Wednesday, April 05, 2006



Elaine Leisle Allen, 82, of Jacksonville died March 31.
She was born Sept. 26, 1923 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to William P. and Edna L. Robinson Skogland. Allen was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Jacksonville. She volunteered in the X-Ray department at Reb-samen Regional Medical Center and then was hired by that department.
As a young woman, she enjoyed fly fishing, snow skiing and learned how to fly an airplane and soloed.
In 1952, Allen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but still enjoyed occasional outings with family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. James G. Allen, Sr. and two grandsons, Marcus F. Allen and Matthew W. Allen.
She is survived by three sons, James G. Allen, Jr. of Jacksonville, C. Richard Allen and his wife Kimberly of Floyd, and Harold “Bill” W. Allen and his wife Terry of Jacksonville, as well as one sister, Barbara Crawford and her husband Jim of Salt Lake City, Utah. Also surviving her are three granddaughters, Ashley Singleton, Lindsey Hendrick and Kristin Allen as well as four great-grandchildren, Ethan, Tyler, Nicholas and Hunter.
Funeral services were held Tues-day, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Jacksonville with Bishop Phillip Misseldine officiating.
Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to National Multiple Sclerosis; 773 Third Ave., New York, N.Y., 10017.


Imogene Fortner Wooley, 91, of Jacksonville died April 1 at Sher-wood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
She was born March 31, 1915 in Little Rock to the late Hugh Pickney Fortner and Emma Freese Fortner.
She was a sweet, gentle woman who always saw the best in people. As a long time member of the First United Methodist Church in Jack-sonville, she lived her faith through service as a Sunday school teacher for many years. She was a member of the choir and Methodist Women.
She worked in the community as a sales clerk in Pace’s Department Store, Alco, Magic Mart and as a greeter at Wal-Mart.
Many young servicemen would come to Wal-Mart to see her because she would make time to listen and made them feel a little less lonely a long way from home.
Imogene was preceded in death by her husband of 36 years, H.P. “Peanut” Wooley, a sister, Juanita and two infant children.
She is survived by six children, Hugene Wooley and his wife Doris, Bob Wooley and his wife Bonnie, Tanya Sorrels and her husband Keith, all of Jacksonville, Don Wooley and his wife Mary of Crown Point, Indiana, Carmelita Burks and her husband Don of North Little Rock, Juanita Ann Booth and her husband Don of Baytown, Texas.
She is also survived by 16 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were Tuesday at First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville with Rev. Carol God-dard officiating. Burial was in Bayou Meto Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to First United Methodist Church, 220 W. Main St., Jacksonville, Ark. 72076.
Funeral arrangements were un-der the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Andy Dedmon, 57, of Beebe, died April 2.
He had worked for the city of Cabot for 24 years. Mr. Dedmon is survived by his wife, Darla Ded-mon; son, Shane Dedmon of St. Louis, Mo.; two daughters, Rachel Dedmon of Ward and Nichole Dedmon of Beebe; stepson, Tommy and wife Lisa Boyce of Beebe; two stepdaughters, Angela Lentz and Sandra and husband Jay Martin, all of Beebe; five grandchildren; one brother, Wendall Dedmon of Cabot; three sisters, Martha Osgood of Iowa, and Rhoda Burgess and Anna White, both of Cabot.
Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Funeral is at 10 a.m. Thursday, at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Sumner Cemetery.
Arrangements are by West-brook Funeral Home.


Shirley Ann Novak, 52, of Austin passed away on March 30. She was born June 12, 1953 in Mannheim, Germany.
Survivors include her husband, Erick Novak of the home; a son, Richard Wayne Duvall of Austin, Texas; her parents, Billy and Michelene Wilcox of Kansas City, Mo.; a sister, Annie Marie Black and her husband Bill of Raymore, Mo.; one grandchild, Lauren Taylor Duvall of Dallas-Fort Worth.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. Services will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Little Rock Air Force Base Chapel. Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service 713 S. Second St., Cabot.


Frank David Salazar, 17, of North Little Rock, passed away on April 3.
Survivors include his parents, Mark and Denise Salazar; brothers, Marcus and Brandon Salazar all of the home; aunts, uncles, cousins, and his special friends.
Visitation will be held Friday, from 11 a.m. until service time at 2 p.m. at McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Sylvan Hills High School Band Program, 484 Bear Paw Drive, Sherwood, Ark., 72120.
Funeral service arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service of Cabot.

SAT 4-5-6 EDITORIAL >> They’re selling mineral rights

Log Cabin Democrat, Conway — Two frequent questions around Faulkner County these days are (1) “Have you leased yet?” and (2) “Did the check go through?”

Leasing of land, specifically mineral rights, for the drilling of natural gas wells is the hottest topic from one end of the county to the other. Fayetteville Shale seemingly is right up there with free lunch. Things are moving, and royalty payments from completed gas wells are starting to flow in monthly.

