement the redevelopment of the downtown area along Main Street from the overpass to Hwy. 67/167.

Bonham is also excited about Front Street arts district.

“We need to do what we can to preserve it,” Fletcher said.

For more information or to donate, call Barbara Mashburn at 501-765-0767 or visit, the Jacksonville Historical Society Facebook page or to make a donation, Go Fund Me.

TOP STORY >> FBI lists crime rates

Leader staff writer

The safest place to have lived in 2015 in the local area was Austin, followed by Cabot, according to figures recently released by the FBI.

Jacksonville, followed by England, were the most dangerous cities in The Leader’s coverage area, but still safer than Little Rock, North Little Rock.

Austin reported just eight violent crimes in 2015, along with 51 property crimes, giving it a rate of 17 crimes per 1,000 residents. Austin’s rate was almost twice as good as the next city’s numbers.

Cabot, with 47 violent crimes and 520 property crimes, had rate of 33 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Violent crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

After two years of decline, the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation increased 3.9 percent in 2015 when compared with 2014 data, according to the FBI figures.

Property crimes dropped 2.6 percent, marking the 13th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2015 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 3.72 offenses per 1,000 residents. Locally, the most violent city was England with a rate of 12 offenses per 1,000 residents followed by Jacksonville with eight per 1,000.

Here are statistics for local cities:

Austin, with a population of 3,407, had eight violent crimes (seven of them sexual assaults or rapes) and 51 property crimes reported in 2015 for a rate of 17 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Beebe, with a population of 8,138, had 27 violent crimes (23 of them were aggravated assaults) and 242 property crimes for a rate of 33 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Cabot, with a population of 26,064, had 47 violent crimes (33 of the crimes were aggravated assaults) in 2015 and 520 property crimes for a rate of 21 crimes per 1,000 resdients.

Carlisle, with a population of 2,198, had seven violent crimes (five of them were aggravated assaults) and 61 property crimes for a rate of 31 crimes per thousand.

England, with a population of 2775, had 33 violent crimes (including 11 sexual assaults) and 106 property crimes, meaning 50 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Lonoke, with 42,65 residents, had 13 violent crimes (including one homicide) in 2015 and had 126 property crimes for an average of 33 crimes per 1,000.

Jacksonville, with a listed population of 28,902 had 218 violent crimes last year (including one homicide) and 1,395 property crimes for a rate of 56 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Sherwood, with a population of 30,572, had 140 violent crimes reported (113 of those were aggravated assaults) and 1,181 Property crimes for an average of 43 offenses per 1,000 residents.

Ward, with a population of 4,747 had 44 violent crimes and 109 property crimes, which worked out to 32 crimes per 1,000.

Nationally, the violent crime rate rose 3.1 percent compared with the 2014 rate, and the property crime rate declined 3.4 percent.

In 2015, there were an estimated 1,200,000 violent crimes. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent when compared with estimates from 2014.

There were only two homicides listed in the paper’s coverage area for 2015: One in Jacksonville and one in Lonoke.

In Arkansas, the deadliest towns in 2015 were Dumas, which had three homicides or an average of six homicides per 10,000, and Helena-West Helena with its six homicides worked out to five murders per 10,000 people. That compares to 32 homicides in Little Rock or two per 10,000 residents.

Collectively, victims of property crimes nationwide (excluding arson) suffered losses estimated at $14.3 billion in 2015.

The FBI estimated that law-enforcement agencies nationwide made 10.8 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2015.

More than 16,000 city, county, university and college, state, tribal and federal agencies submitted 2015 crime statistics to the FBI. For this area, the FBI had no data for Searcy.

EDITORIAL >> More Afghans going AWOL

The disappearance of eight Afghan soldiers from U.S. military installations in September may be the tip of the iceberg, according to Reuters reporter Idrees Ali.

The Defense Department says the eight were not working as a group.

That includes one who disappeared from Little Rock Air Force Base over Labor Day weekend.

A program was created to train them to work with and take over from the U.S. to make their country safe from the Taliban, which has proved to be immensely difficult.

