Saturday, September 16, 2006

EDITORIALS>>Blaming Daniels

The name or political party of the Arkansas secretary of state has never mattered much to us because his or her work is ministerial and you merely hope that whoever wins the office hires competent people to keep all the files straight.

The secretary of state is Arkansas’ official record keeper. We frankly never expected a lot from Charlie Daniels, the current secretary of state, and he has not disappointed.

But we should expect a decent level of honesty and frankness of the officeholder, and Daniels’ opponent, the Baptist preacher Jim Lagrone, seems now to have failed even that faint test.

We had held out hope for Lagrone. He seemed bright enough, but when the campaign got going we began to see him in a different light.

Since the secretary of state keeps election records and Arkansas has had some sloppy elections, Rev. Lagrone divined that he might score points by blaming Daniels.

And what better way to do it than by suggesting that Daniels was dishonoring our fighting men and women as well?

Lagrone charged that his son, while fighting in Iraq in 2004, got his absentee ballot in the mail, voted and returned it but that his son’s ballot did not reach the Saline County clerk’s office in time or else for some other reason it did not get counted. He blamed Daniels for being callous to the needs of brave soldiers to participate in the democracy they were dodging bullets and roadside bombs to preserve.

It turned out that Daniels went out of his way to make arrangements for soldiers in Iraq to get ballots, according to the military officer responsible, but that is beside the point.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed the other day that Lagrone’s son was not in Iraq but at a military post in Mississippi when he received and returned his ballot.

Lagrone was evasive at first but finally admitted that his son was not in Iraq then.

But he blamed the error on his press aide. Lagrone said he would never mislead voters intentionally.

But it was not his press aide’s fault. Lagrone made the statement about Iraq in writing and repeated it personally from one end of the state to the other.

He is on tape saying it. His son was more honest.

He said that describing the vote as being cast from the trenches in Iraq “made such a good sound bite.”

He said he personally never told anyone he was in Iraq at election time. He went over later.

At Mountain Home this week, Lagrone blamed the whole thing on “the liberal press” in remarks to a Repub-lican crowd that he said were “off the record.”

The liberal press? The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, which is the house organ of the Republican Party?

Wait, did we say Bro. Lagrone was smart?

SPORTS >> Turnovers doom Sylvan Hills against NLR

IN SHORT: The Bears turned the ball over five times to help opposing Wildcats to a 28-7 victory at SHHS.

Special to the Leader

Five turnovers by the Sylvan Hills Bears set the stage for a 28-7 victory by the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats (2-1).

Sylvan Hills (1-2) was able to gain nearly 200 yards of offense, and played good defense, but couldn’t overcome a few costly mistakes.

Sylvan Hills opened the first half looking sharp by forcing North Little Rock to three-and-out on their first possession. After a short punt, the Bears took over at their own 48-yard line. On second down, quarterback Hunter Miller found Mark Turpin for a 52-yard touchdown pass. Only 58 seconds into the game, Sylvan Hills led 7-0, but it would prove to be their final score.

North Little Rock was quick to answer. They marched down the field 75 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:01 left in the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 21-yard catch by Phillip Dokes that set up a great 12-yard touchdown run by Tamelle Jenkins. Jenkins broke through four defenders to smash through to the goal line.

The Charging Wildcats defense was ferocious on the next possession. The Bears started from their own 20-yard line, but were quickly pushed back to the 2-yard line by some great defense. After avoiding a couple of safeties, the Bears punted and gave North Little Rock great field position at the 50-yard line.

Bretton Moncrief and Maurice Phillips led North Little Rock to their second score by hooking up on two big pass plays.

Phillips found Moncrief for a 30-yard gain highlighted by some great moves by Moncrief. Then they connected again for a 21-yard touchdown play where Moncrief leaped through two defenders in the end zone to make a spectacular catch. North Little Rock led 14-7 at the half.

Midway through the third quarter, Sylvan Hills was 15-yards from tying the game. On 4th down and 6-yards to go from the 15-yard line, Bears quarterback Hunter Miller through an interception to Chea Peterman. Peterman returned the ball 70-yards to the Bear 27-yard line. Six plays later, Wildcat quarterback Maurice Phillips dove in for a 1-yard touchdown to give North Little Rock a 21-7 lead with 2:16 remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Nineteen seconds later, Miller was stripped by Wildcat linebacker Clifton Williams. Peterman recovered, and that set up an amazing touchdown reception by Phillip Dokes. The defender had great position, but the tall and athletic Dokes leaped high into the air and pulled the ball in for the final score of the night early in the fourth quarter.

Hunter Miller threw for 142 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Mark Turpin had one catch for 52 yards and a touchdown. Davon Neal had 22 yards rushing to lead the Bears.

North Little Rock was led by Maurice Phillips’ 101 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, and one rushing touchdown. Bretton Moncrief had 51 yards receiving and a score, and Phillip Dokes had 50 yards receiving and a score. Tamelle Jenkins gained 102 yards rushing and had a touchdown.

Sylvan Hills gets 6A East conference play underway next week as they host conference favorite West Memphis. North Little Rock travels to Russellville to open 7A Central play.

Sylvan Hills Head Coach Ron Sebastian was disappointed with the turnovers, but felt like the Bears’ tough non-conference schedule has prepared his team well for conference play. He was quick to point out that his first conference game won’t be any easier than his non-conference games. “Our kids have been real coachable and we’ve been working hard. I still think even though we are just 1-2 we’re going to be better when we play West Memphis than we would have been had we played some people that were less talented.”

SPORTS >> Lonoke runs wild for win

IN SHORT: The Jackrabbit football team scored four times in the first half en route to a 35-14 victory over North Pulaski Friday night.

Leader sports editor

Lonoke’s offense finally began working the way first-year coach Jeff Jones has been wanting. In fact, it worked so well Friday night, that when sophomore Clarence Harris scored with 6:28 left in the third quarter, it started the mercy rule clock for the remainder of the Jackrabbits’ 35-14 victory over North Pulaski. Jones was very pleased with the offensive performance.

“We finally did the things we’ve been doing in practice, in the game,” Jones said. “I’ve been seeing good things in practice that we just haven’t been doing in the games, but tonight they brought it with them.”

The varsity defense also pitched a shutout through three quarters, and Jones noticed one significant difference in that area last night.

“I really liked the speed with which they played tonight,” Jones said. “They were really running after the ball, and that shows that they’re getting more comfortable with what they’re doing. That’s a good sign.”

Lonoke scored four times in the first half, and had the ball on the NP 32 late in the second, but the NP defense finally stiffened up and stopped the Jackrabbits on downs for the first time in the game.

Lonoke got the ball again to start the second half, and took it to the Falcon 1-yard line, where again NP stuffed Lonoke on fourth and inches.

NP took over at its own 2, and went three and out. The punt was returned to the 1-yard line by Harris, but was called back to the 21 for an illegal block in the back.

After quarterback Alex Cash ran up the middle for 14, Harris scored his third touchdown of the game on a 7-yard sweep left. The extra point was good and the continuous clock began. Lonoke scored on its first four possessions, starting with a 58-yard drive that ended with Harris’ first touchdown on the same play as his other two.

After an interception by Daniel Negrete, Lonoke went 54 yards in five plays to go up 14-0. Cash ended that drive with a 5-yard keeper with 2:38 left in the first quarter.

NP finally got the offense going a little bit on its third drive, picking up a couple of first downs. But it stalled on fourth and two when senior running back Charles Baker was dropped for a 4-yard loss.

Lonoke then went 59 yards in six plays, ending with a 26-yard run by Cash with 9:28 left in the half. The final touchdown of the first half came very shortly afterwards.

The kickoff sailed into the end zone, and NP fumbled and lost the snap on the first play of the drive.

Cash went 15 yards on the next play, but two more plays got just four more yards and left the Rabbits with third and goal at the 1. Another sweep was called and another touchdown was scored by Harris to make it 28-0.

The Falcons got on the board in the fourth quarter when sophomore Jordan Anderson rumbled in from 27 yards out.

After holding Lonoke on its next possession, NP set the final margin with a 10-yard run by sophomore quarterback Stanley Appleby.

Cash led all players with 184 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Harris finished with 71 yards and three scores on 12 carries.

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies shine in 7A win

IN SHORT: The Lady Panthers defeated Bryant in straight sets on Thursday night for their first conference win of the season.

Leader sports writer

Cabot got its first conference win of the season in dominating fashion over Bryant Thursday evening at the Panther gymnasium. The Lady Panthers (5-3, 1-2) hammered the Lady Hornets (0-4, 0-1) in straight sets, 25-9, 25-15 and 25-10, allowing only 13 total team kills from Bryant in the brief contest.

Lady Panthers junior Katie Mantione nearly captured as many stats as the entire Bryant squad single-handedly. The Cabot outside hitter finished the match with 10 kills on 21 attempts, and had four blocks.

“We’ve been working on our hitting game,” Cabot coach Terry Williams said. “I think it was a lot better. Our serving has been good; we’ve been in the 90’s. Our receiving has been high 80’s. That stayed pretty solid, but we’re still working on our hitting game. We were more aggressive with some solid hits tonight.”

