Thursday, October 06, 2005

EVENT NOTES >> October 5, 2005

South Bend firefighters have family breakfast

The South Bend Firefighters Association will host a county-wide family breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday in South Bend Station No. 1 located at 4414 Hwy. 294.
Everyone is invited to have breakfast on the way to Cabotfest or to the Little Rock Air Force Base open house.

AARP driver safety course set for Oct. 19 and 20

There will be an AARP Driver Safety Program on Oct. 19 and 20 from 9:30 am to 1:30 p.m. at First Arkansas Bank and Trust, 600 W. Main Street, in Jacksonville.
The cost is $10 per person and attendance both days is required to complete the course. Interested participants may call 985-4068 for reservations or further information.

Methodist church women sponsor annual bazaar

The women of First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville will have their annual bazaar from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 in the Family Life Center.
There will be a bake sale, craft corner, country store, and silent auction. Breakfast and lunch are provided for a fee.
Everyone is invited.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

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EDITORIAL >> Good words for criminals

Justice is hard enough to render in the criminal courts of the land without the interference of politics. We have seen its corrupting fruits in the criminal-justice process in many a national case the last few years, but it can be encountered as well in the most parochial courts, where nothing but the majesty of the law should hold sway.

A young man named Joshua Dickens, who was elected constable in Faulkner County last year, was convicted this week in Circuit Court of kidnapping and aggravated assault. He admitted torturing a 25-year-old woman he was dating until she confessed to seeing another person and then forcing her to go with him around town.
He specifically admitted holding a cigarette lighter to her over and over while she struggled.
The medical testimony was that she had been severely beaten and burned. She had vomited once when he gagged her. The jury acquitted him of the charge of raping her during the ordeal.
The girl testified that she finally told Dickens she had seen someone else, although it was not true, so that the four and a half hours of torture would end.

He threatened to clamp his constable’s handcuffs on her if she did not go with him.
After convicting him, the jury returned to recommend that his punishment be simple probation.
That’s right, probation!

Even the man’s attorney seemed astonished at the lack of punishment. The long-time defense lawyer said he had never seen a jury recommend probation for the charge of kidnapping.
What had happened to cause a jury to be so tolerant of such thuggery?
We can never be sure what moved the jury, although it could not have been the evidence at the trial. The jury foreman would not discuss it.

Are we overly presumptuous to deduce that it was the parade of esteemed Republican bigwigs who testified, one of them not once but twice, about what a wonderful, trustworthy and deserving young man he was?
State Republican chairman Gilbert Baker, the city’s state senator and a powerful and — yes — popular man about town, said young Dickens, the son of a minister, had campaigned for him and was an excellent and trustworthy person.

Sen. Baker, perhaps Arkansas’ leading champion of family values, would return during the sentencing phase to urge that this splendid man not be punished harshly. Former state Rep. Marvin Parks, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives last year, and former Justice of the Peace Buryl York, a Republican leader, also testified to his moral uprightness.

Judge David Reynolds apparently was as shocked as Dickens’ attorney at the jury’s remonstration, which seemed to say that the jurors thought the man had gone a little too far in rebuking his chattel for daring to see another man. Dickens might be a good Republican, but he is going to serve some time in jail.
The judge sentenced him to five years in prison, which means he can be free in less than a year.
The next day, the Conway paper reported that a 16-year-old girl had made accusations to the police that she had been sexually assaulted by the young man.

EDITORIAL >> Sen. Frist insists he knew nothing

The word is “beware and don’t engage in this type of conduct because it will not be tolerated,” David Kelley, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said outside the courthouse after Martha Stewart was convicted of obstructing justice and lying to investigators about dumping stock before it tanked.
“This is a victory for the little guys. No one is above the law.” Those were the words of one of the Martha Stewart jurors.

We remember those prophetic words because we wondered at the time, what planet are they on?
If they are big enough, corporate crooks usually do not pay for their crimes or at least pay very dearly. Bigger crooks than Martha Stewart, who really didn’t profit in the long run for her shallow treachery, are still running free.

Now comes Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader of the U. S. Senate and a likely applicant for the presidency next year, who insists like Martha Stewart that he knew nothing — nothing!— about the impending collapse of the family company’s stock before he dumped it last month for a nice fortune.
Neither his brother nor anyone else told him a thing about the impending financial report that would cause the stock to tank, Majority Leader Frist said.

If he had a hint of what was coming, Frist would be subject to big criminal and civil penalties for using insider knowledge.
Be assured that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating.
Frist explained that since he might run for another office he decided that it might look better if he did not hold a giant bundle of stock in HCA, the health-care company founded by his father, since the company is affected by so much federal legislation and other decisions by the government.

The conflict just happened to strike him by coincidence a few days before the stock would take its inevitable tumble, although the conflict of interest had existed from the moment he went to the Senate.
Only two years ago, Frist maintained that he did not know if he owned any HCA stock since all his holdings were in a blind trust. He found out that he owned them apparently just as the stock was about to tank.
Martha Stewart avoided a potential loss of about $51,000 by selling her stock in Imclone a day before regulators rejected the company’s application for approval of a new cancer drug.
The stock took a big tumble but recovered.

The drug was later approved. Her story about not having insider knowledge wilted when a broker said he passed along knowledge of insider stock sales to her broker.
Frist will not be so unlucky.

But the SEC must investigate. Presi-dent Bush’s new SEC director, former Congressman Christopher Cox, says he will remove himself from supervising the investigation of his friend.
There, do you feel confident that an independent and fearless inquiry is under way?
We cannot help but remember when young George W. Bush, a director and member of the audit committee at the energy company Harken, dumped his 212,140 shares of Harken stock for $848,000 in 1990 just before the company disclosed a huge quarterly loss, causing its stock to plunge.

The future president did not report his transaction to the SEC, which was controlled by his dad, for 34 weeks, a violation of the law. He would later explain that the SEC must have lost the forms that he had filed.
Ten years later, his spokesman admitted that was a lie and that the failure to report his stock sale had been caused by a “mixup” with his attorneys.

The SEC investigation concluded at the time that it couldn’t conclude if the president’s son knew anything when he unloaded his stock and that it was best for all concerned to just drop the matter.
Make your own prediction about how the investigation of Bill Frist will turn out.

TOP STORY >> Air base prepares for 50th birthday

Leader staff writer

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the new commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, says the base’s 50th anniversary air show next weekend is just as important to the entire nation as it is to central Arkansas.
“The face we put on Oct. 8 and 9 will send a clear message that Little Rock Air Force Base is a place you want to be,” Self said. “It’s full of community spirit, it’s full of national defense pride and it’s full of great people doing great things for America.”

Next Sunday, the second day of the air show, is on the same day the base opened 50 years ago in 1955. The air show is the culminating event in a year-long celebration of the base’s 50th anniversary.
The air show will feature the Air Force’s premier aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. The team will fly precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of the modern, high-performance F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

There will also be a combat-capabilities exercise where Little Rock Air Force Base’s C-130 aircraft will drop heavy equipment, cargo, and approximately 400 Army paratroopers.
“The air show gives the base an opportunity to showcase its mission as the world’s largest and best C-130 training base,” said Maj. Tim Stong, air show operations officer.

Other performers during the two-day air show include the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Parachute Team, the T-6A Texan II East Coast Aerial Demonstration Team, the ShockWave Jet Truck, and the children’s cartoon character, Jay Jay the Jet Plane. Vintage aircraft such as “Fifi,” the only flying B-29 and “Diamond Lil,” one of two B-24s still flying will be on display.

