Saturday, November 04, 2006

SPORTS >>Harding Academy finishes undefeated

IN SHORT: The Wildcats have now won all their regular season games for the past two years.

Special to The Leader

SEARCY – The Harding Academy Wildcats accomplished numerous goals on Friday night at First Security Stadium. The most important one, though, could have been that the Wildcats remained injury free heading into the playoffs.

The HA offense was as efficient as it’s been all season and the defense turned in another dominating performance as the Wildcats trounced playoff-bound Perryville, 45-16.

The victory was the 27th consecutive for Harding Academy, which eclipsed the old school record set by the Bill Barden-coached Wildcats from 1976-78.

The win also gave Harding Academy (10-0) its second consecutive perfect regular season. The Wildcats, who clinched the top seed in the 2-3A Conference with last week’s 34-18 victory over Rose Bud, earned a first-round bye in the state playoffs.

Harding Academy made quick work of Perryville, which had already secured the league’s fourth playoff seed. Senior quarterback Luke Tribble completed 20-of-30 passes for 255 yards, all in the first half, as the Wildcats built a 39-0 halftime advantage. With the 35-point mercy rule in effect, the starters became spectators for the third and fourth quarters.

Harding Academy’s high-powered offense scored on its first five possessions and six of its seven in the first half. The Wildcats got a trio of rushing touchdowns from junior J.T. Fisher on runs of two, six and four yards. Tribble also connected with Chris Pack, Brad London and Dee Gibbs on short scoring tosses.

Perryville (6-4) managed little against the Harding Academy starting defense, picking up just 38 total yards in the first half.
“Our offense was really good, but once again, our defense just absolutely dominated,” Harding Academy coach Tommy Shoemaker said. “They played extremely well and got us in a position where we could play a lot of young guys again this week.”

It took the Wildcats 12 plays to score their first TD. A 16-yard pass from Tribble to Pack on 4th-and-11 from their own 42 was likely the most dramatic play of the game. Seven plays later, Tribble hooked up with Pack again for a five-yard TD at the 4:21 mark of the first quarter.

After a Perryville punt, the Wildcats needed just 50 seconds to find the end zone again. A 36-yard pass from Tribble to Chase Ransom set up Fisher’s first scoring run with 11 seconds left in the opening quarter.

After a short Mustang punt was returned into Perryville territory by Pack, Tribble found Ty Finley for a 33-yard gain, setting up a one-yard TD pass to London with 10:33 left in the first half. A Perryville drive stalled when the Wildcats held at midfield and passes from Tribble to Pack (13 yards), Finley (17 yards) and Pack again (14 yards) set up Fisher’s six-yard TD run. Tribble’s PAT made it 27-0 with seven minutes left in the half.

Less than 20 seconds later, Michael Hickmon recovered a Perryville fumble and Tribble went back to work. He hit Ransom for 11 yards, then again for 16 before finding Gibbs from four yards out with 4:37 left in the second.

Harding Academy’s only first-half drive that failed to produce points ended at the Mustangs’ 38 but Perryville fumbled the ball right back. A 21-yard pass from Tribble to Pack set up Fisher’s eight-yard TD run and a 39-0 lead.

The hoopla surrounding the Wildcats’ win streak and an undefeated regular season failed to faze Harding Academy.

“We really didn’t talk about any of that at all this week,” Shoemaker said. “We were extremely focused on Perryville and what we needed to do on the field.”

Due to reclassification among Arkansas high schools, the Wildcats now get to enjoy a week off before opening the playoffs.
“It’s really a weird situation,” Shoemaker said. “As a coaching staff, we’re trying to figure out exactly what we need to do this week. We’re trying to come up with some creative things to keep their interest up. We’re going to change our schedule a little this week, then we’ll go and scout.”

Fisher finished with 54 yards on nine carries, all in the first half.

SPORTS >>CJHN beaten by Wolves in championship

IN SHORT: The Cabot North Panthers came up just short of the CAJH Conference title in an overtime loss Tuesday.

Leader sports writer

Pearcy— Cabot North’s hopes for a perfect season all came down to a fourth-down quarterback keep by Seth Bloomberg at the Lake Hamilton 2-yard line during overtime. The Wolves had just taken their first lead of the contest 20-14 during the opening possession in the OT, but missed their two-point conversion. That left the window open for Cabot, but the LH defenders closed it, stopping Bloomberg half a yard short of the end zone to claim the outright Central Arkansas Jr. High Conference title.

North took the advantage early in the game, with a pair of first half touchdowns. But what was three yards and a cloud of dust for the North offense in the first half became minus three yards and a hazy fog in the second half courtesy of a much-improved Wolves’ defense.

Lake Hamilton also looked like a completely different team offensively in the last half. Wolves tailback D.J. Bell found holes in North’s defensive interior, picking up 57 yards on 14 carries in the second half for all three LH touchdowns.

Bell was both savior and slaughterer for the Wolves in the second half.

He saved the day with the three touchdown runs, including the game-winning score in OT, but also put Lake Hamilton in volatile situations with a fumble at mid field late in the fourth quarter, and slipping on the two-point conversion attempt after scoring the go-ahead TD.

Cabot struck first in the conference-title matchup, with 12-yard TD from Bloomberg on a quarterback keep midway through the first quarter. Michael James ran in the two-point attempt to put North ahead 8-0.

The North defense stopped Lake Hamilton dead in its tracks in the first half.

The Wolves came away with only 37 yards of total offense for the first two quarters, despite four completed passes out of six attempts for LH quarterback Benson Jordan.

The Panthers also had Bell’s number early on, holding him to four yards rushing in the first 16 minutes.

North’s second-quarter drive took up most of the frame, with a five-minute-long march down the field that was capped off by another TD scramble from Bloomberg, this time around the right side from nine yards out. An offsides penalty against the Panthers moved them back on the two-point attempt, and they were not able to convert. That would set the halftime score at 14-0.

It was obvious from the opening drive of the second half that the momentum had overwhelmingly changed hands.
Cabot had opening possession in the second half, but was held to only four yards off of three rush attempts from James. With the ball on their own 24-yard line, the Panthers had no choice but to punt it away.

That’s when Bell took over. The speedy running back moved the Wolves downfield with six carries totaling 35 yards, including the three-yard touchdown run with 3:32 left in the third quarter. Jordan also got things going in the air for the Wolves, with two completed passes for eight yards and 20 yards respectively. The two-point attempt was successful, and the Wolves found themselves down by only a score.

Cabot’s next drive was even more disastrous. A miscue on a toss from Bloomberg to James on third down resulted in a loss of seven yards, and forced another punt.

Lake Hamilton took over at its own 47-yard line, and went the distance in nine plays. Bell’s one-yard TD run with 6:58 left in the game was set up by a 17-yard pass completion from Jordan to Addison Wynne to give the Wolves first and goal. The Wolves’ two-point attempt was negated by an offensive offsides penalty, leaving the score tied at 14 all.

A last-minute drive for Cabot ended when time expired with the Panthers driving at the Wolves’ 24-yard line.

A final toss to the end zone from Bloomberg to James fell incomplete as the horn sounded, and the two teams prepared to fight it out in OT.

Cabot won the overtime toss and chose to defend first, giving Lake Hamilton first possession. It only took a pair of five-yard runs from Bell to put the ball in the end zone to give the Wolves their first lead of the game. Bell made a critical error on the two-point attempt, however. After taking the handoff from Benson, he slipped as he attempted to cut to the left and fell at the 2-yard line.

A pair of runs from Spencer Neumann got the ball to the LH 4-yard line on Cabot’s overtime drive, but he fumbled the next handoff and had to fall on the ball at the 2-yard line.

Bloomberg called his own number on the final play, but the Wolves caught him as he ran to the left side and dropped him at the 1 to end the game.

Cabot finished the game with 128 yards of total offense. Lake Hamilton had 185 all-purpose yards, 148 of which came in the second half. The loss gave North a final record of 9-1. It was the first loss for the Panthers in 19 games.

SPORTS >>Bears get a score in fourth for upset win

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills scored 20 points in the final eight minutes to defeat Jonesboro in the season finale for both teams Thursday night.

Special to The Leader

Sylvan Hills ended their season with a big win over Jonesboro, knocking the Golden Hurricane out of playoff contention.

In a game where the Ron Sebastian led Bears could have packed it in for the season, they show-ed tremendous determination and scored all their points in the final eight minutes of the game to win 20-9. Sylvan Hills (4-6, 3-4) ends the season strong and finishes in 5th place in the 6A East Conference. Jonesboro (5-5, 3-4) finishes in 6th place.

Sylvan Hills surprised Jonesboro by recovering an onside kick to start the game. However, the Bears couldn’t capitalize and had to punt after going three and out. The Bears quarterback and punter Hunter Miller has missed the last several games after undergoing knee surgery. His absence was felt as the Bears got two false-start penalties on their opening drive, and had their punt blocked.

This gave Jonesboro excellent field position for their opening drive. Running back David Terrell carried the ball on eight of the Golden Hurricane’s 10 plays on the drive. This set up an 18-yard field goal for Carter Callahan.

Sylvan Hills had a nice drive on their next possession, but it stalled at the Jonesboro 19-yard line. The Jonesboro defensive line contained the Bears’ offense for all of the first half.

Late in the second quarter, Sylvan Hills fumbled at its own 34-yard line. The Bears’ defense looked like it was going to hold the Golden Hurricane, but Jonesboro was able to complete a big 11-yard pass play on fourth down that set up a six-yard touchdown run by Terrell. The extra point was no good and Jonesboro led 9-0 at the half.

Sylvan Hills came out moving the ball well in the second half. Two drives stalled in Hurricane territory, but they showed they could penetrate the tough Jonesboro defense.

Early in the fourth quarter the Bears finally reached the end zone. T.J. Shelton found Kenny Bir for a 26-yard touchdown reception. Shelton laid the ball out in front of Bir, Bir made a great fingertip catch at the 5-yard line, and he tiptoed down the sideline into the endzone. A failed two-point conversion pulled the Bears to within 9-6 with 8:02 remaining in the game.

“The touchdown pass just ignited the team,” said Bears coach Ron Sebastian. “From then on in we just completely controlled the game.” The Bears defense played its best eight minutes of the year.

After forcing Jonesboro to a three-and-out, Jeff Henderson took a pitch around the left side 66 yards for a touchdown with 6:39 to play in the game. A missed extra point made the Sylvan Hills’ lead 12-9.

