Wednesday, November 15, 2006

EDITORIAL>>Call me a populist

AUSTIN, Texas — Having watched election coverage nonstop all week, I sometimes wake screaming, “Bipartisanship!” and scare myself. Of all the viral members of the media who have been suggesting that the Dems cooperate with their political opponents, the one who rendered me almost unconscious with surprise was Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich, the Boy Scout. Newt Gingrich, the man who sat there and watched Congress impeach and try Bill Clinton for lying about having an extramarital while he, Newt Gingrich, was lying about having an extramarital affair. (This all took place during his second marriage. The first one ended when he told his wife he was divorcing her while she was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment.)

This is the level of Republican hypocrisy that reminds us all how far the Dems have to go. I tell you what. Let’s all hold hands together and sing, “Oh the Farmers and the Cowboys Should Be Friends!” Just not, please, Newt Gingrich, the man whose contribution to civility was to recommend that all Democrats be referred to with such words as cowards, traitors, commies, godless, liars and other such bipartisan-promoting terms.

Please, anyone but Newt. Now, from my hours spent battered and half brain dead listening to the fatuous, self-important commentators of our nation, I learn that the people of this country did not elect liberals to Congress last week.
Nope, they elected populists! Well, gosh all hemlock. I’ll be go to hell.

Populist! I AM one. Honest — been a populist so long I’m on my third bottle of Tabasco. Who knew? I thought all said I was chopped liver. Populist. Like Tom Frank of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” fame. Jim Hightower. We can even draw our lines of political genealogy — via Ralph Yarborough and Bob Elkhart.

A populist is pretty much for the PEOPLE and generally in this case exactly the same as a liberal — we just put the em-PHA-sis on a different syl-LA-ble. We also tend to be more fun. We do not vote to hurt average Americans, even if the corporate payoff is really big. Even if it’s just a little bit — like the bankruptcy bill. We tend to focus less on social issues and more on who’s gettin’ screwed and who’s doin’ the screwin’. In my opinion, Americans are not getting screwed by the Republican Party. They are getting screwed by Large Corporations that bought and own the Republican Party.

The word populist was misused, abused and co-opted by right-wingers for years, ever since we were all forced to read Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Bad history can do a powerful amount of damage. Most of us stopped at the painful news that Tom Watson, leader of the late-19th century populism, went on to become a raging racist bigot. Populism itself took on the connotation of bile and nastiness, a la Father Coughlin.

If you read back to the beginning of the populist movement, however, you will find Andy Jackson and the West set against all those dreary snobs of the East. When Andy opened up the White House and let in the people, all the snobs had the fantods.
OK, it’s not the 19th century anymore, but it is always the right time to point out the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Honest. There stands George W. Bush, buck nekkid. We want to help him out of this fix because he’s dragging the whole Army, the country and the world down with him. But don’t ask us to call those clothes.

EDITORIAL>>Biggest challenge

The biggest challenge facing Mike Beebe when he becomes governor of Arkansas is figuring out what to do with the state’s growing surplus. Governors seldom get a second chance at fixing Arkansas’ problems, but when Beebe takes office in January, he could repair the state’s public schools after having tried to do just that while serving in the Senate for two decades.

As a leading legislator, Beebe arranged for more funding for schools, but somehow the job was never done, despite prodding from state courts. The state Supreme Court has issued an ultimatum that the legislature cannot ignore: The state must rebuild its crumbling public schools or the courts will step in and do the job.

Either way, that task will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and Beebe and the legislature had better start making plans soon and figure out how much money to give our schools. The challenge shouldn’t be that difficult to tackle: Arkansas has an $800 million surplus, which would go a long way toward fixing the problem. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, not quite. If Beebe and his fellow legislators could not satisfy the court’s mandates going back to the 1980s, why should they succeed now?

Sure, they will have more money to work with, but it will be hard to resist the temptation to cut corners and shortchange schools for other projects. Should they fail again, the courts will take over the schools and supervise their operation. We’ve seen that happen in Pulaski County, and that’s a disaster you wouldn’t wish on the rest of the state.

A survey of area legislators in today’s Leader suggests they’re eager to work with Beebe on dividing the surplus, some of which will likely pay for their favorite projects back home, while some of the surplus will disappear when the sales tax on groceries is phased out. That should take care of the surplus, especially after legislators take a cut for their own pet projects, leaving very little for roads and other improvements.

But the biggest chunk will almost certainly go toward public education since the state Supreme Court ordered the state to stop dragging its feet and start improving public school facilities and offer students a better education immediately. Morril Harriman, Beebe’s new chief of staff, has played this game for decades as the two were longtime side kicks in the Senate. They tried to solve the school issue but failed. Here’s hoping they do better the second go-round.

Mike Beebe’s legacy will depend on how well he tackles the crisis in our schools. For our kids’ sakes, the new governor must do better than his predecessor.

SPORTS >>Wildcats restless, anxious to get playoffs underway

Leader sportswriter

When the Harding Academy Wildcats take the field against the Hector Wildcats this Friday night in the second round of the playoffs, they will be the favorites against the third-place team from the 3A-3 conference. That doesn’t mean that Hector will be a pushover for the 3A-2 undefeated conference champions. Hector will bring a 9-2 record into First Security Stadium in Searcy, but the visitors are just a couple of mistakes away from being undefeated.

Hector lost to conference champion Lavaca 20-14, and fell 8-6 to perennial powerhouse Charleston. Both losses came on the road, which is a concern for Hector coach Bryan Rust. “We had to go on the road to those places, and those were some tough teams,” Rust said. “We made a couple of mistakes that really cost us. We’ve played really well at home, and played pretty well on the road for the most part, we just didn’t get it done those two times. We had a few opportunities.”

Those two losses haven’t hurt the visting Wildcats’ confidence. They are aware they are on equal footing with the league champs, and believe they can play with the best of them. What concerns Rust is Harding Academy’s offense. It’s one his team hasn’t see all season. “I think the last time we played a true spread team was about four years ago when Little Rock Christian first got started,” Rust said. “We’ve seen some teams try to run it that weren’t very good. We haven’t seen anybody that does like Harding. They’re efficient to say the least. It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure.”

Hector has only 24 players on the roster, so simulating the Wildcat offense with the backups is a problem. He thinks his team’s football smarts will help when they get on the field. “I think we’ve got some pretty good kids, and I think we’ve got smart kids,” Rust said. “They’ll know where they’re supposed to be and what their assignments are just by us coaching them this week. The mental preparation isn’t a concern. The physical preparation is a concern because they won’t know what it’s going to be like until they get out there. All our good ones (in practice) will be on defense watching while the young ones try to simulate what Harding’s going to do. Really we’ve got no way to simulate their offense. We’re just going to have to do our best and adjust on the fly.”

Rust runs a straight up Dead T offense, which has become a rarity in its own right. That may not be much of an advantage this week, given that Harding Academy got to take a week off and scout the Hector-Corning game last week. Both of those teams run similar offenses, so Rust feels Harding has been preparing the same way for two weeks, regardless of who won their first-round game.

“A lot of people think (HA’s bye-week) is an advantage, a lot of people think it’s disadvantage,” Rust said. “I think given the circumstances, it’s an advantage for them because they basically got two weeks to prepare for one game. Corning runs about the same thing we do, so they’ve just been gearing up for two weeks.”

Hector’s go-to players, as is usually the case in the dead T, are the quarterback and fullback. Senior Ryan White has rushed for over 950 yards, and hopes to become the second player on the team to top 1000 yards this season. Fullback Lucas Watson, also a senior, has already surpassed the 1000-yard mark, and Rust estimates he’s around 1150 yards right now.
The defense is led by senior linebacker Brandon Dalton, who leads the team in tackles. Senior defensive back Cody Storm is also a major factor, and will be a key to stopping, or at least slowing down, the Harding Academy passing attack. Those four guys have been tremendous for us all year,” Rust said. We’re really heavy on seniors this year, and the leadership has been great. I’m looking for those guys to step up for us.”