They variously received training in leadership, language, infantry, aircrew, intelligence, engineering, military police, ordnance, transportation and Army Ranger training.

Twenty-two hundred Afghan soldiers have come to U.S. installations since 2007, and 45 have gone AWOL since January 2015.

Of those, 32 have been arrested or deported by Homeland Security, leaving 13 currently unaccounted for—and eight of those went AWOL only in September.

We understand why a soldier from Afghanistan would want to “relocate” to the U.S., and one was turned back recently at the Canadian border. Poverty, health and war are so bad that these guys might even be happy to sneak across the border to Mexico.

And little wonder, the 2015 United Nations Human Development Index ranked Afghanistan 171st among 188 countries. Even Mexico is ranked 74th (that’s high). The U.S. was eighth. Norway, Australia and Switzerland are the top three.

The average Afghan’s life expectancy is 44.5 years, about 20 years shorter than citizens in neighboring countries.

One-quarter have sought refuge outside the country, and 3.6 million remain refugees. One-fifth of the children die before the age of 5, most from preventable diseases. Only 25 percent have access to clean drinking water, and one in eight children die from lack of clean water.

It’s hardly a wonder their elite soldiers disappear when they get the chance to train in this country. Still, let’s hope they’re all caught and sent home soon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Badgers hosting homecomings

Leader sports editor

Just two weeks into conference play and the 5A-Central race is heating up. Sylvan Hills and Beebe are on opposite ends of those standings, but both feel good about where they stand as they head into their respective homecoming matchups this Friday.

The Bears (5-0, 2-0) host Mills University Studies while the Badger festivities take place before their matchup with the Parkview Patriots.

Sylvan Hills is 2-0 after wins over two of the three teams the league’s coaches picked to beat them in the preseason. The Bears were tapped to finish fourth in the Central this year, and already own wins over McClellan and Little Rock Christian Academy, who were picked second and third respectively behind Pulaski Academy.

For the second week in a row, Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow is worried about a trap game. After dominating McClellan as underdogs, Withrow was worried about a letdown against LRCA, and he feels like his team did suffer some symptoms of that in last Friday’s 42-35 victory.

“We put a lot of time and effort into that McClellan game, so there was going to be some letdown,” Withrow said. “Do I wish we would’ve played a little better last week and won by a little more? Sure. But we did what he had to doto get a win. Little Rock Christian played a good game and did everything they could do to take us out of our game plan. So I’m happy that pulled it out.”

This week not only carries the burden of homecoming distractions, but the Comets (2-3, 1-1) precede a showdown with Pulaski Academy.

“You do worry about overlooking somebody,” Withrow said. “It’s hard not to look ahead. It really is, even for coaches. But Mills has that option attack and that big old fullback, and they can do some damage. Their quarterback is a good one, too. Both of those guys are capable of making big plays and scoring at any time. Nobody has really shut them down this year.”

The Comets showed improvement each week, with the possible exception of last week’s 56-14 loss at McClellan. After starting the season with losses to Jacksonville and Hall by a combined three points, the Comets shut out Maumelle 13-0, and routed Parkview in their conference opener 48-13.

“Mills is a team that, if we take care of our business and do what we’re supposed to do, we should be ok,” Withrow said. “If we don’t, they’re capable of making you pay for it. They’re not a team you’re just going to roll out there and beat. We have to be ready.”


The 1-4, 0-2 Badgers are mired in a three-game losing streak, and are fresh off a 51-21 loss to top-ranked Pulaski Academy. The Patriots lost three in a row going into last week’s game, but got an easy 52-13 win over J.A. Fair on Friday.

“Parkview is a team with a lot athletes and they got a little bit of confidence coming in here,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “They have a good running back and a big offensive line. Their quarterback is adequate enough that he’ll hurt you if you’re not in the right spots and playing sound defense.”

The Patriots suffered a major setback when their head coach was fired just before the season began for an alleged sexual relationship with a student. Interim coach Kenny Stephens appears to have the team headed in the right direction, and Shannon worries it can build off last week’s momentum builder.

