Friday, June 16, 2006

TOP STORY>> Veteran alderman dead at 70

By Rick Kron
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Robert Lewis, losing a battle with cancer, served on the Jacksonville City Council for 22 years and had just filed to run again.

Jacksonville Alderman Robert Lewis, 70, died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer.

To many, his death was a surprise as Lewis, who had ups and downs in his fight for life, felt well enough to file about two weeks ago for another term on the city council.

Visitation will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Griffin-Leggett Rest Hills Memorial Park on Landers Road. His funeral will be 10 a.m. Thursday at McArthur Assembly of God.

Alderman Terry Sansing, who represented Ward 2, along with Lewis called him “statesmanlike.”

“We knew he was sick, but kept expecting him to get better. News of his death was a shock,” Sansing said. He called Lewis a very dignified man. “He was deliberate and level headed. He didn’t seek the limelight and when he spoke on the council, we all listened.”

Lewis was first elected to the city council in November 1982, taking the oath of office in January 1983 and served until his death—22 years and 6 months.

When Lewis was elected, he was Jacksonville’s first black alderman. He said issues facing Jacksonville never were black versus white issues. “Our government has been very cooperative across the board,” he said in a recent interview, “No heated black or white issues.”

“It’s been a great loss for us,” said Mayor Tommy Swaim. “Lewis was very conscientious and hard-working.”

In 2002 when the mayor broke the news to the council that Lewis was undergoing treatment for lung cancer, prayers were with him. Lewis said then that “the doctors don’t know the origin of the cancer, but are positive. I’m looking at the positive side. The good master is on my side.”

“He was a wonderful man and served the city well,” said Fredrick Gentry, a former Jacksonville alderman.
“I learned a lot from him when I ran against him in 1996.”

When Lewis, a Louisiana native, retired as a technical sergeant from the Air Force in 1975, he and his wife liked Jacksonville so well they decided to stay. “I enjoyed it while I was there,” he said of Air Force life, “but I don’t miss it.”

By 1986, he had discovered some problems with his adopted hometown, issues like streets, drainage and sidewalks. He ran for city council and was elected.

While issues have come and gone, streets, drainage and sidewalks continued to be concerns that stayed with Lewis.
“We put a lot of sidewalks around the city in school areas,” Lewis said. “It takes the walkers out of the streets. Drainage problems — water backing up into people’s homes — are pretty well taken care of by now,” he said when he ran for reelection in 2002. But he always pushed for the city to do more in those areas.

Fighting crime and pushing education were also important to Lewis and his wife, the former Lendy M. Neal. Lewis and his wife were married for 48 years. They raised six of their own children, including a daughter, who was raped and murdered about 15 years ago. They adopted her two young children and raised them also.

Lewis said that raising his grandchildren gave him an appreciation of the issues facing youngsters and their parents.
“It gives you insight and keeps you abreast of things needed in the city,” said Lewis.

Lewis also spent several years as assistant pastor of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church.

Lewis is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He also worked as a substitute teacher and a full-time para-educator at several Jacksonville schools.

TOP STORY>> PCSSD silent on possible pupil abuse

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The PCSSD refuses to comment on allegations that a Jacksonville band teacher choked and hit a young boy in his class and has acted inappropriately with young students in the past.

Is the Pulaski County Special School District covering up for a teacher alleged to have have struck and choked an 11-year-old boy student in March—a teacher who has kept his job despite allegations previously of inappropriate behavior with young female students?

Donna Easter says band instructor Mark Bailey choked her son and hit him in the chest on March 20 and the following day, her husband filed a report with the Jacksonville Police Department.

But neither the school principal nor the PCSSD officials would confirm that the incident occurred, had been investigated or whether or not the Bailey had been disciplined—or even if he was still employed by the district.

“If we did have something with Mr. Bailey, that would be a personnel issue and I wouldn’t be at liberty to confirm or deny that,” said Rhonda Harnish, director of certified personnel, Thursday afternoon.

She would neither confirm nor deny that Bailey had been disciplined, that such an attack had been reported to the school or even whether there had been an investigation or hearing.

Neither would Jacksonville Boys Middle School Principal Mike Nellums discuss the matter. Asked if he knew of the alleged attack and reports that Bailey had been placed on leave with pay as a result, Nellums said, “I can neither confirm nor deny those reports.”

He confirmed that he did have two band teachers, Eddie Paul and Mark Bailey. He said Eddie Paul would return next year, but would neither confirm nor deny that Bailey had been transferred or fired. No one answered the phone at a number listed for Mark Bailey in Vilonia Friday afternoon.

Another mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bailey should have been “run out of the district and the profession a long time ago” for inappropriate behavior with young girl students.

Two years ago, she said, her daughter and two other young girls went into Bailey’s classroom to get some candy from his desk. “He got one of the little girls and placed her head in his crotch,” according to the mother. Bailey also used to tickle her daughter, she said.

The woman met for two hours, she said, with the principal and vice principal and with Bailey, who “wouldn’t say whether he had ever been accused of inappropriate be-havior previously.”

All that came out of that meeting was a new “no-touching, no hugging policy,” said the mother. No discipline. “In my opinion, the girls were being sexually harassed,” she said.

She added that the Jacksonville police wouldn’t follow up because it “was not sexual,” and that SCAN wouldn’t get involved because there was no police investigation.

“He does not belong in the classroom,” she insisted.

She said recent talk in the community about Bailey’s most recent alleged abuse—hitting the boy—has reminded people of the earlier allegations. According to the March 21 report filed with the Jacksonville Police Department by the boy’s guardian, Carl Easter, Bailey told the boy to sit down, grabbed him in the throat and hit him in the chest.

Donna Easter put it like this: “He choked my son, slammed him in a chair and popped him in the chest.”

“I don’t know why the teacher did him like that. He hasn’t had any other problems. He’s 11 and real small for his age.”

Easter said the Jacksonville police never investigated and the State Police apparently found insufficient basis for charges.
The officer taking the report noted no injuries.

A Jacksonville police spokesman said the report had been turned over to detectives, who had forwarded it to John Huggins, the local prosecutor. Huggins was in court Friday afternoon, but his boss, Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley, said he wasn’t aware of any report forwarded to his office.

“Nobody cares,” Donna Easter said. If there was a hearing or investigation—and school officials won’t say—no one let Easter or her son know, she said. She added that PCSSD Superintendent James Sharpe didn’t return her call.

TOP STORY>> Cabot, county in deal

By Joan McCoy
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Lonoke County will help replace some of the city’s old bridges in exchange for help with road building.

An ordinance on hold since March to allow the county to replace seven worn, 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 will go before the council again Monday. But this time Alderman Odis Waymack, one of its sponsors, believes he has the answer to one of the questions that has been holding up passage: Will the round culverts County Judge Charlie Troutman plans to use be large enough?

The answer, a qualified “yes,” came from an engineering that is costing Waymack $2,300.

The ordinance that the council could finally vote on Monday night 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 Hwy. 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. Trout-man’s man wouldn’t allow for future widening of the road, which has been a sticking point for Alderman David Polantz, who has said the city must start planning better for the future.

According to a water flow study conducted by Adam Whitlow, Troutman’s plans for five of the seven bridges are adequate for the water that would flow through them. The sixth bridge would need to be replaced with four-foot culverts instead of three-foot.

But plans for the seventh, the one closest to the downtown area, are inadequate. That bridge would need to be replaced with either six, four-foot round culverts or two, four-foot by seven-foot box culverts.

Whitlow based his findings on a drainage study that had already been completed by the city.

That study is at the center of a freedom of information controversy between Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and Alderman Waymack.

Waymack was turned away for Cabot Public Works when he asked for the drainage study. Employees said he had to go through the mayor to get it. Waymack refused to call the mayor about it and filed a lawsuit instead.

Stumbaugh says no law was violated because Waymack never said he was requesting the study under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. And if he wasn’t re-questing it under the FOIA, then it was a simple request for information that should have been made of the mayor, and not city employees, who have too much work to do to be bothered by council members. The case has not been heard by a judge.

TOP STORY>> Judge to decide dispute

By Rick Kron
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Sherwood and Jacksonville are at odds over a proposed annexation.

Jacksonville’s planning commission has join the city council fighting Sherwood’s plans to annex about 2,000 acres of land west of Jacksonville and south of Little Rock Air Force Base.

Jacksonville’s planning commission voted unanimously Monday to side with the city council opposing Sherwood’s quest to annex the land.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines will review Sherwood’s request, along with Jacksonville opposition at a hearing set for 10:45 a.m. Tuesday in Pulaski County Quorum Court chambers in Little Rock.

The Jacksonville City Council voted earlier this month to oppose the proposed annexation of unincorporated land east of Bayou Meto, which serves as a “natural boundary” between the cities of Jacksonville and Sherwood, and as far north as one mile behind Little Rock Air Force Base.  

Sherwood proposed the annexation after receiving a petition from four major landowners in the area. The annexation would bring their lands into the city but make islands out of two residential subdivisions off Highway 107, near Hatcher Road and Bobbitt Lane. 

Sherwood City Engineer Mike Clayton said the annexation is by petition, meaning its voluntary.

“Those landowners are choosing to join are city. They all have developments in our city already and we have a good relationship with them.”

He said that he would hope that the residential island would also petition to join the city.

Jacksonville’s Resolution 594, opposing annexation of “certain real property” into Sherwood, maintains that Jacksonville has planning jurisdiction over the proposed boundaries, including master plans by water and wastewater utilities.

The resolution deems the proposed annexation as “neither productive nor beneficial.” Sherwood has not sought to annex the land.

One major issue concerning Jacksonville, according to City Engineer Jay Whisker, is the fact that the federal government has charged Jacksonville with maintaining low density and special building requirements in lands extending about a mile from the end of the base runway.

Part of the land Sherwood is looking to annex is in this aircraft- safety zone.

Whisker has said that how well a city cooperates with the federal government in maintaining minimal development outside the runways to prevent major loss of life or property in case of aircraft accidents is something that is looked at when base closures are considered.

