Friday, August 25, 2006

TOP STORY >>Irrigating farms tops Berry’s list

IN SHORT: Berry blasts Bush, pledges support for bio-fuels and nearby demonstration farm.

Leader staff writer

“Give me a Democratic House and Senate, and I’ll get it done,” Cong. Marion Berry told the farmers and others assembled Thursday for Field Day 2006 at Lonoke’s Pearlie S. Reed/Robert L. Cole Small Farm Outreach Wetlands and Water Management Center.

Over a lunch of fried catfish and chicken, Berry said he would get the funds to finish what he called much-needed irrigation projects for area farmers, as well as the money to continue upgrading the Reed/Cole Demonstration farm, part of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“I’m not going to stop until you can stand at the city limits of Lonoke and see this farm,” said Berry. Lonoke is about two miles from the farm.

Berry—a Gillett Democrat—faces Cabot’s Republican Mayor Mickey “Stubby” Stumbaugh in the November general election for the First Congressional District seat held by Berry.

Berry blamed President Bush for hampering the Bayou Meto and Grand Prairie irrigation projects.

“Give me a Democratic Presi-dent, and I’ll give you health care and affordable fuel,” he promised.

“We can afford to bring peace and prosperity back to the U.S. We already know how to do it,” he continued. “I’m excited over the prospect of the November elections.”

“I’m usually not so partisan,” Berry said, “but I had some sand in my craw and had to get it out.”

Berry slammed the Bush administration for its lax oversight followed by an 18-day “coverup” that the nation’s rice stores have been contaminated by unapproved, genetically engineered rice that the European Union and many other countries will not accept.

Routine testing by Riceland Farms turned up the contamination in January, but did not report it to the government, according to The New Standard.

Berry said that of the 535 representatives and senators in Con-gress, he is one of only 35 interested in farming.
“I feel good about the future of agriculture,” Berry told the 250 people at lunch.

He told them that bio-fuels were “an idea whose time has come” because of global warming and to large-scale investment by private industry.

The congressman said there was a lot of bio-fuel investment taking place in the lower Missis-sippi River Valley, including the Arkansas Delta.

He anticipated good farming fortunes with the emergence of China and India’s growing middle class and shrinking poverty.
“Everybody has money to buy something to eat and a cotton shirt,” he said.

Berry said it was investment in education and infrastructure that made the United States the great county it is and that such investments must be continued.

TOP STORY >>CJHN classes are delayed until Sept. 5

IN SHORT: First day of classes for seventh and eighth graders are put off until after Labor Day.

Leader staff writer

Seventh and eighth graders displaced when a faulty light fixture started a fire that consumed Cabot Junior High North Aug. 10 won’t start classes until Tuesday, Sept. 5 because district workers won’t be able to have 20 portable buildings set up in time. Roughly 1,250 students attended classes in the $9 million, eight-year-old Junior High North building.

“It’s been a tremendous amount of work, and we’d like to take more time and be sure everything’s ready,” said Frank Holman, superintendent for the district.

“We’re not talking about just parking them. There are lots of rules and regulations to follow. They have to be so far apart. There has to be a fire lane. They have to be safe,” Holman said.

The district plans to evacuate the students to permanant buildings when storms are in the area, he said.

The last trailer was delivered Thursday afternoon. Each trailer has to be firmly anchored between rgw tennis courts and the gym on the Cabot Junior High North campus. After the trailers are anchored, workers will hook up electricity to each classroom, construct wooden, handicapped-accessible walkways and stock the buildings with desks, books, computers and other materials.

“It’s been a Herculean effort to get those buildings brought in and set up,” said Brooks Nash, board member and chair of the district’s buildings and grounds committee.

On Monday, ninth-grade students will start attending classes in four portable buildings on the Cabot High School campus. Ninth-graders will be attending some classes in the old high school business and science buildings as well as using the new high school library. Ninth graders will have lunch in the high school cafeteria, after high schoolers finish, from 12:39 to 1:19 p.m.

Seventh- and eighth-grade students will eat lunches brought from Cabot Middle School North. Students will eat either in the gym or in the classrooms.

“It’s been a tragedy, but our teachers have a ‘can-do’ attitude,” said David Hipp, president of the Cabot Board of Education.
Many of the computer records lost in the fire were backed up and will be restored to teachers’ computers. Ninth-grade teachers are getting new computers. Seventh- and eighth-grade teachers will be getting laptop computers for their classrooms.

In addition to any fundraising efforts from the community, the district is giving each Cabot Junior High North teacher $650 to spend on classroom materials.

Replacement algebra, geometry and other math textbooks have been delivered and 453 graphing calculators have been ordered for math classes. The school’s inventory of library books will likely be filled from donations or used booksellers.

Classroom novels including “Stargirl,” “The Outsiders” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” have been ordered for students.

Cabot Junior High South is donating 100 Earth science books and 149 life science books to the school. Other science materials and textbooks are being ordered as well as social studies texts for Arkansas history, American history, geography and civics.

The principals for Cabot Junior High North have moved into the principals’ building on the Cabot High School campus. All students will be checked in and out of school through the principals’ building. All Cabot Junior High North telephone numbers have been transferred to the principal’s building as well.

TOP STORY >>Girl who alerted district to fire is praised as hero

IN SHORT: School officials honor Brittany Musich and emergency responders for their efforts in fighting the blaze that destroyed Cabot Junior High North on Aug. 10.

Leader staff writer

Brittany Musich was publicly recognized Tuesday night by the Cabot Fire Department and school district officials for alerting administrators to the fire that burned down Cabot Junior High North Aug. 10.

Musich, a ninth grader at Cabot Junior High North, had been at the school helping her mother, Nita Musich, an em-ployee at the Cabot Junior High North office.

“Brittany was showing seventh graders around when she noticed the smoke coming from the media center,” Nita Musich told The Leader.

Brittany used the school intercom to tell her mother about the fire and to call 911.

“I think she acted appropriately, and we’re very proud of her,” Nita Musich said. Brittany is humble about the event, saying she only did what was right.

“She made the call that got everyone going and probably saved lives for folks who were inside the building,” said Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson.

Robinson presented Musich with a porcelain statue of a female firefighter holding a little girl during Tuesday night’s board of education meeting.

“The name of this statue is ‘Safe from Harm’ and that’s what Brittany did, she saved a lot of people from harm,” Robinson said.

The school board presented Musich with a $50 Wal-Mart gift card.

The Cabot Board of Education recognized the efforts of Cabot and other fire departments from surrounding communities for efforts in battling the blaze.

“It’s been said many times that a good leader is the result of being surrounded by good people,” Robinson said.

“While it may be debated if I’m a good leader or not, there’s no doubt that I’m surrounded by good people.”

The board recognized Cabot Police Chief Jackie Davis for keeping the Cabot Junior High North campus secure from onlookers and looters in the days since the blaze.

TOP STORY >>Suspect in attack arrested

IN SHORT: Cabot fugitive is apprehended in Richland, Miss.

Leader staff writer

A Cabot man who sent his wife and in-laws to the hospital after attacking them with a tire iron last week has been arrested in Richland, Miss.

Det. John King, of the Richland Police Department, said Billy Cul-bertson, 52, of 306 Oakview Dr., Cabot, was apprehended Wednes-day, when he tried to pick up some personal items at his ex-wife’s house just outside the Richland city limits.

Culbertson is now awaiting extradition back to Cabot. “He’ll either waive his rights and being taken back to Arkansas, or we will have a hearing,” King said.

According to a Cabot police report, on Aug. 15, Culbertson attacked A.D. Thomason, 81, Beryldean Thomason, 80, both of Bald Knob, and Linda Culbertson, 56, of 306 Oakview Drive, where the crime occurred.

The victims suffered head wounds, lacerations and other injuries from the attack. The Thomasons are still in the hospital at last report and in stable condition. Because of injuries caused by Culbertson, doctors had to amputate some of Beryldean Thomason’s fingers.

King said Culbertson’s daughter lives in Richland, and he contacted her a day or two after the assaults and told her he had “done something terrible.”

Culbertson asked her daughter to drive back up to the Cabot area and get some personal items, including a motorcycle, from a storage unit for him. She did and made arrangements for Culbertson to pick up the items at her mother’s house (his ex-wife). She called King and told him that Culbertson had been working in the Gulf Coast area but would be back in Richland on Wednesday to pick up his stuff.

“We made plans to take him down as soon as he stepped out of his vehicle at his ex-wife’s place,” King explained.

“Knowing what he was accused of in Arkansas, we were concerned that he might try something during the arrest,” King said.
He said Culbertson’s daughter was afraid that Culbertson might hurt himself or others when she contacted him.

“But Culbertson offered no resistance when we made the arrest and he followed all of our commands,” said King, one of the four officers involved in the arrest.

According to Cabot police, when they went to the crime scene, they met Linda Culbertson at the door. She was bleeding from the head and her left eye and her left arm appeared to be broken. She shouted to the police, “Help me please, I think he may be dead.”

