Friday, July 14, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Robinson charged in assualt of former partner

Leader publisher

Brinkley police have charged former Arkansas Cong. Tommy Robin-son with assaulting Cabot businessman Bill Thompson over a financial dispute.

Police have also charged Robin-son’s son, Greg, in the alleged assault at Gene’s Barbecue on Tuesday.

The Robinsons were booked at the Brinkley Police Department on Thursday and released on their own recognizance.

Gene’s Barbecue is normally a friendly place where diners eat quietly as they savor the food, but according to Thompson and several other witnesses, things got ugly when the Robinson clan and Thompson found themselves in the same small restaurant.

Thompson, a former friend and business partner of Tommy Robin-son’s, along with two of his sons, said he was having dinner at 7:15 p.m. when the former congressman “ap-proached my table and started calling me outside to whip my ass. I refused to do that!” according to the police report.

Tommy Robinson and Thomp-son have been feuding for years, ever since Thompson pushed Robinson out as a partner in Wildlife Farms, the hunting and birdwatching lodge near Brinkley.

Now Robinson is facing bankruptcy with $3 million in farm debt and very few assets, other than his Brinkley liquor store, which is just a few yards from the barbecue place. Robinson claims Thompson is trying to take it away from him. Thompson denies it.

Thompson told police that Robinson walked up to his table “and accused me of financing the liquor store for (lodge employees) Jimmy and Allison Medford to buy, which is untrue.”

According to Thompson’s affidavit, Robinson told him “he was going to whip my ass again. I was hit in the head and neck by his son Greg Robinson. I covered my face with my hands and continued to be hit. At that point, I don’t know who hit me. I was bleeding from the head.”

Several witnesses in the restaurant confirmed Thomp-son’s statement to the police.

You don’t often see any altercations at Gene’s Barbecue. About the most exciting thing that happens there is when a customer might complain about the sauce being too hot or not hot enough.

Sure, somebody might say the barbecue is better at Craig’s in DeValls Bluff, and people might argue about whether the ivory-billed woodpecker is still in the nearby woods.

Thompson hopes it’s still there since he has converted his hunting lodge into a place for bird watchers to roam the area for woodpeckers and other birds.

Everybody remembers Tommy Robinson: Former Jacksonville police chief, state public safety director during Gov. Clinton’s first administration (that would be in the late 1970s, boys and girls), Pulaski County sheriff in the early 1980s (housing chained prisoners in tents when the jail was full), Democratic congressman after that, switching to the Republican Party at decade’s end, then running unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for governor against Sheffield Nelson (whatever happened to him?).

You couldn’t miss what happened to Robinson in the 1990s and at turn of the new century: He dropped out of politics and became a gentleman farmer in Brinkley, which is where Nelson is from, although Robinson’s detractors have insisted he’s neither a gentleman nor a farmer.

Thompson might second that notion. He was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Forrest City, where doctors treated his injuries. He was later released.

TOP STORY >>Clock ticks for Hercules on payment

Leader editor

The clock is ticking for Hercules, Inc., which was again held liable this week for the Superfund cleanup at the old Vertac plant in Jacksonville.

Now that an appeals court has upheld U.S. District Judge George Howard’s ruling last year that Hercules must pay $119 million for its share of the cleanup, the company has few options left, according to an attorney familiar with the case.

Hercules could ask the entire nine-judge panel at the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis to reconsider the case after a three-judge panel on the appeals court ruled against the company.

In addition, Hercules could take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is highly selective on what cases it wants to hear, according to the attorney.

Judge Howard and the appeals court also agreed that Uniroyal, a former Vertac customer, is liable for just $2.8 million, a sum far less onerous than the bill Hercules is facing.

Hercules wants Uniroyal to assume a larger share of the verdict.

The U.S. Environmental Protec-tion Agency and the state Depart-ment of Pollution Control and Ecology (now the Arkansas Depart-ment of Environmental Quality) supervised the cleanup, which be-gan late in 1993 and was completed in September 1998. DPC&E had collected $10.4 million from the bankrupt Vertac firm to pay for the cost of burning less dangerous wastes at the site.

The EPA has sued Hercules and Uniroyal for the cost of the cleanup. With continued monitoring, costs could reach $150 million.

A chemical plant had operated at the Marshall Road site for some 40 years, before shutting down in 1987. Herbicides and pesticides were manufactured there, including the defoliant Agent Orange used in Vietnam.

Thousands of barrels of hazardous wastes, such as dioxin, were stored at the site, including 2,700 drums of 2,4,5-T and 28,000 drums of 2,4-D wastes. The 2,4,5-T waste, the most dangerous, was incinerated in Kansas, while the 2,4-D waste was burned on site.

About 6,300 drums of contaminated ash from the incinerator went into a burial mound at the site. Over the decades, thousands of other drums were buried under ground while the plant was operating.

Some 34,000 drums of contaminated salt, a byproduct of incineration, were also moved off site.

Jacksonville saw one of the last major remedial actions in the U.S.

The EPA’s Superfund, which a decade ago had $3.8 billion from taxes collected from chemical companies, has been depleted. The fund has not been renewed.

The EPA used those funds for the Vertac cleanup and has been trying to recover the money since then.

TOP STORY >>New general set to head Air National Guard

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: A former chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Riley Porter is ready to take command of the Arkansas Air National Guard at the Jacksonville base.

Brig. Gen. Riley P. Porter, the new commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard, keeps a twisted piece of metal on his immaculate desk at Little Rock Air Force Base to remind him of how close he came to dying while in Iraq three years ago.

“I don’t know what it came from, but it was sizzling when it hit the ground next to me. We didn’t have body armor there, but it wouldn’t of mattered with this,” Porter said studying the inch-wide, three inch long corkscrew of steel.

A former mayor of West Helena, Porter was responsible for getting Balad Air Base started in Iraq, which was nicknamed “Mortaritaville” because of the frequent mortar and rocket attacks.

“It was an honor and privilege to set up Balad Air Force Base. We had nothing to work with in a hostile environment,” Porter said.

With that and 30-plus years of military experience, being responsible for the Guard’s 2,100 airmen should be easy. “The entire Air Force has challenges but we see them as opportunities,” Porter said.

The Arkansas Air National Guard is divided up among three major commands throughout the state including the 189th Airlift Wing and the 123rd Intelligence Squadrons both located at LRAFB; the 188th Fighter Wing at Fort Smith and the 223rd Combat Communications Squadron in Hot Springs.

About 75 people from the Arkansas Air National Guard are currently deployed to the Middle East. America’s Air Guard is responsible for more than 45 percent of airlift and 40 percent of air fuel tankers in the war, says Porter.

A command pilot with over 5,700 flying hours, the general’s background flying KC-135 air fuel tankers and C-130 cargo aircraft makes him a natural fit for the job.

“As a significant percentage of the deployed force, the Air National Guard is definitely a key asset to the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. My experience, not only from the schoolhouse at Little Rock Air Force Base, but also in some of these key theater locations can benefit the AMC commander with knowledge necessary to manage mobility taskings,” Porter said.

Porter has been stationed at LRAFB before with the 189th Airlift Wing. Most recently he commanded and directed operations in overseas deployments for units in Kyrgyzstan, Tallil Air Base, Iraq, and Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Among Porter’s list of wishes for the Air Guard are more aircraft nationwide, balancing the operation tempo of the mission with the manpower available and making sure the people are taken care of.

“The people in the Guard make the Guard,” Porter said. The general says he envisions Guardsmen volunteering for Operation Jump Start, a support mission to the Depart-ment of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) in the southwest United States.

About 200 members of the 39th Brigade Combat Team of the Arkansas Army National Guard will be performing surveillance and reconnaissance, engineering and logistics support along the border of New Mexico and Texas.

The general has a lighter side evidenced in his office including a motion-sensor dinosaur that roars when activated and a collection of military hats from Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Thanks to technological advances such as e-mail and cell phones, Porter says he plans to work mostly from his home in West Helena. A self-proclaimed country boy, Porter likes yard work and fishing. The general and his wife Denise have two adult daughters and are expecting their first grandchild in a few months.

Porter will officially take command from retiring Brig. Gen. Shelby G. Bryant in ceremonies set for Aug. 6 at Little Rock Air Force Base.

TOP STORY >>Payday lender closes some shops

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Storefronts in Cabot, Beebe, Searcy and Little Rock have closed as their owner faces $1.3 million in fines for not having a valid license to make loans.

At least some of the 14 payday- lending businesses that a Fordyce man operated across the state, in-cluding several in the area, have closed since he was fined $1.3 million for not having a valid license. A circuit court in Pulaski County will have to decide if the fine is reduced or increased.

Petitions for both scenarios were filed this week but no hearing dates have been set for either the petition filed Monday by Dennis Bailey, the business owner who says the fine is unfair, or the counter petition filed by Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies that is asking for a judgment against Bailey for the $1.3 million plus 6 percent interest.

That state regulatory agency also is asking the court to order Bailey to cease all operations, turn over all his financial records and return money taken from his accounts before he was found guilty during a board hearing June 28 of violating state lending laws including operating without a license.

The Leader called several of Bailey’s businesses Friday and found the ones in Cabot, Beebe, Searcy and Little Rock have closed. A woman answered the phone at the business in Walnut Ridge but said she was only there to tie up loose ends because the business was actually closed. A man’s voice on the answering machine at the Bryant store said it was open and gave the hours, but repeated attempts to talk to an employee were fruitless.

Tom Thrash, attorney for Arkan-sas State Board of Collection Agen-cies, said Friday he didn’t know how many of the businesses had closed. Paul Johnson, Bailey’s attorney, could not be reached for comment.

Signs on the closed stores refer Bailey’s customers to BMB Finance Company, LLC, in West Plains, Mo., where he holds the license to operate a lending business that he tried to use as a substitute for an Arkansas license.

The 14 stores include 10 that go by the name of Fast Cash in Beebe, Bryant, Corning, Fordyce, Harrison, Little Rock, Mountain Home, Searcy, Sheridan and Walnut Ridge. The others are Fast Cash Check Cashers in Camden, Cash Advance in Hot Springs, Cash Advance in Cabot and Central Arkansas Check Cashing in Newport.

Through a payday loan in Arkansas, a customer writing a check for $400, for example, typically would receive $350. The lender would keep the check for two weeks without cashing it, allowing the customer time to buy it back.