“Fact is, they have more athletes than we do,” Shannon said. “We’ve always felt like you have to stop the run to be a winning football team, and that kind of went out the window last week. PA had a kid run up about 180 yards on us. We’re still playing a whole bunch of sophomores over there and we have a lot of room for improvement. We’re going back this week and going over some fundamentals. If we play good fundamental defense, and hold onto the ball on offense, I feel like things should work out all right for us.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot trying to clean up for Conway

Leader sports editor

This Friday’s rivalry showdown at Panther Stadium between the Cabot Panthers and Conway Wampus Cats is one that features two teams with drastically different records. Cabot is 5-0 and Conway is 0-5, but the two squads aren’t very many points from having very similar records.

Four of Conway’s five losses have been by a combined 22 points, while Cabot has gone deep into the last quarter of play to secure four of its five wins. The Panthers twice didn’t have wins secured until the final play of the game. They had to score a touchdown on the last play and add an extra point to beat Pine Bluff in the season opener, and then needed Fort Smith Southside to fumble from inside the 1-yard line to win last week.

“We’re going to have to play,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “It’s not going to be easy. As soon as you think something’s easy, that’s when you get beat.”

Conway’s schedule has been tough. Three of its losses were to Top-5 overall teams. Only in last week’s loss to North Little Rock were the Wampus Cats soundly beaten. They fell 16-7 to Bentonville in week three, and 41-38 to Jonesboro in week two. The points allowed to Jonesboro may seem high, but it’s 16 points fewer than the Hurricane’s second-least output of the season.

The one common opponent shared by the two teams is Fort Smith Southside. In the week-four conference opener, Conway lost 23-20 at home, while Cabot beat the Mavericks 27-23 last Friday at SHS.

Cabot has made things harder onitself than they should’ve been several times this season, and last week’s game was a prime example. Southside mustered very little offense against the Panther defense, but the Panther offense fumbled five times, lost three of them, including two within 6 yards of its own goal line.

“I think their two touchdown drives were a total of six yards,” Malham said. “I know we fumbled one on about the 5-yard line, and lost another one at the 1.”

Cabot also had another game full of penalties. The Panthers were flagged 12 times for 115 yards against the Mavericks. Even though Malham vehemently disagrees with a few of those calls, he knows his team must clean things up if it expects to stay undefeated.

“We could make things a little easier on ourselves for sure,” Malham said. “

Cabot’s defense has been solid all season, and appeared to get even stronger last week. Connor Daigle’s return from an injury suffered in the spring has provided more speed at the linebacker position. He was playing safety when he was hurt, but Evan Hooper’s addition to the squad has secured that spot. Former linebacker Easton Seidl has moved to the defensive line, where he became a force on Friday. Seidl finished with 10 tackles, including four for lost yardage.

“Our defensive line is looking pretty strong,” Malham said. “You got Seidl, Chris Jones and Dayonte Roberts down there, that’s three men down there. Daigle is faster than Seidl, so he gives us some more speed at linebacker, and Hooper has four interceptions at safety. The defense is playing well.”

But Malham is aware that only a few points separate his team’s 5-0 and Conway’s 0-5.

“Really this game comes down to, we’ve been able to find a way to win close ones, and they’ve found a way to lose them. That could change any time, so I’d rather us not help them out so much and maybe it won’t come down to that. We’re going to have to play.”

SPORTS STORY >> Bombers present challenge for Titans

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Titans lost by a wide margin last Friday to highly-ranked Jones-boro, but there were a lot of positives for the team to take with them into this Friday’s road trip to Mountain Home.

Jacksonville lost 57-21 to a Jonesboro team that is averaging more than 59 points per game, but the Hurricane offense wasn’t as dominant as the score would indicate. Jacksonville gave up three non-offensive touchdowns, and stopped Jonesboro on downs on several occasions.

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville offense had a nice outing statistically, piling up 458 yards of offense, and cut lost yardage due to penalties down dramatically from a week earlier.

The drawbacks were twofold. The Titans, who had fumbled just once all season, fumbled several times last week, and special teams gave up two touchdowns.

