Wednesday, March 02, 2005

SPORTS>> Panther baseball aims for playoffs

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers embark upon the 2005 baseball season with hopes of getting back to the playoffs. The Panthers missed the postseason last year after going in six previous seasons.

Cabot coach Jay Fitch believes this team has the potential to accomplish that goal, although the top of the AAAAA-East will be very strong this year.

“I think the front-runners would have to be Jonesboro and Searcy,” Fitch said. “Both of those teams have an awful lot coming back. And you can never count out Sylvan Hills coming back up from AAAA. They’ve got a ton of tradition and are always going to be very strong. It’s going to be a battle for the playoffs this year.”

Fitch will be looking to junior Tim Payne to take the spot at the top of the Panther pitching rotation. Payne was the No. 2 man last year, and has added more command and more versatility to his repertoire this year.

“He’ll be the No. 1 guy and we’re expecting good things from him,” Fitch said. “This is a kid who is already getting some college looks and has the potential to be very good.”

Ryan Cotroneo will start out as the No. 2 pitcher and will be the starting shortstop when not on the mound. Addison Brinkman will also get time on the mound, and will play right field.

Sophomore Colin Fuller has also impressed the head coach, and could see some time on the mound in varsity action.
“He throwing in the low 80s with good command, so we’ll definitely see him in varsity games and could see him up there quite a bit,” Fitch said.

Anthony McConnell, a junior who transferred from Alabama, could also throw for Cabot and see time at right field.
Center and left field are solid positions for the Panthers. Senior Neil Hatcher, a two-year starter, will start at left field and likely leadoff the Cabot batting order.

Juniors Bronson Britt and Jake Robertson look solid in centerfield as well.

Last year’s starting catcher, Kyle West, has missed most of the offseason with injuries, and will yield his starting role to Bryant Bulice to start the season. Fitch says Bulice has been a solid catcher, but we can still expect to see West in the lineup.
“We’re going to keep his stick in the lineup purely for the power potential,” Fitch said of West. “He hasn’t been cleared to catch, but we feel comfortable there. We still want him swinging though.”

Another power hitter that Fitch has been pleased with is first baseman Chris Gross. Gross saw limited time last year, but has dropped 25 to 30 pounds and added strength and quickness to his game.

“I’m extremely pleased and very excited about Chris,” Fitch said. “He’s another one that provides us with a serious power threat, and his weight loss and work he’s put in really helps his quickness and first base.”

Second base will mostly be filled by Kyle Stoner and Casey Carlisle. Stoner is also serviceable catcher if needed behind the plate.

With a solid lineup, Fitch believes this team’s success lies in fulfilling its potential.

“We have a lot of senior who, as juniors, didn’t have the kind of year they maybe could have. I think if this year they’re able to reach their potential, this is a pretty successful team.”

SPORTS>> Rabbits drop two in semis of region

IN SHORT: Lonoke boys and girls fall in semifinal round of the Region 3 tournament in Clarksville. Lady Rabbits bounce back with win on Saturday.

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke boys and girls basketball teams didn’t fare as well as they would have liked last week at the Region 3 tournament in Clarksville, but both managed to qualify for the state tournament with first-round wins.

Lonoke beat Lamar in the first round, but lost twice afterwards and will take the region’s No. 4 seed in the state tournament. The Region 3 tournament consisted of the top four teams from the 5AAA and Lonoke’s 6AAA, and all four 6AAA members advanced to this week’s state tournament.

Pulaski Academy beat CAC in the semifinals and defeated Little Rock Christian Academy in the regional championship game to take the No. 1 seed.

CAC then beat Lonoke for the third time this year to take the No. 3 seed.
LRCA gets the two seed.

The Lady Rabbits hammered Dover 62-28 in the first round before also losing to CAC for the third time 66-58.

The Lonoke ladies, however, bounced back in the third-place game to defeat Clarksville 63-52 to take the No. 3 seed.

Pulaski Academy’s girls also got the No. 1 seed by beating the Lady Mustangs in the championship game.

The Clarksville girls are the only 5AAA team from either regional tournament to advance to state, and the 5AAA champions barely got by the 6AAA four seed Glen Rose 40-35 in the first round.

Lonoke girls coach Daryl Fimple said his team wasn’t very impressive in the win against Clarksville, but reasoned that most teams aren’t in third-place games.

“Third-place games are a lot like watching paint dry,” Fimple said. “Considering that the game was pretty meaningless, I thought we played with decent intensity. It actually turns out to help in the draw, so it’s good we got the win.”

Senior center Crystal Kirk led the Lady Rabbits in scoring with 20 points. Guards Leticia Mahomes scored 13 and Whitley Elam added 12.

The Lonoke ladies will play Dumas in the first round at 1 p.m. Thursday in Pine Bluff.

