Friday, September 16, 2005

White House disappoints

by Ernie Dumas

Gov. Huckabee has been an unstintingly loyal Republican, sticking with the Bush White House for four and a half years on its most dubious and least defensible quests. For this most political presidency, that kind of allegiance ordinarily has proved to be the supreme test when the spoils are passed around, and it must account for the governor's pique at the administration this week.

No state has enlisted in the humanitarian effort to relieve the suffering of the victims of Hurricane Katrina like Arkansas. Texas has borne a larger burden in the aggregate, but it pales to Arkansas' sacrifice on a per-capita basis. Arkansas – the state, schools and local governments, its churches, its charitable institutions and countless thousands of individuals – made a Herculean effort to bring balm to the northward flow of suffering humanity from the stricken coast. Huckabee did what the president and his men should have done: The governor declared that the full resources of the state would be dedicated to help and he threw his office and himself into the task.

But when the governor and the congressional delegation asked Washington for a little help last week, they got a cold shoulder, a very cold shoulder. Texas got all the money that wasn't being spent on the coast. So much for political fealty.
Huckabee, unlike Asa Hutchinson, the all-but-official Republican candidate to succeed him, complained early on about the heedless inefficiency of the hapless Federal Emergency Management Agency and then backed off a bit. But then early the past week, an astonished Huckabee reported, a FEMA official called him to ask if any of the coastal refugees were in Arkansas. Only about 75,000. It made no difference. No financial help from the agency was forthcoming.

When the governor called Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security secretary, who it is becoming clear was the biggest bungler in the whole scandalous operation, Chertoff told him in no uncertain terms that he would surrender no authority to the governor to direct relief in Arkansas. Federal documents this week disclosed that it was not the political hack who was forced out as head of FEMA last week but Chertoff himself who had the power to mobilize a massive response to the hurricane but who chose not to.

Thirty-six hours after the storm moved inland, Chertoff shuffled the duty off to poor Michael (Brownie) Brown, the FEMA director. We would like to think that Huckabee dropped his clerical mantle and gave him a piece of his mind.
As soon as the refugees began pouring into the state by car, bus and airlift, the state applied for a $30 million national emergency grant from the Department of Labor.

Wednesday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was told that after they took care of Texas they had nothing left for Arkansas. The administration just drained the account.

Thursday night, the president made a well-staged but impressive speech in New Orleans' Jackson Square in which he promised a reconstruction effort unmatched in history and federal compensation to states that helped.

So Arkansas may yet be made whole for its Good Samaritan sacrifices. But a good speech has not proved to be a contract with this administration. We have a hunch that the governor's frustrations with his party and its chief are not behind him.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

EDITORIAL >> How to hold down the water rates

Central Arkansas Water at long last will begin condemnation of the 760 acres along Lake Maumelle that Deltic Timber Corp. wants to turn into a luxury subdivision, the giant timber and development company having refused to negotiate on a sale price. We take that as a happy, not an unfortunate, circumstance.

A jury of 12 good men and women will almost certainly arrive at a fairer price for both the developer and the taxpayers of central Arkansas than will the developer and the board that governs the water company. The utility offered Deltic a whopping $3.8 million — $5,000 an acre — for the rocky mountainside land, and it gave the impression that it was willing to pay more, maybe much more. Deltic considered that sum ridiculously low and refused to make a counter-offer.

Deltic, of course, wants to stall until the next legislative session, where it might have the extra clout to stop the utility and the courts from condemning the land. The water company says the high-dollar development will pollute the lake right at the intake of our water supply and that it would require a huge investment by the utility and its customers to keep the water suitable for drinking. There was speculation that the developer might seek as much as $20 million for the land to recoup a good bit of the fortune that it expects to make from building the pricey subdivision.

We are indebted to Frank Lambright, the retired Little Rock insurance executive, for demonstrating expertly the rip-off of water customers that we have feared was about to happen. For a quarter-century Lambright has carried on a one-man crusade to get people to see what happened to them with the enactment of Amendment 59 to the state Constitution in 1980. The amendment, sold to voters as a way to avoid a sharp increase in their homeowner taxes, carried a stealth provision. It virtually ended taxation of some of the most valuable property in Arkansas. Instead of being taxed on its true market value like your home or business, rural land would forever be taxed upon its productive, or use, value.

Lambright went to the county assessment and collection records and found that Deltic in the last tax year paid a grand total of $293.26 in school, county and city taxes on the 760 acres, about 38 cents an acre. Deltic acquired thousands of acres of scrubby land outside Little Rock’s western fringe in the expectation of making tens of millions of dollars in profits on its development and sale as the city exploded westward.
While the El Dorado-based company has paid 38 cents an acre in taxes, Lambright figures, the Arkansas homeowner pays an average of more than $1 per square foot — that is per square foot, not per acre - in property taxes.

Deltic has tried to frighten everyone in central Arkansas to its side by suggesting that the water company will have to raise its monthly water rate in order to buy the disputed land and other acreage like it to protect the reservoir. It seeks to make that prophecy self-fulfilling.

If the land is barred by public policy from being used for high-density development then a circuit court jury would be perfectly justified in finding that the land’s market value is not $20 million or even $3.8 million but exactly what the corporation considered the land worth when it went down every year to pay taxes on its worth. What could be fairer than that?

EDITORIAL >> Thousands for rodeos, but none for schools

The week could have gone much better for the state’s lawyers, who are trying to demonstrate that the legislature and the governor met their constitutional obligations to Arkansas’s 450,000 public school children this spring.

