Thursday, July 27, 2006

SPORTS >> Summer football reveals progress

IN SHORT: Jacksonville’s passing offense has been steady during 7-on-7 meets.

Leader sports writer

Jacksonville’s football Red Devils finished up a summer’s worth of 7-on-7 football Monday night at North Little Rock High School. The Red Devil skill position players ended the summer with a 14-7 win over Sheridan, but final scores were not the goal in competing in the summer league with the Yellowjackets, Catholic High, NLRHS, Conway and many others.

Jacksonville’s main goal was to fine tune its own offense, and pass defense.

Participation was good most of the year, but not as good as head coach Mark Whatley would have liked.

“For the most part we got everybody out here,” Whatley said. “We would have like to have had a few more out there than we did. It’s summertime so we’ve had kids on vacation, working and in other states. They’re spread out all over the place at different times.”

Even back during spring practice, Whatley was pleased with how well the returning starters on offense picked up where they left off last season. The execution was good then, and has been pretty precise during summer drills.

“They’re playing pretty well,” Whatley said. “They’ve thrown and caught the ball well. Of course there’s some things we could be doing better, but I feel pretty good about this group. We just have to get our linemen taken care of. We’re not as deep there right now is you’d like to be, but we’ll get ‘em out there next month and get after it and see what we can come up with.”

In Monday’s competition, the Red Devils were solid with the deep pass. Quarterback Daniel Hubbard was on target and usually hit his receivers in stride. The receivers were also making the catches.

Terrell L’Hrisse and Marcus King were Hubbard’s most common targets. Both players were sharp. King showed improved hands from last season, while L’Hrisse continued to show why he became a favorite target over the course of last season as a sophomore.

Defensively, the Red Devils were burned deep very few times, but gave up the underneath pass regularly. Speed at the corners showed as short out patterns were routinely knocked down by Jacksonville defenders breaking on the ball.

The team has been reporting in shifts for voluntary workouts over the summer, and the entire Red Devil squad will report for two-a-days on August 31.

SPORTS >> Sherwood earns MOC crown

IN SHORT: The Sharks won their second Centeral Arkansas Swim league championship while the Cabot Piranhas finished an impressive third despite being a smaller team.

Leader sports writer

The Sherwood Sharks followed up their third straight Central Arkansas Swim League title with their second consecutive Meet of Champs victory at the Donaghey Student Center at UALR on Saturday. The Sharks dominated the event, winning by 80.5 points over second-place finishers Maumelle.

The Sharks finished with a total of 451.5 points, compared to 371 for the Marlins. Cabot finished a comfortable third in the event, with 267.5 points. Otter Creek finished fourth with 221, and Lakewood was fifth with 171 points. Bryant, YMCA and Lonoke filled out the remainder of the finishing order. Bryant had a respectable 131 total points, but YMCA and newcomers Lonoke Shark-rockets both struggled in the meet. Both teams failed to break 100 points for the competition.

The Sharks dominated in most of the age groups. Sherwood ended up with team high averages in four of the seven age groups.

Cabot took team high in the 18-U girls group thanks to a multiple record-breaking performance from Vicki Lovellette.

Lakewood’s Preston Strobel was the only swimmer to break more records than Lovellette with five. Lovellette set new best times in the 50 yd. freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and the 100 yd. IM. The breaststroke was the only event in which Lovellette did not set a new best time, but she still won the event to go undefeated at the meet.

She was also at the top of the individual rankings board for the 17-18 female group at the end of the day with 25 points. Teammate Tina Foster ended up third in the individual rankings with 19 points.

The Sharks had several members break records in the event. Jessie Garrison, Delaney Haralson, Sheridan Arnold and away with MOC records after it was all said and done.

Garrison tied Cabot’s Lovellette with four new records including the girls 10-U 50 yd. freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and 100 yd. IM. The breaststroke was the only 10-U girls event in which Garrison did not set a new best time; that honor went to Arnold, who put down a time of 40.65 to set a new meet record in the event. Haralson’s record-setting time came in the girls 8-U 50 yd. IM with a time of 42.48. Christopher Heye came away with new records in three events, the boys 10-U 50 yd. backstroke, breaststroke, and 100 yd. IM.

Garrison, Heye and Haralson also finished at the top of the individual rankings for their age groups. Haralson took the 8-U girls division with 19 points, while Garrison dominated the 10-U girls with 23 points.

Teammates Leila Kerr and Nikki Sanders were behind Garr-ison in the rankings with 13 points and 10 points respectively. Heye also took the 10-U boys group easily with 23 individual points. Braden Binns of the Piranhas made his way to the top of the individual rankings in the boys 6-U division. Binns finished with 20 points ahead of Sherwood’s Ian Heye, who finished a strong second with 13 individual points.

“This has been one of our best meets ever,” Piranhas coach Keith McAfee said. “We won all of our dual meets, so we wanted to end the year with a Meet of Champs win.”

Sharks’ parent representative Mary Jo Heye was also elated over Saturday’s performance. Heye had praise for both the kids and coaches, and the solid job done by both all year. “This is a strong group of kids,” Heye said. “We have a good ratio of swimmers to coaches. Coach McAfee is probably the most beloved coach in the state, he is always positive, and the kids look up to him.

Christopher Heye all came

SPORTS >> Bruins get state bid with victory

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills’ AAA team eased by Jacksonville in the semis of the zone 3 tournament to advance to the title game and earn a bid to next week’s state playoffs.

Leader staff writer

Sylvan Hills scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning to barely pull out a semifinals win over Gwatney Chevrolet at the Zone 3 tournament at Burns Park. The victory qualified the Bruins for the upcoming state American Legion AAA tournament in Fort Smith later this week. The Bruins overcame a 6-1 deficit to rally to an 8-7 win over the Chevy boys.

“We almost waited too late,” Bruins coach Mike Bromley said. “They did what they had to do to get the win, they didn’t quit. We had some boys step up for us and do a good job down the stretch.”

The Bruins went on to the finals against Maumelle, but the Bulldogs claimed theadvantage early with a grand slam home run in the top of the first inning by Razorback signee Evan Cox. Maumelle went on for a 12-4 win to take the zone title, but the Bruins accomplished the number- one goal of qualifying for the state tourney.

It all came down to the bottom of the ninth for both teams. Lead- off batter Chase Elder grounded out at shortstop, but Austin Gwatney was able to reach on an E6. Another ground out to SS from Nathan Van Schoyck put the Bruins on the bubble with two outs, and in desperate need of a hit.

That hit came in the form of a single to left from Jarrett Boles. Boles’ hit scored Gwatney to tie the game, and Roark brought in Boles for the game-winning RBI with a double into deep centerfield.

Jacksonville took control of the semifinal game in the top of the fourth inning, adding to their early 3-1 lead with three more runs off of Bruins starting right hander Tony Pavan. Pavan was coming off a strong summer, but gave up eight hits in three and two thirds innings to give Gwatney a 6-1 lead after four innings.

Pavan was relieved in the fourth by Austin Gwatney. Gwatney went until the ninth inning, giving up only one earned run to Jacksonville off three hits. Bruins ace Ashur Toliver threw the final inning for Sylvan Hills, giving up a walk before retiring the Chevy boys by forcing a pair of infield pop ups.

Both teams scored their first runs of the game in the second inning, but Jacksonville took a 3-1 lead in the top of the third with a RBI double from Zach Thomas that scored Neil Hatcher and Josh Mansfield. Kyle West tried to make it in for a third run on the play, but Bruins catcher Taylor Roark tagged him out at the plate to retire the side.

The Chevy boys stretched their lead in the top of the fourth. Tyler Uptergrove and Randy Peeples both doubled to start the inning.

Peeples’ shot to center scored Uptergrove, and Peeples was driven in by another double from Brian Thurman. Thurman scored off a single from Cameron Hood to make it 6-1, and sent Bromley to the mound to initiate a change in hurlers for the Bruins.

Austin Gwatney came in to get the two outs needed to end Jacksonville’s turn, and then sent them three and out in the top of the fifth.

Sylvan Hills started to close the gap in the bottom of the fifth. A sacrifice grounder from Toliver scored Shawn Bybee, and Hayden Miller was brought in by a single from Ritchie Irvan.

Austin Gwatney added another run in the bottom of the sixth, and Toliver brought the Bruins to within two in the seventh when he came in off a double from Ross Bogard.