She was referring to A.D. Thomason, who was in a recliner in the living room and completely covered in blood. But Thomason was conscious enough to yell out that the suspect, Culbertson, had run out the door. Thomason’s wife, Beryl-dean, was also covered in blood, but she was up and walking.

According to the Thomasons, they were in the living room of the home watching television when Culbertson forced his way in sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. He said he was there to kill Linda Culbertson and began cursing.

Thomason told Culbertson not to use that kind of language. Culbertson then beat Thomason with a tire iron several times, knocking him to the floor. He then attacked Beryldean Thomason with the tire iron. He dragged both into a bedroom and let them continue to bleed while he waited for Linda Culbertson.

When she arrived home, Culber-tson hit her with the tire iron and screamed, “I’m going to kill you.”

He continued to attack Linda Culbertson, and then suddenly stopped and told Beryldean Thomason to call 911. Culbertson left through the back door, screaming, “Now I am going to kill myself.”

TOP STORY >>Jail tax seen as a safety solution

IN SHORT: Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines says funds would reduce area crime.

Leader staff writer

With just two weeks left until they decide the fate of a quarter-cent sales tax increase dedicated to nearly doubling the size of the county jail and running it, Pulaski County voters must decide whether or not keeping burglars, meth cooks and drunk drivers off neighborhood streets is worth 25 cents on every $100 they spend, ac-cording to Pulaski County Judge Floyd (Buddy) Villines. The additional tax would amount to $6.25 on a $2,500 large-screen television or 38 cents on a $15 music CD.

The current jail holds 880 inmates, but without the new tax, would be reduced to 800 next year. If the tax is approved, the jail will hold 1,618 by 2008.

“We’d be good to go for 15 or 20 years,” Villines estimated. Villines said violent crime is up and that Little Rock already has 58 murders this year, more than last year’s 12-month total. The election will be held Sept. 12, with early voting beginning Monday at the County Courthouse and at other sites, including Jacksonville city Hall, on Sept. 4.

Villines, who was interviewed in mortage banker John Hardwick’s office, said assuming the usual number of voters turn up to vote no on a tax increase, the county needs to get 34,000 to 40,000 to the polls for the special election Sept. 12.

Hardwick was Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim’s representative on the ad hoc Public Safety Task Force.

Supporters say the tax could keep more criminals in jail—that it could save your life or possessions by making sure Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville, Sherwood and Pulaski County officials have a jail to keep serious offenders off the streets.

Opponents say Villines and the others are using scare tactics.

Here’s what Villines says voters would get for their money:

- the reopening of the 250-bed work-release center.

- a new 196-bed mini-mum/medium security unit.

- 292 new maximum security beds.

- repair of the existing, dilapidated jail.

- at least $750,000 a year for prevention, intervention and treatment programs.

- dedicated funds to operate the jail without relying on contributions from the local cities.

Villines answered criticism leveled on The Leader editorial page challenging the $100,000 additional cost of the special election saying the tax increase stands a much better chance of passage in a stand-alone election than in a general election.

According to state law, only school matters may be decided at the Sept. 4 school board elections.
Also, by approving a tax increase in September, the first revenues will be collected in January instead of April, meaning new beds can come on line earlier.

“It’s an economic development factor,” said First Arkansas Bank and Trust president Larry Wilson, who stopped into the meeting long enough to say he favored the tax. “For people to prosper, we need to lock these rascals up,” he said.

Jim Lynch, the only public-safety task force member not to vote for putting the tax on the ballot (he abstained), wants more money spent instead on prevention and intervention. He has said too many drug users get long sentences. We have to stop locking up people we don’t like and concentrate on those we’re afraid of, he told the task force earlier this year.

Villines said his departments have found $2.5 million in federal money to put into prevention and intervention.

In addition, the tax would provide $750,000 a year and North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hayes has said he would favor putting $680,000 a year into such programs. That’s the amount the city currently kicks into county-jail operations and maintenance as part of the mutual-aid compact.

The county is helping as many as 500 youngsters a year with prevention or intervention programs.

TOP STORY >>Judge is reluctant to hold big trial

IN SHORT:Nov. 8 court date set for Campbells and others, but it may be difficult to try them together.

Leader staff writer

Even as Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain argued Friday for a single, month-long proceeding in the 78-count indictment against popular former Lonoke police chief Jay Campbell, his wife and four others, Circuit Judge John Cole noted repeatedly that such a mega trial would be unwieldy or impossible, signaling that he was predisposed toward conducting two or more trials.

Cole tentatively set a Nov. 8 the trial on charges that Campbell masterminded a continuing criminal organization or enterprise that stole drugs and money, influenced inmates with drugs and sexual favors, conspired to manufacture methamphetamine, burgled homes and beat and intimidated witnesses between October 2002 and December 2005.

Others charged were Kelly Campbell, bail bondsmen Larry Norwood and Bobby Junior Cox, former police department dispatcher Amy Staley and Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett.

McCastlain on Tuesday dropped all charges against all defendants, and then refilled the same charges and another 37 charges, saying the individual alleged crimes were constituent parts of the alleged ongoing criminal enterprise.

The criminal enterprise charges are especially important, because if the defendants were found guilty of those, sentences for some other convictions would be enhanced.

All defendants, except Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett, charged with a single misdemeanor for theft of services, were in the courtroom and pled not guilty to the new round of charges.

Privett is accused of having work release inmates work on his sidewalk and fix his air conditioner at his home. All have indicated they would file to have their cases severed from the others and that they would also file motions to quash the criminal enterprise charges.

Cole said he would hear those motions at a pretrial conference at 9 a.m. Sept. 8 and set other pretrial conferences for 9 a.m. Sept. 21 and for 9 a.m. Nov. 2.

Cole, hearing the case or cases in the place of Circuit Judge Lance Hanshaw, who has recused, said he was considering hearing the trial at the Cabot Courtroom because of its possible length.

“In charging the former chief with an ongoing criminal enterprise, the state alleges that Campbell “did unlawfully and feloniously engage in a continuing criminal organization or enterprise in the first degree by committing, at-tempting to commit or soliciting to commit a felony predicate offense and that offense was part of a continuing series of two or more predicate criminal offenses which were undertaken by (Campbell) in concert with two or more other persons with respect to whom (Campbell) occupies a position of organizer, supervisor or any other position of management, a special classification of felony,” according to a 19-page information filed with the 39-page bill of particulars.

TOP STORY >>Prosecutor criticized

IN SHORT: Defense attorney in war of words with Lona McCastlain.

Leader staff writer

Kelly Campbell’s lawyer, Mark Hampton, learning of new charges against the defendants, issued a press release taking exception to Prosecutor Lona McCastlain’s actions, calling them “seemingly biased and bizarre.”

“No matter what she says, we all know you can’t put a new face on an old pig, and she is twisting the law in a ridiculous attempt to save her own neck in an election year,” according to Hampton.

McCastlain, a Republican, faces a challenge from Democratic Cabot lawyer Tim Blair.

“I have said before and will say again, the acts of McCastlain seem politically motivated,” Hampton said.

“They have to have a defense,” McCastlain responded. “(Charging election-year politics) is as good as any.” She said she would have been charged with playing politics had she not prosecuted.

Hampton maintains that McCastlain “in a desperate attempt to save a wrongful prosecution,” filed new charges under Arkansas’ Organized Crime Statute.

“We alleged new charges because much more information came forward—an additional 37 counts,” McCastlain said. “We realized we had an enterprise here.”

Hampton asked why, if her case is so strong, she hired a private investigator to help. McCastlain said she hired Glen Ring, an investigator for about a month, “to help be do interviews. There’s such a volume of information.”

Hampton said the alleged victims of the thefts and burglaries didn’t report the alleged crimes and have told the prosecutor they didn’t want them investigated or prosecuted.

“I’m not sure where he’s getting his information, but it’s not the same I have,”McCastlain said. “We will put the evidence on at trial.”

EDITORIALS>>More choices for voters

Jim Lendall, the copiously bearded former state representative, is not going to be the next governor of Arkansas, and he doesn’t expect to be. But tens of thousands of people who share his tolerant and compassionate view of his fellow human beings deserve the chance to at least consider voting for him, whether from real conviction or the need to protest the cautious stands of the major party candidates. Not many voters will actually do it, we suspect, but they will now have the option.

Federal District Judge George E. Howard Jr. reaffirmed this week what he had essentially ruled years ago, that a state law that requires an extraordinary petition campaign to get minor-party candidates on the Arkansas ballot is unconstitutional because it interferes with the First Amendment right to free association.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas brought the suit to get Green Party candidates on the ballot. The ruling will apply to any political party from the right to the left. The ACLU would have sued to get right-wing parties and candidates ballot access, too, as it has done elsewhere.

Rod Bryan, a young kitchen worker at a Little Rock restaurant, got on the ballot as an independent candidate by filing petitions with the names of 10,000 registered voters, but the Green Party’s 18,000-plus signatures were 6,000 names short of meeting the higher test demanded for third parties. That was manifestly unfair and it came as no surprise that the judge found it so. He had ruled the same way in 1996 and 2001, but the Arkansas legislature has never changed the law to comply with the Constitution. There is no guarantee that the legislature will do it next year either, but it should.

