Saturday, November 18, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills makes final at Joe T.

Special to The Leader

The Sylvan Hills Lady Bears reached Saturday’s final of the Joe T. Robinson annual girls basketball tournament by defeating the Bald Knob Lady Bulldogs Thursday evening by a final of 57-25. The Lady Bears had defeated Mills 73-27 in Monday’s opening round.

Sylvan Hills will play the winner of Conway Christian and Caddo Hills at 11:30 in the tournament final on Saturday.

Sylvan Hills never trailed in the contest, jumping out to a 7-0 early lead and doubling up the Lady Bulldogs at intermission with a 40-20 advantage. The Lady Bears capitalized on Bald Knob turnovers the entire game, and held the Lady Bulldogs to five points in the second half.

“We shot much better tonight, causing the lead to jump on up there,” Sylvan Hills coach Shelley Davis commented. “We had career highs from Lainie Ballard and KJ Johnson. I’m very proud of their unselfishness and team play.”

Johnson scored the first two baskets of the game, followed by a 3-pointer by Jayla Bell to give Sylvan Hills the 7-0 start. Whitney Byers got the Lady Bulldogs on the scoreboard with a layup. Ballard hit the first of her three 3-point baskets, Gerkari Parker had an offensive rebound put back, followed by Ballard’s second 3-pointer to give the Lady Bears a 15-4 lead. Kinlee Varnell answered with a three for Bald Knob, but Ballard sank her third three.

A pair of baskets pulled the Lady Bulldogs to within 18-11, but a driving lay-in by Alana Canady, another bucket under the basket by Johnson on an assist by Bell, and then a 3-pointer by Bell gave the Lady Bears a 25-11 advantage at the end of the opening frame.

Johnson also scored the first two Lady Bear baskets of the second period, the first with a free throw added and made. Parker had another offensive rebound put back, this time of her own miss, Olivia Wilkins a layup, and Canady a layup on an assist by Wilkins.

Madi Pierce had six points in the quarter for the Lady Bulldogs, but Parker had yet another offensive rebound put back, and Canady one as well to give Sylvan Hills the comfortable 40-20 halftime lead.

It was all Lady Bears in the third as well, as they did not allow a Bald Knob score, while scoring 12 themselves. Canady led the way with six points.

Each team scored five in the final frame. Aaliyah Smith had a two in the lane, and Leriah Cly a three for the Lady Bears. Kahlan Gracey sank the front end on a one-and-one for Bald Knob to set the final score at 57-25.

Johnson led Sylvan Hills in scoring with 15 points. Canady was next with 12 points, Ballard added nine, and Parker eight.

Pierce had 11 points for Bald Knob, and Varnell had nine.

Rebounding was even for the teams, but the Lady Bulldogs had 19 turnovers while Sylvan Hills had eight.

Bald Knob went to the free throw line 14 times and made six, while Johnson sank the only free throw attempted by a Lady Bear.

In Monday’s win over Mills, Wilkins led the Lady Bears with 13 points. Aaliyah Bynum added 12 and Canady had 10.

Both Sylvan Hills teams will play Tuesday at Morrilton.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe girls dominate Benton

Leader sports editor

A totally dominant second quarter gave the Beebe girls a big-enough halftime lead to experiment a little in the second half. The experiment didn’t go as well, but the Lady Badgers till hung on for a comfortable 56-44 victory over Benton on Tuesday in the season opener at Badger Arena.

The Lady Badgers struggled from the floor in the early going, but their defense remained solid. Beebe led just 11-7 at the end of the first quarter, but then the defense went from solid to shut down.

“Our offense took a little bit to get going but I was really proud of the way we played defensively,” said Beebe coach Greg Richey. “We were able to get a pretty good lead in the half and that gave us a little room to work on some things in the second half. I thought the way the officiating changed at halftime kind-of hurt our ability to really get into what we were trying to do, but overall I’m pleased with the win. I thought it was a good start.”
There was a bit of question mark going into the game.

It would be Beebe’s first game in three seasons without Libby Hill, the team’s leading scorer from last year. She suffered a back injury just before the start of the season that will have her on the bench most of the first semester games.

But after the early shooting struggles, Beebe began to score well. Benton had no answer for senior Katie Turner. She played post most of the time, but when point guard Abbie Henley got into foul trouble, Turner seamlessly took control of those duties as well.

Turner missed most of last season with a torn ACL, and is playing 100 percent healthy for the first time since that injury.

“She looks like a totally different player,” Richey said. “Even after she came back (last year) she wasn’t 100 percent. But she’s confident with it now. She’s moving well. She’s strong and can handle the ball. She looked great tonight, and I expected her to.”

The second-quarter run started with a long possession. Turner went to the line and made 1 of 2 free throws, but her miss was rebounded by sophomore Hannah Gammill, and she went to the line. Gammill missed both foul shots, but her second miss was pulled down by Turner, who made a nifty interior pass to Riley Bridges, who scored for a 14-7 lead.

Turner then got steals on back-to-back Benton possessions. She took one the distance for a layup, and passed to Gammill for another, giving Beebe an 18-7 lead and forcing Benton to call a timeout.

It seemed to help momentarily. The Lady Panthers scored on the ensuing possession Katie Morrow hit a mid-range jumper. Benton then got a stop, and post player Maci Jones was fouled at the other end. She made 1 of 2 foul shots to make it 18-10 with four minutes left until halftime, but it was the last point Benton would score in the quarter as well. The Lady Badgers (1-0) scored finished the first half on an 11-0 run that sent them into the locker room with a 29-10 lead.

