Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TOP STORY >> NFL official a big hit at chamber banquet

Leader staff writer

As outgoing Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce chairman Mark Perry passed the gavel to John Farrell, chamber members and guests in the fully-packed community center Tuesday night enjoyed hearing from keynote speaker Walt Coleman.

Coleman, chief executive officer of Coleman Dairy and a 17-year veteran official in the National Football League, started things off asking for help from the crowd to help him feel more comfortable.

“As you all know I’m a football referee and it would really help me feel more at home — and maybe make some of the politicians here felt at home too — if on the count of three you all could boo,” Coleman said. The crowd obliged with someone even throwing a red “challenge” flag onto the stage.

“I’ve been extremely fortunate,” he said. “Every Sunday for the last 17 years I’ve been on the field with the likes of John Elway, Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Troy Aikman — players who are the best. I’ve been face-to-face with coaches like Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Don Shula — okay, maybe it ain’t all that great,” he joked.

The point, he said, was that when you are surrounded by great people, the best in the world, “if you just pay attention, it will help you become a better person.”

He said that’s what the chamber does. It brings together great people. Coleman told the audience about his first game as an NFL official.
“It was many years ago in San Francisco. The 49ers were playing the Raiders,” he said. “As I was walking on the field before the game I walked past Al Davis, the owner of the Raiders. Here I was a nobody from Arkansas and I was on the field with Mr. NFL. That’s when I knew I was actually in the NFL.”

SPORTS >> Cabot’s quickness too much for FC girls

Forrest City Times-Herald

The Cabot girls were just too quick and had too much depth for Forrest City’s Lady Mustangs to overcome Friday night at Mustang Arena.

Cabot improved to 15-3 for the year and 5-0 in the AAAAA-East Conference by taking a 72-55 win over the Lady Mustangs, who fall to 9-6 overall and 2-3 in the conference.

It was the third-straight conference loss for the Lady Mustangs, who are battling to make the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

Fifth-ranked Cabot led 20-12 after one period and went into the half with a 35-24 cushion.

Forrest City outscored Cabot 19-18 in the third period and twice got within eight points, but it wasn’t enough as the Lady Panthers led 53-43 to start the fourth.

Cabot senior Kim Sitzmann led the Lady Panthers by scoring 22 points but it was Forrest City sophomore Cassandra Jackson who led all scorers with 28 points.

“Cassandra did all she could do,” said Lady Mustangs coach Jacky England. “But by the fourth period, she was just worn out.”
The biggest difference for Cabot was being able to play eight different Lady Panthers and having all eight contribute in scoring. Forrest City played seven but got points from only four.

Junior center Kesha Stovall was the only other Forrest City player to finish in double figures, hitting 12 points. LaShunda Rogers added nine points and junior guard Fareedah Wash-ington was held to just six points.

Maddie Helms finished with 14 points for Cabot while Lindsey Watts had nine and Jamie Sterrenberg and Leah Watts had seven points each.

The Lady Panthers were 10 of 13 from the foul line while Forrest City converted six of their free throws.
The Lady Panthers lead the conference at 5-0, and are followed by Mountain Home at 4-1, West Memphis, 3-2, Sylvan Hills, 3-2, Searcy, 2-3, Forrest City, 2-3, Jonesboro, 2-3 and Jacksonville is 0-5.

Forrest city 49 cabot boys 37

Talk about overcoming obstacles and bucking the odds.

Friday night at Mustangs Arena the Forrest City Mustangs did both to post their 14th win of the season, a 49-37 win over the Cabot Panthers. The win also keeps the Mustangs in second place in the AAAAA-East with a 4-1 record.

They did it without the services of junior starting forward Stephon Weaver, who suffered an injury in the second period and did not return, and they did it by overcoming one of their worst shooting nights in quite some time.

After scoring 15 points in the opening period, the Mustangs went stone cold in the second period, hitting just one of 11 shots from the floor and scoring just two points.

Ironically, the one field goal was by Weaver, his only points of the night, before a Cabot player stepped on his foot, possibly causing a hyper-extended type injury to Weaver’s big toe.

Cabot wasn’t much better from the field in the second, hitting only two of their 14 shots from the floor and dropping in two free throws to stay within three points of at the half, 17-14.

The game’s pace and intensity picked up in the second half when the Mustangs put 32 points on the board. While the production from the floor was still bordering on anemic, the Mustangs made up for it at the foul line, hitting 13 of 16 free throws to take a 32-22 lead to start the fourth period.

“That’s what we had to do,” Lofton said. “Once we got that lead and they had to start fouling in the fourth, we had to step up and knock down our free throws.”

Cabot, who did not shoot well from the floor either, managed to slice the Forrest City lead to 32-26 with under seven minutes to play in the fourth period, but that was as close as the Panthers would get.

Cabot got 10 points from 6-9 senior center Chad Glover in the fourth period, but beyond Glover, the Panthers’ offense was almost nonexistent.

Two free throws by Jarvis Palmer put the Mustangs in front by 12 points with 2:49 to play.

Palmer struck again with two more free throws with 1:45 to play, giving the Mustangs a 14- point cushion at 45-31.
Forrest City’s Michael Alston connected for the Mustangs’ final two field goals late in the game.

