Wednesday, April 26, 2006

OBITUARIES >> 4-26-06


Dorothy “Dee” Hardin Rouse, 58, of Cabot, was born May 5, 1947, to Carl and Ella Hardin, and passed away April 23.
She was a housewife for several years and after being out of school for 14 years, decided she wanted to be a nurse.
She went to college at Beebe for two years, then attended Harding University for two more years and got her BSN degree.
She worked at Rebsamen Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, then at the VA Hospital in North Little Rock for 17 years. She served as a Cub Scout den mother, was vice-president of Lonoke County Democratic Women’s Committee and was an active member of the party.
She loved to write poems as her sisters do. She wrote an article that was published in “R.N. Magazine” entitled “Are You Ready for State Boards?”
She enjoyed many things, camping at the lake, boat riding, trout fishing, walking trails, sunrises, sunsets and most of all, all her family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents and three siblings.
Her survivors include her loving husband, Hershel Wayne Rouse; one son, William Alan Rouse of Iowa; two brothers, Jimmy Hardin of Judsonia and Johnny Hardin of Ward; three sisters, Erma Galloway and Wilma Jackson, both of Garner, and Joyce Alford of McRae.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Old Austin Cemetery.


Linda Le Ann Rice of Austin, was born Jan. 14, 1964, and went home on April 23.
She was a member of Crosspoint Ministries. Her family and friends will miss her beautiful smile, her giving heart and bountiful laughter.
She was a graduate of North-east High in North Little Rock and attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
She was preceded in death by grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hood of Monticello and paternal grandfather, Garland E. “Butch” Rice Sr. of Arkansas City.
Left to cherish her memories are her parents, Carolyn and Garland E. “Jiggs” Rice, Jr. of Austin; two brothers, Garland E. “Butch” Rice, III and wife Robin, and Jody Rice, both of Beebe; her paternal grandmother, Martha Leona Rice of Arkansas City; two nephews, Garland E. Rice, IV and Colt Rice of Beebe; two nieces, Kathlyn Rice of Beebe and Codi Rice of North Little Rock, her special extended family, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Roger and cousins Marinea and Danny Oliver, and her pets, Dustin, Austin and Caesar.
Family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. today at West-brook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be 11 a.m. Thursday at Crosspoint Ministries, Hwy. 64 West, Beebe.


Richard Lee Bucholtz, infant son of Rebecca Brixie and Guy Bucholtz, died April 18. Other survivors include brothers and sisters, Guy Jr., Amber, Ashley, Hailee and Zachariah; grandparents, Ricky Brewer, Brenda and David and Richard and Nancy.
A private funeral service, immediate family only, will be held 2 p.m. today at Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke, with interment in Monk Cemetery.


Flora Holgate, 89, of Beebe, went to be with the Lord Thursday at her home. She was a born again believer and a member of Harrison Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. She is survived by her four children and their spouses including: Bobbie and Lloyd Bagshaw, Betty and Ladus Bradford, Fran and Jim Howton, Charles and Betty Rettig, all of Beebe; 12 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Graveside services were held Sunday at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe. Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe


Joline Mildred Hastings of Jacksonville was born May 12, 1934, in El Dorado to the late Jack and Matilda Tiner.
She passed away April 22 at Hospice Home Care Inpatient Center. At an early age her family moved to McGehee where she attended and graduated from McGehee High School. She was a cheerleader and the homecoming queen.
Her husband, Clark W. Hastings, was a career Army officer and they traveled extensively, living in many different states and European countries.
She was very active in numerous volunteer organizations including the Red Cross and military thrift shops, which raise money for college scholarships. She participated in military wives club activities, was an avid golfer and an excellent bridge player.
She was called “Hawkeye” by her family because of her acute awareness of ongoing activities. Her sons learned early in life that very little got by “Hawkeye.”
Hastings accompanied her husband during his 31 years of active military duty, meeting hundreds of people from privates to generals and she treated all of them with dignity and respect. She dined with soldiers in army mess halls and princes in European castles, viewing all as adventures in life.
She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Clark W. Hastings; her sons, Clark W. Hastings Jr. “Buddy” and his wife Carol, and Steven K. Hastings; her brother Jack Tiner; and nieces, Jackie Nicole Cook and Lisa Ellis. Her grandsons Matt Johnson and Matthew Hastings also survive her. She was preceded in death by a grandson, Clark W. Hastings III.
Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Arkansas Program, 10411 West Markham, Suite 130 Little Rock, Ark. 72205-1400
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel in Jackson-ville with interment to follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.
Funeral arrangements were under direction of Moore’s Jackson-ville Funeral Home.


Roy W. Pruitt, 88, of Beebe, went to be with the Lord on April 22. He was a member and deacon of First Christian Church of Beebe. Pruitt cherished his loving wife, his two daughters and sons-in-law, his deceased son and grandkids and great-grandkids and great-great-grandchild.
He was full of life and funny humor. A lot of people knew him as the lawnmower man. He loved helping people in any way he could and was loved by everyone he knew and will be missed so much.
Pruitt was preceded in death by his son, LeRoy Pruitt Jr.; grandson Jack Edwin Anderson, Jr.; his mother, Edith Pruitt; father Charlie Pruitt; brothers, Clearance Pruitt, Marvin Pruitt and a sister, Louise Wheeler; three half-sisters, Jessie Pruitt, Bertha Williams and Myrtle Pruitt; two half-brothers, Cecil Pruitt and Lucian Pruitt.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Ruby Pruitt of Beebe; two daughters, Paulette and husband Jack Anderson of Beebe, Naomi and husband Tommy Kyzer of Denver, Colo.; six grandchildren, Tommy and wife Jennifer Kyzer, Jr. of Acworth, Ga., Stacy Romines of Moore, Okla., Chris and wife Cuma Kyzer of Centerton, Shan-non and wife Jennifer Anderson of Beebe, Clinton and wife Jeanie Pruitt of Dermott and Larry and wife Alice Pruitt of Denard; 13 great-grandchildren, Brittany Kyzer, Zackary Kyzer, Blake Romines, Garrett Romines, Lau-ryn Romines, Cameron Kyzer, Brittany Anderson, Amber An-derson, Shannon Anderson, Jr., Amanda Pruitt, Rusty Pruitt, Earl Pruitt and Elizabeth Pruitt; and one great-great-granddaughter, Julie Pruitt.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Meadow-brook Memorial Gardens.
Arrangements by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

SAT 4-26-6 EDITORIAL >> Pleasing polluters

Asa Hutchinson, the Republican candidate for governor, said this week that Attorney General Mike Beebe should be fighting harder to see that the poultry industry gets to keep choking the mountain streams of northwest Arkansas with algae. And Beebe, his opponent, said no one could be working harder than he is to do just that.

