Wednesday, April 19, 2006

OBITUARIES >> 4-19-06


Donna Ann Allen-Britton, 43, of Tyler, Texas, passed away April 15. She was born Aug. 3, 1962 to Barry and Patricia Spears in New Milford, Conn.
She was preceded in death by husband Dennis Lee Allen, and brother, Tommy Spears.
Survivors include husband Charles Britton of Tyler; daughters: DeAna Phillips, Charlene Allen and Elizabeth Layrock all of Searcy; step-children: Re-becca Bos-well and Kayla Vana-man of Sher-wood, Linda Weathers, Charlie Brit-ton and Clar-issa Britton of Providen-ce; parents: Barry Spears of Florida and Patricia Spears of Texas and Charles and Elise Allen of Augusta; sister, Debbie Schmidt; brothers Toby Spears and Tim Spears all of Texas; five grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren and one step great-grandchild.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Victory Bap-tist Church in Cabot with interment at Providence Cemetery. Memorials may be made to any Cancer Research Organization.
Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service of Cabot.


Rev. Andrew Jackson Rutledge and his wife, Lena Geneva Rutledge, formerly of Jacksonville, went to be with the Lord this weekend in Springfield, Mo.
Mr. Rutledge died on April 14 at the age of 89, and Mrs. Rutledge died on April 16 also at the age of 89.
The loving couple were married on Aug. 30, 1940, and spent 66 beautiful years together.
Mr. Rutledge was born in Horneback, Tenn., on July 28, 1916 to the late William and Ethel Webster Rutledge. Two brothers also preceded him in death.
He was an Assembly of God minister. Mrs. Rutledge was born in Zalma, Mo., on Aug. 14, 1916, to the late William A. and Ina M. Mansfield McKenzie. Five brothers and a sister also precede her.
Survivors include one son, William A. Rutledge and his wife, Lois, of North Little Rock, two daughters; Joyce Garman and husband Kelsey of Springfield, Mo.; and Donna Jenkins and husband Danny of Ward; six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Royce Lowe officiating. Interment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 on Wednesday night at the funeral home.
Arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Charles Wayne Davis, 64, of Cabot passed away on April 16.
Survivors include his special friend Michael Faught and family; the nurses and residents of Spring Creek Living Center and his church family at Vic-tory Baptist Church in Cabot.
Visitation will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Wed-nesday, at the funeral home and from 8 a.m. until service time Thursday at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot with Bro. Ben Leonard officiating.
Interment will follow at Sylvania Cemetery.
Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service 713 South Second St. Cabot.


Darrell Eugene House, 74, of Jacksonville departed this earth April 14.
He was born Nov. 6, 1931, in Swif-ton to the late Richard and Della Mae House.
House is survived by his wife, Dor-othy; one daughter, Judy Puckett of Jacksonville five sons; Brian and his wife Dawn House of Jackson-ville, Michael House of North Little Rock,  Richard House of St. Louis, Mo., Danny House of North Little Rock, and Jimmy House of Ferndale; two grandchildren Darrell and Natalie House; one brother, Carl House of Little Rock; two sisters, Beatrice Haigwood and Mildred Cochran both of North Little Rock.
Funeral  services were held at Tuesday at Stanfill Baptist Church in Jacksonville with Brother Gene Davis officiating.  Interment will follow at Stanfill Cemetery.
Arrangements by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Jimanna Kornegay, 90, of Jacksonville, died April 17 at Rebsamen Medical Center. Born April 26, 1915, in Oktibbeha County, Miss., she was a daughter of the late James Robert and Ruby A. McIntosh Ferguson.  
She was also preceded in death by her husband, Robert Alton Kornegay; two sisters, Gussie Mae Hall and Florence Coleman; and a brother, Hugh Ferguson.
A devout Christian, she and her husband were charter members of Marshall Road Baptist Church, where she served as a Sunday school teacher and enjoyed participating in the choir and the senior group activities.  They helped organize the MAC group (making age count).  
was always a believer and contributor of the Lottie Moon Offering.  Jimanna enjoyed fishing and playing cards with friends and family.  
She belonged to the garden club, the Homemakers Extension Club and also worked as a poll worker.
Survivors include her two daughters, Colleen Van Nostrand, and Mary Odell and husband Phillip Ford; grandchildren, Karen Wisniewski, Robert Stephen Van Nostrand and Kenneth Scott Ford; eight great-grandchildren, Bill Kennedy, Charleen and Jake Van Nostrand, Kenneth, Blake, Cath-erine and Peter Ford and Meagan Wisniewski; two brothers, C.R. Ferguson, Paul Cloyce Ferguson; and a sister Ruth Betts Vickers and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m., Wednesday at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville, with Rev. John Sammons and Rev. Cliff Hutchins officiating.  
Interment will follow at Rest Hills Memorial Park in North Little Rock.  
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Marshall Road Baptist Church Building Fund, 821 Marshall Road, Jacksonville, Ark., 72076 or a charity of your choice.  
Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Marilyn M. Lester Cash, 73, of Modesto, Calif., and a native of Santa Maria, Calif., died April 14 at her home.
She was born April 20, 1932.
She is retired from Tri Valley Growers and was formerly employed by the Sharp Army Depot.
She was a member of Moose Lodge Women’s Auxiliary and the fraternal Order of Eagles Wom-en’s Auxiliary as well as a volunteer at Doctors Medical Center with the auxiliary.
She is survived by her children Sandra Cash of Modesto, Calif., and Johnette Smith of Dublin, Texas; brother James Lester of Antioch; sisters Joyce Usiak of Modesto, Calif., and Carolyn Piper of Powder Springs, Ga., and 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband John Cash.
Funeral services were held April 19 at Colonial Chapel-Franklin & Downs.
Memorials may be sent to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto, Calif., 95356. Arrangements by Colonial Chapel-Franklin and Downs in California.