The Bears’ defense came out again and pushed Jonesboro back to its own 1-yard line and forced a punt. Sylvan Hills ate up most of the remaining clock before Henderson scored on another pitch to the left side with 1:44 left in the game. Henderson added a two-point conversion and that made the final score 20-9.

Bears senior quarterback T.J. Shelton was focused. “I had to go out with a win. I wasn’t going out with a loss.”

Henderson finished with 113 yards rushing. Shelton had 57 yards rushing and 71 yards passing. Terrell led Jonesboro with 97 yards rushing and quarterback Delta Cleary had 16yards rushing and 41 yards passing.

“Our kids struggled in the first half,” said coach Sebastian. “Jonesboro ran the ball right at us. We asked our kids at halftime to make a few adjustments and go out and play hard and they responded.”

SPORTS >>Cabot closes with big victory

IN SHORT: The Panthers piled on the points and yards in a win over Russellville Thursday.

Leader sports writer

Cabot senior Colin Fuller made the very most of his final night wearing Panther red during Cabot’s 37-27 win over Russellville Thursday night at Panther Stadium. Fuller rushed for over 150 yards and two touchdowns, kicked a 37-yard field goal, intercepted two Russellville passes, along with his other duties of kicking off, punting, and returning kickoffs.

One of Fuller’s picks stopped a critical drive from the Cyclones.

Russellville drove into the Cabot red zone in the middle of the fourth quarter trailing 29-20, but a pass into the end zone from Cyc-lones QB Blake Humphery was read all the way by Fuller. After a couple of bobbles while falling to the ground, Fuller was finally able to secure the ball to give the Panthers the touchback, and more importantly end Russellville’s threat to score.

Each team found the end zone once more before the end of the contest, but good clock management from the Cabot offense late left little time for the Cyclones to mount a comeback.

Cabot coach Mike Malham says that despite not securing a playoff berth, his young but talented squad has impressed him this year.

“There really wasn’t a lot expected of them this year, and they won six ballgames,” Malham said. “We have seven guys out hurt right now that started at the first of the year. We started eight or nine sophomores tonight, and I’ll tell you what, they got after it.”

Malham also recognized Ful-ler’s tremendous efforts on the night.

“He returns the kicks and the punts; he kicks, he punts, he plays fullback. He probably had over 100 yards tonight I’m sure, and he had one or two interceptions,” Malham said. “He’s one of those seniors that we’re going to miss. He’s played both ways, and we’ve had to have him out there because we don’t have too many athletes like that.”

Russellville’s first possession to start the game stalled at the Cabot 40-yard line, but the Cyclones tried a fake punt on fourth down.

Josh Cloud took the snap, but was stuffed by junior defensive end Daniel Hillenburg. That gave Cabot the ball on downs, and the Panther offense went to work.

Cabot spent most of the night running the option. Quarterback Corey Wade took the ball 33 yards on a keep during the second play from scrimmage, moving the ball into Russellville territory.

A couple of short runs for Fuller moved the ball into the red zone, but it was a pass play that would seal the deal for the first Cabot score.

Wade found Raul Gault wide open in the left corner of the end zone for a 19-yard TD throw with 6:14 left in the first quarter.
Fuller added the extra point to put the Panthers up 7-0, but it wouldn’t take long for the Cyclones to answer.

Russellville took the ball at their own 32, but one play was all that was needed for a score. Cloud broke free to the right side, breaking a tackle at the Cabot 40-yard line to run in for a 68-yard touchdown run. The extra point tied the score at 7-7.

Fuller really started to flex his muscle on the final Cabot drive in the first quarter. Alec Tripp started the drive off with a pair of rushes; the second went for 35 yards to move deep into Cyclone territory.

Fuller took over from there, with a run for 11 yards to put the ball inside the 20, then ran down the left sideline, diving to hit the pylon with the ball from 12 yards out for the score.

His extra-point attempt was tipped by Russ-ellville, leaving the score at 13-7.

Fuller added three more points for Cabot before the end of the half, with a perfect 37-yard field goal off the left hash mark with 2:21 left in the second quarter.

Russellville managed another score right before halftime on a 10-yard TD pass from Humphrey to Nathan Cathcart with only 11 seconds left before the half. The extra-point narrowed Cabot’s lead to 16-14 at halftime.

Both teams added a touchdown to their total in the third quarter.

Cabot scored on a one-yard run from Tripp after Fuller moved the ball inside the 5-yard line on a 22-yard run. Tripp punched it in for his first TD all season with 5:54 left in the third.

Russellville’s next score would come through the air as well. Humphrey hit Derek Owens from 14 yards out for the score with 2:45 left in the third quarter.

The extra-point left Cabot with a slim 23-20 lead heading into the final quarter.

Fuller would score one more time on a three-yard run with 9:47 remaining, but his extra-point attempt was blocked once again, putting the Panthers up 29-20.

He then pulled the first of his two interceptions down in the Cabot end zone in what turned out to be the game-saving-play for the Panthers.

Cabot had one more good offensive highlight left.

Tripp broke loose on a run up the middle and took the ball 39 yards for the final Panthers’ score of the night with 4:09 left in the game. Humphrey added one more score for the Cyclones with a 17-yard TD pass to Madison Beard moments later, but it was not enough.

Russellville’s last march was stopped with another pick from Fuller as the clock expired, ending the night on an appropriate note.

Fuller led the Panthers with 29 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns, along with a 37-yard field goal and two interceptions.

Wade carried 10 times for 111 yards, and his only pass attempt was completed for a 19-yard touchdown. Tripp carried 12 times for 110 yards, two touchdowns and one fumble. For Russellville, Humphrey was 17 for 23 passing for 174 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The win ends Cabot’s season with a final record of 6-4.

SPORTS >>Settling for a share

IN SHORT: The Jacksonville football team lost to Marion Thursday to fall into a four-way tie for the 6A-East championship.

Leader sports editor

Despite a bad night all around, Jacksonville still had a chance to beat the Marion Patriots Thursday night. Unfortunately, four interceptions and numerous dropped passes were too much for the Red Devils to overcome, and the Patriots prevailed 23-20, creating a four-way tie for the conference championship that also left Jacksonville as the low man on the totem pole in the state playoff seedings.

As a result of the loss, the Red Devils fall all the way to the No. 4 seed from the 6A-East conference, and will have to travel to No. 1-ranked Texarkana in the first round of the playoffs.

The outlook was bleak as Jacksonville prepared to receive a kickoff with six minutes left trailing 23-14. But senior Justin Akins returned the kick 99 yards for a touchdown. The return gave Jacksonville the momentum, which it added to when Lee Robinson picked off a pass intended for Razorback commitment Jerry Franklin on Marion’s ensuing drive.

After a busted play from the Jacksonville 47 lost two yards, three incomplete passes gave Marion possession on the Red Devil 45 with 3:18 left in the game.

Jacksonville gave up one first down with a face mask penalty, and used all its timeouts on the next set of downs, until Marion was faced with fourth and two. Fullback Darcel Johnson carried left on a straight dive play, picking up the first down by just a couple of inches after measurement. All that was left was for Rawls to take a knee to run out the clock and preserve the victory.

Jacksonville got the ball to start the game and its first drive was a thing of beauty. It took 13 plays for the Devils to march 80 yards, and they did almost exclusively through the air.

Quarterback Daniel Hubbard completed six-of-nine attempts for 74 yards on the drive, including a five-yarder to Marcus King for the score with 7:33 left in the first quarter.

Marion marched down field on its first drive as well, but in different fashion. The Patriots bulled their way to the Jack-sonville 10 before Jacksonville’s Nick Wilson knocked the ball from the grasp of Marion fullback Dominique Bettes and Cameron Hood recovered.

Jacksonville started at its own 9, and picked up 43 yards before being forced to punt on fourth and nine.

Marion went down the field again on its second drive, only this time on the strength of two long pass plays. The first came on third and three when quarterback Austin Rawls hit Franklin for a 31-yard pickup to the Jack-sonville 45. Four plays and 12 yards later, Rawls found receiver Taylor Williams for a 27-yard gain that set up first and goal at the 6. On the next play, Johnson rumbled in for the score to tie the game.

For the rest of the half, Hubbard was under constant pressure, as the Patriots began blitzing the house. Marion defensive lineman Nathan Goodwin sacked Hubbard twice on the next drive, once for an 18-yard loss and again for minus-six yards.
A bad punt gave Marion good position near midfield, but the drive ended harmlessly for Jacksonville as a 38-yard field-goal attempt flew wide left.

It was only a temporary setback, as Hubbard, again under pressure, threw an attempted screen pass into the hands of Dustin Cook, who returned it to the Jacksonville 11.

After a false start and a screen pass for minus-three yards, Marion faced third and 17. Rawls found Franklin again on the next play for 18 yards to give the Patriots the lead heading into halftime.

Jacksonville got one more drive, and moved from its own 5-yard line to the Marion 38 when a shot at the end zone was picked off by Franklin. He returned it to midfield before being brought down with two seconds left in the half.

Jacksonville’s defense was much better in the second half, stopping Marion for three and out on the first drive. Jacksonville gave it right back when Goodwin picked Hubbard off on the Red Devils’ first play of the half.

Starting at the Jacksonville 21, Marion picked up just six yards before hitting a 32-yard field goal to go up 17-7 with 7:46 left in the third quarter.

Jacksonville’s next drive lasted just 53 seconds before punting. Marion hit one 33-yard pass and broke a 22-yard run to the JHS 24. The Patriots again got inside the Jacksonville 10 only to fumble it away.

Jacksonville’s next drive was a two-yard run and two incomplete passes that took just 50 seconds off the clock.
In all, Jacksonville held the ball for only 2:38 of the third quarter and totaled 26 yards.

The Red Devils had the ball to start the fourth, and put together another 80-yard drive to cut the margin to 17-14 with 10:34 left in the game.

With a sense of urgency mounting, Jacksonville went for it on fourth and 4 from their own 40, calling a draw play to Akins.
Akins was hit by two Marion defenders well short of the first down, but kept his feet moving and broke free for 32 yards to the Patriot 28.

Marcus King then made a 20-yard reception for first and goal. After two incompletions, Rob-inson ran it around the left side for eight yards and the score.

