Saturday, October 22, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers edged out by Wildcats

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers lost their regular-season finale at home Tuesday against North Little Rock, but the match still left the team and head coach Kham Chanthaphasouk optimistic about the state tournament that begins Tuesday in Springdale.

Cabot (17-15, 5-9) took 7A-Central Conference co-champions North Little Rock (21-7, 12-2) to the wire before falling 3-2 and snapping a three-match win streak.

Scores in the match were 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 24-26 and 15-10 for the Charging Lady Wildcats.

“It would’ve been a lot nicer to hang on for the win, but we’re definitely playing better right now than we have all year,” said Chanthaphasouk. “If we could have started better we would have won. We gave away too many points in the first game and still almost came back to win it. We played really well after that. North Little Rock is so athletic. They have so many different players capable of big hits, and they have a really good setter that places the ball for them really well. We didn’t win this time, but it shows us that we are capable of beating the very best teams. It helps our confidence going to state.”

The first game was Cabot’s worst. The Lady Panthers had 10 unforced errors and missed five serves, giving the Lady Wildcats 15 points it didn’t have to work for in the opening game.

Game one was tied at 16 when the visiting team scored three-straight points. The margin stayed two or three until 24-21 when Cabot scored two straight to get within one point. North Little Rock’s Iman’I Jackson ended the game with a tip over the Cabot blockers into a hole in the defense.

Cabot took control early in game two and then had to hold off a furious NLR charge late. The Lady Panthers scored five-straight points, including two aces by Kaelee Simmons and three kills by Taylor Bell to take a 9-4 lead. That grew to as much as 19-13 before NLR began its comeback bid.

The Lady Wildcats tied the game at 22 after a long rally in which the NLR defense dug out two huge kill attempts by Cabot kill leader Maddie Brown. NLR’s Mya Thompson ended the rally with a massive hit from the back-row.

Cabot broke back instantly on a kill by Brown, and Hannah Freeman made it a two-point lead with an ace on the ensuing serve.

NLR broke, but Brown ended game two just as Jackson ended game one, with a tip into the middle of the defense that tied the match at one game apiece.

The visiting team controlled most of game three before Cabot rallied too little too late. NLR led 24-17 when Cabot put together a five-point rally on Regan Campbell’s serve. But the athletic Robinson ended that with another game-ending back-row kill.

Except for a brief period early, game four was neck and neck the entire way. Cabot suffered a brief lapse of three-straight unforced errors that gave NLR a 9-5 lead, but Lady Panther Mollie Johnson served four-straight points to knot the game up again.

Neither team led by more than one point the rest of the way until Cabot scored two-straight kills by Bell and Brown ended the game at 26-24.

Cabot then scored the first two points of the tiebreaker set, but a key mistake set off a series of three more that put NLR in control.

Simmons laid out flat on the floor to dig a huge hit by Robinson, but the rest of the team watched each other as the ball fell between them in the middle of the defense. That mistake gave NLR a 7-6 lead, and set off a series of five-straight unforced Cabot errors that left the visiting team with an 11-6 advantage that Cabot could not recover from.

“For the most part I’m pleased that we played better and I think it’s going to help us in the state tournament,” Chanthaphasouk said. “We had two major lapses, one in the first game and one in the last, but I think we proved to ourselves if nobody else, that if we can stay focused and avoid those, we can beat anybody.”

Brown led all players with 31 kills while Bell added 19 for Cabot. NLR had six players with at least five kills, and Robinson led them all with 22, and added 21 digs.

Simmons had 26 digs for Cabot while Brown added 16. NLR’s Taylor Greenwell led all players with 30 digs.

Brown, Freeman and Greenwell each served two aces in the match.

Cabot will be the six seed from the 7A-Central and will face 7A-West three seed Bentonville at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Har-Ber High School. A win in that match will mean a rematch with North Little Rock at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Other first round matches include West four seed Rogers taking on Central five seed Mount St. Mary. Central three seed Fort Smith Southside will face 7A-West six seed Bentonville West, and Central four Northside faces West five Van Buren.

Central co-champs Conway and North Little Rock received a bye, with Conway getting the one seed by tiebreaker rules. West champion Fayetteville and second-place Har-Ber also await the second round.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils get another victory at Jan Crow

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville scored first, but a series of mistakes on kickoffs, costly penalties and a linearly challenged official conspired to give the West Memphis Blue Devils 28-straight first half points on its way to a 54-7 victory Friday at Jan Crow Stadium.

Jacksonville took an early lead on its second possession when quarterback Harderrious Martin started Friday’s game the same way he ended last week’s game, with a touchdown pass to Jonathan Hall, only last night’s pass was much deeper.

Martin scrambled to his right and unleashed a throw from the 50-yard line just before taking a hit. The ball hit Hall in stride at the back of the end zone and Darrel Kimble-Brooks added the extra point, giving Jacksonville a 7-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

West Memphis responded with its own big play. On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, quarterback Amarius Stinnett hit Kordell Fenner 15 yards downfield. Fenner then raced the rest of the way for a 71-yard scoring strike that tied the game with 2:42 left in the first.

That’s when things really started going wrong for Jacksonville.

The Titans fumbled the ensuing kickoff and West Memphis covered it at the 14-yard line. It was the only kick return of the first half that the Titans lost, but they fumbled all of them.

Two Stinnett runs and 18 seconds after the turnover, West Memphis led 14-7.

A fumble for a loss of 3 yards and a penalty forced a three-and-out series for Jacksonville. West Memphis took over on its own 34 and marched down the field.

The drive took 14 plays and ended with a 10-yard draw play to Devontae Dean. With 6:38 to go in the half, the Blue Devils led 21-7.

Another flubbed kick meant a -12 yard return and Jacksonville started at its own 20.

The Titans were driving, going 42 yards in five plays, but a sack and two penalties moved them backwards and forced a punt from near midfield.

West Memphis took over at its own 22 with 2:15 left in the half, but 30 yards in penalties on Jacksonville helped the Devils down the field.

The first penalty came on second and 12 after an 18-yard gain. That play plus the penalty moved the ball from the West Memphis 30 to the Jacksonville 37.