Practically no one is picking Hector to win, and Rust relishes the role of underdog. “Everybody tells us we’re the underdog,” Rust said. “We kind of like that role. It takes some of the pressure off of us and that’s not that bad of a situation to be in. Harding’s undefeated and beat some pretty good teams. They’re the conference champions and we’re playing at their place. So I’d say they’re the favorites.”

SPORTS >>Cabot blows by Lonoke

Leader sportswriter

The Lady Panthers dominated the Lady Jackrabbits in the consolation finals of the RAPA tournament at Little Rock Hall Saturday night. Cabot jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first five minutes of the contest and never looked back to take a very convincing 70-42 win over its cross-county rival.

The Lady Panthers got the lead as high as 21 points in the opening frame until a small rally from Lonoke senior post Calisha Kirk cut the lead to 16 at the half. Kirk scored on a put-back, then took in a break-away layup and drew the foul from Cabot’s Lauren Walker. She made the foul shot, putting the halftime score at 36-20 in favor of Cabot.

Kirk and Kristy Shinn gave the Lady ‘Rabbits hope in the early stages of the second half. Both scored on early jumpers to close Cabot’s lead to within 12 points, but it would be the closest Lonoke would come to the quicker and more precise-shooting Lady Panthers. Walker took over for Cabot in the middle of the second half with two straight steals that she converted into layups that put the Lady Panthers’ lead at 20 points, 51-31 with 8:37 remaining. Lonoke head coach Nathan Morris called his second time out in two minutes at that point in an attempt to rally his squad, but Cabot continued to take advantage of the Lady Jackrabbits’ vulnerability to having the ball picked from them.

Another steal from senior Maddie Helms with an assist to Leah Watts for two points, and a pair of foul shots from Jamie Sterrenberg gave Cabot an insurmountable 61-36 lead with 5:20 remaining. The Lady Panthers called off the dogs at that point, and the final five minutes of the contest had the look of a JV contest for both teams.

Sophomore standout Shelby Ashcraft continued to impress early on down low for the Lady Panthers. Ashcraft scored six points early to help Cabot rush out to a 15-3 lead with 11:42 left in the first half. Helms shook off her early-season inconsistency with a strong game of her own for the Lady Panthers, Helms put up six points in the first half, but more importantly led in assists, and the onslaught of steals from Cabot in the opening 16 minutes. Helms got the second of what would turn out to be six steals on the half, five of which were converted into fast-break scores for the Lady Panthers.
Sterrenberg, Ashcraft, Walker and Watts would also come away with picks in the half, with Watts grabbing a pair of possessions away from Lonoke early.

Kirk kept Lonoke somewhat in the game in the early going, driving hard on the inside for some tough points. Kirk ended up with 13 of the Lady ‘Rabbits 20 first half points, and seven more in the second half. The scoring was spread out a little more for Lonoke in the second half, but Junior outside shooter Haley O’Cain couldn’t find her mark from three-point land. O’Cain looked like she would be hot during the pre-game warm up, hitting six consecutive shots from different spots behind the arc. But with pressure from the Cabot D, her shots were off, and Lonoke’s best chance for quick points in the second half faded away.

Kirk led all scorers for Lonoke with 20 points. Ashcraft led Cabot with 16 points, with Sterrenberg adding 14 for the Lady Panthers. Walker also finished in double digits with 12 points on the night. The win gave Cabot a final No. 5 ranking in the tourney, with Lonoke finishing sixth.

SPORTS >>Badgers finish as runners up in XC

Leader sportswriter

Beebe almost defended its state cross country championship on Sunday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. The Badgers finished second overall, 35 points behind new champions Siloam Springs. The Badgers also had two standout performances during the event. Jacob Hendricks finished second, and Cody Weimann had one of his best times of the year to take third right behind his teammate. Both Hendricks and Weimann earned spots in this Saturday’s all-star run at Fayetteville, where the top 25 runners from Arkansas will take on the 25 best that Oklahoma has to offer.

Beebe cross-country coach Johnathon Lindsay expected Hendricks to be strong, but Weimann exceeded all expectations with his strong run. “That was Cody’s best run all year, he really surprised us,” Lindsay said. “Jacob Hendricks has consistently been one of our strongest runners all year. It’s something special for the two of them to be invited to the all-star run, there has never been anyone from Beebe to go, so it is something to be proud of.”

Hendricks finished with a total time of 17:18.93, less than 30 seconds behind winner Luke Allen of Harrison. Weimann was right there with his teammate for the entire event, finishing less than a second behind Hendricks with a final time of 17:19.71. The pair finished 10 seconds ahead of fourth-place runner Seth Freeman of Greene County Tech.

The Badgers were hoping for a repeat after capturing the state title last year, but Siloam Springs had different plans. The Panthers finished with only 50 points, compared to 85 for Beebe. The gap between second and third in the final standings was a significant one, with GCT trailing the Badgers with 148 points for the meet.

Among other notable performances for Beebe was Colton Weimann finishing 22nd with a total time 18:25.94. Christian Garcia finished 27th with a time of 18:37.58 and Roz Gonzalez with 31st with a time of 18:48.77.

SPORTS >>Freshmen Red Devils split with War Eagles

Leader sports editor

The freshmen Lady Red Devils got their season off to a great start Monday night, and in exciting fashion. The Jacksonville ninth-graders defeated JA Fair 34-33 on the road to start the season 1-0. The Red Devil boys weren’t as fortunate, falling 47-28 to start 0-1.

The Lady Red Devils got 15 points from guard Tiara Clark, but Clark went down with an ankle injury with two minutes left in the game while Jacksonville led 34-28. With her leading scorer out for the remainder of the game, and the team playing good defense, head coach Tanya Ganey decided to try to sit on the lead.

“I decided to just hold the ball a little bit rather than shoot and maybe let them have the basketball,” Ganey said. “The strategy worked well until one mistake with 10 seconds left.” Trailing 34-30, the Lady War Eagles were forced to foul, but were not yet in the bonus. Jacksonville, though, stepped across the line on the inbound pass, giving it back to Fair with 10 ticks of the clock left.

Fair streaked down the court and hit a three, but too much time elapsed. Jacksonville’s Precious Jeffrey took the inbound pass and covered up while the last two seconds ticked away, giving the Lady Red Devils the win. Five players scored for Jacksonville, who was led by Clark’s 15. Jeffrey and Crystal Washington added six each. Apple Sims scored five and Essica Walker added two points for Jacksonville.

Brandy Holder, Monica Williams and Allison Nelson didn’t score, but played important minutes, and made some key defensive stops. “Nelson went in and got us a key steal in the third quarter that helped us pull out to a little bit of a lead,” Ganey said.
Clark’s status was unknown Tuesday afternoon. She was scheduled to visit team trainer Jason Cates late yesterday afternoon.
The boys’ game started poorly when the Red Devils two starting post players got into foul trouble. That forced coach Roy Jackson to go small, and that created a disadvantage against a tall and deep War Eagle club.

It didn’t help that Jacksonville’s shots weren’t falling. All that resulted in the lop-sided final score. Jacksonville fell behind 8-3 right away, but still only trailed 27-20 at the end of three quarters. Fair’s depth took over in the final period as Jacksonville was forced to try to press against a well-rested bunch of Eagles. “They got about 15 deep and they’re all pretty good,” Jacksonville said of Fair. “Their second team is just as good as their first, and they were pretty tall with some really good guards. When we got in foul trouble and didn’t hit from outside, it made it tough. We played hard though and hung around until the very end. We just got tired. We’re going to strap it up and get ready for them to come here in a couple days.”
Fair pays a visit to Jacksonville Thursday night for a return match at the Devils’ Den.