Starting Gwatney pitcher Trey Smith lasted until the bottom of the eighth, when he was relieved by Casey Winstead. Winstead gave up one run in the eighth that pulled the Bruins to within one at 7-6.

Sylvan Hills will begin state tournament play on Friday against host team Fort Smith at 1 p.m. The double-elimination tourney will run through next Monday.

EDITORIALS >> We'll pay piper twice

Did you catch the numbing remark in the state newspaper this week about the land value of the rugged slopes south of Lake Maumelle that the water utility for central Arkansas is trying to buy to keep your water safe? If the attorney for Deltic Timber Corp. proves right in his declaration that the land is worth “at least” $20,000 an acre on the open market, grab your pocketbook. Your water rates are going to go up and up.

Deltic, the El Dorado-based timber and development giant that developed much of the luxurious Chenal Valley subdivisions west of Little Rock, wants to build expensive estates on the slopes and valleys of 760 acres overlooking the intake for central Arkansas’ water supply. After Deltic was thwarted in the legislature last year in its effort to preserve its ability to build on the land, Central Arkansas condemned the property to prevent the developer from degrading the water. A trial in Pulaski Circuit Court in September will determine how much the utility — that is all of us — will have to pay for the land.

Deltic, we are sure, will have appraisers who will testify that the market value of the land is $20,000 an acre or maybe much more. If the court accepts the $20,000-an-acre valuation, the water company would shell out $15.2 million for the acreage. That would be only the beginning as builders lay out plans for developing other valleys in the watershed.

Is $20,000 an acre a fair price for taxpayers and water users to pay? Here is a good measure, in our way of thinking: What did Deltic say the land was worth when it went down to the courthouse in the most recent tax year to declare the land’s value for tax purposes? On those 760 acres, Deltic paid a grand total of $228 to the county and the schools, according to the office of the county tax assessor. The value of the land, in that reckoning, was in the neighborhood of $250 an acre rather than $20,000.

The law seems to favor Deltic, unless it is challenged. The big paper companies and agribusinesses got the state Constitution amended in 1980 to let them value their land for tax purposes upon something called the “use” or “productive” formula rather than its true market value while homeowners and businesses paid taxes on the market value of their property. Frank Lambright, a retired Little Rock insurance man, has been trying to get the waterworks to challenge the constitutionality of the 1980 law on the premise that it violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by favoring one class of property owners over others.

To be fair in any circumstance, one of two things needs to happen: Either prime development land needs to be taxed for school and county needs on the basis of its actual market value, or else when the land is condemned for public protection the company needs to be made to sell the land for the value that the owner itself places on the land when he assesses it.
The public — taxpayers, school children, and water users — should not be slammed twice, once on tax bills and again on inflated prices. Once is plenty.

EDITORIALS >> Unsound bites

Presidents like to go abroad when they are in trouble at home. Basking in the adulation of native throngs and hobnobbing with heads of foreign states are always good for poll ratings. But the world-leader mode has not worked for President Bush, who always returns from foreign junkets with his dignity barely intact.

He doesn’t get to ride in parades or address the crowds like Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter did because it is risky.

Last week’s sojourn in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the summit of G-8 heads of state was a new low even for Bush. Everything turned sour. When he tried to show toughness by telling Vladimir Putin that he should try to have the kind of democratic change that the United States brought about in Iraq, Putin smirked and said no Russian wanted any part of the kind of democracy the world sees in Iraq. Bush was reported to have reddened and smiled weakly.

Then there was the sudden back massage that he tried to give a perceptibly shocked German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Finally, someone left a microphone open at the final luncheon — could Putin have arranged that? — and the media caught Bush munching and mumbling mindless remarks to people around him, including an uneasy Tony Blair, the British prime minister and close U.S. ally.

He seemed shocked to learn that the Chinese premier on one side of him had so far to travel to get home to Beijing.
He finally acknowledged that Russia and China both must be big countries.

But the worst turn of events was his remark to Blair that the solution to the fighting in Lebanon and Israel was for “Hezbollah to stop doing this s***.”

By now, there can be few religious followers who do not know that, like Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, the president, though a very pious man, has a potty mouth and is fond of obscene gestures and stories, but reminders that he exercises those predilections on the world stage are not soothing for his base.

It was helpful that none of the networks and few of the print media carried the actual word. But a few did, most prominently National Public Radio, which carried the audio unedited. But now NPR faces the risk of being fined $350,000 for airing proscribed profanities. We would guess that the Federal Communications Commission will let this one slide.

OBITUARIES >> 07-26-06

Christopher Weeks
Christopher A. Weeks, 17, of Cabot died July 20. He was born June 2, 1989 to Mike and Anita Long Weeks in Searcy.  He was a student at Cabot High School where he was a member of the track and football team.

Christopher was also a member of Deliverance Tabernacle in Ward.  

He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, David and Lucille Weeks.

In addition to his parents, Christopher is survived by grandparents Carl Long and Nancy Long both of Beebe; one sister, Regina Weeks of Ward and one brother, Kevin Weeks of Ward.

He also survived by a host of aunts, uncles and friends.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the chapel of Cabot Funeral Home. Visitation will start at noon. Interment will follow at Old Austin Cemetery.  

DanieL Watters
Daniel Brett Watters, 25, of Ward passed away July 20.

He loved many outdoor activities such as fishing, four wheeler and motorcycle riding, and shooting his bow. Daniel also loved his pet bulldog, Dozier.

Survivors include his father, David Watters of Ward; mother, Kathi Langford of Searcy; two sons, Daniel Brett Watters II of Brownsboro, Texas, and Hayden Brett Watters of Benton; sister, Olevia Watters of Beebe; grandparents, Wrolen and Betty Watters of Ward, Donna Watters of Ward, and Ann King of Newark, and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday at Briarwood Baptist Church in Cabot. The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Briarwood Baptist Church Youth Center. Arrangements were by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot.

Mary Hardcastle
Mary Hardcastle, 74, of Jack-sonville died July 24 in North Little Rock. She was born August 2, 1931 in Mt. Vernon, a daughter of the late William and Roxie (Taylor) Hill.

She was preceded in death in 1994 by her son Charles Hardcas-tle, and five brothers and sisters.

She is survived by her daughter Earnestine and husband Roy Shepherd of Mountainburg; sons, Ernie Hardcastle of Jacksonville, and Danny and wife Jeri Hardcastle of Cabot; brother, Milburn “Pint” Hill and wife Betty of Otto; sisters, Addie Mae Grasby of North Little Rock and Barbara Crawford; grandchildren, Roy Shepherd, Jr., Danny Hardcastle, Jr., Jeff Hardcastle, Jennifer Bates and Josh Hardcastle; and great-grandchildren, Andrew Shepherd, Adam Shepherd, Madison Hard-castle, Jaxon Hardcastle, Keaton Bates, Kamryn Bates and Zach Hardcastle.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Moore’s Jack-sonville Funeral Home Chapel with Revs. Ben Leonard and Wilburn “Pint” Hill officiating. Interment will follow in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.

James Knox
James “Jim” Thurman Knox, 61, of Cabot passed away July 23. He was born April 2, 1945 in Beebe to the late James Barnwell Knox and Tsianina Faye Adkins-Knox.

He is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Kathy Lynn Knox of the home; two daughters, Jennifer Barber and her husband, Jonathan of Cabot and Erika Knox of Wynne; two sisters, Tsianina Davis and her husband, Larry of Fayetteville and Jane Greer and her husband Johnny of Cabot; three grandchildren, Brody Barber, Quaid Barber and Trevor Knox; one uncle, Sam Adkins of Sherwood along with several nieces, nephews and friends.

Visitation will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Thomas Funeral Home in Cabot with the family receiving friends from 6 to 8 p.m.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at McArthur Assembly of God in Jacksonville with Bro. Larry Burton officiating.

Serving as pallbearers will be Robert Hoover, Alvin Schmidt, Mark Cox, Johnnie Greer, Jeremy Greer and David Fears.

The family requests that everyone wear casual attire. Interment will follow the services at Old Austin Cemetery in Ward.
Arrangements are by Thomas Funeral Service, Cabot .

