Wednesday, February 15, 2006

SPORTS >> Cabot ladies hold off Lady Bombers

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Cabot’s boys and girls basketball teams swept Mountain Home Saturday night, but in different ways. The boys routed the Bombers 62-31 while the girls went to the wire in a 55-54 contest.

The Cabot Lady Panthers took a double-digit lead, then held on for dear life in a 55-54 victory over Mountain Home Saturday night. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, but postponed due to snow.

The Cabot ladies’ biggest lead came at the 2:30 mark of the second quarter. After the Lady Bombers tied the game at 19-19, Cabot went on a 10-0 run to make it 29-19.

Over the last two and a half minutes, Mountain Home came back, and cut the margin to 31-27 by halftime. Lady Bomber guard Sam-antha Dean hit three three pointers in the quarter, including two from about 25 feet out to lead the Mountain Home charge.

The 8-2 run to close the half didn’t stop at intermission. The Lady Bombers added a run to start the third quarter to take a 36-32 lead with 4:24 showing on the clock.

Cabot played sporadically early in the third quarter in losing a big lead to West Memphis two weeks ago as well, but Lady Panther coach Carla Crowder thinks a better focus coming out of halftime will remedy the problem.

“We just came out a little flat in the third,” Crowder said. “It’s mostly just a concentration thing. They just need to get a little more focused early on.”

Two buckets by post player Rachel Glover tied the game up at 36-36, and it was nip-and-tuck the rest of the way.
Cabot threatened to pull away on two occasions, but each time Mountain Home point guard Micaela Cully led the Lady Bombers back.

A Maddie Helms’ putback of a Jamie Sterrenberg miss made it 45-39 with 6:43 left in the game, but Dean hit another long three to cut the margin to three.

Cully then got a steal, a layup and was fouled on the play. She hit the free throw to tie the game with 4:34 left.

Another Cully steal and layup put MH up 47-45 with 3:51 on the clock, but Helms erased the deficit with two free throws just six seconds later.

It was the last time the Lady Bombers would lead in the game.

Glover added a bucket with 2:40 left and Cully tied it again with 2:19 on the clock.

Helms gave Cabot the lead and senior Kim Sitzmann put the Lady Panthers up by four with two free throws at the 1:10 mark.
Cully then rebounded her own missed three pointer and scored with 59 seconds remaining.
MH was forced to foul, but Helms hit both ends of a one-and-one to put Cabot up 55-51 with 31 seconds left.
Cully scored again with 21 seconds on the clock, and then sent junior Lindsey Watts to the line. She missed the front end and Cully took it the other way.
She missed again, but again got her own rebound and was fouled with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
After hitting her first free throw, which was also her eighth consecutive without a miss, Cabot called timeout. Cully missed the second after the break, Mountain Home’s Amanda Condrey came down with the ball, but Glover also got two hands on it from behind. The two wrestled for the ball until the buzzer sounded.

The win keeps Cabot undefeated after 11 conference games and lifts the Lady Panthers to 21-3 overall.

Mountain Home dropped to 16-8 and 8-3, but stayed alone in second place in the AAAAA-East race.

Sterrenberg led the Lady Panthers with 14 points while Helms added 13. Sitzmann chipped in 12 points and eight boards while Glover added eight points.

Cully led all scorers with 20 points, and added seven rebounds. Dean added 15 for the Lady Bombers.

MH’s Kaitlin May scored seven, and added six steals and six assists in the loss.

The boys game was competitive for a quarter, but the Panthers buried the Bombers in the second quarter of their 62-31 victory.

Cabot senior forward Josh Whatley sparked a 13-0 run over the first five minutes of the second frame that gave the Panthers a comfortable 33-12 lead.

He and junior guard Justin Haas each had nine points at halftime as the Panthers led 35-17. The Panthers put together another run midway through the third to put the game away.

The win lifts Cabot to 16-8 overall and 5-6 in conference play.

Mountain Home dropped to 5-19 and 0-11.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers went on the road to Sylvan Hills last night after Leader deadlines.

That boys matchup holds major playoff implications. Cabot trailed Sylvan Hills by one game and sat in fifth place heading into Tuesday night. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.

While the Lady Panthers’ hold on to first place safely regardless of Tuesday’s outcome, the Lady Bears need an upset to keep pace with Searcy and West Memphis for the final playoff spot.

SPORTS >> Favorites win in Metro opener

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: All of the higher seeds won their first-round games in the Metro Conference freshmen basketball tournament Monday at Cabot High and CJHN.

The first round of the Metro-Conference tournament got underway at the Cabot High School gymnasium Monday night, and it was an opening round minus any upsets.