You can guess that Hutchinson and Beebe were not talking to the Sierra Club or the Arkansas Wildlife Federation but to the powerful Arkansas Farm Bureau. They would be ducking that subject if they were campaigning before environmental groups.
But we are all surrogates in that room when the men who seek to serve our interests are campaigning before special pleaders like the poultry farmers and the industry they serve. Is this a debate we want our candidates for governor to be having before any group?

Both Hutchinson and Beebe will couch this argument in different terms from ours. It is a matter of economic development and of state sovereignty, they say. The state of Oklahoma is trying through the agency of the federal courts to force chicken farmers and the poultry industry in northwest Arkansas to abide by Oklahoma’s tougher laws because hundreds of tons of chicken litter dumped on the hillside grazing lands in the Ozarks is filling the Illinois River with phosphorus, and that element causes the furious growth of algae and otherwise poisons the water for drinking or fish. The river flows out of Arkansas into Oklahoma and threatens potential water supplies there.

If the circumstances were reversed and Oklahoma was ruining our streams, would we expect our attorney general to be trying to stop it in every legal way he could? Of course we would.

Oklahoma’s attorney general is doing that. He is something of a hotdog (he secretly planted water-monitoring devices in the Arkansas hills last year) and he is having some sport with Gov. Huckabee and with Beebe, who have rushed to the defense of the polluters. Beebe tried to persuade the U. S. Supreme Court to let him intervene in the federal case to represent the polluting interests in Arkansas.

He lost. So Hutchinson told the Farm Bureau this week that Beebe’s defense of the polluters was just too weak. He could be doing much more. Beebe told the farmers that he had other strategies up his sleeve to thwart Oklahoma’s clean-water forces, but he did not want to tip off the Oklahomans by telling the Farm Bureau in an open forum.

Arkansas has been fighting this battle within our borders for years, and it has resolved it only to the satisfaction of the poultry farmers and the cattle industry, which profits from the heavily fertilized pastures.

What we’d like to hear from the candidates for governor, among many other things, is how they can really resolve the conflict between healthy streams and farm prosperity. Because our own leaders were interested in nothing more than pleasing the richest interest group, our neighbors probably will solve it for us in the end. It could be the state motto: Let someone else do it.

WED 4-26-6 EDITORIAL >> Psst! Don’t pass this on

Let us hope that the vested boys at the Club for Growth in New York or that little band of far-right Republicans in western Arkansas who call themselves the conscience of the party do not get hold of last month’s Arkansas employment statistics. Pray that they do not read past the headlines.

If they do they will be calling our governor a liberal again and accusing him of being an apostle of big government, unfit to be the standard bearer of the party in the presidential election of 2008. Gov. Huckabee disputes that and calls himself the most conservative governor in Arkansas history, the all-time champion of limited government.

The unemployment rate in March edged up to 4.7 percent, but that is not so bad. If it does not mask tens of thousands of people who simply have given up the job search for one reason or another and unless you are one of the luckless ones who are out of work, 4.7 percent historically is not a horrendous number.

But deep in the columns of numbers and percentages were those two unsettling categories where the trends continue unabated, month after month and, since the mid-1990s, year after year.

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing in Arkansas, but government work is increasing.

Another 5,500 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Arkansas in the past 12 months. But state and local government employment keeps climbing and climbing, adding 900 to reach another record, 211,500.

Huckabee cannot control the forces that are responsible for the steady loss of better-paying factory jobs, and if he has become the employer of last resort, as the statistics suggest, let the Club for Growth suggest how he might do better.
The estate tax on the very rich in Arkansas, one of its goals, has already been repealed, although no thanks to Huckabee.
The popular theory was that rich heirs would use the savings to build factories and hire people, but it has not happened.

WED 4-26-6 EDITORIAL >> A cry for help from Big Oil

When oil prices climbed above $37 a barrel in September 2000, President Clinton ordered the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to halt the climb, and the Republicans accused him of doing it to help the election chances of Al Gore. George W. Bush joined the attack, promising never to use the reserve to counter oil pricing. The big oil companies sided with him.

“The Strategic Reserve,” Bush said then, “is an insurance policy meant for a sudden disruption of our energy supply or for war. Strategic Reserve should not be used as an attempt to drive down oil prices right before an election. It should not be used for short-term political gain at the cost of long-term national security.”

Oil prices last week reached $75 a barrel, twice the September 2000 level, and a poll over the weekend showed that the president’s job-approval rating had slipped to 32 percent.

Sixty percent said he was doing a poor job, and about the same percentage said gasoline prices were causing them hardship. We are heading into midterm elections, where Bush’s presidency hangs in the balance, and people are angry.
“Never” arrived a little further ahead of the election this year than in 2000.

Yesterday, Bush announced that he was halting the diversion of oil into the reserve for the entire summer in the hope that it would increase gasoline supplies and at least slow the rise in oil prices.

The energy crisis has been worse, but the political crisis is at boiling point. To emphasize it, the president pointedly brandished a few other Democratic weapons: a Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigation of price fixing and gouging by the oil companies. A few Republicans lately have been calling for a windfall-profits tax on the oil companies after Exxon Mobil reported the highest quarterly profit of any corporation in world history. Profits in this quarter will be even higher.

Except for the release of more oil imports for immediate commercial production, which may slow the climb in gasoline prices ever so slightly, nothing will come of any of it.

As it happens, the FTC has been engaged in a study of oil prices for nine months and will report its initial findings in a few weeks. As for a windfall-profits tax, George Bush need not worry about choosing whether to sign or veto it because no Republican Congress will ever pass such a law. Not since the brief heyday of the progressive prairie Republicans between the great wars has even a tiny cohort of Republicans been willing to impose excess-profits taxes or war-profiteering penalties on any corporation.

But let us celebrate Mr. Bush’s announcement anyway. Consumers may never be able to quantify it, but they will be a trifle better off as a result.

Here is why: The industry now is on notice that its president and party are in deep trouble and they need help. We think that the producers, suppliers and marketers will discover that those usually irreversible market forces will permit them to rein in their greed for a while and they will come to Bush’s aid.
But don’t hold us to it.

SPORTS >> Lady Panthers keeping league win streak alive

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers continue to make a strong run in closing the regular season.

After handing Jacksonville its first loss of the conference season last Thursday 3-2, the Lady Panthers have since swept Mountain Home and knocked off Jonesboro to improve to 11-1 in conference play, a half game behind 12-1 Jacksonville with Sylvan Hills and Jacksonville left on the schedule.