Lois Waymack
Lois Elizabeth Waymack, 93, died July 24 in Cabot. She was born Jan. 10, 1913 to the late Ernest and Martha Ballard Cox in Old Austin. She was a member of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Horace Waymack. She was also preceded in death by eight siblings, Maycel Brown, Corene Snead, Oneal Cox, Charley Cox, Thelma Davis, Ceril Cox, Linnie Patrick and Lola Patron.

She is survived by one daughter, Patsy Wilson of Cabot; one son, Tommy Waymack of Cabot; one sister, Alma Looper; five grandchildren, Kathy Byrns, Don-na Lawson, Barry Wilson, Rita Sipe and Randy Waymack.She also was survived by seven great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cabot Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday at the chapel of Cabot Funeral Home with Rev. Dave Reddoch officiating. Interment will follow at Sumner Cemetery.

Ambrose Paul
Ambrose Paul, 61, of Ward, died Sunday, July 23. He was a retired truck driver. Ambrose was a very proud member of the Ottawa-Chippewa Tribe.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Mae, and his father, Francis Paul, Sr.; two brothers, Kermitt Paul and Francis Paul, Jr., and sister, Isabelle Reddick.

He is survived by his wife, Mickey Paul of the home; one daughter, Chrystal Hunsberger and husband Joe of Tulsa; one son, Ambrose, Jr., of Oregon; four grandchildren who he loved dearly, Kimberly, Emily, Hailey and J. J. Hunsberger of Tulsa; two brothers, Ernie Paul and wife Wanda of North Little Rock and Bennett Paul of Michigan; three sisters, Lula and husband Randy Erwin of Star City, Mary Scott and Kathy Martin of Branson, Mo.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook Fu-neral Home with burial in Apple Hill Cemetery.

TOP STORY>>Sherwood backs plan for jail tax

IN SHORT: Agreement would let Pulaski County use proposed quarter-cent sales levy to build and maintain more cells.

Leader staff writer

The Sherwood City Council voted Monday night to let the mayor sign an agreement with the county to use a proposed quarter-cent sales tax to build and maintain more jail space.

The Pulaski County Quorum Court has set a special election for Sept. 12 on the tax issue. Early voting starts Sept. 5. The county hopes it will pass and bring in about $18 million a year.

The county currently budgets $16.8 million per year for jail operation. The new tax would increase the budget to about $34 million.

The sales tax would give the county enough money to quickly build or reopen space to house 1,618 inmates. Currently the jail can only house 880 prisoners.

The will cost the county about $100,000 to conduct the special election.

Sherwood joins Jacksonville, which passed a similar resolution Thursday. All eight cities within Pulaski County either have or are expected to approve the resolution, which would allow the county to keep all the money collected from the proposed sales tax.

Sherwood Bill Har-mon told the council that the resolution the council was passing would allow the mayor to enter into an inter-local agreement with the county.

He said the agreement would allow the county to keep the sales tax money, if it passes, provided the money is used only for the purposes of expanding and maintaining the jail.

“State law says that unless all the cities in a county agree to do otherwise, any county tax must be divided proportionately between the county and the cities,” he explained.

Harmon also said the agreement would require the county to continue to budget what they have this year for jail operations each and every year forward, on top of what the tax brings in.

“The agreement will also release cities from paying for jail support,” Harmon said.

Sherwood pays $98,000 a year and Jacksonville pays $125,000.

“That’s $98,000 we can use on other things,” Harmon said. “With a $13 million annual budget, that money won’t make a big difference, but it will allow us to loose our belts some.”

The resolution passed unanimously. Sherwood resident Tom Brooks asked the council to take it a step further and come up with a second resolution spe-cifically support the tax and push residents to vote for it.

“A lot of dangerous people will stay on the loose if we don’t pass this tax. The city and civic clubs need to push for the tax,” Brooks said.

The council took no action on the idea. In other council business:

- The council voted to condemn a house at 209 Cherrywood as a “public nuisance” and gave the owners 30 days to tear it down or bring it up to code. The council’s resolution called the vacant house “unfit for human habitation.”

- Alderman Sheilaa Sulcer told the council that the city’s Fourth of July festivities at Sherwood Forest were a great success and about 6,000 people attended. “We could not have done it without the help of all the volunteers,” she said.

- The council approved the rezoning of 107 Audubon Cove from single-family homes (R-1) to duplexes (R-2) at request of owner property owner.

TOP STORY>>Smokers are adjusting to ban

IN SHORT:The Clean Air Act, which went into effect last Friday, has some puffing outside restaurants and work places.

Leader staff writer

Local smokers have reacted in different ways to the statewide smoking ban in most public places which went into effect last Friday.

Arkansas’ smoking ban, ap-proved earlier this year in a special legislative session, covers most workplaces, with some exceptions.

They keep smoking in their homes and cars and sneak a smoke outside their workplaces and in front of restaurants.

For example, they’ll pull a chair up, grab a cup of coffee and light up a smoke outside Waffle House in Jacksonville.

“Most of them take their coffee cups and smoke outside,” said relief manager Amanda Wisdom.

But Mazzio’s Pizza employees lost one faithful customer the day before the smoking ban went into effect.

“We never really had a lot of smokers, but there was one man who would come here for a cup of coffee and to smoke,” said Candy Orvis, a Mazzio’s manager. “He did tell us goodbye on Thursday.”

Criminal penalties are now in effect for the law, but civil penalties must still be approved by the state Health Board on Thursday. The earliest civil penalties could take effect is Aug. 7. Smoking is allowed in bars and veterans halls that don’t allow people under 21 years of age.

Hardriders Bar and Grill on the Hwy. 67-167 access road just north of Jacksonville opted to keep out anyone under 21.

“We had to take the exemption, but children can be in our open-air patio,” said owner Dennis Martin-dill. “They (the customers) understand we had to do this, but they’re telling me it is violating their constitutional rights.”

South of this establishment, Western Sizzlin’ on John Harden Drive, received a positive response to the smoke-free environment from customers over the weekend. When asked if business was down, general manager Charles Shirley replied, “No, we had a normal weekend.”

According to Shirley, it’s “wait-and-see” and hope people will adapt to it.

Arkansas health officials on Friday celebrated the first day of the statewide workplace smoking ban and said businesses shouldn’t expect to see “puff police” issuing fines just yet.

“None of us have as the goal to go around and have people spread eagle on the top of police cars because they were caught smoking,” Gov. Mike Huckabee said at a news conference to mark the ban. “Our goal is to protect people, not police them.”

Huckabee said he doesn’t think the law loses its effectiveness be-cause of the lack of civil penalties.

“Now people are empowered, if they’re in a position wherever they may be and someone lights up a cigarette indoors, they can say, ‘I’m sorry but you may not be aware that what you just did is against the law,’’’ Huckabee said. “Most people want to obey the law, even if they don’t like it.’’

Violators could face fines of up to $500 for a criminal violation and $1,000 for a civil violation of the new law.

The law allows smoking areas in certain businesses, including small hotels and motels, retail tobacco stores and long-term care facilities.

The law also includes an ex-emption for bars and restaurants that don’t admit people under 21.

About 40 businesses have ap-plied for certification for exemption, although state regulators are still making the rules final.
Some businesses will have to make changes if they want an exemption.

Joe Thompson, Arkansas’ chief health officer, said businesses that allow smoking will have to post signs warning of a smoking environment.

“People are going to know they’re placing their health at risk when they enter those businesses,” Thompson said. “You can kill yourself if you want to, but we believe most bars and restaurants will cater to the more than 75 percent of Arkansans who don’t smoke.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

TOP STORY>>Beebe will try again to annex area, double size

IN SHORT: Aldermen decided unanimously on Monday for another annexation referendum on the November ballot despite an earlier defeat by voters.

Leader staff writer

Beebe City Council voted Monday night to try again for an annexation that would double the size of the city and at the same time give the city control of the growth that is already beginning outside its borders.

The proposal was defeated 382-346 during a special election last July after unsigned fliers that questioned whether the city should take on more territory when it sometimes has difficulty taking adequate care of what it has were distributed inside city limits.

This time, the annexation will be just one of many issues on the general election November ballot.

The vote was unanimous among the five council members present to place the annexation before voters inside the city and the proposed annexation area. Alderman Ronnie Dean was absent.

The ordinance promises police and fire protection to the proposed annexation area if voters approve the annexation.

Garbage service also would be provided as soon after the annexation as possible, but water, sewer and paved streets are not promised.