Jacksonville’s Kendrick Rhynes then stuffed Dean for a 2-yard loss. Time was running out on the Blue Devils after a pass went for just 4 yards, but Jacksonville defensive coordinator Bryan Eagle was called for interfering with the line judge. The official did run into the JHS coach, but Eagle was behind his boundary. The official veered off the sideline and into Eagle, but the call stood.

The penalty stopped the clock with 35 seconds left, moved the ball to the Titan 18 and turned what would have been third and 8 and a moving clock into first down.

On the next play, Dean made an 18-yard touchdown reception for a 28-7 Blue Devil lead.

The second half played out much like the first. It took West Memphis until nearly the end of the third quarter to score again, but touchdowns came frequently in the fourth.

A 60-yard run by Martavis Thomas set up a first down at the 15. West Memphis had to convert a fourth and 9 and did so with a 10-yard run by Stinnett. Thomas got the last 2 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Another miscue on a kickoff left Jacksonville pinned inside its own 10, and the Titans ended up punting from 34.

Fenner then made his second long touchdown reception with 11:13 left in the game. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 41-7.

On the ensuing drive, Martin fumbled the shotgun snap and Blue Devil Darius Hodges picked the ball up and ran 20 yards for another score with 9:29 to go.

The next West Memphis drive started at the Jacksonville 29 after a dropped pass on fourth down by the Titans.

Quincy Marshall then ran 16 yards on the fifth play for the final touchdown of the game with 2:58 remaining and another missed PAT left the score 54-7.

West Memphis finished with 480 yards of offense to just 196 for Jacksonville. Shawn Ellis led the Titans with 84 rushing yards in 17 carries.

SPORTS STORY >> Bryant rips through Panthers’ D

Leader staff writer

Cabot was no match Friday night for Bryant’s no-huddle, fast-paced passing game as the Hornets more than doubled up on the Panthers, 48-20. It was the most lopsided Bryant victory over the Panthers since it beat Cabot 38-14 in 2007, despite the fact that Razorback commitment Jarrod Barnes was back on the field after missing just one game with a high ankle sprain.

Barnes was not in at quarterback, but did catch several passes as a wideout, which is his most likely position in college.

The Hornets and Panthers traded a pair of touchdowns early in the first half before the Hornets pulled ahead 28-14 at the half and never looked back.

Surprisingly both teams were almost even in the passing department through the first two quarters, with Hornets’ Ren Hefley passing for 159 yards, and Cabot’s Cody Skinner throwing for 140 yards.

But by the end of the game Skinner’s favorite passing targets were Barnes and the Bryant defense as Skinner threw three interceptions.

Despite the interceptions and three face-masking calls against Cabot – two on one series of plays – and resulting in touchdowns, the Panthers had some bright moments.

Barnes scored on a touchdown pass, grabbing it one-handed between defensive players. He also stayed focus and caught another pass that bounced off a Hornet player.

Halfback Braxton Burton broke through for two long runs and ended up with more than 75 rushing yards.

Neither team scored the first quarter, but Bryant scored twice in the last three minutes of the first half to take a two-touchdown lead.

Cabot tied the game at about the three-minute mark as Skinner hit Barnes on a 16-yard “highlight film” TD. Another Mason Martin PAT and the score was tied again.

Bryant went ahead on a 26-yard touchdown run by Landon Smith.

As Cabot tried to counter, Skinner threw an interception that was grabbed by Bryant’s Collin Welch.

Two plays later with less than 18 seconds left in the half, the Hornets scored on a pass play from Hefley to Recce Coates, making it 28-14 at halftime.

Cabot got on the board one more time near the end of the third quarter as Skinner hit Barnes again on a 28-yard pass play for the score.

The Panthers missed the extra point try and the fourth quarter was all Bryant until the last ditch try by Cabot’s Seidl to score after time had expired.

Cabot is now 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the 7A-Central with the top two teams in the league left. The Panthers will host Fort Smith Northside next week. The Grizzlies lost 35-28 to North Little Rock on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Eagles finished early

Special to The Leader

The Sylvan Hills Bears dominated the J.A. Fair War Eagles Friday night at Bill Blackwood Field.

The Bears (7-1, 4-1)scored 21 points before the Eagles touched the ball, and the two teams agreed to start the mercy rule clock early in the second quarter with Sylvan Hills leading 37-0.

“Trying to keep getting better till we get to the playoffs,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “We tried to emphasize that. We had kind of a tough week because we had such a disappointing loss last week, but we’re just trying to get better each week.”

Sylvan Hills had the first possession of the game and started from their own 27-yard line. On fourth and eight from the 29, quarterback Jordan Washington connected with Ryan Lumpkin for 13 yards and the first down. Washington was then complete to Deon Youngblood for 14 and another first down. Youngblood then ran for two consecutive first downs, followed by Washington to Lumpkin for 19 yards and first and goal on the 4-yard line. Ty Compton took it from there into the end zone for the score. Wesley Smith added the extra point for the 7-0 early lead with 9:28 to go in the opening quarter.

Fair failed to cover the ensuing kick off by Tito Mendoza, and it was recovered by Anthony Duncan for the Bears. It only took three plays to reach the end zone again, with Washington carrying for 27 yards to the 1-yard line, and then in for the touchdown. Smith was good with point after, and the lead was 14-0 with 8:01 in the quarter.

Again, the kick off was recovered by Duncan and Sylvan Hills had the ball on the War Eagle 49-yard line. This time, Washington finished the drive with a 28-yard touchdown reception to Youngblood. Again, the extra point was successful by Smith and the lead grew to 21-0, still in the first quarter with 6:35 remaining.

The Bear defense added a safety when Davien Farr tackled Datrick Johnson in the end zone to up the lead to 23-0.

After the safety, Daelyn Fairrow ran 27 yards before Washington took it the last 10 for the touchdown on the two-play drive. Smith was good again and the score was 30-0 with 5:30 still remaining in the quarter.