The Red Devil defense held and forced a punt, but Hubbard was picked off for the third time on the ensuing possession, giving the Patriots the ball on the Jacksonville 26, and setting up Franklin’s 24-yard touchdown catch that preceded Akins’ big return.

Marion finished with 390 total yards to 265 for Jacksonville.
Hubbard completed 18 of 42 attempts for 214 yards. Akins carried eight times for 45 yards while Robinson carried six times for 30 yards.

King led the Red Devils in receiving with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson led Marion with 19 carries for 108 yards. Franklin caught three passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.

OBITUARIES >> 11-4-06

Raymond Archer
S. Raymond Archer, 79, of Beebe passed away Nov. 2.

He served in the Navy and Air Force during the Second World War and attended Arkansas State Teachers College. His career was spent in administrative and supervisory positions. His interests included golf, woodwork, antique-clock restoration and he mastered a variety of crafts and hobbies.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Wanda Jackson Archer; daughter, Abigail Archer of Honey Brook, Penn.; sons, Ray Archer, Jr. of Norcross, Georgia, Brad Archer and his wife Ami of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Curt Archer of Beebe.

Raymond also leaves three sisters, Minnie Chivers and Lou Ellen Beatty, both of Lonoke, and Norma Jean and husband Edward Morris of Keo; and a brother, Kenneth and wife Linda Archer of Sheridan.

Family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice Foundation, Inc., 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or First United Methodist Church, 302 N. Main, Beebe, Ark. 72012.

Shirley Higgins
Shirley Sue Higgins, 70, of Jacksonville passed away Oct. 31, in Jacksonville.  

She was born July 4, 1936 in Bramer, Mo., to the late Charlie and Ethyl Whitworth Simpkins.  

She was also preceded in death by a brother, Charles Ray Simpkins; and her daughter, Stacie Jo Summers in 1993.
She is survived by her loving husband of 51 years, Harold J. Higgins of the home; three sons and daughters-in-law, Jimmy and Karen Higgins, Kenneth and Denise Higgins, all of Lonoke, and Butch and Linda Higgins of Farmington, Mo.; two sisters, Sharon Thompson of Hamilton, Mo., and Marilee McCracken of Chillicothe, Mo.; two brothers, Bill Simpkins of Jacksonville, and Bob Simpkins of Ward; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville.  

Thomas Beazley
Thomas Alonzo Beazley, 81, of Ward passed away Oct. 30, in Little Rock. He was born Sept. 15, 1925 to the late Lonnie D. and Marlowe C. Simpkins Beazley in Nashville, Tenn.

He was preceded in death by his son, John Thomas Beazley.

He served with the Marines during the Second World War and fought on the beaches of Normandy. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Jacksonville, an avid reader and a nature lover who spent his life in harmony with other living creatures.

Survivors include his daughter, Christine B. Long and her husband Robert of Ward; three sisters, Agnes Moore of Calif., Marie Collison of Jacksonville and Irene Garland of Cabot; a brother, Edward Beazley of Jacksonville; a grandson, Thomas Sangretoro; numerous nieces and nephews as well as his long time “drinking friends.”

Private family services will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Dorothy Hooper
Dorothy Mae Reddin Hooper, 86, of Beebe died Nov. 1. She was born July 23, 1920 at Warren to Isaac Jordan and Maria Baker Reddin.

She was a charter member of Beebe Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband, Odie Martin Hooper; her parents; brothers, Troy, Hollis, Oliver “Dick” and Jesse Reddin; sisters, Hassie Smith and Jewel Smith; and great-grandson, T. J. Hooper.

She is survived by five children, Clay “Charles” and wife Pearl Hooper of Elgin, S.C., Dewaine and wife Mabel Hooper of Beebe, Roy and wife Anita Hooper of Beebe, Phyllis and husband Fred Davis of Jacksonville and Sue and husband Gene Bibbs of Beebe; 11 grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

EDITORIALS>>Second-tier choices

Arkansas voters take lightly the races for the minor constitutional offices and who can blame them? The political parties do not take them seriously or else they would field more estimable candidates.

Aside from attorney general, the second-tier officers — secretary of state, treasurer, auditor and land commissioner — have only ministerial duties.

They and their staffs keep official records and carry out bureaucratic functions that are narrowly prescribed by law.

In any other governmental system they would be mid-level bureaucrats who would be hired under a merit program, but our 1874 Constitution prescribes that the offices be filled by election and we still do.

So does it really make any difference whom we elect to all those offices? Yes, some. Even record-keeping offices need to be run by someone who is competent and honest.

That is often hard to divine unless they have been in the office, so we find ourselves measuring the candidates by how they campaign for the little offices.

The attorney general, the government’s chief legal officer, is an important officeholder because he advises everyone from the governor to justices of the peace on their legal obligations.

He is supposed to defend the public’s interest in utility-rate cases and in other regulatory matters, and he (or she) automatically becomes the default candidate for governor or United States senator in the next election.

State Rep. Dustin McDaniel won a hotly contested primary race for the Democratic nomination.

His opponents are former state Rep. Gunner DeLay, the Republican candidate, and Rebekah Kennedy, a Fort Smith lawyer, who carries the banner for the Green Party.

Faithful to the family name (he is related to former U.S. House Speaker Tom DeLay), Gunner DeLay has run the nastiest campaign in a season of low politics. McDaniel has spent much of his time correcting fabrications by DeLay’s campaign.

So far right has DeLay lurched that his natural cheerleader in the conservative media, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, had to endorse McDaniel — enthusiastically! It has been that kind of year for the Democrat Gazette, which ordinarily has no brief for a Democratic politician.

McDaniel is bright, articulate and progressive. He has too often carried water for big development interests in the legislature — he is the author of the tax-increment-financing law, a bonanza for big developers — but it is an aberration in a generally fine record.

Like 99 percent of other voters, we had never heard of Rebekah Kennedy, who was put up by the Green Party when it won the right to the ballot. In the televised debate among the three, she was the most candid and straightforward.

She did not pander and she did not mince words. We like that in our general counsel.

So we could vote for either Dustin McDaniel or Rebekah Kennedy for attorney general.

The others are easier.

Charlie Daniels is running for a second term as secretary of state, opposed by Jim Lagrone, a Baptist preacher who hopes to follow in the footsteps of Rev. Mike Huckabee.

Lagrone’s campaign has consisted almost entirely of blaming Daniels for the recurring problems with voting machines and ballot counting in a number of counties. But Daniels is not responsible for either the national epidemic of voting problems or for those of a number of Arkansas counties.

The secretary of state is the official state voting registrar, but elections are conducted by counties, not the secretary of state. Lagrone’s biggest blunder was denouncing Daniels because Lagrone’s son couldn’t get his ballot counted in Saline County in the last election while he was fighting in Iraq.

What a cad, denying our fighting men their vote! But it turned out that Lagrone was lying. His son was in Mississippi, not Iraq, and that Daniels had done everything he could to get soldiers’ votes counted. Lagrone denounced the “liberal media” (the Democrat Gazette!) for uncovering the lie.

Charlie Daniels is the choice for secretary of state.

Until last week, we had forgotten that State Rep. Martha A. Shoffner, the Democratic candidate for state treasurer, had an opponent. Chris Morris is his name. He is a highly paid aide to Gov. Huckabee, or was. Huckabee fired him last week for using equipment and his taxpayer-paid time in the governor’s office to campaign.

We know little else about Chris Morris, but that is enough. Martha Shoffner is experienced and knowledgeable on state fiscal matters and we support her.

In the other two offices, Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox is opposed by Green Party candidate R. David Lewis, and state Auditor Jim Wood is opposed by the Greens’ Michael Joseph Bolzenius. The Greens have said little and done no campaigning. Take your choice.

EDITORIALS>>It’s Marion Berry again

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, who represents the First District, is the only character in Arkansas’ staid congressional delegation. His cornpone diction and colorful terms embarrass a few people who think our agents in the marble halls should be men of greater sophistication.

But Berry is about right on the urbanity scale. He is tough, outspoken and he fights for his district’s peculiar interests, especially farmers.

He has distinguished himself in the losing fight to scale back the power of the drug manufacturers in setting national health policy, most pointedly in the drafting of the Medicare prescription-drug program.

Arkansas families will be better served if the Democrats win a majority in both houses next week and Medicare can be overhauled. If that happens, Berry will be one of the architects, and that is good.

In this election, Berry has his most energetic opponent since his first race, Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.

The mayor gave the congressman a good fight in their lone debate last week, but we were disappointed with his sportsmanship. He attacked Berry for getting personal in debates on the House floor, mentioning a particularly raucous debate on the budget when Berry referred to a redheaded young Republican congressman from Florida as a “Howdy Doody-looking nimrod,” to the apparent delight of both sides of the aisle. The characterization made national news.

Stumbaugh thought Berry had crossed the line. Then he charged that Berry was a public drunk and womanizer. It was not Stubby’s finest hour.

Berry has raised more than $1 million — about 15 times as much as Stubby, who was pushed into the race by national Repub-licans. They’ve given him $3,000, a pittance.

Marion Berry has earned another term.

EVENTS>>Fall 2006

There will be a general membership luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Community Center. Col. Scott Lockard, Little Rock Air Force Base 314th Support Group Commander, will speak. Lunch is available for $10 per person. Jacksonville’s holiday lighting ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 at city hall. The Christmas Parade will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2.

Capt. Johnny Bradley with the Jacksonville Fire Department will speak on Fire and Holiday Safety in the Home at the regular monthly meeting of the Jacksonville Chapter of AARP on Friday. A pot luck dinner begins at 6 p.m., followed by the program. AARP meetings are held at the Jacksonville Senior Center (south entrance) and everyone 50 years of age and over is invited to visit and join.

Grace Chapel Church in Lonoke hosts the Gospel Harmony Singers from Little Rock performing at 7 p.m. tonight. The Sons Family, southern gospel singers, will perform at the church at 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call Pastor Willie Gold at 501-676-3572.

The Cabot Relay for Life will have a planning meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 behind the Bank of the Ozarks, 615 W. Main St. in Cabot.

YANA, a support group for parents of special needs children, will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at First Baptist Church in Cabot. Speakers will be members of the Arkansas Special Education Mediation Project of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law. There will be sampling of toys appropriate for special needs children. Deadline for childcare reservation is Monday, Nov. 6. For childcare reservations, call 605-8668 or e-mail

The Cabot Relay for Life will have a planning meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6 behind the Bank of the Ozarks, 615 W. Main St. in Cabot.