Guests will also have the opportunity to see many areas of Little Rock Air Force Base, nicknamed “The Rock” by military personnel who serve there, which opened in October 1955 and includes more than 6,000 acres.
Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim says the city expects to see 200,000 people during the air show next weekend.
“The relationship between Jacksonville and the air base has truly been a golden partnership,” Swaim said.
“I think Jacksonville is one of the most culturally diverse towns in the state because of the air base.”
The base has a population of more than 6,000 active-duty military and civilian members and about 6,600 family members living and working on and around the base.
“The exposure the personnel at the base have given us to other cultures and religions has been very positive,” said Larry T. Wilson, chairman, chief executive officer and president of First Arkansas Bank and Trust, who also serves on the Air Base Community Council.

“The economic impact of the base is felt all over the state,” Wilson said.
After World War II, when the Jacksonville Ordinance plant closed, community leaders sent a letter to the secretary of the Air Force urging serious consideration of the Little Rock area for an Air Force base.
Congress would not allocate funds to purchase the needed property so the money was raised locally. By the end of September 1952 the Pulaski County Citizens Council, forerunner of today’s Air Base Community Council, collected almost $1 million to purchase property from more than 150 landowners around Jacksonville. That same month, the Air Force announced it would build a $31 million jet bomber base on the site. Construction on the base began on Dec. 8, 1953.

The Air Force decided to assign the base to Strategic Air Command, and by August 1954, Strategic Air Command had selected the 70th Reconnaissance Wing and the 384th Bombardment Wing to the new base.
In February 1955, Col. Joseph A. Thomas was named first commander of the base. He was killed five months later during a crash of the base’s only aircraft, a C-45 assigned for administrative transportation. Thomas Avenue and the Thomas Community Activities Center were dedicated in honor of his efforts.
Airmen had begun to arrive at the base in 1954. No living quarters were available on base yet so some airmen lived in temporary quarters at Camp Robinson, while others lived in rooms at the Little Rock Young Men’s Christian Associa-tion.

The base opened for air traffic on Sept. 10, 1955. About a month later, on Oct. 9, 1955, Little Rock Air Force Base was officially dedicated by Secretary of the Air Force Donald A. Quarles, Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, commander of the Strategic Air Command, and 85,000 visitors.

By mid-1957, there were over 5,500 military personnel assigned and over 300 civilian employees at Little Rock Air Force Base. Miles Construction was hired to build 1,535 housing units on the base. By May 1959, all the housing was either occupied or ready for occupancy.

In January 1961, the Air Force began to house 18 Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in underground silos around the base and the 308th Strategic Missile Wing moved to the base.
Work on the Titan II silos took three years to complete. On New Year’s Day 1964 the 308th Stra-tegic Missile Wing completed its first full operational day with missiles on alert in each of the 18 silos. Crews supported the mission uninterrupted, 24 hours a day, for over 23 years.

In 1962, the Arkansas Air National Guard became a presence at Little Rock Air Force Base. Formerly operating out of Adams Field in Little Rock, the 189th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, forerunner to today’s 189th Airlift Wing, began moving operations out to the base.

In May 1971 the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing was created, paving the way for today’s 314th Airlift Wing.
Another major change for the base came in 1987 when the 308th Strategic Missile Wing inactivated, going quietly into history as the last unit to perform operational duty with Titan II missiles.
The unit left a demilitarized Titan II nosecone as a memorial to the thousands of men and women who devoted their lives and energy to protecting the United States during the Cold War. The day before the wing inactivated, this nosecone was placed in the air park atop a time capsule to be opened 50 years later in 2037.
Since 1987, the 314th has been the only active duty wing stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base, but there have been numerous changes within the wing and at other levels.

On April 1997, a major shakeup was made at the base. The 314th Airlift Wing transferred to Air Education and Training Command becoming the central schoolhouse for C-130 crews. It is composed of three C-130 flying squadrons: the 48th, 53rd and 62nd Airlift Squadrons.

It houses the largest training fleet of C-130s in the world. Directly reporting to 19th Air Force at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, the wing’s mission is to train C-130 aircrews for all services in the Department of Defense, Coast Guard and 28 allied nations, as well as C-21 aircrew through the 45th Airlift Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

To train C-130 aircrew members, the wing flies C-130 “Hercules” and the C-130J aircraft designed to operate from short, unimproved airfields during battle. The Hercules first flew in 1954, and is capable of taking off and landing from dirt strips as short as 3,000 feet long while carrying a load of up to 42,000 pounds.
With a normal crew of five, it can carry and airdrop 92 fully-equipped combat troops. Loads can be delivered directly onto the battlefield by landing or dropping by parachute. Since World War II the 314th Airlift Wing has been involved in all the wars and major operations involving United States forces.
Since its official opening in October 1955, Little Rock Air Force Base has been a valuable component of United State’s air power. From the first day a B-47 went on alert in 1956 until the final Titan II went off alert in 1987, the men and women of “The Rock” were on the front lines of the Cold War.

Joan Zumwalt, president of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, said the surrounding communities are more supportive of Little Rock Air Force Base than other bases she’s been to.
“I think Jacksonville and Little Rock Air Force Base are integral parts of each other,” Zumwalt said. “We’re all one family.”
In the midst of the many changes seen at the base over the years, one other factor has always remained constant, the mutual support between the base and the local community.

“The Little Rock Air Force Base is here because the citizens of central Arkansas are very patriotic by nature,” said Cynde Maddox, chief of communication for the 314th Airlift Wing. “It’s all of Arkansas, you truly love giving to others. The community gave this base to the Air Force and we’re thankful for it.”
Admission and parking for the 50th anniversary air show is free. Souvenir, food, and information booths will be available. All visitors and vehicles will be subject to search.

No coolers, pets, backpacks, or large bags are allowed at the air show. Due to security restrictions, recreational vehicles will not be allowed on base. For more information about the air show please call (501) 987-2273 or visit

TOP STORY >> Evacuation plan

Leader staff writers

The tornado that ripped through Beebe the evening of Jan. 21, 1999, destroying much of the older housing, two churches and a new school building, changed the way Beebe emergency workers plan for disasters, Fire Chief William Nick said Friday.

Before the tornado, the city had plans that called for sheltering in the schools and churches — plans that relied heavily on emergency equipment and on help from neighboring McRae.
But many of the would-be shelters were destroyed in the storm, along with the fire departments in both cities.
Now Nick says when emergency workers plan, they think about the available resources, and then they divide that number in half and figure out how they could manage with less.

Deadly tornadoes, terrorist attacks, accidents at Pine Bluff Arsenal, hazardous material spills on the highway or a freight-train wreck near a populous neighborhood are scenarios that force local officials to ask how prepared their communities are to deal effectively and efficiently with such incidents.

They are well-prepared, they say, although officials in New Orleans, and along the Gulf Coast might have said the same before Hurricane Katrina put them to the test.

Aside from being hit by another tornado, Nick says he meets regularly with Beebe Police Chief Jess Odom to work on how to evacuate in the event of a chemical spill on the railroad or on Hwy. 67/167.
In many cases, he said, the evacuation routes and the shelters that would be used would depend on the direction the wind was blowing.

“We plan for all contingencies,” he said, adding that includes working with the schools on their emergency plan.
“We do meet and talk about it regularly,” Nick said. “It’s a work in progress. You can’t set things in stone because you never know what the situation might dictate.”
But Nick, like the rest of the country, watched the television news coverage of inadequate evacuation plans in action as Gulf Coast residents fled hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he says it might not be a bad idea to thoroughly review Beebe’s plan just to make sure they haven’t missed anything.


Cabot, like Beebe, is split by the railroad and Hwy. 67/167, and Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh said an evacuation plan in the event of a chemical spill has been in place long before he was mayor.
Like Beebe, Cabot also learned about the devastating effects of tornadoes when its downtown area took a direct hit almost 30 years ago.