The Mustangs finished by hitting 13 of their 43 shots from the floor and converting 15 of 22 from the foul line. Cabot was just 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.

Kelson Stewart recorded his first double double of the season, leading the Mustangs with 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Palmer finished with 11 points while Marcus Britt had 10 and Heath King, who filled in when Weaver was forced to leave the game, finished with five points.

“Heath did not play well last week when we faced Jonesboro but I had already made up my mind that I was going to use him,” Lofton said. “He may have hit the biggest shot of the night when Cabot made their run in the fourth and cut the lead to six. He stepped up and hit that big three from the corner, which gave us a boost. He is a good option for us off the bench.”

Glover led Cabot, 13-5 and 2-3, with 14 points while Matt Lowry finished with seven. No other Cabot player had more than four points.

Each team had 10 turnovers.

The Panthers hosted Sylvan Hills Tuesday and will host Jonesboro Friday. Forrest City hosted Mountain Home Tues-day and will make a road trip to Sylvan Hills on Friday.

As of Friday night, the standings in the boys division has Jonesboro in first place at 5-0, followed by Forrest City at 4-1, Jacksonville at 3-2, Sylvan Hills 3-2, Searcy 2-3, Cabot 2-3, West Memphis 1-4 and Mountain Home at 0-5.

SPORTS >> JHS dominates Blue Devils

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils took care of West Memphis last Friday night with surprising ease, beating the Blue Devils 62-51 at home to move to 3-2 in conference play and into a tie for third place in the brutally tough AAAAA-East conference.
The game was not without its moments of excitement, but that drama was short-lived.

The Red Devils scored the first nine points of the game, and took a 20-8 lead by the start of the second quarter.
The Blue Devils came back strong in the second and cut the margin to 33-31 by halftime, but that’s as close as it would get.
Jacksonville went on another run in the third quarter and the defending state champions had no answer in the second half.
Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said the strong start was the key to the game.

“Knowing what West Memphis had done to this team the last couple of years, I think getting off to that fast start, and proving to themselves that they could play with this bunch, was essential,” Joyner said. “I knew they would make a run, but my guys already knew they could play with them and handle it. That was key.”

Senior center Kelsey Credit sparked the early run that put the Red Devils in the lead. He had three steals, four points and an assist to get Jacksonville out to the fast start.

Credit only scored two more points in the game, but added four blocks defensively, and the guards took over most of the scoring.
Seniors Lavar Neely and Airic Hughes combined for 36 of Jacksonville’s 62 points, including 21 of the team’s 29 in the second half.
Hughes scored seven of his 14 in the third quarter to lead Jacksonville back out to a commanding lead, while Neely took over the in the final period and put the game away.

In the third quarter, Hughes got the ball rolling with a steal and a layup. He immediately got another steal and dished to Neely for a 37-31 lead, forcing West Memphis to call timeout.

After the break, Hughes hit a three pointer after a defensive stop, then fed Credit inside for a 42-32 advantage with five minutes left in the quarter.

The scoring slowed for the remainder of the quarter. Two free throws by Tresdan Winkfield made it 45-36 with 14 seconds left, but Hughes answered with a three pointer from the corner at the buzzer.

He added the first bucket of the fourth before Neely stepped in for six straight points that sealed the game.
Jacksonville was a perfect 8 for 8 from the line in the fourth quarter when West Memphis was forced to begin fouling to stop the clock.

The defensive intensity was at an all-time high in the second half. After giving up 23 points in the second quarter, including 13 by 6-foot-7 guard Jason Henry, the Red Devils didn’t allow a single field goal in the third quarter.
West Memphis managed just five free throws.

The lead grew to as much as 62-46 in the final period. Henry scored the Blue Devils’ first bucket of the second half a minute into the fourth, but that was the only field goal for another six minutes.

West Memphis didn’t score from the field again until Henry hit a layup with 1:04 showing on the clock. The Blue Devils added a third basket with seven seconds left in the game when Jacksonville’s only strategy was not to foul.

The win lifted the Red Devils to 12-5 overall while West Memphis slumps to 6-9 and 1-4 in conference play.
The Lady Blue Devils won their matchup Friday, beating Jacksonville 74-34.

West Memphis improved to 3-2 in conference play while Jacksonville dropped to 0-5.

TOP STORY >> Cabot names Citizen of Year

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s new Citizen of the Year, named Friday during the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet, is a 43-year-old native who says he takes a lot of pride in making sure the city where he grew up is growing as it should.

Since Gary McMillan is a senior vice president with First Arkansas Bank and Trust and is responsible for all the branch banks in Cabot and El Paso, it’s easy to see how helping Cabot grow would benefit him professionally. But McMillan says helping Cabot is personal.

“I grew up here,” he said. “I went to all 12 grades of school here before I went away to Fayetteville. I worked in Little Rock for 13 years, but I came back here in 1998.

“It raised me. So I want to be a part of planning for its future,” he said.

McMillan was chosen from among six nominees by a panel of judges not from Cabot. He was nominated by Jay Robinson with the Arkansas Department of Economic Development and Wayne Welch with Farmers In-surance.