The Jacksonville Chapter 1597 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) will meet Thursday, Nov. 9 at the Bar B Que Shack, 1000 Hwy. 61 S. in Jacksonville. Speaker will be Garrick Feldman, editor and publisher of The Leader.

Deadline for the 49th annual Jacksonville Christmas Parade sign-up is Nov. 15. The parade will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2. The theme this year is “Stars of Christmas.” The categories are float, decorated vehicle and precision marching group. For more information call 982-1511.
Zion Hill Baptist Church, 11923 Zion Hill Rd. in Cabot, is hosting its annual fall festival at 4:30 p.m. today in the fellowship hall. There will be games and a hayride weather permitting; hot dogs and frito chili pies will be served at 7 p.m. Children may wear costumes. No occult themes. For more information call the church office at 988-4989.

Boyd Veterinary Clinic, at 300 John Harden Drive in Jacksonville is having its third annual Happy Halloweenie pet costume contest at 12:30 p.m. today. There will be prizes for best costumes, gift bags and treat bags for all children.

First Baptist Church of Jacksonville is hosting “Changing the Way I Look Changes My World,” a women’s conference, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at 401 N. First St. Tickets are $10 and include lunch.

The Lonoke County Literacy Council will host a luncheon honoring students, tutors and volunteers at 10:30 a.m. today at the Lonoke Train Depot. For more information, call 676-7478.

The Ward Fall Festival will be held today from 5 to 7 p.m. at the municipal complex. All carnival games will be one ticket. Tickets are a quarter each or five for $1 and are available at the door. There will also be fall portraits available for $3. For more information contact the Ward Water Office at 843-7686. All proceeds from the event will go towards the Ward Annual Egg Hunt.

An Asian festival will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Jacksonville Buddha Vanaram at 1410 Hwy. 294 near Furlow to raise money to support Asian community activities. Lunch will include traditional Asian dishes such as chicken, lumpia, papaya salad, sweet rice and vegetables. There will be a Jr. Miss Asia festival for girls 16 and under. For more information, call 231-8116 or the temple at 676-5099.

The gospel group Pardoned will be in concert at Runyan First Baptist Church, 10611 Jacksonville-Cato Road, at 6 p.m., Sunday.

Grandpa’s Bar-B-Q in Searcy is selling $5 smoked chickens, fully cooked and wrapped, to benefit the Lonoke County Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Orders are being taken by calling 279-0013 or 676-5652. Purchase and pick-up will be from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Cabot. All funds will be matched at 150 percent to help single Lonoke County parents attending college.

The Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department will have its semi-annual fish fry from 4 to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4. Catfish, chicken and homemade desserts will be on the menu. The fish fry will be held at Station 2 located on Hwy. 236 E. Proceeds will go to the fire department. For more information call Betty Austin at 676-0193 or Linda Baldwin at 843-3336.

There will be a Christmas Beauty Pageant at noon Saturday, Nov. 4 at Lonoke High School. For more information contact 541-2177 or 831-2715.

The Cabot School District will host a Business/Industry Partnership Council meeting from 11 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Nov. 8 in the professional development center in the district administration building. A light lunch will be provided. This is an informational meeting on how local businesses and industries can get involved in the district’s 13 career and technical programs. For more information contact Robert Martin at 843-3363.

TOP STORY >>Quirk in rezoning law kills townhouse project

IN SHORT: Emma Knight, a member of the Jacksonville Planning Commission and a former alderman, threatened to resign if the city council approved a controversial housing plan, which lacked a two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Leader staff writer

Some Jacksonville aldermen knew three weeks ago that the council had improperly passed a rezoning ordinance, which would have allowed three acres of townhouses to be built, before the snafu was publicly announced Thursday night.

The death of the project, part of a larger development on the south side of West Main near Emma Street, pleased planning commissioner Emma Knight, who threatened to quit the commission if the council approved the rezoning over the commission’s objections.

Knight, who learned Friday evening from The Leader that the rezoning failed, said, “I will remain on the commission, and you won’t hear another word from me on this issue.”

A statement Alder-man Bob Stroud read to the council and a packed chamber of residents Thursday said, “On Wednesday, prior to the Oct. 20 city council meeting, certain members of the council became aware of an obscure paragraph in the ‘Handbook for Arkansas Municipal Officials’ that purports to require a two-thirds vote of the entire membership in order to overturn certain zoning decisions.”

Because of that requirement, Stroud pulled the rezoning request, which was set for its third and final reading, from the Oct. 20 meeting without any explanation.

When Aldermen Terry Sansing and Gary Fletcher tried to get a public explanation, Stroud refused, and Mayor Tommy Swaim would only say that the ordinance was pulled according to the rules of order.

“After careful consideration,” Stroud continued, “the city attorney’s opinion is that it takes seven out of ten members of the council to overturn a disapproval of certain zoning action.”

The planning commission at its Sept. 11 meeting soundly turned down the rezoning request by local developer Tim McClurg to rezone a three-acre portion of the 26 acres he was planning to develop for the purpose of building 35 townhouses on West Main near Emma Street. McClurg had also planned to build 25 single homes between Emma Street and the townhouses.
McClurg then appealed the decision, which is his right, to the city council and Stroud sponsored the ordinance asking for the rezoning to be approved.

Stroud said he felt the planning commission erred in its decision to turn down the rezoning. He said the commission turned it down under the verbal assault of a few misinformed citizens and made no effort to compromise with the developer or make any further attempt at studying the issue.

At the Sept. 21 council meeting, the rezoning ordinance seemingly passed Sept. 21 by a 5-4 vote.

Stroud, along with aldermen Kevin McCleary, Reedie Ray, Bill Howard and Kenny Elliott, voted fand Gary Fletcher tried to get a public explanation, Stroud refused, and Mayor Tommy Swaim would only say that the ordinance was pulled according to the rules of order.

“After careful consideration,” Stroud continued, “the city attorney’s opinion is that it takes seven out of ten members of the council to overturn a disapproval of certain zoning action.”

The planning commission at its Sept. 11 meeting soundly turned down the rezoning re-quest by local developer Tim McClurg to rezone a three-acre portion of the 26 acres he was planning to develop for the purpose of building 35 townhouses on West Main near Emma Street. McClurg had also planned to build 25 single homes between Emma Street and the townhouses.
McClurg then appealed the decision, which is his right, to the city council and Stroud sponsored the ordinance asking for the rezoning to be approved.

Stroud said he felt the planning commission erred in its decision to turn down the rezoning. He said the commission turned it down under the verbal assault of a few misinformed citizens and made no effort to compromise with the developer or make any further attempt at studying the issue.

At the Sept. 21 council meeting, the rezoning ordinance seemingly passed by a 5-4 vote.

Stroud, along with aldermen Kevin Mc-Cleary, Reedie Ray, Bill Howard and Kenny Elliott, voted for it, while Sansing and Fletcher, along with aldermen Marshall Smith and Avis Twitty, voted against it.

Alderman Linda Rinker was absent for the first vote and the mayor did not vote.

The council approved it a second time on Oct. 5 by a 6-4 vote with Rinker joining the yes side.

Thursday night, Stroud said, “Unless at least one of the four dissenting members is willing to repent, this ordinance will not be placed on its third and final reading tonight.”

“Repent?” Sansing said, laughing.

None of the aldermen changed their mind, and that killed the ordinance, meaning the townhouses will not be built, at least at that location.

City Attorney Robert Bamburg apologized to the council and residents for not realizing at the first reading in September that seven votes were needed. “My wife says I sometimes have a problem with thinking I know it all. This time I definitely didn’t.
“In all my years working with the council this is only the second time I’ve made a mistake on voting requirements,” Bamburg said.

The council amended its Sept. 21 minutes to show that the ordinance did not pass on the first reading. Its Oct. 5 minutes will reflect that the ordinance passed but the vote was null and void.

Bamburg said the council now needs to work at becoming a cohesive unit again, as the rezoning issue caused a great divide.
During the first and second readings, the council chambers were packed with residents who lived near the planned townhouses who spoke against the plan. Some city leaders, like the chamber’s executive director, spoke for it.

On the council, Smith said he had been in his seat for 26 years and had never gone against the planning commission and wasn’t going to on this issue.

Planning Commissioner Emma Knight told the mayor and the council at the Oct. 5 meeting that she would resign if the issue passed.

“I sell upscale homes,” she said at that meeting. “These townhouses are not upscale. I don’t think this is the best plan for Jacksonville. We do not need these.

“I will resign, mayor, if this passes,” she said.

Knight said the townhouses have been touted as great retirement homes, but in a survey of people aged 50 and older she conducted, “no one wanted to live in them.”

Later Knight called it a trust issue.

“The council entrusted us to make decisions, and now they don’t trust us.” She said when “you don’t trust someone you should replace them or have them go away.”

She plans to go away. “I’ve got too many other meetings and commitments,” she added.

Knight said that the commission covered all the issues involved or connected with this rezoning—traffic, wetlands, drainage, flooding density of dwellings, along with the number of local residents demanding “that we protect them.”
“It was not a hard decision, not a close decision,” she said.

When the third reading of the ordinance, set for Oct. 20, was pulled without explanation, more accusations were fired off.
Stroud pulled the ordinance from the agenda, and with two supporters absent, it gave the appearance of impropriety. The mayor said the ordinance was pulled according to the rules of order. But aldermen Gary Fletcher and Terry Sansing still wanted to know why.

Stroud would not explain at that meeting.

“I just felt that we weren’t taking care of the people’s business, but taking care of political business,” Fletcher said after the ordinance was pulled.

He added that “we are too small to be divided. We need to get back to being one city.”

Fletcher said the people who have attended the many meetings on this issue were entitled to an explanation. “I don’t know if the public has ever been put out this much,” he said.

Stroud said Thursday night that he deeply regretted the rancor, intimidation and animosity exhibited in the council chamber during the past few weeks.

“I am equally sorry that Jacksonville appears to have lost a unique and much-needed housing development that would have been both an asset and a great benefit to the needs of our entire city,” he said.

“Most members of this council are painfully aware that if Jacksonville is to progress as it should, we must improve our schools, broaden the commercial and retail business base and upgrade housing for all citizens,” Stroud said. “And the first two are not likely to happen before we take care of the third.”