M.J. ADAMS, 65

M.J. “Knockout” Adams, born Dec. 31, 1940, died April 16. He was a member of Palm Street Church of Christ, Lonoke, a graduate of Jacksonville High School and was a retired self-employed building contractor.
In earlier years he built a 10-acre subdivision in Lonoke County.
He was an avid hunter with many trophies to attest to his skills. He had a log cabin in Stone County where he spent a large portion of his time during the winter and summer. He loved to spend time with his grandchildren at the cabin.
He was preceded in death by his parents Bud and Louise Adams; a son, Michael J. Adams of Cabot and a baby sister.
Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Kathleen Chapman Adams; two daughters, Robin and hsuband Jimmy Prince and Karen Adams; seven grandchildren, Bailie and Marlie Prince, Jared, Tyler and Alex Adams, all of Jacksonville, Nolan and Brandon Hidalgo of S.C.; one brother, Don and wife Kaye Adams of Greers Ferry; two sisters, Patty and husband Carl Peters of Jacksonville and Barbara Hiner of Benton.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with interment in Bayou Meto Cemetery, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke.
Great appreciation to the nurses and staff of Arkansas Hospice and St. Vincent’s Family Clinic in Jacksonville. Memorials can be made to to aid in research for a cure of pancreatic cancer.


Kent Edward McDonald, Jr., 13 of Beebe, died April 17. Kent, better known as Kentster to many, was a funny, loving, happy-go-lucky 13-year-old who attended Beebe Junior High School.
Kentster was loved and adored by all who knew him because of his gift of compassion for others before himself.
He filled his days with skateboarding, riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers with cousins and friends, and most of all, looking out for his little sister, Nikki.
Those who knew Kentster were truly blessed to have known such a wonderful person and he will be missed tremendously; however, we know he is with his Lord and Savior.
He is survived by his grandparents, Wayne and Shirley Mc-Donald of Beebe, and Janett Tazelaar of Little Rock; parents, Kent and Tammy McDonald of Beebe; one sister, Nikki McDonald of Beebe; and four cousins, Chris Cummings of Beebe, Brandi Bartlett and husband Mike of Jacksonville, Eric and Sydney Rowell of Beebe.
Family will receive friends from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Weir Cemetery.
Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home.

WED 4-19-6 EDITORIAL >> Beebe fights tax charge

One thing that is as predictable as the solar orbits is that whenever a Democratic officeholder runs for higher office, the Republican Party will put out a report exaggerating the man’s record on taxes.

You will remember that when Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 the Republicans published an encyclopedic list numbering in the hundreds of tax increases that Clinton had signed in 12 years as governor.

He was the biggest taxer in history. Anyone who looked up the act numbers would find scores of shocking levies like a $5 annual license fee for water-well drillers or podiatrists. Quite a few actually were new deductions or exemptions that lowered, not raised taxes. But what voter has time to research the details?

Monday, much earlier in the election than anyone would have guessed, the Arkansas Republican Party released a lengthy report of Attorney General Mike Beebe’s votes on taxes as a state senator. Beebe is the Democratic candidate for governor, and the executive director of the Republican Party said the report highlighted “a pattern of fiscal irresponsibility” in Beebe’s 20 years of lawmaking that made him unfit to be governor.