“In my 25 plus years of business and community development, I have seen many volunteers accomplish worthwhile projects,” Robinson wrote in the cover letter to the essay he submitted to the judges when Mc-Millan was nominated. “His innovative thinking; straightforward process of moving things forward is to me the essence of the Citizen of the Year.”
The essay listed many of those accomplishments:

“For the last two years, Gary has served as the chairman of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Com-mittee,” Robinson wrote.

“The Economic Development Committee has been instrumental in preparing demographics, specialized maps, reports and other information needed by prospective business and industry representatives.

During the two years of his leadership, over 500 new jobs have been created in Cabot due to new business development and/or expansion of existing businesses.

“Due to his involvement in the economic development activities of Cabot, he was asked by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman to serve on the Lonoke County Long Range Transportation Com-mittee.

This committee is charged with finding immediate, practical solutions to some of Cabot’s traffic problems as well as planning for future infrastructure to support our growing population.

“The extension of Rockwood Road to the Hwy. 5 exit is a direct result of Gary’s input and involvement in this new committee.
“Gary has been active in a variety of other organizations and activities including, but not limited to, the Cabot Home Builders Association, Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, and the Arkansas Economic Developers,” he wrote.

“He serves on the Cabot High School Business Advisory Council and the Cabot Public Schools Business and Industry Council. Gary is also a presenter for the Arkansas Scholars program, which is aimed at eighth graders to help them achieve their goals during their high school years.

“The Arkansas Scholars program is a partnership between the Cabot Public Schools and the Cabot Chamber of Commerce.
“In addition, Gary has brought together community leaders from throughout Lonoke County on numerous occasions to discuss the possibility of a county-wide drug coalition.

“Just git it done,” is McMillan’s philosophy, according to Cham-ber of Commerce executive director Mary Jane Sawyer.
But McMillan says he was shocked Friday night when his name was announced.

“With such great people nominated like Bob Duke, who has been on the city council for 30 years, I didn’t think I even had a chance, he said.
“I still don’t believe it.”

TOP STORY >> Gen. Self praises deployed airmen

Leader staff writer

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, praised 100 airmen due home Sunday from a four-month deployment to Iraq and 500 airmen deploying over the next several weeks.

The 500 airmen are deploying in small groups to Iraq and other locations around the world, such as South America, to fight in the global war on terror. A group of 20 airmen boarded two C-130s on Friday bound for forward air bases in Balam, Iraq.

“These airmen are the finest men and women America has to offer, and Little Rock will keep them close through our prayers while they’re away from their homes, their friends and their families,” Self said.

“I ask that the tremendous supporting communities of central Arkansas continue to watch over their family members while they are serving in other countries and often in harm’s way, for we all can play an important part in defending our freedom,” Self said.
“I am deeply grateful to them and their families for their sacrifice and patriotism.”

The deploying airmen are members of the 314th Airlift Wing and the 463rd Airlift Group assigned to LRAFB. They are part of the Air Expeditionary Force, which was created in 2000 to provide rotation cycles from four to six months, giving airmen from units around the world and their families more predictability for deployments.

Members of the 463rd Airlift Group already stationed in Iraq helped train the first all-Iraqi C-130 Hercules crew.

The 463rd has about 1,200 airmen under its command divided up among an aircraft-maintenance squadron, maintenance operations squadron and an operations-support squadron, as well as two airlift squadrons, the 50th and the 61st. The 61st Airlift Squadron flies 12 of the older C-130E aircraft, and the 50th Airlift Squadron flies 14 of the C-130H3 aircraft.

TOP STORY >> Hopefuls confident they can ease woes

Leader managing editor

The first two candidates interviewing with the school board for the Pulaski County Special School District’s superintendent position feel they have the experience to help solve the district’s many woes.

One is more familiar with the situation than the other, who said he’s catching up quickly thanks to many hours of research and the help of the Internet.

James Sharpe, 64, current interim superintendent and the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, and Dr. Aquine Jackson, 59, chief academic officer with Milwaukee Public Schools, interviewed with the board Monday and Tuesday.

The interviews, which en-ded day-long meetings and sessions with district employees, school principals and members of the community ended the first two days of a five-day process that will continue until Friday.

Dr. Carl Davis, director of human resources with Cobb County (Ga.) Schools, will be in the area today, including a 5:30 p.m. public forum at district headquarters. Dr. Bruce Harter, superintendent with the Brandywine (Del.) School District, will have the same schedule on Thursday, and Dr. Ed Musgrove, superintendent of the Waynesville (Mo.) School District, will wrap up the process on Friday.

Jackson had his day in the spotlight on Monday, which included a tour of schools in each of the district’s four spread-out zones. Those visits gave him one of his biggest areas of concerns for the district — facilities.

“There is a wide range of facilities in the district and is something I plan on discussing with the board,” Jackson said Monday afternoon, hours before he was planned to interview with the board.

Many poor facilities are among an array of difficulties the district is currently facing. Financial woes, being under the desegregation court order and uneasiness among members of the district’s various communities are all problems Jackson is aware of.
And while he admitted he was concerned with the uncertainty the district is facing, he said he is confident he is the man for the job and has the experience in all areas to help turn the district around.