The higher seed won every game in the first night of action, which was delayed over the weekend because of the threat of snow. The Cabot South and Mount St. Mary’s girls advanced in the tournament, while North Pulaski, North Little Rock and Mills won first-round boys games.

One game was played at the North gym Monday night while the rest were held at Cabot High School.

The Cabot South girls moved on to round two with a 40-32 win over Sylvan Hills. The Lady Bears mounted a comeback in the third quarter after trailing 22-9 at halftime.

Sylvan Hills pulled to within two, 30-28 with 3:09 left in the game.

With a comeback in sight, Caron Van Hooks fouled out of the game for the Lady Bears, leaving only four players on the court. Myisha Harris led Sylvan Hills with 16 points, while Shelby Ashcraft was North’s game-leading scorer with 19.

The Lady Panthers faced North Little Rock on Tuesday. The Lady Wildcats received a bye to the semi-final round after finishing the regular season first in the Metro standings.

Sylvan Hills lost its opening game in the boys bracket to Mills 43-34. Maurice Peaster led the Bears with 12 points, while Richard Bunting led the Comets with 16 points and went 5 for 5 at the foul line. Mills faced conference champions Jacksonville on Tuesday.

North Little Rock advanced to the semifinals of the boys bracket with a win over South 53-44. The Wildcats got out to the early lead in the game, going up 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. South picked up offensive momentum in the second frame, but couldn’t close the early gap made by North Little Rock. The score was 18-11 at halftime, setting up an offensive shoot-out in the third quarter.

The Wildcats scored 19 points to South’s 12 in the third, with a pair of three-pointers for NLR, and a three from South’s Austin Johnson at the start of the period. The Panthers never came closer than eight in the final quarter, and the Wildcats moved to round two.

Johnson led South with 19 points. Gary Clark added 10 points for the Panthers. The Wildcats had three players finish in double figures.

North Pulaski reached the semifinals with a 41-31 win over Catholic in the North gymnasium on Monday night.

The Falcons took control early, leading 9-3 over the Rockets with 4:37 left in the first half. North Pulaski took the advantage by as much as 10 in the first half with less than two minutes to go, but a late Catholic rally cut the Falcons’ advantage to 15-9 by halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, North Pulaski returned to possessing a double-digit lead over the Rockets, and held it for the remainder of the contest. Jordan Anderson led all scorers for North Pulaski with 17 points.

Carlos Donley and Jaqun Davis both added six points for the Falcons.

The Falcons will play the winner of Tuesday evening’s game between Cabot North and Oak Grove to-day at 5:15 p.m at the High Sch-ool gym in the semifinals of the tourney.

The Jacksonville Lady Red Devils ended their season on a disappointing note with an opening-round loss to Mt. Saint Mary’s 45-25. The Belles move on to play the winner of yesterday’s game between North and Mills on Wednesday.

Today’s semifinal games start at 4 p.m. with Mt. Saint Mary’s against Cabot North. North Pulaski’s boys face the Cabot North-Oak Grove winner at 5:15. The second girls semifinal game between North Little Rock and South will get underway at 6:30. Jacksonville will then play North Little Rock in the final boys contest of the night.

The winners of those games will meet on Thursday in the finals of the Metro tournament. The girls game gets underway at 6:45 p.m., followed by the boys finals at 8 p.m.

NEIGHBORS >> Forty years of service

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Postal worker looking forward to a busy retirement

Forty-one years ago, gas was 30 cents a gallon; an average house cost $20,000; stamps were five cents each and a family man who calls Beebe home went to work for the United States Postal Service.

Bill “Bear” Trimble was not quite 21 years old and already married with children when he started sorting mail. The job paid $2.48 an hour, no pittance if you consider that minimum wage was $1.15.

From 1964 through 1969, he sorted mail on trains and trucks. Zip codes existed back then but were rarely used. So mail clerks read the addresses and got letter bags ready to toss out for local post masters to pick up as they passed through the towns along their routes.

As the population grew and automation took the place of manual sorting, he moved to processing centers in Little Rock where his workrooms were stationary, but the equipment eventually moved with dizzying speed. His final stop was the Little Rock Processing and Distribution Center on McCain Boulevard where he dispatches mail trucks – but only for two more weeks.

Trimble, who turned 62 in November, will retire at the end of the month.

“Some people say when they retire that they won’t miss it, but I will,” Trimble said Sunday afternoon. “The post office has been great to me. I grew up there and it helped me raise my kids comfortably. I like the people I work with and I’m going to miss it.”

So why leave now?

Trimble says he’s leaving because he can. One of the attractions of the post office was the benefits, he said. His retirement is 80 percent of his base pay so he can afford to retire now.

And he isn’t concerned that he will be bored in retirement.

His seven children have given him 14 grandchildren and the youngest ones like nothing better than for him to watch them ride their bikes or play on the screened front porch he added onto his home mostly for their benefit.

