Saturday, November 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Titans come back on Zebras

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s boys’ basketball team won its season opener on Tuesday, winning on the road over Pine Bluff High School 68-63. The Titans had to overcome a 13-point second-quarter deficit, and did so with a simple change of strategy.

When Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner switched from man-to-man defense to a matchup zone, the tide began to change. Titan senior Tyree Appleby was the beneficiary of several leak-out dunks and hit a few big threes to turn in a stellar season-opening performance with 32 points.

“We weren’t closing out on shooters,” said Joyner. “We were sort of half defending, hoping they would miss. They got hot and we got into a little bit of hole. They base their offense on the dribble drive, and they kick it out to the shooters. I switched to a little matchup zone to stop that dribble drive. They went cold and weren’t getting back on defense. We were able to get some fast-break buckets and get back into the game.”

Pine Bluff led 20-14 at the end of the first period and then scored seven-straight to start the second quarter. That’s when Joyner changed defenses and the comeback began.

Appleby, who only had two points in the first period, hit two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the second quarter, lead the rally.

Jacksonville trailed 35-30 at halftime, and the game stayed close throughout the third. The Titans then posted 22 points in the fourth when post play became a factor.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers roll past West in playoffs

Leader sports editor

BENTONVILLE – Cabot had 12 possessions, never punted and rolled up more than 500 yards of offense Thursday in a 62-34 victory over Bentonville West Thursday in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

The Panthers scored nine touchdowns, committed two turnovers and then ran the clock out on the last drive after the mercy rule was invoked late in the third quarter.

The Wolverines’ spread offense gave Cabot some trouble early, scoring on each of its first two possessions and taking a 14-7 lead with 5:30 still remaining in the first quarter. But the Panther defense woke up soon after, and began applying severe pressure on the BW quarterback Will Jarrett without any stunts or blitzes to help.

Once the Panther defense solved the Wolverine offense, Cabot began to pull away. The Panthers were in a good position to put the game away late in the second quarter, but a series of mistakes let the 3-8 Wolverines right back into the game.

The Panthers led 35-14 and got the ball back with 52 seconds left in the first half. A holding penalty negated a 30-yard run by Cabot quarterback Jarrod Barnes. On the very next play, Barnes overthrew his intended receiver and the ball was picked off.

On BW’s second play, Jarrett heaved the ball downfield while scrambling from Cabot’s pass rush. The ball should have been easily intercepted. Instead, two Cabot defenders collided as the ball careened high into the air and into the awaiting arms of Wolverine receiver Stefan Banda, who trotted 10 more yards into the end zone.

The extra point was no good, leaving the score 35-20 at halftime.

BW then surprised Cabot with an onside kick the return team never saw. Banda then caught a 30-yard pass that was ruled incomplete by the back judge on top of the play, but the head official overruled him after a long discussion.

Less than 90 seconds into the third quarter, Bentonville West scored again, and was within one score at 35-27.

“They got some players and they did some good things,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “I thought we were about to finish them off and next thing you know they’re right back in it. But our offense played really good all night except for a couple mistakes, and our defense got going and got to playing a lot better than we started out.”

That briefly swung the crowd and momentum heavily to the home side, but it was short-lived. The Panthers scored 27 unanswered points over the next 9:28 to take a 35-point lead and invoke the running clock for the entire fourth quarter.

The Cabot rally started after Barnes covered another onside kick attempt and the Panthers started at the Wolverine 44. Three runs by fullback Easton Seidl was all it took to get that distance. He went for 13, 27 and 4 yards for his third touchdown of the game.

Cabot forced a three-and-out, and junior defensive lineman Dayonte Roberts blocked the punt to set the offense up at the BW 20-yard line.

Three plays later, Seidl barreled up the middle for 15 yards on third and 5 for another score and a 49-27 lead.

On the ensuing possession, senior defensive tackle Chris Jones tackled Jarrett for a 1-yard loss on a designed run play. On third and 11, Roberts sacked him for a 6-yard loss and forced another punt.

On Cabot’s first play, Barnes broke loose for the second time in the game, keeping around left end for a 59-yard touchdown run and a 56-27 lead with 5:12 still left in the third.

Roberts got another sack on the next play to put the Wolverines behind the chains. They threw incomplete, then complete for a loss of 3 yards and had to punt again.

This time Dylan Smith returned the punt 30 yards to the 33-yard line.

Barnes went 30 yards on the first play, but it was also called back for holding. It mattered little. The Panthers needed just six plays with Seidl going the last four with 1:04 left in the third quarter.

Mason Martin missed his only extra point in nine tries, but the earlier miss by BW made it irrelevant for the 35-point spread to start the mercy-rule clock.

Cabot finished with 534 yards off offense, including 498 on the ground. Barnes led the way with 13 carries for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Seidl had 16 carries for 113 yards and five scores. Cabot’s other touchdown was a 36-yard pass from Barnes to halfback Austin Morse in the second quarter.

Bentonville West finished with 321 yards off offense, 253 through the air and 68 on the ground.

The Panthers (7-4) will return to North Little Rock next Friday for its second round game. The undefeated, No. 1 ranked Charging Wildcats hosted the Panthers last week in the regular-season finale and escaped with a 28-27 win.

