Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Paul Elcan

Paul J. Elcan, age 67, went to the Lord July 10. He was born July 17, 1937, to Henry L. and Ethel M. Elcan. He retired from the Arkansas Highway Department in January 2000, after 40 years.

He was a member of Concord United Methodist Church in Furlow. He was a past master of the Lonoke Lodge #51, a 32 Degree Scottish Rite Mason as well as a member of the Order of the Eastern Star #421. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn A. Elcan; son, Michael P. Elcan; daughter, Melanie A. Lloyd and husband Marshall; sister, Cora Oliver and husband Ernie; grandchildren, Austin and Ashleigh Lloyd; aunts, Rosalie Elcan Stovall and Freida Elcan; niece, Cynthia Rovnaghi and children Leah and Laila, all from Lonoke; nephew, Kevin Oliver and wife Mary and children Jessica and Kael; great-grand nephews, Mason and Skylar, of Fenton, Missouri; cousins, Kania Barkhart and husband Lester of Hot Springs, Derek Hood, Iowa; Anita Isbell and husband Dick and Chris Isbell of California and life long best friends, Bill and Troy Graves of Cabot.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at Concord United Methodist Church with burial in Lonoke Cemetery, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke.

Carrol Hutchinson

Carrol Wayne Hutchinson, 63, of Jacksonville, died July 10 in North Little Rock. He was born December 21, 1941 in Little Rock to Eugene Hutchinson and Laverne Summers Hutchinson Holland who preceded him in death.

He is survived by his step-father, Albert Holland of Cabot as well as a host of cousins, aunts and uncles. Hutchinson was a driller for Holland Well Drilling and was a member of the Jacksonville VFW post. He was of the Methodist faith.

A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Chapel of Cabot Funeral Home.

Judy Alexander

Longtime Garland, Texas, resident and business owner Judy Lorene Alexander died July 4 at her home in Henderson, Nev., after a long battle with Stevens-Johnson syndrome followed by uterine cancer. She worked for Garland Medical Center Hospital, Dallas Osteopathic Hospital and Parkland Memorial Hospital. She owned Alexander Transcription doing medical transcription in Garland for many years before moving her business to Henderson, Nev., in 1996.

She is survived by her mother, Virginia L. Alexander of Henderson, Nev., a sister, former Garland resident Norma Taliaferro and family of North Little Rock. Cousins; Robin Viray and family of Palmdale, Calif., and Shawn Salter of Los Angeles as well as countless friends in the Dallas and Las Vegas areas.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home, 1504 Loop Road in Jacksonville. She is truly missed by those of us who loved her.
Funeral arrangements by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Billy McManus

Billy Lynn McManus, Sr., 57, of Ward passed away July 9. He was retired from Pirelli Armstrong. He is survived by his wife, Diane; two sons, Lynn McManus and wife Sandy; Jerry McManus and wife Angel; two daughters, Wanda Simpson and husband Stacy, Kaye Adamos and husband Adrian all of Ward; a brother, Lewis McManus, Jr. of Fresno, Calif.; two sisters, Delphine Harris and Mary Ann Landgon of Hazelhurst, Miss.; eight grandchildren and many adopted children. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lewis, Sr. and Beatrice Delain Spears McManus.

Funeral will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Lonoke.

Ruby Rechtin

Ruby Rechtin, 87, of DeSoto, Texas, formerly of Beebe died July 10 in Dallas. Born Oct. 16, 1917, at Des Arc she was a graduate of McRae schools and was a member of the Church of Christ. She was preceded in death by her husband of fifty-six years, James O. Rechtin and a son, Richard.

She is survived by her son, David and wife Sharon of Grand Prairie, Texas; two grandchildren, James and wife Marti of Keller, Texas and Daniel of Grand Prairie; one brother, Raymond Corder and wife Peggy of Boston, Massachusetts; three special cousins, Arlene Baxley, Burt LaFerney; and Roberta Lofton; and numerous other relatives and friends. Visitation begins at noon Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe, with family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Funeral will be 10 a.m. at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Weir Cemetery.

James W. Phillips

James W. Phillips, age 83, of Beebe was born Sept. 27, 1921, at Derry, Penn., to Angelo and Mary Phillips, and he died July 12. He was a member of the Catholic Church, a lifetime member of DAV and a member of the Shepherd’s Center. He was a retired construction analyst for the U.S. Depart-ment of Housing and Urban Development.

