Wednesday, November 08, 2006

EDITORIAL>>Huck fails honesty test

Minnesota has a law that mandates punishment for politicians who lie provably when they are running for office. Arkansas could emulate the Gopher State but, alas, a politician in Arkansas may lie with complete impunity unless the voters catch on and defeat him.

This election season has been particularly low on truth telling, but it reached its nadir when Gov. Huckabee entered the lists in the final days to campaign for Asa Hutchinson, his old enemy but a member of his own party. For all his good traits, Huckabee has a tendency to rewrite history in his own favor. Everyone remembers his claims to have opposed parole for the rapist Wayne Dumond, whom he had arranged to release from prison in time to kill two women in Missouri.

Huckabee was only misleading last week when he insinuated that Attorney General Mike Beebe was not a genuine supporter of repealing the sales tax on groceries. Beebe voted consistently to remove the tax in his years in the state Senate. Huckabee might have truthfully recalled that he had himself opposed removal of the tax not once but twice during his 10 years as governor after saying publicly that he favored removing it.

But the governor was not merely deceptive in the days before the election when he tried to paint Beebe as a consort of Nick Wilson, the Pocahontas senator who spent a spell in the federal penitentiary for conniving to enrich himself with state funds earmarked for legal assistance for children in divorce disputes. Huckabee was flatly untruthful.

Hutchinson had stretched the Wilson-Beebe connection as far as he could by suggesting that Beebe, although he was Wilson’s mortal enemy in the Senate, had not tried to expel Wilson from the Senate before he could resign after his conviction.

Huckabee said that Beebe and other senators all knew in 1997 that Wilson would use a bill to create the attorney-ad-litem program to enrich himself and his cronies. That is why he vetoed the bill, Huckabee said. Then Beebe and the other senators passed the bill again over his veto, setting the stage for Wilson’s thievery. Thus Huckabee characterized himself as the hero in the episode.

Everyone else connected with the events, including his own chief cabinet member, disputes Huckabee’s account, and so do the public records. The Republican leader of the Senate said the governor was wrong. He said the bill was a good one and that no one had an inkling that Wilson would abuse the program. Richard Weiss, the director of the Department of Finance and Administration, the governor’s chief fiscal adviser, recalled the events in detail and his memory does not match the governor’s account. They do match the official records.

First, the bill was an appropriation for the operations of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under the supervision of the Arkansas Supreme Court. Huckabee did not veto the bill, and it included money for the children’s legal program. Huckabee vetoed only Section 15, which funded the Administrative Office and its programs from the state Central Services Fund, one of many accounts in the state treasury.

Weiss recalled how it happened. Sen. Wilson sidled over to him in budget hearings one day and asked if the Governor’s Mansion Fund was funded through the Central Services Fund. Weiss replied that it was, and Wilson walked away. Knowing Nick Wilson, Weiss was suspicious. Wilson and others were miffed at the governor’s misspending from the mansion fund, using it for personal items for himself and his wife.

Sure enough, Wilson had the appropriation for the Administrative Office of the Courts amended so that it would be funded from the same fund as the governor’s mansion expenses. Weiss thought Wilson was trying to reduce funding for the mansion by piling other government expenses on the Central Services Fund. He told Huckabee that and advised him to veto that section and force the legislature to appropriate money for Wilson’s ad-litem program from another fund. Huckabee vetoed the little section but left the whole program intact. Instead of funding it from another account, the legislature overrode Huckabee’s veto. As it turned out, it did not jeopardize mansion funding.

That reveals Huckabee not as a watchdog against skullduggery but as a man looking out only for his own pecuniary interest, a fat account for operating his official home. Weiss’ account is plausible and his boss’s is not because the official ledger on SB 286 in the secretary of state’s office shows that the governor vetoed only the section that directed spending on the children’s legal program from the Central Services Fund. He left Wilson’s legal program and its $4.8 million biennial appropriation intact. The governor’s short veto message verifies that, too.

All of this is complicated and baffling, which is why the governor knew that he could get away with fudging about his own actions as well as Beebe’s in the moil of a confounding election’s last days. Gov. Huckabee was not on the ballot yesterday, which is why the media largely gave him a pass.

If Huckabee were governor of Minnesota, the state ethics commission would be conducting an investigation, and a censure and a fine would be forthcoming. People in Minnesota apparently take their elections and the truth seriously.
Don’t you wish we did?

SPORTS >>Red Devil intensity needs to rise

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils lost most of their offense from last year’s team that advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in several years and sent three players to college. They head into this season with only one returning starter, and he is out with a broken hand for at least the first few games. That leaves Red Devil coach Vic Joyner with the task of finding players to fill gaps and put points on the board this season.

The team’s top two scorers graduated and signed college scholarships. Only senior Kajuan Watson returns as a starter, but there are some quality players back that saw a lot of minutes last season. Most are big and bulky, and the Red Devils will try to utlize that strength.

“We’re not going to have any problems with size,” Joyner said. “We don’t have anybody that’s going to tower over people, but we’re going to have some bulk and a lot of strength down on that block. We got some big kids.” Gerron Riddles and Norvel Gabriel, who is still with the football team, provide most of the returning experience down low. Both are strong players, and will be helped by fellow seniors Marcus King and Ryan Gooden. King is also in football, and Gooden has performed extremely well when he does what Joyner asks of him.”

“He dominates practice when he’ll stay down low and not pop out on the perimeter,” Joyner said. “He just wants to keep doing that and that’s he and I clash. He’s going to play the post when I say or he’s going to be passing out water bottles.”
Sophomores Antwain Lockhart and Cortrell Eskridge, as well as junior Damian Akins, will also provide a lift on the low block. Both are in the 6-foot-3 range, and both have good strength for their age.

“We should be solid inside if we can ever get everybody playing hard,” Joyner said. “Right now that’s our main problem. We were pretty pitiful in the jamboree because we didn’t hustle, and we’ve got too much inexperience not to hustle.” The Red Devils made a lot of mistakes in their half-games against Little Rock Parkview and Little Rock Central, but that’s not what had the head Red Devil upset.

