Thursday, December 29, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Big Jack Johnson: Great Bluesman

By Garrick Feldman
Leader publisher

Big Jack Johnson has been playing at Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale, Miss., for the last couple of weekends, and if you hurry down there, you might still catch the great bluesman tonight as he rocks the juke joint down with his powerful guitar playing and soulful singing that’s as deep and satisfying as anything you’ll hear today anywhere in the Delta.

Johnson, who is 65 and a native of Clarksdale, is a gifted guitar player and a fine singer who might remind you of other blues greats from the area — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker or even Earl Hooker, who’d moved away about the time Johnson was growing up there, but he must have absorbed their music from their records and has honored their legacy with superb blues that mixes tradition with a contemporary sound.

Listening to him one recent evening after seeing him many times over the years — the first time at Memphis in May and then at Riverfest in Little Rock — I finally realized that Jack Johnson is surely the region’s greatest living bluesman and is as good as any of those blues giants from the past.

You can hear him for free at many blues festivals — including at an unannounced appearance last October at the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival at Helena with Lonnie Shields, an area native who came in from Philadelphia after several years’ absence, and you can also hear Johnson at the Sunflower Blues Festival in August .

But for $8 or so, you can often catch him at Red’s Lounge, a small juke joint where Big Jack and his band play facing the bar, and what a bargain: He plays three 45-minute sets from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. not far from where Muddy Waters made his Library of Congress recordings at the nearby train depot in 1942. Honeyboy Edwards, now 90 and living in Chicago, also made his LOC recordings and played on Fourth Street near Red’s around the same time and still plays now and then in Clarksdale.

Johnson, a former oil company truck driver, is as powerfully built as Muddy Waters with a voice to match, although Big Jack is probably the better guitar player.

His blues rocks and swings and moves you like a thunderstorm blasting through the night.

Big Jack’s playlist includes “If You Love Me Like You Do,” “Oh Darling,” “Since I Met You Baby,” “Have Mercy Baby,” “Rock Me Baby,” “That’s All Right Mama,” “Kansas City,” “Catfish Blues,” “Driving Wheel,” “Clarksdale Boogie” and much more.

If these songs don’t get you on your feet, better find a doctor to check your pulse.

This is American roots music at its best, born in the Delta and spread across the globe, copied by Eric Clapton, the Beatles and every rock group and lounge band from Bakersfield, Calif., to Moscow, Idaho, to Moscow, Russia.

Only nobody plays it better than Big Jack.

The first time we heard of Jack Johnson was when we walked into the Blues Museum in the old Carnegie Library in Clarksdale back in 1998, and the manager said “Off Yonder Wall” by the Jelly Roll Kings (Fat Possum Records) was the best CD he had for sale.

The manager, who obviously knew his music, had tipped us off to one of the great blues groups of the last 40 years. The Jelly Roll Kings consisted of Frank Frost on harmonica and keyboards, Sam Carr on drums and Big Jack Johnson on guitar.

Frost, a native Arkansan who was still living in Helena then, has since passed away. Carr, another Arkansan, lives across the river not far from the casino near Lula, Miss. Carr is 80 and is considered the best drummer in the Delta. Johnson joined the Jelly Roll Kings when he was just a kid, and the two still play together occasionally, but these days Big Jack has his own group or picks up a band when he travels around the world, which he does often.

(Carr, by the way, is the son of Robert Nighthawk, a brilliant slide guitarist who died in Helena in the late ’60s. Nighthawk, whose real name was Robert McCollum, and Frank Frost are buried in the same cemetery in Helena.)

“Off Yonder Wall” is one of the greatest blues CDs of all-time and was produced by the late Robert Palmer, a Little Rock native who wrote about music for Rolling Stone, Down Beat and the New York Times. He is also the author of “Deep Blues,” a fine history of Delta blues and its migration to the North.

We’ve been buying Jelly Roll Kings’ music ever since our first trip to Clarksdale, although we can’t afford everything they’d put out: A used LP version of “Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down” (Earwig Records) sells for $6,500 (that’s right) from a mail-order record dealer in Oregon.

When I asked Johnson if he might sell me an LP of “Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down” for $100, he said, “I wouldn’t sell it for $100,000.”

There are very few LP copies left, although Earwig’s CD version is available from the company’s Web site. Earwig also plans to reissue the vinyl version as a two-LP set next year. It will cost a lot less than $6,500.

Look for it and catch Big Jack live.

Big Jack Johnson Discography:
“Big Boss Man,” Frank Frost
“Rockin’ the Juke Joint Down,” Jelly Roll Kings
“Off Yonder Wall,” Jelly Roll Kings
“The Oil Man,” “Live in Chicago,” “Daddy, When Is Mama Coming Home?,” “All the Way Back,’’ “We Got to Stop This Killing,” “Roots Stew,” “The Memphis Barbecue Sessions,” Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

OBITUARIES >> 12-28-05


Betty Ann Bishop Everett, 60, of Jacksonville passed away Dec. 26.

She was born on Feb. 12, 1945, in Conway to the late Johnny and Ora E. Talley Bishop. Also preceding her in death was her husband, Carl Howard Everett, Jr. and sister, Irma Dean Markham. Everett is survived by five children, Leslia Lynn Sherron of Ward, Carlia S. Rickett and Daniel B. Everett both of North Little Rock, Kent K. and Brent L. Clark both of Springfield, Mo.; two brothers, Marvin Bishop of Tupelo and Bud Bishop of Vilonia and seven grandchildren.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. today at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel followed by interment in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Walker Hite, Jr. 75, of Jacksonville died Dec. 23 at Baptist Springhill Medical Center in North Little Rock. He was born Dec. 8, 1930, in Gilmer County, W.V., to Walker Fred and Sylvia Turner Hite. In 1947 he joined the Air Force where he served during the Vietnam War with the 555 Red Horse Squadron.

On Dec. 8, 1950, he married Elsie Hogan in Valley Head, West Virginia. They have lived in Jack-sonville since 1971.
Hite retired in 1974 as chief master sergeant. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star and Merit-orious Service Award.
He was a member of the V.F.W. and Lions Club in Jacksonville. He was preceded in death by a sister, Marjorie Starr.
He is survived by his wife, Elsie of Jacksonville; three children, Susannah Simmons, Steve and wife, Jeanne Hite, Sherri and husband, Bradford Harris, all of Jacksonville; six grandchildren, Nathan Haynes, Cody Simmons, Kelsie Hite, Brandon Harris, Braden Harris, Bailey Harris; four sisters, Barbara Shiley of Ona, W.V., Wanda Corder of Akron, Ohio, Doris Long and Linda Gould, both of Valley Head, W.V.; brother, Harold Hite of Buckhannon, W.V.

Funeral services will be 2 p.m., today at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Chapel. Entombment will follow at Chapel Hill Mausoleum. Full Military Honors will be conducted at the service. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Nina Grant Adams, 89, of Ward passed away Dec. 19 in Humble, Texas. Born Nov. 8, 1916, the youngest child of Robert and Bertha Grant of Ward, she was a woman loved and respected by many. She married Marvin E. Adams on Aug. 8, 1943, and lived the life of an Air Force spouse until Marvin’s retirement in 1964.

Making a loving, secure home for her family was her priority and she often made that home a refuge for military men serving away from their families.

In 1967, Nina and Marvin returned to her Arkansas roots and lived in North Little Rock. Several years later they built a home on the same piece of land that her family bought in Ward after the turn of the century. A member of Ward United Methodist Church, Ms. Adams also loved military chapels and faithfully attended and volunteered at the Protestant Chapel, Little Rock Air Force Base.

She also had been a working, involved member of the Ward Chamber of Commerce until shortly before her death.
She was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, three brothers and her beloved husband, Marvin, to whom she was married for 54 years at the time of his death.

She is survived by her daughters, Sammy Harvey of Humble Texas, and Becky Tislow and husband, Terry, of Niceville, Fla.; five grandchildren, Carrie Tislow Jennings and husband Brent, of Cumming, Georgia, Angie Amyx and husband, Rex, of Pasadena, Texas, James Tislow and wife, Jennifer, of Pace, Florida, Doug Harvey and wife, Shawnda, of The Woodlands, Texas, and Scott Harvey and wife, Andrea, of Humble, Texas; 13 great-grandchildren, Allison Tislow, Jordan Amyx, Nicole Tislow, Kade Harvey, Carson Amyx, Jacob Harvey, Alexander Tislow, Brooks Jennings, Avery Jennings, Caitlyn Amyx and Alyssa Bryant.

She is also survived by her nieces Joan Boles, Betty Ann Russell, Dorothy Trickey and husband Gene, and Andrea White and husband Mart as well as a host of friends and loved ones.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial to follow at Monk Cemetery in Ward.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be given in Nina’s name to Ward United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 50, Ward, Ark., 72176.


Betty Jo (Davis) Yates, 60, of Beebe died Dec. 25. She was a housewife and a member of the Beebe VFW Post 7769, and a Baptist.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Bruce and Eva Taylor; two brothers, Charles and William Taylor, one sister, Peggy Robert-son, one stepson, Jason Yates and her husband of 28 years, Cecil Davis. She is survived by her husband of 14 years, Ron Yates; two daughters, Angie and Earl Lewis of Beebe and Kim and Jeremy Russell of Russellville; one stepdaughter, Suzanne Yates of Conway; one stepson, Andy Hornecker of Conway; four grandchildren, Brittany Daniel, Jay Mandrell, Courtney Lewis and Victoria Mandrell; three sisters, Lela Gary of Montgomery, Texas; Barbara Pearson of Little Rock, and Virginia Brighter of Little Rock.

Funeral will be 2 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Providence Cemetery in Judsonia.


Waymon Eddy Sr. 86, of Austin, died Dec. 24 in Cabot. He was born to the late George and Lola Kirkpatrick Eddy on Dec. 4, 1919, in the Zion Hill Community. He was preceded in death by his son, David Eddy; grandson, Anthony LaFave; brother, Wesley Eddy; and sister, Jeffie Shurley.

He is survived by his wife, Elsie Eddy; eight children: Waymon and wife Ione Eddy Jr., Paul and wife Barbara Eddy, James and wife Janice Eddy, Juanita and husband Edward Brown, Darrell and wife Peggy Eddy, Patricia and husband Lloyd Balentine, Kenneth and wife Ruth Ann Eddy, Debi and husband Tom LaFave; 37 grandchildren; 60 great-grandchildren; daughter-in-law, Gladys Eddy; brothers, Bill and Ben Holtrop.

