Friday, June 23, 2006

SPORTS >> Local ballers help East win

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Searcy’s Chris Brown, Riverview’s Cory Cooperwood and former Falcon Steven Moore helped the East to a 111-90 win.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The three local players turned in very good performances in the 2006 men’s All-Star basketball games.
Leading the way was Steven Moore, a Jacksonville resident who played two years at North Pulaski High before transferring to Mills for his senior season. Moore was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his role at point guard for the East in their 111-90 victory over the West squad.

Two scoring records fell in the game. The East squad’s 111 points topped the 1976 West team’s 110, and the most-combined-points mark was also beat by one point.

In the boys game, the East first team, which Moore led at the point, stormed out to a 26-8 lead in the five-period format. The West didn’t score until two free throws made it 17-2 with 2:13 left in the quarter.

Ten new players took the court for the duration of the second quarter, and the West began a strong comeback. Dollarway’s Bobby Miller hit a three to open the second period and gave the East a 29-8 lead. From there, the West outscored the East 40-19 to tie the game with 2:02 left in the third quarter.

The West briefly took the lead with 1:21 remaining when a free throw gave it a 51-50 advantage.
Two Cooperwood free throws seconds later gave the East the lead for good.

The final two quarters were played with each team substituting freely, and the East re established its dominance. Moore started things off with a layup in traffic after penetrating the West man defense.

Brown got a putback and a big blocked shot, and Cooperwood began to be involved in every play.

Over the last 2:40 of the fourth period, Cooperwood hit two free throws, grabbed two rebounds, got two blocks and dished out an assist in helping his team turn a 59-55 lead into an 83-63 edge.

The fifth quarter belonged to Brown. Brown had missed six of his first seven field-goal attempts, but was the dominant player in the final stanza.

After the West closed the gap again from 83-63 to 87-75 with 5:45 to go, Brown got hot and put the West away for good. Over a span of one minute and three seconds, Brown scored nine points, including a beautiful reverse layup in traffic and adding a subsequent free throw.

He added two more rebounds and a dunk to his total before game’s end.

He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.

Moore turned in 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and took a charge, while Cooperwood added six points, four boards, two steals, two assists and two blocked shots.

After the game, East head coach David Hixson, who coached against Moore at Blytheville, had nothing but praise for his MVP.
“He’s the first guy we picked,” Hixson said of the coaches’ selection of the All-Star team. “We knew he was a great talent and a great young man, and we knew what he could bring to this team. I’m not surprised at all he got that award.”

As much as the coach praised the game’s best performer, he lauded his outstanding camper even more.

“Cory is just a phenomenal young man,” Hixson said. “That award goes, not just to a guy with great talent, and Cory certainly has that, but also to the man with great work ethic, and great character. Cory is the definition of what the outstanding camper is supposed to be. It was a hard decision because this is the best group we’ve had in the four years I’ve been a part of this, but Cory is very deserving, just a phenomenal young man.”

SPORTS >> Bruins beat Stuttgart in five innings

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: A big fourth inning for Sylvan Hills turned a close game into a big shutout during the opening round of the Tall Timber Wood Bat Classic at Sheridan Thursday against Stuttgart Ricemen with the help of several errors.

SHERIDAN -- Sylvan Hills got a solid start in the opening round of the Wood Bat Classic on Thursday. The Bruins run-ruled the Ricemen 8-0 in five innings to take the first-round win.

Tony Pavan took the win at the mound for Sylvan Hills, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out three batters. Pavan went all five innings, with a slight slip in the top of the fifth inning that allowed three of Stuttgart’s four total hits.

The game was closely contested until the bottom of the fourth, when the Ricemen’s defense suffered a tremendous meltdown. The Bruins scored five runs in the fourth, followed by two more in the bottom of the fifth to end the contest early under the run-rule.

Pavan sent Stuttgart three-and-out to start the game, getting the third out with a strikeout on Jett Jones. Lead-off SH batter Shawn Bybee started the Bruins’ turn with a double to left field. Bybee made it to third to put a score in position, but Stuttgart pitcher Jones struck out two of the last three batters in the inning to leave him on.

Sylvan Hills continued the solid defense in the second inning, with Pavan ending the Ricemens’ turn on a strikeout to send them four-up and three-down.

The first run of the contest came in the bottom of the second inning for Sylvan Hills. Taylor Roark reached with a walk, and was driven in with an RBI double to deep left from Jarrett Boles. Jones struck out the final two Bruins batters in the inning to stop the scoring after only one run.

Stuttgart posed a serious threat to score in the top of the third inning. With runners at first and third with only one out, Pavan forced pop-ups from Joseph Lockwood and Jones to leave both runners on at the end of the Ricemens’ turn.

The next inning-and-a-half was fairly uneventful, and the bottom of the fourth looked as if it would be as well. Pop ups from Hayden Miller and Roark gave the Bruins two outs to start out the turn, and Boles was struck out by Jones. Catcher Sam Dardeine let the third strike get away from him, and Boles quickly scrambled to first on the passed ball.

An E6 allowed David Simpson to first, and a passed ball during Bybee’s turn allowed both runners to advance.

The frustration for the Ricemen began to show at that point, when catcher Dardeine yelled for the basemen to “Shut up” after third baseman Chris Hooker questioned Dardeine for not making the throw to third after retrieving the ball.

The hard times for Stuttgart only escalated from there. A walk for Bybee loaded the bases, and another passed ball scored Boles. The bases were loaded once again with another walk, this time it was Austin Gwatney that received the free trip to first.

The third walk of the inning scored Simpson for a 3-0 Sylvan Hills’ lead. The only actual hit of the inning came from following batter Chase Elder, a double to deep center that scored three runs to give the Bruins a 6-0 advantage.

Pavan had his worst inning in the top of the fifth, allowing three consecutive hits to load the bases for the Ricemen with only one out.

The strong right-hander showed his maturity on the mound from there, regaining his focus to strikeout Jones for the second out and forcing a pop to third from Brad Holt to leave all three runners on.

Sylvan Hills did not get any hits in the bottom of the fifth, but a series of walks and hit-by-pitches scored the final two runs.
With the bases loaded, relief pitcher Alex Smith walked Grant Garlington to score Roark for the eighth and final run of the contest.

Elder was 1 for 2 with a double and three RBIs. Boles was one for three with a double and a RBI. The Bruins finished with eight runs, four hits and two errors.

Sylvan Hills faced Lakeside yesterday after Leader deadlines, and will play Little Rock Red today at 5 p.m.

SPORTS >> Falcons kick it at meet of all-stars

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Michael Buzzitta and Rachel Hamilton represented North Pulaski at the all-star soccer game.

FAYETTEVILLE — Two North Pulaski Falcons made good showings for the East squad at the all-star soccer game Tuesday evening at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Michael Buzzitta and Rachel Hamilton were on hand for the festivities, and helped the East squad play a solid ball-control style.

Unfortunately for the boys, the quick-strike ability for the West squad got the left half of the state a 3-2 win in this year’s soccer match.

Hamilton was on the winning side in the girls’ match, as two goals in the last three minutes lifted the East to a 2-1 win.
The NPHS duo played well, even if things became uncomfortable at times.

Buzzitta was forced to play an unfamiliar position. He played most of the season as a mid-fielder or defender, but was asked to play forward for the East squad since he was one of only two players on the team that had any experience at the position.

“There weren’t any forwards on the team, and the coaches liked the way I played there, so that’s where they put me,” Buzzitta said. “I still had a good time. I went up there and gave it my all.”

The East boys dominated time of possession and shots on goal, but couldn’t score.

The West team was faster, and got loose for a breakaway goal to take a 1-0 lead into halftime. That lead stretched to 3-0 before the East scored two goals in the last few minutes to make it interesting at the end.

All Star players report to the UofA on Sunday, so the soccer teams had little time to prepare.

Buzzitta still felt he had a productive few days in Fayetteville.

“I learned a lot,” Buzzitta said. “We only got to practice three times, but the coaches were really good. It was fun playing with all the upper-level players in the state. It was a learning experience and I had a lot of fun.”

Hamilton turned in a solid performance, but would have liked a little more time on the hill.

“It went by so fast,” Hamilton said. “I wish we had at least one more day so I could get used to it. The level of play was very high. They had a lot more skills than most of the players in a regular high school game. Everybody was so talented.”

Hamilton felt a bit out of place. Her senior year was just her second to play soccer, while the other players on both teams have been playing competitively since grade school.

“It was actually a little intimidating,” Hamilton admitted. “They all knew each other and I didn’t know anyone, and they had all played for so long. It’s still an honor to be selected to play with those girls since I’ve only played for two years. It felt really good that I got to go.”

SPORTS >> Chevy boys dominate again over Little Rock

Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: Gwatney Chevrolet struck quickly during its opening game against Little Rock Red at the Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan on Thursday.

SHERIDAN — Gwatney repeated its opening-round success again this year in the Peoples Bank Tall Timber Wood Bat Classic in Sheridan. Last year, the Chevy boys routed Little Rock Red 12-0 in three-innings. This year’s game was even uglier, as Jacksonville handed the post-one AA team a devastating 17-0 loss in two-and-a-half innings.

Gwatney only batted for two innings, but managed to go through its entire lineup twice in the bottom of the first inning. Jacksonville racked up 12 runs off of eight hits and two Little Rock errors in the opening frame, adding five more runs in the bottom of the second to secure the runaway win.

Jacksonville sent Red four-up and three-down to start out the contest, with an error at first base allowing the only runner on. Matt De Salvo tried to advance runner Bradley Silfies with a bunt, but starting Gwatney pitcher Casey Winstead made an excellent play on the ball, scooping it up to make the quick throw to first baseman Kyle West for the third out.

Leadoff Jacksonville batter Josh Mansfield hit into a 6-3 for the first out in the bottom of the second inning. It would be the last Jacksonville out for the next 15 batters.