A possible explanation of the timing was that an independent poll had just come out showing Beebe with an 11-point lead over the Republican, Asa Hutchinson.

The report on Beebe’s tax votes was even more disingenuous than the one on Clinton.

Down in the list of tax votes were taxes on bingo operations, a $3-a-year tax on corporations to pay for a signature-imaging system in the state corporation registration office, a tax on the rental of townhouses and condominiums and a 2-pennies-a-bushel tax on raw rice to pay for scientific research on rice. The GOP statement did not mention that a number of Beebe’s votes were for taxes pushed by Gov. Mike Huckabee — a Republican, if anyone needs reminding.

In fact, it subtly credits — or blames — Beebe for Huckabee’s last big sales tax increase, at a special session in 2004, although Beebe was no longer in the Senate.

It said that since Beebe went to the Senate in 1983, the sales tax had swollen from 3 to more than 6 percent, neglecting to point out that Beebe had no role whatever in the last leg of that rise or that much of that increase came on the watch of Gov. Huckabee and with his blessing.

The report also did not give Beebe credit for having helped craft the individual income tax reductions of 1997, which Gov. Huckabee touts far and wide as evidence that he is a conservative tax cutter.

But that is not the really dishonest part of the attack. “Mike Beebe is the $10 Billion Man,” said Clint Reed, the GOP executive director. He said the tax increases supported by Beebe totaled $10 billion. Statehouse reporters ordinarily do not ask many questions, but it was hard to pass on that. If the total state budget now stands at less than $5 billion, how could Beebe have raised it by $10 billion?

Well, Reed explained, they simply added the revenue every year from, for example, the 1983 sales tax increase for education and made the same cumulative computation for every tax. No one has ever calculated taxes that way before nor will the Republicans like them to be figured that way for Huckabee or for Hutchinson. Hutchinson, you see, could be said to have cut taxes for American billionaires as a congressman in 2001 and 2002 by trillions of dollars.

That exaggerates his generosity to the Gateses, Waltons and Tysons, some. Beebe had another response, a good one. Which services funded by those taxes and endorsed by the Republican governor would the Republicans eliminate if Hutchinson is elected?

Here is the fatal weakness in the Republican election strategy nowadays. The party assumes that voters have only one concern about their government, which is how much it collects in taxes.

Greed does not motivate most people. They like low taxes and fair taxes even more (the party will not be enlisting in that fight), but that is not the sum or even the summit of their civic interests. Republicans make a mistake when they assume it to be so. What voters will insist upon, even when the legitimate subject is taxes, is that either party and any candidate be honest and straightforward and not take them all for saps.

SPORTS >> Red Devils take two non-league matchups

Leader sportswriter

The Jacksonville Red Devils added two wins to their record with a win over Little Rock Christian on Friday 11-2 and a close 4-3 victory over Oak Grove on Monday at Dupree Park. The non-conference wins come after a struggle in the conference season for the Red Devils, losing eight AAAAA-East matchups in a row.

Friday’s game against Christian was a dominating performance. Jacksonville took off to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Cameron Hood and Adrian Baker put the first two runs on the board, followed by Seth Tomboli and Santiago Salazar.

The Warriors not only had trouble defensively against Jacksonville, but batting was a struggle as well. Christian went scoreless for the first four innings, as the Red Devils stretched out their advantage in the bottom of the fourth.

Adam Ussery singled to start out the inning, followed by Blake Mattison. Mattison was hit by a pitch to get to first, putting two more runs in position. A walk for Jake Ussery loaded the bases for the Red Devils.

Two of those runs scored when Hood doubled two batters later. By the end of the fourth inning, Jacksonville had increased its lead to 9-0. The Warriors finally avoided the shutout when they came away with one run in the fifth inning.

Mattison was driven in by Jake Ussery for another run in the bottom of the fifth inning, with a single run home run from Hood in the bottom of the sixth setting the Red Devils’ final score. Christian was only able to add one more run in the sixth, giving Jacksonville the rout.

Monday’s contest against Oak Grove was much more closely contested.

The Hornets struck first in the top of the first inning with a run. The Red Devils put four runs up in the opening inning, with Adam Ussery and Mattison both singling off to start the inning. Both runners were then driven in with a two-run homer from Jake Ussery.

Hood kept things going with a double, and was driven in moments later off a single from Salazar. The Hornets tried to rally in the middle of the contest, scoring runs in the top of the third and fifth innings to close Jacksonville’s lead to within one.
The Red Devils held Oak Grove at bay during the final two innings to take their second straight win. The wins improve the Red Devils’ overall record to 8-12.