“We go back to North Little Rock next week,” Malham said. “We gave them a hell of a game last week and we hope we can play that well again.”

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills shocked by Chapel

Leader sports editor

The Watson Chapel Wildcats were celebrating wildly, but it still somehow seemed stone silent on the Sylvan Hills sidelines. Blue Bears’ uniforms scattered intermittently between the south end zone and the 20-yard line, some standing in shock, some sprawled on the turf in anguish, some sitting dejectedly with facemasks between knee pads.

It was supposed to be the Bears’ year, but it came to a stunning and crashing halt Friday night at Blackwood Field in Sherwood. The Watson Chapel Wildcats overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit, scored with no time left and made a two-point conversion to defeat the Bears 36-35 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Sylvan Hills entered the game 9-1 and hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2002. The Bears were considered one of the top contenders for this year’s state championship.

Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow could barely find words after the game.

“We just, I don’t know. We just didn’t do anything in the second half. It’s just, not good.”

The Sylvan Hills offense was machine-like for most of the first half, and the Bears were on the verge of blowing the Wildcats off the field. Sylvan Hills sliced up the Chapel defense on its first two possessions, averaging more than 10 yards per play and taking a 14-0 lead with 6:19 to go in the first quarter.
Meanwhile the Sylvan Hills defense was being stingy. Chapel got just 29yards combined on its first two possessions.

The Wildcats third possession got to the Bears’ 2-yard line, but the defense made a goal line stand to give the ball back to the offense 98 yards from another score.

Because of 25 yards of offensive penalties, the Bears had to overcome being behind the chains, but they did so twice. They even had a third and 33 from their own 9-yard line they converted when quarterback Jordan Washington hit Fred Mackey for a 40-yard completion.

In all, the drive consisted of 122 yards of offense, but slotback Deon Youngblood fumbled just short of the goal line as he dived for the score. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.

Again, the Bear defense bent but didn’t break. Chapel drove to a first and goal at the 3, but turned it over on downs at the 5.

This time the Bears overcame second and 11 with a 36-yard reception by Jamar Lane to the Chapel 48. Washington had to leave the game because his helmet came off after picking up a first down at the 37.

On the very next play, backup quarterback Ryan Lumpkin kept on a quarterback draw and raced 37 yards up the middle for a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the half.

Tito Mendoza’s extra point sent the Bears into the locker room with a three-touchdown lead, and expecting to get the ball to start the second half.

But shortly after the second-half kickoff, things began to go wrong for the home team.

The Bears lost a fumble and an interception. And a high punt snap set up a one-play, 2-yard touchdown drive by Watson Chapel that tied the game at 21-21 with 11:50 left.

Sylvan Hills’ next drive ended with a missed 27-yard field goal attempt by Mendoza, and Chapel took the lead with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard keeper by Dorsey with 3:15 remaining.

Sylvan Hills finally got things going and scored in just four plays, with Lane catching a 14-yard pass with 1:52 left to tie the game.

Darius Waddell then covered an onside kick for the Bears, and they scored again on a 45-yard reception by Youngblood with 1:06 to go. Mendoza’s extra point gave the Bears a 35-28 lead.

That set up Chapel’s game-winning drive. The key play was a 45-yard catch by White on third and 10 to the Sylvan Hills 8-yard line. He was forced out of bounds with two seconds remaining, but an illegal participation penalty moved the ball to the 4.

Dorsey rolled left to pass, but tucked and ran when he saw no one open, and scored with no time on the clock.

He then rolled right for the conversion, and hit White at 1. White bounced off two tackles and stumbled backwards into the end zone, just inside the pylon to give the Wildcats the win.

Watson Chapel (8-4) advances to the second round, where it will face Alma, a 38-13 winner over Blytheville on Friday.

EDITORIAL >> A Jersey cow pays dividends

Jacksonville banker Larry Wilson and his wife Wendy, his sons Patrick and Mark and his sister Kathy Roberts helped kick off a generous scholarship program Wednesday at Jacksonville High School in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, which will allow dozens of students to attend college.

Jacksonville Promise, the new cooperative program between Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District and UALR, aims to make college affordable to qualifying students.

The Wilson Charitable Trust will provide $25,000 worth of $500 to $1,000 grants to help with books or other items in the program’s first year.

Larry Wilson recalled how his father, Kenneth Pat Wilson, attended the University of Arkansas after his father sold the family’s Jersey cow so he could go to Fayetteville, earn a college degree and later found First State Bank of Jacksonville, now First Arkansas Bank.

Wilson said his family foundation could help 25 to 50 students. “We have committed for the first year,” he said. “This program makes it possible for you to go to college. We’re providing you the cow.”

Almost every student needs a helping hand to attend college. Not many families can sell a cow to pay for a college education these days, but that old Jersey cow is still paying dividends four generations later. Thank you, Wilson Charitable Trust.

EDITORIAL >> New district turns page

Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Owoh told us once that he didn’t want to be moved into the big office when Superintendent Tony Wood retired. Wood said from the git-go he was a short timer and at last week’s school board meeting, he resigned effective the end of this school year.

We haven’t revisited that conversation with Owoh, but it seems to be a moot point for now, no matter how capable he is, or how much he would or wouldn’t want the job. He seems to have done a good job leading the educational component of the district and recognizes the long way the district needs to go at every grade.