In addition to doubling the size of the city the annexation would add about 600 new residents and about $40,000 annually in state turn-back money.

The council also passed an ordinance that would keep the city from being forced to put shields on its street lights according to the Shielded Light Act of 2005.

Mayor Donald Ward told the council that if the ordinance was not passed by July 31, Entergy would begin systematically changing the existing lights for shielded lights.
Not only would changing the lights be expensive, Ward said he would rather the city maintain control of which areas are well-lighted and which are not.

At the request of Leonard Forte, the city’s code enforcement officer, the council is considering changes to the inspection fees for new construction. The existing fee structure is more than 20 years old. Forte told the council that every other city in the area charges more than Beebe. Searcy, for example, charges 20 cents a square foot, he said. He proposes charging half that amount.

The council took no action on the proposal. Forte, who took over from Allen Ridings, who was suspended in June after the state auditor started examining the city books, has been busy “cleaning up the town,” the mayor told the council.

Ward joked that the work of the code officer is even more thankless than that of the mayor and added that Forte is making some people mad by asking them to clean up.

TOP STORY>>Rents are going up in area

IN SHORT: The demand for and the cost of rental properties throughout central Arkansas are on the rise with temperatures.

Leader staff writers

As the mercury rises in summer, so does the demand and cost of rental properties throughout central Arkansas.

According to the National Association of Realtors, monthly rent is expected to rise 4 to 5 percent this year and vacancies nationwide are estimated to be about 5 percent.

“Due to higher interest rates, we are seeing less people in the home-buying market and more in rentals,” said Jim Peacock, Jr., owner and broker at Jim Peacock Real Estate in Jacksonville.

In Sherwood, the company has two-bedroom duplexes starting at $435 per month and three-bedroom homes starting about $1,000 per month.

“Considering labor costs have went up 20 percent, fuel price have went up at least 40 percent, material and insurance costs have gone up 30 percent a 5 percent push in rent means the costs aren’t being passed along to renters,” Peacock said.

In both Sherwood and Jack-sonville, rentals are at about 90 percent capacity, with military personnel making up about 15 to 20 percent of the renters. Military housing allowance for enlisted personnel runs from $576 to $855 per month.

“In Jacksonville, apartments and duplexes run about $360 to $495 per month. Houses can vary from $450 to $1,200 per month,” said Thad Gray of Bart Gray Realty Company.

Rent is up in Cabot, where houses that cost $650 a month two years ago now cost $800, said Kelly McCloskey with Century 21.

The main reason is the influx of people from out of state who are accustomed to paying more, she said, and that means the locals who don’t already have homes are likely living in apartments which rent for $450 to $550 for the older units and $550 to $650 for newer ones.

“If you’re just the average Joe, it’s hard to find a house here,” McCloskey said.

“With rents that high we turn down a lot of people because we know that with the cost of utilities that also are high in Cabot they would never be able to afford it. And that’s a shame but we have to charge what the market tells us.”

The housing situation for lower wage earners is not likely to change soon because Cabot is a small city that offers exactly the small town atmosphere that newcomers find appealing. And property owners want to cash in on the boom, she said.

Department of Commerce statistics put the median price of a new home in Arkansas at $235,000, out of reach for workers in the service industries of Cabot where the average wage is $18,611.

Cabot residents commuting to Little Rock earn about twice that, $27,123 according to Metroplan, a long-range planning organization for central Arkansas.

Charlie Knox, owner of Knox Realty, said the rental market holding steady in Lonoke.

“We’re still not growing like a lot of places,” Knox said. In fact, he said the rental market is exactly opposite from what it is in Cabot where houses rent for more than apartments.

In Lonoke, a three-bedroom, one-bath house will cost $500 a month while the new apartments that are being built cost $600.

April Fisher with Fisher Rentals and Construction said the demand for rental houses, apartments and mobile homes is high in the Beebe area.

“I believe people are trying to get out of Little Rock and the traffic in Cabot is just crazy,” Fisher said.

The public schools and Arkansas State University-Beebe also draw people, Fisher said, and though the price of rental property has held steady for many years, it is going up now, she said.

Average-sized frame houses rent for $500 to $600 a month while brick houses will bring in $650 to $750, she said. And 1,200-square-foot mobile homes rent for $500.

TOP STORY>>Cabot ready to start census

IN SHORT: To get more turnback money, after a year’s delay city pays for a special count, which is expected to show population gain of 5,000 .

Leader staff writer

Lack of funds caused a year-long delay in a special census that is expected to show Cabot’s population has grown by about 5,000 since 2000, but Tuesday the city sent a $165,550 check to the U.S. Census Bureau that will get the process started within a month.

The delay means the city won’t get an estimated $200,000 in extra revenue this year as the 2006 budget said, but the additional state turnback funds should start coming in sometime after the census is completed in about six months. The first full year’s collection in 2008 should be at least $305,000.

Cabot has gained several thousand residents with each census in recent years. In 1990, the population was 8,319. Ten years later, it had climbed to 15,261. Metroplan projections place the population now at 19,600, but city leaders believe the actual number is closer to 21,000.

Karen Davis, Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s director of operations, said Tuesday mor-ning that the check she was mailing later in the day was only part of the estimated cost of the special census.

The council has approved paying $276,546. Of that amount, $165,550 goes to the U.S Census Bureau, but the city keeps $110,996 to pay workers who will be hired to actually go door to door getting information and counting residents.

The entire process should take six or seven months from the time the Census Bureau receives the city’s money, Davis said.

Three months of that time will be spent planning for the census. Collecting data will take one month, and processing the data and certifying the results will take another two or three months. That places completion of the census sometime in February of March, she said. But exactly when the new revenue can be collected is not known.

The city council approved paying for the special census during the July council meeting. Alder-man Eddie Cook was concerned that the cost might be more than the $276,546 they approved because the cost is based on the number of people counted. At about $14 per person, the cost to the city would be almost $20,000 more if the actual population turns out to be about 21,000 instead of the 19,600 used to calculate the cost.

Davis said the special census will be overseen by supervisors with the Census Bureau. The workers will be hired locally, but right now the city isn’t taking applications. That will likely come later, she said, after the city has received more information about how to proceed. A misunderstanding about how much money was in the city’s general fund was partly responsible for unrealistic expectations about when the census could be conducted.

The council voted in favor of the special census in 2005. But the funds to pay for it were not available at that time. The city could not borrow the money to pay for the census, because state law only allows cities to borrow money to pay for equipment. So the city borrowed from local banks to pay for equipment for the police and street departments and planned to use money from the general fund that would have paid for the equipment to pay for the census instead.

According to the 2006 budget passed in December 2005, the general fund had a carryover of about $850,000. But as it was recently revealed, the actual cash that could be used to cover city expenses was half that amount. The confusion was caused by the accrual accounting system the city uses now which includes other assets other than cash.

By the time the city could pay for the census, the cost had increased $50,000.

Most of the details of the process are still unclear, she said. However, other details are still unknown, she said.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Beware: Lines are signs of WWII

Leader publisher

You can tell from the long lines of cars outside Little Rock Air Force Base that the nation is at war. Security is extremely tight, as it is throughout the country and at all U.S. military installations around the world.

The war on terror starts right here as transport planes fly to the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, fighting off crazies armed with Soviet and Iranian-made rockets and roadside bombs and suicide belts strapped around their guts.

The Air Force calls it global reach. We’ll call it World War III.

This fight, like the other world wars before it, involves much of the world — from New York to Kandahar, from London to Beirut, from Baghdad to Haifa, from Chechnya to Jerusalem, from Pyongyang to Bali, from Tehran to Madrid — but most of the battles will take place not in Europe or the Pacific, as in previous world wars, but in the Moslem world, where fanatics have declared a jihad on civilization.

They will, of course, bring this war to us, the way they did on 9/11 and the way the Japanese sneaked up on us at Pearl Harbor. But just as the Cold War was fought on the fringes of the old Soviet empire, from Berlin to eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, this global conflict will be fought mostly in southwest and southeast Asia, from the Sinai to North Korea, with occasional blowouts in Europe and the U.S. That, too, mirrors the Soviets, who fought us at a distance, except when they recklessly sneaked their missiles into Cuba.

They blinked, and that was the beginning of the end of their empire.