Jacksonville played at Forrest City last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills sweeps two East games from Cabot

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears got a huge doubleheader sweep from Cabot Tuesday night at Cabot, and in doing so, assumed first place in the AAAAA-East conference championship race. The Bears improved to 11-1 in league play while Cabot fell to 10-2, and saw its 14-game winning streak snapped.

Sylvan Hills got the two wins in drastically different ways, compiling 16 base hits in game one, but only winning 8-4. In game two, the Bears only collected eight hits, but took advantage of seven Panther errors to take a 13-5 victory.

Sylvan Hills battered Cabot ace Justin Haas in game one, but left several runners on base and didn’t assume full control until a five-run third inning gave the Bears a 7-2 lead.

“He’s (Haas) not an overpowering pitcher,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “He’s got some different things and hits his spots well, but we just stayed back and drove the ball.”

After game two, an errorless game for the Bears, Tipton boasted of his team’s capabilities.

“I totally believe we can beat anybody in the state,” Tipton said. “Our success and failure depends a lot on what we do to ourselves. Our problem is we’re capable of losing to just about anybody. Monday night (against Catholic) we didn’t play good defense and got beat. Tonight we played defense and swung the bats and beat a good team.”

The big third started with three straight, one-out singles by Hunter Miller, Nathan Van Schoyck and Jarrett Boles, with Boles’ single driving in Miller.

Shawn Bybee flew out to right field for the second out, but three more consecutive base hits drove in the final four runs.
Mark Turpin singled in a run, leadoff hitter Taylor Roark doubled for two RBIs and Hayden Miller doubled to drive in Roark.
Six different Bears turned in multiple-hit performances. Van Schoyck and Boles had three hits apiece, all singles.
Roark, Hayden Miller, Gwatney and Boles all collected two hits in the victory.

Sam Bates and Daryl Murphy did most of the offensive work for Cabot in game one.
Bates got three base hits while Murphy had two for five of Cabot’s nine base raps.

Justin Free provided the highlight with a two-run homerun in the second inning that tied the game.
Sylvan Hills senior Ashur Tolliver got the win, giving up nine hits, three earned runs while striking out nine Panthers.
If only earned runs counted, Cabot and Sylvan Hills would have been tied at 5-5 after seven innings of game two, but the seven Panther miscues helped pave an easy road for the Bears’ nightcap victory.

Sylvan Hills built a 7-0 lead over three innings, but Cabot began to make some noise in the fifth inning.
The Panthers got three runs in the fifth, one off starter Tony Pavan, and two off relief pitcher Ross Bogard to pull to within 7-3. The Bears answered and got two of those runs back in the bottom of the same frame, starting with a monster of a homerun by cleanup hitter Austin Gwatney, who led off the inning.

Gwatney’s shot sailed over the fence in left-center between the 375- and 390-feet signs.
Van Schoyck then reached on an error at third base, and advanced to third two batters later on an error at second. That set up a sacrifice fly to make it a 9-3 game.

The Panthers added two more in the top of the sixth. Starting pitcher Colin Fuller was hit by a pitch with no outs, but was thrown out at second on a grounder by freshmen outfielder Drew Burks.

Burks moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double down the left-field line by first baseman Chris Gross.
Gross took third on a wild pitch, and his pinch runner scored on a balk by Sylvan Hills’ third pitcher Blaine Sims.
Kyle West then roped a line shot to centerfield, but it sailed right to Gwatney for the second out of the inning.

Sims then fanned Bates to end the Cabot threat. The Bears add-ed four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth with the help of three walks and two Cabot errors.

Tolliver inserted a two-RBI single among the gifts, then scored on a rare two-RBI sac-bunt by Bybee.
Sims ended the game with a flare, striking out the first three batters of the seventh, but the final victim, Logan Lucas, reach-ed on a third-strike passed ball. Cory Wade flew out to right field on the next at bat to end the game.

The Panthers fell to 16-6 overall while Sylvan Hills improved to 15-7.
The Cabot freshman Burks turned in the best offensive effort in the game, going 3 for 4 and scoring two runs.
Tolliver was the only Bear with multiple hits. His first was a triple to right field that became a round-tripper when Burks’ throw to the infield went awry.

NEIGHBORS >> A closer look at life on the farm

Leader staff writer

Ward Central Pre-K students spend a day learning where food comes from.