“We’re not really a young team, but we don’t have but a couple of guys with much court experience at this level,” Joyner said. “When you’re as inexperienced as we are, you’ve got to hustle. We’re going to make mistakes and go through some growing pains. I know that. We’re just going to have to hustle and scrap and make up for those mistakes. We didn’t do that and we’re going to get killed in this league if we don’t start doing that.”

Joyner lost two outstanding shooters from last year, but feels he has a better overall shooting team this season. That starts with sophomore guard Antonio Washington. He will play point most of the time, and will share those duties with junior Terrell Eskridge. The starting two guard is projected as senior Antwain Robinson, who transferred back to Jacksonville this year after a year at Mills.

“Washington is a point guard that can score,” Joyner said. “Terrell is a kid that I should have played more on varsity last year. He’s steady and he’ll get the offense going. Robinson is on the cusp of becoming the player I’ve been waiting for him to become. He’s lagging on defense and that’s why he’s not high on my list like he wants to be, but if he’ll pick up the effort and intensity level, he can break out.”

Joyner wouldn’t begin to predict who would win the brutal 6A-East conference. He, as most have, said it starts with Forrest City. The Mustangs have three Division I prospects on their roster, two of whom are seniors. “Forrest City’s lineup is frightening,” Joyner said. “West Memphis is wounded because they didn’t make the playoffs last year. You don’t looking at them anyway, and now they’re playing like a wounded animal. They’re hungry and Bray you know is going to have them ready. Jonesboro got almost everybody back. Sylvan Hills always has talent. Searcy has everybody back and one of the best coaches around. This whole conference is loaded with coaches that you just have to be on your game against. They make changes mid-stride and you have to be ready to adjust. I don’t know much about Marion, but everything I hear is that the coach down there is poised to take over everything. There’s just not any breathing room in this league.”

That’s precisely why Joyner is worried about his team’s inexperience. “Watson is the only one that really went through that war last year,” Joyner said. “I don’t know, actually I do know, that most of these kids don’t really understand right now what this league is like. They don’t understand that they can’t let up, not even in practice. You’ve got to have your hard hat on every day or you’re going to get your head handed to you. I’m trying to drive that point home right now. We’ve got a long way to go though.”

SPORTS >>Cabot putting youth on floor in new league

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys basketball team has a new look this year, a completely new look. The Panthers are coming off their first winning season in many years, but they’re doing it without a single starter returning. There are a few familiar faces in seniors Alex Sharp, Justin Haas and Jacob Trammell. Haas started a few games at the two guard, and the other two played several key minutes off the bench all season, but that doesn’t change the fact that this year’s Panthers are young.

In last night’s Jamboree matchups against Mills and Little Rock Christian at Mills, Cabot started Sharp, Tramel, junior Sam Bates and sophomores Adam Sterrenberg and Austin Johnson. Haas was, and will be most of the time, the first player off the bench.

I feel really good about our top six,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “Justin is really like a starter, we just feel like we need Austin’s height in there to start with. Justin is a good ball handler and can shoot it well, and he’s a steady player and a leader. So the top six are all like starters and I’m real comfortable with them.”

Trammell and Haas are 5-foot-9 guards, while the rest of the lineup features very good size. The Panthers won’t have a 6-10 on the block like they’ve had the last few years, but Sharp is listed at 6-8 this year, and will provide some bulk and strength that has been missing. Bates, at 6-4, will play the other post position. “I feel like Alex is going to have a breakthrough year this year,” Bridges said. “He’s an outstanding young man and he’s worked hard since I got here. And I think Bates is going to compliment him very well down low.”

The forward spots will be manned by the sophomores. Sterrenberg, 6-2, and Johnson, 6-6, were scoring machines for Cabot North and Cabot South last year. Each average above 25 points per game, and will bring that offense to the varsity this year.
“I feel like we’re going to be able to score this year,” Bridges said. “The sophomores bring a lot of offensive ability, Haas was our best shooter last year, Trammell’s shot is looking good right now. Sharp and Bates are playing well. We’re just going to have to get better on defense. Last year we played excellent defense all year long, we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean.This year it looks like the opposite. I feel really good about our ability to score, but we’ve got a long way to go on defense.”
Cabot’s conference is a new one, and a welcome one according to Bridges. Dropping the old 5A-East schedule for the new 7A-Central doesn’t hurt the head Panther’s feelings at all.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not going to miss West Memphis, Forrest City and Jonesboro at all,” Bridges said. “Jacksonville is building a powerhouse over there too, and Sylvan Hills is always right there. That’s more teams that could make the playoffs right there, so what can you do? Honestly though, there’s so much parity out there right now, you’re going to have to earn it no matter where you play. I think this conference will be a better fit for us though.”

Bridges gives the nod as favorite to Pine Bluff. The Zebras are always a state title contender, and have won it twice in the past six years. “I think you have to tag Pine Bluff because they’re a perennial power,” Bridges said. “I really don’t know a whole lot about all these teams, but you can never leave out North Little Rock, and I think Conway is going to be very good this year.”
The rest of Cabot’s new conference is made up of Little Rock Catholic, Little Rock Central, Bryant and Russellville.
That’s a tough schedule in its own right, but Bridges’ team has set high goals for the season.

“We want to build off what we did last year,” Bridges said. “Last we had our first winning season in a while, this year we want two winning seasons. We want to win 20 games. That’s our goal. I don’t know if it’s realistic or not, but that’s what we’re shooting for. We feel like that will have us in place to maybe win a conference championship and get us to the playoffs playing for the state championship. Right now though, we’re going to have to get better on defense. I’m getting scared to death to be honest because we’re so young, but I’m excited too. We’ve got some kids that can create off the dribble and make things happen that we haven’t had. If the defense comes along, I think we’re going to be pretty darn good. Defense is our Achilles heel right now, but that’s our job as coaches to teach ‘em and get them better.”

SPORTS >>Wildcats have to wait for playoffs

Leader sportswriter

The Harding Academy Wildcats are entering familiar territory as an undefeated No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. Harding Academy went into the quarterfinals last year after an unbeaten regular season, but lost to Junction City after a late-game rally by the Dragons.