Here’s a scary thought: The communists were more rational than today’s jihadists. The Soviets had hoped to rule the world, but they weren’t crazy enough to attack us on our soil. They did not wish to die as martyrs, but they were far more powerful than al-Qaida or Hezbollah, and the Kremlin still lost the Cold War.

The terrorists cannot fight a war on the battlefield: Hezbollah taunted the Israelis to fight a conventional war, and the Islamic militants have taken a terrible beating.

Civilian losses are high because Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who heads Hezbollah, and his followers hide out among civilians and fire missiles indiscriminately at Israel.

But the sheik’s military adventure ranks up there with Hitler’s decision to attack Russia and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: Their blunders hastened their end.

Iran and Syria supplied Hezbollah with most of their weapons, which explains why the Bush administration designated those countries, along with North Korea, as the axis of evil.

Iraq under Saddam Hussein seemed almost tranquil in comparison.

The global war on terror will move into a new phase as the civilized world aims at bringing down the rulers in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

They’ll stay in power for a while and encourage terrorism around the globe, but the latest conflict in the Middle East suggests they cannot menace the world for very long. Like the despots in the Kremlin and the tyrants in Nazi Germany, these reckless rulers know they cannot hold on to power too much longer, especially if we show them out the door.

SPORTS>>Gwatney heartbroken in 11th

Leader sports writer

Jacksonville and Russellville turned in one of the most exciting games of the year Thursday night in the opening round of the Class AAA American Legion Zone 4 tournament. After 11 innings, it was Russellville that plated the winning run in the bottom of the second extra frame to seal a 6-5 win at North Little Rock’s Burns Park.

With one out in the 11th, Russellville’s Drew Seibenmorgan walked and moved to third on a single. He then scored on a deep sacrifice fly to centerfield by Josh Bogard for the winning run.

Jacksonville appeared to seize the momentum in the bottom of the tenth when an incredible play by left fielder Neil Hatcher thwarted a serious Russellville threat.

With one out, Russellville’s Caleb McGhee walked and Brandon Brown singled to put runners on first and second. Jeremy Cox then hit a line drive to left center. Hatcher ran the ball down and made a sliding catch, popped up and fired to his cutoff man Jordan Payer as McGhee bolted for third. Payer’s relay throw to Zach Thomas was right on target and got McGhee sliding head first into the base to complete the 7-6-5 double play.

Gwatney squandered the momentum by striking out three straight times in the top of the 11th.

Jacksonville took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Tim Payne led off with a single to right field and moved to second on an infield single by Thomas. The runners moved up on a passed ball, and scored on a sacrifice grounder by Tyler Uptergrove.

Russellville answered with two runs in the bottom of the second to claim the lead.

Both runs were unearned. After an error with two outs left two runners on base, Jim Thompson tripled to right field to drive in both runners.

Cogswell Motors added a run in the fourth without a base hit. Jacksonville pitcher Tim Payne hit Bogard to lead things off. Thompson flew out to right field and Jeremy Cox walked. McGhee then grounded out and moved the runners up, after which Payne balked a run home to give Cogswell a 3-1 lead.

Jacksonville tied it with two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Trey Smith reached on an error at shortstop to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Payne was hit by a pitch, and Zach James followed with an infield single. An error by the pitcher left Zach Thomas safe at first and allowed Smith to score. Tyler Uptergrove then hit a fly ball to right field. Payne hesitated, but then darted for home. The throw easily beat Payne to the plate, but sailed high over the catcher’s head, leaving everyone safe.

Russellville made it a two-run game again in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Payne gave up a double and walk to lead things off before being removed by Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham. Payne threw six complete innings, giving up nine hits, one earned run while striking out four and walking six.

Smith replaced Payne and fanned the next two batters, but an error at third base allowed the two runs to score.

Jacksonville chipped away by scoring one run in the eighth and one in the ninth to force the extra innings.

In the eighth, Thomas doubled with two outs, and Jeremy Williams advanced on a passed ball after striking out. That moved Thomas to third, and he scored on a passed ball before Jordan Payer struck out to end the inning.

In the ninth, Cameron Hood led off by getting hit by the first pitch. He stole second on the very next pitch, and moved to third on a sac grounder by Hatcher. A sacrifice fly by Smith drove in the run to tie the game and force the extra innings.

The loss puts Gwatney into the losers bracket and a 10 a.m. game today against last night’s loser between Sylvan Hills and Maumelle.

Russellville played North Little Rock last night after Leader deadlines.

SPORTS>> Sylvan Hills drops Cabot 13-1 at zone

Leader sports writer

Sylvan Hills made short work of Cabot Thursday night in the first round of the Class AAA American Legion Zone 4 tournament at Burns Park. The Bruins jumped ahead early and kept extending their lead throughout a 13-1 run-rule shortened matchup.

Sylvan Hills scored three runs in the first and two more in the second before blowing the game open in the third by sending six more runs across the plate. All three runs in the first inning were with the aid of three errors in the Home Depot outfield.

All six runs came after Cabot got two outs with nobody on base. That’s when leadoff hitter Shawn Bybee stepped to the plate and started the rally with a single to centerfield. Austin Gwatney and Ashur Tolliver followed with their own singles. Tolliver’s shot to straightaway centerfield was missed and rolled to the fence, scoring two runs and leaving Tolliver safe at third.

Richie Irvin made it four straight singles before Chase Elder ended the single streak with a double to right field.

With two runners on, Jarrett Boles smashed a shot over the fence in left field to cap the scoring in the inning and left the Bruins with an 11-0 lead.

The lead increased to 12-0 in the fourth. Nathan Van Schoyck led off with a triple and scored on a hit by Hayden Miller.

No one scored in the fifth inning, and Cabot finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth.

First baseman Chris Gross led off with a massive shot to right field that sailed over the scoreboard to produce Cabot’s only run of the game.

In the bottom of the frame, Miller led off for the Bruins with another triple, and scored on a base hit by Bybee.

Irvin led the Bruins’ offensive charge. All three of his base hits went for extra bases. Irvin finished with two doubles and a triple, and drove in two runs. Sylvan Hills hit three triples in the game.

Gwatney and Boles were the only other Bruins with multiple hits, but every Bruins starter got at least one. Boles finished with a double, a home run and four RBIs.

Carter Lance got the win on the mound for the Bruins. He threw all seven innings, giving up four base hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking two Home Depot batters.

The Bruins moved on to the semifinals of the winners bracket, where they faced off with Maumelle last night after Leader deadlines.

The loss dropped the Pan-thers to the losers bracket, and put them into a matchup with last night’s loser between Russ-ellville and North Little Rock. Look for complete details of those games Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

FROM THE PUBLISHER>>Down in Bentonia

Leader publisher

For Sam Myers, 1935-2006 Down in Bentonia, Miss., deep in the Delta, a couple of fast-fingered bluesmen strummed their guitars and sang in a haunting falsetto, creating the Bentonia blues sound.

Skip James, who died nearly 40 years ago, is the most famous of the two blues musicians from Bentonia, but Jack Owens, who passed away a de-cade ago, is not far behind.

There’s now a third blues musician from Bentonia, and he’s lived and played for many years in near-obscurity in his hometown — until now. Jimmy (Duck) Holmes, 58, has just released his first CD called Back to Bentonia (Broke and Hungry Records), and he’s almost a reincarnation of Skip James and Jack Owens.

We’ve been listening to “Back to Bentonia” all month in amazement and wonder. “Back to Bentonia” is a revelation — a trip back to a time I didn’t think existed anymore. That’s what reviewers are saying about the CD: It’s pre-war blues with an eccentric twist: This isn’t anything like Delta blues. It’s more like early blues before it took on a driving beat that evolved into electric Chicago blues. With the Bentonia sound, the outside world was kept at a distance: They played their own kind of music down there with no outside influences to dilute its authenticity.

Holmes performs mostly his own compositions, except for “Vicksburg Blues” by Little Brother Montgomery and two tunes identified with Skip James: “I’d Rather Be the Devil (Than That Woman’s Man)” and “Hard Times,” which on the CD are credited to Jack Owens.

Sam Carr plays drums on several numbers, adding a special dimension with his deep Delta beat. He’s known as the Delta’s greatest drummer for good reason. Bud Spires, Jack Owens’ former harmonica-playing partner, performs on three songs.
The CD is better than we had a right to expect: This is a great CD, perhaps the most important country-blues record of the year.