Two of the fumbles Jacksonville lost last Friday were at the end of big gains, and though there were only three penalties, two negated third-down conversions.

“It was inexperience rearing its head was the main thing,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “We lost our starting quarterback against Searcy and have had to move some people around. We didn’t have much experience to begin with, now we’re playing people in positions they’re not as used to playing.

“But what I liked, what I was most proud of, was even at the end when things had gotten away from us, it never felt like my kids quit trying. They were playing hard at the end, trying to get another score. I’m seeing improvement every week. You give me kids that are willing to keep working, I’ll go to battle with that group every day.”

Harderrious Martin moved from safety to quarterback after Rowdy Weathers went down against Searcy. He still played a few snaps on defense, but he led the Titans’ best offensive effort nicely.

“I think it was important for him to have a little success early,” Hickingbotham said. “He’d rather play defense, but he’s being a team player and stepping up for us. We’ve had to move people into his position at safety, which means we’re trying some new guys at receiver.

“Rodney Middleton is a guy that works hard in practice and earned a shot. He made a couple of big plays for us. Dillon Burge is another one. He had the big catch and scored a touchdown. He got so excited I thought he almost tackled himself before he got to the end zone. But it’s exciting to see some of these new guys step up.”

Mountain Home also had its best night offensively against Jonesboro, and like Jacksonville, lost big anyway. The Bombers fell 63-38 to Jonesboro, and are 0-5 as they prepare to host the Titans.

Both teams are 0-2 in conference play, and the game could have major implications on the race for the 6A playoffs. Mountain Home’s two league losses are to the two top teams in the 6A-East. After falling to Jonesboro in week four, the Bomber offense was shut down in a 36-0 loss to Pine Bluff last week.

Mountain Home runs mostly out of the Wishbone, but will show other formations like the Flexbone.

They racked up more than 600 yards rushing against Jonesboro, including two rushers over 170 yards. Isaac McCay carried 20 times for 263 yards while Junior Wililams had 14 totes for 179.

“They’re a downhill team,” Hickingbotham said. “They want to put you on your heels. They don’t have a win to show for it yet, but they’re much-improved. Nobody except Pine Bluff has just lined up and whipped them. They’ve been in a lot of close games. It’s a long bus ride up there and that’s just going to add to the challenge.

“I was proud to see us eliminate a lot of the penalties. We have to get back to protecting the ball like we had been. This is a big one.”

SPORTS STORY >> LHS ladies earn sweep against ECS

Special to The Leader

Episcopal Collegiate Studies Lady Wildcat volleyball team visited the Gina Cox Center in Lonoke Thursday to face the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits. Lonoke continued it’s unbeaten 4A-Central record, winning in straight sets by scores of 25-18, 25-13, and 25-16. The Lady Rabbits started a bit slowly in set one, but settled in and took charge of the set and match.

“I feel like we played fairly sluggish in all three sets,” said Lonoke coach Laura Park. “It did take us a while to get started. Some of the teams that we’ve played recently are not very aggressive and high level playing, so the girls sometimes just tend to play to their competition. I’ve tried to reiterate over and over that you’ve got to bring your game no matter what, because when you play against better teams, they’re going to bring it. You’ve got to start on top and stay on top. We were fortunate we were able to dig out of the hole.

The girls kind of started off sluggish, but were able to rally.”
The start of the first set featured unforced errors by both teams with the exception of a back-row kill by Lonoke senior Madison McFadden, and a kill by Charlotte Powers for the Lady Wildcats.

A kill by Kayla Shelton gave the Lady Rabbits a 6-4 lead, but Episcopal tied the set at 8-8, and then took an 11-8 lead on the serve of Sarah Reddick. The Lady Rabbits got the ball back on a kill by Keiunna Walker that started a ten point scoring run on the serve of Maddie Pool. Kennedy White had a kill and block on the run, and Kaley Woodruff had a tip that found the floor for a kill as the lead grew to 19-12.

On Pool’s serve, Coach Park had this to say, “She’s probably the best consistent server. I’ve got several girls that can place it, but it seems like when we’re in that rotation, we have a good combination. With her serving, and then everyone else kind of rallying around that, in that rotation, we usually do pretty good.