“The staff that I talked with really want this district to survive, be successful and do the job that it was designed to do, and that’s to educate kids,” said Jackson, who has spent his entire 35-year education career with Milwaukee Public Schools. “I think with my experience, it’s the right time for me, and this is the right place. I think my accomplishments mirror the very needs of what this district needs.

“I have dealt with these kind of problems before, and if the board is willing to work together to create a plan to help the district, then it will work. We can work together,” Jackson added.

Sharpe said the five and a half years he’s worked at the district have helped him become familiar with the uniqueness of the PCSSD and makes him the right choice to help fix the problems.

“It takes a while to learn the interests and dynamics of this district, to learn and understand its culture … and to even understand its subculture, the individual communities within the district,” Sharpe said. “Knowing there are things broken and knowing they are fixable does energize me to want this job.”

Sharpe opted to go on a tour of district schools Tuesday morning, just as the other candidates, because he admitted there were some schools he had yet to visit and some school administrators he had yet to meet. “I learned some things I didn’t already know,” he said.

Sharpe received his bachelor’s in chemistry from Philander Smith College in Little Rock in 1964, his master’s degree in chemistry from Pittsburg State University in 1974 and his administration certification from the University of Tulsa in 1990.

From 1994-1998, he was a high school principal and director of human resources in the 11,500-student St. Cloud School District in Minnesota and then spent two years as executive director of the Flint (Mich.) Community Schools before being hired as PCSSD’s assistant superintendent for human re-sources in 2000.

If he’s selected as permanent superintendent, Sharpe said he wants to work on emphasizing school safety, improve the support and relationship with the various communities in the district and stay on task with various state mandates.

“We must also have a good communication network,” Sharpe said. “I want to start some type of publication, either weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, something. Right now we don’t have a consistent system of communication with our employees and parents.”
But at the top of the list of things to improve, he said, was the district’s financial woes.

“That’s the priority,” he said. “We’ve got to come out of this and satisfy the fiscal distress plan and the state Department of Education, and in the process, built trust and confidence with our communities.”

TOP STORY >> Schools get building funds

Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District officials, told previously that the district’s fiscal-distress designation disqualified it from transitional facilities repair funds, learned Monday that the state had conditionally approved reimbursements totaling about $264,000.

That includes $217,000 toward construction of a new gymnasium for Robinson Middle School in west Little Rock.
“I’m grinning ear to ear,” James Warren, assistant superintendent for support services, said Tuesday.

“It was the best news I ever had, the best birthday present I could have gotten,” said Warren, who turned 55 Monday.
Cabot and Springdale were the big winners among the state’s districts. Cabot was conditionally approved for $3.4 million in reimbursements, Beebe for $1.4 million and Lonoke for $484,000.

The balance of the money conditionally earmarked for PCSSD was for roof replacements at Jacksonville Elementary, Cato Elementary School, Lawson Elementary in Little Rock, the Oak Grove High School band building and Mills High School in Little Rock.

Because of the district’s relatively high wealth index, those reimbursements represent only 18 percent of the cost of the projects.
Warren, who said he had been criticized for repairing the roofs without assurance of any reimbursement because of fiscal-distress sanctions against the district, said he gambled and won.

Education Department spokes-man Julie Thompson first said Tuesday that PCSSD was excluded because it was on fiscal distress, then backtracked, saying that the state’s Public School Academic Facilities and Transportation Com-mission must have agreed to help fund those projects because the state had accepted the district’s improvement plan.

The commission Monday conditionally approved $86 million for building projects, money divided among 210 projects.

The $3.4 million earmarked for Cabot includes $1 million to add 21 new elementary-school classrooms, $1.9 million to add on to the high school and $366,639 to switch to high-efficiency lighting throughout the district.

The additional elementary school classrooms are at Magness Creek and Ward Central elementary schools, according to Cabot Superintendent Frank Holman.

He said the district had applied for partial reimbursement of about $4 million on the $6.8 million worth of improvements.

The commission has conditionally agreed to reimburse the Beebe School District about $1.4 million for three projects.
“We had four projects ap-proved,” said Superintendent Be-linda Shook. “Three already are completed, and one is due for completion early this summer.”

The state will reimburse Beebe 63 percent of approved costs.

The three completed jobs in-clude a renovation at the McRae Middle School, turning a vocational building into classrooms, computer labs and a library, Shook said.

“We also totally renovated our elementary building, wiring, whole inside, new cabinets and flooring,” she said. “It’s like a new building. And we renovated an old maintenance building into a high school physical-education building that doubles as a shuttle bus drop off.”

Next summer, the district should complete adding classrooms and a computer and choir room to its ninth- and 10th-grade high school building, Shook said.

Lonoke Assistant Superinten-dent John Tackett said Tuesday he hadn’t been told how much the district would receive in transitional funds, but the commission conditionally awarded Lonoke $484,011 toward its new middle school, according to the table of reimbursements.