Funeral services were held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Lighthouse Pente-costal Jesus Name Church in Beebe.
Burial followed at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot. Funeral arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home of Cabot.


James David Baldwin, 74, died Dec. 24. He is survived by his wife, Betty Baldwin; children, Ronny Baldwin and Doris Baldwin of Cabot and Joyce Cernicky of Chicago; four step-children, Ricky Smith of Florida, Cindy Ward, Sara Willi-ford and Sandra Stout of Lonoke; 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Eastside Baptist Church with interment in Sunset Memorial Gardens, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke.


Mary Lucille Smith, 71, of Beebe, passed away on Dec. 25. She was preceded in death by her parents, Melton and Belle Stivers.

Survivors include her husband, Lemuel Smith of the home; daughters: Barbara Peeks of Beebe, Sandy Henson and husband Russell of Bald Knob, Kathy Stock-man of McRae and Brenda Hardin and husband Edward of Jackson-ville; son, David Smith and wife Shirley of Lonoke; brother, Melton Eugene Stivers of Greenbrier; sister, Gladys Sullivan of Lonoke; 16 grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Lighthouse Pente-costal Church in Beebe with interment to follow at Beebe City Cemetery. Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service 713 South Second St. Cabot, 941-7888.


Mary Frances Tarrow Muncie, 73, of Jacksonville, died Dec. 26. She was a loving and loyal wife and mother and attended the Assembly of God Church.

She was preceded in death by her husbands, Richard Tarrow and Oscar Muncie, and a daughter, Susan Cogen.
She is survived by one son, Richard Tarrow, Jr. of Jackson-ville; four daughters, Diannah Walburn of Beebe, Nona Graves of Jacksonville, Barbara Anderson of Beebe and Sheila Lindsey of Jacksonville; 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Margaret Power of Texas and Edra Reaves of Jacksonville.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Graveside service will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens, Beebe.

NEIGHBORS >> Road to Bethlehem is not less traveled

Leader staff writer

Just off Hwy. 31 in Lonoke County, on Bethlehem Road, is a four-mile community-wide project that displays the story of the birth of Jesus for motorists driving by.

The displays are illuminated every evening from 5:30 to 10 p.m. until New Year’s Eve.

For the past 19 years, nearly all the residents along Bethlehem Road have put up life-size Biblical figures and signs with Bible verses, made out of painted plywood in their yards. With sheep, shepherds, cattle and verses, nearly every yard has a unique display making up parts of the nativity scene.

“This year we added some more shepherds and two new signs out of Isaiah 9:6 verse,” Jeaneane Nipper said.
The Nipper home has the display of the Three Wise Men riding on camels towards Bethlehem.

Just down the road, another home has angels, both in the yard and one in flight suspended from the limbs of a nearby tree.

The final display, the manger scene, is on display at Bethlehem United Methodist Church, 2540 Bethlehem Road,

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the church has had open houses featuring programs presented by the Lonoke County Council on Aging, Glen Poole and the Pearsons, Bethlehem Carriers of the Light, Christ Worship Center Church, The Hickory Hill Blue Grass Gospel Singers and the Gospel Tones.

“We had between 600 and 700 people during the open houses,” Nipper said.

To get to the “Christmas Road to Bethlehem,” take Exit 16A off Hwy. 67/167 in Cabot and get on Hwy. 321.
Take the Hwy. 321 Spur until it dead-ends at Hwy. 31.

Turn left on Hwy. 31 and then right on Bethlehem Road.

There will be a green street sign as well as a white sign with red letters advertising Bethlehem United Methodist Church.

The final display, the manger scene, is on display at Bethlehem United

SPORTS >> Red Devils put away Hughes in first round

IN SHORT: Jacksonville used a fourth-quarter flurry to bury the pesky Class AA Blue Devils Tuesday night at JHS.

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville let class AA Hughes hang around for a long time. Despite several opportunities to put the pesky Blue Devils away, the Red Devils couldn’t do it until a final burst at the three-minute mark that led to an 86-65 victory.

Finally, after Hughes had cut another double-digit deficit to seven points at 69-62, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner used a Hughes’ timeout to get his team’s attention.

There was no strategizing, no play was drawn up, just a serious challenge to his players’ collective heart. It wasn’t too long ago that Jacksonville blew a big lead in a loss to Russellville, and Joyner didn’t want to see it again.
This time, his team answered the challenge with furious relentlessness.

Hughes cut the lead to seven with 3:40 left in the game. Forty-one seconds later, it was over. Jacksonville scored nine straight points, the last seven of which came without the ball crossing halfcourt, in 41 seconds to make it 78-62 with 2:59 left in the game.

At the 2:20 mark, it was 82-62 and Hughes subbed out for the remainder of the game.

Jacksonville followed suit and cruised to victory.

“Hughes is a doggone good AA basketball team,” Joyner said. “We should have put them away earlier, but they were making it hard. They kept hitting shots and just wouldn’t go away. We still have to work on that killer instinct.

“I had to chew ‘em out and I’m glad they responded, but I can’t keep doing that. They’re going to have to find their own motivation. I don’t think we’re going to have that problem against the teams in our conference though. This game got a little easy at times and we lost focus. I don’t think we’ll be doing that in our conference.”

Jacksonville center K.C. Credit had a dazzling first half, with two alley-oop dunks and a reverse dunk in open court after picking the pocket of Blue Devil standout Kevin Brown.

Credit turned his ankle late in the second quarter. The injury wasn’t serious, but the 6-foot-5 post only played sparingly the rest of the game.

Senior guard Lavar Neely picked up where Credit left off, and turned in one his most complete performances of his stellar career.

Neely scored 26 points, dished out five assists, got four steals and grabbed four rebounds.

The team’s assist total was the highest of the season, with the Red Devils dishing out 17 total. Kajaun Watson matched Neely to lead the team with five.

Watson was also the second-leading scorer in the game with 17 points. Will Christian added 12 and Credit scored 10.
The win lifts the Red Devils to 7-2 on the season. They move on to play Mills University Studies in the second round at 8:30 p.m. tonight.

Mills demolished Catholic 53-25 in its first-round game.

The other first-round match-ups saw Little Rock Christian Academy decimate Conway 55-36, while Sylvan Hills upset No. 1 ranked Little Rock Parkview 53-51.

In girls action, the Lady Devils beat Dollarway 34-33. LR Hall beat Mills 47-43, Bentonville escaped LR Central 46-44, and McCellan defeated HWHC 54-50.

SPORTS >> Beyond driven: Jacksonville senior finds his inner drive on and off court

Leader sports editor

He says he’s shy, he speaks like an intellectual, he acts like a driven force, and those who know him say he’s all of those things. Airic Hughes, a senior guard for the Jacksonville basketball team, hasn’t seen much of the spotlight early in his career at JHS, but has made the most of his senior season.

He made himself known immediately, leading the team with 16 points in its season-opening win against North Little Rock. It was the first time in several years that Jacksonville had beaten the Charging Wildcats, and Hughes was the player of the game.

His efforts earned him The Leader’s Spotlight Player honor that week.

Immediately after that game, first-year Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was asked where this kid came from, but Joyner wasn’t at all surprised by the play of his team’s smallest member.

“I don’t know why nobody’s heard of Airic Hughes,” Joyner said. “When I got here, it didn’t take long to see he has more drive, and is willing to work harder than anybody we got. He’s just driven. He wants to get better and he’ll do what you ask him to do in order to get better. I love coaching kids like that.”

Hughes toiled on the junior varsity team last year, but admitted he wasn’t happy there. Once Joyner came in, he knew what he had to do.

“Last year was like someone was putting restraints on me, but I didn’t get too upset about it,” Hughes said. “My grandma, I talk to her a lot about things, she told me to just be patient, keep working hard and trust in God. I trust her so I did what she said.”

Hughes and the rest of the Red Devils went through most of the summer not knowing who their coach was going to be, but it didn’t matter to Hughes.

“I just wanted to play. I was going to work as hard as I could all the time. So whoever the coach was, wouldn’t have a chance not to play me.”

When Joyner left rival North Pulaski to take over at JHS, his impact was also immediate, and good, according to Hughes.

“You could just tell the intensity was up,” Hughes said.

“You either come with it 100 percent, or get out. Offseason was grueling. We were lifting weights three times a day. We were running. He put a big emphasis on conditioning, but that’s good. That’s what we needed. He told us when we were running that we were going to be in better shape than the teams we were playing. He told us we’re going to see guys on the other team tired, bending over trying to catch their breath. He was right. We’ve seen that.”

The Red Devils are currently 7-2, which is miles ahead of where they were at this time last year, but it’s still not enough for Hughes, who says he’s not even close to satisfied.

“I’m not satisfied at all,” Hughes said.

“We could be playing a lot better. We’ve made too many mistakes. I’m one of them. I had a big turnover against Russellville that helped them come back on us in that game. We have to learn to put teams away. We didn’t do that. We should only have one loss.”

Hughes was referring to a 30-point drubbing the Devils took from Forrest City earlier this season, but he says he still wouldn’t be satisfied had they beaten the Mustangs. “I’m not satisfied until we hang a banner,” Hughes said. “There’s not any basketball banners in that gym. I want a championship banner, at least a conference, and hopefully also a state.”

Hughes understands the difficulty in getting a banner this season. The Red Devils play in the AAAAA-East, which some say is the strongest conference the state has seen in several years. But Hughes in undaunted by the monumental task of beating all those teams enough times to win that banner.

“The good thing is we have a legit shot to do it,” Hughes said. “I know what people are saying about the conference, but I know what they’re saying about us too. And we have a legit shot to do this.

“I’m glad the conference is considered that tough because that’s who you want to measure yourself against, the best.”
Hughes’ love for his school runs deeper than that of the ordinary student or fan. He hearkens back to his childhood days of watching DaShaun Ford run the court in the Devils’ Den, and remembers wanting to play in this gym back then.

Now that he’s there, he feels at home, especially with a big part of his home sitting in the top left corner of the bleachers of home games.

“My grandma comes to every game and sits in the same spot, and I love that,” Hughes said. “It’s comforting to look up there during a timeout or something and see her there. I already know she’s going to be there, but it’s nice to look up there and see her.”

The 5-foot-9 senior’s life runs deeper than basketball. He carries a 3.8 grade-point average and scored a 25 on his ACT. He’s currently hoping that his application to academically esteemed Baylor University is accepted.

He doesn’t know exactly what he wants to do in life, but he knows he wants to study history at Baylor. The processes of life have always carried a fascination for him.