Williams said that Mantione’s recent domination at the front has not been a sudden discovery of talent, but rather a new-found confidence in a talent that has been there all along.

“She’s starting to get more comfortable up there,” Williams said. “She’s starting to jump and get her timing down, and she’s been working on some things to make her a better hitter.”

The conference mis-match was evident from the early moments of the match. A block from Morgan Hart gave Bryant the first game, but after that, it was all Lady Panthers. A Bryant error on the next game put Lady Panthers senior Codi Smith behind the service line, where she stayed for the next 12 games, as Cabot rushed out to a 13-1 lead. Hart finally stopped the bleeding for Bryant with a mis-direction kill to earn the serve back.

Bryant managed a pair of kills to close the score to 18-7 in the middle of the opening set, but the Lady Panthers closed the frame out strong to win 25-9.

Bryant’s only sign of competitiveness came in the opening moments of the second set. Kills from Tiffany Ward and Tyler Cox put the Lady Hornets up 4-1. Mantione also sat out a good part of the second set after falling on a dig attempt in the early going. Bryant was able to stay within striking distance in Mantione’s absence.

Kelli Lowry took up the slack for Cabot in the second set with two of her total four kills and a block. Lowry’s mis-direction kill put Cabot up 10-7, but Bryant bounced back moments later to take over the lead once again, 13-12.

Mantione returned to the floor recovered at that point, and the Lady Panthers rushed back out to a commanding lead.

It wasn’t just Man-tione that sparked the Cabot rally. Kim Carter, Smith and sophomore Morgan Young all rec-orded kills in the late going, boosting the Lady Panthers to a 25-15 second set win, allowing only two more points from Bryant in the set.

Cox tried to keep Bryant in the match in the final set, but couldn’t prevail in what seemed to be a six-on-one match.

Three kills and three blocks from Cox were not near enough for the Lady Hornets in the final frame, as the Lady Panthers took eight team kills and two blocks, along with service aces from Lowry and junior Biance Reando to claim the set 25-10.

Carter finished the match with perfect two’s — two kills, two blocks and two aces. Lowry had four kills along with a block and an ace. Young had three kills and three blocks for the Lady Panthers.

For Bryant, Cox finished with six kills and three blocks.

Cabot will be at Russellville today to play in the annual Lady Cyclone Invitational tournament.

SPORTS >>Devils roll past Wolves

IN SHORT: Jacksonville’s defense forced eight turnovers and led a route of Lake Hamilton on the road.

Leader sports writer

Jacksonville wrapped up its second victory in as many weeks with a 35-21 non-conference road win over Lake Hamilton Friday night. The Red Devils defense hammered the Wolves offense to force eight turnovers in the game. Five came off of interceptions by the Jacksonville secondary, the other three were recovered fumbles for the ‘Devils.

Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley was happy to get the win, but even happier that his defense stepped up after last week’s sputtering performance against North Pulaski.

“There’s not any question that turnovers were the difference in this ball game,” Whatley said. “The defense rose up and played phenomenal. That is the best effort I’ve seen from them so far. They did a good job, and made great things happen.”

The Red Devils weren’t too shabby on the offensive side of the ball either. Senior quarterback Daniel Hubbard completed eight of 14 pass attempts for 140 yards and a touchdown.

After rushing sparsely during the first two games, senior tailback Justin Akins was put into workhorse status for Jacksonville on Friday.

Akins carried 28 times for 186 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also made three receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown, giving him 258 yards of all-purpose offense and three TDs on the night.

It was Lee Robinson who saw limited rushes, but he made the most of the times his number was called. He carried three times for 54 yards and a touchdown, with Marcus King adding the other score with a 21-yard touchdown reception from Hubbard.

The Red Devils’ opening drive of the game was capped off by a double-screen from Hubbard to Akins for a 66-yard score to finish out the five-play drive.

Robinson added the next score towards the end of the opening quarter with a six-yard touchdown run, followed by an 11-yard run from Akins to put the ‘Devils ahead 21-2 at the half. The safety for Lake Hamilton came after a Wolves’ fumble was recovered by Jacksonville at their own 6-yard line. With limited room, Hubbard went back into the pocket and never came out, as LH got the end-zone sack for its only points in the first 24 minutes of play.

Akins and King each added another touchdown in the third quarter. Akins’ TD came off a 7-yard run early in the second half, followed by a 21-yard dash into the end zone from King moments later to set Jacksonville’s final margin.

Lake Hamilton finally found the Jacksonville end zone in the second half, but it would not be enough. The Red Devils rolled on to improve their season record to 2-1 on the season, while Lake Hamilton took its first loss of the season to fall to 2-1.

Jacksonville will begin conference play next week when it welcomes Mountain Home to Jan Crow Stadium.

SPORTS >>Cabot skirts by Lions

IN SHORT: The Cabot Panthers had a tough time with Searcy, but got past the winless team to remain undefeated as they head into conference play in the brand new 7A-East Conference against rival Conway.

Special to the Leader

For the second week in a row, the Cabot Panthers overcame a second half deficit to come away with a victory on the road as Cabot defeated the Searcy Lions 23-16. Vince Aguilar’s second touchdown of the game with 4:06 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the deciding points in the game.

The fourth quarter seemed to be dominated by the Panthers as they controlled both the clock and the line of scrimmage.

With Aguilar gaining 61 of his 167 rushing yards in the final 12 minutes, Cabot held the ball for more than seven minutes, while limiting the Lions to just less than five minutes and only two possessions to end the game. An interception of Searcy quarterback Justin Rowden by senior Johnnie Stone with 2:55 left ended the Lions hopes of tying the score.

Cabot broke a 16-16 tie on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Alex Tripp. On the next possession, facing fourth and one from the Cabot 46, Rowden snuck up the middle for two yards and a first down. But on the very next play, Rowden’s pass under pressure was intercepted by Ethan Coffee, which led to the go-ahead score for the Panthers.

Cabot got on the board first with an impressive ten play 65-yard march that ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Corey Wade to Josh Clem on fourth down and five. Searcy responded with their own ten play drive that led to a 32-yard field goal by Ryan Wilbourn. On the drive, Rowden ran three straight draw plays for 13, 14, and 16 yards. But a holding penalty on brought back a 15-yard touchdown run and Searcy settled for the field goal.

After exchanging punts heading through the second quarter, Cabot took over at their own 34 with 9:35 left in the first half. 13 plays later, Aguilar busted out from the middle of the field down the right sideline for a 27-yard score with 3:48 to go until halftime.

Matt Cramblett broke through to block the extra point, so the score was 13-3 in favor of the Panthers.

Using the sidelines and their timeouts, the Lions went 65 yards in under four minutes to take the lead on a Rowden quarterback sneak with 12 seconds left in the first half. The key play on the 17- play drive was converting on fourth and one on the Cabot 19-yard line. Rather than take the field goal attempt, Adam Robertson ran up the middle for a two-yard gain.

Cabot led Searcy 13-10 at the break.

The Lions took the ball on their own 34 to start the third quarter. On fourth and two on the Panthers’ 41, Searcy failed to convert as Robinson this time was stuffed short of the first down marker.

The ensuing Panthers drive ended in a fumble, and after taking over on their own 37, Searcy faced once again fourth and short in Panther territory. Pressure up the middle forced Rowden to scramble to his right, where he found a wide open Nick Evans on the 6 who then went in for the score.

Cabot returned the favor and blocked the extra point. Cabot then forced the two fourth quarter interceptions to end the Lions’ final two drives.

Aguilar carried the ball 31 times for 167-yards and two scores, with 96 of those coming in the second half as the Panthers offensive line began to wear down the Lions defense. Both teams combined to convert five of six fourth down plays, with Cabot going two for two, and Searcy converting three of four. Both teams scored six of their points on fourth down.

When asked how important it was that his team responded quickly to the Searcy scores, Cabot head coach Mike Malham said ”Yes, that and the fact we didn’t turn the ball over in the fourth were the key factors in the game. “Searcy is always a tough place to go and win on the road, he added.

The Panthers will travel to archrival Conway next week to open up play in the 7A-East Conference.

OBITUARIES >> 09-16-06

David Fisk
David Lee Fisk, 74, of Jacksonville, passed away Sept. 12 in Jacksonville.
He was born June 20, 1932 to the late Vernon and Lina Anderson Fisk in Bark River, Mich.

Fisk was also preceded in death by his brother, Guy Fisk. He retired from the Air Force, was a recipient of a master’s degree in economics from ASU and was a contractor in the Jacksonville area.

Survivors include his wife, Iris of Jacksonville; a son, James D. Fisk of Jacksonville; daughter, Penny R. Fisk of Lonoke, and a stepson Keith Rogers of Little Rock, one brother, Jack Fisk and his wife Jean of Michigan as well as a host of friends and family.

Graveside funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

James Bishop
James Edward Bishop, 47, of Scott passed away Sept. 14 in Little Rock.

He was born April 18, 1959 to the late James H. and Virginia D. Westerman Bishop in Bald Knob.

He was also preceded in death by three brothers; Edward Eugene, Jimmy Lee and Johnny William Bishop as well as a sister, Brenda Faye Potts. Edward was a construction worker who never turned down the opportunity to help someone in need.

