Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Mary L. Martin Bennett, 87, of Searcy was born to Otha E. and Bertha McCulloch Martin, and died Oct. 30.
She married Bernard W. Bennett in May of 1936.
She was a Searcy resident for 56 years and was a co-owner of Bennett’s Furniture and Appliance Center in Searcy for many years.
Bennett was a member of First United Methodist Church in Searcy, a member of Fulbright Sunday School class and volunteered her services in the First United Methodist thrift shop. She was also active for many years with CARTI in Searcy.
She was preceded in death by her son, Bernard Gerald (Jerry) Bennett; her husband, Bernard W. Bennett; her parents; two brothers, James Martin and Louie Martin; and one sister, Evelyn Martin.
She is survived by her daughter, Dr. Marianne Bennett of Conway; one granddaughter, Lisa Terry and her husband, Jim of Springdale; one sister, Mattie Busick of Beebe; one niece, Bobbye Griffin of Austin; and one nephew, Charles Busick of Searcy.
Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. Nov. 3 at Searcy First United Methodist Church. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m. at the church, with burial in Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.


Junior Auxiliary event to benefit Angel Tree

The Jacksonville Junior Auxiliary will host a tea for the annual Angel Tree from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Coonts’ home, 602 Foxwood Drive.
The Angel Tree provides the opportunity for families to buy Christmas gifts for underprivileged children in Jacksonville.
For more information, contact Shana Young at 982-9440 or send an e-mail to  

Salvation Army assistance sign-ups start Friday

The Salvation Army Christmas assistance sign-ups will be taken from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 3-4 and Monday through Thursday, Nov. 7-10.
To apply for assistance bring a picture ID, Social Security cards for everyone in the home, proof of birth for all children, verification of current address and proof of income for all members of household.
The Salvation Army is located at 209 S. Oak Street, across from Jacksonville Elementary School.

Community center classes free for canned food

The Jacksonville Community Center will be hosting “Get Fit to Gobble,” Nov. 7-18, a free way non-members of the community center can try out Land Group aerobic classes. The classes will be free during that time for two cans of food or non-perishable items. These items will be given to one of the food pantries in Jacksonville for the Thanksgiving holiday. A class list can be picked up at the community center.
For more information, call 982-4171.

JHS seeks volunteers for cleanup day Nov. 19

Jacksonville High School will hold its second annual “Dirt Bustin’ Devil Dustin’” cleanup day from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 19.
Volunteers are needed to help with landscaping, donating pressure washers, trees, bushes, trash cans, cleaning clothes, paint brushes, picnic table paint, weed killer and cleaning supplies.
Business, family, church, youth groups and other members of the community are encouraged to become involved. To volunteer time or to donate items listed above, call the school at 982-2128. Ask for Mrs. P. White or Mrs. Skidmore.

Pathfinder fund-raiser includes Hot Springs raffle

Pathfinder Inc. of Jacksonville is having a fund-raiser for a pavilion at the Jim Pickens Workshop by raffling off a trip for two to Hot Springs. The prize includes a two-night stay at the Arlington Hotel, massages, thermal baths and a carriage ride. Also included is dinner for two at Coy’s Steakhouse, a meal for two at Granny’s Kitchen and a meal for two at the hotel. The drawing will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23 during the annual talent show. For more information please contact (501) 533-6363.

NEIGHBORS >> Cabot shelter breaks ground

Leader staff writer

The groundbreaking in Cabot Monday marked the end of a long wait for a new animal shelter that has been requested by animal lovers there for more than five years.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh said about the year-long delay in getting started that was the result of the council refusing to rezone the site on Kerr Station Road where the old shelter is located. “It’s just sad that so many animals were needlessly killed.”

Over the past year, the shelter has euthanized as many as 100 dogs a month, he said.
The new, $500,000 shelter will hold more animals so space constraints won’t force the city to kill so many. Also, it will be built on First Street on the grounds of the Allman-Bevis Sports Complex where the hope is high traffic will lead to higher adoption rates.
When the new shelter opens in about nine months, it will have a room where prospective owners can get acquainted with animals they are considering adopting.

It also will have a room for impounding cats, which means the city’s four-year-old ordinance requiring residents to control their cats wanderings or risk having them picked up will finally go into effect.

Over the years, the city has collected about half the money needed to build the animal shelter.
A small amount came from fundraisers but most came from the city general fund.