Next Monday Jacksonville will travel to Little Rock Christian Academy to play a game that was originally scheduled for January 8. That date falls in LRCA’s mid-term week, so the game was recently re-scheduled for next Monday night at LRCA.

SPORTS >>Cabot turns in best effort at XC

Leader sportswriter

Four Cabot cross-country runners will represent their school this coming Saturday in Fayetteville during the All-Star states run. The meet will be the 25 best cross-country runners from Arkansas against the 25 best from Oklahoma. Nathan Johnson, Emily Carpenter, Marissa DeLaPaz and Blake Norman all qualified for the event with strong efforts during Sunday’s cross- country championship at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. Panthers cross-country coach Leon White says the effort from the runners was strong all year.

“These four performed consistent all year long,” White said. “For some of them, it was their best time, for the others, it may have not been their best time, but they competed hard and did well to get into the states meet. I don’t ever remember four kids making it in, so it’s a big honor, really.”

Senior Nathan Johnson’s run was second best in the 7A boys division behind Aaron Hamilton of Rogers. Johnson’s time of 16:32.68 was 22 seconds slower than Hamilton’s, but five better than Eric Molina, also of Rogers. In fact, Johnson was the only non-Rogers runner to finish in the top five. Six of the top eight finishers were from Rogers, with Johnson in second and Willie Pickhardt from Fayetteville in sixth as the only buffers for Mounties dominance.

Junior Blake Norman ran 25th in the state meet with a time of 17:36.05, earning him an alternate slot at Saturday’s states meet. The battle around the 25th spot was a close one, with Norman taking the final qualifying position by less than two seconds over Tyler Beaver of Har-Ber Springdale.

Overall, the Cabot boys finished eighth out of 15 teams with 188 total points. As expected, Rogers won the event with only 21 points, 101 points better than second-place finishers Van Buren with 124 points.

Junior Emily Carpenter was tops for the Cabot girls, finishing sixth out of 109 runners. Carpenter’s time of 20:02.52 was only a minute slower than winner Erika Setzler of Conway. Marissa DeLaPaz also finished with a time in the 20 minute range with a final time of 20:27.93, earning a 14th place finish for the Cabot senior.

The Cabot girls took sixth in the final team standings with 187 points, just three points out of the top five. Russellville took the fifth place spot with 184 points. Bentonville won the event with 46 total points and an average time of 19:56.40.

OBITUARIES >> 11-15-06


Donald Willis Eckert, 58, of Cabot died Nov. 11. He was born Sept. 29, 1948 to the late Bernard and Grace Adwell Kantz Eckert in White Sulfur Springs, W. Va. He was a retired master sergeant in the Air Force and was a sheet metal worker at Raytheon Aircraft in Little Rock.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn “Cindy” of the home; son and daughter-in-law, Donald R. and Amy Eckert of Cabot; a daughter and son-in-law, Jean and Jason Hurst of Caledonia, Miss., and grandchildren Victoria Eckert, Erin Eckert, Riley Eckert, Carley Hurst, Camden Hurst and Clara Hurst.

He was preceded in death by his sisters, Carol Wren and Linda Mikowski. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17 at Cabot United Methodist Church with the Rev. Cliff Clark officiating. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and again Thursday, Nov. 16 from noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Cabot Funeral Home.


Sue L. Spence, 79, of Cabot passed away Nov. 11 in Cabot. She was born Nov.23, 1926 in Wattensaw to the late Earl and Ada Thweatt Lenderman. She was preceded in death by her husband, Hayward E. “Buster” Spence.

She was a retired school teacher and a member of First Baptist Church in Cabot.
Survivors include her sons, Jim Spence and wife Ramona of Fairbanks, Alaska; Bill Spence and wife Kay of Edgemont, and Alan “Pete” Spence and wife Christine of Anchorage, Alaska; sisters, Anne Webb of Cabot and Nancy McKinney of Ward; seven grandchildren, Matt, Zack, Daniel, Josh, Heather, Libbie and Richard, as well as three great-grandchildren, Jaci, Deven and Alexis. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Sylvania Church with the Rev. Harold O’Bryan officiating. Burial will follow in Sylvania Cemetery.


Carle E. Williams, 85, of Jacksonville died Nov. 11. He was born in Rector to the late Altus Virl Williams and Alpha Talley Williams. He was a very devoted husband, father and Papa, who enjoyed his gardening and traveling around the state. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Sherwood. He was preceded in death by three brothers, Earl, Harrison and Cecil Williams; three sisters, Mabel Ballard, Faye Burton and Betty Burmingham, and a granddaughter, Stefanie Harper.

Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Tressie; two daughters, Linda Harper and husband Dub of Sherwood and Cynthia Millheim of Ward; one son, Richard Brown of San Diego, Calif.; one sister, Darlene Garner and husband Al of Missouri; one brother, Virl Williams and wife Faye of Illinois; seven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Services were Nov. 14 at First Baptist Church of Sherwood. Burial was in Rest Hills Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to Arkansas School for the Blind, 2600 W. Markham, Little Rock, Ark. 72205.

TOP STORY >>Cabot shows off high school

Leader deputy managing editor

The new 194,162-square- foot Cabot High School cost the district $17,593,249, or about $90.61 per foot. The final price tag was announced during an open house at the school Sunday afternoon. Steve Elliott, a 1973 Cabot High School graduate, designed the building. Elliott is also the architect for the district’s next new school, the $6.6 million Stagecoach Elementary.
His father, Don Elliott, a former superintendent for the district, was at the open house to take part in the Cabot Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Education has come a long way. This building is really something else. I think Steve did a great job with it,” Don Elliott said.
Other retired Cabot administrators at the open house included Steve Elliott’s former football coach, Jack Carrington. Besides coaching, Carring-ton served the school as principal twice, first from 1977 to 1999 and then from 1992 to 1996. “It’s really something else and I’m so pleased one of our boys designed it,” Carrington said.

Portraits of all the Cabot High School principals, dating back to 1925, have been put up in the hallways. Cabot High School principal Tony Thurman gave Charles and Rose George a tour of his office. Charles George served as the school’s principal from 1955 to 1963. During his tenure, the school’s enrollment was about 650 students. There are 1,725 students enrolled at Cabot High School this year.

With such a large student body, Thurman says one of the advantages of having all the teachers and students in one place helps everyone connect on a personal level. “It was really hard to get to know the students. Here I get to see everyone nearly everyday,” Thurman said. The two-storied, V-shaped building is arranged to support the district’s six career academies of agriculture, science and mechanics; business, finance and information technology; construction, engineering and automotive technology; health and human services; education, law and public service, and fine arts, journalism and communications. Tastefully decorated in the school colors of red and black with accents of gray and beige, the building’s greatest beauty is its size.

Previously teachers and students spent the school year inside 25 temporary trailers scattered across the 45-acre campus. Students like Jackie Howard’s son Kevin spent time between classes trekking through the elements on cold and rainy days.
“I’m so thrilled he got to spend his senior year in this new building,” Jackie Howard said.

Visitors to the school were treated to music by the school’s jazz band and the reader’s theater group performed “Hooray for Diffendoofer Day,” one of the last stories written by children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Suess. Girls from the Cabot High School show choir did a choreographed version of “Singing in the Rain” complete with black umbrellas and matching dresses before joining other choir students for several closing numbers.

TOP STORY >>Williams eager to take reins in Cabot, get city moving forward again

Leader staff writer

Eddie Joe Williams, the mayor-elect in Cabot, isn’t talking about major changes early in his administration, but he does have a game plan for January.From an office in the old Community Bank building on Second Street the city is buying, Williams said Tuesday morning that he has two goals for January — a workshop for the new council and a “traffic summit.”