A win in that matchup will mean a likely date against Region 2 champion Rivercrest in the second round. “I’ll just be honest, if we can’t beat Dumas we don’t deserve to be there in the first place,” Fimple said.

“After that it gets really tough. Rivercrest is a very strong team and if you happen to get by them, you’re probably looking at PA again. We’re capable, but we’re going to have to avoid the lapses like we had against CAC Friday. We seem to come unglued for a couple of minutes in every big game. It’s usually late in the third quarter when it happens too. I don’t know what it is. I guess I’m going to have to do a better job of coaching late in the third quarter.”

The Lonoke boys played well in routing Lamar in the opening round in a hostile environment, but couldn’t pull things together against 6AAA district champion Little Rock Christian Academy, losing 46-34 and returning to the poor shooting that has plagued the team at times this season.

After falling to the Warriors in the semfinals, the Jackrabits turned in a lackluster performance in the third-place game and fell to Central Arkansas Christian Academy. The Jackrabbits are the only public school to advance to state out of the Region 3 tournament, but drew another private school for the first round of the state playoffs.

Lonoke faced Region 1 champion Subiaco Academy in the first round of play on Tuesday after Leader deadlines.
Subiaco Academy features a seven-foot center that sees the bulk of the action on offense.

Look for detailed coverage of that game and the rest of the Class AAA state tournament in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.

Other first-round games feature Fordyce taking on River-view, LRCA facing Farmington, Osceola squaring off with tournament host Pine Bluff Dollarway, Marianna-West Fork, Ashdown-CAC, Pulaski Academy–Warren and Gentry versus Highland.


Warren Knight of Cabot, a cornerstone of the community, passed away Feb. 27 at the age of 71. He was a loving husband and father.

He was born Oct. 24, 1933 at home in Fruit-vale, Tenn.

He was a longstanding member of the First Bap-tist Church of Cabot. He believed and loved the Lord his entire life.
Warren was married to the love of his life, Sandra, for 52 years. They were high school sweethearts who married at the ages of 17 and 19.

In his early life, Warren worked with his father at the Ford Motor Co. and A&P Grocery in Memphis. Warren quickly was promoted through the grocery business ending up in North Little Rock as the Arkansas division supervisor for Weingarten’s, a Houston based grocery chain. In 1971, after working 11 years with Weingarten’s, Warren left his job and moved to Cabot where he purchased Thompson’s Dollar Saver to go into business for himself. Warren and Sandra, along with their three sons worked hard to build a successful business, which is celebrating its 34th anniversary this month.

Warren was the backbone of a very close knit family which consisted of three sons and their families. He was always quick to contribute good advice to those who were willing to listen. Anyone who ever worked with Warren was very familiar with his “penny” story. He used that story as an example to show that to make a dollar, you have to start with a penny.

Warren accomplished many things in his life. In the early seventies he sponsored the first pee wee football and baseball organization that continues on today. He avidly supported the successful effort to start the Cabot High School baseball program. Warren was also an accomplished pilot acquiring his private pilot’s license in 1977.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra; his sons Keith and wife Cherie, Kent and wife Karen, Kevin and wife Karmen, one older sister, Mary Ann Mathis and a younger brother, Vandon Knight; 11 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Marvin and Louise Knight and in-laws Luke and Louise Kelley. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the American Diabetes Association. Public viewing will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Cabot Funeral Home. His family will receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Cabot.

Joshua Albert Moore of Ward, beloved son and grandson, loving father, brother and friend, was taken to be with our Lord Feb. 27. He was born July 18, 1983 in North Little Rock.

Josh graduated from Cabot High School in 2001 at which time he went to work for Langer Construction Company of Ward as a carpenter. He enjoyed all sports and outdoor activities, video games, movies, etc. He was a member of Cocklebur Baptist Church of Ward, where he was saved and baptized at the age of six. Josh, we love you more than words can say, and we will miss you greatly son, but you’re in heaven with God and Jesus and we will all be reunited with you someday there.

He is survived by his parents, William H. and Libby (Flowers) Moore of Ward, Arkansas; his precious daughter, Shyann Moore and her mother, Courtney Wells, also of Ward; his brother, Jacob Lee Moore of Ward; his sister, Beth Simpson and her husband Todd of Bull Shoals; his brother, Jason Moore; his brother, Dusty and wife Jill Moore of Carrollton, Georgia; his grandmothers Elizabeth Ellen Flowers and Elizabeth M. Moore, both of North Little Rock and countless uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, Jack W. Flowers, Sr. and Clarence Lee Moore, Jr., both of North Little Rock. Funeral arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe will be announced.