Last Friday the Cabot ladies survived a major scare in game one at Mountain Home, but prevailed 2-1. Game two was much different, as Cabot dominated throughout a 10-0 victory.

On Monday, Cabot led 7-0 after five and a half innings when heavy rain descended upon the field, cutting the game short, but late enough to call it an official game.

At Mountain Home, Cabot held a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning when freshman pitcher Cherie’ Barfield made her only mistake of the night.

She left a pitch up in the strike zone, and Lady Bomber Erica Brown drilled it for a solo-home run to tie the game.
Cabot couldn’t score in the bottom of the inning, but got the game winner in the sixth. Crystal Cox led off with a double, and Becca Bakalekos drove her in with a one-out single to right centerfield.

Mountain Home threatened in the top of the seventh when Barfield issued a one-out walk. She then fanned the next batter and forced a pop-up in the infield to seal the victory.

Barfield threw a four-hitter in game one and struck out 13 Lady Bombers.
She was just as good in game two’s shutout victory, giving up just three hits while sitting down eight.
She didn’t need much offensive support in the nightcap, but she got plenty. The Lady Panthers pounded out 16 base hits in the run-rule victory.

Cox, Haley Dougan and Rachel Glover all had at least three base hits in the game. Dougan went 3 for 5 with two runs scored from the two-hole. Cox was 3 for 4 with two runs and an RBI, but the sophomore Glover stole the show.
The first baseman went 4 for 4, including a home run and three RBIs.

Kala Hart went 2 for 4 and drove in four runs while Bakalekos went 2 for 4 with one RBI.
The Lady Panthers got one run in the first, three in the third, one in the fourth, four in the sixth and the 10th run in the top of the seventh to end the game early.

“The kids did a great job maintaining their focus after such an emotional game on Thursday,” Cabot coach Becky Steward said of Friday’s good performance.

The pitching hasn’t been bad lately either.

“Other than that one pitch in the fifth, Cherie’ did a great job keeping Mountain Home off balance,” Steward said.
Cabot picked up where it left off against Jonesboro, compiling 11 base hits in just five turns at bat.

Cox and Jessica Walton led the way, going 2 for 3 with two RBI’s apiece. Barfield threw another three-hit, eight-strikeout jewel and the Lady Panthers improved to 18-6 on the season.

They are scheduled to finish conference play this week if weather permits. Cabot closes with two big road games. The first stop is at Sylvan Hills Wednesday, which provides the Lady Panthers a chance to avenge their only East loss of the season.
After that is a trip to Dupree Park on Thursday for a game that will likely decide the conference championship against Jackson-ville. The AAAAA-East conference has been won by Cabot or Jacksonville every year since the inception of fastpitch softball eight years ago. Cabot won the season finale at JHS to secure the league title a year ago.

SPORTS >> Bears earn league title

Leader sports staff

The Sylvan Hills Bears all but wrapped up another conference championship Monday night, splitting a doubleheader with Jones-boro, 8-4, and moving to 10-2 in league with only winless Forrest City left on the schedule.

The Bear-Hurricane split, combined with Searcy’s 8-6 win over Cabot Monday, leaves Sylvan Hills a game ahead of both Searcy (10-3) and Cabot (10-3), two teams they have already swept this year. Even if Forrest City were to pull off the impossible and take one from Sylvan Hills, the Bears would share the league title and take the AAAAA-East’s No. 1 seed into the state tournament since they own the tiebreaker over both teams.

It isn’t likely that the Mustangs will beat Sylvan Hills, meaning the Bears should easily hold on for their sixth conference championship in seven years. They had won five straight until Jonesboro won the league title last season.
Just because the Bears should cruise through their last two games, doesn’t mean Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton is celebrating just yet.

“We’re in a good spot,” Tipton said. “This game, anything can happen. We should win, but I’d rather not say anything about a championship right now.”

The winner of the Searcy-Cabot makeup game, which is scheduled for today in Searcy, will take the No. 2 seed, the loser will be third or fourth.
The two games Monday could not have been more different. Game one was a 2-1 Jonesboro win in a tough defensive struggle; the nightcap was a defensive mess for both teams in an 18-13 win for the Bears.
The opening game resulted in the first loss of the season for Sylvan Hills starting pitcher Ashur Tolliver, although the senior southpaw did not give up an earned run. Even with 10 strikeouts in the game, the Hurricane came away with two unearned runs to take the win.

Jonesboro got its first run while attempting to steal third base. An errant throw from home sailed into left field, allowing the easy run. The second one came when a pitch hit the backstop with a runner on third.

“It kind of makes you mad when you lose the first game on unearned runs,” Tipton said. “I think we ought to be able to talk about a championship but we missed a lot of opportunities. We stranded probably eight or nine runners in that one too. We just couldn’t get the hit.”

Sylvan Hills’ only score in the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Hayden Miller reached first base courtesy of a walk from starting Jonesboro pitcher Murray Watts. Tolliver drove Miller in with an RBI shot moments later for the run.
Jonesboro took the early lead in the game with a sacrifice fly from Todd Ellis to score Jacob Lee in the top of the second inning.

The winning run for the Hurricane came in the fifth inning, when Cody Powell was brought home with a shot from Watts. The Bears could not answer in the final two innings, taking only their second conference loss of the year.

Sylvan Hills took control of the nightcap right from the start, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning.

Austin Gwatney and Shawn Bybee both scored off an RBI from Nathan Van Schoyck. Shawn Bybee scored on a passed ball, and Van Schoyck came home after stealing third base and rounding to the plate after the throw to third was too high.
Jonesboro made it on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning with a three-run homer from Powell, pulling the Hurricane to within one.

Jarrett Boles added two more in the top of the fourth inning with a two-run homer, followed by a shot to centerfield from Gwatney to score Taylor Roark. The Bears were in position to run rule Jonesboro in the fifth inning, taking a commanding 13-3 lead after scoring six runs in the top of the fifth.

Jonesboro didn’t let Sylvan Hills off that easily. Bears pitcher Tony Pavan was relieved by Blane Simms for the fifth inning, and the Hurricane scored the run they needed to prevent the run-rule.

The Bears were not finished scoring themselves. Mark Turpin drove in Hunter Miller in the sixth, followed by four more Sylvan Hills runs in the top of the seventh.