Four of the eight council members who will be sworn in next year are new to city government, so Williams said he has tentatively scheduled a workshop for them on Jan. 6 at the new community center. He hopes to have speakers from Congressman Marion Berry’s office and the Municipal League. Getting across Cabot during rush hour is one of the biggest problems in the city, so Williams said that will be one of the first problems he tackles. He is currently trying to set up a meeting with representatives from the Arkansas Highway Department, Lonoke County, and Berry’s office.

Not one to spend money if he doesn’t have to, Williams has chosen to thank voters personally instead of in a paid newspaper ad. On Tuesday morning, he stood for the second time on the street corner in front of city hall waving a “Thank You Cabot” sign. When he spoke with The Leader later, he was still obviously pleased that his message was well received.

“People roll down the windows and give me the thumbs up,” he said. With Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s permission, Williams has met with some of the city’s department heads. He said he isn’t planning any major changes in January. Instead, he will work through the budget process to see how the city’s financial obligations match with the money coming in before deciding if any cuts are necessary.

A major concern, he said, is the need for a fire station on Highway 5 near Greystone and Magness Creek where 150 homeowners face large increases in their insurance premiums because they live more than five miles from the nearest station.

Williams said he doesn’t think city offices will move into the old bank building this year. The city council, about two months ago, approved paying $1.1 million for the 22,000 square-foot building. The plan was to move city offices there so the police department could take over the old city hall. But Williams said he doesn’t think there will be enough money to renovate the building this year.

“I’ve been told we haven’t budgeted any money to move in and moving in is no pressing matter,” he said. Instead, he said he would try to find tenants to help pay the monthly, $3,500 payment on the building until the city needs it more and has more money to pay for the move. Council meetings in Cabot have been unpredictable in recent years. Proposed ordinances are often hotly debated and often fall short of the votes needed to pass. Williams says he wants no more of that. He wants committees made up of five members to look over and discuss every ordinance that is introduced. By the time an ordinance makes it to the full council, the debating should be over, he said, and council meetings should be orderly.

Williams said he will ask department heads to curtail their spending and start saving money for a “rainy day fund.” Williams says he sees himself as a manager. He will ask the council to help identify five objectives for the upcoming year, he said, and then he will ask his department heads to come up with ways to help him and the council members to meet those objectives.

TOP STORY >>Snyder set to chair military subcommittee

Leader staff writer

Cong. Vic Snyder, D-Little Rock, fresh off a landslide victory over his sacrificial Republican challenger said Thursday that he expected to be a House Armed Services subcommittee chairman when the reconstituted House of Representatives re-convenes in January.

“My committee will take a real thorough look at the GI bill,” said Snyder, who served in Vietnam as a Marine. “It needs to be improved.” He cited military health care as a particularly important area of concern. Snyder said the Democratic sweep in Tuesday’s election of both the House and the Senate was “good for the country.” “Voters were saying they are dissatisfied with what (their elected officials) were delivering,” Snyder said. “They have every right to have higher expectations.”
“I’m excited about the prospects of more open and ethical process in congress,” he said.

He said presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be moderate in her office, but not to the exclusion of good oversight. Of charges that a Democratic sweep would result in impeachment charges against President George Bush, Snyder said, “That’s ridiculous.” He said Congress had more important challenges, especially regarding the security of the country, support of the men and women in uniform and the wise use of tax dollars to make America safe. He said the lowest point in recent government was its failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina. He said in the space of one term, the Office of Emergency Management deteriorated from “one of the best” to one that failed in a time of crises.

Snyder said he suspected that Bush would strike a more conciliatory tone with Democrats, now that they control both houses of Congress. “As he said, he got thumped,” said Snyder. He said the president already acknowledged the new political reality by the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Asked if he expected to run for reelection again, he said he hadn’t even begun the term to which he was just elected. “We just take it two years at a time,” he said.

TOP STORY >>Officials resign in Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

After seven years on the job, Jacksonville City Engineer Jay Whisker announced his resignation at the city’s planning commission meeting Monday night. Whisker is the second city official to resign. Human Resource Director Charlie Brown submitted his resignation about a month ago, and this is his last week on the job. Brown is taking an early retirement from his city job, but plans to stay in the human resource business.

At the commission meeting, Whisker said, “I love Jacksonville and I plan on staying here,” adding the opportunity was something he couldn’t pass up. Whisker will take a job, starting Dec. 1, with an engineering firm in Little Rock. “I wasn’t really looking. They came to me,” he said, “And I was ready for something different.”

He explained that once you are hired as a city engineer that what you are until retirement. “In this new position, I have a chance for advancement,” Whisker said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love Jacksonville and love being city engineer, but its just time, but I’m remaining in Jacksonville and will be an active positive spokesman for the city,” he said. One of the planning commission asked if Whisker would consider taking a position on the commission. “If the mayor asks, I would consider it,” he said.

Commission Chairman Mark Stroud told Whisker that he would be missed “You have done yeoman’s work, and we are going to miss you keeping us straight.” Whisker told the commissioners that “I’ve learned much more from you all, than you have learned from me. Thanks for the opportunity to serve the city,” he said. Tommy Bond, with Bond Consulting Engineers, who frequently has projects in front of the commission, kiddingly said, “It’ll be tough training a new city engineer.” The city has already advertised for a replacement for the human resource director, and will start advertising for a new city engineer next week.

In other commission business: Commissioners approved the rezoning of two lots near the northwest corner of Military Road and South First Street from single-family homes to commercial. The owners of the land, Jim Peacock and Ted Camp, are planning to build a strip center with a service station on the acreage.

The commission approved a conditional use permit which would allow apartments to be built on the southwest corner of North First and Brewer streets. Plans call for four four-unit apartments to be built. Owner and developer Ben Rice said the apartments would look very similar to the Frenchman’s Wood apartments in Maumelle.

Commissioners approved an ordinance shortening front yard setbacks from 35 feet to 25 feet. The ordinance will go before the city council Thursday. Commissioners approved the sketch plat for the 98-lot development of Clover Ridge Subdivision, Phase IV, adjacent Homer Adkins Pre-K Center. The commission also approved the final plat of the 20-lot Jaxon Terrace Subdivision near Mesquite and North First streets.

TOP STORY >>Oversight could end next year for district

Leader staff writer

Superintendent James Sharpe told Jacksonville Rotary Club members Monday that the Pulaski County Special School District had remedied its financial problems and that he hoped to petition the state Education Commission in January to be released from fiscal distress designation that has brought additional state oversight.

Sharpe said he hoped the district would be removed from fiscal distress by the second semester of this year. Any Jacksonville venue is always a tough room for a PCSSD official, especially be-cause Jacksonville has worked for decades to carve its own school district from PCSSD, but Sharpe came bearing gifts—or at least the promise of one.

Sharpe said his vision would place both the boys’ and girls’ schools under the same roof where they could more easily have co-educational electives. “I want to form a focus group to study building a new Jacksonville Middle School,” he said. “We need a focus group to determine where we go from here.”

Sharpe said that barring a new influx of money, construction on a new $25 million building would begin no earlier than the 2013-2014 school year. Currently the district is in the planning process for a new Oak Grove High School and a new Sylvan Hills Middle School. Jacksonville residents have long felt like a stepchild, with the newest area school building constructed about 35 years ago.

Sharpe said the board would have to approve the new building, but that the Gordon and Associates study found it to be a tossup between the Jacksonville Middle School and the Jacksonville Elementary School as the third neediest in the district behind the Oak Grove and Sylvan Hills schools.

Ben Rice thanked School Board Member James Bolden III for voting against building the two new schools with no new school for Jacksonville. “Contrary to beliefs, your buildings are not the worst in the county,” said Sharpe. “The are well maintained and next on the list. They are in the target zone now.” Sharpe told Rotarians that the district was “cutting down windshield time,” for maintenance teams responding to sudden problems around the 520 sq. mi. district.