If there is a downside, it’s for people who thought owning land was all they needed to get on the bandwagon. And for those who thought or assumed they owned the mineral rights under their land and are finding out they don’t.

A fairly common occurrence in this activity is a leasing person negotiating an agreement with a landowner along the lines of, “I’ll pay you $300 an acre for a five-year lease on your land.” The landowner eagerly replies, “I’ll take it.’’ ``Sign here.” The leasing agent then issues a draft — not a check — for the agreed upon amount.

But, as David Heffington of First Security Bank in Greenbrier explained, the leasing folks then do the courthouse research as to who actually owns the mineral rights on that land.

Mr. Jones may have honestly thought he owned mineral rights, but it may turn out he bought the land in 1962 from Mr. Smith who knew nothing about mineral rights. Mr. Smith had inherited the land from his grandfather who bought the land way back when from a railroad company that sold only the surface acreage, not the mineral rights.
It does get complicated.

SAT 4-5-6 EDITORIAL >> GIF lawsuit: What’s next

Having ruled last year that state public schools are receiving inadequate funding — thus forcing the governor to call a special session next week to redress the problem — the state Supreme Court could soon address the thorny issue of General Improvement Funds, which legislators use for pet projects in their districts.

Former state Rep. Mike Wilson has challenged the practice in circuit court and has killed funding for at least two Jacksonville projects, although the lower court has approved most of the others. Both Wilson and the city will take their case to the high court for their own reasons: Wilson thinks General Improvement Funds are nothing but pork and he doesn’t want the Legislature to fund any local projects, while the city thinks it should get the money for all the projects passed in the Legislature.

Throwing caution to the wind, Wilson is representing himself in this fight — never mind the adage that only a fool would have himself for a client. Judge Willard Proctor has found in Wilson’s favor in just two challenges and has overwhelmingly approved the other projects.

The judge has cut off funding for two local projects — $20,000 for the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club and $20,000 for the city for unspecified projects.

But the court has approved all the other projects Wilson had challenged, including $190,000 for a new Jacksonville Library, the Civil War-era Reed’s Bridge Preservation Society and the Jacksonville Military Museum, which received $10,000 each, as well as $400,000 for roads in Bigelow and $50,000 for a library in Cleburne County, of all places.

Among other local projects funded are the Jack-sonville Senior Center, the North Pulaski Community Complex, the North Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department and the scholarship fund created in honor of the three Sylvan Hills cheerleaders killed in a truck-car crash at the intersection of Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 89.

Wilson had never sought to stop these funds, and they were added to the suits only at the insistence of Judge Willard Proctor, who decided on the Wilson case. The former representative will not be alone in court: While he’s fighting to stop funding for the Reed’s Bridge society and the military museum, his home town will argue before the high court to keep funding for the senior center and for the unspecified city projects.

Sure, Wilson has an image problem when he fights to keep money from children and book lovers of all ages, but, we, too, have argued in the past against pork-barrel projects when the general welfare, such as fair funding of schools, is overlooked.
Still, it would not surprise us if the Supreme Court allowed General Improvement Funds that don’t exclusively benefit local communities, such as roads that anybody can use, or military museums that all Arkansans can visit.

Even state Rep. Will Bond, who proposed funding most of the projects that Wilson attacked, says the process needs revamping and that the governor should provide the leadership on the issue.

If Wilson prevails, look for other Arkansas residents to challenge GIF funding either on principle or just because they don’t like the projects.

We hope the issue will be settled before the 86th General Assembly convenes in January. In the meantime, could somebody donate $10,000 to the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club so that no child is left behind?

WED 4-5-6 EDITORIAL >> Can you say, ‘Teapot Dome’?

Rep. Tom DeLay’s announcement yesterday that he would quit his re-election campaign, resign his seat and move his voting residence from Sugar Land, Texas, to the Virginia suburbs of the national capital surprised no one. Washington had awaited it since last week, when his former deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, pleaded guilty to corruption charges and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

That brings the investigation of bribery and influence-peddling directly into DeLay’s office, where it has been headed since a spurned lover from DeLay’s office staff began to rat on her big-spending lobbyist boyfriend, another former DeLay aide, in this thoroughly American scandal.

When investigators close in, you resign whatever position or job you have. The indictment of a former something gets smaller headlines than the indictment of the real thing.

When David Safavian, a budget aide to President Bush, was indicted in the early stages of the investigation for lying and obstructing the inquiry, it earned small attention in the press because he had resigned from Bush’s staff quietly a few days earlier to spend more time with his family.

It was the same last month when the president’s “former” (by a few days) chief domestic adviser was arrested for running a bait-and-switch shoplifting scam against Washington-area retailers. It received scant coverage.
The dominos have been falling, one after another, for a year until now it is DeLay’s turn.

But while the former Republican majority leader’s ex-status will enable him to legally convert his mammoth campaign chest into a legal defense fund, it will not soften the publicity.

