Wednesday, March 16, 2005

NEIGHBORS>> Oak Grove resident serves as Arkansas Kennel Club president

Leader Staff writer

Friends say Carleen Peterson, 67, of the Oak Grove community doesn’t believe in retirement.

She is an avid ballroom dancer, volunteers at the Arkansas Repertory Theater, serves as vice president of the Little Rock Zoo docent board and is president of the Arkansas Kennel Club.

Peterson shows champion Dobermans and Brittanies. Her love of dog shows began nearly three decades ago when she showed her first dog, a Great Dane.

“My husband’s mother was a dog handler when I met her almost 30 years ago. I started showing in 1976, and my Zeus won a blue ribbon at his second show. I was hooked,” Peterson said.

Peterson enjoys her dogs, calling them her “kids,” but admits a drawback to the large dogs is their shorter life expectancy.

“I lost my last Great Dane when she was 10 years old. That’s an exceptionally long life for that breed,” Peterson said.

Peterson and her husband, George, have six dogs and have great hopes for Kal-El, a 14-month-old black Doberman male.

Kal-El’s full name is Kansa’s Superman at Cargeo, but Peterson’s husband suggested Kal-El, the superhero’s name on his home planet of Krypton.

His sire is from Argentina, and Kal-El stands 28 inches at the shoulder, fitting nicely into the Doberman standard required at shows.

Breed standards are used to determine a dog’s suitability for the tasks for which it was bred. The dogs are taken around the ring to be judged on obedience and agility. AKC dogs must get 15 points, usually collected during three to five competitions, under at least three different judges, to be considered a champion.

Peterson showed Kal-El in February at the Southeastern Arkansas Kennel Club in Pine Bluff.

“He’s just getting started. It was his second show and it’s on the job training,” Peterson said.

“Dobermans are a very intellectual and loyal dog. They’re also very strong. You have to be the boss. Brittanies are very bouncy dogs. They’re my comic relief.”

Peterson said she doesn’t consider herself a big-time dog breeder, just a hobby breeder, although one time, when two litters were born close together, the couple shared their home with 25 canines.

“I sent a puppy to Nebraska in mid-winter, and the buyers called me and told me he didn’t come off the plane. Apparently the airline had just left his crate on the loading dock at the airport, but they found him before he was out there too long. That was the last time I shipped a dog, now I either drive the dog or the buyers come and pick it up,” Peterson said.

“My husband and I love to travel, and showing our dogs give us a good excuse,” Peterson said.

Kal-El’s next show will be in Wichita, Kan. in April and the Arkansas Kennel Club dog show will be held at the Hall of Industry at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds June 25-26.

The Arkansas Kennel Club meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Central Arkansas Library, 100 Rock St. in Little Rock’s River Market District.

EDITORIAL>> Gambling bill calls for a veto

Arkansas voters have been turning down initiatives to authorize casino gambling since 1964, but now it’s coming anyway to a city not too far from you, thanks to the General Assembly.

The legislature is doing it with extraordinary alacrity. In the span of a week from its filing, SB 999 has climbed the ladder through 3,000 bills and will be ready for the governor’s signature following Tuesday’s approval in the House. The legislature, meantime, has been studying school finance for 60 days without a feint toward action.

But this isn’t so mysterious. Legislation helpful to big money gets a ready and favorable hearing every time. Corporate heels do not have to cool in the legislative anterooms.

Here’s an interesting coincidence. The powerful Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce last week announced its wholehearted support of the electronic gambling bill, which it said would be good for the state’s economy. The same day, a separate newsletter from the chamber applauded Oaklawn Jockey Club at Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Corp. at West Memphis, which would operate the only two gambling operations allowed under SB 999, for becoming “Pinnacle” members, a distinction earned by companies that drop at least $5,000 each on the state chamber to support its lobbying.


SB 999 is sponsored by Sen. Bob Johnson, who also carried Deltic Timber Corp.’s bill to usurp a municipal utility’s power to exercise eminent domain to protect its water supply from development pollution. The racetracks’ bill purports to legalize electronic wagering games at the two racetracks as long as the games involve “skills.”