Sharpe also said administrators were taking a strong look at security on the campuses. “We want to tie-up loose ends on campus security,” he said. In response to questions about the district achieving unitary school status and getting off desegregation monitoring by the courts, Sharpe said attorney Sam Jones was keeping track.

The district gets nearly $20 million a year in desegregation money from the state, and would have to been weaned off that money if it achieves unitary status. Sharpe said he proposed a five-year phase out. Former Jacksonville Pinewood Elementary Principal Beverly Ruthven reported that good things were happening academically at the district, but a lot remained to be done.

She told of programs at various schools geared toward helping more students pass benchmark tests, including intervention specialist to assist teachers to help them teach and reach at-risk children. Sharpe said that while it’s important to help struggling students at all levels, the district needs to front-load its assistance—that is, make sure children are competent beginning in pre kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade.

He said only one-in-five boys come into the middle school performing at grade level, according to Principal Mike Nellums.
Fixing these performance problems is not a one or two-year deal, Sharpe said. “It’s going to take 10 to 12 years.” Former PCSSD board member Pat O’Brien, now the Pulaski County/Circuit Clerk, asked how many teachers had been fired for poor performance since 1999 out of the 1,300 teachers employed. When O’Brien suggested it might be none, Sharpe replied “That’s close.”

TOP STORY >>Lawmakers say they're ready to work with Beebe

Leader staff writer

Area legislators—all of whom were reelected without opposition Nov. 7—agree that Mike Beebe will be more of a hands-on governor than Gov. Mike Huckabee has been—and “hands-on” is the term they use nearly to a person.

All area representatives except Susan Schulte, R-Cabot, are Democrats, but they say the big difference when the General Assembly convenes in January won’t be that of working with a Democratic governor instead of a Republican, but rather attributable to Huckabee and Beebe’s contrasting styles of governance.

As a former state senator, they expect Attorney Gen. Beebe to roam the halls, stick his head into committee meetings and backslap and cajole legislators, massaging the process much in the style of former Gov. Bill Clinton. They described Huckabee as sticking pretty close to his office, keeping his distance from legislators. “There were times we didn’t get a tremendous lot of guidance on technical budget issues and technical policy matters,” says state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville. “I suspect Gov. Beebe will be more involved on a daily basis on budget and policy issues, more like Clinton than Huckabee.”

“Huckabee didn’t reach out to Democrats as a whole for ideas and feedback,” said state Rep. Jeff Wood, D-Sherwood. “He didn’t seek us out. Beebe’s going to be much different. He served in the legislature and knows how things work.” He said Beebe knows that by attending committee meetings he can better assure the approval of his agenda. “It’s real easy to vote against someone when it’s not eye-to-eye,” Wood said. Most say the top issues when the General Assembly reconvenes in January will be how to phase out the tax on groceries and what to do with the current $800 million state surplus.

Each has their own ideas on the big issues and issues that are important to them and their constituents. State Rep. Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, has advocated for healthcare-related issues since coming to the house and this year she’s promoting establishment of a traumatic brain injury commission to help tap in to any available money to help victims.

“I want to makes sure these families (and victims) have the resources to be as productive as possible,” Prater said. She also wants a centralized drug-testing registry for truck drivers to keep the highways safer and enhanced penalties for drugs or weapons at school bus stops. She said she wants additional money for biodiesel and bio fuel production and wants the state to spend money recruiting new industry.

“The federal highway bill will (provide) less money that before,” she said, suggesting that some of the surplus might be used for highway projects as well as for school facilities. Schulte, the Cabot Republican, says she’d like the state to help promote more biofuel production. “I hope it will help Arkansas farmers and reduce dependence on foreign oil.” As for the surplus, “It would be ice if some or all of it would go back as a tax rebate, but I don’t know what would be left if the grocery tax is repealed.”

Wood, a lawyer and Arkansas National Guardsman who helped pass legislation helpful to members of the military last session, says he’d like to revisit the state income-tax exemption for members of the military. Last session, the exemption was increased from $6,000 to $9,000 for enlisted mean and women. This year he’d like to include officers in that exemption.
Mark Pate, D-Bald Knob, wants to find more funding for the waiver program that would allow care outside of an institution for developmentally disable persons.

As for the $800 million surplus, Pate said, he wasn’t sure there was a surplus. “If we have a need, we don’t have a surplus,” he said, then mentioned several areas that could benefit from an infusion of one-time money. Those included education, school facilities, prisons and primary and secondary highways. “The counties and municipalities need more money for growth and infrastructure,” he said.

“I’m anxious to see, when we remove the food tax, how you’re going to replace that,” said state Rep. Lenville Evans, D-Lonoke. “I don’t want to take something off and then raise taxes down the line to replace it.” Evans said he was interested in Beebe’s economic development package and promoting the biofuel industry. He said the legislature was under court order to put more money into improving school facilities throughout the state.

State Sen. Bobby Glover, who is a long-time friend of Beebe’s, said he hopes to be a major sponsor of parts of the governor-elect’s agenda. “I’ve been for (eliminating) the grocery tax for years and sponsored a number of bills,” said Glover. “I hope to be one of the main sponsors.” He said the 6 percent tax should be phased out over four years, perhaps reduced by 1.5 percent each time.

“We can’t take a $200 million hit in one year’s time,” he said. Glover favors Beebe’s plan to provide tax relief for economic development, perhaps by deleting taxes on utilities. That would cut into state revenues by perhaps $50 million a year, he said. Glover also wants to help provide affordable health care for uninsured Arkansas. “It’s a hardship on them and secondly, a hardship on hospitals, particularly the emergency rooms around the state,” Glover added.

Like Beebe, Glover said he’d like to see pre kindergarten expanded and more scholarship money for those wanting to attend college. He also wants more money for the Department of Human Services because the federal government cut out a lot. He’d like to put more money in the prison system, higher education and school facilities. He wants to make sure legislators get “their fair share for general improvement funds.” Lonoke County already has asked for $300,000 toward enlarging the jail and finishing a county building to help with overcrowding in the courthouse.

Locally, Bond wants the legislature to help bring the school desegregation case to a close and help bring Jacksonville its own school district. Among the legislation being prepared are bills that assure the continued existence of the Pulaski County special School District if it pursues and cooperates in attaining unitary school status, he said. Overall, “The big issues are largely budgetary,” said Bond, “How to repeal the sales tax on food, whether or not to give manufactures credits or sales tax rebates on energy consumption at $50-60 million cost.”

Other things he’s interested in is possibly increasing the homestead exemption. “Issues in education will have to do with money,” he said. “How much increase will prekindergarten and K-12 get, plus money (for school) facilities. Bond said school facilities would be a good way to spend part of the $800 million surplus, since its one-time money. “If there’s one thing the (national) election showed us, folks want government to concentrate not so much on the things that divide us as on making government efficient and making good policy decisions that make a good impact on people’s lives.”

Bond said he’s interested in long-term Medicare issues—to see if we can find a way to help our seniors live out their lives in the least restrictive environment, protecting their assets.” State Sen. John Paul Capps is excited to have an active, “plugged-in” governor, particularly one he has worked so closely with in the past. “I know what his vision is and how he operates and I always thought he should run for governor,” Capps said.

For 20 years, Capps served as state representative for a district completely in Beebe’s senatorial district. They made it to all the same meetings, presentations and catfish dinners that are the staple of a politician. “We worked together on almost everything,” Capps said. “It was a close relationship.”

“I’m always big on tax reform,” Capps said. “We have an unfair tax system. We can nibble around the edges and have more equality, but…we have an antiquated constitution” that makes it difficult to enact new taxes like severance taxes on raw materials. A few lawmakers, representing special interests, can block such changes. Capps, who sits on the Highway Revenue Task Force, said his group was preparing some proposals for the new session.