Fair started their drive on their 37-yard line and moved to the Bear 48-yard line before being forced to punt. The snap was fumbled and recovered by a War Eagle, but the ball went over on downs to the Bears on the Fair 40-yard line. Washington had runs of 9 and 11 and Fairrow runs of 15 and 3 before the touchdown was scored by Jamar Porter from 2 yards out. With Smith’s extra point, the score was 37-0 just six plays into the second quarter. That’s when the teams agreed to start the mercy-rule clock.

Fair immediately fumbled the ball again, Tylan Harris covered it for Sylvan Hills. On the very next play, Washington found Jamar Lane for a 14-yard touchdown pass, and the score was 43-0 with 11:42 in the second quarter. This time the point after was not successful.

Sylvan Hills blocked a Fair punt to start the second half, and from the War Eagle 31-yard line, scored the only points of the last two quarters. Lumpkin had a 10-yard completion to Lane for first and goal at the 4-yard line. Porter scored from there. Simon Nagora came in to kick the successful point after to set the final score.

The Bears finished with 301 yards of offense. Washington was 5 of 7 passing for 86 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed six times for 65 yards and two touchdowns. Fairrow had six carries for 53 yards.

Sylvan Hills will host Parkview next Friday.

Friday, October 21, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Be cautious on Issue 3

Who could object to a constitutional amendment “concerning job creation, job expansion and economic development,” which is the condensed title for Issue No. 3 for Arkansas voters on Nov. 8?

Invoking “jobs” is how you sell anything nowadays, whether it’s casino gambling, legalized marijuana, tax cuts, deficit spending, gas fracking, coal burning or a border wall.

But what if the title of Issue 3 read “an amendment to allow government to raise unlimited taxes and spend them to help businessmen and industrialists turn a profit and to reward those who help them”? Might taxpayers take a jaundiced view of the proposition?

The second is actually a fair description of the amendment, which the Republican state legislature, with some Democratic help, put on the ballot. But there will be no money spent to tell voting taxpayers what the amendment would do to their pocketbooks and how it would control the way their tax dollars are spent.

The amendment is flying as a noncontroversial proposition rather than the treasury raid that it is. Corporate welfare is the new definition of conservatism. There was little courage in the legislature to risk being called job killers by voting against the referral of Issue 3. Twenty-seven legislators voted “no” and another eight ducked the roll call.

Issue 3 has four components, only one of which is relatively benign. It would allow cities and counties to issue bonds for anything that could be called “economic development,” not just a factory. They could borrow money in the taxpayers’ name for a call center or corporate offices.

The other provisions erase the old limits in the Constitution on levying taxes and incurring government debt to support industries and other commercial enterprises and on spending taxpayers’ funds for almost any business purpose. Technically, the legislature could spend all the revenues of the state to assist businesses, leaving nothing for highways, colleges, prisons, health care, fish and wildlife programs and the rest of government.

No one would expect the legislature to ever do such a thing, but Issue 3 would at least allow them to throw fiscal caution to the winds.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to reveal that the amendment’s first objective is to reverse a court order in a lawsuit that I instigated in 2013 as a director of the Arkansas Public Law Center. Article 12 of the Constitution prohibits cities and counties from appropriating money to private corporations and associations, a provision the drafters put in the charter in 1874 to stop cities from turning over their meager incomes to the railroads.

In the 1990s, the state Chamber of Commerce told local chambers they should ask their local government to give them an operating grant every year because the chambers helped economic development. Dozens of cities, including Little Rock and North Little Rock, began doing it. Pulaski Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce ruled last year in Lynch v. Stodola that Article 12 had to be interpreted literally. Appropriating tax money to the chambers was illegal.

Issue 3, using the ruse of “amending” the provision, actually would repeal that constitutional law and allow cities and counties not only to fund chambers of commerce but to finance whole “economic development projects” with tax funds, including furnishing land, improvements, buildings, infrastructure, job training and environmental mitigation for almost any kind of commercial venture. Anything.

But all that is minor stuff. The amendment would clear the way for cities and counties to levy any kind of taxes to support new industries and businesses, not just the 5 mills of property taxes that are now allowed, and remove all the restrictions on financing superprojects that were imposed in constitutional amendments in 2004 and 2010, which allowed the state to go deeply into debt to finance infrastructure and other aids for large manufacturing projects, like the Mississippi County steel mill.

Now, the legislature cannot borrow more for a new industry than 5 percent of the state’s general revenues the previous year, which would be $268 million. If voters ratify Issue 3, the lawmakers could ring up a state debt of $268 billion. If you want to be silly but still technical, $268 trillion, which is 14 times the current national debt. All of it, remember, would be to enhance business profits, not national defense, health care and education, the principal purposes of the national debt.

If you have serene confidence in the sanity and probity of all future legislatures, Issue 3 may still be for you. — Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> Cabot hopefuls share views

Leader staff writer

Cabot Alderman Jon Moore is seeking re-election to represent Ward 2, Position 2 on the city council. He is being challenged by Damon Bivins. The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting starts on Monday.

Jon Moore, 37, and his wife, Kerri, have been married 17 years. They have six children. He is an Arkansas native and has lived in Cabot for 17 years. He is a liaison engineer at Dassault Falcon Jet. He has been on the city council for eight years.

Damon Bivins, 47, and his wife, Jennifer, have been married 21 years. They have two sons. Bivins has lived in Cabot for 14 years. He is Centennial Bank’s business development officer for the Cabot region.

Moore graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Mississippi State Univer-sity in 1992.

Why do you want to serve as alderman for Cabot?

Moore: I enjoy being an advocate for people. In the eight years that I’ve served on the city council I have met some amazing people. Many of them felt they didn’t have a voice or someone that would stand beside them when needed. This is when I would step in; I like being that voice for people who feel they do not have one.

Bivins: I love my city. I want Cabot to be a place where I want to retire and my kids come back to start their families. I don’t want to be the person in the back of the group that has an opinion of what should be done with our city.

I want to be part of the leadership team that will make it happen. I want to be part of the team to stimulate the economic growth of Cabot by bringing in better paying jobs for our residents to have access to them. I would like to work with the businesses here in Cabot now to make it a reason for them to stay here in Cabot.

