Wednesday, November 09, 2005

EVENT NOTEBOOK>> November 19, 2005

Center has free classes for canned food drive

The Jacksonville Community Center is hosting “Get Fit to Gobble,” a free way for non-members of the community center to try out Land Group classes until Nov. 18. The classes will be free 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.

Single Parent Scholarship applications available

Scholarship applications are available for single parents residing in Lonoke County who want to pursue their post-secondary education in the spring 2006 semester. To qualify for a scholarship an applicant must be a single parent with custodial care of a child under the age of 18, be a resident of Lonoke County, have a low or moderate income and be enrolled in a career-directed course of study leading to a diploma from an accredited institution of higher learning. Applications may be picked up at Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) at 117 E. Front St. in Lonoke, Department of Human Services in Lonoke, Lonoke County Health Office in Cabot and the library in England. Applications must be returned to the CADC office by Tuesday, Nov. 22.
For more information call, CADC at 676-0019 or 800-406-5562.

Family breakfast slated

The South Bend Firefighters Association will host a county-wide family breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Station 1, located at 4414 Hwy. 294. The public is invited.

NARFE will meet

The Jacksonville Chapter No. 1597 of National Active and Retired Federal Employees will host its monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Western Sizzlin restaurant in Jacksonville. The speaker will be Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim.

Pathfinder fund-raiser

Pathfinder Inc. of Jacksonville is having a fund-raiser by giving away 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. For more information contact (501) 533-6363.

OBITUARIES>> November 9, 2005

David Ray Brown, 27, of Jacksonville, died Nov. 4. He was preceded in death by his father, Charles Ray Brown, two grandparents, and a nephew Eathen Collins.

He is survived by his wife, Crystal, one daughter, Skylar; one stepdaughter, Jennifer of Jacksonville. He is also survived by his mother and stepfather, Katherine and Neil Baker; one brother, Michael and wife, Christi Collins; one nephew, Kyler, of Sherwood; grandmothers, Ozella Brown of Nashville, Ark., and Mildred Carlton of Jacksonville; mother and father in law Theresa and Phillip Harris of Jacksonville.

He is also survived by several aunts and uncles and a host of friends. Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. today at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Rev. Doug Smith officiating.

Louise Crane, 89, of McRae passed away Nov. 6 at 11:10 p.m.

She was born in Sumner, Miss., on March 10, 1916, to Lillie Maude Robertson Wilson and William Walker Wilson. She was preceded in death by her parents, four siblings and her husband, Jack C. Crane. She is survived by one son, Bill Wilson and wife, Mary of Batesville, Mississippi; one daughter, Patsy Wilson and husband Weldon of McRae; six grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Anne Maurine White of Vacaville, Calif.; nephews and nieces.

Family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be 10 a.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Weir Cemetery, in White County. The family would like to offer a special thank you to the staff of Searcy Hospice for their care and concern during her illness.

William Voyd “Blue Hole” Roland of Beebe was born Feb. 1, 1922 and passed away on Nov. 7. He was born in Enola to Ellen and Tom Roland. He is survived by three sons, Billy Johnson of Conway, Tommy Roland of Ingram Mill, Miss., and Robert Roland of Beebe; one daughter, Patsy Russell of Morrilton; 10 grandchildren; and 13 grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at noon Saturday at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral service will follow at 2 p.m. Saturday, at Westbrook Funeral Home. Burial will be in Heffington Cemetery at Enola by family at a later date.

James W. McKinney, 73, of Maumelle passed away on Nov. 4. He was born to Frank and Helen McKinney in Poplar Bluff, Mo., on Oct. 21, 1932. He is preceded in death by his parents.

James is survived by his wife, Doris, of 42 years and their three daughters, Joan and husband, John McCune of Denver, Colo., Phyllis and husband, Bill Nunnally of Austin and Vanessa and husband Tony Brickman of Maumelle; four grandchildren that he loved very much, Jeana and Jennifer McCune and Anthony and Afton Brickman; and his sister. Addie Jean Ketcher-side of Fort Meyers, Fla.; and his nephew, Jimmy and wife Carolyn Ketcherside of Jefferson City, Mo.

He retired after thirty years as the regional manager of the Rocky Mountain States for Fel-Pro of Chicago, Ill.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Little Rock, with burial at Watten-saw Cemetery in Lonoke. Services were performed by Reverend John B. Wright and Reverend Jack Hazelwood. Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Dewey H. “Sonny” McLean, 60, of Cabot was born Jan. 19, 1945. He went to be with the Lord on Nov. 7. He was a Vietnam veteran and served with the Arkansas National Guard until his retirement in 1992. He retired from P.E.C. Transportation at Camp Robinson in 2004.