H. Altholean Brumley Langley, 88, of Hot Springs, died Saturday, Feb. 26 at Quapaw Health and Rehabilitation in Hot Springs. Born June 2, 1916, in Sparkman, the daughter of the late Clarence F. and Mattie E. Stewart Brumley. She was a retired L.P.N. and a member of the Jacksonville United Methodist church. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph Langley; three brothers, Fletcher Brumley; Horace Brumley; and Wilson Brumley; two sisters, Ola Baker and Verna Brumley.

Survivors are two daughters, Joann Thomas and husband Wil-liam of Hot Springs and Linda Sue McCammon and husband Allen of Sherwood; one son, Ralph Eugene Langley and wife, Betty of Hum-boldt, Tenn.; four grandsons, John Langley and wife, Jena; Richard Langley, Drew Langley, and Kevin McCammon and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Ruggles-Wilcox Funeral Home Chapel in Arkadelphia with Rev. Bob Langley officiating. Pall-bearers will be grandsons and son-in-laws. Entombment will be in Crestview Memorial Park Mauso-leum in Hot Springs. Memorials may be made to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospice or Jacksonville United Methodist Church.

Dan A. Durham, 44, of Mem-phis passed away Feb. 25. He was born in Jacksonville on May 4, 1960, the son of Eloise Durham and the late James W. Durham M.D. He is also survived by two brothers, Jim Durham and wife Darlene of Jacksonville and David Durham of Colorado, and niece Sierra Durham of Jacksonville and special family friend Tom Thomley of Memphis.

He attended Memphis State College and graduated with a fine arts degree. Private services will be held in Memphis.
Harold Jones

Harold Eugene “Dopie” Jones, of Cabot, went to be with his Savior Feb. 27 at the age of 87. He was born April 19, 1917 in Vanndale to Preston and Elma Jones. He came to live in Cabot when he married Mary Elizabeth Kerr on Dec. 23, 1940.
He served his country proudly in the Army during World War II from May 6, 1942 until Sept. 23, 1945.
He was a Mason and an active supporter of the Lonoke County Democrat Election Commission having served many years as an election official. He served eight years as an alderman for the city of Cabot in Ward 2 and was the chairman of the committee for numbering the homes in Cabot. He was an avid fisherman; a Boy Scout leader; a coach for the Little League Baseball team for six years.

Harold was a charter member of the VFW and helped raise money for the Veterans Park by going around with a few others carrying a car on a truck to sell chances at $1 a ticket. Harold retired from the Cabot Fire Department after 20 years. He also retired from the V.A. Hospital at Fort Roots after 20 years of service. He is survived by his wife, of 64 years, Mary of the home; daughter, Dian Evans and Darv; two sons, Eugene and his wife, Sue Jones and John Jones; a brother, Larry Jones and his wife, Betty of Wynne. He leaves behind seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He will be sorely mis-sed by his family. He is preceded in death by a son, Ronald Keith Jones; three brothers of Wynne and one sister of Memphis. Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Cabot with interment in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Louie Maurice Moore, 59, of Cabot passed away Feb. 26.

He honorably served his country in the United States Army. He was a member of Berea Baptist Church; disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. He graduated Oak Grove High School; worked for over 20 years for MacMillan Bloedel Containers.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William “Tiny” Ranzy and Dorthie E. Weatherly Moore and a sister, Brenda Jo Moore.

He is survived by his loving wife, Pat Moore; four daughters, Janet Boyd of North Little Rock, Ana Troy, Emily and Taylor Moore of Cabot; four sons, Bill (Rose) Ingram of Knoxville, Michael “Bo” Ingram, James Ingram and Jonah Maurice Moore of Cabot as well as his grandchildren, Solita Johnson, Tara Williams of North Little Rock, Cali Jo Troy and Brandon Ingram of Cabot, Nina Furrow of Jacksonville, Tara Ingram of Casper, Wyoming, Brandon and Leann McMurtrey of Marshall, Minn.; two brothers, Carl Wayne Moore of North Little Rock, William “Bimbo” (Teresa Moore of Cabot,; four sisters, Linda Adams Van and Jan (Regan) Payne of Butlerville, Leatha (David) Basco of LA and Donna (David) Wilson of Conway; 19 nieces, 16 nephews, eight great nephews, five great nephews, step children, Samantha Powers, Tammy Lake, Kim Chap-man and Buddy Hill also cherish his memory along with many friends.

Funeral services will be held 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Berea Baptist Church, 104 east Valentine Road, Jacksonville with interment to follow in Butlerville Cemetery with Rev. Lonnie Autry officiating. Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 – 8 p.m. at Cabot Funeral Home, 700 N. Second, Cabot.

Kenneth Ray York, 63 of Beebe, died Feb. 26. He is survived by wife Patricia; three sons; two brothers; three sisters; and five grandchildren. Funeral will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at Mayflower Cemetery in Mayflower.

William B. “Bill” Jones, 87, of Austin went to be with the Lord Feb. 26.