He is pastor of the Apostolic Bible Church that he and his wife built not far from their home 26 years ago. Add to that the fact that several of his children and his oldest grandson have formed a bluegrass band and will require his presence at some of their performances and you might wonder how he found time to work.

Even though he was on hand to witness it, Trimble says he is still amazed at the technological ad-vances that keep the mail moving.

“When I started in August 1964, the only automation we had was a canceling machine (wavy marks across the stamps) and we had to turn everything by hand to make sure it was going in the right direction,” he said.

Later, clerks memorized zip codes, to make mail sorting faster. Name a town in Arkansas and Trimble can tell you the first three digits in the zip and maybe even all five. But it’s a skill that serves little purpose anymore. Now, computers read the zip codes and sort the letters.

“They go through so fast they look like they’re stacked,” said Billy Trimble, who has worked for the post office for 18 years and, like his father, dispatches mail trucks.

Four other members of the Trimble family either have or still do work for the post office and one more has applied.
So even though Bear Trimble will be gone in two weeks, he is certain to be remembered for a while. He got his nickname after he went to work at the processing center.

It came from the song “Running Bear” by Sonny James who was famous for his country ballads during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Ironically, it was the “running” part of the song title that he was known for.

In his early years sorting mail by hand, speed was everything and even though his job changed, his work ethic didn’t, he said. One day a co-worker called out, “Better get out of the way. Here comes Run-ning Bear. He’ll run over you.”
The full name stuck for a few months, he said.

Then the first part was dropped and he became known simply as Bear even though he never slowed his pace to the lumber bears are known for.

But that could change soon – if he wants it to. The beauty of retirement is the option of choices about how to fill those five days a week that once belonged to someone else.

“Two weeks,” Trimble said as he contemplated his imminent retirement. “Wow.”

EDITORIAL >> Make Huckabee accountable

In four years, according to calculations by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Gov. Huckabee burned the State Police for $485,000 to carry him about the country on airplanes that the agency acquired for police work. If you apply the same expense rate to all his air travels since he took office nearly 10 years ago, hauling the governor, his wife, children, friends and aides has cost the law-enforcement agency (taxpayers) nearly $1 million.

Those expenses are not charged against the appropriation for the governor’s office but are unidentified in the State Police annual appropriation. The budget for the office of the governor makes him look pretty frugal.

But is that sum exorbitant, and should taxpayers not bear all the cost of Huckabee’s air travels? We wish we could say, but the skimpy government records do not support a solid judgment of any kind. The purposes of the travels — whether important state business, personal or political — are not identified on the State Police logbooks except for the rote stamp “official business.” Even that is not required by law. Guests are often identified only by entries such as “K. Rove.” Hmmm. Wonder who that was?

The governor of even our little insular state is an important person whose duties require travel, both about the state and to our nation’s capital, among other venues. Arkansas governors have tended to gain a measure of national respect and prestigious offices like chairmanships of governors’ associations. No one should begrudge the governor’s travel to perform the ceremonial and substantive functions of those jobs.

The Arkansas Times began raising questions about the governor’s and his wife’s taxpayer-paid travels three years ago, suggesting that it was not all official business and that the state should not be subsidizing personal and political journeys.

There were Mrs. Huckabee’s flights to Okla-homa to visit friends and many flights to the first couple’s weekend getaway in southwest Arkansas. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sunday identified a number of trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the early presidential primary states.

Huckabee has refused for years to discuss the State Police flights with the Times because he says the paper does not report on him accurately. The Democrat-Gazette story said the governor refused to talk to its reporters about the travel because they edited and twisted his words. On a radio call-in show the other day, he said all the trips involved at least some official business, although there might have been personal and political events sandwiched around it. He wrote a policy in 1997 spelling out that he would not use the State Police aircraft for out-of-state trips that were “solely” for political or religious purposes or for personal business. An aide said then that the governor would reimburse the state from his campaign funds for part of the costs of any flights that happened to involve political events. The State Police said there had been no reimbursements.

What do others do? Bill Clinton, a similarly ambitious governor, did not use a state plane and paid for his gallivanting from campaign funds. The Republican governors of Texas and Missouri don’t let taxpayers pay for their air travel. Mississippi and Tennessee require extensive details on the state business involved in flights on state aircraft.

Who can say whether the Huckabees abused the office by charging taxpayers for personal and political business in the 731 flights they took on State Police planes from July 1996 through 2005?

We must give them the benefit of doubt. But we confidently surmise one thing: As it is in so much else in the realm of public ethics, Arkansas is woefully lax in enforcing good behavior by its servants. The state should require detailed records and strict accounting for public travel by officeholders. Until it does, some politician sometime is liable to cheat.