We thought the machines were already legal at the tracks. But it turns out that what the bill really does is legalize video poker and blackjack at parlors operated by the tracks. Church groups wanted to amend the bill to specifically exclude those games, but the tracks said no.

If playing poker or blackjack on machines is legal, what is the legal and moral distinction between that and the live thing with human dealers?

Obviously, there is none.

We happen to believe that casino gambling does not improve a state’s social and economic climate — six of the counties with the highest bankruptcy rates in the nation are around Tunica, Miss. — but a substantial number of people disagree.

Nevertheless, SB 999 raises issues that ought to trouble everyone. Here are a couple:

If the state is going to permit electronic gaming parlors, shouldn’t it put them out for bids rather than assigning these exclusive money-making franchises to two companies free of charge?

Companies pay hundreds of millions of dollars for such rights.

What is a fair tax for the state on an enterprise that will be a nuisance for the state? SB 999 would take 18 percent for the state, 1.5 percent for the two cities and 0.5 percent for the counties.

In other states, the tax ranges up to 75 percent of gross receipts for high volumes of wagering. The Arkansas tax would be a little higher than the tax in Mississippi, which Southland and Oaklawn say is hurting their clientele base.

Mississippi also imposes a 3 percent tax on gamblers’ winnings, collected at the casinos.

When major legislation sails through the legislature with lightning speed, there is always a reason.

It can’t stand much analysis and discussion.

Since the Legislature didn’t want to take the time, Gov. Huckabee can give it a respite with his veto pen.

EDITORIAL>> Bond shows guts on minimum wage

It was in the Great Depression that the United States decided as a national doctrine that there was a minimum sum of money that every honest hour of work by an American was worth, whatever the content of the labor. Then it was 25 cents an hour, which would be about $3.50 now adjusted for inflation.

For more than a quarter-century, the government has grown less attached to the doctrine so that the federal minimum wage now is only $5.15 an hour, the smallest pay relative to average wages since the 1950s. It has remained $5.15 since 1997, when President Clinton craftily persuaded a Republican Congress to raise it.

Monday, the U.S. Senate defeated proposals by Republicans ($6.25 an hour) and Democrats ($7.35 an hour) to raise it in steps. Democrats, being in the minority, could not hope to pass theirs. The Republican version was filed to give GOP senators a way to get on record voting for the little people without businesses actually having to pay the proposed wage.

A few brave souls in the Arkansas legislature, including Rep. Will Bond of Jacksonville and Dwayne Dobbins of North Little Rock, have stepped into the breach.

They introduced HB 2499, which would raise the minimum wage in Arkansas by a buck, to $6.15 an hour.

Arkansas imposed its own minimum wage in 1968. The Democratic Party has always been the tribune of the working people and Republican Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller shamed the Arkansas Legislature by proposing a minimum wage law.

The majority Democrats had to vote for it or lose their claim to representing the interests of common folks.

The Arkansas law applies only to a few thousand workers in businesses that are too small to be covered by the federal law. The legislature has generally kept pace with changes in the federal law. But HB 2499 goes further. For the first time, it would cover workers now protected only by the federal wage floor. Some 56,000 workers — retail clerks, nursing home and hospital orderlies, fast-food workers, janitorial workers, even a few manufacturing employees — would get a small raise this summer. They would still fall far below a poverty-level income.

Some 15 states now have raised the minimum wage above the federal floor. Wouldn’t it be something if Arkansas, which has a higher percentage of minimum-wage workers than all but two states, joined them?

The business lobby will come down hard on this little bill. It is not likely to emerge from committee to a vote on the full House floor, but let us thank this band of lawmakers who would have us uphold the value of work.

The lobbyists will say that raising the minimum wage will force employers to lay off people, that these low-wage workers are just mostly kids working their way through school or paying for a car, that low-wage workers anyway are moving their way up the economic ladder to good jobs.