He is preceded in death by one grandson, Eric Wine and son-in-law James Covington. He is survived by a loving wife of 61 and a half years, Rena Clements Jones; daughters Peggy and husband Paul Wine of Cabot and Patricia and husband Stephen Johnson of Austin.

Survived by grandchildren Jimmy and wife Amanda Covington and four children; Kimberly and husband Ricky Swint and three sons; Denise and husband Koby Smith and two sons; Terry and husband Dwayne Woemer and three children; Deletha and husband Cragg Henry and three children; and Leigh Covington; one brother Otha and wife Iris Jones of Cabot, plus nine nieces and nephews and countless other family and friends. Bill was a retired dairy farmer, avid fisherman, devoted father, grandfather, great-grandfather, Christian, and friend. He was an ordained Deacon and a member of First Baptist Church of Cabot. He served in WWII in the U.S. Army Air Force. Funeral service will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church, Cabot, with burial in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

Dee Ward Heffner, 81, a lifelong resident of Antioch, died Feb. 28. He will be missed by many friends. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mildred Hefner; his daughter, Ruth Ann Hefner; two sisters, Marie Jackson of Merced, Calif., and Norma Lee Price of Slidell, La.. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Thurs-day at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be 2 p.m. Friday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Antioch Cemetery.

Billy Wayne Campbell, 65, of Beebe, passed away Feb. 25, 2005. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

He is survived by his wife, Martha Campbell; three sons, Shane Campbell of Beebe, Nicky Campbell of Conway and Danny Wendt of Beebe; three daughters, Brandi Sims of Little Rock, Amelia McClain of Beebe and Tammy Michael of Alexander; sister, Freda Collins of Illinois; and sixteen grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Sidon Cemetery.

Harold Heymach, 81, of Jack-sonville passed away Feb. 28. He was preceded in death by his wife Anna, son Harold Heymach Jr. and infant son Gary. He is survived by daughters, Carol Ann Enz of Straus-burg, Penn. and Rose Fleming of Ward; sons Joe and wife Lori Hey-mach of Rosemont, Penn. and Gary Heymach of Jacksonville; sister Anna Landmesser and brother Raymond Heymach; nine grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren and best friend B.C. Stringfellow.
Arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Audean Massey, 84, of El Paso, widow of William T. Massey, died Feb. 28. She was retired from Franklin Electric. She is survived by two sons, William “Bill” Massey, Jr. of England and Glen Massey of Jacksonville; two daughters, Ann Holcomb of Maumelle and Sandra Cheah of Steilacoom, Washington; ten grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by a great-grandson.
Family will receive friends at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Grissard Cemetery.

Beloved son, Clay Emmett Warren, age 20, of Cabot, passed away in a traffic accident Feb. 27.
He was born on Sept. 17, 1984, to Vicki and the late Emmett E. (Bo) Warren. He is survived by one sister, Jessica A. Warren. Funeral services are pending. Funeral arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home. He will dearly missed by his family and many friends.

EDITORIAL>> Bush budget cuts start to hit home

Blue-state bloggers have had a field day with President Bush’s proposed budget, calling it the blue states’ revenge.

They enjoy the spectacle of governors from states that went for Bush in 2004, like our own Mike Huckabee, whining in Washington about how unjustly the president’s budget treats their states.

Parts of the president’s spending blueprint does seem to land a heavier blow on poor states dependent upon a higher quotient of federal matching funds and on the states of the Great Plains that prosper on agricultural subsidies. But the fun lovers of the coastal states that voted Democratic have little to chortle about once they follow the money.

The joke is on everyone, everyone, that is, who doesn’t earn, say, a million a year or more.

Let’s forget the blue-state, red-state nonsense and focus on what the budget does to the nation as a whole and our little corner of it. Gov. Huckabee is exercised primarily over the administration’s plan to trim $60 billion from Medicaid assistance to the states by 2010. Arkansas gets a greater per-capita allotment of federal Medicaid dollars than any state but Mississippi owing to our low income standard and high percentage of poor.

A cut will force Mike Huckabee to make wrenching decisions: Who among the 717,000 destitute elderly and children will he deny medical assistance? Huckabee was there once before, and he just couldn’t do it. He found a bundle of state dollars to get him through the crisis. But this won’t be temporary.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has tended to befriend the administration on budget matters, is furious. We have a hunch the president’s big cuts in farm benefits — he would slash crop subsidies by 5 percent and lower the ceiling on aggregate payments to big farm operations — are the principal source of her ire. A spokesman for the Arkansas Farm Bureau, whose members largely supported the president in 2004, said farmers felt betrayed by subsidy reductions that would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That would, indeed, be a blow to the farm community that would reverberate throughout the Arkansas economy.

But we do not worry much about that. We have an idea that Congress will take care of agriculture and that the president will not invest much capital fighting for those cuts.