OBITUARIES >> 02-15-06

Harry Vines

Harry Doyle Vines, 67, died at home on Feb. 11.

He was born in Caldwell Corner on Sept. 12, 1938. He grew up working in the cotton fields of eastern Arkansas until junior high, when he discovered basketball. The game he loved would take him all over the world for the rest of his life. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

He was a member of the Central High basketball Tigers, leading the team to a Big 8 championship and earning a high school All American award in 1957.

He went on to play for coach Abe Lemons, his mentor for life, at Oklahoma City University, playing in the NIT in 1959 and leaving as the sixth-leading scorer. He graduated from OCU in 1961 and became a basketball coach at Southwest Ju-nior High. He later earned a master’s degree in rehabilitation from North Texas State University.

He went to work for Arkansas Rehabilitation Services in 1963 and served the state in positions with the Services for the Blind, attorney general’s office, governor’s office and Workers Compensation Commis-sion for 32 years.

In 1978, he found his true calling when he was asked to coach a fledgling wheelchair basketball team, the Arkansas Rolling Razorbacks. He coached the Rolling Razorbacks for 22 seasons, with 21 winning seasons and a record of 238-40. His teams made 13 final four appearances in the 1980’s and 90’s and won five national championships, their first in Little Rock in 1991.
He later coached U.S. teams in the World Cup, the Paralympics and many other international competitions. At the time of his death, he was the president of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

Though he gave of himself and his time unselfishly, he received many honors for his achievements. He was a Governor’s Volunteerism Award recipient in 1980 and Sher-wood Chamber of Commerce man of the year in 1980 and 1983.

In 1990, he was honored by President George H.W. Bush with a Volunteer Action award and later as Bush’s 967th “point of light.” He and the Rolling Razorbacks later visited President Clinton at the White House. He was pleased to be an A-SOB (Arkansas Staff of Bill). He was a Kiwanis Paul Harris Fellow.

He was inducted into the OCU Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and the National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
He served the Governor’s Com-mission on People with Disabilities, the Our Way board of directors, the Arkansas Community Service Com-mission and the city of Sherwood personnel committee.

He was a charter member of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Max Howell Roast, a scholarship fundraiser. He was a member of Sylvan Hills Methodist Church. He walked on the court at Boston Garden, played the Old Course in Scotland and traveled to all 50 states.

He is survived by his wife and partner, Cheryl; his daughter, Holly Vines and son, Dr. Phillip Vines, both of Little Rock; an aunt, Christine Hampton of Colt, and two uncles, Donald Parkman of Forrest City and Jerry Parkman of Zell-wood, Fla.; sisters and brothers-in-law, Cindy and Kenny Limbo of Fair Oaks, Calif., and Steve Lady and Shary Smith of Emigsville, Pa.; nieces and nephews, Kasey Limbo, Shellee and Jesse McAsey, Vanessa and Lucy, and a host of cousins and friends, as well as the past and present members of the Arkansas Rolling Razorbacks.

The family thanks Dr. Tom Meziere and Dr. Mark Peterson for their compassionate care and support over this long illness.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Sylvan Hills United Methodist Church.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Roller-Owens Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Rolling Razorbacks, P.O. Box 1669, North Little Rock, Ark. 72115.

Robert Harkey 

Robert Ervin Harkey, 68, of Cabot passed away on Feb.13.

He was retired from the Air Force and was a veteran of both Vietnam and Korean Wars.

He is survived by his wife, Ann Harkey; five sons, Cecil and wife Becky Harkey of Austin, Texas; Merlin Harkey of Mocksville, N.C.; Roger and wife Abby Barker of Batesville; David Barker of Cabot; Tony and wife Lisa Barker of Texarkana; one daughter, Denise and husband Pat Brandt of Amarillo, Texas; four brothers, Bill Harkey, Frank Harkey, Neddie Harkey and Tony Harkey all of North Carolina; four sisters, Brenda Peffley, Bonnie Williams, Ruby Williams and Joanne Smith all of North Carolina; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke, with interment in Lonoke Cemetery.

Alice Hensley

Alice Marie (Mower) Hensley, 76, died Feb. 13.

She was born Aug. 29, 1929, in Jackson, Miss., to Curtis D. Mow-rer and Icis (Heath) Mower. She was preceded in death by her parents; husbands, Joe F. Hensley and Alvin Ingle; brothers, Ellis Mowrer and Calvin Mowrer and a sister Edith Cornett of Lonoke.

Survivors include sons, Troy Hensley and wife Frances of Beebe, Tom Hensley and wife Sharon of Hot Springs Village and Dan Hensley and wife Brenda of Mabelvale; brother James R. Mowrer of Austin and sister Dorothea Pearson.