Ward Central pre-kindergartners, many of them on a farm for the first time, pressed tight around a dwarf goat, prodding, petting and poking a critter so intent upon its grazing that it seemed blissfully oblivious of the attention.

About 150 children arrived in two school buses accompanied by 14 cars bearing chaperones as the children had a field day at C & C Farms on Minton Road off state Hwy. 38.

This was the second consecutive year Jeff and Kim Cass and their two sons have hosted the event, which included a ride in a tractor-drawn wagon, close-up inspection of a hay rake and baler, the opportunity to plant some seeds in a cup, and also a chance to pet and pester a Shetland pony, a chicken and a rooster.

“Only 2 percent of the people (in the U.S.) are employed in agriculture at all,” said Susan Matthews, a Lonoke County Extension Service agent.

“Most are so far removed from where their food comes from. (Children) think chicken comes from McDonald’s or Kroger and milk comes from a bottle.

“We wanted to provide them with a farm experience,” she said, to connect the value of agriculture to their daily lives.”
For the tractor ride, the children and their watchers crowded onto the wagon, which Jeff Cass drove around his pasture, stopping so the children could watch the cattle feed.

When they drove on, the cows followed as if waiting for a big round bale of hay to be dropped off the back of the trailer.
Lonoke County Extension Service staff chair Jeff Welch talked with the children about chickens and eggs (he didn’t say which came first) and Matthews helped each child plant two sunflower seeds in a plastic cup they could take home and grow.
The Cass family rents 150 acres for this Black Angus cow-café operation and lives on another farm closer to Lonoke, Kim Cass said.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> DWI should end Huck’s presidential campaign

Gov. Huckabee’s presidential candidacy effectively ended last week when a habitual drunk driver whose prison sentence he had commuted to time served was arrested again on April 4, almost killing the policeman who arrested him.

Eugene Fields of Van Buren (Crawford County) was so drunk that he nearly crashed head-on into Barling Police Officer Kevin Dugan on Arkansas 59 in western Arkansas. Fields plead guilty and paid an $800 fine.

Huckabee had granted Fields clemency in April 2004 after the 68-year-old businessman served just six months of his seven-year sentence. He would have been eligible for parole in a few months anyway, but the governor thought Fields had suffered enough and the state parole board let him go early.

Law-enforcement officials, prosecutors and Mothers Against Drunk Driving were furious, and now they’ll try to send Fields back to prison for being an incorrigible drunk. He still has more than two years left on his parole, which the state could revoke at any time.

“We have increased supervision of this offender,” said Rhonda Sharp, a spokesperson for the Department of Community Punishment, which makes recommendations to the state parole board on parole revocations.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving thought Huckabee was setting a terrible example, especially since he had just honored state troopers for their fight against drunk drivers.

What’s Huckabee trying to do? Run a national campaign to go easy on drunk drivers? With his record on pardons for killers, rapists and drunks, can we trust him to manage the war in Iraq?

Hardly anyone takes his presidential candidacy seriously — Huckabee has raised just $129,000 in PAC money for his quixotic run for the White House, which is a pittance for a national campaign and is about what cranks raise for their presidential races — although the people he’s pardoned over the years, or their relatives, ought to consider making donations to his presidential campaign.

Have the pardon scandals embarrassed Huckabee? Not really. Remember the serial rapist and murderer Wayne DuMond?
Huckabee thought he was innocent and had the parole board exile him to Missouri, where DuMond killed a couple of women right after he arrived in the Show Me State. At least Missouri never considered him for parole, and he died in prison.
Did Huckabee apologize? Not a word out of him.

He did issue a statement through his spokesperson about Fields’ latest DWI arrest, saying he “has broken all trust and deserves the full penalty that the law allows. Not everyone does right, but when a person fails on a second chance, he forfeits a future one.”

Fields, of course, had four previous chances to straighten out, yet he kept drinking and driving.
Huckabee has the worst record on pardons and clemencies since Orval Faubus, who was known to pardon pals and campaign contributors.

You remember the orgy of pardons Huckabee issued over the past decade? How can we forget: Psychopaths, sadists, rapists, drunks, you name them, the governor saw their better side and let them go free — until the Legislature made him stop, and now he’s issuing just a fraction of the clemencies and pardons he did a year ago.

What a record to run on for president. Maybe the national media will start asking him some serious questions other than about his weight-loss program, but since his campaign has gone nowhere, they might not even care about his record anymore. If they did, they would realize Huckabee is Arkansas’ most ethically challenged governor in nearly half a century.

