Wednesday, August 03, 2005

SPORTS>> Panthers making moves early

IN SHORT: Cabot football team began practice Monday with a few players in new positions and several new faces working with the varsity squad.

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got right to business Monday morning, the first day of two-a-days football practice for the 2005 high school season. The Panthers had a good total of about 80 kids participating in the first day of summer practice.

Cabot’s first official practice took place with several question marks concerning personnel, but the coaching staff took steps right away to answer those questions.

With the almost the entire starting offensive backfield from last year gone, the Panthers went right to work looking at quarterbacks and running backs. In spring practice, all of the potential backs were on the small side, so Clayton Goshien, 5-feet, 11 inches, 210 pounds, was moved from the offensive line to the fullback position. It was just one of several potential moves the coaching staff is making to try and shore up the holes.

“We’re just experimenting right now and trying to see what will work out,” Cabot head coach Mike Malham said. “We won’t know for sure until we put the pads on, but we’re trying a lot of different things right now.”

Goshien’s move to fullback doesn’t come without its consequences. What was thought to be an experienced offensive line returning this year, now only has three starters back.

Goshien’s move to the backfield coincides with another starter quitting before two-a-days began.

“Now we’re down to (Jason) Aist, Colton Roberts and Joe Schotts coming back on the line,
we didn’t think we were going to have,” Malham said.

The good news is that there are players available to fill those spots that Malham says have potential.

“We’ve got the Trammel kid who has some size and he’s a pretty good athlete; we hope to be able to get him on the field and play that guard spot,” Malham said. “We’ve also got Scott Bayes, who’s 277 pounds, he’s really improved.

“He didn’t play a lot last year because he was so slow, but he’s worked hard and showed a lot of improvement. He’s not there yet, but he wants to play and he’s working hard. He could jump in there at tackle.

“If we can solidify that spot I think we stand a chance to still have a pretty good offensive line.”

Corey Wade figures to be the starting quarterback this season. John Flynn started several games last year in place of in-jured Ryan Cotroneo. He also started at cornerback, and will begin the season focusing on defense.

“We’re still working him at quarterback,” Malham said. “He’s there if we need him, but Wade is the one we’re looking at starting right now. He’s a little stronger throwing the ball when we need to throw it.”

The defense is very inexperienced, with as many as four sophomores figuring into the mix.
Richard Williams stepped up as a fullback prospect in the spring, but will start practice working at defensive back with Goshien’s move.

“He probably runs as good as anyone on our team, so moving him to defense will help us with some speed on that side,” Malham said. “We’re very, very inexperienced pretty much everywhere. We’ve got three down lineman back, so we should be alright there, but we’re green everywhere else. We’re going to make a lot of mistakes, but if they work hard, they’ll get those corrected.” So far, Malham says the work ethic has been good.

“They’ve looked good the first two days. They’re paying attention and responding pretty well. We’ll see for sure how hard they want to work when we put the pads on. We can’t really answer any of this until we get after it.”

SPORTS>> Devils introduced to all-new system

IN SHORT: New Jacksonville head coach Mark Whatley used the first day of two-a-day football practice to introduce new drills and routine to his players.

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

The high-school football season officially got underway Tuesday. The Jacksonville Red Devils got their first official two-a-day workout under new coach Mark Whatley in the books. The focus for the first practice was a lot of teaching, but little actual football.

“There was just lots of organizational work going on,” Whatley said of the morning session, which began at 8 a.m. “We met early and laid the foundation of what we expect from them and what they can expect from us. We introduced our drills and worked a little on conditioning and that was about the sum of it.”

Whatley summed up the details of the meeting on expectations with few words.

“Like I said, it was about what we expect from them and what they can expect from us, and it basically boiled down to all you got,” Whatley said. “We want everything they’ve got all the time, and in turn that’s what they can expect to see from us. That’s the only way you can go in this sport.”

After taking the practice field, he showed the team the drills he would be running. Some were already familiar to the players and some weren’t, but he felt good about what the staff got in on Monday.

“We ran some excitement drills and pursuit drills, but mostly we just wanted to show them the drills so they’ll know them,” Whatley said. “We don’t want to spend a whole lot of time from here on out explaining what we’re talking about. We want to yell out the name they go to it. I think they picked it up pretty good. I hope they did, we’ll see.”