At least five copies of the city’s emergency plan for most scenarios is distributed among the mayor’s office, the fire department and the police department, Stumbaugh said.
He is fairly confident that since the plan is frequently updated with the phone numbers and pager numbers of the city’s emergency workers, the city is in good shape if disaster strikes. Since he took office, the city has bought a mobile command center and a truck big enough to pull it wherever it’s needed, Stumbaugh said. Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson and Police Chief Jackie Davis have been instructed to evaluate the command center to make sure it is completely equipped, he said.

But Stumbaugh is concerned that, for now, the city’s communication system is housed in the police department that is just a block away from the railroad. If a train derailed on that section of track, the police department would have to be evacuated, he said, adding that he and several on the council believe it is time to consider moving that department.

The New Madrid fault line, that experts say will produce an earthquake of such a magnitude it will rival any in California, runs through the southern part of Lonoke County. Cabot likely won’t be hit, but the mayor says he has contacted the governor’s office and the Depart-ment of Homeland Security and asked that Cabot be added to the emergency plan for dealing with the aftermath.

The key is knowledge, communication, coordination, preparation and practice, according to Kathy Botsford, director of the Pulaski County Office of Emergency Services. Over the years, area officials have dealt with floods, tornadoes, ice storms and various spills and have conducted both tabletop exercises and full-out drills to test their response.


Evacuation routes have been laid out in case an incident at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, which is currently destroying its stockpile of aging chemical weapons, affects central Arkansas residents including those in Lonoke and Pulaski Counties.

Blue CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program) signs mark the escape routes and a mobile chemical decontamination unit is stationed at England, where Lonoke County officials and responders have earned high marks with annual practices, according to Kathy Zasimovich, Lonoke County CSEPP coordinator.
Once a year, Zasimovich and Jimmy DePriest, director of the Lonoke County Office of Emergency Services, participate in a several-county drill simulating an accident at the arsenal. Local mayors, including County Judge Charlie Trout-man, Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson and several other officials convene in the central command office to respond to the mock drill, dispatching law enforcement officers to set up road blocks or direct traffic to evacuation routes.

The drill always grades out high. Just last week, the county received a $500,000 Homeland Security grant to upgrade its command and control center. Different evacuation routes are available for Lonoke County residents depending upon where they live, which direction the wind is blowing the chemical plume and how crowded the roads are, according to Zasimovich.

“We make a whole calendar out of our evacuation routes,” said Zasimovich. “They’ve been in place for 15 years.”

DePriest said the only established evacuation routes in the county were for problems at the arsenal.
He said he would assume the schools would have their own plans, as well as the cities.
When tornado warning sirens were sounded in Lonoke on Saturday night, one of the city’s three sirens was out of service, and remains so, according to Mayor Thomas Privett.

He said he thought he had found replacement parts for the 20-year-old siren, but they weren’t compatible. “We’ll try to find $20,000 somewhere,” the mayor said, adding the siren had been down since lightning struck it about six weeks ago.

“We’re not going to let price keep us from warning our people,” Privett said.
Lonoke policemen and volunteer firefighters are trained as first responders, Privett said. Lonoke also has a company on retainer to help clear city streets of limbs and debris in event of a tornado or ice storm. “We are first on the list,” he said. “We did that after the big ice storm.” What sort of response or evacuation depends on what sort of catastrophe, the mayor said. “We’ve got ‘Jaws of Life’, all that stuff that Homeland Security’s given us. We know we’re in harm’s way if we have a problem in Pine Bluff (at the arsenal.)”


In Pulaski County, Botsford works with officials, police and fire fighters including those in Jack-sonville, Sherwood and unincorporated north Pulaski County to create emergency plans and sometimes to participate in exercises.

For instance, when Jack-sonville’s Ashland Chemical runs its annual exercise, not only company workers, but firefighters, police, and other emergency responders including Hazmat teams from both the county and Little Rock Air Force Base come to help or standby, Botsford said. The exercises are graded. Botsford said her office has received 800 system radios that will be programmed and distributed to mayors, police chiefs, fire chiefs, ambulances and others so the various agencies can communicate with each other.

Botsford’s office is helping revise the Sherwood emergency operations plan with Michael Clayton, the city engineer. “We’ve been working with them for the past several months on upgrading,” she said. “They want to have an emergency operations center, where key command and control decision makers can gather when there has been a disaster to coordinate the information. “The center would have maps, maps of damaged areas, statistics, placement of public utilities, — all the information in one place.”

A map of the area’s expansive soils would be helpful to determine which neighborhoods might need to be evacuated in a flood or earthquake, for instance.

Officials could make vulnerability assessments and have information about which businesses or industries have or store hazardous materials. “We have no evacuation plans,” Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon said. “We have sirens and check them every Wednesday.

“Our emergency management team leader is city engineer Michael Clayton, who dealt with FEMA during the last ice storm.”

Harmon said there wasn’t much manufacturing involving hazardous materials in Sherwood.
“Every time we practice our plan, we find things we need to work on,” Botsford said.
Botsford said the University of Arkansas at Little Rock had conducted a countywide commodity flow. Pulaski County has a high volume of traffic on I-40, on the railroads and on the Arkansas River, creating a lot of opportunities for spills and accidents. Botsford said the county was fortunate to have experienced, well-trained and equipped responders available from Little Rock Air force Base. “They are great to work with,” she said.

“We had a lot of practice on evacuating people back when the Vertac incinerator was in operation,” Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said.

He said Hwy. 67/167 would often be the evacuation route of choice, but that there were others as well. The Jacksonville Community Center, the boys and girls club and the senior center are among the sites designated for emergency shelter.

TOP STORY >> Marine’s life ends in remote outpost

Leader staff writer

Lance Cpl. Steven Valdez, 20, of McRae was killed Monday at Camp Blessing in Afghanistan’s Pesch Valley, which is home to personnel from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, including Army Rangers, Marines and the Afghan Security Forces.
Valdez, a machine-gun operator, was running to his post when shrapnel from a mortar round struck him in the neck.

He died 40 minutes later.
Valdez was assigned to Second Battal-ion of the Third Marine Regi-ment, Third Marine Division III Marine Expeditionary Force in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Valdez was the only one to die in the attack.
“A mortar can take out 20 people; it can take out one. It just depends,” said his brother, Glenn (Poncho) Skaggs, a Marine sergeant who has witnessed similar attacks in Iraq. He could return there within a year.
Camp Blessing, named for Sgt. Jay A. Blessing, an Army Ranger killed there in November 2003, lies in the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains just 20 miles from the Pakistani border in Kunar province.
The camp, described as far removed from artillery and helicopter support, is the first of its kind in hostile territory that U.S. Special Forces have built in more than 30 years.

The complex mission of the Special Forces team stationed there is to develop an intelligence network, earn the trust of the locals, track down al-Qaeda terrorists and help build an Afghan army.
The camp was built for 14 Special Forces personnel and defended by a platoon of Marines. Surrounded by steep mountain bluffs, it is reportedly difficult to defend.

Bill Skaggs, Valdez’s grandfather, said his grandson was sent there three months ago, a place that his grandson called “pure hell.”

By mid-day Thursday, his body had arrived in Memphis and was expected home by Friday. Tentative plans were to hold a memorial service at Beebe’s First Baptist Church sometime next week before a second service and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Marine Corps representatives have visited Skaggs’ home twice this week, once to tell him his grandson was dead and once to make the funeral arrangements, and discuss his life insurance policy.

Skaggs said he will use part of the $400,000 death benefit he will receive to establish a college scholarship in his grandson’s name and part to pay for nursing school for Jessica An-drews, who Valdez planned to marry.