“It’s always been interesting to me how people deal with major hardships,” Hughes said. “I think about stuff like that all the time. Why do cultures act like they do and have their practices and rituals and things like that? Why do rulers treat people like they do? I think about why there’s so much persecution.”

Hughes also understands that history can only tell him that those things happened, and that his questions teeter between history and philosophy. But he says he hasn’t come up with many answers.

“No I haven’t,” Hughes said. “Not any good ones.”

Although he says he doesn’t know what he wants to pursue as a career, he does already have at least one option in mind, an option that stems from his love and loyalty for Jacksonville.

“I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I wouldn’t mind coming back here and coaching Jacksonville,” Hughes said. “It’s where I feel at home. I just like it here.”

EDITORIAL >> Payday lenders Democrats' pals

It is the least surprising and most surprising news of the month: The payday-lending industry has settled more than $20,000 on the Democratic Party of Arkansas. The Arkansas Business newspaper reported that development this week.

Least surprising because it will come as a shock to no one to learn that an industry that gets its way in the legislative halls spends some money on political campaigns. The payday lenders, who give short-term loans to desperate people at triple-digit interest rates, got a law passed making their operations legal in Arkansas, and they have withstood meager efforts to get it repealed. The media could compile similar reports on the generosity of hundreds of other business interests that have thrived when laws are made or regulations adopted. Money, sadly, is the grease that keeps the wheels of government turning.

Most surprising because if any person or entity ought to be wary of contributions from the payday lenders it is the Democratic Party, which prides itself upon being the tribune of working people and the poor, the victims of the wretched practices of the usurious lenders.

It will be remembered that the former Attorney General and now U.S. Senator Mark Pryor took $14,000 from the lending companies when he ran for attorney general in 1998 and then took a hands-off view of the payday-lending legislation when people sought his official opinion on it as the legislature was passing it in 1999. He would not offer his opinion on the obvious: The big fees charged to people who would get the speedy loans amounted to interest and would violate the state’s constitutional bar to usurious interest on any kind of debt. Pryor insisted time and again that the big gifts to his campaign had not influenced his implied favor for the lenders’ legal position. Well, Pryor won anyway but the coincidence of the money and his stand robbed his campaign of much ardor.

It is now a problem for Attorney General Mike Beebe, who is running for governor. Beebe is obliged officially to defend the law empowering the lenders to charge the exorbitant rates because the attorney general defends statutes when they are challenged. But the sizable gifts to the party — will there be more? — raise doubts about Beebe’s rectitude and his attitude about this working-class issue. He is apt to be the principal beneficiary of the money as the party’s standard-bearer.

A Pulaski County trial judge has upheld the constitutionality of the law and it will be appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court, again. Let us hope that the court advances the case and makes the industry’s political slush moot by the 2006 election. Meantime, there would be nothing wrong with the attorney general saying that he believes sky-is-the-limit loans are rotten, whatever he considers his duty to be in defending the law’s constitutionality.

EDITORIAL>>Holiday spirit missing in D.C.

Christmas in the Year of Our Lord 2005 in Washington, D.C., finds little children, the sick, the meek and the poor in spirit more out of fashion than ever before in our nation’s capital.

The disciples are decidedly out of fashion, too, having been replaced by the less sentimental Grover Norquist and Ayn Rand.

Working into the night Wednesday, the Senate voted 51-50 for legislation that was called a deficit-reduction package because over five years it will reduce federal spending in a few programs by $39.7 billion, a trifle over 2 percent of the projected deficits over that period.

It would come out of what — corporate subsidies, investor entitlements, defense procurement?

No, it will primarily come from the neediest Americans: the elderly, the disabled and those who depend on Medicaid for their treatment and medicine. Some $12.6 billion would come from loan guarantees that help kids from working families go to college.

The Senate at least eliminated far more punitive measures against the poor and elderly that Tom DeLay’s House of Representatives had crafted and that President Bush wanted.

Still, enough Republicans refused to go along with the cuts that Vice President Cheney had to cut short his celebratory tour of the war zones so that he could cast a tie-breaking vote for the reconciliation bill.

Sen. Bill Frist, the majority leader, said the bill was a down-payment on the Republican promise to curb deficit spending.

The package was put together to blunt criticism that the GOP had become the party of deficits and fiscal doom.
Soon we will see very quietly the fruits of its work in our neighborhoods.

But don’t expect to see the deficit shrink. That is because of the other half of Congress’ seasonal blessings upon the country. To avoid the obvious judgment that the government was taking from the poor and giving to the rich, the Republican leadership separated a $70 billion package of tax cuts for corporations and well-to-do Americans, including future reductions in tax rates on stock dividends and other investment profits. They will pass it after the first of the year. Cheney’s vote may be needed then, too.

The net result by 2010 will be not a deficit reduction of $39.7 billion but an additional $30.3 billion of debt.

Senators Blanche Lincoln, who has sometimes shown a fondness for tax cuts for the super-rich, and Mark Pryor were targeted by the Republicans, but both voted against the fake deficit plan. Lincoln said she did not want people with disabilities and children to foot the bill for big tax cuts for the wealthy.

May the blessings of the season be upon them.

TOP STORY >> Home invasion nightmare

IN SHORT: Two intruders in ski masks menace residents in their Cabot home a couple of days before Christmas, shooting a man in the shoulder before fleeing on foot.

Leader staff writer

At first, Marsha Bailer thought the two men in ski masks standing in the front room of her Cabot house telling her and her family to get down on the floor were jokesters.

“I looked at them real hard,” she said, “trying to figure out who they were.”

But it didn’t take long for Marsha Bailer to discover last Thursday’s home invasion was no joking matter.

One of the two intruders ended up shooting her husband, Michael, in the shoulder before fleeing on foot from the Bailer residence at 254 Gray-hawk Cove.

Marsha Bailer said she had just gotten home from work and she, Michael, and their 2-year-old son were sitting down to dinner when the two men barged in.

“Michael told them to take whatever they wanted, but to leave us alone,” Marsha Bailer said. “When they started to get out duct tape, Michael went berserk. He threw a kitchen chair at them and then picked up the coffee table and pushed them out of the house,” she explained.

Marsha Bailer said her husband also poked one of the suspects in the eye and grabbed the other by his belt and threw him off the porch.

While pushing the suspects out of the house, one of them fired a .25-caliber pistol five times. One of the bullets struck Michael Bailer in the left shoulder.

As Michael Bailer went after the suspects, Marsha Bailer scooped up their 2-year-old son and hid in a corner. When she heard the shots fired, she ran out the back door with her son, screaming 911, she said.

“Luckily,” she said, “a neighbor was taking his trash out and immediately called 911,” Marsha Bailer said.

Once outside, the suspects fled down the street, and Michael Bailer went to his truck to follow them and that’s when he noticed he had been shot. “I’m just so proud of him,” Marsha said. “But I’m still concerned that these men are still out there. I want everyone to be aware.”

The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office is handling the case because the Bailer’s live just outside the city limits of Cabot.
The sheriff’s office brought out canines Tuesday but the dogs were unable to pick up any scent.

Sheriff’s investigators have confirmed that five shots were fired in the home and one went through the coffee table.
The bullet that struck Michael Bailer entered the front of his left shoulder and exited out the back. He was taken to Rebsamen Medical Center where he was treated and released.

The suspects are described as white males. One is about 6-feet tall with blonde hair and a mustache. The other was a few inches shorter. The pair had on ski masks, but one didn’t have it pulled down all the way, and were wearing gloves.
The Bailers have no idea why they were singled out.

Sgt. Ruth Baker, with the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office, said they have leads that they are working on, but would appreciate anyone with additional information to call the sheriff’s office at 676-3000.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> How bodies come home from Iraq

Leader publisher

Editor's Note: Relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq are often surprised to find out that their loved ones are returned home on commercial airplanes. This column first appeared here on May 26, 2004.

A couple of weeks ago, passengers on an airplane flying into Little Rock heard a pilot telling them that an officer was escorting home a soldier returning from Iraq.

When the passengers stood up after they landed late at night, they could see an Army officer in the front of the plane, but there wasn’t a soldier with him.

Some of the passengers must have realized why the returning soldier wasn’t sitting with the passengers. He was coming home in a casket.

An honor guard waited for the arrival of Sgt. Hesley Box, Jr., whose casket was lowered from the cargo area out of view of the passengers.

Because of the ceremony, it took a while for the luggage to arrive at the baggage area, but most of the passengers had no idea why their bags were delayed.

The soldier was a member of the Arkansas National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade based in Little Rock, which has lost nine members this spring, the highest of any Guard unit in Iraq.

Three other Arkansans assigned to other units have also been killed in Iraq. They come from all walks of life and from most parts of the state, and they had no idea when they went off to war back in March and April that they would join the rising toll of American casualties there.

The number of dead is ap-proaching 800, although only a couple of weeks ago, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was under the impression that figure was about half that many.

Apparently he hadn’t been checking his daily briefings that land on his desk.

The 39th Brigade, also known as the Arkansas Brigade, is special. “They’ve performed courageously in the face of insurmountable odds,” Staff Sgt. Mark Starr of North Little Rock told the Associated Press.

Starr survived an attack on his camp which killed four Arkansans and almost killed him.
For one thing, you won’t catch the 39th Brigade abusing prisoners.

“You see these pictures of Abu Ghraib in that prison. I tell you that would never happen in the 39th Battalion. They have a deep sense of obligation to the Iraqi people.”

But Starr, who is recovering from his wounds in his North Little Rock home, is critical of the way the war has been run since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

“I’m very disappointed with the civilian administration,” Starr told the AP. “I feel this administration did not have a plan for the occupation after the war.”

“This president landed on an aircraft carrier,” Starr continued, “and he said combat operations were over, and it wasn’t over. The war is actually starting.”

(Postscript: U.S. combat deaths in Iraq now stand at 2,175.)

TOP STORY >> New start for Cabot utility as '06 nears

IN SHORT: The city council approves just enough to meet its Jan. 1 takeover deadline.

Leader staff writer

The consensus of the Cabot City Council Tuesday night was that the devil was in the details of severing the water and sewer departments from the city and turning them over to a commission to run.

So to make it happen by Jan. 1 as the ordinance they passed earlier this year required, they left such details as rights-of-way and franchise fees to be worked out within the next 30 days.