He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Mary Margaret; a daughter, Vicki Berg of Texas; a son Richard Phillips of California; three step-children, Micki Smith of Little Rock, Richard Smith of Connecticut and Julie Warme of Massachusetts; five grandchildren, six step-grandchildren, three great-grandchildren; five sisters, Virginia Pezzoni, Carmella Spehar, Margaret Baroni, Dolores James and Maryann Schall all of Pennsylvania and his mother-in-law, Pauline Thompson of Beebe. Jim was preceded in death by his sister, Amelia Phillips.

Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be 2 p.m. Friday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Antioch Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Shepherd’s Center of Beebe, P.O. Box 247, Beebe, Ark. 72012.

Larry White

Larry Wesley White, age 63, died Thursday, July 7, 2005, after a valiant battle with cancer. He was born July 25, 1941 to James Wesley and Evelyn White. Larry graduated from Carlisle schools where he excelled in athletics and academics. He attended college at ASU Beebe and UALR. He faithfully served his country as a member of the United States Air Force. Larry was employed by Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission for 40 years and retired two years ago as assistant director. He also served on the board of Professional Counseling of Arkansas for ten years and was president of this board for three years.

Larry was preceded in death by his father, Jimmie W. White. He is survived by his loving wife of 16 years, Annette Wilson Lackie White; his mother, Evelyn White; three daughters, Melanie Morris, Mandy Forest-Lam and husband James, Jennifer Barnette and husband Danny; step-daughter, Kelly Lackie Waller Ratcliff and husband Charles; step-sons, Kevin Lackie and wife Barbara and Kyle Lackie and wife Amber; his sister, Brenda Halijan; grandchildren, Justin and Jordan Morris, Britney White, Lindsey Gammill, Josh, Tylor, Savanna and Ciara Barnette, Keith and Katie Waller, Haley, Felecia and Josh Ratcliff, and Kaylan Lackie and a host of relatives and friends.
Funeral services were at Boyd Funeral Home on Monday. Burial followed in Hebron Cemetery. Memorials may be made in Larry’s honor to the American Cancer Society or Hebron Cemetery, Rt. 2, Box 194, Ark., 72024.

Winona Carpenter

Winona Carpenter, 86, died July 10. She is survived by her husband, Louis Carpenter; one daughter, Patricia DeWhitt of Higdon; a sister-in-law, Marjorie Hodkin of Arkansas City, Kan.; 13 grandchildren, including grandson, Michael Faircloth of Carrollton, Texas; eight great grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; step-children, Louis W. Carpenter and Emily Carpenter of Lonoke, Martha Sanders of Jacksonville and Joyce Pittman of California. Preceding her in death were her parents and husband Charles Shipp.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke with interment in Concord Cemetery. The family wishes to thank Drs. Anderson, Dinehart and Bucolo; the staff at Golden Years Manor and Hospice Home Care.

Ruth Hatcher

Ruth Estelle Hatcher of Modesto, Calif., 79, passed away June 4 at Memorial Medical Center with her loving husband, daughter and son-in-law by her side. She was born Oct. 5, 1925 in Cabot. She and her husband Rick moved to Modesto in 1970.

She is survived by her husband of 40 years, Rick; daughters Beverly and husband Michael Ries of Stockton, Calif. and Anita and husband David Greufe of Oregon; grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is also survived by brothers Joe and Roy Christian and sister Velma Jones, all of Arkansas.

Funeral services were held June 9 at Lakewood Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Hughston, Calif., with committal following.

Johnnie Loretz

Johnnie Louise Powell Loretz, 78, of Carlisle went to be with her Lord on July 9.
She was born April 29, 1927 in Monett. She is survived by her husband of 59 years, Jack Loretz; three sons, Michael Loretz and his wife, Barbara, Reverend Danny Loretz, Sr. and his wife Sally, all of Carlisle and John Loretz and his wife April of Castle Rock, Colo.; eight grandchildren, Melissa Wilson and her husband, L.V. of Searcy, Shelly Allen and her husband, John of Prattsville, Melanie Reinert and her husband, Jeff of Springfield, Mo., Danny Loretz, Jr. of Conway, Kirk Loretz of Maumelle, Tyler Loretz of Castle Rock, Colo., Todd O’Keefe and his wife Jennifer of Pine Bluff, and Jenifer Spears and her husband, Ronnie of Hot Springs and seven great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Verla Gann Roberts of Beebe.

“Miss Johnnie”, as she was known, was a friend and a support for many children.

She spent many years as a volunteer scout leader where she earned the Quapaw Area Council Silver Beaver Award, Scouter’s Award, the Grand Prairie District Award of Merit and the Commissioner Arrowhead Award.