Leading the game was much easier for the Bears than finishing, as two more SH pitchers were needed to close on Jonesboro.
Ross Bogard finally put the Hurricane bats to rest in the seventh inning, but not before they added seven more runs in the final session to take an 18-6 Sylvan Hills’ blowout and make it an 18-13 score fest by game’s end.

NEIGHBORS >> Student achievement recognized

Leader staff writer

Kiwanis Club awards Cabot seniors for academic excellence at banquet.

Cabot senior Mallory Styron is the recipient of three scholarships presented Thursday by the Kiwanis Club of Cabot during its 10th annual honor banquet for area students.

She was one of nearly two hundred juniors and seniors from the Cabot School District receiving academic achievement certificates for maintaining a cumulative grade point average above 3.5.

Styron was awarded the $1,000 Gale Carpenter Scholarship in honor of the first woman president of the Kiwanis Club of Cabot as well as being one of the first women in Kiwanis International; the $1,000 Mike Flowers Memorial Scholarship presented by Kiwanian Betty Flowers and the $750 Earl Collins Scholarship, awarded from the Missouri/Arkansas District of Kiwanis.

“We’re just so proud of her it’s inexpressible,” said Styron’s father Kevin. “She’s worked hard.”
The Kiwanis Club hosts the banquet each year to recognize the district’s top students and to encourage academic excellence in the Cabot school system.

For the past 10 years, the Kiwanis Club of Cabot has endeavored to encourage students to achieve academic excellence and be involved in community service through youth organizations such as K-Kids at Eastside Elementary, Central Elementary, Ward Central Elementary, Magness Creek Elementary and Northside Elementary; Builders Clubs in Cabot Middle School North, Cabot Middle School South, and Cabot Junior High School North as well the Key Club at Cabot High School.

“It’s good to be recognized by an organization like Kiwanis,” said Cody Wilson, senior class president.
Keynote speaker Horace Smith of the Office of Desegregation Monitoring in Little Rock, told the students for successful future, they had to keep in mind the ABCs of attitude, behavior and character.

“You can believe all you want but you have to do something about it,” Smith said. “When difficulties come you have to persevere, keep trying and working. That’s what character is all about. Awards can fade but having character lasts forever.”
Seniors honored included: Jason S. Aist, Brittany M. Allison, Nicholas Paul Amis, Braylin May Artigues, Lauren Elizabeth Bailey, Lacey N. Ball, Tyler A. Bartels, Christina N. Bearden, Jessica N. Beaulieu, Nicholas T. Billingsley, Melissa A. Bishop, Daniel James Bizzell, Brian Allen Bopp, Jonathan D. Boyd, Jennifer Kristen Bradley, Samantha Lynn Burnett, Billie Ann Branscum, Camron Mitchell Browning, Cara Deann Coker, Jessica B. Cowart, Melissa F. Curtis, Christina M. Declerk, Emily Noelle Dixon, Tiffany L. Duhamel, Amanda Kay Ehlers, Tisha Lanelle Flud, Matthew Michael Ford, Heather Brook Forester, Kevin G. Frey, Daniel S Gates, Bettye Nicole George, Michael Alan Gertsch, Chad R. Glover, Enrico Haarland, Stephanie R. Ham, Christi Leigh Hankins, Lauren Jo Harrington, Jessica Lynn Hazeslip, Loni Danielle Hefner, Jason W. Hill, Jonathan C. Hill, Lauren E. Hopkins, Megan B. Houston, Cody G. Jackson, Kristi Lynn Jensen, Jessica Elaine Jervis, Courtney Danielle Jones, Mary Katherine Jones, Kari Michelle Kiihnl, Katie L. Knox, William Michael Kruse, Joshua A. Lieblong, Danielle Lovellette, Michael Spence Lowry, James R. Madding, Shelli Melissa Mann, Anna J. Manry, Bryan A. Martinez, Brittany D. Mathews, Kevin W. Meeler, Ashley Danielle Meyer, Lynette Marie Mitchell, Mallory D. Morgan, Seth Anthony Murdoch, Anthony M. Nelson, Lindsey Michelle Nichols, Kara Elizabeth Patterson, Ashley Dianne Payne, Kristen L. Phelps, Madeline R. Phillips, Judy Jolene Pitt, Ashlee R. Powell, Colton C. Roberts, Sarah N. Roberts, Candace Brooke Rodman, Christopher E. Rodriguez, Kristin Ann Rogers, Raney Ann Rogers, Michael Andrew Roller, Casandra Ann Russell, Taylor Howell Self, Brady W. Sharp, Michael C. Sherer, Crystal Lynn Short, Melissa M. Simmons, Kimberly Michel Sitzmann, Carly N. Slayden, Mallory J. Styron, Jeanette Lynn Thompson, Seth Charles Thomson, Tyler Worth Troutman, Joseph Bradly Tyree, Samantha Elaine Walker, Shannon Nicole Walker, Sara B. Waller, Jessica D. Walton, Whitney Nicole Watkins, Aaron D. Willis, Cody Rutledge Wilson, Abby Lauren Wisniewski, Coby A. Withers and Brett Wayne Yother.

Juniors honored included: Joan M. Abbott, Brandon M. Aist, Patricia L. Ard, Ashley A. Austin, Amy L. Baldwin, Justin Andrew Barnes, Carrie Elizabeth Belt, Katy E. Bittle, Heather Diane Bodiford, Elizabeth M. Buerges, John Russell Burks, Kimberly Ballena Carter, Eric J. Clark, Sarah A. Coggins, Anne Elizabeth Coltrane, Corey Delaney, Krista P. Demiere, Mallory Lynne Eanes, Melissa Ann Edwards, Jeryca A. Einhorn, Melissa A. Euler, Jared R. Evanov, Anthony C. Farler, Jennifer Lea Farnsworth, Alissa Jo Foster, Justin M. Free, Nicole M. Funk, Jessica M. Gann, Holly P. Giblin, Sondra Kristine Grinnis, Cody D. Haas, Ashley A. Harris, Jordan W. Hawkins, Madisan T. Helms, Brianna R. Henderson, Brandon Chase Herekamp, Ryan Noel Hill, Brittany Lauren Hodges, Kevin David Howard, Joshua Michael Huckabee, Chelsea Nicole Hunter, Abigail Elizabeth Jackson, Amanda Nicole Jarman, Austin Gregory Jarrett, Nathan Merritt Johnson, Julianna Michelle Jordan, Kyle James Kobi, Aimee Allison Landry, Ryan W. Laws, Haley B. Little, Victoria Lovellette, Rayna A. Mackey, Mallory S. Magie, Colleen C. Menery, Sarah Renee Miley, Timmy H. Minnie, Derek Samuel Mobbs, Melissa K. Moore, Stevi Neal Moore, Natalie J. Noack, Sara Kristine Oakley, Shannon Lynn Onale, Chelsea Louann Paoletti, Victoria Denise Pearson, Jocelyn C. Pendergist, Maricela Jacqueline Pinedo, Elizabeth Frances Roberg, Michael James Rowlett, Stephanie M. Schneider, Jordan L. Scott, Alex J. Sharp, Codi E. Smith, Tyler K. Spencer, Justin B. Sperry, Mark Joseph Staples, Jeremy Matthew Stark, Jamie Amanda Sterrenberg, Amber N. Stockman, Zachary Wayne Taylor, Dinah Victoria Thomas, Thomas James Thompson, Jessica Lenae Todd, Lauren N. Uhrich, Daniel Shane Walters, Andrew Jeremy Waters, Lindsey Elizabeth Watts, Jamee D. Wawak, Elizabeth Mae Willen, Craig Alan Williams, Sara Elizabeth Wojhoski, Justin Levi Woodall, Sharon F. Wyatt, Monica N. Yarbrough and Brady N. Zweifel.