The council met in special session with a full agenda of items relating to separating the city utilities from city control, but only passed the three necessary to make sure the commission would take over Jan. 1 — an ordinance cleaning up the language of Ordinance 32 which created the new commission, an ordinance setting the water and sewer rates the commission will charge, which are the same as the existing rates, and an agreement by which the commission will pay for the services of the city’s human services department to perform human resource functions for the commission’s employees.

Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh also assured the commission that control of the water and wastewater systems included control of the money.

Commission members knew going into the meeting that it might not be easy to get the entire package passed. Commissioner Bill Cypert learned earlier in the day that Alderman David Polantz would oppose turning the utilities over to the commission on Jan. 1 because he had not had time to look over the 200 pages of documents that would help make it happen. Polantz proposed postponing the transfer until Feb. 1.

But the commission had been working overtime for months to get ready for the transfer of control. To not take over would cause problems with accounting, billing and personnel records, Tad Bohannon, the commission’s attorney, said.

Bohannon told the commission during a 45-minute-long meeting before the council met that if the council took no action, the commission would still be in control of the utilities Jan. 1. But whether Com-munity Bank would turn over the accounts was an unknown.

So the commission went into the meeting prepared for Bohannon to argue their case. J.M. Park, commission chairman, said the crucial issues were “getting control of the purse strings and getting control of the personnel. If we get the purse strings and we get the personnel, we can operate,” he said, and the full commission agreed those things were what they would try to get.

But getting the council to hand them over took one and a half hours.

Stumbaugh said he appreciated all the work the commission had done to get ready for the takeover, but some of the details were problematic. If the council voted to pass them, he would veto them, he said.

Alderman Odis Waymack, who had pushed to put the commission in control, suggested passing only what was needed and Alderman Patrick Hutton listed the three that would be voted on.

Polantz voted no for all three as well as for the emergency clauses that made them take effect immediately instead of in 30 days. “This is an extremely complicated event,” he said early in the council discussion. “I’ve set here too long and I know that small words make a big difference … I don’t see where a month one way or the other will change the plan on this thing.”

Back in session for a brief meeting after the council vote, the commissioners congratulated Bohan-non for his work before the council and Bohannon in turn congratulated them: “Come Jan. 1, you have a water and wastewater system to run,” he said.

TOP STORY>>Christmas celebrated with jobs, loved ones

IN SHORT: Somebody is always on call at the animal shelter or working at the Waffle House so others can celebrate.

Leader managing editor

Spending the day cleaning up an animal shelter isn’t what someone usually has in mind as an enjoyable way to spend Christmas Day.

Cheryl Rainbolt-Wood said she tried to make the best of it.

As an employee of the Jacksonville Animal Shelter, Rainbolt-Wood was on-call on Sunday, meaning she had to spend Christmas Day cleaning up the shelter, which included feeding the animals and hosing down the kennels. She also had to respond to any animal-control calls that the city might have received.

Surprisingly, no calls came during Rainbolt-Wood’s shift.

“I wasn’t busy at all,” she said. “Basically, we were closed, but I was on call and I expected a call or two. But I didn’t get paged one time.

“Considering I had to work, it wasn’t that bad of a day.”

Rainbolt-Wood has one of only a few professions that call for working on Christmas.
Mary Whitlow has another.

As manager of Jacksonville’s Waffle House, Whitlow was busy on Sunday, serving everything from pork chops to eggs to chili to grits, to a constant rush of customers. “It was really busy,” Whitlow said. “It was definitely Christmas. It was an all-day thing. The place was constantly full and people were waiting all day. We always have extra staff on hand for Christmas.”

Wanda Martin, manager of the Waffle House in Cabot, echoed Whitlow. “It was an awesome day,” Martin said. “We had triple our normal business.”

Waffle House is one of the only chain restaurants open 365 days a year.

“I know we got a lot of phone calls, with people asking if we were open,” Whitlow said. “We’re open every day and I think if everyone would have known that we may have been even more busy. We don’t get snowed out, iced out or blacked out.”

Whitlow said most customers were in a friendly, holiday spirit, making it easier for restaurant workers.

“The people who came in seemed to be in better moods than normal, I guess because it was Christmas,” Whitlow said. “It makes it easier for the employees who have to come in and work. I’m really lucky to have employees who don’t mind working on a day like Christmas.”

A lot of happiness with friends and family was the common Christmas theme of many area residents, while any negative aspect of the holidays was minimal — at least in comments gathered by The Leader.

“Getting to see my family who I don’t get to see that much was the best part of Christmas,” said Amanda Wawak of Cabot.

“Spending time with my family and everyone getting together is what I enjoyed most,” Debbie Place of Austin said.
Tim Snell of Cabot and Tim Reed of North Little Rock said spending time with their families was also their favorite part of the day. The worst part of the holiday?

“All the travelling,” Reed said.

“I’ve had a cold,” Rob Rodgers of Jacksonville said.

A woman going shopping at Knight’s grocery store in Jackson-ville said her holiday was dampened by the death of a close friend.

George Webster of Jacksonville said his favorite thing about Christmas was the food he had.
“The chicken and dressing with gravy was good,” he said. “The low point, though, was that we didn’t have any presents this year.”

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim appreciated the nice weather. In 2004 many families were stuck away from their loved ones due to several inches of ice and snow leaving roads too hazardous to drive.

“Christmas was very good this year,” Swaim said. “I had the pleasure of having all my immediate family home.
“The weather was nice and we had plenty of food. It was a great day.”

Staff writer Sara Greene contributed to this story.

TOP STORY >>Bond: 'I'll be next speaker'

IN SHORT: Jacksonville lawyer, a rising star in the Democratic Party serving his second term as a state representative, says he thinks he’ll have the 51 votes he needs to be the next speaker of the House.

Leader staff writer

The most powerful voice in the state House of Representatives when it reconvenes about a year from now is likely to be Jacksonville’s favorite son, state Rep. Will Bond.

Bond, who has established himself as a careful, thoughtful legislator throughout his first and second terms, says he expects to have the 51 votes he needs for election as speaker of the House when it meets Jan. 9 expressly for the purpose of selecting its future leader.

Running against Bond is state Rep. Benny Petrus of Stuttgart. Both are Democrats.
Petrus, who is a farmer and automobile dealer, could not be reached for comment this week.
The current speaker, state Rep. Bob Stovall, D-Bigelow, will serve until the beginning of the next regular session in January 2007.

Bond has a Jacksonville law practice and was active in the Educating Our Children group that fought a hard, but so far unsuccessful battle to allow Jacksonville and north Pulaski County to detach from the Pulaski County Special School District, forming their own district.

Bond chaired the House City, County and Local Affairs Commit-tee, where Deltic Timber’s controversial bill to strip regulatory authority and the power of eminent domain from Central Arkansas Water died last session.
The bill was part of Deltic’s strategy to build mini-estates on the banks of Lake Maumelle, central Arkansas’ primary drinking water reservoir.

Petrus supported the Deltic bill, and Deltic has at least once raised funds for his campaign as speaker.
“We feel like we’re going to win,” Bond said on Monday of the speaker’s race. “I feel like we have more than 51 votes. Some are still undecided and uncommitted. We’re very confident we can maintain momentum through (the Jan. 9 election.)”

No matter how many of the House’s 100 representatives show up for the vote, it will take 51 votes to win. This will be the first time the speaker will be chosen between regular sessions, Bond said. It’s possible for him to be elected speaker Jan. 9, then lose the regular election next November.

Bond said being speaker “is about being inclusive of all points of view and encouraging vigorous debate. It’s the speaker’s job to make sure everyone’s had a fair shot.”

Bond said that because of term limits, “The House can’t be led based on experience. It must be led by knowledge and fairness.”

Bond said he hadn’t promised committee chairmanships to anyone. “We want people who work hard and are talented,” he said. “It takes a hundred members to run the House effectively. You can’t gather up 10 or 20 people and try to run it your own way.

“One of the important things is to be able to sit down and look each other in the face and talk about differences of opinions without yelling and screaming.

“I don’t think it’s the speaker’s job to have a legislative agenda.
“The speaker needs to have the big picture, knowledge of budget, how to work with the Senate and executive branch to come up with a balanced budget.”
Because he says the race is not about issues, Bond was reluctant to discuss differences between his and Petrus’ voting records, but when pressed, he did say, “My voting record for pre-K and K-12 is a lot different than Benny’s. We’ve had to increase funding levels for those. That’s the future of Arkansas, making sure our public schools are first class. That required additional funding and accountability, which I was committed to.”

Bond said he expected education, the Deltic-Lake Maumelle water and condemnation issue, economic development and in light of special election failures Dec. 13, highway and higher education funding to be among the pressing items facing the next regular session of the state legislature beginning in January 2007.
“We’re going to have a new governor for the first time in 10 years,” Bond said. “We need to work with the new governor.”

Bond said he believes he has strong support among some Republicans, but that a probable majority will back Petrus, who voted with Republicans to shut down the legislature without a budget in 2003.
Bond has practiced law in Jacksonville for 10 years and his partners have included Pat O’Brien, now the Pulaski County Circuit and County Clerk, and his current partner, Neil Chamberlin.
He and his wife, the former Gabriel Wood of North Little Rock, have a 4-year-old son and twin daughters born this year.

Bond attended Jacksonville schools and graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1988. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the Uni-versity of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

As a trial lawyer, his practice is about 50 percent personal injury, a quarter divorce and custody and the balance general law.

Bond said he serves because “to those given much, much is expected.”
“I had a wonderful upbringing by my parents, went to a great school and law school — chances many don’t have,” Bond said. “I love people, being a lawyer and hearing about people’s problems and understanding government.”

Bond said if he is re-elected for this third term next November, he intends to retire from politics at the completion of his next two-year term — at least for a while.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005



Don Fults, 65, of Beebe died Dec. 20.
He was a paint contractor and then retired from Falcon Jet as an interior installer.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Kirk Fults; two sons, David Hawk of Beebe and Wesley Fults of Sacramento, Calif.; one daughter, Tammy Jackson of Beebe; two brothers, Dan Rey-nolds of California and Bob Fults of Missouri; one sister, RoseAnn Escott of Illinois; eight grandchildren.
Graveside service will be 10 a.m. Friday at Stoney Point Cemetery, Beebe by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.