Funeral services were Tuesday at Lonoke Baptist Church where she was a member. Services were officiated by her son, Danny and assisted by Rev. Jimmy Wallace. Interment followed in Carlisle Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Lonoke Baptist Church Building Fund at 406 W. Front St., Lonoke, Ark. 72086. Arrangements are entrusted to Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

EDITORIAL>> Some private demagoguery

The candidates for governor were stumbling over each other — we choose our verb carefully — to demagogue the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision last month that upheld the government taking private property for other private use as long as it has a legitimate public purpose.

Asa Hutchinson was first. He deplored the 5-4 decision and said he would not support condemning private property for any but legitimate government use such as roads, but he wasn’t specific and wasn’t asked to be. He said the state might want to examine its laws and clarify them to be sure that private takings for private purposes were not allowed. Attorney General Mike Beebe and Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller were close behind, Beebe even suggesting that the state Constitution already prohibited it with a powerful statement about the sanctity of private property.

But Beebe didn’t finish the sentence. The provision simply says government can’t take private property without properly compensating the owners. The legislature can authorize the condemnation of private property for other than strictly governmental purposes, and it has done so.

We would point out the 2000 constitutional amendment, initiated by the General Assembly, that authorizes what is known as tax-increment financing — converting taxes levied for schools and other local governments to aid private development.

The legislature then provided by statute for local governments to condemn private property for projects that will create jobs and enhance the community, like movie theaters, golf courses and shopping malls.

EDITORIAL>> Bring more of them here

Three separate delegations from Arkansas communities made their way to San Antonio on Monday to address the Base Realignment and Closure Commission that is reviewing a Pentagon decision to close or reduce several military bases, although some lucky sections of the country, including central Arkansas, could see a dramatic increase in their missions.

Members of our congressional delegation and local officials spoke up in behalf of keeping the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith and saving the Red River Depot in Texarkana, which the Defense Department believes are dispensable. The commission could overrule the Pen-tagon’s recommendation, but it’s a long shot, although you can’t blame Fort Smith and Texarkana for trying.

The commission could also overrule the Pentagon’s recommendation to assign some 3,900 additional personnel and 66 more C-130s to Little Rock Air Force Base, but our crystal ball tells us that we’ll get those folks and planes and Fort Smith and Texarkana will not.

Jacksonville is doing a lot better than Fort Smith and Texarkana for several reasons: LRAFB has a showcase military facility worth billions of dollars and is the center of the C-130 universe. Fort Smith and Texarkana are marginal bases at best.

Although Arkansans sang the praises of all three facilities, everyone knows only one will survive this latest round of base closings. The military has invested hundreds of millions of dollars at Little Rock Air Force Base, and there’s no reason to stop investing more as the Pentagon looks for savings through consolidation.

“Little Rock is the center of C-130 training now and no one has suggested this mission could be more easily or efficiently conducted anywhere else,” Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., told the commissioners. (We would have changed the wording from Little Rock to Jacksonville — after all, the base is in the city limits of Jacksonville, which is finally on the rebound after years of struggle.)

The economic impact of losing a military base is almost incalculable, and so is the expansion at Little Rock Air Force Base, although we’d guess in the long run the impact here will run in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That is why no community likes to lose a base: Everyone talks about their military value, but when politicians and business leaders fight to keep them open, they’re not really talking about patriotism but about jobs.

Military people often tell us that the level of community support here is unsurpassed anywhere in the nation. A half century ago, this community came together and donated 6,000 acres to the Defense Department so it could build an air base here.

Not long ago, Jacksonville voters approved a tax increase to build a joint civilian-military education center in front of the base.

As Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim told the base commission on Monday, “We’re not only excited” about future growth at LRAFB, “but we’re prepared to do whatever is necessary to provide for members of the military and their families.”

No wonder officials from around the state had nothing but praise for the Pentagon’s decision to send more people and planes our way. Let’s hope the BRAC commission approve the decision, which will then make its way up to President Bush and Congress for final approval.

A decade from now, when more bases will close, the Pentagon ought to keep adding on at our base, which has plenty of room for growth.

It’s been a good partnership.

NEIGHBORS>> Buried in books

IN SHORT: Readers rewarded for spending summer days in the library.

By Brian Rodriguez
Leader staff writer

The Ward Public Library on Friday ended its summer reading program with a bang, getting a $500 donation from First Electric Cooperative’s Operation Round-Up program.

Ward librarian Venessa Ford said she had originally asked for items for grab bags when she went to pay her utility bill at First Electric. She was told about Operation Round-Up.