Quite a few corporate farms may actually be helped by Bush’s program. His plan phases out two obscure tax provisions that limit deductions and exemptions for very high-income households. Half the benefits would go to those making more than $1 million a year, 97 percent to those making more than $200,000 a year.

Here’s a small coincidence: The number of people earning more than $1 million a year who would get a hefty tax subsidy is almost exactly the number of Americans whose food stamps would be cut off under Bush’ s austerity budget.

We worry about deep reductions in other services that are important to Arkansans.

Here are a few of them: cuts of $118.4 million over five years for the education of disadvantaged Arkansas children under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; $75.1 million for gifted education and other special-education programs; $61.3 million for vocational and adult education (eliminated); $42.9 million for school improvements under the president’s school reforms; $7.5 million for 7,600 nursing women and infants under the Women, Infants and Children program; $32.5 million for Head Start and other child and family services; $1.7 million for HIV/AIDS drug assistance; $73.3 million in community-development grants for poor Arkansas communities; $1.4 million for energy assistance for destitute families; and millions for rental assistance and child care for poor families.

All the cuts are supposed to help balance the federal budget.

Until this year, the president and his team had insisted that budget deficits didn’t matter because the economy was growing as a result of four rounds of tax cuts in his first term. Now they are supposed to matter.

If they do, and we think they do – these cuts will do very little. They are more than offset by burgeoning spending on homeland security, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and military procurement, although Bush wants to kill the C-130J cargo plane.

What would make a difference, and we hope Senators Lincoln and Pryor now realize it, is to permit the tax cuts for those making $200,000 a year to expire. Merely eliminating the Bush tax cuts in 2003 on stock dividends and stock appreciation would produce $120 billion a year, some $700 billion over the life of the budget reductions that we just mentioned.

That strikes us as eminently fairer, in blue Massachusetts as well as red Arkansas.

FROM THE PUBLISHER>> Warren Knight: Visionary who did a world of good


A gentle rain fell Sunday evening only hours after Warren Knight passed away in his sleep at the age of 71 in his Cabot home.
Somebody said the sky was crying as friends and relatives reminisced about this extraordinary man’s life.

He and his wife, Sandra, had founded a chain of supermarkets with a little store in downtown Cabot in 1971, when the city’s population was about a tenth of what it is today.

Warren Knight had hoped his business would grow enough so his three sons would one day own their own homes, his oldest son Keith recalled Sunday.

The family patriarch had passed away early Sunday morning, apparently of a heart attack. His middle son, Kent, who lives next door, had raced over to his parents’ home when his mother told him Warren was unconscious. Paramedics rushed to the home, but they could not revive him.

Warren and Sandra were married for 52 years. She’d dated him when she was just 15. They were from Memphis and were contemporaries of Elvis — Warren a couple of years older and Sandra about the same age.

The Knights married in 1952 and were determined to make a success of themselves despite their modest circumstances.
Memphis, often called the capital of the South, has always had a can-do spirit. Peter Guralnick, Elvis’ biographer says, “Memphis, after all, is a town that has never been prone to self-doubt; civic pride has always held that a city which gave birth to Piggly Wiggly, the Holiday Inn, Elvis Presley and the blues … was somehow touched by magic.”

Guralnick hails “the triumph of the independent spirit, something no Memphian could fail to understand or appreciate,” and he might as well have been thinking of the Knights, who were touched by magic.

They raised a family in Memphis, where Warren worked for the A&P supermarket chain. They eventually moved to Pine Bluff, where Warren worked for Weingarten’s, a Houston-based grocery chain with several stores in Arkansas.

Warren became Weingarten’s Arkansas manager but quit in 1971, taking his family to Cabot, where they bought Thompson’s Dollar Saver, turning it into a success almost immediately with $10,000 in sales the first week, a tremendous amount of money 34 years ago.

The four Knight’s stores gross as much as $1 million a week.

He was a smart grocer who understood good food and how it should be presented. “He wanted his customers to be satisfied,” his wife recalled Sunday.

When a customer complained about some steaks she had bought for a party, Warren took some steaks over to her home and cooked dinner for everybody, cutting up a watermelon for everybody while they waited for dinner.

He listened to his customers and valued their opinions. He and Sandra and their three sons helped build the business into a chain of four stores, with two in Cabot, one in Beebe and one in Jacksonville (which was once a Weingarten’s.)

Knight’s was our only printing customer when we bought our first press more than 15 years ago. He took a chance on us, but since then we’ve printed more than 20 million Knight’s circulars that go into homes from North Little Rock to Searcy.

Warren had health problems in the last few years, but everyone expected him to pull through because he was a strong personality. He’d had a lot of close scrapes, but Sandra and his doctors managed to keep him going.

Warren was a successful businessman, but he never forgot his roots.

He helped hundreds of people along the way. He helped people go into business for themselves, lending them money and his invaluable advice.