First, the schools’ lawyers got hold of emails from the loose-talking deputy attorney general, who ridiculed the justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court who are demanding that the legislature do what the Constitution has said for 130 years that they must do: provide a suitable and equal education for all children.
The deputy, who is directing the defense of the legislature’s and Gov. Huckabee’s anemic response to the court’s order, suggested that the state might want to amend the Constitution and remove every shred of defense of school children.

That would show the court. Attorney General Mike Beebe and lawmakers had to try to explain away the young man’s impolitic remarks.

And then there was the evidence presented to the two masters who were appointed by the Supreme Court to gather evidence on what had been done to see that children got the education promised them in the state’s basic law. It has so far been overwhelmingly against the state. Neither the state’s attorneys nor Education Department officials have had even a weak justification for the legislature’s freezing per-pupil aid this year when school costs, including energy, are skyrocketing and state revenues and surpluses are ballooning.

As for school facilities, the other half of the state’s monumental failing, the state’s best explanation for appropriating only a tiny fraction of the institutional needs that were verified by lawmakers and the governor themselves was that providing more money might create more work than private contractors could handle. And money was tight, they said.

But Sam Jones, the attorney for the Pulaski County Special School District, uncharitably asked why the legislature could not find $374,000 for desperately needed safety work on the Charleston schools but handily wrote a check for $110,000 for a private rodeo in the Franklin County town.

The rodeo grant was part of the legislative grab bag called the General Improvement Fund. The schools’ lawyers summoned other ridiculous appropriations from that long list until the state's attorneys pleaded for it to stop. The masters then allowed the school attorneys their three ‘favorites’ — the most hilarious illustrations of taxpayer-financed pork - and then ordered the lawyers to move on.

Judicial decorum can tolerate only a certain amount of hilarity, or tears.

TOP STORY >> Relief pours into LRAFB

Leader staff writer

On the tarmac at Little Rock Air Force Base, a C-130 from Egypt sits side-by-side with an Israeli El Al 747, both having discharged emergency hurricane relief aid headed to Louisiana and Mississippi, part of a virtual United Nations of air transports.

By Friday, 24 foreign relief flights had landed at the base, designated as the hub for international relief, according to Lt. Jon Quinlan, a base spokesman. He said another eight inbound flights were scheduled.
The base had received 1,000 tons of relief supplies as of Friday morning, he said.
In Brussels, Belgium, Friday, member nations voted to use NATO ships and aircraft to hurry aid to the hurricane victims, according to published reports.

Using converted passenger aircraft, this will be the first time the new NATO Response Force has been used for a humanitarian mission.

Other countries sending emergency relief to Little Rock Air Force Base most recently included China, Russia, Den-mark, India, Thailand and Tunisia.

Meanwhile, the base’s C-130s have flown 30 missions in Operation Katrina, including the delivery of supplies and Guardsmen and transport of 206 evacuees, according to Quinlan.

The 314th Airlift Wing has 38 airmen deployed into the area, he said.
“The Air Force is happy to take this cargo on and participate in support of Operation Katrina,” said Quinlan. “This is a testament of the importance of the base.”

A 747 with 100 tons of goods from China arrived Wednesday and included bedding, clothes, tents and generators.
“This was a chance to show our sympathy and support and to show that we’re standing with Americans,” China Consul General Hu Yeshun said.

The location of Little Rock Air Force Base and its airlift experience make receiving the international aid missions possible, Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Reheiser said during his final week as 314 Airlift Wing commander.
“We have a great location plus we have the infrastructure here at Little Rock Air Force Base,” Reheiser said.
“We have a huge ramp and we have people who are trained to off load planes. Our airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base continuously train to move people and supplies. This life-saving effort puts our training into action by helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“Our airmen have played a vital role in this process and are working hard to provide relief to our Southern neighbors.”

TOP STORY >> CAW goes full-steam ahead with land push

Leader staff writer

Even as work begins in earnest on a Lake Maumelle Watershed Man-agement Plan, lawyers for Central Arkansas Water are preparing to file a condemnation lawsuit against Deltic Timber, which wants to develop mini-estates on 700 acres on the lake.

At CAW’s July board meeting, commissioners postponed filing the condemnation suit until the Sept. 8 meeting, opting to let lawyers for the two groups try to negotiate an agreement.

Deltic declined CAW’s offer of $3.8 million for its acreage and declined to make a counteroffer, so when the board convened Tuesday, the original authorization to proceed with condemnation remained in force by default, according to Bruno Kirsh, CAW’s chief operating officer. No commission action was required.
“Our marching or-ders are to move forward with getting the suit filed,” said Sam Ledbetter, a lawyer representing CAW.

Ledbetter said it was too early to know when he would file, but Jim Harvey, CEO of the water utility said he believed the suit would be filed by the end of the month. Deltic spokes-man Craig Douglass could not be reached for comment Friday.

Meanwhile, both the Lake Maumelle Watershed Policy Advisory Council and the Technical Advisory Council each met with consultants from Tetra Tech Inc., the contractor conducting the study. Deltic had hoped to postpone condemnation proceedings until the 18-month study was completed.


In other action, the commission approved spending as much as $160,000 on the estimated $1.6 million project to improve the Brushy Island water system. Jacksonville waterworks has al-ready agreed to pay for 77 percent of the installation of the 24-inch line — about $412,000 — and Sherwood will pay $170,000, according to Jim Ferguson, director of engineering.