None of it is true but those arguments will sell. Contrary to what the lobbyists will say, nearly every raise in the minimum wage has been followed by growth, not decline.

Surely we can all agree that there is no honest hour of toil in this affluent society that is not worth $6.15.

EDITORIAL>> Another giveaway to special interests

It is an article of faith with lawmakers that they never stand taller than when they stoop to help a big industry avoid taxes.

Since 1983, the Arkansas Legislature has enacted more than 100 laws granting exemptions from state and local sales taxes, nearly all of them benefiting a whole industry or a single sizable company.

Together they shrink the state’s tax collections by hundreds of millions of dollars and are one big reason that the natural rise in tax collections from economic growth has tailed off dramatically. And it helps account for the state’s perpetual budget problems and the perpetual need to raise taxes on working folks.

The trend runs apace at this legislative session. Thursday, the Revenue and Taxation Committee of the House of Representatives voted out a bill that would phase out the sales tax on electricity and natural gas paid by the giant timber industry.

The industry lobbyists gave the same premise that always sells these exemptions: Profits are not high enough now to compete satisfactorily with products from outside our borders and Arkansas jobs may be lost some day. Now it’s foreign competition that we must meet by cutting taxes and raising profit margins.

The tax exemption would be phased in and ultimately would reduce government tax receipts by $11.5 million a year.

Monday, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill excusing a chemical company that shortly will open at El Dorado near a sister company from paying the sales tax on electricity. Other-wise, the sponsor said, the mill might run to Mississippi.

Altogether, 28 bills that would reduce state and local sales tax collections by an aggregate $200 million a year are wending their way through the legislature. A few may not make it, and one or two may not reduce taxes for many years if they become laws. But legislators have always found these exemptions irresistible.

You might think that the timber industry would be reticent at this session.

The battle over Deltic Timber Corp.’s effort to kill Central Arkansas Water's eminent-domain powers so that it can build a giant subdivision above the intake for the region's municipal water supply has focused attention on the absurdly low real estate taxes paid by the industry. The cumulative school, county, city and improvement district taxes paid on commercial timberland in Arkansas run from far less than one dollar an acre a year to $1.35 an acre.

House Speaker Bill Stovall, who voted against the tax break, thought the industry was already benefiting from unusually favorable tax laws. Industry spokesmen acknowledged that the low property taxes were helpful but said they needed even more tax breaks.

The last big tax break for the wood-products industry —and it was a whopper — came in 1985, when all the big paper mills and other manufacturers rode the coattails of International Paper Co., which got permission from the legislature and Gov. Bill Clinton to have Arkansas taxpayers pay 7 percent of the cost of modernizing their mills through a seven-year sales tax rebate to manufacturers.

The sales tax on electricity and natural gas is perhaps the cruelest tax in the state’s arsenal because it consumes a large portion of the income of low-income families, whose homes are the most energy inefficient and consume the most gas and electricity.

If the state had ample revenues to pay for its urgent needs (it doesn’t) then that would be the place to give relief.

International Paper, Weyerhaeuser, Deltic, Georgia Pacific, Anthony —they’re all doing all right.

SPORTS>> Devils make it three straight

IN SHORT>> Jacksonville beats Hall Warriors 12-2

The Jacksonville Red Devils extended their season’s first winning streak to three games Monday night with a 12-2 run-rule victory over Little Rock Hall. Monday’s win over the Warriors follows two victories in last week’s Red Devil Classic over J.A. Fair and Abundant Life.

The Red Devils led 7-2 heading into the fifth inning when a five-run rally, capped by Hall’s pitching walking in the final two runs, invoked the 10 runs after five innings rule and ended the ballgame.

“We’re playing better,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said Tuesday morning. “We’ll still have to play a lot better to-night than we did. Jonesboro is tough. We haven’t seen much hitting and pitching like they have. They’re pretty loaded.”

Burrows’ squad left early Tuesday afternoon for a conference doubleheader against the AAAAA-East’s preseason favorite Jonesboro.