If the customer doesn’t buy the check back for $400, the lender cashes it and the customer has paid $50 to borrow $350. But often the cycle continues because the customer can’t afford to give up $400 at the end of two weeks, so the check is purchased with $400 cash needed possibly to pay the rent. Then a second, $400 check is written to the lender who gives the customer another $350 in cash and pockets another $50 in interest.

A 1999 state law made payday lending legal in Arkansas and attempts to do away with the law have failed even though many say payday lenders prey on the state’s poorest residents.

But one stipulation in the law is that the lenders must be licensed, and Bailey has operated since early 2005 without a license, which was refused because of problems with his state permits to sell alcohol and tobacco and because he stopped payment on a $20,000 check he wrote in 2004 to pay a fine on an unlicensed he owned in Pine Bluff.

Peggy Matson, executive director of Arkansas State Board of Collection Agencies, said after Bailey did not immediately close his businesses as the board ordered that the board could have him charged with a Class A misdemeanor for operating a business without a license, but it was more important to close him down.

However that sentiment did not carry over to Bailey’s relatives who have been charged with operating a business a business without a license and will have to appear in court on those charges.

His brother, Gary Don Bailey, who operated a business in Mountain View, will go to court July 26 to respond to the charge against him, while Steve Bailey, believed to be a nephew, has an Aug. 3, court date for operating an illegal business in Clinton.

TOP STORY >>Villines calls for session on tax

Leader staff writer

At a Little Rock press conference yesterday, Pulaski County Judge Floyd G. “Buddy” Villines an-nounced a special quorum court meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to consider two ordinances, one calling for a special election to levy a quarter-cent sales tax for county detentions, and the other authorizing county participation in an inter-local agreement among eight cities to distribute all tax revenues to the county treasurer.

The election ordinance involves “acquiring, constructing, extending, improving, equipping, maintaining and operating County owned detention facilities,” namely the overcrowded county jail that has become a wholesale catch-and-release turnstile for criminals taken into custody with no room to hold them.

The second ordinance would authorize Pulaski County to continue participation in an inter-local agreement with Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood, Mau-melle, Alexander, Wrightsville and Cammack Village. Under the pact, all money harvested from the quarter-cent sales tax would go directly to the county treasurer.

Although not provided in the proposed ordinance, Sept. 12 repeatedly has been announced as the most likely election date, as the Quorum Court is expected to confirm next week.

After the press conference, Villines reemphasized the rationale calling for a special election instead of waiting until general elections in November.

“With the millions of dollars being spent on the governor’s race, it would be hard to get the message out about this among all the heavy campaigning going on around it. This is a serious public safety issue that doesn’t need to be thrown at the bottom of a general election ballot. Voters deserve a chance to decide on this separately.

Along with the tax vote, the quorum court’s administrative committee on Tuesday discussed revising the inter-local agreement that requires cities to help pay for jail operations.

Committee members suggested a complete overhaul of the county-cities agreement should voters approve the tax increase in the special election, and as of Friday, such a proposed ordinance has been drafted.

The 12-year-old pact stems from a 1990 agreement among Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood and Maumelle, which pay the county approximately what they spend to run their city jails, with incremental increases every five years.

The county has paid remaining costs while holding the cities’ prisoners.

According to Paul Mush-rush, Jacksonville’s finance director, the city currently pays the county $129,420 per year as its part of the agreement.

“In 2002, 2003 and 2004, we paid $100,000,” Mushrush said. “In 2005 and 2006, it rose to $125,000 each year for the basic agreement.

The additional $4,420 is an additional shared cost for things like the work release program.”

The county-wide agreement has governed jail funding since 1994, but wasn’t planned according to projected crime rates or anticipated expenses, but rather what cities were paying for their own jails.

Public safety task force members who recommended the sales tax increase also hope that the sales tax will relieve cities from paying the county to house prisoners.

In exchange for keeping that money, the cities would receive none of the new sales tax revenue.

County comptroller Ron Quillen said if cities are not freed from the inter-local agreement, they will receive almost all the new tax revenues, about 92 percent, leaving the county with few resources to add more jail space.

Villines said, “It’s of my conservative legal opinion that we need to change the inter-local agreement, otherwise it could be challenged to divide responsibilities among cities.”

Committee member Bob Johnson said, “We should replace parts of the local agreement, or redo or abolish the old one, amend it or draft a new one, should the one-fourth cent pass.”

In a June 19 letter to Villines, Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey recommended that, should the sales tax pass, the county ordinance levying it should terminate the inter-local agreement at the end of fiscal 2006, prohibit the county jail from refusing to accept anyone in custody unless ordered by a federal court to do so, and that all tax revenue be added to the county’s jail operation funds.

A June 22 reply to Dailey’s letter by county attorney Karla Burnett validated Dailey’s concerns, but claimed “they have little to do with the tax itself and have no place on the ballot,” and said those issues could be resolved by ordinance or by inter-local agreement. If the tax is approved, she said the current agreement could be amended to terminate at the end of the fiscal year.

Burnett’s letter also said that state law gives the sheriff discretion to operate the jail and ensure safety and security for employees and inmates, and said the county “cannot and will not” blindly waive the sheriff’s discretional authority by either contract with cities or Quorum Court orders, which Dailey’s letter suggested be done by inter-local agreement.

Burnett said the money Dailey requested be added to annual jail funds isn’t derived from the sales revenues and that no such language even belongs in the ballot’s definition or title.

Regarding ballot titles at Tuesday’s meeting, Patricia Dicker said, “The ballot title needs to be a simplified as possible to avoid conflict and confusion about the wording and what the money will be used for.”

When asked where the money to finance the special election will come from, Villines said the election commission may have to be reimbursed, but that it has appropriated $100,000 just for special elections. Villines also said jail funding solutions are “too important to confuse in a general election.”

TOP STORY >>Scores good, bad

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Schools in Cabot, Searcy and Carlisle perform well on Benchmark exams, while the Pulaski County Special School District results still show half the pupils are not on grade level.

Even though the federal government recently told Arkansas it’s Benchmark exam were too easier, about 70 percent of the students who took the tests at Jacksonville elementary and middle school failed.

Conversely, about 70 percent of all Cabot, Searcy and Carlisle students passed the test.

The exams were given in March in grades three through eight across the state and tests students against what they are suppose to know in that grade. The exams cover two broad educational areas: Math and literacy.

Test results are divided into four categories: Advanced, proficient, basic and below basic.

Advanced and proficient scores mean the students are working at or above grade level. Scores of basic or below basic means the student is not working at grade level.

Under No Child Left Be-hind and state guidelines, all students are expected to score proficient or advanced on the benchmarks—in other words, to be working and learning on grade level—by 2014.

The state released the latest round of test scores was released earlier this week.

“On the whole, we have very good news to share about the performance of Arkansas students on this year’s standardized tests, said Dr. Ken James, Arkansas Commiss-ioner of Education as the scores were announced. More students at every grade level ficient levels on the literacy and math Benchmark exams this year than last year. No school reached the coveted 100 proficient or advanced level in the local area, but many came close.

In Searcy, 81 percent of the third graders scored proficient or advanced in math, including 81 percent at Sidney Deener Elementary and 89 percent at Westside Ele-mentary. At Westside, 88 percent of the third graders were all proficient or advanced in literacy.

In Cabot, 85 percent of the third graders at Eastside Elementary scored proficient or advanced.

In Carlisle, 83 percent of the third-graders made the mark in math, and 86 percent of third graders in Des Arc also did well.
At the fourth-grade level, Cabot’s Westside had 88 percent of its students hit the proficient or advanced mark. Magness Creek had 80 percent of its fourth graders hit the mark in math. Also 80 percent of Cabot’s eight graders scored proficient or advanced in literacy, including 80 percent at Cabot Junior High South and 81 percent at Cabot Junior High North.

At Searcy’s Southwest Middle School, 83 percent of the sixth graders scored proficient or ad-vanced in literacy, and 86 percent of Ahlf Junior High School’s eighth graders also made the score in literacy.

Conversely, 87 percent of the third graders at Harris Elementary are working below grade level in literacy, according to test results. At Jacksonville Elementary, 70 percent of the third-graders are not on grade level in literacy.

The Benchmark exam shows that 70 percent of fourth graders can’t do grade level math. At Harris, 71 percent of fourth graders are below grade level in math and 77 percent are below grade level in literacy.

Only 20 percent of Homer Adkin’s fifth graders are proficient or advanced in math, meaning 80 percent are not at grade level, neither are 71 percent of the fifth graders at Murrell Taylor Elementary. Also, 71 percent of fifth graders at Jacksonville Elementary are not on grade level in literacy or math.

At Harris, 85 percent of the fifth graders are not working at grade level in math and 68 percent are below in literacy.

At Jacksonville Middle School, 75 percent of sixth graders didn’t make the cut in math and 70 percent aren’t on grade level in literacy.

At the seventh-grade level, students at England Middle School are struggling as 74 percent are not on grade level in math and 72 percent missed the cut in literacy.

Of all the seventh graders at Jacksonville Middle School, 72 percent are not at grade level in math and 67 percent missed the mark in literacy.

England Middle School eighth graders also had problems with the test, with 85 percent failing to score proficient or advanced in math and 68 percent missing the cut in literacy. Eighth graders at Carlisle High School also had a tough time on the math portion, with 70 percent not making the grade.

Of all the eighth-graders in the Pulaski County School District, just 28 percent are proficient or ad-vanced in math. That falls even lower at Jacksonville Middle School, where only 16 percent of the eighth-graders score on or above grade level.

OBITUARIES >> 07-15-06

Carmen Burdell

Carmen Lydia Burdell, 70, of Jacksonville went to be with her Lord on July 11 after a long illness in her home.  

She was born March 25, 1936, to Bernardino Ayala and Margarita Soto Medina Morales.  She was a member of Second Baptist Church in Jacksonville. She was also a member of Razorback Square Dancing Club.

She was preceded in death by her father and her first husband Billy Carroll Robberts.  

She is survived by her husband Franklin Burdell; her mother Margarita Soto of Cabot; four children, Carmen Shurley and her husband Dr. Bo of Cabot, Robin Gottsponer and her husband Harry of North Little Rock, Bobby Robberts and his wife Jill of Nebraska, and Russell Robberts and his fiancĂ© Susan Jeffery of Conway; 14 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and her best friend Loreen Wenzl.  