Survivors include his fiancé, Starr Lynn Kelley Strom of Scott; sisters, Barbara Rodenberry of Jacksonville, Joyce Wortham of Lonoke, Rita Milligan of Lonoke, Kathy McCraw and husband John of Jacksonville, Lindsey Cooper, Debbie Cooper, Gail Cooper, and Verilette Hubert all of Kansas City, Kan.; brothers, Thomas A. Bishop and wife Debbie, Larry Cooper, Chucky Cooper and Darryl Cooper all of Kansas City, Kan., Clint Cooper and Donny Cooper both of Cabot, as well as a host of other friends and family.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Friendly Chapel Church of the Nazarene, 116 S. Pine in North Little Rock with Bro. Paul Holderfield officiating.

Interment will follow in Sumner Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Linda Roper
Linda “Lyn” Roper, 66, of McRae, passed away Sept. 12. She was a loving mother, grandmother, sister and friend.

She is survived by two sons, Barry Roper of Jacksonville and Jeff Roper of Little Rock; two grandchildren, Bryan Roper and Amanda Nolting; one great-grandchild, Kylie Nolting; two brothers, Buddy Morrow of McRae and Vernon Morrow of San Antonio, Texas; two sisters, Geneva Ramsey of Jacksonville and Fern Woodworth of North Little Rock.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Billy Joe Roper of Jones-boro; her parents, Henry and Esther Morrow; two brothers, Bill and Jamie Morrow and one sister, Magdalene Hughes.

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

Nola Parchman
Nola Geneva Bishop Parchman, 92, of McRae, was born July 9, 1914, at Greenville, Miss.

She passed away Sept. 14.

She was a member of First Baptist Church of McRae and devoted her life to God and the services to her loved ones and friends.

Her faith in God and Jesus Christ and her desire to provide for her family, friends and acquaintances carried her through the great depression, wars, and finally, at the age of 92, to her home with God and those who have gone on before. She was a wonderful and caring person who treated people with love and respect.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Norman S. Parch-man of McRae and parents John Lee Bishop and Minnie Lee Bishop Hart.

Surviving are three daughters, Novela Annalee (Eual Gene) Kirk of McRae, Norma Helen (Gary H.) Graham of Searcy, Rebecca Sue (Micheal R.) Latting of McRae; son Billy Wayne (Patricia A.) Parchman of Beebe; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other loving relatives and friends.

Family will receive friends from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Monday, at First Baptist Church, McRae, with burial at Lebanon Cemetery. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.

Floyd Harris
Floyd Murphey Harris, 89, of Ward was born Jan. 31, 1917 at Ward and died peacefully at his home Sept. 14 after a long battle with cancer.

He served in the Army Intelligence in the 115 Signal Corp. during World War II. He was a member of the Joliet First Church of the Nazarene until 1987. After retirement, he moved back to Arkansas in 1987 and was a member of the Beebe Church of the Nazarene.

He served on the Church Board and taught Sunday school and helped build these three churches, including the Joliet Crystal Lawns Church of the Nazarene.

He worked on the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway for 31 years in Joliet, Ill., and was an active member of the Woodlawn Senior Citizens. All who knew him said he was a wonderful man of God and made an impact on many who met him.

Floyd is preceded in death by his wife, Carmelita Harris, who died April 11, 1992; his parents, Joe and Alma Harris; two brothers, Clem A. Harris and Darrel Harris; two sisters, Odell Young and Mattie Lene Baldwin Knox; two daughters, Patricia Forillo and Alma Jo Fields of Joliet, Illinois.

He is survived by one daughter, Barbara Burk of Joliet, Ill.; three sons, Ronald (Connie) Harris and Glenn Harris of Joliet, Ill.; Donald (Rose) Harris of Ward; 16 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren; three sisters, Geraldine Harris, Oza Mae Trickey and Ruth Hudson, all of Little Rock, and Elizabeth (Paul) Norman of Ward, and brother Charles (Jane) Harris of Coal City, Ill.
Family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Beebe First Church of the Nazarene, with burial in Woodlawn Memorial Park in Joliet, Illinois.

Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home.

Ruby Staley
Ruby Staley, 82, of Ward died Sept. 14 at her home. She was born April 20, 1924 to the late Richard J. and Euyla McDonald Bayles in Ward. She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Ward.

In addition to her parents, Ruby was preceded in death by her husband, Robert L. Staley; three sisters, Jean Spears, Rosa Burke and Mary West-on; a brother, Dick Bayles.

She is survived by two daughters, Sandra Reid and Pamelia Price; five sons, Robert L. Jr., Michael A, James Christopher, Brian Mark, and Tony L. Staley; one brother, Cecil Bayles; 18 grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.  

There will be a memorial service at 2 p.m. Sunday at Ward First Baptist Church with Rev. Mike Fowler and Rev. Gene Davis officiating. Arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.

Linda Harris
Linda Kay Harris, 50, of Ward, passed away Sept. 14.

She was born Dec. 25, 1955 in California to Lloyd and Noreene Treon. Survivors include two daughters: Misty Poe (Wayne) of Beebe and Danielle Pollard (Dustin) of Cabot; parents, Lloyd and Noreene Treon; two grandchildren: Cameron and Ethan Poe of Beebe.

A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Monday, at Mt. Springs Baptist Church. Arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service in Cabot .

Patricia Philpot
Patricia Anne Letasky Philpot, 70, went to be with the Lord Sept. 9. She was born Oct. 21, 1935, the only child of the late John and Lucy Larkin Letasky. Pat was a member of Carlisle First Baptist Church and the Order of Eastern Star.

She was a graduate of Lonoke High School, where she loved playing basketball.

She raised her three children in Carlisle: Lee Anne (Steve) Hess of Conway, Donna Curry and John Philpot of Carlisle. She is also survived by four grandchildren, Lee David Wood and Suzanne Smiley of Conway, Allison Parker and Andrea Hunt of Carlisle, and four great grandchildren, Greyson Lee Wood, Lucien and Bella Smiley and Hayden Elizabeth Parker.

Services were held Sept. 12 at Carlisle First Baptist Church, with burial at Carlisle Cemetery.

Lois Carter
Lois Murlene Stane Carter, 73, passed away Sept. 12.

She is survived by her husband George E. Carter; three sons, Jimmy Carter of Lonoke, Terry Carter of North Little Rock and Larry Carter of Florida; one daughter, Shirley Witonski of Drasco; one grandson, two granddaughters and six great-grandchildren.

Services were held Sept. 14 at Hamilton Baptist Church with burial at Hamilton Cemetery with arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home, Lonoke.

EDITORIALS>>Why it failed

One of the arguments against the quarter-cent sales tax for Pulaski County jails, the most philosophically persuasive was that we already lock up too many people for too long for too many reasons.

By defeating the jail tax, we draw a line in the sand and tell the government that it must adopt more realistic — that is, affordable and efficient — criminal-justice and correctional systems.

Maybe the policy makers will do just that. We would like to see it. But don’t count the days.

That issue cannot be addressed by the county judge and the quorum court or, for that matter, by the respective city governments that feed some of the prisoners to the jails.

It is a question for the legislature and the governor, and the current system is what for many years these elected officials thought the public wanted. People want miscreants of any magnitude, not just violent criminals, taken off the streets.

This started not last year but in 1977, when the Arkansas legislature, like assemblies in many states, detected an angry chorus from the voters demanding that the state get tough with criminals.

That year and at almost every two-year interval afterward the legislature passed tougher sentencing laws, first for repeat offenders and then repeatedly for drug offenders.

Prison officials in 1977 calculated the effect of the sentencing laws and warned of a rising need for more and more prisons as the longer sentences and tougher parole laws played out.

Six years later, their projections were right on target and the prisons hardly had an empty bed for more than a day or two ever again.

The state has not been able to build prisons fast enough to house them, and counties have had to build bigger jails to house people convicted until the state had space for them.

Now the state is releasing hundreds of inmates ahead of their parole dates under an emergency-release law — but not fast enough to help Pulaski County.

Gov. Huckabee every three or four years says the state should do something about the sentencing laws to check the prison costs (by far the fastest-growing segment of the state budget for two decades) and to give low-danger offenders a chance to redeem themselves and straighten out their lives.

He said some of the drug sentencing was too severe. The legislature in 2005 did approve a small reform, but generally lawmakers are terrified of being labeled “soft on crime,” so they will not vote for legislation that reduces sentences for anything. Huckabee knows that and does not push the issue.

So County Judge Buddy Villines and the quorum court will have to find a remedy to the declining jail capacity elsewhere. They should petition Pulaski County legislators to seek higher reimbursement from the state for providing surrogate prisons for state inmates and hope for the best.

The first task now is to prevent a further decimation of beds. Last year, some 250 beds were closed because the county did not have money to operate them according to court-ordered standards, and Villines said that without the new revenue stream from the tax the county would have to close another 60 or so beds soon because cities had warned that they could not continue the emergency subsidies.