Monday, November 13, 2006

SPORTS >>Lady Rabbits top Sheridan in close game

IN SHORT: The Lonoke girls basketball team defeated the Lady Yellowjackets in the second round of the RAPA tourney.

Leader sports writer

The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits are 1-1 through the first two rounds of the RAPA Roundball tournament being held at Little Rock Hall. The Lady ‘Rabbits lost their opener to Park-view 54-47, but came back with a close 33-32 win over Sheridan on Thursday in a defensive struggle.

Lonoke held a solid lead against Sheridan until the final minutes, when a Lady ‘Jacket rally in the final two minutes took the game from a 10-point Lonoke lead to one-point lead with seven seconds remaining. A long shot from Sheridan at the buzzer fell short, and the Lady Jackrabbits escaped with the narrow win.

“That’s what happens when you have underclassmen along with seniors out there,” Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. “Our bench is thin, our underclassmen played well. All of the players out there with the exception of a couple of seniors are inexperienced at the high school level. It’s going to be fun to watch them grow up in front of us.”

Freshmen Michaela Brown and Asiah Scribner have not looked timid on the court in their first two games as Lady Jackrabbit starters. In fact, after senior Calisha Kirk’s 12 points against Sheridan, Scribner was the next high scorer with 10 points.

Brown has already earned starting point guard honors as the team’s best ball handler, and has also proved vital defensively, with four steals and several re-bounds against Sheridan despite her small 5’5” frame.

The seniors have had mixed results in their first two games back this season. Calisha Kirk and Kristy Shinn struggled with turn-overs in Wednesday’s opener with Parkview, but bounced back on Thursday showing great leadership down the stretch in the win against Sheridan. Senior post Jenny Evans played well against Parkview until an ankle injury took her out of the game late. Evans had just recovered from an ankle injury in the past month. Morris says the injury is not severe, but they will take every precaution to make sure the vital senior does not return too soon.

“The X-rays are negative,” Morris said. “So we’re hoping for a quick recovery, but we don’t want to go too quick, because we have to have her on the court come conference time.”

Although it was a losing effort, the second half of the Parkview game has been the Lady Jack-rabbits most solid offensive performance as of yet. After a shaky first half, Kirk found the basket much easier in the final frame, scoring eight of her total 12 points in the last 16 minutes to keep Lonoke in the game.

Junior Hayley O’Cain has also proven herself as a threat from the outside. O’Cain hit 4 of 8 attempts from behind the arc against Parkview to lead the team with 14 points.

Kirk went on a five-point scoring spree with three minutes left against Sheridan to put Lonoke ahead 30-21, but the Lady Yellow-jackets didn’t give up. After only hitting one shot from the field in the entire first half, Sheridan improved on the floor in the second half.

A free throw from Brown with 23 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in the contest. A three pointer from M’Leah Lindsey pulled the Lady ‘Jackets to within a point of Lonoke, but it would be as close as they would come.

The Lady Jackrabbits will face Cabot at 3 p.m. today in the fifth-place game of the tournament.

SPORTS >>Lonoke boys set bar high this season

IN SHORT: The Jackrabbits expect to get back to the state tournament after missing it for the first time in a while last year.

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits didn’t have a bad year last year, but it wasn’t what Lonoke typically expects from the basketball team.

It was the first time in many years that the Jackrabbits didn’t make the state tournament, but they only missed it by one game. Only one starter returns from that team, and he probably won’t start at the beginning of this season. That doesn’t mean the expectations aren’t still very lofty for the Jackrabbits.

“My goals are very high for this club,” Lonoke coach Wes Swift said. “To be honest, this is one of the most skilled basketball teams we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’ve got no experience, no big games to draw from or anything like that, but there’s tremendous up side. I’m very excited about this group.”

The team is young, but Swift will be able to go to his bench liberally this season, a luxury he hasn’t had recently.

“Luckily we’re going to be as deep as we’ve been in a while,” Swift said. “I don’t really know who the go-to people are going to be right now, but I got a lot of guys I like.”

Senior guard Kylon Boyd is the returning starter, but he missed most of summer ball and is playing his way back into the rotation. He is the team’s most athletic player, a good shooter and quick defender.

Senior Stanley Staggers and junior Bradley Spencer come back after playing lots of quality minutes last season. Spencer will be the point man most of the time. Staggers is a good ball handler and the team’s best on-the-ball defender.

“Stanley has done a great job all summer defending,” Swift said. “By far he’s our best defensive player and on the ball is where he really excels. He’ll guard our opponents’ best ball handler. He’s also done a great job of breaking down pressure with his ball handling.”

Tyrone Dobbins is a junior guardthat is aggressive with the ball and aggressive guarding it as well. He drew the assignment of covering Forrest City’s major prospect Stephon Weaver in a team camp this summer, and did a good job of slowing him down.

“He went in to guard Weaver when he was lighting us up and did a good job,” Swift said. He’s a slasher. He’s not afraid to take the ball to the basket, and we need guys like that. We’re working on his footwork but I’m pleased with where he’s at right now.”

Sammy Coleman yielded his point-guard duties and will play mostly at the two this season. His shot has come along nicely since the move, according to Swift.

Sophomore Clarence Harris will also play guard. He brings good size to the perimeter at 6-0.

“He slashes well and has a good set shot. We’re working on his court vision, but he’s somebody that can really score.”

On the inside, sophomore Jordan Lambert is the team’s biggest player. At 6-5 and still growing, Swift expects big things.

“They call him Juicy, but I told him we couldn’t call him that until he gets good,” Swift said. “He didn’t play until eighth grade and he sat the bench that year. So he’s really only got one season of experience. He’s got a ways to go as far as technique and all that, but he’s got tremendous potential. We’re looking for him to end up 6-7, or 6-8 and really be a dominant player.”

Senior Brock Clement will also help out on the inside, and can also step out some. Pat Smith is a 5-9 senior guard that will be counted on to break up zones.

“He’s a guy that’s going to have to play his role, but it’s going to be an important one at times,” Swift said. “When teams are really trying to fill up the lane, we’re going to need him to step out there and hit some threes. He’s really worked on his shot. He hit 4 of 4 in the jamboree last week, so we’re looking for that from him.”

Lonoke is in a new conference, but not necessarily an easier one since the old 6AAA, nicknamed the International League.
Top-five teams Heber Springs and Marianna are picked to fight for the top spot. Swift agrees with the prediction, but believes his team can compete.

“Those two definitely have the advantage,” Swift said. But our goal is to win it. Mountain View and Southside Batesville are big-time basketball schools. I heard Bald Knob went to Forrest City’s team camp and played really well. Newport always has athletes and now they’ve got a new coach that’s going to make them better. It’s a tough league, but I feel good about this team.”

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies drill LR Hall in RAPA

IN SHORT: Cabot bounced back from an opening round loss to Pulaski Academy to pick up an easy victory.

Leader sports writer

The Cabot Lady Panthers were put into the losers bracket of this year’s RAPA tournament with a 66-60 first round loss to Pul-aski Academy on Wed-nesday. They bounced back on Thursday to crush host team Little Rock Hall 60-19.

The win over Hall puts Cabot in the finals of the consolation bracket against cross-county rival Lonoke today. Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said the improvement from Wed-nesday to Thursday was much needed.

“We shot pretty well tonight,” Ruple said. “We didn’t shoot very well last night. It’s a pleasure to get a win in the books; that’s what it’s all about.” Cabot built up such a commanding lead over the Lady Warriors that they were able to clear the bench. All 18 players saw playing time in the second half of the mercy-ruled contest, but it was the young players that got Ruple’s attention.

“You see how they go out there, it’s like a dog on a bone,” Ruple said. “It doesn’t matter to them if we are ahead or behind, they are going out there to play as hard as they can play.”