The original plan was to build the shelter in stages, but Alder-man Eddie Cook, convinced the council that it would be better to include money to complete it in a sales tax extension approved by city voters in September.

Stumbaugh opposed the tax (which also will completely pay for a sewer plant, and help with the costs of a railroad overpass and the new community center) because city voters were promised five years ago that the tax would sunset.

But he said Tuesday that he is pleased the tax will allow for a better animal shelter and despite the year delay and more unnecessary deaths of animals, he is glad the shelter will finally be built in a place where unwanted animals will have a better chance of finding a home.

SPORTS >> Wildcats to settle 6AA title at Des Arc

Leader sports editor

Everyone figured that the regular-season finale for Harding Academy would likely be all about preserving an undefeated record and securing another conference championship. There was the possibility that Hughes could slip up on the Wildcats to make it a more interesting race, but few expected their week 10 matchup with Des Arc to be quite as big as it is.

The Eagles have surprised everyone so far this season and also sit at 9-0, 8-0 in conference, making this one final game with perennial power Harding Academy for all the marbles in the 6AA.

Des Arc, however, is not only playing for a conference championship, the Eagles
are also playing for their first conference championship since 1982, their first undefeated regular season since 1976 and third in school history, and for their first-ever win over Harding Academy.

Everyone thought HA would be here at this point, while very few thought the same of Des Arc, but don’t tell Eagle head coach Tim Harper that his team has exceeded expectations.

“We may have exceeded your expectations,” Harper said. “We’ve felt all along we’re a pretty good football team.”
The season is ending for the Eagles the way it began, as underdogs.

In week one, Des Arc played highly ranked Hazen, and waxed its biggest rival with ease 35-0, and Hazen isn’t bad. They’re also playing for their conference championship this week.

It’s the last time Des Arc has been such an underdog, until this week.
“We’ve sort of felt like the underdogs all year,” Harper said. “We kind of relish the idea that people don’t believe in us. It gives us a little something more to play for. It helps unite us a little bit.”

Moving from intangibles to tangibles, Harper feels his team matches up very well. Des Arc shares eight common opponents with HA, and has faired a little better than the Wildcats. HA has one of the most explosive offenses in the state, while Des Arc boasts one of the stingiest defenses.

Des Arc is bigger and probably even a little faster, but the Wildcats are so good at what they do, Harper is still worried sick.
“I’m probably more nervous about this than any of my players,” Harper said. “They’re (HA) so precise, and so good at running their offense, it’s scary. There have been times in the past when I’ve known what they were going to do, and told my kids exactly what they were about to do, and we still couldn’t stop it. That is one of the best-coached teams in the state of Arkansas for any classification. It’s remarkable what they accomplish up there year in and year out.

“I know we have the physical advantages in this game. I think our speed has been underestimated all year. We just have to be very well prepared. We have to be ready and we can’t make mistakes.”

Harding Academy head coach Tommy Shoemaker doesn’t see Des Arc as an underdog either. The Wildcats are taking this game to heart more than any other all season. Shoemaker says the preparation for the big game has been intense.

“A lot of the players have made comments about how excited they are,” Shoemaker said. “You can tell these kids are taking it very seriously. There has been a tremendous increase in intensity around here this week, they have been taking game film home and watching it.

“This will be the best all-around team we have played so far this year. They have a ton of talent. We have been looking forward to this game for a few weeks now, I think it is going to be exciting.”

As for who has the advantage, Shoemaker believes that experience will outweigh talent when it all comes down to the wire.
“I think experience helps in situations like this, we are somewhat used to preparing for big games. It’s a little bit of an advantage, so hopefully it will help us some.”

SPORTS >> Traditional rivalry still heated

Leader sports editor

When it comes to Week 10 of the high school football season, one thing is certain, that Cabot and Jacksonville will meet up in a very meaningful football game.

Circumstances such as playoff seedings or eligibility may change. Those circumstances may even be meaningless, as is the case this year, but the game itself won’t be.

Jacksonville doesn’t need playoff implications to want to beat Cabot, and the same goes for the Panthers, especially after last season, when the Red Devils beat Cabot for the first time in eight years.

Win, lose or draw, Jack-sonville is going to play Spring-dale in the first round of the playoffs next week, and Cabot’s season will end Thursday night, but don’t think that either team will play like there’s nothing on the line.