Goldie M. Raney, 89, of Beebe went to be with her Lord and Savior Oct. 2 in Beebe. She was born Aug. 18 1916, in Louisiana, Mo., to the late Frank and Ollie Bandy Perkins. She was a homemaker and a canner for the Libby Company.
Raney was also a member of Union Valley Baptist Church in Beebe where she was very active.
She is survived by two sons, Walter Raney and his wife Margie and Gene Raney and his wife Marlene, as well as three daughters, Bonnie Skasick, Rosie Kirk, Edna Fisher and her husband Rick. One brother, Donald Perkins and his wife Retha also survive her as well as 23 grandchildren and numerous great and great-great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband of almost 50 years, William Eugene Raney; one son, Ollie Raney; three infant children; four brothers, Charlie, Art, Tom, and Carl Perkins. One daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law and four grandchildren also preceded her in death.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday in the chapel of Cabot Funeral Home. The service will be officiated by Tommy Miller with burial in Fredonia Cemetery in Mountain View. Memorials may be made to the Union Valley Baptist Church Building Fund.
Funeral arrangements are by Cabot Funeral Home.


Charlene Griffin, 78, of Little Rock died Sept. 30. She was a wonderful mom and grandmother and was a member of Markham Street Baptist Church in Little Rock.
She was preceded in death by her daughter, Rhonda Hamilton and her husband, Doc Griffin. She is survived by two sons, Tony Felton Griffin of Perryville and Buddy Griffin of Arlington, Texas; two daughters, Becky Herron of Charleston, S.C., and Donna Almond of Little Rock; 10 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and two brothers, Verlon Jones and Lonzo Jones.
Funeral services were held Monday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Weir Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Baptist Hospice, 11900 Colonel Glenn Rd., Ste. 2300, Little Rock, Ark.


Bera Alleane Price Robinson, 78, of Beebe, went to be with the Lord on Oct. 1.
She was a retired school teacher with the Beebe Public School System, served as a volunteer for Central Arkansas Hospital for 17 years, and served many years as secretary of Antioch Baptist Church, where she was a member. She is survived by two daughters, Carla Jane Byrum and Marianne Robinson Lindsey and husband Charles E., all of Beebe; one sister, Maxine Harrell and husband Waymond of Conroe, Texas; a granddaughter, Tonya A. Evans of Beebe; nephews, Howard Harrell of Texas, Mark Price of Louisiana, Scott Price of Florida; and a niece, Sharon, of Slidell, La. She was preceded in death by her husband, Marion Robinson and a grandson, B.J. Byrum.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Antioch Community Church, with burial in Antioch Cemetery.


Sarah Tena Street, 64, of Beebe, was born Sept. 25, 1941, and died Oct. 2. She was a Christian. She is survived by her stepmother, Era Jones of Scott; two sisters, Donna Smith of Marion and Debra Furman of Buffalo, N.Y.; one brother, Earnest Alexander of Santa Monica, Calif.; four special friends, Alice Mahoney, Ray Jones, Tasha Ballard and Sue Land; and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral is 2 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. Memorials may be made to Hospice Home Care, 106 S. Spring, Searcy, Ark., 72143.

SPORTS >> Badgers to face powerful Wynne

Leader sports writer

The Beebe Badgers cleared a huge hurdle last week in their bid for an AAAA-East conference title with an improbable come-from-behind 38-35 win against the Marion Patriots. The Badgers will need another performance like that this week, as Beebe travels to Wynne to face the Yellowjackets in a battle between two teams which are both undefeated in conference action.

The winner of the game will most likely play Batesville to determine the conference championship, and Wynne coach Don Campbell knows the importance of Friday’s game to his team’s title hopes.
“You would be crazy not to be concerned about Bee-be,” Campbell said. “This is going to be a big game for both of us. It doesn’t get any bigger than this, really. Whoever wins this game is going to have a big advantage for the rest of the conference; it is going to be a big plus for somebody.”

Like every opponent Beebe has faced this year, Campbell is concerned with Beebe’s spread offense, led by senior QB Wes Lamb. The Badgers have rallied from behind in three separate games this season to steal wins away from opponents in the closing minutes of the game. It would have been four games that the Badgers rallied, but they fell 1 yard short of a last-minute touchdown against Vilonia for their only loss this season.

“We’re going to have to make adjustments somewhere,” Campbell said. “They are a good team, and anytime you face a team with an offense like that, you have to figure out some way to stop them. We have to figure out what we need to do to keep them from running wild on us.”

Last week’s game against Marion was one of the most amazing comebacks from any team all season. The Badgers faced a 28-0 deficit to the Patriots at halftime, but a huge defensive stand in the second half held Marion to a single score, as Wes Lamb, Jake Money and company attacked the Patriots defense through the air. The game came down to a 14-yard pass play from Lamb to Jared Mathis with under five seconds remaining in the game, giving Beebe the narrow win 38-35.

Last week’s win for the Yellowjackets was a big one, as Wynne demolished an improved Greene County Tech team 47-6 with a strong effort from junior running back Terrance Boykin. Boykin had over 150-yards rushing in the win along with three rushing touchdowns.

The Badgers will likely have to defend an even better offensive backfield than the Eagles saw last week.
Boykins backfield mate and fellow junior, Terrence Garrett, has missed the last two weeks, but will likely be back for the Badgers. Both backs rushed for over 600 yards as sophomores last year.

SPORTS >> Panthers focused on rest of season

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers find themselves in a very unfamiliar situation. At the midway point of the season, the Panthers have just one win, and are staring at the possibility of falling below .500 in conference play for the first time in quite sometime. It’s been the 1980s since Cabot finished below .500 in conference play, but the Panthers aren’t thinking about that right now.

Cabot coach Mike Malham focused on what’s left of the season when he talked to his team Monday afternoon, the first time he’s seen them since Cabot’s 25-14 loss to West Memphis last Friday.
And what’s left of the season isn’t all bad.

“West Memphis is ranked No. 2 for a reason, and we played them pretty close,” Malham said. “We were just a couple of mistakes from turning that one completely around. I told (the Panthers) if (the Blue Devils) are number two, then we’re not far behind. We’re just two games into the conference season and we’re 1-1. There’s a lot of season left and these kids just have to persevere and keep getting after it. I feel like we’re getting better every week and we have to keep improving. I just hope it’s in time for the next game.”
Up next for Cabot is its first conference road game and first game away from home in nearly a month and a half. Dealing with unfamiliar surroundings isn’t the only challenge facing the Panthers when they go to Forrest City.

In the past, Panthers faithful have marked down Forrest City as a notch in the win column in the preseason, but there are many reasons most have not done that this year.
The Mustangs have their best record in several years, and they’re playing a style of football that is tailor made to give Cabot fits.

Forrest City is 4-1 running the spread offense under first-year coach Scott Reed, who played under Malham he was an assistant coach at Jacksonville in the early 1980s.

Cabot has been dismal this year defending the pass, and Forrest City will be doing a lot of it. So far this season, the Panthers have been torched for big plays by running teams.
Against West Memphis, it was the play-action pass that fooled Cabot’s young defensive backfield.
There won’t be much question about when the Mustangs will throw the ball. The will throw it early and often, but they’ve also had success this year on the ground.

Running back Ben Wright has rushed for over 90 yards three times this season, and topped 100 yards for the first time last week against Searcy when he ran 22 times for 122 yards.
The Mustangs’ forte, however, is throwing, and they’ve done it well despite being in just the first year of the new scheme.

Quarterback Wilson Parker has completed 34 of 60 pass attempts for 758 yards, with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions.

His favorite target has been Preston Echols, who has made five touchdown receptions this season and gone over 100 yards receiving twice this year.

Malham, however, doesn’t fret going against that style for the first time, he just wants to get ready for it.
“We’re going to play some passing teams,” Malham said. “Jacksonville’s going to throw it. Sylvan Hills is going to throw it some. We just have to get ready and play.

“Pass defense has been our Achilles’ heel, we just have to get better at it. We’re starting one senior in the backfield and it shows sometimes. We just have to grow up fast.”