He was preceded in death by his parents James Henry McLean and Gertrude McLean Henderson.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Barbara McLean of the home; his children: Barbara and husband David Wilson, James and wife Traci McLean and Brian and wife Melinda McLean all of Cabot; three grandchildren: Brandon and Kristianna Wilson and his little buddy, Devin McLean; two brothers: Joe McLean of North Little Rock and George and wife, Suzanne McLean of Cabot; two sisters: Brenda and husband, Ronnie Gold of Butlerville and Connie and husband Mike Adams of Lonoke; his Aunt Loretta and husband, Paul Fulford of North Little Rock and Sue Young of Havana; along with numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and kind and caring friends. Memorial services were held Tuesday at P.E.C. Chapel at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. Interment will be at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

The family wishes to thank the nurses at St. Vincent North “A” Fourth Floor Nurses Station and to the Hospice Nurse Kirt Gardner, RN and all those that took good care of our loved one. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Arkansas Hospice 5600 West 12th St. Little Rock. Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Marylee Logan, 85, a life-long resident of Beebe died Nov. 8.

She was the widow of Rev. Oliver Logan and a member of the Beebe First United Methodist Church. She was a dedicated wife and loving mother.

She is survived by one son, Randy Logan of Beebe; one sister, Gwen Hallmark and husband, Melvin of North Little Rock; and two nieces, Vicki Adcock of North Little Rock and Glenda Gillespie of Grove, Okla.

Graveside service will be 3 p.m. Thursday at Stoney Point Cemetery, by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 247, Beebe, AR 72012.

SPORTS>> Beebe cross country wins state

IN SHORT>> The Beebe boys’ cross country team won the class AAAA state championship Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

Leader sports writer

The Beebe Badgers clinched the cross-country state title on Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

The Badgers took the championship in impressive form with an overall total score of 50.

Harrison was the favorite coming into the event, but did not have as strong a showing as many expected with an overall score of 83. Although Harrison may have been picked as the team to beat coming into the meet, Beebe hushed all doubters with their top five filled with solid times.

Four of Beebe’s top five runners ended up finishing in the overall top 10.

Greene County Tech was third with an 86, making it a 33 point runaway win for the Badgers.

Beebe coach Jonathan Lindsey says the championship is a realization of everything his team set out to do from the beginning of the year, and something that the team felt was within their grasp.

“This is something we’ve talked about,” Lindsey said. “It has been a goal of ours from day one. We put it all together on Saturday, they all performed very well. I am very proud of the guys and I am happy for the seniors. Four out of our nine guys are seniors, so this is a great way to send them out.”

The top five runners’ scores were used in determining each team’s overall total.

Chris Roberts led the way for Beebe, finishing third overall with a total time of 17:47. Josh Allen was sixth overall with an 18:08.

Cody Weimann was the third fastest for the Badgers with an 18:16, which was good for ninth overall, while brother Colton Weimann rounded out the overall top ten with an 18:23.

The final scorer for Beebe was Jake Burns, finishing twenty-second overall with a time of 19:14.

Although their times did not count toward the overall score, four other Badgers turned in solid times.

Of the 116 total runners at the meet, Jordan Girech finished fortieth overall with a 20:06, while Jacob Hendricks finished forty-ninth overall with a 20:31.

Andy Foreman was eighty-ninth with a 22:07, and John Michael Vance finished ninety-sixth overall with a 23:16.

SPORTS>> Bulldogs big favorites

IN SHORT>> Fourth-seeded Red Devils feel they can beat nationally ranked Springdale

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team hasn’t been the favorite in all of its games this year, but it’s never been quite as big an underdog as it is heading into its first-round playoff game against Springdale.

The Bulldogs are 10-0, ranked as highly as third in the entire nation by some national prep rankings, and in the top 10 of all of them. They have invoked the mercy-rule on every team they’ve played this year except Shreveport Evangel, and that was only because the game was played in Louisiana, where there is no such thing as a mercy rule.

Jenks, Oklahoma, is the No. 1 ranked team in its state, and Springdale beat them 42-3.

Every in-state team Springdale has played has been mercy-ruled no later than Springdale’s first possession of the third quarter, and most have been done by halftime.