Juniors honored included: Joan M. Abbott, Brandon M. Aist, Patricia L. Ard, Ashley A. Austin, Amy L. Baldwin, Justin Andrew Barnes, Carrie Elizabeth Belt, Katy E. Bittle, Heather Diane Bodiford, Elizabeth M. Buerges, John Russell Burks, Kimberly Ballena Carter, Eric J. Clark, Sarah A. Coggins, Anne Elizabeth Coltrane, Corey Delaney, Krista P. Demiere, Mallory Lynne Eanes, Melissa Ann Edwards, Jeryca A. Einhorn, Melissa A. Euler, Jared R. Evanov, Anthony C. Farler, Jennifer Lea Farnsworth, Alissa Jo Foster, Justin M. Free, Nicole M. Funk, Jessica M. Gann, Holly P. Giblin, Sondra Kristine Grinnis, Cody D. Haas, Ashley A. Harris, Jordan W. Hawkins, Madisan T. Helms, Brianna R. Henderson, Brandon Chase Herekamp, Ryan Noel Hill, Brittany Lauren Hodges;

And Kevin David Howard, Joshua Michael Huckabee, Chelsea Nicole Hunter, Abigail Elizabeth Jackson, Amanda Nicole Jarman, Austin Gregory Jarrett, Nathan Merritt Johnson, Julianna Michelle Jordan, Kyle James Kobi, Aimee Allison Landry, Ryan W. Laws, Haley B. Little, Victoria Lovellette, Rayna A. Mackey, Mallory S. Magie, Colleen C. Menery, Sarah Renee Miley, Timmy H. Minnie, Derek Samuel Mobbs, Melissa K. Moore, Stevi Neal Moore, Natalie J. Noack, Sara Kristine Oakley, Shannon Lynn Onale, Chelsea Louann Paoletti, Victoria Denise Pearson, Jocelyn C. Pendergist, Maricela Jacqueline Pinedo, Elizabeth Frances Roberg, Michael James Rowlett, Stephanie M. Schneider, Jordan L. Scott, Alex J. Sharp, Codi E. Smith, Tyler K. Spencer, Justin B. Sperry, Mark Joseph Staples, Jeremy Matthew Stark, Jamie Amanda Sterrenberg, Amber N. Stockman, Zachary Wayne Taylor, Dinah Victoria Thomas, Thomas James Thompson, Jessica Lenae Todd, Lauren N. Uhrich, Daniel Shane Walters, Andrew Jeremy Waters, Lindsey Elizabeth Watts, Jamee D. Wawak, Elizabeth Mae Willen, Craig Alan Williams, Sara Elizabeth Wojhoski, Justin Levi Woodall, Sharon F. Wyatt, Monica N. Yarbrough and Brady N. Zweifel.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Woodpecker search takes break till fall

I hope I didn’t scare off the ivory-billed woodpecker when I called Gene Sparling on his cell phone on a recent Sunday afternoon.

Sparling, who first reported sighting the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker in the Bayou DeView near Brinkley more than two years ago, was in the White River National Refuge near St. Charles when I called. He was looking for the woodpecker, as were a couple of ornithologists, who are all convinced the fabled bird, long considered extinct, is alive in the Big Woods of Arkansas and in possibly other states as well.

“We’re encouraged,” said Sparling, an outdoorsman from Hot Springs whose discovery of the ivory-bill while he was canoeing on a quiet February afternoon has created worldwide sensation.

Critics say Sparling didn’t see the ivory-bill but the more common pileated woodpecker. A video shot by David Luneau of the University of Arkansas supposedly shows the rare bird because of the white on top of its wings, but skeptics say the white is really under its wings, which is characteristic of the pileated woodpecker.

But Sparling says he knows the difference between the two — the ivory-bill is bigger and flies differently — and he’ll be proven right.

“It’s simply a matter of time. There’s a tremendous amount of acreage to cover. We’re making a little progress every day,” Sparling told us.

A series of public meetings will be held next month to let people know how the search for the ivory-bill and an ambitious conservation program are coming along.

Sparling returned recently from New York, where the world-renowned Explorers Club presented him with the President’s Award for Conservation.

Other recipients were Tim Gallagher of Living Bird magazine and Bobby Harrison, a photographer, who have been in the Big Woods several times and have also reported seeing the woodpecker.

They think one reason it’s hard to spot the bird — there hasn’t been a credible sighting in several months — is that too many people are looking for the woodpecker in the Big Woods and have scared the creature deeper into the forest.

That’s not surprising, since for hundreds of years, civilized human beings have done all they could to wipe out the ivory-billed woodpecker — destroying its habitat in the southern swamp forests and killing them for trophies and using them to decorate ladies’ hats.

Sparling has spent a lot of time in the woods, along with scientists from Cornell University’s Department of Ornithology and some 100 volunteers.

They’ve been looking for a secretive bird, long considered extinct, that lives in small holes carved into dead trees in forests that cover some 500,000 acres.

Searchers have combed only about 15 percent of that area.

“It took three years to find the much larger swallowtail kite on the White River,” Sparling pointed out, referring to a hawk that was believed to have been extinct. “Its nest is as big as a large diningroom table. With the ivory-billed woodpecker, we’re looking for a four-inch hole.

“The important thing to remember is that the reason the bird survived here is because of decades of good conservation,” he said. “Let’s continue with more conservation.”