Two more blocks by White and two service errors by the Lady Wildcats aided Lonoke in taking the first set 25-18.

Kills by Caroline Burns and Micaylah Thomas helped Episcopal to a 5-1 second set advantage before, again on Pool’s service, the Lady Rabbits tied the set at 5-5. Then, on Walker’s serve, Woodruff had a kill on an overpass, Walker served two aces, and White had another block to give the home team the 13-6 lead. The lead extended to 18-7 on a service ace by Gracie Mason.

Walker had two kills from the back row, Pool had two kills in the middle, and Walker scored set point on a kill as she flew through the air to save the ball. The set score was 25-13.

It was Lonoke that took a 13-5 set three lead. Then Pool found the back corner on a push, Walker added three more kills then another service ace down the line on her serve for a 19-11 lead after the Lady Wildcats had cut the lead to 11-16.

Consecutive hitting errors and service errors hurt Episcopal as the set concluded with the ball being hit into the net by a Lady Wildcat to give Lonoke the 25-16 third set victory.

Since that win on Thursday, Lonoke won four matches for first place in a tournament at Fountain Lake Saturday, but lost its first conference match at home on Monday. On Tuesday they got back to their winning ways with a three-set sweep of Helena-West Helena Central.

Lonoke beat Texarkana, Booneville twice and the host school to earn top honors at Fountain Lake. On Monday, the Lady Jackrabbits lost 3-2 to Central Arkansas Christian, a team they had beaten twice earlier in the year.

Lonoke (23-3, 10-1) takes on another Helena school on Thursday when it faces KIPP Delta for Senior Night.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

EDITORIAL >> District chooses new school site

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board voted Monday to buy four acres adjacent to Tolleson Elementary School on Harris Road between General Samuels and Jacksonville Middle School for the site of the district’s first new elementary school.

Students at Tolleson and Arnold Drive elementary on the air base will attend the new school, which will open in August 2018.

The district had been expected to lease property from the base, which had offered land along its perimeter and up to $6 million in aid. But the lease could not be negotiated in time with the Defense Department because there’s a long waiting list in several states for such aid.

The new site will require less dirt work, and the high-spec perimeter fence at the base won’t have to be moved. The site is less than a mile from the Harris Road gate at the base. The four acres were made available for $15,000 an acre.

It’s another giant step for the new district, which has just demolished the old middle school for a new high school on the 30-acre site. After a 40-year wait, the new district’s building program is now on schedule.

EDITORIAL >> Our military Nonpartisan

The men and women in the military appreciate their special status in our society: They make sacrifices every day, which is why they earn the gratitude of the American people.

Our armed forces rise above politics and act as military professionals. It’s been our tradition since the American Revolution. They take their role seriously and focus on the job at hand and not on who is in the White House or in Congress or in our state legislatures. The military answers to the civilian service chiefs and the commander in chief and it reports to Congress, which approves the Pentagon’s budget every year. Sure there’s often meddling in Washington, but generally our military is left alone to pursue our nation’s goals and global responsibilities.

The trade off for the military is that it must remain nonpartisan, which is one reason why politicians cannot campaign for office on military bases. We’ve seen presidents at Little Rock Air Force Base, as well as governors, senators and legislators, but no one is supposed to pass out campaign literature. State legislators cannot drive to the air base with their campaign signs on their trucks.

Because of an oversight at the recent open house at the base, Patrick Thomas, a candidate for the state legislature, was allowed to set up a table and handed out campaign literature. Many veterans criticized Thomas, who should have known that such activities are not allowed at military installations. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, was criticized when his supporters hosted a coffee get-together for him on a base when he ran for president in 2008.

According to Department of Defense public-affairs guidance for political campaigns and elections, “While a candidate for public office is prohibited from engaging in political activity on a military installation, a sitting office holder who is up for re-election may be granted access to a military installation to engage in duties related to his elected office.”

There are rules for politicians and military members. Capt. Stephanie Howell, 19th Airlift Wing judge advocate at Little Rock Air Force Base, said recently, “Although military personnel are encouraged to vote, engaging in political activities is prohibited.”