According to the recent public annual report, our students are failing to perform at grade level in alarming numbers.

Advertising for Wood’s replacement began Tuesday morning—no one has applied yet—and the posting listed requirements and skills needed for the job.

It requires a minimum of five years experience as the superintendent of a school district, and Owoh has none. While we’ve seen principals apply for superintendent jobs at the Pulaski County Special School District, Wood and the board want a lot of experience from the next superintendent, with all that’s going on right now.

Guiding a new school district, with a new school board, two new schools coming out of the ground, questions of finance and construction, will be quite a stretch for the next superintendent, never mind an inexperienced one. The district is still trying to settle the desegregation lawsuit and get out from under oversight in U.S. District Court. Who knows what new problems may be generated by the General Assembly.

It was only through the wisdom and experience of Wood, and Bobby Lester in the interim before him, their expertise in Arkansas public school law and regulations, that the district met all requirements to begin operation this year—the first new district carved out of an existing school district in memory.

We hope that Owoh will stick around here long enough for a shot at the superintendency. Like Sara Lee, nobody doesn’t like him. He has handled every task with good humor and proficiency.

Here’s what else Wood and the board want of the next superintendent:

A Ph.D. (Owoh’s got his), district administrator pre-K—12 licensure codes.

The job description summary says, “The new job requires the ability to demonstrate administrative and technical expertise in several areas, knowledge of laws and regulations governing Arkansas public schools, language and human relations skill to deliver formal presentations to diverse audiences and other abilities.

The school board could hire his successor as early as Dec. 5.

At a special board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, applications will be reviewed and finalists will be selected.

Interviews will be conducted on Nov. 28. The new superintendent will go to work July 1, 2017.

TOP STORY >> Christmas parades coming up

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

Lonoke will hold its first Christmas parade and the 33rd annual Merry Thanks merchant open house and window decorating competition on Sunday, Dec. 4.

Merchants will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the parade starts at 5 p.m.

RSVP by Nov. 30.

For more information call 501-676-2552 or contact Shelby Durbin at

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

The theme is Sights and Sounds of Christmas.

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 par-ade 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 >> Gift helps JHS students

Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville Promise, a new cooperative program announced on Wednesday between the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, aims to make college affordable to qualifying students, perhaps free to some.

Basically, it’s an early- admissions program that will help students and their parents navigate federal student loans and also scholarships, including those from UALR.

In addition, the Wilson Charitable Trust of Jacksonville will provide $25,000 worth of $500 to $1,000 grants to help with books or other things in the program’s first year.

The average cost of tuition for an in-state student with a 15-hour semester would be $8,633 per year, according to Angie Faller, a UALR spokesman.

Those in the 2017-2020 classes who qualify and are eligible will be guaranteed admission along with help applying for and getting financial aid to pay the bill.

The program was announced at an assembly in the school gym Wednesday morning —an assembly that included addresses by UALR Chancellor Andrew Rogerson, Principal LaGail Biggs and Jacksonville banker Larry Wilson.

The student must satisfy admissions criteria to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, must submit a complete application package to UALR and must have made acceptable financial arrangements to attend the university.

Satisfactory completion of all three provisions guarantees the student a seat at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus for the fall semester following high school graduation, according to the contract.

Wilson said Jacksonville Promise grew out of a meeting he had with Rogerson in September.

“I suggested they look at seeing what could be done to attract Jacksonville students,” he said. “We felt the foundation could put up some money to make it absolutely free for students with the grades.”

Wilson said his family foundation could help 25 to 50 students. “We have committed for the first year,” he said.


The $25,000 gift to Jacksonville Promise was some of the money from Wilson’s father, a successful businessman. “My father talked his dad into selling a Jersey cow to help pay his tuition,” Wilson said.

“This program makes it possible for you to go to college,” he said. “We’re providing you the cow.”

“It can be a difference maker. Don’t let this go by without giving it your best shot,” Wilson added.

Precious Scott, a Jacksonville High School senior last year and now a second semester freshman at UALR, got started last year as part of the Donaldson Scholars program.

She told students Wed-nesday that she had struggled with the ACT test, but now feels more confident and feels like she belongs at the college.

“I did Saturday classes and avoided the remedial program. I’m part of a community of people I believe in,” Scott said.

“We are offering a future that could be a game changer,” Principal Biggs said. “This is a ready opportunity to go to college, to get early credit, start early the process of getting scholarships and to graduate with minimal or no debt.”

“When you apply, we will make it easy for you,” said Chancellor Rogerson. “We will guide you through the application process. We are committed to your success.”

“We will offer personalized support to students as part of the Jacksonville Promise to ensure students take advantage of all existing financial aid and scholarship programs,” UALR’s Faller said.

A team of financial aid professionals will visit the high school from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday to provide hands-on assistance to students as they complete the free application for federal student aid.

“This will be followed with a series of scholarship workshops as we help students identify and apply for scholarships. Included will be scholarships offered by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as well as privately funded scholarships,” according to Faller.

Assistance will be offered in various aspects of scholarship application, including writing effective essays and ACT preparation.


“It is our goal to maximize the aid students receive from all sources by timely and accurate applications using the generous gift from the Wilson Charitable Trust to provide gap funding when needed,” she said.

Admissions criteria are:

Completion of the college preparatory core at the time of graduation from high school.