Wildcats coach Tommy Shoemaker hopes that history won’t repeat itself in the quarterfinals this year, that is, if his team gets there. “Every year is different, every team is different,” Shoemaker said. “As long as we go out and play well, I think we will be in good shape. I think we probably should have won our final game last year, so hopefully we can go back this year and get further along.”

After wrapping up the No. 1 seed as the 2-3A Conference champions, Harding Academy has been given a by-week as the lower seeds fight it out in the opening week of the post season. With no real injuries to speak of in need of healing time, Shoemaker sees the off-week as both an advantage and disadvantage.

“I’ll tell you in three weeks whether or not it’s a good thing or bad thing,” Shoemaker said. “We were really on a good roll, and I hate to give that up, but we are going to use this time to put a few new wrinkles into our strategy on both sides of the ball and come out with some things that no one has seen us do yet this year. It would definitely be an advantage if we knew for sure who we will be playing, but without knowing who’s coming up next, there is no way to prepare for any one specific team.”

The Wildcats will await the winner of this week’s game between Hector and Corning, a pair of No. 3 seeds from their respective conferences. With the unique bracket for the 3A playoffs, the Wildcats find themselves as the only No. 1 seed on their side of the bracket. Shoemaker says that seed rankings mean very little at this point, however. It’s what each team does from here on out that will count.

“There aren’t any other No. 1 seeds, but there are still a lot of quality teams,” Shoemaker said. “If you just go by name recognition, you have Barton. Coach Sane?? Has come in and replaced coach McClelland and as done a great job. Those guys are having a great year this year. Some of the other teams we’re not familiar with, and don’t know much about them, but if they are in the playoffs, they have to have something going for them.”

Confidence and momentum are two important factors for any team trying to make a run at the state title. Shoemaker says the players are confident, but hopes that the momentum they have carried all year will continue, even with a Friday off. “I think that playing well and winning our conference with a 10-0 record has given us some confidence,” Shoemaker said. “It’s a different situation for us to have a week off, but we’re going to use that as an extra week to prepare.”

The Wildcats will enjoy the weekend off this Friday before hosting the winner of the Corning/Hector game next Friday night at First Security Stadium in Searcy.

SPORTS >>Devils up for tough game at Texarkana

Leader sports editor

It isn’t the matchup that everyone invisioned for Jacksonville in the first round of the class 6A football state playoffs, but it isn’t exactly what Texarkana had invisioned either. By at least one ranking, the third game down the bracket’s first round features the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the state. While Texarkana coach Bill Keopple wouldn’t have minded a different visitor for his first round, he takes a logical attitude into the game.

“You’re going to have to play the best sooner or later anyway,” Keoplle said. “That’s the way it’s set up and that’s the way it ought to be I guess. We’ll just take ‘em one at a time.” The story line for this game is driven by the contrasting conferences the two teams represent. Both teams are conference champions, but Mark Whatley’s Red Devils tied with three other teams, and by rule, had to accept the four seed. Texarkana is the outright, undisputed supreme team from the 6A-South. However, even Keoplle admits that his league wasn’t quite as strong as the East.

“ I think there’s a lot of talent in this league,” Keoplle said of the South. “For whatever reasons, we have a bunch of teams that never could get it all together and they sort of underachieved a little bit. Whether we had something to do with that or not, that’s hard to tell. I’d like to think we did. We’ll find out because Jacksonville has played in a lot of tough ball games.”
The fact that Texarkana coasted through its conference, including five mercy-rule victories of its seven league opponents, is looked at in opposite ways by the opposing coaches.

“I think it’s a plus for us actually,” Keopple said. “We had some key injuries early and those big wins let us get our main guys off the field and rested. We have a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. We’re healthy, fresh and eager to get in there and get after it.”

Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley looks at it a different way. “My team is battle tested,” Whatley said. “I know my team, and I know my kids will fight through any adversity they come across. I don’t know if he knows that about his team. We’ve been busted in the mouth and we’ve fought back. They haven’t faced that yet, so they don’t know just how they’re going to react when it happens.”

Jacksonville runs an offense similar to some of the teams in the South, so it won’t be anything new for the Razorbacks to prepare for. The difficulty the Hogs face is the personnel Jacksonville will take to the southern border. “We’ve seen the offense, but we haven’t seen anyone run it with the kind of tools Jacksonville has to run it with,” Keopple said. “The quarterback is big, has good footwork and can deliver the ball. And we sure don’t have anyone in our league with the receivers they’ve got, especially the King kid. He’s a specimen.”

Keopple is also impressed with Jacksonville’s running back tandem of Justin Akins and Lee Robinson. He readily admits it’s the best duo his team has faced since playing Texarkana, Tex. In week one, but also believes he has the single best back in the state, and a pretty tandem himself. “Dennis Johnson is a major division 1 talent,” Keopple said. “He got hurt against Central and missed our first three conference games, and that really helped us as a team I believe. It gave us a chance to get Derek Wesley in there, and he really played well. He came over from Texas High, and he’s speedster. They’ve got Akins though, and he’s right there with my two in the speed department. You have to know where he is.”

Whatley agrees that those two backs will be tough to stop, but again, sees the scenario differently. “I know his kid is talented, but I don’t know his kid,” Whatley said. “I know mine, and I’d take mine.” Whatley is just as, if not more concerned with the Razorback defense. His offense still has not played as consistently as he wants, but his defense has made necessary stops all season long.

“What stands out to me as that they can all run,” Whatley said. “As a whole, that defense can fly to the football. They are fast, fast, fast. Their defensive end is powerful and fast. He has the best bull rush we’ve seen all year and they move him around a lot. We’re going to have to be more consistent if we want to move the ball on this team. They’ve put up some phenomenal numbers and they get games in control in a hurry. We’d better be on our game.”

OBITUARIES >> 11-08-06


John Harrison Shirley, 52, of Lonoke died on Nov. 6. He was preceded in death by his parents, James W. and Orie Jean Shirley.
He is survived by his children, Jeremy and Brenda Shirley of Holland, Mich., and Michelle and Benny Riegel, Jr. of Lonoke, six brothers, James Shirley, Mark Shirley, William Shirley of Lonoke, Larry Shirley of Michigan, Paul Shirley of Ward and Terry Shirley of Beebe, and sister, Vickie Rhein of Lonoke.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel with interment in Concord Cemetery.