In Monday’s game, the Red Devils got only eight hits, but they were timely hits and capitalized on Hall’s pitching struggles and errors.

John Ottis got a two-out single in the bottom of the fifth with Jacksonville leading 8-2. Ottis’ hit made it 10-2 before the successive walks ended the game.

The highlight of the game came in the second inning when Jacksonville senior Randy Peeples hit a solo home run to put Jacksonville up 1-0.

Sophomores Zach Thomas and Blake Mattison, as well as senior Seth Boatman, turned in multiple-hit performances.

Boatman also started on the mound and got the win, with freshman Cameron Hood stepping to the mound for the last two innings of relief duty.

Burrows was pleased with Hood’s performance, as well as many other young players on the Red Devil roster.

“Hood came in and pitched well,” Burrows said. “He’s got a chance to be one of our best. Our sophomores played pretty good too. We’re getting some production from our younger players. That should help us down the line. They’re getting some experience.”

The win pulls the Red Devils to .500 on the season at 4-4.

Look for details of Tuesday’s matchup with Jonesboro in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.

Jacksonville has no other varsity games scheduled the rest of the week. The Red Devils will go back on the road next Monday for another conference doubleheader against the other league favorite Searcy.

Jacksonville’s next home game is a non-conference match-up against Oak Grove next Wed-nesday. Its first East home game is March 28 against Sylvan Hills.

SPORTS>> Cabot comes back on Wildcats

IN SHORT>> Three runs in sixth lift Lady Panthers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers put together a three-run rally in the sixth inning Monday night to mount a 4-3 comeback victory over North Little Rock in non-conference fastpitch softball action.

The Cabot ladies got three hits and took advantage of a couple of Lady Wildcats miscues to pull out the late win.

North Little Rock flew out of the gates, collecting three hits and three runs in the top of the first inning against Cabot senior pitcher Holly Vance. Vance settled in for the remainder of the game, however, and kept the Lady Wildcats bats in check.

NLR catcher Sara Springer singled to centerfield to start the first-inning onslaught. Springer’s hit was followed by an RBI triple over the head of Cabot centerfielder Jamie Sterrenberg. Vance fanned Devin McWayne, but hit third baseman Farren Wright before a two-RBI double down the right-field line by Sara Lapps completed the scoring and gave the Lady Wildcats a 3-0 lead.

The score would remain 3-0 until the bottom of the third, when Cabot capitalized on a NLR error.

Cabot senior April Ellison reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base. Amanda Oates then hit a grounder to third, but Wright’s throw to first was in the dirt and rolled far enough into the right-field corner to allow Ellison to score from first base.

The game settled into a pitchers’ duel the rest of the way until Cabot came alive in the sixth inning.

Ellison got things started with a leadoff single. Oates then doubled to put runners on second and third. Sophomore Jamie Sterrenberg struck out to record the first out of the inning, but catcher Amber Jolly singled to drive in Ellison and make it a one-run ballgame.

With Vance at the plate, Oates scored after a wild pitch from Kelsey Whitlock got past Springer to tie the game.

Jolly then scored the game-winner when Vance put the ball in play.

Vance came out for the top of the seventh and shut down the Wildcats to secure the victory.

The win lifted the Lady Panthers to 4-1 on the season. Cabot also owns a non-conference win over Watson Chapel and conference victories over Sylvan Hills and Forrest City. The one loss so far this season was at the hands of Sheridan.

The Lady Panthers played West Memphis Tuesday night and travel to Searcy for another AAAAA-East matchup Friday.

TOP STORY>> PCSSD’s surplus of $17M is gone

IN SHORT>> The Pulaski County Special School District is among 11 in Arkansas designated as in fiscal distress, a designation that could result in the state imposing its own superintendent or replacing the school board.

The steady erosion of the Pulaski County Special School District’s bottom line over the last several years has landed it fiscal distress designation, according to the state Department of Education.

Only about three years ago, the district had a fund balance of about $17 million, according to Jeff Shaneyfelt, past board president and a certified public accountant. Shaneyfelt estimated the district would have close to nothing left in its fund balance at the end of this year.