Achieve an ACT composite score of at least 19 or a combined critical reading/math SAT score of at least 910.

A cumulative GPA of at least 2.5.

Completion of the free application for the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the YOUniversal application for state funded financial aid programs and other financial aid applications and forms is increasingly essential to college financing in today’s economic climate.

The FAFSA remains the gateway document for students to receive low-interest federal loans, federal work-study and grants, including the federal Pell Grant.

By signing the contract, a student can gain access to university advisers to explain acceptance criteria, guidance through the application process and completing the forms for financial aid, according to an information sheet available with the contract.

The university will provide assistance and information regarding other financial aid programs, including in-house scholarship, private aid and state grants and scholarships, including the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship funded by the lottery.

“Access and opportunity to postsecondary education will allow our students to realize their hopes and dreams,” said JNPSD Superintendent Tony Wood.

Students and parents who sign the simple one-page contract may participate in services including:

Group and personalized workshops to help complete the FAFSA application, learn about financial aid options and scholarships;

Student experience and orientation days at UALR to make transition to college easier;

ACT preparation;

Placement tests;

Hotline to UALR;

Concurrent academic enrollment to receive college credit while in high school;

Participation in the Dr. Charles W. Donaldson Scholars Academy or the TRIO talent search program if eligible;

Job mentoring with UALR alumni;

Recognition as a Jacksonville Promise graduate.

Thursday morning, Darryl Kimble Brooks, a senior, was the first to return his completed contract to the district.

Juan Amaya, an 18-year-old senior, said after the announcement that he thinks the program will be helpful. “I want to try for a four-year degree in chemistry,” he said.

Christen White, a 17-year old junior, says the program will be beneficial to him.

He wants to get a degree from UALR and then join the military.

“I think this about the future, putting things in action and do something about life,” said Kelly White, his mother.

School Board President Daniel Gray, said, “Our kids have opportunities. It’s cool to be part of a community that wants to take care of kids. We are blessed with high expectations.”

TOP STORY >> Council runoff is Nov. 29

Leader staff writer

A runoff election will be held in Cabot for the Ward 3, Position 1 seat on the city council between real estate agent Wendell Gibson and Cabot Public Works office manager Norma Naquin.

Naquin had 2,813 votes, Gibson had 2,745 votes. Alderman Doyle Tullos who was seeking re-election had 2,504 votes.

Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22; Wednesday, Nov. 23 and Monday, Nov. 28 at the Cabot schools’ old projects building, 802 N. Second St., across from Harps.

The runoff election will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29. Ward 1 will vote at the Cabot old projects building, 802 N. Second St., across from Harps. Ward 2 will vote at the First Baptist Church gym. Ward 3 will vote at the Veterans Park Community Center. Ward 4 will vote at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

On Thursday, Tullos gave his endorsement and support to Naquin. “I congratulate Norma and her family for working very hard and running a great campaign. She is well qualified and will be a great representative for the city of Cabot as your next city council member,” Tullos said

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

TOP STORY >> Election Results

EDITORIAL >> Another win for Trump

Donald Trump ran an unorthodox campaign since he announced his candidacy 18 months ago and beat 17 other Republicans for the party’s nomination.

But if late results hold up into Wednesday morning, the New York billionaire will be the next president of the United States with the overwhelming help of white working-class voters without college degrees who were mostly overlooked by pollsters.

Abandoned by prominent Republicans, Trump ran his campaign almost single-handedly with a woefully underfunded war chest and a small staff, holding rallies and going on TV every day. He bought few TV ads.

A Trump victory will mean another realignment on the Supreme Court and the end of Obamacare and the so-called private option in in our state, possibly ending health coverage for 300,000 Arkansans. A Trump victory will almost certainly mean closer ties with Russia, which dramatically hacked into the Democrats’ emails and derailed Clinton’s path to the White House. It remains to be seen if Trump will build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the U.S.  

The New York Times called the election for Donald Trump around 9 p.m. Tuesday, well ahead of the television networks. Although the newspaper predicted almost certain victory for Hillary Clinton for months, the Times used a powerful tracking tool last night that quickly detected a surge for Trump, perhaps the most unlikely presidential candidate in history.

Just a few hours after the polls closed, the Times predicted a 290 electoral victory for Trump (20 over the minimum needed) and a small popular win for Clinton, although numbers could change as we go to press. As in 2000, one candidate can lose the popular vote but carry the electoral college.

That was one possible outcome numbers cruncher Nate Silver predicted before the election. Silver warned overconfident Democrats that an electoral landslide for Clinton that many were predicting was by no means assured. He correctly predicted the previous two elections, and he thought right up to the end that Trump could win and paint the country red.

The final results weren’t in late Tuesday, but the polls erred by about 5 percent — the worst  call in almost 70 years — although the much maligned Los Angeles Times poll did predict a Trump win, as did some more obscure polls.

Trump pulled off the biggest upset since Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey in 1948. After easily winning the Republican primaries in the spring, Trump surprised the experts once again and turned a close contest against Clinton into a  stunning electoral win.

Clinton’s email scandal and FBI investigation depressed turnout among black voters. Even with a surge among Latino voters, her path to victory narrowed, especially in Florida, a crucial state essential to victory.