The Brushy Island Water Association share is $898,000, for which they hope to get funding from the state Soil and Water Conservation Commiss-ion.

Jacksonville was going to bring its CAW pipe through Brushy Island by 2010, but agreed to proceed with the first part in exchange for $50,000 worth of engineering from CAW.

The commission also approved its $35,000 share of a $152,000 engineering contract to run about 7,000 feet of 24- and 30-inch water line along Hwy. 107 from Kellogg Creek to Bayou Meto, according to Ferguson, while Jacksonville, North Pulaski and Cabot will share the remainder. The commission also accepted a $1.26 million bid by Henley Construction Co. of Harri-son to install about 18,000 feet of water main in North Little Rock, Sherwood and Pulaski County, including installation of 14 new fire hydrants.

TOP STORY >> Change of command

Leader staff writer

Brig. Gen. Kip Self took command of Little Rock Air Force Base Friday, even as transport planes from around the world ferried tons of Hurricane Katrina relief supplies to the base for distribution further south.
With the symbolic passing of the 314th Airlift Wing’s colors from Brig. Gen. Joseph Reheiser to Major Gen. Edward R. Ellis, and from Ellis to Self, the command passed in front of the new C-130J hangar before hundreds of airmen, guests and officials.

Ellis, commander of the 19th Air Force, presided over the ceremony and also awarded Reheiser with the Legion of Merit with an oak leaf cluster for the leadership he asserted in bringing many awards and honors to the base during his two-year tenure.

Self steps in as the base serves as the hub for an intensive international relief effort, with planes from NATO and nations around the world rushing supplies and equipment to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Having just arrived on base, Self said he had confidence in the airmen in his command to handle the ongoing effort, which includes landing and unloading the planes and loading the cargo onto 18-wheelers.
“You show up, learn, and trust your people,” Self said. “First you learn, then you lead.”

Reheiser is headed to Yokota, Japan Air Base, where he will serve as vice commander of the 5th Air Force.
While Reheiser served the customary two-year rotation as Little Rock Air Force Base commander, both Self and Ellis said the 314th Airlift Wing’s accomplishments on his watch were anything but ordinary.
Ellis praised Reheiser’s leadership of the international relief effort, his wing’s domination of the Airlift rodeo, including best airdrop crew and best maintenance crew, the base’s excellent rating and its being named readiness base of the year.

Reheiser and his wife Donna were also honored as best wing commander and spouse in the Air Education and Training Command.

Before relinquishing command, Reheiser reviewed his troops one final time, passing one group saying that although it was graded satisfactory, he considered it “the best maintenance group in the Air Force.”
Reheiser and Self graduated in the same U.S. Air Force Academy class.

Self comes to Arkansas after serving as the deputy director of operations, with headquarters at Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he oversaw 14 divisions and eight operating locations producing policy procedures and lead command guidance to sustain and improve many outfits for America’s Global Reach mission.

He has held a variety of flying assignments as a helicopter and C-141 instructor pilot.
His staff assignments include political-military planner on the joint staff and country director in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

He has commanded the 16th Airlift Squadron and the 621st Air Mobility Operations Group.
Self was deployed as director of mobility forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was commander of expeditionary air forces at Kuwait City.
He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in a variety of aircraft. Self said he has never flown a C-130, but looks forward to the opportunity.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster and Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
He and the former Sue M. Battle have three children.

In his remarks, Ellis told Self: “There may be other communities that support their bases as well (as the local community does) but none better.” Of Reheiser, he said, “Farewell to a great leader. You should be proud of the leadership you exhibited.”

He also said Donna Reheiser’s fingerprints are all over the base and community. “You’ll be missed too,” he said. “Self is the perfect replacement, he’s a combat-tested warrior and leader,” Ellis said.
“He moved three divisions and 150,000 marines through Kuwait. He’s no stranger to big responsibility. He’s a leader cut from the same mold as Joe Reheiser.”

Praising his airmen for all they had accomplished over the past two years, including the Airlift rodeo accomplishments, Reheiser said, “You need only look at the ramp today to see you’re still in the arena. I couldn’t be prouder.”

In his remarks, Self said he asked his wife what he should talk about. “About two minutes,’ she said, ‘then get off stage,’” he said.



Dicous E. Ivy, 67, of Beebe was born Feb. 14, 1938, to Leonard and Edith Ivy, and died Sept. 9.
He is survived by one son, Ricky and wife Carol of Tucson, Ariz.; one brother, Bill Ivy and wife Jan of Beebe; two grandchildren, R. J. and Ashley; one great-grandchild, Jazlin; and four nieces and nephews.
Graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Antioch Cemetery. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home of Beebe.


Robert E. Wright, 74, of Beebe, was born Jan. 11, 1931 in Wiville, to Chester and Edith Wright. He died Sept. 6.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Frances; a daughter, Susan Wilson and husband, Mike of Beebe, two grandsons, Jason and Matt Wilson both of Beebe; two brothers, Troy Wright and wife, Eloise and Benny Wright and wife, Doris all of McCrory; one sister, Irma Rhea Foss of New York and a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were held Sept. 9 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadow-brook Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made to Beebe Presbyterian Memorial Scholarship Fund, 907 W. College, Beebe, AR 72012, or American Cancer Society, 901 North University, Little Rock, AR 72207.
Arrangements were by West-brook Funeral Home of Beebe.