Cabot’s own passing game showed signs of improvement last week. On the last drive of the game, Cabot quarterback Corey Wade completed six of seven attempts, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to John Flynn.
“We put Flynn in there at receiver and that made a difference,” Malham said.

“I think we’d thrown more interceptions than we had completed passes before then. Wade looked a lot better and got some confidence. We don’t want to have to do it, but it’s good to know that if we have to, we are capable of it.”

NEIGHBORS >> City spruces up for weekend festival

Leader staff writer

Sunny, warm weather helped make Cabot’s Fall Cleanup a success for the more than 200 volunteers who worked Saturday morning to tidy the town for this weekend’s CabotFest.
“We didn’t collect as much trash or tires as we normally do,” said Matt Webber of Cabot City Beautiful. “That might mean we’re getting ahead of the litter bugs.”

But, Webber said, volunteers did collect more than 80 discarded tires.
“We normally collect about 200 tires,” Webber said, adding it would be a week or so before Waste Management weighs the garbage and tells Cabot City Beautiful how many pounds of refuse was collected.
Cleanup organizers were hoping for between 250 and 300 volunteers for the event.
“We have such a large area to cover if we don’t have between 250 and 300 volunteers we can’t cover all the areas,” Webber said.

For example, Kerr Station Road didn’t have enough volunteers to clean it thoroughly.
Cabot Parks and Recreation had soft drinks and water for the volunteers while Bank of the Ozarks served hamburgers and hot dogs.

“Cooking out for these volunteers is just one way we try to give back to the community,” said Fred Campbell, a Cabot resident and president of the eastern division of Bank of the Ozarks.
The 27th annual CabotFest opens at 3 p.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Saturday. Unlimited rides are available until 7 p.m. Friday night with the purchase of a $15 wristband.

There will be approximately 200 exhibitors, carnival activities, live entertainment and demonstrations during the festival.

Members of the Arkansas Forestry Commission will be at the Cabot City Beautiful booth at CabotFest this weekend with acorns for children to plant in grow cups. Each grow cup has instructions on how to care for the acorn to be planted inside it. With proper care, children can have an oak seedling ready for planting.
The Rockettes, the cheerleaders for the Arkansas RimRockers basketball team, as well as the Sirens, the cheerleaders for the Arkansas Twisters football team, will make an appearance.

There will be a rock-climbing wall sponsored by Com-munity Bank, a NASCAR remote control speedway sponsored by First Electric Cooper-ative and the Ark-ansas Game and Fish Commis-sion’s 1,000-gallon mobile aquarium.
There will be lots of free activities for children in “Wacky Land” sponsored by Sonic on Hwy. 321.
The CabotFest Pageant sponsored by Metropolitan Bank features infants to 5 years for boys and infants to 19 years for girls and will be held in the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Applications are available at the Cabot Chamber of Commerce. Miss CabotFest 2005 will receive a $250 scholarship certificate to the school of her choice.

The entertainment stage sponsored by CenturyTel will host a “Battle of the Bands” throughout the day with the winner performing as the opening act for the free concert at 7 p.m. featuring Andy Childs and the band Sixwire.

Other features at this year’s CabotFest include:
n A food court sponsored by Arkansas State University-Beebe.
n Original arts and crafts for sale by the Tri-County Arts and Crafts Guild
n Car show by the Christian Classic Car Club

n A motorcycle show and poker run coordinated by Arkansas Bikers Aiming Towards Education (ABATE).
For more information on CabotFest, call 501-843-2136 or 501-278-9223.

EDITORIAL >> Masters tell Ledge: No more studies

Halfway through the summer hearings on the state’s compliance with the Lake View school order, it must have been clear even to the lawmakers and other state officials who were defending the state’s work that the task was hopeless. It could have been a surprise to no one when the special masters appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to adduce evidence for the court concluded Monday that the legislature and the governor had reneged on their promise to make public education the state’s first priority, as the state Constitution requires.

The evidence and the masters’ analysis were so convincing that it is now equally foregone that the Supreme Court sometime this fall will hold the state in violation of its 2002 order to provide an adequate and equal education for all public school children. Then Gov. Huckabee will have to call a special session of the General Assembly to set things right, which means appropriating appreciably more money both to operate the schools and to modernize school facilities across the state.

We say “foregone” advisedly because four seats on the seven-member Supreme Court are up for election in 2006. Three of them are held by justices who voted with the narrow majority to reopen the Lake View school case to see whether the state lived up to its obligations when it appropriated money for the next two years, a courageous but not altogether popular decision. We trust that the justices will vote their convictions again and not their political fears.

The Supreme Court has been erratic on Lake View over its 13-year history as the case bounced back and forth between trial courts and the high court and after it handed down its landmark decision in 2002 that the substandard and unequal schools of Arkansas flouted the Constitution’s doctrine that education should be both adequate and uniform from border to border. It closed the case after the decision, reopened it when the legislature dawdled, closed it again after the legislature enacted a sizable package of school reforms in 2003 and 2004 and then reopened it again this spring upon the petition of more than 30 school districts when it became evident that schools had taken a back seat in the legislative deliberations.

A fickle court has been the state’s only defense. Gov. Huckabee Monday immediately blasted the court for changing its mind about the case and he indicated that he was fed up with it all. Some of us thought the court had invested too much faith in the legislature when it issued its mandate and closed the case in 2004. But the court’s unmerited faith in the legislature is not a good premise for blaming the court for the problems assailing the schools, including the Pulaski County Special School District, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state.

In 2003 and 2004, the legislature passed and the governor signed some impressive laws declaring the state’s intention to keep up with the needs of the public schools and fund them first since they are the only public service mandated by the Constitution. The legislature and governor raised some taxes to meet those needs.
But this year the legislature froze the foundation funding of the schools at last year’s rate, $5,400 a child, and raised that sum only slightly for the 2006-07 school year. While all the other agencies and institutions of government got cost-of-living increases, the schools got none. Meantime, the legislature passed a dozen or so laws imposing new costs on the schools. And while the legislature’s own exhaustive study of every school in the state produced an immediate need for $2.2 billion to improve aged, crowded and unsafe school buildings, the legislature appropriated a mere $120 million for the work and erected a formula that makes it impossible for the neediest schools to get it.

So the masters deduced that the lawmakers became self-satisfied after 2004 and viewed the Supreme Court’s closing of the case that year as a signal that they needed to do little else to satisfy the Constitution.
Legislators and the governor told us that the sky would fall if the court held their work unconstitutional. Taxes would skyrocket and the courts would start running the schools.

But, as the masters pointed out in exhausting and fine detail, the state could have put another $350 million or more into the schools this biennium without a cent more taxes and without denting a single state service. They mentioned the millions put into little pork projects around the state to raise the electoral standing of legislators and the governor.

The masters said the evidence was almost uncontested that the legislature had reneged on making public education the highest priority.

They did not, but could have, mentioned the most recent evidence of misplaced priorities: Gov. Huckabee’s plan to have the voters approve another $150 million debt to build more facilities on college campuses and to give the state Highway Commission a permanent $550 million line of credit with bond daddies and investors. Although we waited for a similar bond arrangement for the public schools — the obvious solution for the schools’ capital problem — it was never broached by lawmakers or the governor. Instead, the legislature decided to study the schools’ facilities problem for a few more years.

As masters David Newbern and Bradley Jesson pleaded, no more studies, please!
Here’s the presidential thing to do, governor. Mute the judge-bashing, and when the court hands down its expected mandate, summon the legislature to Little Rock and show them how we honor the Constitution with deeds, not just words, in Arkansas. It is not that hard.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> General tells how to build bases fast

Brig. Gen. Kip Self can build an air base faster than I can write a column.
Self, who last month became commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, has been busy preparing for this weekend’s big open house that will attract some 200,000 people as the air base celebrates its 50th anniversary.