Jacksonville enters the playoffs with a 5-5 record, with wins against every team below .500, and losses to every team above .500.

Still, the Red Devils head into Springdale with some confidence. They believe that they are the only reason they are not undefeated. Other teams didn’t beat them, they beat themselves.

They believe that if they can execute offensively, and avoid breakdowns on defense and special teams, they can hang with the mighty Bulldogs.

Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley says the team’s attitude has been outstanding so far this week.

“I love the attitude of this bunch,” Whatley said. “Like I said a couple of weeks ago, this team has played hard every game. We haven’t played well at times, but there’s never been a lack of effort. We’re going to have to execute plays, and put them together, but I think we can do that.”

According to the head coach, the list of things about Springdale that doesn’t concern him is a lot shorter than the list of things that do.

“They’re a complete football team,” Whatley said. “Everyone talks about that offense, but I don’t think their defense gets the credit it deserves. Then you look at last week, and they returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. You can’t take a single play off or you’ll pay for it.”

Springdale coach Gus Malzahn heads up what many are saying is the best high-school football team that Arkansas has ever seen.

Even with that reputation, and with wins over teams with nationwide recognition, Malzahn isn’t concerned in the least with his team entering overconfident and suffering a letdown.

“This is the playoffs,” Malzahn said.

“This is what this team has been waiting on. We’ve got just about everybody back that experienced last year, and coming up short of our goals. There will not be any letdowns.”

Springdale was beaten handily by Little Rock Central in the playoffs last year, but proving themselves this year isn’t the Bulldogs’ only motivation for staying focused.

Malzahn says Jacksonville has a few things that concern him.

“We came down and watched them play, and they have some big-play guys that we have to be aware of. We have respect for Jacksonville.

“They have that speed that might rival anyone we’ve played, but we feel like we have some speed of our own.”

Making good throws and catching those throws will be a big key for Jacksonville. There’s little that coaches can generally find in Springdale from watching film that they believe they will capitalize on, but Whatley finds something from watching his own team.

“Our offensive line has been about as solid a group as we’ve had as far as being consistent all year long,” Whatley said.

“They’ve given us plenty of time to throw all year, and we feel like they’ll do that this week. We just have to make smart throws, good throws, and catch ‘em. We can’t miss any opportunities against this team. When we have them, we’ve got to make the most of them.”

EDITORIAL>> Truckers spoil the fairy tale

Ordinarily we do not expect the trucking industry to be the kid who hollers that the emperor has no clothes. It is more apt to go along obligingly with great policy subterfuges, as it did six years ago when it strongly endorsed the Interstate highway bond program.

But to Gov. Huckabee’s evident shock and dismay, the Arkansas Trucking Association announced this week that it considered the governor’s new highway bond program a genuinely bad deal for the state. It is, and it is heartening to see the trucking lobby say so.

Gov. Huckabee had said there would be no organized opposition to his twin bond proposals, a permanent $575 million credit card for the state Highway Commission and a big bond refinancing that would produce $150 million or more for new building on university campuses. He seemed amazed that the truckers were going to fight his program. It is principally for their benefit, he said.

Lane Kidd, president of the truckers’ association, said its board had voted unanimously to oppose the program. He summed up its premise about as clearly as it can be done. Why would the state want to spend $1 billion for $575 million in highway improvements?

The same argument could have been raised in 1999 when voters, following the trucking group’s strong recommendation, approved a $575 million bond issue for Interstate improvements.

But he said that was different because so much Arkansas Interstate mileage was in desperate disrepair that a crash program with borrowed money made sense.

The point was at least arguable. Interstate repairs have been made at a slightly sharper pace since then than they would have been if the state had spent directly on Interstate repairs the money that is spent each year to pay off the debt.

Here is the simple equation that voters should consider when they vote on the highway plan Dec. 13: Whenever the new bonds are issued — maybe 2009, maybe later — the state will pledge its allotment of federal Interstate maintenance money each year (about $58 million a year) and the receipts of a 4-cent-a-gallon diesel tax (currently $16.4 million a year) to retire the debt. That is close to $75 million a year to retire the long-term debt, perhaps 15 years. For that, the state would get $575 million up front to spend on Interstate improvements over the succeeding years.

Now consider what you would get if you spent the $75 million directly on highway building each year instead of using it to pay interest, principal, underwriting and lawyer fees.