A single from Neil Hatcher and an E6 for Trey Smith put runners at first and second. A shot to right field from West put Hatcher across the plate for the first run.

Another error scored Smith, and a double for DH Tim Payne brought in West and Zach James for a 4-0 Gwatney lead.

Randy Peeples came away with the biggest hit of the game, a triple to deep right field that drove in Payne. Peeples scored one batter later when Brian Thurman singled to right, making the score 6-0 Jacksonville.

A single from Tyler Uptergrove and a walk for Mansfield loaded the bases and started Gwatney’s second round through the batting lineup. Hatcher followed that with a double that scored two runs for an 8-0 lead.

A change in pitchers for Little Rock did nothing to slow the Chevy boys down. Michael Wenneker relieved Luke Osborn, but Wenneker gave up three walks and two hits during his stint at the mound. A walk for West automatically scored run number nine, and Red made its second pitcher change of the inning, putting starting first baseman Hayden Blair on the mound.
Blair started off by walking Payne to load the bases once again, then walking Peeples to score West. That run gave Jacksonville a commanding 12-0 lead. Blair finally ended the bleeding for Red with a strikeout on Thurman and a pop-up from Uptergrove.

Little Rock got two runners on base in the top of the second, but both were tagged out while trying to steal second. The other out came on a strikeout on Phillip Lay, sending Gwatney back to the plate.

The first three batters were starters; the next four were subs for Jacksonville in the bottom of the second. By the time Mansfield popped out at shortstop to end the inning, Gwatney had scored five more runs off of two hits and one error, and Red made its third pitcher change of the game.

Little Rock needed a miracle in the top of the third to allow the game to continue, a miracle that didn’t come to pass. Red put two runners on with two outs, but catcher Uptergrove snagged a pop-up from Scott Charlene, ending the game under the tourney’s 12-after-three run-rule.

Hatcher was 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs. Thurman was 2 for 3 with and RBI, and Upter-grove was 2 for 3 three with a double and two RBIs.

Winstead got the win, allowing no hits or walks. Little Rock’s only hit of the game came in the top of the third off of relief pitcher Shane Graham.

Jacksonville faced off against Benton in the second round on Friday, and will play Conway in the third round tonight at 7:30 p.m.

SPORTS >> East takes 71-55 victory over West

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT: Kim Sitzmann of Cabot and Meaghan Kellybrew of Lonoke both played great basketball at this week’s University of Arkansas All-Star Classic.

FAYETTEVILLE — Kim Sitzmann of Cabot and Meaghan Kelleybrew of Lonoke turned in excellent performances for the East girls All-Star team Thursday night. The duo helped lead the East squad to a 71-55 victory and break a three-year streak of West wins in the summertime All-Star Classic.

Sitzmann was named the East Outstanding Player for her 17 points as the East ladies ended a three-year drought and beat the West 71-55.

Kelleybrew got on the board with 4:40 left in the period. She soared high for an offensive rebound, and was fouled on the putback attempt. She hit both shots for her first two points of the game.

She got a block, a steal and two more rebounds before the period was over. She also hit a lay-in at the buzzer that was waived off by the official, who ruled that the shot had not been released before the buzzer.

Sitzmann was the first East player to score in the third period when she hit a shot from the middle of the lane with 6:44 on the clock.

She got a steal and turned it into a layup with 2:30 left that tied the game at 29 apiece.

With the score still tied, she hit one of two free throws with 1:53 remaining before intermission that gave the East squad the lead the rest of the way.

She added another steal and layup combo, and found teammate Amanda Morris under the basket for a layup at the buzzer that gave the East squad a 38-33 advantage.

Sitzmann didn’t start the fourth period, likely due to picking up three fouls in the third, and got on the board again with 1:42 on the clock.

That shot gave the East a commanding 55-36 lead.

After the West scored, Sitzmann made it a 19-point lead again with a bucket just four seconds before the end of the frame.
The West started the final period with a short run that cut the East lead to 12, but Kelleybrew put an end to the West charge by knocking down a three pointer with 6:53 left in the game.

Sitzmann got loose downcourt after a Kelleybrew steal, and hit a wide open layup, and the UALR- bound forward added another rebound and bucket on a putback with 5:36 left in the game.

Sitzmann led the team in scoring with 13 points, and in steals with three.

She also added two rebounds and two assists to her totals.

Kelleybrew, who is heading to UCA later this summer to begin her freshmen season, finished with seven points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Lonoke graduate said after the game, that she was not surprised that this group ended the recent West dominance in the girls All-Star game.

“This team bonded well and came together on day one,” Kelleybrew said.

“We got along really well, and we competed hard every day. Every day a different team would win, and we knew we could win this game.”

As for the experience of All-Star Week, Kelleybrew was ecstatic.

“It’s a great feeling. I never dreamed I’d be here, and I had a great time.”

Sitzmann also had a wonderful experience.

“We worked a lot and practices were extremely competitive, but I had a blast through all of it,” Sitzmann said.

“This team’s chemistry was so great. I’ve never been on a team with this kind of chemistry. Coming from Cabot, where we’ve had some pretty good teams, so that’s really saying something.”

TOP STORY >> Federal agents raid Arthur’s Beauty College

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education receives assistance from Jacksonville police during search for documents.

Federal agents Thursday morning raided Arthur’s Beauty College in Jacksonville and shut the beauty school down for a while, although it had reopened for business on Friday.

The agents, who were assisted by Jacksonville police, won’t comment on the reasons the search warrant was executed at the school, which is located at 2600 John Harden Drive near the air base exit.

Three other campuses associated with Arthur’s Beauty College in Conway, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith were also raided.
The Jacksonville Police Department assisted the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Mary Mitchelson, who is affiliated with the federal agency, declined comment when asked about a possible investigation.
“We don’t confirm or deny anything,” Mitchelson told The Leader.

At about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, an Inspector General’s official at the scene also declined comment, but she said the beauty college was closed to the public.

Mitchelson did explain that her office investigates audits pertaining to funding for educational institutions that receive federal student loans. The public can view an audit when it is completed.

According to its Web site, the Inspector General’s Office conducts audits, investigations, and inspections of education programs and operations. School personnel are responsible for reporting fraud, waste or other abuse to the office. The type of information that an institution must refer pertains to applicants’ eligibility for Title IV, Higher Education Act program assistance or the amount of assistance.

Examples of these abuses include false claims of independent-student status, false claims of citizenship, the use of false identities, false statements about income and forgeries of signatures or certifications.

Jacksonville Police Chief Robert Baker confirmed that the raid involved a federal search warrant but the Jacksonville Police Depart-ment made no arrests in connection with the incident.

On Friday morning, it was business as usual for Arthur’s Beauty College in Jacksonville.

Chris Strawn of Plummerville, who owns the school along with her husband Eddie, did not return calls from The Leader.
The couple has owned the schools since 1999.

According to its Web site, Arthur’s Beauty College provides education and practical training needed to become a licensed professional in the fields of cosmetology, cosmetology instructor, esthetics and manicuring.

According to the Web site, Arthur’s Beau-ty College has financial aid programs available. Those who qualify could receive Pell grants and other federal aid such as Direct Loans and loan consolidation for existing loans.

Arthur’s Beauty College is licensed by the Arkansas Board of Cosmetology and accredited by National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences in Alexandria, Va.

The school is a member of Ark-ansas Beauty Schools Association, American Association of Cosmetology Schools, Arkansas Beauti-cians Association, Better Business Bureau, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and Conway Chamber of Commerce.

TOP STORY: Vandals strike cemeteries, school

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Vandals toppled gravestones at Bayou Meto Cemetery and damaged property at the nearby Moore's Jacksonville Funeral Home cemetery as well as more damage to Jacksonville High School.

Vandals this week attacked two Jacksonville cemeteries and Jacksonville High School. For the school, this was the second attack in less than two weeks.

At historic Bayou Meto Cemetery, about 200 gravestones were damaged by hooligans, who turned them over randomly throughout the cemetery, particularly in the northeastern section. Flowers and vases were strewn about.

The cemetery dates back to 1845, according to cemetery historian David Brannon.

“A woman comes out here every morning to visit her family’s markers, and she notified the police,” said Vestel Johnson of the Bayou Meto Cemetery board. The police report was filed Friday morning.

“Some of these tall markers weigh 700 pounds. It would take a strong person to knock them over,” Johnson said.

“I don’t know if we’ll have an emergency meeting of the cemetery board or not,” Johnson said. “If you put up a fence all the way around it, you have to have somebody to come open the gate.”

“These white markers, there’s no way to fix that. Nobody makes them anymore,” he added.

“We counted about 200 gravestones damaged that will probably cost about $100 each to repair,” said Brannon, who is also a board member. Upkeep is through donations and volunteer labor.

“We had an eight-plot tract there since my parents worked at the ordnance plant,” said Linda Tucker Ford of Jacksonville. “I’m just hurt more than anything that they would do that,” Ford said, adding it will probably take $2,000 to restore the damaged headstones.

An effort is underway to have the part of the cemetery with graves older than 100 years placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The oldest tombstone in the cemetery is dated 1864, although Brannon maintains that there are older graves there, probably from about 1851-1852 near the area by the entrance where the old oak once stood.

At 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, Larry Ward, cemetery manager for Moore’s Funeral Home in Jacksonville, reported an act of vandalism at the mausoleum near the funeral home’s parking lot. A vandal had used a pole as a prying device and broke a piece off the corner section of a large granite block. Large sandstone vases were also damaged during the incident. Damages there were estimated at $4,000.

Vandals struck for the second time in two weeks at Jacksonville High School causing several thousand dollars in damages to school vehicles.

“We seek prosecution and restitution,” said Gerald Tatum, who works security for Pulaski County Special School District.
Near 10 a.m. Tuesday, Shawn Poindexter, a shop teacher at JHS, reported a fence to the vehicle storage yard had been cut. The storage yard is located behind the high school near the shop building.