All legislators are from the Republican and Demo-cratic parties and it is in their general interest not to open avenues for more election competition. This year, the two “minor” candidates for governor, if we may describe them so pejoratively, will detract from Attorney General Mike Beebe, the Democratic candidate, because they are tolerant and progressive. Liberals who are irked at Beebe’s cramped positions on social issues can cast what they may consider a principled vote for Lendall or Bryan. Republicans were genuine when they praised Judge Howard’s decision this week. It helps them. But four years from now, one or two of the right-wing splinter parties may want to get on the ballot, and it will be the Republicans’ turn to worry about the purists voting their conscience rather than the pragmatic.

No matter how disenchanted they are with Beebe and other Democrats, not many Democrats in the end will vote for either Bryan or Lendall because they remember 2000 and 2004, when Ralph Nader, an independent and Green Party candidate for president, sucked away enough conscience-stricken liberal Democratic voters to hand the presidency to George W. Bush, twice.

Regretful voters gave Nader far fewer votes the second time, but they were still enough in several states to give the presidency to Bush.

But practical politics is a consideration for voters, not the law. The law owes no favors for the major parties or the two-party system. Independents and rigid Repub-licans and Democrats alike can celebrate the small victory for democratic ideals that Judge Howard handed them.

OBITUARIES >> 08-26-06

Norma Christenberry
Norma Christenberry, of Jacksonville, beloved wife of Bill Christenberry, joined her daughter, Janet Thompson when she peacefully passed away on Aug. 22.  

She was born in Oklahoma City to the late William and Edith Schmidt.  

She was a graduate of Central State in Edmond, now the University of Central Oklahoma. Known for her love of family and friends, her cooking and canning skills as well as her sense of humor, she will be missed. Before this last difficult year, she was an active member of the Little Rock Air Force Base Chapel, P.W.O.C., Armettes, Enlisted Wives’ Club, A.A.R.P. and her beloved “Bridgies.”

Besides her husband of 56 years, Bill Christenberry, survivors include her daughter, Nancy of Stuttgart and the home; a son, David and wife Jani of Desoto, Kan.; four grandchildren, Amanda Sumner of Tulsa, Okla., Joel Thompson of Peryton, Texas, and Jessica and Kaleb Christen-berry of Desoto, Kan.; two sisters-in-law; nieces; nephews, other family, and many friends.

Her memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Little Rock Air Force Base Chapel.

Funeral arrangements are under direction of Moore’s Jack-sonville Funeral Home.

Sue Kerns
Sue Shelton Kerns, 76, born in Lonoke County to Oliver M. Shelton and Ester Jones Shelton, died Aug. 23.

She was a Baptist.

Her husband, Bob Kerns, preceded her in death.

Survivors include a daughter Dana and husband Mark Mabry of Texas; two grandchildren; one great-grandchild; a sister, Bernice Pounders of Little Rock; a brother, Ellis Shelton of Oklahoma, and several nieces and nephews.

Graveside services will be at 1 p.m. today at Wattensaw Cemetery, arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon today at the funeral home.

SPORTS >>Panther running game dominant in scrimmage

IN SHORT: Cabot’s football team ran almost at will against Lake Hamilton Tuesday evening.

Leader sports editor

The Cabot offense was very impressive Tuesday night in a scrimmage against Lake Hamilton. The visiting Wolves found the Panther offense next to unstoppable, but they did manage a few scores on the Cabot defense.

No score was kept, but Cabot made many more stops against Lake Hamilton than vice versa, and controlled the action throughout most of the contest.

The two teams swapped 15-play drives, and nothing stopped progress. If a team turned the ball over or was stopped on downs, the line of scrimmage stayed the same, and the offense got another set of downs.

Cabot was only stopped on downs or turnovers once in its five drives.

Lake Hamilton was stopped on every drive. The Panther defense forced four turnovers, but Lake Hamilton went on to score three times on its five 15-play drives. Only one of the Wolves’ touchdowns came without the benefit of the scrimmage rules.
Cabot used almost all of its 15 plays on one drive with its first two varsity drives. The first took 12 plays and ended with a 2-yard plunge by sophomore fullback Vince Aguilar.

Aguilar carried seven times for 33 yards on the drive. Halfback Jordan Carlisle had a 15-yard run during the drive, and quarterback Brandon Wade carried twice for 29 yards. Wade fumbled at the end of his 18-yard run, but Cabot recovered the loose ball.

After the touchdown, the Panthers went to the air for their final three plays, and almost scored again. Wade hit halfback Colin Fuller for 10 yards, then scrambled for 11 on the 14th play. He again hooked up with Fuller for 44 yards down to the 15-yard line on the final play.

Lake Hamilton lost a fumble, and was stopped on downs once on its first drive, but eventually scored on the seventh play of the drive on an inverted screen that went for 13 yards.

The Wolves hit a 23-yard pass and a 27-yard quarterback scramble during the drive.

The quarterback fumbled at the end of the run and Cabot covered, but the Wolves re-started on first down at the 19-yard line.

Senior linebacker Raul Gault got a sack on the next drive of Lake Hamilton’s possession. On the next play, sophomore Cody Myers forced a fumble with a big hit at the line of scrimmage that senior Michael Rowlett recovered for the Panthers.
After another run for no gain on the 10th play, Lake Hamilton hit a 27-yard pass.

The Wolves’ final five plays picked up no yardage, and in-cluded another tackle for a loss by Gault. Senior defensive back Josh Clem almost picked off the last pass, stepping in front of a screen attempt and knocking the ball down.

Cabot got just seven yards in four tries to start its next drive, but were a dropped pass by Clem away from one big gain.
After starting over on downs with another recovered fumble, the Panther offense started clicking again. Carlisle picked up five yards before Wade and Fuller hooked up for a 27-yard pass completion. Aguilar rumbled five yards, Wade kept for 18, Fuller picked up two and Aguilar scored from eight yards out to end the drive.

Cabot picked up nine yards on the final four plays of the drive.

The second team put together a nice drive too. Sophomore fullback Taylor Travis carried eight times for 36 yards to lead the team down the field. Senior halfback Brandon Davis carried twice for eight yards and sophomore quarterback Anthony Byrnes kept three times for 34 yards. The second team used all 15 plays to methodically march down the field and score on the final play, a 1-yard dive by Travis.

The two teams spent the last portion of the scrimmage in red-zone situations. Both teams scored on almost every short-field possession to close out the event.

SPORTS >>Devils close to big plays

IN SHORT: Jacksonville didn’t score, but showed promise in its scrimmage against Wildcats.

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s offense continued to struggle in game-type situations Thursday night in the Red Devils’ benefit scrimmage against North Little Rock, but did show improvement. After a poor showing last Saturday in the red-white game, Jacksonville failed to score Thursday against the Charging Wildcats, but came very close to making some big plays. Getting the offense in gear is now just a matter of fine tuning, according to head coach Mark Whatley.

“We had some chances to make some big plays, we just missed one tiny little thing or another that kept that from happening,” Whatley said.

The head Red Devil was still very optimistic and encouraged afterwards.

“The biggest thing is we competed well and we learned where to go from here. We got us a starting point and now we’re going to try to get better and be ready for Cabot, who is a much-improved football team.”

The final score was 23-0, but only six of NLR’s points were against Jacksonville’s varsity defense. The Wildcats scored on a 46-yard field goal by Andy Keeling after a junior-varsity possession, and hit a 59-yard touchdown pass in JV action.

The Wildcat offense busted one long run on the varsity squad late in the third quarter, a 56-yard touchdown scamper by Tim Dunn. The other touchdown was a screen pass by Hubbbard that was picked off by NLR’s Darius Thomas and returned 50 yards for the score.

Dropped passes were one of the biggest problems in the game, but the Red Devils have caught the ball well all summer and in the preseason.

One of the most encouraging aspects of Thursday’s scrimmage was the amount of time quarterback Daniel Hubbard had to throw the ball. Hubbard was rarely under heavy pressure, and was sacked just once. The senior QB threw well most of the game, but two bad passes cost the Red Devils.

The first was on the first drive of the game. Hubbard rolled to his right and had senior receiver Marcus King wide open in the end zone also rolling right. The throw was just a bit too far to the right and King couldn’t catch up to it.
King had an outstanding game, catching six passes for 61 yards, including a 36-yard strike down the right sideline that he had to adjust to and catch in traffic.

The Jacksonville defense performed well for most of the game, besides giving up the one long run, otherwise the Devil D contained the speedy Wildcats well.

Another big plus for Jack-sonville was the play of a few sophomores. Jeffrey Tillman has impressed coaches since practice began, and looked good again Thursday.

Corey Bester led Jacksonville in rushing yards playing with the second team, running mostly against NLR’s second-string defense. Bester finished with 40 yards on six carries, and caught one pass for eight yards.

Junior defensive lineman Bro-derick Mays made two very im-pressive plays. He made a one-armed tackle while being blocked by reaching over his blocker’s shoulder and grabbing the running back. Mays was blocked to the ground, but kept his grip and pulled the back down with him.