It’s common knowledge that Cabot is a bedroom community to Little Rock and North Little Rock; that if you want something or need something you have to leave Cabot. One day in the very near future, I would like to know Cabot is a one-stop shop for all your needs.

What do you think qualifies you for this position?

Moore: I have served on the city council for the last eight years and have the experience to effectively serve as alderman for Ward 2, Position 2. I have served as co-chairman for the Public Works, Budget and Fire and Police Committees. As well as on the advisory board for the Arkansas Municipal League for the large first class cities and public safety and health. I received the Adrian White Municipal Leadership award for my service with the Municipal League.

Bivins: I have served the residents of Cabot for 12 years. I have tried to serve in all areas of Cabot. Many would tell you I have a problem saying “no.” In Cabot Public Schools: homeroom dad, car rider line, reader for classrooms and libraries, empowerment program, mentor program, hallway heroes and mock interviewer for high school kids.

I have coached in different sports within Cabot Parks and Recreation. I served the past four years as chairman of the CabotFest committee, serve at the annual Cabot City Beautiful clean-up day. I serve at the annual Cabot Christmas night to meet Santa.

I am a serving board member for the Cabot Chamber of Commerce, Lonoke County Court Appointed Special Advocates and was on the Cabot Rotary board. I am a member, deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church.

What do you see as Cabot’s strengths and weaknesses?

Moore: The greatest strength of Cabot is the people. We live in an age where people don’t look out for one another. This is not the case in Cabot. If you don’t believe that we are not a strong community then come out to a Cabot High School football game. It will show you the unity that is within this community.

Bivins: Strengths are the median age of population is early 30s. Meaning we have young families that have energy. We have some of the best schools in the state of Arkansas. We are within 20 minutes to two military bases. We have a very strong sports community. We are a faith base community. We have a public library that is one of the best in the state.

Weaknesses are jobs that can support a family and a lack of restaurants and shopping.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?

Moore: 1. Work on road expansion and better traffic flow. 2. Continue to find ways to stretch the budget as well as reduce if needed. 3. Work on making our Parks and Recreational facilities more handicap accessible; with hopes of a future “Miracle Field.”

Bivins: A voice for Ward 2, Position 2, while running for this position the common theme was the people did not know their council person. I would like to change that.

Economic Development. I would like to bring in the type of jobs that will provide the income to support a family. I would like to bring in the stores and restaurants that keep our dollars in Cabot.

Provide more for our police and fire departments. With the economic development, we can provide better salary and benefits for our men and women in these departments to keep them here. Currently, the city is stretched thin to provide improvements for salary, benefits and retirement; and this in many cases forces employment to go elsewhere.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidate?

Moore: I think that my opponent is a worthy candidate. However, I have a track record of making a difference on the city council and hope to be able to continue to do so.

I believe in God, my family and my country. Kerri and I have six kids, two of which we adopted. We are foster parents and are an open foster home and have been for the past seven years. I am a member of New Life Church and sing in the choir. I am a board member for the Panther flag football organization and have coached my sons’ flag football teams for the past five years. I am a graduate of the Lonoke County Leadership Training.

Bivins: I have 12 years of proven experience serving the residents of Cabot. I enjoy living and serving Cabot. Please take the time and vote for me.

TOP STORY >> Beebe council race Q&A

Leader staff writer

Beebe Alderman Tracy Lightfoot is seeking re-election to Ward 2, Position 2 on the city council. He is being challenged by retired airman Donald Lewis. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting starts on Monday in the White County Courthouse lobby in Searcy and at the Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm St. There are no early voting sites in Beebe.

Tracy Lightfoot, 46, has been on the city council for four terms. Lightfoot is from a fourth-generation Beebe family. A life-long resident, Lightfoot graduated from Beebe High School in 1988. He graduated from the Commonwealth College of Funeral Service in 1990. Lightfoot has worked for Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home for 28 years, where he is a funeral director and embalmer.

Donald Lewis, 49, and his wife, Jene, have been married for 30 years. They have two grown children. He has lived in Beebe for 15 years and has been employed with AT&T for the past eight years. Lewis is a retired Air Force veteran. He retired after 22 years of service as a master sergeant, working in fuel- system repair. Lewis has an associate’s of applied science in aviation maintenance technology.

He is an active member of Open Arms Assembly of God and Beebe American Legion Post 91

Why do you want to serve as alderman for Beebe?

Lightfoot: Beebe has always been very good to me and the sense of community drives my passion to give back. I am in the community every day listening to the needs and wants of its residents. I know most of the population and that makes me a strong candidate to do the right thing. Helping Beebe be the best it can be is in my best interest and helping people is my strength as I have been in this role for four terms.

Lewis: The reason I want to serve as an alderman for Beebe is to be the voice of the people in our community. I believe that every person living in Beebe deserves to have their concerns heard and considered when making decisions for our city. I feel by partnering with the citizens, we can work together to continue making Beebe our “Dream Hometown.”

What do you think qualifies you for this position?

Lightfoot: I have been in leadership for many years which include, three terms as Beebe Chamber of Commerce president, 12 years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Fall Festival chairman for multiple years, eight years as current alderman and was chosen Citizen of the Year by the Beebe Chamber of Commerce for 2016.

Lewis: I think the military leadership courses I have attended and positions held during my service in the Air Force is what best qualifies me for the position of alderman. I’ve managed accounts and large groups of people and have learned that through hard work, dedication and teamwork, you can achieve the task at hand.

What do you see as Beebe’s strengths and weaknesses?

Lightfoot: We have a very strong education system which includes great facilities, teachers and staff. The schools continue to be up-to-date for the betterment of the students. ASU-Beebe campus allows local youth to be able to transition into college right out of high school without the costly expenses of out-of-town tuitions. We are centrally located and have a great hometown feel for those who have to commute. We have also been named one of the fastest growing communities.

Seeing as we are one of the fastest growing communities we lack the tax revenue to handle the needs to build an effective infrastructure. Due to the growth we are lacking in commercial businesses to fulfill the needs of the people.

Lewis: I believe Beebe’s greatest strength is the people that live and work here. Their hospitality and sense of community are inspiring and is what makes Beebe a great place to live. Along with the people, our schools, Beebe School District and Arkansas State University at Beebe, are some of the best in the state. I believe an area that our city could see continued improvements is the width and condition of some of the streets in our city.