Cabot wants to salvage as much as it can of a lost season by beating an arch rival that has done little to allow the Panthers to forget last season’s game.

Jacksonville wants to prove last year’s game was no fluke, and wants to head into the playoffs with a confidence-building victory.
The fact that the game has no playoff implications doesn’t bother Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley. He believes his team will be just as ready to play football as it has all season.

“I don’t think we’ll have a letdown,” Whatley said. “The reason I say that is because we haven’t had one all year. We haven’t played very well at times, but no one can accuse us of not playing hard.”
The Red Devils have followed a pattern all year.

They have beaten the teams that had worse records than theirs, and lost to the ones that had better records. All of the losses were close, until last week, when West Memphis put a 50-13 pounding on them.
Still, that doesn’t have Whatley worried about his team’s morale.

“Like I said, nothing has really gotten this team down and gotten them to not giving it everything they have,” Whatley said.
“That’s a testament to them. They do that. They get ready to play and they leave it all out there. It hasn’t always gone well for us, but they don’t let up. West Memphis is a good football team and they whipped us, but we’re going to come right back from that and play hard. We just have to play better.”

While no playoff implications and low morale after a big loss doesn’t concern Whatley, the fact that Cabot is 1-8 and in the midst of a five-game losing streak that includes losses to two teams Jacksonville hammered doesn’t give him any comfort either.
“Oh yeah there’s danger in this game, you’re dadgum right there’s danger.

“The danger is we’ve seen them on film and nobody has stopped them all year,” Whatley said. “They’ve stopped themselves. They go on 16-, 19-play drives and them fumble it. They get down to the 10-yard line and turn it over.

“We can’t count on them doing that. They’re not going to give us a lot of chances, so we’re going to have to be opportunistic when we get the ball. And hopefully we’ll find a way to stop them.

“That’s a good football team, and a dad-gum-good offense. Besides, this is Jacksonville against Cabot. What else is there to say?”

EDITORIAL >> Huck invites only friends

Gov. Huckabee threw another of those occasional grand luncheons at the governor’s new and more majestic residential compound the other day and invited The Arkansas Media. It was said to be a passable feast and then everyone got to hear the governor and other chieftains in the government explain Arkansas’ desperate need for fresh bonded indebtedness to resurface more Interstate routes and improve university campus settings.

Full disclosure: The Leader neither was invited nor crashed the party and so must depend upon the news accounts of it just like a few other journals that have from time to time criticized Gov. Huckabee’s initiatives or the ethical slips in his office. In the governor’s communications division, they keep a keen eye on these matters.

From the news accounts, we concluded that the repast was OK but not to die for and that the rest of the fare was even less to be relished by those of us who were not favored with invitations. Huckabee and the heads of the highway and higher education departments made presentations, but no one offered new information or arguments for the Dec. 13 bond election. At that election, Huckabee hopes voters will give the state authority to reissue bonds to add new buildings to every university and college campus in the state and to bypass the constitutional requirement that voters first approve the indebtedness each time the highway department wants to borrow money to improve Interstate highways. Voters will be asked to give the Highway Commission a permanent line of credit with bond houses and investors. If the event itself was not so memorable as to leave one envious, then we would just as soon take our omission from the guest list as a badge of honor. Still, something about it bothers.

It unsettles only partly because the governor’s office is so selective about whom it actually invites when it has the print and electronic media in for a promotion. If it is a government event, you invite friends and critics alike.

Taxpayers pick up the considerable tab for what is patently a political event that is calculated to use the media to persuade those taxpayers to give the government unprecedented power to mortgage their and their grandchildren’s future. Is that OK? If it is, pardon our pettiness.

EDITORIAL >> Asa’s goof on sales tax

Asa Hutchinson is a redder but wiser man today after his embarrassing blunder in front of the State Chamber of Commerce. Maybe it will make him a more careful candidate and a better governor, if the voters give him that chance.

Hutchinson laid out his economic development theories for the chamber delegates, starting with exempting manufacturers from sales taxes on the energy they use in their plants. He said Arkansas would have landed a big steel mill in Mississippi County with hundreds of new jobs if the mill did not have to pay sales taxes on electricity. The owner decided to build the plant in Mississippi instead.