He also sacked the Wildcat quarterback for a 12-yard loss on the last play of the game.
Jacksonville gained 186 yards while the Wildcats compiled 266 total yards. Dunn finished with eight carries for 116 yards.

SPORTS >>NP ladies drop opener

IN SHORT: The North Pulaski Lady Falcons started off their 2006 volleyball season with a hotly contested, five-set loss to the Pulaski Robinson Lady Senators Thursday night at the PR gym. NP had a 2-1 advantage before Joe. T swept the final two sets.

Leader sports writer

The North Pulaski Lady Falcons’ season opener at Pulaski Robinson went down to the wire Thursday night in a five-set thriller. After winning the first and third sets to take a 2-1 advantage in the match, the Lady Falcons lost the final two sets, giving Joe T. the come-from-behind win.

With neither team holding any kind of real size or skill advantage, the match became a fight for momentum. The Lady Falcons controlled the odd sets while the Lady Senators took the even sets, until the fifth and final round, when Joe T. put the match away with a 15-11 win.

“I thought it was pretty evenly matched the entire way,” Lady Falcons coach Amanda Hill said. “We have a couple of adjustments to work on before our conference season starts, but that’s what these non-conference matches are for. Overall, I was very happy with the way the girls played. They see that they can go out and win now; I wasn’t sure if they would see that or not, but I think they have a little more confidence now.”

While the Lady Senators relied mostly on the hitting of Abby Fletcher and serving from Alashia Adams, the Lady Falcons spread their game out into more of a concentrated team effort. Samantha Barrow led in the kills department with Jennifer Peters and Tamara Rhodes right behind her, while Lecreishia Cash led the way in blocking. Kristyn James and Tuaneishia Ridgeway looked the best behind the service line, and Taylor Barrow set the majority of assists during the match.

“Lecreishia is one of our seniors, and we are relying on her to do big things for us this season.” Hill said. “They all want to contribute, though. We are one team, with one goal, and everyone will make a difference this year.”

It was obvious from the first set that the match would be momentum-based. Joe T. quickly moved out to a 3-0 lead, but the Lady Falcons overtook them 5-4 soon afterward.

Once out in front, they built up a three-point advantage that they maintained most of the way in the first set to win 25-22.
It was Pulaski Robinson that controlled things in the second set. The Lady Senators led the entire frame, taking a 25-19 win to tie the match a one set each.

It looked like North Pulaski would dominate the third set early on, but it turned out to be the most closely contested set of the entire match. A kill from Barrow put the Lady Falcons up 13-6, but Joe T. came roaring back to tie things up at 14-all moments later.

The Lady Senators took a brief 18-17 lead in the set, before a North Pulaski rally swung the momentum in its direction once again, as the Lady Falcons took a one-set advantage with a 25-22 win in set number three.

The fourth set was the only lop-sided decision of the entire contest. Joe T. roared out to an 18-7 lead courtesy of several service aces and a couple of NP errors. The Lady Falcons closed the gap in the waning moments of the frame, but Robinson went on to win set four 25-15, setting up a winner-take-all shootout in the fifth and final set.

North Pulaski’s next match will be Tuesday at home against Greenbrier in a varsity and junior varsity double header, with the JV teams taking to the court starting at 5 p.m.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SPORTS >>Panther volleyball ready to get going

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Lady Panthers began their season last night with a tri-match against Lonoke and Morrilton at the Panther gym. Head coach Terry Williams, now in her 30th year as head volleyball coach at Cabot, said her team was ready to go yesterday.
“I think they are ready to get out on the court with someone besides each other,” Williams said. “We want to know where we stand.”

She believes that the mature team is solid in every category, save for one. “Our serve-reception is going to make us or break us this year,” Williams said. “We are hitting and blocking well, but we are not passing well on our serve-reception. If we don’t get that down, we could be in trouble.”

The Lady Panthers’ biggest struggle last year was being outsized by most of their opponents. The larger 27-player roster has added quite a bit of size to this year’s team, but Williams says that while she is happy to have the extra height this year, confidence rather than pure size will be the difference with her girls this season. “We have gotten a little more aggressive, and a lot more confident,” Williams said. “Most of them saw plenty of playing time last year, so they’re not going to go out there scared. They are a little more sure of themselves; they are not going to be petrified out there.”

As expected, the seniors and juniors have looked very good in the early practices. Returning to the team this year is senior Kelly Lowry, who quickly became Cabot’s ace-hitter last year. Joining her on the hitting line this year is junior Katie Mantione, who brings plenty of height to the team. Senior Kim Carter has also stood out in the late-summer workouts, giving the Lady Panthers a trio of talented hitters.

Defensively, blockers Ashton Seidl and Erika McCaghren have led the team on the right side of the court through camp.
The numbers look good for the Lady Panthers on all accounts heading into the opening game. Along with added height and experience, there are simply more of them this year. Around 30 players took to the early practices, and 27 of them are still on the roster. Williams says that as far as she is concerned, the more the merrier.

“We have a few more than we did last year, but we can always work that out,” Williams said. “If they are willing to stay and work hard, there’s a place for them. We can get them out on the court and let them play some. It’s a good group, and if there is someone pushing them along the way, they will only get better.”

OBITUARIES >> 08-23-06


Robert Ralph Reynolds, 85, of Beebe passed away Sunday, Aug. 20.

He was born January 4, 1921, in Vincennes, Ind., to William and Viola Reynolds.
He was a member of First United Methodist Church and Masonic Lodge 145, both at Beebe.

He served his country with the U.S. Army and was a veteran of the Second World War.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jewel Black Reynolds; two children, William Robert Reynolds of Beebe and Judith Lynn McCann of Springdale; a brother, Clarence Ray Reynolds of Vincennes, Ind.; four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Lebanon Cemetery at McRae.


Harold L. Hicks, 73, of Jacksonville, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 16, in North Little Rock. He was born on Sept. 13, 1932, in Dillard, Okla., to the late William L. and Vera M. Hart Hicks.

He was also preceded in death by a son, Larry Hicks, and a brother, Wayne Hicks.
He is survived by his wife, Alma Joyce Rockey Hicks of Jacksonville; children, Charles Hicks and his wife, Rhonda, of Peron and Debbie Haulton of Harrison; daughter-in-law, Vanessa Hicks of Jacksonville; sisters, Elwanna Hudson and her husband, Ernest, of Brownfield, Texas, Maudine Collier and her husband, Royce, of Huntsville, and Linda Holloway and her husband, Kenneth, of Kingston; a sister-in-law, Shirley Hicks of Huntsville; his grandchildren, Christopher Hicks and his wife, Tonya, of Fayetteville, Kim Trublood and her husband, John, of Harrison, Robert Haulton of St. Louis, Mo., Jeremy Hicks of Conway, and Lesley Hicks of Jacksonville, as well as two great-grandchildren, Silas Hicks and Tabor Trublood.

A graveside service was held Aug. 19 in Walnut Bottoms Cemetery in Peron by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Verla A. Miessner went to be with the Lord and Savior on Aug. 18, 2006.
She was born in Oplin, Texas, to the late Preston and Beulah Moore.

She spent her early years of life in Abilene, Texas, and later moved to Fort Worth, where she met the love of her life of 42 years, Hillis J. Miessner. They were married on January 16, 1954 and began their life together in Fort Worth, Texas and later moved to Germany in 1974.

After spending five years in Germany, Hillis, Verla, and four of their children moved to Cabot, where they settled down to retire. She was preceded in death by their first child, Margaret; her father, Preston Moore, and mother, Beulah Moore.

A loving wife, mother, friend and Oma, she is survived by her husband, Hillis Miessner; son Mark Miessner and wife, Sheryl; grandson Matthew; granddaughter Heather; son, Allen Miessner and granddaughter Laura, son Gary Miessner and wife, Terri, all of Cabot; daughter Gail Schwanke and husband, Keith Schwanke grandsons Joshua and Andrew of Junction City, Kan.; a sister, three brothers and many special nieces and nephews.

The funeral service was held on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cabot.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Our Savior Lutheran Church of Cabot or Baptist Hospice of Arkansas.

The family would like to thank family, friends and co-workers who lifted them up in prayers, and Baptist Hospice for the faith, care, and love shown during this difficult time.

SPORTS >>Topless races featured pair of local drivers

Leader sportswriter

Locust Grove — A number of local drivers turned out for the 14th annual Comp Cams Topless 100 at Batesville Speedway this past weekend. Two of the hopefuls to make the Saturday feature were from The Leader coverage area.

The annual super late-model event draws the top drivers in the country. Of all the late-model races run in the entire nation yearly, only the Dream and World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, rank bigger among drivers in money and bragging rights.

Veteran driver Stacy Taylor of Jacksonville and 18-year-old Jordan Jones of Beebe made up two of the total 66 late-model hopefuls that tried to get into the 24-car feature for a chance at the $45,000 winner’s purse. Taylor made it in through the heats on Friday, taking the final transfer spot in the opening-heat race of the night behind Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin driver Jimmy Mars and Muscatine, Iowa’s Brian Birkhofer.