When you told him you’re buying a printing press, he stuck with you even as you struggled to get the business off the ground.
He helped people survive hard times, and he lifted them up.

People straightened out their lives and made something of themselves because of Warren.

The Talmud says if you save one life, it’s as if you have saved the whole world.

That was Warren Knight.

TOP STORY>> Jacksonville weighs library choices

IN SHORT: Committee recommendseither making improvements or building a new library, with the second as the stronger possibility.

Leader staff writer

A committee looking into whether to remodel the Jackson-ville library or build a new one has chosen an architectural firm that will consider both options.

The committee has recommended the architectural firm of Witsell, Evans and Rasco to the Central Arkansas Library System to work on designs to add to the Esther Dewitt Nixon Public Library and for designs on a new library building.

The architects have recommended the second option as the more sensible alternative.

Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System, said building a new library would pose challenges with interesting possibilities.

“This will not only be a new library for us, but this will be the first library we’ve built in the wireless age,” Roberts said. “We don’t have any libraries that have employed enough computers.”

He said CALS would hope to install a totally wireless Internet system, possibly beginning with 10 laptop computers that could be checked out.

The library, however, would have a hub capable of handling at least 50 wireless systems to prepare the library for expansion.
Ten wireless computers at the ready would replace only four computers currently at the Nixon Library with Internet access.
Branch Librarian Kate McKinney said though the library was traditionally thought of as a place for books, some library patrons only visit for computer usage.

A selection committee was formed to decide how to improve the library after problems were brought to the public’s attention last fall, when the library’s drainage system failed.

The library was closed Oct. 18, when the drainage system caused a steady leak inside the library. The drainage system needed several pipes widened, pipes were added for better drainage and roof vents were added to help evaporate any trapped water even quicker. While workers repaired the drainage system, a layer of asbestos was found and was replaced.

The committee chose the WER firm out of four presentations made Monday at First Arkansas Bank and Trust. The committee included Wally Nixon and Sarah Beth Dawson to represent the library system. Ted Beldon, Mark Wilson and John McNee also served on the committee to represent Jacksonville.

David Sargent, representing the firm, said adding onto the existing building will be costly because there is little land around the building in each direction.

“There’s not a lot of room on any one side of it,” he said during the WER presentation. “You can’t add on to any one side because you’ll run out of space real quick.”

To keep the existing building, he said the firm would probably have to build on to the end facing the Methodist church and the opposite side as well. The firm also considered the possibility of building toward the street.

There could be a downside to adding on to the existing building, though, Sargent said.

He said adding to each side would not be cost-effective and further expansions may not be possible.

Though the firm will work on plans to add to the building, he said constructing a new building would probably be the best course of action.

Wilson, who grew up in Jacksonville, said he wants the addition or the new building to give Jacksonville a focus point.
“We’re a city without an identity,” he said. “We want a place where people are comfortable, a place where people can congregate.”

Though he said the city has a nice city hall and community center, he said it needs a more centralized building to attract attention the way that county seats have a county courthouse in the center of town. The WER architecture firm has remodeling experience, including work on the main library at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the Richard Sheppard Arnold U.S. Courthouse in Little Rock and the Watson Library at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Sargent said the firm would consider several key points during the planning phase, including the integrity of the existing building, the quality of existing space, alternatives for expansions, the disruption of renovation and the cost to sustain the additions or new facility. The firm would also present suggestions for quality of finishes to provide a warm environment and quality of light and space for readability and computer use.

Other firms considered for the job were Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc., Simms, Grisham and Blair Architects, and Wittenberg Delony and Davidson Architects.

The firms were judged on professional qualifications and experience, experience on comparable projects, adequacy and availability of support staff, and on the interview.

TOP STORY>> Empty store gets tenants

IN SHORT: Tractor Supply Company to share abandoned Wal-Mart site in Sherwood with Gander Mountain, a major outdoor retailer.

Leader staff writer

Gander Mountain, a major outdoor retailer, has already begun remodeling about two-thirds of the vacant Sherwood Wal-Mart building, and Tractor Supply Company (TSC) will move across Hwy. 67/167 into the other 30,000 square feet of the building, Mayor Bill Harmon reported to the city council Monday night.

Remodeling for Gander Mountain should be complete by May, according to Matt Smith, job superintendent for Bell-Corley Construction in Little Rock.

Harmon said the larger TSC and the new sporting good store would reverse the fortunes of the center at Five-Mile Creek, where the old Wal-Mart, Best Buy Store and Furniture Row buildings now stand empty.

Susan Morganstern, a spokes-man for TSC, said Tuesday afternoon, “We do not have a signed lease. The way we normally operate, we don’t talk about it until after a signed lease.”

TSC has not yet applied for a building permit, according to the Sherwood city engineer’s office, but Harmon seemed certain the move was a done deal.