They’ll see the Air Force Thunder-birds aerial demonstration team fly in formation under clear skies and pleasant temperatures. But even if the weather prediction is wrong, it will be a lot nicer than in Iraq in April, where temperatures can reach 120 degrees.

It was under those type of conditions that Self, who was still a colonel, led an advance team that built landing strips and air bases almost overnight.

At the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Self was part of an advance team that helped build landing strips and “austere” bases from southern Iraq all the way to the north, creating “a lily-pad effect” as the group skipped around the country and got the job done in a way that the Federal Emergency Management Agency might emulate.
“We were a 700-strong group,” Self recalled in his office last Friday, taking time out from his duties as wing commander, while a group of young military lawyers sat outside his office waiting to discuss legal issues that were no business of mine.

Back in the spring of 2003, coalition forces raced through Iraq from Kuwait and built bases from nothing or almost nothing.

Self wasn’t bragging: He was glad he was chosen for the job — although he’s a pilot, not an engineer.
He won’t tell you that he did his job well, but that is probably one of the reasons he’s a general now.
Self was part of a contingency-response team that Gen. John Handy, who headed Air Mobility and Transportation Command, organized at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

Orders were to put together bases in Iraq as quickly as possible, turning new bases into self-contained wings. Trucks would start rolling in just hours after Self’s team showed up in an area, and before long they had virtual cities sprouting in the desert.

Conditions were often primitive. The advance team worked around the clock in almost unbearable heat, but no one complained, and if they did, it didn’t do them any good.

They’d gone into places like Tallil, 160 miles south of Baghdad. “We took over an abandoned Russian airport,” Self says.

The flight line was all ripped up, and it was Self’s job to fix the landing strip and turn the area into an air base.

“We cleared land mines, cleared the concrete, and within four hours of us being there, the first C-130 landed there,” he said.
“We were the first responders,” Self recalled. “We operated in an austere environment. When we were there, we were totally self-sufficient. Then we moved on to the next objective,” the general says.
The team kept going all over Iraq, setting up bases and learning as they went along. Self had no construction experience: He’s a veteran C-17 pilot, but when he was given his orders, he plunged right in.
“I learned on the job,” the general says.

Self, who’s also a veteran of the Balkan and Afghan wars, grew up in northern California.
He is one-fourth Dutch, which might account for his modesty. His family may have started out in the East: A Dutch clan farmed on what is now the east side of Manhattan. The affluent neighborhood is called Kips Bay.
Self’s old contingency wing has become a permanent fixture in the Air Force. There are two of them and they are responsible for settling U.S. forces permanently wherever they’re sent.
“It’s a feel-good job,” he says.

TOP STORY >> County officials butting heads over response

Leader staff writer

The tornado that hit the Searcy area last month as a result of Hurricane Rita was the first disaster that has struck White County since the quorum court took the dispatch center and the 911 system away from the sheriff and put it under the county judge and the Office of Emergency Services.

And few, especially White County Sheriff Pat Garrett, are pleased with how it was handled.
Garrett said the dispatch center sent him to a home on Hwy. 36 that had been destroyed. Then, for reasons unclear to him, they sent all his deputies there.

White County Judge Bob Parish said when he arrived with his road foreman to see about clearing trees off the road, Hwy. 36 was “lit up like Las Vegas” from all the patrol cars that were blocking the road.
Parish said he didn’t know why they were all there, but they were hindering his work.
Garrett said from his position, which he later realized was the middle of the nine-mile swathe cut by the storm, he sent deputies out in both directions, to search for the beginning and end, and to assist any victims they encountered.

But never during the four- and-a-half hours that he was out did anyone from the Office of Emergency Services call him to see how they could assist him or his deputies.

Randall Storey, a former Searcy police officer Parish hired as OES director about a year ago, was in Galveston, Texas, helping his wife’s grandparents escape the storm, Parish said.

Tamara Jenkins, the deputy director, was in the field with emergency workers, Garrett said. And that left no one in charge at the dispatch center to co-ordinate the emergency response, no one to even tell emergency workers whether they had checked every dwelling that had been hit. When the dispatchers were worked for him, Maj. Kyle Stokes was always on hand during tornadoes to do just that, the sheriff said.
Their squabbles have been fodder for local newspapers almost from the beginning. Since he fought against the dispatch center being taken away almost two years ago, Garrett is reluctant to say anything that would make it appear he is “whining” about how the dispatch center is operated.

He praised the work of the dispatchers. But he says a lack of coordination between the people in the field and those in the dispatch center the night of the tornado meant county residents didn’t receive the quality of service they have a right to expect.

Parish says he takes responsibility for the OES director being out of town when the storm hit.
He gave Storey permission to go to Texas to take care of his family. No one knew White County would be hit, he said.

But he says the dispatch center is better now than it was under Garrett. The dispatchers stay longer, so they are better trained.

“Pat is upset because he didn’t have a command station. All he had to do was call 911,” Parish said.
“It’s working. They’re doing a great job and they’re going to get better.” Parish also praises Storey for working with first responders from industry, fire departments, police departments and schools all over the county to create an emergency-response plan that will be a model for others in the state.
“Pat is not involved and he should be,” Parish said.

Jenkins, the deputy OES director, says she won’t point fingers.
“It’s not that the sheriff didn’t do a good job or we didn’t do a good job,” Jenkins said. “We just need to work together as a team.

“The OES is there for support. We’re there. Our door is open.”
The sheriff disagrees.

“When they took the dispatch center away from me they made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with me,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Base gains seen as modest

Leader staff writer

The Air Force on Monday evening told Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Cong. Vic Snyder that the active-duty side of Little Rock Air Force Base can expect a net gain of five C-130s and the Guard side can expect one additional plane as a result of the final Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s recommendations, signed Sept. 9 by President Bush.

Unless overturned by Congress within 45 working days, that would give the active-duty Air Force at LRAFB 71 planes and the Guard nine, according to Snyder and Lincoln, but not the 42 additional planes the base had hoped for.

The number of planes on the active duty side would increase from 66 to 71 and the number on the Guard side from eight to nine.

There is one line in the BRAC Commission recommendations that seems to suggest that the base would gain more than 2,000 additional jobs, but observers say that doesn’t seem likely if the base will receive only six additional aircraft.

Capt. David Faggard said Tuesday evening that currently the base is assigned 74 C-130s. The Air Force BRAC Commission recommendation for Little Rock Air Force Base originally had proposed to increase the active duty side from 66 to 98 (C-130s) and the Air National Guard side from eight C-130s to 18, with the addition of 3,898 jobs. The commission reduced those numbers.

“If this is accurate, we still have accomplished what we set out to do,” Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said, “which was maintain the base in Arkansas.”

“Any additional aircraft or personnel is a bonus. At this point I won’t rule out the possibility of more planes and people coming to Little Rock Air Force Base,” he said Tuesday.

Swaim, who has lobbied hard on behalf of keeping the base open during the BRAC process and to keep the new jobs and dozens of additional C-130s that the Defense Department wanted to move to Little Rock, said he wouldn’t know how many planes would end up on the base “until we see them sitting here. That will be the final decision and we’ll count them.”

Snyder called the latest information “definitive for today.” Members of the congressional delegation, civic leaders and local Air Force brass have been left to wonder what the eventual outcome of the Little Rock Air Force Base BRAC Commission actions would be.

“Our goal for years has been to see that Little Rock Air Force Base survives and this is a further indication,” Snyder said.

There’s going to be more coming to replace older planes, he said. “This is a step in the right direction. This is the Air Force’s analysis,” Snyder said.