Richey and Henley were the only two players in the game with two fouls at the break, but Beebe was called for eight fouls in the third quarter, two each on Richey and Henley that put both players on the bench for most of the rest of the game.

It also thwarted any rhythm the game might have reached. Beebe’s biggest lead was 40-18 at the end of the third quarter. Benton then far exceeded its 18-point total in three quarters, with 26 in the fourth quarter alone.

“We were playing a lot of kids by then and they had a couple shooters get hot,” Richey said. “You’d like to finish better, but I’m not too worried about it. That wasn’t our regular lineup and we weren’t doing our regular stuff. We tried to run a zone for a little bit. We haven’t practiced it much and we probably won’t do it a lot. We were just trying to look at some different things.

“Turner had a complete performance. She finished with 20 points, five rebounds, four steals, four assists and three blocked shots. Richey had 11 points despite limited playing time. Gammill finished with eight points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Bridges added another eight points off the bench.

Makenzy Davidson led Benton (0-3) with 11 points while Kennedy Stringfellow came off the bench to score nine. Beebe was 2 for 5 from 3-point range while Benton hit 9 of 16 overall, including 6 of 8 in the fourth quarter.

Free throw shooting was bad for Benton (7 of 14), and horrid for Beebe (6 of 18).

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers ousted by Bentonville

Leader sports editor

BENTONVILLE – The final score is not a good indicator of how close the game was, but it was a season-ending loss nonetheless for the Cabot football team. The Panthers traveled to 7A-West champion Bentonville for the quarterfinals, and were down just 14-6 halfway through the third quarter, but ultimately fell 31-6.

As much as could go wrong for the Panthers did go wrong. They lost their starting quarterback on the first drive of the game. There were three fumbles. None were lost but all three lost big yardage and thwarted promising drives. There were also a lot of strange calls by the officials and some creative clock keeping that all benefited the home team.

Cabot coach Mike Malham didn’t say anything about the officiating, but he did lament the self-defeating mistakes.

“I thought the defense played outstanding in the first half,” said Malham. “We had a couple good drives going but seemed like every time we did we’d fumble the ball or get a penalty. We just can’t make those mistakes against good teams like this. We just gave them too many opportunities.”

Neither team scored in the first quarter. Cabot had the ball to start the second quarter and drove just across midfield before a fumble on third and 5 lost 4 yards and forced a Cabot punt.

The defense then held Bentonville (9-2) to three-and-out and the Panthers took over on the Tiger 46. Cabot went for it on fourth and 1 and quarterback Cody Skinner appeared to be very close to the first down, but the ball was spotted back at the 45-yard line for the measurement. After the official signaled first down for Bentonville, the ball was moved back to middle of the field and placed at the 44, which would have been enough for a Cabot first down.

Two plays later, Bentonville finally struck first when quarterback Lucas Bowman found receiver Kam’ron Mays-Hunt for a 53-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Tiger lead with 5:18 left in the first half.

Cabot’s next drive picked up 18 yards before a holding penalty turned a 10-yard first-down run by backup quarterback Cody Skinner into third and 15. On the next play, tight end Ayden Shurley let a pass slip right through his fingers, setting up fourth and long and forcing Cabot to punt again.

The punt pinned the Tigers at their own 3-yard line with 2:26 left in the half, but Bentonville would still score before halftime with the help of several strange incidences.

Nothing strange about the first play, when running back Preston Crawford took the draw handoff 19 yards and out of the shadow of the end zone. Two plays later came the first curious occurrence.

Bowman was forced to scramble when he found no one open and pressure was being applied by the Cabot defensive line. When Bowman took off, several Bentonville players appeared to simply grab the nearest Panther. Bowman gained a yard, but Cabot coaches were penalized for protesting the no-calls and 15 yards was added to the end of the run.

Crawford was tackled for a 6-yard loss on the next play, and the clock inexplicably stopped for several seconds. An incomplete pass set up third and 16, but Bowman picked up 26 yards right up the middle when escaped more pressure from the defensive line. That made it first down at the Cabot 26. After another incomplete pass, Bowman scrambled again, this time picking up just 4 yards, and the clock stopped again with 51 seconds left, though no first down was gained and Bowman was stopped in the middle of the field. The clock did not begin again until the ball was snapped. When it was snapped, Bentonville got away with a blatant pick play that took linebacker Lucas Crumbly out of coverage on a crossing patter, and receiver Harrison Campbell caught the ball with an empty field in front of him for a touchdown that put the Tigers up two scores at the half.

Bentonville got the ball to start the second half, but the Cabot defense stopped them without allowing a first down.

Cabot (6-6) took over on its own 46, and went that distance in eight plays.

The Panthers needed just one third-down conversion, and got it when T.J. Rogers picked up 7 yards on third and 6 to set up first and goal at the 3. Skinner kept right over the A gap for the score on the next play.

Mason Martin missed the extra point, but wasn’t helped by the official blowing his whistle just as the ball was being placed for the kick. The apparently inadvertent whistle wasn’t acknowledged and the score remained 14-6 with 7:44 left in the third quarter.

Bentonville’s next drive was almost all Bowman. Crawford picked up 21 yards on first down and Bowman did the rest. He kept on a quarterback draw for 46 yards. After a holding penalty, Bowman scored on the same play to complete a three-play, 80-yard drive that put the Tigers up 21-16 with 6:35 to go in the third.