Jones was not quite as fortunate in his heat. He worked his way into a transfer spot in the early going, but a flat tire forced him to restart in the rear. The second-year MARS regular fought hard to get back up to the fifth position, but was two spots shy of a transfer, forcing him to take part in one of Saturday night’s ‘B’ main last-chance qualifier. Jones went out in the second of the last chance races on Saturday. Only two drivers would transfer out to the A main. After running third for most of the 20-lap race, and briefly challenging Batesville area favorite Peyton Taylor for the final transfer, an ill-handling car allowed Billy Moyer Jr. around for third on the final lap.

It all began with time trials on Friday night. Taylor timed in respectably in 24th. Jones ran mid-pack for the session in 35th, but was still fast enough to make the invert for the heats, which was not good news for the 60 racing team. The top 36 qualifiers were inverted for the six heats, with the top six qualifiers starting dead last for their respective heats, the next six starting next to last, until the top qualifiers filled the final six spots in each of the 11-car heats.

Taylor’s qualifying effort put him in eighth for the first heat, but he quickly sliced through the field to take the transfer. For Taylor, it was his fourth time to make the A main in his storied career. “That’s the biggest part of this whole deal is just making it in,” Taylor said as he and his crew worked on the car Saturday afternoon. “We’ve got some work to do to make it better before tonight.” Amazingly, the Topless would mark only the fourth race all season that Taylor had competed in, but he had the confidence of a veteran heading into the 100-lap event.

“I think we have a fairly good chance,” Taylor said. “We probably have a good top-ten car. 100 laps is a long time, so we will just have to see what happens.” Unfortunately for Taylor, the car developed mechanical problems early on in the event, forcing him to pull off and park before the completion of 30 laps. Taylor finished 23rd on the night.

Jones did not have the experience that Taylor had heading into the weekend, but is gaining it quickly. His father Cary acted as crew chief for the 60 car his rookie season, managing the setups and prep work for the car. Jordan now handles that as well, but dad is still there for advice and moral support on race weekends.

“I think I have a fair chance to make it into the feature,” Jones said. “There are a couple of guys I’m concerned about in the lineup, but I think I can pass a couple of them, hopefully.” Jones lined up third for his ‘B’ main, and would stay there close behind the final transfer spot until the final laps. Despite not making the feature, it was a chance for Jones to show he could hang with the best the country had to offer. Even more impressive is the fact that his car is actually outdated. His GRT machine is an over-rail car, whereas most of the top drivers are now running under-rails. That will not be a problem for much longer, however, as they are expecting a new GRT-by-Frye machine in the coming weeks that features and under-rail suspension package.

“We have the same car as last year, and it has had continuous problems,” Jones said “So our second season has not been a lot easier so far.” After his ‘B’ main, Jones seemed partially disappointed, partially relieved but mostly happy as he and his girlfriend walked through the pit area. “I think that next to last restart would have been my best chance,” Jones said. “I slipped a little on that restart after I got a good run into the corner. The car got tight on the last restart, so I think the one before would have been the key.”

The event was won by Mooresburg, Tennessee’s Scott Bloomquist, who is considered by many to be the top late-model driver of all time. It was the third Topless win for the driver known as ‘Black Sunshine’. Bloomquist set fast time in the trials, came from the rear to win his heat, started sixth and finished second in the five-lap dash-for-cash and lined up on the outside pole for the feature, and led every lap.

SPORTS >>Falcons learn from tough outing

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski traveled to Mills Monday night to take part in a four-team scrimmage with the Comets, Pulaski Robinson and Sheridan. They didn’t fare too well, but there were some things to build upon.

The scrimmage was played on the outer edge of the massive storm that blew through central and north Arkansas Monday night, but the lightning had a rival in Mills’ tailback Antonio Smith. Smith was almost untouchable. He scampered for 100 yards and a touchdown on just six carries in his half against the Falcons. He was almost as good against Sheridan, piling up 83 yards on eight carries against the 6A Yellowjackets.

The Falcons played a half against Joe T. and a half against Mills, and the combined score was 41-16. North Pulaski’s two touchdowns came in the second quarter against Mills when sophomore quarterback Stanley Appleby scored on two rollouts.
Appleby’s first touchdown was on a called quarterback keeper. The 5-foot, 7-inch 10th grader followed his pulling guard Jimmy Mecalo around the left side and broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run. He was sprung by a great block outside the left end by wide receiver Sean Spades that cleared the corner for him. After rounding the corner, Appleby outran three Mills secondary players over the final 30 yards.

The second score was a rollout pass in which Appleby tucked and ran when he saw clear sailing for 23 yards and the score.
He dodged one blocker near the sideline, and ran into the end zone untouched for the score. The worst news of the evening wasn’t the points allowed, it was the injury to senior lineman Jeffrey Bogard. Bogard went down in the first quarter of the first scrimmage against Robinson. He sat out the rest of the scrimmage, with a twisted ankle, but could be back as early as the Falcons’ season opener against Dumas at home on Sept. 1.

Mills and Robinson ran well against the Falcons’ defense, but the red-zone D was good. Most of Mills’ scores came on long plays. Three times the Falcons forced turnovers when the opponent got close to the goal line. They forced a fumble by Robinson and intercepted two passes in the end zone against Mills. Shawn Rase got the first pick for the Falcons. The second was by senior Shoin Hand.

The offense stalled on most drives. The Falcons did not get a first down against Robinson, who is expected to beat out Pulaski Academy for the AAAA-Southwest Conference championship, and compete for a state title. They failed to earn a first down in their first two possessions against Mills before finally getting a few things clicking offensviely. Senior Charles Baker, who will be the team’s workhorse at running back this season, totaled negative yardage on the night, finding no running room and meeting defenders in the backfield.

SPORTS >>Defense dominates in Devils' Red-White

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville’s offense dominated in most of the Red Devils’ preseason practice scrimmages. Just before Saturday’s Red-White game, the defense had its best day of practice to date. It carried that momentum into Saturday’s event, and stuffed the offense all game long.

The offense couldn’t score at all during regular scrimmaging, but finally got it into the end zone during a brief red-zone situational scrimmage at the end of the evening. Jacksonville didn’t try to run the ball very much, and the passing game was ineffective. Red Devil head coach Mark Whatley didn’t plan on running much, and it became apparent why midway through the contest when starting fullback Justin Sebourn left the game with a knee injury and is out indefinitely. “I didn’t want to run a lot. I didn’t want to create a bunch of piles and get people hurt,” Whatley said. “You found out why because we lost a pretty good football player for a while.”

Hubbard was pressured a few times, but the quarterbacks were protected with the green jerseys. Even when he wasn’t pressured, the passing game usually didn’t work. Passes were either off target or dropped most of the time, or receivers weren’t in the right place. Whatley still saw some good things. He blames the ineffectiveness on a lack of intensity.
“We didn’t do a heck of a lot very well, but we didn’t do anything with any intensity,” Whatley said. “We didn’t play with any fire in our belly and we didn’t do the little bitty things right that you have to do to make things work.”

One key positive that Whatley saw was the play of the offensive line, which usually gave the quarterbacks time to find an open receiver. “I feel like our line gave us time to throw the ball,” Whatley said. “We just didn’t execute.”
Whatley found other things to compliment, specifically the play of certain individuals. “I think Deverick Hall jumped in there and had himself a good scrimmage. Jeffrey Tillman is a sophomore that played very well. He ran it hard and he might find himself on the field somewhere. Norvel Gabriel played well on both sides of the ball.”

Tillman led everyone in rushing yards, most of which came during the junior varsity scrimmage. Senior defensive back Breon Cox provided the most exciting highlight when he streaked in front of a receiver at midfield, picked off a Hubbard pass and returned it down the left side to the 5-yard line. “We had some bright spots. That one doesn’t go in the column, so we’re not panicking. We’re going to back and look at what we did and try to get ready for North Little Rock.”

TOP STORY >>Cabot pressed to keep impact fees down

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council on Monday passed an ordinance that will phase in over the next three years an impact fee that will add $3,435 to the cost of the average new home. The ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, does less than some council members wanted and more than others expected to spend on infrastructure improvements. The council approved a fee scale that would add $1,075 to the cost of the average home in November of this year, $1,863 in November 2007, $2,648 in November 2008 and $3,435 in November 2009.

Stumbaugh said even though it was generally believed the council would pass one-quarter of the recommended fee this year (except for the fee for the fire department which would be 100 percent) and then evaluate the fee annually, he had the city attorney draft the ordinance with the full impact fee allowed phased in for the sake of continuity. The ordinance could have included a clause that said the council would vote on increasing the impact fee every year, but it is possible there would be no one on the council in two years who would know that, the mayor said.