One sophomore has already made her way into the starting lineup. There was a lot of curiosity concerning who would be able to step up and fill the enormous shoes left by UALR freshman Kim Sitzmann, but if the early games are any indication, Lady Panther fans will not have to look any further than sophomore Shelby Ashcraft. The six-foot youngster even dons Sitzmann’s old number (35), and led the team in scoring during both games.

Cabot trailed in the first half against Pulaski Academy until the last five minutes of the half. The Lady Panthers then went on a 20-6 rally to take command of the game by halftime 37-31 with the help of the three pointer by senior Maddie Helms just before the buzzer.

The Lady Bruins came out rejuvenated in the second half, and the Lady Panthers lost their inside game. Cabot missed six inside jumpers in the opening minutes of the half, allowing PA to overtake the lead. Once out in front, they would allow a full comeback from the Lady Panthers for the remainder of the contest.

Thursday’s game against Hall had a much different tone. The Lady Panthers tried the outside in the early going, but three missed three pointers forced them to move to the inside. Ashcraft got them on the board with a jumper and foul shot, and then Leah Watts found the outside touch with a three-point shot to put Cabot up 6-2. Cabot led 35-13 at the half, and was able to extend that lead in the second half, even with second and third string squads in against the Hall varsity team.

Hall only scored six points on the subs in the final half. Although the Lady Warriors were not the most precise shooting team, Cabot’s younger players showed a lot of defensive prowess, and great hustle. Ashcraft had 14 points against Pulaski Academy and 11 points against Hall.

Senior Jamie Sterrenberg had 10 points against PA and eight against Hall. Leah Watts added 10 points in Thursday’s win over the Lady Warriors.

Cabot will take on Lonoke today in the fifth-place game starting at 3 p.m.

SPORTS >>NP expects better play from ’06-07 hoopsters

IN SHORT: The North Pulaski basketball team believes it will be much improved from last season. The team has more depth and expects to be able to run the floor and push the tempo.

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski boys basketball coach Raymond Cooper doesn’t know exactly what to expect from this team this year. After suffering through a bad season in his first year as the head Falcon, Cooper is understandably cautious in making predictions. He does expect a much better showing than the two-win season of a year ago.

“We’ve just got a little more to work with, we’ve got a year of experience and we’re not all learning a brand new system,” Cooper said. There’s a renewed focus with this team too. They’ve become good practice players. They’re working hard all the time and all that’s going to make us a better team this year.”

Only one starter returns from last year’s Falcons, but it’s a big one. Leading scorer and senior Quinn Cooper, 6-foot-1, will start at the point. He’ll be joined outside by fellow senior Tony Glass, 5-9, who would have started more last year if not slowed by injury for much of the season. Rod Banks, 6-1, is the other guard in the starting lineup.

The middle will be manned by youth. Sophomores Carlos Donley, 6-6, and Brandon Hudson, 6-2, will play the post positions, although Donley is the only true post player on the team.

“Really we’re going to put a center, a point guard, and three guys that pretty much do the same thing,” Cooper said. “We’re going to push the ball as much as we can this year. That’s my style and this year we have the personnel to do it with.”

Those five are the players that would start if NP played today. The Falcons don’t play until Nov. 21. Cooper’s varsity bench will go 12 deep, and he says he will use everybody.

“We’re going to have some depth that I feel like we can count on,” Cooper said. “I have 12 I’m putting on the varsity roster and they’re all going to play.”

Jordan Anderson and Stanley Appleby are sophomores that can come off the bench and run the point well. There will even be two freshmen playing varsity ball.

DaQuan Bryant is a guard-forward transfer from Ridge Road. Aaron Cooper is a 5-8 point guard that can score well also. Juniors Cliff Harrison, 6-2, Ridge Williams, 6-1 and 6-0 Wesley Louis will also see lots of playing time.

“We’re pretty good athletically,” Cooper said. “We’ve got speed. We don’t have a lot of size, but we’re not small. We all run between 5-10 and 6-2, with one bigger than that and a couple smaller. But we can all go pretty good.”

Donley was the only player that concerned Cooper in the speed and stamina department, but he says he is amazed at the amount of dedication and work that big sophomore has shown since last year.

“We’ve got good senior leadership this year, but I tell you I’m really surprised by what Carlos has done,” Cooper said. “We talked last year. I told him I have one big man. I can either slow 11 guys down for one, or he can work to play with those 11. Since then he’s been the first one on the floor, the last to leave. He’s put in extra conditioning work on his own. He’s got his grades up. He’s just been a great and he’s come 1000 miles from where he was as a freshman.”

Q. Cooper is still the man teams will key on, at least to start the season. Coach Cooper expects that to change.

“Last least year teams figured out he was the only guy we had that was a scorer,” Cooper said. “That’s not going to be the case this year. I can envision nights where nobody scores in double figures in a win. But his scoring may not drop that much overall. Teams are going to have to guard everybody this year, and he’s going to get better looks. Everybody will I hope.”

The Falcons will press a lot this year out of several different sets, which one will mostly depend on the opponent.

“We’ve worked on a lot of different variations of presses,” Cooper said. “We can go man or run zone traps. A lot of that will depend on the style that we’re up against. We’re going to press though. You can count on that.”

The Falcons join a different conference this year. The 5A-East is very strong at the top, but not as balanced from top to bottom as the old Southeast. Despite coming off a horrible season, Cooper says his team’s goal is to be at the top.

“Our goal is to win it,” Cooper said. “Greene County Tech is probably the class of the group right now. They got everybody back from a team that came really close to winning it all last year. Bly-theville is always good. They never have a down year. Batesville is big and I think Wynne is going to be right there. We hope, we’re planning on North Pulaski being right there too.”

SPORTS >>Razorbacks roll Red Devils

IN SHORT: Texarkana took advantage of several Jacksonville turnovers to defeat the Red Devils in the opening round of state.

Leader sports writer

Texarkana – Five Jacksonville turnovers was the major difference between victory and defeat against the Texarkana Razorbacks in a 40-6 blowout Friday night at Century 7 Stadium in the first round of the 6A state playoffs.

Senior quarterback Daniel Hubb-ard was picked off three times by the Razorback secondary, senior tailback Justin Akins fumbled on the second Red Devil drive of the night, and Senior receiver Norvel Gabriel had a completed pass break free from his grasp as he hit the turf early in the third quarter.

Hubbard’s interceptions were especially painful for Jacksonville. All three were returned into the Jack-sonville red zone, two of them inside the 5-yard line.

“You can’t make mistakes, you have to come out and execute,” Jacksonville head coach Mark Whatley said. “You have to play consistent football, and we didn’t do that.” Despite the disappointment of one sub-par game, Whatley was quick to recognize the tremendous effort from his team, in particular his seniors this season.

“I’m awfully proud of this football team,” Whatley said. “They have overcome tremendous odds and adversity. They have laid the groundwork for some things that we can build on. One day, when we look back on all of this, we can realize how much they overcame; more than a lot of people realize.”

Texarkana head coach Bill Keopple was more than pleased with his teams dynamic playoff performance.

“We’ve been a little bit spoiled, the way we’ve executed offensively,” Keopple said. “We didn’t convert after that first interception, which was frustrating, but aside from that, I thought the execution was good.”

Jacksonville’s only score came too little too late. Texarkana put the game into mercy-rule status with 4:36 left in the game.

A 5-yard touchdown run from Derrick Wesley made the score 40-0 when the Red Devils finally put together a complete drive. Both Hubbard and the senior receivers looked the best they had all night, refusing to succumb to a shut out.

Hubbard hit Blake Mattison for an 18 yard completion, followed by a another chunk to Mattison for 11 yards while the clock ticked down under two minutes. Marcus King then got his only reception of the night, good for 15 yards to give the Red Devils first and goal at the Razorback 6-yard line. Hubbard then closed the deal with a 6-yard scramble up the middle.