Jacksonville is one of the few cities that have followed the federal recommendations, according to Whisker.

“The air base is just as important to us,” Clayton said, “and we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it.”

On the other issue, Whisker said it has always been Jacksonville’s plans to provide water to that area and it already has lines out there that would service much of the area.

Citing a 20-year study by Jacksonville water and wastewater officials, council members agreed that the city could provide water and sewer service to the tracts of land with the water plant currently in operation, and that Sherwood would face difficulty providing water and sewer services because of a large land ridge within and outside of proposed annexation boundaries.

TOP STORY>> More votes show up

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Following numerous voting woes and problems with new electronic equipment, the quorum court might appoint a part-time coordinator to assist the election commission.

Wayne McGee went to bed Tuesday night thinking voters had elected next mayor of Lonoke—no Republicans or independents filed for the November general election—by a margin of 483 to 270 over Jim Parks, and that’s what this newspaper and local television and radio announced.

“We left (the Lonoke County Courthouse) between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.,” said McGee and he thought the official but uncertified vote was the 483-270.

But this is not “Dewey-defeats-Truman” story.

McGee awoke to discover that he was still the winner, but the actual count was 630 votes to 360. The election commission will meet Monday to certify the election results.

But the runoff election ran quite smoothly compared to the actual primary, where the various new touch screen IvoTronic voting machines and the optical scanner were programmed incorrectly by the contractor, ES&S, both prior to the election and again when after votes could not be correctly counted.

Votes were finally counted in the May 23 primary on May 27.


At Thursday night’s Lonoke County Quorum Court meeting, JP Joe Gunther said he would propose at the July meeting that the county hire a part-time election coordinator to help the three-member election commission.

Gunther said other counties were hiring coordinators, and that while he thought the Lonoke County Election Commission did the best job possible under the circumstances, that it was time to hire a professional to take some of the burden off them.
Of the 29 Lonoke County polling places, the only local runoffs were for Lonoke Mayor (four precincts) and Lonoke Township constable (two precincts.)

Voters at all other polling places could weigh in only on statewide Democratic runoffs for attorney general, lieutenant governor and treasurer.


The county election commission has discretion to count ballot boxes in whatever order they choose, according to Tim Humphries, lawyer for Secretary of State Charlie Daniels. So the Lonoke Election Commission could have counted the four Lonoke boxes early in the evening and nearly all the 65 people lingering in the courthouse halls might have known who the new mayor was and headed to the house by maybe 9 p.m.

So why were the Lonoke boxes not the first or among the first counted? “That’s not our way of doing things,” said county election commission chairperson Jean Mc-Canliss. “We count the boxes as they come in.” She said that a couple of Lonoke polling places ran short of ballots and had to use ballots with different code numbers, which then had to be separated.”
She said polling places had paperwork to finish after the polls.


The overall vote total in the Lonoke precincts was quite high for a primary runoff, with nearly as many people voting in the runoff as in the May 23 primary. In that primary, 1,053 voters filled in ballots for Lonoke mayor, while 990 voted in Tuesday’s runoff. McGee said Parks has called to congratulate him and offer any assistance after McGee takes office in January. “I don’t have any changes in mind for sure,” said McGee of city employees. “I’m happy with the people that we have.”

TOP STORY>> Official implies city may get own district

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Jacksonville-area parents got yet another indication Thursday that a long-sought-after Jacksonville School District may be in the cards.

Consultant William Gordon Thursday stopped an inch shy of telling The Leader he would recommend creation of a standalone Jacksonville school district when he submits his report, due June 30.

Gordon said that the $244,000 study, called for by special language state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, inserted in the state Education Department Budget last year, will be turned in on time to Kenneth James.

“I am going to brief the commissioner of education on the report in draft form next week,” he said. “After some feedback from the commissioner, from Bond and (state Rep. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock) we will fine tune it,” he said.

“He’s the guy who signed our contract,” Gordon said of James. “If we’re going to shock him, we’re going to shock him privately,” Gordon said.

The proposed Jacksonville District, a goal of some area leaders for nearly 20 years, could have around 7,000 students and be among the 15 largest school districts in the state.

The state hired William Gordon Associates of Saluda, N.C. to study realignment of the three public school districts in Pulaski County–Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pulaski County Special– which are inextricably joined by a 20-year-old school desegregation agreement.

The consulting team looked at the feasibility of dividing up PCSSD among four districts including North Little Rock and Little Rock and two proposed districts: Jack-sonville and a district south of the Arkansas River.

There is speculation that Gordon Associates will recommend four districts—the tree in existence plus Jacksonville.

Currently, PCSSD has about 18,000 students, North Little Rock has about 12,000 and Little Rock has 24,000.

Another part of the group’s final report will be finding a way for the districts to be released from the court-ordered school desegregation agreement since each has met most or all of its conditions.

Gordon Associates is also charged with presenting a plan to get the districts off unitary school status—that is, released from the agreement and separated.

“When all is said and done a couple issues still have to be ad-dressed—(especially) the desegregation of all three districts.
“The judge has been very clear on that,” Gordon said. “He won’t do anything until all the districts are unitary.”

Gordon said there was more work to be done. “I understand that the parties are talking to one another,” he added.

Bond, the man who set the study in motion, said James is leaning toward recommending a Jacksonville school district but leaving all the others in existence, including the Pulaski County Special School District, of which Jacksonville area schools are currently a part.

“Until the final report, I don’t want to affect their final decision,” said Bond. “When we get a hard copy June 30, we’re hopeful.”

Bond said the 2008-2009 school year would be the soonest a stand-alone Jacksonville district might exist. “That’s at least a year and a half and we still have federal court issues. Plus, there may need to be some enabling legislation.”

Bond said that once it has Gordon’s report, the state Education Department could decide not to act. “The legislature will have access to the report,” he said. “I guess it could act.”

Bond said ending the desegregation agreement with Circuit Judge Bill Wilson’s approval could have statewide significance, since the state is currently required to fund the agreement to the tune of about $58 million a year.

SATURDAY EDITORIAL>> The Lord as your co-pilot

Providence dealt mercifully with Gov. Huckabee last week when one of the twin engines of the Cessna Citation that was ferrying him, his wife, daughter and aides to a political gathering in North Carolina conked out near Chattanooga.

The pilot landed the jet with one engine, got the plane repaired and then carried him on to North Carolina for his (presidential) campaign speech. Huckabee shared his close call with spellbound North Carolina Republicans and the whole thing attracted national attention.

The Lord works in wondrous ways.

But could the divine purpose be something besides saving the governor’s life so that he can become president?

The governor’s miraculous escape attracted the attention of people over at the Arkansas Times, who were curious about the airplane because the paper has been scolding the governor for using Arkansas State Police aircraft, property of Arkansas taxpayers, for personal and political travel the past few years. All that Huckabee would say was that it was not a State Police plane.

But through reports at the Chattanooga airport, the newspaper traced the airplane to New Hampshire, where it was registered to the name of a company domiciled in that state that has won a series of contracts with the Arkansas Department of Human Services under Gov. Huckabee.

The 2006 contract is for about $8.5 million. The payment is for housing and ministering to troubled youngsters at a religious camp called The Lord’s Ranch in rural Randolph County near the Missouri border. The Lord’s Ranch, some of you may remember, has had a turbulent relationship with the state government for more than 15 years, but it has gotten better and better since Huckabee took over in 1996. An $8.5 million annual contract suggests that the relationship has progressed beautifully.

Now the governor’s providential flight is looking less divine. Ethical and legal questions abound. Was The Lord’s Ranch properly reimbursed for the trip (chartering a Citation SII ordinarily costs $1,500 to $1,900 an hour) or was it a gift to the governor? State law bars people who do not have a family or long-standing relationship with a state official from making gifts of more than $100 to him or else it becomes an unlawful payment for his public duties.

The Associated Press put the question to Huckabee Thursday. He said there was no problem and that he was always careful to avoid conflicts of interest with outfits that did business with the government he runs. Southeastern Asset Management, the outfit that owns The Lord’s Ranch, gave the jet trip, he explained, as an in-kind contribution to his political-action committee, Hope for America, which he incorporated in Virginia. So, you see, it’s perfectly all right. There is no quid pro quo, no back scratching.

No, these little arrangements are never all right, no matter what committee you run them through and no matter if the governor is Huckabee, Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.

Would Southeastern Management be flying the governor around the country to political gatherings (Huckabee acknowledged that this might not be the first instance) if it was not doing a handsome amount of business with the Huckabee administration? To ask the question is to answer it.

Gov. Huckabee said he never approaches The Lord’s Ranch people or others to fly him around the country. But how do they find out when he is going to a political event somewhere and wants a free ride? The answer must be divine providence.
Sixteen years ago, in response to widespread concern about abuse and neglect at child-care facilities, the state Child Care Review Board revoked The Lord’s Ranch’s license for numerous violations of state rules, including improper restraints of children.

The board subsequently gave it a provisional license, but in 1994 the ranch refused to allow state inspectors in, and in 1996 the state cited the home for compliance problems with health and safety standards.

After Huckabee became governor, he appointed the manager of the ranch to the Child Welfare Agency Review Board, where he still serves, and the home’s psychiatric director to the state Psychology Board. With the governor’s assistance, the ranch is now in good standing with the agency and won its first state Medicaid contract in 2000.

The contract has grown from $140,460 in 2000 to $8.5 million. Coincidence: Between 1996 and 2000 Lord’s Ranch officials gave $8,650 to Huckabee’s campaigns for governor. They gave to his wife’s campaign for secretary of state and to the Arkansas Republican Party.

And here’s another coincidence: Next week, a legislative committee will probe concerns about billing and undue influence on juvenile judges by The Lord’s Ranch and a few other “faith-based” providers of children’s services to have children diagnosed and sent to those facilities.

But someone checked and found that more than a third of the legislative committee members, like the governor, have received contributions from Lord’s Ranch officials.