Carl W. Ricketts, 73, of Conway died Nov. 5. He was born October 18, 1933 in Clarksville to the late Homer D. Ricketts and Bertha Hurst Ricketts. He was retired from Wal-Mart Distribution Center and an Army veteran of the Korean Conflict.
He is survived by five sisters, Norma Boen of Kansas City, Mo., Alice Treadway of Cabot, Jeannie Smith of Lamar, Barbara Freeling of North Little Rock and Georgia Hale of Bald Knob, and one brother, Robert Ricketts of Fort Smith, and many nephews and nieces.

He was preceded in death by two sisters, Vernell Blakslee and Jane Bradley, and two brothers, Lawrence and Bill Ricketts.
Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at Cabin Creek Baptist Church in Clarksville.  Cremation arrangements by Roller McNutt Funeral Home in Conway.


Geraldine Sentell Cox of Ward passed away Nov. 4 in her home following months battling a series of strokes. Geraldine, 78, was preceded in death in 1997 by her husband of 52 years, John E. Cox. Both were life long residents of Ward. Geraldine and her husband were retired dairy farmers, cattle farmers, business owners, business operators and business investors. Together they owned and operated the John Cox Roller Rink of Ward/Jacksonville from 1951 to 1962. John Cox Farms remains in operation today.

Geraldine was preceded in death by a baby daughter, her mother, Hettie Sentell of Ward, her father Allie (Ruth) Sentell of Ward, a sister, Allie Mae Sentell (Dewitt) Freeling of Jacksonville, three brothers-in-law and two sisters-in-law. Geraldine is survived by her son, Frankie John and wife Pat Cox of Ward, her daughter, Francis Jean Cox and husband Joe Stocks of the residence, five grandchildren, Christopher Bradley (Trish) Cox of Cabot, Veronica Glover of Ward, Frankie Patrick (Esther) Cox of Ward, April (Dan) Devore of Ward, and Kim (Allan) Sol Cruz of Dallas, Texas, and six great grandchildren, Kayla, Hayley, Taylor, Ashley, Brooke and Alyssa.

Geraldine is also survived by two brothers, James and wife Clara Sentell of Beebe, and Donald and wife Pat House of North Little Rock, a sister, Darlene Sentell and husband Rev. Paul Graves of Sherwood, sisters-in-law, Mrs. Bernard Cox of Royal Oak, Mich., Mrs. Lloyd Cox of Mobile, Ala., Geraldine Cox and husband Jim Morris of Ward, and eight nieces and 16 nephews.
Geraldine was an active member of Ward United Methodist Church and the Auxillary of The Gideons International, Cabot Camp since 1980.

A very special “thank you” is extended to our churches, our families, our friends and our neighbors that provided spiritual and emotional support. A “thank you” is extended to Miss Sue for private home health care assistance during her latter months, and in the early months another special “thank you” to physical therapists, Donna and David with White County Home Health, the physical therapy staff of Reliance Rehabilitation Center in Beebe and McAfee Medical Clinic in Beebe.
Family received friends Nov. 6 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral services were Nov. 7 at Ward United Methodist Church with Rev. Wes Howard and Rev. Paul Graves officiating with musical arrangements by Mrs. Paul Graves. Burial was in Sixteenth Section Cemetery in Lonoke County. Pallbearers were Jerry Russell, Richard Bradshaw, Ronald Gross, Wayne Guess, Jim Martin and Mayes Scott. Honorary pallbearers were The Gideons International.


Danny Rowlett, 53, of Conway died Saturday Nov. 4. He was an avid outdoorsman, devoted family man and grandfather. He looked forward every year to bringing his family together for his annual fish fry. He worked for SnapOn tools for 33 years and was a member of Oak Bowery Baptist Church. He is survived by his wife, Judy, two sons, Danny Jr. and Jeremy Rowlett, both of Austin, two grandchildren, Christian and Brianna Rowlett of Austin, three brothers, Presley Rowlett of Waynesville, Mo., Larry Rowlett of Quitman and Randy Rowlett of Searcy, four sisters, Jonell Burroughs of Donaldson, Vicki Burnett of Conway, Gail Orvis of Floyd, and Debbie Finley of Austin, parents-in-law, Bead and Wanda Griffith, and many nieces and nephews.
Family received friends Nov. 7 at Westbrook Funeral home.

Funeral service will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia, with burial in Dunkard Cemetery at Austin.


Charlene Cotner Griffin, 74, of Vivian, La., passed away Oct. 31 in Vivian. She was born Aug. 29, 1932 to the late Jake and Mary Jane Cassinger Cotner in Henrietta, Okla. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Charles Cotner and a grandson, Larry Dorn. Survivors include her daughters, Jeannie Roberts of Cabot and Wanda Redding of Conway, sisters, Wanda Holbrook of Shreveport, La., and Glenda Vance of Russellville, a brother, Ron Cotner of Moss Point, Miss., as well as six grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Funeral services were Nov. 3 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. Larry Burton officiating. Burial followed in Bayou Meto Cemetery in Jacksonville.


Ruth Lillian Jackson Tucker, 87, departed this life Nov. 3 to join her Savior and heavenly family. Ruth was born December 28, 1919 in Cadiz, Ky., to David and Elizabeth (Jefferson) Jackson. She was a caregiver to her parents for many years and was proud of her Jefferson and Jackson heritage. Ruth was a loving wife, mom, big momma, grandma, and mimi. She was a charter member of Victory Baptist Church in Cabot and she loved her church family very much. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, eight siblings, and her husband of fifty years, Thurman Tucker, as well as a daughter, Betty Burkhalter.
Ruth is survived by her children, Bill Tucker and Rex Tucker of Searcy, Ruth Ann Bush (Ed) of Benton and Peggy Taylor (James) of Beebe; grandchildren Herschell Burkhalter Jr., Kathy Burks (Paul), Bill Burkhalter (Rhonda), Billy Tucker (Tonya), David Tucker (Sissy), Charlie Tucker (Kelly), Reggie Tucker, Zoe Ann Abraham, Regina Turner (Jack), Leah Collins (Dale), Phil Filiatreau (LouAnn), SSgt. Corey Taylor (Misty), Jenni Richbourg (Dustin), and Tammy Taylor; great-grandchildren Trey Burkhalter, Jeremy Burkhalter, Kevin Burks (Esmerelda), Keith Burks, Beth Burkhalter, Brandi Burkhalter, Spc. Katrina Tucker (Brian), Laura Tucker, PFC Lance Tucker, Amy Tucker, Katy Tucker, Amanda Holland, Aaron Abraham, David Michael Key, Cambrin Collins (Jennifer), Canaan Collins, Austin Filiatreau (Amanda), Tommy Filiatreau, Raven Taylor and Lexi Taylor; great-greatgrandchildren, Jacob Burks, Avery Mills, Kierra Tucker, Katilyn Holland, Kyle Holland, Chase Abraham, Kayleb Key, Luke Collins, and the children of her heart, Herschell and Joyce Burkhalter, Howard and Charlene Burton, Martha Tucker, and a nephew, W.A. Tucker (Phyllis) and his family.