“There are plenty of ways you can still get involved — and you should,” Howell said.

Service members can have political opinions, of course, but they must never suggest that their views are supported or endorsed by the Defense Department or a specific branch of service.

On social media, Howell said, service members and DOD civilians may become a “friend” of or “like,” the Facebook page, or “follow” the twitter account of a political party or partisan candidate, campaign, group or cause but cannot invite others to do the same.

“Some activities, although not expressly prohibited, may be contrary to the spirit of the regulation. Be especially careful of posting on social media — it’s easy to accidentally step over the line,” Howell said. “Campaigning for a candidate, soliciting contributions and marching in or attending a political campaign while in uniform are prohibited.”

It’s a two-way street: Politicians should have the same restrictions and respect the independence of our military when they visit our air base. Because when you’re there, it doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian or Green Party. We’re all Americans.

Candidates have plenty of opportunities to campaign elsewhere.


Leader staff writer

It’s not about making the Lonoke County sheriff’s deputies lives easier, “it’s about improving the quality of life for all Lonoke County citizens.”

That’s how Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley explains his reasoning for continuing certain community outreach programs and adding a few more.

He started by dedicating two deputies to the county’s Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing and Education Team — it’s easier to refer to them as the S.C.O.P.E. members — from his office to be in charge of the county’s Community Outreach Program.

Cpl. James Hall will be leading the effort, and he will be assisted by Deputy Brett Collins.

Staley, who has been working on this program rollout for the better part of a year, said, “The purpose of this program is to help bridge the gap between the sheriff’s office and the community. Our goal is to strengthen ties within the community by implementing community-oriented programs and keeping the community informed and involved with what is happening in their county.”


Delories Allison moved back to Lonoke in 2013 and said that she believes there’s less crime in the area now than in the past.

She complained at September’s Lonoke City Council meeting about the junk cars in her neighborhood and mentioned two incidents that have occurred at her house.

Although she lives inside the city, she was encouraged to hear of a revamp of Lonoke County Neighborhood Watch program.

Allison thought that was a program her neighborhood could benefit from, saying, “We’ve got to work together. There’s nothing like neighbors watching out for neighbors.”

RD Hopper, Dist. 1 Quorum Court JP, has been attending 16th Section Crime Watch meetings for a while.

“It’s probably the biggest crime-watch group in the county,” he said. He’s not the only one who is interested and other cities like Carlisle have checked out the way the group approaches its problems.

“Almost the entire community is involved in the crime-watch program. They meet once a month, have a president and a board…John or one of his deputies usually attends meetings and sometimes give programs on different topics.

“It empowers residents and makes people feel more secure. Neighbors are looking out for neighbors…Ultimately, crime-watch programs make the community a safer place to live,” Hopper said.

Cpl. Hall said the goal is “to get the program more organized and keep the county’s neighborhoods safer.”

Staley added, “We want to empower all our citizens.”

The sheriff’s office is implementing a business and resident check program, with the goal, Hall said, “to be on a first- name basis with owners and do stakeouts in high-crime areas.”

The county is also introducing criminal saturation patrols. Basically, his office would put together a team who would cover a high-crime area 24/7. Hall said in addition to a show of force, the team would be intent on “catching the bad guys and reducing crime.”

Although warrant round-ups have been done in the past, Hall said the sheriff’s office plans to undertake this endeavor more often. The intent is to arrest people with misdemeanor, felony or high-risk felony warrants, as well as sex offenders who are violating the terms of their release. This might involve other law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA and others.

Staley is ramping up the sex-offender notifications program.

“It’s been ongoing, but we want to raise public awareness. Unfortunately, we have sex offenders in the county, and we do spot checks, but we’re asking the public to help with this program.”

He also cited the new laws that prohibit Level 3 and 4 sex offenders from swimming areas and playgrounds in state parks, and offenders who want to move to Arkansas be required to pay a $250 fine.


Hall said the new selective traffic enforcement is designed to slow drivers down using press releases to announce on what road and what day they plan to have deputies on patrol.