Cabot again drove into Bentonville territory, but another fumble, this time an ill-advised pitch on the option, lost 6 yards and forced Cabot into a passing situation on third and 14. Rogers made a 2-yard catch, but a fourth-down pass was caught in the 30 mile-per-hour winds at Tiger Stadium and sailed high for the turnover on downs at the Bentonville 42.

The Tigers hit a 35-yard field goal on their next drive to go up 24-6 with 10:37 left.

Cabot then drove from its own 20 to first and goal at the 3, but could not get it in the end zone in four tries.

Bentonville took over inside its own 1-yard line, and on the fourth play, the quarterback draw struck again. This time Bowman went 83 yards for the score that set the final margin.

Bentonville moves on to host Bryant in the semifinals next week. The Hornets overcame a 20-0 halftime deficit to beat Fayetteville 21-20.

Friday, November 17, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Restaurants going wet

Jacksonville and Sherwood voters on Tuesday made it a lot easier for restaurants to boost revenues and for cities to attract national chains.

Jacksonville voted 993-179 in favor of allowing restaurants to serve alcohol in the dry Gray Township, a defunct jurisdiction that banned alcohol sales 60 years ago. Sherwood was not far behind, voting 645-151 in favor. The measure failed by one vote in rural north Pulaski County.

Restaurants could start applying for liquor licenses next month. This won’t lead to any liquor stores or bars. But maybe the two communities will be more attractive to restaurants looking to grow here.

No good maps exist of Gray Township’s boundaries, and many people can go their whole lives without ever hearing the township’s name. The township includes all of Jacksonville and about half of Sherwood. Residents there voted to ban all liquor sales in 1954 and 1956 respectively, and the consequences have been mostly Jacksonville’s loss because most of Sherwood was already wet.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher and Sherwood Mayor Virginia Young, along with their chambers of commerce and a group of dedicated volunteers, worked hard to pass the liquor proposal. Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville), who sponsored legislation that allowed this week’s historic vote, said the referendum will boost the economies both of Sherwood and Jacksonville.

Fletcher said the vote “was more than an alcohol issue. The election showed people want to move Jacksonville forward. Now we can move forward with a level playing field.”

North Little Rock has seen dozens of the big-name chain restaurants open on Warden Road that attract diners from Jacksonville, which has lost out on millions of tax dollars and hundreds of restaurant jobs.

Jacksonville and Sherwood hope to win some national steak houses and pizza parlors. Gravel Ridge is ripe for development, and at least one shopping center is already underway there and restaurants there can add liquor to their menus now.

It’s hoped the widening and reconfiguration of Hwy. 67/167 – a $200 million project – will lead to urban renewal and more shopping centers that serve food and alcohol.

For inspiration look at Markham Street in Little Rock between University Avenue and Van Buren Street near Fair Park Boulevard.

Opposite the UAMS campus, the area has seen numerous buildings bulldozed and replaced with attractive modern ones.

There’s lots of potential for many sites along the freeway, which will have six lanes from Jacksonville to Cabot. There are some vacant lots, but a sleepy office space or retail store would make excellent locations for redevelopment. When the access roads are made one-way, sites that are overlooked today could become prime real estate.

Both cities’ proximity to Little Rock Air Force Base, the state’s fifth-largest employer, might entice some big chains. Chili’s Bar and Grill has done well in Jacksonville, where much of its revenues come from liquor sales. It operates using a private-club license, a loophole that’s expensive and inconvenient. Private-club permit holders can’t advertise the alcoholic beverages they sell and buy their inventory from liquor stores not from wholesalers.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and others sell drinks with a private-club license. They can soon apply for liquor licenses like other restaurants in Pulaski County, according to Dr. Robert Price, who helped organize the campaign. He’s also leading a downtown-revitalization effort.

Already established restaurants in the area stand to gain. We’ll be watching to see if places like Roma Italian Restaurant, New China Restaurant, Thai Taste, the Hook, Bar-B-Que Shack and Barnhill’s Steaks and Buffet will apply for liquor licenses. They are free to choose, and the stage has been set to give everyone more choice and opportunity.

It seems North Little Rock has every restaurant brand out there, but Jacksonville and Sherwood economic developers should pursue Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, O’Charley’s Restaurant and Bar, Yard House, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Maggiano’s Little Italy, the Cheesecake Factory and others.

And don’t rule out luring away some restaurants from North Little Rock. Texas Roadhouse, which has hundreds of locations across the country and was named the best restaurant chain by Business Insider, is hard to get to behind the Other Center in North Little Rock.

Thanks to everyone, especially the many volunteers who helped set the stage – or should we say table – to improve the quality of life and create more opportunities for the community.

TOP STORY >> Supremacist sent to Virginia

Leader staff writer

White supremacist Jacob Goodwin, 22, of Butlerville was extradited Thursday to Virginia to face a felony charge of malicious wounding for his alleged violent actions against a black man at the “Unite the Right” white nationalists rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12.

Goodwin was held at the Lonoke County Detention Center since Oct. 10, fighting extradition after being arrested in Ward by U.S. Marshal Task Forces on a warrant from Charlottesville.

Virginia state law classifies malicious wounding as a Class 3 felony.

According to the Virginia law, “If any person maliciously shoot, stab, cut, or wound any person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent to maim, disfigure, disable, or kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty of a Class 3 felony.”

Punishment for a conviction is from five to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.