An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter told Hutch-inson after the speech that the mill’s owner had not mentioned that as a reason for going to Mississippi instead of Arkansas. Hutchinson said he knew what he was talking about and implied that a source told him the real reason. The next day the owner of the mill said taxes on electricity had nothing to do with the move because he would not have had to pay taxes on electricity in Arkansas. A state legislator from Mississippi County and others rushed to point out Hutchinson’s error. Steel mills and certain other manufacturers have been exempt from the sales taxes on their energy since far back into the Bill Clinton administration at Little Rock. Lawmakers and presumably every economic developer in the state knew that. Hutchinson belatedly acknowledged his mistake. An aide said the candidate had misread a newspaper article about the plant.
One lesson we hope Mr. Hutchinson has learned is the emptiness of that old bromide so enduring in Arkansas, that the key to economic development is to relieve industries of having to pay the taxes that ordinary people have to pay, in this instance the tax on the energy they consume in their homes. Companies are always happy to have a tax break but it rarely builds the economy. But here is an even easier lesson. The steel mill owner said the big reason he picked Mississippi over Arkansas was that energy over there costs so much less. The question Hutchinson should be asking is, why is that? (Clue: It’s not taxes.) After all, Arkansas is a big supplier of natural gas, and its gas fields are expanding even into our own environs in White County. Moreover, the severance tax on Arkansas-produced gas is only three-tenths of a penny per thousand cubic feet, which the lowest in the nation and less than one-hundredth of the tax levied by gas-rich states like Texas and Oklahoma. And most of Arkansas’ electricity is generated by economical nuclear and coal-powered plants rather than expensive gas.

Hutchinson can begin by asking his fellow Republican, Gov. Huckabee, and Huckabee’s chosen Public Service Commission, which regulates utility rates, including, if the PSC chooses, the cost of the generating energy that utilities pass along to homeowners and industrial customers without even a cursory review. That will help explain why we lose jobs to Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma. We can’t wait for that exchange.

TOP STORY >> Hurricane relief centers closing doors

Leader staff writer

After serving 900 evacuees, the Hurricane Katrina Assis-tance Center on James St. in Jacksonville closed its doors Saturday, but help is still available by scheduling appointments through the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

The volunteer staff at Cabot KARE (Katrina Assistance Relief Effort) located in the old Knight’s grocery store, is also thinking about closing that center on Nov. 17.

The relief centers were started by local residents after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast Aug. 29. More than 75,000 people from the Gulf Coast made their way to Arkansas after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

According to the Arkansas Katrina Assistance Relief Effort, an estimated 30,000 hurricane evacuees are still in the state after President Bush’s Oct. 15 nationwide deadline to get evacuees out of shelters and into temporary housing.
“We’ve served about 200 families at the center,” said Buffy Zelnick, co-director of Cabot KARE.

The center is currently open on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Right now people are coming by to get winter clothes, furniture and household things like small appliances and decorations for the home,” Zelnick said.

Zelnick said the Cabot KARE committee has discussed closing the center on Nov. 17, how to disperse the leftover donations as well as how to continue to provide help through the upcoming holiday season. Cabot KARE began as a relief center and quickly became a valuable resource for the people displaced by the hurricane by providing Internet and telephone service, maps and local information.

Likewise, the Jacksonville relief center started as a collection point for clothing and toiletry donations in the back of the Jacksonville Chamber of Com-merce building on Dupree Drive after hundreds of evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi and Ala-bama filled hotels in Jacksonville, Lonoke, Cabot and Beebe. Volun-teers filled hundreds of plastic shopping bags with toiletries for the evacuees staying in the area.

As more evacuees came forward with more needs, Mary Lou Gall and Angie Mitchell, both volunteers from Jacksonville, stepped up to help coordinate assistance. As donations poured in, the volunteers were able to set up the center behind the chamber of commerce, in a building lent to the city by Jacksonville businessman Harold Gwatney.

Hurricane Katrina evacuees went to the center to get non-perishable foods, clothing, toiletries and assistance with getting housing and employment. During the first two weeks the center was open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., seven days a week.
“I believe everyone helped be-cause we knew it had to be done,” Mitchell said.

Eventually, the center was open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sat-urdays.
Hurricane Rita then struck the Gulf Coast in Texas and west Louisiana on Sept. 24, sending a new wave of hurricane evacuees into area hotels, leading the center back to being open daily for about a week.