Vandals smashed all the windows on a 1973 Chevrolet Nova and a Pontiac 6000SE. A 1996 Plymouth Voyager had its windshield broken. Estimated damages to the vehicles were set at $2,300. The fence had about $200 in damage.

School is out, but Tatum said he is not surprised by the acts of vandalism. He said this type of vandalism has previously happened to schools within the district during the summer break.

“You never know in the summertime what kids might be into,” Tatum said.

He declined comment about any possible suspects. “The Jacksonville Police Department is investigating it and as of right now, I can’t say,” Tatum said.

He said surveillance cameras were in use.

On June 17, Jacksonville High School coach Rick Russell reported the chain securing the gate at the football stadium had been cut and a vehicle had driven around on the football field.

Outside the front entrance of the school building, “Go Panthers” had been painted onto the sidewalk and more graffiti was scribbled on exterior walls of an athletic building outside the high school’s football stadium.

Asked if the two incidents could be related, Capt. Charley Jenkins, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, said, “It’s hard to say…sometimes if they (the incidents) come close together, it kind of leads you to believe the same people are involved.”

TOP STORY >> Cabot growth second in state

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Latest census figures show the city has gained more than 1,400 people between 2004 and 2005, ahead of all cities in central Arkansas, but Jacksonville, which once grew faster than any city in Arkansas, is trying to move forward once again after several years of limited growth.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates Wednesday, and Cabot still holds the position of second-fastest growing city in the state among cities with populations above 10,000.

The estimated population of Cabot, which has built about 400 new homes every year for several years, is 21,039 for 2005, up from 19,590 in 2004. The estimates are arrived at by adding data such as building permits to the numbers for the 2000 census.

In the lead is Bentonville, with an estimated population of 29,538, up from 27,799. Holding positions 3-10 in order are Maumelle, Bryant, Springdale, Siloam Springs, Rogers, Conway, Fayetteville and Benton.

Jacksonville, Cabot’s neighbor to the south, was a little smaller in 2005 than it was in 2004, if the numbers are to be believed. The population fell from 30,513 to 30,367.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim says the numbers are just estimates. His city has built about 200 houses each year for two years, so the numbers could be higher. The city is recovering, he said, from a decline caused by bad publicity surrounding the Vertac chemical plant, which was cleaned up eight years ago.

Now the growth is steady, but not so fast that it strains the city’s coffers. “Good steady growth is to be desired,” Swaim said. “We were the fastest growing city in the mid ‘80s and it took a long time for our infrastructure to catch up. We’re in great shape now.”

Sherwood is a little larger with an estimated population of 23,149, up from 22,528. Cabot’s neighbors to the north along U.S. Highway 67-167, Austin and Ward, also in Lonoke County, and Beebe in White County are also growing.

The Census Bureau estimates the population of Austin has increased from 644 to 687, Ward from 3,022 to 3,271 and Beebe from 5,473 to 5,623.

Lonoke city gained 50 new residents between 2004 and 2005. Its population is estimated at 4,552.

Keeping up with the growth is a problem for Cabot which has raised water rates to finance a long-term water supply and extended a sales tax to pay for a new sewer plant. Now the council is considering an impact fee on new homes to help pay for some of the infrastructure.

Also in the works is a special census that will cost about $220,000 but could bring in an additional $375,000 a year in state tax revenue.

The actual population from the 2000 census was 15,261.

If the new estimates are correct, Cabot’s population has increased 5,778 in less than six years and the state pays $64.92 for each person.

TOP STORY >> Group eyes sales tax to pay for jail

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Pulaski County Public Safety Task Force postpones recommendation to quorum court until after Monday’s meeting.

Instead of finalizing proposals for financing and operating the county’s overcrowded detention center, the Pulaski County Public Safety Task Force decided Thursday night to schedule a split-group meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday to narrow its focus on how to finance the jail, if and when to hold a special election and how much to expand the center’s bed count.

The pressing issue for the task force to determine at the Monday meeting is whether to propose a one-quarter or one-eighth of a cent sales-tax increase to the quorum court. If a tax is recommended, the quorum court will decide whether or not to call for a special election in August or September or place it on the general election ballot in November. The meeting will be held in the Pulaski County Administration Building’s Quorum Court Room, 201 S. Broadway in Little Rock.

County Judge Buddy Villines emphasized that the detention center is in dire need of emergency funding. “If we go through Septem-ber without any relief, we’ll be forced to cut another 80 beds from the 880 we’re working with now,” he said.

Villines also stressed the importance of holding a special election as soon as possible in order to avoid muddling the issue with the general elections in November.

“The later we push it, the closer we come to the general election. We don’t want voters confused.

“This is an entirely separate issue from the general election. Voters deserve a special election. We need time to get information to them,” the judge said.

Villines acknowledged that the original capacity when the detention center opened in 1994 wasn’t enough to sustain projected inmate increases. “By the time we opened 800, we needed 1,300 to 1,400 beds,” he said. “We’ve been 10 years on the slide and have hit the wall.”

At previous meetings, the task force discussed consolidating patrol divisions of the sheriff’s office with Little Rock and North Little Rock police departments.

Shirley Simpson, president of County Jail Reform Now, previously defined what the group believes to be the most important problems facing task force members regarding the county lockup.

In a letter dated April 15 to Villines, Simpson said that the jail was built without consideration for “fixed or dedicated funding,” and existing communication problems between city and county officials concerning the jail also have hindered progress. Not making public safety a priority, assigning blame, overlooking planned strategies, as well as financial management and jail maintenance are among the group’s major concerns.

Among the group’s recommendations are to reopen the warehouse work center, utilize private firms to house medium- and low-risk in-mates, generate revenue by assessments such as those added to county services, create a plea-bargain arrangement to “move prisoners through the system” faster and lobby the state to increase county funding for housing inmates until they are transferred to prison.

Regarding the strong possibility of a tax proposal, Simpson said that other means should be explored before raising taxes, considering previous rejection by voters in a November 1997 special election, and the 2002 general election. Should a tax increase prevail, revenue should not be placed within general operating funds and earmarked strictly as a jail fund, a stipulation agreed upon by the 22 present among the 24-member panel. Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim and Wrightsville Mayor Lorraine Smith were absent.

“If taxpayers are to trust the quorum court with an additional tax, it must be handled properly and (used) for what was promised them when they voted for it,” Simpson said.

“The increase should not be a replacement of current funds, rather, an enhancement of the jail account for the sole purpose of the construction, repair, maintenance and operation of the Pulaski County Regional Jail system.”

Simpson also said that an independent audit of jail funds should be conducted annually “to enhance and rebuild the public trust that has so greatly diminished over the past two years.”

Tom Brooks, president and CEO of Cinergi Contractors in Sherwood, said he wants law enforcement experts to decide whether or not to reopen the workforce center.

“Let the elected law enforcement officials micromanage their offices,” Brooks said.

Brooks agreed, however, with Simpson on the safekeeping of any tax revenue. “That tax has to be earmarked and not touched,” he said. “It won’t pass without a guarantee that it’ll be used specifically the way we need it to be.”

Task force member Rev. Benny Johnson, founder and president of Stop the Violence, surmised the situation bluntly. “We don’t have a lot of time,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to keep these habitual offenders off the streets.”

Jim Lynch, president of Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods, said, “The overall question is, how much do we want to spend?” Then he explained four phases of the task force’s proposal.

“Restoring the work release center, which was shut down in October 2005, will help,” he said. “With an additional $2.5 million, we could open it tomorrow with 250 beds. We could build 192 new barracks with the cost to build and operate it, and repairing the old jail, a cellblock in disrepair.

“With $1.5 or $1.6 million, we could get 160 hardcore cellblocks tomorrow and would cost $2.5 million annually to operate. These three lines don’t give me heartburn at all. The last line gives me heartburn. We’re proposing spending $17 million to build a new cellblock, at $6 million a year to run. The current jail costs $18.9 million, and with work release beds, another $1 million. We’ve got an operating budget of $19 million. A proposal to increase the operating budget to $32.2 million seems like the most expensive alternative to solve a very serious problem. Taxpayers have a bottom to their wallets, too.”

Task force member and Twin City Bank president Bob Birch said that informing the public is crucial and that he or the task force wasn’t prepared to make quorum court recommendations based on the amount of new information presented at the meeting.

He also didn’t want to rush into a special election before all the facts and figures could be thoroughly examined by fellow members.

“Much of the public has no clue as to the severity of this problem,” he said. “I’m opposed to an August or September election. There’s a great deal of ignorance on this. We’ve spent a lot of time asking people what they know about this.”

TOP STORY > Absent teachers costing money

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Cabot School Board grapples with money matters, including payout for absent teachers and a loan for $650,000 in improvements to the football stadium.

Last year, on any given school day, an average of 50 teachers were absent from the Cabot School District, costing the district nearly $500,000 and a total of 9,500 missed days of instruction.

“That’s ridiculous. I just don’t understand why we have such a high rate of teacher absenteeism,” said Brooks Nash, board member.

Cabot School Board members Thursday discussed the possibility of giving $100 per semester to teachers with good at-tendance.

Similar policies implemented at other districts have mixed results, according to Superintendent Frank Holman. District administrators are now asking for more details when teachers fill out their absence paperwork.

“We’re paying out a lot of money for absenteeism,” Holman said, adding the district is working to help teachers get their required 60 hours of professional development outside of the school year.

In other business, the board plans to take out a low or no-interest five year loan to finance $650,000 for artificial turf at the high school football field. A 501(C) 3 non-profit foundation is being formed to raise money to pay the loan back.

Maintenance of the natural grass surface that currently exists costs about $10,000 a year, meaning the new surface, which lasts 10 to 15 years, may never pay for itself.