She was a loving grandmother to grandchildren, Jennifer Hensley of Fayetteville, Erica Preston and husband Clinton of Lowell, Niki Moss and husband Josh of Con-way, Justin Hensley and wife Sun-ny of Baton Rouge, La., and Jon Hensley and Ariel Hensley of Mabelvale and three great-grandchildren, Maddie, Ethan and Georgia.

Hensley was a charter member of New Testament Missionary Baptist Church in Lonoke.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke with interment in Brownsville Cemetery.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

David Jackson

David L. Jackson, 41, of Austin died Feb. 10.

He was a race horse trainer and a member of the Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; son, Stuart Jackson of Austin; daughter, Jamie Jackson of Conway; two step-sons, Luke and Spencer Eldridge of Pang-burn; father, Walter “Red” Jackson of Austin; brother, Walter Ray Jackson of Arlington, Texas, and sister, Carolyn Harbort and husband Eric of Mildenhall, England.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Lucille and his first wife, Patricia.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church with burial in Oak Grove Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church, 1430 McCollum Road, Austin, Ark., 72007.

Ryan Duncan

Ryan Howard Duncan, 29, of Cabot passed away Feb. 13.

He was born July 1, 1976 in North Little Rock to Kent and Bonnie Best Duncan. He was a member of Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

He is survived by his parents, of Austin, and two sisters; Angela Paige Lantz and her husband Ronnie of St. Louis, Mo., and Stacy Duncan of Lonoke. He is also survived by three nieces; Ashley Stricklin, Sydney Stricklin and Hannah Lantz and one nephew, Aaron Stricklin.

The family will receive friends Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Cabot Funeral Home.

The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Mount Carmel Baptist Church with Bro-thers Mitch Tapson and Ronnie Simmons officiating.

Burial will be in Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Annie King

Annie Cassini King, of Cabot, born July 14, 1937, was received into glory on Feb. 12.
With her heart and house always open and a smile to welcome family and friends; she will be dearly missed.  

Preceding her in death were her parents, Ira and Frances Buckner; and six brothers.

Survivors include her husband of 52 years, Chester King; four sons: Chester and wife Judy King of Jacksonville, Stephen and wife Kelly King of Hot Springs, Timmy and wife Miki King of Hot Springs, Phillip and wife Pattie King of Hot Springs; daughter, Melba Roe of Cabot; foster daughter, Ginger Palmer of Missouri; seven grandchildren: Crystal, Sean, Kosha, Kara, Nikki, Courtney and Celsey; two great-grandchildren: Dailen and Keegan;  brother, J.C. Buck-ner of Slidell, La.; two sisters, Laura Alexander and Bettye Thomson both of Cabot; countless nephews, nieces and extended family members.

Funeral services are 2 p.m., Wednesday at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church with Dennis Wilson officiating.  

Burial will be at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home in Cabot.

Ellen Sheets

Ellen R. Sheets, 70, of Jackso-nville passed away Feb. 7 in Jacksonville.

She was born March 10, 1935 in Lonoke County to the late Joe and Sarah Grimes Weaver. She is preceded in death by nine brothers and sisters. She was an avid Razorback fan and a Methodist.

Survivors include her loving husband, Bobby Joe Sheets, of Jacksonville; daughters, Chris Hobson and her husband Bill of Sherrill and Cindy Stivers of Conway; son, Jody Sheets and his wife Shelly of Conway; three sisters, Peggy Griffin of Colonial Heights, W. Va., Callie Berger of Diamond Springs, Calif., and Martha Petray of Jacksonville, as well as five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., Friday at Mulberry Cemetery in England with Rev. Larry Ballard officiating. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Martha Philpott

Martha Helen Philpott, 80, of Jacksonville died Feb. 13 at St. Vincent Medical Center North in North Little Rock.
She was born February 19, 1925 in Mullens, W.V., to Roby and Phoebe Smith Blevins.

She is survived by four children, Bobbie and her husband Wally Waddell of Jacksonville, Betty Kemmer of California, Bill Agee of Fayetteville, Ben and Mary Ellen Philpott of Boones Mill, Va.; eight grandchildren; five great grandchildren; three brothers, Lennie Blevins of Richmond, Va., Earl and Ralph Blevins, both Montgomery, Ala.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Beckley, W.V. with burial to follow at Sunset Memorial Park there.
Local funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Patsy Corpier

Patsy Corpier, 55, of Higden, died Feb. 11. She was a beautician and attended Fairfield Bay Baptist Church.
She is survived by one son, Jody Copier and his wife, Jennifer, of Higden; one grandson, Jacob; and her mother, Cleo Wright of Higden.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry Corpier.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Fairfield Bay Baptist Church.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at the church, with burial in Pinecrest Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up in her memory for donations to the Make A Wish Foundation.