TSC, which sells farm equipment, in-cluding tractor implements, animal feed, working outdoor wear, wood-burning stoves, hardware and animal fencing, had been looking for a larger space, according spokesperson Morgenstern.
“We will open about 60 stores and relocate another 20 this year,” she said.

TSC has 7,600 employees at 515 stores in 32 states. Last year, it had $1.7 billion in revenues.

During his state of the city report, the mayor said sales tax revenues were good last year and credited virtually all city departments with coming in under budget, but the town has been concerned that loss of tax revenues from all three big box retailers at the center would hurt.

Now, he says, he’s optimistic. He said there is interest in both the Best Buy site and Furniture Row, which joined Wal-Mart by moving to McCain Mall locations in North Little Rock.

For Gander Mountain a new store would typically mean 60 jobs, according to information on the website.

Bahl said Arkansas was a logical place for the West Bloomington, Minn.-based outdoors store to operate, since the state is known for its waterfowl hunting and great fishing on its rivers.

Gander Mountain has about 6,000 employees and about 90 stores open or opening in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In addition to hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, some stores now sell all-terrain vehicles. The chain hosts seminars and has on-site gunsmiths. Free “how-to” seminars have been held on topics such as global positioning systems, dog training basics, firearm safety, outdoor cooking and fly tying.

Bahl could not be reached Tuesday for further comment.

The company plans to expand its assortment in the marine and boating categories, and is now offering hunting and fishing vacation packages in the U.S. and Canada.

TOP STORY>> Two killed in a wreck on Hwy. 5 near Cabot

IN SHORT: Passengers die as the driver of a Silverado pickup tries to avoid hitting a deer and instead hits a utility pole.

Two young men died Sunday in a one-vehicle accident on Lewisberg near Highway 5 in Cabot.

Though the official accident report has not been released, reports say a woman was driving a gray Chevy Silverado and hit a power pole when she swerved off the road to avoid hitting a deer. The pole broke and the power lines from the pole fell onto the vehicle, setting it on fire on the 1600 block of Lewisburg.

The Mt. Springs Volunteer Fire Department and the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department worked the accident.
Mt. Springs Fire Chief Harold Ward said it was raining at the time and the roads were slick.

Ward said the department arrived to find the Silverado upside down and engulfed in flames.

The department was unable to work on the fire immediately because the active power lines posed an electrical threat that would only complicate the situation.

The passengers, Clay Warren, 20, of Cabot, and Josh Moore, 21, of Ward, died in the accident. The driver was taken by ambulance for medical attention.

Arrangements are incomplete for Moore at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe and for Warren at Cabot Funeral Home in Cabot.

Ward said there have been 16 deaths in eight accidents on Hwy. 5 from Hwy. 89 to Hwy. 319 in the last year.
The accident Sunday happened about thee weeks shy of the March 18, 2004, accident a mile and a half away that claimed the lives of three teenage girls.

The three girls — Alicia Rix, 16, of North Little Rock, Jae Lynn Russell, 16, of 8226 Centennial Road and Taylor Hall, 15, of 128 Almond Cove, Sherwood — died when their car turned into the path of an 18-wheeler.
Rix and Hall were students at Sylvan Hills High School. Russell was transferring to Sylvan Hills from North Pulaski High School.

According to the State Police report, Russell, the driver, and Rix died at the scene. Taylor was airlifted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center, where she died from her injuries.

The driver of the truck, Clayton Brown, 47, of 1691 Windchime, suffered minor injuries.

Based on State Police and witness reports, the girls were at a stop sign eastbound on Highway 89 when a pickup ahead of them pulled out onto Highway 5.

The girls followed and ended up in the path of Brown’s southbound truck.

Two other people had died at the intersection in the months preceding their accident and the intersection was on the state Highway Department’s list of most dangerous intersections before the accident.

A temporary signal light was placed at the intersection to reduce the number of accidents there.

TOP STORY>> Top general backs C-130J

IN SHORT: Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., tells the Senate Armed Serv-ices Commit-tee that the new planes are needed to replace an aging fleet, many of them at LRAFB.

Leader editor

Several key senators and one top general spoke out yesterday in Washington on behalf of the beleaguered C-130J program, which civilians in the Pentagon want to kill to save nearly $5 billion.

Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., commander of U.S. Command and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that production of the C-130Js should continue.

Jones said, “The C-130J program was a much needed program while I served as commandant of the Marine Corps because of the age of the C-130s that we had in the fleet particularly during Operation Enduring Freedom. We were flying some remarkable missions, but it was the skill of the pilots flying some very, very old aircraft that stimulated me at the time to elevate the C-130J program to the very height of our service acquisition objectives.

“I believe that this is a technology that is absolutely needed,” Jones added. “This aircraft is not only good for America’s forces but also will be well received on the international market, too.