Family received friends Nov. 7 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. A celebration of her life and home going will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot with burial to follow in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens in Beebe.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Vote count disaster for Bush, GOP

Few Republicans expected this year’s mid-term elections would go their way, but Tuesday’s results are worse than any of the polls had predicted. Add to that the Democrats’ sweep of all the constitutional offices in Arkansas, including the Governor’s Mansion being vacated by Mike Huckabee after a decade, and you can see why Democrats are singing, “Oh, what a night.”
“I dreaded this possibility,” said Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader in the House who’d predicted a difficult time for the GOP this November, but not a disaster of this magnitude.

Sure, the Democrats had a good shot at the U.S. House of Representatives — that was a foregone conclusion weeks before the election — but Democrats captured more House seats than most analysts had expected and are within a whisker of taking control of the Senate, where some major Republican figures were ousted, and which seemed way beyond reach just a week ago.

The country also has more Democrats as governors than the Republicans (who were supposed to take over most of the country because of their vaunted management skills), and you find the Grand Old Party dispirited and in disarray. What happened? The electorate turned in a protest vote against the war in Iraq and the associated spin and smoke and mirrors that are the mother tongue of Washington.

In a word: Corruption. As Armey put it last night, “The party got off track. Earmark excesses. Personal problems. The war. A lot of chickens are coming home to roost.” Arkansas is about where it was 35 years ago: A Democratic governor, two Democratic senators and three Democratic congressmen, with one Republican congressman representing northwest Arkansas apparently holding on to his seat. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Well, not exactly: The state Legislature has more Republicans, while there were almost none in 1971, but the Democratic tide is unmistakable.

Do you remember term limits? That was the Republicans’ mantra a decade ago, and it took root in Arkansas when that was the trendy thing to do, but when Republicans took power in Washington, they dropped the whole idea of term limits. They liked power so much that candidates who had pledged to serve no more than three terms in Congress said, “Never mind. Washington is too much fun. We’ll stick around 20 years.”

Many of those double-crossing politicians lost last night, and they lost badly, which is why the Democrats have regained the House today. But they’ll get used to power again and one day they may take the White House, too, and when they’re too comfortable and full of themselves, the voters will kick them out again. That’s the genius of American democracy. May it long prevail.

TOP STORY >>Record attendance at show

Leader staff writer

More than 200,000 aircraft enthusiasts — a record — visited Little Rock Air Force Base over the weekend for the 2006 Airpower Arkansas air show. Unfortunately, they won’t be seeing anything but C-130s in the skies over LRAFB for three more years, when the next air show is scheduled to occur. AirPower Arkansas 2006 will be the last air show for at least three years, according to Brig. Gen. Kip Self, commander of Little Rock Air Force Base.

Deputy chief of the 314th Airlift Wing’s Strategic Information Flight, 2nd Lt. Kelly George confirmed that, as of now, the next air show will be in 2009 because of budget restraints and the stress placed on the base for an air show. But that didn’t keep more than 200,000 people from enjoying this year’s show. “We had 165,000 the first day alone,” George said. “Attendance last year was 150,000 for both days; we broke a record. The air show went great; all the feedback we’ve received was that everyone had a great time.”

Young and old alike meandered through the 46 aircraft parked on the flight line, many taking the time to wait in long lines to see the cockpit of numerous planes. Photo opportunities were plentiful this year both with the aerial demonstrations and the static displays. “My father-in-law probably took 140 pictures,” Danielle Pelletier of Austin said. “We walked through the C-130s and took pictures because that’s what my husband flies on. We took pictures in the Chinook helicopter because my brother-in-law flies them.”

The first time to LRAFB’s air show, Pelletier said her family loved it, and her two boys, ages three and four, had to go through every plane there. There were small planes, like the BT-13 World War II aircraft; big planes, like the C-130s; and really-really big planes, like the gigantic C-5 Galaxy; the Air Force even had little one-seater battery operated planes being driven around to help promote the Air Force.

The Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard were also all on hand at this year’s show helping to promote their unique services.
Children, and adults too, were awed by the speed of the jets and the precision of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. “Wow” and “that’s loud” were heard numerous times from the mouths of children during the aerial performances.

“I like the jets the best,” Tammy Stark of Ward, who attends the air show every year, said. “Their speed is just amazing.” The LRAFB 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office reported that rumors of a major incident occurring Saturday during the air show were completely false. “There was no such incident,” George said. “We had an asthma attack Saturday near the end of the show, but no major incidents.” While some might have had a long wait getting off base, George said the traffic flow ran smoothly and most people had a relatively short wait.

“It took us two hours to get off base,” Pelletier said. “We sat in one spot for an hour and a half; if it hadn’t been for the fire trucks and ambulances being called, it wouldn’t have taken us long to get off base.” Stark also had delays getting off base, but for different reasons. “We couldn’t find our car when we went to leave, it took us 30 minutes to find where we had parked,” Ashley Holder, who rode with Stark to the air show, said.