The evening session, which began at 6 p.m., consisted of a little more teaching of football and the system the Red Devils will be running under Whatley.

The skill position players ran 7-on-7 drills while the linemen practiced and lifted weights inside the field house.

The new head coach said it would be that way consistently the first three days.

On Thursday, the first day of pads, the Red Devils will get down to serious business.

“That’s how we’re going about this,” Whatley said. “The mornings will be drills and conditioning, and the nights will be a lot more football. We’re going to come back here and throw it a little bit. We didn’t get a whole lot of either done the first day, but we’re looking forward to getting back to it.”

Only 55 players were on hand the first day, but Whatley expects several more.

“We had 55, but we have a few out of pocket. We have a couple of key guys that we know where they are and why they’re not here, and we have a few that still have to get physicals.”

Assistant coach Jerry Wilson said he expects around 70 once everyone arrives.

NEIGHBORS>> Preserving Lonoke's history

IN SHORT: After seven years, museum finds a permanent home.

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

When Dorothy Jackson Deats and eight other family members piled all over each other into a one-seat Chevy in Lonoke in the 1950s and lit out for Oklahoma, members of this share-cropping family thought they had it made, she told Sherryl Miller, executive director of the Lonoke County Museum Board.

Her father had gotten a job at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., making $150 a month.
“We thought we were bad rich,” she remembered.

Deats, visiting relatives, huddled with Linda Acrey and Miller in Miller’s Lonoke Library office sharing history and patching holes in her geneology.

A year from now, this meeting might have taken place two blocks away in the old Scott Chevrolet building, which the museum board hopes to renovate in stages until they have a permanent facility for the many papers and artifacts that have been assembled.

After more than a year of frustrating negotiations with the Lonoke City Council, which always sounded supportive but never quite got around to making the museum board the asked-for, long-term lease for land upon which to construct a museum, unnamed benefactors came to the rescue this spring.

The building has been renovated many times, but it will be a great asset to our community and the county of Lonoke, Miller said.

She said an architect is assessing the needed fixes and changes. Miller, who refused to name the people who donated the property, said that soon, after years of looking and waiting, the museum would finally have a permanent home.

She said it was the perfect example of the difference that one big-hearted family can make to a community.

Miller said the only stipulation to the gift was that it be used as a museum.

Deats, the visitor from Oklahoma, said she was excited and hoped to find some way to help with the big task ahead—converting an old, historic home and auto dealership into the 9,000 sq. foot museum it can be.

The building sits on lots on Hwy. 70 in downtown Lonoke, across the road from the old railroad right-of-way the board had once hoped to lease from the city.

The museum board is busy writing grants to fix the building’s roof and began making the other needed repairs and upgrades necessary to house its collection in a watertight, temperature controlled home with modern lighting, wiring and plumbing.

“We need $30,000 for the roof,” said Miller.

“We might can get a 50-50 grant through central Arkansas Planning and Development,” she said.

After the first of the year we can apply for Arkansas Humanities and other grants.”
Deats was a child when she Arkansas. As the three women pored over books and documents, helping her fill out her history, Acrey said.

“This is the kind of thing Sherryl does. Her good deeds are the stars in her crown,” she added.

Miller is employed 10 hours a week at the Lonoke library and often works 30 or 40 additional hours a week, helping with historical projects.

In the renovated museum, Miller will have an office adjoining the room designated for the geneology materials. The kitchen will be torn out, leaving about three rooms plus the very large attached building behind it.

“We need committed souls,” said Acrey. “We need someone who’s on fire for the museum. Sherryl eats and sleeps museum,” she added.

Miller said the museum is in need of sports memorabilia, local Indian artifacts and artifacts of pioneer life, the Civil War, local politicians, Eberts Air Field, the world wars, old businesses, old county maps and old family pictures.

Miller can be reached at (501) 676-6635.

EDITORIAL>> Another giveaway

Congress last week finally passed an energy bill that has been four years in gestation, and there seemed to be general relief and celebration that the government finally did something about the nation’s energy problems. Gasoline prices that exceeded $2.50 a gallon in some places drove both houses finally to action.