Kenneth Leon Floyd, 67, of Stuttgart passed away Sunday, Dec. 18, at Stuttgart Regional Medical Center.
Floyd was born Oct. 1, 1938, in Hazen. He was a 28-year employee at Producer’s Rice Mill where he was a construction engineer, and was a member of Park Avenue Baptist Church.
His parents, Enos Doris Floyd and Nettie Mae Kee Floyd Dozier; his step-father, James A. Dozier; and brothers-in-law, Charles Daw-son, Raymond Dawson, Elmer Raper and Henry Kee, preceded him in death.
Survivors are his wife, Joyce Ann Dawson Floyd; his son, Dickie L. Floyd and wife Donna of Stuttgart; his daughter, Cindy A. Doss and fiancé Mike Wayman of Little Rock; two brothers, Benny Floyd and wife Marilyn of Cabot and Jerry Floyd and wife Judy of Moro; brother-in law and sisters-in-law, Modean Kee of Hazen, Janie Bell Dawson of Bryant, Marcelle Raper of Stuttgart, Sue Dawson of Lonoke and Gene and Margie Vail of Stuttgart; and six grandchildren, Adam and Kenny Mannis, Jonathan, Tiffany and MaKayla Floyd and Camilla Lewis. He was also survived by several other relatives and many friends and co-workers.
Funeral services were Tuesday at Park Avenue Baptist Church with Bro. Ralph Ruffin officiating.
A graveside service was held Tuesday at Center Point Cemetery near Hazen by Turpin Funeral Home of Stuttgart.
Pallbearers were his nephews, Dudley Raper, Doug Vail, Jeff Floyd, Terry Floyd, Bud Dawson, Greg Hogue, Clay Medford and Billy Kee.
The family requests memorials be made to Park Avenue Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 983, Stuttgart, or Center Point Cemetery Fund, c/o Gail Wallace, 2826 Hwy. 249 N., Hazen, Ark. 72064.


Eva Dee Gardner, 86, of Beebe, died Sunday, Dec. 18.
She was raised in Enola and Mt. Vernon.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 20 years, Fred Gardner, and her parents, Henry and Lillie Hale Grimes. She is survived by three daughters, Cindy Chapman and Sandra Sloan, both of Beebe, and Anna and husband Harrel Free of Conway; two sons, Charles Gardner and Thurman Gardner, both of Beebe; 16 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; one brother, Hassell Grimes of Texarkana, Texas; and three sisters, Reva Moore of Rogers, Rachel Linders and Linda May, both of McRae.
Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at McRae Pentecostal Church, with burial in Weir Cemetery.
Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home.


Daniel O. West, of Beebe, died Dec. 16 at a local hospital after a two-month fight which involved a two-car accident.
He was born in Thomasville, Georgia on August 14, 1938, and moved to Arkansas in 1978.
He loved his evenings of fishing and his special coffee time at Waffle House with his many friends, especially Gary of Beebe and Roger Tilman of Keystone Heights, Florida.
He was preceded in death by his father, Elvin West of Thomas-ville, Ga., and is survived by his wife, Adele West of the home; a son, Robert (Bobby) West of Beebe; a granddaughter, Kaila West of Tennessee; his mother, Edith Barnett of Cairo, Ga.; a sister, Mickie Hall of Tallahassee, Fla.; many nephews and nieces; his mother-in-law, Lillian Her-mans of Denmark, Wisc.; and many brothers and sisters-in law.
Funeral was Tuesday at Westbrook Funeral Home.


Ella M. Walters, 91, of Ward, went to be with the Lord Monday, Dec. 19.
She was born March 22, 1914, at Des Arc, to James Adam and Allie Alberta Brown Parker. She was a Baptist and a loving, caring, passionate mother.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Lonnie Walters and her parents.
Survivors are a son, Norman “Bud” Walters and his wife Agnes of Bee Branch; daughters, Mary Lester of Jacksonville, Ann Taylor and husband Marty, and Doris Ball of Beebe, Clara Maples and husband C.W. of Austin, and Louise Lucky and husband Bill of Ward; 28 grandchildren and a host of great and great-great grandchildren.
Family will receive friends 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Sand Hill Cemetery, Des Arc.
Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home.

EDITORIAL >> High court does it again

For the third time in three years, the Arkansas Supreme Court instructed the legislature and the governor this week to fix the funding of public schools so that the 450,000 children are assured suitable and roughly equal educational opportunities.

While it was extending them a third chance, the court seemed a trifle more impatient with the lawmakers, who this year disregarded the laws they had designed themselves to produce a constitutional school system.

In a little more than 11 months, a constitutional system must be firmly in place. The court stayed its mandate in the old Lake View school case until then.

What happens then if the state has not acted? The court was, as usual, vague but resolute.

The Supreme Court is obliged to see to it that the will of the people when they wrote the Constitution is followed, the court said, and it added: “We will perform that duty.” We can only guess that the court would then order its own remedy.

One concurring justice, Tom Glaze, said the Constitution fully clothed the Supreme Court with the power to enforce the constitutional mandate for an equitable and suitable school system.

But that need not and, we are confident, will not happen. The issues actually are far less complicated than in 2004 and 2005, when the legislature previously addressed the court’s landmark decision, and the state demonstrably now has resources in hand to complete most of the task.

The state budget has some $100 million of play between revenues and expenditures that it could direct to the schools this year and anticipated cash balances of close to $300 million by the end of the current two-year budget cycle that can be committed to school facilities.

Those are the principal shortcomings that the court-appointed masters found in school funding, which the court itself embraced.
After passing legislation in 2004 to make education the state’s No. 1 priority in budgeting, the legislature this year failed to give the public schools even the cost-of-living increase that was allotted to all other public employees and agencies, including the legislators themselves. Another $100 million appropriation from current revenues would do that.

While the legislature’s own study showed that there were $2.2 billion in immediate needs for school construction and repairs, it appropriated only $120 million over the next two years. That sum could be quadrupled without affecting the other urgent needs of the state and without new taxes.

In case anyone thought the issue was not urgent, the court said the issues needed to be dealt with “immediately” and “forthwith” so that children this school year might see the fruits of the labor.

But Gov. Huckabee, who flew back from a governors’ meeting in Arizona to make the same news cycle, said there was no urgency and that he might not call a special legislative session at all because one might not be needed.

Clearly, he had not digested the court’s opinions. Neither ignoring the decision nor waiting until the fall of 2006 is an option unless he and legislators pointedly want to invite a contempt citation by the court for whatever political rewards might flow from standing up to the judiciary.
Huckabee just as clearly had given some thought to the issues in advance because he knew full well what the court would say.

He said he would like to have a current adequacy report on the schools, legislation that would take more regulation of local schools away from school boards and rest it with the state — superintendent and coaching salaries, for example — and an up-to-date survey of the condition of school facilities. He wants further consolidation of small school districts to be part of the remedy, and it ought to be.

But some of the governor’s hedging seemed to be just dilatory. He wants detailed accounting of all school spending in the state before he calls a session to deal with underfunding.

He divided total annual education spending by the number of school classrooms in Arkansas and came up with the figure of $94,150 of spending this year for each classroom.

The average teacher salary is only $39,266. So what happened, he asked, to the other $54,884? The answer, of course, is: retirement and Social Security matching, health insurance, buses, bus drivers, fuel, electricity, gas, water, cafeteria and janitorial workers, school books, supplies, equipment, building repairs and debt repayment.

Someone might ask the same question of his office. The governor’s office this year is spending $5.1 million, but the governor is paid only about $81,000 of that. What happened to the other $5 million?

No, more delay is not the answer. Let’s don’t risk a fourth chance.

EDITORIAL >> Arkansans used again

Pardon our paranoia, but it is hard to escape that old feeling that Arkansas is not a real state but a colony, to be exploited when the need arises. That is indisputably the case whenever we are hauled before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Maybe we asked for it historically by giving big corporations our natural resources — natural gas, bauxite, timber — virtually tax-free for a hundred years until they were about gone. The state’s unofficial motto was, plunder us, please!

Monday, for the second time in 20 years, the regulators at FERC said Arkansas electrical customers of Entergy Corp. should subsidize those in other states. Starting in 2007, customers of Entergy Arkansas will send some $200 million a year to the Entergy subsidiary in Louisiana so that it can lower the light bills of its customers. It has nothing to do with Katrina. Louisiana filed this case years ago.

Arkansas ratepayers already have paid some $3 billion to Louisiana and Mississippi over the past 20 years so that electrical bills in those states will not be so high.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held that the expense of generating electricity in the states served by the big Entergy holding company should be more or less equalized.

Since Arkansas generates nearly all of its electricity at nuclear and coal-fired plants, which now produce power much less expensively than do gas-burning plants, we are supposed to help Louisiana. Louisiana generates some electricity from nuclear units, but most of its electricity comes from natural gas, the cost of which has risen sharply since 2000.

There is no earthly justification for requiring energy customers in one state to subsidize those in a slightly richer state except for a private agreement among the operating businesses of a holding company. Equalization has not always been a federal policy. It was not when Arkansans were paying much higher costs than neighboring states.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Arkansas Power and Light Co. (now Entergy Arkansas) produced power mainly by burning fuel oil and natural gas. It embarked on a costly strategy of converting to nuclear and coal power. Arkansas homeowners and businesses (except those served by co-ops and municipally owned utilities) had to pay higher bills based on the plant investment and the future cost of decommissioning the nuclear units at Russellville. Louisiana and Mississippi were not required to bear any of the higher costs for Arkansas customers.
But three young regulators for Gov. Bill Clinton in 1979 — Jacksonville’s Wally Nixon, Scott Trotter and Basil Copeland — discovered a new system agreement among the utility companies of the three states to share the cost of building and decommissioning a giant new nuclear plant in Mississippi. Major costs were to be shifted to Arkansas customers because by that time the cost of building nuclear plants had leaped to, in the case of the Grand Gulf plant in Mississippi, about $3.5 billion.

They persuaded Clinton to protest and the Arkansas company renegotiated a somewhat better deal with the other companies, but Louisiana went to FERC. The federal commission assigned Arkansas 37 percent of the cost of the plant. Arkansas appealed to the federal appellate court in Washington and lost.

But it could have been far worse even then. One of the federal judges, a dilettante named Robert Bork whom President Reagan later tried to put on the U.S. Supreme Court, came up with a cockamamie theory by which Arkansas should bear just about all of the cost of nuclear plants in Arkansas and Mississippi. Arkansas did not have much clout in Congress then and it had been voting consistently Democratic. That was the only justification that seemed plausible.

Now, FERC has embraced something close to Bork’s perverse theory.

We remember the rage of the man who defeated Bill Clinton in 1980, Frank White, when he discovered the ramifications of the deal. White talked about calling a session of the legislature to buy Arkansas Power and Light Co. and operate it as a state utility to protect Arkansans from the depredations of the holding company arrangements. He might have been on the right track.