“You knew they were a hundred miles away from home and some people lost everything,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell says most of the hurricane evacuees in the area are settled into housing and many have jobs. In order to move out of the building, most of the leftover clothing has been taken to either to the Care Channel at 201 Elm St. or the Fishnet Missions thrift store at 709 1/2 West Main Street, between Walgreens and Discount Tobacco. Much of the leftover non-perishable food has been donated to Fishnet Missions as well.

Mitchell says during the last few weeks the center was open, evacuees were stopping by to get winter clothing such as coats, jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts and pants. Mitchell said community efforts for the evacuees would continue over the approaching winter months with food baskets for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

“I’d like to try to organize a pro-ject to provide Christmas presents for the children of evacuees,” Mitchell said. For an appointment or more information about the Hurricane Katrina Relief Center, contact the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at (501) 982-1511.
Cabot KARE can be reached at (501) 605-0931.

TOP STORY >> City takes PCSSD fight to state

Leader staff writer

As the Pulaski County Spec-ial School District on Tuesday hand-delivered the latest revision of its fiscal-distress im-provement plan to the state Department of Education, some Jacksonville leaders met with Gov. Mike Huckabee’s education adviser while district administrators prepared to satisfy a Freedom of Information request from a Jacksonville businessman.

Mark Perry, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and others who suspect that Marvin V. Jeter III and the Pulaski County Special School District didn’t make a good-faith effort to secure construction and teacher-training grants for the new single-gender schools, will be disappointed by the information they are seeking, according to Jeter, the district’s assistant superintendent for learning services.

Perry faxed a Freedom of Information request Friday afternoon for copies of grant applications and the results of those applications.
Jeter said Tuesday that Perry was not the first to re-quest that information. He said the Office of Desegregation Monitoring made similar re-quests earlier as had an unidentified person.

Also Tuesday, Perry, Jack-sonville Mayor Tommy Swaim and former state Rep. Pat Bond met at the state Capitol with Huckabee’s education policy adviser, Terry Hardy, to voice their concerns over the state of the PCSSD in general and, most specifically, with the Jackson-ville single-gender middle schools.

“She was very attentive and listened to our concerns about what’s happening in our school district,” Swaim said. “We’re concerned about the quality of the education of the students in (the district), particularly Jack-sonville schools. We imparted to her our concerns about funding for the single-gender schools.”

Some district patrons have said Jeter misled them about the likely availability of grant money to support the single-gender schools, according to Perry, who has a son at the middle school and two younger children on deck at Pinewood Elementary School.

“(Jeter) led us on to believe there’s all this money out there for this grant and that grant,” Perry said. “Show me the money. We have problems galore.

“My motivation is to make sure that the district is doing what they said they would do.
“They said, when we agreed to do the new boy-girl schools — Jeter said there is this much money out there and we can get this grant and this grant and now there’s no (grant) money available.”

In his letter to acting Superin-tendent Robert Clowers, Perry requests the following:
n Number of grants applied for by Jeter, or anyone in Learning Services, from Sept. 1, 2004 to the present date, with a copy of each, plus rejection or approval notifications.

n Number of grants applied for by Jeter, or anyone in Learning Services, specifically for the Jacksonville Middle School from Sept. 1, 2004 to the present date, with a copy of each, plus rejection or approval notifications.

n The amount of National School Lunch Act funds Jack-sonville Middle School boys and girls campus students were eligible to receive for the 2004-05 and the 2005-06 academic school years.

nThe total amount of NSLA funds received by the school district in 2004-05 and in 2005-06.
n A breakdown of the allocation of the NSLA funds within the entire district.

Jeter said he received Perry’s FOI request Tuesday and would have the information Perry seeks.
Jeter said the department had applied for three grants on behalf of the single-gender schools, but hadn’t been awarded any of them.

He said it sometimes took repeated applications over a period of years to get grants.
“There are a number of complicated issues,” Jeter said.

“In every grant package a portion has to do with the sustainability of the program in question. Since we went into fiscal distress, it’s hard to guarantee to any funding source how long the district will be solvent.”

The material requested by Perry will show that the district applied for the grants, he said.
“I don’t believe I oversold the grants, saying we were going to apply and hope to get them. But the success of the program doesn’t depend on getting grants,” Jeter said.

With the first nine weeks of school completed, Jeter said his department is working on a comprehensive report detailing the successes and problems so far at the middle school.

Perry’s FOI request also seeks information on the free-and reduced-cost lunch program and the expenditures of federal funds generated by that program at the single-gender schools, where most of the students qualify.