Several board members ex-pressed concern at taking out such a large loan.

“The public might see it as a crapshoot,” said board member Wendel Msall.

The board expects to award a contract for the work by July 8 in order to get the field finished by Sept. 1 for football season.
The board unanimously ap-proved paying $35,000 for the city to build a sidewalk from Kerr Station Road to Campground Road for students who walk to and from classes at Cabot Junior High South.

EDITORIAL >> Aiming at Pryor

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor finds himself in the crosshairs in the epochal battle over the estate tax and facing perhaps the biggest test of his young career. Depending upon his vote, in two years he can have some of the most determined money and power in the country arrayed against him.

Pryor jumped into the middle of the partisan standoff over filibustering judicial nominees last year and came out of it all right, a hero some would say.

Let us hope that he can navigate these waters with equal aplomb and hold on to his principles, too. All of us — the state and the country — have an even larger stake than he in what he does.

Two weeks ago, Pryor refused to vote to end debate on the estate tax, which blocked a final vote on repeal.

With a solid majority in both houses and the support of a few Democrats who had been targeted by the billionaire lobbies — notably Blanche Lincoln — the Republicans had the votes to pass the bill and end the 90-year-old tax on rich estates in 2010.

Pryor thought there might be some people who were inconvenienced by the estate tax, but he worried about adding a trillion dollars to the national debt in the next decade, which would be the principal effect of ending the tax on giant inheritances.

This week, Republicans changed their strategy. Needing three votes for cloture on debate in the Senate, they decided not to completely repeal the tax but to almost repeal it. Previously, they had insisted that not one heir of a huge estate — not Paris Hilton, not the richest Walton, Mars, Buffett or Gates — should ever have to owe a penny of tax on inheritances, even on the untaxed profits of stocks and other capital assets.

The House of Represen-tatives rushed through a bill Thursday that would raise the amount of estates exempt from taxation from the current $2 million ($4 million for a couple) to $5 million for an individual and $10 million for couples. Some increase in the exemption is justifiable. The bill also slashes the tax rate for big estates.

The effect would be that the national debt between 2011 and 2021 would not grow $1 trillion but only $760 billion, counting the expanded accumulated interest on the debt. That is supposed to make us feel better?

But here is where they get Pryor and perhaps also Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Oregon’s two Democratic senators, all of whom voted for fiscal sanity two weeks ago. The House included in the estate tax bill a provision slashing the corporate tax rate on profits from the sale of timber from 35 percent to about 14 percent.

The timber industry wants the tax break, and Pryor and the other timber-state senators had sponsored legislation to do that. That is smart politics in a state where Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific, International Paper Co., Anthony Products and Deltic Timber are political and economic heavy hitters. Of course, the timber tax break would add still another $900 million to the deficits over the first three years.

So what does Pryor do when the Senate brings up the bill, sometime before the Fourth of July, and the cloture motion is made?

Take the hosannas from the timber giants and the rich folks’ lobby that has been targeting him and Sen. Lincoln and hand our children and us a $760 billion debt?

Or vote again for fiscal sanity? That course will bring him some ugly consequences in the 2008 election when they are passing out campaign checks but very little praise because only a few people will understand what he did and the courage that it took to do it.

EDITORIAL >> Oustanding appointment

Dare we compliment President Bush on an appointment? Last week he nominated former Sen. David Pryor to the board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit corporation that parcels some $400 million a year of federal funds among public broadcasting entities.

It is not the Supreme Court, the cabinet or even one of the scores of deputy secretaries who administer programs that serve us well or ill. But it is a spot where David Pryor’s special blend of skills and compassion are sorely needed. The appointment comes at a good time for public broadcasting, which has been under attack by the right wing and at times by the president’s own people.

We do not know what motivated the president. He was required by law to appoint a Democrat to the vacancy, and perhaps Mr. Bush viewed the former Arkansas senator as the least confrontational one he could find. In the Senate, Pryor had more friends among Republicans than did the Republican leader. Maybe the president thought nominating the father would co-opt the son, Sen. Mark Pryor, on key votes, like repealing the estate tax. Who knows? Whatever the reason, thank you, Mr. President.

Perhaps it represents a true change of heart. Mr. Bush’s biggest appointment to the board was Kenneth Tomlinson, who resigned as chairman nine months ago after the agency’s inspector general criticized his behind-the-scenes maneuvering to shape broadcast programs to fit his own biases and what he presumed were the administration’s. Without his board’s knowledge, Tomlinson hired a little-known Indiana consultant to investigate the political leanings of people who appeared on public radio and television shows and used federal funds to hire lobbyists to shape the corporation’s board. He held a particular enmity for Bill Moyers, the brainy, phlegmatic host of many thoughtful shows for a quarter-century. (Moyers is back this summer on “faith and reason.” Check local listings.) And imagine this: Tomlinson hired the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee to be the corporation’s nonpartisan chief executive.

David Pryor is a modest and agreeable gentleman who looks for compromise whenever there is contention, but we know David Pryor. He will not countenance such nonsense.

“I will be trying to protect it against the many slings and arrows,” Pryor said in appropriate Shakespearean form. Public broadcasting is an oasis in the wasteland of broadcasting, and Pryor said he intended to make it even better. Until we hear differently, let us assume that is exactly why Mr. Bush nominated him.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> A relative looks back on funeral

We turn today’s column over to Jaynie McClain of Lonoke, whose cousin, Army Specialist Bobby West of Beebe, was killed on May 30 in Baghdad.

Six and a half years ago, in January 2000, you wrote a column in tribute to your precious parents and the rest of the Greatest Generation of World War II. I wrote you the same week telling you how much your column meant to me and that I was also impressed by the Greatest Generation.

I wrote about my mom, who worked in the Jacksonville Ordnance Plant, and my dad, who landed on Normandy a few days after the D-Day invasion. I also wrote about a maternal uncle who had served in Patton’s tank battalion as a tank commander who had earned several medals, including the Bronze Star in France, and commendations for his brave service. He was a quiet kind of man who had passed away a few years prior to your column. You may recall my letter, as you printed it in your column the following week almost in its entirety.

Well, after reading your column in the Saturday, June 10 edition and the report on the funeral in Beebe of Bobby West, I wanted to again write to you. You see, Spec. Bobby Russell West was my cousin, and the grandson of the uncle that I spoke of. My uncle, Troy “Pete” West, served his country honorably and returned home to his family to live to the age of 77. Unfortunately, Bobby returned home to his family in a flag-draped casket.

Just as their grandfather, and their father who served his country in the National Guard during the 70s, Bobby and his older brother Patrick also decided to serve their country. They first joined the National Guard and later switched to the regular army after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 cemented in their minds that they wanted to defend the greatest nation in the world.

Bobby and Patrick were both on their second tours of duty in Iraq when, while Bobby was out on foot patrol on Tuesday, May 30, an IED cut short his life and ended his service to our country. Patrick was only a few miles away from his brother that day in Baghdad serving in the 101st Airborne, where he will return to in a few days.

On Wednesday, June 7, our family saw the best and the worst of this nation.

We arrived in Beebe and passed the gathered motorcycles of the Patriot Guard Riders who were assembled at the traffic light on the old highway. On the other side of the overpass as we turned in at the church I saw the little huddle of protestors noting that there were only five or six from my glance as we drove by. I was thankful to God that there were so few of them.

I was outside of the church as the rumble of the Patriot Guard Riders started coming down Highway 64 and began to come up the gravel road at the north of the church. I called to my husband and another cousin and we stood on a little rise as the State Police led the first mourners’ cars and the motorcycles into the lot. Old Glory fluttered from almost every motorcycle in some form or fashion and from many of the cars.

I began taking photos of these proud Americans (mostly veterans) riding motorcycles in a long line that never seemed to end as one after another, they continued to come down the highway. My husband joined me, and together we waved at the bike riding angels.

I would say, “Thank you” and touch my heart to let them know that we so appreciated them being there.

These men and women acknowledged us returning our waves, by saluting, by the removal of hats, and putting their hands over their hearts. My husband and I stood on that hill for the half-hour it took for all of the Patriot Guards to enter the parking area. My vision was blurred by the tears that were running down my cheeks. I have never, ever felt prouder to be an American. My husband is a veteran of Vietnam and to see these proud Americans roaring past us choked him up as well.
Bikes were parked three-wide in the church driveways and into the parking lot.

According the Pete Waddell, the commander of the Patriot Guards, their numbers were down as he had short notice and there was another funeral for a veteran in Little Rock at the same time. Otherwise, according to him, he could have had double the riders at Bobby’s funeral.

The parents of Bobby and other family members came out and greeted a few of the Patriot Guard Riders thanking them for their coming. More than one told us that it was an honor for them to come and thank Bobby for his service. As I said, most of these men are veterans of Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq or Afghanistan. More than once, I heard a catch in the voice of one of these men as they told us that they were honored to be here.

As the guardians of liberty, they stood out in front of the church in the heat from 1 o’clock until the service ended at about 3 o’clock.

As we left the church driving down the gravel road, two young soldiers stood at their car in the parking lot at attention, holding a salute until the hearse and family car had passed them. Then we turned south onto the highway to a line of police officers saluting. As we made our slow progress out to the cemetery, down Dewitt Henry Drive, my husband and I were both overcome at the numbers of people coming out of businesses, gathering at the side of the road holding flags. Many held their hands over their hearts as they held the flags with the other hand.

Several of the people we passed stood there in a military salute until we passed. Even though they were in civilian clothing, you just knew that they had served their country as well.

At the cemetery, as we gathered under the canopy for the final part of the service, I looked out over the hedgerow as it suddenly began to bristle with the tips of flag poles. The tips kept coming up and then you could see the blue ensign and white stars of the flags as the Patriot Guard Riders once again silently joined us.