Blues fans should rejoice that producer and record label owner Jeff Konkel of St. Louis put Holmes’ unique music on CD. Holmes is an important Delta bluesman whose voice we would not have heard but for Kunkel’s efforts. (Full disclosure: Our friend Bill Abel is co-producer.)

Several cuts on the CD were re-corded at Holmes’ juke joint, the Blue Front Café, where Holmes still performs regularly. USA Today recently ran a long Associated Press travel piece on Holmes’ café and home town. Who knows: Bentonia might be-come a tourist destination like Helena or Clarksdale, Miss.

Derek Trucks continues his string of successful blues-based rock CDs with Songlines (Columbia). A former child prodigy, Trucks is one of the most gifted guitarists around. He’s so good, you wish he’d play nonstop throughout the CD, which gets better with every listening: Astonishing music from an artist of the highest order.

A small group backing up the boss would have sufficed, but he lets his band stretch out, too, including vocalist Mike Mattison. It’s a talented group, but Trucks (the son of Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks) is the star here: He’s an astonishing musician, as talented a guitarist as any seasoned musician twice his age. Still in his 20s, Derek Trucks plays as if he’d been born with a guitar around his shoulders. It’s as if this young man has experienced it all while growing up with the Allman Brothers Band, listening to jazz and blues and rock and everything in between: A genuine rocker who accepts no limitations.

Jazz and blues and R&B and rock all come to him naturally — he opens with Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery,” explodes with “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy,” moans on “I Wish I Knew How to Be Free” and plays several of his own compositions: Nearly an hour of amazing music that might take you back to the heyday of Fillmore East and West, only better.

Bruce Springsteen, the original Boss, himself no slouch as a guitarist, has released a folk CD-DVD you might want to check out: We Shall Over-come: The Seeger Sessions (Columbia), a dual audio-DVD, is a tribute to folk singer Pete Seeger. It’s unlike anything he’s done, at least in a while. It’s loud, all right, but it’s acoustic music that you might hear at a hootenanny in the Adirondacks.

Strumming on banjo, playing on the guitar and mandolin, as well as organ, harmonica, percussion and tambou-rine, and singing as if he’s back in the civil-rights era, with 10 other musicians behind him. Springsteen belts out toe-tapping music that your grandparents may have danced to, including songs like “Old Dan Tucker,” “Jesse James,” “O Mary, Don’t You Weep,” “John Henry,” “Shenandoah,” plus the title song and more.

Grab yourself a partner and dance to the music. Then watch the DVD as Springsteen and the band perform live, as they do on the audio side, with the Boss shouting out instructions and having a heckuva good time.

TOP STORY>>Police on the alert for shoplifters

Leader staff writer

Wal-Mart’s recent decision not to prosecute first-time shoplifters between the ages of 18 and 65 for taking merchandise less than $25 is supposed to help the Bentonville-based big-box store concentrate anti-crime efforts on organized theft rings.

Critics say the company is trying to save labor costs and reduce criticism from police departments about a high number of shoplifting calls.

Sgt. Brent Lucas of the Cabot Police Department estimates officers respond to shoplifters at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Rockwood Dr. at least once a week.

“I don’t think the new policy is going to make much difference,” Lucas told The Leader.

When he was a patrolman, Lucas saw shoplifters take everything from electronics to hair coloring kits.

“The few dollars people think they’re ‘saving’ by stealing is nothing compared to the thousands of dollars in fines if they get caught,” Lucas said.

Locally, a co-manager for Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville declined comment but referred The Leader to the home office’s public information office.

Marisa Bluestone, spokesperson for Wal-Mart, told The Leader that the shoplifting plan was implemented “a few months back.”

Bluestone also indicated that Wal-Mart is not giving thieves a green light, though.

“Everyone (who dabbles in shoplifting) will still be more likely to be busted here than anywhere else,” Bluestone explained. “We’re pretty good at catching thieves.”

Capt. Charley Jenkins, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, was unaware of the Wal-Mart’s policy change in dealing with shoplifters.

Jenkins said he had not heard of any official notification and the store was not required to give any.

“It’s their decision, but when we get a call for service, we will answer it,” Jenkins said.

This past weekend, the Jack-sonville police station did not have incident or arrest reports involving shoplifting activities at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on John Harden Drive.

“Probably, Wal-Mart has the lion’s share of it (shoplifting),” Jenkins said. He estimated the number of shoplifting incidents at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter at more than 50 percent of those in other stores in Jacksonville.

Two attributes of the store may also contribute to the amount of activity.

“One factor is they are the largest store in town, and it’s the only 24-hour store we have,” Jenkins said.

A portion of an official statement from Wal-Mart states, “To be clear, we will continue to prosecute shoplifters to the full extent of the law. We are putting our prosecution policies in line with other retailers and reducing the burden on local police…”

“We’re concentrating our resources on organized theft rings and high-dollar losses,” Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley told the Associated Press. “It simply is not efficient to prosecute most petty shoplifters at the expense of those high-dollar items.”

TOP STORY>>Berry is seen soft on aliens

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, the Republican candidate for Con-gress in the First District, Friday attacked his opponent, Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gillett), for a resolution he sponsored asking Congress to ap-propriate money for the border-security initiative, saying the action was a desperate attempt to make voters think he really cares about the illegal immigration problem.

Berry’s camp responded that he has always said securing the borders has to be the first step in controlling the influx of illegal aliens and that he always votes for legislation that proposes to do that.

In a press release about Berry’s House resolution, Stumbaugh said Berry has “supported amnesty at least six different times and has a career F rating with the nation’s top immigration-reform groups.”

Only after it was rumored that Stumbaugh would enter the race for Congress did Berry change the direction of his voting and begin to address the immigration problem, the mayor said.

“Marion Berry has said immigration is ‘the biggest political issue to come across in my lifetime, including Social Security,’ yet he has a record to show that he thinks otherwise,” Stumbaugh said. “My opponent has once again shown that he will tell the people what they want to hear, proving yet again that he does not have the truth in him. 

“While I applaud the effort to increase funding and provide more border patrol, I still wonder why it has taken 10 years in Congress and nearly four years in the Clinton administration for him to figure out we have a problem with illegal immigrants.” 

“Unlike anything Marion Berry will do, I have pledged, and I am committed, to working towards a bipartisan effort to securing our borders and ports, cleaning up our federal documents, and providing better interior enforcement.”

Gabe Holmstrom, Berry’s campaign manager, responded to Stumbaugh saying, “Congressman Berry’s position on immigration is clear. He has consistently stated that securing the border has to be the first step in any pursuit of immigration reform. 

“He supports immigration legislation that secures our borders and protects American workers and is opposed to amnesty.”
Holmstrom said, “Congress-man Berry voted for the toughest border security and enforcement bill this session, H.R. 4437, which passed last December” and included the following provisions:

- Makes illegal presence in the country a felony, punishable by a year and a day in jail.

- Raises fines for an employer who hires illegal immigrants from $5,000 to $25,000.

- Hires 2000 more Border Patrol agents each year for the next four years.

- Increases the use of technology for border surveillance.

- Constructs a fence along the southern border.

“Congressman Berry has voted 15 times to improve border-security funding,” Holmstrom said.  Had Republicans not defeated these amendments, our country would now have over 6,600 more border patrol agents, 14,000 more detention beds and 2,700 more immigration and customs agents,” Holmstrom said.

Stumbaugh’s press release cited these examples of Berry’s voting on amnesty:

- Berry recently voted against an amendment to the 2007 Homeland Security appropriations bill by Rep. Tom Tancredo which would have kept funds from being used to give extensions of the temporary protection status.

- Berry co-sponsored H.R. 3142, which would grant amnesty to illegal immigrants working in agriculture.

- He voted for H.R. 365 that allowed illegals to pay a $1,000 fine to get their green cards with- out fear of being deported.

- He voted for an extension of a law that allowed illegal immigrants to pay a fee and avoid a 1996 law that would bar them from coming to the U.S. for 10 years on a legal visa.

- He joined 151 House Demo-crats who signed a letter in support of amnesty to President saying he would sustain a veto on an end-of- session appropriations bill if it did not include amnesty for 3.4 million aliens.

Regardless of how Berry is voting now, his record speaks for itself, Stumbaugh said in a phone interview Friday evening.

“He knows he has a contender now,” Stumbaugh said. “If he didn’t have an opponent, he would still be voting the same way he did.”