TOP STORY >> Lab seizures decline in 2005

Leader staff writer

Detectives with the White County Sheriff’s Department say they see changing trends in the production of methamphetamine, but not necessarily a reduction in use.

The highly addictive, illegal drug was not produced as much in White County last year as in years past. It was replaced with “ice,” a purer form of the drug, brought in from Mexico and California by Hispanics, they say.

But already since the first of the year, sheriff’s deputies have made half as many meth-lab busts as they did in all of 2005, an indication that production is on the rise in the county again but not on the scale that it was before, the detectives say. Instead of cooking to sell, drug users appear to be cooking at home for their own use.

And that, they say, could cause even more problems, since making the drug is a dangerous activity even for experienced cooks.
The number of meth-lab busts was down in the county from 41 in 2004 to nine in 2005, according to statistics released this month.
Capt. John Slater and Lt. Greg Williams attribute the decline to a new state law that took over-the-counter cold medicines used in the manufacture of methamphetamine off the shelves of grocery and discount stores.

Now customers have to sign at a pharmacy desk for the medicine.

Meth cooks and dealers are forced to drive from pharmacy to pharmacy to buy their two-box limits.
Some clerks and pharmacists have become wary of carloads of out-of-towners in search of cold and allergy medicine and have started refusing service or even alerting law enforcement agencies, said Slater, spokesman for the sheriff’s department.
But some sell the limit to anyone with the required picture ID.

Fred’s Pharmacy in Beebe was broken into twice in 2005 and both times the thieves cleaned out the stores supply of the former over-the-counter medicine.

White County Sheriff Pat Garrett admits that his department has not been as successful as he would like in apprehending the Hispanic drug dealers who are bringing ice to the county.

“We’re catching some but not as many as we’d like,” the sheriff said.

But Williams said informants tell him that while ice is still a problem some dealers are becoming fearful of being arrested.
So he believes small home meth labs will make up for any decline in the imported drug.

Garrett says county residents need to know what to look for if they suspect a neighbor or family member is cooking meth for sale or use. Pay attention to any unusual odors such as ammonia or ether, he said. A large number of matches also is significant especially if the strikers are missing, because that is the part used in meth production.

“There will be plenty of matches, but there won’t be a striker plate on the back of any of them,” he said.

Also take note of Red Devil lye in large quantities, Coleman camping fuel and plastic hose, he said, adding none of the items, including the cold pills, are illegal, but together they are a meth lab.

TOP STORY >> Drug abuse puts drain on local hospitals

Leader staff writer

While the number of meth-amphetamine busts dropped by almost 50 percent last year in Arkansas, meth-related hospital admissions continue to climb.

Since Act 256 went into effect last March requiring pseudoephedrine products be taken off the shelves and sold by a pharmacist, obtaining meth ingredients has become more difficult. The monthly average for meth lab busts in Arkansas dropped from 101 in 2004 to 55 in 2005, said Sen. Mark Pryor during a national town hall meeting on methamphetamine awareness held in Washington on Monday.

“This approach is working and we need to pass federal legislation, such as Senate Bill 103 so that every state takes the same steps and crossing state lines won’t enable anyone to re-supply their meth lab,” Pryor said.

The reduction in the number of large meth labs has resulted in users making the drug in smaller quantities at home and in the ice, crystal methamphetamine imported from Mexico.

“We see an average of 102 patients a day and of those, four would be treated for meth-related complications,” said Sara Koehler, marketing coordinator for White County Medical Center in Searcy.

Treating meth-related cases in the emergency room puts a strain on resources at all hospitals, according to Koehler.
“A lot of these people who are addicted to meth are not in a good financial position because of their addiction. They do not have insurance and it drains our charity care resources,” Koehler said.

“We’ve treated patients addicted to meth that ranged from 12 years old to 60.”

Sherry Clements, emergency room manager at Rebsamen Medical Center, says of the 2,000 patients that pass through the emergency room in a typical month, roughly 5 to 6 percent are seeking treatment related to drug use.

“We haven’t been tracking the numbers on meth cases specifically because the symptom can be because of other drugs and reasons,” Clements said. “I think we probably have a lot more than what we really know.”

Patients come in unresponsive and jittery, and some are suspected overdoses after mixing meth with other medications.
“Lots of meth users will have sores because the meth makes them pick at their skin,” Clements said of the common meth symptom. “You see a lot of the same patients over and over, and because of patient confidentiality you can’t call the police.”
Even with the decline in meth lab busts, Clements says Rebsamen Medical Center still treats people for burns related to meth lab explosions.

“One thing we’ll see is people coming in with suspicious burns and their story on how the burn happened just doesn’t add up,” she said.

The types of meth burns emergency room personnel treat are most often on the face, hands and thighs, Clements said.
Sometimes the meth user will come in several days after being burned and by that time infection has set in. The most severe burn cases are sent to the burn unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

“Our problem with quantifying the number of burn patients from meth labs is that they won’t come in saying ‘my meth lab exploded,’ it will be a water heater explosion or another excuse,” said Jimmy Parks, a nurse and outreach coordinator for the burn unit at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

From July 2004 to June 2005, Parks said Arkansas Children’s Hospital treated 145 adults in the burn unit. Of those, Parks estimates between 5 and 15 percent were either suspected or confirmed burned during a meth lab explosion.