Jefferson Davis Guess, Jr., formerly of Cabot, passed away Sept. 12 at Bakersfield, Calif.
Arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home (843-5816) are pending.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Ground Zero marks fourth anniversary

NEW YORK — Susan Stewart Tillier walked along the perimeter of Ground Zero early Sunday afternoon after she had read out loud the name of her brother, Richard H. Stewart, Jr., along with the names of several others who were killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

It was the end of a four-hour ceremony on a bright late-summer day commemorating the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
This was the first time the anniversary fell on Sunday, and thousands of people surrounded the fenced-in site, which is now a huge pit, while hundreds of relatives read the first, middle and last names of their loved ones, often ending with a personal note about how much they missed them and then threw a kiss up to the sky before they let the next group read more names.
Many of the relatives at the ceremony were little children, who hardly knew their parents when they were killed.

Susan Tillier, of Bloomington, N.C., was at the memorial with her cousin Tom Krieger, who was holding a large, framed color photograph of Richard Stewart, a 35-year-old stockbroker who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the north building at the World Trade Center.

That building was the second one hit but the first one to fall.
“When the first plane hit,” Susan Tillier told us, “he called his parents in Delaware. ‘Dad, I don’t know what happened,’ he told him. ‘There’s black smoke outside the window. Tell Mom I love her.’”
Tillier was living in Warsaw when she heard about the attack on the Twin Towers and found out Richard had been killed.

“He was my only brother,” she continued tearfully. “They discovered some of his remains. He is buried in North Carolina.”
It was his wish to be buried there, she said.
Nearby, anti-war protesters were arguing with the police. An older man who was dressed in red, white and blue from head to toe held up the American flag was shouting, “God Bless America.”
More than 200 British police officers in their crisp uniforms were also there, representing every police department in Britain. Sgt. Steve Gartside and Sgt. Tommy Simpson of the Manchester Police Department said they were there to show their solidarity with the people of New York.
“We come here every year,” Gartside said, reminding us that terrorists attacked London’s transportation system.

At night, two blue streaks of light brightened up the sky near Ground Zero on the southern tip of Manhattan, symbolizing the twin towers. Called “Tribute in Light,” the beams are white but look blue against the night sky. They are turned on during the anniversary of 9/11 and serve as a memorial since nothing permanent has been built yet.

Looking down the Avenue of the Americas in lower Manhattan, you could see the two columns of light radiating from the ground to the sky just a couple of miles away, but the light seemed much closer.
It was at this spot where our youngest daughter stood when the first tower was attacked. The burning skyscraper must have looked as if a neighbor’s house across the street was on fire.
At my son’s Brooklyn apartment, you can walk up a wooden ladder to the rooftop, where the blue streaks of light seem almost as close.

Four years ago, a few miles away, he stood at the East River minutes after the first attack and watched the second building collapse across the river, sending clouds of dust over the water in less than a minute, forcing onlookers to flee.

Americans have had much to mourn in recent years, from terrorist attacks to natural disasters. Almost everywhere you turn, you meet someone who has lost a loved one because of terrorism or has fled Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Hurricane Katrina or is there helping the victims.
On a Brooklyn street on Saturday, we met an 83-year-old retired Boston detective named John O’Connor, who wore a small American flag on his shirt collar.

He told us Libyan terrorists had killed his 31-year-old son, an engineer, along with 269 other passengers, when they blew up Pan Am Flight 104 over Lockerbie, Scot-land, in December 1988.
“Khadafi killed my son,” he said.

The old detective was holding back tears and said he thinks about his son every day. Then he looked at me and my son and said we should take good care of each other.

SPORTS >> N. Pulaski remembers last season at Lonoke

Leader sports staff

North Pulaski will host a battle of the hungry teams searching for their first victory when the Lonoke Jackrabbits travel to Jacksonville to face the Falcons on Friday night.

Last year’s game was a shootout, with Lonoke winning after a couple of controversial calls. A North Pulaski touchdown was called back when officials called a defensive delay of game on Lonoke, a penalty North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon disputes..

“Defensive delay of game does exist,” Bohan-non said. “It results in a forfeit. It’s called when the defense fails to return to the field after a timeout. The one they called I’ve never heard of. They just made one up that night.”

It was one of two calls that has the Falcons rehashing last year’s game. The other was a block in the back call during a kickoff return for a touchdown by Rodric Rainey.
“We have the film on that game, and the official that threw the flag wasn’t anywhere near what was going on. He was about 25 yards behind the play, and from where he was, there’s no way he could have seen anything. There was no penalty on that play.”

Bohannon also says his team has brought it up this week.
“There’s a couple that are talking about it,” Bohannon said. “They all remember it, and if they don’t remember it, they know about it. I don’t know how much of a factor it will be as far as motivation, but it’s been brought up a couple times.”

Both teams are looking for momentum to get their seasons on track. Lonoke is coming off a heart-breaking loss at the hands of Beebe. Lonoke had the lead and the ball late in the game, but a turnover deep in their own territory gave the Badgers a second chance. The Badgers used the opportunity, as well as using up the clock, to steal the game away from the Jackrabbits in their home opener.

North Pulaski has had even less to cheer about so far in 2005, losing their season opener to Little Rock Hall 44-0, and last week’s meeting against crosstown rival Jacksonville 44-7. Although the losses have not been close, they have both been against class AAAAA programs. Facing a class AAA team this week could be considered a break for North Pulaski, but that’s not how Bohannon looks at it.
“They’re not quite as big as they were last year, but they’re pretty good,” Bohannon said. “They’re still capable of putting a lot of points on the board. They had a bad break against Beebe that I think cost them the game.”