Over 10 years, that would be $750 million of new highways, but under the governor’s program you would have built only $575 million in roads and you would still be paying $75 million a year to investors.

After only five years under the pay-as-you-go plan, you would have $375 million of Interstate improvements. Surely that is sufficient when the state’s other highway and street needs go begging.

The principal beneficiaries of the governor’s plan are not motorists and shippers and certainly not taxpayers. They are the bond underwriters, brokers and attorneys.

There are two other reasons to defeat the highway bond plan, the first one raised by the truckers. It would radically change the state’s fiscal policy and might be unconstitutional.

At any rate, contrary to the accounts of bond lawyers and the state’s bond agency, it violates the spirit of Amendment 20 to the state Constitution, ratified in 1934. It would effectively repeal, at least for the Highway Commission, the requirement that voters must approve each time the state borrows money and obligates the state’s general fund.

If voters approve the governor’s plan, the Highway Commission at its leisure could borrow money until kingdom come as long as the aggregate debt did not exceed $575 million. We promise you that Gov. J. Marion Futrell, that old skinflint, and the authors of the amendment did not expect it to be construed liberally to give a state agency a permanent line of credit. They hated the very idea of debt.

If you think the state has a higher obligation to improve its schools and care for the needy, you might want to look at the fine print of the bond law. If the federal maintenance money and the little diesel tax prove to be inadequate to pay off the bond investors each year, a distinct possibility, the money will be taken automatically not from other highway funds but from the schools and the accounts for Medicaid and other human services.

The governor’s college building bonds? Let’s talk about them later.

EDITORIAL>> Carl Whillock: true Arkansan

It was said of Carl S. Whillock that no Arkansan of the 20th century so unobtrusively but emphatically shaped so much of the public life of the state. Never a governor or senator himself, but a mentor of several, he could see his handiwork in the laws of the state, the growth of the universities and in the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of residents of the Arkansas countryside.

Were it not for the random remarks of George S. McGovern at a lecture at the College of the Ozarks last spring, we would never have known that Whillock was the father of a vast food-aid program to poor nations. It is safe to say that not one of the beneficiaries ever heard his name. McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, said he and Whillock, who was then a special assistant to President Clinton, were in a Roman cafe in 1998 when they sketched out the plan to use surplus American grain and commodities. Whillock returned and sold the president on the program.

Whillock collapsed and died on a supermarket parking lot at Little Rock Monday morning as, at the age of 79, he was preparing to enter still another of his overlapping careers, this one as a mediator. He had been a sailor, a minister, a businessman, a teacher, a state representative, a prosecuting attorney, a private attorney, a vice president of the University of Arkansas, the president of Arkansas State University, an adviser to a congressman and to governors and senators, the CEO of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp. and a special assistant for agriculture and trade to the president of the United States.

He was an early confidante of Dale Bumpers, when the obscure lawyer from Franklin County made his storybook race for governor in 1970. He managed David Pryor’s campaign for governor four years later and then was his chief of staff after the inauguration. But he may have cast his largest shadow by being the man who made Bill Clinton.

Clinton, a young law instructor at the university, went to Whillock’s home in Fayetteville in January 1974 and asked what Whillock thought about his chances if he ran for Congress against the popular John Paul Hammerschmidt. Whillock, who had been the executive assistant to the liberal 11-term congressman from the district, Jim Trimble, loaded Clinton in his car a few weeks later and they traveled the backroads of the Ozarks meeting Democratic leaders in every town. That would form the nucleus of his political organization for the rest of his career. Clinton would sweep the Democratic nomination but lose the election, barely.

“He’s most important to me,” Clinton told the Arkansas legislature in 2001, “because the first trip I took out of Fayetteville, in the first race I ever made in 1974, was across the hills of north Arkansas with Carl Whillock, when only my mother thought I had any business in that race.”

We may experience his handiwork in these parts because in his 16 years as CEO of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corp. he stabilized its massive distribution network at a time of climbing energy costs. He collaborated with the co-ops’ old adversary, Arkansas Power and Light Co., on a coal-fired generating plant, and he built three hydroelectric plants on the Arkansas River, guaranteeing an abundance of cheap power to farms, rural residents and small towns. His negotiations with Nucor-Yamato brought a steel mill and hundreds of jobs to Mississippi County.