The program is funded by First Electric customers who allow the company to round their utility bills up to the nearest whole dollar amount for a tax-deductible donation. The donation, averaging 50 cents per month or $6 per year, is held in a trust account that funds donations to local non-profit organizations.

“That’s who we want to donate to,” said Jacksonville district manager Bill Devos, “groups that help the community.”

Ford said $400 of the grant would be used to purchase books requested by patrons, and the remaining $100 would be put toward a new encyclopedia fund.

The donation was presented during a party to celebrate the end of the Dragons, Dreams, and Daring Deeds summer reading program for children from birth to 16 years of age.

There were 55 participants who turned in their reading logs for a total of 1,724 books read in one month, an average of 31 books per child.

Ford credited the parents for reading to the younger children and for making sure their children had a way to get to the summer reading program.

“The parents have been real good because if it wasn’t for them bringing their kids, it wouldn’t have been such a success,” she said. “They’re unbelievable, what they’ve done with their children.”

Grab bags were given to each participant Friday at an end-of-the summer reading program with special recognition given to the children who read the most books in each age group.

The top readers included Christina Babbs with 13 books in the 14-16-year-old category; Faith Ford with 101 books in the 11-13-year-old category; Logan Cle-mons with 106 books in the 6-10-year-old category, and Trystan Smith with 65 books in the birth to 5-year-old category.

Operation Round-Up has made nearly 200 contributions totaling more than $181,000 since it was created in 1998.

Ford wanted to thank all the businesses that contributed to the reading party, which included parents, Little Caesar’s, Pizza Pro, Domino’s Pizza, More than Manna food bank, McDonald’s, Frito Lay, Dixie CafĂ©, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Tasty Freeze, Sonic, Western Sizzlin,’ Ron Campbell Ford and Com-munity Bank.

SPORTS>> Bruins on cruise early in A district

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills class A team wins easily in tournament.

By Jason King
Leader sports writer

The Sylvan Hills Bruins A squad has been on a roll in the American Legion zone tournament at Burns Park. The Bruins won their first three games in the tournament in decisive form, controlling all three games both offensively and defensively.

“I am very pleased with the way these guys have played so far,” Bruins head coach Brock Moore said. “They are all hitting the ball excellent. One through nine, everyone has been solid.”

In Friday night’s opener, the Bruins routed Gwatney 10-0. Taylor Roark stood out for Sylvan Hills in Friday’s game with a two-run homer. “We didn’t have one big inning in that game like we wanted to,” Moore said. “The runs were kind of scattered throughout the game.”

Saturday’s game against Greenbrier went just as easily for the Bruins. Hunter Miller put in a great performance on the mound for Sylvan Hills in Saturday’s game, with nine Ks on the day.

Sylvan Hills did most of their scoring damage in the top of the second inning. Jarrett Boles scored the first run for the Bruins, when catcher David Simpson RBI’d to center field.

The Bruins also got some help from Greenbrier errors on Saturday. A missed throw to second allowed Sylvan Hills to load the bases. A pair of RBIs by Jerry Lawson and Ryan Wood gave Sylvan Hills a 4-0 advantage. Lawson tagged up on a pop-up to add one more run for the Bruins before the end of the inning.

Things looked pretty bleak for Greenbrier offensively, with only one hit through the first three innings.

Miller’s pitching proved to be too much for Greenbrier, as Miller caught five looking in the opening three innings.

The Bruins added two more runs in the top of the fourth inning. A deep shot to center from Boles drove in Lawson and Wood to give the Bruins a 7-0 lead.

Greenbrier finally scored in the bottom of the fourth. The Bruins allowed one run, but Miller once again pulled through for Sylvan Hills. With bases loaded and no outs, Greenbrier looked as if they might get back in the game. Miller decided against it, striking out one batter and fielding two other hits to hold Greenbrier to only one run.

David Simpson scored one more run for the Bruins in the top of the fifth off of another Greenbrier error. Greenbrier tried to come back in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two runs. Relief pitcher Boles kept things under control, forcing the final two batters for Greenbrier to ground out, giving the game to Sylvan Hills 8-4.

Sunday’s game against Conway started out with a scare for the Bruins. Conway jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sylvan Hills was able to answer in the bottom of the first, with runs from Wood, Taylor Roark and Miller.

The bottom of the third inning would prove disastrous for the Wampus Cats, as the Bruins went on a nine run scoring spree. Every batter in the lineup made it to base at one point in the inning. Conway was finally forced put in its third pitcher in three innings to try and end the nine run assault.