Although the jail by law is an obligation of the county government, the cities cannot escape their responsibility. Little Rock and North Little Rock closed their local police lockups years ago and contributed a subsidy to the county. That subsidy has not kept pace with the growth of the jail population, and the cities must find efficiencies in their own beleaguered budgets to contribute more to the jail. It is upon their streets that suspects are released every day after being arrested and logged in.

The organized opponents of the tax have said there were magic bullets to solve the problem. We wait to see whether they are more realistic than the great cartoonist George Fisher’s famous and joyful remedy for prison crowding in 1983, the “Care-a-Cell.”

TOP STORY>>Deer season seen as need to postpone trial

IN SHORT: A motion was filed in Lonoke Circuit Court in behalf of Bobby Cox Jr. to delay his trial to let jurors hunt.

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain says using the upcoming deer season as the basis for postponing the trial of a local bail bondsman is original, but she hopes the judge doesn’t go along with it.

“In my nine years as prosecutor, I have never had that used as a reason to postpone a trial, never,” McCastlain said. “I had a Washington Post reporter call me about it yesterday. Can you believe that?”

Defense attorney John Wes-ley Hall filed a motion in circuit court this week on behalf of Bobby Cox Jr. requesting a delay in the trial because hunters held on a jury past the opening of deer season might quickly vote guilty for that reason alone.

“You never want to hold jurors against their will,” Hall said. “They might hold it against everybody.”

Cox is scheduled for trial Nov. 8 with other defendants.

According to Hall’s calculations using figures from the state Game and Fish Commission, a full 10 percent of Arkansas’ population could be planning hunting trips for when the season opens Nov. 11. And because Lonoke County is rural, it’s likely that its percentage of deer hunters is higher, Hall said.

McCastlain calls the motion an excuse to delay the trial, which she expects to start on schedule despite the motion, which special Judge John Cole is expected to rule on Thursday, Sept. 21.

McCastlain claims Cox and others were part of a continuing criminal enterprise, which she dubbed the “Organization,” operating in the county. The defendants have filed motions saying McCastlain hasn’t adequately demonstrated what the “organization” did.

Arkansas has about 2.8 million residents and, according to the Game and Fish Commission, 273,128 big-game hunters. When the number of convicted felons and the number of children are considered, the number of hunters could make up 15 percent or more of Arkansas’ population, Hall said.

Lonoke County has about 60,000 residents and 6,735 of them have licenses to hunt big game, according to U.S. Census and state Game and Fish Commission figures. “If you put it against registered voters, there’s no telling what the percentage would be,” he said.

McCastlain last month filed 78 counts, in various combinations, against the town’s mayor, former police chief and four others alleging they were part of a criminal enterprise. Five of the defendants face felonies, while Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett faces a single misdemeanor complaint.
Hall said he would like hunters in the pool because the state is expected to call a number of ex-felons, work-release inmates and “snitches.”
“If I had a drug case, I wouldn’t want them (hunters) on the jury,” Hall said.

Hall said he would be concerned that the trial would last more than a month and that hunters would miss all of the deer season, which closes in much of the state either Dec. 3 or Dec. 10, depending on the region.

“Suppose you’re stuck here until after Dec. 10, that’s the whole deer season,” Hall said.

McCastlain said the potential juror’s feelings on possibly missing deer season will come out during voirdaire (jury selection).
“We’ll figure out who’s willing to sit and who’s not during voirdaire,” she said.

The defendants were initially charged last winter and were named again in revised counts this summer. Because of concern about whether speedy trial provisions will soon expire, the judge set a trial for the fall.

Besides Cox and Privett, others charged are former Police Chief Jay Campbell, Campbell’s wife Kelly, police dispatcher Amy Staley and bail bondsman Larry Norwood.

The bulk of McCastlain’s charges claim the defendants worked together to obtain drugs, money and jewelry. They also conspired to obtain construction, labor or sex from state prisoners, the court documents said. Cole said Privett and Staley can have separate trials.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

TOP STORY>>Easing up on discipline

IN SHORT: PCSSD hopes new rules will answer critics that black students are treated more harshly than whites.

Leader staff writer

The Pulaski County Special School District will lighten up on disciplining elementary school students for infractions outside their ability to control, such as coming to school late, according to Brenda Bowles, executive director of equity and pupil services at the district.

By doing that and drawing up discipline management plans (DMP) for individual schools, the district hopes to attack the discipline disparity between black and white students at its schools.

Because black students are disciplined disproportionately to their enrollment in district schools, the U.S. District Court’s Office of Desegrega-tion Monitoring (ODM) has prompted the district to make important changes.

In a recent report by the ODM, it found that while 43 percent of PCSSD secondary school students were black in the 2004-2005 school year, they accounted for 71 percent of all students expelled and 59 percent of students suspended.
ODM staff was sharply critical of the district’s failure to bring more equity into discipline.

“The PCSSD let several opportunities to improve discipline slip away,” according to the report. “With each initiative, one could feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy…each time, at the last minute, just as he (seems ready to get) a good kick off, she pulls the football away. So it has been with the PCSSD.”

In its Plan 2000, the district failed to develop surveys, formulas, computer programs and a district-wide discipline management plan, according to the report.

“DMPs were ineffective and not updated; and the discipline committee was left with no leadership and, in effect, ceased to operate,” according to the report.

Part of the problem was “a real mismatch between the neighborhood culture and the school culture,” according to Homer Smith, of the ODM. “It’s the district’s responsibility to make sure they’ve removed barriers to fairness,” said Smith, instead of “ruling kids out.”

The district needs to provide an outside intervention team, perhaps from UALR or elsewhere, to help in problem areas, according to Margie Powell, an associate ODM monitor.

“We need to look at the schools as individual units and stop using the cookie cutter,” said Powell.
“(The district has) cut the counseling staff at critical time,” said Powell, at a time needed for students and teachers if you ask me.”
Now students are sharing counselors — there might not even be one at the school when needed.

“Students need continuity,” she said, “not a bunch of administrators with no history with the case.”

The cuts in counselors and socials workers is in response to the state’s requirement that the district cut its costs and get off the fiscal distress list, and the state has approved those cuts.

Part of the problem in the past may have been the turnover of superintendents and the churning of top administrators.
At one time the director of equity was on sick leave and his assistant was gone.

“There was no one to pick up the mantle,” said Powell.

That responsibility now has fallen to Bowles, who said that the district has required each individual school to devise its own discipline management plan, incorporating standard expectations but customizing its student needs.

In the past, students, particularly elementary school students, have been penalized for things beyond their control, such as getting to school late, having dirty clothes, having head lice or failing to have pencil and paper.

Such violations were lumped under the catchall “failure to follow school rules,” said Bowles.

Students could be routinely warned, then suspended for such minor infractions, putting them behind in class and labeled as troublemakers.

After two suspensions, a student is expelled.

Bowles said the teachers and principals went through in-service training to help them develop a discipline management plan and that the district was working with schools where the plans fall short.

But discipline is the responsibility of everyone, not just the principals.

Teachers will work with citizenship skills, Bowles said. “They may not already know how to act.”

She said teachers, counselors and administrators need to get involved, to work with parents when necessary and to clean uniforms or find clean ones for youngsters, Bowles said.

TOP STORY>>Foul-ups cost city $132,788 in grants

IN SHORT: Jacksonville is looking for a new housing director after federal audit.

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville is looking for a new executive director of its housing authority, following the departure of its long-time manager amid charges of mismanagement, including the loss of $132,788 in federal grants because they were not spent on time.

A federal review also claims lack of paperwork and bidding requirements, as well as backdated contracts, undocumented hours for a security officer who was seldom seen on the premises and little or no concern for the welfare of residents.

This summer, Virginia Simmons, Jacksonville Housing Authority’s executive director for about 14 years, resigned as the federal probe got underway.

Ferrell Gray, Robert Colford and Robert Whatlely, three of the four commissioners on the JHA board, followed in her footsteps by also stepping down. Johnny Moory has previously resigned due to a family illness. With these four vacancies, Fred West decided to stay on as the only remaining commissioner on the JHA board.

Federal Housing and Urban Development officials requested for all contracts and purchase orders be pulled and made available for June 28, according to the HUD review document obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. On June 27, a JHA employee informed HUD that Simmons had directed her to create four contracts and to call contractors to come to the office and sign the contracts.

On the same day, Simmons “admitted to Mr. Jesse Westover, public housing director, the Little Rock field office, that she had falsely reported program obligation under the FY 2003 Capital Fund Program on Sept. 15, 2005 in the amount of $132,788.11,” long past the deadline to spend the grant, according HUD officials.

HUD officials concluded these actions were taken in an attempt of the then JHA executive director to document evidence to support contracts had legitimately been entered into before the obligation end date of Sept. 16, 2005.

The review also alleges the local housing authority “did not properly advertise for bids in excess of $25,000” or adequately keep documentation of solicitations. These deficiencies may require further investigation.

Looking ahead, Jim Durham, one of the four newly appointed JHA board members, told The Leader he had not received the HUD review, but there is a pressing need to search for a new executive director to oversee day-to-day operations of the Max Howell Place apartment complex and housing voucher program to subsidize rent payments for low-income families.