Tom DeLay, the former pest exterminator, was for a few years the most powerful and ruthless congressional leader of modern times.

He was forced to give up his leadership post last year when a Texas prosecutor charged him with laundering corporate money illegally into Texas political campaigns.

DeLay is the second Republican congressional leader to resign in the scandal. Rep. Duke Cunningham of California, a DeLay ally, quit his post in the winter and went to prison for bribery.

There will be more. Jack Abramoff, the DeLay pal who was the kingpin of the influence-peddling operation, is known to be talking to prosecutors in hopes of a lighter sentence. The Capitol Hill Republican aides who were functionaries in DeLay’s corrupt “K Street Project” are talking and it seems unstoppable.

All that the DeLay corruption needs to take its place in the pantheon of American scandals is a catchier name. The “K Street Project” is not “Teapot Dome” or “Watergate.”

In substantive terms, the DeLay scandals are worse than Watergate, which involved the abuse of power, and parallel the Warren Harding scandals that are known historically under the rubric “Teapot Dome.”

Teapot Dome and K Street involve the abuse of power all right, but they also involve venality on a biblical scale.
The K Street Project was DeLay’s well-designed plan to convert all the corporate lobbying enterprises in the District of Columbia into Republican money spigots by infiltrating them with wives, girlfriends and operatives from Republican congressional offices. Government goods and services became part of the tradeoff, which is where the bribery came in. The money got to be truly mammoth.

Abramoff and a former DeLay press secretary, Michael Scanlon, sucked $80 million from Indian tribes alone to help the tribes get favorable treatment for their casinos in Congress and from the Bush administration. The tribes had once tended to favor Democrats. Abramoff would siphon the tribe money to Scanlon, the former DeLay aide, who would kick half of it back to Abramoff.

It will be a long time before Americans can take the measure of the sweeping corruption that DeLay and his men set in motion and that has now engulfed them. The little ethics measures adopted by Congress mean little. They are mere distractions. When it is all done and all the miscreants are in prison or banished from the public councils we may contemplate if there is anything that might prevent its recurrence.

Something tells us that in the end there can be no certain protection in law, that when one party or one group controls all the levers of power, including private sources of money, venal men will find a way to misuse it and to subvert the public interest. What is shocking and dismaying in the DeLay scandals, as in Teapot Dome, is that the impulse to deceive, steal and corrupt could overtake so many.

SPORTS >> Optimism blooms for Hogs in spring


FAYETTEVILLE – For four spring football practices, all on the Razorback offense realized they played with a Razorback defense capable of getting them the ball next fall.

Now after the fifth, last Saturday’s situational scrimmage, all on the Razorback defense realize they play with an offense capable of scoring the ball next fall.

Coach Houston Nutt couldn’t start this second week of the three-weeks spring drills with a better script for how the Razorbacks feel about themselves and each other.

Simultaneously, first-year offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and second-year defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and their staffs can coach their units based on confidence and glaring needs to improve.

For a coach in spring drills, it doesn’t get any better than that. A carrot in one hand – a stick in the other.
After four days of getting its dauber dented in the dirt, the offense can point with pride that after the scrimmage Herring asserted, “Hats off to the offense. They got better. They whipped our fanny!”

Deep down, too, those on offense know at some point this week they’ll likely get their fannies flagged. Consider how Herring’s defense responded last year with late-season improvement after the ultimate fanny-flagging, the 70-17 loss to Southern California and successive Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

“We were a little tired defensively,” Nutt said in review of the scrimmage, “but I don’t worry about them. I know how hard they are going to come back and how hard they are going to play.”

At least, to quote an expression of former Arkansas coach Lou Holtz, the offense now can look in the tunnel and see the light is not an oncoming train.

Instead it was their own streaks of light from breakaway plays by running backs Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis.

“The thing about Hillis, Mc-Fadden and Felix Jones,” Nutt said, “is any time you take one bad angle, one bad step, these guys are breakaway guys. Peyton is a little quicker than last year. And Felix Jones and McFadden are home run hitters. That’s why I wasn’t concerned the first two days when you are barely making an inch.”

Wide receivers are vital to Malzahn’s offense, and Marcus Monk showed again he is a great one playing through an injury (hip not groin as initially reported, Monk said) to make 5 catches for 82 yards.

But what McFadden, Jones and Hillis can do not only as running backs but receivers, could drive defensive coordinators to a week of Maalox moments.

On any given play, any of the three are apt to line up as a wideout or in the slot.

“Those backs are very talented,” Malzahn said, “and we are trying to different ways to be creative and get them the ball in space. You give them a crease, they’ve got a chance to take it to the house.”
But they can’t take it anywhere without a line.

The Hogs barely mustered an offensive line last spring when injuries so depleted them.