Alderman Eddie Cook, who is running unopposed, is the only council member who is guaranteed to keep his seat. Aldermen Tom Armstrong and Odis Waymack have opponents. Five others, Bob Duke, Jerry Stephens, David Polantz, James Glenn and Patrick Hutton aren’t running for reelection. “You’ve got to have some continuity,” Stumbaugh said, adding that even the ordinance passed Monday night contained no guarantee that the full fee would be phased in. “Come Jan. 1, the new council could meet and vote to collect the full amount immediately or it could meet and vote to do away with it,” he said.

Polantz and Stephens wanted the full amount in place this year; because they say the people already living in Cabot have borne the burden of the city’s growth too long. Others, including Duke, Waymack and Armstrong said they believed the council would look at the ordinance every year to see if the fee should be increased.

Duke, who voted for the ordinance, said he didn’t realize his vote had helped phase in the full amount proposed by the impact fee study by Duncan Associates of Texas. “It’s to be brought before the council every year for evaluation,” Duke said. “That’s what I wanted. But it won’t be what I want. It will be what the new council wants.” Waymack, who is running for his fourth two-year term, said he also didn’t realize the ordinance gradually phased in the full, recommended fee.

Like Duke, he thought the council would look at the fees every year to determine if they should be increased or left alone.
And like Stumbaugh and Duke, he says the members of the next city council will be the ones to deal with the issue. And if they don’t like it they can change it. Quoting a truism credited to North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, Waymack said, “What the council doeth, the council can undoeth.”

Armstrong, running for a third term, voted with Polantz against the ordinance. But unlike the other seven council members, Arm-strong didn’t want the impact fee at all. Armstrong said he was opposed to collecting an impact fee for the fire department because the fire department already shares a one-cent sales tax with the police department.

Parks get the revenue from a one and a half cent hamburger tax and since a sales tax is paying for the new sewer plant, and that department is now being run by a commission, he said he believes it should not have financial problems.
Streets and the library alone need extra revenue, he said. Before passing the impact-fee ordinance, the council voted down 5-3 an impact-fee ordinance Polantz introduced three months ago that would have required collection of the fully recommended fee starting in November.

TOP STORY >>Displaced Students Return Monday

Leader staff writers

Less than two weeks after a faulty light fixture caused the fire that destroyed the $9 million Cabot Junior High North building on Aug. 10, administrators from the district laid out plans to get the 1,250 students back into the classrooms by Monday. The rest of the district went back to school this week. “This was good. I was curious about the scheduling and buildings,” said Stephanie Osborne, who attended the ninth-grade informational meeting on Sunday with her ninth- grader Stephen.

Since the fire, all class schedules are void so students will need to pick up a new class schedule this week at the principals’ building. Ninth graders can pick up their schedules on Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Seventh and eighth graders can pick up their class schedules on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ninth-grade students will be attending classes in four portable buildings on the Cabot High School campus and will be having lunch in the high school cafeteria, after high schoolers finish, from 12:39 to 1:19 p.m.

“It’s nothing against the high schoolers, but they are a little bit older and we want our ninth graders to feel safe,” said Georgia Chastain, Cabot Junior High North principal. Ninth graders will be taking computer-lab courses in the business building or K building on the high school campus as well as using the high school library. “We can’t let our ninth graders’ momentum down because they’re not just earning grades, they’re earning credit towards graduation,” Chastain said.
Seventh and eighth graders will be attending classes in 20 portable classrooms set up on the Cabot Junior High North campus, between the tennis courts and the gym.

Parents will be notified by September if the Arkansas Department of Education will waive the week of missed classes for Cabot Junior High North students or if there will be a week of make-up classes required at the end of the school year. Meals cooked at Cabot Middle School North will be brought over and students will eat either in the gym or in the classrooms. Parents were encouraged to make their students ride the buses as much as possible instead of driving their children to school as a way to alleviate traffic congestion. The district will have crossing guards and administrators helping direct traffic at the high school and parents to guide other parents dropping off their ninth graders.

Bus routes will likely be running a little earlier this week since Cabot Junior High North students won’t be going to classes and may run a little late next week when those students will be picked up. Assistant Superintendent Jim Dalton urged parents and students to be patient as the logistical problems are worked out.

For parents who need to drop off seventh and eighth graders, drivers will turn off Hwy. 89 as if they were traveling to Cabot Junior High North and follow the new road. This new road goes in front of the portables, stretches around the softball fields and puts drivers on Polk Street. The principals for Cabot Junior High North have moved into the principals’ building on the Cabot High School campus. All students will be checked in and out of school through the principals’ building.

All Cabot Junior High North telephone numbers have been transferred to the principals’ building as well. There are still some loose ends to tie up for parents. Immunization records and medical plans for all seventh graders at Cabot Junior High North were lost in the fire. Parents are being asked to provide copies of those records for student’s files.

Following the fire, several schools from around the state have stepped forward with donations. The Fort Smith School District donated 500 desks, Arkansas Technical University gave 250 and Searcy School District stepped up with 100. Approximately $8,000 worth of replacement textbooks have been shipped to the school. A chainlink fence is being erected around the remains of the Cabot Junior High North building for students’ safety.

Insurance investigators have finished their examination of the building and should be presenting a report to the school soon. District employees are slowly going through the remains of the building this week for anything salvageable. “We’ve been going through a pretty hard last week. We met with the Cabot Junior High North teachers the day after the fire and it’s like any other grieving process. You grieve and move on,” said Frank Holman, Superintendent of the Cabot School District.
Holman says it should take $15 million and about two years to replace the Cabot Junior High North building.

TOP STORY >>Opening Day goes well


With no reports of any major incidents involving buses or students, the 2006-07 school year got off to a smooth start Monday for students in Jacksonville, Cabot, Sherwood, Lonoke and Beebe.

Opening day across the Pulaski County Special School District seemed to have gone off without a hitch. “Nothing happened,” said Craig Douglas, PCSSD communications specialist. “I just got out of a meeting with James Sharpe (PCSSD superintendent) and other staff members, and it was the consensus that it was an exceptionally good day.” At Jacksonville High School, students were greeted with a new mural and a ramp making the media center wheelchair accessible.

Zach Price, a senior at Jacksonville High School, is painting the mural on a wall along a breezeway, but family members, as well as a former student, Courtney Cable, have helped with Price’s project. About 1,240 students were on the JHS campus, according to principal Kenneth Clark.

Some of them may need a handicap ramp, which will be located next to the principal’s office.
Don Henderson, a newly assigned principal, kicked off his first day at North Pulaski High School. He is adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude before making any major changes. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, he says.

At the boys’ campus of Jacksonville Middle School, volunteers will be putting together fitness equipment this weekend to keep the students active and healthy during the year. Principal Michael Nellums said previously the school has 60 additional computers to keep the boys’ minds mentally fit as well.

At the Jacksonville Police Department, Capt. Charley Jenkins said it was an all-clear day for the beginning of a new school year. “I haven’t heard of anything happening today (at the schools),” he said.


“Wonderful,” is how new Sherwood Primary School Principal Josie Brazil characterized the beginning of the school year.
“It was like we’ve been in school for a couple of weeks,” she said. “The teachers are all very excited. They were here knocking on the doors July 20 to get their classrooms ready for the students.” She said the schools faced the usual problems, such as getting kindergartners where they were supposed to be. Enrollment, projected at 430, was right at 400 the first day, she said.
“We’re looking forward to raising test scores,” she added. “We want to move up.”

Transportation was well organized, and everything ran pretty smoothly with a few bumps on the first to days of school, according to Sylvan Hills High School Principal Danny Ebbs.

Ebbs, who served as principal of Newport High School last year, said considering Sylvan Hills’ enrollment of about 1,000, “the teachers are doing really well and the students are doing really well also. I’m used to 400 students.”
If all the registered students show up, enrollment will dip by just a few students from last year, he said.


Nearly 9,000 students headed back to school in the Cabot School District Monday, with the exception of 1,250 displaced by the Aug. 10 fire at Cabot Junior High North. Those students will return to class on next Monday, Aug. 28.
At Cabot High School, traffic both morning and afternoon is very congested.

“We have over 500 students currently parking on our campus and over 240 staff members. This is a large amount of vehicular traffic for such a small area,” said Tony Thurman, principal of Cabot High School. “We highly encourage parents to use the school buses. Do not bring them to school or drop them off unless absolutely necessary,” Thurman said. Students are very proud of the new $13.9 million Cabot High School building. “Students did struggle to find classes in the building but caught on quickly to the numbering system. We had very few problems Tuesday with students not finding classrooms before the tardy bell,” Thurman said. The school has 170,000 square feet with 102 classrooms for the students to navigate.

Thurman says the outside walkways are key to moving students from one side of the building to the other without having to wait in crowded hallways. “The students are very excited to be back,” said Blaine Alexander, principal at Magness Creek Elementary. “We gained about 90 students over the summer and the first day went very smoothly.” The day started out with an assembly to recognize new teachers and students. With the temperatures still being so hot, students at Magness Creek can bring bottled water with them for recess. Even with heavy traffic from parents dropping students off, Cabot Junior High South had a really good first day, according to Principal Henry Hawkins.