Don’t you love state government?


Annie Bell Tucker

Annie Bell Tucker, 67, of Jacksonville, died June 14.  

She was born March 22, 1939, in Liberty to the late William W. and Roxie Taylor Hill.  She was also preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth A. Tucker, Sr.  Annie was a member of McArthur Assembly of God. Survivors include her three children, Kenneth A. Tucker Jr. and his wife Ruth Ann of Cabot, Gleason Tucker and his wife Lena of Lonoke and Roxie Wright and her husband Michael of Jacksonville; three sisters, Mary Hardcastle of Jacksonville, Addie Grasby of North Little Rock and Barbara Crawford of Sacramento, Calif.; a brother, Rev. Milburn “Pint” Hill of Cabot; seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.  She will be missed by her extended karaoke family.

Funeral services are 3 p.m., today at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville with Rev. John McKay officiating. Interment will follow at Arkansas Memorial Gardens in North Little Rock. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

James Wood

James Roger Wood, 52, of El Paso, died June 12. He was born Aug. 19, 1953, at Little Rock to James M. and Pauline Marie Wood. He graduated from North Little Rock High and attended ASU-Beebe, where he was an honor student. He was a welder - steel fabricator. He is survived by his father, James M. Wood of El Paso; his brother, Gary W. Wood of North Little Rock; four aunts, Mary Lou Hopkins of Little Rock, Norma R. Weeks of North Little Rock, Brenda Hefner of Haughton, La., and Ada Stephens of Smithville, Mo. He was preceded in death by his mother and his aunt, Glenda D. Lyle.

Funeral services were held Friday at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Hawthicket Cemetery, Mt. Vernon. Officiant, Rev. Freddie Dulaney. Pallbearers, Joe Baldwin, Randy Lyle, Jerry Tindall, Lloyd Patterson and Richard Austin.

Geneva Crump

Geneva L. Crump, 88, of Ward, was called home June 15. She was born Nov. 29, 1917, at Ward, to John Kindred and Elora E. Wilson Jack-son. She was preceded in death by her only child, George K. Crump, her parents, three brothers and four sisters.
She is survived by her husband of 69 years, Royce Crump of the home; granddaughters Kinley and Hayley Crump; a grandson, Colton Crump, all of Cabot; daughter-in-law Vicki Crump of Cabot; sister Maysel Wilson of Lonoke; in-laws Gene and Ann Sutton of Fordyce; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be 2 p.m. Sunday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Sylvania Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church Building Fund, 11228 Hwy. 38 E., Ward, Ark. 72176.

James Hudson

James Harold Hudson, 86, of Jacksonville, died June 15 in Little Rock. He was born Dec. 7, 1919, in Bruno to the late John Claude Hudson and Lora Keeter. He was also preceded in death by his wife, Ruby Padgett Hudson; daughters, Joann and Brenda; son, Bobby; and grandson, butch Murry.

Survivors include his son Billy H. Hudson and wife Brenda; two daughters, Onita Murry and Pamela Hudson; seven grandchildren, Tammy, Robin, Jimmy, Danny, Tasha, Donna and Ray Jr.; and many great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are 10 a.m., Monday at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville with Bro. Ray Smith and Rev. Howard Winkler officiating.

Interment will follow at Pinecrest Cemetery in Alexander. Visitation is 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler, 89, of Jacksonville passed away June 14. He was born Nov. 29, 1916, in Clovis, N.M. He was a retired farmer and mechanic and a Methodist. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Dollie; son Jack; three daughters Shirley Sena, formerly of Sherwood, Lenora and Barbara; 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.
Graveside services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Lost Corner Cemetery near Cleveland in Conway County. Arrangements by Huson Funeral Home.

Harold Kohnert

Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.) Harold A. Kohnert, 86, entered into rest in Las Vegas, Nev., June 10, 2006.

He is survived by his wife, Lois of Las Vegas, Nev.; and daughters, Arjyra Jarie Stedman-Ebert of Manteo, N.C., Jana Kohnert and Hallie Ridenbaugh, both of Las Vegas, Nev. He was born and raised in Melrose, Wisc., the youngest of five children. He was a graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He served in the Air Force for 26 years. His achievements included numerous World War II and peace time medals. He was a pilot for the B-26, T-33, C-119 and B47, command pilot and squadron commander for the missile wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.

After his Air Force retirement in 1967 from LRAFB, he was a real estate broker for 25 years. His strong work ethic, love of God, country, family and friends will be remembered and cherished by all who knew him.

He will be laid to rest at the Arkansas State Veteran’s Cemetery in Sherwood. Donations can be made to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

SPORTS>> Panther Stadium is getting new turf

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Meeting held on Wednesday to discuss ways to raise money for new football field surface.

There’s now an addendum to the overhaul in progress at Cabot High School. The football stadium, which just completed its first season with a new field house and jumbotron scoreboard, will be adding an artificial playing surface, replacing the notoriously poor surface that’s currently in place.

The proposal carries a price tag of $650,000, and includes resurfacing of the track that surrounds the field. A meeting was held Wednesday morning to discuss ways to pay off the debt incurred for buying the surface.

Cabot athletic director Johnny White says little was accomplished Wednesday in regards to exactly how the money will be raised, but it was productive in that it opened dialogue in a positive manner.

“We want to set up a foundation that people can donate to in order to pay for this,” White said. “We didn’t really get that far with this meeting, but I had two people donate $1,000 dollars. We made it clear this was not a decision based just on football. This will help our entire athletic department and band, and we want the community to use this field too.”

Maintenance of the natural- grass surface that currently exists costs about $10,000 a year, meaning the new surface may never pay for itself.

The need for “field turf” as it’s commonly called, according to Cabot athletic director Johnny White, goes beyond financial matters.

“That one field is used for everything,” White said. “We work our rear ends off over the summer to get that thing looking like a finely manicured golf course, and by October, it’s a mess the rest of the year. It never gets an off-week during football season. One of the junior-high teams uses it every Thursday. High school games are Friday. We have to schedule a great majority of our JV games away just because of the surface. The soccer teams have to do that as well.”

White says football isn’t the only school consideration for the turf. The band currently has to practice elsewhere, and carry that practice over to the field during games.

“The band is 100 percent behind this,” White said. “They’re having to practice on half a field and that makes it difficult for them. They’d be able to use it for practices. Even the baseball team could go out there, even after a downpour, and have outdoor practice.”

Supporters of the surface also stressed how significantly it could affect the parks and recreation department.

“We want the community to use this field,” White said. “We want city-league games to be played here. We’re looking at bringing in some soccer events. Right now we have about 300 people that come through those gates to walk the track every night. Right now we encourage people to stay off the field, but with this surface, people can bring their kids and they can get out there and play. This is going to benefit the community as a whole and we want the community to get behind this and help support it. We want this thing to be used. You’re not going to wear it out by using it. Sun damage and such is what wears it out. But they’re made to last 10-15 years. Kids that are in first grade right now will be using this thing in high school.”

Supporters are hopeful that the field can be ready for use by the opening of the 2007 football season. Cabot Junior High North plays against Cabot Junior High South on August 31, and that is the tentative and hopeful inaugural event for the surface.

“According to the companies that bid this job, it takes a good 35 days to get in there and get this type of thing done, so we need to get started on it very soon. That game between our two junior highs would be a great way to open the new field.”

SPORTS>> Red Devil leading scorer signs with SW Iowa State

By Jason King
Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: Jacksonville guard Lavar Neely signed on to continue his basketball career in the Hawkeye state.

Jacksonville High School graduate Lavar Neely signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Southwest Iowa St. Wednesday afternoon at the Boys and Girls club in Jacksonville.

Neely was an offensive leader on the Red Devils team last year, averaging 25.3 points per game, along with 4.3 steals per game and 3.3 assists per game. His efforts over the season helped Jacksonville earn a No. 3 seed to the state playoffs. One of Neely’s most impressive performances came against eventual state runners-up Jonesboro in Jack-sonville’s second conference game against the Hurricane in Jonesboro. Neely came away with over 30 points in the game to lead the upset-win.

Neely planned on waiting for the results of his SATs before making any commitments initially, but took the offer for SWIS to prepare for the next level in plenty of time.

Members and staff of the boys and girls club assembled in the gym shortly after 3:30 to watch Neely, a product of the boys club, sign for his scholarship. Neely’s family and several members of Jacksonville High School’s faculty were on hand for the signing as well.

Red Devils basketball coach Victor Joyner briefly spoke to the young members of the boys and girls club before the signing, emphasizing the importance of making the right decisions.

“It basically comes down to you choosing between making the right decisions or the wrong ones,” Joyner told the kids. “Lavar has made the right decisions, and now you see him here, signing a scholarship. That means someone else is going to pay the bill for him to go to school. If he had made the wrong decisions on the court and in the classroom, he wouldn’t be sitting in front of you all today.”

Lavar grew up attending the Boys club on Graham Road. Director Larry Colvert has been at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club for 20 years now, acting as club director for the last 13 years.

Colvert remembers Neely well from his days at the club, and stated that not a lot has changed from those days up until now.
“He was a hustler,” Colvert said. “I knew he had the talent to play for the high school back then. He never complained about anything, he just got in there and hustled. He was a star in basketball and football as far as I’m concerned.”

Neely was a standout receiver for the Red Devils football team, but basketball is his game of choice.

Almost all of the tapes sent off to colleges were basketball highlights, with interest coming from other schools in Iowa, along with a couple of letters from Texas schools.

“I didn’t send off many football tapes,” Neely said. “I feel like I did pretty good in both sports, but I just chose basketball.

“(Southwest Iowa) saw me on tape and asked me to come up there. I just want to further my career and keep playing.”

Joyner was pleased that the signing was attended by several of the boys and girls club members. Joyner took the opportunity of Neely’s signing to reach out to the youths, and show them all of the opportunities available.