FROM THE PUBLISHER>>Huckabee pardons another drunk

By Garrick Feldman
Leader publisher

Gov. Huckabee blundered twice this week: He leased a brand-new Suburban at taxpayers’ expense for nearly $900 a month, the gold-plated version, no less, even though he has only six months left in office. What was wrong with the old one?

You’d think with the royalties he’s made off his diet book, the Huckster could buy his own Suburban.

With his second blunder, he offended not only his conservative base (what’s left of it), but all lovers of good music when he announced he would pardon the aging rocker Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who was busted in Fordyce more than 30 years ago for driving under the influence.

But don’t expect a pardon for Joe Six Pack, who didn’t know when to say when.

Huckabee is easily star-struck, but Richards, who recently fell out of a coconut tree while on vacation, is a well-known substance abuser and habitual drunk. He’s a mediocre guitar player with that average white band, the Rolling Stones, whose leader, one Mick Jagger, stole every lisp, every movement from Don Covay and a bunch of other superior soul-blues singers who died penniless while the Stones still make millions at every concert.

Sure, Huckabee has a weakness for pardoning drivers under the influence, but if he’s looking to pardon others who’ve had one too many, I could give the names of about 20 people who’d love to get out of jail early and have their records expunged, but they’re not rich or famous or have friends in high places, so they wouldn’t qualify for the Huckster’s mercy.

Huckabee probably thinks he’s as good a guitar player as Keith Richards, and he might be right. If you listen to the Huckster and Rich-ards play, you might not be able to tell the two apart.

That’s how mediocre they are.

No offense, but when you can hear B.B. King and Hubert Sumlin play down here, why accept imitators?

“Every musician in the world recognizes his talent,” Huckabee’s spokesperson quoted his boss as saying, presumably referring to Richards, not the Huckster.

If he’s so eager to pardon Richards, the Huckster should at least make him play down in Cummins Prison for the inmates.
It’s not my idea of a good time, but the prisoners might appreciate it as a brief diversion.

Richards will at least have a captive audience, which is every performer’s dream.

Maybe the great Calvin Leavy, who’s doing a long stretch there for drug dealing, might join Richard and the governor onstage.

As for the Huckster’s new Suburban, it reminds us why Arkansas has mourned the loss of Lieut. Gov. Win Rockefeller: He gave his salary back to the state and wasn’t sponging off the taxpayers.

Unlike most other politicians, Rockefeller didn’t have his hand out. Like his father, Win-throp, who was governor from 1967-71, you couldn’t bribe him because he didn’t need the money.

No free rides for the Rockefellers, either in an automobile or on a jet plane, or so-called in-kind contributions the Huck-ster expects from those doing business with the state, such as the Lord’s Ranch, a substandard home the Department of Human Services uses to stockpile our troubled youth.

Its owner has a sweetheart contract with the state, and in return he lets the Huckabees ride on his decrepit little jet that nearly crashed and almost killed the First Family.

That’s pretty scary, but as for Keith Richards, it’s only rock-and-roll, and the governor likes it.

Is the governor hoping for free concert tickets the next time the Rolling Stones play in Arkansas on their 70th birthday tour?
Just don’t take them down to Fordyce.

TOP STORY>>Beebe mayor names a new police chief

Leader staff writer

Beebe Mayor Donald Ward has appointed Don Inns to replace Jess Odom as police chief.

He made the announcement Friday morning during a press conference called for that purpose and to present Odom with a shadow box holding his police chief badge.

Inns, 41, has been with the police department six years, starting in 2000 as a part-time officer while he worked fulltime as maintenance supervisor for the Beebe School District. At the same time, he was a volunteer EMT and firefighter for the Beebe Fire Department.

He went full-time for the police department in 2003 and rose quickly through the ranks.

For the first 10 months after he went full-time, he was part of a Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Adminis-tration drug task force. Then Odom brought him back to the de-partment as a sergeant over narcotics and criminal investigation. At the beginning of the year when Sgt. Corey Simmons who was over patrol left the department, Inns was promoted to lieutenant and took over Simmons’ duties as well.

In making the announcement, Ward said he looked first at those already working for the city and Inns was the obvious choice.
“He came from the bottom and worked his way to the top,” Ward said. “People who give their all need to be rewarded.”

How long Inns remains the chief will depend upon the next mayor, who gets to choose his own chief.

Ward isn’t running for a third term and former Mayor Mike Robertson, who now serves on the city council, is the only announced mayoral candidate.

Robertson, the only council member who attended the press conference, said he thought Inns was a good choice for the job and he thinks the rest of the council does as well.

He wouldn’t say whether he will keep Inns as police chief if he is elected mayor in November. It’s against state law to make such promises, he said.

Odom said during the press conference that he also is pleased with his replacement.

Odom presented Inns with his new chief’s badge, saying Inns had been a big help to him.

“He knows everybody in this city, it seems like. And that was very beneficial to the chief,” Odom said. Robertson took the praise for Inns a step further.

“He’s accommodating,” Ro-bertson said. “So many times you see those who aren’t.”

It was definitely appropriate for Ward to name Inns as chief, he said. But for the next five months he and the rest of the council will be watching him to see what kind of chief he makes.

The next five months are a trial period for Inns, Robertson said, “I think that’s what a lot of people are expecting this time to be,” he said.

Odom, 57, who has worked in law enforcement for 32 years, including 10 as White County sheriff, retires at the end of July to take a job as a private investigator.

Odom has said investigation was always his favorite part of the work. He never liked working traffic, he has said.
He’s not a dog, he has said. He doesn’t like to chase cars.

He will be working out of the Searcy office of Hopkins & Associates, doing investigation for corporate lawsuits.
Inns moved to Beebe in 1982 and graduated from Beebe High School in 1983.

He says he went into law enforcement for the same reason he became a firefighter, to help others.

Although Odom’s official retirement date is July 31, he is on terminal leave already and Inns is running the department.

He said after the official announcement that he intends to make subtle changes in how the department operates.

Inns wants to streamline patrol and try to make budget cuts, which will be important for next year’s budget.

He has no plans to immediately fill his position, Inn said.

He intends to keep doing much of that work himself while training employees already with the department to help with paperwork.

TOP STORY>>C-130's could fly 40 years longer

Leader staff writer

The C-130 transport plane has been flying longer than most airmen have been alive, but now a defense contractor say it could nearly double the plane’s life expectancy.

Boeing announced a new program Wednesday that will extend the service life of C-130 aircraft up to 30 years at a fraction of the cost of a new cargo plane.

Boeing says its C-130 total life extension program addresses several aircraft modernization needs, including avionics, wiring, structures and systems. Key benefits include a center wing box solution, a comprehensive avionics modification and compliance with 21st century civil aviation standards.

The C-130 avionics modernization program is part of the overall avionics improvement package. The new avionics system features digital displays and the 737 commercial airliner’s flight-management system, both of which provide navigation, safety and communication improvements to meet com-munication, navigation, surveillance, and air traffic management requirements.

The C-130 avionics modernization plan provides upgrades for C-130s at one-seventh the cost of a new cargo plane, or about $10 million to $15 million, compared with a basic C-130J aircraft costing between $65 million to $90 million.
Although Boeing has previously made improvements on C-130s, the airplanes are manufactured by Lockheed, which also can modernized the planes.

Last year, Air Force engineers found microscopic cracking where the wings meet the fuselage, an area called the wing box, on the 40-year-old C-130 E and 20-year- old H models. After maintainers evaluated the 450 C-130s in the fleet, the Air Force grounded nearly 100 aircraft with the cracks. Of those, 18 were permanently re-tired, leaving 82 C-130s needing wing-box repairs, including several at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The Air Force put weight, altitude and flight time restrictions on aircraft that might develop the cracks based on wear and tear, such as the number of hours flown, maintenance issues and the more demanding tactical flying of wartime maneuvers.
Of the 314th Airlift Wing’s 42 C-130s, 12 are restricted and eight are grounded. Of the 463rd Airlift Group’s 30 C-130s, two are restricted and five are grounded.

All of the planes, grounded and restricted alike, have to be kept ready to fly, costing the base $22,000 per month to maintain planes that never fly, according to recent reports.

The 330th Tactical Air Support Command at Robins Air Force Air Force Base issued a wing-box repair plan earlier this year to fix the problem on 75 planes over the next five years.