Between only losing one senior lineman from 2005 and stockpiling some redshirts, they’ve got three lines this time.
And that first bunch of veterans coached by veteran line coach Mike Markuson scrimmaged awfully well.

“The offensive line did a great job today,” Malzahn said, “with the protection and the run game both and really opened up some good holes.”

Optimism is supposed to bloom like flowers in the spring. At least for this week’s start, it blooms at Arkansas.
“We have improved bunches from the first day,” Malzahn, the overseer of the new offense, said, “and that’s the name of the game. If we continue to improve the next two weeks, I’ll feel good about the spring.”

Nate Allen, a former sportswriter for the Arkansas Gazette, has covered the Hogs for 30 years.

SPORTS >> Lady Devils topple Cabot

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville and Cabot met each other in the third-place game of the Harrison faspitch tournament Saturday, and Jacksonville came away with a surprisingly easy win.

The Lady Red Devils shutout the Lady Panthers 10-0, pounding out 14 base hits while pitcher Jessica Bock struck out 10 Lady Panthers.

Every Lady Red Devil in the starting lineup got at least one hit in the victory, which lifted the Lady Devils to 9-1 on the season.

While Jacksonville rolled in the non-conference matchup, that doesn’t mean that they will take the Lady Panthers lightly when they meet this season when it counts, in a conference game.

The two teams’ first league matchup has been postponed until a later date yet to be determined, but Jacksonville coach Phil Bradley doesn’t think Saturday’s win will affect his team’s preparation for the later date.

“We wouldn’t be too bright if we started thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk from here on out,” Bradley said. “Every year since this sport started it’s been us or Cabot for the championship, so we’re not taking them lightly. We played a good game all the way around, but things don’t always go like they did this time. We proved that with our second game. We better be ready to play.”

Jacksonville lost in the tournament semifinals to eventual tournament champion Wynne. The Lady Devils fell 2-1 after giving up both runs in the first inning.

The Lady Yellowjackets played small ball extremely well. They worked the Jacksonville infield with bunts and slap hitting, and the Lady Devils obliged with three errors in the opening frame.

Wynne also got three base hits off bunts by utilizing perfectly placed bunts with good team speed.
“They’re a good team and they know what they’re doing, but we still gave away those two runs,” Bradley said. “We have to stop making those mistakes.”

Of Wynne’s five base hits in the game, three were bunts in the first inning. The Lady Devils opened the event with a 4-1 victory over defending AAAAA state champion Benton.

Ellen Burr led the way offensively, going 5 for 9 at the plate in three games. Monica Fletcher got four base hits in the tournament.

Jacksonville hosted Searcy last night after Leader deadlines while Cabot hosted Forrest City. Look for details of those games in Satur-day’s edition of The Leader.

The Lady Panthers play at Russellville Thursday and at Mount St. Mary’s Friday.
Jacksonville continues league play at Jonesboro Friday.

NEIGHBORS >> Cabot cleans up nice

Leader staff writer

Turnout was down slightly this year, but about 200 volunteers took advantage of the warm temperatures Saturday to pick up litter around Cabot during Cabot’s annual spring cleanup.

“On Saturday we collected 357 tires, the Boy Scouts collected five 16-foot trailers of scrap iron and all three of our Dumpsters and a dump truck from the city were overloaded,” says Sue Wagner, secretary for Cabot City Beautiful.
Last spring the Cabot Spring Cleanup collected 16 tons of garbage, 98 car batteries and 374 tires.

Sponsored by the city and Cabot City Beautiful, the annual event is held in conjunction with the nationwide “Great American Clean-Up” and “Keep Arkansas Beautiful” month.

It will be a couple of weeks before Cabot City Beautiful knows just how many tons of garbage were collected but Wagner says she expects it will be more than last year.

Individuals, families, neighborhoods, businesses, schools and church groups and civic and service organizations from across Cabot converged at Cabot Panther Stadium parking lot at 9 a.m. After picking up litter along the main thoroughfares in Cabot, volunteers returned to the parking lot at noon for free hotdogs and hamburgers served up by the First Security “Grill Team” with drinks provided by Pepsi.

“Unfortunately there are just some areas that don’t get picked up because of not enough volunteer participation.
“We really appreciate the people who came out,” said Matt Webber, vice-president of Cabot City Beautiful.

“Cabot High School Reserve Officer Training Corps did a bang up job on the stretch of road they pick up (Hwy. 67/167) and about 10 of the cadets helped us conduct the event by stacking the tires and unloading the vehicles.”

The spring cleanup offers an opportunity for residents to dispose of household hazardous waste such as old paint, automotive oil, antifreeze, fluorescent bulbs, household cleaners, batteries and automotive tires.

In 2006, the Great American Cleanup is expected to involve close to an estimated 2.5 million people volunteering more than 8 million hours to clean, beautify and improve 16,000 communities during 30,000 events from coast to coast in all 50 states. Activities will include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers and conducting educational programs and litter-free events. 
For the fourth consecutive year, President George W. Bush is serving as honorary chair of the Great American Cleanup. Mrs. Laura Bush joins him as honorary chair.