TOP STORY >>Cabot, Beebe see enrollment go up in school districts

Area school enrollment figures are in: Cabot and Beebe school districts increasing enrollment, while the Pulaski County Special School District and Lonoke School District experinces slight declines. These fall figures are reported nationally, but the enrollment figures upon which state minimum foundation aid—the money that follows each student—are taken about three-quarters of the way through the school year, according to Julie Thompson, spokesman for the state Department of Education
Cabot’s enrollment increased by at least 450 students, while Beebe saw an increase of almost 200 students. PCSSD lost 187 students—about 1 percent—and Lonoke enrollment decreased by 16 students.


Enrollment in the Pulaski County Special School District is down to 17,756 from 17,943 a year ago, according to figures provided by the district and the state Department of Education. In the long run, the district’s enrollment is pretty stable, according to Brenda Bowles, director of equity, and the decline may be largely due to the exodus of many of the students who fled Hurricane Katrina last year and attended schools here.

Enrollment is down at all three Sylvan Hills schools and Bowles said many of those students are transferring to North Little Rock schools. White students from both the high school and the middle school in Jacksonville also have transferred to North Little Rock, Bowles said. In addition, about 1,000 area students are being home schooled and yet others are attending charter schools in Maumelle and downtown Little Rock. For the last four or five years, some growth was from majority to minority transfers from Little Rock, she said. “We’re now losing instead of gaining. Some schools are full or at capacity.”

Students who would have attended Homer Atkins were reassigned to Murrell Taylor Elementary, Jacksonville Elementary and Harris Elementary, with some of them transferring to Dupree Elementary, Bowles said. Homer Adkins last year had 221 students as an elementary school. This year, reconfigured as a pre-kindergarten-only school, it has 112 students.
The decline at Arnold Drive Elementary School is at least partially attributable to families moving off Little Rock Air Force Base while on-base housing is privatized and razed or rehabilitated. Here’s how enrollment breaks down for local schools:


Arnold Drive Elementary, 216 students, a decrease of 39 students.
Bayou Meto Elementary, 394 students, down from 410.
Cato Elementary, 329 students, a decrease of nine.
Harris Elementary, 271 students, an increase of 37.
Jacksonville Elementary, 552, an increase of 16 students.
Murrell Taylor Elementary, 430 students, up 73 students.
Pinewood Elementary, 404 students, down 25.
Scott Elementary, 130 students, an increase of 15 from last year.
Sherwood Elementary, 400 students, up eight from last year.
Sylvan Hills Elementary, 359 students, down 47 students.
Tolleson Elementary, 297 students, an increase of 25.
Warren Dupree Elementary, 322 students, an increase of 45 students.

Middle School

Northwood Middle School, 654 students, down 14.
Sylvan Hills Middle School, 653 students, a decrease of 60 students.
Jacksonville Middle School—last year, both the boys and the girls middle schools were combined, with a total of 892 students.
This year, they are considered separate schools, with an enrollment of 426 on the boys campus and 440 students on the girls campus. Combined, they have 26 fewer students than last year.

High School

Jacksonville High School, 1,114 students, down 15 students.
Sylvan Hills High School, 955 students, down from 972.
North Pulaski High School, 913 students, an increase of 16.


The Cabot Public School District showed an enrollment of 9,006 students as of the Sept. 21 school board meeting, reported by superintendent Frank Holmanan increase in enrollment by 518 students from last year. Monday’s current figures from each campus however show enrollment at 8,944 students, that’s 9,171 students when including the 227 pre-kindergarteners, an increase of 456 students from last year’s 8,488.

“We are shocked as well as pleased with the increase we’ve had since last year,” said Pam Carter, data systems manager for the district . Carter said classrooms have been made in every available room in the schools to allow for the increased student population. Magness Creek Elementary added five to seven classes for this school year and Ward Central Elementary is still using the classes they added last year.

Enrollment at Cabot’s 13 campuses for the 2006-2007 are:
Cabot High School, 1,727 students, an increase of 48.
Cabot Junior High South, 983 students, an increase of 43.
Cabot Junior High North, 1,071 students, up 66 from last year.
Cabot Middle School, 676 students, an increase of 62.
Cabot Middle School North’s enrollment remained steady at 730.
Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), Cabot’s conversion charter school, 119, down 35 from last year.
Ward Central Elementary has 472 kindergarten through fourth graders, down nine from last year. Ward Central also has 137 pre-kindergarten students enrolled.
Central Elementary enrollment went up to 495, a gain of 37 students.
Eastside Elementary, 550, a drop of 28 students.
Magness Creek Elementary enrollment boomed to 605 students this year, a gain of 106.
Northside Elementary, 475 students, a gain of 20 students. The school also has 20 pre-kindergarten students.
Southside Elementary, gained 43 students for a total of 550.
Westside Elementary saw a similar increase, with430 students, 42 more than last year and 70 pre-kindergarten students.
According to the ADE, for the 2005-2006 school year, Cabot Public Schools had a total enrollment of 8,488, which does not include the pre-kindergarten programs. David Hipp, president of the Cabot Board of Education, credited the city of Cabot’s housing growth spurt the last several years as the reason for the increase of students. “People are moving to Cabot. I feel that one of the things drawing people here is the good school system,” Hipp said. “We have anywhere from a 300-500 student increase every year; if you look at the housing areas started here in Cabot, that doesn’t take long.”


The Beebe School District has 3,093 students in grades K-12, with 30 in the pre-kindergarten classrooms.
That’s an increase in enrollment of 194 students since last school year, when Beebe had a total enrollment of 2,899 for the 2005-2006 year, not including the pre-kindergarten program. Superintendent Belinda Shook said the district saw a larger increase than normal this year because of a larger kindergarten class.
According to Shook the district usually increases anywhere from 70 to 90 students per year.
Beebe School District’s current enrollment figures per campus are:
Beebe Primary Elementary, 780 students, a gain of 93.
Beebe Intermediate, 460 students, a gain of38.
Beebe Middle, 466, a gain of 13 students
Beebe Junior High School, 467, a loss of seven students compared to last year.
Beebe High School has 911, an increase of 48 students.
Shook believes Beebe’s proximity to Little Rock and Searcy is one reason for the district’s increased enrollment.
“Beebe is growing as a community; we have a good school system and a good community,” Shook said. “People want to move here. They like that we are not a huge district, but at the same time, that we aren’t a small district either.”
Shook also cites the variety of programs offered both in the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities as a reason for higher enrollment figures, including the district’s before- and after-school programs, which she sees as a “big plus for us.”
Sheena Williamson, principal at Beebe High School, said one reason for current enrollment figures is because all the campuses are in one location. “Parents can drop off all their children at one location, not numerous ones throughout town,” Williamson said. “Older siblings are also able to look out for younger ones with the campuses all together.”