He and two of the other commissioners along with Mary Boyd, interim executive director for JHA, will meet at noon Thursday to discuss criteria necessary to find a qualified person to do the job.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim, who has received a copy of the HUD review, says one of the biggest issues facing the JHA is the bidding process for contracts over $25,000.

He says HUD is continuing to investigate this matter.

TOP STORY>>Tax defeat may raise crime rate

IN SHORT: County reduces jail beds and cities may have to pay more to send prisoners there.

Leader staff writer

The third time did not charm enough Pulaski County voters to push through a jail tax measure to fund additional beds and the operational costs, and now officials appear stymied as to how to proceed.

One thing is certain: This week’s loss means the county jail’s 880 beds, already vastly down, will be cut to 800.

Pulaski County officials are concerned that the loss of a proposed quarter-cent sales tax at the polls this week will mean more overcrowded jails, more crime and overburdened municipalities that cannot pay more to house prisoners until there’s room for them in the state prison system.

“It looks like it took a good whuppin’,” Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon said of the jail tax vote. “I was surprised.”
What can the county do to open more jail beds next year or even keep the number it currently has? “I have no earthly idea,” Harmon said.

The one-quarter percent sales/use tax increase failed, 16,112 to 12,088.

According to John Rehrauer, spokesman for Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, this was the third attempt to muster enough support to provide adequate jail space for all detainees from municipalities within the county.

“I wouldn’t say we were shocked, more like disappointed,” Rehrauer said. “We knew it was going to be a close vote.”
Rehrauer says more voters supported this proposal than the past two initiatives, but the support was not there to pass.

“We’re dedicated to opening up more beds if funding does arise, but basically, our hands are tied, right now,” he said.

“Sheriff (Randy) Johnson made it clear already we’re not going to hang our heads, and he will be preparing a budget for 800 beds,” Rehrauer added.

If the tax measure had passed, jail officials planned to get the inmate population cap brought back up to a 1,125-cap. But now, they must contend with overcrowding woes and a decrease of 80 beds by January.Last year, Pulaski County cities ponied up an extra $1 million to raise from 800 to 880 the number of inmates that could be housed in the Pulaski County Detention Center.

If the jail tax measure had passed, cities, which entered into inter-local agreements with Pulaski County, would no longer be charged thousands of dollars each year to house their detainees in the county jail. Since the jail tax measure was defeated, this fee remains in full force and no extra funding for other projects will become available from this source.

County Judge Floyd “Buddy” Villines, in the nation’s capital on business Thursday, said he had not asked the cities yet to help out again in addition to the money they have by traditional agreement paid to help support the jail.

Harmon and Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim both say they are concerned that the jail will continue to be closed most of the time to all but violent criminals next year, but say city residents already provide about 80 percent or more of the amount of money the county spends to support the jail.

Swaim explained that included county sales taxes paid by city residents as well as the county’s share of real estate and personal property taxes.

“There’s a limit to what we can do, too,” Harmon said.

Of the 360,000 people in the county, 300,000 live in the towns, Swaim said.

Villines said he didn’t dispute that municipal residents account for about $16 million a year, but that the jail was not the only service the county provides those municipalities. For instance, the county helps pay for some roads and bridges within city limits, he noted.

Doc Holladay, the Democratic nominee for Pulaski County Sheriff, said he would investigate other options, like housing prisoners in tents. Housing them is not the immediate problem, according to Villines. It’s paying salaries for the jailers.
“The work-release center is our ‘tent’,” said Villines, noting that the county had to close it because it didn’t have money to pay jailers.

Rehrauer explained that jail officials have known deputies could be dealing with more crime in the future without jail time being a viable deterrent.

“It was several years ago that Randy Morgan (who oversees the county jail) said crime is going up,” Rehrauer told The Leader.
Sherwood and Jacksonville law-enforcement agencies, which feed their detainees into the county jail, will also be affected, Sherwood Police Chief Kel Nicholson predicts there will be more car break-ins, thefts and acts of vandalism since the jail sales tax did not pass.

“It’ll be business as usual…we will be citing people out we can’t get into the jail,” Nicholson told The Leader. “And I imagine the repeat offender rate will keep going up.”

Had the jail tax passed, Nicholson said, cities would have saved money by not having to pay the county for housing city prisoners under an inter-local agreement.

“We were going to add on possibly six patrol officers, but we’re only going to get three now,” Nicholson said.
According to Nichol-son, Sherwood operates a jail facility, which allows them to keep people up to 14 days. “But it can only hold seven people at a time,” he says.

Both Jacksonville Police Chief Robert Baker and Nicholson will carry on as usual. Reacting to the special election’s outcome, however, Baker expressed disappointment.

“Well, it was regrettable it didn’t pass but I respect the voters’ decision,” Baker said.

The Jacksonville Police Depart-ment will continue to notify Pulaski County Jail officials about any violent felons arrested in the city. For non-violent offenders, other arrangements will apparently be made for their respective releases.

In the past, Jacksonville operated an intermediate jail and would house detainees up to 14 days but Baker previously explained the JPD is currently a booking facility. Individuals arrested in Jackson-ville should stay there only a few hours, according to Baker.

Jacksonville city coffers will not see any extra cash flow. Baker previously said that an annual fee of $125,000 is being paid to the county to house detainees.

TOP STORY>>Planes, airmen head for base

IN SHORT: Nearly $50 million in new construction is planned to accommodate the arrival of seven more planes and 314 more personnel.

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base will be receiving seven additional aircraft and 314 personnel as a result of base realignment and closure (BRAC), a fraction of initial estimates of 66 new planes and 3,900 personnel, but still impressive when compared with other bases that are closing or are losing personnel and equipment.

Nine construction projects are planned over the next three years to accommodate the changes at the base.

This fall, the 463rd Airlift Group will become an operational combat wing under the Air Mobility Command (AMC), so there will be three wings on base, including the 314th Airlift Wing for training and the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing for training and supporting state missions.

With seven additional aircraft coming from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., the base will increase the number of AMC aircraft to 52 C-130 cargo aircraft and four flying squadrons and de-crease Air Education and Training Command (AETC) aircraft to 24 with two flying squadrons.

AMC personnel will increase by 1,346 and AETC will lose 1,032, a net increase of 314 airmen for the base reflecting the base’s growing combat roll.

“Little Rock Air Force Base is a vital component to our state and national security and I am always proud to fight for improvements in its capabilities and quality of life. The BRAC process was no different,” said Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).
“I believe the positive results are a true testament to the dedication and skill of the individuals at the base and to the community,” Pryor told The Leader.

Any gain at LRAFB means a loss for another base somewhere in the country. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York) lobbied hard last year to keep C-130s at the Niagara Falls Air Force Base citing Arkansas’ tornado season as a major threat to C-130s as-signed to LRAFB.

Cong. Vic Snyder (D-Ark) and Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim traveled to San Antonio last year to tout LRAFB’s advantages to the BRAC commission.

“Little Rock Air Force Base’s growth through the BRAC process is a very good thing both for the base and for central Arkansas,” Snyder said.

“These new aircraft and personnel will strengthen an already exceptional military facility. Other benefits of the realignment process may be several new construction projects and potentially, new infrastructure in addition to military construction that would come through other channels. I will continueto watch this closely as the BRAC implementation progresses,” Snyder told The Leader.

Among the military construction projects are a $3.7 million squadron operations facility, a $2.4 million hangar and a $1.8 million wing headquarters facility scheduled for construction in 2007.

An engine testing facility and several add-ons to existing buildings are planned for 2008 and a $7.3 million parking area for C-130s.

Members of Air Force headquarters, AMC and AETC are at the base planning for the changes to come by identifying key people, organizations and any potential problems.

“We’re here to make sure we’re on track to carry out BRAC actions within the appropriate timeline,” said Capt. Bill Cone, AMC deputy BRAC team chief.

Areas being looked at by the team include simulators, life support, squadron and maintenance operations, logistics, civil engineering, ccommunications and environmental to name a few.

“My staff is here to ensure we facilitate and provide details. The most important thing is for Little Rock to be successful in the long run,” he added.

The team needs to look very closely at AFSO21 (Air Force Smart Operations 21) to ensure we’re not duplicating anything,” said Brig. Gen. Kip Self, 314th Airlift Wing commander.

“We need to ensure we take care of our people, continue to train airmen and deploy combat-ready war fighters to battle, while most efficiently using our resources and taxpayers’ dollars,” Self said.

Capt. David Faggard of the 314th Strategic Information Flight contributed to this story.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SPORTS >>Conway sweeps Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

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

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

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

Conway built on its lead in the top of the second with another pair of runs to go up 4-1. The Bruins once again came away with only one run during their turn; this time it was T.C. Squires singling to put the score in position, and scoring off a Conway error. Everett’s run made the score 4-2 after two innings. Ross Bogard pulled Sylvan Hills to within one in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI that scored Wheeler, who had singled at the start of the Bruins’ turn in the fourth. Wheeler’s run closed the gap to 4-3 Conway.