Entergy Arkansas says it may try to sever itself from the system agreement, but that will take many years, if FERC and the courts even allow it. Our only hope is to get a federal appeals court in Washington, now populated by Borklike extremists, to overturn FERC. Get ready to pay.

SPORTS >> Cabot tops Jackrabbits to remain undefeated

Leader sports writer

Cabot managed to keep its unbeaten streak alive Friday night at the Panther gymnasium by beating Lonoke 43-40. But they didn’t do it without a serious fight from the Jackrabbits.

Lonoke controlled the second half of the game up until the very end, when post Chad Glover put the Panthers back in the game with some last-minute heroics that have become the senior’s calling card this year.

“You have to tip your hat to Lonoke,” Cabot boys coach Jerry Bridges said. “They really out-scrapped us. We finally started taking advantage of Chad inside, and it started paying off for us. We did a poor job of rebounding in the first half, but in the second half, we picked it up. Our defense is really what gave us a chance to win this game.”

The game was closely contested right from the start, as the lead changed hands five times in the opening quarter alone. By the end of the first, Lonoke held a narrow 9-7 lead.

Glover tied the game to start the second quarter, but Lonoke began to speed up the game’s pace. The Panthers’ man-to-man pressure began to lose its potency, as the Jackrabbits kept the ball and the Cabot D on the constant move. Stanley Staggers helped Lonoke stay out front with six straight points in the final three minutes of the second period. Lonoke looked like it would carry the lead into the half, but four straight points from Cabot sub Jacob Trammell gave the Panthers a 21-20 lead at halftime.

The opening 3:18 of the third quarter was all defense, as a free throw from Staggers at the 4:42 mark was the first score from either team in the second half. The scoring pace picked up quickly from there, as the Jackrabbits continued to out-hustle the Panthers. Lonoke went on a seven-point run to take a 27-21 advantage by the 3:17 mark.

Cabot refused to let the game slip away, however, as they put themselves back in contention with a three pointer from guard Justin Haas and an inside basket from Glover. At the end of three, Lonoke held a 31-27 lead.

Until the fourth quarter began, Glover had just nine points on the night. By game’s end, he would have 23 total points, including seven of eight from the free-throw line in the final period. A free throw from Matt Shinn was the only non-Glover point for Cabot in the final eight minutes of the game.

The Jackrabbits answered Glover’s sudden inside domination with good all-around shooting, as Kylon Boyd, Eligha Gooden and Walter Ellis all put points up from outside the low block to keep Lonoke out in the lead.

Glover finally got the Panthers back out in front at the 3:09 mark with a pair of free throws to put them ahead 39-38.
Two free throws from Boyd a minute later gave the lead back to Lonoke. After another inside jumper from Glover gave Cabot the lead back at 41-40, the final 1:38 of the game became a back-and-forth battle of turnovers and timeouts.

Two timeouts from Lonoke whittled the clock down to 6.6 seconds, with the Jackrabbits in position to win the game with a last-second shot.
That shot would never be taken, as Glover covered Staggers on the ensuing in-bounds attempt. Staggers could not get the ball past the Cabot senior’s 6’9” frame, and Lonoke was called with the five second violation to give the ball back to the Panthers.

Another pair of free throws from Glover in the final five seconds to put the game away for Cabot, as the Panthers narrowly escaped their first loss of the season.

Eligha Gooden led Lonoke with 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Lonoke and Cabot both have this week off for Christmas break, but will return to action Dec. 28 in the opening round of the Harrison tournament.

SPORTS >> Lonoke upsets Lady Panthers

Leader sports writer

Few people expected the Lady Jackrabbits to leave the Cabot gym with their unbeaten record still in- tact, nor did they expect the double-overtime war it took in order for them to actually do it. The Lonoke girls proved all doubters wrong Friday night, edging out the Lady Panthers 52-49 in one of the most exciting games of the early season. The win improves the Lady ‘Rabbits record to 11-0 on the season, and establishes them as a serious force heading into the heart of their 6AAA-conference schedule.

The game did not start out very exciting, as the opening quarter went scoreless for the first 2:11 until a pair of Maddie Helms free throws got Cabot on the board first. Both teams slugged through the first, as the game was tied 7-7 at the 1:50 mark. The score would remain that way until the buzzer, when Kim Sitzmann scored a lay up at the buzzer to put the Lady Panthers ahead by two.

The Lady ‘Rabbits continued to struggle in the second quarter, but Cabot picked things up. The Lady Panthers would extend their lead to six, leading 20-14 at the half.

Despite a slow first half, Lonoke came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring Cabot 18-3, and taking over the game’s tempo. Calisha Kirk tied things up for the Lady ‘Rabbits at the 5:09 mark with a reverse lay up. Lonoke then went on a 10-point run for the remainder of the period that was only interrupted by a Rachel Glover free throw for Cabot. By the end of the third, the Lady Rabbits had taken a 32-23 lead and looked poised for the easy upset.

Things would not be as easy in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Panthers began to press hard defensively. Lonoke began to turn over the ball, and Cabot took advantage.

Sitzmann put the Lady Panthers back in the lead with two free throws at the 1:26 mark. Kristy Shinn did the same for the Lady ‘Rabbits 15 seconds later Glover hit a three pointer for Cabot to put them ahead 41-39 with 47 seconds remaining, but Meaghan Kellybrew hit two more free throws to tie the score once again.

Cabot had one last chance to claim the win in the final three seconds of regulation, but Helms’ three-point attempt fell short, and the two teams prepared for overtime.

The first overtime was less than thrilling, with each team scoring two points in the extra period.
The second overtime would make up for that and then some, as the shootout began.

Jenny Evans struck first for Lonoke with a jumper and free throw to put them ahead 46-43. Jamie Sterrenberg answered for Cabot with a three-point shot that tied things up once more.

A three pointer from Lindsey Watts put the Lady Panthers ahead by one, but Libby Gay put Lonoke back out front with a jumper in the final minute.

Cabot’s outside shooting had saved them all night, but the long ball finally ran out of air for the Lady Panthers. Two straight three-point attempts fell flat for Cabot, as Kirk extended Lonoke’s lead with more solid free-throw shooting under pressure.

Lauren Walker was Cabot’s last chance in the closing seconds, but her attempt at a three would also miss the mark, and the Lady ‘Rabbits began to celebrate their biggest win of the season.

“That’s a good high school basketball game,” Lonoke girls coach Nathan Morris said. “We got a win on the road in front of a big crowd. This is our first road game besides playing in tournaments and a conference game against Christian. This win is un-measurable in terms of what it will do for us.”

Calisha Kirk led Lonoke with 21 points, including nine of 10 free-throw attempts. Kirk also had 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Kim Sitzmann led Cabot with 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Lady Panthers have this week off for the holiday, but will start back Dec. 28 in the first round of the Harrison invitational basketball tournament.

The Lady Jackrabbits also have the week off, but will join Cabot at the Harrison tourney.

NEIGHBORS >> A Coca-Cola Christmas in Lonoke

Leader staff writer

It’s always time for Coca-Cola and Christmas at the home of Don and Wanda Cook at 1381 N. Johnson Road in Lonoke.
“I would go to flea markets looking for jewelry, and 13 years ago I bought a couple of Coca-Cola pieces because they were so cheerful with the red and white,” Wanda Cook said.

“It just grew and grew.”

The massive collection has gained Cook the self-appointed title of “that crazy Coke lady.”

She credits her husband Don, retired from Union Pacific, with helping her with her collection and the giving the tours.
There’s even a chalkboard sign on their front porch proclaiming “One crazy lady and one really nice guy live here.”

In amassing the collection, the Cooks found out that the Coca-Cola Company was battling lagging sales in the winter so in 1931 the company commissioned Chicago illustrator Haddon Sundblom to paint a Santa Claus for advertisements. In recent years, Coca-Cola began including polar bears in their winter advertisements. The bears now appear on nearly as much merchandise as the Sundblom Santas, so the Cooks decided to make the living room a tribute to Coca-Cola at Christmas.

A few years ago, the Cooks decided to leave their Coca-Cola Christmas decorations on display inside and outside all year long even if it means replacing burned-out Christmas light bulbs in the middle of summer.

“I also collect dust bunnies,” Wanda Cook joked, wiping at a display cabinet.
The Cooks have a Coca-Cola themed kitchen with dishes, glasses and silverware bearing the famous logo.
There is also a Coca-Cola bedroom, dining room, bathroom and “fun room” which is reminiscent of a soda-fountain shop.
In the “fun room” the Cooks have Coca-Cola cans and bottles from more than 65 countries on display as well as planes and ships made from Coca-Cola cans.

“People ask me how much the collection is worth and you just can’t put a price on it. So much of the collection has been given to me,” Wanda Cook said.

Ten years ago the Cooks invited her grandson’s second-grade class at Lonoke Primary School to tour the collection. Ever since then, every second grade at Lonoke Primary School takes a December field trip to the Cook’s home to view the Coca-Cola collection.

Wanda Cook dresses in a red-and-white Coca-Cola waitress ensemble that matches a Barbie doll as she guides the second grade tours through her home, explaining the joys of collecting and pointing out a few of her favorite items.

One such item is a miniature Coca-Cola bottle brought to her by one of the second graders from the first tour ten years ago.
This year about 100 students toured the Cook’s home, enjoying the Coca-Cola themed house as well as some of the motorized gadgets Wanda Cook shows them such as Coca-Cola planes, clocks, telephones and a bubble machine.

The tours end in the “fun room” where students get a six-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola to drink, compliments of the Coca-Cola distributor in Little Rock, and two cookies that are shaped like the familiar hourglass curves of a Coca-Cola bottle.

“I call them Cokees. It’s just a simple sugar cookie recipe and I shaped a snowman cookie cutter into a Coke bottle,” Wanda Cook said.
She then dips the cookies into chocolate to represent the cola and a little white chocolate to represent the caps of the Coca-Cola bottles.
“The most fun of collecting is sharing it with others. That’s the blessing of it,” Cook said.

TOP STORY >> C-130Js pass tough test in cold Alaskan climate

Leader staff writer

Two C-130J cargo aircraft from Little Rock Air Force Base have been proven ready for war in all types of weather after finishing two weeks of cold-weather evaluations at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that ended Dec. 14.

Operational testing of the C-130J, which began in November, will determine whether the plane will meet full operational requirements. Previous evaluations conducted in 1999 and 2000 looked at the plane’s ability to perform basic tasks.