TOP STORY >> Drought worries farmers

Leader staff writer

Soybean rust spores already have been found in the southern United States and in Texas, which is not good news for Arkansas producers, according to Jeff Welch, Lonoke County Cooperative Extension service agent.

Last year’s drought conditions in the state prevented rust from getting a hold here, said Welch, but those same dry conditions had farmers burning lots of expensive fuel to pump irrigation water overtime from an already-depleted aquifer. Welch said current dry conditions could hint at a repeat, which could spell disaster for some producers.

A second consecutive year of diminishing returns could cause the banks to call loans or to refuse to extend additional credit to get next year’s crop in the ground, he said.

“We had a pretty good year as far as yield,” Welch said. “The problem was the costs were substantially above normal because of the costs of fuel, fertilizer, labor and interest, negating good yields.”

“It’s pretty close to economic disaster even with decent yields. It takes a lot more yield now just to break even,” he added.
Welch said between seven and 10 Lonoke County farmers went out of business last year, but other farmers absorbed their crops.

“Last year we had to irrigate crops just to get them up,” said Welch Thursday. “We may have to flush rice up. It’s really dry out there.”

Welch said the soybean producers haven’t had to irrigate yet, but they will unless there is some significant rainfall within the next 10 days.

In addition to early beans and rice, producers are starting to plant cotton. If it’s too dry, the cotton will have to be irrigated to germinate and get up out of the ground. Three conditions are necessary for rust to take hold, said Welch. Farmers need susceptible plants, a favorable environment and the presence of rust spores.

“Our winds are from the southwest, and that’s where Texas is, he said.

TOP STORY >> Major chains looking

Leader staff writer

With the success of Chili’s, a developer is pressing hard to get Jacksonville’s approval to bring a Cici’s Pizza restaurant and at least one other national franchise to the city.

“Jacksonville is on the radar of a number of national chains right now,” said Tommy Bond, with Bond Consulting Engin-eers and representing the developer.

Along with the commercial development, two new subdivisions should get final approval this week. The commercial plan is a complicated and fragile deal that calls for developing the acreage on Marshall Road, north of the New China restaurant and west of John Harden Drive.

Plans call for at least two retail buildings with more than 35,000 square feet and close to 200 parking spaces, but the developer needs to get all the necessary approvals before leaving the area later this month. There are a number of hurdles that the developer hopes to clear at Board of Adjustment and planning commission meetings at 6 p.m. Monday at city hall.
First, the developer is trying to combine two lots into one, but the northern lot is under the control of the hospital and only medical-related businesses are to be built on the land.

The developer must get approval from the hospital board to change that requirement and to move a billboard on the property.

“We’ve made contact with the hospital board members and there doesn’t seem to be any problems there,” Bond said. The developer must also meet with the board of adjust ments to get a variance for building setbacks. On one lot the setback is 50 feet and on the other its is 25 feet. “We want it to be 25 feet across the lots or the developer won’t be able to get his buildings in,” Bond explained. The planning commission will meet immediately after the board of adjustments to give approval to the project if enough of the question marks have been rectified.

Bond added that he thought the project was a good economic deal for Jacksonville. If the commission approves it, then the city council can review the project and give it a final approval as early as its Thursday meeting. Also at its Thursday night meeting the council will:

• Decide on rezoning the 20-acre Graham Settlement, near the corner of Loop and Graham roads from commercial to single-family homes (R-1) for new subdivision of homes. The planning commission unanimously approved the rezoning earlier this month.
• The council must also decide on the rezoning of the 120-acre Foxwood Estates from manufactured homes (R-7) to single-family homes (R-0) so that a county-style gated community can be built. Plans call for lots to average about 5 acres. The development has been called “country living in the city.”
• Aldermen will also approve the final plat of the Eastview Subdivision, Phase IV-B, completing Gina Circle.
• Make three appointments to the Residential Housing Facilities Board.
• Honor youth coaches of the year.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke hoping to land Toyota

Leader staff writer

Even as Toyota announces that one or more sites in Arkansas are among those under consideration for a new auto plant, Lonoke city fathers, including Mayor Thomas Privett, are closer than ever to construction of a new Hwy. 89/I-40 interchange. But for the lack of the proposed new interchange on the west side of Lonoke and adjacent to prime industrial development sites, Lonoke might already have landed a major manufacturer, they say.

“It would encourage a big outfit like Toyota,” Privett said Tuesday. “We have money, and we can get what we need to match. We’re going ahead with pre-engineering for the interchange.”

He added, “That’s important to people that like the site.”