Regarding the verbiage that killed the townhouse plan that he supported, Stroud said, “This is a strange little quirk in Arkansas law and an oversight that will be dealt with.”

TOP STORY >>Stumbaugh war chest is just $85,154

Leader staff writer

If the winner of a congressional race is determined by the size of the war chest, then Cabot Mayor Mickey Darrin “Stubby” Stumbaugh has reason to worry.

Campaign contributions records, which had to be filed by Oct. 15 with the Federal Election Commission, show Stumbaugh is far behind Cong. Marion Berry in money collected for their 1st Con-gressional District race.

Stumbaugh, a Republican, has run his “People before Politics” campaign on just $85,154 in contributions, a fraction of the amount he said he would need to get to Washington.

In contrast, Berry, the Demo-crat who has held the office for 10 years, has amassed $1.2 million — or nearly 15 times what Stum-baugh has raised. The Cabot mayor has received almost nothing from the national Republican congressional campaign or political-action committees.

Most of the money Stumbaugh has collected, $71,996, came from individuals.

Republican committees contributed $3,800, and non-party political action committees gave $6,770. The information about Stumbaugh’s campaign contributions and the campaign contributions of all candidates for national office can be found on the Web site for the Federal Election Commission.

The site contains not only the amounts collected by candidates but also the names and addresses of contributors. For example, Stumbaugh’s contributors included 10 Cabot residents who together gave $5,759 to his campaign. The most generous among his Cabot supporters was Kenneth Williams, who gave $2,000.

Berry’s support was split almost evenly between individuals, who gave $614,530, and PACs, which gave $608,825.
Party contributions added another $10,909 to Berry’s re-election fund, which already contained $171,975 before the campaign started.

Stumbaugh said at the beginning of his campaign that he believed he could win with $500,000 to $750,000.
But Berry said it takes a minimum of $1.1 million to mount a credible campaign.

Stumbaugh started with nothing in August, when he announced his decision to run and had raised $16,462 by Sept. 30. Berry, serving his fifth term in office, started with $171,975 and raised $378,375 by Sept. 30.

Of that amount, $211,100 came from about 130 political action committees and other similar groups and the balance came from individuals.

Federal law requires that candidates report the names of individuals who contribute $200 or more.
So far, 20 individuals meet that requirement for Stumbaugh’s campaign.

Of that number, most contributed $500 to $1,000.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Vic Snyder, the Democratic incumbent, also has outdistanced Andy Mayberry, his Republican opponent, in campaign contributions.

Snyder has raised $596,283 for his campaign compared to Mayberry’s $94,488.

In a breakdown of Snyder’s contributions, $381,963 came from individuals, $204,264 came from PACs and $9,250 came from Democratic Party committees.

Mayberry borrowed $15,000, but most of his campaign has been financed by individuals, who contributed $76,439. PACs contributed $1,600.

TOP STORY >>Red Baron returns home

IN SHORT: Former Jacksonville resident performs with aerial group this weekend at base.

Leader staff writer

Travis Aukes moved to Illinois from Jacksonville when he was 11 years old. His father was a crop duster, so it was no surprise that Aukes got his pilot’s license at age 16. His dream as a teenager was to fly with the Red Baron Squadron.

This weekend, Aukes, who now lives in Aledo, Ill., returns home to perform at Airpower Arkansas, the Little Rock Air Force Base air show, as slot pilot for the Red Baron Squadron.

This will be the first time he has performed at the Little Rock Air Force Base air show.

“Jacksonville hasn’t changed at all,” Aukes said. “It brings back a lot of memories.”

He requested to perform at this year’s show well ahead of time. “I was looking forward to it,” he said. His parents, Bob and Beth Aukes, live at Mt. Ida, and most of his family still lives here in Arkansas. Several family members are planning on coming to the show. He has flown with each of his four brothers, who are also pilots.

During the 1980s, one brother was a crew chief for the Red Barons. When the opportunity arose, Aukes tried out and landed a spot on the team. He has been flying with the Red Barons since 1992.

“It’s been a dream ever since,” he said.

As slot pilot, Aukes flies in the last position in formation.

The Red Barons fly open-cockpit biplanes, known as Stearman-made planes.

They were used by the Navy to train pilots to fly during WWII. The one Aukes flies came off the assembly line April 20,1943, and was built by Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kan.

Aukes has more than 20 years of flight experience and has flown more than 5,500 flight hours. The team will perform Saturday and Sunday.

TOP STORY >>Weekend air show

IN SHORT: Air Force flexes military muscle this weekend.

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base plans for 150,000 people to pass through the gates during this weekend’s air show.

Last year, more than 150,000 attended the base’s 50th anniversary air show. Temperatures for this weekend’s air show at Little Rock Air Force Base are predicted to be in the mid-60s, with clouds and possible showers on Sunday.

More military aircraft will be on display and performing at this show compared to previous years. The gates for the air show open at 8:30 a.m. and the planes take to the air at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute team opens the show on both days with aerial skills and precision landings. Each member is a qualified jumpmaster and instructor in the Air Force Academy parachuting program.

Following the Wings of Blue is a demonstration of LRAFB’s very own C-130J cargo aircraft, the newest version of the Hercules. LRAFB has seven of the $65 million planes. The C130J is 15 feet longer than previous models. When it is parked, the plane can easily be identified by its uniquely curved propellers.

Afterwards, a native of Arkansas, Mike Rinker will take to the air in “Pink Floyd,” a Russian built Sukhoi SU-26.

The F-16 Viper East Demonstration Team located at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. will follow Rinker. The F-16 performing at the show is one of the operational fighters from the 20th Fighter Wing.

The Shockwave Jet Truck will be having two performances each day, streaking down tarmac at 300 mph. The modified Peterbilt has a spot in the Guinness Book of World for reaching 376 mph.

A B-52 Stratofortress will fly by just before the Canadian Air Force’s CF-18 aerial demonstration. The CF-18 is similar to the F-18 Hornet used by the Navy Blue Angels. The Canadian version of the F-18 incorporates a sky-blue underside of the fuselage to confuse an opponent in the heat of a dogfight as to which side is up.

John Melby, a former loadmaster from LRAFB, will perform in his Pitts bi-plane followed by an F-117 Nighthawk flyby.
LRAFB’s older C-130s will take part in the show with a cargo drop demonstration by dropping heavy equipment, cargo and approximately 400 paratroopers with the 82 Airborne, Fort Bragg, N. C. The paratroopers will load up and be flown back to North Carolina in a C-17 Globemaster.

Retired Navy pilot Capt. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass will fly a F-86 Sabre with the F-15 East Strike Eagle and F-16 Viper demonstration teams as an Air Combat Command heritage flight.

The Red Baron Pizza Squadron performs in vintage Boeing Stearman biplanes built between 1941 and 1943. The eight planes of the squadron will fly in formation less than a wingspan apart while performing aerobatic maneuvers such as loops, clover leafs, avalanches and barrel rolls.

On Saturday only, a B-1 Lancer bomber will fly over before the E-2C Hawkeye reconnaissance aircraft demonstration.
Melby will take to the skies again, flying low over the tarmac to race the ShockWave Jet Truck just before the F-16 Viper “Fire and Fury” demonstration.

The Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornet aerial demonstration team is the featured performance for the show, tentatively scheduled to fly at 2:45 p.m. both days. This year has marked the Blue Angels 60th year of performing during air shows. The biggest member of the Navy Blue team is a Lockheed Martin C-130T Hercules, known as Fat Albert Airlines. The plane has jet-assisted take-off (JATO) capability with eight solid-fuel rocket bottles, four on each side, attached near the rear paratrooper doors. Fired simultaneously, the JATO bottles allow the transport aircraft to take off within 1,500 feet, climb at a 45-degree angle, and propel it to an altitude of 1,000 feet in approximately 15 seconds. The Fat Albert joined the Blue Angels team in 1970 and flies more than 140,000 miles each season. It carries more than 40 maintenance and support personnel, their gear and enough spare parts and communication equipment to complete a successful air show.

The Blue Angels demonstration lasts about an hour and a half.

Spectators will also get a chance to get up-close and personal with static displays of both modern and vintage military aircraft and the crewmembers that fly them.

All visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. Due to security restrictions, recreational vehicles will not be allowed on base. No coolers, pets, backpacks, skates of any kind or large bags are allowed at the air show.

Due to safety concerns, there will be designated smoking areas. Lawn chairs and folding chairs are allowed. For more information about the air show visit

TOP STORY >>Tuesday is D-Day as votes are cast

IN SHORT: Early voting continues until Election Day, when final tallies are counted.

Leader staff writer

Long lines formed all day Friday as people took advantage of the final days of early voting in the area.
Lonoke County Clerk Prudie Percifull said 2,950 people had voted in the county by Friday afternoon, including 1,800 at the old Community Bank in Cabot.

In Jacksonville, 2,159 residents had cast early votes at city hall, and 2,726 had cast votes at Sherwood’s senior center.
Early voting continues Saturday in Jacksonville and Cabot and at the courthouses, but on Monday, the only place to cast votes will be at the county courthouses.

Lonoke County
In addition to the Republican incumbents facing challenges in two countywide law-enforcement races in Lonoke County and the contest for the county clerk’s office, being vacated by Percifull, voters will help decide statewide offices and two ballot initiatives.

Former deputy prosecutor Tim Blair, a Democrat, is challenging Prosecutor Lona McCastlain, a Republican.
Democrat Charlie Martin, the former sheriff, is challenging Sheriff Jim Roberson, a Republican.Republican Cassandra Pitts, who works in Roberson’s sheriff’s office, faces off against Dawn Porterfield, who works in Percifull’s office.

In the only other contested countywide election, Republican incumbent surveyor Samuel E. Smith is de-fending his seat against Democrat William “Randy” Gipson.

Running unopposed for countywide office are County Judge Charlie Troutman, Circuit Clerk Deborah Oglesby, Assessor Jerry D. Adams, Treasurer Karol DePriest and Coroner Sherry Stracener—all incumbents and Democrats, and Democrat Patricia McCallie, for collector.

Democrat Larry Ridgeway will try to regain his old Lonoke County Quorum Court seat from Republican J.P. Jannette Minton.
Alexis Malham, a Republican, defends her District 6 J.P. seat from Democrat Chris R. Skinner and from Harry Roderick, an independent.