Yet almost everyone expected a Clinton victory until the votes were counted. Many Trump supporters expected him to lose and said so. As the polls opened Tuesday, Roger Stone, one of Trump’s top aides, said, “Frankly, Trump has run one of the worst campaigns in modern history.”

Although Trump turned off many traditional Republicans, especially women, he picked up enough support from whites who never went to college and who responded to his isolationist message, depressing financial markets around the world. Not much surprise there.

Clinton was leading in the polls at least since June except for a short bump for Trump after the Republican convention. The cable news networks made a horse race out of it until the end, but the best polls showed her ahead right up to Election Day. Most of them were wrong.

Trump promised to self-fund his campaign but poured only about $60 million of his own money, mostly in the primaries. Ross Perot spent $63 million of his own money in 1992, which is worth $108 million today.

Short of funds, Trump still widened his base, while Hillary’s shrunk. Just as Republicans rejected another Bush in the primaries, voters turned against putting another Clinton in the White House.

Our nation will remain divided for the foreseeable future. For the healing to begin, the new president must work toward economic fairness for all Americans, not just our privileged citizens.

As the shouting subsides, the president and Congress must reach out and work toward prosperity and opportunities for all. This isn’t just a slogan but the essence of the American idea that we are all fortunate to live in a democracy and must overcome our differences. We cannot let this great Republic fall short as a beacon of hope and an economic engine like no other in the world.

A new political realignment in the near future is almost certain. First, let the healing begin.

TOP STORY >> Make-A-Wish delivers ATV

Leader staff writer

The Make-A-Wish Foundation surprised a Butlerville teen with his wish of a new all-terrain vehicle on Saturday.

Barrett Stark, 16, is battling leukemia. He was diagnosed two years ago. The disease is in remission now, and he receives chemotherapy treatment every Monday.

Stark thought his grandfather, Jimmy, was having a surprise birthday party at the family farm. He was with his grandpa when they arrived to see family and balloons. “Happy Birthday” was sung as the family slowly stepped away from signs revealing Barrett’s wish come true.

Stark’s wish, a John Deere RSX 860i Gator, was driven from hiding behind a barn. Stark also received a helmet, chest protector, goggles and gloves. He took his utility vehicle for test rides. The Mean Pig provided barbecue for lunch.

“It is amazing. It was a surprise. I’ve always wanted one,” Stark said.

Stark’s dad, Darrell Pettey, said, “I’m glad there is an organization like this, not only for my son but for all of the (children) out there.

Make-A-Wish contacted the family within the first five days Stark was in the hospital in 2014.

Stark began to think his wish might not come through.

“I’m very shocked. I’ve been trying to keep it a secret,” Stark’s mom, Polly Pettey, said.

“It is an emotional day. Hunting is in his blood. He said he had to have it before hunting season,” she said.

Modern gun deer season opens this weekend. Duck hunting opens Nov. 19.

“It will get me to the duck hunting holes, and I’ll ride around and have fun. I love it,” Stark said.

Make-A-Wish grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The average cost of a wish is more than $8,000. Make-A-Wish relies on fundraisers, corporate support and donations.

Make-A-Wish Mid-South will grant 250 wishes this year. Wishes are either to go somewhere, to meet someone, to be someone or to have something.

TOP STORY >> Search on for new superintendent

Leader senior staff writer

Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Superintendent Tony Wood resigned Monday night effective the end of this school year, and the job opening was posted online by Tuesday morning, Wood said.

The board could hire his successor as early as the Dec. 5 board meeting, according to the timeline Wood submitted and the board approved Monday.

Applicants with doctorates are preferred with a minimum of five years’ superintendent experience required. That excludes assistant superintendent Jeremy Owoh, who has a Ph.D., but has no experience as superintendent.

According to the job posting, “The job requires the ability to demonstrate administrative and technical expertise in multiple areas. It requires knowledge of the laws and regulations governing public schools in Arkansas. Requires sufficient language and human relations skills to prepare and deliver formal presentations to diverse audiences and to build productive and effective work teams. Requires sufficient math skills to read and interpret financial statements.”

The application period closes Nov. 17 at midnight.

At a special board meeting, 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, applications will be reviewed, finalists will be selected, interview questions will be reviewed and the board will set an interview schedule.

Interviews will be conducted Nov. 28 and as early as the Dec. 5 board meeting, the next superintendent could be selected.

Superintendent contract extensions occur in January, Wood said, so the board could choose to wait for the result of that.

The new superintendent will go to work July 1, 2017.


“I’m proud of what we have accomplished,” Wood wrote in his letter of resignation. “I’ve been surrounded by a talented, dedicated team. Together we’ve established a brand new school district—something that has never happened before in Arkansas. We have started the hard, earnest work that change requires.”

Wood expressed his respect for the board and board members, and said, “You saw the needs and went for a solution by passing one of the largest millage increases in any school district to fund school construction.”

He said the timing of his announcement will afford time to allow an effective process to select the next superintendent and to prepare for the transition.

Wood was hired after a professional nationwide search. It cost the district about $10,000 to find and hire Wood, from about 20 miles up the road in Searcy. His previous job was director of the state Education Department.


“We should start to get some names by the end of the week,” Wood said. “This is a wonderful community, if I was a young guy I’d stay on until they ran me off. I’m fixin’ to turn 66.”