“That’s why we wanted to have this here at the boys club,” Joyner said. “So these younger kids can see that there are a lot of other things out there besides being out on those streets and getting into trouble.

“I commend the staff here at the boys club. They work very diligently with these kids day-in and day-out.

“Lavar and I butted heads a little bit at first, he was a little high-strung. But eventually, he bought into a whole new system.

He had less time than a lot of the other guys because of football, so he basically had two weeks to adapt to a whole new program. I think it made him a better player.”

SPORTS>> Kids enjoy learning from Brits

By Jason King
Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: Area youths were schooled in British-style soccer by coaches from England last week at the JSA camp.

The Jacksonville Soccer Association held its annual Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp last week at Dupree Park.
The sessions were split into morning and evening groups, with students getting one-on-one training from soccer coaches from the United Kingdom.

The camp was attended by 38 local youths, with over half in the 6-to-10-year-old category. There were a total of 23 kids in the 6-10 group, three in the little kickers program (4-5) and 12 in the advanced group (12-18).

The advanced group met for both morning and evening sessions, totaling six hours of training daily. The morning groups spent the first half of each day working on technical skills such as ball handling, and one-on-one training from coaches Simon Noakes and Chris Gardner.

Noakes is 19 years old and fresh out of high school; Gardner is a 20-year veteran of semi-pro soccer in England. The duo made a good instructing team, with Noakes working with the younger players and Gardner training the older kids.

The second half of the morning was spent playing mock World Cup matches. The players were divided into teams and given the name of a World Cup team.

The team that was designated as the home team also named the practice field the corresponding stadium name with their particular team.

The British team renamed their field ‘Wembley Stadium’, and the German team changed the Dupree field to ‘Sancero Field’.
Camp organizer Kimberly Rogers says the week was a huge success, and was impressed with the British instructors.

“The kids really seem to like the challenge,” Rogers said. “Some of the kids, especially the advanced, were going home with sore feet. That means they were working them pretty good. The younger kids really love coach Simon. I would say overall that the camp went very well.”

This is my second year with Challenger Sports,” British club trainer Chris Gardner said. “They are trying to supply every club with a British coach to help their progress in fundamentals. They are also taking American crews to England right now, so the program is really getting off the ground.

JSA is also preparing for registration of the fall league. Registration dates will be June 24, July 15, 22 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jacksonville Community Center.

For more information, contact Tina Harris at 941-3588.

SPORTS>> Three consecutive: Sylvan Hills AAA team beats Jacksonville for the third time

By Ray Benton
Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: The Gwatney Chevrolet team came up just short after mounting a huge comeback Wednesday night against the Sylvan Hills Bruins.

Sylvan Hills’ Class AAA team beat Jacksonville for the third time this season Wednesday night in Sherwood, but the Gwatney Chevrolet team made things a lot tougher than in the first two meetings. After the Bruins posted 16-5 and 7-0 victories over Jacksonville in the first two games, they needed a run in the bottom of the final inning to take an 8-7 victory in Wednesday’s game that was postponed from Tuesday.

“We got way behind right off the bat, but we didn’t quit and we almost won the thing,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hicking-botham said. “I was glad to see that they didn’t just quit. We’ve had some problems with that from our younger kids, but these guys know it’s not over just because you get behind.”

With the score tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Sylvan Hills took back the lead and got the win with its first two batters. Ross Bogard led off with a double, and scored on a game-winning single by Ryan Wood.

Jacksonville scored first in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Josh Mansfield singled and scored two batters later on an RBI hit by Trey Smith.

Smith continued to hit well throughout the game, but struggled on the mound and didn’t make it out of the first inning.
Sylvan Hills scored seven runs in the bottom of the first to take a commanding 7-1 lead.

The rally started with one out when Austin Gwatney singled to left field. Grant Garlington then walked and Smith got the second out by forcing Chase Elder to fly out to left field.

That’s when things began to unravel for Smith and the rest of the Chevy boys. Tony Pavon reached on an error at third base that also scored Gwatney to tie the game. Jerry Lawson and Jarrett Boles hit back-to-back singles. Ross Bogard and Wood drew back-to-back walks, with Wood picking up an RBI for driving in Lawson. Roark came back up in the leadoff position to drive in two runs with a single to right field. Gwatney singled, this time to centerfield, to drive in the sixth run of the inning, and another error off of the bat of Garlington allowed the seventh run to score.

Casey Winstead took the mound and got Elder to ground out to first base to end the inning.

From there, Jacksonville began chipping away at its six-run deficit, finally tying the game in the fifth inning.

The Chevy boys got one back in the third inning. Neil Hatcher singled to lead off the inning. Smith then hit into a fielder’s choice, but the throw from shortstop to second was off target, allowing Hatcher to take third base. Kyle West then singled to make it a 7-2 ballgame.

In the fourth inning, Mansfield walked and scored on another error at shortstop after a Hatcher ground ball.

Jacksonville tied it with four runs in the fifth. Blake Mattison struck out, but reached on a passed ball. Brandon Clements then hit a home run over the wall in left field to cut the margin to two runs. Will Peeples then reached on an error at first base and Tyler Uptergrove walked. Shane Graham then doubled to score Peeples. Mansfield followed that with a double that scored Uptergrove to tie the game.

The game’s outcome leaves Sylvan Hills with a record of 11-4 while Jacksonville dropped to 2-6. Sylvan Hills is competing in a tournament in Mountain Home this weekend. Jacksonville takes a short trip north to face Cabot at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

SPORTS>> Cabot downed in three straight

By Jason King
Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: The Home Depot team struggled through three losses this week, falling to Sylvan Hills, Little Rock ASO and Russellville.

It was not a kind week for the Cabot Home Depot AAA American Legion team. Three games saw three losses for Cabot. After a close 2-0 shutout at the hands of Sylvan Hills to start out the week, Cabot hosted LRAE/Catholic on Tuesday and Russellville Thursday.

Catholic handed them a 9-1 loss Tuesday, followed by a five-inning run-ruled 10-1 loss at the hands of Russellville Thursday.

The only score for Home Depot in Tuesday’s game against LRAE came from lead-off batter Corey Wade. Wade opened for Cabot by reaching with a walk, and would be driven home with an RBI from Sam Bates. Catholic led 2-1 after the first inning, and would slowly build on that lead for the remainder of the contest.

A single from Colin Fuller in the second inning and a double for Daryl Murphy in the fifth inning were the only two hits allowed by winning Catholic pitcher Joseph Glanery. Bates took the loss for Cabot as one of three pitchers for Home Depot in the game.

Thursday’s game with Russell-ville would be even uglier. The game looked like it would be evenly matched in the opening inning. Each team went four batters deep during their turn in the first, and both would come away with a hit.

Josh Boger got the first hit off starting Cabot pitcher Colin Fuller in the top of the first, hopping it to right field for a single. Cabot’s three-hole hitter would also hit in the opening inning. Bates sent a shot of his own to right for the single, but was left on a pop-up from Chris Gross to end the inning.

The top of the second and top of the fourth would be the innings of doom for Cabot. Russellville took a big early lead with five runs in the second, and followed that with five more in the fourth to put the game into run-rule status.

After easily handling the first batters in the Russellville lineup to start the game, Fuller struggled in the second. Lead-off batter Josh Williams came away with a huge triple to centerfield to put a run in position right away. A single by Garrett Hill scored Williams, followed by a walk and another single to load the bases for the Cogswell Motors team with only one out.

An error allowed the first run to score, followed by a double to center from Boger to score Caleb McGee and Lucas Cox. Before it was over, Russellville had racked up a 5-0 lead over Cabot.

Fuller looked better during the third inning, allowing no hits or runs in the inning. The Russellville bats heated up once again for the fourth inning, however. Four hits, two errors and a passed ball allowed five more Russellville runs to score, putting them to a commanding 10-0 lead.

Although not its best performance at the plate this season, Cabot refused to be shutout in the game. Home Depot took advantage of a pair of Russellville errors in the bottom of the fourth to put their only run of the evening up on the board.

Gross reached with an error at second base, and was driven in for the run when Fuller hit a fly into center that was missed. Gross’ run would end hopes of a Russellville shutout, but was not enough to avoid the run-rule.

Cabot loaded the bases in the fifth inning, but Russellville made a solid play at the plate off a bunt from Justin Free to avoid another score.

Cabot finished the game with one run, two hits and five errors. The losses give the Home Depot team records of 3-5 in AAA action and 6-10 overall. Cabot will host Jacksonville at the Brian Conrade Sports Complex Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in AAA action.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

TOP STORY >> Lonoke picks new mayor

Leader staff writers

IN SHORT: Even though the counting went slow again Tuesday night, McGee defeats Parks in Democratic runoff to succeed Privett. McGee has no opponent in November. Green wins for Pulaski County in Dist. 10.

Alderman Wayne McGee is apparently the next mayor of Lonoke, beating Jim Parks, the former alderman, 483 to 270 in the Democratic primary runoff Tuesday.

Election officials announced those numbers earlier in the evening, but it was unclear at the time whether they were complete returns for all Lonoke precincts or just interim results. Later, the election commission said those were the final numbers, according to McGee’s cousin, Gaylon McGee.

No one could be reached in the county clerk’s office to confirm the vote late Tuesday night.

In the Pulaski County runoff for District 10 Justice of the Peace, Rev. Robert Green beat Johnnie Mass by 40 votes. Green had 482 votes, or 52.2 percent, to 442 votes, or 47.8 percent for Mass. In statewide races, Bill Halter defeated Tim Woold-ridge in the Democratic run-off for lieutenant governor and Martha Shoffner defeated Mac Campbell in the Democratic run-off for state treasurer.

With 95 percent of the vote in, Rep. Dustin McDaniel was squeaking by Paul Suskie in the Democratic run-off for attorney general, even though Pulaski County voted three-to-one in favor of Suskie.

In the Lonoke Democratic primary on May 23, voters turned Mayor Thomas Privett out of office.