In the Dist. 12 race, Republican Casey VanBuskirk faces Patty Knox, a Democrat.
All other Lonoke County Quorum Courts seats are unopposed.

Alderman Wayne McGee is unopposed for Lonoke mayor.
On the city council, incumbent Democrat Phillip Howell faces independent challenger Shane Whitehurst.
Robert (Bob) Combs-R, Wendell Walker-I and Kenneth Pasley-R, will face off in the only other contested city council race.
All other city races are unopposed.

Republican Eddie Joe Wil-liams, independents James R. Glenn, David Polantz and Kenny Ridgeway square off in a four-way race to replace Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.

Independent Clinton D. McGue and Republican Jimmy Taylor are vying for city attorney.

In the races for alderman, here’s who is running:
Ward 1, Position 1, John W. Johnson and Eddie Long, both independents.
Ward 2, Position 1, Michael A. Burton, an independent, and Republican Virgil O. Teague, Jr.
Ward 3, Position 1, incumbent Tom Armstrong is challenged by Bruce L. “Ernie” Ernst. Both men are independents.
Ward 3, Position 2, independent Nancy Cohea is running against Teri Miessner, a Republican.
Ward 4, Position 1, incumbent Odis Waymack faces Becky Lemaster. Both are independents.
Ward 2, Position 2, Robert L. Helton, Lisa Brickell and Thomas Standley face off in a three-way race. All are independents.

In Austin’s nonpartisan elections, incumbent Mayor Bernie Chamberlain faces Barry D. Weathers II and Jeremy C. Reed.
For Austin City Council, in Ward 2, Position 2, Christopher L. Dawson faces Michawn David and in Ward 2, Position 5, Tammy Williams faces Sandra Kay Chambers.

In Ward, Mayor Art Brooke faces challenges from Bill Boyd, former Alderman Donnie Rouse, and J.S. “Buford” McClendon.
In contested city council races, incumbent Ginger Tarno faces Don Harris, Marrice Jackson faces John B. Harris and Murriel Seymour challenges Jeff Shaver.

In a three-way race for mayor, independents Ron (Yank) Wannemacker, Harold D. Reed and Ray Glover seek the seat vacated by Bob McCallie.

Curtis Moody faces Leo Orton for Ward 1, Position 2.

Mayor Harold “Bill” Morris faces a challenge from Roger Oliver.

In Pulaski County 29,005 took advantage of early voting.

“It’s going really smoothly. Attendance has been steady and Friday was the first day we had lines,” said Pat O’Brien, Pulaski County Circuit Clerk.

“We’ve had a few small glitches, normal stuff like people with incorrect addresses,” O’Brien said.

In North Pulaski County, voters are chosing between County Judge Buddy Villines, a Democrat, is seeking his ninth term, or challenger Buddy York, a Repub-lican, a North Little Rock bail bondsman. Democrat Doc Holladay and DeWayne Graham, a Republican, face off in a contest to replace Sheriff Randy Johnson, who is retiring.

Alderman Dan Stedman is running against Mike Presson, a restaurant owner, to succeed Mayor Bill Harmon.
City Clerk/Treasurer Virginia Hillman, faces a challenge from Sharon McMinn.

In Ward I, position 1, firefighter Robert Wallace challenges incumbent Becky Vassar. Greg Chastain and Charlie Harmon seek the Ward I, position 2 alderman seat.

There are no contested Jack-sonville city races.

In White County 4,957 cast ballots during early voting so far. There is a three-way battle for Lonoke County judge between independent candidate Dennis Gillam, Democrat Waylon Heath-scott and Republican Michael Lincoln.

White County Sheriff Pat Garrett, a Democrat, faces challengers Republican Ricky Shourd and independent candidate Edward Thornton.

The only other contested county race is for tax assessor between incumbent Debra Akers Lang-D and her Republican challenger Shane Sellers.

Incumbents running unopposed are Circuit Clerk Tami King, County Clerk Tanya Burleson, County Treasurer Janet Hibbitts and Coroner David Powell — all Republicans along with Democrat Sue Liles for collector.

Contested races for White County Quorum Court are Horace Taylor-D and Jerry Sites-R for District 1; incumbent Terry Adams-D and challenger Billy Young-R for District 4; incumbent Johney Gibson-D and challenger Danny Thomas-R for District 6, and incumbent Mike Cleveland-R and Jimmy Dale Smith, an independent for District 9.

The rest of the quorum court positions are uncontested.

Beebe voters will decide whether or not to double the size of the city through annexation.

Like most city elections, Beebe’s are nonpartisan.

Mike Robertson is running unopposed for mayor, replacing Donald Ward. Carol Crump-Westergren and Estela Gomez are competing for City Clerk/ Treasurer and three are running for the Ward 3, Position 1 alderman spot on the city council.
The candidates are John D. Johnson, Hermon Blackmon and Garland Kirkpatrick.

Uncontested races for Beebe include Harold Welch, Ward 1, Position 1; Janice Petray, Ward 1, Positon 2; Becky Sort, Ward 2, Position 1; Tracy Lightfoot, Ward 2, Position 1, and Les Cossey, Ward 3, Position2.

In McRae voters will choose between incumbent mayor Robert “Bob” Sullivan or David Newman. The only contested race for McRae city council is between independents Cecil “Mack” Davis and Shirley Cox for the Ward 1, Position 2 seat.
Other city council members are running unopposed.

In Searcy, there is a three-way race for mayor between incumbent Belinda LaForce-D; former alderman Dale Brewer-R and Phillip R. Williams, an independent candidate.

City Clerk and Treasurer Tommy Gowen-D, and incumbent City Attorney Buck C. Gibson-D, are running uncontested. There are races for three seats on the Searcy City Council.

JoAnn Ramsey-D, and Mike Chalenburg-R, are vying for the Ward 4, Position 2, alderman seat. Ward 3, Position 1, incumbent Dale English-D, is facing off against challenger Cindy Erwin-Barker-R, and incumbent Jackie Liles-R, is running against Dale Ellis-D.

The rest of the city council members are running without opposition.

TOP STORY >>Blue Angels to perform

IN SHORT: Navy’s aerial-demonstration team will show its stuff this afternoon and tomorrow at air base

Leader staff writer

Even if the weather is less than perfect for part of this weekend’s air show at Little Rock Air Force Base, all the pilots need is a 1,000-foot cloud ceiling and five miles of visibility, according to Lt. Commander Tom Winkler, a pilot with the Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration team.

“We can put on a show in weather a lot of people probably wouldn’t want to stand out in,” Winkler said Thursday afternoonafter the team rehearsed over Jacksonville.

“If there was bad weather we’d shorten the show by about 20 minutes by not doing some of the higher altitude maneuvers like the big loops,” Winkler said.

The Navy Blue Angels flight team has been entertaining audiences for 60 years before more than 414 million fans.
The $21 million F-18s flown by the Blue Angels are just like the ones on Navy aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf.
“In a war situation, an F-18 can be used for reconnaissance or air-to-air or air-to-ground combat,” Winkler said, standing beside the No. 3 Blue Angels plane.

Nine of the Blue Angels planes will be on the ground, but only six performing about mid-afternoon today and Sunday.
The three extra planes are used for media flights before each air show and if need be, a spare plane. A flock of spooked sparrows fled the airfield as the F-18 engines roared to life in stark contrast to the steady hum of LRAFB’s C-130 cargo planes.

“If we hit a bird while performing, depending on how much damage is done to the plane, we might keep performing, put the plane down and take one of the spares up or stop the show altogether,” Winkler said.

The Blue Angels planes are capable of reaching speeds of 1,500 mph. For the air show, the planes will fly at 700 mph and at the slowest speed they can manage, 100 mph.

Spectators don’t need to worry about missing one of the jets. Biodegradable paraffin oil is pumped into the exhaust nozzles of each plane and instantly becomes a smoke plume. The smoke provides a traceable path for spectators, so they can see the path of the planes.

It also enhances safety of flight by providing a valuable means by which the solo pilots can see each other during opposing maneuvers and conditions of lowered visibility or haze.

“All parts of being a Blue Angel and representing the Navy are good. The worst part I guess would be being away from home so much,” Winkler said. Most of the Blue Angels are in the program for two to three year stints.

“When I’m done doing this, I’ll go back to training F-18 pilots on aircraft carriers,” Winkler said.

Born in London, England, Winkler grew up in Washington and first entered the Navy in 1997. He has logged more than 1,800 flight hours and 302 carrier landings.

The Blue Angels team is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. most of the year.
The group spends January through March training pilots and new team members at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

EDITORIAL>>Halter for lite governor

Think about it this way. Neither Bill Halter nor Jim Holt will do much harm or much good when they preside over the Arkansas Senate, which is the only constitutional duty that a lieutenant governor has, but he might be the acting governor for a few hours or a few days sometime.

And he could become the real governor should something happen to the governor before the next election.
That is exactly what happened three times since the office was created 80 years ago. Neither Mike Beebe nor Asa Hutchinson, in his heart, wants Jim Holt when they are out of state to be only a flight of stairs away from the governor’s chair.
Holt would exercise the full power of governor.

If a term on the Highway Commission expired he would appoint one of his own pals. He might call out the National Guard to round up Mexicans at the country club or call the legislature into session. Who really knows? Once when Gov. Bill Clinton left the state, Nick Wilson, who was the acting governor for a day, fired the governor’s chief of staff.

Holt would give the governor heartburn whenever he left the state. Heaven knows what mischief he would wreak. Halter may campaign on issues like he’s going to be the governor, not just the lite governor, but he says he would not be a pretender and undermine the state’s elected chief executive.

Holt would be a nightmare for lawmakers, too. Even Republican senators find him outside the pale. Rather than preside impartially over the Senate, which is his duty, he has made it clear that he would take sides and promote his own legislative agenda.

One is to scotch the minimum wage. He cast the only vote against the tiny raise in the wage floor early this year. He thinks early childhood programs for poor children are communist, and he would fight funding for them. Government works poorly enough as it is. It does not need a monkey wrench in a slot that is supposed to smooth the lawmaking process, not impede it. So we would choose Bill Halter, a smart North Little Rock boy who exudes competence.

OBITUARIES >> 11-01-06


Wayne A. Bland, 62, of Ward died Oct. 27 at UAMS in Little Rock. He was born June 19, 1944.

He was a dairy farmer before retiring as a truck driver. He was a member of Cabot United Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Frances and his father, Dewitt Bland.