Graveside funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at 16th Section Cemetery in Austin with the Rev. John Long and Bro. Harry Gottsponer officiating. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

The family wishes to thank Arkansas Hospice for their kind care and support. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark., 72212. Arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Jesse Maddox

Jesse Alexander Maddox, 86, of Cabot, died July 9. He was born Jan. 8, 1920, in Guin, Ala.

He was preceded in death by his parents, E.A. and Alice Foster Maddox, four brothers and two sisters.

He is survived by his loving wife, of 54 years, Betty, of Cabot; one son, Sam Maddox and his wife Sandra of Stuttgart; two daughters, Peggy Reichenbach and her husband Carl, Becky Rummel and her husband Larry, all of Cabot; a brother, Paul Maddox and his wife, Maylene of Cabot; a sister; Jean Lassiter of Cabot; six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Wednesday at Victory Baptist Church of Cabot with burial at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for cancer research.  

EDITORIAL >> Democratic losers

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: If the Democrats cannot win the 2006 congressional elections, they don’t deserve to be a political party. They will survive as losers, of course, but only because American election laws are a contract between the Democratic and Republican parties to preserve each other no matter what happens.

Given failing wars, a failed Republican president and a deliberate betrayal of the America most of us grew up in, or thought we did — we were taught that Americans went to war only when we were attacked, and we did not endorse torture and the murdering of civilians — it is hard to imagine how the Democrats can lose.
But Democrats have become both good and creative at losing against all odds. They seem ready to adopt a 2006 campaign plan that will keep them wallowing in the minority in Congress. The failed president governs on without the restraint of an aggressive opposition — or a decent respect for the opinion of others, or the checks and balances we thought were in the Constitution.

The losing strategy, I think, would be to stand still in front of forests of American flags and shout: “Iraq! Iraq! Iraq!” Such a campaign would also be punctuated by more hushed mentions of Afghanistan as well.

That’s a mug’s game, a losing game for the Democrats. Why? If the overwhelming majority of Americans realize by the end of the year that invading Iraq was a mistake, why not round them up like so many cattle? The answer is in the question: Americans already know things went terribly wrong and we are governed by incompetent ideologues who rushed in where angels feared to tread.

The problem for the Demo-crats on Iraq is that they cannot or will not come up with any credible arguments about what to do next. The Republican response — “Follow the flag! Stay the course. Support our boys and girls against the ragheads” — will once again top Democratic mealy-mouthed confusion and political cowardice.A campaign that focuses only on Iraq will unite Republicans and divide Democrats. Anti-war feeling is now so high among liberals that it could defeat Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a war enthusiast, in the Connecticut Democratic primary.

In the California primary last month, an underfinanced and unknown anti-war challenger won 37 percent of the Demo-cratic vote against Rep. Jane Harman because of her reluctance to speak out against the war.
More and more Democrats are seeing Iraq as Vietnam in the desert, and they are going to do the same thing they have done in the past: struggle against each other rather than against the Republicans.

Mention the name of Sen. Hillary Clinton, the obvious front-runner for the party’s next presidential nomination, among liberal Democrats these days, and you get a tirade about her support of the war that more or less compares her to Dr. Strangelove. So, politically, I would argue the war will take care of itself. People of all political persuasions already get it.

EDITORIAL >> Fight against smoking

The concept behind vaccines must have sounded suicidal when it was first proposed: You protect yourself against smallpox by infecting yourself with smallpox?

The thinking behind a new approach to smoking may likewise sound lunatic: The surest cure for tobacco use is tobacco use. But at this point in the fight against cigarettes, maybe a crazy idea is worth a try.

Everyone knows smoking is deadly, killing more than 400,000 Americans a year. The American Cancer Society predicts that given prevailing trends, more than a billion people around the world will die of smoking-related illnesses in the 21st century.

Some will be innocent bystanders. Recently, the surgeon general of the United States issued a report describing secondhand smoke as “a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and nonsmoking adults.”

Given the evidence that has been piling up for more than 40 years, you would think cigarettes would be about as popular as skydiving without a parachute. In fact, the number of Americans who smoke (46 million) is more than double the number who watched the highest-rated game of last year’s World Series (20 million).

Even with all our medical and psychiatric advances, the chief effect of smoking-cessation methods is to relieve smokers of their money.

Fewer than 5 percent manage to quit in any given year. Expanded use of such programs, the National Institutes of Health reports, would only double or triple the success rate — leaving 85 percent or so still pounding their coffin nails. Fortunately, there is another option. It involves replacing smoked tobacco with smokeless tobacco. And judging from the experience in Sweden, it works.

I’m not talking about old-fashioned chewing tobacco and snuff, which involve more expectoration than most Americans want to do — or watch. Modern smokeless tobacco comes in tiny pellets or packets that eliminate the need for spittoons but provide a reliable dose of what smokers crave: nicotine. And nicotine, though addictive, is safe enough to be sold over the counter.

Snus, as it is known, can bring about huge changes. Swedish men use tobacco at about the same rate as men in the rest of the European Union. The difference is that instead of lighting it on fire and inhaling the fumes, they generally prefer to stow it discreetly between lip and gum. Since 1986, reports University of Louisville cancer scientist Brad Rodu, the smoking rate among Swedish males has gone from 19 percent to 9 percent.

That brings us to one of the best-kept secrets in public health: If everyone who is addicted to cigarettes were addicted to smokeless tobacco instead, millions of lives would be saved. An article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet concludes that snus (rhymes with juice) is “certainly much less harmful” than cigarettes, and that for some smokers, it may be “an effective aid to quitting.”

It’s true that smokeless tobacco, like smoking, can cause oral cancer. But it doesn’t cause the many other deadly diseases associated with cigarettes, including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema.

In 2002, Britain’s Royal College of Physicians announced that “the consumption of non-combustible tobacco is on the order of 10-1,000 times less hazardous than smoking.” It also doesn’t produce that deadly secondhand smoke.

A lot of smokers might be happy to trade their cigarettes for snus, if they only knew the comparative risks. But most people have the fatal misimpression that there is nothing to gain. And the federal government is curiously intent on preserving their ignorance. Surgeon General Richard Carmona insists that “smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”

This is like saying that driving a Volvo is not a safe alternative to riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Neither activity is 100 percent risk-free. But one is far safer than the other, and the same is true of smokeless tobacco and cigarettes. Public-health zealots pretend that the only alternative to smoking is complete abstinence from tobacco. Gilbert Ross, executive and medical director of the American Council on Science and Health, says this approach is “condemning 45 million people to quit or die.”

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people end up with Option No. 2.

Things might be different if the government would mandate a new statement on each package of cigarettes: “Switching from cigarettes to smokeless tobacco reduces your risk of death and disease.”

EDITORIAL >> Look at tests cautiously

Tuesday was a grand day for celebration because the state education commissioner announced that Arkan-sas children performed beautifully this year on both the standardized test that the state devised especially for Arkansas students and on the nationally normed Iowa Test of Basic Skills. We should congratulate ourselves, he said, on the steadily improving job that we are doing educating our youngsters.

Maybe we should. But why do we have nagging doubts? Why not clutch the good news and relax for a change?

One reason is that we have experienced these days before, many times. Just look at the results from the Pulaski County Special School District. See the disturbing article on the front page.

Since Arkansas finally began to enlist in the school accountability drive a quarter-century ago, the yearly release of Arkansas scores on standardized tests has given us comfort and concern. We are either near the national average or above it, and we are gaining on the other states. Later, some objective tabulation of nationwide results on one test or another — often the standardized college-entrance exams — brings us down to earth.

Another source of skepticism is the discovery that all across the land other state education agencies are announcing similar good results and gains against the national average. Everyone, of course, cannot be above the national average. It is the Lake Wobegon syndrome, after Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota community “where all the children are above average.”

When states announce that their children are performing above the national average in, say, seventh-grade mathematics that is not necessarily so. Arkansas children are measured against a national group that took the test, not their contemporary peers across the country. So, indeed, every state may announce that its kids are performing above the national average.

Despite the No Child Left Behind Act and state accountability reforms, education statistics still have a way of lending themselves to universal optimism.

Education Commissioner Ken James said the number of Arkansas children who earned high marks on Arkansas’s Benchmark exam — that is the test devised specifically to measure how much they have gained of the knowledge that we want Arkansas students to have at that age— and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills improved demonstrably from 2005. He called it “fantastic news.” And the figures across the grades were almost uniformly heartening.

But let us take one statistic cited by Mr. James. Fifty-seven percent of Arkansas sixth graders who took the Benchmark math exam scored proficient or above, compared with 43 percent a year ago. What would account for such a stunning improvement in a single year across the whole state? Since the first Benchmark exams were devised and administered in the late ’90s, we have seen such dramatic year-to-year increases — indeed, far more dramatic ones in individual school districts.

Could sixth-grade math teachers, or fifth-grade teachers, have so sharply improved their methods in 12 months? Did teachers convert to a new teaching doctrine? Were dramatic changes made in instruction at the lower-grade level the year before?

Did more and more teachers in 2005-06 decide to spend more time teaching the tests, or did school administrators apply the additional pressure? There is anecdotal evidence of that, but it is only anecdotal. But this much is incontrovertible: The pressure of rewards and penalties for good standardized test scores is practically insurmountable now. Schools can lose their autonomy by failing to raise low test scores.

The movement to base teachers’ salaries on standardized scores is gaining steam. Soon, any teacher who does not devote a good deal of a semester drilling students on the Benchmark and other standardized tests will be insubordinate and looking for a job. A better picture is how students do on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which compares children nationally on relatively objective measurements.

Last week, the U. S. Education Department cited Arkansas among many states that employed tests of questionable validity. Arkansas is going to have to persuade the feds that its Benchmark exams are not designed to make kids (and, perforce, the state’s political leaders) seem better than they are. Some states are guilty of continually dumbing down their tests so that they appear to be making the progress that the No Child Left Behind Act requires. Arkansas has revised its tests and students perform better afterward. But state leaders say it was simply making mid-course corrections and the purpose was not to improve appearances. The state will now have a chance to prove that it is so.

Meantime, let us be encouraged by the good numbers but not surrender our skepticism. Neither should we abandon our zeal to hold education and political leaders accountable for improving education, starting with the candidates for governor and for the General Assembly.