He said Tuesday that the district is all staffed up and could now handle all the paperwork of logistics of a search on its own.

Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry Guess, familiar with the challenges unique to his district and the Jacksonville district that detached from it, including the desegregation orders and agreement they are subject to, said he is on a two-year contract and would not be an applicant.

Bobby Lester, JNPSD’s interim superintendent until Wood was hired said he’ll not apply either. “No, sir. I’ve got other things to do in this life. Tony’s done an excellent job.


Lester and Wood, between them, kept the process on time and district on an even keel through the first ever detachment of one school district from another.

“I’m thankful we got him,” said School Board President Daniel Gray. “He got us through the most important time, and I don’t think there was anyone else who could have laid as fair a foundation” given the large scope of work.

“His leadership was second to none, and I am thankful we have him through the end of the school year,” Gray said.

“He’s a man of integrity, honest and transparent,” he said. “Those will be hard shoes to fill.”


The school board also voted to give each qualifying full-time employee two $600 bonuses this year. The first will be for those working six hours or more a day, hired by Nov. 7 and still employed Dec. 9, the day of the first disbursement.

To qualify for the second bonus, the employee must have started by Jan. 9 and still be employed at the time of the May distribution. The cost to the district will be $735,840.

The district still can’t commit to raises, but wanted to recognize the teachers.

Wood has said all along that he wanted to help the new district to and through its first school year as a standalone district, which was geographically carved out of Pulaski County Special School District, and planned to retire after that.


New personnel hired Mon-day night will be the last eligible for the first bonus. They include Ashlie Ashmore, secondary English teacher; Tiffany Harper, family consumer science; Julie Coker, elementary art and Tracy Haley, secondary science.

The following classified employees were hired: paraprofessionals Holly Douglas, Dorchelle Lockhart, Jarriel Moore, Derrick Steel and Shalonda Thompson; custodians Anthony Brits, Carl Brown (part time), Lakeithia Phoenix and Cora Stovall.

Also hired were bus drivers Richard Haney, Katina Randle and Markiel White and cafeteria workers Jessica Oginski, Antwon Roy, Josephine Wheeler and Lakeshia Williams.

Hired as para-educators were Audreon Duncan, Wileta Ingram and Mary Ellen Shott; Cortez Bell, security officer, and attendance clerk Tina Smith.

Resignations: Reginald Nichols, Craig Watson, Anthony Alexander, Jacob Aloi and Shamika Boxley.

Other resignations include Treva Bradley, Craig Hartaway, Kristy Linkswiler, Georgia Williams and Kaylei Kennedy.

TOP STORY >> English, Johnson re-elected

Leader staff writer

Editor’s note: All totals are as of midnight Tuesday.

In an historic presidential election that pitted the first woman to possibly become president against the first person in a century or more to make it to the top without ever holding a political office, the people went with the outsider.

Businessman Donald J. Trump bested longtime politician Hillary Clinton with 305 projected electoral votes to Clinton’s 233.

Arkansas voters sided with Trump, 60 percent to 34 percent, giving the state’s six electoral votes to Trump.

Arkansans also kept all the Washington incumbents who were running for re-election.

Also, all ballot issues, including the use of medical marijuana, passed.

Republican Sen. John Boozman, defeated Democrat Conner Eldridge, a Lonoke native and former U.S. attorney, and Libertarian Frank Gilbert. Boozman gathered 538,348 votes, or 60 percent, to Eldridge’s 318,496 votes, or 36 percent, and Gilbert came in a distance third with 37,478 votes, or 4 percent.

In the Second District, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) bested his Democratic challenger, Diane Curry, as well as Libertarian Chris Hayes.

French captured 156,326 votes, or 59 percent, compared to Curry with 97,178 votes, or 37 percent and Hayes netted 12,194 votes, or 4.5 percent.

State Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) bested Democrat Joe Woodson, a North Little Rock attorney, for another term as the Dist. 34 senator, which includes North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

English grabbed 58 percent of the vote (19,692) to Woodson’s 42 percent or 14,109 votes.

In the three competitive local House races, Dist. 42 Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) beat back a solid challenge by Patrick Thomas, 5,065 votes, or 58 percent, to 3,601 votes, or 42 percent.

“I’m humbled by the support of the fine people of District 42, and I will serve everyone to the best of my ability,” Johnson said late Tuesday night after receiving a congratulatory call from Thomas.

Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Roger Lynch came from behind to beat Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) for the Dist. 14 seat. Lynch netted 3,832 votes, or 52 percent, while Bennett pulled in 3,537 votes, or 48 percent.

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

Wing defeated Leigh, 7,009 votes to 6,438.

Also in Sherwood, voters decided two of the seven Pulaski County Special School Board races: Linda Remele bested Gloria Lawrence for the Zone 3 position, 62 percent to 38 percent. Shelby Thomas defeated Cori Burgett Fetters and Leonard Smith for the Zone 4 seat. Thomas garnered 52 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff. Fetters had 30 percent and Smith had 20 percent.

Sherwood residents also approved a measure that will improve parks and give the city flexibility to get the work done faster and cheaper without raising taxes, but redirecting current Advertising and Promotion taxes. The measure passed with 9,313 votes for it and 4,752 votes against.

Cabot had three competitive aldermen races, and one is headed for a runoff in three weeks.