Survivors include his mother, Helen Trotter of Cabot; his sister, Emilea Rooney and her husband, Roger; two beloved nephews, DeWayne Rooney and Chuck Rooney and wife, Laura; great niece and nephew Jenifer and Gabriel Rooney, all of Ward.

Funeral services were Oct. 30 at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Beebe Cemetery.


Joy Meredith Elliott, 79, of Jacksonville passed away Oct. 27 in North Little Rock. She was born in Greenbrier to the late James B. and Merle Nixon Elliott. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Royce Elliott.

She is survived by her sister-in-law, Mary Nell Elliott of Jacksonville; two nephews, James Philip Elliott and his wife, Sandy, and Anthony Elliott, all of Jacksonville; great-niece, Stephanie Elliott of Jacksonville and great-nephew, Philip Elliott of Jacksonville.

Funeral services were Oct. 29 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel followed by burial in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.
The family would like to extend their thanks and love to Dr. Anthony Bucolo and staff, Cindy Jeffers, Betty Jackson, Second Baptist Church Sunday school class and Arkansas Hospice.

Memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204-1717.


Lyndel “Butch” Stender, 60, died Oct. 26 at his Jacksonville home.  

He was born July 11, 1946, in Waverly, Minn., to Marjorie Lindenberg Stender and the late LeRoy A. Stender.  He was also preceded in death by a brother, Ricky Stender.  

Stender was president of equipment sales for Lomanco. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Watertown.
Survivors include his loving friend, Nancy Bailey; mother, Marjorie Lindenberg of Watertown; two sons, Lyndel Stender and his wife Cathleen of Jacksonville and Jeffrey Stender of Little Rock; daughter, Kimberly Stender-Vann and her husband David Vann of Cabot; brother, Larry Stender of Waconia, Minn.; five sisters, Connie Gatz of Lester Prarie, Minn., Sherrie Leuthner of Branson, Mo., Linda Stieve of DelAno, Minn., Patsy Schug of Watertown and Luann Christopherson of Young America, Minn.; grandchildren Jared Stender, Jagger Stender, Justin Ken-nedy, Brittney Kennedy, Braxton Reed, Kaitlyn Vann and friend Brittany Bailey.

Memorial services were Oct. 30 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with the Rev. Leslie Belden officiating. Entombment followed in Chapel Hill Memorial Park.   


Alberta Plummer, 95, of Beebe passed away Oct. 27.

She was born January 25, 1911, at Porham, Okla., to Charlie and Elvie Moody Noble. She had retired from Anderson’s Restaurant, where she made pies for many years.

Alberta was preceded in death by her husband, Otis Plummer; one son, Doyle Boone; two daughters, 3-year-old Rosielee Boone (many years ago) and Louise Brown; infant granddaughter, Angela Brown; and one great-grandson, Justin McIver.
She is survived by two sons, Billy Boone and Danny Plummer, both of Beebe; two daughters, Shirley Brown of Bristow, Okla. and Katheryn Adams of Beebe; 18 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren and 23 great-great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were Oct. 30 at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Beebe Cemetery.


Nancy Lee Utz, 62, of Cabot, formerly of Jackson, Mich., went to be with her Lord Oct. 27, at Hospice Care Inpatient Center in Little Rock after a long battle with cancer.

She was born July 21, 1944 in Kalamazoo, Mich. She is survived by her best friend and husband of 22 years, David R. Utz; daughters, Lura Soles of Gregory, Mich., and Angie Fields of Jackson, Mich.; son, Larry Gilbert of Jackson, Mich.; sister, Joann and husband Irv Freck of Cabot; 13 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and several nieces and nephews.
A private memorial service is being planned. Cremation arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service.


Our sweet precious Canon Andrew Norman, 4, was taken to heaven on Oct. 21. He was an inspiration to all who knew him.
Canon fought his whole life with a congenital heart defect and went through numerous surgeries. He underwent a heart transplant Sept. 16, at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

He fought for five weeks in the cardiac intensive care unit. Canon’s smiling face touched so many lives in his brief four years. Although his body was weak, Canon continued to run, play and laugh.

He was preceded in death by his great-grandfathers, Charles Dress and Joe Norman. He will forever be missed by his mother, Carla Norman; older brother, Chase, and sister, Kamryn Norman of Cabot; his father, Brian Norman of North Little Rock; his meme, Sue Pettey of Cabot, and papaw, Chuck Drees of Cabot, and papaw, Ron Pettey of Jacksonville; his great-grandparents, Lola Drees of Cabot and Billie Norman of North Little Rock; his aunt and uncle, Tonya and Doug Drees of Cabot; uncle, Scott Drees of Sheridan, and his cousins, Kelsey and Ashley Drees of Cabot and many more family and friends.
Funeral services were Oct. 25 at Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock.

Arrangements were by Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home in North Little Rock.

SPORTS >>Cabot, Cyclones playing for pride

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers can’t make the playoffs, but they still have a lot to play for this Thursday when they close the season hosting Russellville. The Panthers are 5-4 and still have a chance to finish with a winning record and head into offseason on a positive note. Cabot head coach Mike Malham expects the team to play hard despite the fact that the game has no playoff implications. He’s rarely seen his team play any differently, so he’s not expecting anything different this week.

“I think our kids have played pretty well,” Malham said. “I can’t fault anything they’ve done all year except what we did in the Conway game. I don’t know what happened there. We just didn’t show up to play. Other than that, take away five turnovers in the first half against North Little Rock, we played Central down to the wire and should have beat them but the kicking game broke down. Defense held Bryant to seven points when they’d been averaging 30 something. When you consider where they started what’s happened to them this year, that’s pretty darn good.”

The Panther defense, which has consisted of several sophomores since the conference opener against Conway, has given up just 21 points over the last three games. Two of those games came against Bryant and Central, the two undefeated teams that meet this week to decided the conference championship.

Casey Carlisle suffered a broken collarbone last week against Pine Bluff, making him the seventh Panther that started game one to suffer a season-ending injury. Last week, Cabot played five players both ways and started seven sophomores. They have been in this predicament since early in the season, and still have a chance to finish with a winning record.

“I think the kids have done a tremendous job,” Malham said. “I don’t fault ‘em for effort at all. When you think about it, they came really close to doing something amazing. Now we’re going to try to get to 6-4 and head into offseason with a lot of sophomores that played a lot and got some good experience and performed well. We’ve got a few juniors but not very many.”
To get to 6-4, the Panthers will have to beat a dangerous Russ-ellville team. Cyclone coach Jeff Holt might say his team is more dangerous to itself than to anyone else. Russellville has moved the ball against everyone it’s played, but hasn’t been able to come away with many victories.

“At times we’ve played well,” Holt said. “We just seem to do things at critical times to get ourselves beat. We’ve been in every ballgame, we just can’t seem to finish.” This game was almost for a potential playoff spot. Russellville let Conway come back from a 14-point deficit to win in overtime last week. Had Russellville won, both teams in this game would still be playing for the postseason. As it is, Conway has locked up the No. 4 seed from the Central Conference.

Like Malham, Holt doesn’t expect his players to give any less effort this week. “Every week we’ve gone to work,” Holt said. “The kids have practiced well. They give us what they’ve got. I don’t expect that to change any.” Holt’s Cyclones are a young team with only 12 seniors on the roster, but the head coach isn’t using that as an excuse at this point in the season.
“At some point we’ve got to grow up,” Holt said.

Russellville will be seeing an offense it hasn’t seen yet this year, and this is always a concern for opposing coaches. “It’s extremely hard to simulate what they do,” Holt said. “They’re very good at what they do and it’s very hard to get your players to understand what they’ll be up against.”

Malham knows what his team will be up against, and so do his players. Russellville runs the spread offense, which has become quite common nowadays. Russellville has been running it for years, and put 43 points the last time it brought its version of the spread to Cabot.

“We played ‘em here a couple years ago and that offense was phenomenal,” Malham said. “They throw it well and run it well. They’ve moved it on everyone they’ve played, they’ve just had a lot turnovers. We can’t count on that. We’re going to have to move the ball or we’re in trouble because they’re going to move it. If we play like we did against Bryant we’re in trouble. If we play offense like we did against Pine Bluff and Central, we can win the ballgame.”

SPORTS >>Jackrabbits need to win to advance

Leader sportswriter

Friday’s game between Lonoke and Newport has turned from a conference game into what amounts to a wildcard playoff game for the No. 4 seed in the 2-4A Conference. The league has proved to be one of the toughest in the state this year, with teams possessing records of 4-5 (Lonoke) and 3-6 (Newport) vying for a shot at the post season.

Greyhounds coach Greg Brannon says his team has more at stake than just a playoff bid. Newport currently has the longest streak of consecutive trips to the playoffs with 19, and hope to make it an even 20 with a win over Lonoke. “The kids know what’s at stake,” Brannon said. “They are aware of the streak that is on the line, and they don’t want to be the ones that break it. Even with our 3-6 record, we are still upbeat and we think we can get in.”

Though Lonoke’s record is not much better at 4-5, the only blowout loss was given up last week at the hand of flawless Stuttgart. Every other game has been decided by only six points or less, making the ‘Rabbits one of the toughest teams with five losses in the state.

Like most coaches, Brannon is most concerned with the team speed that Lonoke possesses, but says he thinks he has the speed to match Jeff Jones’ squad. “They have a lot of speed, and they will spread the ball out on you,” Brannon said. “They kind of remind me of the type of athletes that we have. They play hard every down. Coach Jones has done a great job coaching them this year. We are just going to go out and do things the way we normally do it.”

Newport’s go-to guy offensively all season has been Nico Cox. The junior tailback has already rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. The ‘Hounds also have a solid passing game, led by junior QB Edward Pruitt. The ‘Rabbits will be the last of a string of tough teams faced by the Greyhounds this season.

Newport started the season off with a grueling stand of non-conference games against Pocahontas, Gosnell and Batesville. Those resulted in half of the ‘Hounds’ six losses, the other three came at the hands of Marianna, Stuttgart and Heber Springs, coincidentally the three teams already locked into the playoffs from the 2-4A Conference. The ‘Rabbits and ‘Hounds will square off the final playoff vacancy Friday at 7:30 p.m.