In that four-way race, McGee was the top vote-getter with 438, followed by Parks with 362, Privett with 215 and Roy Henderson with 38 votes, setting up the Tuesday runoff.

Because no Republican or independent candidate filed for the positions, McGee will succeed Privett in January.
Voters apparently rejected Privett for his association with former Police Chief Jay Campbell, who resigned in February after being indicted on several drug and theft felonies.

“I want to thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart,” said McGee, whose face was red from campaigning in the sun this week.

Privett has offered to include his successor in on budget discussions as the city prepares its 2007 budget, and McGee said he welcomes the opportunity.

“I want to learn as much as I can so I’m ready when I take office,” McGee said.

McGee is part owner of several businesses in Lonoke, including a family furniture store, a used-car dealership and an auction company.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

OBITUARIES >> 06-14-06

Donald Griggs
Donald Lynn Griggs, DDS, 54, of Jacksonville died June 11.

He was born July 26, 1951, in Jacksonville, son of Gladys M. Dunham Griggs and the late Gus S. Griggs. He was a graduate of Jacksonville High School, University of Arkansas and University of Tennessee-Memphis Dental School. He was a life-long member of First United Methodist Church, a player for the Methodist Men’s softball team and an administrative board member as well as a member of the Building Committee of First United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Pat-rice Griggs; mother, Gladys Marie Griggs; two daughters, Kristen Danielle Griggs and Kirby Dawn Griggs; a son, Bradley Kyle Griggs, all of Jacksonville; two brothers, Kenneth Griggs and his wife Sue of Hot Springs Village and Frank Griggs and his wife Kim of Moores-ville, N.C.; a sister, Fran Honeycutt and her husband Bill of Little Rock, and numerous nieces, nephews and other family and friends.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. today at First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville with Rev. Wendall Dorman officiating.  
Pallbearers are Kenny Elliott, Mack McAlister, Mike Fisher, Terry Toney, Mike Traylor, Leon Nolen, Jeff Welch and Danny Moore.  Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church Youth Group and Jacksonville Youth Baseball Association.

Marigene Wright

Marigene Howell Wright, 89, died June 12. She was a member of Lonoke First United Methodist Church and a retired school teacher of 28 years.

Survivors include her sons, Randy Wright and wife Terrie of Lonoke and Howell Wright and wife J’Ann of Estes Park, Colorado; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; also survived by numerous nieces, nephews and other family.

Funeral Services will be 10 a.m. Friday at Lonoke First United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Lonoke Cemetery. Arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke. The family will receive friends Thursday, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lonoke First United Methodist Church.

Margie Lou Hunsucker

Margie Lou Hunsucker, 74, of Cotton Plant, Memphis, Tenn., and lately of Beebe, died June 12. She was born Oct. 8, 1931, the first daughter of Charles Henry and Jettie Rich Hunsucker.

She attended school for 12 years in Cotton Plant, graduating May 26, 1949.

She, along with other members of her family, was an accomplished cotton picker at the age of six and went on to hold several jobs during her school years such as store clerk, cashier, and ticket seller at the local theatre. She participated in school activities, sang in a sextet, played in piano recitals, lettered in basketball four years and was a cheerleader.
She went to Memphis in 1951, where she was employed by J.C. Bradford Stock Exchange for seventeen years and Morgan Keegan Investments for thirty years, retiring as a vice president.

In 1999, she moved to Beebe, where she owned a home and had family. She had been a lifelong member of the Methodist Church and enjoyed membership in the First Security Walking Club of Beebe.
She lost her battle with cancer, but she fought valiantly.

She is survived by her brother, Charles A. Hunsucker, of Kerrville, Texas; sisters Zona Norwood and Wanda Woods; brothers-in-law Ira Norwood and Richard Woods; a nephew, Charles Woods and wife Kelly, and their children Garrett and Jettie, all of Beebe; and a niece, Tammie Covington and husband Cleve and their daughter, Leann, of Mt. Vernon.

Funeral will be 2 p.m. today at Cotton Plant First United Methodist Church, with burial in Cotton Plant Cemetery, by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Martha Bradberry

Martha Bradberry, 84, of Little Rock passed away June 10. Born June 12, 1921, in Beebe, she was the daughter of A. G. and Gertrude Rogers. She was a loving mother and grandmother.

She is survived by her son Jim Bradberry and wife Mary Jo and granddaughter, Alison of Little Rock. She has one brother, Hoben Rogers and wife Nancy of Lindsey, Oklahoma. She was preceded in death by her husband, Horace; her parents; a brother, A. G. Rogers and two special sisters, Kathleen Knox and Elaine Horton.

The family extends a deep appreciation to her caregivers at Baptist Medical Center and Pleasant Valley Living Center.
Funeral services were held Tuesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial at Beebe Cemetery.

WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL >> Huckabee: What a card!

For his sake and for the good of this blessedly humble state, someone needs to tell Gov. Huckabee that he serves us best by not imitating either Don Imus or Ann Coulter when he is in the cultivated precincts of New York, or even North Carolina.

The Southern Baptist preacher becomes oh-so-worldly when he’s gasbagging on radio in New York, Iowa or the southern seaboard. Early in his political career he loved to go on the Imus show and swap half-smutty stories. He learned after a while that the shrinking universe sent his words back home. So when he trashed Arkansas as “a banana republic” in New York, Arkansans were stung and Huckabee had to blow it off as a harmless joke. It was one thing for H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain to sneer about Arkansas’ backwardness and for Opie Read and Bob Burns to joke about it but quite another for our own ambassador to ridicule the state.

The governor has nice comedic timing, as he demonstrated on the Colbert Report a few weeks ago, but taste and good sense escape him sometimes when he’s trying very hard to impress people with his wit and savoir-faire. It is as if he is saying to voters in other regions: “Sure, I’m from Arkansas, but, see, I’m not the uptight hick that you would expect.”

When a reporter asked him last week how he expected to raise the large sums of money needed for a presidential campaign, Huckabee grinned and replied, as if he had been waiting so long for the question: “I’ve got a map of 7-Elevens, a bunch of blue steel revolvers and some ski masks. We’re going to go all over the country and raise money in a very unique way.”
And explaining how his plane troubles brought out emergency crews to the landing strip, he joked that he bet they were disappointed the plane did not crash.

Ann Coulter, the pornographic commentator, might joke about poisoning a Supreme Court justice and widows enjoying the slaughter of their husbands at the World Trade Center and get by with it. No, wait, she didn’t, did she?

Huckabee’s jokes were picked up by a national newsmagazine and circulated through the blogs. His presidential stock was not going up.

The governor needs a taste monitor to travel with him when he heads for distant cities. Alice Stewart does not fill the bill. Where is Rex Nelson when we need him?

WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL >> Rove is off the hook

A single terrorist who has murdered and maimed at will for three years around Baghdad while mocking the U.S. military and thousands of intelligence agents is finally crushed by bombs, and then the president’s top aide learns that he will not go to prison. No one ever needed a good week more, and for President Bush those two events pass for a stellar week.

Bush could hardly have enjoyed better news than the special prosecutor’s announcement that he will not seek indictments of Karl Rove, unless it were the mass conversion of Iraqi insurgents to a peaceful Shiite faith. Keeping your brain trust out of jail is not a lot to brag about unless absolutely nothing has gone your way for 18 months. Bush must feel that he has a new lease on his political life.

That should be a healthy thing for the country, which does not need a completely neutered president for two and a half perilous years. For our sake, may he make the best of it.

But he and the country should keep Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s notice in perspective. Rove is not exonerated and the damage that he and whoever guided him did to the country and the presidency cannot be recompensed by a no-indictment letter. President Bush said he would fire anyone involved in leaking the identity of a secret agent, and Rove publicly and solemnly declared that he had absolutely nothing to do with it and had no knowledge of it. But it turned out that it was he who directed the operation from the White House. Still, the president did not fire him or anyone else in the gaggle of insiders who participated.

Fitzgerald would have had a hard time making the case that Rove violated the spirit of national security law if he was following even the unstated wishes of the single person who had the power to declassify national secrets, the president. It was all a nasty, devious and corrupt affair, and Bush had run in 2000 on the promise of hounds tooth honesty and integrity.

Rove, Vice President Cheney and others in the old White House and the national security apparatus will still have to testify about exactly what they did and why they did it when Scooter Libby goes on trial for lying to agents and the grand jury about the Valerie Plame affair. But that, conveniently, will not be until January 2007 or even later, after the midterm elections will have determined just how long Bush’s new lease on life will be. The no-indictment letter means that Rove will be free now to use his considerable talent to see that those elections turn the Republicans’ way.

We would feel better about this reinvigorated White House if it gave signs its public discourse would be different. But in the evening after learning of his reprieve, Rove was in New Hampshire blasting patriots like Rep. John Murtha, the Korean War hero, as cowards because they called for a calibrated withdrawal of forces to the perimeters.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> More words from Kansas grim reaper

Leader publisher

Jonathan Phelps, who was in Beebe last week demonstrating at the funeral for a local soldier who died in Baghdad two weeks ago, was picketing Monday in front of a hardware store in Topeka, Kan.

Phelps said he and his group from Westboro Baptist Church, who demonstrate every day in many parts of the country, were picketing in their hometown because the hardware store was selling vacuum cleaners from Sweden, which tolerates homosexuality, like this country.

That’s why he was in Arkansas last week, picketing outside First Baptist Church of Beebe, where the funeral services for Army Specialist Bobby West were about to get underway.

In his mind, America’s tolerance of homosexuals has brought God’s wrath down on this nation and is the reason U.S. soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can get more information from his Web site

We asked him, “What is your evidence that soldiers dying in Iraq is linked to homosexuality? If it is in the Bible, please cite the verse(s) and phrase(s). If it is a direct link to God that you have, please specify date, time and place in which you received “the message.”