We can restrain our joy. Congress in the end took out the worst features of the Bush administration’s bill — opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and liability protection for gasoline additive companies — but the massive bill that passed will do nothing to lower fuel prices, now or ever. Even President Bush acknowledges as much. The bill is a Christmas tree of tax breaks and subsidies for scores of energy companies, which finally put aside their competition to lobby for its passage.

Absent from the bill were any of the measures that might have produced for the nation a more abundant energy supply. Raising the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, which have been static for more than a decade, would dramatically reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil supplies.

The CAFE standards instituted in the Carter administration did just that, but the big oil companies and carmakers scotched the movement once Republicans took control of both houses of Congress in 1995.

We and our grandchildren will pay an awful price for the dereliction. The people of almost no state will pay a bigger price than Arkansas, where the average number of miles driven per person is about the highest in the United States. Nothing in the bill will benefit Arkansas except a provision directing the cleanup of the old nuclear site in Washington County once operated by the Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor (SEFOR).

It is not enough.


Tamara Waddell

Tamara Diane Waddell, 34, of Cabot, passed away July 31. She was born Dec. 27, 1970, in Long Beach, Calif., to Carl and Diana Allen. Tamara was employed with Mitchell, Williams Law Firm in Little Rock.

She is survived by her parents, husband, Shawn Waddell of Cabot; two children, Landon Waddell and Carrington Rose, both of Cabot; one sister, Kristy Christensen; brother-in-law, John Christensen; sister-in-law, Jennifer Sanders; grandmother, Wanda Sears; uncles and aunts, Dean and Kay Nakken, Milton H. and Margie Edwards, Chuck Edwards, Larry and Marcia Wofford; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Wally and Bobbie Waddell; nieces, Kylee and husband Aaron Henry, Brook Christensen, Courtnie Christensen; cousins, Jason and Juston Nakken, Jeff Edwards, Jody Edwards and Mendi Cook, Mark Wofford and Joy Wofford; great-nephew, Blane Henry; great-niece, Breelyn Christensen.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Cabot Funeral Home.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday at Country Chapel in Sylvania with Rev. Steve Zumalt officiating.

Burial will follow at Old Austin Cemetery in Ward. Arrangements are by Cabot Funeral Home.

Girtha Taylor

Girtha Deloris Taylor passed away July 30.

She leaves behind her husband, William “Bill” Taylor; three daughters, Annette McGarity of Walnut Ridge, Delois Kemp and Theresa Flowers of Lonoke; two sons, Howard Joseph Bradford of Searcy and Mike Taylor of Lonoke; stepdaughters, Susan Phelphs and Rose Ann Fogleman, both of Kansas; a brother, Eugene Stinson of Wynne; 18 grandchildren; 28 great grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow in Lonoke Cemetery. Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.
Patrick Page

Patrick Glenn Page, 19, of Beebe, died Aug. 1. He is survived by his parents, Larry and Gail Page; one son, Dylan Patrick Page; one daughter, Madison Brooke Page, all of Beebe; two sisters, Sarah Morrison and husband Alan of Cordova, Tenn., and Anna Page of Beebe; his maternal grandparents, Ruby and Ross Jackson of Georgia, Ronald and Becky Gardner of Crossett; and paternal grandparents Patrick and Olga Page of Louisiana.

Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Funeral will be 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Union Valley Baptist Church, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Roy McCollum

Roy Glen McCollum, 76, of Cabot, passed away July 29. He was born May 8, 1929, in Violet Hill to the late Lee and Martha McCollum.

Also preceding him in death are three sisters and four brothers. Survivors include his wife of 56 years Dorothy McCollum; daughter Pat Taylor of Cabot; sons Larry and Dewayne McCollum of Jonesboro; sister Bunice Bookout of Wiseman; six grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

Graveside services were held Sunday at Morriston Cemetery in Morriston. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service, Cabot.

Earnest Justice

Earnest Patton Justice died on July 29. He was born July 14, 1920 in Lonoke County.

He was a World War II veteran, a member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and a self-employed poultry farmer. He was preceded in death by his parents Charlie Patton Justice and Ada Bell Trickey; brothers Luther Justice, Monroe Justice, and Otha Justice.

He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Almeda and Dale Sullivan; sister, Lizzy Underwood; sister-in-law, Mary Justice, and a host of nieces and nephews.