By the time Conway got their third out, the Bruins had run the score up 12-3. Each team would go on to score one run apiece in the final innings, giving Sylvan Hills an important win.

Sunday’s win also put Sylvan Hills into the semi-finals of the tournament as the only remaining unbeaten team. It would also put them one win away from a bid to the state tournament.

“We’re confident right now, but we are not taking anything for granted,” Moore said. “We are definitely not taking anyone lightly.”

SPORTS>> Ruff-Neks take ASA state title

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

Things didn’t go as easily as they were supposed to, but the Cabot Ruff-Neks 12-under fastpitch team did manage to win the ASA state championship game Sunday afternoon in Cabot.

The Ruff-Neks had cruised, for the most part, through the winners’ bracket, but met up with a determined Hot Springs team that didn’t plan to lay down without a fight.
The Purple Magic came out of the losers’ bracket and beat Cabot 5-2 to force the “if” game to determine the champion.

The Ruff-Neks gathered their focus in game two, and got an outstanding performance from pitcher Emily Bass to win 4-0 and claim the state title.

“Sometimes you just can’t tell what youngsters are going to do,” Ruff-Neks coach Tim Marvin said. “They had already beaten this team earlier in the tournament, so I think they may have just gone in there with the mindset that it would just happen again, instead of going in with the focus they needed. They gained that focus though and played a very complete game in the second one.”

Bass threw the entire game, giving up just one hit while striking out seven and walking none.

Offensively, neither team did much until the third inning. That’s when Cabot finally got on the board.

Kendall Colderon led off the bottom of the third with a double to the fence in center field. Mallory Sexton entered to pinch run and stole third base. She scored the game’s first run on an RBI, sacrifice fly by Chelsea Conrade.

The Ruff-Neks added two more to that total in the bottom of the next inning. Bailey Lowery hit a fly ball that fell in shallow left center field and left her safely at second base. Guess then reached on an error at shortstop that put runners at first and third.

Nikki King followed with a sacrifice bunt that scored Guess, and Tara Boyd hit an RBI groundout to make it 3-0 Cabot after four.

The final run came in the fifth. Conrade walked and reached second on a passed ball. Makenzi Drake singled to left field, and Kristy Flesher did the same to score Conrade.
ASA didn’t name a tournament MVP, and Marvin was reluctant to try and pick one from his team.

“As you can see with how we scored our runs in the final game, this bunch plays as a team,” Marvin said. “Everybody contributes. That’s just the makeup of this team.”
The Ruff-Neks will take part in the International Baseball and Softball Association World Series this weekend in Jacksonville. The next week, they will head off to Gulf Port, Mississippi, for the NFSA World Series.

TOP STORY>> Board votes to remove stickers

IN SHORT: Beebe Schools end standoff with ACLU over
evolution-versus-creation disclaimer in textbooks.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

A six-month-long standoff between the Beebe School Board and the American Civil Liberties Union ended Monday night when the board voted 3-2 to remove disclaimers about evolution versus creation stuck to the inside covers of science books from the fourth grade through the twelfth.

Those voting for removing the stickers said they didn’t want school teachers educating their children about religious matters. They also wanted to avoid spending money on a lawsuit that should be used for educating children.

But it was clear from comments by board member Sherill Strayhorn that the board didn’t appreciate the ACLU exerting pressure to get the stickers cut out of the books before school starts next month.

“I wish we had the money to challenge the ACLU,” Strayhorn said, adding that “people cower to the ACLU like a scalded dog.

“That galls me more than anything else,” he added.

Contacted Tuesday morning, Rita Sklar, ACLU executive director, said she was pleased with the vote in spite of the reasons for it.

“I’m glad they’re doing the right thing regardless of their reasons,” Sklar said. “Of course, I wish it was out of respect for religious liberty and the separation of church and state. It is the separation of church and state that allows for the rich diversity of freedom of religion we enjoy in this country.

“I’m also glad they are avoiding costly litigation that would only harm the students and the school district,” she said.

Exactly how close the district was to being sued, as the ACLU of Arkansas threatened in January, is unclear. The ACLU contacted the school district about the stickers as soon as a federal judge ruled in Georgia that similar stickers in science books used by the Cobb County School District had to come out. But that ruling was appealed almost immediately, buying the Beebe board a little time, and that appeal is still in progress.

Butch Rice, president of the Beebe School Board, wanted to wait about voting at least until after district patrons were made aware that a vote was imminent.

The disclaimer stickers have been “a sleeping giant,” that the board has not spoken of in months, he said.