“This has been on the horizon for some time,” said Shaneyfelt Tuesday afternoon. He said the designation meant the district had been identified as in financial trouble for two years in a row.

“In three years, we’ve gone from $17 million down to zero. Only way to explain it is our labor costs.”

Salaries and fringe benefits account for about 85 percent of the school’s budget, according to John Artchetko, acting chief
financial officer for the district. Artchetko’s figures show an ending balance this year of $5 million, he said Monday.

“Next year, I don’t know,” said Shaneyfelt. “We have enough money to get through this year. He said the fund balance was even more troubling because the district had received $10 million more this school year, courtesy of the state legislature and the Lake View School case.

“We have nothing new to show for it,” he said.

Shaneyfelt said the state Education Department has the authority to appoint its own superintendent, to reconstitute the new school board or, without going to those extremes, they can have strong input—oversight.”

“Superintendent Don Henderson and I haven’t sat down to discuss grounds for appeal,” said Artchetko. “We will later this week.
“Basically our being placed on list is because of our declining fund balance. We have to cut expenditures.”

The budget process for the 2005-2006 school year has begun, he said. “We’re starting to get requests and budget proposals from the departments.

Part of what we need to do is wait for the bills in front of the legislature that will impact the budget on funding and expenditures. We’re waiting to see how they progress before we begin heavy number crunching. “

He said staffing allocation and enrollment were important factors as well. “So much of the budget is salary and fringe benefits.”

He said the district had thought it had a larger fund balance until the auditor’s adjustment.

“We thought we had more money until they found an error in a prior year that reduced the fund balance.

He said the bottom line had been affected by two years of declining state revenues, commitments to staff contracts, the need to pay competitive salaries and various mandates.

Superintendents and school board presidents were notified of the fiscal distress status March 3.

The districts will have until April 6 to appeal the designation. The state Board of Education will make the final determinations at the April 11 meeting.

The district was one of only 11 statewide identified as in financial distress. The other districts were Altheimer Unified School District, Dierks, Dollarway, Eudora, Flippin, Helena – West Helena, Lead Hill, Midland, Waldo and Western Yell County School District.

TOP STORY>> 39th Infantry women coming home

IN SHORT>> Medics who served in Iraq for a year are closer to their families in Jacksonville and Cabot after returning to Fort Sill, Okla. They’ll be home in early April.

Leader staff writer

Whether they went to war or stayed behind, these women of the 39th Infantry Brigade say the experience was one they didn’t expect or plan for, but it has made them stronger.

Sgt. Michelle Gonzales of Cabot and Sgt. Michelle Franks of Jacksonville are medics with the 39th Brigade Combat Team, 39th Support Battalion, Company C, in Lonoke, who were stationed at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad. They returned last week to Ft. Sill, Okla., and will be back home in early April.

They enlisted in the National Guard mostly for the college money, drilled once a month for five years and went to camp for two weeks a year. And then, whether they wanted to go or not, they were deployed to the middle of a war zone, where they faced mortar fire and gave medical aid to soldiers whose bodies were mangled in battle.

Nicole Clark of Beebe is the wife of Spc. Joe Clark, who worked as a mechanic in the center of Baghdad. Clark married her high school sweetheart and had always depended on him to earn a living and help with major decisions. But since he’s been gone, she’s found a part time job and moved from an apartment to a house.

All three women are in their mid-20s and they are mothers who are anxious to reunite their families.

“It was very hard at first, but it was just one of those things,” Franks said of being deployed in the fall of 2003. She left behind her husband Michael, a guard at the Pulaski County Detention Center, and a year-old baby boy, Braden, who is now two and a half years old .

“You know you have to do it and there’s no way to get out of it,” she said. “But when I enlisted, the thought never crossed my mind that I would leave home.”

She and her husband met while they were both in the Guard. He served in Egypt for six months in 2000 and has since left the Guard.