Graveside services were held July 30 at Glover Cemetery, with arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.

The family would like to give special thanks to the staff of Spring Creek Living Center, Cabot.

Carl White

Carl Sidney White, 66, of Beebe, died Monday, Aug. 1.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; daughters Carla Choate and Connie Choate; son Walt White and his wife, Pam; and his grandchildren, Laura Nick, Chris Nick, Will Choate, Guy Choate, John Choate, Zac White, Jacob White, and Sarah White; his sister, Beverly Darwin; brother, Richard White; and his mother-in-law, Maxine Walters. His parents, V.C. and Irene White, his sister, Katherine Card-well, and his father-in-law, Guy Walters, predeceased him.

Sidney was a life-long member of the Beebe First United Methodist Church, a Mason, a board member of the Beebe Shepherd Center, an automobile dealer and cattle farmer.
He graduated from Beebe High School and served on the Beebe School Board.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Beebe First United Methodist Church with burial at Meadowbrook Memorial Gar-dens. The family asks that memorials be made to the Beebe First United Methodist Church Building Fund or to the Beebe Public Education Foundation.

June Seymour

June Angela Seymour, 52, of Lonoke, passed away July 30.

She is survived by her husband Richard Seymour of the home.

Private memorial services will be held at a later date. Cremation arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

TOP STORY>> District is awaiting report on facilities

IN SHORT: Teams from the Department of Education are halfway through evaluating school districts applying for immediate repair funding.

The Cabot School District will find out in mid-September if it gets any of the $1,559,945 million requested for facilities repair, including asbestos removal at Westside Elementary and the high school.

Five evaluation teams of architects and engineers are fanning out across the state to examine buildings of the 142 school districts applying for part of $20 million in state funding. The money was set aside by the General Assembly this spring to fix facilities in immediate need of repair as part of the first round of facilities funding.

Cabot was one of the first schools visited by an evaluation team in early July.

Westside Elementary and Champs Hall on the high school campus have asbestos floor tiles that need removal.

Additionally, Champs Hall needs a new roof, new wiring and a new heating, ventilation and cooling system.

Buildings “C” and “D” on the high school campus are scheduled for demolition in 2006 after the new high school construction is completed.

The buildings require asbestos removal before they are torn down.

The district is also requesting new roofs at Cabot Middle School South and Ward Central Elementary.

The evaluation teams are checking the repairs listed on the funding applications against the deficiencies listed in the facilities study conducted last year by the Arkansas Task Force to Joint Committee on Educational Facilities.

“Our survey teams are roughly halfway through,” said Dave Floyd, director of the Arkansas Department of Education Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Division.
“They’ve evaluated 70 schools so far. We have a target date of the first week in September to make recommendations to the commission for funding of projects.

The evaluation team surveys are expected to be complete by Aug. 22.

“The teams are all Arkansas-based firms,” said Dave Floyd, director of school facilities.
“The team sizes vary depending on how large the surveyed buildings are.”

The three Little Rock-based architectural firms include Taggart Foster Currence Gray, Steelman Connell Mosley and Woods Carradine.

The teams have divided the schools up by regional sections.

Little Rock based TME Consulting Engineers is providing all the engineering evaluations for the surveys except for northwest Arkansas.

Harrison French Architecture in Bentonville is doing both the architectural and engineering surveys for the schools in the northwest corner of the state.

The four firms were selected for not being heavily involved in school district construction.

Firms will be allowed to work for the districts they did not evaluate.
The three-member Public School Commission will review the recommendations. Schools that receive funding will be announced in mid-September.

The commission consists of Ken James, state Department of Education commissioner; Richard Weiss, state Department of Finance and Administration director, and Mac Dobson, president of the Arkansas Finance Development Authority.

The Beebe School District did not apply for funding because it was earmarked for schools with immediate safety needs.

Beebe Superintendent Belinda Shook the district will apply for funding during the next round to offset the cost of adding on to the junior high building.

FROM THE PUBLISHER>> Couple still fighting for Russian kids

The Jacksonville couple who couldn’t bring home the two Russian kids they had recently adopted will go back soon to fight for the right to fly their children to Arkansas.
Monica and David Kraus are hoping they’ll return soon to Russia and bring back the children, Emma, who is 3 years old, and Alex, who is 11 months. The couple adopted the children a few weeks ago, but then ran into a bureaucratic wall that they’re still fighting to tear down.