Last year 2.4 million Great Ame-rican Cleanup volunteers collected a record breaking 208 million pounds of litter and debris; planted 4.2 million flowers and bulbs; cleaned 176 miles or roads, streets and highways, and cleaned 10,250 miles of rivers, lakes and shorelines. 

In addition, according to a 2005 Keep America Beautiful survey, 92 percent of Great American Cleanup organizers noted that their communities, neighborhoods and residents felt safer after volunteers united to clean and beautify the local environment. For more information on Cabot City Beautiful, write Cabot City Beautiful, Inc. P.O. Box 1101 Cabot, Ark., 72023 or via e-mail at

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Sad sight in front of check cashers

One of the saddest sights you’ll see around town is a mother standing in front of a check-cashing store with her daughter.
The mother seems to hesitate before she enters, fearing perhaps that she will sign her life away when she, in effect, writes a hot check till her next payday.

If she can’t repay the loan, the sharks will charge her hundreds of dollars on a small payday advance.
Maybe her husband is in Iraq, and their daughter needs new shoes and dental work.

The mother slowly opens the door, and the little girl follows her into the check cashing store, both bowing their heads, as if in prayer.

Consumer groups claim the industry in Arkansas makes about $65 million a year in profit — that’s more than $1 million a week. No wonder payday lenders will buy off politicians who support the industry on the backs of the working poor.

At a hearing at the Legislature last month, the payday lenders brought in a former pro football player named Willie Green, who owns a chain of check cashing stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida.

Sitting a few feet from a couple of women who were charged thousands of dollars for a small loan, Green flashed his Super Bowl ring while he spoke to the House Judiciary Committee that was considering a bill to cut down on payday abuses, including capping interest rates at 17 percent, the legal limit in Arkansas.

Green had been flown in from North Carolina to show that blacks can exploit blacks just as much as whites can. This is the fellow who told “60 Minutes” that his wife was too smart to use a check casher — not that she’d need the money with all the stores and rings they own.

Someday, the Legislature might get tough with the loan sharks, although we were hoping this week’s special session would tackle the problem, but there’s no chance of that happening.

Robert Herzfeld, the Saline County prosecutor who is running for attorney general as a Democrat, says if he’s elected he would close loopholes in the Check Cashers Act of 1999.

He would also support legislation “to force payday lenders to abide by the state Constitution,” capping consumer loans at 17 percent annual interest, even if payday lenders call the interest they charge “fees.”

He said he would also work with lawmakers, nonprofit organizations and the financial community to develop low-interest short-term loans for low-income consumers.

He knows how payday lenders sneaked into Arkansas.
“The Check Cashers Act was written by the payday lenders, for the payday lenders,” Herzfeld said. “For too many years, this act has allowed these legalized loan sharks to thumb their noses at the Arkansas Constitution and gouge hard-working Arkansas families who have fallen into this economic trap while trying to make ends meet.”
Why aren’t Gov. Huckabee and the gubernatorial candidates speaking out on this issue?

Arkansas was once famous for its populism. We must revive that tradition and tell Willie Green and people like him that we don’t need them in Arkansas.

TOP STORY >> Major education bills soar through Senate

Leader staff writer

“Today we had a good day,” state Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy, said Tuesday of the special session called by Governor Mike Huckabee.

On the second day of the special session, area lawmakers reported progress not only on the education funding changes mandated by the state Supreme Court, but on raising the minimum wage, restricting smoking in public places and prohibiting protesters from interfering with military funerals.

“We passed in the Senate the majority of the major education bills,” said Capps. “We didn’t get to the bill on the 8 percent (cap on) administrative costs”

“There’s a little trouble in the house, but the education leadership felt they could work it out,” he said. “It gives me hope we will get through this week.”

Not everyone is as optimistic about finishing the special session by Friday, but area legislators to a person said good progress was made in a spirit of cooperation.

“We’re just getting started,” said state Rep. Susan Schulte, R-Cabot, cosponsor of bills against sexual predators and for increasing the minimum wage.

“I don’t feel the current minimum wage was reflective of what needed for a basic salary,” said Schulte, a small business owner herself.

The bills headed toward passage would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.25 an hour, but without amending the constitution to do so.

State Rep. Jeff Wood, D-Sherwood, was the lead sponsor of a law intended to prohibit protesters from knowingly interrupting a military funeral or visitation from 30 minutes prior to until 30 after the event.

“The intent is to keep people from blocking entrance into a church. Protesters could come to within 150 feet of such a service or funeral.” Wood said the trick was to balance the right of privacy against First Amendment rights.
“Worse case scenario, we’ll be out (of session) by next Wednes-day),” said Wood.