Boeing said based on the aircraft’s condition, such as level of corrosion or fatigue cracks, the total life-extension solution allows wing-box upgrades without having to remove the box from its structure. Currently in development and entering the testing phase, the C-130 wing-box solution will save both time and money, Boeing said.

The enhanced digital avionics increase situational awareness for the warfighter compared to old analog cockpits, increasing information available to aircrews at a glance, simplifying tasks and decreasing workload, Boeing said.

Upgrades also allow additional flexibility in assigning aircrews regardless of the model design type. In addition, the C-130 improvements meet Special Forces requirements, while the basic C-130J requires additional mission equipment enhancements, the company said.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

TOP STORY>>Alderman back vote on special jail funds

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council Thursday approved a resolution supporting Pulaski County’s planned special election for a quarter- cent sales tax to provide for construction, maintenance and operations of additional jail space. The quorum court has set Sept. 12 for the election.

The election, which was approved Wednes-day by the Pulaski County Quorum Court, will relieve eight cities of annual contributions to help operate the overcrowded jail.

If passed by voters, Jacksonville, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Maumelle, Alexander, Wrightsville and Cammack Village no longer will be responsible for the $2 million annual jail-fund contributions for housing city inmates. In return, they will receive none of the tax revenues.

Jacksonville pays approximately $129,420 each year toward the county jail.

With two ordinances on its agenda, the quorum court members voted 10-5 in favor of the appropriation ordinance to hold a special election and voted 13-2 for an emergency ordinance allowing Pulaski County to participate in a new inter-local agreement authorizing the distribution of revenues to the county treasurer, should the tax be approved.

If approved, the tax will take effect Jan. 1.

It is expected to raise $18.9 million per year, doubling the current $16.5 million budget that the county will continue to allocate toward the crowded jail.

Language on the proposed ballot indicates the money will be for “acquiring, constructing, extending, improving, equipping, maintaining and operating” detention centers in Pulaski County.

Interest and reserves from tax revenues also will be allocated to the jail and not spent by the county for any other purposes, according to the inter-local agreement.

It also specifies the county’s agreement to “acquire, construct, renovate and equip additional facilities” to raise the minimum bed count to 1,618 from its current 880.

Money raised from the sales tax also is expected to finance construction of additional jail cells and barracks for non-violent offenders.

Upon city councils’ approval and mayors’ signatures, the new interlocal agreement will relinquish eight cities from the 1990 agreement binding them to yearly jail contributions.

Also, with the new interlocal contract, at least $750,000 in county jail funds will be provided for prevention, intervention and treatment programs, at an annual increased rate of 4 percent.

A move by Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers to place the tax increase on the November general election ballot was defeated by a 9-6 vote.

Stowers said this would have allowed more time to educate the public and increase likelihood of passing the tax.

Court member Dan Greenberg agreed, citing special elections in 1997 and 2002, in which voters rejected quarter-cent tax proposals to finance the county jail, and said, “It’s a waste of money, a strong reason not to blow $100,000 on a special election.”

A move to amend the quarter-cent increase to a one-eighth cent permanent and one-eighth cent temporary tax that would sunset in four years also was defeated by a 9-6 vote.

EDITORIAL>>Special vote not needed

Arkansans always love an election, but there are cheaper forms of entertainment and sometimes far better ways to spend the money. We do not need to hold a special election to install a new lieutenant governor this year.

It is no disrespect to the late beloved Win Paul Rockefeller to say that the state will be no worse off if his shoes are not filled before January, when a new lieutenant governor will have been chosen at the general election. Gov. Huckabee ought to put that issue to rest right away and say that he will not waste the taxpayers’ money, a million dollars or more, by holding a statewide special election to fill a vacancy that will last at most three months.

No legislative session is planned before January, and presiding over the Senate when it is in session is the lieutenant governor’s only prescribed function. If Huckabee suddenly discovers an emergency that requires the legislature to assemble, the president pro tempore of the Senate or any senator whom he designates can do the job very nicely.

Win Paul Rockefeller’s gentle presence at the Capitol was missed during the year or so that he was undergoing treatment in Seattle, but government was not handicapped. It has always been so since the state installed the first lieutenant governor in 1927.

The state will endure a long campaign for lieutenant governor by Democrat Bill Halter and Republican Jim Holt in the general election. Voters should be asked to tolerate more tedium than that.

We have an even better idea. The legislature could save taxpayers a fair amount of money and the government needless confusion by offering voters a constitutional amendment to abolish the position permanently.

Until a few years ago, the lieutenant governor’s office cost almost nothing, mainly the tiny part-time salary paid the lieutenant governor, who rarely set foot in the Capitol except for the few weeks every two years that the legislature was in session.

But a succession of lieutenant governors tried, unsuccessfully, to make the job something bigger with elaborate offices, a staff, travel and full-time security. It is all wasted.

The lieutenant governor, at least in Arkansas, is a constitutional aberration. He presides over the state Senate, in violation of the separation of powers doctrine, simply because he needed to be given some function. It is an intrusion of the executive branch into the lawmaking function and there is no excuse for it except that the founding fathers gave that job to the vice president of the United States, for the same spurious reason.

But the vice president no longer presides over the U.S. Senate except when a tie vote on a matter critical to the president looms. Then the vice president goes there to preside a few minutes and cast the deciding vote in the president’s favor.

But under the Arkansas system, the lieutenant governor is not even a part of the executive team, so he does not guarantee continuity. He may be and frequently is a rival of the governor, and he may be of the opposite party.

One only has to recall the mischief in 1992 when the lieutenant governor, Jim Guy Tucker, and his arch-rival Bill Clinton battled for nine months over the reins of power while Clinton was in and out of the state campaigning for president.

The idea when the office was created less than a century ago (the amendment creating it was first declared defeated, and then resurrected years later) was that if the governor left the state for an extended period emergencies might arise and there would be no executive power to respond to them.

But in those days, owing to primitive communications, a governor who crossed the border was likely incommunicado. That has not been the case in more than half a century.

Also, the constitutional provision that gives the lieutenant governor executive power when the governor goes to Memphis or anyplace beyond the state line are dead relics and, like the office of lieutenant governor, should be scrapped.

The president of the United States flies to Europe or Asia for a week but he does not surrender the power to the vice president. Why should the governor of Arkansas?

But those are issues for another day, only to be cogitated upon now. Meantime, let’s not waste taxpayers’ precious dollars on a meaningless election even if we do have a surplus.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Lola Mae Lowery, 90, of Lo-noke died Friday.

She was a member of Lonoke United Methodist Church and was a retired employee of Remington Arms.

She was preceded in death by her parents, George and Pearlie Glover; her husband, Curtis Low-ery; a son, Baxter Lowery; two bro-thers, Luther and Roy Glover, Sr., and a sister, Maoma Cochran.

Survivors include a sister-in-law, Lois Glover; nephews, Roy Glover of North Little Rock, Robert L. Glover of Lonoke and Wayne Zelk of El Dorado, and a niece, Mary Ruth Elmore of Lonoke.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Burial will follow in Salem Cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Lonoke United Methodist Church.

Gail Elaine Olson, 67, of Cabot passed away Thursday in North Little Rock.

She was born to the late Walter A. and Emma E. Wolf Meyers on October 18, 1938 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her son, Mark S. Olson, also preceded her in death.

Survivors include her loving husband, Edwin G. Olson; two sons, Alan K. Olson of Cabot and Edwin W. Olson and wife Marci of Palm City, Fla.; a daughter, Debra A. Olson of New Haven, Conn.; a brother, Todd Allen Meyers of Garden City, N.Y.; a sister, Judy Widowski of Amarillo, Texas; two grandchildren, Edwin Olson and Erika Thompson, as well as one great-grandchild, Nicole Thompson.

Funeral services will be held Monday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Jerold Posey officiating.

Sharon Waters
Sharon Waters, 47, of North Little Rock was born March 24, 1959 at Little Rock to Gene and Margaret Kaucher Waters. She died Friday.

She was preceded in death by her father, and is survived by her mother, Margaret of Ward; one brother, Robert Waters of Austin; a niece, Magen Waters and nephew, Chance Waters.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Sixteenth Section Methodist Church.

Burial will be in Sixteenth Section Cemetery, with funeral arrangements by Westbrook Fu-neral Home of Beebe.