The Russians have stopped all foreign adoptions for the time being after two American women killed the Russian children they had adopted, apparently in fits of rage.

“We should be traveling the beginning of August to bring the children home,” Monica Kraus told us last week. “We are silently praying nothing else happens to delay the process.”
The Russians have passed new legislation to screen out undesirables who want to adopt children, but the Krauses insist they’re qualified people who will raise the kids right.
Because of the killings, the Russians want to do psychological testing of prospective parents and offer them parenting training.

“While there seems to be no thought given to halting all adoptions permanently, there is talk of requiring some sort of psychological evaluation of all prospective adoptive parents. There is also talk of investigating to see if the adoption was done legally according to Russian law. No one knows how long we will be delayed,” she said.

“We are not certain if new legislation regarding adoptions as a result of this last case will affect us. It is definitely needed. If the death of even one child can be avoided, then it is beneficial,” Mrs. Kraus said.

The couple will appear at an administrative hearing, where they’ll hope to convince the authorities to let them bring home Emma and Alex, who both have their own rooms waiting for them in Jacksonville.

“We will not need a Russian attorney, only a translator at our hearing,” Mrs. Kraus says. “Once a judge finalizes our adoption and we receive our birth certificates and passports in Moscow, the adoption is official and recognized throughout the world. We may go through an American attorney when we return home in order to legalize the adoption according to United States law, but it is not necessary.”

In the meantime, the Russian media keep lashing out at foreign adoptions.

“It’s not the first time this has happened,” Mrs. Kraus says, referring to this latest freeze on foreign adoptions, “and it is more of a result of anti-American sentiment in the Russian media than anything else. We are not alone in this as there are hundreds of other expecting parents across the United States who are facing this same crisis.” 

“The Russia media have been all up in arms and have been pushing for the end of international adoptions,” she continued.

She said the children need good, loving homes, where they can eat right and get a good education. She knows there will be an “adjustment period, especially for the toddler. Although they adjust quickly and thrive with a loving family, they are far behind American children in developmental and learning ability.”

“In an orphanage, they do not receive one-on-one attention like they would in a family.
“There are also significant health concerns with malnutrition and different ailments related to poor living conditions. Almost all of the children are anemic and far behind their normal growth rate. However, parents who have adopted from Russia confirm that the children catch up quickly, often surpassing their peers.

“Our next step is to wait. It’s the hardest step of all. We are involved in a support group with similar couples to help us through the waiting process.

“We can only pray that nothing happens to further inflame an already sensitive situation.”

TOP STORY>> Austin gets ready for boom

IN SHORT: Town sees 25 percent population growth, could see much more as developers hope to build 850 new homes and 40 duplexes.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

Austin, which lies between Ward and Cabot and has for years been threatened with annexation by its neighbors, is on the verge of growing large enough to put an end to all that talk.

Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain estimates the city’s population at 800, up about 200 from the 2000 census. But now, developers have moved in with plans to build more than 850 houses and 40 duplexes. When they are all completed and sold, Austin’s population could theoretically grow from 800 to more than 2,500, three times its current size.

“I knew Austin would grow, but I never thought it would grow this fast,” said Chamberlain, who admits the city has growing pains. The city’s water and sewer systems are too small to accommodate some of the subdivisions, but those problems are being addressed now.

The city will need more police officers, she said. A fire station is being planned for across the freeway and the city has applied for a grant for a new fire truck.

The land where Carriage Court and Weathering Heights subdivisions are to be built was already inside the city, off Ed Haymes Road. But three subdivisions, Quapaw, Shadow Creek and Orchard Estates, were annexed into the city this week.

Those three could just have easily gone to Cabot, which builds about 500 new homes a year. But developers chose Austin after a disagreement with Cabot over how much they should pay for sewer improvements.

Those annexations effectively ended Cabot’s growth on High-way 38, because the two cities are now adjacent.

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh has said he doesn’t necessarily see the loss of the subdivisions as a negative for Cabot. Instead, he says the people who move there without adequate fire protection should be worried.