The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, which has preserved thousands of acres in the Big Woods, will soon receive about $150,000 from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to develop a habitat conservation plan for the Big Woods.
The plan will benefit the ivory-billed woodpecker and five other endangered species in the region — the red-cockaded woodpecker, the interior least tern and three mussel species.

The Interior Department had previously awarded more than $2 million to help with the search for the ivory-bill.
The Nature Conservancy, which has been helping to preserve the habitat for decades, has bought and reforested thousands of acres in the Big Woods, which is home to hundreds of species, including the mallard duck, which will also thrive under the preservation program.

The search for the ivory-bill is winding down for now since it’s getting hot outside and the leaves are back on the trees, making the task of finding the bird more difficult.

“We’ll be back next fall,” Sparling promised. “We’ve had a pretty good effort this year.
“We’ll be looking till we find it,” he insisted.

TOP STORY >> Bringing water to area will be costly

Leader staff writer

The cost of getting water under the I-430 bridge in North Little Rock to supply Cabot, Jacksonville and North Pulaski Water Association will cost twice as much as anticipated.

The three water providers are under contract to share the cost of upgrades to the Central Arkansas Water system (formerly the water departments of Little Rock and North Little Rock) to bring water north to their systems. When the project first started three years ago, Cabot and Jacksonville expected to pay about $7 million each and North Pulaski expected to pay $800,000 for their part of upgrades to a CAW pumping station and to lay water lines under I-430.

Now, all three will have to pay twice that amount, if the project is to move forward. None say they are willing to pull out of the project, because they have no other good option for water for the future. And so far, none are talking about rate increases for their customers.

“The prices have pretty much doubled across the board,” said Steve Fikes, general manager of North Pulaski Water Association. “But we feel like the prices are legitimate, and we’ll keep going because we don’t have any option at this time. We need water.”

Cabot needs water, too, probably more than either of the other cities because of its tremendous growth. But the planned 30-inch line from Gravel Ridge to Cabot that was supposed to be under construction this summer could be postponed, possibly for many years if the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission can convince the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission to increase its draw from the well field that began operation about six years ago.

The only item on the agenda when the Cabot Water and Waste-water Commission met Thursday night was the bids totaling $44 million for the pumping station and two, 30-inch steel lines under the bridge. If the bids are accepted, CAW would pay $13.5 million and Cabot, Jacksonville and North Pulaski would pay $30.5 million.

The Cabot commission decided that turning down the bid on the pumping station was not really an option, since Cabot needs CAW water, but commissioners said the pipes probably should be re-bid later in the year. The cost of the steel might go down, they said. Or they could ask CAW to reconsider their requirements for the work.

“Everything CAW does is Cadillac-style,” said Commissioner Bill Cypert. “We don’t need that. We need a Chevrolet.”
The commissioners took over water and wastewater at the first of the year and are still familiarizing themselves with the plans for connecting to CAW. But even though Tim Joyner, the general manager they hired for Cabot WaterWorks as it is now called, says the contracts are difficult to understand, one thing is clear:

At the rate the costs of construction are increasing, the $21 million the city intended to borrow from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commisson (formerly Soil and Water) will have to be increased to $31 million. And when the connection is made, Cabot WaterWorks will have to pay CAW $1.14 per thousand gallons of water instead of producing water from its own wells at a cost of 37 cents per thousand gallons.

The Arkansas Natural Resouces Commission allowed Cabot to draw 3 million gallons a day from the well fields between Beebe and Lonoke over the objections of area farmers and Grand Prairie Water Association which has wells in the same area.
Although Cabot has a sort of gentlemen’s agreement with Grand Prairie and the farmers in the area of the well field that it will pull out of the well field by 2011 to keep from further depleting the Alluvial Aquifer, where the well field is located, David Fenter with Natural Resources said Friday that he has nothing in writing that says Cabot’s right to draw from the field ends then.

“They’ve listed in our water plan and they’re got 3 million gallons a day allotted for their use,” he said.

But the new commissioners know that getting more than that, which they need, will require the goodwill of their neighbors, especially Grand Prairie.

J.M. Park, chairman of Cabot Water and Wastewater, said he doesn’t think Grand Prairie would support their request to Natural Resources.

“I’m not sure that’s going to be received well,” he warned. “They feel like they’ve been lied to. This was going to be a temporary thing…I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a lawsuit. I guess I have a vision,” he said.

TOP STORY >> ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best’

Leader staff writer

Following 9/11, Pulaski County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in-vestigated 100 reports of anthrax in the mail, including one instance in Jacksonville in October 2001. Kathy Botsford, director of Pulaski County OEM, says since then, regular training exercises, grants from the Department of Homeland Security and the real-life lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina last August have the agency ready for both man-made and natural disasters.

The old adage of “plan for the worst and hope for the best” is the key to any emergency-response plan, Botsford told members of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce during a Tuesday luncheon.

Botsford says the biggest manmade threat facing central Arkansas, outside of a bioterrorism attack, is a chemical accident.
Businesses and families in Jacksonville need to have a plan in place in the event a tanker carrying chemicals derails off the Union Pacific railroad track or spills during a wreck on Hwy. 67/167.

“We’ll alert residents through the tornado sirens to let them know something is going on and that they need to go to their radios or televisions for more information,” Botsford said. “We might evacuate or we might tell you to shelter in place.”
Sheltering in place includes sealing and closing all doors and windows and staying indoors.

“We have evacuation plans in place for emergencies, but after Hurricane Katrina, we realized the plans weren’t very detailed so we’re currently working on that,” Botsford said.

Pulaski County OEM is using lessons learned from the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) for the communities around the Pine Bluff Arsenal, the second largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the United States.
CSEPP educates residents about what could happen at the facility and how to respond.

During a recent exercise, CSEPP evacuated more than 500 students at Daisy Bates Elementary within 30 minutes.
Pine Bluff Arsenal is one of eight locations in the nation where chemical weapons are stored while waiting to be destroyed.
The Pine Bluff Arsenal stores two types of chemical agents–nerve and blister. The agents are stored in a high-security area.
The nerve agents GB and VX are stored in earth-covered concrete structures called “igloos.” The blister agents HD and HT are stored in thick-walled ton-sized containers that are closely monitored.

So far the arsenal has destroyed 34,000 rockets, about 13 percent of its total inventory.

In other chamber business, Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of Little Rock Air Force Base, recognized supporters of the 2005 Air Show: chief John Vanderhoof, of the Jacksonville Fire Department; chief Robert Baker of the Jacksonville Police Department; Robert Jackson of Arkansas Emergency Transport; Annabelle Davis of the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department; Thad Gray of Bart Gray Realty, and Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim.