“I think we’re probably in the ball park since those other bases didn’t close.”
“It has been made clear to me by the Air Force and by Chairman (Anthony) Principi of the BRAC Commission that Little Rock Air Force Base will not lose any aircraft at the conclusion of this BRAC round,” Lincoln said.
“Any net gain in aircraft would be a positive sign for our state, and I believe it would reinforce the confidence the BRAC Comm-ission and the Air Force have in Little Rock Air Force Base, the country’s premier C-130 training facility.”

TOP STORY >> Large crowd expected for variety-filled air showcase

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base’s 50th Anniversary Air Show from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday could be the biggest ever.

The gates open at 8:30 a.m. each day and a full, tentative schedule features a variety of aerial entertainment. (See special section inside.)

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds precision flight team is currently scheduled to be the final performance on both days, but weather conditions could cause the team to move the performance.

The Thunder-birds will be showing off the capabilities of the modern, high-performance F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Thunderbirds use six aircraft to perform formation flying and solo routines and the pilots perform approximately 40 maneuvers in each demonstration.

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is scheduled to make a fly-by appearance on Sunday.
The Wings of Blue parachute team is scheduled to start the show on both days. In performances, the team exhibits aerial skills and precision landings. Each member is a qualified jumpmaster and instructor in the Air Force Academy parachuting program.

The Red Baron Pizza Squadron will be performing in vintage Boeing Stearman biplanes built between 1941 and 1943. The eight planes of the squadron will fly in formation less than a wingspan apart while performing aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, clover leafs, avalanches and barrel rolls.

Also on display will be a combat-capabilities exercise where C-130 aircraft will drop heavy equipment, cargo and approximately 400 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg, N. C.

Spectators will also get a chance to get up close and personal with static displays of both modern and vintage military aircraft and the crew members who fly them.

There will be individual performances as well, including Greg Poe in an Edge 540 aircraft, Mike Rinker in the Sukhoi 26m “Pink Floyd” and John Melby in a Pitts bi-plane. Melby is a former C-130 loadmaster at Little Rock Air Force Base. Michael Hunter, the only insulin-dependent aerobatics pilot in the world, will be performing in his Laser 230 plane.

Other performances include the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team performing a series of precision-formation aerobatic maneuvers in the World War II North American Advanced Trainer aircraft.
The 36,000 horsepower Shock-wave jet truck will be having two performances each day, streaking down the tarmac at 300 mph.

Two rare World War II aircraft, the B-29 Superfortress “Fifi” and the B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil,” will be on display at the show. The Commemorative Air Force and American Airpower Heritage Mus-eum maintain the planes so the public can see a part of history and to show appreciation to veterans. A nonprofit organization of volunteers, the CAF maintains the world’s largest collection of flying-condition aircraft of the 1939-1945 era. The CAF has a museum in Midland, Texas. From their inventory, the CAF Dixie Wing brings the Japanese Nakajima B5N Kate replica and the A6M Zero replica.

The Dixie Wing will pair with Doug Jackson and his Japanese A6M Zero replica “Tora 101” to simulate the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. The CAF Missouri Wing will be showing off their B-25 and Avenger aircraft. Both aircraft were used during World War II. The Avenger was also used in the Korean War.
Planes of Fame Airshows will show off the F4F Wildcat, F6F Hellcat and P-51 Mustang planes. The Hellcat, Wildcat and Mustang fought in World War II with the Hellcat and Mustang carrying over into the Korean War.
The Ozark Military Museum will be displaying the AT-7 Navigator, one of four versions of the C-45 aircraft used as a navigational trainer during the Second World War .

Jay Jay the Jet Plane, a cartoon television celebrity with the preschool and kindergarten crowd, will also be making an appearance at the air show. “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” is a animated television series about the adventures of a perky and curious 6-year old jet plane named Jay Jay and his airplane friends who live and play at Tarrytown Airport. There will be a “Jay Jay the Jet Plane Tours America” exhibit at a 53-foot tractor-trailer complete with all the regulars of the cartoon’s Tarrytown Airport where children can see a stage show featuring Brenda Blue, Jay Jay and their Tarrytown Airport friends.

Additionally, there will be bounce houses replicating the Tarrytown air traffic control tower and E. Z. O’Malley’s barn, and a video-viewing area for the latest Jay Jay videos and shows. Additional features of the Jay Jay area include Snuffy’s creation station arts and crafts area where children can color or put together puzzles.

There will also be Herky’s paint station for face-painting and temporary tattoos, the Tarrytown Post Office, where children can send a letter or postcard to Jay Jay and his friends, and the Jay Jay and Tracy’s picture place, where children can get their picture taken with the show’s stars.

Jacksonville officials are estimating 200,000 people will flood into town for the free two-day event.
All visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. Due to security restrictions, recreational vehicles will not be allowed on base. No coolers, pets, backpacks or large bags are allowed at the air show. Due to safety concerns, there will be designated smoking areas.

For more information about the air show please call (501) 987-2273 or visit

TOP STORY >> Attorneys want special session

Arkansas News Bureau

With a report on public school financing now in the state Supreme Court’s hands, attorneys and state officials pondered Tuesday whether the legislature will be called into special session to readdress school funding.
The report issued Monday by special masters appointed by the Supreme Court found lawmakers did not do enough to adequately fund education this year. The masters’ report suggested a special legislative session to appropriate an estimated $180 million budget surplus for public schools.

Lawyers for school districts, including the Pulaski County Special School District, who sought court intervention in the Lake View case, urged Gov. Mike Huckabee on Tuesday to call a special session ahead of any action the Supreme Court may take regarding the masters’ report.

However, Huckabee said in a statement Tuesday he would not call a session in advance of the Supreme Court’s review.

“While I disagree with their decision to reopen this case and with the findings of the special masters, I will not try to play one-upmanship with the Supreme Court, especially by calling a special session which may not even be needed,” Huck-abee said.

House Speaker Bill Stovall, D-Quitman, said it was too early to anticipate how justices will respond to the report, especially since the high court was divided over whether to resurrect the school funding issue in the first place. Justices voted 4-3 this spring to reopen the ongoing school funding lawsuit closed after the same special masters, Bradley Jesson and David Newbern, complimented legislative action last year.
The Pulaski County Special School District and more than three dozen others asked for the court’s re-entry, claiming the legislature reneged on its obligation to education by failing to add a cost-of-living increase to a $5,400-per-student funding formula this year.

“Pending a majority opinion of the court itself, I’m not going to venture to say how that report would come out, whether it would be substantiated or validated at all,” Stovall said.

“It would be a little surprising if (justices) didn’t take that document seriously, but it’s hard to venture a guess what they’ll do.”

Attorneys in the case expect the Supreme Court will ask for written comments about the masters’ report within a few days, then will schedule oral arguments sometime after that. They expect a decision from the high court by the end of the year.

Only the governor can call a special session before the 2007 General Assembly. Stovall and Rep. LeRoy Dangeau, D-Wynne, said Huckabee should wait for the court’s findings before deciding to bring lawmakers to the Capitol.
Rogers Attorney David Matt-hews countered that the masters’ report was clear, outlining that legislators must do more to counter inflation, pay for newly mandated programs and improve school facilities. “If I were a member of the General Assembly I would be asking the governor to call us into special session to let us fix these problems that are so well defined,” Matthews said.

The 83-page report cited “largely uncontradicted evidence” that Ar-kansas has not made education its top priority. It criticized flaws in the school-funding formula and the lack of any study to decide if financing for the 2005-06 school year was adequate.

A spokesman for Attorney General Mike Beebe, whose office represented the state before the masters, said Beebe would wait to address the report if asked to do so by the Supreme Court.
Matthews defended Beebe and his deputies, Tim Gauger and Mark Hagemeier, for their work, saying the lawyers “can’t manufacture evidence” in support of the state.