Chamberlain says it is simply time for Austin to grow. Cabot is running out of room, she said. And while Cabot’s fire rating is better, making insurance rates lower, property tax is lower in Austin, she said.

Chamberlain said any talk of being swallowed up by Ward and Cabot is just talk as far as she is concerned. But some of the older people take it seriously, and they don’t like it.
“Austin has been here too long to be taken over,” she said. “The people here have stayed because they wanted to live in Austin. You don’t want to lose a town like that.”

TOP STORY>> Sales tax vote seen as crucial in Cabot

IN SHORT: Balloting would not only fund sewer plant but also other improvement projects.

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

It’s official. Cabot voters will get to decide Sept. 13 if they want to pay for a new sewer treatment plant with a rate increase or with an existing one-cent sales tax.

At the same time, voters will decide if they want to use the existing tax to pay for other projects in the city – a community center, railroad overpass, street improvements and an animal shelter.

Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, who opposes extending the sales tax to pay for the projects and held the power to veto the election ordinance the council passed last week, decided over the weekend he would not use that power.

“While it’s against what I believe, I thought it best to let it move forward,” Stumbaugh said Tuesday.

Besides, he said, he had to be realistic. There was no guarantee that the council didn’t have the six votes needed to override a veto.

Although Alderman David Polantz favors ending the tax because that was the promise made to city voters in 1999 when the tax was passed, and he voted against it last week, Stumbaugh pointed out that Polantz voted to allow the ordinance to be passed in one night instead of three nights and he voted for the emergency clause that would make it take effect immediately.

Therefore, it is conceivable that Polantz might have voted with the five who supported the ordinance to override a veto.

Stumbaugh agrees with Polantz, Jerry Stephens and Patrick Hutton, the three council members who voted against the ordinance, that the sales tax should sunset after the water bonds it supports are paid off and that sewer customers should pay for improvements to the system, not Cabot shoppers.

The sewer treatment plant has not worked properly since it was built, he said. And the city council should have taken steps to correct its problems years ago.

The council could have raised rates last year to begin the process of building a new plant but wouldn’t do it, he said.

And while they wait, the cost of materials keeps going up. Also, the city will be fined (probably less than $10,000) for failing to bring the existing plant into compliance with state standards.

“I will not be a part of those who let this thing continue on and on and cost the taxpayers thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars,” he said. “Since they can’t make a decision, I decided it was best to let the people make the decision.”

Alderman Eddie Cook, who along with Alderman Odis Waymack sponsored the ordinance calling for the election, said he intends to make the rounds of local civic organizations to build support for continuing the sales tax to pay for the sewer plant and other projects.

“You can’t argue with common sense,” Cook said. “You’re going to save $7.4 million in interest alone [compared to paying for the new plant with a rate increase]. It’s going to pay off so much earlier.”

Besides, he said, with a sales tax more people will help pay off the debt.
“We’re going to be asking the 70,000 people who live in a 30-mile radius to help pay for our facilities,” Cook said.

“And I hope everyone would realize that these projects we’ve tacked on will not add any significant time to the payoff of the loan,” he said.

Voters will be asked to approve about $28 million in debt to be supported by the existing one-cent tax: $7 million to pay off the existing bonds for improvement to the city’s water system which are supported by the tax; $16.5 million for the sewer treatment plant and repairs to the collection system; $800,000 for the railroad overpass; $1.5 million to build the community center that came in over budget; $1.8 million for street improvements and $200,000 to build at one time an animal shelter that was supposed to be built in stages.

Last month, Cabot voters turned down a millage increase that would have added about $20 to the property tax on a $100,000 home to pay for the overpass and community center.
Before that election, the Cabot School Board passed a resolution in support of the city’s efforts to raise money for those projects since both would benefit the school district.

The school’s swimming team will use the community center and the overpass would keep almost 30 buses a day from having to cross the tracks. The board has not yet spoken about support for continuing the sales tax.

But before the mayor had decided to not exercise his veto power, the new Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission was already making plans to inform voters about the good and bad points of both possible sources of paying for a new sewer plant.

“Conceptually, we’re going to put together a fact sheet of the pros and cons of the sales tax versus the rate increase, said Bill Cypert, one of the three members of the commission who also served for about six months as a member of its predecessor, the Cabot Public Utilities Commission.