While he’s not taking Lonoke lightly, he does recognize some differences between the AAA school and the two AAAAA schools his team has already played.
“Sizewise I think we match up better with them than the other two we’ve played,” Bohannon said. “We’re not going to be dwarfed down inside like we have been.”
Lonoke had high expectations going into this season, with their sights on a conference title. While two non-conference losses does not necessarily put that out of reach, it is obvious at this point that the Jackrabbits will have to step things up on both sides of the ball before facing conference powerhouses Central Arakansas Christian and Pulaski Academy.

Much of the Lonoke offense has revolved around senior tailback Walter Ellis. Ellis scored all of Lonoke’s points in the Beebe contest, and carried the ball over 20 times. Ellis has rushed for over 250 yards so far this season. Beebe seemed to get Ellis’ number rather early last Friday, holding him to less than three yards on several carries, but he still ran for over 100 yards.

The biggest variable in Lonoke’s offense will be the passing game. Quarterback Byron Jackson led a passing attack that looked promising in the pre-season, but so far hasn’t produced like head coach Marcel Vincent was expecting in the regular season.

“We have to execute better, that’s the bottom line,” Vincent said. “I think confidence will be a major factor for us, especially after a tough loss like last week. It was a great ball game, but losing like that can really take the wind out of your sails.”

SPORTS >> Cabot fighting for first win

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers suffered one of the most surprisng losses in school history last week when they lost to Mills 35-28.

Cabot collapsed in the fourth quarter like no Panthers team in recent memory, and as a result, could start the season 0-3 for the first time since 1978.
In order to avoid starting 0-3, the Panthers must beat a Little Rock Central team that is also surprisingly winless this season.

Central suffered a big loss to West Memphis in week one, 27-10, then fell 14-9 to a Pine Bluff team that was embarrassed in its opener against Fort Smith Northside.
Cabot coach Mike Malham isn’t worried about Central’s troubles right now though. He is only concerned with how to make the Panthers better.

It starts with getting all the youngsters who have been forced into duty up to speed on playing the right way.
The defensive backfield is particularly young, and injuries have made that area even more problematic than it already was to start the season.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing right now, and we’re going to have to get them ready to play,” Malham said. “We had a couple mistakes back there where they just ran right by us, and that comes mostly from inexperience. The kids are just not in the right spot and not making good decisions. We’re trying to piece it together.”

This year’s Panthers are also one of the slowest, as far as team speed, in a while. Lack of speed can be overcome, but it takes playing smart, Malham said.

“We’re not real fast and Central’s got good athletes,” Malham said. “We knew going into last week that if we let their speed guys get outside and get loose we were going to be in trouble. Well, that happened and we’ve got to find a way to keep it from happening again.”
Central has a more balanced attack than Mills, but Malham doesn’t believe the style of his opponent is the major concern right now.

“Well, Conway beat us with the pass and Mills beat us with the run, so take your pick (on what Central will do).

The injury report continues to get worse for Cabot as well. Only one new player was added to that list this week, but it was a big one.

Starting halfback Alec Tripp has a shoulder injury and probably won’t play Friday. Tripp has been the Panthers’ most productive back so far this season.

Malham didn’t say who would likely fill in for Tripp against Central.

NEIGHBORS >> Cabot High School FFA remembers founding member

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Future Farmers of America Advisory Committee has created a leadership fund to continue the legacy of founding member Larry W. Sims of Ward.
Sims passed away Aug. 25.

“The Larry W. Sims Leadership Fund was established because it’s really something he felt we needed to have,” said Keith Woodrow, a Cabot agriculture teacher.
The fund will be overseen by the FFA Advisory Committee and distributed to support leadership development opportunities on a merit or need basis. Arkansas State University-Beebe is also establishing the Larry W. Sims Agriculture Scholarship.

Sims was a 1959 graduate of Cabot High School and graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in agriculture.
He was a field inspector for the Arkansas State Plant Board for over 38 years.
He belonged to Austin Station Baptist Church, was a founding member of the Grand Prairie Water Users Association and was an Air Force veteran.

Sims dedicated over 20 years of his life to providing Cabot High School FFA members with college scholarships, promoting agricultural career choices and leading by example.
He participated in many of the Cabot High School FFA fund-raisers such as cooking steaks, holding auctions or selling fruit.

“Larry and I worked together for a long time,” said Delbert Wisdom, an Arkansas State Plant Board field agriculture supervisor.

“He was always dependable. Anytime the FFA had fund-raisers he’d come around with tickets or fruit, or whatever they were selling to ask, ‘How many do you want?’”
Sims’ focus wasn’t the money, but the students were helped by it.
“Larry would take the time to talk to the students.

“He always encouraged students to pursue careers in agriculture and further their education.”
Currently there are about 400 students enrolled in agriculture classes at Cabot High School.
“The fund is going to help a lot of students,” Woodrow said.
Donations to the Larry W. Sims Leadership Fund can be mailed to Cabot FFA Chapter, 401 N. Lincoln, Cabot, Ark., 72023.

Donations to the Larry Sims Agricultural Scholarship can be mailed to the ASU-Beebe Office of Advance-ment, P.O. Box 1000, Beebe, Ark., 72012.

EDITORIAL >> Bushes’ silver lining

The Bush family needs to invest in sensitivity training if not a more elemental character-building program.
While the whole country — the whole world, literally — watched the horrors unfolding in the streets and arenas of New Orleans, President Bush showed up for a photo-op on the Mississippi coast to lend his moral support to U. S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., whose big manse was splintered by Hurricane Katrina along with thousands of humbler dwellings in the storm’s path.

“Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott’s house — he’s lost his entire house — there’s going to be a fantastic house,” the president announced for the cameras. “And I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch.”
With his accumulated wealth, insurance, Washington home and Senate salary and perks, Lott sure enough should be able to rebuild nicely. That must have lifted the spirits of thousands of homeless and jobless people scattered in shelters, parks and homes across the country.

Then his mother, Barbara, who is said to be furious at criticism of her son’s handling of the disaster’s aftermath, made an appearance at the Astrodome at Houston, where tens of thousands of refugees from the coast were sheltered. Mrs. Bush said that many of the refugees “were underprivileged anyway,” and she suggested that they were better off now than before the hurricane and floods. She found it “scary” that lots of the penniless refugees might want to stay in Texas because they had found things so nice there and Texans so hospitable.
She could have added, “Let them eat cake.”

EDITORIAL >> Co-ops vs. predators

On Oct. 1, the Arkansas State Electric Cooperatives Corp. will increase its wholesale rates by 3.8 percent, its first increase in 20 years. In the same period the coop lowered — yes, lowered — its wholesale rate for electricity seven times.

We mention that modest little rate increase and the historical trivia because it seems to be an immutable law that energy costs, driven by economic forces beyond our ken and our power in this poor little state, must always go up. The co-ops apparently don’t grasp the law.

Meantime, the energy we buy from investor-owned utilities like Centerpoint Energy (formerly Arkansas Louisiana Gas Co.), Arkansas Western Gas Co., Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. and Entergy Corp. (formerly Arkansas Power and Light Co. and its sisters) keeps going up much faster than the Consumer Price Index.

Centerpoint Energy, the California and Texas giant that acquired Arkla, wants to double the base rate on its 430,000 customers in Arkansas, on top of a 50 percent increase in 2003. State auditors found the company’s figures stupefyingly clumsy and suggested that its base rates be slashed instead by $13 million a year. The Public Service Commission has not acted yet.

That big increase in the base rate does not include a large part of your monthly gas bill, which is the price of gas acquired by the company for resale to you, which it can pass along to you without having to justify it to state regulators. The gas-purchase adjustment shows up as a line on your gas bill.
The two regional utilities serving northwestern Arkansas are seeking big rate increases, too. The big guy, Centerpoint, provides them the cover.

Gil Glover, a utility counsel for the legislature, told lawmakers last week that after a 105 percent increase in residential gas prices in the past decade, Arkansas was no longer a low-cost gas state, as it once was. Spot prices for natural gas, he said, are nearly a dollar a thousand cubic feet above the national average. And Arkansas is in one of the largest gas-producing states and the state with the lowest severance tax on natural gas in the country —the virtually invisible rate of three-tenths of a penny per thousand cubic feet. So it is not confiscatory taxes, which the corporate apologists like to blame for exploding costs.
The huge run-up in wellhead and retail prices occurred after the major gas distribution company, Arkla, sold out to a big conglomerate — one with a record of energy supply and price manipulation — and after a relaxation of state regulation. This may be just a coincidence, but you will have trouble convincing us. The state makes little effort to go beyond the gas-purchase figures supplied by the companies, and state law is already generous in its treatment of the pricing of company-produced gas.

John Bethel, executive director of the state Public Service Commission, told the legislature’s Joint Committee on Energy that gas bills in Arkansas were apt to go up 50 percent or more this winter, compared with last winter. Some of it will be owing to the disruption of gas supply by Hurricane Katrina — all economic problems will be blamed on Katrina for a while, just as they were blamed on 9/11 for years — but Bethel acknowledged that companies would be jacking up residential gas rates without Katrina. Bethel stoutly defended the utilities, which he said were virtually powerless in the face of uncontrollable market forces. No one is to blame. Gas was just meant to be unaffordable for working folks.

Here is a slightly heartening note. A bunch of the lawmakers were not buying the powerlessness ideas. Rep. John Paul Verkamp, a thoughtful Republican from Greenwood, was particularly nettled at the idea that prices were skyrocketing, particularly for residential customers, and that the state regulatory agency could not do anything about it. “The residential class has been left behind,” Verkamp declared. When an Arkansas lawmaker, and a Republican, talks like that, there may be hope.

TOP STORY >> Evacuees receiving hope

Leader managing editor

The pride in Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim’s voice is evident.
He’s not only pleased with the way the community re-sponded to help the influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, but he’s overwhelmingly satisfied with the way the help was initiated and continues to take place.
“You always have a lot of pride when the citizens of the community do good things and this has definitely been a real good thing,” Swaim said.

“We’ve had a situation where we’ve had to step up and it’s been gratifying to see the generosity in so many different ways.

“We’ve had situations before where we’ve had to set up shelters to help people locally with ice storms, but this time we’ve had local people helping others from outside of this area. It’s just been so gratifying.”
According to Angie Mitchell, volunteer with the Jacksonville hurricane relief center, approximately 400 evacuees are staying in Jacksonville, with 20 families still staying in motels in the city.

Approximately 120 evacuees attended and 30 to 40 volunteers attended a special informational seminar Monday night at the Jacksonville Comm-unity Center where representatives from Social Security, FEMA, workforce services, HUD, Arkansas Department of Health, local banks, insurance companies and the Jacksonville Housing Authority fielded questions and signed people up for various services.
FishNet Missions, a Christian missionary organization, provided a meal for the group.
“The evacuees were able to ask questions and get certain concerns addressed,” said Anabelle Davis, Jacksonville marketing and public relations manager.