“I hope very much — from a military standpoint — that this program will continue,” the general went on. “I think it’s extremely important particularly when we look at the age on our C-130 fleet and the technology the C-130J can bring to our capabilities.”

Other witnesses participating in the hearing included Gen. John P. Abizaid, Commander, U.S. Central Command, and General Bryan D. Brown, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.

Several of the C-130Js were scheduled to arrive at Little Rock Air Force Base, which is also the training center for the new cargo planes. The administration has called for eliminating 51 C-130Js for the Air Force and 20 C-130Js for the Navy.

The Bush administration has recommended cutting the C-130Js and other airplanes and weapons systems as a cost-saving measure.

The administration hopes to save $60 billion if Congress approves the cuts. That figure is about the same as the cost of fighting the war in Iraq for a year.

Members of Congress whose districts would be affected are fighting the cuts.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the generals in hopes of continuing the plane’s production in Marietta, Ga., where Lockheed-Martin manufactures the C-130Js at a cost of about $70 million each.

Critics say cost overruns have made the planes too expensive.
The total savings from scrapping the C-130Js over the next six years would be $4.99 billion, of which $4.24 billion would come from canceling the Air Force order.

Little Rock Air Force Base, which has two C-130Js, could still get six more over the next year, but no more if the cuts are approved.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

EDITORIAL: A modest funding plan

The bipartisan, ad hoc band of senior legislators who took it upon themselves to develop a plan for building and renovating Arkansas’ substandard schools finally delivered this week, and the reflexive response is “why did you bother?” Their plan, circulated among lawmakers Thursday, would pick up the tab for only $130 million of an estimated $1.9 billion of school improvements that a survey shows the state is obligated to undertake.

But that is too cynical. Even that sum may be beyond the political will of lawmakers, and we may owe the men who put together the plan some thanks for their courage.

The plan offered by Senators Jim Argue, Shane Broadway and David Bisbee and Rep. Jodie Mahony basically says this: The 2005 General Assembly cannot carry all the political burden of raising $2 billion or so for schools, so we will cover $130 million and let different legislatures, in 2007 and beyond, do the rest and share the liability of raising taxes or whatever other expensive remedy that they can cook up. Argue and Bisbee had said that lawmakers had made it clear to them that they would not vote for new taxes to pay for school buildings no matter how clear the mandate from the Arkansas Supreme Court. Whatever was done would have to be with the state’s existing tax resources.

So simple and politically doable is it that this plan ought to sail through with dispatch, but it won’t. The state is accumulating more than $200 million in surpluses in the treasury, owing to tight budgeting two years ago, a return of modest revenue growth after a couple of years of hard times and a nice windfall of Medicaid matching funds from Washington that the state couldn’t spend.
Under the grand plan, the state is to devote roughly half of the surplus, $100 million, next year to match local school district taxes to bring the absolutely worst school buildings up to par. Then in 2007, another $50 million would be taken out of current tax receipts to pay for more. But $20 million of the $150 million total would just reimburse school districts that have already done their duty by borrowing money and building schools. School districts that have taxed, borrowed and built good schools on their own resent the state now spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize communities that cared so little that they did not tax themselves to build good schools for their children.

The Supreme Court in 2003 said many of the schools across Arkansas were woefully inadequate and that it was ultimately the responsibility of the state to see that schools were adequate and equal, even if local school authorities were slackers. But the legislature is insisting that local schools still tote half the cost, at least on average.

We do not underestimate the difficulty the leaders had in crafting a facilities program that can carry a majority of the legislature. The old sectional differences are hard to bridge. The prosperous hill counties have relatively good schools because property wealth made it easier. The poverty-stricken lowlands have afforded poor programs and the schools usually are blights. A couple of northwestern counties, where growth has been stupendous, want state assistance to build for burgeoning enrollments. Every legislator wants to be sure that his district gets an equal share of whatever the state spends. Few want to pay taxes to benefit other regions of the state.

Little Rock and a few other districts with high property wealth per child will stand to get almost nothing from all the spending yet a sizable portion of the state budget is borne by Little Rock taxpayers.

It calls for lawmakers as well as all of us to listen to our better instincts, shun selfish impulses and support the common good.
But too many legislators cannot overcome their baser instincts. For the past decade, they have adopted the practice of carving out a portion of the budget every two years for personal largesse. Each legislator produces from one to a half-dozen projects in his or her district to fund from state tax receipts. It’s a chance to be photographed handing a check for a softball field, a 4-H building, a swimming pool or sidewalks. The $100 million would come from that source and to many legislators, like Randy Laverty of Jasper, that is unacceptable. He said he wanted to please voters back home, not the Supreme Court. Apparently the voters back home don’t care about their schools.

This plan needs embroidering not dismantling. Lawmakers should pass it and pray that their successors in 2007 have greater will and that no one sues in the interim.