SPORTS >>Panthers hoping to step it up in playoffs

Leader sportswriter

After a strong start to the season, the Cabot Lady Panthers have found their maiden voyage into the 7A-Central Conference a difficult one. Cabot coach Terri Williams says the task at hand now has been preparing for today’s state tournament qualifier game against West Conference No. 4 seed Fayetteville. The Lady Panthers will play the Lady Purple Dogs today at noon at tournament site Ft. Smith Southside.

A win in that game means a second-round date with Central league and defending state champion Russellville at noon Thursday.Fayetteville finished behind Fort Smith Northside, Bentonville and Southside in the 7A-West. The top two teams from each conference received a bye in the first round of the 12-team tournament.

In other first-round matchups, Central No. 3 seed Mount St. Mary’s plays Rogers, the No. 6 seed from the West. Central 4 North Little Rock faces West 5 Harber, and the final matchup pits Southside against LR Central. The winner of that game faced Conway. Northside awaits the NLR-Harber winner while Bentonville will meet either MSM or Rogers.

In a league filled with traditional powerhouses, the Lady Panthers struggled to make their mark early. A strong non-conference record is disguised in the overall record with eight conference losses. Williams says the strength of the Central Conference was not surprising to her. “We knew it would be tough coming into this conference,” Williams said. “You have Conway, Mt. Saint Mary’s, Russellville and North Little Rock, so there are four traditionally strong teams right there.”

Williams says that it wouldn’t matter if they were in this conference or the old 5A-East. She believes that the so-called ‘weak conference’ no longer exists in high-school volleyball. “It doesn’t matter what conference you’re in anymore,” Williams said. “Anywhere you go, you’re going to have to face strong teams. We pretty much traded one hard conference to go to another one. We had Jonesboro in our old conference, and they are every bit as tough as some of these teams.”

Cabot lost senior blocker Kim Carter in the Russellville tournament early in the season. Carter was the heart and soul of the Panthers’ defense, and her absence made play at the net different for the remainder of the season. That gave the leadership res-ponsibilities to senior hitter Kelli Lowry. Although Lowry did not have the season hitting that she enjoyed during her junior year, Lowry proved herself to be one of the best servers in the state. Williams says that Lowry’s talents lie in more than just hitting; she is a solid overall player and will be a key to any success the Lady Panthers will have in the state tournament.
“Kelli has been a varsity player all three years,” Williams said. “She is not one-dimensional, she is a good all around player. She is fundamentally sound and has a really good arm swing. If she was just a little bit taller, she could dominate. But considering her height, I would say she has done very well.”

Leading hitter Katie Mantione, along with fellow junior Erika McCaghren, will also have to have an impact for the Lady Panthers to advance in state. The duo gives Cabot its biggest look up front in a long time. Sophomore Tori Hendrix has also showed great promise as a hitter this season.

The second round will be played out Thursday. The semifinal matches will be at 1 and 3 p.m. Friday.
Look for details of the first two rounds in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.

SPORTS >>Devils playing for top seed

Leader sports editor

It’s been a great while since Jacksonville has played in a game of such importance in the final week of the season. It’s been over a decade since the Red Devils have won a conference championship. They’ve already accomplished at least a share of that, but nothing would be sweeter than an outright conference title and a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs that begin next week. There’s also a home game in the playoffs on the line. If Jacksonville loses, it can’t finish in the top two, which means going on the road for the first round of the playoffs.

In order to get all of that, they have to beat the Marion Patriots this Thursday night at Marion. The Patriots are fresh off a 10-7 win over Jonesboro in which the offense didn’t score a touchdown. Razorback commit Jerry Franklin intercepted a pass late in the game and returned it for a touchdown to lift the Patriots to victory.

Despite the lack of scoring, Marion coach Mark Uhiren is pleased with the way his team played in its most recent game. “I was real pleased with my kids the other night,” Uhiren said. “It was a slop hole up there. It had rained every day of the week and it rained during the game. That was the biggest team I’ve ever seen. The line was gigantic, the backs were big and punishing. Then you had the quarterback running around back there like a chicken that we just couldn’t catch. I tell you I was proud of the way they handled all of that.”

Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley sees the same thing Uhiren sees in the Patriots, a resilient team with a lot of speed and athleticism. “That’s a very good football team,” Whatley said. “They’re very physical and they’ve got everybody healthy. We’ve been catching people like that the last three or four weeks, but all we can do is go play. The Franklin kid is a difference maker and you have to be aware of where he is. They want to keep the football a lot like West Memphis, but they’re a little more complex than them. They’ve got a few more options that we’re going to have to be ready for.”

Marion is in its first year in a higher classfication, and the lack of depth is apparent. Only a few players have the luxury of playing on just one side of the football, but Jacksonville is in a similar situation. The Red Devils have a little more depth and can rest people for a few more snaps than Marion, but both teams have played a lot of players both ways all season.
Uhiren believes that is becoming less of a factor as the season moves on.

“We’re playing one-platoon football and a lot of teams have tried to take advantage of that. But I believe my kids were playing stronger in the fourth quarter the other night than they played all game long. “I wouldn’t say that if it’s not true. It’s getting cooler and that heat isn’t beating down on us like it was earlier in the year. I’m proud of how hard the kids are playing.”

The Patriots are finally getting healthy. They got everyone back two weeks ago against Sylvan Hills, and were at full strength against Jonesboro. Senior running back Darcel Johnston, who missed most of the season before returning as a full-time player against Sylvan Hills, hasn’t been as productive as last season, when he ran for over 2,000 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.

That has forced the Patriots to be more versatile, and Uhiren isn’t totally displeased with that. “We’ve finally got everybody back but we’re not full speed,” Uhiren said. “If Darcel was 100 percent and going full-tilt I’d say we have a go-to guy. As it is we’ve had to spread it around and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.”

Jacksonville has been well balanced between the run and pass in recent games. Last week the running game did most of the damage in the win over West Memphis, but Uhiren believes the key to Jacksonville’s offense is quarterback Daniel Hubbard.
“That quarterback runs things smoothly, he doesn’t panic,” Uhiren said. “He’s not a runner so to speak, but he’s elusive. He knows how to shift around and find a better way to throw the football.”

The head Patriot isn’t disregarding the running game however. “That would be silly for me to go all out after the quarterback, so I’m not neglecting the running game at all. I don’t know, I just think that quarterback is the key to things. There’s something to say about a guy that can calmly and collectively get a team together and make things go.”

TOP STORY >>Lonoke race for sheriff is down to wire

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County voters are tired of turnover and instability in the sheriff’s office and, like voters everywhere, they are ready to kick the incumbent to the curb, according to Charlie Martin, the Democratic challenger and former sheriff. Not so, says Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson, a Republican, confident that residents are pleased with the professionalism and outreach programs he initiated and the job he’s done and will reelect him Tuesday to serve a third term.

Despite conventional wisdom, Roberson says he doesn’t think it will be a tough year on incumbents. “It’s only going to be rough on people who haven’t done their job. I don’t see it being rough on me. All the feedback I’m getting, people are happy (with our performance),” the sheriff insisted.

On the tail of a strong turnout in Cabot in 2002, Roberson ended Martin’s six-year stint in office 8,646 to 7,515 in part because Martin and some members of his department were cited by the Bureau of Legislative Audit for improper use of money in the weapons and uniforms fund and indicted.

Martin pled no contest to a misdemeanor as a result. “If I was arrested for falsifying receipts, I couldn’t face the public,” Roberson said of Martin. “You have to arrest people for the same thing every day.” Martin failed to regain the office in 2004, when Roberson beat him 11,582 to 7,660 behind a strong Republican turnout to support President George W. Bush in his tightly contested race against Democrat challenger John Kerry.

This time the Bureau of Legislative Audit is looking into improper use of county credit cards by two of Roberson’s employees, one of whom was fired, the other demoted, he says. “We had two employees that didn’t follow procedure on credit card use,” says Roberson. He says he initiated an internal investigation, notified the prosecutor’s office and the legislative audit bureau, he says. “They bought some items that they had planned to pay for later,” he says. “I made them pay and then took action against them.”

Martin, 58, and his wife Mavis have three sons, one of whom is due home from Iraq Dec. 15. Since leaving office, Martin has been working as a part-time Ward policeman. Martin Monday charged that Roberson had gone through 77 employees during four years. “I went through one in six years,” he said.

Roberson, 59, reached by phone away from the office, said it was natural to have some turnover when taking over a large county office, doubted Martin’s numbers but said he didn’t have a figure. Martin also criticized Roberson, saying “I don’t believe it’s a deputy’s job to chase drugs on the intestate, when there’s people kicking in doors and stealing people’s property. They need to be on the county roads, developing their confidential informants and finding out who’s doing this stuff.”

“My deputies are not on interstate,” Roberson says, unless the state Police asks for backup or they are in hot pursuit. “We’re patrolling county roads.” “I’m not one to guess politics,” said Roberson. “I hope I have done a good enough job that people will keep me. I’ve implemented several community programs,” he said. They include work with senior citizens, working with the schools, riding school buses, work on the alert program and sponsoring Beth Holloway Twitty, whose daughter disappeared in a high-profile possible murder in Aruba. Twitty spoke to students at several county schools about safe travel.
Roberson says one of his biggest accomplishments is increasing the training and professionalism of the deputies. “They are some of the best trained officers in the state,” he says.

The sheriff says the county needs more officers. Meanwhile, he says, the number of arrests is up, including methamphetamine-related arrests. “Our guys are doing a good job, arresting people every day,” he said. “We’re locking up drug dealers, users, domestic violence and thieves. That’s our goal, everyday.”

He said criminals who should be in overcrowded Pulaski County jails are on the streets, adding to Lonoke County crime.
Martin counters that Roberson is too quick to arrest and jail people who don’t need it. “I’m for treating people with respect,” he says. “Every time you come in contact with someone on a call you don’t have to arrest them and everyone you arrest doesn’t have to go to jail.”

Martin says he’d reinstitute the electronic home arrest system he used when he was in office. “If the monitor showed tampering, the company notified us and we immediately put them back in jail,” he added. Martin also says the response time from the 911-operators and deputies is too slow. “We had a fatality up in Ward on Hwy. 319 and from the time the sheriff’s department got the call, it was six to eight minutes before anyone was dispatched to Ward—and then they sent us in the wrong direction.”

Roberson notes that new jail policies have been instituted since he took office, with new jailers, more security and all-new stainless steel bathroom equipment.