“Representatives from the different organizations and companies went around the room and met with the families.”

Monday’s meeting was just another service that the city of Jacksonville has provided to help the evacuees, Swaim said.

The third job fair in recent weeks will take place Thursday at the Jacksonville Community Cen-ter. The hurricane relief center, on South James Street coordinated by Mary Lou Gall, continues to field volunteers working daily to meet needs.

“It’s been very rewarding for me to see how generous the citizens have been, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Swaim said. “There are people out there volunteering on a daily basis when they should be at work and they should be taking care of their own family and their own needs. It’s just been an all-out community effort. Local churches have been outstanding and the chamber of commerce has played a huge role in this.”
And most of the work has been funded by donations, Swaim said.

“We didn’t go out begging for help immediately,” Swaim said. “We were able to get started immediately without any state or federal aid, and at this point, we’re not going to file for anything.
“We’ve had generous donations of money and we’re going to use that, and the city did appropriate funds that may be necessary.”

Goods and volunteers are still needed, Davis said.
“We have plenty of clothing available, but what we need are housing, housekeeping things,” Davis said. “People who get new places to stay need chairs to sit on, a bed to sleep in, pots, pans, knives, forks, small appliances, those kinds of things.

“Plus, Mary Lou is going to need a new round of volunteers in the future. The ones who have been working every day are getting tired.”

Other items that are needed include paper plates, paper cups, brooms, dust pans, mops, buckets, cleaning supplies, washers, dryers, irons and ironing boards.

TOP STORY >> Guard helps victims

Leader staff writer

NEW ORLEANS — Unimaginable, un-thinkable and chaotic are just a few words used by Col. Richard Swan, commander for Joint Task Force Arkansas in New Orleans, to describe the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Swan, the chief of staff for operations at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, is commanding a workforce of troops from the Arkansas National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, the 188th Fighter Wing, the 35th Aviation Brigade, the 39th Infantry Brigade and the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade.

“The level of destruction is unimaginable, and the amount of human suffering is unthinkable,” Swan said.
Upon his arrival in New Orleans on Sept. 1, Swan oversaw the evacuation of about 16,000 people from the New Orleans Convention Center.

“It was heartbreaking to see people, pregnant women, elderly in wheelchairs, in those cramped, squalid conditions without food, water and toilets,” said Lt. Col. John Edwards of the 39th Infantry Brigade. “We had no problems from the people at the convention center and that’s more people than are in most Arkansas towns.”
In addition to evacuating the masses at the convention center, the troops provided medical attention.
“We had to patch up a few people there,” said Spc. Jason Mote of Searcy, in New Orleans with the 153rd Infantry Battalion. “We got out 15 dead. There were two decomposing bodies right there when we arrived. I was standing in a puddle from their bodies and didn’t even know it.”

New Orleans has been divided up into sectors patrolled by National Guard units from across the country. Currently, Joint Task Force Arkansas personnel patrol Metairie, La., in Jefferson Parish, enforcing a 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew. So far, troops have only confiscated one pistol. The Guardsmen are also handing out food, water, ice and supplies such as toilet paper and diapers at the Operation Lifeline Depot inside the Robert Wallace Memorial Volunteer Fire Department in nearby Avondale. Ten other Operation Lifeline Depot sites are open across the parish.

“People are finding out about us by word of mouth,” said Lt. Col. Chris Rowzee of Jacksonville, who serves as the officer in charge of all Arkansas Air Guard operations for the task force.
Like many troops, Rowzee has visited New Orleans before.

“I’ll miss the culture and history in downtown. You can’t rebuild from something like this and keep that flavor,” she said.

Task Force Arkansas personnel are camped out at the Grace King School in Metairie. Electricity was restored to the building last week.
The damage from Hurricane Katrina will serve as the benchmark for natural disasters from now on, Swan told a group of reporters from Arkansas visiting the area on Wednesday.
“I think the amount of damage will be studied for a long time as how to respond to a superdisaster,” Swan said.

The work ahead for the military in New Orleans promises to be hot and tiring, but not without reward, the group said.

“What gives me hope is the resilience of the people in this area. Today people are moving around, cleaning up,” Swan said, adding that there is still much to do in other parts of the sprawling coastal city.
“The folks in Orleans Parish are just now seeing the roofs of their homes,” Swan said.

The military air traffic over the city is being handled by Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans. The 35th Aviation Brigade has been coordinating the helicopter traffic over the area. At any given time, there can be 50 helicopters over the city.
“We have everything out here, Marine Hueys, Army Blackhawks and Chinooks,” said Lt. Col. Mark Smedley of the 35th Aviation Brigade at Camp Robinson.

There are four remote air traffic control towers set up throughout the city. Smedley said there are more than 500 helicopter flights each day in the airspace over New Orleans. Elsewhere in Metairie, many homes were spared from looting simply because the houses were underwater until just two days ago. Troops like Staff Sgt. Bill Catton of Cabot suited up in white biohazard suits in the parking lot of a looted McDonald’s before conducting a “meet and greet” in the upper-class Metairie Club Estates neighborhood.
The “meet and greets” are quick preliminary searches of homes the military feel are already evacuated.
“Our biggest challenge is just keeping the contaminates off us,” Catton said.