Goodwin is allegedly one of six men attending the “Unite the Right” white nationalists rally who savagely beat black counter-protester, DeAndre Harris, 20, in a parking garage next to Charlottesville police headquarters after the rally was dispersed by police. Harris suffered a spinal injury and a head laceration.

Police identified Goodwin as one of the men in video footage attacking Harris, who was on the ground.

Goodwin was dressed in all black wearing a riot helmet and carrying a large clear riot shield. Video of the attack was posted on YouTube. The Washington Post reported his mother, Tamera Goodwin, also attended the rally.

The Post reported Harris was also arrested on Oct. 10 on a felony charge of unlawful wounding for allegedly hitting a white nationalist at the rally with flashlight before the fight at the parking garage occurred.

It was the same rally where white supremacists, Klan members and neo-Nazis fought against counter-protesters as it was dispersed by police.

James Fields Jr., 20, of Maumeea, Ohio, allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters killing white woman Heather Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville and injuring 19 others. He was charged with second-degree murder, five counts of malicious wounding, three counts of aggravated malicious wounding and failing to stop at the scene of a crash that resulted in a death.

The Post reported journalist and activist Shaun King, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and others combed through on-line information sources and social media to identify Goodwin and others charged with the attack. King is a writer for the New York Daily News.

King posted photos of Goodwin at the rally and searched Facebook pages of white supremacists to identify and name the suspects. King publicly named Goodwin in September and turned his findings to Charlottesville police.

On Sept. 24 King posted on his Facebook page, “Dear Jacob Scott Goodwin, age 22, of Ward, Arkansas - we have looked for you for a month. In the end it was your hair, your bracelets, your glasses, your tattoo on your forearm, the white supremacist pins and necklaces, and your own bragging online that helped us identify you as one of the felony attackers of DeAndre Harris in Charlottesville.

“Soon, you will be arrested alongside Dan Borden and Michael Alex Ramos, for what you did on that day. It was you who attacked DeAndre, nearly knocking him unconscious.”

TOP STORY >> Christmas parades roundup

Area communities have scheduled their Christmas parades.


Sherwood’s Christmas parade will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. The theme is “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Ron Duran will be grand marshal.

The parade will start at Kiehl Avenue and Lantrip Road and continue west down Kiehl. It will end at Oakbrooke Drive. For more information, or to request an entry form, call 501-835-9599 or email

The Advertising and Promotion Commission and the Parks and Recreation Department sponsor the event.


The Beebe Christmas parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. This year's theme is “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

The entry fee for a float is $10. Registration form and rules can be found at Awards will be given in four categories: Commercial, civic, educational and religious. The parade will begin on Badger Drive at Beebe Public Schools office, will turn right onto Center Street, left onto North Main Street, left onto College Street and left onto Orange Street back to the school.

For more information, call the Beebe Chamber of Commerce at 501-882-8135.


The Lonoke Chamber of Commerce and the Wade Knox Children’s Advocacy Center will hold their second annual Lonoke Christmas parade at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3.

The theme is “Christmas and Candy Canes.”

Entry fee is $10 for a vehicle and $20 for floats. No animals or four-wheelers allowed in the parade. The route starts at the across from the Lonoke County fairgrounds at Third Street and Hwy. 89, turning left onto Center Street at the Courthouse and then left onto Holly Street ending behind the Gina Cox Center.

The parade coincides with the 34th annual Merry Thanks Christmas shopping event from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Window Wonderland window dressing business competition will be judged at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Entry fee is $10.

Get Your Lights On! Christmas Light Battle, a new residential competition will be judged at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. Entry fee is $10.

Deadlines for all events are 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27. For more information, call the Wade Knox Child Advocacy Center at 501-676-2552 or visit for entry forms, rules and maps.


Jacksonville Parks and Recreation will host the 60th annual Christmas parade at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The night parade features illuminated floats, Santa and parade favorites: marching bands, floats, dance groups and the fire department. The parade starts at the corner of Sharp and Main streets and ends at First United Methodist Church on West Main Street. Admission is free. Entry forms are available on the park’s website, Entry fee is $25. Awards will be given in several categories. For more information, call 501-982-4171 or visit


Ward’s Christmas parade will be 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9. It will start at Markham Street and Second Street follow along Hwy. 367, turning at Dollar General and come up Hickory Street to city hall.

A Christmas tree lighting will follow with cookies and refreshments served.

Entry fee for floats is $5. There will be awards for the top three floats.

Entry forms are available at the city hall reception desk. Deadline is Friday, Dec. 8.

For more information, call parks director Karen Dawson 501-843-7686.


Cabot’s parade will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10. The theme is “A Hollywood-Movies Christmas!”

Participants are asked to select an idea or image that best represents their favorite memory or interpretation of the theme and use it to design their float.

Several marching bands, clowns, veterans groups, Santa Claus and more are set to participate. The parade committee wants businesses and community, church and civic groups to place an entry in the parade. Trophies will be awarded in the five categories of competition: School/civic, church, business, animal/equestrian and general/personal.

Entry forms, parade rules and route maps are available at the Veterans Park Community Center, the Cabot Chamber of Commerce office and online at

The deadline to register is Dec. 4.

Completed forms and a $10 entry fee should be sent to Cabot Christmas Parade P.O. Box 1101 Cabot, Ark. 72023.

The parade will travel South Pine Street/Hwy. 89 beginning at Panther Trail and continue north past Knights Shopping Center and will then turn left on Pond Street and end at Central Elementary School, which is the same route used for the homecoming parade.