State Rep. Lenville Evans, D-Lonoke, cosponsored an amendment to the dark skies law passed last session to help keep the stars from being obscured by over lit cities. Compliance promised to be expensive for city and county governments and was opposed by the Arkansas Municipal League, Evans said.

Evans said he favored raising the minimum wage, but not a law prohibiting smoking in certain public places.
“If you don’t want people to smoke, put up a no-smoking sign,” he said.

State Sen. Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, a former cardiac nurse, cosponsored the clean air bill to limit smoking in public places.

“Thirteen other states have it,” she said. “You can’t smoke in malls, hospitals or public buildings.”
She said there was evidence that the ban hadn’t hurt business.
Prater also cosponsored the minimum-wage bill.

“I don’t believe it will have any problem passing the floor vote tomorrow,” she said.
“It’s time we increase the minimum wage here in Arkansas,” said state Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle.
“There’s no way anyone can make a living by any stretch of the imagination.”
He said there was “a glitch” in a public school finance bill.

“We pulled it down to fix and put back,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of controversy at this point and time,” said Glover.
State Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, said he thought the increase in the minimum wage was “pretty much a done deal,” though it was “particularly not a good idea to put in the Constitution.” He said the bill has overwhelming public support.
“There is a little bit of a dispute on how the (school) districts would have to spend money,” Bond said.

As currently written, some districts would have to put all new money into raising minimum teacher salaries, while locally, the Pulaski County Special School District, the Little Rock School District and the North Little Rock District already surpass the minimum and would be free to spend that money for other needs.

As for the special session, “I’m all for getting out as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We should have focused more on education, but anytime you have 35 agenda items on the call, there’s a chance for some delay.”

TOP STORY >> Ten years enough for Lonoke clerk

Leader staff writer

The big surprise in Lonoke County in the filing period that ended Tuesday came out of the office of county clerk, where Prudie Perceful has decided to not run again for the office she has held for almost a decade.

Perceful, 62, said she had anguished over the decision for almost a year before finally deciding over the weekend to not seek reelection.

Perceful said Tuesday that almost 30 years in the clerk’s office has left her little time with her children and grandchildren. “I’ve missed so much because of my job duties,” she said.

Both the candidates who did file for the position have worked for Perceful. Cassandra Pitts, a Republican, filed last week.
Dawn Porterfield, a Demo-crat, filed after Perceful said she would not run.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain, a Repub-lican, filed last week for her fourth term. She is running against Tim Blair, the Demo-crat who once worked in her office, who filed March 21.

“I love my job. I love fighting for justice and I do it well,” McCastlain said. “I feel like people want an aggressive voice to speak for them. We can’t go back to having a passive voice in this office; it’s too critical.

“I’m a prosecutor at heart and there’s no way I’m going to willingly turn this office over to a defense attorney,” she said.
Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, a Democrat, is running unopposed for his third term in office, but County Sheriff Jim Rober-son, a Republican, has three opponents for his third race: former Sheriff Charlie Martin, a Democrat, and two Repub-licans, John W. Staley and Keith Butler.

Circuit Clerk Karol De-priest and Assessor Jerry Adams, both Democrats, are unopposed. The office of collector has three Democratic candidates, Scotty Belford, Dany Clement and Patricia McCallie.

County Coroner Sherry Stacener has two opponents. Darriel Ezell and LeRoy Wood. All three are Democrats. Samuel Smith, the county surveyor, is opposed by William “Randy” Gipson. Smith is a Republican. Gipson is a Democrat.

On the Lonoke County Quorum Court, Jodie Grissha Troutman, D., is running for the District 1 position held by Joe Gunter who is not seeking reelection. The Dist. 2 seat has three candidates: Janette Minton, the Republican incumbent; Larry G. Ridgeway, the Democrat whose seat she took in the last election, and Vincent B. Ables, a Republican.

In Dist. 3, Cabot Alderman Patrick Hutton has filed against incumbent Larry Odom. Both are Republicans.
In Districts 4 and 5 the Republican incumbents, Donna Pedersen and Lynn Weeks Clarke are unopposed.
In Dist. 6, Alexis Malham, the Republican incumbent will face Harry Roderick, an independent and Chris R. Skinner, a Democrat.

Richard Kyzer, the Democratic incumbent is unopposed in Dist. 7. Three Democrats have filed for the Dist. 8 seat: Nita Colclasure, Fred Ibbotson and Roger D. Lynch.

Robert “Sonny” Morey, the incumbent Democrat is unopposed for Dist. 9. In Dist. 10, three Democrats have filed: Norman W. Walker, the incumbent; Kyle E. Lackey and Virgil Turner.

Mike Dolan, a Democrat, is unopposed for the Dist. 11 seat he has held for many years. Gina Burton, the Republican incumbent in Dist. 12 has two opponents: Patty Knox, a Democrat and Casey VanBuskirk, a Republican.