“We’ve been married five years, and we’ve been apart for two years,” he said Tuesday.

He’s been playing Mr. Mom, taking Braden to daycare and cooking for him and doing the best under the circumstances.

“We can handle it,” Franks said. “It’s almost over with.”

Clark was pregnant with her second child when her husband, who works in pest control, was transferred from the Beebe unit to the 39th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion 153 Infantry Regi-ment, Headquarters and Head-quarters’ Company in Malvern, which needed a mechanic.

He joined the Guard between his junior and senior years in high school and was one month away from fulfilling his obligation when he was deployed. Their 3-year-old son knows who Daddy is, she said. But her husband is looking forward to getting to really know both his children.

He’ll be home Friday or Saturday. His buddies from Beebe whose combat support work includes creating smoke screens for cover and chemical decontamination and will possibly be back from Iraq until sometime in April.

“It’s been hard with him gone,” Clark said. “It’s been hard being both mommy and daddy, but I’ve learned to be a lot more independent. I think it’s made us appreciate each other more.”

By far the worst experience was the mortar fire, Gonzales and Franks said Tuesday in phone interviews from Ft. Sill, Okla., where they will be until early April.

“It was April 24. We’d been there about two weeks and our pod was hit,” Gonzales said. “We had nine trauma patients and four passed away.”

Franks, an operation room technician at St. Vincent North Medical Center in Sherwood, had seen blood before, but she said that did not prepare her for the work she did in Iraq.

“It was very scary at first,” she said, adding that she would gather the strength to do her job then afterwards she would ask herself, “My God, what did I just do?”

But the people who came to the clinic were not all severe trauma victims. Some had abrasions. Some were simply sick and some were Iraqi police officers in need of physicals.

“The job wasn’t all bad,” Franks said.

When the mortar fire stopped sometime after the second month, life became a lot more bearable and at times enjoyable. In fact, she’s signed on for six more years.

For more than half her time in Iraq, Gonzales had family support close at hand. Her brother, Sgt. Chris Purchase, and her brother-in-law Sgt. Jason George are in her unit and were deployed to Iraq at the same time.

They both left in November for the Sinai. Her sister, Sgt. Melissa George also is in her unit, but she was not deployed out of the states.

To help the time pass, football and softball teams formed. A taste of home was provided by Burger King, Pizza Hut and Subway, Gonzales said.

Like Franks, Gonzales was intrigued by the people she met in the war and like Franks, she has reenlisted for six more years and plans to stay in the Guard for 14 more. Her husband, Domingo, an inspector for the city of Little Rock, has turned into a regular “Mr. Mom” who has learned how to pay the household bills and braid their two daughter’s hair,” she said.

So if she is called upon again, she will leave her job as dispatcher and jailer for the Sherwood Police Department and go wherever the Guard needs her.

She’s accustomed to being in the Guard, she said. Besides, staying in 20 years will mean more retirement money so her daughters won’t have to support her in her old age.

Clark says her husband is getting out like he planned to before he was deployed. She was spending the week before his return tidying their new home and shopping for his favorite foods.

He’ll have some time off before he starts back to work and he’s promised to take her anywhere she would like to go for a family getaway. Anywhere that is except someplace with sand.

TOP STORY>> Support growing for more C-130Js

IN SHORT>> A retired general who once commanded Little Rock Air Force Base told 800 airmen, guests and community leaders that the Secretary of Defense is reconsidering the decision to pull the plus on C-130J procurement.

Leader staff writer

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is reconsidering his decision to pull the plug on acquisition of the remaining C-130J transport planes on order, according to retired Gen. Alfred G. Hansen, in town last weekend to help celebrate Little Rock Air Force Base’s 50th anniversary.

“There is no doubt that the (Air Force and the U.S. Armed Forces) need the C-130J. It’s a totally different airplane than the old C-130,” he said.

The Pentagon hopes to free about $5 billion for the Army by cutting Air Force-bound C-130Js—at an average cost of $83 million each—from the budgets between 2006 and 2011.