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS >>Pitchers dominate in Bruins' triumph

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills’ Carter Lance and Cabot’s Justin Haas turned Monday night’s game between the Bruins and Home Depot Legion AAA teams into a pitchers’ duel. Both young men went the distance on the mound for their respective teams. Haas put up very respectable numbers for Home Depot with five hits, two earned runs, and one walk along with six strikeouts.
Lance gave up even less for Sylvan Hills. Three hits and two walks is all the big right hander would allow, also topping Cabot’s southpaw in the strikeout department by one with seven on the evening. He had 95 pitches in seven innings to take the win.

“We didn’t hit the ball like we have been,” Bruins coach Mike Bromley said. “Their little lefty did a good job on the mound for them. I thought Carter Lance did an outstanding job on the mound for us, he looked in control, and that’s what we want to see. It wasn’t our best day hitting, but we did what we had to do to win the ball game.”

Chase Elder tagged-up on a SAC from Bruins first baseman Tony Pavan for Sylvan Hills’ first run in the top of the fourth inning. The second and final run was scored on a double to center from Elder that brought in Gwatney in the fifth inning.
Both teams started out strong defensively in the opening inning. Haas sent the Bruins three-and-out, as Lance did the same to Home Depot. The first offensive highlight did not occur until the top of the second inning. Pavan hit a single to center, followed by a single to left from Jerry Lawson. The hits came after Haas had already forced two pop-ups, and Haas was able force another fly for the final out, this time from eight-hole hitter Ryan Wood. The Bruins left both runners on base, and Cabot avoided the early threat.

Lance also gave up his first hit in the second. Justin Free hopped it to center for a Cabot hit, followed by a walk for Drew Burks. Lance had started the inning with a strikeout on Gross, and got his rhythm back with strikeouts on Murphy and Burgan to leave the Cabot runners on first and second.

Both teams collected a hit each in the third inning, but neither would go past first base. Gwatney sent it to left for a single during the Bruins’ turn, and Trey Rosel bunted for the infield hit in the bottom of the third. The errors for Cabot were few, but the first was most costly. Elder started the top of the fourth for Sylvan Hills with a pop-up to center, but a fielding error allowed him all the way to second base. Jarrett Boles moved him to third with a single grounder to left field, and Pavan popped it up to center for the sacrifice fly. Boles made it to second when Elder scored, but the final two batters popped out to center, leaving him on.

Free got his second hit for Cabot in the fourth, but didn’t make it past first. Lance shut down the next two batters with a K and a 5-3 grounder to take it to the fifth inning. It looked like the fifth would be Haas’ strongest inning. Lead-off batter Bogard and following batter Roark both went down with strikeouts, and No. 3 hitter Gwatney was down in the count. A slight slip from Haas hit Gwatney in the shoulder, moving him to first base.

Grant Garlington followed that with a single to left that moved Gwatney to second. Elder then layed down the biggest hit of the entire game. Elder’s double was the only non-single hit of the night. It also managed to score Gwatney for the Bruins’ final run of the game.

Sylvan Hills now has a record of 14-4. Cabot’s record fell to 3-3 for the AAA squad. Cabot will host Russellville tomorrow at 6 p.m.; Sylvan Hills will play (space to insert opponent and location and date and time)

TOP STORY >>Asphalt cost slows road work

Leader staff writer

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

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

Bolick emphasized that contractors are most likely to feel the strongest pinch, as bidding processes can be extensive for long-term projects, and asphalt prices may increase after a bid is secured. “With tonnage prices, who gets affected more than anybody is going to be the contractor,“ Bolick said. “Say, for instance, he comes into bid us on a half-million dollar job. It takes 30 days to bid and maybe between 45 and 60 days to get on the job. If prices go up again, he’s locked into it. It’s still a half-million dollar bid. That’s the nature of the bidding process.”

Bolick explained how the highway department is adjusting to high cost of asphalt. “We’re splitting some jobs,” he said. “Instead of a million-dollar, 10-mile overlay, we’ll do a half-million, 10-mile project so contractors can bid a job that won’t take three or four years. The market dictates.”As for a dismal or promising future, Bolick is uncertain. “Ask a city or county judge,” he said. “A city mayor or local contractor will probably bear most of the brunt of this increase. Prices are going up, bids are higher on jobs, so it made sense for us to make for smaller jobs for contractors to bid. It benefits them, us and the entire state.”

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

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

“But we will have to re-bid in August,” Richard said. “From all indications, we’re looking at a 30 percent increase. When that happens, we’ll definitely start feeling it, because asphalt is an oil-based product. I think everybody’s going to have to take a good hard look before spending dollars. There is preventative maintenance to consider, such as applying seal coats to buy more time before resurfacing asphalt. Counties may have to cut another line item for extra money to fund road repair. As for Pulaski County, it’s the judge’s priority to keep roads up. We only have so much budgeted each year for every type of county project, but I can tell you it’s a big priority with our county judge,” Richard said. “He won’t let them suffer. We’re proud of roads in Pulaski County. We’ve got a good road system and intend to keep it that way.”

Jim Oakley, public works director for the City of Jacksonville, said his department paid about $42 a ton. “We’re fixing to go over the budget for our 2006 overlay program,” he said. “We may have to cut about 30 percent. Right now, we’ve got approximately $250,000 a year for overlays, at $30 to $40 per ton of asphalt.

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

Jacksonville is fortunate enough to budget an overlay program. We’re in good shape for the most part, but if the price keeps going up, it could be hard to catch up with our workload, and we’d have to look at coming up with more money.” A hefty reserve supply of materials, however, does have its advantages. Lonoke Public Works director Tony Scroggins said, “As far as road maintenance, we’re in good shape because we pretty much stocked up on prepackaged coal mix that we already bought. There’s not any maintenance to do right now. “Sure it’s going to have an affect on asphalt bidding price per ton. If it’s tripled, we’ll have to decide whether or not to make repairs. Typically, it costs around $4,000 a city block. We may cut down in overlays instead and I’m sure it will have an affect as far as any new overlay projects are concerned. Another Lonoke Public Works employee said, “ Depending on the amount of dollars, if asphalt goes up, streets get shorter.”

Tracey Perkins, with the roads and bridges department of Pulaski County Public Works, said, “The current price per ton is $43.07 in-place, and when our truck picks it up, the price is $32.65.” Perkins said “in-place” is the term applied when contractors apply the asphalt surfacing.

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

Suskie explained that regardless of the type of paving project, costs won’t stretch as far as they once did, and that any business or municipality involved with road surfacing and repair will endure the resulting frustrations of higher asphalt prices. “Whether it’s city or rural, heavy or light overlay, a two-inch repaving or 8 to 10 inches, you can bet that fewer cities will be able to pay as a result of this,” he said. “That’s what contractors are wresting with right now. It’s a real gamble our guys take, and they may have to bid a little higher right now just to cover their own expenses. One approach the highway department has taken, and it’s real admirable, has helped, though. What they might do is to bid road work, bridges or widening shoulders, or ‘dirt work’ as it’s called, and delay bidding on paving itself, where they’d usually bid it all out at once.”

Suskie said that prioritizing paving projects is key. “As for long-term, we’re looking at having to make hard decisions,” he said. This has caused some contractors not to bid jobs at all, some as far out as 18 months.” But this cause-and-effect relationship with operating expenses also occurs in other business sectors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOP STORY >>Cabot High almost ready

Leader staff writer

As workers put the finishing touches on the new $13.9 million Cabot High School on the northwest side of the campus, facing Highways 89 and 38, teachers are already moving boxes from their classrooms in 25 trailers scattered across campus.
Across campus, construction workers are erecting the walls for a $1,888,722 addition to the south end of the Fine Arts Building. The addition will have new choir, chorus and band rehearsal rooms and several classrooms.

“We feel like everything is progressing and we’re in good shape to be in the new high school in August, and we hope to schedule an open house for the parents, students and community in mid-August,” said Frank Holman, superintendent of the Cabot School District. About 1,800 students are expected on campus this fall.

The massive heating and air conditioning ventilation system for the 191,015 square-foot building is being turned on this month as workers finish in-stalling the ceiling tiles, ceramic floor tiles and carpet on the first floor. Once painters are through with the interior walls on the second floor, ceiling tiles and flooring will be installed.

The completed 12,000- square-foot media center is being used for temporary storage while the inside of the building is being finished. “I’m just amazed of the size of this building. You start from the beginning of construction on paper, and when you get over there and see it finished, it’s just amazing,” Holman told The Leader.

When the classrooms are completely moved into the new high school’s 105 classrooms, 25 trailers across campus are scheduled to be removed, and buildings C and D are scheduled for demolition to provide additional parking around the new building.
“Parents and patrons are excited about the new high school and feel it is long overdue,” said Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent for the Cabot School District. Later this summer, workers will start building a long turn lane on Hwy. 89 so parents can turn into the campus to drop students off at the front of the building without delaying traffic. Students who drive will use an entrance on Hwy. 38.

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

Cabot High School Principal Tony Thurman says students will get the most use out of the centrally located media center while teachers will take advantage of the four resource rooms equipped with kitchenettes, copiers, computers and teleconference equipment. Teachers and students alike will get a lot of use out of the professional development center says Thurman. It will have state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment for staff meetings or guest speakers for classes.