In Dist. 13, Marty Stumbaugh, the Republican incumbent and brother of Mayor Stubby Stum-baugh, is opposed by Mark Edward, also a Republican.

Most candidates for office in Cabot run as independents and are not required to file until after the May primary. However, two Republicans have filed for mayor: Eddie Joe Williams and Bill “Pete” Pedersen.

Jimmy Taylor, a Republican, has filed for city attorney and four Republicans have filed for city council: Carl Schmidt and Virgil O. Teague Jr. for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat held by Patrick Hutton who is running for quorum court; former City Attorney Ken Williams for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat held by Jerry Stephens; and Teri Miessner for the Ward 3, Position 2 seat held by Bob Duke who is retiring.

In Lonoke, all the candidates for mayor are Democrats: Mayor Thomas J. Privett, Ray Henderson, Wayne McGeee and Jim Parks.

Jack Walls McCrary is unopposed for the treasurer’s office he now holds. Bill U. Uzzell, the city clerk also is unopposed. Both are Democrats.

Jane Derning, a Democrat, is unopposed for the District 1 seat on the council now held by Wayne McGee. For Dist 2, Jackie Lee Moore Jr., the incumbent, will face Woody Evans. Both are Democrats.

Pat Howell, the incumbent will face Bob Butler, both Democrats. In District 4, Robert “Bob” Combs, a Republican, will face Kenneth Pasley, a Democrat.

No one filed against the Democratic incumbents in Districts 5-8: Efrem Z. Jones, Raymond L. Hutton, Michael L. Florence and Phillip Howell.

TOP STORY >> Economic impact of air base at $600M

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base’s economic impact on the local economy increased $20 million from $580 million in 2004 to $600 million in 2005, most of which comes from military members living in surrounding communities.

According to Little Rock Air Force Base’s 2005 fiscal year economic impact analysis, the base’s 5,919 active duty personnel collect $274 million in pay, much of which is spent in surrounding cities of Sher-wood, Jacksonville, Cabot and Beebe for rent and housing. Only 483 airmen live on base while much of housing is being remodeled.

“In the communities around the base, airmen have been able to find bigger, modern homes for their families and later sell at a profit when they move to another base,” said Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim.

The older homes on base are either being demolished or renovated as part of a $500 million housing contract awarded to American Eagle Communities. By 2012, American Eagle Communities plans to renovate 732 existing homes and build 648 new homes to make living on the base more appealing to military families.

“We’re always pleased to get the report and verify what we already know–that the base is important to the entire state of Arkansas and the city of Jacksonville,” Swaim said. “Economic impact isn’t the only thing the men and women of Little Rock Air Force Base do for us. They protect our freedoms on a daily basis and that’s what’s really important,” Swaim said.

“While the majority of people think it’s just Jacksonville that gets that economic impact, it stretches all the way from Little Rock to Beebe and all the points in between,” said Larry T. Wilson, past president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council. Wilson is also the president and chief executive officer of Jackson-ville-based First Arkansas Bank and Trust.

The 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, a tenant unit at the base, is responsible for $50.7 million of the base’s total economic impact for 2005.

“We have Guardsmen from 121 cities across the state,” said Tech. Sgt. Bob Oldham, spokesman for the 189th Airlift Wing. “The pay those airmen get is taken back to their hometowns too.”

In 2005, Little Rock Air Force Base bought $19 million in services and $80 million in materials, equipment and supplies, which created 3,031 indirect jobs worth $109 million to local economies, $5 million more than 2004. The 2004 economic impact analysis showed Little Rock Air Force Base spent $21 million in services and $78.6 million in materials, equipment and supplies, which created about the same amount of indirect jobs 3,068 worth $104 million.

Additionally, Little Rock Air Force Base is the largest civilian employer in central Arkansas. A total of 1,244 civilians at the base take home $44 million in pay.

“Little Rock Air Force Base’s economic impact in the local area is huge,” said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander. “We all know the importance of Little Rock (AFB) to the nation’s defense. This report highlights the financial contribution we make to the Natural State.”

In 2005, the base spent $26.3 million on construction, a substantial drop from the $76 million spent in 2004 on projects such as the C-130J operations training facility, C-130J squadron facility and the C-130J two-bay hangar construction.  
There is $14.8 million in ongoing construction around the base, in-cluding $4.3 million to renovate the medical clinic and $3.9 million to renovate the child development center. The 314th Civil Engineering Squadron is working on a $5 million C-130J cargo aircraft simulator, a new dining facility and a new $2 million air strip at the All American Landing Zone at Camp Robinson.

As the military shifts its forces around through the base realignment and closure process, LRAFB is looking at $45 million worth of potential construction projects to accommodate an increase in airmen and employees.

“The base provides substantial monetary income to the local economy through jobs and the purchase of local goods and services,” Self said. “This report in no way captures the countless community service hours our airmen donate, nor the many other goodwill projects we support. This is only one indicator to show that Little Rock Air Force Base is truly an important part of the central Arkansas community.”