“We’ve gained about 50 to 60 new students so our population is about 970,” Hawkins said.
“We’re crowded but it’s really good. Everybody is real excited and we’re going to have an open house at 6 p.m. Thursday,” Hawkins told The Leader. Jerry Vaughn, principal at Central Elementary, said the first two days for students there had been great. The school has added about 35 students, bringing the population to more than 500. “We’ve had the largest student population we’ve had in the five years I’ve been here,” Vaughn said.

There was a little separation anxiety the first day for some of the mothers dropping off kindergarteners for the first time.
“Our counselor and support staff do a great job of making the parents and students feel comfortable,” Vaughn said.
The same holds true at Northside Elementary where Principal Becky Finley welcomed 470 children back to school including 50 new students. “I think the first day went absolutely great. The students seem eager to get back to learning,” Finley said.
At Northside, students are still having recess, but trying to stay in the shade and have plenty visits to the water fountain.


Belinda Shook, superintendent at Beebe Schools, said enrollment is up from the end of last school term from about 2,900 to about 3,100, but the first unofficial count won’t be available until after Labor Day. A lot of families move around Labor Day because it’s a long weekend, she said, and the district will likely lose a few students as well as gain a few.

The high school students found out the dress code is more relaxed this year than in years past. Sleeves are still required and midriffs must still be covered but pants with holes will be allowed as long as the holes are below the knee. Dewayne Wammack, the assistant high school principal who recommended the concession to changing fashion, told the school board that it would keep down problems.

“We think it will keep a lot of kids out of the office,” he said. An extra kindergarten class had to be added for a total of 13, Shook said. In the high school, an additional family and consumer science (home economics) teacher had to be added.

The district also has opened an ALE (alternative-learning environment) school for students who are behind in their work for a variety of reasons. Called Badger Academy, the new school has 18 students, two teachers and an instructional assistant. A reading teacher and counselor also are at the school for half a day.

“Today was almost perfect,” Shook said Tuesday of the district’s 30 bus routes. “Yesterday we did have some kids get on the wrong buses, but we did manage to get them all home.” Shook, a former elementary principal, somewhat reluctantly takes credit for the name tags with bus numbers that are helping the younger children get on the right bus this year. “That was my idea,” she said. “I thought it might help.”


For the most part, school at Lonoke opened without incident, according to Superintendent Sharron Havens, but the unofficial school count was about 50 students less than a year ago. If that holds for the official count, October 1, the board will be faced with a shortfall of nearly $300,000 in minimum foundation aid of $5,662 per student. That money would have to be cut from its operations and maintenance fund. She said she expects the official count to be higher.

Havens also reported to the school board Monday night that promised first-day help from the Lonoke Police Department with traffic at the primary and elementary schools didn’t materialize.

She praised district administrators, who helped paint halls and ready the schools and said Asst. Supt. John Tackett practically had to be pulled from a classroom to keep him from buffing the floors.
“I was pleased with the progress. It’s going very well and we’re making more progress daily,” said Phynaus Wilson, principal at Lonoke High School.

The high school enrollment figures for this year show 598 students, but, according to Principal Wilson, as of the first day of school, only 568 had shown up.

The district changed the high school dress code this year so students will not be allowed to wear anything sleeveless. No tight clothing of any kind will be allowed and no clothing is to be shorter than four inches above the knee when standing.
Bare midriffs are not permitted and ears are the only pierced body parts where jewelry may be displayed.

Students attended grade level meetings Monday to re-acclimate themselves to the classroom.
Lonoke Middle School students were excited to be back at school, according to assistant principal Jerry Acree. “They’re catching up with friends they haven’t seen all summer,” Acree said. “Now they are back together, so it’s talking, talking, talking.”

The first day went smoothly for the middle school also, and according to Acree, was going smoothly on Tuesday as well.
Acree told the Leader that they were still counting enrollment numbers, but they looked to be up in enrollment from last year.

Sixth- through eighth-grade students also attended grade level meetings to learn what to expect this school year.
Lonoke Primary School also looks to be up in enrollment in some grades, according to school assistant principal Holly Dewey. “We had a good first start,” Dewey said, “we had some tears, from students and parents alike, but it went very well.” All six pre-kindergarten classes are full this year, with a total of 97 students.

Elementary students also enjoyed a smooth start to the school year. “It’s as if they never left,” Principal Aretha Dodson said. “The students went right into class and began working.”

According to Dodson, they are still unsure of enrollment figures, but she believes they may have lost a few students. “By the end of next week we should have a definite number.”

Principal Dodson told The Leader that some students had told her they were ready for school to start. “They said they were bored and ready to come back,” Dodson said. Kindergarten classes are close to the limit as well, according to Dewey. “We have 7 classes this year, with 21 students in most,” Dewey said.

First and second grades also have seven classes this school year, with an average of 21 students per class. “We had to add another second grade class,” Dewey said. “We hope to have high enough enrollment numbers to add another kindergarten teacher.”

Students are having recess, but with the high temperatures, teachers’ assistants are watching to make sure no students get too hot. “If they act like they are getting too hot, they will take them in to cool off and get a drink from the water fountain,” Dewey said. “Some teachers are even asking parents to send water bottles with their child to school.”

Reporters John Hofheimer, Sara Greene, Peggy Kenyon and Joan McCoy contributed to this article.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>War on terror begins right here at home

Leader publisher

Little Rock Air Force Base will once again send several hundred men and women overseas for the war on terror.

The next rotation starts in a few months, according to Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander at the air base, who reminded a luncheon crowd last week, “We’re never off the hook….We’re heading out the door in January.”

They’ll head out the door with some 150 Army National Guard soldiers from the 77th Aviation Brigade at Camp Robinson not far behind them. The Guard will go to the Middle East in February.

These rotations will continue for a long time, considering the state of affairs in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Iran plays cat-and-mouse with UN inspectors, barring them from nuclear facilities that could make an atomic bomb in a couple of years.

The mullahs have not only armed Hezbollah with thousands of rockets and missiles, as we have seen in the recent war between Hezbollah and Israel, but what the religious fanatics inTehran and their allies are praying they’ll make a nuclear weapon that would drive the infidels out of Jerusalem, even if that means killing fellow Moslems.

The Iranians made their announcement about their nuclear ambitions on Tuesday for a good reason: Although they promised they would keep the dialogue going with the UN, they also made it clear they would not end their nuclear program, and picked Aug. 22 for the announcement because it’s an important date in Islam.

Moslems believe Tuesday was the anniversary of Mohammad’s flight from Jerusalem, and many of them expected his return yesterday.

The date has apparently been postponed, but the fight for Jerusalem, as the Iranian regime and other Moslems see it, could involve the use of nuclear weapons.

Although President Bush has trouble articulating the true character of this conflict — calling our enemies Islamic fascists doesn’t begin to describe their fanaticism — he was right to point to an axis of evil based in Iran, Syria and North Korea, although Pyongyang belongs to a special universe of crypto-communists who must be dealt with separately from the war on terror.

Besides al-Qaida, whose ability to inflict damage is severely limited because its leaders are constantly on the run, Islamic fanaticism is centered in Iran and Syria, with satellite groups taking orders from their masters in Tehran and Damascus.
The two nations follow different brands of Islam and look down at a relatively moderate Sunni majority in the Middle East. One day they will have a falling out, but for now, they’re sending arms to their Shiite Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

The fighting we saw between Israel and Lebanon may be the future of warfare: Today it’s Hezbollah, the heavily armed terrorist militia that rained rockets across the border into Israel, but without much success: Hezbollah fired off some 3,000 rockets, but killed only about 100 Israelis, many of them Arabs.

But in the not too distant future, terrorists could fire off long-range rockets aimed at civilian targets in Europe and elsewhere.
One almost longs for the day when we fought old-fashioned battles that involved troops conquering territory and moving on to the next front, while press photographers like Joe Rosenthal took pictures of heroic Americans saving the world from tyranny. (Rosen-thal, who took the famous photo of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, died Sunday at the age of 94.)

As we’ve seen in Iraq and elsewhere, insurgent groups want to fight on their own terms, and they will not be easily defeated.
That’s why the men and women from Little Rock Air Force Base and Camp Robinson and from all across America will keep fighting in our behalf for a long time, and yet civilized people know they’ll defeat the enemy sooner or later with the same determination that took the Marines to the top of Mount Suribachi at Iwo Jima.

TOP STORY >>Criminal charges piling up in Lonoke

IN SHORT: Campbell prosecutor ups ante with new criminal-enterprise charges, paints lurid picture of betrayal, drugs, sex, thievery.

Leader senior staff writer

Former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell masterminded a continuing criminal organization or enterprise that stole drugs and money, influenced inmates with drugs and sexual favors, conspired to manufacture methamphetamine, burgled homes and beat and intimidated witnesses between October 2002 and December 2005, according to new charges filed in the Lonoke County circuit clerk’s office by Prosecutor Lona McCastlain Tuesday.

Dropping all previous charges, then refiling them in support of the new, overriding criminal-enterprise charge, McCastlain paints a lurid picture of betrayal by Campbell and his wife, Kelly Harrison Campbell, of the public trust and the trust of friends and neighbors from whom they allegedly stole.