If elected what would be your top three priorities?

Lightfoot: I would work hard to add more first responders to health care needs which would include police and firefighters. Continue infrastructure enhancements already in place based on city needs from growth. Main priority is street paving.

Add more programs and activities for our youth.

Lewis: My number one priority as an alderman is to be the voice of the people of our community. This should be the most important job of any elected official. Second, I want to ensure that we have a plan for our future growth because our city is growing at a rapid pace. I believe the leadership of our city needs to have a plan to assure that our city’s foundation, which is the police, fire, EMT, street and water departments, grow with the city. My third priority would be to improve the conditions of our some of our city’s streets.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidates?

Lightfoot: My opponent is a very well-respected man in the community but lacks the political experience I have. I have attended many hours of municipal league meetings in which I have learned what it takes to run a city. I am the senior council member that has the knowledge of the past and present issues which will help educate the two new members that are incoming.

During my time on the council we have accomplished many things which include a new library, new animal shelter, new fire station on Hwy. 64 West, upgraded our parks which includes the new amphitheater, new fleet for the police department, a new fire truck, paving of streets, began the Fourth of July Celebration, a third Beebe exit and worked closely with Walmart’s opening. I ask for your trust and support by re-electing me so that I may continue making Beebe a better place to live.

Lewis: I believe the residents of Beebe should vote for me because I live by honor, integrity and service before self. I am trustworthy, dependable and just a man who loves people and believes in doing the right thing.

I have no previous political experience, but I think that is a strength and not a weakness. I have no preconceived agendas, only to listen to the concerns of the citizens of our city and make them known at the meetings. As alderman I would serve with honor and integrity, always putting the needs and desires of the people above my own.

I was not born and raised in Beebe, but rather chose to live and raise my family here. I want to be the leader that listens to the people and does it right. I would appreciate your vote.

TOP STORY >> Three compete for Cabot council seat

Leader staff writer

Three candidates are seeking the seat in Ward 3, Position 1 on the Cabot City Council.

Alderman Doyle Tullos is seeking re-election for a second term. He is being challenged by Cabot Public Works office manager Norma Naquin and real estate agent Wendell Gibson. Early voting starts Monday.

Tullos, 70, is single with no children. He has lived in Cabot for 43 years and in Arkansas for 67 years. He is a retiree. Tullos has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Naquin, 61, and her husband, Jack, have been married for 42 years. They have two grown children. Naquin has worked for the city for 19 years.

The Leader reached out to Gibson, but he did not respond.

Why do you want to serve as alderman for Cabot?
Tullos: As a longtime resident of Cabot, I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I further want to utilize my formal education and extensive work experience in government and private industry to help make Cabot a great place to live and work.

Naquin: I love this community. I want to contribute to preserving what we love about Cabot while helping to make it an even better place to live, work and raise our families. I have a great passion for public service, working for the city of Cabot has only increased my passion. It would be a great honor and privilege to serve as alderman; one I would never take lightly.

What do you think qualifies you for this position?

Tullos: My current experience serving on the City Council, which includes serving on the following committees: Budget and Personnel, Fire and Police, Economic Development and Hazardous Structures.

Thirty-five years of management experience: 13 years in state government and 22 years in private industry.

Extensive experience working with city, county, state and federal agencies, officials, laws, rules, regulations and ordinances.

Proven leadership skills and abilities throughout high school, college and entire working career as reflected by the following: excelled in three high school sports, earning all-conference and all-state honors in football; selected to play in the Arkansas High School All-Star Football Game.

Arkansas State University Student Government Associa-tion president;

Arkansas Human Resources Association vice president and board member;

Arkansas NCO Academy graduate;

Served six years in the Arkansas Army National Guard;

Mount Carmel Baptist Church personnel committee and vice chairman, finance committee;

Mount Carmel Baptist Church adult Sunday school director and teacher;

Mount Carmel Baptist capital campaign director and church council, and

The Hamptons Property Owners Association president.

Naquin: For almost two decades, I have served as Public Works office manager, City Planning Coordinator, and City Building Official. This has given me a vast knowledge of all affairs of the city as well as a working knowledge of all departments within the city.

I hold certifications in Arkansas Governmental Management from the Univer-sity of Arkansas at Little Rock and in ICS 400 Incident Command (disaster preparedness). I have extensive training in municipal planning, storm water management, international building code, building inspection, city budget and city ordinances. I am a 2013 member of Arkansas Metroplan Transportation Committee, International Code Council member and Lonoke County Leadership training alumni.

What do you see as Cabot’s strengths and weaknesses?

Tullos: Cabot has great, well qualified, dedicated department directors, supervisors and staff employees who work diligently to improve the services offered our citizens and our community.

Great strides have been made by the Cabot Planning Commission to establish short-term and long-term plans for future development of our city. Uniform Development Codes and standards have been developed and written.

These standards will greatly affect how land is used and developed, the flow of traffic, access management and various other projects in Cabot. A great partnership exists between the Planning Commission, Metroplan, the Arkansas Highway Depart-ment and city officials.

The city is very progressive in pursuing state and federal grants and other monies to fund a wide range of projects throughout the city that greatly benefit our citizens and community.

The city needs to place more emphasis on economic growth and development with the goal of balancing commercial, industry and residential growth.

The city should also place more emphasis on stronger partnerships with vocational schools, community colleges and other higher educational institutions, as well as the Small Business Administration, which would further entice more businesses to locate here and improve the local economy.

Naquin: Cabot’s strengths are its people, family values, great schools and that “small town feel”. Cabot’s weakness can be summed up in one word, Traffic.

If elected what would be your top three priorities?

Tullos: To continue to work closely with and support the Cabot Planning Commission in its efforts to make major improvements in our infrastructure and future growth and development of our geographical resources.

To always be available to meet with my constituents to discuss any areas of concern they may have and gather and weigh all the facts before making any conclusions or decisions.

To continue to expand my knowledge of city government and my responsibilities as a council member through continuing education programs.