Donations may be made to the Patsy Corpier Memorial Fund at Heber Springs State Bank or mailed to Patsy Corpier Memorial Fund at P.O. Box 1273, Greers Ferry, Ark., 72067.

TOP STORY >> Soaring energy costs squeeze area elderly

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: High utility bills have some seniors swaddled in blankets or choosing between paying for food or medicine.

Since his electric bill has risen about 45 percent this year, Bill Carr of Jacksonville says he’s afraid he and his wife Wanda will have to choose between prescription drugs and food. “It might be cheaper just to put me in a hole,” said Carr.

The Carrs are among thousands of area senior citizens living on Social Security who find their utility bills suddenly an even bigger burden than before. As they ate a Valentine’s Day meal at the Jacksonville Senior Citizen Center Tuesday, they confided that they get about $1,200 a month to cover all expenses.

But with a heating bill from First Electric of more than $300, it can be a struggle. “It just about doubled,” he said. “Before this there was not a lot of money left at the end of the month. Now there’s none.”

His wife said they were filling out a form to see if they could get some assistance with their bill.
“It’s very hard for us,” said Wanda Carr. Everything went up at the grocery store, too.

Bill and Delores Garrett, who were sitting with the Carrs, said they cut the thermostat back from 75 degrees to 69 or 70 degrees.

“We sit around the house wrapped up in blankets,” he said. “If this had been a harsh winter…” he said, his sentence trailing off.

“We replaced our windows,” said Delores Garrett. “That might have helped some.”

“I heard (the electric company) will help weatherize some homes,” she added.

Henry Foster and his wife Pearlie, dressed in her red Valentine’s Day finery, traveled to the McAlmont Senior Center at the McAlmont Church of Christ.

“My bill went up at least $100 or so,” said Foster who also has a pension from UPS to supplement his Social Security. He said he paid about $300 this time.

“I’ll just have to ride with the tide,” said Foster, who says he must keep the heat up for his wife, who is diabetic and has had a stroke.

“When everybody gets their pockets full, (prices) will come down,” said Foster.

Ceola Lee Crump, who lives at Brushy Island just outside Sher-wood, says levelized gas billing and help from the Department of Human Services on one electric bill eased the pain of the utility hikes for her.

Scripture says “Be thankful for all things,” said Crump.

The increased cost of energy is tied to the rising cost of oil, which Friday “fell” to $62.60 a barrel, disruptions in the supply of natural gas caused by three hurricanes and also, in Arkansas at least, diminished coal supplies at two major coal burning electric plants caused by disruptions in rail service, according to Neal Frizell, vice president of marketing and communications for the First Electric Cooperative.

First Electric serves, among others, most customers outside cities and big towns in Pulaski, Lonoke and White counties.

The increase in First Electric’s customer bills is attributable to two things, according to Frizell, the least of which is an increase in the basic service charge from $8 a year ago to $14.

The second, and by far more significant increase, is the energy-cost adjustment, based on the amount First Electric had to pay to fuel its plants and to buy electricity on the open market to supply its consumers, Frizell said.
Entergy and Centerpoint also have been passing increases in utility costs on to consumers, although in February, Centerpoint actually lowered costs, reflecting a decrease in the cost of natural gas.
Crisis assistance

Central Arkansas Development Council is accepting applications for crisis intervention assistance, a spokesman said. The eligible household must meet income, resource and residency guidelines and also demonstrate a home energy related emergency situation. 

This could be in the form of a disconnect notice within seven days, disconnected service or a household using propane that is below 10 percent and must pay cash on delivery. Households wishing to apply should provide proof of income for the prior month and a copy of the disconnect notice.

Winter assistance

CADC continues to accept winter assistance applications.  Any household that has not received winter assistance in 2006 is eligible to apply. Eligibility is based on income, resource and residency guidelines. Most households receiving food stamps will be eligible for this program. Households should provide proof of income for the prior month and a copy of their current bill.

Applications will be accepted in Pulaski County at the Jacksonville Workforce Center, No. 2 Crestview Plaza, in Jacksonville. The contact person is Shannon Jones. For an appointment call 982-3835.

Applications are also accepted at the North Little Rock Dept. of Human Services, 1900 East Washington Ave. in North Little Rock.

In Lonoke County, applicants may go to the CADC office at 117 S. E. Front St. in Lonoke. Mary Abshure is the contact person and can be reached from 8 a.m. until noon by calling 501-676-0019.

TOP STORY >> Housing makeover: Air base modernizing

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT:A new neighborhood town hall is the center of a planned housing development, offering a taste of modern amenities.

Signs of a massive housing construction boom at Little Rock Air Force Base are found along Arkan-sas Boulevard and Iowa Circle, where a $1.2 million town hall has just opened.