For example, each searcher had a Camelback canteen backpack on. The mouthpieces have to be meticulously wiped after each drink taken from the canteens in the contaminated area. The receding floodwaters have left behind a dried layer of toxins over everything they touched. The floodwaters turned once lush golf greens into a gray wasteland. Each home in the Metairie Club Estates bore brown stripes left by the receding floodwaters.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Francis of the 189th Medical Group has been busy giving out thousands of inoculations for hepatitis A, B and tetanus. These are the mostly contagious diseases in the area right now.
As the biohazard-clad troops began knocking on doors a resident, wearing a surgical mask, hugged Francis and wept.

Along Rue Chardonnay in the Avondale community, troops cleared trees from the street. Other than the dead limbs, the upper middle-class neighborhood adjacent to Lake Pontchartrain simply looked like it had weathered a bad storm.

On Esplanade Avenue, people stood in line for 30 minutes to receive inoculations for Hepatitis A, B and tetanus at the East Jefferson After Hours Clinic.

“Our parish is more secure today than it ever has been thanks to Arkansas,” said Barry Bordlun, who identified himself simply as a “born and raised coonass,” a slang, sometimes derogatory, term for Cajun.
“We’re going to get our parish up and going again once we get our citizens back.”

TOP STORY >> Cabot decides to keep sales tax

Leader staff writer

It’s a landslide.
Cabot voters said loud and clear Tuesday that they prefer to pay for their new sewer treatment plant by extending an existing sales tax seven additional years rather than doubling sewer rates.
The vote to extend the tax was 927 for, 187 against.

In a breakdown of all the projects to be funded with the sales tax, the unofficial results as supplied by Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, who was waiting as the ballots were counted, are: sewer plant, 901 for, 202 against; overpass, 724 for, 366 against; community center, 695 for, 386 against; street improvements, 787 for, 304 against; animal shelter, 768 for, 324 against.

Stumbaugh opposed paying for the treatment plant with the sales tax, and said Tuesday night that he hadn’t changed his mind.

“A man stands where he stands,” the mayor said. “I think utilities should be paid for with rates.”
Still, he said he believes in the system. The voters have spoken, he said, and he is thrilled that some of the long-awaited projects can now begin.

“I am so excited about this community center being built,” Stumbaugh said. “I’m so excited about this animal shelter. And I’m so excited about this overpass because we’re going to save people’s lives.”
Alderman Odis Waymack, who with Alderman Eddie Cook sponsored the ordinance, submitting the tax extension to city voters, also waited while the ballots were counted. Waymack said he was pleased with the results that he believes are a message from city voters.

The tax was set to end when the water debt was repaid.
The approved tax extension will be used to pay off the existing $7 million debt and finance $16.5 million for a new sewer plant and improvements to sever lines, $1.5 million to build the community center which came in over budget, $200,000 for the animal shelter, $800,000 for the city’s part of a federally-funded railroad overpass and $1.2 million for street improvements.

TOP STORY >> Foreign aid keeps coming

Leader staff writer

Gov. Mike Huckabee visited Little Rock Air Force Base Tuesday to see first-hand the extent of the aid being delivered from foreign countries and from NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
When its converted Boeing 707 landed at the base Monday with 24,000 blankets, 600 cots and 14 large tents for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, it marked the first time NATO’s newly formed rapid-reaction force has been used for humanitarian relief, according to Capt. Robert Firman, public information chief, who accompanied the supplies from Geilenkirchen, Germany.

The force was created to respond quickly to help stabilize hostilities and restore order in conflicts.
Firman said the 10 tons of blankets and cots — five pallets worth — were donated by the Czech Republic and said many more flights and boatloads of supplies would be coming from NATO, and that many NATO member nations had already delivered relief supplies to the base, which has been designated as the hub for international relief delivered by air.

The supplies were unloaded in about 30 minutes.
In the days since the base was designated as the hub for relief, 31 international flights have delivered 303 pallets of aid weighing 1,225 tons, according its public information office. That’s 2.45 million pounds.
Those pallets had been loaded onto semi-tractor trailers for delivery into the hurricane-ravaged area.
“Serving as the hub for international aid, Little Rock Air Force Base stands ready and able to take on the hundreds of thousands of tons of incoming relief supplies,” said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, who assumed command of the base only Friday. “Our airmen at the base continuously train to move people and supplies. This life-saving effort puts our training into action by helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.”

In addition to the NATO flight, planes from Belgium, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Israel, Italy, Russia, Spain, Tunis, Thai-land and the United Nations had offloaded relief supplies at the base.
Disaster aid coming from China and Russia, former bitter Iron Curtain, Cold War enemies of the U.S., so impressed Vice Commander Col. Dave Watson, that he’s discussed it with his family.
“This is the good side of the wall coming down,” he said. “This is history in the making.”
Watson said he was further impressed by the Tunisian relief effort. They sent two cargo planes, one with “a full-blown colonel” each with two crews so they could fly shifts, stopping only for fuel.
As for the NATO aid, Firman said the U.S. requested NATO help on Thursday, the council voted Friday, and by Monday the 707 had been loaded, flown across the Atlantic Ocean and unloaded at Little Rock Air Force Base.
Col. Reinhard Mack, command pilot for the flight, said the rapid response was a demonstration of NATO teamwork, logistical capabilities and coordination.

Mack, a German who did his pilot training at Shepherd Air Force Base, said it gave him a good feeling to be involved in the relief.

In addition to unloading supplies, storing them and loading them onto trucks, base personnel have flown 31 sorties in support of Katrina relief, including 525 passengers and 84.25 tons.
Thirty-six airmen are deployed in support of Joint Task Force Katrina.