His office would place a deputy at a certain spot, for possibly several days, and cite speeders for violations.

It’s worked in Little Rock, North Little Rock and other areas, he said.

“We don’t want to write more tickets. We want to promote safer conditions on our roads,” Hall said.

Staley said he is committed to “continuing attending community watch-type meetings that address issues impacting residents.”

Allison said she welcomes all outreach by local law-enforcement, “Anytime they are willing to reach out to the community, it’s a good thing.”

But there’s much more.


Staley’s extends beyond the county and into the classroom with programs that are especially designed to keep the county’s kids safe while in school and afterward.

Recently the sheriff’s office K-9 unit visited the Lonoke School District.

The county now has three highly trained dogs, including two that are patrol/drug dogs and one that’s a bomb/patrol dog. It’s one of the only bomb detection dogs in Arkansas.

But when not working, Hall said the dogs are great ambassadors.

“They are friendly and love people. It’s a great way to introduce ourselves to the public,” Hall said.

Staley agreed, and added, “My goal is to have everyone know my first name.”

Hall said the program also includes driver-safety checks at school bus stops and school zones, and while it’s not a new program, he said the approach has changed.

“It’s now more about educating the public and keeping kids safe than writing tickets,” he said.

Staley has also put together a new school outreach program.

“All our schools have resource officers, but we want to strengthen the connection,” Hall said.

This program will standardize the sheriff’s office and school staff’s response to an active shooter or a natural disaster like a tornado.

“We want to work better with our schools,” Hall said.


Although not new, Hall said they’re continuing their Civilian Response to Active Shooter Environments C.R.A.S.E., and the Active Shooter Training – no cost for training.

Hall teaches the classes and gives civilians an idea of how to respond during a situation like the recent shooting at the Orlando, Fla. nightclub, or it might just be a dispute on a job.

During a recent Active Shooter class in Lonoke, with about 42 in attendance, Hall said, “It’s more than just carrying a gun. It’s about personal and workplace responsibility.”

Adam Justice has been on the Lonoke County Quorum Court for two years and lives between Lonoke and Cabot. “I really like the new programs and John’s approach to law enforcement,” he said.

Justice went on to say, “I like his sentiments…He isn’t territorial and is open to new ideas. John’s compassionate, and yet tough on crime.”

Justice supports the various programs, but he said the active-shooter program is a particular favorite.

“People need to be empowered as much as first responders,” he said.

In fact, Justice said that the overlying theme of the various programs seems to be “about empowerment.”


The Lonoke County Sheriff Office is continuing its officer reserve program and encourages anyone who is interested in the program to check it out.

Potential reserve officers go through the same background check as regular deputies but only have law-enforcement power while on duty. Regular law-enforcement personnel can make an arrest whether in uniform or on duty or not, Hall said.

There are about 35 reserve officers, and there’s room for about five more. The sheriff’s office can only have as many reservists as they have regular deputies.

“We’ve had the program for years and reserve officers do patrol (in an official department vehicle). It’s a force multiplier,” Hall said.


Staley said, “We’ve been growing, so it’s a good time to strengthen the relationship we already have with the community.”

The sheriff’s office has added courthouse security, jail jobs and deputies because of growth in Lonoke County.

Another reason for adding or updating the programs, he explained, “I’m a big believer in community policing,” still, he said, “We have a zero tolerance for crime. We’re here to protect all of our citizens.”

He said these programs are important to him and his department. Ninety percent of his 77-member workforce lives in Lonoke County, so they are personally invested in making it a better place.

He added that he is striving to make the sheriff’s office diverse and reflect the county’s population. The department’s members, include female, African-American, Latino and Caucasians, he said.

He said his people try hard not to see color but “see Lonoke County citizens.”

Besides Lonoke County being home, Staley said he wants to prevent the same kinds of problems other law-enforcement agencies are experiencing around the country.

After all, he said, “We are all family in Lonoke County…We hope that the citizens of Lonoke County are as excited as we are about this program and look forward to everyone’s help in making this (community outreach) program successful.”