“We don’t seem to be getting as many as we used to. Meth lab explosions don’t make a large number of our patients but those who are (in meth lab explosions) have pretty bad injuries,” Parks said.

The National Association of Counties recently released “The Effect of Meth Abuse on Hospital Emergency Rooms,” a 2005 survey of 200 emergency room officials in 39 states.

In the survey, 83 percent of the emergency room officials reported that people requiring treatment for a meth-related emergency are often uninsured.

Fifty-six percent of the hospitals reported that costs have increased because of the growing use of meth.

OBITUARIES >> 01-25-06


Thomas William Fausz, 46, of Lonoke, passed away at Rebsamen Medical Center in Jacksonville on Jan. 18. He was born Oct. 27, 1957, to Arthur William and Delores Helton Fausz.

Thomas is survived by his mother, Delores Bradshaw of New Mexico, his children, Christopher Keith Fausz of Batesville, Thomas Adam Fausz of Covington, Ky., Khristian Ann Fausz of Covington, Ky., Shawn William Fausz of Lonoke, Danielle Martin of Covington, Ky., and Amy Marie Richardson of Jacksonville, a brother, Arthur Fausz; five sisters Reva, Eva, Linda, Margaret and Lola and two grandchildren; Avery Richard-son and Haley Fausz.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m., Thursday at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.
Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Annie Verneal Burlison, 84, died Jan. 18.

She was a long-time active member of Lonoke Baptist Church. Preceding her in death was her husband, Ellis, and six brothers and sisters.

Survivors include four daughters, Charlotte Ballew of May-flower, Beverly Rhoden of Kansas, Sherri Flynt of Little Rock and Patti Fitz of North Carolina; one son, Mike Burlison of Lonoke; 13 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 11 today at Lonoke Baptist Church with interment at Hebron Cemetery, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke.


Donald Ray Brown, 49, of Jack-sonville, passed away Jan. 17.

He was born Jan. 16, 1957 in Greenville, Ohio to the late Melvin and Nina Morse Brown. He was also preceded in death by a brother, Robert Brown.

Donald is survived by a son, Terry Lee Brown of Minnesota and a daughter, Deanne Norton of Kentucky, brothers, Russell Brown and wife Chris of Winchester, Ind., Ron Brown and wife Pam of Indianapolis, Ind., Jack Brown of Gravel Ridge and David Brown and wife Stacey of Richmond, Ind.; sisters, Mendy Croucher of Sher-wood, Becky Estep and husband Terry of Indianapolis, Bobbie Snow and husband Frank of Richmond and other friends and family.

Graveside services were Friday at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery, North Little Rock. Funeral arrangements were under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


John Calvin Dillard, 81, of Mayflower, passed away Jan. 18. John was born on June 5, 1924 to James Lee and Savana Baker Dillard in Cabot.

He served in the Navy during WWII. Mr. Dillard was a home builder and he loved to hunt and fish.
John is preceded in death by his parents; a wife, Nerva Ann Dillard; a brother, Herman Dillard, three sisters, Marie Hammons, Estelle Cleveland and Glenda Campbell. He is survived by his five brothers, Raymond Dillard, William Dillard, and Paul Dillard of Cabot, Arnold Dillard of California and Jimmy Dillard of California; two sisters, Reba O’Dell of Roland, and Arlene Benson of North Carolina; a host of nieces, nephews and family.

Graveside services were Friday at Sumner Cemetery with John H. Watt, Jr. officiating from the Church at Pinnacle Mountain in West Little Rock.

Arrangements were by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Darold Jr. Holland, 69, of Beebe, went to be with the Lord on Jan. 18. He was born Jan. 5, 1937, at Damascus.

He was a member of North Hills Baptist Church at Sherwood.

He is survived by his loving wife, Helen Holland; five children: Steve Holland, Cindy Clark and husband Kenny, Mike Holland, Rocky Holland and wife Kristi and Lisa Baxter and husband Dean; 11 grandchildren, Jeremy Clark, Jeremy Holland, Amber Holland, Chasity Webb, Jennifer Clark, Candice Hilger, Rocky Holland, Jr., Kevin Holland, Eric Holland, Mandy Baxter and Nathan Hol-land; five great-grandchildren, Chancee Clark, Carlee Clark, Mackenzie Webb, Laylah Reese and Kelly Anderson Webb, Jr.

He was also survived by three brothers: Billy Holland, Harold Holland and Verlas Holland; three sisters, Edna Brown, Mary Scott and Viola Holland. He was preceded by his mother and father, Ezra and Ella Holland; six brothers: Alton Holland, C.L. Holland, Gene Holland, Norman Holland, Em-erald Holland and Finas Holland; one sister: Jean Morgan. Special thanks and appreciation to Baptist Hospice.

Funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.


Carolyn Sue Blakemore, 66, of El Paso, passed away peacefully at home. She was a truck driver and home healthcare worker, and was a fine wife and mother and a wonderful aunt.