Those requests have been forwarded to John Archetko, the district’s chief financial officer, who was not at work Tuesday.

TOP STORY >> He'll stay in race despite attacks, Stumbaugh says

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stum-baugh says he is not worried that the recent report about his personnel record while an officer with the Little Rock Police Department will hurt his race for Congress.

If anything, he believes the residents of Ark-ansas’ First Dist-rict will see him as someone who has made mistakes but has tried to learn from them – someone like themselves.

The report in Tuesday’s Arkan-sas Democrat-Gazette chronicled Stumbaugh’s suspensions during his 15 years with the department for such infractions as wrecking patrol cars, failing to file the proper paperwork before taking an off-duty job, calling a radio talk-show while on duty and on the way to a call and using profane language to civilians.

But Stumbaugh says there was nothing in the article that he didn’t make public before the mayor’s race in 2002 and were the same incidents re-ported by The Leader at that time.

None of the offenses were bad enough to be fired for and most occurred while he was in his 20s, he said.
Now that it’s all out once again, there is nothing else of a personal nature that can be used against him in his race for Congress against Democrat Marion Berry.

“That’s all they’ve got,” said Stumbaugh, who will now have a Republican opponent in the race after Patrick D’Andrea, 43, a retired Marine who works as a juvenile probation officer for Lonoke County, said Tuesday that he will announce his candidacy on Friday.
Stumbaugh said that when he learned his personnel file had been requested under the Ark-ansas Freedom of Information Act as it had been when he was running for mayor, he called the newspaper and volunteered other personal information, like the fact that he had filed bankruptcy when he was in his 20s and that he had been divorced twice. But that information, too, had been made public during the mayor’s race.

During that race, Stumbaugh learned that someone from former Cabot mayor Joe Allman’s camp had filed an FOI for his records and he responded by turning the file over to The Leader, which ran the information along with his comments much like the Democrat-Gazette did.

“It’s no big secret. I haven’t hid it,” he said.
“I believe the voters of the First District have the right to know any mistakes I’ve made in my past, as well as my accomplishments,” Stumbaugh said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. “

“Being a good leader involves accepting responsibility for mistakes, and ensuring that the mistakes are not repeated. I acknowledge that I have made many mistakes in my life, and I accept full responsibility for them.

“I do not believe that these instances alone show what type of congressman I will be. My re-cords also document numerous letters of commendation for volunteer efforts, providing professional assistance to people in need, and displaying professional courtesy.
“The voters of the First District have the right to know all of these things about me. I have nothing to hide. The bottom line is that while my life has not always been perfect, it has molded me into an effective leader, and I want to use this leadership to attract jobs to the First District, stabilize the farming industry, and get our kids off drugs.”

Stumbaugh said he believes his victory over Allman was partly the result of the information from his personnel file being released. It worked against Allman, and he believes it will work against Cong. Marion Berry, his Democratic opponent.
“I think people are going to see it for what it’s worth,” he said. “I’m going to stick to the issues.”

TOP STORY >> War goes well, Self tells base council

Leader Publisher

The top commander at Little Rock Air Force Base says the war in Iraq is going much better than the way the media are portraying the fighting there.

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, told members of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council on Monday that progress is being made in Iraq despite the bloodshed there.
“Every day, Iraq improves,” Self said.

Schools, roads, hospitals and other infrastructure are being built every day, while the Iraqi military is taking more responsibility in the fight against the insurgents.

The base has played a key role in the Iraqi war, as it has in Afghanistan and before that in the first Gulf war.
“Afghanistan is the benchmark,” the general said. “We’ve done amazing things.”

He said more then 400 personnel from Little Rock Air Force Base are deployed in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, and more will be on the way in January.

Several C-130s are deployed in those areas, along with more than 50 others, including two C-130Js, from other bases.
The general said the C-130s are dependable carriers that can make long and short deliveries and stay in theater for a long time.
Self would not be specific on how many more planes and new personnel LRAFB would gain after the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations are implemented.

“BRAC is good news for Little Rock,” Self said. “We’re not going to get worse.”
Under a Pentagon recommendation that called for shutting down scores of military facilities, the base here would have received several dozen more planes and some 4,000 new personnel, but the commission did not accept all of the Pentagon’s recommendations and voted to keep several more bases open, reducing the number of new missions here.