But we will miss this courtly, quiet and dignified man because he was an anachronism — a politician (yes, he was that) without swagger or rancor, who believed taxes should be fair to working people and more than an annoyance for the rich, and who did not believe in savaging and belittling your opponent. He considered running for governor several times — he may have been the best qualified man never to run for the office — but friends always talked him out of it, knowing that those quaint standards would leave him crucified in a modern election.

That sadly is the truth of it.

TOP STORY>> PCSSD to discuss closings

IN SHORT>> School board may close Homer Adkins and Scott elementaries, but will first hold public meetings.

Leader staff writer

By a 6-1 vote, the Pulaski County Special School District Board of Education took the first step Tuesday night toward closing or restructuring Homer Adkins and Scott elementary schools, a move intended to save the district about $600,000 a year and help get it off the state’s Fiscal Distress list. Zone 7 board member Gwen Williams, vice president of the board, cast the sole dissenting vote, with Jacksonville board member Rev. James Bolden III absent.

The board action authorized two community meetings for parents and patrons of both schools, but did not set times or places.

“I’m not happy with only (the) two meetings at Scott and Adkins,” Williams said. “You’re telling my parents already what you’re going to do. I caught — excuse my French — hell from the parents. Zone 7 has caught the burden of this.”

If the district is unable to escape the fiscal distress designation by the end of the next school year, the state could appoint its own superintendent and essentially take the district over.

The district’s Fiscal Distress Improvement Plan, being reviewed by the state Department of Educa-tion, saves the district $4.98 million this school year and $5.2 million in the 2006-2007 school year, plus an additional $451,811 dollars in projected revenue geared toward special education, meaning a positive impact of $5.7 million for that year.

Both Homer Adkins and Scott have been fingered for closure before and rescued by enthusiastic parent groups.
Both are among nine elementary schools with less than 300 students enrolled.

Homer Adkins, Scott and College Station had the three lowest enrollments and as a predominantly minority school, terms of the existing desegregation agreement may have saved College Station from being closed.

One district employee said Scott would be considered for closure, and Homer Adkins for use as a preschool facility.
In other action Tuesday night, the board authorized a $50,000 maximum expenditure to hire security guards at three high schools to replace school-resource officers sent back to deputy duty because of Pulaski County’s own financial crunch.
The new guards will finish out the school year.

Meanwhile, the McPherson and Jacobson Group, hired to help the district find qualified candidates for the open position of superintendent, met Tuesday with parents and district patrons at Harris Elementary and at the Sherwood Comm-unity Center, as well as with the Sylvan Hills Student Council to determine what qualities are needed in the new superintendent, what the important issues were and what the district’s good qualities were.

Five of the seven people who met with Tom Jacobson at Harris were parents and patrons of Scott Elementary, who seemed most interested in keeping their school open.

In all, the firm will hold 21 meetings over three days.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the search group will meet with teachers, support staff, student councils, including North Pulaski High School and Jacksonville High School, with building principals, central office administrators and support staff and finally conclude at 6 p.m. Thursday with a meeting at the Jacksonville Community Center.

Anyone unable to attend but wanting to participate can get a survey sheet from Phyllis Stewart at the district headquarters, 490-6201, or from McPherson and Jacobson at 1-888-375-4814.

Mabel Binum, who worked as an administrator with the North Little Rock School District, said the district’s uniqueness comes from its diversity — students from rural, suburban and urban settings sprawled across a large county.

Nicky Ervin, a math specialist for Scott and Harris elementary schools, said the next superintendent should “Be nice, be fair and do what’s best for the kids.”

Binum said the superintendent should have managerial and financial skills and integrity.

“Let’s get the money right,” Binum said.

Jacobson said the board had identified its top priorities as integrity, experience, fiscal experience, strong managerial skills, communications skills and past success.

McPherson and Jacobson will accept applications for the job through Sept. 30 then do extensive background checks and develop a short list for consideration by the school board.

The board should interview some applicants between Jan. 23-27 and would hope to name someone by the end of January.

TOP STORY>> Runoff clouds Cabot pond

IN SHORT>> Visitors complain that runoff from the construction of a nearby subdivision has polluted the small pond and fewer people are fishing there as a result.

Leader staff writer

A fishing pond in a Cabot park popular with old and young alike ever since Arkansas Game and Fish Commission started stocking it more than three years ago has become dirty and murky and the number of people who use it is declining.
The problem appears to have been caused by the construction of a subdivision nearby.

A biologist with Arkansas Game and Fish who watches over about 20 ponds in urban areas said he had not been alerted to any problem with the five-acre pond off Campground Road near Kerr Station Road.