“When the Department of Defense made its decision (to cancel the remaining 70 C-130Js on order from Lockheed-Martin), it was made in a vacuum,” said Hansen, former commander of Little Rock Air Force Base. “They have the information now, and I would be surprised (if the order were cancelled).”

“The secretary of defense says he’s reevaluating the decision,” he added.

“The old C-130s have maintenance problems,” Hansen told a reporter, “and nothing else quite fills the bill.”

The C-27 can handle half the load, he said, and the Army was increasingly counting on the C-130 to move men and materials to minimize mounting casualties from roadside improvised explosive devices.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Little Rock, said there was no new, hard news on the fate of the C-130J, but that there were “positive indications” that the Pentagon was actively reconsidering its decision.

“The existing fleet is old and successful, and there’s nothing to replace it with. I’m encouraged we’re moving in the right direction.”

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin stands to lose $5 billion in sales between 2006 and 2011 if the program is cut from the budget.

The Pentagon defense proposal would end production of C-130Js this year.

That’s important locally because Little Rock Air Force Base is the premiere C-130 base in this country, responsible for virtually all flight and maintenance training. Facilities have been updated and expanded to prepare for the next generation of in-theater transport planes, the C-130J.

The Air Force has conditionally accepted 50 C-130J aircraft at a cost of $2.6 billion.

In February, Lockheed began limiting responses to requests for information about the C-130J from the Air Force and from others not under current contract, according to an article published in the Washington Times.

Two studies currently underway are likely to demonstrate the need to reinstate C-130J production to the 2006 defense budget, a top Air Force general testified before the House Armed Services Committee this month.

Currently, the Air Force has more than 500 C-130s, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force vice chief of staff, testified earlier this month. Of those, 200 are the older E models, and 30 of those are grounded.

Nearly a third of the grounded planes are at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Air Force wide, “We’re looking at having to ground another 50 or so because of wing spar and wing box issues,” Moseley said, while “The C-130Js now in the field have a proven mission-capability rate of more than 95 percent.”

In a related matter, about 3,000 striking Lockheed Martin machinists were voting near Atlanta on a new contract. Ob-servers say a second failure to ratify the contract—which was recommended by the union negotiating team—could lead to closure of the plants where the C-130J and A-1 fighter are built.

TOP STORY>> Base marks anniversary

IN SHORT>>LIttle Rock Air Force Base played a secret part in helping Israel win the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a retired general told 800 airmen and guests celebrating the base’s 50th anniversary on Saturday night.

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base has proven resilient, adaptable and a good community partner, according to retired Gen. Alfred G. Hansen, in town last weekend to help celebrate the base’s 50th anniversary.

Hansen, base commander from 1979 through August 1981, and Larry T. Wilson, president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust, gave keynote addresses Saturday night as about 800 airmen, former airmen and community leaders gathered at the Statehouse Convention Center in dress uniform or black tie to celebrate the occasion with dining, dancing and fireworks.

Wilson’s late father, Kenneth Pat Wilson, was among those instrumental in assembling the 6,500 necessary acres to bring the base to Jacksonville half a century ago, and Wilson himself is past president of the base’s community council.

“(The base’s) founding fathers were focused on the economic benefits,” said Hansen.

They must have been far-sighted, because last year, the base’s economic impact on the surrounding community increased $68 million to $580 million, according to Lt. Jon Quinlan. (See article this page.)

“I wonder if they realized the tremendous impact on hundreds of thousands affected,” Hansen mused aloud.

During the Israeli-Syrian war in 1973, Little Rock Air Force Base was picked for a secret mission as the staging area for subsequent delivery of arms and munitions to Israel, said Hansen. “They were shipped here, then to Tel Aviv. I was told they would have lost the war otherwise,” he said.

He praised the base’s ability over the years to transform itself quickly, going from a reconnaissance base to a bomber base to a tactical airlift base and strategic air command base.

“As the threats change, the mission changes,” he said.