There were more and more flags coming up the hill from the road. The warm breeze made them flutter out as the flag bearers soon had fanned out from one end of the hedgerow to the other. They quietly formed their wall of protection for us as Bobby was laid to rest.

Under the canopy, after the presentation of the folded flags and medals to Bobby’s parents, people came up to them to express their condolences. Among the group that came through were several Army personnel.

Several of the servicemen that came through there who had been on the flag detail were also crying. You may think these guys are super-tough, but when you see a service person in uniform crying, that’s when you realize that these guys are human, too.

A big “thank you” goes to the city of Beebe, which had plenty of law enforcement available to keep from there being any sort of problem.

A special “thank you” goes to all the members of the Patriot Guard Riders, some of whom came from other states, taking time off from work to honor our cousin.

I would like to extend another large “thank you” to the citizens of Beebe who came out to the road as we passed and paid their respects. To see the groups patiently waiting out in the Arkansas heat to show their support for us and for the cause Bobby died for was so touching.

My husband is not a weeper (like me), but he was crying too.

Next: Shame on the protesters.

OBITUARIES >> 06-24-06

Ruth Musser

Ruth German Musser, 73, formerly of Lonoke, died June 22.

Survivors are her children, Yvonne Baber of Oklahoma and son, Alven Musser of Indiana; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild and two brothers, Richard German of Tennessee and John German of Arizona. Graveside services are 10 a.m. today, in Lonoke Cemetery.

Arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.

Mildred Price

Mildred Louise “Lou” Price, 88, of Beebe was born March 28, 1918, to Dewey and Mattie Magness McAfee. She passed away June 22 at her son’s home in Oliver Springs, Tenn., after a long illness. She was a member of First United Methodist Church in Beebe.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Haskell Price; an infant son, H.L. Price; her parents; brothers, Harlon, William, Dewey, Arvard and Dannell McAfee; sister, Helen Strayhorn; and daughters-in-law, Betty and Helen Price.

She is survived by three sons, Bennie Price of Beebe; Leroy “Cotton” Price of Ward and Jerry Price and wife, Betty, of Oliver Springs, Tenn., with whom she resided; grandchildren, Lynn and Lynn Heffner, Lisa and Larry Cook, all of Cabot; Dianna and Michael Petray of Ward, Angie and Jimmy Russell of Sherwood, Dennis and Tammy Price of Fairview, Okla., Todd and Amanda Price of McRae, and Erika and Sean Rainey of Beebe; great-grandchildren, Lonnie and Leslie Heffner, Natalie Cook, all of Cabot, Carol and Lee Petray of Ward, Holly Price of Sherwood, Casi and Dillon Price of Fairview, Okla., Madison Price of McRae and Jasmine Rainey of Beebe; great-great grandchildren, Shai-Anne and Trenton Glover of Sherwood; sisters Mary Catherine Stark and husband Clifford “Red” Stark of Searcy, Imogene Glass of Columbus, Kan., and Frances Furns of Beebe; sister-in-law Marketta McAfee of Kansas City, Kan.; many nieces, nephews and cousins and a world of friends.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Weir Cemetery.

Lynn Heffner, Larry Cook, Dennis Price, Michael Petray, Jimmy Russell, David and Dr. Dewey McAfee will serve as pallbearers.

Honorary pallbearers will be Todd, Tim, Jeff and Mike McAfee, Tip and Tony Stark and Joe Stray-horn. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Gideon Memorial Bibles, Roane County Gideons, P.O. Box 476, Kingston, Tenn., 37763.

Terry Long

Terry Kenneth Long, 45, of Cabot, died June 21 in Little Rock. He was born Sept. 4, 1960, in Greenville, Miss., to the late Lester E. and Dollie Rigby Long. He was also preceded in death by his children; Ashley and Dillon Long. He was a self-employed carpenter and member of Landmark Baptist Church.

Survivors include his longtime companion, Teresa Fryar of Cabot, an aunt, Laura Fryery and cousin, Mike Fryere, both of Benoit, Miss.; brothers, Tommy Curtis Long and his wife, Nancy of Sacramento, Calif.,,and Timmy Carl Long of Ca-bot; niece, Rebecca Long of Dallas, and nephew, Samuel Long of Sacramento, Calif.

Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. today at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville with Bro. Tim Carter officiating. Inter-ment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Roberta BastIAn

Roberta M. Bastian, 84, passed away June 18 at her home in Cabot. She was born March 1, 1922, in Dunkirk, Ind., to the late John and Lydia Gray. She was also preceded in death by her daughter, Sandra K. Baldwin, and two brothers, John and Robert Gray.

Survivors include her husband, Benjamin Bastian, and son-in-law, David Baldwin, both of Cabot; sister-in-law, Marty Gray of Muncie, Ind.; grandchildren, Christopher Baldwin and wife, Michelle and Diana Jacob-sen, and great-grandchildren, Ash-ley and Jessie Baldwin and Chris-topher Jacobsen.

Private family services will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkan-sas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

OBITUARIES >> 06-21-06


Robert L. Lewis of Jacksonville died on June 15 at Fort Roots Veterans Hospital in North Little Rock. He was born on March 10, 1936, to the late Margueritte Lewis and the late George Corbin, Sr. of Gilbert, La. He was reared by his grandmother, the late L.V. Lewis and step-grandfather, June Jacobs.

His formal education began in Franklin Parish, La.

He atten-ded Gilbert High School and obtained his G.E.D. through Wisner-Gilbert High School. He continued his education through the military, attending the Univer-sity of Arkansas at Little Rock, Hendrix University, Conway and Arkansas State University, Beebe. He earned his bachelor of arts in industrial technology from South-ern Illinois University.

He united with New Macedonia Baptist Church in Gilbert, La., at the age of nine and was an active participant throughout his life. He was an usher at his home church in Gilbert and sang in the choir in Vietnam. He was licensed as a minister in the Southern Baptist Church in North Dakota under the pastorage of Rev. Doug Hughes. He was ordained in Rheinmain, Germany, under pastor Emerson. Lewis was chaplain/pastor of one of the base services in Rheinmain.

In Sherwood, Lewis served as an assistant with Rev. Ray Robinson at Clayton Chapel Baptist Church. He united with Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church of Jackson-ville where he organized and directed children’s church for four years. He organized and served as V.B.S. director for many years. He also served as assistant pastor with Rev.Thomas Johnson for many years. Upon Johnson’s retirement, he was placed as interim pastor for about two years, then again as assistant pastor for one year, later being diagnosed with lung cancer which he valiantly fought from January 2002 until he died.

He joined the Air Force in September 1955, serving until his honorable discharge in November 1975. During his service, he received many awards.

He also invented an instrument for packing parachutes that the military used.

On Aug. 28, 1958, Robert Lewis married Lendy Neal at her mother’s home in Wisner, La. This union was blessed with eight children: Gregory, Keith, Steven, Christine, Gerald, Pamela, Timothy and Brandi. They were also blessed with 22 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Other professional and civic service included Job Corps instructor, alternate school instructor and substitute teacher. He later worked for Sears, then entered the political race in 1982 for alderman of the city of Jacksonville. He was elected and became the first black elected to the city board of aldermen. He won every election up to and including the 2006 primary election.
He served in this office continuously for 24 years.

Cherishing his memory are his wife, Lendy, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; bro-thers George Corbin, Jr., Lannie, James, Dave, Willie, John Henry, Michael, Jimmy, Louis Ray, Marshall and L.C.; sisters Georgette, Roscellia and Carolyn, as well as other family members, colleagues and church family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Christine; stepfather, Starling Castor, Jr., his stepmother, Hattie T. Carbon; his grandmother, L.V. Lewis, and step-grandfather, June Jacobs; his brothers, Moses Jackson and Starling Capstan, III, and a sister, Nellie V. Capstan.

There will be a wake service with scripture and prayer from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Chapel in North Little Rock.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at McArthur Assembly of God Church in Jacksonville. Burial to follow at Rest Hills Memorial Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Youth Department, 1013 Ray Road, Jacksonville, Ark. 72076. Arrangements are by Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home.


Louise Castile Hazeslip, 71, of Cabot died June 16 at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock. She was born Aug. 20, 1934 in Little Rock to Melton and Lillie McCain Castile. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Felix Hazeslip; infant twins, Evon and Leon, an infant brother and sister and an adult brother, Jimmy Lee Castile. She is survived by three brothers, Albert Castile of Furlow, Joe Castile and Eddie Castile, both of Vidor, Texas; four sisters, Lois Sei-grist of Vidor, Texas, Susie Irvin of Jacksonville, Rose Seigrist of Cabot, and Mary Lewis of Vidor, Texas, as well as many friends and family.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today in the chapel of Cabot Funeral Home with burial to follow in Mt. Springs Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Cabot Funeral Home.


Joy Lynn Pearson Schneider, 67, of Ward, died June 16. She was born there on July 26, 1938 to Edward and Hilma Pearson. She was a homemaker and a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

She was a member of Ward United Methodist Church, where she served many years as treasurer and served as the pianist for over 40 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, John Schneider; her parents and a brother, Thomas Pearson. She is survived by three daughters, Pam Tims of Ward, Karen Schneider of North Little Rock and Suzanne Baldwin and husband, Richard of Beebe; six grandchildren, Casey Horn, Jodi Cook, Scott Johnson, Jonathan Schneider, Matt Baldwin and Eric Baldwin; three great-grandchildren, Gavin, Thomas and Haley; a sister, Gail Wilkins of Ward; several nieces and nephews, cousins, and many friends.

The family thanks Dr. Anthony Bucola and his staff, Arkansas Hospice and Peggy Johnson, RN, for the excellent care they gave Joy.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ward First United Methodist Church by Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.
Private burial will be in Mea-dowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Memorials may be made to Lonoke County Habitat For Humanity, P.O. Box 1504, Cabot, Ark. 72023.

Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.