It might be turbid now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be stocked with trout on Dec. 17 as scheduled, said Clifton Jackson, urban family and community fish biologist.

“Trout are kind of a visual fish, so the less turbid the better,” he said.

But he added that “turbid is subjective.” So whether or not the water is really muddy could be a matter of perception.
Jimmy Barnett, the aquatic resources education coordinator who convinced the city council to buy the pond so Game and Fish could stock it, said he doesn’t think there is a real problem. Barnett lives in Cabot near the pond.

“The ditch that goes through that pond drains half of Cabot,” he said. “As soon as it rains again, it will clear up.”

But city officials and at least one patron say they are fishes in the pond most Sundays, told The Leader on Monday that there are usually 15-20 people at the pond when he is there.

But since the water turned muddy-brown, those numbers have declined and he is concerned that the pond won’t be fit for stocking with trout in December.

Gail Mainard, Cabot city engineer, said Parks and Recreation Director Carroll Astin called him to investigate about four weeks ago and the pond is definitely muddy.

“It’s silt in a state of suspension that has gotten past the silt fences and there hasn’t been enough rain to wash it out,” Mainard said.

An inspector with the water division of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality made a routine inspection of the new subdivision before Mainard was called.

The inspector said all he felt comfortable with revealing was that the developer violated ADEQ regulations by pumping water from a low spot in Nottingham subdivision into the ditch that feeds the pond.

Doug Szenher, spokesman for ADEQ, said it usually takes months for negative results from an inspection to result in any sort of punitive action by the department.

He also said that such action would not necessarily be mitigated by any corrective action the developer might take.

Adam Whitlow, of Lemons Engineering, the engineer for the subdivision owned by Johnny Hankins, said the contractor doing the dirt work has corrected the problem by filtering the water through bales of straw before pumping it into the ditch. Silt fences around the property also are better maintained now, he said.

All the dirt work in the 43-lot subdivision should be completed within a month, he said.

The street should be paved within a week.

Whitlow said he believes the muddy water in the pond was caused for the most part by the fine dust that covered everything in Cabot until a five-inch rain about two weeks ago, not the disturbed earth in the subdivision.

That dust washed off and some of it ran into the pit in the subdivision that was emptied indirectly into the pond, he said.

TOP STORY>> C-130Js set for intense testing

IN SHORT>> New transport planes will take part in a combat exercise in Fort Polk, La.

Leader staff writer

Evaluators from Little Rock Air Force Base will see how well the Air Force’s C-130J can perform in combat during a week-long Joint Readi-ness Training Center exercise in Fort Polk, La.

Four C-130Js at Little Rock Air Force Base leave Saturday to participate in the exercise’s combat-mission airdrops and formations.

“The C-130J is just a small part of the exercise,” said Maj. Dave Flynn of the 48th Air Squadron.

During the exercise, the planes will be flying three missions per day in combat mode.

“Pilots will have on flack jackets (bulletproof vests) and night-vision goggles during an aggressive week of flying,” Flynn said.
The exercise is part of the second phase of evaluations of the plane.

Over the past three weeks, evaluation teams have been studying how the plane responds flying out of a large base with ample maintenance support. The evaluation teams are comprised of members of the 48th Air Squadron and Air Force Oper-ation Test and Evaluation Center from Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“Compared to the older models of the C-130, the J has more power, it’s faster and can stop on shorter runways because of the powerful reverse thrust of the engines,” said Flynn, who serves as the mission commander for the evaluations.
“The avionics (computers) inside are great,” Flynn said.

Much new equipment includes the heads-up display.

The clear plastic panel that folds down has a radar and summary of system operations in a digital display for the pilots. The J model also replaces several gauges with small, color-computer screens.

“The older models needed a five-person flight crew; thanks to the new technology, we only need three on the J,” Flynn said.
Another feature of the new plane includes a stainless-steel microwave in the cockpit.

“With a full load of fuel, we can stay in the air for 13 hours so it’s good to have,” Flynn said.

The plane also has an air-conditioned cargo area which makes it suitable for paratroopers in desert warfare.

Flynn says training flights at 300 feet into the Ozark Mountains have proved how well the plane handles.

“I find the J to be very responsive and maneuverable, especially at low levels,” said Flynn, who has been flying C-130s since 1998.

Maintenance crews are also finding a lot to like about the C-130J.