Carolyn is survived by her husband, John Blakemore; her parents, Bob and Gail Gillen of Shirley; her son, Billy Ray and wife Dawn Blakemore of Elsberry, Mo.; four grandchildren, Bill, Melissa, Aimee and Kristi; three great-grandchildren, Gracie, Caillou and Brooklyn; two sisters, Judy Helton of Shirley and Nellie Dickson of Nashville, Tenn.; two brothers-in-law, Joe Blakemore and Charlie Blakemore, both of El Paso; three sisters-in-law, Linda Robinett of Mississippi, Benny Blakemore and Paula Blakemore, both of El Paso; three nieces, Vicki, Charla and Renee; and three nephews, Jimmy, Robbie and Bryan.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Vilonia Cemetery.

WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL >> Bill Halter's awful idea

A good rule is to beware the politician who promises big, bold new ideas for it is apt to be no more than a promise. Follow the man or woman who actually offers them.

We actually have looked forward to hearing from young Bill Halter, the Rhodes scholar who tendered his name months ago as a possible candidate for governor. No one knew much about him except the resume — a high Social Security administrator, a federal budget analyst, an economics consultant, a Stanford trustee, and a short stint as head of an ill-fated state think tank — because he had never involved himself in Arkansas politics at any level.

But there is no reason that Democrats should exclude from the governor’s race anyone but the seasoned Mike Beebe. Every Democrat should encourage competition for the nomination.

Halter said if he ran it would be a different kind of race, one based on ideas, fresh ones. Friday, Halter announced that he was indeed going to run, and he provided a sample of the bold ideas that he would introduce into Arkansas politics.

A lottery.

If that is Halter’s notion of a bold idea, save us from the stale ones. Lotteries are popular — promotion of a state lottery helped elect two Southern governors — but they are not a solution to the state’s manifold problems, and no politician who offers a lottery as a serious way to tend to the state’s shortcomings deserves our attention. Lotteries are fun for people who find some thrill in any form of gambling and a desperate hope for others, but for a state like Arkansas, where the big athletic teams never rise above the mediocre, they could provide nothing more valuable than a social diversion.

Halter said a lottery might supply as much as $250 million a year in revenue for education once the voters approved the idea and the scheme was established. Lottery proponents throw such figures around, but they are foolishly wrong.

Here’s a better figure about what a lottery would produce for the state in the first years: $30 million.
In other words, it would raise the general revenues of the state by considerably less than 1 percent. Subtract from the $30 million the cost of social and economic problems caused by the gambling and addiction rates and the lost income from other sales.

Is $30 million too low? Compare with Iowa, a rural state like Arkansas, with a population somewhat larger and more affluent but similar in demographics. Iowa started a lottery 20 years ago and after years of hustling more and more games to entice more people into buying lottery tickets, the state government raised the total receipts from all the lottery games in 2005 to $210 million.

After paying franchise operators, prize-winners and expenses, the state netted $51 million for state programs, the largest sum in its history.

Lotteries are sold nearly everywhere on the idea that the net proceeds would improve education without people having to pay higher taxes. But that rarely happens. The schools tend to get a dwindling share of tax revenues after lotteries, so that they wind up no better and often worse than before.
No, a lottery is not a bold idea or even a good one.

Let us not give up on Mr. Halter just yet, but let him know that expectations are higher than that.

SATURDAY EDITORIAL >> Five-year feud appears over

Mike Abdin, who passed away in 2000, was a successful Jacksonville businessman who left his mark on his community, having long served as an alderman and police commissioner.

A Palestinian by birth, he moved from East Jerusalem to the United States in 1960, eventually settling in Jacksonville, where he opened a jewelry store and prospered. Those who knew him remember his outgoing personality and generosity toward those less fortunate than himself.

But few people besides his relatives and close friends knew that his passing led to a bitter five-year court battle over his estate which finally appears to be over. An appeals court this week upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed his brothers’ claims that Abdin drew up a final will that would have left everything to them and a sister and nothing for his widow.

The contested will was almost certainly fraudulent, drawn up in one of those Byzantine bazaars back in the Middle East. The original will that the courts have upheld was filed here long ago and should never have been contested, except for the greed of others.

Mike Abdin would have been aghast had he witnessed the fight over his estate. He worked hard, invested wisely and served his community. He might have become mayor if his health had held up. Arkansas’ first Palestinian mayor: That would have pleased him.

He was proud of his roots and displayed a picture of himself in his store in an Arab headgear. He’d go back to Jerusalem and buy jewelry from Orthodox Jews, which made him part of a peace movement that would have put an end to wars in the Middle East if more people would only learn to get along.

Mike Abdin knew how to bring people together, which is why he left his mark on his community. He lived the immigrant’s dream of success through hard work. May he now rest in peace.

NEIGHBORS >> Beyond Therapy

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Special needs children learn about horses and life skills at ranch

It’s not unusual to see horses in Ward, but this spring some very special horses will be working in a covered arena just off Peyton Road.

The horses are part of Beyond Boundaries Equine Assisted Therapy Center, a non-profit organization using horses in therapy for children with disabilities.