President Bush and the House of Representatives have accepted the BRAC Commission recommendations, and the Senate is expected to follow suit.

The latest estimate is that the base will get a handful of new planes and perhaps a few hundred more personnel.
“We train the best crews and maintain the best planes,” the general told the community council.
“If we’re not better tomorrow than we were today, I have failed you,” Self said.

He told the luncheon that Gen. William R. Looney, the new commander of the Air Education and Training Command — which operates Little Rock Air Force Base — has asked the base to reach out to community members and let them fly the planes assigned to the base and see for themselves how their tax dollars are spent.

“I have a mandate from Gen. Looney to get council people in the air,” Self said.

He invited council members to fly with him in one of the C-130Js to see how the new planes measure up.

Self also pointed out that new construction continues on base all the time, including new housing now under private management.
“Little Rock Air Force Base is a model for other bases,” the general said.

“We’re in this together,” Self said. “I cannot do this job without you.”

TOP STORY >> C-130J fleet is evaluated

Leader Publisher

A team from Edwards Air Force Base is evaluating the four C-130J transport planes at Little Rock Air Force Base as the Pentagon seeks to determine if the planes are combat-worthy.

Although two C-130Js are assigned to the war in Iraq, critics inside and outside the Pentagon say the new aircraft has fallen short of expectations, although top Air Force generals insist the planes have performed well.

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at the base and a supporter of the C-130J program, told members of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council on Monday that the evaluators findings are crucial to the future of the C-130Js.
“I’m a C-130J pilot. I love it,” the general said, although he has also flown the larger C-17s as well as helicopters.

While Air Force officials believe the C-130Js are a big improvement over the older C-130E models, Pentagon auditors have been critical of the plane’s performance and cost.

More C-103J evaluations are scheduled for Alaska in December to see how the C-130Js assigned here perform in the cold.
Inspectors had found problems with the planes in the Middle East, where sand interfered with their performance, but Self said those problems have been fixed.

A Pentagon inspector-general’s report last year criticized the Air Force’s purchase of 50 transport planes without a set price during contract negotiations with Lockheed-Martin of Mariet-ta, Ga., the plane’s manufacturer.

The C-130Js cost about $67 million each, or about $17 million more than what the plane’s supporters said they would cost a decade ago.

Critics say Lockheed could set its own price in a cost-plus contract, even though the plane has had problems in combat several years after delivery of the first aircraft.

Self believes the planes are a big improvement over the older C-130Es, which have been the workhorse at LRAFB for decades.
Three more J model planes are scheduled for delivery to the base in December, but their future depends on the outcome of the auditors’ report.

“We’re not limited to seven,” Self said, explaining that he expected more C-130Js would be assi-gned to the base.
The challenge is to make sure Congress and civilians in the Pentagon approve the C-130J as “a weapons commodity,” Self said.
Some community council members voiced surprise that the C-130J, whose production has been on-again and off-again, has yet to receive the go-ahead for more orders and whose combat-worthiness is still under review.

Self said the new planes “are a hybrid” between the C-130Es and the C-17s.

While the C-17s can carry huge amounts of cargo into a theater, the C-130s can hop around in war zones indefinitely. Besides two C-130Js, the Air Force has sent 64 C-130Es to Iraq, several of them from LRAFB.

Self told the community council that the older C-130Es have a maximum flight-life of 45,000 hours. They can be refurbished for $10 million each, but the general wondered if it might not be more cost-effective to buy more C-130Js.

Lockheed Martin has sold more than 50 C-130Js to the U.S. military, in addition to foreign markets, but their domestic production has slowed.

Self said the new planes have a better view for the pilots and take off faster than the old planes.
The new plane can cruise at 30,000 feet with a range of 3,000 miles.

It can deliver 39 percent more paratroopers or 50 percent more payload and needs a three-person flight crew as opposed to the five-person crews on the older planes.

According to Lockheed-Martin, the C-130J has all-new avionics, as well as more powerful engines, six-blade propellers, 50 percent greater range with a standard load, 25 percent higher cruising ceiling, 50 percent faster time-to-climb, 12 percent increase in maximum speed and 17 percent greater fuel efficiency.

The C-130J has room for eight pallets instead of the six on the old planes, Self said.
The maximum takeoff weight is 164,000 pounds, with a maximum payload of 48,000 pounds. The plane can fly 660 kilometers-an-hour and takes off or lands on runways as short as 1,500 feet.