TOP STORY >> Chief promises professionalism

Leader staff writer

At 5:45 p.m. Monday, District Judge Barbara Elmore swore in Lonoke’s new police chief, Rick Sliger, during a meet-and-greet sponsored by the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce at the Depot.

More than 100 people from all segments of the community turned out for the event, according to chamber director John Garner.

“I was real pleased with the turnout,” said Mayor Thomas Privett.
He said a really diverse group, including teachers, doctors, workers and members of the business community attended the reception.

The chief told those assembled that he would stress community policing and he promised to bring integrity back to the police department.

Sliger said he would need three things to be successful. “I need to have a constant, committed dedication to professionalism. I know I am going to have to surround myself with extremely well-qualified individuals who can apply the law in a fair and equal professional manner and with respect for all the citizens of Lonoke.

“I know that I’ll need the support of the community,” he concluded.

Sliger said it was too early to say what changes may be made. “I’ve been going through personnel and policies, he said.
Sliger has met with the people in his department and has been meeting with individuals.

“I told them they should expect to be treated fairly and that we would work together to get the job done,” he said. “We’re going to move forward from here.

The new chief said everyone had been “extremely gracious” and went out of their way to make him feel welcome.”
“We were impressed by him and his wife,” said Garner.

Sliger, 47, was selected from 29 applicants for the job. At the time he was chief of the Eagle, Colo., Police Department, according to Privett.

Both the Eagle mayor and newspaper editor spoke highly of Sliger when contacted by The Leader.
“We’re all disappointed to see him go,” said Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney.

Sliger replaces Jay Campbell, who resigned in early February after Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain charged him with several drug and theft-related crimes.

After interviewing five finalists for the chief’s job, the search committee recommended him with only one dissenting vote and al-though some aldermen felt slighted when the mayor hired Sliger without seeking their endorsement, the Lonoke City Council approved an ordinance in support of his hiring at the April meeting.

Sliger has been in law enforcement for “10 or 11 years,” he said, most recently as police chief of Eagle, a town of about 5,300.

Born in Conway, Sliger grew up in Georgia, went to William and Mary College in Virginia and then to Harding University at Searcy.

He studied psychology and spent a lot of time in Bible studies, he said. He’s been married for nine years.

TOP STORY >> City will get new eateries

Leader staff writer

Three restaurants are in various stages of announcing plans to build in Jacksonville. They include Cici’s Pizza, Popeyes Chicken and a Mexican chain restaurant.

Cici’s will anchor a 30,000-square-foot commercial strip center going in just north of New China on land between Marshall Road and John Harden Drive.

The developer received two major approvals at a special board of adjustment and planning commission meetings Monday night.

“This is an important development for the economic growth of this town,” said Tommy Bond, president of Bond Consulting Engineers and representing the developer.

“We still have a few issues to work out with the hospital board,” he told planning commissioners, “but that doesn’t affect what we are trying to do here tonight.”

The commission gave approval to the final plat of Haskin’s Com-mercial Addition, which includes the land left over from the building of the New China restaurant at the corner of Marshall and Main, along with one lot of the Rebsamen Medical Subdivision, owned by Rebsamen Medical Center.

Also, the Board of Adjustments gave a variance to the developer to allow 25-foot setbacks across the combined lots. Current zoning rules have 25-foot setbacks on one of the lots and 50 feet on the other. “The developer just won’t be able to get his buildings in with a 50-foot setback,” Bond said.

The developer is also in negotiations to buy a second lot from the hospital to enlarge his retail plans by 10,000 square feet.
Current plans call for at least two retail buildings with more than 30,000 square feet and close to 200 parking spaces. Cici’s and at least one other national outlet are set to be in the retail center, according to Bond.
The deal will go before the city council the first week of May for final approval.

After more than a year of working out details, Popeyes Chicken is slated to take over the vacant Burger King restaurant on Main Street near Jacksonville Middle School. Work should begin in early summer.

Finally, a development group recently purchased the vacant Shoney’s building on John Harden Drive for $385,000 and has plans to bring in a Mexican chain restaurant. It is unclear at this time if that restaurant will seek a private club permit like Chili’s Bar and Grill did to serve alcohol.

The purchasing group was Jacksonville BV LLC, led by Gus Blass III. They bought the property from Shoney’s Jacksonville Arkan-sas General Partnership, led by Robert Vogel.

Joe Croce opened the first Cici’s Pizza restaurant in Plano, Texas, in 1985. Cici’s locations offer an all-you-can-eat buffet stocked with pizza, pasta, salads and desserts.

The company, which began franchising in 1987, has more than 550 restaurants in 26 states, mostly in the southern United States.

It has average unit sales of almost $943,000.
Popeyes is currently opening about 200 new restaurants a year.

TOP STORY >> Readying of voting machines is lagging

Leader staff writer

In an emergency meeting Tuesday morning, Pulaski County Election Commissioners authorized Susan Inman, the director, to order additional printed ballots because Electronic Systems and Software has not yet made good on its contract to provide programming for the county’s new voting machines in time for early voting for the May 23 primary.

Early voting begins May 8.

Even more pressing, the absentee ballots must be delivered to the county clerk by the end of this week without the commission having had an opportunity to test the ballots against the ballot scanners, because ES&S hasn’t programmed them either, she said.

Those ballots may have to be hand counted, Inman said.

Inman, who along with Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien, extricated Pulaski County elections from disarray, said she guaranteed that early voters would have something to vote on by May 8, but “It may not be a touch-screen.”
“It’s out of our hands,” said Inman.

“We’ve been trying to get something out of the vendor on a daily basis.”
ES&S did not return calls from the Leader Tuesday.

“We had expected to have enough Ivotronic machines delivered (and programmed) to allow one per polling location and five for each of the early voting sites,” said Inman. “The state cut back their numbers. We’ll be getting a reduced number. It could affect the number we place for early voting.”

The commission will meet again at 8 a.m. Friday to get an updated status report on the situation, she said.
The county has taken delivery of 156 of the 173 machines promised, but a voting machine without a program is like a car without gas, she said.

The new machines will fulfill a federal mandate, not only allowing blind voters to cast their ballots without help, but also providing a paper trail for verification and recount purposes, according to Inman.

Congress mandated the new voting machines and scanners and paid for the first round. Any additions to the 173 will be the county’s responsibility.

If they are programmed in time, there will be at least one of the new, touch-screen voting machines at each of the 124 polling places in the county, said Inman, for use by disabled voters or anyone preferring them to the paper ballots.