Pat Johnson, 60, of Sherwood died June 18. She was born May 17, 1946 in Ward to Hubert and Mary L. (Lightfoot) Evans.

She was preceded in death by her parents and is survived by her husband, Boyd Johnson; a brother, Hubert and wife Charlotte Evans of Lonoke; three sisters, Mildred Berry of Sherwood, Kaye Donham and husband David of Benton and Faye Hubbard of Sherwood.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. today at Victory Mission-ary Baptist Church, 515 Sherwood Ave., Sherwood, with burial in Old Austin Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the American Lung Association, 211 Natural Resources Drive, Little Rock, Ark., 72205, 501-224-5864; or Victory Missionary Baptist Church, 515 Sherwood Ave., Sher-wood, Ark. 72120. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.


Rev. O’Neal Hill, 69, of Floyd went to be with the Lord June 19. He was the pastor of the Floyd Assembly of God Church, having served as pastor for 34 years. He was the sectional presbyter for many years and was active in all aspects of the church. He was preceded in death by his mother, Normal Hill, and is survived by his wife of 50 years, Doris; three daughters, Kathy and husband Tommy Turner and their children Zach and Josh of Beebe; Karen and husband Gary Piker, their daughter Lauren, their son Adryan and his wife Emily of Searcy; Sandy and husband Danny Cotton of Beebe, their son Beau and their daughter Nikki and husband Jason Warren; his father and stepmother, Ernest and Louise Hill of Beebe; one brother, Raymond and wife Suzanne Hill of Beebe; one sister, Eithel Tway of Metairie, La., and one stepbrother, Howard Watkins, Jr., of Florida. Funeral will be at 10 a.m. today at Floyd Assembly of God Church. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.


Glenn Dale Tullos, 72, passed away June 20. He was a retired Baptist minister. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lela Tullos; three daughters, Rhonda and husband Randall Marsh of Sherwood, Karen and husband Richard Gautney of Lonoke and Dorothy and husband Leroy Whitley of Alma; two granddaughters; two grandsons; one sister, Bernice Toland of North Little Rock; two brothers, J.W. Tullos of Louisiana and Bill Tullos of Alaska; 21 nieces and nephews, as well as a very special niece Glenda Allison and nephew John R. “Dickey” Burgess, both of Lonoke.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at New Testament Missionary Baptist Church with arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke. Burial will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens, Lonoke.

The family will receive friends, Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to Baptist Health Hospice, 11900 Colonel Glenn Road, Little Rock. Special thanks to Suzanne Peebles, R.N., Shirley Barnes and Connie Anderson.


Sherry Nell Kelly, 49, of Jacksonville passed away June 13. She was born Nov. 22, 1956, to Norman and Mary Taylor Oakley in Beebe.

She was preceded in death by her father, Norman Oakley and a brother, Marshall Oakley.

Survivors include one daughter Christy Miller and son-in-law Corey of Ft. Hood, Texas; mother Mary Oakley; her sister and best friend Marilyn Seigrist and husband Rickey; brother Donald Oakley all of Jacksonville; three grandchildren: Jordan, Austin and Cortlyn Miller of Fort Hood, Texas, along with many friends and co-workers.

Graveside services were held Monday at Blassingame Cemetery in El Paso. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.


William Foster Jr., 63, of Jacksonville, formerly of Council Bluffs, Iowa, passed away June 10 at Baptist Medical Center. He was the son of William and Margaret Foster of Texas.

He retired from Union Pacific Railroad after more than 33 years of service. Survivors include his wife, Del Foster of Jacksonville; his parents, William and Margaret of Texas; four daughters, Lori Murdoch and husband Gary of Nebraska, Jennifer Ann and husband Romon; Shannon Lynn and Michelle Renee, all of Jacksonville; a son, Mark of Iowa; two sisters, Margie Piper and husband Joe of Nebraska; Barb Aughe and husband Steve of Texas; seven grandchildren, Billy, Jared, Alexis, Shayla, Reece, Shianne and Tavion Jay and a bountiful supply of wonderful friends.

Visitation for family and friends was held June 11 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with cremation services following.


Bernice Elice Wyman, 92, of Cabot, died May 8. She was born Aug. 16, 1914, to the late Aloff and Ida Bostwich Swanson.Wyman is survived by her son Charles Wyman; daughter and son-in-law Carolyn and Merrill Howard, both of Cabot.
She is also survived by seven grandchildren.

Graveside services were held May 12 at Mt. Carmel Cemetery with Rev. Jerold Posey officiating.

Services under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >> Should rich farmers get subsidies?

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Watchdog groups say wealthy politicians like Cong. Berry and Sen. Lincoln and celebrities like Ted Turner, Scotty Pippen and Sam Donaldson shouldn’t get farm aid.

Farm subsidies that started in the 1930s, when the average farmer’s income was about half that of most other Americans, have grown over the years as family farms have failed and been taken over by corporations. About 10 percent of farmers now collect about 70 percent of the billions of dollars in agriculture subsidies that have been doled out in recent years.

The subsidies are tied to production, with no consideration to which farmers most need the help, so the bigger the production, the bigger the subsidy. That some rich and famous hobby farmers like former news anchor Sam Donaldson, media mogul Ted Turner and former NBA star Scotty Pippen also receive the subsidies rankles watchdog groups who call it government waste.

Those same groups have been eyeing First District Cong. Marion Berry, D-Gillett, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., whose family farms participate in the subsidy programs. Now Berry has been accused of manipulating the system and collecting more than $800,000 in subsidies for his family’s farming operation over a nine-year period while he was in Washington and unable to oversee it.

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, Berry’s Republican opponent for Congress, says Berry’s support of farm subsidies is self-serving.

But Stumbaugh also says that he doubts it will hurt Berry among the Democrats, who usually support him.
“People forget,” Stumbaugh said.

Berry is accused of signing over 25 percent of the stocks in his farm corporation to his son Mitchell Berry and 25 percent to Danny Sloate, the farm manager, to meet a federal requirement that 50 percent of the ownership of the farm corporation must be actively involved in the operation to be eligible for subsidies.

John Andrews, a 35-year-old farmer from Walnut Ridge, a Democratic area that has helped vote Berry into Congress, says he believes Berry’s support is as strong as ever despite the criticism.

Most people don’t understand the importance of the subsidies that keep American farms operating and provide a steady supply of food that is relatively inexpensive and wholesome, Andrews said.

“The American public pays about 10 percent of their annual income for food,” he said. “We have the cheapest, safest food supply in the world because of subsidies.”

That is why the farmers who do understand the importance of the subsidies will still support Berry in November, Andrews said.

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt him one bit with farmers who know the process,” Andrews said. “If the Arkansas farmer has a friend in Congress, it’s Marion Berry. He should not be penalized for following the rules that all the rest of us do.”

Andrews, his father and brother farm 3,000 acres of rice and soybeans on land they rent mostly from farmers who had to quit.

Increasing production by farming more acreage is one tactic that has worked to keep the farm going as prices for fuel and fertilizer have risen, he said.

Additionally, they are using better seed and chemicals and better management practices, he said.

But with all the improvements they have made, the farm wouldn’t make it without the subsidies that are even used as collateral for the bank loans they take out every year to plant the crops, Andrews said.

“If you take the subsidies out of the picture, the bank wouldn’t even finance me,” he said.

“Without subsidies, we’d go out of business, and we might go out even with them,” he said, explaining that when the last farm bill passed in 2002 setting the subsidies for the next five years, the cost of doing business was about half what it is today.

“We lost a bunch of farmers just last year,” he said.

Asked the source of that information, Andrews said all one had to do was look around at all the equipment being sold at auction.

“I’ll be honest with you, last year, I lost money,” he said.

Stumbaugh struck back on Monday, a day after the expose about Berry’s questionable transfer of farm corporation stocks to a farm employee that helped Berry meet the requirements for drawing subsidies even though he was not on the farm to oversee operations.

Stumbaugh sent out a press release lambasting his opponent and assuring First District voters that he will do a better job for them.

“In a day when some Arkansas farmers are suffering and not getting the help they need, it’s sad to see a congressman making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of the federal government,” he said. “No wonder he has supported and voted for farm subsidies the way he has. It is apparent that his true interest is not the farmers of the First District, but rather padding his pocket.

“While I will also vote for bills that will help and support farmers, I will also follow through and make sure they actually get the help. I will not cast a vote on issues that affect me personally if I am not able to help people of the first district as well. To me, doing otherwise seems unethical.”

Berry also responded to his critics.

“I have worked for and fought for the viability of farm programs and family farms my entire life,” he said in a press release Tuesday.

“I make no apologies for that effort. I intend to continue my effort to support agriculture and rural America with every fiber of my being and with the energy that God Almighty gives me. I am absolutely confident that I have acted appropriately in every possible way.

“The ongoing assault by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress on American agriculture is unprecedented and demands action by a new and responsible Democratic Congress,” Berry said.

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville-Sherwood fight delayed

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Pulaski County judge postpones Sherwood’s annexation of 2,000 acres until mid-July because of uncertainties about jurisdiction.

Four landowners who want their property east and north of Bayou Meto annexed into Sherwood city limits, against the wishes of Jacksonville, will have to wait about a month for an outcome.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, who makes the decision on county land annexed into a municipality, postponed any discussion on the annexation of 2,000 acres until after July 15. The landowners, Sherwood and Jacksonville have until then to file legal briefs citing county court jurisdictional authority.

Villines made his ruling to delay a decision during Tuesday’s hearing at the Pulaski County Administration Building in downtown Little Rock.

“As I read the law, county court doesn’t have any means to address this issue,” Villines said. “The law is very open as to what this court can do.”

Four major landowners had filed petitions in Pulaski County Court to annex property into Sherwood north and east of Bayou Meto, a water system agreed upon as a “natural boundary” by Jacksonville and Sherwood.