Lockheed Martin says overall, the C-130J boasts a 50 percent improvement in reliability and maintainability and 68 percent reduction in maintenance man-hours.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

EDITORIAL>> Stay warm this winter

It is liable to be a cold winter, and heating bills will be out the chimney. As you have heard on the radio this week, for the elderly and disabled and a few of the other poor, the government is here to help you pay the bills. But precious little.

The federal Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program pays utilities for part of the cost of heating and cooling the homes of the needy, and Arkansas’ share is about $14 million for the year, which does not go very far. Arkansas exhausts its share before it reaches many people for very long. The money is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Each utility hustles to get its customers signed up first.

It is much better to be poor in Minnesota, Wisconsin or another of the northern states than in Arkansas. The assistance in Minnesota, for example, might be $120 per poor person in the state but only about $10 in Arkansas. The law was written by Northerners for Northerners.

The distribution is based on the square of the average number of cold days in the year. All those hot, torpid days and the actual depth of poverty do not count.

Sen. Mark Pryor is going to try to change this outrageous formula, he said the other day, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln is sympathetic.

They also are joining with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in trying to increase the appropriation this year by $3 billion because home-heating costs are skyrocketing and low-income families who can afford to heat their homes will be able to afford nothing else. But don’t hold your breath for either.

To almost the last Republican senator and congressman, even those in the South, the party votes to halt either remedy, and it runs the show.

Why would statesmen like Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas, vote to keep their own poor people cold and miserable?

Now our own Republican, John Boozman of Springdale, votes with the Democrats on this one.
Down here, someone bragged, even Republicans often have a heart.

EDITORIAL>> The noose tightens at White House

Four months ago, few people outside the Beltway had heard of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

But he was well known to the media because he and Karl Rove were the administration’s dependable conduits. All those stories favorable to the president or deleterious to his critics that cited “White House sources” or one of the other favored figleafs for inside tipsters were apt to have originated with Libby or Rove.

Libby was the surrogate agent for arguably the most powerful man in the world, the vice president. Cheney was the principal architect of Bush’s aggressive foreign policy and specifically of the war in Iraq. While Bush the presidential campaigner was vowing in 2000 that he, unlike Bill Clinton, would never engage in “nation building,” Cheney and a group of fellow ideologues in the New American Century were plotting the overthrow of the Iraqi government and the imposition of a more friendly regime.

Today, Scooter Libby stands indicted for obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to the FBI to throw them off the trail of what former President George H. W. Bush once called a treasonous plot against the country, the outing of a secret American agent. Rove, President Bush’s top adviser, was not indicted Friday, but a special prosecutor confirms that he is still under investigation and that another grand jury will take up the case against him in the same plot.

The incident that started this dismaying course of events once seemed merely curious, almost trifling: Someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of a secret CIA operative in the nether world of weapons of mass destruction.

The operative happened to be the wife of a diplomat from former Republican administrations who had written a critical article about the administration’s dishonest campaign to justify the invasion of Iraq. He had been sent by the administration to look into one report of Iraqi finagling to get nuclear weapons and found it to be untrue. Bush ignored his findings and used the lie anyway to make the case for war. The administration seemed to be paying back a disloyal friend when it identified the agent to several reporters.

But trifling might better describe sexual play in a White House break room. Libby’s indictment and whatever the prosecutor ultimately makes of Rove’s more careful cunning are daggers aimed at the heart of the government. Cheney’s capital in Washington is exhausted. Part of the case against Libby is that he lied to protect Cheney, who told him that the diplomat’s wife was a CIA agent. President Bush has no capital left to squander. Rove’s indictment would effectively spell the end of the Bush administration, although he would have three long years of spiritless rule ahead.

The case of Joseph and Valerie Wilson, the former diplomat and his exposed wife, is surrogate for the Iraqi war, which a former military figure has called the greatest strategic blunder in American history. The strange case of the Wilsons and their White House enemies provides the context for the campaign of deceptions to persuade the U. S. Congress and the American people of the need to go to war. That two aides just took it upon themselves to carry out such dangerous policies is a scenario that few Americans will buy, whatever the outcome of the case.

We fear parlous times lie ahead for the country, and it will be handicapped by leaders who lack the moral and political capital to act decisively in the country’s interests either abroad or at home. It is a good time for prayer.