Little Rock Air Force Base’s Economic Impact Analysis is based on September 2005 information.  

TOP STORY >> Smaller airlifter sought

Leader staff writers

Faced with spending either $9 million for wing-box repairs for the Air Force’s aging fleet of C-130E and H model cargo aircraft or spending $60 to $90 million per plane for the new C-130J model, Defense Department officials are looking at smaller cargo aircraft to augment the fleet.

“An aircraft that would carry about two-thirds the amount of cargo as a C-130 and be able to land between 2,000 and 2,500 feet is what we need,” said Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of the U.S. Transporta-tion Command, during a recent visit to Little Rock Air Force Base.

During a recent interview with The Leader, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. said a smaller version of the C-130 would be even better suited to the kind of military actions currently being fought in the Middle East.

“It would be a twin-engine plane, about two-thirds the size of the full-sized (C-130) plane and capable of hauling about one-third the cargo,” Pryor said, adding the smaller plane was the Army’s idea, but there currently was no design or production in sight.


“For a lot of missions it would make sense,” Pryor said. “I’d like to make sure it comes to Little Rock Air Force Base.”
“The Air Force has a lot of decisions (to make),” said Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock. Snyder serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

He said not only were so many C-130s grounded or restricted for wing-box problems, but the harsh climate was tough on all the transport planes supporting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes the larger C-5 and the C-17.

He said he believed there would have to be a major procurement of some sort, but that a decision was “a ways down the line.”

A smaller cargo aircraft is an “upper level project,” said Capt. David Faggard of the 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office. Faggard said since such a plane doesn’t exist yet, it would be difficult to comment on its abilities or impact to Little Rock Air Force Base.


Regardless, new planes would be welcome at the base and in the community.

The Base Realignment and Clo-sure Commission’s final recommendation calls for an increase of only six C-130s at the base, and an early estimate of 4,000 new jobs has been reduced to 300 to 600.

According to Schwartz, the military would need a mix of both small and large cargo aircraft to ensure that commanders have access to the right capabilities to achieve their specific mission.

“Big airplanes like the C-5 and C-17, medium airplanes like the C-130 and smaller airplanes like the light-cargo aircraft—it would be great if the avionics in them were similar, if a pilot could get out of a C-130 and get into the light-cargo aircraft and be able to fly it,” Schwartz said.


On Monday a C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft crashed during takeoff near Dover Air Force Base, Del. All 17 airmen aboard, members of the 436th Airlift Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 512th Airlift Wing, survived the crash.

“The C-5 and the C-130 are two totally different airlifters,” Faggard said. “We’re all waiting to hear what happened, but right now we’re concerned about the airmen and their families.”

While the concept of a light-cargo aircraft is being considered, the clock is ticking for the fate of Little Rock Air Force Base’s aging C-130 fleet. In 2005, Air Force engineers found microscopic cracking where the wings meet the fuselage, an area called the wing box, of the 40-year old C-130 E and 20-year old H models. After maintainers evaluated the 450 C-130s in the fleet, the Air Force grounded nearly 100 aircraft with the cracks. Of those, 18 were permanently retired leaving 82 C-130s in need of a $9 million wing repair.


The Air Force put weight, altitude and flight time restrictions on aircraft that might develop the cracks based on wear and tear and such things as the number of hours flown, maintenance issues and the more demanding tactical flying of wartime maneuvers.

“If you replace the wing box of a 40-year-old plane, you still have a 40-year-old plane,” Faggard said. “It’s really hard to say how long a wing box repair would extend the life of a C-130. It’s like taking a 1950s or ‘60s car and putting new shocks on it. Other components...will fail.”

Of the 314th Airlift Wing’s 42 C-130s, 12 are restricted and eight are grounded. Of the 463rd Airlift Groups 30 C-130s, two are restricted and five are grounded. All the planes, grounded and restricted alike, have to be kept ready to fly, which according to recent reports, costs the base $22,000 per month to maintain planes that never fly.


A wing-box repair plan recently released from the 330th Tactical Air Support Command at Robins Air Force Base details 75 wing-box replacements over the next five years including one wing-box re-placement in 2007, four in 2008, 17 in 2009, 18 in 2010, 18 in 2011 and 17 in 2012, leaving seven C-130s needing the repair. It is not yet known when the planes from Little Rock Air Force Base will be repaired.

Once it is announced which planes get fixed, the C-130s will be flown to Warner Robins Air Logis-tics Center at Robins Air Force Base near Macon, Ga., one of the Air Force’s five air logistics centers that has worldwide management and engineering responsibility for the repair, modification and overhaul of the F-15 Eagle, C-130 Hercules, the C-141 Starlifter, all Air Force helicopters as well as all special operations aircraft and their avionics systems.

Capt. David Faggard of the 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office contributed to this story.