“The horse is the only animal on earth that when you’re sitting astride them, it moves your pelvis and trunk as if you were walking,” explains Stacy Alberson, an occupational therapist at Beyond Boundaries.
That movement is what makes hippotherapy, from the Greek word hippo, meaning horse, so beneficial to clients at Beyond Boundaries.

“Can you imagine what that means to a child who has never walked or walked at a normal gait?” Alberson said.

Hippotherapy, coupled with traditional therapy, has been used with people with cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, autism, attention deficit disorder, spinal injuries and brain injuries just to name a few.

“We’ve had autistic children speak their first words on the horses,” Alberson said. After hippotherapy, Alberson says children walk with a smoother gait, fall less and are more aware of their environment.
Children who are shy or timid discover that when they speak louder, the horse hears them and will respond.
Evan Horton, 3, of Maumelle, has autism.

Since starting hippotherapy at Beyond Boundaries four months ago, his mother, Leigh Anne Horton, says the changes have been amazing.

”Evan has bonded with this horse at Beyond Boundaries named ‘Little’,” she said. “When we get there Evan gets real excited and touches Little’s nose and says ‘nose’ and touches his ear and says ‘ear.’ Evan’s improvements can be seen away from Beyond Boundaries as well.

“Evan used to not talk very much at all, but he uses words from therapy at home. He says ‘down’ and ‘up’ and ‘treat’ now. When he sees a horse on television or in his toys he says ‘horse.’”

Beyond Boundaries was founded in 2004 by staff members and therapists from Allied Therapy and Consulting in Cabot.

Currently, Beyond Boundaries has five horses and 14 licensed occupational, physical and speech therapists registered in hippotherapy by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.
“We position the client on the horses to use the movement the horse creates to most benefit the client,” Alberson said.

The therapists at Beyond Boundaries take into consideration a lot of factors to benefit the needs of the client during each session, everything from the stride of the horse to whether to use a saddle or just a horse blanket.

“For example, some children who are motor impaired will focus at balance. You won’t always see them forward astride on a horse, they might be seated backwards,” Alberson said.

All of this is done with the therapist being constantly aware of the way the horse is moving and how it is affecting the child physically and emotionally.

Another program offered by Beyond Boundaries is recreation riding for clients who have progressed through the hippotherapy stage. “Children in this program may want to be more independent with their horse such as learn how to lead the horse, how to rein and how to brush the horse,” Alberson said.

The recreation riding program is taught by Jamie Carmen-Reagan, a non-therapist, who maintains advanced riding instructor certification through the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.

Beyond Boundaries also offers a competitive sports riding program which is geared toward the competition level of horse sporting events such as the Special Olympics.

“We try not to turn away a donated horse, but it takes a very special horse to be a therapy horse because we have to be very choosy,” Alberson said.

She describes a typical horse at Beyond Boundaries as being between the age of seven and 18. The horses had jobs such as a show horse, trail horse or herding horse from a farm.

Currently Beyond Boundaries works with 32 clients at a outdoor corral donated by Jim and Brenda Bobbitt of Sherwood. Once the Ward stable and enclosed arena are completed this spring, Beyond Boundaries will be able to work with clients five days a week regardless of the weather.

“Our hopes is to offer therapy for adults and for our Ward location to someday be a national research and training facility for therapists and riding instructors,” Alberson said.

In August, Beyond Boundaries hopes to bring more than 200 people to the Ward/Cabot for the 2006 North American Riding for the Handicapped Association Region 8 Conference.

“We have a tremendous need for donations including donations of labor and materials for our construction,” Alberson said.

There are several ways for people to make other tax-deductible contributions to Beyond Boundaries, a 501-C3 non-profit organization such as adopting a horse by paying for its food and vet bills or adopting a family by paying a client’s co-pay for the sessions.

For more information on Beyond Boundaries, contact Stacy Alberson at (501)772-3211.

TOP STORY >> A work of Panther art

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: School board conference room gets splash of color

Donna Williams, an art teacher at Cabot Middle School North, recently completed a month-long painting project depicting the school district’s emblem and mascot on the walls of the board of education room in the Administration Building, 602 North Lincoln.

The mural of the seal and two leaping panthers is on the wall behind the board of education conference table. On the west and east walls, Williams put up large letters spelling out the names of all the schools in the district, separated by panther paw prints.

Frank Holman, superintendent of the district, says he plans to have student art and academic work from all the schools displayed on the south wall of the board of education room.

“We’re also asking some of our principals if they have special recognition of teachers and staff to bring it over and we’ll put it up,” Holman said. Williams’ artwork can be seen throughout the district. In the physical education room at Magness Creek Elementary, Williams painted a group of panther kittens participating in athletic activities.

“Mrs. Williams is a very dedicated teacher but most importantly dedicated to her students,” said Renee Calhoon, principal at Cabot Middle School North.

Williams painted the panther mural in the Academic Center of Excellence building and a panther leaping out of the wall.

“I’ve painted just about every panther you can imagine painting,” Williams said.

“This has been a great wall to paint,” Williams said. “When you paint concrete blocks, it’s so porous the paint gets in the holes in the concrete and then gravity pulls it all down, making it drippy and runny,” Williams explained.