Naquin: Traffic is a big concern; I will work with the Arkansas State Highway Department, Metroplan and state officials to find every available means to solve our traffic problems.

Economic Development is critical for continued growth. I will work with local and state leaders to craft incentives for businesses to come to Cabot. I will also get to know all existing business owners in the city, understanding their needs and building a trust towards developing a working partnership.

Pursue the creation of a county-wide, centralized 911 system. Our city and county has grown to a point where this needs to be considered. It is my belief that this will help our city police, fire department and other emergency services. It will also decrease the response time, therefore, enhancing the safety and welfare of the citizens of Cabot.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidates?

Tullos: I am very well qualified due to my comprehensive work experience in state government and the private sector; budget and personnel experience; extensive knowledge of state and federal laws, rules and regulations and my formal education.

I also am currently serving as a council member and my opponents have no current experience in that capacity. I would encourage and invite all eligible voters to fully examine my credentials and compare my qualifications to those of my opponents.

I have conservative values, believe in common sense government and have excellent human relation skills. I desire to continue to represent the city of Cabot, all its citizens and this community as a whole, to the best of my ability as a continuing member of the Cabot City Council.

Naquin: I have extensive knowledge in all affairs of city government along with working knowledge of every department within the city. For 19 years, I have enforced the policies and ordinances of the city. This has given me the insight to know what works and what doesn’t work. I will put this knowledge to use along with my experience and training to bring fresh ideas and make informed and responsible decisions that will benefit the city and its residents.

I truly love our community and its people. As alderman, I will work to ensure the safety and the security of our citizens, work to find solutions to our traffic problems, promote economic development, continue the partnership with our school and exercise fiscal responsibility.

I will stand committed to you to be accessible, to have an open door policy, work hard and make responsible decisions. It would be an honor to serve as alderman and I respectfully ask for your vote.

TOP STORY >> Q&A: Cabot’s Prentice, Koller

Leader staff writer

Cabot Alderman Rick Prentice is seeking re-election to represent Ward 3, Position 2. He is being challenged by Tom Koller for a seat on the city council. Voters can make their choice during the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8 or in early voting beginning on Monday.

Rick Prentice, 65, and his wife, Sharon, have been married 23 years. They have four grown children. Prentice has lived in Arkansas since 1964 and in Cabot for the past 10 years. He is a retired Navy veteran and has been employed for 25 years with Summit Truck Group as a corporate risk and safety manager.

Prentice has been on the city council for eight years.

Tom Koller, 46, is married to his wife, Katie. They have four children. Koller has lived in Arkansas for 27 years and in Cabot for two.

He has been involved with Cabot for four years. Koller has been in medical sales for 18 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Harding University in Searcy.

Why do you want to serve as alderman for Cabot?

Prentice: I want to represent the citizens of Cabot in a way that will be bipartisan, gain economic growth and keep strong family values.

Koller: I have been interested in city government my whole life. Previous job responsibilities and living in larger cities made it hard for me to participate. I am ready. I have the time that it will take to be effective. I have the desire to the serve the citizens and I am ready to be their voice to make our city a better place to live.

What do you think qualifies you for this position?

Prentice: I have served on the city council for four terms and have represented the citizens with honesty and integrity. I am currently serving as the chairman of the Fire and Police Committee. I believe that every person should have a voice in their city and I take great pleasure in listening to them, weighing their issues and using my vote as their voice.

Koller: I am a common sense, down-to-earth individual that brings the desire to serve the citizens of Cabot. My business background, planning skills for both now and the future, and ability to listen to the needs of the citizens makes me an excellent choice for councilman. I hope this dedication has been shown by my presence at intersections all over Cabot the past weeks waving to the people in an effort to give them the ability to know who I am.

What do you see as Cabot’s strengths and weaknesses?

Prentice: Cabot has a great school district, strong Fire and Police Departments; a strong Chamber of Commerce and a great working relationship between the mayor’s office and the city council that results in a unified city government, which includes the three independent commissions which are: Water, Parks and Recreation, and the City Planning.

Koller: Cabot has many strengths. Our Parks and Recreations system is outstanding and continues to grow. Our school system is one of the best in the state and brings new families to our great city. Our residents are our best strength. They make Cabot great.

Cabot needs to monitor infrastructure. We are set for water and wastewater but need to continue to monitor street and traffic issues. I understand how Cabot is tied with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and will continue the relationship with them for improvement. However, we must continue to add new roads and overlay current roads to get caught up.

If elected what would be your top three priorities?

Prentice: 1. Completion of the Community Dog Park. 2. Maintain and grow our parks and recreation facilities and programs for the youth of our city. 3. Strive to keep transparency in our city government and keep our Fire and Police Departments strong.

Koller: I will become a certified elected official through the Arkansas Municipal League. This will improve my abilities to serve and give me the opportunity to represent Cabot on a state level on an advisory committee.

Cabot needs to expand its senior citizens program. Some initiatives have been started, but I promise to continue to keep this at the forefront. This has been one of the most asked questions since my announcement. A new center and additional transportation opportunities are an immediate necessity.

Economic development is a must for Cabot. More emphasis and resources need to be dedicated to economic development on not only a local, but regional level. Cabot needs more restaurants and shopping opportunities for its citizens. We need to pursue opportunities instead of waiting for them to come to us.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidates?

Prentice: I believe that the citizens should vote for the candidate of their choice and not because of what I say or my opponent says, but for what I have done by representing them and our great city for the past eight years. I believe that Cabot is a great place to live and raise our children and grandchildren. As a conservative, I am asking for your support.

Koller: It is time for new faces and new ideas on the city council. It is time for Cabot to start preparing for the growth of the future instead of reacting to it. I will serve the people as their voice. I am asking for your vote. Please visit my website at for additional information and to contact me with your questions. I am here to serve you.

TOP STORY >> Redirecting A&P tax in Sherwood

Leader staff writer

“It’s not a new tax,” fliers and posters scream throughout Sherwood. The posters are pushing for a positive vote on the parks improvement bond issue that will be on the general election ballot Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Early voting starts Monday.

A public meeting to discuss the bond issue will be held at 6 p.m. Monday in the city council’s chambers.