OPINION >>Most Hogs healthy for summer two-a-days

Special to the Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Including quarterback Casey Dick and wide receiver Cedric Washington, all but maybe one of the maximum allowed 105 Razorbacks expected to report Aug. 4 should participate in Arkansas’ first football practice on Aug. 5.

Offensive lineman Cody Green, coming off major back surgery, could be the exception, trainer Dean Weber said after initially asserting Monday, “We expect everyone to be here in the 105 to practice.”

Apparently compared to Green, Dick and Washington experienced far more minor back problems last spring.

Dick, whose spring drills didn’t match his solid four games as Arkansas’ starting quarterback as a true freshman finishing the 2005 season, didn’t report he was ailing until well after the spring practices.

He wasn’t with the other quarterbacks during the summer ongoing voluntary workouts which naturally prompted rumors about his injury’s severity.

“He’s doing great,” Weber said recently. “He’s really coming around. He’s making excellent progress. In all likelihood he’ll participate more and more in the month of July. All indications are his recovery is nearly complete. That’s not to say, that as in a lot of cases, he might not have a flareup occasionally.”

So far Dick’s progress seems to match Weber’s words. Dick has been throwing during the voluntary workouts this week.
Washington’s back bothered him throughout the spring, so the staff has been understandably cautious about limiting him during the June/July offseason.

“He’ll be fine,” Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said.

Junior quarterback Robert Johnson is throwing again and apparently recovering well from the hernia surgery he had earlier this summer.

While 105 is the maximum allowed in camp for August preseason drills, the numbers then swell with those, mostly walkons, allowed to report once UA classes begin later in August.

However, some late additions may be scholarship players.

Freddie Barnett, the Texarkana born defensive lineman transferring from Trinity Valley (Texas) Junior College, apparently is still going to be involved in summer school work mandatory for his eligibility while the Razorbacks report Aug. 4.

Defensive end Chris Wade, transferring from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Junior College, also is taking summer school courses but is expected to have ever

SPORTS >> Cabot handles Vilonia, gets ready for zone

Leader staff writer

Home Depot improved its season record to 12-17 with a 8-5 win over Vilonia in a Class AA game Monday night in Vilonia. Cabot held the Eagles scoreless until the fourth inning, while building a 5-0 lead in the process.

Cabot used three different pitchers in the contest to get the win. Tyler Sorrells got the win through four innings. Sorrells gave up two earned runs and struck out three batters. Blake Passmore held the mound until the final inning, which was finished up by ace lefty Justin Haas.

“I thought overall that they all did an outstanding job for us,” Cabot coach Andy Runyan said. “Tyler Sorrells really kept them off balance early. They really couldn’t get a good gauge on how he was mixing his pitches.”

Haas got the save by retiring the side in the final inning after giving up a single walk to start the Eagle’s turn.

Tanner Burks led offensively for Home Depot with two doubles, two RBIs, two runs scored and a stolen base. Daryl Murphy was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk.

As the young squad prepares for zone play next week, Runyan says the less-than-convincing season record now will pay big dividends in the near future.

Only two players will be ineligible for Legion league play in 2007, and all but one of them will return to be on the Panthers high school team in the spring.

Runyan is working close with Panthers coach Jay Fitch to build the Cabot baseball program to a new level, which means getting younger players field time against some of the state’s best.

“It’s something that coach Fitch and I have talked about, and we are both very excited about having this opportunity,” Runyan said. “None of us want to be 12-17, it’s frustrating. Our record is not a good reflection on how much great experience these kids have gained along the way.

“They are playing against some really strong competition, and they are also getting more experience playing baseball with each other. All of them minus one guy will be all the same players wearing a high school uniform next year.

“No one wants to lose a lot of games, but we keep telling them that all this experience and losing some of the close games like we have will be money in the bank next spring.”

As for the tournament at hand, Runyan says their success is reliant on consistency much more than talent when they head to Burns Park.

“It depends on which team decides to show up,” Runyan said. “If the team that beat Bryant and Pine Bluff shows up, I would put them up there with anybody. If the team that got shut out five out of six innings earlier this week, we could be in trouble.”

Home Depot entered the final week of regular season play last night with a doubleheader at Maumelle, followed by the final meeting of the year at home against Searcy Wednesday in what is scheduled as a double-header, but could be rescheduled as a single game.

SPORTS >> Taylor signs with Bears

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Fomer Sylvan Hills standout Kent Taylor will play baseball for the University of Central Arkansas next season.

Sherwood’s Kent Taylor is a Bear once again. The former Sylvan Hills first baseman recently signed with the University of Central Arkansas as an outfielder after spending one season with Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kan.

Taylor is a left-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman and will enter UCA as a sophomore. He hit .320 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 30 RBIs at Pratt this past spring. Taylor helped Sylvan Hills High School to a state championship in 2003 and a runner-up finish in 2004.

Taylor chose UCA over offers from Lyon College in Batesville, Cameron University in Okla., Georgia State and another Division II college in West Virginia.

Taylor’s decision to return to central Arkansas after just one year in junior college was an easy one. He was interested in playing for UCA out of high school, but a scholarship offer never came despite a lot of interest shown by the school. The Bears’ program is also moving up to the NCAA Division I level next season.

“That’s always been a dream of mine to play DI,” Taylor said. “It’s closer to home too. My parents hardly ever got to see me play.”

The transition from first base to outfield was an easy one as well. He still played some first base, but spent most of his time in the right and left field grass.

“It was an easy adjustment,” Taylor said. “With my size, being that I’m shorter, they moved me to outfield. They always want a taller guy over there. I played pretty good out there.”

One of the most significant changes in Taylor’s stat line in college, compared to high school, was his 10 stolen bases at Pratt. Taylor wasn’t known as a base stealer, but picked up some important tips during his time on the college playing field.

“I learned a lot of running and stealing,” Taylor said. “The way he (Pratt coach Jeff Brewer) coaches and teaches you how to read the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, it helps give you a little jump. And I am a little faster.”

Being an underclassmen at UCA probably won’t have an effect on how Taylor sees his role on the team. He may not play every game, but he considers himself a leader.

He shared time at first base during his junior year at Sylvan Hills with a senior, but was still one of the clear-cut leaders on that team.

It was a team that was supposed to see a drop-off after the departure of a group that sent nearly the entire starting lineup to college on baseball scholarships, including one that drafted by the New York Mets in the Major League draft.

Instead, that group won the state championship after three previous years of bowing out of the state tournament in the semifinals.

“We always felt we were better than that group in front of us,” Taylor said. “That just wasn’t what everyone else thought for some reason. We had won lots of state championships as kids coming up, so we knew we were good.”

That group was also the first to win the American Legion state championship, making it the first Sylvan Hills class to do both in the same year.

Taylor is part of seven UCA signees so far this recruiting period. He is one of six JUCO transfers, four of which are from Texas. UA-Fort Smith pitcher Corey Grist, and Cabot High School standout Chris Gross are the other signees.

UCA finished 30-18 overall last year and 13-9 in the Gulf South Conference. The Bears finished fourth in the GSC West Division and had the sixth best record in the 17-team conference.

SPORTS >> Bruins get shutout win over Gwatney

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills’ AAA team improved to 5-1 against zone competition Tuesday night by handling Jacksonville 9-0.

Sylvan Hills collected a run-ruled 9-0 shutout over Gwatney Chevrolet at Dupree Park on Tuesday night. The Class AAA game was originally scheduled as a twin bill, but was changed to one seven-inning contest. The Bruins built a 2-0 lead in the third inning before blowing the game wide open in the fourth inning, scoring four runs in the top of the fourth while batting through their entire lineup.

Carter Lance took the win at the mound for Sylvan Hills, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. Lance went the six-inning distance in the game for the Bruins, avoiding a scoring threat from Jacksonville in the bottom of the third to record the complete-game shutout.

Starting Jacksonville pitcher Casey Winstead looked strong in the first two innings, allowing only one hit from lead-off batter Shawn Bybee to start the game. The Bruins’ bats woke up to start out the third inning, however, with two hits in the stanza for two runs. Three of the first four batters then singled in the top of the fourth inning to help Sylvan Hills earn a 6-0 lead midway through the game.

Winstead held on until the sixth, at which time he was relieved by Randy Peeples for the final inning.

Grant Garlington led off for Sylvan Hills in the top of the third with a single to second, but fell to a fielder’s choice from following batter Taylor Roark. Bybee followed that with a double to score Roark, and stole to third before coming in on a 1-3 from Hayden Miller.

In the top of the fourth, Ritchie Irvin and Jarrett Boles started things off for the Bruins with back-to-back singles into centerfield to put more scores in position.

Nathan Van Schoyck sent it down the third base line for the next single, scoring Irvan and moving Van Schoyck to third.

Both runners would score off a double to center from Roark, and Toliver added the final hit of the inning with a single to right that scored Roark for a 6-0 Bruins lead.

Austin Gwatney added the seventh run in the top of the fifth. A single to center put the SH outfielder on, and a double from Garlington two batters later sent him around for the run.

The final scores of the game for Sylvan Hills came in the top of the sixth. A Boles single down the third base line brought in Miller and Toliver, putting Jacksonville in danger of being run-ruled.

Gwatney had to score at least two runs in the bottom of the sixth to send the game to its final scheduled inning, but Garlington sent the Chevy boys out with an F8 pop-up from Zach Thomas and strikeouts on Zach James and Tim Payne.

Sylvan Hills had 12 total hits in the game, compared to five for Gwatney. Bybee was 2 for 4 for the Bruins with a double and a RBI. Garlington went 2 for 2 with a double and a RBI, and Toliver was 2 for 4 with a RBI.

SPORTS >> Sylvan Hills gets huge playoff win

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The Sylvan Hills Class A team defeated Little Rock Blue Friday to avoid elimination from the state tournament at North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

Sylvan Hills was sent to the losers bracket in the first round of the Class A American Legion state tournament at Burns Park with an opening loss to North Little Rock 12-10 in eight innings, but rebounded on Friday to take a 7-4 win over Little Rock Blue.

The Bruins made up a three-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh to take North Little Rock into extra innings in Thursday’s opener. The Colts led 7-4 heading into the last inning, but a double from T.C. Squires bounced off the centerfield wall, and brought in runs from Cody Wood, Hunter Miller and Ross Bogard to tie the game.