The awards-presentation ceremony will be immediately after the parade at the Consolidated Administrative Services parking lot across the street from Knight’s, which is where the judges’ stage will also be located.

For more information, call 501-920-2122 or e-mail

TOP STORY >> Ground broken for high school

Leader senior staff writer

Almost 40 years in the making, shovels hit the dirt Thursday, breaking ground for the new $66 million Jacksonville High School on a rise prominently overlooking Hwy. 67/167.

“It’s a tremendous day for Jacksonville,” according to Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District Board president Daniel Gray.

“The first day we had our own district, we tore down the building and now, in 18 months, we’ll be cutting the ribbon,” he said.


“Our scholars will have a world-class school second to none,” Gray said Friday.

“The community, through its efforts and sacrifices, brought this about,” said Jacksonville High School Principal LaGail Biggs. “It’s a different feeling, actually standing on the ground and realizing the vastness of what they’ve done in preparation for building.”

“I’m very excited and ready to get in and see the vertical movement—it’s a milestone for the city,” she said.

“We’re very proud — it’s a good day for Jacksonville,” according to Super-intendent Bryan Duffie. “We have great appreciation for the community support as we move forward.”


The board has also upgraded the long-range facility plan to include a new middle school instead of upgrading the existing building.

The new high school is slated to open for the fall semester in 2019.

It will be 272,000 square feet of energy-efficient sustainable construction to support an initial enrollment of 1,400 students.

Single purpose spaces such as the dining and media center will be upsized for a 10-year enrollment projection of 1,693 students.


It will include career education spaces for auto body, Simply Delicious restaurant, information technology, robotics, CADD, computer coding and JROTC and other focused study for a total of over 21,000 square feet of space.

Four science labs and 50 additional core classrooms will be included.

The 900-seat auditorium will include an orchestra pit, scene shop and support spaces.

A 2,200-seat competition gym will feature a full practice gym and associated lockers and support space for basketball, volleyball and baseball.

The school will have dedicated choir, art, band, drama and support spaces and a hardened storm shelter.

Athletic Field House facilities include weight-training area, seating, and concessions, support areas for boys and girls field and track along with a press box.

An ADA accessible football/track Stadium with synthetic sports field, 1,500 visitor seats and 2,000 home seats along with separate restrooms and concessions of home and away teams.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TOP STORY >> What it means to serve our nation

Leader staff writer

Retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles Eick, a Vietnam War veteran, descibed what it means to be a veteran as guest speaker during the Cabot American Legion Post 71 Veterans Day ceremony Saturday at the Veterans Park Events Center.

According to the federal code of regulations, Eick said a veteran is a person who served in the active military and was not discharged or released dishonorably. A dishonorable discharge disqualifies a person from being a veteran. If a person served for less than 180 days in the military and was found not worthy or not cut out to be there, they are given an administrative separation. They are not a veteran, Eick said.

He talked about the generational differences veterans face. Second World War veterans did not know when they were coming back.

“They were either drafted or volunteered to be in the military — 12 percent of the population was in the military,” he said.

A Vietnam War veterans’ tour was one year to two years. They were volunteers or drafted. The draft ended in January 1973, he noted.

“We had people motivated to go into the military to get away from the draft,” Eick said.

“Today service members go to war zones for five to six months and are rotated in and out. They have a different kind of stress level. Today’s military is all volunteer. They’re willing to put their life on the line to defend this country. A new enlistee earns about $9 an hour for a 40-hour work week.

“There is more motivation that just money. In January 2015, there were 1.4 million people serving active duty in the military. That’s 0.4 percent of the American population ensuring we have liberty, freedom and security. This is their day – Veterans Day,” Eick said.

“Veterans have a sense of pride that stands out. We paid our dues. When we hear the National Anthem we have a respect for it. We remember our comrades who served with us, maybe injured or died in service. This sense of duty, courage, and honor is in our actions and attitudes,” he said.

The Cabot American Legion is hosting an annual Thanksgiving meal at 6 p.m. Thursday for veterans, their family and on-duty first responders at the National Guard Armory, 300 Commercial Drive.

TOP STORY >> Settlement approved in hot-check case

Leader staff writer

The official order closing the federal case against Sherwood, its hot-check court and District Judge Milas “Butch” Hale III by the ACLU was signed on Friday and filed Tuesday.

The settlement requires Hale to follow certain procedures, including letting defendants do community service if they cannot pay off their fines.

He recently told the Sherwood City Council that he is already doing so and many of those procedures are ones he has had in place for years.

The agreement states that Hale must evaluate individuals on their ability to pay the legal financial obligations; follow set procedures during initial appearance; make sure the defendants have access to counsel; follow set procedures in making alterations to contempt procedures, arrest warrants and recall of prior warrants, and allow public access to the courtroom physically and by videotape.

The ACLU had filed the lawsuit in August 2016 claiming the hot check court was a debtors’ prison and the judge its warden.

The suit accused Sherwood’s court of stacking the deck against defendants, who had to not only make good on their bad checks but also pay thousands of dollars in hefty fines above the original checks.

The lawsuit alleged that “through a labyrinthine and lucrative system, a single check for $15 returned for insufficient funds can be leveraged into many thousands of dollars in court costs, fines and fees owed to Sherwood and Pulaski County.”