In northern Pulaski County, early voting will be done at Jacksonville City Hall or the Sherwood Senior Center, according to Inman. Each polling place also will have a new optical scanner to read paper ballots she said.

Right now, the old scanners will be used, she said, but ESS still needs to program them.

The plan is for the county to have 173 touch-screen machines, allowing for one at each of 124 polling places and five at teach of nine early-voting polling places, with four spares, Inman said.

TOP STORY >> Officials disagree on fixing bridges

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County’s willingness to replace bridges inside Cabot at a fraction of the cost the city had expected to pay has caused conflict between elected officials on both sides, with some members of the council wanting to accept the offer, others not, and the mayor and county judge plainly angry with each other.

Alderman David Polantz has asked for an attorney general’s opinion on the legality of the county building roads inside the city that might not meet the city’s specifications, and County Judge Charlie Troutman is speaking out about his office having jurisdiction over all roads in the county, even in incorporated areas. The questions Polantz wants answered have already been answered, he told the council during the last council meeting.

But the dissention escalated late last week, when Alderman Odis Waymack was turned away when he asked for a copy of a survey of First Street, where the old bridges are located. Waymack has hired an engineer to figure the flow rates to determine how large the round culverts need to be to replace the seven one-lane bridges Troutman says his workers can install for $75,000 instead of the $750,000 the city expects to pay for box culverts.

Waymack and Alderman Tom Armstrong have sponsored an ordinance to pay the county $75,000 to do the work and another $400,000 to build roads to carry part of the traffic load that is now in the downtown area.

“In the first place, I think it’s a heck of a note that we have two engineers on staff and I had to hire an engineer to do the flow studies on these culverts. Then when I went to get the information I needed from Public Works, I was denied. I was told I would have to go through the mayor,” Waymack said Friday after he spoke with Jim Towe, Public Works director about the survey.

“It appears we’ve no longer got a mayor in Cabot, we’ve got a dictator,” he said.
Towe says he was only doing as he has been told.

“(Waymack) came in and asked for a copy of the survey on First Street,” Towe said.
“All requests are supposed to go through the mayor. I told him any requests from any member of the council have to go through the mayor. That’s been my directive since I’ve been here…I work for the mayor.”
Stumbaugh says Waymack has not been refused anything because he has not asked.

“He has not contacted me, nor has he requested anything,” the mayor said.
“He has no authority to tell city employees what to do and that goes for any city council member…Odis is just mad he’s not running the city,” he continued.

Waymack said he decided to hire engineer Adam Whitlow after Stumbaugh commented several times that no one knew how big the culverts need to be.

Whitlow confirmed Tuesday that Waymack has hired him for the job.
“Odis has hired me to review the culverts to make sure they are adequately sized,” Whitlow said, adding that the survey the city has “would help me eliminate a lot of assumption.”

The county doesn’t have an engineer on staff like the city does, and Troutman doesn’t usually use one for small road projects in the county. But he told the council last week that he had no objection to getting professional help with sizing the culverts on First Street.

A county committee has put together a plan for alleviating traffic problems in Cabot. But replacing the aging, one-lane bridges on First Street is not really part of that plan. Troutman offered to do the work after he learned how much the city planned to spend.

Alderman Polantz, who has asked for an attorney general’s opinion, has said he is concerned about replacing the bridges with round culverts because that work would do nothing toward turning the street into a main artery as planned for the future.

Stumbaugh said he wants the city to do things right for a change.
“They’re wanting to do things halfway,” the mayor said about the work Troutman has offered to do. “The citizens of Cabot deserve better. They’ll get better as long as I am mayor.”

TOP STORY >> Old school inadequate, air base informs district

Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District doesn’t believe the $200,000 it gets annually from the Air Force needs to be used to fix or replace the temporary school the district has been using on the base for more than 40 years.

“There’s no rule that says we have to give that slice of the financial pie to Arnold Drive Elementary,” said PCSSD Superintendent James Sharpe. “We put it in the general fund and use it where it is needed most.”

Sharpe made the statement Friday afternoon as he and PCSSD board members toured Arnold Drive Elementary School.
Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander at Little Rock Air Force Base gave members of the district board of education a tour of the school in hopes the district and the base can improve the future of the school either with renovations or a new building.
Built in 1963 as a temporary measure to alleviate overcrowding at nearby Tolleson Elementary, Arnold Drive Elementary suffers from the same woes as other aging schools throughout the district, except it is made out of sheet metal, which puts it more at risk during storm season.

“If there was a tornado, this building would be the first to go,” said Lt. Col. Markus Henneke, commander of the 314th Civil Engineering Squadron.

If there is a tornado warning, teachers usher the school’s 312 students into the hallway, where extra equipment is stored because there’s no room in the classes and offices. There is no sprinkler system in the 32,652-square-foot building.
“The most important part of school is not the brick and mortar, it is the people and the ambiance, such as nurturing and caring,” said superintendent Sharpe.

Despite the school’s location on the base, PCSSD is responsible for the school’s operation and budget.

The district receives about $200,000 a year in federal impact aid for students of military members. Since many military families are exempt from paying local taxes because they live on federal land but send their children to public schools, impact aid compensates the district for loss of tax revenue.

Some parents have complained that the district should use the federal impact aid to repair Arnold Drive Elementary.
“Airmen and their families need the support of the community in order to focus on the mission,” Self said. “If you are status quo, you’ll fall behind every time.”

As board members walked through the building, principal Jackie Smith pointed out floors, walls and ceilings in various states of damage from leaks in the roof, as well as damp textbooks damaged by leaking water, drying out on tables.

The school has safety issues outside as well. Arnold Drive is a main artery of base travel, so as traffic gets congested in the morning and afternoon, children will often cross the bus lane, through the parking lot and out to the street to meet their parents.

Airmen volunteer as crossing guards, but Self says the potential for an accident isn’t going away.

The student population at the school is expected to increase as families move into the 1,200 new and renovated privatized homes on base over the next five years.

Another worry for school administrators is no fence between the playground and Arnold Drive. On the playground itself, each piece of metal playground equipment is nested in a bed of pea gravel framed by splintery wooden rails.

“I wouldn’t want to fall into that , would you?” asked Debra Shelwood, a parent with three students at Arnold Drive Elementary.

She said she’s writing to Ty Pennington, the host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for help with the school.
“Do you put a $150, 000 roof on this building or make plans to construct a new school in the middle of one of the base neighborhoods? I don’t know the answer to that. You (PCSSD board members) do,” Self said.

“Nationally, schools are fairly old to very old. It’s frustrating ,but it just takes time,” said Pam Roberts, president of the PCSSD Board of Education.