After an impressive rally to force extra innings, Sylvan Hills suffered its worst defensive performance of the game in the top of the eighth. The Colts came away with five runs off of four hits and the only Sylvan Hills’ error of the game in the inning, putting the Bruins in an even deeper hole than the one they faced an inning earlier.

For a moment in the bottom of the eighth, it looked as if the Bruins might pull off the unthinkable, making up three of the five runs to pull them back to within a couple of scores of the Colts. Starting pitcher Kyle Thompson was relieved by Brandon Von Ohlan, but Sylvan Hills blasted two hits off the fresh pitcher to make the score 12-10. Von Ohlan finally got a handle on things, with a strikeout on Bogard and a 5-3 groundout from Chris Dalton to retire the stubborn Bruins.

Friday’s matchup with Blue was all Sylvan Hills, with the exception of the fifth inning. Little Rock made up all but one of a four-run deficit in the bottom of the fifth; shrinking a 5-1 Bruins lead down to 5-4 with three hits off of starting SH pitcher Chris Dalton. Dalton went on to take the win, with Brandon Chastain throwing the final two innings to earn the save.

The Bruins did the majority of their offensive damage in the top of the second inning. An E7 on a pop fly allowed Dalton on base to start the inning, and T.C. Squires put the first points on the the board for Sylvan Hills with a two-run home run over the left field wall. Jessie Everett drove home the next run in with a double to center that scored Cody Cormier. Blake Rix came in on a sacrifice grounder from Cody Wood.

Hunter Miller got the last hit of the inning for Sylvan Hills with a double ground ball down the third base line to score Everett. The stout performance in the second gave the Bruins a comfortable 5-0 heading into the third inning.

Nathan Longilotti put Blue’s first run down in the bottom of the second, driving in James Monhead with a single to center.

The Bruins held the four-run advantage until the bottom of the fifth, when the Blue bats finally started to light up.

A single, a hit by pitch and a double led to the first run for Little Rock to start the turn. A single to left from Hunter Senter scored the second run of the inning, and Taylor Brown tagged up on a sacrifice fly from Tim Watson for the final run to bring Blue within one at 5-4.

Sylvan Hills needed more runs for insurance and to keep the momentum. Those runs came in the top of the six with a run from Miller on a Little Rock error, and a score from Ross Bogard off another error after a single from Dalton. Those runs set the final margin of the game, as relief SH pitcher Chastain retired the final six Little Rock batters of the game to secure the win.

Sylvan Hills finished with seven runs, seven hits and one error. Little Rock had four runs, 10 hits and five errors. Everett was 2 for 5 with a double and a RBI; Miller was 2 for 4 with a double and RBI. Dalton finished 1 for 2 with a RBI and Squires was 1 for three with a home run and two RBIs.

Friday’s matchup with Blue was all Sylvan Hills, with the exception of the fifth inning.

Little Rock made up all but one of a four-run deficit in the bottom of the fifth, shrinking a 5-1 Bruins lead down to 5-4 with three hits off of starting SH pitcher Chris Dalton.

Dalton went on to take the win, with Brandon Chastain throwing the final two innings to earn the save.

The Bruins did the majority of their offensive damage in the top of the second inning. An E7 on a pop fly allowed Dalton on base to start the inning, and T.C. Squires put the first points on the board for Sylvan Hills with a two-run home run over the left field wall. Jessie Everett drove home the next run with a double to center that scored Cody Cormier. Blake Rix came in on a sacrifice grounder from Cody Wood.

Hunter Miller got the last hit of the inning for Sylvan Hills with a double ground ball down the third base line to score Everett. The stout performance in the second gave the Bruins a comfortable 5-0 lead heading into the third inning.

Nathan Longilotti put Blue’s first run down in the bottom of the second, driving in James Monhead with a single to center.

The Bruins held the four-run advantage until the bottom of the fifth, when the Blue bats finally started to light up.

A single, a hit by pitch and a double led to the first run for Little Rock to start the turn. A single to left from Hunter Senter scored the second run of the inning, and Taylor Brown tagged up on a sacrifice fly from Tim Watson for the final run to bring Blue within one at 5-4.

Sylvan Hills needed more runs for insurance and to keep the momentum. Those runs came in the top of the six with a run from Miller on a Little Rock error, and a score from Ross Bogard off another error after a single from Dalton.

Those runs set the final margin of the game, as relief SH pitcher Chastain retired the final six Little Rock batters of the game to secure the win.

Sylvan Hills finished with seven runs, seven hits and one error. Little Rock had four runs, 10 hits and five errors. Everett was 2 for 5 with a double and a RBI.

Miller was 2 for 4 with a double and RBI. Dalton finished 1 for 2 with a RBI and Squires was 1 for three with a home run and two RBIs.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Let’s help him find a long-lost brother

Leader publisher

We get calls from readers asking for all kinds of help. Sometimes they’re looking for lost relatives, and we’ll try to reunite them, but we don’t always succeed.

People call from out of state looking for a relative who may have served here in the military decades ago, but they may be long gone from the area, or they may even be dead.

Michael Sholes, 59, called last week from Chesapeake, Va. He’d seen our paper online and wanted to talk to the editor.

He’s looking for his younger brother, Stephen Wayne Sholes, 53. He’s about 53 years old and has lived in Jacksonville and Cabot in recent years.

“I haven’t seen or talked to him in 30 years. The last address I have for him was in Jacksonville,” Michael Sholes said.

“I need to see my brother,” Michael Sholes said. “It’s a family affair. It’s about a family inheritance.”

Perhaps his brother doesn’t even know his father has passed away.

“He works in electronics, installing street lights,” Michael Sholes said. “The last time I saw him was in Waynesboro, Va.”

“Our father died on December 15, 2003 in Virginia,” Sholes continued. “Our sister won’t tell us much about it.”

I had the impression she handled their father’s will and won’t share the inheritance with the brothers.

“Dad was a journalist in the Navy for 20 years,” Michael Sholes said.

He was all right then, I said.

We talked a while longer. I asked for more details about the family, although he’s reluctant to say too much more.

I don’t blame him. Why should he discuss his family’s affairs with a stranger?

I hope he finds his brother and they work out any problems they might have with their sister.

If anyone knows Stephen Wayne Sholes, or if he’s reading this, please call Michael Sholes at 757-536-0408, or write to 1229 Land of Promise Road, Chesapeake, Va. 23322.

I like that address. It shows promise.

I hope the brothers meet again, and they’ll help me finish this story.

TOP STORY >> Hot weather is dangerous

Leader staff report

IN SHORT: In July and August, the heat index, which is a combination of heat and humidity, often tops 110 degrees,
making it rough on those who work outside.

Winter is traditionally the season for sickness, but summer’s heat and humidity are a dangerous mix that contributes to illness and possibly death, especially for anyone working outside, such as city employees and airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“With street crews, they’re surrounded by asphalt that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 240 degrees, and they’re applying it without any shade. It’s tough, but they stay hydrated and keep on marching,” said Jimmy Oakley, public works director for Jacksonville.

Health officials recommend drinking moderate amounts of water or sports drinks throughout the day and avoiding caffeinated and carbonated drinks during the day because they increase elimination while delaying hydration.

Heat-related illnesses, causes and treatments include:

- Heat cramps. Muscle pain caused by severe salt depletion due to heavy sweating can be treated through salt replacement, cooling down and gentle massage.

- Heat exhaustion. The most common illness caused by heat. Often occurs while the person is working outside or attending outside events in extremely hot, humid weather. Victim may complain of weakness and feel faint. Other symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headache and confusion. The person should be moved to a cooler place, and wet cloths applied for cooling down. Fluid and salt should be replaced.

Depending on the severity of the illness, hospitalization and intravenous fluid replacement may be necessary. This condition usually comes just before heat stroke.

- Heat stroke or sunstroke. This is a life-threatening condition in which the victim’s temperature-control system stops working. Sweating stops completely and the body’s temperature can rise so high that the nervous system, the brain and other organs can be damaged permanently. Death may occur if the body is not cooled quickly.
The symptoms of heat stroke include sudden high fever, dry skin, delirium, convulsions and seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 and cool the person as fast as possible with ice, a cold bath and wet sheets until medical help arrives. “We primarily see dehydration and heat exhaustion, which is the level just before heat stroke,” said Kristen James, spokesperson for Rebsamen Medical Center.

“We see those in our emergency room pretty regularly during the summer months and increases during the summer sports season and during football, baseball and when the military has a heavy training session,” James told The Leader.

Those who work, exercise or participate in strenuous activity, such as football practice, for an hour or more during intense heat may eliminate or sweat up to two quarts of water.

“The guys in sanitation have one of the hardest jobs, too. We have four garbage collection trucks and each one visits at least 1,000 houses a day and each truck throws about 10,000 pounds of trash from their specific route.

“They lift and throw bags, jump on and off the truck and sometimes walk ahead of the truck. It’s all strength and durability, not everybody has the wind to keep the pace. They have to pace themselves, of course.

“Other crews can sometimes slow it down a step or two, but sanitation can’t. It’s pretty fast-paced and with designated routes. But if worst comes to worst, we have the option to swap out workers with either community-service people or temporary employees. But above all else, we never run out of liquids,” Oakley explained.

Jacksonville workers in each department have weekly safety meetings to address summer health and heat safety measures.
“We discuss the warning signs of heat exhaustion, such as nausea, headaches, what kind of precautions to take if a coworker gets overheated,” Oakley said.

“We definitely drink more water, or we provide Gatorade, too, which some of the crew members prefer. But we carry plenty of liquids with us wherever we go, whether it’s streets, sanitation, fleet services or animal control. They make sure to pace themselves and stop to take short breaks,” Oakley said.

On Little Rock Air Force Base, airmen stick to a work/rest schedule when working in the heat.

The military has recommended work and rest cycles for outdoor activities. When the temperature tops 90 degrees, it recommends airmen drink a quart of water per hour and rest after 20 minutes of “medium work” such as calisthenics or patrolling.

Employees at Cabot Public Works beat the heat by working when it’s cooler, taking frequent breaks and drinking a lot of water and Gatorade.

“We have water and Gatorade on the trucks and breaks are man-datory,” said Jim Towe, public works director. “We buy Gatorade by the case.”