“We will have seating for 160 without tables and 65 individuals when we want to use tables,” Thurman told The Leader.
Students will be both safe and comfortable at the new school. Every entrance to the building will have video surveillance monitored by principals and resource officers. Covered outside walkways on both floors of the building will help students get to and from classes even in inclement weather, without crowding the interior hallway.

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

TOP STORY >>Local area sees more residences going up

Leader staff writers

June is Homeownership Month, and the housing market in central Arkansas continues to boom despite predictions of a slump in housing nationwide. “I have been in this business for 19 years and my team has posted record sales for three consecutive months in a row. Currently, we are averaging a home sale every 19 hours in my office,” said Steve Blackwood, of The Blackwood Team realty. Blackwood credits the Cabot School District with the solid housing market in the area. The population of Cabot is projected to be about 20,000 soon, with an average 25 new home permits per month. In May, the city issued building permits for $3.6 million in construction, including 18 permits for homes over $100,000.

The housing market in Beebe has been described as “ready to boom” after years of near-dormancy. Jason Scheel, chairman of the city’s planning commission, said he is seeing more growth in housing now than he has seen in five years on the commission. Allen Ridings, the city’s code enforcement officer and building inspector, says he seen more construction recently than in eight years on the job.

Scheel attributes the five new subdivisions with about 200 homes either under construction or in the planning phases to the quality of life possible in Beebe. “We have a good school district and ASU-Beebe is right here,” Scheel said. “Most people work in or around Little Rock, but they know they can live here and have a good place to spend their afternoons and weekends.”
Most of the homes planned for Beebe are relatively small at 1,200 to 1,500 square feet and will sell for about $100,000 he said. The larger, high-dollar houses are outside the city where lots are measured in acres.

Scheel said Beebe simply doesn’t have enough land for developers to offer large lots. The city council’s attempt last year to grow through annexation failed, but the plan is to try again, he said. The draw of the Cabot School District, responsible for Cabot’s phenomenal growth, also benefits the housing market in Austin and Ward, which are part of the district.

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

Ward has about 10 subdivisions that are either filling up with new houses or in the preliminary phase where the streets are built. So far, this year about 100 building permits have been sold at city hall. Ward’s growth has been steady. The last census set its population at 2,500, but new subdivisions have already increased that number to almost 3,400 and with more houses being built all the time, the population is expected to reach 5,000 by 2010.

Mayor Art Brooke says houses in Ward sell for an average of $20,000 less than in Cabot. Neither does Ward have the traffic problems that Cabot has, which makes the city more desirable to some families, he says. While the housing market is expected to keep fading from its record levels, 2006 is still expected by many economists to be the third best year for housing ever. In Arkansas homeownership is at a near record high of 69 percent.

“With the soaring cost of new construction, we have seen an increasing demand for existing homes which are perceived to be a better value in comparison to many new construction homes,” Blackwood told The Leader. Little Rock Air Force Base’s economic impact on the local economy increased $20 million from $580 million in 2004 to $600 million in 2005, most of which comes from military members living in surrounding communities.

According to Little Rock Air Force Base’s 2005 fiscal year economic impact analysis released in April, the base’s 5,919 active duty personnel collect $274 million in pay, which is spent in surrounding cities of Sherwood, Jacksonville, Cabot and Beebe for rent and housing. Only 483 airmen live on base now as the older homes on base are being either demolished or renovated as part of a $500 million housing contract awarded to American Eagle Communities. By 2012, American Eagle Commits plans to renovate 732 existing homes and build 648 new homes to make living on the base more appealing to military families.

Analysts with the National Association of Realtors are expecting the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to average 6.9 percent during the second half of the year and the unemployment rate is expected to average 4.8 percent in 2006. Buyers are currently committing to an average 6.67 percent interest on new, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, compared with about 5.5 percent a year ago. That change raises the monthly cost $150 for a $200,000 mortgage.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types is forecast to rise 5.3 percent this year to $231,300. With more construction in 2006 taking place in lower cost housing markets, the median new-home price is projected to increase 0.8 percent to $242,900.

TOP STORY >>Outcome still same following recount

Leader staff writer

If it changed nothing else, the recount of two Republican primary races Saturday confirmed the original tallies and helped ease doubts about the optical scanner and its programming. Following the May 23 Republican primary election, Virgil Teague, Jr. held a one-vote advantage over Carl Schmidt, 586 to 585 in the Cabot alderman Ward 2, Position 1 race. Teague’s narrowest of victories withstood Schmidt’s recount challenge Saturday.

Teague could still face one or more independents in November. Cabot independents haven’t filed yet. Teague said he had been as confident as he could be under the circumstances, since he was winner in the first primary count—discarded because the optical scanner was programmed incorrectly, then again May 28 for official count of all Lonoke County ballots and then again last Saturday in the face of Schmidt’s petition for a recount.

“I knew that’s the way it should have come out,” Teague said Monday, but “you never know what’s going to happen in a recount.” Teague, a retired Union Pacific manager, said he’d bring his management skills to bear on the city council. Traffic and drainage are probably the biggest problems, he said. Since Stumbaugh didn’t pay for his recount, Edwards will be the quorum member.

He said he like to bring accountability on the budget process and help take care of traffic problems in the northern part of the county. Edwards said that despite talk and news stories about his being part of an ultraconservative conspiracy to takeover the Republican Party, neither he nor Casey VanBuskirk, who beat incumbent Gina Burton, met Randy Minton until after they filed for office. “I’ve only spoken to Randy one time, for 15 to 20 minutes. I know they think Randy is who we are going to speak for. He said he wasn’t there to push Minton’s agenda through the quorum court.

“The Republican Assembly aren’t ultraconservative,” said Edwards. “They are just true Republicans. They have conservative true Reagan values.” In a letter to the editor published Wednesday, VanBuskirk said essentially the same thing. “I like to think that I won the election because of my hard work and dedication to winning. Randy Minton does not get to choose the JP for District 12. The people who live within District 12 make that decision.

Of Burton, VanBuskirk said, “The only reason she is out of office is because of the simple fact that she did not vote as a Republican. She ran for office as a Republican but too often chose to vote with the Democrats.” Burton says she will not endorse VanBuskirk when she runs against Patty Knox, a Democrat, in November. “She’s been to only one quorum court meeting and is completely unknowledgeable about the way it functions. She has an association with the Minton Assembly,” Burton said. “She’ll be told how to vote and that’s something I object to. I think JPs should vote according to their conscience and the information they are given.”

Burton said she has no immediate plans but would remain active in the Republican Party. “I believe in the Republican Party and Republican Values and I want to do what I can to just promote the Republican Agenda.

TOP STORY >>Lonoke picks new mayor

Leader staff writer

Alderman Wayne McGee is apparently the next mayor of Lonoke, beating Jim Parks, the former alderman, 483 to 270 in the Democratic primary runoff Tuesday. Election officials announced those numbers earlier in the evening, but it was unclear at the time whether they were complete returns for all Lonoke precincts or just interim results. Later, the election commission said those were the final numbers, according to McGee’s cousin, Gaylon McGee.

No one could be reached in the county clerk’s office to confirm the vote late Tuesday night. In the Pulaski County runoff for District 10 Justice of the Peace, Rev. Robert Green beat Johnnie Mass by 40 votes. Green had 482 votes, or 52.2 percent, to 442 votes, or 47.8 percent for Mass. In statewide races, Bill Halter defeated Tim Wooldridge in the Democratic run-off for lieutenant governor and Martha Shoffner defeated Mac Campbell in the Democratic run-off for state treasurer.

With 95 percent of the vote in, Rep. Dustin McDaniel was squeaking by Paul Suskie in the Democratic run-off for attorney general, even though Pulaski County voted three-to-one in favor of Suskie. In the Lonoke Democratic primary on May 23, voters turned Mayor Thomas Privett out of office. In that four-way race, McGee was the top vote-getter with 438, followed by Parks with 362, Privett with 215 and Roy Henderson with 38 votes, setting up the Tuesday runoff.

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

“I want to thank my supporters from the bottom of my heart,” said McGee, whose face was red from campaigning in the sun this week. Privett has offered to include his successor in on budget discussions as the city prepares its 2007 budget, and McGee said he welcomes the opportunity. “I want to learn as much as I can so I’m ready when I take office,” McGee said.
McGee is part owner of several businesses in Lonoke, including a family furniture store, a used-car dealership and an auction company.

EDITORIAL>>Message in a jail vote

For the third time in nine years, Pulaski County voters yesterday rejected a proposed special sales tax to expand and operate the county jail. Now, the county and municipal governments have a fresh mandate to be more innovative and more cooperative to keep communities safe.

Every victory has a thousand parents, every defeat is an orphan. Who can say exactly what turned most voters off? Was it reflexive opposition to taxes? Was the tax rate too much? Were voters angry at county government and its profligacy, as the Arkansas Democrat Gazette characterized the situation in a relentless editorial campaign over the past two weeks? (The paper published four editorials — count them, four! — on election day.) We do not think the big newspaper’s heavyhanded opposition and sometimes uninformed attacks were the critical factor. Our observation has been that its endorsements hurt as much as they help, especially in the city of Little Rock.