The looming lawsuit is not just a board problem, it is a district problem, he said.
“I wouldn’t want our district to think we pushed something under the rug until a one-night meeting,” he said.

Rice voted against removing the stickers as did Lorrie Belew, who told Dr. Belinda Shook and the three board members who voted to remove the stickers that she understood that they wanted to avoid a lawsuit, but she said, “Sometimes when you need to stand up for something, you need to stand up for it.”

Voting for taking out the stickers were Strayhorn, Harold Davis and Tommy Vanaman.
Vanaman told the board that he believed the stickers were illegal and he feared the loss of $1.5 million in federal funds if they remained in the textbooks.

Davis brought a prepared statement to the meeting and read it before the vote.

He wrote in part: “I was taught at a very young age that God created the heavens and earth. He spoke everything into existence except for man. He created man in his own image, with his own hands and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life….This is the belief that I hold sacred and have taught my children at a very young age….I believe that these discussions are the responsibilities of parents not public schools. I also believe the insertion of a sticker in a book could generate discussions that may be contrary to the belief of parents.

“The bottom line is that I do not want my children taught these issues by teachers who I have no knowledge of their own beliefs,” he wrote.

Shook, in her first month as school superintendent, told the board the stickers could be cut out without damaging the books and she recommended doing so.

Evolution is not an area of concentration in the district’s science program, she said. Furthermore, her own two children used the books and never even noticed the stickers were there.

In fact, when the issue was raised in January, no one including the school board and Dr. Kieth Williams, Shook’s predecessor, was aware that the stickers were in the books.
Former board members say the stickers were approved sometime before Williams was hired as superintendent in 1996.

Tom Jenkins, who was on the school board at that time, said earlier this year that he couldn’t recall why the stickers were placed in the books. However he remembered that a group of parents was concerned about stories of witchcraft in an elementary textbook. It is likely, he said, that the evolution sticker was an outgrowth of that issue and the product of a parent committee put together to select books.

Adopting text books is a yearly function of the school board, but Rice said when the issue arose that the existing board was never asked about the stickers.

“We have to vote on text books every year and we didn’t know about those stickers,” he said then. “I guess it’s just one of those things. You get new science books and those stickers go on.”

But Tuesday night when the board talked about cutting the stickers out, they also said that whether they cut them out or left them in, their decision was bound to anger many.
Even those who agreed with the statements on the stickers would likely be upset about the lawsuit that was inevitable unless they were removed, the board said.

TOP STORY>> Beebe rejects city expansion

IN SHORT: Only voters in Searcy were in an agreeable mood, approving a 1-cent sales tax for a new fire station and to retire old debt.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

Beebe said no Tuesday, by 36 votes, to a proposed annexation that would have doubled the size of the city, while Searcy residents voted yes to a nine-month, 1-cent sales tax to finance the new central fire station and help retire part of the city’s debt.
In Beebe, 382 people, or 52 percent, said no to the annexation, while 346, or 48 percent, said yes.

In Searcy, the vote was 550, or 55 percent, in favor of the tax and 469, or 45 percent, against it. In Beebe, both city residents and those living in the proposed annexation area were allowed to vote.

Not surprisingly, the residents in the area to be annexed voted against the plan 108 to 27. But the vote was close inside the city limits where the count from the polls was 310 for, 250 against.

Jason Scheel, chairman of the planning commission, which pushed for the annexation, said the low voter turnout was not unexpected and neither was the close vote since most votes in Beebe are close.

But Scheel said unsigned flyers that turned up in people’s yards over the weekend might have swayed some city residents to vote against the annexation.

One flyer depicted a stop sign and warned residents that their taxes would go up to support the “new Beebe.”

The annexation had been talked about since last year and actively pursued for about six months by the time the city council voted more than a month ago to go ahead with the election.

County residents who either opposed becoming Beebe residents or just wanted more information about what the city had to offer filled the council chambers for public meetings held by the planning commission and city council.

In the days leading up to the election, there was little visible evidence that the city was trying to expand except one homemade sign on Highway 64 in opposition to the annexation and a few yard signs inside the city telling residents the annexation was for their future.

The city campaigned for the annexation by placing brochures in local businesses.
Marjorie Armstrong, the city’s economic director, said a larger population would make it easier for her to promote the city to businesses looking for a place to locate.

The new Searcy tax will go into effect in October. It is expected to generate $3.3 million for Searcy. The money will be used to finance the construction of a new $1.6 million central fire station at the edge of downtown on the corner of Elm Street and Beebe-Capps Expressway.

The new station replaces the central fire station destroyed in a Jan. 27 blaze. The remainder of the money raised by the tax will be used to help retire $900,000 in city debt.