For most of the year, his employees work from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Towe said. But from Memo-rial Day to Labor Day, they voluntarily give up their 30 minute lunch break in favor of a shorter workday that starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

However, they still have plenty of time to eat the snacks they carry with them, he said, because they must break in the shade 15 minutes every hour when the temperatures climb.

At the Cabot Post Office, Post-master Bob Peterson says the LLVs (long life vehicles) city mail carriers drive aren’t equipped with air conditioners and the sliding doors must remain closed when the vehicles are moving, so carriers keep cool by various means.

They freeze bottles of water so they have cool water to drink. They drink Powerade supplied by the post office and they borrow customers’ water hoses to soak towels to wear around their necks.

All those little tricks help them get through the hot days, he said, but their customers also help.

“A lot of people feel sorry for them,” Peterson said, “And on hot days they might open a mailbox and find a nice cold drink there.”

The elderly, people with health problems, and very young children are the most vulnerable to heat related illnesses.

While the elderly, people with health problems, and very young children are equally vulnerable, elderly people should avoid staying shut-up indoors during heat waves without using air conditioning.

More than half of the 700 heat-related deaths in the 1995 Chicago heat wave could have been prevented with an air conditioner in the home.

Locally, elderly people 60 and over who can’t afford air conditioning are invited to the Jacksonville Senior Center at 100 Victory Circle where seniors can come at no cost to spend the day in the cool, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. “We offer lunch and activities in the afternoon so it’s a nice way to spend a hot day,” said Barb Seagle of the Jacksonville Senior Center.

On average, there are 400 heat-related deaths a year in the U.S. The heat wave of 1980 was an especially hard one for Arkansas resulting in 153 heat-related deaths. On July 12, 1980 the temperature in Jackson-ville was 105 degrees.

The 1995 heat wave in the Midwest contributed to 716 heat-related deaths in the U.S. that year alone.

TOP STORY >> Arkansas truck driver dodges bullets in Iraq

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Woman chronicles her time in the war zone as a civilian contractor, saying it was scary-going, but she’s ready to go back.

The first question one woman asks another who voluntarily goes to Iraq to work is, of course, Why?

Why would a feisty, blue-jeans-wearing American woman go to, of all places, the Middle East, of all places, Iraq, of all places, a war zone to drive trucks? Cindy Morgan, raised in DeWitt and a mother of three boys, answers that question with much more than the usual formula of “to support the troops,” though that was one of her reasons.

Morgan, pretty and feminine but with a tom-boy swagger, already had a career as a truck driver.

She took a truck-driving job in Iraq, as a civilian contractor conveying food and supplies to U.S. troops, partly to leave her hard-luck life be-hind, to escape an abusive husband, her third. While there, she found a reason for living, one that didn’t involve tolerating indifference, carelessness, stupidity, cruelty or dishonesty.

But she also learned a lesson she thinks a lot of Americans need to learn: What happens in the rest of the world matters here.

“Sitting here in the United States—you know we have it really good. And we see stuff over in countries like that and we say, ‘Oh, that’s not going to affect us.’ But in ways it does. … It’s like the old saying, There are six degrees of separation. It’s a small world when you really look at it, and everything affects everything else.”

Cynthia I. Morgan has written about her experiences in a new book, “Cindy in Iraq: A Civilian’s Year in the War Zone” (Free Press, $25.)

While in North Little Rock last week to promote the book, she sat down in the Books-a-Million café for an interview, some 7,000 miles and a culture away from war to discuss those experiences and why she decided to write about them. Her eldest son, Kenny, joined the Arkan-sas National Guard and later followed his mother to Iraq, where he was attached to the 39th Infantry Brigade and spent 10 months.

During her time in Iraq, Morgan kept an on-line journal that became particularly popular with the families of civilians working for private contractors supporting the troops. Her book stems from that journal, but she also wanted to present more than her personal experiences, which involved ambushes, seeing fellow truckers shot and taking shrapnel herself.

Morgan said that the American public needed to know about the vital, though extremely dangerous, work of civilians in supporting U.S. troops in the Iraqi war. And, she said, Americans need to know that good things have come of the U.S. presence in Iraq: A vicious dictator has been deposed, living conditions have improved, and many Iraqis, Morgan said, are grateful.

“We have done the right thing, no matter what the reason was,” Morgan said.

“When you see the people living like they did and you see firsthand what he [Saddam Hussein] did to the people who lived in his country, you just can’t help but know that we did the right thing. Granted, things are not great. We’re talking about an area of the world that has been fighting for 2,000 years, and it’s not going to stop overnight.

“But their living conditions in lots of places have gotten better. They’re getting clean, sanitary water and the trash isn’t everywhere, and the electricity grid is starting to get better so they don’t have power outages all the time. And their way of life is getting better. It’s still dangerous. I won’t deny that. There are still civilian Iraqis getting killed, unfortunately. But it is getting better.”

Morgan, however, expresses dismay at the U.S. public’s attitude toward civilian contractors working in Iraq.

“A lot of people think that we’re just a bunch of money-hungry mercenaries out there toting guns and killing civilians, when 99 percent of us aren’t allowed to carry a weapon,” she said.

“Unless you’re in security or you’re running private security in convoy escorts, you’re not allowed to carry a firearm. And we eat, we sleep right beside the soldiers. We run the convoys with them. We get shot at. We get killed beside them.

“There’s not enough money in this world to go play Russian roulette with your life,” she said. “They’re [private contractors] there for more than just some money. It’s God and country, and a lot of these guys are like I am. We were just too old to join the military after 9/11 and we wanted to serve our country.

“I had one reporter call us the ‘shadow army’ because we’re behind the scenes. Our military’s been cut back so much they can’t support themselves. We’re part of the largest contingent of civilian contractors we’ve ever had in a combat zone, and if it wasn’t for us, they [the troops] wouldn’t have a lot of the things they have. We rely on them for protection, and they rely on us for supplies.”

Asked how she was treated in the Middle East, Morgan acknowledged: “Being an American is a downside over there. Being a woman over there is a downside. You put the two together, and it’s like, oh, my gosh. It was scary going over just from the culture and everything you hear about that part of the world.” But working for KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary, helped shield her.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of dealings with the general public,” she said.

“We were staged out on the roads because a lot of the camps didn’t have big enough staging areas for all of the trucks. And we would get to meet the kids and some of the people that way, and that was our interaction with the locals.

“Some of them were rude, but if they were rude to me they were rude to the men as well,” Morgan said.

“And some of them were just as polite and respectful as they could be. And that really surprised me, especially when I became a CC [convoy commander], and we started having TCNs, third-country nationals, running with us.” The third-country nationals, also truck drivers employed by KBR, were from all over the Middle East and Asia, and many were Muslim.

“I was really afraid of how they would take having a woman tell them what to do and how to do this. But I walked in with, I guess you can say, an ‘attitude’ of ‘This is my job. This is what we’ve got to do.’ And whether I was totally sure of what I was doing or not, I presented the confidence that I was. These guys—it didn’t take long. They respected me and did what I asked them to do, even went out of their way. Made me tea, would ask me to come eat dinner with them.”

Sadly, while she was in Iraq, Morgan suffered more harm from a fellow American than from any Iraqi insurgents.

While in company-provided housing in Kuwait, she was sexually assaulted. The assailant wasn’t caught, and Morgan considered coming home. But a friend dissuaded her, saying, “You’ve let men dictate to you all of your life. Are you going to let this one? You’ve finally found something that you believe in, something that you are fulfilled by.” She decided to stay, ultimately spending a year in Iraq.

Morgan returned to private life in the United States, driving a truck. But she missed her work in the Middle East. She’s due to go back to Iraq July 24, as a camp manager for another private contractor, Houston-based Falcon SIS.

“It still gives me a chance to support the troops,” she said. “It makes my family feel a little bit easier than I’m not going to be outside the wire driving a truck. And you get used to that way of life.”

In her book, Morgan says that while in Iraq, she found her pride. As for the book itself:

“It’s my story. It’s a way to get to the American public what civilian contractors are doing over there and the fact that we’re side by side with the soldiers. There’s a lot of brave men over there—and women.”

Jan Cottingham is a freelance writer living in Little Rock.

TOP STORY >> ModifiedC-130s ready to fly in war

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Despite age, cargo plane remains workhorse in the global war on terror.

During a change of command ceremony at Little Rock Air Force Base last week, a 40-year-old C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft was parked nearby in the hangar, a reminder the plane is older than many of the aviators who pilot them in the global war on terror.

“It’s always been the workhorse of war,” said Lynn Hall, a contractor for Lockheed Martin. Hall teaches C-130 navigation to airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base.

“It can carry a lot of people, a lot of gear, land on small, rough airfields and it has the power for quick takeoffs,” Hall told The Leader.

Recently at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, mechanics created a modified version of the C-130– called a MC-130W – the first of a dozen such aircraft being re-designed by Air Force Special Operations Command to replace combat losses experienced over time .

Modifications to the planes include a basic electronic warfare capability to avoid potential threats, ability to work in special light conditions and strengthening of the tail. The aircraft are also equipped with air refueling pods for in-flight refueling of Special Operations Forces aircraft and combat search and rescue helicopters. The planes can also receive fuel from other refueling aircraft.

The last time “Herk” crews flew combat airdrops at this level was the Vietnam War. The plane is the aircraft of choice for inter-theater airlift in Afghanistan and Iraq capable of flying from areas located on some of the toughest terrain on the planet. C-130 crews from around the country have airlifted and airdropped thousands of supplies, some of it falling from the sky in the form of container-delivery system bundles weighing 1,200 to 2,300 pounds.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Co., European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and L3 – a joint venture between Boeing, L-3 Communications and an Italian company called Alenia — are competing to design and build a Joint Cargo Aircraft described as a shorter, twin-engine version of the C-130.

About 70 of the planes would be delivered to the Army and 75 to the Air Force by 2010. Since the planes haven’t even been designed yet, there’s no price tag for the aircraft.

The latest version of the C-130, the J model, is 112 ft., 9 in. long, 15 ft. longer than the older E and H models. It is also more expensive, between $45 million and $90 million per plane compared to the $30 million price tag of the 40 year old E and H models.

To date, the Air Force has taken delivery of 37 C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, including seven at LRAFB. The C-130J contract was nearly scrapped by lawmakers, but an estimated $1.78 billion in cancellation costs made quitting the program just as expensive as continuing.