Mayor Virginia Hillman explained that the city wants to take the advertising and promotion tax that it is already collecting and use it to cover the payment on a bond for park improvements. “It allows us to make the improvements quicker, cheaper and will let residents enjoy the upgraded parks sooner,” she said.

Without voters’ approval, the tax will still remain in place with a large portion of it going to parks and recreation, according to city ordinances, and if enough is collected the park improvements will be made. “It will have to be done piecemeal and will take years to complete,” the mayor said.

Plan upgrades, based on the city’s master parks plan, include improving playgrounds, adding a tennis center, a soccer complex and an aquatic pad to the city’s parks system.

Jannsen has been talking to civic groups, gatherings and individuals for months about the bond issue, emphasizing that the issue, “Parks Improvement Bonds” does not increase taxes. “It only redistributes it so we can get all of our projects done in a reasonable time.”

Approval means the majority of the parks and recreation portion will be used to cover the payments of the bond issue. “Right now we are looking at around $4 million for the three main projects and money left over for upgrades to other facilities and parks.”

The parks director explained that currently when the department has a major project they go to the A&P commission and get the $250,000 to $300,000 they need. “But projects with a price tag of more than that have to be stretched out of a period of years.

“Our proposed soccer complex will run around a $1 million,” Janssen said, “and without this approval in November, it’ll take more than three years to build. But with the bond we can start on it next year and finish all in one swoop.”

“No matter what,” Sonny Janssen, the city’s parks and recreation director explained, “the tax is not going away.”

The city, since the 1990s has collected a two-percent prepared foods tax, also known as the hamburger tax, and by ordinance the majority of the taxes collected are for parks and recreation department projects and a smaller amount goes to the city’s advertising and promotion commission for projects like the Christmas Trail of Lights, Sherwood Fest and the Fourth of July celebration.

He added that because the funds come from the hamburger tax it is not just Sherwood residents footing the bill. “I’d say a large portion of this A and P tax is paid by outsiders stopping in at one of our many restaurants.”

“This is a issue that will greatly impact economic development in our community, and, therefore, we’re asking you to please vote yes for this,” said Marcia Cook, the chamber’s executive director.

“We’ll be distributing door hangers at Sherwood residences before voting starts to inform residents that the Parks Improvement Bonds is not a new tax and to ask them to please vote yes to expand and improve our city parks.”

Janssen reemphasized that the issue was not a new tax. “If I went before the council asking for an additional tax, I’d be run out of town,” he quipped.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Election review before you vote

Early voting in the general election starts Monday.

The Leader will conclude previewing all of the races before Tuesday, Nov. 8, which is Election Day.

The presidential race will be at the top of the ballot, accompanied by five ballot measures and several state and local races.

Issue 1 asks voters to extend the terms of county judges, county court clerks and county surveyors from two years to four years.

Issue 2 seeks to let Arkansas governors retain their authority when out of the state.

Issue 3 will ask voters to vastly expand the state’s offerings of incentives to businesses looking to open here. Now, the state can only spend $259 million annually to entice businesses. Issue 3 has been touted as a major economic plan that would create jobs and bring major corporations to Arkansas.

Issues 6 and 7 concern legalizing medical marijuana. Issue 6 will allow marijuana use for 17 medical conditions, while Issue 7 will do the same for 56 illnesses.

Sen. John Boozman, a Republican, is up for re-election against Conner Eldridge, a former U.S. attorney and Lonoke native, and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.

In the Second District, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) has a Democratic challenger, Diane Curry, as well as a libertarian opponent, Chris Hayes.

Locally, state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) and Democrat Joe Woodson, a North Little Rock attorney, are facing off in Dist. 34, which includes North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

There are three competitive state House races in the area: Dist. 42 Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) is being challenged by Patrick Thomas, and Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) is up against Lonoke County justice of the peace Roger Lynch.

In Dist. 38, Democrat Victoria Leigh and Republican Carlton Wing, both of North Little Rock, are vying for the seat vacated by Rep. Donnie Copeland, who lost to English in the Republican primary in March. The district includes North Little Rock and about half of Sherwood.

Also in Sherwood, voters will decide two Pulaski County Special School Board races: Gloria Lawrence and Linda Remele in Zone 3, and Shelby Thomas and Cori Burgett Fetters in Zone 4.

Sherwood residents are additionally being asked to approve a measure that will improve parks and give the city flexibility to get the work done faster and cheaper without raising taxes.

Cabot has three competitive aldermen races. Alderman Jon Moore is facing Damon Bivens for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat. Alderman Doyle Tullos has two opponents for his Ward 3, Position 1 seat, Norma Naquin and Wendell Gibson. Alderman Rick Prentice is challenged by Tom Koller in Ward 3, Position 2.

The runoff for the Cabot district judge race will also be decided this election. Judge Joe O’Bryan is trying to fend off Ward City Attorney Clint McGue, who finished first in the March vote, but fell short of the required 50 percent to avoid a runoff. The third candidate, John Flynn, has endorsed McGue.

Beebe Alderman Tracy Lightfoot and Donald Lewis are competing for Ward 2, Position 2.

There will also be several uncontested races listed on ballots throughout the area.

Be an informed voter by preparing yourself before you go to the polls. You can start by reading our extensive election coverage in today’s Leader and the next few editions.

TOP STORY >> Christmas starts with 3 parades

Sherwood will hold its Christmas parade at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The theme is Hometown Christmas Memories. Freddie Hudson will be the parade’s grand marshal.

The parade will begin at Kiehl Avenue and Lantrip Road and will continue west down Kiehl. It will end at Oakbrooke Drive.

The Sherwood Advertising and Promotion Commission sponsors the annual event.

To request an entry form, or for more information, call Julie Tharp at the Duran Youth Center at 501-835-9599 or email

Jacksonville will hold its 59th annual Christmas Parade at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6.

The parade will begin at Sharp and Main streets and will end at First United Methodist Church.

To enter a float, call 501-982-4171 or visit

Cabot’s Christmas parade will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 on South Pine St. The theme is Christmas Around the World.

Entry forms are available on the park department’s website, Entry fees are $10.