The town hall will anchor four newly built or remodeled housing areas for enlisted personnel as part of a project that will cost more than $400 million when it is completed in nine years.

The town hall, which opened for base residents last week as the center of family housing on the base, has the look and the amenities of a prosperous suburban home: Attractive, spacious and up-to-date with modern furniture, appliances, computers and more.

Much of the new housing will have the same modern appearance, built from the ground up, as old houses are demolished or old ones are completely remodeled.

Plans call for 84 new homes to be completed this year, with 384 more homes to be built 2015.

“Little Rock Family Housing elected to build this facility first because it, unlike new homes, provides an immediate benefit to all of our residents,” said James T. (Tom) Brockway, project director.

Little Rock Family Housing is part of American Eagle Com-munities, the company now in charge of base housing.
“The town hall has already hosted a retirement ceremony and a dinner. We look forward to hosting wedding showers, anniversary dinners, baby showers and birthday parties,” Brockway said.

Started last May, the 7,018-square-foot town hall is completely opposite of the flat-roofed, efficient and unexceptional buildings military families have grown to expect. The inviting building looks like a sprawling house complete with slate-colored vinyl siding, gabled roof and bricked entryway. The inside of the building is decorated in a complementary color scheme of beige, taupe accented with gold and earth tones.

“The town hall has something for everyone,” said Cathy Living-ston, community coordinator. She said more than 160 people have toured the building in addition to the events that have been held there.

The town hall has three meeting rooms, a cyber café with five computers and a media room with a 55-inch high definition television.

There is an exercise room done in bright blue-green and a lemonade yellow playroom where parents can exercise and watch their children all at the same time.

Outside, there are basketball and volleyball courts, a junior Olympic swimming pool and Brockway’s favorite part of the new facility, a playground equipped with a sprayground-- a water play area featuring spraying fountains. All of these features are free to residents during normal business hours, and can be reserved for private parties.

“My children have been fortunate to play in these types of fountain areas at other assignments in Colorado and South Carolina and I thought it would be a wonderful addition to our facility, particularly when paired with the playground that is immediately adjacent to the fountains,” Brockway said.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the town hall is scheduled for March 13.

In addition to the town hall, there will be four smaller neighborhood centers constructed as well.

The housing areas are being named to foster a sense of community. These neighborhoods will be named Lakeview Estates in the west; Ridgecrest in the south and Meadow Wood in the east.

American Eagle’s project is one and a half years into a seven-year building cycle that will feature 468 new homes and 732 renovated homes for Little Rock Air Force Base families. The new houses are at least 1,700 square feet and have three bedrooms, says Brockway.

The homes feature a master bedroom suite with a walk-in closet and private bath.

The secondary bedrooms share a single bath and, in the four-bedroom model, there is an additional half bath.

The homes feature laundry rooms, with a laundry sink, space for a freezer, exterior storage, two car garages, a storm safe room, carpeted living areas and high-speed Internet connections.

Unlike the existing homes, built in the 1950s and 1960s—before families gathered around the television set, these homes will have great rooms, home offices as well as being energy efficient.

The renovated homes will feature the same products that are in the new homes with upgraded amenities such as new appliances, renovated kitchens and baths, high speed Internet access and carpeted living areas as well as unseen improvements like telephone and cable outlets in every room and upgraded electrical systems.

The new homes being constructed at the corner of Minnesota Circle and Texas Avenue are expected to be completed in May.
American Eagle Communities submitted the winning bid to buy the houses—but not the land—to raze and rebuild existing homes and remodel another 732, managing the houses and collecting the rents. Eventually there will be 1,200 housing units.

The initial development contract of $111 million for Little Rock Air Force Base also included a 50-year operating agreement valued at more than $400 million. American Eagle is responsible for housing upkeep and maintenance for the duration of the agreement, in addition to managing the housing program for the base.

“The builder is using the three prototype homes as ‘proof of concept’ homes that allow Airmen to review the floor plans, materials and the workmanship of the selected tradesmen,” Brockway said.

“We are introducing panelized, steel framing in our new units,” Brockway said.

“The steel framing panels allow us to build new homes faster, lower our insurance costs, provide a fail-safe barrier to termite damage all at the same cost of traditional wood construction,” Brockway explained.

Tech. Sgt. Arlo Taylor of the 314th Airlift Wing public affairs wing contributed to this article.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke looks beyond scandal

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT:The town may be reeling by the recent arrests of its mayor and police chief, but despite his misdemeanor arrest, the mayor is still in charge and says the best is yet to come.

A maze of opportunities and problems face the town of Lonoke, Mayor Thomas Privett told the city council Monday in his state of the city address.