TOP STORY >>New lines will bring sure flow of water

Leader staff writers

IN SHORT: Central Arkansas Water to pay $13.5 million, while local utilities pitch in $30.5 million, double earlier estimates.

A $44 million water project that will end Jacksonville’s, Cabot’s and North Pulaski Water Association’s dependence on well water is underway with a transmission line that is heading north from Little Rock-based Central Arkansas Water.

All the work, including a bid of $6.7 million to lay two 30-inch steel pipes under the I-430 bridge spanning the Arkansas River, has been about twice as much as expected, but all those involved say they will pay their part to keep the project moving ahead. CAW will pay $13.5 million for its part of the $44 million project and Jack-sonville, Cabot and North Pulaski Water Association will pay $30.5 million.

When the Lake Maumelle project first started three years ago, Cabot and Jacksonville expected to pay about $7 million each and North Pulaski expected to pay $800,000 for their part of upgrades to a CAW pumping station and to lay water lines under I-430. Now, all three will have to pay twice that amount and none say they are willing to pull out of the project because they have no other good option for water for the future.

A sign stands on the site where a water tank will be built between the Redmond Road railroad tracks and the south end of the newly-developed Hidden Oaks subdivision in Jacksonville. The sign reads that upon completion, the elevated tank will hold one million gallons of water. The cost to build the water tower is set at $2 million and is not included in the $44 million to connect to CAW.

One of two transmission lines taking water north (called the Northbelt transmission line) that will connect CAW to Jacksonville at this site in about four or five years, said Ken Anderson, Jacksonville Water Department general manager.

It will follow the route of existing railroad tracks toward the Brushy Island area. Going past the Two Pines landfill, this transmission line will tie into one of CAW’s existing lines. Anderson estimated the cost to lay the water pipeline at $4.5 million. This part of the project requires easements as well. “There are only three or four major landowners on this side, and the landfill has already agreed to it,” Anderson said.

A second, more costly transmission line heading toward Gravel Ridge to the west of Jacksonville must also be completed, but its exact route has yet to be determined. “At the end of the project, Jacksonville will have four tanks and maybe a fifth one, depending on the Sher-wood annexation,”Anderson said.

At the request of property owners, Jacksonville plans to annex undeveloped land, which includes an area to the north and east of Bayou Meto.

Local funding to cover expenditures for the project has already begun. In 2005, Jacksonville’s water rates increased 28 percent. Cabot’s doubled at about the same time.

This year, Jacksonville raised its rates another 12.5 percent and a 10.5 percent increase is planned for 2007. Cabot borrowed $21 million from the Arkansas Natural Re-sources Commission (then called Soil and Water) to pay its part of getting CAW water to Gravel Ridge and to build a 30-inch transmission line from Gravel Ridge to Cabot, but Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said about $10 million more will be needed.

TOP STORY >>New rules could oust young vets from VFW halls

Leader staff writer

They are old enough to go to war and die but can’t smoke in a public building. That seems to be the view the state is taking with young veterans, and it’s one that concerns Veterans of Foreign Wars commanders.

Jacksonville VFW Post 4548 Commander Don Reynolds said he understands what legislators are trying to accomplish with the smoking ban, but also believes the matter needs further examination to determine whether or not it will be as effective as it is anticipated to be.

“Well, I think they need to look at it a little closer,” Reynolds said. “We do a lot of charity work, kids activities here, especially around Christmas. It’s gonna hurt the kids more than it will us. The way the Clean Air Act is written now, we can’t let them in the building.”

The new state law bans smoking in workplaces and takes effect July 21. It exempts certain establishments, including bars that don’t allow anyone under the age of 21 on the premises.

With an exemption, many military-service organizations could allow smoking but would have to post a sign saying anyone under 21 would not be allowed in.

“We’ve got 18, 19, 20-year-olds who are in Iraq and who can buy cigarettes, but they can’t come into our place,” Reynolds complained.

“It’s a concern of ours because we can ask them to join the VFW, but they can’t participate and it really makes it bad,’’ said Bill Hill, commander of VFW Post 2278 in Hot Springs. “Probably 50 to 60 percent of those in Iraq are in that young age group and when they come home, they’ve got no place to go, and I’m having a hard time accepting that,’’ said Hill.

Reynolds and other VFW commanders believe the law is a bad situation for the VFWs, American Legions and other service clubs, he said. “This is not what we went to war and fought for,’’ Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the VFW members would have to decide if the post would be either all smoking or all non-smoking. “There’s no way we could survive if we went all non-smoking. I understand it’s still up in the air until we get some sure-fire definition of how it’s going to work. It’ll require them to look at this a lot deeper,” Reynolds said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

TOP STORY >> Smokers to put butts out

Leader staff writers

On one side, a group is asking all Arkansans to eat out at their favorite restaurants on July 21 to show support for the statewide smoking ban, which goes into effect that day.

On the other side, a local radio station is calling for a smoke-in the day before the ban starts to protest government’s continued intrusion into the rights of business owners.

And Gerald Grummer, manager of Jacksonville’s Western Sizzlin just wants things to be fair.

The Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans smoking in most public places, was approved during a special legislative session in April. The ban includes exemptions for small hotels, nursing homes and Oaklawn Park thoroughbred racetrack and Southland Grey-hound Park in West Memphis.

Tobacco shops and home-based businesses with fewer than three employees are also exempt.

The statewide ban also exempts any bars that don’t allow anyone under the age of 21 on the premises.

Overall, Jacksonville has about 40 restaurants and about a dozen of them have smoking sections. Sherwood numbers about the same, while Cabot has about eight restaurants which allow smoking.

“As long as we are all on a level playing field, I’m okay with it,” Grum-mer said. His restaurant, on John Harden, currently has a smoking section. “But it doesn’t get much use, so I don’t think we’ll be hurt any,” he said.

The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Arkansas is planning the “Dine Out in Arkansas” event to celebrate the start of the smoking ban.

Many restaurant owners claimed the ban would take away business and the “Dine Out in Arkansas” event may allay some of those fears, according to the group’s executive director, Kathe-rine Donald. “We’re just trying to bring about additional awareness to the new indoor clean-air law,” she said.

Meanwhile, KARN radio is sponsoring a gathering Thursday, July 20, from 8:30 to 11:45 a.m. at Julie’s Restaurant in Little Rock to protest the heavy-handedness of government and the hypocrisies in the new law, according to the station’s morning host, Kevin Gordon.

“About 75 percent of all businesses are already smoke-free. This ban, with the exemptions, may raise that to 85 percent. All this work for just 10 to 15 percent. Where’s the tobacco funding for education and incentives to get businesses to go smoke-free?” Gordon asked.

Zaffino’s Italian Restaurant in Sherwood will convert to a non-smoking atmosphere on the day the law takes effect, Friday, July 21, said owner Nori Fryar. “We just got a letter today from the Health Depart-ment explaining how the law works,” she said.

“Customers will not be able to smoke inside, but can outside in our patio dining area.” Fryar explained.

Kathy Meyer, who helps Fryar manage the restaurant, said the law shouldn’t have any profound effects on business, even without the indoor smoking section. “I don’t think we’ll have any problems,” Meyer said. “Right now, we maybe have four or five tables a night of smokers who can take about 10 steps and be right on our outdoor patio.”

Fryar does plan to accommodate his employees who smoke. “We have young adults who work here that can smoke outside on their breaks,” Fryar said.

Waffle House, which is synonymous with coffee and cigarettes, has started to build benches outside its local restaurants to accommodate smokers. “Our smoking customers are just as valuable as everyone else and we don’t want to lose them,” a local spokesperson said. “But we will abide by the law,” she said.

Waffle House, like other restaurants, will have signs posted, but it doesn't plan to make a big deal if someone lights up. “We’ll very politely ask them to put it out or take it outside,” the spokesperson said.

Patty Diptroni at the Goal Post, just north of Jacksonville, said. “We’re not affected at all because you’ve got to be 21 to enter here.”

Larry Wallace with Chili’s in Jacksonville said, “I’m not allowed to comment right now, but we’re a family establishment and we’ll abide by the law as it’s written.”

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, director for Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Health Advance-ment, said restaurant owners should not worry. She said that in other states with similar bans, business at restaurants and bars has increased since smoking bans were imposed.

“There are a lot of non-smokers who wouldn’t ordinarily be going to those restaurants and bars because they’re too smoky,” Dillaha said. “In Arkansas there are three times as many nonsmokers as there are smokers, so I’m anticipating that there will be a similar result here.”

Associated Press writer Annie Bergman contributed to this article.

EDITORIALS >> A little perspective

What a spate of good economic news we have had the past week. The state treasury is flush, having accumulated a surplus of $400 million in the fiscal year that ended at the first of the month, and the U.S. Treasury reports that a rush of income-tax receipts this year will drive the federal budget deficit for 2006 much lower than the administration’s last forecast in February.

President Bush boasted yesterday that the four rounds of tax cuts that he has engineered are responsible for the gushing revenues in government treasuries. It proves, he said, that his theory that lower taxes raise government revenues while releasing furious economic growth was right.

We can rest easy now, can’t we? We can quit worrying about exploding deficits and soaring debt financed by foreign banks and the oil cartel or an economy that is not producing many new jobs or growing paychecks.

Restrain your exhilaration. Let’s pay closer attention to those exuberant claims.

First, real per-capita federal revenues — adjusted, that is, for inflation and population growth — are only now returning to the level of five years ago when Congress enacted the first of the Bush tax cuts and a brief recession began.

Even counting the administration’s projections for this year, the growth rate of revenues in the five and a half years of the administration is far below the rate of any previous business cycle since World War II. The new revenue forecast for this fiscal year is still $300 billion below the forecast in 2001 under the tax rates that governed the latter Bill Clinton years.

Much of the furious growth in revenues this year, in Washington and in Little Rock, is from corporate income taxes. Surging corporate taxes account for almost a fourth of the Arkansas surplus. It reflects a mammoth surge in profits that corporations choose to report this year. It also reflects a surge in capital-gains and dividend income from wealthy investors and the large bonuses and salary increases of corporate executives rather than a rise in the incomes of average Americans.

The figures suggest a rapidly widening income disparity between corporations and high-income individuals and the rest of society.