If anyone has any questions, comments or ideas, contact the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office at 501-676-3001 or leave a note on the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page or visit

TOP STORY >> New site approved for school

Leader senior staff writer

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board unanimously voted to relocate the planned new elementary school Monday evening from land on Little Rock Air Force Base to nearby land at the corner of General Samuels and Harris roads and authorized the purchase of four acres adjacent to Tolleson Elementary School upon which to build it.

The new acreage, which will cost $63,150, plus closing costs, will allow construction of the district’s first new elementary school, slated to open in August 2018, but without federal aid.

Students who would otherwise attend Tolleson and Arnold Drive elementary schools will attend the new elementary when completed.

Superintendent Tony Wood said students could continue at Tolleson even as the new school is constructed.

Because the new site has more usable acreage, the district will have the option of building a one-story school instead of on the base, which had less usable acreage.

For about five years, officials first at the Pulaski County Special School District, then at JNPSD, worked with Defense Department officials to obtain a grant of about $8 million to help replace Arnold Drive Elementary School, where a lot of military dependents attend. That would have been about half of the $16 million estimated cost of a new elementary school this size.


Since the last board meeting, it became apparent that all available money this round is headed to 32 California schools and the JNPSD elementary was 33rd on the list, Wood said. It also seemed more economical to build on the newly acquired land outside the fence, and there were concerns that a lease of the Air Force land might not be executed in time to begin construction, he said.

Site work would have been expensive and extensive, he said.

At the corner of Harris and General Samuels, the new school would have “better egress and ingress, better visibility and more bang for the buck,” Wood said.

In February, voters passed a 7.6-mill property tax increase to pay for a new high school and elementary school.


The new acreage will give the elementary school 14 total acres between General Samuels on the south and Jacksonville Middle School on the north.

Engineer Tommy Bond, also involved in the lead up to the purchase, said there were two possible building sites on that land.

WER Architects of Little Rock will design the new elementary and already have begun preliminary work on the design of the new high school on Main Street at the site of the old Boys and Girls Middle Schools. Design will be pretty general until after the state Legislature commits matching money to state schools on May 1.


In other action, the board will give its required annual report to the public at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7, the next regularly scheduled board meeting.

Also scheduled is a 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 work session on new school construction scheduled.

First-ever graduation from the new school district is slated for 7:30 p.m. May 20 at the Jack Stephens Center on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus.

Wood told the board that while the district can’t afford to increase the salary schedule yet, he thought they could afford bonuses for all employees.

The board asked him to bring some recommendations and cost projections to the next meeting.


He said bonuses, for instance, of $500 for full-time employees would cost the district about $250,000. In addition to deciding if and how much bonuses would be, the board would also decide whether to award them before Christmas, in spring or when.

He said the district can’t afford raises, which would establish a new baseline for salaries, but that bonuses would be one-time shows of appreciation for the hard work all had done getting the new district off the ground.

The district is providing 1,000 more free breakfasts a day for students than last year and 500 more lunches.


Licensed employees hired were Christopher Johnson, secondary education, and Bobbi Obai, dyslexia interventionist.

Strawberry Adams, Angie Luehrs and Inez Matheson were hired as cafeteria workers.

Bus drivers hired: Larry Akins, Junero Block, Brenda Broadway and Dennis Dodd.

Custodians hired: Jacob Aloi, Heather Anson, Eliot Egbert, Steven Hall, Michael Lee, Frank Thiele, Georgia Williams and Eric Worden.

Others hired: security officer James Curly; Mallory LaColezat, culinary para-professional; Meredith McGinty, lead nurse; Kristie Newborn, behavior interventionist and Allyson Penrod, physical therapist.

The board accepted resignations from cafeteria workers Kaylee Dagen, Valerie Pickins and Jacqueline Wallace; Tandy Jackson, an elementary teacher; consumer-science teacher Rachel Beene; physical therapist Angela Evans; secondary English teacher Carrie Lee and speech therapist Sarita Sanford.

Dismissed for job abandonment were custodians Joshua Collins, William Dove, Christopher Hill and Xavier White, and para-professional Rickeal Nelson.