“With the older models, we had to depend on the pilot providing diagnostic information like ‘there’s low power in engine two’ but now we have a computer that tells us ‘there’s low power in engine two,’” said Master Sgt. Ed Guilliams, of the 314th Air Maintenance Squadron.

During the first phase of the evaluation, conducted in 1999-2000, examiners looked at the plane’s ability to perform basic tasks, such take-offs and landings. The final phase of the C-130J evaluation includes a December deployment to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, for cold-weather testing.

Following the final evaluation, the plane should be approved for widespread use. Two C-130Js are currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The C-130J has also gone into action as one of the newest hurricane hunters, which tracks storms for the National Weather Service.

The plane has been busy flying into hurricanes Katrina and Wilma and other storms. Their mission this season began June 8 with Tropical Storm Arlene. Crews have clocked nearly 1,200 hours flying during 124 missions this season.

The WC-130 J, which replaced a 30-year-old C-130, is assigned to an Air Reserve unit at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Hurricane hunters fly in and out of storms and report to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The C-130J is also winning praise from the commander of the Air National Guard, who last week said the plane has performed well in Iraq.

Col. Lawrence Gallogly, commander of the 143rd Airlift Wing at Quonset Air National Guard Base in Rhode Island, said the C-130Js have a 93.9 percent mission-capability rate — that is, the percentage of time a plane is ready to fly. The older C-130E and H models have a far lower rate of mobility, dropping to as low as 50 percent in some cases — that is, they’re in the air only about half the time.

The other problem with the older planes is cracks in their center wing box, which holds the wing to the fuselage. The Air Force has grounded dozens of old planes, including 15 grounded at Little Rock Air Force Base. Commanders say the C-130Js are needed to replace the old planes, which cannot be patched up indefinitely.

Robins Air Force Base in Georgia is repairing many of the E and H models, which have up to 45,000 flight hours.

Planes with 38,000 flight hours have been restricted and must undergo inspections and repairs at Robins. There are 17 restricted planes at Little Rock Air Force Base according to 1st. Lt. Jon Quinlan, who said some may go the graveyard while others may be repaired.

Garrick Feldman contributed to this article.

TOP STORY>> Housing will force freeway to switch

IN SHORT>> New developments force the State Highway Department to reassess which way the second phase of the North Belt should go.

Leader staff writer

For the undecided portion of the North Belt Freeway through the Sherwood area, the State Highway and Transportation Department is considering not only the four routes studied last time, but also undefined routes running as far north as Gravel Ridge, commissioner Carl Rosenbaum said Tuesday night.

At the annual reception and dinner sponsored by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Rosenbaum also reported that it would now cost $40 million instead of the $10 million allocated to widen Hwy. 67/167 to six lanes from the North Belt interchange to Red-mond Road.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that the current 167-ft. bridge over Bayou Meto must be replaced by a 1,200-ft. bridge because it will be built in a wetlands and flood plain. The longer bridge would cost an estimated $16 million alone.

Highway Department Engineer Frank Vozzel said there was no appeal of the Corps decision.


In late 2003, Sherwood rejected the Highway Department’s choice of alternatives to link the North Belt from Hwy. 67/167 to a spot near the North Little Rock Municipal Airport en route to Crystal Hill and I-430.

The Highway Department’s preferred route would have run through several developed or developing subdivisions on or near the east-west portion of Hwy. 107, and the city of Sherwood turned thumbs down by refusing to incorporate that route into its master plan. That’s when the de-partment went back to the drawing board, launching an in-house, supplemental environmental impact statement to determine the route the North Belt Freeway will take through the Sherwood area.

Department spokesman Randy Ort said the area from Hwy. 107 to north of Gravel Ridge is essentially the same area from which the department started its previous study.

While the new supplemental EIS must consider all the old routes as well as some new ones, one insider said the old highway department favorite, now even more populated, is a bad bet.

A department press release, announcing public involvement sessions in the Sherwood area said, “The meetings will present previously evaluated alignments in the Sherwood and North Little Rock vicinity along with new alignments in the vicinity of Jacksonville, Gravel Ridge and Runyan Acres.”


The announced meetings will be 4-7 p.m. on Nov. 14, at the Brockington Road Church of the Nazarene, 9860 Brockington Road and also from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 15 at Cato Elementary School, 9906 Jacksonville-Cato Road.

Completion of the North Belt loop is expected to cost about $200 million. If a route in the Gravel Ridge area — north of Sherwood — is chosen, it could cost Sherwood sales tax revenues.