Last, let us be reminded that in the five and a half years since the first tax cuts for the wealthy were enacted, in March 2001, the Bush administration has borrowed $3 trillion. Even with the burst of revenues in recent months, counting the administration’s borrowing from Social Security trust funds to pay for wars, it will add $470 billion this year to the debt that our children and grandchildren will be taxed to pay.

When this all began in 2001, remember, the United States was running 12-digit surpluses and forecasting ever-larger ones as far as the eye could see. When politicians brag, memory helps.


The 314th Mission Support Group changed commanders last Wednesday morning in a moving ceremony in Hangar 276 at Little Rock Air Force Base. Col. Scott C. Lockard succeeded Col. John A. Starkey as commander. Hundreds of military people, the officers’ relatives and community leaders watched as Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the base commander, presided over the passing of the group’s guidon from Col. Starkey to Col. Lockard.

For some 60 years, the Air Force has attracted the cream of the crop, where diversity is its strength. That is reflected in the colonels’ backgrounds: Col. Starkey, a native New Yorker, and Col. Lockard, a native of Kentucky, come from different sections of the nation, but they strengthen their branch of the military with the unique qualities of their regions.

A sense of camaraderie, a unity of purpose, was evident at the ceremony. But beyond that, as Gen. Self put it, there is a certain je ne sais quoi in the Air Force, a can-do spirit that has made the base a center of excellence in the military.

As Gen. Self said, the 314th Mission Support Group, which trains and sends flight crews into battle, will remain in good hands under a new commander. The general reminded the audience that the military never lacks for good leadership: When one outstanding commander like Col. Starkey leaves, another one like Col. Lockard takes his place.

Col. Lockard and the men and women of the 314th MSG, like the rest of the air base, are on duty around the clock. For those of us who only catch glimpses of their important work, their preparedness means we’re safe and secure, a comforting notion in these difficult times.

EDITORIAL >> Having it both ways

To say one thing, do quite another and get credit for both is the optimum skill in politics. It is much easier when you are traversing the country and the local media do not know the difference.

Monday, Gov. Huckabee was wrapping up another three-day swing through Iowa, the first state to engage in presidential selection in 2008. At a news conference, someone asked Huckabee about Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack’s veto of a bill putting limitations on the condemnation of private property for private economic development. Vilsack is a Democrat and, like Huckabee, a long-shot candidate for president. But he isn’t much of a demagogue.

Huckabee said if he were governor of Iowa he probably would not have vetoed the bill, which he admitted that he had not read. When government takes private property for the benefit of private entities and individuals, Huckabee said, “that is really a threshold that once we cross we have a hard time getting back, and I think there’s a lot of angst I hear about it.”

“I know that is a very sensitive issue in Arkansas and most places,” he continued. “We haven’t had to do anything because we’ve never had a situation that I’m aware of where we’ve taken private property for a private development.”

Maybe not, but contrary to the impression he left in Iowa, Huckabee signed into law legislation to permit exactly that in Arkansas. It was the tax-increment-finance statute.

A 2002 constitutional amendment, supported by the governor, empowers local governments to create redevelopment districts with the goal of creating new jobs and to tap school, city and county property taxes to build infrastruture. The enabling statute signed by the governor explicitly granted local governments condemnation power.

Could the governor have misapprehended the purpose owing to vague language?

The statute says a redevelopment project may take private property, including vacant lots, “for development, redevelopment or rehabilitation by private enterprise. . .” Could a statute be any clearer?

The law has not been used yet to condemn property for private development, but projects are in the works from North Little Rock’s Dark Hollow to Jonesboro and Rogers.

Asa Hutchinson, the nominee of Huckabee’s party to succeed him, has been exploiting the eminent-domain issue with the same finesse. They inveigh against a U. S. Supreme Court decision that said the U.S. Constitution did not prohibit property takings for quasi-public purposes but then signal to developers that it’s really OK in their case.

They don’t want to irritate developers who want to rake off school taxes to build freeway exits to their shopping malls.
It turns out that in politics you really can have it both ways.

OBITUARIES >> 07-12-06

Mattie Haralson, 101

Mattie Josiephene May Haral-son, 101, of Jacksonville passed away July 9 at Woodland Hills Nursing Home in Jacksonville. She was born Nov. 30, 1904, at Hattieville to Hen-ry Columbus May and Savannah Georgia Hicks May.

She was a homemaker and member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock. She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Price Monroe Haralson; a son, Houston Haralson; a daughter, Marilyn Brown; a son-in-law, Britt Hall; three brothers; one sister; two grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

She is survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Price Monroe Jr. and Sybil Haralson of Redfield, Bobby Joe and Norma Haralson of Jacksonville; a daughter, Vernie Hall of Pine Bluff; a daughter-in-law, Nadine Haralson of Gravel Ridge; son-in-law, Truman Brown of Splendora, Texas; 16 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at East Union Missionary Baptist Church with Reverend Bob Slagley officiating.

Burial will follow in Salem Cemetery. Pallbearers will be her grandsons. Memorials may be made to East Union Missionary Baptist Church, 20422 N. Spring-lake Road, Hensley, Ark. 72065, or Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, 5300 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock, Ark., 72204.

Arrangements are by Buie Funeral Home of Sheridan.

Bertha Smith

Bertha Marion Smith, 90, of Jacksonville, died July 7 at home. She was born March 12, 1916, to the late Aaron and Margaret Sherlock Adler in Nottingham, England. She is survived by her daughter, Deirdre Reilly of Jack-sonville; four grandchildren, Michael and Sharon Moore, Patrick and Carol Reilly, Daniel Reilly, Shona and Jason McAtee, and eight great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by a son, John Smith. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Jerold Posey.

Charles Middleton

Charles “Charlie” Edwin Middle-ton, 67, of Cottonwood, Ariz., passed away July 3.

He was born to the late Sallie and Edwin Gladstone “E.G.” Middleton in Arkansas. He spent most of his life in Arkansas, graduating from Quit-man High School. He did a tour of duty in the Navy and afterwards, he pursued his passion for trucks and over-the-road driving, working for Traveler Boats and Transcon. He retired in 1997 after 28 years with ABF Freight Systems. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge of Jacksonville, the Scottish Rite of Little Rock and the Teamsters of Little Rock. He was also a member of Sedona United Methodist Church in Arizona. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lois Marie Middleton.

Survivors include his two daughters, Karen Middleton Britton of Colorado and Sheila Middleton Sals-man of New Mexico; one sister, Mary Hassell Maxson of Arizona, and four grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Rest Hills Chapel in North Little Rock. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. There will also be a memorial service held at a later date in Arizona.

The family requests memorials be made to the First United Methodist Church, 220 W. Main Street in Jacksonville or Sedona United Methodist Church, 1109 Indian Cliffs Road, Sedona, Ariz., 86336.

Selma Thornton

“Granny” Selma Lilly Thornton, 93, of Cabot, went to be with Jesus July 9. She was born April 7, 1913, in Cabot to the late Marion Wesley and Callie Elizabeth Cole. She was the founding executor of the Faith Chris-tian Center Church and a Prayer Warrior all of her life.

Also preceding her in death are one son, William Thornton, Jr.; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Survivors include three daughters, Connie Mahoney and Donna Williams of Cabot and Betty J. Gilliam of Jacksonville; one son, Doyne T. Thornton of Alpena; one sister, Maycel Wood of Bakersfield, Calif.; 22 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. today with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Faith Christian Center, 6706 T.P. White Drive in Jacksonville with Rev. Gene Gilliam officiating.

Interment will follow at 16th Section Cemetery. Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service.

Jesse Maddox

Jesse Alexander Maddox, 86, of Cabot, went to be with his Heavenly Father on July 9. He was born Jan. 8, 1920 in Guin, Ala.

He was preceded in death by his parents E.A. and Alice Foster Maddox, four brothers and two sisters.  

He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Betty of Cabot; one son, Sam Maddox, and his wife, Sandra of Stuttgart; two daughters, Peggy Reichenbach and her husband, Carl and Becky Rummel and her husband, Larry, all of Cabot; six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Victory Baptist Church of Cabot with burial at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for cancer research.  

Jimmy Woosley

Jimmy Darrell Woosley, Sr., of Cabot passed away July 7. He was born July 7, 1936, in England to the late Charley Richard and Thelma Jones Woosley.

Also preceding him in death were two sisters, Patricia and Lois Woosley and three brothers, Ray, Doyne and Eugene Woosley.

Survivors include his loving wife of 45 years, Penny Jackson Woosley of the home; four sons, Floyd Whitten of El Paso, and Bruce, Danny and Jimmy Woosley, all of Cabot; one sister Carolyn Schmerber of Salem, Oregon, and one brother Joe Woosley of Cabot; seven grandchildren, Paul and Brandy Whitten of Mississippi, Maggie Gray and Laura Woosley of Cabot, Crystal Crisco of Beebe and Judy and Jessica Woosley of Cabot, and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at Cabot United Methodist Church with Rev. Rick Meadows officiating. Interment followed at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cabot. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Kidney Foundation or to Union Valley Cemetery, 14633 Hwy. 31 So., England, Ark., 72046.  Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service of Cabot.

Raelynne Duckett

Raelynne Bliss Rachelle Duckett of Beebe, infant daughter of Jacilyn Duckett and Billy Heaston, died July 7.

She is also survived by a brother, Xander Duckett of Beebe; her grandparents, George and Sandra Beals of Beebe; and great-grandmother, Helen Bliss of Okla-homa. A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at West-brook Funeral Home of Beebe.

Louvinia Love

Louvinia Love, 69, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, baptized July 1, 1975, died July 6 in Searcy.

She was born to the late Charles M. Love, Sr., and Georgia Christian in Judsonia on July 20, 1936.

She has lived in Vacaville, Calif., for the last 11 years and had returned to Heber Springs for a family reunion.

She is preceded in death by one daughter, Tricia Ann Ruhl.

She is survived by her children, Edward Ruhl and wife, Peppa of Yuma, Arizona, Beverly Lowery and Tonya Marie Love, both of Vacaville, Calif., Walter Henry Sullivan, Jr., and wife, Robbie of Bald Knob, and Debra Fulton of Jacksonville; brothers Charles Love, Dale E. Love, Robert Love, Jr., and Paul Love; and sisters, Bobbie Marie McKee and Billie Rea Leduc.

Memorial services were held Sunday at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Searcy at 6:30 p.m. with Russell Smith officiating. Arrangements were under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.