If Campbell and the others are convicted ofthe umbrella criminal-enterprise charge, the sentences of other felonies would be longer, McCastlain said Tuesday, otherwise declining an interview.

Contacted late Tuesday, lawyers for the Campbells did not return calls.

All defendants already were due in Lonoke County Circuit Court Friday to set a trial date, and it’s likely that defense lawyers will have a new round of motions and challenges.

Campbell “did unlawfully and feloniously engage in a continuing criminal organization or enterprise in the first degree by committing, attempting to commit or soliciting to commit a felony predicate offense and that offense was part of a continuing series of two or more predicate criminal offenses which were undertaken by (Campbell) in concert with two or more other persons with respect to whom (Campbell) occupies a position of organizer, supervisor or any other position of management, a special classification of felony,” according to a 19-page information filed with the 39-page bill of particulars.

Co-conspirators also charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise were Kelly Campbell, bail bondsmen Gene Norwood and Bobby Junior Cox and former dispatcher Amy Staley.

Staley allegedly had sex with an inmate, and Kelly Campbell is alleged to have had sex with two inmates for a total of about 24 times, supplying them with alcohol, drugs and a cell phone, according to the charges.

The Campbells “used his authority to exploit (ACT) 309 inmates for the Campbells’ sexual gratification. The Campbells facilitated sexual acts in the chief’s office, a local hotel, the Campbells’ residence and other locations.”
ACT 309 inmates are state prisoners loaned out to cities and counties as laborers.

Jay Campbell is additionally charged with hindering apprehension of prosecution, filing a false police report and several counts each of obtaining controlled substance by fraud or theft of property.

A Department of Correction investigation begun in late 2005 into whether or not some Lonoke city officials improperly used Act 309 inmate labor was later handed off to the state Police and subsequently resulted in charges for which the Campbells and the others are currently charged.

Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett is charged only with theft of services, a misdemeanor, in connection with work he admits was done for his benefit by ACT 309 inmate laborers.

McCastlain alleges that Jay Campbell obtained money, property, controlled substances, sexual gratification and other benefits.

Norwood is accused of promising Campbell $25,000 to help catch Robert Beasley, a fugitive who fled leaving the bondsman liable for $130,000 worth of bonds.

The chief organized the arrest of one man, convinced him to manufacture methamphetamine to sell to a second man believed to know the whereabouts of the man who fled.

McCastlain alleges that Jay Campbell, as an experienced drug investigator, implemented an aggressive narcotics arrest program, diverting seized drugs and money to their own use and turning suspects into informants to obtain more drugs and money.

After the arrest, the charges would disappear, the documents allege. McCastlain alleges that Campbell refused to let his officers keep proper paperwork.

He is accused of setting up various off-the-books accounts—like money from the prisoners commissary fund—then plundering it for his own use.

The prosecutor charges that the Campbells fostered relationships with members of the community and church family where he would “entertain friends” while she roamed their homes taking medications or personal property.

Among those from whom the Campbells allegedly stole prescriptions drugs, money or jewelry were local retailer and Lonoke Treasurer Walls McCrary, city Alderman Jackie Moore, community center director Mike Brown, quorum court Member Woody Evans, Pastor Jimmy Wallace and many others.

It was Wallace who went to Privett with his concerns over Campbell’s behavior. “The mayor did not believe the allegations,” according to documents.

In addition to manufacturing methamphetamine, Campbell and his associates allegedly manipulated drug dealers and informants to obtain more drugs and money. Money seized and taken in some instances amounted to thousands of dollars, according to the charges. McCastlain detailed several instances, using only the initials of those involved.

Campbell allegedly threatened one informant with death, saying he would see her dead or under the prison.

McCastlain details allegations about conduct committed by Campbell to protect the organization’s ability to continue to commit criminal activity.

- Kelly Campbell was warned about the investigation into a burglary of which she was suspected.

- He ignored reports of his wife’s misconduct with the Act 309 inmates and rebuked his subordinates for documenting her illegal activity.

- He ordered subordinates to falsely omit his presence from various crime-scene logs to conceal his crimes and to falsely claim they received monies to pay informants, when he actually kept the money.

- He is accused of falsely accusing his own brother of burglary that Campbell and his wife committed. He impeded investigations into alleged crimes committed by members of the organization by providing false information to investigators, and also using innocent law enforcement officers to make false arrests by providing misleading information.

EDITORIALS>>Beebe wants it both ways

Attorney General Mike Beebe, doing his best Bill Clinton imitation, tried to have it both ways when the state newspaper asked him about intelligent design, the theory that a supreme being created the universe.

He was widely criticized last week for his response, particularly by those who think that religious exposition has no place in public school classrooms.

Beebe’s Republican opponent for governor, Asa Hutchinson, said essentially the same thing as Beebe although he was more concise and even more vague. But Hutchinson got a pass for his waffle and Beebe took a licking. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette chastised Beebe for not having the courage to say what should be done. Hutch-inson escaped.

Neither is a profile in courage, but you can parse both their answers and see that both understand the law and, presumably, will follow it. We may be too charitable with Hutchinson, but that is how we understand him.

The U. S. Supreme Court and every appellate circuit that has addressed it have said that the Biblical account of creation and every offspring of it is religion, not science, and cannot be taught in the science classrooms. Discussions may turn to religious doctrines and social controversies, but creationism cannot be taught as scientific fact or theory because it is a matter of religious faith and not science.

Intelligent design does not mention God, but it posits that life is too complex to have come about without a supreme being. It is an interesting and perhaps even a compelling notion, one that most people of all religious faiths may hold, but it is not proven and is not subject to proof.

So Beebe said he personally believed in intelligent design, did not find it at all in conflict with evolution and would like to see school children exposed to it. He added, however, that the federal courts had held that it violated the Constitution because it was feebly veiled religion. He did not say it, but we may conclude that as governor he would veto a bill that would clearly violate the Constitution.

Hutchinson said he favored teaching intelligent design if it was supported by scientific evidence. It isn’t supported by scientific evidence, of course. There will never be scientific evidence to support it or disprove it.

So, we may fairly conclude that Hutchinson, too, would veto a bill that the courts have already said would be unconstitutional. Actually, their oaths will require them to.

Let Messrs Beebe and Hutchinson be coy with this tiresome but touchy issue but demand that they talk about things that a governor actually can do.

EDITORIALS>>Judge sees the light

It does not speak especially well for judicial reflection, but Pulaski Circuit Judge Jay Moody reversed himself yesterday afternoon and ruled that the Bryant School District could close the little Paron High School immediately and educate the youngsters in schools that can offer them more education for much less of the taxpayers’ money.

Only four days earlier, Judge Moody had for the second time ordered Bryant not to close the country high school and to start classes there on Monday. He enjoined both the Bryant School District and the state Board of Education, both of which had concluded that the school had to close. The trouble was that the school had no teachers and many of the youngsters already planned to go to other high schools.

Monday, Judge Moody and the people of Paron were confronted with images of students milling about an abandoned school with no teachers and the prospect of a chaotic school year in which only the most meager education would be imparted.

Tuesday afternoon, the judge lifted the injunction so that the education planned by the Bryant district could proceed.

Judge Moody ruled that the state Board of Education had complied with the state Administrative Procedures Act when it approved the closing of the school, so there was no need for the injunction or a further trial on the point. That was obvious all along, but there was too much politics and too much friendship to let the law prevail. We cannot say why the judge changed his mind so abruptly, only cheer it. It may have been the realization of what had been done to the children of the community or the certainty that the Arkansas Supreme Court would soon reverse him, as it did a couple of weeks earlier.

Paron has become, in the most hackneyed phrase in our lexicon, a political football. Asa Hutchinson hopes to be elected governor on Paron, and Gunner DeLay thinks that it is his ticket to the attorney general’s office. By vowing to use their offices to keep tiny schools like Paron open the Republican candidates are appealing to rural voters who think their way of life is vanishing. The politicians undersell rural voters, but they follow the ancient conventional wisdom in Arkansas that rural people care little about what is taught in the schools but only that school be close and offer competitive athletics.

Paron was caught by the 2003 state law that abolished school districts with fewer than 350 students. The school districts could actually close a high school, for example, if it became necessary for economic or other reasons but it had to first get the approval of the state Board of Education. Bryant found it terribly expensive to operate the little Paron High School and the school’s inability to meet state standards threatened sanctions for Bryant. So it decided to close the school and bring the students to Bryant, and the state Board of Education agreed.

A Paron patron sued and Judge Moody ordered the school to remain open until he could conduct a trial on the question of whether children would have to ride buses too long each day and suffer other unnecessary consequences and whether the state had followed the law in approving the closing.

The Supreme Court hustled into an emergency session, voided the judge’s ruling because Bryant was not even a party to the suit, and rebuked him for exceeding his power. Judge Moody had Bryant added to the suit, held another quick hearing Friday and reinstated his order. Judge Moody heard the harsh judgment of history and decided Tuesday to get it right while he could. Maybe he will help the politicians to see the light.