It was originally dismissed in June, but according to Mike Mosley, the Municipal League attorney working the case for Sherwood, the hot-check court and Hale, the ACLU filed what he called a take-another-look-at-it brief in July and that review hadn’t taken place yet.

The June dismissal of the case did not address the hot-check court’s practices or its fairness, issues raised in the ACLU’s lawsuit.

The dismissal was mostly based on the Younger doctrine, which prohibits federal courts from hearing civil suits brought by people who are being prosecuted in state court for reasons related to the claims in their federal civil suit.

Mosely told the Sherwood City Council in late October that the ACLU and the defendants it represents offered a settlement that doesn’t cost Sherwood any money or change the practice and procedures of the court.

Mosely said it was made clear to him that if Sherwood didn’t take the deal, the ACLU would keep on fighting “and then we would have to keep on fighting.”

“What is good about this settlement is that it ends things,” Mosely said.

The council voted to settle.

According to the settlement, “In exchange for Judge Hale and the City of Sherwood’s agreement to the terms set forth herein, and upon filing of the stipulation of dismissal, Plaintiffs hereby release, acquit, and forever discharge with prejudice, and subject to the terms of this Agreement, Judge Hale and the City of Sherwood and all employees, parents, owners, shareholders, agents, trustees, board members, council members, insurers, bond holders, attorneys, subsidiaries, affiliated entities, heirs, and successors.”

Likewise neither the judge nor the city of Sherwood can come back and sue any of the plaintiffs.

TOP STORY >> Sales tax levy for sewer fix, water repairs passes easily

Leader staff writer

Both Lonoke sales-tax options passed Tuesday by at least a 3-to-1 margin.

The levies will allow the city to issue about $20 million in bonds for much-needed sewer and water infrastructure repair and expansion.

“It’s what we’ve been working for,” said Mayor Wayne McGee after the vote tallies were released Tuesday evening. “The residents voted to help themselves, and this will do so much for Lonoke that it’s hard to put into words.”

The first item on the ballot was a levy of a 1.25 percent sales and use tax to be used solely to secure the repayment of capital improvement bonds issued in the maximum principal amount not to exceed $20,900,000 for improvements, betterment and extensions to the waterworks and sewage systems in Lonoke.

It passed with 227 votes for and 65 against.

The second tax was the levy of a .25 percent sales and use tax to also be used on water and sewer infrastructure, as well as provide financial support for the operation of Lonoke police and fire departments.

It passed 219 to 70.

The mayor said he and other city leaders will meet in the next few days to prioritize the work that need to be done.

“We want to be ready the moment the money becomes available,” he explained, adding that he wished he could have talked to each resident and explained all the good this will do for Lonoke now and well into the future. “This will help everybody. It’s long overdue.”

McGee said in addition to making much needed repairs to old water and sewer lines, the sales and use tax will also prepare Lonoke for the future. He said the city has completed almost every project it is capable of doing itself, but has come to a point where it does not have the equipment to complete the larger projects. He said while some people may not have water and sewer issues, there are many in Lonoke who do.

“If I didn’t think it was something great for our town, I wouldn’t be for it,” McGee said. “I wouldn’t want my name on it. It’s for the people who live here and want to stay here or have businesses here. It’s for their kids. For the future of Lonoke.”

It was just one piece of good news the mayor received this week. He also found out the city has been awarded two grants: $159,000 for sidewalks and $65,000 for walking trails.

“It’s going to get busy around here for sure,” the mayor said.

TOP STORY >> Voters: We’ll drink to that

Leader editor

Voters in Jacksonville and Sherwood on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved allowing liquor sales in restaurants in the defunct Gray Township, which voted to ban the sale of alcohol more than 60 years ago.

More than 80 percent of the voters in both cities supported the measure Tuesday. Jacksonville approved 993-179, while Sherwood voted 645-151. The rural and mostly residential area north of Little Rock Air Force Base narrowly defeated the proposal, 43-42.

The election results mean it will be much easier for restaurants to obtain permits to sell alcohol. It will make both cities more attractive to proprietors.

Supporters of the drink-by-the-glass reform effort believe it could set the stage to help attract big-name restaurants while giving a boost to existing ones, create jobs and improve the quality of life.

State Rep. Bob Johnson (D- Jacksonville), who sponsored legislation to allow liquor sales in restaurants, said, “I’m elated. I’m amazed at the percentage of the people who voted in favor. I’m really glad I sponsored legislation to pave the way for the vote.”

“Jacksonville is ready for some good restaurants on Hwy. 67/167,” said Johnson, who was at an election watch party at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which will be able to buy alcohol wholesale when it begins to serve liquor by the drink and also advertise the beverages that will be served.

Johnson is running for mayor of Jacksonville and will not seek re-election to the state House.

Gray Township spans almost all of Jacksonville and much of Sherwood, including Gravel Ridge. Voters had to live in the township, and in city limits, in order to cast their ballots.

The results won’t bring in liquor stores or loosen rules on bars in Jacksonville and Sherwood. Gas stations and grocery stores will still be banned from selling alcohol if they’re already in a dry area.

The election results mean restaurants in otherwise dry areas can sell beer, wine and mixed drinks for on-premise consumption.

Restaurants that wanted to sell alcohol in Jacksonville had to obtain an expensive and complicated private-club license, but not for much longer.

Dr. Robert Price led the Vote for Progress Now committees in Jacksonville and Sherwood, which worked to give restaurants the privilege to sell alcohol.