Privett, chamber director John Garner and members of the Lonoke Industrial Development Committee have been in discussions with several manufacturers over the past two years, and they think they’ve come close to landing a big one.
“Arkansas has a presence on their radar screen,” said Privett, who revealed at least one manufacturer is interested in the site adjacent to the future interchange.

The Lonoke City Council last week passed a resolution required by the state Highway and Transportation Depart-ment before planning and engineering can go any further. “I hope we can bid (pre-engineering) next month,” said the mayor.

During talks with Highway Department officials, including director Dan Flowers and commissioner Carl Rosen-baum, a tentative plan that resembles half a cloverleaf but provides on and off ramps both east and west on I-40 has emerged as an economical solution, according to the mayor.

“That was the highway people’s choice, lesser cost,” he said.

Planning and design and right-of-way procurement and engineering are on the same page, he said, although a Highway Department spokesman was unable to confirm that Tuesday afternoon.

That half-cloverleaf design would cost an estimated $5.9 million, ac-cording to the mayor, most of which has been earmarked for the project in the form of Federal Highway Administration funds, courtesy of hard work by Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Cong. Marion Berry, all Demo-crats .

Now the city is trying to get more federal money to cover about $1 million it needs in matching funds, he said. It’s possible that the money could be obtained by the Lonoke Industrial Development Commis-sion, Privett said.

Right now, he said, the project is targeted for a 2009 start date, but the city is trying to get it moved up to 2007.

TOP STORY >> New fees to bring millions to Cabot

Leader staff writer

A study completed in March shows the city of Cabot could collect $2.3 million annually in impact fees attached to new construction.

If the city council approves the plan as drafted, the new revenue would be earmarked for roads, wastewater, parks and fire protection. Most of the new revenue, about $1.8 million, would come from average-sized, single-family homes of about 1,600 square feet, which would have an attached fee of about $3,300.

Carroll Steen — the member of the stakeholders committee created by the council to work with the Texas consultants hired to do the study, who is an average citizen and not part of city government or the building or banking industry — said this week that she hopes the council approves the fees as proposed by Duncan and Associates.

“The impact fee will lighten the load taxpayers have to bear,” Steen said. Adding that it’s only fair builders and developers should pay because they are the ones who create the burden on the city’s infrastructure.

“(Building) is the economic engine that’s driving this city,” she said. “But it’s the economic engine that’s going to drive it into the ground.”

Furthermore, Steen wants the fees paid by the builders before the houses are sold so the city will be certain of getting paid. She is opposed to any sort of installment plan for the payments. The money needs to be available to the city as quickly as possible, she said.

James Moore, a builder and developer and former member of the city council disagrees.
Moore said he is for the impact fee.

“I’d vote for it myself if I was still on the council,” he said.
But he is opposed to both the amount of the fee and the intended recipients.
Moore served on the stakeholders committee while he was a council member and he says he had no input into which city departments the fees would be collected for.

“The first time we met, the people doing the study told us what the money would be used for. We didn’t tell them, which I thought was ridiculous,” Moore said.

“I’m for it going for water and I’m for it going for streets,” he said. “I’m not for it going for sewer because we’ve got a tax to pay for that.

“I’m for it going for parks, but not much of it because they have a 1.5 percent tax that supports them. I’m for giving some to fire and police but not much because, they’ve got a one-cent tax.

“I’m for giving some to the library. They’ve got plans for adding on a second story and no money to do it,” Moore said.
Moore said he would support an impact fee of $1,000 to $1,500 on a 1,600-square-foot house but more than that would be enough to send developers toward Beebe and Vilonia. Both have the good school systems that have made Cabot desirable.
The impact fee study has been a long time coming. It started with a 2004 council resolution sponsored by Alderman David Polantz and approved by all members of the council that said an impact fee would be in place by January 2005.

The stakeholders committee grew out of the turmoil that followed that resolution. Builders, developers and bankers learned about the resolution after it passed and complained that they had been left out when impact fees would affect them the most.

Alderman James Glenn sponsored legislation to create the committee which met infrequently while the study was underway and has not met since it was completed.

Steen attended the city council meeting Monday night to ask when a meeting would be scheduled with Duncan and Associates so the stakeholders could go over the plan.

Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh an-swered that the firm would need at least two week’s notice.
And Steen responded that the notice should have already been given.

Steen spoke during the public comment portion at the end of the regular meeting. She reported that Conway has collected $2.4 million for parks and streets since its impact fee went into effect in September 2003, shortly after the state legislature passed a law allowing the fees.

The Conway builders who were opposed to the fee are paying, she told the council.
“All the fussing, all the fuming, that’s all over with,” she said.