Speaking forcefully and with apparent conviction, Hansen said the U.S. was the only remaining superpower and thus had certain responsibilities—even as policeman of the world.

“Somebody’s got to do it,” he said. “What has made this a great democracy is not turning its back,” he said.

“Fighting to provide freedom around the world, undertaking relief missions—the country and the base have a role to keep the bright light of freedom burning.”

Members of the armed forces are making a great sacrifice and are doing so willingly, Hansen said.

“A lot of people say the U.S. cuts and runs when the body bags (appear),” he said. “In Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has proven that’s not true.”

Hansen was commander of the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base from October 1978 until August 1981.

Currently he is president and chief executive officer of EMS Technologies, Inc., an advanced technology communications company.

Hansen concluded a 37-year the Air Force career in 1989 as a four-star general, going to work for Lockheed Martin, where he served as a corporate vice president and executive vice president of Aero-nautical Systems from 1995 until 1998.
During his career, he served as a member of the Apollo spacecraft recovery team, and later flew 113 combat missions as an A-1 pilot stationed in Thailand.

Sen. Mark Pryor, Cong. Vic Snyder and mayors Tommy Swaim of Jacksonville, Stubby Stumbaugh of Cabot and Art Brooke of Ward were among the guests.

Swaim currently serves as president of the base community council.

Also attending were several other former commanders and spouses.

They were Col. and Mrs. Charles O’Sullivan, 1962 and 1965; Col. and Mrs. James Gaydaux, 1965-66; Col. and Mrs. Theodore Dale, 1970; Brig. Gen. and Mrs. Richard Drury, 1972-73; Col. and Mrs. James Elmer, 1978-79; Col. and Mrs. William Kehler, 1983-85; Col. and Mrs. William Arent, 1985-89; Col. and Mrs. Albert Hart, 1989-91, and Jill Scott, wife of Brig. Gen. David Scott, 2001-03 .

Following the celebration, Pryor said the base was very important to central Arkansas over the last 50 years.

“I’m proud of the community and the Air Force base,” said Pryor.

“It’s been a great partnership. It’s hokey, but true.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

OBITUARIES>> March 16, 2005

Derek Balog
Derek Richard Balog, 26, of Cabot, died March 10 at Rebsamen Medical Center in Jacksonville following a car accident.

He was born Sept. 2, 1978, in Jacksonville. Derek graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1996.

He was a senior at University of Arkansas Little Rock. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Central Arkansas. Derek was a member of “The Contigencies” band.

On Sept. 18, 2004, he married Jennifer Bylthe in Jacksonville. He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Gary B. Long; grandmother, Nanie Armstrong and a great-grandmother, Silva Underwood.

Survivors include his wife, Jennifer of the home; parents, Robert and Kathy Armstrong of Cleveland, Texas; sister, Cheryl Long of Cleveland, Texas; mother and father-in-law, Melody and Tony Blythe of Cabot; grandparents, Sylvia and Billy Williams of Cabot, Jeanette and Raymond Kurka of Oregon; grandfather, Richard Balog of Cleveland, Ohio; two brothers and sisters-in-law, Daniel and Holly Blythe of Cabot, Michael and Christen Blythe of Conway and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.

Funeral services were conducted Monday at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot. Bro. Ben Leonard and Pastor Mark Eisold officiated. Interment was at Sumner Cemetery in Cabot.
Arrangements were by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Sharon Kay Campbell
Sharon Kay Campbell, 42, of El Paso, went to be with the Lord March 12.

She was born Oct. 20, 1962. She was a member of Charity Baptist Church in Cabot and worked for Wal-Mart in Cabot. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mary Lee Tozer and Richard Eugene Campbell; and her niece, Brittany Dawn Campbell.

Sharon is survived by three brothers, Royce and Mary Campbell of California, Tony Campbell, and Ronnie and Vallerie Campbell of El Paso; her grandmother, Annie Tozer of Beebe; two nephews and one niece, Ryan Eugene Campbell, Jeffery Allen and Kellie Campbell, and Michelle Renee Campbell.

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