Alderman Doyle Tullos and his two opponents, Norma Naquin and Wendell Gibson, split the vote almost equally for the Ward 3, Position 1 seat. Naquin was the top vote getter with 2,149, or 34 percent, followed by Tullos with 2,109 votes, which also rounds to 34 percent, and Gibson with 2,026 votes, or 32 percent. Norma Naquin and Wendell Gibson.

Challenger Damon Bivens defeated Alderman Jon Moore, 3,632 votes to 2,559 for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat.

Alderman Rick Prentice stood strong against a challenge by Tom Koller for the Ward 3, Position 2 seat. Prentice garnered 9,313 votes to Koller’s 4,752.

Judge Joe O’Bryan lost to Ward City Attorney Clint McGue, who had finished first in the March vote, but fell short of the required 50 percent to avoid a runoff. The third candidate in that election, John Flynn, endorsed McGue.

McGue grabbed 55 percent of the vote to O’Bryan’s 45 percent.

Beebe Alderman Tracy Lightfoot bested Donald Lewis for another Ward 2, Position 2 term. Lightfoot garnered 63 percent of the vote to Lewis’ 37 percent.

In Pulaski County, it was incumbent Doc Holladay with 82 percent of the vote and Lonoke Police Chief Patrick Mulligan with 18 percent.

All the ballot issues passed:

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

Issue 2 lets Arkansas governors retain their authority when out of the state.

Issue 3 vastly expands 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. It has been criticized as a boondoggle that will add to the state’s debt.

Issue 6 legalizes marijuana use for 17 medical conditions and create cannabis dispensaries to be managed by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Issues 4, 5 and 7 even though on the ballot, were disqualified by the state Supreme Court.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Titans win twice at JHS jamboree

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ basketball team hosted its annual jamboree on Saturday, playing one half each against eStem Charter and Hot Springs.

Jacksonville won against both teams, beating eStem 39-33 in a fast-paced matchup, and slipping past Hot Springs 38-36 in a game down to the wire.

In the opening game with eStem, the Mets jumped out to a quick lead. Jacksonville trailed 15-8 when head coach Vic Joyner put five new players in the game. The second team closed the gap to 21-18 by the end of the first quarter.

Joyner put his starters back on the floor and called for fullcourt pressure to start the second period. That led to several steals and transition buckets. Jacksonville scored the first eight points of the second period and never trailed again.

Senior guard Tyree Appleby and junior post player Christian White combined for seven transition dunks. Appleby led Jacksonville with 18 points while White finished with seven.

“That was a wide open game,” Joyner said. “That’s kind of how my kids like to play. We didn’t play great team defense. Fortunately for us, if people want to play that way, we have some guys that can get up and down the floor, too. But even in a game like that, we had a lot breakdowns defensively. We didn’t close out on shooters and stood around and watched too much. In this league, that’s going to have to change.”

The Titans were in close with the Trojans in the first quarter of game two. Louisiana Tech signee Exavion Christon leads Hot Springs, and he did most of his damage early.

Jacksonville led 17-16 at the end of the first period, but the starting unit put together a huge run early in the second.

Again, the Titans’ pressure forced several Hot Springs turnovers. Appleby got loose for a dunk and-one. DaJuan Ridgeway added a pair of 3-pointers as Jacksonville took a 34-22 lead with three minutes remaining.

Joyner pulled the starting unit, and the Trojans rallied. Christon scored six-straight points, but the end of his streak wasn’t the end of Hot Springs’ run. The Trojans scored nine-straight before Joyner reinserted his starters with a minute left. Christon added one more basket to complete the 11-0 run and make the score 34-33 with 40 seconds to go.

Ridgeway nailed a 16-footer from the baseline to put Jacksonville up by three, but the Trojans converted a 3-point play to tie the game at the other end.

Jacksonville held the ball as time ran down, and Appleby penetrated, pulled up and hit a 10-foot jumper in the lane with six seconds remaining.

Hot Springs called timeout to set up the last shot, but never got it off as Ridgeway deflected a pass as time expired.

“My plan originally was to let the backups stay in there that whole second period,” Joyner said. “But when they came back, I decided to put my starters back in to see how they would handle that situation. So overall it wasn’t bad. I’m looking at the big picture. I’m not worried about losing a 12-point lead in a jamboree. I’m trying to see who’s ready to play.”

Ridgeway led Jacksonville with 16 points against Hot Springs. Appleby had 14.

Jacksonville opened the regular season last night at Pine Bluff after Leader deadlines. They will play at Mills on Friday, and host Mills the following Friday in the Titans’ home opener on Nov. 18.

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats’ big plays challenge Bears’ D

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears have been no stranger to playoff games in recent years, but it’s been almost a decade since they played one at home. The Bears’ last played a playoff game at Blackwood Field in 2007. That changes this Friday when the 5A-Central two seed hosts South three seed Watson Chapel at 7 p.m. in Sherwood.

The Bears (9-1) enter the playoffs after their best regular season since 2002 when it played in the Class 4A state championship game.

Sylvan Hills’ only loss this season was at No. 1 Pulaski Academy, where it led every statistical category except the ever-so-crucial turnovers, which led to the 35-23 defeat.