The Lonoke School District lost 16 students this year in grades K-12, with a total enrollment of 1,839. That’s down from 1,855 a year ago. “I’d characterize this as normal ebb and flow of enrollment,” said John Tackett, assistant superintendent.
“We’ve seen some growth in the long run. We have increased enrollment over the last five years. What we’d like to see is to have it start at the primary level and move through the system.” He said the new middle school, slated to open after Christmas break, could encourage some students to stay in school or attract and keep new students.

“Facilities are important, but secondary to the programs inside the facilities,” Tackett said Primary school enrollment is up 13 students to 439, according to figures provided by the district. Elementary school enrollment dipped from 436 last year to 417 this year; middle school is up eight students to 416 and High School dropped 18 students to 567 students. These are not the totals used to figure state aid to the Lonoke School District—those are determined after the third nine-week period, but if they hold, the district’s state foundation aid revenues will be down about $90,000, based on state aid of $5,662 per student.

Earlier this year, Lonoke Superintendent Sharron Havens had told the board that the district could lose as much as $300,000 in state foundation aid this year if enrollment the first week was any indication, so that’s actually good news.
Lonoke also has 97 pre-K students.

TOP STORY >>New sheriff is elected

Ricky Shourd, a Searcy police officer, will be the new White County sheriff, but the area his deputies will have to patrol will be a little smaller than his predecessor’s since the Beebe annexation on the ballot that took in county land to more than double the size of the city won overwhelmingly.

Shourd, a Republican, won easily over Pat Garrett, the Democratic incumbent in the three-man race that also included independent candidate Edward Thornton. The unofficial results in that race were Shourd, 11,791; Garrett, 7,501, and Thornton, 1,590. Inside Beebe, the vote for annexation was 920 to 510. Outside the city, the vote was 38 to 143 for a total of 958 for annexation and 548 against.

The race for White County judge is not over. None of the three candidates took more than 50 percent of the votes, though Michael Lincoln, the Republican candidate and the only one who is new to politics came out ahead. He will face Independent candidate Dennis Gillam in the runoff election Nov. 28.

“I’m pleased I got the most votes in the general. That’s a good lead going into the runoff,” Lincoln said. The count in that race was Lincoln 7,723; Gillam, 6,676, and Waylon Heathscott, D., 6,509. Former Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson got his old job back, but he ran unopposed since Mayor Donald Ward decided to retire. Ward had defeated previously defeated Robertson, who later became an alderman.

In other Beebe election contests, Carol Crump-Westergren defeated Estela Gomez for clerk / treasurer, 866 to 531. Crump is a banker and a former member of the city council. Gomez is an assistant to the current clerk / treasurer. There will be a runoff for the Ward 3, Position 1 seat on the city council between John D. Johnson and Garland Kirkpatrick. In that three-way race, Johnson received the most votes, while Hermon Blackmon came in third. The vote in that race was Johnson 501; Kirkpatrick, 481, and Blackmon, 412.

The mayor of McRae gets to keep his job. Robert “Bob” Sullivan defeated David Newman, 175 to 43. Searcy Mayor Belinda LaForce’s future is not so secure. LaForce, the Democrat in the three-way race, received 42.38 percent of the votes, coming in second to Dale Brewer, who received 43.57 percent. The vote was LaForce, 2,494; Brewer, 2,564, and Philip R. Williams, 827.

TOP STORY >>Dems win top spots statewide Tuesday

Leader staff writer

It was a slam-dunk for Democrats as they laid claim to all statewide and Pulaski County offices. Voters ushered Attorney General Mike Beebe into the governorship, picked Bill Halter as the new lieutenant governor and Dustin McDaniel as attorney general. Democrats also grabbed three of four U.S. representative spots, with Marion Berry quickly putting Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh in the loser’s bracket.

The new sheriff in Pulaski County is Doc Holladay, and Buddy Villines got another nod as county judge. In Sherwood, where all candidates run as independents, the new mayor is Alderman Dan Stedman, who defeated Mike Presson. Current Mayor Bill Harmon, who has served 14 years, decided early not to try for another term.

Stedman captured 3,910 votes (62 percent) of the vote, compared to Presson’s 2,439 votes (38 percent). “I feel great about the support I received,” Stedman said, “and I’m looking forward to serving the people of Sherwood. I believe in teamwork and with teamwork, we’ll bring Sherwood to new heights.” In the one of two contested Sherwood alderman races, Alderman

Becki Vassar retained her Ward 1, Position 1 seat, defeating Robert Walla. Vassar received 1,108 votes (81 percent) compared to Walla’s 265 votes (19 percent). For Vassar, it’ll be her 15th term in office; she’s already served on the council for 28 years. “I guess this makes me the dinosaur,” she laughed, “but I’m as excited about this term as I was my first one. I see a bright future for Sherwood.” Vassar added that she was “very humbled and appreciative” of the voters’ support.

In the other city council race—a battle for the Ward 1, Position 2 seat—Charlie Harmon defeated Greg Chastine, 858 votes (61 percent) to 505 votes (39 percent). Harmon called the race between him and Chastine as “very gentlemanly and enjoyable. It was a clean positive race,” he said, adding that he’s excited to be on the city council where his father, Bill Harmon started out 24 years ago. Harmon’s grandfather was also an alderman, serving on the Hughes council for 42 years. All aldermen in Position 1 seats will serve four-year terms, while Position 2 seat holders will serve two-year terms, giving the council staggered terms for the first time.

Position 1 aldermen include Vassar, Butch Davis, Sheila Sulcer and Keith Rankin. Position 2 aldermen include Harmon, David Henry, Marina Brooks and Steve Fender. Virginia Hillman received the nod for another term as the city clerk/treasurer, defeating Sharon McMinn. Hillman received 3,915 votes (62 percent) of the vote compared to McMinn’s 2,369 votes (38 percent). “I’m excited by the confidence the voters have shown in me,” Hillman said, “it was a great victory, and we’ll keep on doing what we are doing to make Sherwood a great place to live and work.”