“The further north they go, we’ll annex that far north,” Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon said Monday.

Rosenbaum, who represents central Arkansas on the Highway Commission, has been skeptical in the past about the chances of getting the North Belt completed in the foreseeable future, but Tuesday he said chances were “looking better.”
“People are interested in getting it built,” he said. “I hope by next year to have a record of decision,” confirming the North Belt route through the Sherwood area.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim thanked the commission for the recently completed projects — including increasing the southbound lanes north of Vandenberg, and reminding them of long and short-term projects the city hopes for. Those include redesigning the James Street overpass and making Jacksonville’s Hwy. 67/167 frontage roads one-way.
Highway Department Director Dan Flowers encouraged those attending the dinner to help promote the Dec. 13 authority to extend existing diesel tax to continue to pay for work on the state’s interstate system.

In 1999, 63 percent of our interstate system was rated poor, he said. With the infusion of money, today 72 percent of the same system is now rated good, but without continued maintenance, it would fall back into disrepair.

TOP STORY>> A hero’s welcome

Tuskegee airman says stand up for what’s right

Leader staff writer

Robert Decatur and other members of the storied Tuskegee Airmen may have been welcomed home as second-class citizens rather than conquering heroes after the end of the Second World War, but 60 years later, after a long and distinguished career at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement, he was received with respect, enthusiasm and two standing ovations at North Pulaski High School on Tuesday as he spoke to about 200 students.

“Stand up for right and you’ll never be wrong,” Decatur, a retired judge from Titusville, Fla., told the students toward the end of an hour-long talk.

Decatur, 84, warned that historians have been “Very negligent in chronicling Black Americans in the military — all the way to the present day.”

When he was finished speaking, several teachers and about 10 students lined up to shake his hand, get their pictures taken with him and to get autographs.

The 50th chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., just chartered at Little Rock Air Force Base, installed officers and recognized Decatur on Monday by naming the chapter in his honor. They said they had been inspired by the judge at a previous meeting.
The all-black Tuskegee Airmen came into being just prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, when pilots and crews were needed for 50,000 aircraft.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the squadron at the insistence of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Decatur said.

In January 1943, Decatur became the first black pre-flight cadet to be sent to Keesler Field, Biloxi, Miss., for basic training.
At the time, blacks and whites had separate drinking fountains, bathrooms and restaurants, and both before and after the war, even the brave and accomplished airmen who saved perhaps hundreds of white soldiers and airmen with their skills as fighter pilots, were not allowed in the white officers’ clubs, he said.

He said that before the Tuskegee Airmen — so named for the Alabama Air Force Base where they were trained and based — becoming the fighter escorts for U.S. bombers headed deep into Germany and Poland, 70 percent of the bombers were shot down. After they became the escorts, not a single bomber they safeguarded was lost, he said.

Decatur told two tales of crippled and apparently doomed bombers saved from the German Luftwaffe and escorted to safety by the airmen.

Of the 966 Tuskegee Airmen, 140 are alive today, he said.

Josh Daniels, 15, a student, came forward to thank Decatur, saying his grandfather had been on a ship being attacked by the Luftwaffe when the airmen arrived to drive the German’s off.

Decatur, a retired district judge, looked trim and fit, his chiseled features set off by his full, silver head of hair.

He was at times good-humored, joking about his diminishing hearing, and at times very direct discussing problems of race, and the ways in which things have improved racially in this country.

Decatur had a hand in that as well, not only as part of the first group of black Americans ever to fly for the United States, but as a lawyer in 1964 — about the time the three civil rights voter registration workers were murdered in Mississippi and buried in a pond dam. Decatur, by then a lawyer, traveled to Mississippi to represent white and black students arrested for registering black voters.

In 1954, as a young lawyer at Howard Law School, Decatur helped prepare Brown vs. the (Topeka, Kan.) Board of Education, the suit that Thurgood Marshall argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Wiley Branton, a Pine Bluff native, also was a lawyer working on that case.

As a judge, he’s heard about 10,000 cases he said, shaken hands with presidents and known the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks.

A Chicago native and one of 18 children, Decatur later moved to Cleveland, where he lived near and was acquainted with Cleve-land Browns legends Jim Brown and Paul Warfield.

As a younger man, he played baseball against Jackie Robinson and later played Class AAA baseball for Toronto with teammates Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella.

Decatur has also served as an ambassador and was the cover story in Onyx Magazine