The Watson Chapel Wildcats, (6-4, 5-2) out of Pine Bluff, have been a Jekyll and Hyde team this year, especially in recent weeks.

They are responsible for top-seeded White Hall’s only loss this season, and put itself in position for a share of the league title with the 41-36 win in Week 7 of the season. But they lost 21-14 to Magnolia in Week 8, when the Panthers were just 2-5. White Hall had beaten Magnolia 38-0. It was the first of three-straight wins for the Panthers that put them into the playoffs as the four seed from the 5A South.

“Chapel’s a team that it’s a little hard to know what to expect,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “They’ve beat some really good teams, and they’ve lost a couple games that kind of make you scratch your head. What we have to keep in mind is that when they’re at their best, they’re pretty good. So we need to be at our best.”

The Bears and Wildcats share one common opponent in 5A-South Conference co-champion Hot Springs Lakeside. The Rams beat the Wildcats 35-20 in Week 9. Six weeks earlier in the third week of the season, the Bears blocked an 18-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to hang on for a 28-27 victory at HSLHS.

“It’s a tough first-round matchup,” Withrow said. “We played them twice this summer in 7-on-7, and their skill guys are good. They’re athletic, good size and very fast. Looking at them on film, their linemen aren’t bad. Their skill guys are big but their linemen aren’t just huge. So we’ve got to win the point of attack defensively. I think we can do that if we’re ready to play. We’ve shown that ability at times.”

The Bears’ aggressive defensive strategy has included lots of blitzes this year. The Bears held Pulaski Academy to a season low 286 yards of offense. They had similar success against McClellan’s vaunted running attack.

Chapel lost its starting quarterback midseason for disciplinary reasons, but Withrow believes it got better when backup Jaquan Dorsey took over behind center.

“The quarterback is good,” Withrow said. “He moves in and out of the pocket well. He’s athletic and has a great arm. He throws the ball a long ways.”

Withrow also noticed on film that the Wildcats are adept at screen passes, which can burn blitzing defenses if they get careless.

“You can still have a blitz on, but you have to account for that guy,” Withrow said of the intended receiver. We’ll have to be on the lookout for that and know where that guy is.

“The main thing we have to watch out for is their big play capability. They’re the kind of team that’ll make a bad play and get behind the chains, and then go the distance on the next one and none of that other stuff mattered. We have to not let that happen. I think if we can force them to march down the field, we’ll put ourselves in a much better position to win.”

SPORTS STORY >> Wolverines worry Panthers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot football team hurries preparations this week for its first-round playoff game against newly formed Bentonville West High School. The game is being played on Thursday because BWHS shares a stadium with Bentonville High School, and both teams are hosting playoff games.

Bentonville High is the 7A-West Conference co-champion but had to settle for a three seed and play a first-round game. Bentonville West is the four seed, and hosts 7A-Central five seed Cabot. Each league’s top two finishers earned first-round byes.

The Wolverines are only 3-7 this year, but all three wins came in conference play and earned them a playoff bid in its inaugural season.

The not-so-impressive record means nothing to Cabot coach Mike Malham, who has seen his team suffer a major upset once already this year.

“We can’t take anybody for granted,” said Malham. “We’ve already lost to an 0-5 team this year, and we were 5-0. You ever seen that? I think we showed last week that we’re capable of competing with anybody. But we’ve also showed we aren’t good enough to assume we’re just going to beat anybody either. They have players and we’re going to have to be ready to play.”

The Wolverines have no seniors, but there is talent, especially on offense. Sophomore Jadon Jackson (6-foot-1, 170) has emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the conference. Responsible for getting the ball to him is quarterback Will Jarrett, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season.

“They do exactly what seems to give us trouble,” Malham said. “They spread it out and throw it around. They do a lot of no-back and one-back sets and they throw it all over the field. You saw what happened when Bryant threw it all over the field. We’re going to have to play better than we did that night.”

Cabot (6-4, 3-4) went 1-4 in the last half of the season after starting 5-0. The only win was against last-place Little Rock Central, 20-17.

Outside of the loss to Bryant, much of Cabot’s woes can be boiled down to two things; Turnovers, and being without starting quarterback Jarrod Barnes, who has verbally committed to the University of Arkansas.

Barnes was hurt on the opening kickoff of the second half against Conway with the score tied 14-14. Conway won the game 37-14. The Panthers were without Barnes the next two games, the win over Central and the loss to Bryant.

He played most of the game against second-place Northside (35-28 loss) and all of last week’s 28-27 loss to No. 1 ranked North Little Rock.

Barnes’ absence, however, had nothing to do with giving up 48 points to Bryant.

“Our defense has been pretty solid most of the season,” Malham said. “But that one wasn’t and that’s a concern. Bentonville West does some of the same things, so we have to be better.”

Cabot has also had 14 turnovers in the last three games combined. There were five against Bryant, four against Northside and five more against North Little Rock.

“You’d think as close as we played the top two teams, if we don’t have those turnovers we’re in shape to win those two games,” Malham said. “I think we’ve shown what we’re capable of. If we can cut out these turnovers maybe we’ll end up on the right side of these close games.”

Cabot was also without two starting offensive linemen last week, and both should be back in the mix on Thursday. Starting safety Evan Hooper missed last week as well, and will likely be out again this week. Justin Nabors filled in at North Little Rock and played well.