“It’s going to be good for the city,” said Mayor Belinda LaForce after the vote totals were released Tuesday evening.

But not all seemed happy.

“The majority of the people are disgusted about the tax and said they were voting against it because they just don’t know what it’s about,” said Bobby Quattlebaum, owner of Bobby’s Family Restaurant in downtown Searcy.

He added city officials did a poor job of educating the public about the temporary tax.
“During early voting at the court house there were signs up saying ‘Vote Here’ and I had people coming in asking what in the world was being voted on,” Quattlebaum said.
“I’ve had people say they wouldn’t vote for any tax and others said they would vote for it because it’s temporary and primarily for public safety,” said Alderman Dale Brewer, co-sponsor of the ordinance.

Responding to some of the criticism, the mayor said, “We feel like we’ve beat a dead horse to death. We discussed it at city council meetings for months. It’s a pretty simple issue and I think we took care of it.”

Fire Chief Bill Baldridge was one of the first people to vote Tuesday at Southside Elementary’s cafeteria, the city’s central polling location.

The central fire station has been operating from a temporary location on the corner of Higginson Street and Booth Road. According to Baldridge, the temporary location adds up to ten minutes to the fire department’s response time for fires downtown.

“Fire scenes change every sixty seconds so ten minutes is a lot of time,” Baldridge said.

In the meantime, construction on the new fire station at the corner of Elm Street and Beebe-Capps Expressway is moving ahead.

“The mayor has said the station will be built,” Baldridge said.

“Brooks Jackson Architects are surveying the lot and taking soil samples. They’re going to put in about three feet of fill dirt to build it up.”

TOP STORY>> Officials tell panel base can take on growth

IN SHORT: Central Arkansas’ top guns remind BRAC commissioners of LRAFB’s
ability to expand its mission.

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, and Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim traveled to San Antonio Monday to reinforce to members of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission the correctness of the Defense Department’s decision to expand the mission at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Congressmen, senators and local representatives from bases slated to lose planes, missions and personnel to the Little Rock base have been lobbying the commission in favor of the status quo, so the Jacksonville delegation testified in favor of the current BRAC proposal. That proposal would bring 66 additional C-130s at the base and about 3,900 new jobs. Swaim, Snyder and others sought to ward off efforts of bases slated to lose planes, missions and personnel to Little Rock.

In the minutes allotted, officials told commissioners that LRAFB was the premiere C-130 base in the country, that conditions at the base were optimal for training C-130 crews and stressed the community’s 50-year embrace of the base.

The BRAC commission will decide by late summer whether to approve the Department of Defense recommendations. The president and Congress must also sign off on the plan before the restructuring takes effect, likely by the end of the year.

Four of the nine BRAC commissioners attended Monday’s hearing at the Henry B. Gonzalez Conven-tion Center in downtown San Antonio.

“There are no easy decisions here,” Snyder told the commissioners. “You have two chores. First, to make the right decisions, and second, to have a decision-making process, the conclusions of which some will disagree with, but all will have no doubt regarding its fairness, transparency, and integrity.”

Swaim said the delegation’s work was hindered by the relatively short—eight minutes—amount of time allocated for testimony about Little Rock Air Force Base.

Local advocates lobbying to keep 29 C-130s at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, rather than moving them to Little Rock had much more time to make their case. Most of the Arkansas time was devoted to senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and others working to keep the Air National Guard’s 188th Fighter Wing based at Fort Smith, which is slated to close, Swaim said.

Others in the Arkansas delegation supporting Little Rock Air Force Base were Bart Gray, Paul Latture, Mike Wilson and Leon Matthews—all past presidents of the base’s community council.

Swaim, in addition to being mayor, is in his second term as community council president.

“My job was to make sure the BRAC commission understood we were glad to have (the base) in the community and glad to have additions and willing to do what was necessary for services and infrastructure,” Swaim said Tuesday.

Swaim, in his comments, noted that 50 years ago, community leaders bought the 6,000 acres upon which the base now sits for $1 million and presented it to the Air Force. Swaim said he and Snyder were changing their prepared remarks right up to the last minute.

Swaim commented on the local impact of having more missions here and pointed to the future joint education center between the city and Little Rock Air Force Base, while Snyder commented on the state-wide impact the base increase would have.

Swaim told the commissioners that the local communities would do whatever was necessary in terms of additional services and infrastructure to support the new jobs and missions proposed for the base. He stressed the base’s recognition as a C-130 center of excellence, the excellent flying conditions, the drop zone, assault landing strip and adequate ramp and runway space.