Phelps’ e-mail response: “Pur-suant to my never-ending quest to NOT reinvent the wheel, and because you’re a lucky duck today, I cut and pasted for your immediate reference a ‘Dear Margie’ response hot off the press, touching upon what you mockingly refer to as ‘a direct link to God.’ (We receive hundreds, if not thousands of e-mails a day, with questions similar to yours; some of which we respond to.)”

The ‘Dear Margie’ response includes this sentence: “We have the unspeakable privilege, unique among all humankind, of being God’s mouth on earth in the Last Days, which is Our Day.

“I can read (the Bible),” Phelps added.

Most church members appear related — his father, Fred Phelps, runs the church, and Jonathan’s brother and sister and children also demonstrate at funerals. They usually drive long distances when they find out about military funerals.
“The members of Westboro Baptist Church are employed full-time, many working enough to equal the hours of two full-time positions,” Phelps told us. “The church members pay their own way to conduct open-air preaching, a/k/a protesting or picketing.”

But why protest at funerals?

“This particular platform—soldier’s funerals, a/k/a patriotic pep rallies, has been created by an apostate nation who have exalted idolatry to an art form in the manner in which they worship the dead, and while they draw close to God with their lips, their hearts are far from Him. Matthew 15:7-8: ‘Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.’”

“But God has promised terror to a nation like America: Leviticus 26:14 — ‘But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; 15 And if ye shall despise My statutes, or if your soul abhor My judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break My covenant: 16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning plague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you. 18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.’”

When we asked him why he was so angry and if he might consider cooling his rhetoric, he replied, “What you and every eternity-bound soul needs to concern yourself about is the anger of the Lord. See, for example, Jeremiah 23:20: “The anger of the LORD shall not return until He has executed, and till He has performed the thoughts of His heart; in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly.’

“That’s what is wrong with this evil country, they have no fear of the Lord, and so they’re dirt dumb.” Phelps continued. Job 28:28 ‘And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’

“Therefore, we deliver the following message to this country: Proverbs 1:27-28: ‘When your fear cometh as desolation and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you, then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me.’ And not only does God not answer these evil American people when His calamities strike them at His hand, such as killing their young children in this bloody war, He laughs and mocks them when He visits them in wrath.”

Let’s hope there are no military funerals in your town. That way you won’t have to see Phelps and his grim entourage.

TOP STORY >> Asphalt cost slows road work

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Rising prices could affect the pace of street repair and maintenance.

For the last five years, the price-per-ton of asphalt has remained stable. Since asphalt, which is petroleum-based, began skyrocketing in March, public-works departments have faced the daunting task of de-ciding their road-maintenance schedules, repairing heavy damage first, as well as exploring options to stretch operating budgets.

Glen Bolick, a spokesman for the Arkansas Highway and Transporta-tion Department, said municipal and county governments must set priorities on which roads to repair and pave.

“Sure, obviously the rising price is going to affect any project of this type,” he said. “Cities and counties are going to have a harder time than we are. It’s a little hard to explain, but the best analogy I can offer is to think of having to mow your grass year round, regardless of the price of gas. In some areas, you may mow them out of turn. It’s the same way with street maintenance. The worst problems are going to get fixed first, whether asphalt price is high or not, just like gasoline.”

Bolick emphasized that contractors are most likely to feel the strongest pinch, as bidding pro-cesses can be extensive for long-term projects, and asphalt prices may increase after a bid is secured “With tonnage prices, who gets affected more than anybody is going to be the contractor,” Bolick said.

“Say, for instance, he comes in to bid us on a half-million-dollar job. It takes 30 days to bid and maybe between 45 and 60 days to get on the job. If prices go up again, he’s locked into it. It’s still a half-million-dollar bid. That’s the nature of the bidding process.”

Bolick explained how the High-way Department is adjusting to high cost of asphalt. “We’re splitting some jobs,” he said. “Instead of a million-dollar, 10-mile overlay, we’ll do a half-million, 10-mile project so contractors can bid a job that won’t take three or four years. The market dictates.”

As for a dismal or promising future, Bolick is uncertain. “Ask a city or county judge,” he said. “A city mayor or local contractor will probably bear most of the brunt of this increase. Prices are going up, bids are higher on jobs, so it made sense for us to make for smaller jobs for contractors to bid. It benefits them, us and the entire state.”

Some city and county governments haven’t felt the pressures of rising asphalt costs because of current contracts with locked prices. But in all likelihood, they will, once contracts expire.

Cabot Public Works director Jim Towe said the city hasn’t funded any overlays this year. “From my standpoint we don’t need to, as of yet,” he said. “We’re still working out of Greystone.

Ward Mayor Art Brooke said, “We’ll just have do to a little less work than we normally would do. In smaller areas like ours, we don’t have the tax base other cities have. Also, asphalt costs will have an adverse effect on the 19 streets we’ve scheduled for repair maintenance. The seven we’ve looked at for this year will probably be all we can do.”

Brooke said his city has considered other options. “We’ve looked at chip and seal,” he said. “It’s an alternative to asphalt. The county does a lot with it and the state does a lot of renovation resurfacing by using a sticker base and putting loose shad on top and rolling it. At one-third the cost, it’s still not near as durable and long-term as asphalt.“

Austin Mayor Bernie Cham-berlain anticipates asphalt prices will affect her town as well, even though water line improvement is current priority. “Oh, it will,” she said. “We’re upgrading water lines that are old and have been here since the 1960s, so we’ll hold off on roads. Once the lines are in, we’ll need to do a lot of asphalting. But we may have to do it only a little at a time.”

Jim Oakley, Jacksonville public works director, said his department paid about $42 a ton.

“We’re fixing to go over the budget for our 2006 overlay program,” he said. “We may have to cut about 30 percent. Right now, we’ve got approximately $250,000 a year for overlays, at $30 to $40 per ton of asphalt.

“We only bid overlays once a year, and it was $42 a ton in June 2005. Now, a local contractor could be paying around $60. That’s an estimate for June 2006. We’ll know in about two or three weeks the 2006 prices. For linear feet, a ton of asphalt will do approximately 10 square yards of roadway, but it depends on how wide the street is. The cost per ton is cutting back on how much you can do, but we’ve budgeted the same amount. I guess we’ll do a few less overlays than normal.

“Jacksonville is fortunate enough to budget an overlay program. We’re in good shape for the most part, but if the price keeps going up, it could be hard to catch up with our workload, and we’d have to look at coming up with more money,” Oakley said.

But a hefty reserve supply of materials does have its advantages. Lonoke Public Works director Tony Scroggins said, “As far as road maintenance, we’re in good shape because we pretty much stocked up on prepackaged coal mix that we already bought. There’s not any maintenance to do right now.

“Sure it’s going to have an effect on asphalt bidding price per ton. If it’s tripled, we’ll have to decide whether or not to make repairs. Typically, it costs around $4,000 a city block. We may cut down in overlays instead and I’m sure it will have an effect as far as any new overlay projects are concerned.”

Another Lonoke Public Works employee said, “Depending on the amount of dollars, if asphalt goes up, streets get shorter.”
McRae Mayor Bob Sullivan said his city isn’t currently undergoing any roadwork. “The rising cost of asphalt is affecting everything,” he said. “It’s going to limit our repairs this summer. With high costs, we’ll just do what we can with the worst streets and next year do the rest. We’ve seen it coming, but didn’t realize it was going to be so drastic, on account of fuel prices. Fuel prices are killing everything in America.”

Barbara Richard, director of the Roads and Bridges Department with Pulaski County Public Works, said, “We have been operating for the last three years under a contract with locked prices. We get asphalt ourselves by going over in a truck to get materials and do jobs ourselves or we can have the contractors apply it for us.

“But we will have to re-bid in August,” Richard said. “From all indications, we’re looking at a 30 percent increase. When that happens, we’ll definitely start feeling it, because asphalt is an oil-based product. I think everybody’s going to have to take a good hard look before spending dollars.

“There is preventative maintenance to consider, such as applying seal coats to buy more time before resurfacing asphalt. Counties may have to cut another line item for extra money to fund road repair. As for Pulaski County, it’s the judge’s priority to keep roads up. We only have so much budgeted each year for every type of county project, but I can tell you it’s a big priority with our county judge,” Richard said. “He won’t let them suffer. We’re proud of roads in Pulaski County. We’ve got a good road system and intend to keep it that way.”

Tracey Perkins, with the Roads and Bridges Department of Pulaski County Public Works, said, “The current price per ton is $43.07 in-place, and when our truck picks it up, the price is $32.65.”

Perkins said “in-place” is the term applied when contractors apply the asphalt surfacing.

John Suskie, executive director of Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association, said, “As far as local cities and counties, we have producers and what we call lay-down contractors. Right now it appears prices are based on a national average, but it depends on where you are and how far you have to haul it. In recent years industry experts have been saying that with no increase in actual revenue, that basically, the same dollars available will only be able to purchase 20 percent less than what they could have before the price increase.”

Suskie explained that regardless of the type of paving project, costs won’t stretch as far as they once did, and that any business or municipality involved with road surfacing and repair will endure the resulting frustrations of higher asphalt prices.

“Whether it’s city or rural, heavy or light overlay, a two-inch repaving or 8 to 10 inches, you can bet that fewer cities will be able to pay as a result of this,” he said.

“That’s what contractors are wresting with right now. It’s a real gamble our guys take, and they may have to bid a little higher right now just to cover their own expenses. One approach the Highway De-partment has taken, and it’s real admirable, has helped, though. What they might do is to bid road work, bridges or widening shoulders, or ‘dirt work’ as it’s called, and delay bidding on paving itself, where they’d usually bid it all out at once.”

Suskie said that prioritizing paving projects is key. “As for long-term, we’re looking at having to make hard decisions,” he said. This has caused some contractors not to bid jobs at all, some as far out as 18 months.”

But this cause-and-effect relationship with operating expenses also occurs in other business sectors.