“The age-old problem that lawyers deal with is that when a case goes bad, the client wants to blame the lawyer,” Matthews said. “It would be grossly unfair to blame Tim Gauger or Mark Hagemeier or Mike Beebe for the findings of the masters. I think they did the best with what they had.”

As to the legislature, much of the information provided to the masters was not available to lawmakers before they adjourned in April, Sto-vall said. Mainly, lawmakers did not know how much surplus money, if any, would be on hand for the upcoming fiscal years.

“Almost all the data presented by the districts were what I call ‘post General Assembly’ and we only meet every other year and it sounds like the (special masters) have an issue with that,” Stovall said.
“Even if there are some things in the report that are agreed upon by the General Assembly, we simply can’t do anything about it.”

The “doomsday provision” en-acted last year is the only funding mechanism available without legislative approval. It permits the state to take money from other agency budgets in order to finance education.
Any further action on the legislature’s part is the Supreme Court’s call, said Sen. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant.
“They have control of the situation here,” he said. “I don’t know exactly what the court might do. Is the court going to come back and say the funding formula itself is unconstitutional? Is the amount of funding? That remains to be seen.”

The day after the masters’ report was released, lawyers for participating school districts were jubilant.
“I can’t find a single substantive point that we raised that we did not prevail upon,” said Sam Jones, attorney for the Pulaski County Special School District.
One attorney, Brad Beavers of Forrest City, tempered his excitement by encouraging leaders from schoolhouse to statehouse to unite to improve education.

Beavers, who represented Lake View’s successor, Barton-Lexa, said the report lays out a blueprint for repairing a system that bears a “stain of unconstitutionality,” according to the report.
Without exception, Beavers and others praised the masters for the report, based on hundreds of documents and depositions and nine days of witness testimony.

“I think it will be of great assistance to the court and of great assistance to school districts and the legislature working together to get past this us vs. them mentality,” Beavers said.

TOP STORY >> Legislative effort flunks

Leader staff writers

“In terms of the district’s current situation, the special masters just lit a bright candle in the darkness called fiscal distress,” Pulaski County Special School District lawyer Sam Jones.

Jones was referring to the findings of two special masters Monday that the Legislature had once again failed to adequately fund public schools in the wake of the Lake View decision handed down by the state Supreme Court in 2002 calling for equal opportunities for all students. The Pulaski school district intervened in that case and was active in the hearings before the two special masters, which concluded Sept. 9. (Editorial, p. 10A.)
The Supreme Court said Tuesday it would accept objections for 20 days from the parties to the special masters’ report. The court will take the matter under advisement either on a motion by the parties or on its own merits. (Related stories, p. 9A.)

Jones said special masters Bradley Jesson and David Newbern agreed with virtually all of the contentions of the school districts seeking hundreds of millions more in state aid.

The special masters also agreed to discuss the state’s “draconian” sanctions against districts in fiscal distress, like the one Jones represents.
The state Board of Education recently took control of the fiscally distressed Helena-West Helena School District, installing its choice of superintendents.


PCSSD is in its first year of fiscal distress and has submitted to the state fiscal distress recovery plan. Jones said more money from the state legislature would help.
The court, by a 4-3 vote, turned the case back over to the same special masters who initially heard the case in 2002.

In an 86-page record, Jesson and Newbern, former state sup-reme court justices, said the legislature had fallen short, failing to increase minimum foundation aid to account for inflation, that they short-changed educational adequacy and failed to make education a priority.

The two say the legislature failed to fund newly mandated programs, and suggested $300 million worth of revenues available to lawmakers to help improve education and buildings.
The two-week hearing included scores of witnesses, 82 exhibits and half-a-dozen depositions, according to Jones. The special masters released their findings Monday.

“I think they painted a clear roadmap for the Supreme Court to follow if they choose,” Jones said. “I’d be surprised if they rejected much. Usually the findings of special masters are taken to heart.”


Dr. Frank Holman, superintendent of Cabot School District, said Tuesday that he is not surprised by the special masters’ report to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

“As I testified before the House Education Committee, I did not think what [the legislators] were doing was going to meet the requirements of the law,” Holman said.

This year’s “foundation money” that the state pays for each student is $5,400, is exactly the same last year.
Until the last week the legislature was in session, the plan was to increase that amount by $100.
Then the plan changed, and the money was divvied up by the legislators for special projects in their districts as grants for rural fire departments.

They might all be worthwhile projects, Holman said. But they are not required by the state constitution as educating the state’s children is.

Holman says he hopes the high court agrees with the masters and that the governor acts quickly to call the legislature back in session to give the money to the schools so they can pay for some of the currently unfunded mandates that came out of the last session like duty-free lunches and more music teachers.
“I hope the Supreme Court rules that our current system is not adequate and requires the legislature and governor to come back and fund K-12 education adequately as required by the Arkansas constitution. Arkansas children and teachers deserve that,” he said.

Like the special masters, Holman said the legislature got off to a good start in 2003 with plans that included funding as much as $900 million for improvements to school facilities. But the district was not among the 37 districts that sued the state after the legislative session ended in May.

Cabot’s concerns: $1.5 million in unfunded mandates, stagnant foundation funding and $100 million for facilities doled out over several years, were all addressed in the suit so Cabot just waited for it to play out, he said.

But does Cabot Schools agree with the special masters that the legislature backed off from their commitment to the state’s schools?

“You bet they did,” Holman said.


In contrast to Jones and Holman, local legislators say there is much not to like in the findings.
“There are a couple of things troubling me,” said state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jack-sonville, pointing out the masters suggested the state spend $107 million in current surplus revenues, plus the $49 million they had put in an educational trust and next year’s $180 million projected surplus.

“It appears the masters want to order the legislature to spend a specific amount of money,” Bond said.
Bond said that threatens the separation of powers, leaving the Supreme Court sitting as a “super legislature.”
“Some people think there may be a standoff between the governor and legislature versus the Supreme Court,” he said. “It’s too early to tell.

“They only need four people for a majority,” said Bond, of the court, while the same action taken by a legislatures would take 51 representative, 18 senators and a signature by the governor.
“That’s a problem,” he said.

“They weren’t impressed with the wealth index we came up with, Bond said. “The special masters saw it as a way to keep down the state’s contribution to building or fixing school facilities.”


Bond said the state had the largest tax increase in its history to fund education.
“I want public schools to be the schools of first choice, not last resort,” Bond said. “I’m for funding them at a high level. But before we pour money into the system, we have to evaluate if we’re making kids smarter. The masters don’t address that.”

Bond said Arkansas’ funding of pre-kindergarten classes is “kind of a national model for a lot of states.”
“I’m disappointed,” said state Representative Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, “but not surprised. I still believe that some of these issues are going to take a little more time than they realize.
“We put $107 million to $120 million into facilities as a starting point, looking at safety issues in these schools, and $35 million into teacher insurance.”

She said she believes mandates should be funded and that schools should code expenditures so expenses can be tracked.


“They seem to think we should have looked more at consolidation,” Prater said.
State Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle, said the legislature had funded an additional $700 million for the schools for the biennium.

“Seems like the masters aren’t giving us any credit,” he said.
Glover said he opposes any further expenses that require raising taxes and warned against using one-time money to fund ongoing programs.

He also expressed concern about new mention of consolidation.
“That was not in the Lake View Case,” Glover said.
As for the unfunded mandates the legislators had approved, Glover pointed out that he was the chief sponsor of a law requiring a fiscal impact statement to be attached to all mandates, “so we’d know the cost,” he said.
Glover said legislators ignored that law.

He also said he had been concerned about not raising the minimum foundation aid from $5,400 for the first year, taking inflation into effect. The special masters had the same concern.
Of the Supreme Court, Glover said, “They are going to likely drop the hammer on us. Fortunately, by the second year of the biennium, we should have $300 million in surplus funds.
“I’m comfortable knowing we have the surplus on hand.”