Before returning to Little Rock Air Force Base, Maj. Dave Flynn, 48th Airlift Squadron operational test and evaluation mission commander, said, “We performed all cold-weather test objectives, and our mission here is complete.”

The 48th Airlift Squadron worked with members of the Air Force Operation Test and Evaluation Center from Ed-wards Air Force Base in California during the rigorous testing. The results of the evaluations will be released in a report in the spring.

When the two C-130J aircraft landed at Eielson Air Force Base Dec. 6, temperatures in interior Alaska were about the same as Arkansas.
“The only real difference is the snow on the ground,” said Senior Airman Jacob Erskin, 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron guidance and control craftsman.

Known to many Alaskans as Chinook Winds, the warmer-than-usual weather was courtesy of a front pushing warm air from the Gulf of Alaska into Alaska’s interior, bringing daytime temperatures to above freezing. The temperatures eventually dipped into the minus-30 degree range, which is considered normal temperatures for the Air Force’s farthest-north base.

“We were working on the plane in layers of our winter gear and we would begin sweating and have to take off layers to cool down, but since it is winter in Alaska and we would quickly begin to feel the cold again,” said Tech. Sgt. Terry Ben-son, 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hydraulics technician.

“We were going from hot to cold and then bundle up and get hot again. It seemed like it was never a happy medium,” Benson said. “It was still pretty cold during the evenings.”

Since 2004, testing included formation flying, airdrop events, traffic collision avoidance system tests, computer-based approach testing and the most comprehensive noise and vibration tests ever conducted on the C-130J.

It is not yet known if Little Rock Air Force Base will receive any additional C130Js in 2006. Reports put the cost of each Super Hercules between $45 and $65 million.

Tech. Sgt. William Farrow of the 314th Airlift Wing contributed to this story.

TOP STORY >> Residents dispute new development

Leader staff writer

Residents of Sun Terrace, across the street from Wal-Mart Supercenter in Cabot, who several years ago successfully fought rezoning on the corner of Rockwood and Hwy. 89 at the entrance to their subdivision, are doing battle with the council again to stop a commercial development just one house down from that corner.

The residents filled every available seat and lined the walls in the council chambers Monday night. They had missed the planning commission meeting earlier this month when the commission approved about 11 acres for rezoning from residential to commercial and they were determined that the council, which has the final say, would know how they feel before it was too late.

For half of the two-hour council meeting, they took the podium one by one to express their objections to the council rezoning the property, but their reasons for objecting were not diverse.

The developer wanted to put an entrance into the subdivision on Rockwood. They don’t want that because they say that traffic from Wal-Mart and other businesses in that commercial development already is so bad that they have difficulty getting on and off Rockwood. And for that matter, they don’t want access to a commercial development off Hwy. 89 either. They don’t want a commercial development on their side of the highway at all.

They said they feared that a commercial development would devalue their property, bring more traffic inside their neighborhood and endanger both their children and their peace.

“I don’t understand why we have to keep complaining about making this commercial,” Virgil Teague told the council.
The city is getting the cart before the horse by allowing commercial development in an area that is already frequently in gridlock.
“If you want commercial development, you should build a highway first,” Teague said.

Jack Sinky, who lives in the first house off Rockwood, reminded the council that the residents of Sun Terrace are voters who helped put them in office.

“Leave residential alone. Don’t chip away at it from the corners,” he said. “Do the right thing.”
Patty Brown, who lives at 19 Sun Valley Road, implored the council, “Please do not do this to us.”
Susan Price, who lives at the end of Rockwood, said, “Leave it residential. That’s why we all bought here. Develop somewhere else.”
Alderman Odis Waymack drew jeers from the crowd when he said there is really no way to stop commercial development along Hwy. 89. He said later that the council opened the door to commercial development when it rezoned a daycare next to the property to allow Steve Blackwood to move his real estate business there. The daycare had been required to keep a residential zoning with a special-use permit that could not be transferred to the new owner.

The residents who attended the meeting also feared that if the 11-plus acres are rezoned to commercial, the house on the corner of Rockwood and Hwy. 89 that they had fought to keep residential would be the next to go commercial.

Ron Craig, planning commission chairman, said after the meeting that the master zoning plan shows Hwy. 89 as commercial on both sides.
Waymack said that since the council has rezoned the Blackwood property commercial, it has little choice except to rezone for the proposed commercial development.

Alderman David Polantz disagrees. He told the council that housing, not commercial development, has to remain the focus in Cabot.
At Waymack’s suggestion, the rezoning was sent back to the planning commission for the developer and the commission to discuss a planned-unit development or PUD which would require the developer to submit complete plans for what he intends to build.

But Waymack said later that he doesn’t think the city can compel the developer to present anything other than what has already been required – a rezoning request.

Adding to the quagmire, City Attorney Clint McGue told the council that in his opinion the council can’t even tell the developer that he can’t build access into the property off Rockwood. To do that would be to invite a lawsuit, he said.

By sending the matter back to the planning commission, the council has postponed making a decision until mid February.
“The deadline for getting on the January commission agenda has passed,” Craig said.
Residents said they have no intention of giving up.

Carl Schmidt, a longtime resident, told the council that a bus stop is now at the location where the developer proposes to make an entrance off Rockwood. A blind spot on the street is dangerous already without adding heavy construction vehicles to the mix, he said.

So when asked if he would attend the planning commission meeting to continue his fight he answered, “You can bet your sweet bippy we’ll be back.”

TOP STORY >> City council butts heads over budget suggestions

Leader staff writer

Following a firestorm of words with Mayor Donald Ward Monday night, the Beebe City Council tabled a vote on the $2.7 million 2006 city budget until a full council is present.

Alderman Janet Rogers was absent.
Aldermen Janis Petray and Bobby Robinson suggested cuts for the budget including laying off the city’s economic development director, Marjorie Armstrong, and a yet to be determined street department position to supplement the street fund. Armstrong, one of the city’s highest-paid employees with a salary of around $48,000, was hired three years ago to help jumpstart Beebe’s economy.
“I think the council has failed. I think you need to go back and do your job right the second time,” Ward told the council.

“I don’t appreciate you getting belligerent with us,” Robinson said, adding that he could point out instances where the city administration has failed.

“I think you’re out of order,” Ward said banging his gavel. “I don’t care what you think,” Robinson said.
After a five-minute recess, the council voted to table the decision on the budget.

Armstrong attended the meeting but did not address the council regarding the budget.
“The existing citizens that are paying their taxes here is what’s important right now,” Petray said.
“When we cannot offer our own citizens infrastructure, I don’t see how we can attract new residents,” Petray said.
“So what we do now is pave the streets and forget about the future?” Ward asked.

Ward told council members he thought it was a good budget and attributed the city’s economic conditions to inheriting a $400,000 budget when he took office in 1999 followed by costly damage due to tornadoes that cut a swath through the city.

Ward first presented the budget which also includes a 5 percent raise for city employees, to the council Nov. 28. The council met Dec. 12 to review and discuss the budget.

“I believe I’ve been an asset to city government as well as the community and I hope I can continue,” Armstrong told The Leader.
“No one (on the city council) is going to touch the 5 percent pay increase because next year is an election year,” Ward said.
By state law, the budget must be passed by Feb. 1.

In other business, the mayor asked the council to consider changing the administration of the city cemetery. The price for an adult grave is $325 and the price for a child or cremation grave is $175.

“We need to either get out of the business or do something to defray the costs,” Ward said. Robertson agreed, citing the summer maintenance of mowing the graveyard.

The council is also considering a proposal to get streetlights installed along Pecan Street on both the north and south sides of the Hwy. 67/167 overpass.

The streetlights are expected to help light portions of the ballpark as well. Additionally, the council heard from John Sanderson of the Optimist Club of Searcy.

The Optimist Club of Searcy is offering to help establish a club in Beebe.
“The motto of Optimist Clubs is ‘Friend of Youth.’

“We would need an initial participation of about 30 people to get it started. The Beebe Optimists would elect their own officers, and raise their own funds. We just want to help get it started,” Sanderson said.

For those interested in starting an Optimist Club of Beebe, contact the mayor’s office at (501) 882-6295.

TOP STORY >> Defense bill gets approval in House

Leader staff writer

After a long and heated battle Sunday night, members of the House of Representatives passed 308-106 the 2006 defense spending bill that would also open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, but Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., who opposed the drilling, cautions Arkansans that the real vote was much tighter.

He said he and many others voted for the $453 billion defense spending bill, which pays for the wars in Iraq and Af-ghanistan and funds Little Rock Air Force Base, only after failing in a close vote to keep the ANWR drilling provision off the defense bill.
“Don’t get fooled,” Snyder told The Leader Tues-day. “We had the vote on the rule.”

“It basically put everything together — ANWR, money for Katrina relief and for the flu vaccine,” he added.
That vote, which could have stripped the ANWR drilling from the bill, passed by only 214 to 201, he said, with 198 Republicans voting yes, 21 voting no and 12 not voting. Among Democrats, only 16 broke ranks to include the oil drilling provision in the defense spending bill, while 179 opposed and seven didn’t vote.

That vote was taken at 4:10 a.m. Monday.
Senators opposed to drilling in the refuge might attempt to filibuster the defense bill Wednesday.

“I am dismayed that the Repub-lican leadership has made a mockery of the legislative process and placed vital aid to our troops on the ground at risk,” Sen. Blanche Lincoln said.

“Oil drilling in Alaska has been debated and defeated in Congress for almost as long as I’ve been here. It is my hope that this bill not be held hostage to such an unrelated and controversial provision as ANWR.”

“Sen. Mark Pryor is undecided on the filibuster and conflicted on the bill,” said spokesman Lisa Ackerman, who said Pryor had steadfastly opposed the drilling but staunchly supported the military.
social programs cut
About 90 minutes later, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 authorized huge cuts in social programs important to Arkansans passed 211 to 206, Snyder said. It’s not clear that the bill will pass the Senate, he said, but if it does, it will cut student loans by $12.8 billion, and cut child-support enforcement by a billion, bringing total cuts to $39.7 billion over five years.

“This is the wrong bill for Arkansans,” said Snyder. “It makes it easier for deadbeat dads to get away and harder to get a student loan. What’s driving the bill was to find money for a Republican tax-cut bill to benefit the wealthy. It’s bad public policy.”

Snyder said he also was concerned about revelations that President Bush ordered warrant-less wiretaps and spying on Amer-ican citizens. “I think you’ll see Congress look into this in a deliberative manner,” he said.