“It goes back to the entrepreneurial spirit,” Suskie said. “This happens to homebuilders, too. If the cost of material goes up, consequently, they feel it too. But I’m proud to say I never hear any comments from any of our associates about cutting the quality of work, just maybe the quantity. The public really needs to understand what we’re going through, especially with probing out long-term projects. Some aren’t conscious of the process of contracting. It’s kind of a frustrating thing. Of our 120 members, 40 are asphalt producers”

Even though the price hike is drastic, Suskie said it came forewarned. “It’s really been coming strong since last summer; without any question Katrina had an effect,” he said. “The cost of diesel was more of a concern last year than the price of asphalt. The drier to heat aggregate runs on it; some use natural gas. Also, it depends on how far you have to haul it, which is usually between 30 and 50 miles. Imagine the fuel costs to move heavy tonnage. We had meetings with haulers, local dump truck operators and aggregate haulers. They bid too, for hauling routes, and if they don’t get enough to cover mileage, it’s not worth it,” Suskie said.

TOP STORY >> Local area sees more residences going up

Leader staff writers

IN SHORT: New or used, homeownership keeps increasing here at a rapid clip.

June is Homeownership Month, and the housing market in central Arkansas continues to boom despite predictions of a slump in housing nationwide.

“I have been in this business for 19 years and my team has posted record sales for three consecutive months in a row.

Currently, we are averaging a home sale every 19 hours in my office,” said Steve Blackwood, of The Blackwood Team realty. Blackwood credits the Cabot School District with the solid housing market in the area. The population of Cabot is projected to be about 20,000 soon, with an average 25 new home permits per month. In May, the city issued building permits for $3.6 million in construction, including 18 permits for homes over $100,000.

The housing market in Beebe has been described as “ready to boom” after years of near-dormancy.

Jason Scheel, chairman of the city’s planning commission, said he is seeing more growth in housing now than he has seen in five years on the commission. Allen Ridings, the city’s code enforcement officer and building inspector, says he seen more construction recently than in eight years on the job.

Scheel attributes the five new subdivisions with about 200 homes either under construction or in the planning phases to the quality of life possible in Beebe.

“We have a good school district and ASU-Beebe is right here,” Scheel said. “Most people work in or around Little Rock, but they know they can live here and have a good place to spend their afternoons and weekends.”

Most of the homes planned for Beebe are relatively small at 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and will sell for about $100,000 he said. The larger, high-dollar houses are outside the city where lots are measured in acres.

Scheel said Beebe simply doesn’t have enough land for developers to offer large lots. The city council’s attempt last year to grow through annexation failed, but the plan is to try again, he said.

The draw of the Cabot School District, responsible for Cabot’s phenomenal growth, also benefits the housing market in Austin and Ward, which are part of the district.

Like Beebe, Austin also is on the verge of a building boom, but unlike Beebe which will have to annex for any large change in population, Austin could potentially grow from 604 in the last census to about 4,500 when the 1,500 homes in nine subdivisions either planned or under construction are sold.

Ward has about 10 subdivisions that are either filling up with new houses or are in the preliminary phase where the streets are built. So far, this year about 100 building permits have been sold at city hall.

Ward’s growth has been steady. The last census set its population at 2,500, but new subdivisions have already increased that number to almost 3,400 and with more houses being built all the time, the population is expected to reach 5,000 by 2010.
Mayor Art Brooke says houses in Ward sell for an average of $20,000 less than in Cabot.

Neither does Ward have the traffic problems that Cabot has, which makes the city more desirable to some families, he says.
While the housing market is expected to keep fading from its record levels, 2006 is still expected by many economists to be the third best year for housing ever. Arkansas, homeownership is at a near-record high of 69 percent.

“With the soaring cost of new construction, we have seen an increasing demand for existing homes which are perceived to be a better value in comparison to many new construction homes,” Black-wood told The Leader.

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

According to Little Rock Air Force Base’s 2005 fiscal year economic impact analysis released in April, the base’s 5,919 active duty personnel collect $274 million in pay, part of which is spent in surrounding cities of Sherwood, Jacksonville, Cabot and Beebe for rent and housing.

Only 483 airmen live on base now as the older homes on base are being either demolished or renovated as part of a $500 million housing contract awarded to American Eagle Communities. By 2012, American Eagle plans to renovate 732 existing homes and build 648 new homes to make living on the base more appealing to military families.

Analysts with the National Association of Realtors are expecting the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to average 6.9 percent during the second half of the year and the unemployment rate is expected to average 4.8 percent in 2006.

Buyers are currently committing to an average 6.67 percent interest on new, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, compared with about 5.5 percent a year ago. That change raises the monthly cost $150 for a $200,000 mortgage.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types is forecast to rise 5.3 percent this year to $231,300.

With more construction in 2006 taking place in lower-cost housing markets, the median new-home price is projected to increase 0.8 percent to $242,900.

TOP STORY >> Outcome still the same following recount

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Lonoke County’s optical scanner returned the exact same numbers Saturday as two challenged Republican primary races were recounted.

If it changed nothing else, the recount of two Republican primary races Saturday confirmed the original tallies and helped ease doubts about the optical scanner and its programming.

Following the May 23 Republican primary election, Virgil Teague, Jr. held a one-vote advantage over Carl Schmidt, 586 to 585 in the Cabot alderman Ward 2, Position 1 race. Teague’s narrowest of victories withstood Schmidt’s recount challenge Saturday.

Teague could still face one or more independents in November. Cabot independents haven’t filed yet.

Teague said he had been as confident as he could be under the circumstances, since he was winner in the first primary count—discarded because the optical scanner was programmed incorrectly, then again May 28 for official count of all Lonoke County ballots and then again last Saturday in the face of Schmidt’s petition for a recount.

“I knew that’s the way it should have come out,” Teague said Monday, but “you never know what’s going to happen in a recount.”

Teague, a retired Union Pacific manager, said he’d bring his management skills to bear on the city council. Traffic and drainage are probably the biggest problems, he said.

Since Stumbaugh didn’t pay for his recount, Edwards will be the quorum member.

He said he wants to bring accountability to the budget process and help take care of traffic problems in the northern part of the county.

Edwards said that despite talk and news stories about his being part of an ultraconservative conspiracy to take over the Republican Party, neither he nor Casey Van Buskirk, who beat incumbent Gina Burton, met Randy Minton until after they filed for office.

“I’ve only spoken to Randy one time, for 15 to 20 minutes. I know they think Randy is who we are going to speak for.”
He said he wasn’t there to push Minton’s agenda through the quorum court.

“The Republican Assembly aren’t ultraconservative,” said Edwards. “They are just true Republicans. They have conservative, true Reagan values.”

In a letter to the editor published last Wednesday, Van Bus-kirk said essentially the same thing.

“I like to think that I won the election because of my hard work and dedication to winning. Randy Minton does not get to choose the JP for District 12. The people who live within District 12 make that decision.”

Of Burton, Van Buskirk said, “The only reason she is out of office is because of the simple fact that she did not vote as a Republican. She ran for office as a Republican but too often chose to vote with the Democrats.”

Burton says she will not endorse Van Buskirk when she runs against Patty Knox, a Democrat, in November.

“She’s been to only one quorum court meeting and is completely unknowledgeable about the way it functions. She has an association with the Minton Assembly,” Burton said.

“She’ll be told how to vote and that’s something I object to. I think JPs should vote according to their conscience and the information they are given.”

Burton said she has no immediate plans but would remain active in the Republican Party.

“I believe in the Republican Party and Republican values and I want to do what I can to just promote the Republican agenda.”

TOP STORY >> Cabot High almost ready

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Finishing touches are added to the $13.9 million structure as an addition to the Fine Arts Building gets underway.

As workers put the finishing touches on the new $13.9 million Cabot High School on the northwest side of the campus, facing Highways 89 and 38, teachers are already moving boxes from their classrooms in 25 trailers scattered across campus.

Across campus, construction workers are erecting the walls for a $1,888,722 addition to the south end of the Fine Arts Building. The addition will have new choir, chorus and band rehearsal rooms and several classrooms.

“We feel like everything is progressing and we’re in good shape to be in the new high school in August, and we hope to schedule an open house for the parents, students and community in mid-August,” said Frank Holman, superintendent of the Cabot School District.

About 1,800 students are expected on campus this fall.

The massive heating and air conditioning ventilation system for the 191,015 square-foot building is being turned on this month as workers finish in-stalling the ceiling tiles, ceramic floor tiles and carpet on the first floor.

Once painters are through with the interior walls on the second floor, ceiling tiles and flooring will be installed.

The completed 12,000- square-foot media center is being used for temporary storage while the inside of the building is being finished.

“I’m just amazed of the size of this building. You start from the beginning of construction on paper, and when you get over there and see it finished, it’s just amazing,” Holman told The Leader.

When the classrooms are completely moved into the new high school’s 105 classrooms, 25 trailers across campus are scheduled to be removed, and buildings C and D are scheduled for demolition to provide additional parking around the new building.

“Parents and patrons are ex-cited about the new high school and feel it is long overdue,” said Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent for the Cabot School District.

Later this summer, workers will start building a long turn lane on Hwy. 89 so parents can turn into the campus to drop students off at the front of the building without delaying traffic. Students who drive will use an entrance on Hwy. 38.

Construction on the new high school started last August. The two-story, V-shaped building will be arranged to support the district’s six career academies of agriculture, science and mechanics; business, finance and information technology; construction, engineering and automotive technology; health and human services; education, law and public service, and fine arts, journalism and communications.

There will be eight offices for principals and support personnel as well as eight counseling offices.

Cabot High School Principal Tony Thurman says students will get the most use out of the centrally located media center while teachers will take advantage of the four resource rooms equipped with kitchenettes, copiers, computers and teleconference equipment.

Teachers and students alike will get a lot of use out of the professional-development center says Thurman. It will have state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment for staff meetings or guest speakers for classes.

“We will have seating for 160 without tables and 65 individuals when we want to use tables,” Thurman told The Leader.
Students will be both safe and comfortable at the new school. Every entrance to the building will have video surveillance monitored by principals and resource officers.