“Everything came out like we were hoping for. Something like this can only happen when you have a lot of people involved. I had a lot of help. It’s the only way to pull it off. The last several months has been a real marathon for us,” Price said.

He thanked the many volunteers, including his wife, Ginger, Rep. Johnson, former Rep. Mike Wilson, Susan Rice, Karen Abrahamson and Jacksonville City Council member LaConda Watson.

Price expects the new rules to take effect by mid-December once the election results are certified. He said one prospective restaurant operator was awaiting the results of the election before moving forward with plans to open in Jacksonville.

Paul Wilson, who co-chaired with Price the combined Jacksonville-Sherwood committee, is building a shopping center in Gravel Ridge of Hwy. 107 near Brockington Road.

He had told The Leader he hopes the eased liquor rules for restaurants will help spur development in Gravel Ridge.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot opponents grow bigger still

Leader sports editor

The stakes aren’t quite as high as the last time the two teams met, but when Cabot’s 7A quarterfinal game at Bentonville is finished on Friday, so is one team’s season. Cabot won a blowout game on the same field at Tiger Stadium last season, but that wasn’t against Bentonville High.

The last time the Panthers played the Tigers, the Tigers beat the Panthers 39-28 at War Memorial Stadium in the 2013 Class 7A state championship game.

Both of those teams were undefeated conference champions, but only one in this season. After a rocky, 1-2 start to the season, Bentonville (8-2) swept through the 7A-West to win its conference championship outright.

Cabot had to win last week to move up above .500 on the season at 6-5, but the common opponents these two team’s share saw similar results.

Both teams have played Conway and Springdale during the regular season. Bentonville also faced North Little Rock in its preseason benefit game, which was not like Cabot’s annual scrimmage with Lake Hamilton. Bentonville vs. NLR was played like an actual game.

Conway smashed both teams, beating Bentonville 35-15 in the third week of the season, then hammering Cabot 49-14 two weeks later. Bentonville beat Springdale 49-21 in week five, and Cabot beat Springdale 43-21 last week.

The two teams’ matchups with top-ranked NLRHS were a full three months apart, but NLR beat Bentonville 54-19 in the preseason, and beat Cabot 38-21 in the last week of the regular season.

The Tigers have a balanced offense, but their best offensive weapon is wide receiver Kam’ron Mays-Hunt. He has 20 touchdown catches this season.

“They’ve got some good backs and good receivers, but No. 2 (Mays-Hunt) is really good,” Malham said. “The quarterback runs pretty good and throws it real well, but that No. 2 is one you really have to try to contain.”

Malham doesn’t expect the slew of big plays his offense created in the win last week over Springdale. That game featured touchdown runs of 75 and 68 yards. The plan last week was simple. Determine which side of the field 93 lined up on, and call the play to go the other way. Bentonville doesn’t have a 93, but are much more solid all the way across the line than the Bulldogs were.

“They’re pretty balanced across the lines,” Malham said. “As far as size, we’re going to be out-manned again. We’re pretty used to that at this point. We’ve just got to find a way to overcome it.”

Two starters in the offensive backfield didn’t finish last week’s game, and were still questionable as of Monday afternoon’s practice. Quarterback Tommy Oaks and halfback Noah Sorrell, who had the 68-yard touchdown run, both left the game with shoulder injuries.

In determining keys to victory, Cabot coach Mike Malham repeated the same mantra he’s being saying for 30-plus years.

“Our defense turned it around and played really well in the second half last week,” Malham said. “I really felt like the offense didn’t carry its weight as good as it should have. If we can’t control the ball a little bit and keep their offense off, it could be a long night. You can play good defense, but against that offense, if you let them have too many chances, you’re not going to keep them out.”

SPORTS STORY >> Titan girls play well but lose to Chapel

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville girls’ basketball team fell to 0-3 on Monday, losing 41-33 to Watson Chapel in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount. St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. The Lady Titans played the two-time defending Class 5A state champions without their starting point guard, Sharonda Perry, but coach Marian Kursh wasn’t entirely displeased with how her team performed.

“Defensively I thought it was our best game so far,” Kursh said. “It was the first time I felt like we were running the defense, rotating and doing things correctly for the most part. We just didn’t rebound. I yelled all night that they need to block out, and just wouldn’t do it. Just about all their points in the second half were second-chance points. So that’s something we’re definitely going to address.”

Jacksonville sophomore Shy Christopher scored five of Jacksonville’s six points in the first quarter, and she quickly became a focal point of the Lady Wildcat defense. Jacksonville missed its last seven shots ofthe quarter, but the defense kept it close. Watson Chapel’s lead was just 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, and the second period saw a role reversal.

Watson Chapel pushed out to a nine-point lead at the halfway point of the quarter, but the Lady Titans battled back slowly. A 3-pointer by DeShundra Shockley and a mid-range jumper by Tori Briggs got Jacksonville back to within 18-14 by halftime.

Chapel then scored the first four points of the third quarter before the Lady Titans answered with their best run of the game. With Chapel’s sophomore phenom Wyvette Mayberry on the bench, (daughter of Razorback legend Lee Mayberry) Jacksonville forced Chapel into a series of successive turnovers. Shockley hit a short jumper after getting the steal. Another steal led to senior Brittney Eskridge getting a layup while being fouled, but she missed the free throw.

Jacksonville got another defensive stop after two missed baskets by the Lady Wildcats. On the offensive end, the Lady Titans worked the ball around the perimeter while senior Amaya English worked through screens for an open 3-pointer, which she made to cap a 7-0 run and force Chapel to call a timeout with a 22-21 lead.