In Jacksonville, none of the council seats were contested, but aldermen in Position 1 seats were re-elected to four-year terms and those in Position 2 seats were elected to two-year terms to create staggered terms. Those in Position 1 seats include Kenny Elliott, Reddie Ray, Gary Fletcher and Avis Twitty. Position 2 aldermen include Marshall Smith, Terry Sansing, Linda Rinker, Bob Stroud and Bill Howard.

Kevin McCleary was appointed earlier this year to Ward 2, Position 1 seat when Alderman Robert Lewis died. McCleary or someone else will have to be reappointed to that seat by the council in January to serve for four years. Mayor Tommy Swaim was re-elected to a sixth term without an opponent. In Pulaski County, with most of the precincts reporting, County Judge Buddy Villines bested his Republican opponent, Buddy York, 72,629 votes (68 percent) to 34,217 votes (32 percent).

In the sheriff’s race, Doc Holladay garnered 73,977 votes (69 percent), while DeWayne Graham, a Sherwood resident, netted 33,226 votes (31 percent). Former Justice of the Peace Dennis Sobba, of Jacksonville, was re-elected to his position as Gray Township Constable. He defeated Rick Hill 23,627 votes (59 percent) to 16,334 votes (41 percent). Jacksonville’s Pat O’Brien was unopposed in his run for a second term as Pulaski circuit/county clerk.

Statewide, with 65 percent of the precincts reporting, Beebe had a 20-point lead over Asa Hutchinson. Mike Beebe had 302,374 votes (58 percent) to Hutchinson’s 204,018 votes (38 percent). Halter outdistanced state Sen. Jim Holt, 309,664 votes (60 percent) to 207,689 votes (40 percent) for the state’s number two spot. McDaniel solidly defeated his Republican opponent Gunner DeLay, 298,847 votes (65 percent) to 181,440 votes (35 percent). In the First Congressional District race, U.S. Rep. Berry won handily over Republican challenger Stumbaugh. Berry had fifteen times more campaign funds and beat Stumbaugh by more than a two-to-one margin. With 51 percent of the precincts reporting, Berry garnered 82,914 votes (69 percent) to Stumbaugh’s 36,895 votes (31 percent).

Things were a little tighter in the Second Congressional District as Rep. Snyder defeated newcomer Andy Mayberry by about 20 percentage points. With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Snyder captured 120,760 votes (61 percent), while Mayberry pulled in 76,422 votes (39 percent). The surprise battle came in the Third Congressional District, a Republican stronghold, where incumbent John Boozman got all he could handle early by Democrat challenger Woodrow Anderson. Boozman pulled away late in the evening.

With 58 percent of the precincts reporting, Boozman had 48,818 votes (60 percent) to Anderson’s 32,617 votes (40 percent).
In the Fourth Congressional District, Rep. Mike Ross easily defeated Republican challenger Joe Ross. With 73 percent of the precincts reporting, Mike Ross garnered 91,621 votes (76 percent) while Joe Ross had 29,374 votes (24 percent).
Two state ballot issues also passed easily. One was a bond issue for higher education.

With 54 percent of the precincts reporting, 249,331 voters (68 percent) said yes, and 117,590 (32 percent) said no. A constitutional amendment to allow charitable bingo also passed with 255,064 yes votes (69 percent) and 116,783 no votes (31 percent).

TOP STORY >>GOP wins key races in local contests

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain turned back a harrowing challenge from Democrat Tim Blair by 79 votes out of 15,825 ballots that were cast. Barring a 79-vote swing from challenged votes and military votes, McCastlain will still be in office after the first of the year to press on with her wide-ranging criminal trial against former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, his wife and two bail bondsmen on an array of felony charges.

With late votes coming from the Republican stronghold in the north part of the county, McCastlain overtook Blair late in the vote counting. McCastlain said the vote showed that a lot of residents believed in her same philosophy. She said that when Blair tried to campaign negatively, her answer was to respond with the facts.

By a vote of 9,249 to 6,577, her fellow Republican, Sheriff Jim Roberson, ended for once and for all Charlie Martin’s ambition to recapture the office he first lost to Roberson in 2002. “This was the last time,” Martin said of running for sheriff Tuesday night. He said freshly reelected Ward Mayor Art Brooke had offered him the position as Ward chief of police.
Roberson couldn’t be reached for comment. “I’m humbled,” said Republican Eddie Joe Williams after winning 52 percent of the vote in a four-way contest for Cabot mayor, succeeding Stubby Stumbaugh.

His closest opponent, Kenny Ridgeway, got 22 percent. Runoffs will be conducted to decide the Austin mayor’s race, a Lonoke City Council seat and the constable’s race in Ward Township. Mayor Bernie Chamberlain, who got 44 percent of the vote in her reelection bid, will face a runoff from Barry D. Weathers II, who got 35 percent.

In the Lonoke District 4 City Council race, Democrat Kenneth Pasley got 35 percent of the vote and will face independent Wendell Walker, who got 34 percent, in the runoff. Republican Mike Reveley (43 percent) faces a runoff against Democrat Michael E. Kindall (39 percent). Except for long lines at some polling places and problems with printing the paper ballot trails, the election ran smoothly, according to Larry Clarke of the election commission.

Other winners include Dawn Porterfield, county clerk; Samuel Smith (by three votes) coroner; Jannette Minton, Alexis Malham, Casey Vanbuskirk for quorum court; Ray Glover, Carlisle mayor; Harold “Bill” Morris, Humnoke mayor.Jimmy Taylor, Cabot city attorney; Eddie Long, Virgil Teague Jr., Tom Armstrong, Becky Lemaster and Lisa Brickell, Cabot aldermen; Ginger Tarno, Marrice Jackson and Jeff Shaver, Ward aldermen; Christopher Dawson and Tammy Williams, Austin alderman; Curt Moody, Carlisle alderman; and Phillip Howell, Lonoke alderman.

During the May primaries, the first time the touch-screen voting machines were used along with paper ballots, it took four days to get the ballots counted. Tuesday night, all the ballots were counted by 11:18 p.m.