Covered outside walkways on both floors of the building will help students get to and from classes even in inclement weather, without crowding the interior hallway.

The Cabot Board of Education is considering having an open house for parents and community members to view the new building in September.

NEIGHBORS >> Boards and Bagels

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: New Lonoke deli serves up meals, skateboards

The downtown Center Street storefront that once housed Flavours — a coffee and sandwich shop — has given way to
T & T Deli, with at least eight sandwiches, a variety of salads, fruit salads, breakfast sweets, soups or casseroles, coffee and latte.

Or, if you want, a skateboard.

Terry and Teresa Leslie opened the shop recently. Terry Leslie is a Lonoke patrolman.

“I opened Little Rock’s first New York-style deli, The Big Apple, in west Little Rock,” Teresa said one day while Terry oversaw the repositioning of the new sign, which reads “T & T Deli and Skateboards.

The skateboards are sold by David Leslie, a Lonoke ninth grader, who posed reluctantly with one of his favorites in the family shop.

Terry, previously a Little Rock police officer, has been on the Lonoke force for 18 months.

The Leslies say they opened the deli because there was a need for it.

While Flavours offered a very large variety of coffee and breakfast sweets, but a limited number of sandwiches.

T & T deli sandwiches include the club, poboy, chicken salad, a create-your-own, a BLT, vegetarian and bagel sandwiches.
Salad offerings include the chief’s special — comparable to the U.S. Pizza salad, they say, and fruit and chicken salad, fruit and cheese, fresh fruit cup, pasta or chicken salad.

Morning choices include bagels and cream cheese, biscuits and gravy, muffins and pastries.

Desserts include cheesecake, banana pudding and brownies.

They offer coffee, tea, soft drinks, cappuccino, latte, ice tea, fruit smoothie and iced latte.

Meat and cheese is available by the pound and breads by the package, according to the menu.

Open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, the Leslies offer a breakfast special of two biscuits, gravy and sausage or bacon for $1.50.

SPORTS >> Jacksonville names youth All-Star teams

Leader report

The Jacksonville Youth Baseball Association has selected its All-Stars for each age group. These select players have wrapped up league play in the city league, and will continue play in weekend tournaments in several different areas. Some will advance to state tournaments to vie for the state championship in their respective age groups.

JYBA won its first youth state championship last season when the 9-year-old team took the crown. Many of those players are back this year competing with the 10-year-old team.

This year’s JYBA All-Stars are as follows:

Demarcus Adell, Ingle Fence
Tylon Anderson, Lions Club
Brandon Barnes, Ingle Fence
Deboious Cobbs, Lions Club
Shawn Ellis, Tom Bush Dental Clinic
Caleb Kendricks, Lions Club
Kylan Roddy, Ingle Fence
Breenan Shelton, Ingle Fence
Quentin Stallard, Western Sizzlin
Brandon Steadman, Lions Club
Kenneth Whitfield, Ingle Fence
Nick Whisker, Bond and Chamberlain Law Firm
Peyton Williams, Western Sizzlin

Christopher Bass, Marshall Rd. Pharmacy
Zachary Bobo, Boyd Veterinary Clinic
Devin Dodson, McDonalds
Tyson Flowers, K&R Photo
Kolbe Garner, Marshall Rd. Pharmacy
Christian Gartman, McAlister CPA
Michael Havard, Jacksonville Chiropractic
Archie Jackson, Marshall Rd. Pharmacy
Bralyn James, McAlister CPA
DaJaun Ridgeway, RPM Realty
Landon Rowland, Boyd Veterinary Clinic
Jacob Sherrill, K&R Photo
Trent Toney, RPM Realty
Jordan Wickersham, McAlister CPA
8 year olds
Bradly Brown, Ashcraft Orthodontics
D’Unta Dodson, K&R Photo
Brandon Hickingbotham, RPM Realty
Clayton Holderfield, McAlister CPA
Logan Kirkendoll, Marshall Rd. Pharmacy
Rodney Middleton, Marshall Rd. Pharmacy
Keiontay Mosley, Jacksonville Chiropractic
D.J. Scott, RPM Realty
Garrett Sherrill, K&R Photo
Peyton Traywick, K&R Photo
Ramiro Urena, RPM Realty
Michael Watts, Jacksonville Chiropractic
Zachary West, K&R Photo
Cordarious Winston, Unique Furniture

9 year olds
Myles Bush, State Farm Insurance
Devin Campbell, Farmers Insurance
Christian Henson, Kessler Team Sports
Greg Jones, Farmers Insurance
Courtland McDonald, State Farm Insurance
Lance Nolen, Absolute Pix
Blake Perry, Farmers Insurance
Derrious Perry, Farmers Insurance
Steven Perse, Kessler Team Sports
Andrew Tucker, State Farm Insurance
James Tucker, State Farm Insurance
Shane Wudkewych, Harry Morton P.T.

10 year olds
Austin Allen, Sate Farm Insurance
Troy Allen, State Farm Insurance
Reginal Barnes, Farmers Insurance
Michael Benton, State Farm Insurance
Jay Craig, State Farm Insurance
Hunter Garrison, State Farm Insurance
Timothy Green, State Farm Insurance
Justin Harris, Kessler Team Sports
Simeon Jackson, Kessler Team Sports
Jacob Price, Absolute Pix
Nicholas Nicolini, Absolute Pix
Antonious Rockamore, Absolute Pix

11 year olds
Bryan Ayers, Chambers Drug
Brandon Beard, Chambers Drug
Ricky Brown, Chambers Drug
Max Carroll, Greg Bollen Dental
Jaleel Henson, Greg Bollen Dental
Logan Kulesa, Chambers Drug
William Miller, Greg Bollen Dental
Eric Moore, Greg Bollen Dental
Tanner Ruple, Chambers Drug
Dylan Sanders, Whit Davis Lumber
David Williams, Chambers Drug
Terrance Yelder, Whit Davis Lumber

12 year olds
Tirrell Brown, Greg Bolen Dental
Xavier Brown, Greg Bolen Dental
Kenneth Cummings, Whit Davis Lumber
Brandon Barrow, 1st Arkansas Bank
Bradley Griggs, Whit Davis Lumber
Jesse Harbin, Chambers Drug
Haley Hudson, Whit Davis Lumber
Lerome Kelly, 1st Arkansas Bank
Landon Nolen, Whit Davis Lumber
Tyler Toney, Whit Davis Lumber
Zachary Traylor, Greg Bolen Dental
Chaunce Umfleet, Chambers Drug
Chris Young, Greg Bolen Dental

13 year olds
Jacob Abrahamson, Sonic
Jeremy Bormann, Sonic
Tyler Crook, Bart Gray Realty
Derek Day, Sonic
Clint Gray, Two Pine Landfill
Zachary Hibbs, Sertoma Club
Jacob Lackovic, Bart Gray Realty
Michael Lamb, Sonic
Casey Maricle, Two Pine Landfill
Logan Perry, Jacksonville Athletics
Toby Robinson, Sertoma Club
Adrian Rodriguez, Two Pine Landfill
Alexander Tucker, Jacksonville Athletics

SPORTS >> Conway sweeps Sylvan Hills

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: The Conway Class A team swept a doubleheader in Sherwood Saturday.

A pair of late-game runs from Conway handed Sylvan Hills two close losses Saturday at Kevin McReynolds field in Sherwood during an American Legion Class A doubleheader with the Wampus Cats. The Bruins trailed by only one run in the opener until Jessie Cormier scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth to tie it at 4-4. Conway was able to retake the lead in the seventh, holding on for a 5-4 win.

The second game was even closer. Sylvan Hills’ only run in the contest came from lead-off batter Jessie Everett in the top of the first inning. Conway tied the game in the bottom of the second, and scored the winning run in the fifth to bring the game to a halt due to time.

The Wampus Cats took the early lead in the opener, scoring two runs in the first inning. Sylvan Hills was able to make up one of those runs in the first with lead-off batter Everett. After reaching first with a single, Everett was driven home moments later off a double from Ricky Wheeler. The run pulled the Bruins to within one heading into the second inning.

Conway built on its lead in the top of the second with another pair of runs to go up 4-1. The Bruins once again came away with only one run during their turn; this time it was T.C. Squires singling to put the score in position, and scoring off a Conway error. Everett’s run made the score 4-2 after two innings.

Ross Bogard pulled Sylvan Hills to within one in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI that scored Wheeler, who had singled at the start of the Bruins’ turn in the fourth. Wheeler’s run closed the gap to 4-3 Conway.

Sylvan Hills completed the comeback in the bottom of the sixth. Cormier led off the inning with a single down the third-base line. He got to second with a steal, and then made his way to third off a 5-3 fielder’s choice for the Wampus Cats. A passed ball during Wheeler’s turn at the plate allowed Cormier to make it in, tying the game with one inning remaining.

Conway almost went three-and-out in the seventh, but a fielding error in right field allowed the second batter on. The potential third out came on a fly ball, but another error in the outfield allowed the winning run to score. The Bruins did go three-and-out in the bottom of the seventh, handing the game-one win to Conway.

The Bruins got off to a strong start in the second game, scoring with lead-off batter Everett. Bogard drove Everett in with a double to give Sylvan Hills a 1-0 lead. A chance to take a commanding lead diminished in the second with an outstanding play from the Conway shortstop. Dalton, Wheeler and Cormier occupied the bases with only one out. A hit to shortstop was caught and quickly thrown to second, catching Wheeler for the third out of the inning.

Conway tied the game in the bottom of the second, and relied on its defense to keep the Bruins from scoring further runs. The Wampus Cats took to the plate in the bottom of the fifth as time expired, scoring the final run of the afternoon to win the second game 2-1 and taking the sweep.

Sylvan Hills hosted Jack-sonville in a Class A and AAA doubleheader yesterday after Leader deadlines, and will be back in action Thursday with a Class A doubleheader against Pine Bluff in Sherwood starting at 6 p.m.