A lawyer representing the petitioners, including Byron McKimmey and Greg Heslep, spoke first and was followed by annexation opponents and members of Villines’ legal panel, who reviewed the court’s responsibilities regarding such issues.
Villines cited the county court’s limited authority in municipal territorial litigation and said circuit courts can consider the size of proposed annexations.

He did, however, list several concerns for both sides to consider before submitting legal briefs.

Villines said the property owners must be sure of their decision to annex into another city, and reminded petitioners and opponents of relied-upon previous agreements regarding the boundary marked by the bayou.

A member of the legal panel, speaking for the Pulaski County Public Works Division, said the annexation would “create island” within Sherwood city limits, and would result in a different telephone number for emergency services. He also said that if the annexation were granted, Sherwood would have to accept responsibility for maintaining all roads within the new city territory.

Two subdivisions off Highway 107, near Hatcher Road are not included in the planned annexation and would therefore remain in the county, although surrounded by Sherwood, if the annexation is approved. Villines said the potential complications regarding emergency services to homeowners in the “island communities” were among his major concerns.
Attorney Steven Giles, who also represented Sherwood, represented the petitioners.

Sherwood City Engineer Michael Clayton previously submitted two property surveys conducted independently and two surveys conducted by city planning officials.

Jacksonville City Attorney Bob Bamburg submitted six maps as opposition exhibits and said only the north and east portions of Bayou Meto are opposed.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said, “We’re not totally opposed to this proposal, but if it is allowed, it will negatively affect efforts to provide water that follows Bayou Meto north and east.”

Bamburg entered into evidence Resolution 594, adopted by the Jacksonville city council and planning commission earlier this month officially opposing the annexation proposal, and submitted maps designed in cooperation with Little Rock Air Force Base officials.

“It is important this portion is not annexed,” he said. “Our planning commission and wastewater de-partments plan to sewer that area. We’ve complied with state statutes requiring plans to pass through an overlay district. Our political philosophy has been that Bayou Meto serves as a natural boundary and this proposed annexation creates problems.”

Bamburg said that a 2003 master plan submitted to Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation District was confirmed as a registered service area and that a service agreement was recognized by Central Arkansas Water designating Jacksonville’s domain north and east of Bayou Meto and Sherwood’s south and west. Jacksonville contends that a 600,000 gallon elevated water tank already in place will be able to service subdivision water lines currently in development.

“I’m not convinced I’ve got jurisdiction to turn this down,” Villines said to annexation opponents. “Give me a legal argument to do so, and attorney Giles a copy and a chance to respond.”

Both sides agreed to the July 15 deadline suggested by Bamburg.

“Maybe the decision to decide jurisdiction should land in circuit court,” Villines said.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Every death is like a loss in the family

Leader publisher

Several of our friends passed away last week. Two died on the same day, and another at week’s end.

Then came word Tuesday morning that U.S. forces recovered the remains of two American soldiers who’d been kidnapped in Iraq, their bodies booby-trapped and mutilated, their features destroyed beyond recognition after hours of unimaginable torture.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, who have been identified through DNA testing, were abducted Friday from a traffic-control checkpoint in Yusufiya, south of Baghdad. A U.S. soldier was killed at the scene.

When we hear about the death of an American in Iraq, it’s as if we know them and they’re members of our family. When we went to the funeral of Specialist Bobby West in Beebe a couple of weeks ago, along with hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders, we felt as if we were part of the West family as they mourned the passing of a wonderful young man at the age of 23.

Others whose obituaries we ran last week lived much longer, and yet they, too, left us too soon.

Dr. Donnie Griggs, the Jack-sonville dentist who touched the lives of hundreds of patients and children whose teams he coached, died suddenly Sunday before last.

His funeral last Wednesday at First Methodist Church in Jack-sonville was one of the biggest we’ve seen here: Mourners packed the sanctuary and the halls outside, where lines reached almost to the parking lot.

As one speaker said, Dr. Griggs was like a second father to the children he coached. Many of those children, along with their parents, were at the funeral service. It seems as if almost every summer when our kids came home from college, they went straight to Dr. Griggs’ office for dental work.

He always smiled and made them feel comfortable. That’s how Dr. Griggs was: Unassuming and always there to help.
It’s hard to believe that he’s gone at the age of 51 — much too soon.

The same day that he passed away, retired Lieut. Col. Harold A. Kohnert died at the age of 86 in Las Vegas. A veteran of the Second World War, he was a pilot and squadron commander who had a second career in Jacksonville after he left the Air Force.

Kohnert started investing in real estate more than 30 years ago with his partner William Marr, another Air Force colonel.
They worked quietly on their investments, but they were so down-to-earth that you’d never guess they were wealthy by the time they retired.

Lloyd Friedman calls Kohnert “a visionary.” He and Marr bought land along Hwy. 67/167, a corridor that includes the Wal-Mart Super-center, Chili’s, Waffle House and much more. They rented us a small space on John Harden Drive, where The Leader got its start.

Word of the death of Jackson-ville Alderman Robert Lewis reached us on Thursday. He, too, was a quiet, unassuming man. He knew all about loss and pain and suffering. He died after a long illness, but even before he became ill, tragedy struck the Lewis family when their daughter was senselessly murdered in the Sunnyside Addition.

We will miss these fine Americans who lived their lives in dignity, who inspired us to emulate their courage and devotion to their families, their communities and their country. May they rest in peace.

TOP STORY >> Cabot says no to road project

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Council rejects plan to pay for road that would ease downtown congestion.

The road under construction mostly in Lonoke County that would take some of the traffic heading to Wal-Mart out of downtown Cabot will not be completed this year. That’s because a proposed plan to get the city to pay for part of the construction fell through Monday night with the failure of a proposed city ordinance.

“I said all along that I wouldn’t be able to complete it this year unless the city helped. I don’t have any choice now but to wait until next year when the next ad-ministration takes over,” said Lonoke County Judge Charlie Trout-man, who has paid for the road construction so far out of his road and bridge fund.

The failed ordinance would have provided $200,000 to help with construction of the new road in exchange for the county replacing seven narrow bridges on First Street with round culverts. Although the council vote was 4-3 to pass the ordinance, five were needed. But even if it had passed, Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh had vowed to veto it and it would have taken six to override the veto.

The discussion about the ordinance was often heated and the reasons to vote it down were numerous.

The mayor and Alderman David Polantz said the culverts wouldn’t carry any more water than the bridges and a temporary fix like the culverts would do nothing to help with future growth.

The culverts would be wider than the bridges, but no guardrails or sidewalks were included in the $75,000 price the county judge gave or the $82,500 it was increased to after an engineering report said one bridge would require a larger culvert and one would require several.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that $82,500 is going to put it back maybe to where it is now. We’re not making any improvement,” Stumbaugh said.

Polantz pointed out that none of the numbers quoted over the three months the ordinance has been before the council have been based on any study showing how much the work would cost.

Troutman wanted to replace the bridges with culverts for $75,000 instead of the $750,000 the city would pay for box culverts, he said. But no one really knows how much any of the work would cost.

All the numbers were “made up,” Polantz said. “We’re sitting here wasting council time. We might as well be playing cards.”
City Engineer Gail Mainard agreed with Polantz. “Both sides are just wild guesses,” he said.

Alderman David Cook brought another issue to the table. He wanted to know when and how it was decided that the bridges needed to be replaced and who decided they were the top priority for the $2 million in bond money that was included for streets when voters approved last year the extension of a one-cent city sales tax.

The answer from the mayor was that the council decided. Cook said he wanted to put the bridges “on the back burner” and look at other work that needs to be done.

Polantz, Cook and Jerry Stephens voted against the ordinance that was sponsored by Alderman Odis Waymack and Tom Armstrong. In addition to the sponsors, James Glenn and Bob Duke voted for it.

The mayor said from the time the ordinance was introduced in March that no one knew if the culverts would even be adequate for the water that would flow through them. To answer that question, Waymack hired professional engineer Adam Whitlow to conduct a flow study, for which he has been billed $2,300.

Waymack said after the vote that he hopes it wasn’t for nothing. Stumbaugh is running for Con-gress and the next mayor might be more receptive, he said, adding, “It’s money I made for serving on the city council, so I might as well spend it for the good of the city.”

Troutman, who has attended most of the council meetings since the ordinance was introduced, said he was glad the quorum court meetings he presides over are more reserved.

“The last thing I ever intended to do was get in Cabot city politics,” he said.
“They’ve got problems I don’t need.

“I’ve personally never seen such animosity be-tween a mayor and council. It’s almost like a shouting match between them. I’m certainly glad I don’t have that.”

In other business, the council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor and city clerk to negotiate for the purchase or lease of the Community Bank building next to city hall.

The bank has offered to sell the building for $1.1 million or lease it for $3,500 a month with the option to buy it in five or 10 years. If the city leases and buys after five years the purchase price would be $890,000. After 10 years of leasing the purchase price would be $678,000.

Stumbaugh told the council that if the administrative offices are moved out of city hall to the bank building, the police department located in the basement would be able to expand.

TOP STORY >> Air base role moves toward combat duty

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Air Mobility Command to return to Little Rock Air Force Base within the next 18 months, general tells community council.

Little Rock Air Force Base will have a more active role in the global war on terrorism over the next 18 months, said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of the 314th Airlift Wing, during Tuesday’s Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council luncheon.

Self told council members that by December 2007, the Air Force will shift 55 to 60 of the C-130 cargo aircraft at the base — or about two-thirds of the planes there — from Air Education Training Command to Air Mobility Command for strategic airlift of units, equipment and high-priority supplies.

AETC will continue to provide C-130 training at LRAFB with 25 to 30 C-130 cargo aircraft. The third component of the base, the 189th Air National Guard, will have 10 C-130 cargo planes.

“The necessity of the war-fighting machine continues, and the need for C-130s in the area of responsibility in the global war on terrorism is critical, and Little Rock Air Force Base is the key to that success,” Self said.