The future is bright, he said, despite a misdemeanor charge against Privett for having an inmate hang Christmas lights at his home and work on an air conditioner, and a bevy of felony charges against Lonoke Police Chief Jay Camp-bell, resulting in his resignation, but Privett said the city was moving beyond those problems.

Privett has named Campbell’s second in command, Capt. Sean O’Nale, interim chief of police and has met with the officers to tell them he had full confidence in them.

“My goal is to build or rebuild trust in this community between the police, the businesses and the residents,” said Privett.
“I’m really proud of our police,” said Privett. “Our crime rate was reduced 25 percent in 2005.”

Growth is brisk at three new subdivisions in the town, said Privett, resulting not only in more property taxes, but an increase in water sales of $40,000.

Lonoke’s new middle school will open next year after the Christmas holiday and the old middle school will be converted for use as a vocational school, perhaps in partnership with ASU-Beebe and for adult education classes, he said.

The four-year-old Lonoke Community Center continues to add classes and plan for expansion, said the mayor.

“The key is money,” Privett said, noting that the city is currently getting $42,000 a year in tower rental from two wireless carriers.

Sales tax revenues were up slightly and bound to increase by about $100,000 a year once the receipts from a new 2-cent hospitality tax start getting to the city park budget, probably in July.

The town’s ballparks are in good shape and getting better under the direction of director Roy Don Lewis, and a state tournament will be held in Lonoke this year, he said.

Thanks in large part to the growth of Cabot, Lonoke’s share of the county sales tax is up as well, the mayor pointed out.
The city expected and budgeted about $272,000 in county takes, but now it appears its share will be about $400,000.
Laster and Laster, a startup local company that invented and manufactures a device to make it easier for truckers to hook up tandem trailers, opened recently and employs about nine people. Eventually it should employ more and generate sales tax, said the mayor.

The Thomas James Trust donated the old Movie Gallery building to the city.

Privett says Cong. Marion Berry and Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor are helping make a new I-40 interchange at state Hwy. 89 on the east end of Lonoke a reality. Privett and others are meeting frequently with representatives of the state Highway Department.

Privett said the town would already have landed one or more manufacturers had they been able to promise a completion date for the new interchange.

Privett said work also had been done to make the land adjacent to that eventual interchange more attractive as an industrial park to potential manufacturers.

The town’s new water clarifyer and repaired aerator are providing residents with cleaner water and saving the city about $150 a day through more efficient operation, he said.

The amount of rust in the water has fallen off from .04 parts per million to a paltry .002 parts per million, he reported.
“We’ve got a lot of balls in the air, a lot on our plate,” said Privett.

“The best is yet to come,” he insisted.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Huckabee no better than mayor

Leader publisher

How come Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett faces charges of using inmate labor to put up Christmas lights at his home and at a friend’s house, but Gov. Huckabee can use murderers to do chores around the Governor’s Mansion?

Not only use them at the mansion, but pardon them, too, at a furious pace, although the people of Arkansas, having caught on to his abuses, have pretty much put him out of the pardoning business.

While Privett’s mug shot is shown around the world — the front page of last Wednesday’s Leader reporting the arrest of Lonoke officials for various crimes, some serious, indeed, was featured Friday evening on CNN — yet Huckabee takes taxpayers for a ride every time he uses a State Police airplane for his out-of-state travels to promote his diet books and presidential aspirations.

Shouldn’t the Legislative Joint Performance Review Committee look into Huckabee’s misuse of the state plane for his personal errands?

Sure, some of those trips are connected with his travels to meetings of the National Governors Association, which he heads, but many trips are political and personal, although he’s been secretive about them, as is his custom.

The Joint Performance Review Committee should find out if Huckabee has broken the law every time he hijacks the State Police airplane for his personal use, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Huckabee says it’s none of our business what he does. That’s what he said when he was pardoning hundreds of criminals, but the Legislature curbed his pardoning powers, and now it should also limit his use of the state plane.

If the Joint Performance Re-view Committee finds he violated the law — and he almost certainly did — he should repay taxpayers the cost of those flights — and there have been hundreds of questionable trips in recent years.

The Legislature might as well take the plane away from him. Other governors managed to travel without their personal airplane. Let’s keep the State Police plane for crime fighting.

Make him take Southwest Airlines if he wants to fly around the country to sell himself as a presidential candidate.
Why is he seeking the presidency, anyway?

It’s a foolish quest, but he’s apparently running on a Thin Man platform, promising to help every fat person in America lose weight just like he did.

That’s great, but how will that help us fight al-Qaida, balance the budget and provide health care to every sick American?
He has disqualified himself from the presidency if for no other reason than his blatant abuse of power, from record pardons to record out-of-state travels on our dime.

There are those who think losing all that weight has made Huckabee delusional. They liked him better when he was pleasantly plump.