TOP STORY >> Council, county at odds

Leader staff writer

An ordinance to allow the county to replace seven worn and dangerously narrow bridges on First Street that lead to a ballpark in Cabot, in exchange for the city helping the county build two roads that could help with traffic congestion in the city, has been placed on hold for 30 days to wait for an attorney general’s opinion about the legality of such a transaction.

Or so the political wrangling went Monday night over one of the most controversial issues to come before the council in many months. In fact, insiders say, the ordinance was tabled because the five votes on the council that would have passed it would not be enough to override a veto from Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, who is openly opposed to the proposal.

Stumbaugh told the council that he has seen no engineering reports on the planned project, and he demanded to know if Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman owns property along the road under construction between Highway 5 and the new Wal-Mart that is included in the ordinance.

“No, I don’t,” Troutman said, adding that his property is on the highway.

“It’s becoming painfully clear to me that the mayor is not even trying to work with the county,” Lonoke County JP Larry Odom said after the meeting.

The ordinance sponsored by Aldermen Odis Waymack and Tom Armstrong says the county will charge the city $75,000 to replace the bridges with culverts, and the city will contribute $400,000 toward the construction of two roads.

One of those roads was started last fall. It will join Highway 5 to 89 West and will provide a route to the new Wal-Mart without fighting downtown traffic, but it will likely not be completed this year without help from the city.

The city had planned to spend $750,000 to replace the narrow bridges with box culverts that would allow the street to be widened into a main artery when funds become available later.

Leading the council opposition to the tabled ordinance is Alderman David Polantz, who asked City Attorney Clint McGue to get the attorney general’s opinion.

McGue’s office submitted the request March 6 to state Sen. Bobby Glover, D.-Carlisle, who made the request to Attorney General Mike Beebe.

Polantz wants to know if the county can legally build roads inside the city or the city’s five-mile planning area that don’t meet city specifications.

He also wants to know if building roads that aren’t in line with Metroplan (which distributes federal highway money) will have a negative impact on the city’s ability to get federal money to build roads.

Polantz also talked during the council meeting about the importance of not leaving the planning commission out of discussions about new roads. The city requires developers to get approval for streets, so why should the city not be held to the same standards, he asked.

However, that question was not one submitted to the attorney general and as the council heatedly discussed the ordinance, it became clear that in addition to jurisdiction, the heart of the debate also includes opposing philosophies about how city road money should be spent.

The five who support the ordinance, aldermen Waymack, Armstrong, Eddie Cook, Bob Duke and James Glenn, want to use the money to fix immediate problems and at least Polantz, from among the three who oppose it, wants to do less now, but do it better.

Sources say those who support the ordinance hope to bring Alderman Jerry Stephens over to their side so they will have six votes in case of a mayoral veto.

Alderman Patrick Hutton has not said he will vote against the ordinance, but he has questioned whether the culverts Troutman wants to install on First Street will be adequate.

Odom, who was instrumental in the construction of the Hwy. 321 bypass around Cabot and who has worked with Waymack and Armstrong to get support for the city and county working together on traffic issues, said after the meeting that Polantz should consider immediate needs and stop demanding the best.

“It’s like having 10 children,” Odom said. “You can’t afford to dress them all in the best clothes, so you suit one of them out real well and let the rest go naked.”

Alderman Duke, who retires this year after about 30 years on the council, is usually reserved, but he became visibly agitated at Polantz’ questions about whether the work Troutman plans for the city will meet state and federal guidelines.
Polantz turned red in the face as he chided Duke for not insisting on the absolute highest standard.

Troutman said the culverts he wants to install on First Street are the same kind the state uses.

He said during an earlier interview with The Leader that the road he is building to Wal-Mart meets state guidelines.
To clear up any confusion about who raised the question of the city helping to build roads, Armstrong told the Leader that when Troutman learned that the city planned to replace the bridges on First Street (the street where the ballpark is located) at a cost of $750,000, he said he could do it for one-tenth that amount.

Armstrong said once he realized Troutman was talking about a considerable savings to the city, he suggested that the city might contribute part of that to help finish the road to Wal-Mart.

Waymack said he added the provision for $200,000 to extend Willie Ray Drive to Davis Road in Austin.
Troutman told the council that he never intended for the county to bear the full burden of constructing the road from Highway 5 to Wal-Mart.

He always intended to at least get help from individuals, he said.

But, he added, the city would benefit much more from the road than the county would.
“You’ll draw enough sales tax in one year (from the new Wal-Mart) to pay that $200,000,” he said.