Awards will be given in several categories.

TOP STORY >> NLR Democrat challenges Sen. English

Leader senior staff writer

Democrat Joe Woodson, 49, is challenging Republican Sen. Jane English, 75, for her state Senate Dist. 34 seat, which represents North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

Woodson wants to expand pre-kindergarten in the state and favors a middle-class trickle-up economic theory that flies in the face of Act 1173, which he says is a regressive, top-down income- tax policy.

“I want to tip the scales in favor of the middle class and education,” he said. He supports Obamacare and the private option. “As a practical matter, and as a humanitarian, I don’t think we have any choice.” He said there are now about 300,000 more Arkansans receiving health care insurance, many for the first time.

It’s a first step, he said. “Health care and insurance reform will go on for the next 20 or 30 years.”

It was Sen. English who cast the deciding vote in the Senate in 2014 to make the private option law in Arkansas. A Republican, she crossed party lines, trading her vote on that issue for a significant realignment of workforce education and a seat at the table.

Her deal was with Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, but current Gov. Asa Hutchinson has depended on English to help consolidate and promote workforce education efforts and to prepare Arkansans for the workplace.

English is chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Academic Facilities Oversight subcommittee, and is co-chair of a legislative task force to study the realignment of higher education and vice chair of joint performance review.

English said workforce education has always been her top priority, and she doesn’t expect that to change going forward, if elected.

Woodson has 22 years experience as a lawyer in his own firm and as legal council to then Secretary of State Charlie Daniels. He also served as chairman of the Arkansas Board of Apportionment.


English has a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Arkansas Tech.

Her husband, Don, retired as an Army colonel after 20 years in the service.

She was state chairman of the Department of Defense Employers in Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Among the issues most important to English is continuing to do workforce education, kindergarten through career training.

“Over the past three years, a lot of good things have happened,” she said. “We’re working on better coordination of all state and federal programs, working with higher education (so it) has a new plan to increase the numbers of graduates.

“There are lots of good (jobs available) if employers can find people with the education,” she said.

“More and more people are working on career and technical education,” she said.

English was asked if she regrets trading her deciding Senate vote on private option for the authority to remake career education.

“Absolutely not,” she said. Good career education is “something the state needs so badly. We’re funding Obamacare and moving forward,” she said.

As for any particular legislation or policy changes she would introduce in the future, English, who sponsored 18 bills that became law in her first term, said she had sponsored 27 in her first term, so probably not.

English was primary sponsor in the Senate of 27 bills, 18 of which became law.

Among them was Act 892, which created a comprehensive statewide workforce development system, to coordinate workforce development programs and to create an office of skills development.

She said it’s not necessary to balance the needs between her district and the state because they are one and the same. “In the legislature, when you pass a law it affects everyone,” she said.

Her top priorities will be to create a better education system and to get people educated, employable and off social welfare programs.

As for economic development, she said big industries with big groundbreakings are wonderful, “but you have to have people with the skills and education to take those jobs.”

“Get people off these programs, give them enough skills and education to be able to go get a job that takes care of themselves and their families. It’s easy to say everybody ought to go get a job. But if you were in this category, where a lot of those folks are, they don’t have the skills to get a job where somebody’s going to pay their insurance,” said English.

English was among the sponsors of a law that lowered the minimum number of students necessary to detach a new district from an existing one, such as the detachment of Jacksonville from the Pulaski County Special School District.

The number was lowered from 4,000 students, which enabled the Jacksonville-North Pulaski District, to 2,500, which would qualify Sherwood to detach in the future if all other conditions are met.

English said she wants to make sure the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District is successful. That will make all the difference in the world,” she said. “It’s a defining thing for Jacksonville and its future.

The senator and her husband have two adult children and three grandchildren and attend the Little Rock Air Force Base chapel.


“My No. 1 goal is to act consistently with things I believe in,” including “economic policy that tips the scales in favor of the middle class,” and improving education, Woodson said.

Education: “I’m a strong supporter of expanding pre-kindergarten,” he said. It would be “money well spent.”

He believes in “strong, accountable public schools and local control of school districts.”

“Education, much like flying a plane, is a never-ending process of refinement and adjustment. I do not have any ‘sacred cows’ with respect to education or education models. Those parents/children who do not have the ability or resources to engage in alternate methods of education should not and cannot receive an inferior education.

He says he believes charter schools have an important role to play, but “I also believe traditional public schools must be allowed to succeed.”

“I want to find a way to reduce the cost of higher education, so that students can obtain training or a degree without crippling debt when they leave school. Of course, we need to continue to ‘build-out’ robust adult education and vocational training opportunities for non-traditional students through trade schools and two-year colleges,” Woodson said.

He also supports state Rep. Bob Johnson’s legislation to eliminate state income tax on veteran’s retirement benefits. Noting that Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a Republican, supports that as well.

He’s running because “a great many voters believe similarly to what I believe.” He said he and English have fundamentally different belief systems. He pointed to Act 1173 — the capital gains tax cut that wealthy Arkansans may qualify for.

Woodson says he believes in Hutchinson’s Arkansas Works expanded health-care coverage, that life begins at conception, providing resources for veterans, the Second Amendment and common sense solutions to hinder criminals and terrorists without sacrificing Second Amendment rights.

“I believe in equal pay for women, that the Bible is the word of God and that Jesus’ example is to practice love toward all.

“I also believe the first amendment protects every person’s right to practice their faith.

“I believe in punishing criminals, and I believe in ongoing criminal justice reform. I believe if we help our at-risk young people now, we help ourselves in the future.

“I believe the road towards widespread, sustainable economic prosperity is through consistently choosing a ‘bottom-up’ not ‘top-down’ economic approach. That means always erring on the side of the middle class and working poor,” he said.

“For example: progressive, not regressive, tax policy and increased minimum wage,” Woodson explained.

He said he supports legislation to improve gender pay equality.


Woodson was raised in North Little Rock, where he lives with his wife, Laura and their three children.

He graduated from Central Arkansas Christian High School and earned his finance and law degrees from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

He serves as a deacon for his church, is board member and treasurer of the Park Hill Business and Merchants Association and a member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.