At least one U.S. senator, Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has asked for an investigation into whether or not the president had committed an impeachable crime. Snyder said that in a free society, you have to balance security with civil liberties, but that it had to be done through laws. “The allegation in the New York Times story is that the president didn’t follow the law,” Snyder said. “He says he did.”

Bush says that when Congress authorized him to go after the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks just after Sept. 11, 2001, they authorized him to take such measures.

“I never hear anyone discussing that we were giving authority to do our intelligence gathering differently,” Snyder said.

“I believe there should be a full investigation into exactly who the President authorized the NSA to spy on. If his motive is purely to deter terrorist attacks on Americans and our allies, then an investigation will confirm that. The President has said he welcomes an investigation, and both Republican and Democratic leaders have promised to investigate the matter. I will withhold any further judgment about this program until I have more information.”

TOP STORY >> Legislators frustrated by Lake View

Leader staff writer and Arkansas News Bureau

A special session on education may well be necessary but doesn’t have to be hurried, Gov. Mike Huckabee said Tuesday.

After the state Supreme Court declared school funding unconstitutional a week ago, Huckabee initially said a special session might not be needed to address concerns raised in the decision.

Since then, Attorney General Mike Beebe and others have said funding remedies would require legislative action. Only the governor can call the legislature into an extraordinary session.

Huckabee said Tuesday that he would not call a special session until a plan is in place to address issues raised by court.
Local legislators agree that there is a lot of homework to be done first and no need to rush.

No Lonoke, White or Pulaski County legislators were surprised by the ruling taking them to task, they said, but they were disappointed.
Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle, said last week he found a couple of positive things in the mix.

Glover has said all along that the legislature’s decision not to raise the state minimum foundation aid for the first year of the biennium was a bad idea, but he was pleased that the court acknowledged separation of powers, limited its intervention and did not concern itself with issues of further school consolidation.

“I was well pleased that while the court adopts most of the masters’ report, they don’t adopt it as a whole, particularly regarding the issue of district consolidation,” Glover said. He also said he felt confident that there was sufficient surplus revenue to cover any needed changes without resorting to any new taxes.

State Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, expressed disappointment that the court interjected itself into the Lake View/school adequacy question at all.

“It’s my belief that the court’s overstepping their authority, but it gives us an opportunity to examine again what we’ve done,” Bond said. “We’ll go back into districts, talk to principals, see what’s working and what’s not.”

Bond said the legislators could evaluate whether or not they needed to provide more money, and if so, in which areas. Bond said the new adequacy study would also show whether the general assembly required unfunded mandates.

Bond also said he thought there could be savings already in place to help offset the cost of mandates — for instance, technology that cost the districts less than the state provided.

“I took issue with their statement that we didn’t make education our first priority,” said state Rep. Jeff Wood, D-Sherwood. “Nobody wants new taxes, everyone wants more accountability. No one wants to take up consolidation again. We did the best we could with what we had to work with.”

“I’m still concerned about the separation of powers between the branches,” said state Rep. Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville. “ I still want to make the districts as accountable as possible for their money. It’s come out in audit lately about one district paying for country club dues.

“We have $1 billion in school district reserves around the state. Why is that not going to the schools? I want to make sure that the money going there is going to the kids.”

“What we have to do first is begin to gather information on what’s needed for adequate funding,” said state Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy. “The House and Senate Education Committees can hold hearings to adequately fund the schools. We need to know how the money is being spent. We need to meet with superintendents on reserve funds and how they intend to spend.

“We need to look at the athletic spending, transportation spending, all the spending. We need to monitor construction and real-time cost,” Capps said. “There is a real possibility of the judicial branch usurping the legislative branch. Do they want the judiciary running the school districts and the state?”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005



Allen Keith Schmidt, 47, of Cabot, went to be with the Lord Monday, Dec. 12 at Cooks Lake Lodge at Casscoe.
He was there deer hunting with his friends on a special deer hunt for the disabled. Allen suffered from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but loved to spend time in the outdoors, hunting and fishing. He was a 1976 graduate of Cabot High School and a Baptist.
He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Debbie; two sons, Keith and Christopher Schmidt of Cabot; his parents, LeRoy and Patsy Schmidt of Austin; one sister, Carol McCabe of Austin; and a special niece, Lauren McCabe.
The family wishes to express their appreciation to Allen’s nurse and friend, Peggy Johnson.
Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, at Cabot First Baptist Church, with burial in Oak Grove Cemetery.


James R. Magness, 77, of Cabot, passed away Monday, December 12. He was born Aug. 20, 1928, in Beebe. He was a member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Lonoke.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Emmett and Cleo Magness; a son, Jerry Magness; two brothers and one sister.
Survivors are his wife of 60 years, Betty Jean Magness; two daughters and sons-in-law, Pam and Ken Murphy of Cabot and Shirl and Ken Welch of Little Rock; five grandchildren, Jeremy and April Murphy, Tonya and Jayson Hefley, Heather and Todd Graves, Thomas Murphy and Nicholas Welch; three great-grandchildren; and one sister, Doris Robbins of Cabot.
Visitation begins at 10 a.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe, with family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, with burial at Hicks Cemetery.
Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home.


Pauline Pickard Thompson, 91, of Beebe died Dec. 13. She was born in the Antioch community near Beebe on Oct. 24, 1914, to the late Maynard and Ethel Pickard. Pauline was a member of Beebe First Church of the Nazarene.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Orville Thompson; three brothers, Murray Pickard, Alton G. Pickard and Harry Lee Pickard.
She is survived by two daughters, Willie Mae Nemec of Fayette-ville, and Mary Margaret Phillips, of Beebe; two sons, Bobby Ray Thompson of Upland, Calif., and Hays Thompson of Cabot; nine grandchildren; one step-grandson; 14 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and one sister, Martha Gasaway of Jonesboro.
Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, at West-brook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday, at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial at Antioch Cemetery.
Memorials can be made to the Beebe First Church of the Naza-rene Building Fund, 104 Camp-ground Road, Beebe, Ark., 72012.
Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home.


Paul William Dean, 76, of Searcy, died Dec. 13, at White County Medical Center in Searcy under Hospice Care.
He was born July 27, 1929 in Hamilton County, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Velma Wright Dean.
He was retired from the Air Force.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Mildred; a son, Kenneth of Kingsman, Ariz.; eight brothers and sisters, Ralph, Rosa, John, Leonard, Betty, James, Mary and Linda.
Thanks go to the wonderful doctors and nurses for their excellent care, with special thanks to the staff of Arkansas Hospice of White County.
Paul will be laid to rest in Liberty, Ky., at a later date.
Cremation arrangements un-der the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

EDITORIAL >> Vote no Tuesday on more debt

Forget about all the legal questions surrounding the two bond proposals that will appear on the ballot Tuesday and consider only the sheer wisdom of the propositions, or the lack of it.

Sure, there are mind-boggling legal questions about both the interstate highway bond issue and the higher education bonds. The highway bond law that authorized this election seeks in the distant future to bypass the constitutional prohibition against state borrowing without first having a popular vote, and the higher education proposal seems to do the same, although the authors and sponsors of it have been equivocal on whether that was a purpose.

There are other legal riddles, but voters need not concern themselves with those, even though opponents urge you to. Defeat or passage of the propositions Tuesday will not affect those questions. They are part of the statutes passed by the legislature this year and those questions will remain after the election because Gov. Huckabee and his successor can call special elections on these questions until doomsday under the law. If the propositions pass, there will be lawsuits, perhaps friendly ones, to settle the questions before bonds can actually be sold. So they are almost immaterial to any voter’s consideration.

No, evaluate them on two premises: Do you agree with the purposes of the money that they will cause to be spent and their priority — repair of interstate mileage starting five to seven years from now and construction of new buildings on college campuses and tying all the Arkansas campuses to an interstate research network?

Second, is more or less permanent state indebtedness the best way to pay for the improvements?
You have to ignore the pitches of Gov. Huckabee and the other proponents of both issues. Like most campaign pitches, they are simple, appealing and wrong.

Paying for highway improvements as you go just does not work, said Gov. Huckabee, who 10 years ago said it did work and that bonded debt was wrong. (That was when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was proposing highway bonds.) If you remember what the interstate highways were like six or seven years ago, the governor says, you know that paying as you go does not work. If you like all the improvements the past six years he says, you will vote to authorize the Highway Commission to do it again, and again, whenever it wants.

That assumes that nothing happened except the issuance of $575 million of highway bonds in 2000 and 2001. But that is wrong. When the legislature authorized the bond election in 1999, it also raised taxes, three cents a gallon on gasoline and four cents a gallon on diesel. Those taxes gave a big boost to highway building and would have done that even without bonds.

The gasoline taxes went largely to non-interstate construction but they freed money for the interstates, too. All the diesel taxes were dedicated to the interstates. They were obligated to pay off the bonds, but they could just as easily have been dedicated to an ongoing maintenance program. And the Federal Highway Administration pumped hundreds of millions more into interstate maintenance because the interstates were in bad shape everywhere, not just in Arkansas.

Without the highway bonds, there would have been a huge interstate highway program the past six years. In fact, there already was. It already had been under way a couple of years before the bonds were issued in 2000 and it seemed that those pesky orange barrels were everywhere.
Here is what the highway bond proposal is all about: With or without bonds, the diesel tax and the federal interstate aid will be used every year to repair interstates. If the bond proposal passes, from now on about one third of the road-use taxes dedicated to interstates both from Washing-ton and Little Rock will go to investors for their interest on the bonds. Without the bonds, that money would be spent on the highways.
You decide which is the wiser course.

In the case of the college bonds, the proposal contemplates two or more bond issues — one to raise the money to pay investors in one lump sum the $100 million that they would earn from now until 2017 on the current college bonds and then another issue of $150 million or more to get the cash for new buildings and equipment on the campuses — a nice little pot for every one of them.

Gov. Huckabee and his higher education chief say that enrollments have risen rapidly the past decade or so and that building on the campuses have not kept pace.

The implication is that there aren’t enough classrooms for the youngsters anymore. But a check with state treasury report shows that the state has spent nearly $1 billion on buildings and capital equipment in the 10 years ending in 2004. Private fortunes spent another $250 million or so on university buildings. It has been the biggest building boom in the state’s history. Visit your favorite school and see the transformation.
If the college bond issues are approved, the governor says he will call a special session the week before Christmas to appropriate the $150 million for the campuses. But he could save the state millions of dollars if instead he simply asked the legislature to appropriate $150 million of surplus state funds for the buildings, if they are urgent. They could be built instantly and the taxpayers could be spared tens of millions of dollars of interest and 20 years of debt.

Again, your choice.