From the county’s standpoint, the results provided some comfort. The vote was considerably closer than the previous elections. Some 43 percent of voters, according to early returns, favored the tax. In 1997, a jail tax got only 37 percent of the vote, and in 2000, when the proposal was swallowed by other races on the general election ballot, it received only 35 percent.

The results might be close enough to encourage County Judge Buddy Villines and the quorum court to offer a smaller proposal — say, a one-eighth of 1 percent tax rather than a quarter of 1 percent — at the general election or another special election. But having delivered their verdict, voters would be apt to view that as arrogance. The county can profit from a little humility and accept the expression as final regardless of the final margin.

Alternative sentencing, including electronic home monitoring, will have to be increased, although the state government will have to supply some help. The legislature, alas, rarely provides rewards for the state’s biggest county, but every urban county in the state has a crisis, caused partly by the lack of capacity in state prisons and by improvident sentencing laws passed the past quarter-century.

All along, we believed a one-eighth of 1 percent tax would be sufficient to reopen 250 inmate beds that were closed to meet budget constraints last year and to expand the facilities, although considerably more gradually than the quarter-cent proposal that was defeated Tuesday. But the higher rate would have relieved Jacksonville, North Little Rock, Sherwood and Maumelle of their annual correctional subsidy to the county, which they could put to good use with crime-prevention programs.

Now, the county must insist that cities continue and even increase those subsidies, and the cities, while having their own budget crises, must oblige. The alternative is a further reduction in operating jail beds and a further increase in lawlessness.
That was not a message that voters were sending Tuesday.

SPORTS >>Wildcats wary of dangerous Bears

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills and North Little Rock meet up again in their annual week-three matchup of neighboring non-conference rivals. Both teams enter the game 1-1. North Little Rock was shut out by Texarkana in week one, then bounced back to easily dispose of J.A. Fair last Friday.

The Bears opened the season with a shocking first-half blitz of LR Catholic and held on for a win in week one, then lost a defensive struggle at Cabot last week. For North Little Rock coach Bryan Hutson, Sylvan Hills’ first two games prove one thing. “Sylvan Hills is a quality football team,” Hutson said. Hutson is first concerned with Bear quarterback Hunter Miller, but knows stopping the Bears doesn’t end with stopping the junior QB.

“That’s just where it starts,” Hutson said. “We’ve got to stop him, but you can’t say you’re just going to solely concentrate on him because they’ve got a lot of other weapons out there in just about every skill position that will beat you just as fast.”
Stopping Miller is two-fold, the junior has been a threat with his arm and legs in two games this year. Hutson just wants to keep him from getting comfortable.

“That’s what makes so hard because he can beat you either way,” Hutson said. “We just have to make sure he doesn’t get comfortable at all back there. If you let him get in a rhythm it’s going to be a long night.” So far the Charging Wildcats haven’t let anyone get into a rhythm. The defense has been remarkable so far. Of the 17 points given up to Texarkana, 14 came in the last quarter after turnovers gave the Razorbacks the ball on NLR’s side of the field.

In week two, the Wildcat first-team defense gave up just three points. The Eagles scored a late touchdown on a short drive to finish with 10. “Our defense has played really, really, really well,” Hutson said. “I’m very proud of the way they’ve come out to start the season.” Hutson isn’t so pleased with the offensive performance so far. It’s not that the offense has been ineffective moving the ball, it’s that it has done more to stop itself than opposing teams have done.

“I’m not pleased with the offense,” Hutson said. “We had 19 penalties last week, and I just don’t have many plays in the playbook for third and 30. We scored 14 points in the first five minutes, but it just became comical with all the penalties after that. It’s just hard to continue to overcome that kind of stuff.”

Catholic and Cabot had pretty good success running the ball against Sylvan Hills. Little Rock has a core of talented receivers and a quarterback quite capable of getting the ball to them. Catholic and Cabot, though, had better success running against the Bears. None of that matters much to North Little Roc’s preparation this week.

“We’re going to try to do whatever we can to get yards,” Hutson said. “We’re still in the process of trying to find what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. We’re making progress. That’s what these non-conference games are for. Hopefully we’ll have some answers by the time conference gets here.” Hutson said. “We’ve got to stop him, but you can’t say you’re just going to solely concentrate on him because they’ve got a lot of other weapons out there in just about every skill position that will beat you just as fast.”

Stopping Miller is two-fold, the junior has been a threat with his arm and legs in two games this year. Hutson just wants to keep him from getting comfortable. “That’s what makes it so hard because he can beat you either way,” Hutson said. “We just have to make sure he doesn’t get comfortable back there at all. If you let him get in a rhythm doing anything it’s going to be a long night.”

So far the Charging Wildcats haven’t let anyone get into a rhythm. The defense has been remarkable so far. Of the 17 points given up to Texarkana, 14 came in the last quarter after turnovers gave the Razorbacks the ball on NLR’s side of the field.
In week two, the Wildcats first-team defense gave up just three points. The Eagles scored a late touchdown on a short drive to finish with 10.

“Our defense has played really, really, really well,” Hutson said. “I’m very proud of the way they’ve come out to start the season.” Hutson isn’t so pleased with the offensive performance so far. It’s not that the offense has been ineffective moving the ball, it’s that it has done more to stop itself than opposing teams have done. “I’m not pleased with the offense,” Hutson said. “We had 19 penalties last week, and I just don’t have many plays in the playbook for third and 30. We scored 14 points in the first five minutes, but it just became comical with all the penalties after that. It’s just hard to continue to overcome that kind of stuff.”

North Little Rock has a core of talented receivers and a capable quarterback who can get the ball to them. Catholic and Cabot, though, had better success running against the Bears, especially in the second half of their respective games.
None of that matters much to North Little Rock’s preparation this week.

Hutson will have the team focused on playing their own brand of football, mistake-free. “We’re going to try to do whatever we can to get yards,” Hutson said. “We’re still in the process of trying to find what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. We’re making progress. That’s what these non-conference games are for. Hopefully we’ll have some answers by the time conference gets here.”

The Bears and Wildcats will kick off at Sylvan Hills High School at 7 p.m. Friday night.

SPORTS >>Lions always tough for Panthers

Leader sports staff

Searcy coach Bart McFarland is hoping to get the first win of the season for the Lions this week while the Cabot Panthers will try to remain undefeated heading into competition in the new 7A-East Conference. McFarland knows that the Cabot team they almost upset last year will not be the same team that rolls into Lion Stadium on Friday after two big wins over Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills already to its credit in ’06.

“It’s the same old Cabot,” McFarland said. “They’re fundamentally sound. I know he has some young guys that he’s playing, but they’ve been stepping up for him. They have been showing some more formations recently, but it’s still the same old Cabot plays. We know they’re going to be running at us. They are on a roll right now; they have a lot momentum.”

Malham is as surprised as anyone that his young defense has played so well. He commented on how well his defense played in the second half against Sylvan Hills, but didn’t even realize it didn’t give up a single completed pass in the first half.
“Really, they didn’t complete a pass,” Malham asked. “I know they’ve been playing pretty well for a group that young. It helped that we were able to keep people from playing both ways. Keeping those guys that were playing both ways just on offense gave everybody a little more rest and that helps. You have to have that at this level.”

McFarland was encouraged by his team’s second half performance last week against Batesville. After falling behind 21-8 in the first half, the Lions refused the Pioneers of a shot at the end zone until the game’s final moments. “Our defense stepped up in the second half,” McFarland said. “Offensively, we were able to move the football, we just couldn’t get it in the end zone.”

Senior receiver Matt Cramblett finished with seven receptions for 170 yards, all in less than a month removed for arthroscopic knee surgery. Searcy’s ball movement isn’t lost on Cabot either. “They’ve moved the ball on everybody they’ve played,” Malham said. “They’ve got all their skill people back from last year you just don’t know when they’re going to put it together. I’d hate for our kids to get a wakeup call. They’re 0-2 and we’re 2-0 but that don’t mean anything. That’s why you go out there and play.”

Justin Rowden shook off a shoulder injury suffered during the season opener at Vilonia to play all four quarters last week, but tight end Easton Valentine was not quite as fortunate. Valentine broke his collarbone in the season opener, and is not expected back for another 4-6 weeks.

The Panthers have continued to struggle with holding onto the ball this season. Last year turnovers killed Cabot drives all season long and multiple times a game. They haven’t been so costly so far this season, but the head coach would still like to see them take better care of the ball.

“We had three last week in the first half and then did a better job in the second half,” Malham said. One of them was on a punt. That’s some pressure to field those with guys bearing down on you. (Colin) Fuller done a pretty good job of that the last couple of years. That’s the first time I remember him dropping one, so I still think we’ll be ok there. We can work on securing the ball but you just have to go out there and take care of it.”

Intangibles are always something that can come into play, and McFarland is well aware of how well his team usually plays against Cabot. “You never know how things will play out,” McFarland said. “We like to hope we can get off to the same start against them this year as we did last year – Searcy led 21-0 in the first quarter – but I’m sure they are hoping they can have the same second quarter. It was a close game last year, we’ll just have to see.”

The Lions and Panthers will kick off the non-conference matchup at 7:30 this Friday at Lions Stadium in Searcy.