The change comes as part of the base realignment and closure decision of 2005 to close 22 major installations and realign 33 others to save about $15 billion over the next 20 years.

LRAFB had expected as many as 50 to 60 additional C-130s and nearly 4,000 new personnel, but that number fell sharply to six new C-130s and about 600 personnel by the end of the BRAC process.

Self told the group because of growing security concerns, base officials are re-evaluating 700 distinguished visitor passes in circulation.

“Yesterday, there were three unidentified packages that came into our mailroom labeled to President Bush and his wife, Vice President Cheney and his wife, and President Gore,” Self said.

“There was a false-positive test for an explosive compound on one of those packages. I’m sharing that with you because we are a military installation and I have to protect the people on this base,” Self said.

In other business, the LRAFB Community Council voted to donate $10,000 per year over the next three years to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History for additional display cases. The 14,500 square-foot museum at 100 Veterans Circle is on the site of the entrance to the Jacksonville Ordnance Plant from 1941 to 1945.

The keynote speaker for the council was Tony Woodell of Heifer Project International, a Little Rock-based effort to end world hunger by providing 37 kinds of livestock to needy people in more than 40 countries.

The organization was founded in 1944 by Dan West, who believed in giving people “not a cup but a cow” to help end hunger.

TOP STORY >> City officials put spotlight on Sunnyside

Leader staff writers

IN SHORT: Resident, alderman speak out on crime in neighborhood and all of Jacksonville

For bubbles and basketball, children and adults came together for the Sunnyside Addition Commun-ity Outreach and Awareness Day at Galloway Park in Jacksonville recently.

Helping out People Everywhere (HOPE) Community Development Corporation sponsored the event and Theresa Watson, director of the City of Jacksonville Community Development, showed her support for making the Sunnyside addition a better place to live. After several attempts, Watson sculpted a balloon into the shape of the dog. Adults painted butterflies on the faces of children.

Two men — one a white city alderman and a black Sunnyside addition resident — attending the weekend event agreed homeownership is pivotal in making it a more stable neighborhood. However, Eric Applewhite says after living in St. Louis, the Sunnyside addition feels like living in Mayberry, the fictional, quiet town in the Andy Griffith television show.

“People here are real nice and friendly,” Applewhite said.

Several other Sunnyside residents who live near Applewhite are also purchasing their homes. These neighbors watch out for each other, he explained. City alderman Kenny Elliott agreed with this assessment. “Crime seems to follow rental areas,” Elliott said. Before the event, Watson indicated that rental property ex-ceeds homeownership within the Sunnyside addition.
“The majority ... 59 percent is rental and 41 percent is homeownership,” Watson said.

There are loans available, but Watson says, “The key point is an investor … that’s the piece lacking.”

Watson warns it will take patience to revamp the Sunnyside addition so no major displacement of people will occur. She also mentioned there is a need for a multi-housing complex to built within the area because of small lot sizes. There are 495 lots in the area.

Watson believes the area has unjustly gotten a bad reputation. “You’ve got crime everywhere,” she said.

On Monday, Capt. Charley Jenkins, public information officer for Jacksonville Police Department, said he believes thefts and burglaries are the most troublesome criminal activities in the Sunnyside addition. Since Jan. 1, police investigated theft-related crimes ranging from larceny to residential burglaries, according to a call-sheet document released by JPD officials.

However, violent crimes often occur in the Sunnyside neighborhood nearby Galloway Park. Since Jan. 1, an armed robbery, a gunshot wound, an aggravated assault in-volving a firearm, a domestic dispute, vandalism and a juvenile dispute were among the calls worked by local police officers in the 100 block of Galloway Circle. Between March 16 and March 23, police also responded to a fight in progress and a stabbing in the same block.

On Pike Avenue, about 17 disturbance calls ranging from noise complaints to domestic disputes have been phoned into the police department so far this year. However, Roosevelt Road experienced three drug-related incidents while Pike Avenue listed one. Meanwhile, Galloway Circle registered two drug-related calls to the police. The document indicated none for Jaxon Circle and Jaxon Street.

“Sunnyside may be more attractive to criminals, but I don’t think you could confine crime to just one particular area,” Jenkins said. “Crime occurs over the entire social-economic areas of the city.”

Overall, Jenkins says burglaries and thefts are a concern in the Sunnyside Addition because of less homeownership and more renters, which come and go. He also mentioned there are fewer burglar alarms installed in houses, and taller shrubbery, which shields thieves.

On Central Avenue, however, police received only one theft-related incident since the beginning of this year. The document listed this as a theft from an automobile. On Victory Circle, there were no theft-related activities listed, but Union Avenue was the location of three larceny incidents between Feb. 10 and March 23.

Although some residents are reluctant to discuss neighborhood problems, others are willing, provided they remain anonymous, due to retaliation against ‘snitches.’

One individual, a male who calls himself ‘Larry,’ who withheld his age and occupation, expressed his sentiments regarding the past and current environment of Sunnyside.

Discussing the once non-existent patrolling of the neighborhood, Larry said the situation has improved remarkably. “Oh well, I noticed for a couple weeks recently that patrols have stepped up a bit,” he said. “Especially the last two weeks. Before that, they’d come if you call them. I call them quite a bit. We have a pretty bad drug problem in the neighborhood. There’s lots of it here.”

Jacksonville alderman Reedie Ray agreed that the police department has increased its presence in the Sunnyside addition, as has the alderman himself. “I’ve patrolled the area myself a couple of times lately,” he said. “Everything was quiet. Me and the police chief talk all the time. They’re on top of it. They’ve got Lee Street on dope surveillance now, and even got me on camera when I drove through there three times, real slow.”

As for Larry, perhaps what concerns him most of all is the safety and well-being of his family members and close friends, some of whom have decided to sell their property and relocate.

“I’ve lived most of my life here. I’ve been in this area almost 20 years,” Larry said. “My son’s been robbed about three times. I have a daughter who had a little bit of trouble once. It was just some young girls in a gang trying to fight her years ago.”

The situation was so bad, Larry said, that young children showed no qualms about kicking in doors of homes looking for money made from outdoor yard sales.

“About three or four years ago, when we were selling sodas from our front yard, some little boy robbed us,” Larry said. “He took our money we made. We weren’t the only ones to have that happen to us. Police found a trail of coins leading to the park. His older sibling was just picked up for armed robbery. They’ll kick your doors open and try to break in if they think you have anything. The last time I contacted police was over a domestic dispute. A friend of mine was on drugs real bad. I’ve also got family a member on drugs real bad, too, but she’s locked up. Most of Sunnyside’s problems are definitely drug related.”

Among the more saddening aspects of such living conditions include the hazards of reporting crime. Larry, like others in Sunny-side, has experienced danger for his vigilance.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of retaliation,” he said. “They got a thing about snitches. They want to kill them. Once people get a grudge against you, they hold them after that.”

And what about the former neighborhood association that has since faded into non-existence?

“There was a neighborhood association,” Larry said. “I knew the president. She’s moving. She’s selling the house and leaving the neighborhood. There have been times when drug activity went on right down the road from the police substation, when police were actually there. All this took place on the same street as the substation. It’s been there for several years, but the drug people don’t care that it’s not really open. It’s been there for five or six years. It’s even been robbed before.”

Larry believes some sort of court-ordered rehabilitation could possibly do some good. “We don’t have anything like that in Jacksonville,” he said. “I’ve seen some evil, mean stuff, like people stealing from their momma’s house and leaving her nothing to pay bills with.”

What Larry also cites as a major cause for concern is sporadic gang activity. “I see them regularly mostly in the evening,” he said. “We’ve had a bad gang problem. I had a real young boy tell me all of them have guns. He had one, too. I see some of them. Sometimes young boys sell drugs to older men, and the older men can’t pay for it, so the boys get real mean and real disrespectful. Gang activity is starting up out of nowhere. One drug house moves out and another one moves in.”

As often is the case, where drug activity prevails, dead bodies are likely to follow. “There’s a lot of unsolved murders in neighborhood,” Larry said. “And they don’t like snitches.” Referring to vigilante retaliation not uncommon in drug-infested areas, Larry compared it to street justice overseas. “It’s sort of like in Africa,” he said, “where they take the ones who snitch and hook a rubber tire around their necks and burn it up. And we’re African descendants. It’s the same type of mentality, punishing the poor to make to make it look like they’ve done something wrong. But dealers start taking on attitudes as mafia and big drug lords in movies. And people are scared. It’s a real bad thing. In rap songs, snitches are considered worse than the person doing the crime.”

Larry said keeping one’s mouth shut is similar to taking out a life insurance policy. “I went to prison to visit a friend of mine and was talking to a person there who’s got a son doing 10 years for robbery in Pine Bluff,” he said. “The son was shot for being with the actual robbers and got time for it. They were never caught. And the parent told me, ‘but at least he didn’t snitch.”’

The root of such degradation, as Larry sees it, is simple: crack cocaine, the key factor of a cause-and-effect relationship that breeds monsters and perversion. “Even the old people are getting evil,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of 20-year users in this neighborhood. They can’t stop and don’t want to stop. And their children are just as evil. It’s perversion like I’ve never seen. I know a lady who said her kids smoke crack with her boyfriend.”

Larry sighed and said regretfully, “That’s just the generation we’re coming to, and it’s getting worse. Someone can be hollering for help and neighbors just ignore it. They’re afraid. We can’t even depend on neighbors anymore. It’s hard to sleep at night. You might wake up any time with someone in your house looking for money or jewelry. People have turned in to fiends, monsters. You know, for Easter, kids used to get a new dress, hunt for eggs and candy. Kids don’t get nothing now. I’m a member of a church, but very few people come to church. But at Christmas, there’s hundreds. I’ve never lived where the whole neighborhood doesn’t want to come to church.”