The former commission went before the city council twice with ordinances calling for an election to continue the sales tax to pay for the plant. But it didn’t pass until Cook and Waymack added the additional projects.

Don Keesee, who along with Cypert and J.M. Park served on the first commission, said during a recent meeting that it should be clear to the public where they stand on paying for the plant with the sales tax, but Cypert said Tuesday the commission will try to remain non-political.

The first draft of the fact sheet should be ready for the commission to go over by the Thursday commission meeting, Cypert said.

Patti Patrick, a member of the city’s park commission which supports extending the sales tax to help build the community center, said the commission waited to see whether Stumbaugh would veto the ordinance.

Since he didn’t, the commission will have to get to work telling voters what it’s all about.

“The main thing now is to get out there and let the voters know what they’re voting on,” Patrick said.

TOP STORY>> BRAC finishes evaluation of bases

IN SHORT: Pentagon probes cost of C-130Js, asks Lockheed for documentation

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

With the future of Little Rock Air Force Base and scores of other installations hanging in the balance, the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) commission will wind up its site visits next week, ending three months of hearings throughout the U.S.

While many installations are fighting for their very survival, the Little Rock base is in line to expand its C-130 fleet by 60 aircraft and the number of on-base jobs by as many as 3,898, according to Defense Department recommendations.

North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole wants to keep the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope Air Force Base or else in a joint force at Ft. Bragg, also in her state. Under the Pentagon’s proposal, the 43rd Airlift Wing now at Pope would be shifted to Little Rock. About 4,300 airmen would be involved.

“While we continue to receive written data throughout the remainder of the process, it is critical that our review and analysis team is allowed the necessary time to thoroughly read, evaluate and incorporate the data that has, to date, been provided,” according to Anthony Principi, the panel chairman.

Commissioners are slated to meet with Air Force and Air Guard leaders Aug. 11 on Capital Hill to resolve lingering issues surrounding the Pentagon’s recommendation to take all aircraft from several Air National Guard bases.

The Arkansas Air National Guard, which is likely to lose its F-16 fighter wing at Ft. Smith, is expected to receive several state-of-the-art C-130Js at the Little Rock base it shares with the active Air Force, including those currently assigned to the Air Force at Little Rock AFB.

The commission’s recommendations are due to the White House by Sept. 8. President Bush has said he would sign those recommendations and forward them to Congress. Neither Congress nor the president can change the recommendations, but may only accept or reject them as a whole.

Meanwhile, although the C-130J may be back in the defense budget, at least three Defense Department investigations are underway regarding the price the government paid Lockheed Martin and the nature of the contract.

The Defense Department’s $4 billion contract for 60 planes was on the verge of extinction earlier this year, when the plane was reported to be too expensive with a spotty record of performing the functions for which it was designed.

To speed the acquisition pro-cess, the Air Force declared the C-130J to be a commercial item even though no commercial market for it exists. This meant that the Air Force was able to bypass federal truth-in-negotiating rules that require a contractor to give the government complete cost and pricing data.

In 1995, a basic C-130J cost $33.9 million. By 1998, it had risen to $49.7 million. Today, the cost is $66.5 million a plane, with some versions edging close to $90 million.
Watchdog groups lobbied for discontinuation of the program, while congressmen from Georgia, Arkansas, Indiana and some other states with a financial stake in the C-130J program, argued that the plane had overcome its flaws.

They added the plane was needed in the war on terrorism and in the future to replace the aging C-130 cargo fleet that plays such a large role in transporting and supplying troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other places.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been critical of the commercial-style contract between the Air Force and Lockheed, and has been active in investigating that relationship.

The Pentagon expects to complete the conversion of Lockheed Martin’s $4.1 billion C-130J cargo aircraft contract into a more highly regulated defense contract by Nov. 15, new chief weapons buyer Kenneth Krieg said in mid- July.

This is significant to central Arkansas residents because Little Rock Air Force Base is considered the premier C-130 base in the world, and C-130 crews and maintainers from the U.S. and abroad are trained there.

Those conducting reviews and investigators are the Defense Department’s Inspector General, the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

To critics of the plane, Air Force officials have announced that this summer the C-130J made its first combat airdrop successfully, and the weather version of the plane has performed properly in tropical storms and hurricanes.