As evidence of that, both Swaim and Snyder told the commissioners that a couple dozen or more C-130s and helicopters were evacuated to the base last weekend from Florida to avoid possible hurricane damage.

He told them that the community had passed a $5 million tax to support better education through joint education facility.

“We think the evaluation of Little Rock Air Force Base and its ability to accept additional missions is accurate and we encourage you to review the data and send the Little Rock Air Force Base recommendations forward to the president for approval,” Swaim testified. “We’re confident that our community is prepared to handle the recommended consolidation.”

Wilson and Latture, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, said Swaim and Snyder worked well together in their limited amount of speaking time of about five minutes each.

“They made a good team,” Wilson said.

He said Swaim did especially well at fitting his message into a tight package.
“I thought it was excellent as usual,” he said. “Pointed, brief and forceful. Very good.”

“All of the presentations were really factual,” Latture said. “Your oratory didn’t win you any prize.”

He said the hearings were all kept very factual and the BRAC commissioners showed little facial expression, if any.

“I hope they took it well, but you couldn’t tell,” Latture said. “There were no questions.”
Wilson, on the other hand, seemed to think it went well.

“I think they welcomed support for the position that the Department of Defense has taken,” he said. “Those commissioners are pretty knowledgeable about the nation’s defense and bases in general.”

Wilson said the lack of questions was encouraging compared to the few questions directed at people arguing against upcoming decisions.

“My nine years of interaction with Little Rock Air Force Base made evident to me the ability of this fine base to play an even greater role in our national defense,” Snyder told the commissioners.

He stressed the intensely close working relationship between the active Air Force and the Air Guard at the base in training instructor pilots. 

“Little Rock Air Force Base for years has been a model for how the Air Guard and active component as a team can thrive together,” said the congressman.

 “There are several important considerations in the C-130 community. Overall, the fleet is declining in number due to wing box problems, the slow rate of C-130J acquisition and the currently stalled C-130 Aviation Moderniza-tion Program,” Snyder said.

“The high rate of use of C-130s means it is desirable to increase the operational availability and flexibility of the fleet. We have to maximize the assets we have, and we believe that the Air Force’s plan for the Active Duty C-130s does this.  It is also my hope that centralizing more airplanes will allow the aircrews and their families to have more stability in assignments and lives,” Snyder said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson, former undersecretary for Homeland Security, testified in favor of keeping the 188th Fighter Wing stationed at Fort Smith.
“The military capabilities index, as calculated by the DOD, falls short of measuring the actual military vaule of Fort Smith,” he said.

He called the 188th’s current mission “vital to the homeland defense Air Sovereignty Alert Mis-sion,” and said reassigning the F-16s would deprive the nation of “a key air defense facility capable of responding to terrorist threats to the southwestern interior of the United States.”

TOP STORY>> Cabot voters say NO

IN SHORT: City must find other financing for overpass, community center.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

Cabot voters said no Tuesday to a millage increase that would have paid for a community center and railroad overpass.

The vote on the railroad overpass was 537 against and 493 for. The vote on the community center was 551 against and 475 for.

Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh said after learning the results of the election that he was both surprised and disappointed.

“I think it’s sad. I just really think it’s sad. But the people spoke and you move on,” Stumbaugh said.

Residents were asked to increase their city property tax from 3.5 mills to 4.5 mills to raise $700,000 for the city’s part of the federally funded $5 million overpass and $2 million to help pay for a planned community center that came in over budget.

A month ago, Stumbaugh said if the voters turned down the millage increase, there would be no way to build the community center, and the overpass would have to wait until 2008. But that is no longer the case.

Aldermen Eddie Cook and Odis Waymack will sponsor an ordinance that will go before the council Monday night to ask voters to extend an existing one-cent sales tax to pay for a new sewer plant, the community center, overpass and a new animal shelter and provide about $2 million for street improvements.

Cook and Waymack are opposed to paying for the new sewer treatment plant by more than doubling sewer rates as the council plans to do.

Stumbaugh said Tuesday evening that an organized effort against the millage increase might have helped defeat it.

Cook, who has been the most outspoken about the proposed sales tax referendum he will co-sponsor with Waymack, said he knew of no organized effort, but he does believe voters are saying they don’t want any new taxes.

Cook said he voted for the millage increase and he is shocked that it didn’t pass, but he is aware that his ordinance to continue the existing tax now has a better chance of passing the council because the millage failed.

“I hate it that it failed, but it does strengthen my ordinance incredibly,” Cook said.