The timeout did break Jacksonville’s momentum, and Chapel scored seven-straight before English hit another 3-pointer to make it 29-24 going into the fourth period.

Chapel, which had already been winning the rebounding battle, started dominating it early in the fourth quarter. Briggs scored to start the final period, but Chapel answered with an 8-0 run, with all four baskets coming after one or more offensive rebounds. That put the Lady Wildcats up 37-26 with 5:11 remaining, and Jacksonville could get no closer than five the rest of the way.

Christopher led all scorers with 12 points, but she did not have a field goal in the second or third quarters, and was only 6 of 14 from the foul line. Jacksonville was just 10 of 23 from the free-throw line as a team.

English added eight for the Lady Titans (0-3) while Briggs had six and Shockley five.

Despite the low score, Watson Chapel saw 10 different players get on the scoreboard. Mayberry was the only one in double figures with 11 points. She also had five rebounds and four steals.

Chapel (1-0) outrebounded Jacksonville 33-19, and had 17 turnovers to 21 for the Titans.

Jacksonville will move to the consolation bracket and take on tournament host Mount St. Mary at 4 p.m. today. Chapel advances to the semifinals, where it will take on old rival Star City, who beat MSM 51-32 on Monday.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers win opener

Leader sports editor

Free throw shooting almost doomed the Cabot ladies in their opener on Monday, but bench defense finally wilted the Forrest City Lady Mustangs. Cabot forced 30 turnovers and came from behind in the fourth quarter of a back-and-forth game to beat Forrest City 58-52 in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.

A late run by the Lady Panthers put them up by eight, and they held on for a 58-52 win in the first round of the Heavenly Hoops Classic at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock.

Forrest City jumped out on Cabot at the beginning of both halves, but inexperience plus Cabot’s pressure took its toll toward the end.

“We had a couple of girls that came off the bench and really gave us a lift,” said Cabot assistant coach Jeremy Halbrook. “(Isabella) Arnold came in and did a great job defensively. Dejah Jimerson, she had been hurt, but she came in and did pretty good in our benefit game, so we gave her a chance. She was able to get past them and get to the basket. If she makes her free throws she’s well into double figures.”

The Lady Mustangs harassed Cabot into 21 turnovers, but more than half of their own turnovers were Cabot steals. Ball control will be a focus the rest of the week for the Lady Mustangs.

“We’re going to clean it up,” said Forrest City coach Erica Taylor. “When Tatyana Norment fouls out, you have to put players in there that aren’t as used to handling things like that, and we didn’t do a good job of it. It’s just going to take more work and getting more experience.”

Cabot scored the first basket of the game 12 seconds after tip off, but Forrest City scored the next 10 and held an eight-point lead when Lady Panther coach Carla Crowder called timeout with 3:50 left in the first period. From that point, Cabot turned the tables and outscored Forrest City 7-2 the rest of the quarter, then scored first to start the second period to pull within 12-11.

Cabot took its first lead since 2-0 when senior Lesley Roberts hit a 3-pointer that gave her team a 16-15 lead with 5:40 to go in the half. It was back and forth from that point until the break, and the two teams went into intermission knotted at 24-24.

Both teams left several points on the floor with missed free throws. Forrest City was just 6 of 15 from the line in the first half. Cabot was even worse, making just 4 of 16 attempts in the first two quarters.

The third quarter started much like the first. Cabot went up 29-26 on a 3-point play by point guard Blair Nichols, but the Lady Mustangs answered with a 9-0 run to take a 35-29 lead 3:35 left in the period.

The Lady Panthers finally broke a four-minute drought when Gabby Dodson scored with 3:12 on the clock. Dodson then picked up her fourth foul and sent Tyke Edwards to the line. She made 1 of 2 for a 26-31 FCHS lead, but Cabot took control.

The Lady Panthers scored nine in a row to close the third quarter. Arnold and Jimerson came off the bench to force a series of turnovers that led to the run.

Morgan Westbrook also came off the bench and took a charge that led to a bucket by Roberts that set the margin going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Mustangs still had a run in them, Norment got a steal and layup that put her team up 43-42 with 5:32 to play, but she fouled a minute later and sent Brooklyn Stracener to the line.

Stracener made both free throws to give Cabot the lead, but Kourtney Blanchett broke the press and hit a layup that put Forrest City right back on top 45-44 with 4:28 left in the game.

But just like in the second quarter, Cabot took control late in the period. Roberts hit a 3-pointer for Cabot. Arnold then got a steal and found Roberts for another basket that made the score 49-45 with 4:00 left.

Taylor called timeout, but the Lady Mustangs turned it over on the inbound pass. Cabot held it for almost a minute before Dodson missed. KeAmber Appleby got the rebound, but Roberts stole her outlet pass and passed to Nichols for a layup and a 51-45 lead 2:50 left in the game.

Dodson then got a steal and passed to Arnold, who passed back to Dodson in transition for a layup and an eight-point lead. Another Forrest City turnover allowed the Lady Panthers to burn another minute off the clock, and the Lady Mustangs couldn’t mount another comeback.

Roberts led all scorers with 18 points and was the only Lady Panther in double figures.

Norment scored 15 for Forrest City, but was only 3 for 8 from the foul line. Appleby had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Cabot plays eStem Charter in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today. Forrest City will take on Pulaski Academy at 5:30 p.m. eStem beat PA 63-44 on Monday.