Hubbard, traditionally considered as more of a pure passer, put the juke on Texarkana linebacker Charles Hill, spinning around at the 1-yard line before making his way across the goal line with 17 seconds left in the game to set the final margin.

Texarkana struck early and often in the game, both offensively and defensively. After a touchdown run from junior tailback Dennis Johnson, the Razorbacks got the ball right back at the Jacksonville 36-yard line off an Akins fumble, and got to the end zone five plays later for the score with 4:24 left in the first quarter.

The second quarter was a wash for both clubs, and the Razor-backs took their 13-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Red Devils looked like they were going to put themselves back in the game at the start of the third quarter, stopping Texarkana on the first drive of the second half. The offense took over at their own 21-yard line, and began to move the ball.

The second play of the drive would be the turning point of the game. Hubbard hit Gabriel up the middle for a 20 yard completion, but as Gabriel was brought to the ground, the ball popped right into the hands of Wesley, who took it down to the Jacksonville 3-yard line.

Another Hubbard pass was picked off by Ke’air Dennis at the Texarkana 2-yard line and returned 98 yards for the score with 3:18 left to go in the third quarter. The Razorbacks last two drives were on the ground, with Wesley punching in his second and third touchdowns of the night. His final run into the end zone with 4:36 remaining put Texarkana up by 40 points, and sent the clock rolling.

Hubbard was 14 of 31 passing for 180 yards and three interceptions. For Texarkana, Johnson rushed 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.

OBITUARIES >> 11-11-06

Opal Terry
Opal Holden Clay Terry, 88, of Jacksonville died Nov. 9 in Beebe.

She was born February 11, 1918 in Joy to Joe and Janie Patterson Holden. In 1934 she married Eirvin Clay in Joy. He preceded her in death.

Mrs. Terry was a real estate broker and a member of the Baptist faith. She moved to Jacksonville in 1985.

Mrs. Terry was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Homer Terry; three brothers, Ray Holden, Max Holden, and Floyd Holden; and a sister, Moline Barnett.

She is survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Barbara and Don Hill of Jacksonville; three sons and daughters-in-law, Wayne and Pam Clay of Crossett; C. Leon and Shirley Clay of Searcy; James and Virginia Clay of Canton, Ohio; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; six siblings and their spouses, Verdie Vest of Searcy; Mary and Claude Waters of Searcy; Betty and Gerald Barker of Joy; Marshall Holden of Searcy; Nelson and Audrie Holden of Searcy; and Gerald Holden of Joy.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at Mt. Hebron Baptist Church in Joy with Reverend Terry Fortner officiating.

Visitation will be an hour prior to services. Burial will follow at Mt. Hebron Cemetery.

Billy Dobson
Billy Joe Dobson, 75, of Jacksonville joined his savior Nov. 8, at his home.

He was born on July 18, 1931, in Brazil, Ind., to the late Ernest and Martha Anderson Dobson. He was also preceded in death by four brothers and five sisters.

He proudly served his country in the Air Force where he served during the Korean War and fought in Vietnam before retiring as a CMSGT.

Bill then followed his calling to the Lord and served as pastor for many churches, retiring from Stanfill Baptist Church.

Survivors include his loving wife, Juanita, of the home; two sons, James Dobson and wife Doris of Longview, Texas; and Brandon Dobson and wife Tina of Mansfield, Texas; one daughter, Nancy Gregg and husband Danny of Jacksonville; one brother, Wilford Dobson of Noblesville, Ind.; four grandchildren, Kelly, Jaime, Jake and Kenzie, as well as two nieces.

Graveside funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13 at the Arkansas State Veteran’s Cemetery in North Little Rock, with Rev. Dale Scott and Rev. Don Sawyer officiating.

Visitation will be at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Johnny Castera, Jr.
Johnny Carol Castera, Jr., 59, of McRae passed from this life Nov. 7.

Born Nov. 21, 1946, he was a disabled veteran and very proud to have served his country.

He was extremely dedicated to his family, friends, the McRae COP, McRae Fire Department and the well-being of everyone he knew.

Johnny was preceded in death by his father, Johnny Castera; mother, Ruth Williams, and one sister, Rebecca Castera.

He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Wanda Castera; six children and their families, Donna Knapp and her husband Robert; Buddy Sims and his wife Ann; Sherrie Hite and her husband Rick; Tabatha Denney and her husband Scott; Jerry Morris; David Castera and his wife Jennifer; 22 grandchildren who were the loves of his life; two brothers, James Castera of Beebe and Danny Castera of South Carolina, and three special sisters, Kathy Armstrong, Jeannie Coninger and Barbara Diemer.

The funeral was Nov. 10 at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Lebanon Cemetery in McRae.

Landon Kleffner
Landon Matthew Kleffner, 5 months, of North Charleston, S.C., passed away in his sleep Nov. 4.

He is survived by his parents, Ashlee and Frankie Vanderhoof; father, Kevin Kleffner; brother, Christian; grandparents, Don and Linda Moring, and John and Patricia Van-derhoof of Jackson-ville; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.  

He was loved by all and will always be in our hearts.

Graveside services were Friday at Chapel Hill Memorial Park Cemetery in Jacksonville.  

Arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

EVENTS>>Fall 2006

YANA, a support group for parents of special needs children will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at the 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.

There will a public hearing to discuss the architectural design of the new Jacksonville library at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Esther D. Nixon Public Library, 308 W. Main St. in Jacksonville. For more information call 982-5533.

Central Arkansas Development Council will distribute commodities at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15 at the following locations: Cabot Church of Christ, Ward Chamber of Commerce, Austin City Hall, England Old Fire Station, Carlisle Old Gym, Lonoke County Fairgrounds, Allport City Hall and Humnoke City Hall. For information on income requirements for eligibility, call 676-0019.

The Ward Public Library, 1000 Owens St., will be holding fine free week Monday, Nov. 13 through Saturday, Nov. 18. All late fees will be waived for all materials.

EDITORIALS>>Winners and losers

Republicans took a beating at the polls Tuesday in Arkansas and the nation. Gov. Huckabee calls it “a whooping,” and with good reason: Democrats captured all the constitutional offices in the state and even gained some seats in the Legislature.

For decades, Arkansas had resisted the Republican tide in the South, electing just one Republican governor, congressman and senator in recent years, but Arkansas is now pretty much where it was 30 years ago: Democrats in charge of state government and dominating the congressional delegation, which has just one lone Republican from northwest Arkansas.

That’s exactly how it was in the 1970s.

The election does seem like deja-vu all over again — but instead of Bill Clinton in the saddle, we have his longtime protégé, Attorney General Mike Beebe, trouncing Asa Hutchinson in the governor’s race. Hutchinson’s campaign was named one of the worst in the nation, and there were plenty of them this year.

There will be a bunch of familiar old faces in the Beebe administration. Beebe has appointed his old buddy Morril Harriman, a former state senator and current lobbyist for the Arkansas Poultry Federation, as his chief of staff. Let’s hope they won’t pollute our streams with chicken litter.

Local Republicans did reasonably well, especially in Lonoke County, where they re-elected Rep. Susan Schulte (she was unopposed), Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain (barely), Sheriff Jim Roberson (easily) and several quorum court members.

Former Cabot Alderman Eddie Joe Williams, another Republican, was elected the city’s new mayor from a crowded field, avoiding a runoff with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Williams, who will have an almost brand-new council to work with, succeeds Stubby Stumbaugh, also a Republican, who was swept away in the Democratic tide in his long-shot quest to unseat First District Cong. Marion Berry. Stumbaugh received just 31 percent of the vote, which was less than Andy Mayberry’s 39 percent against Second District Cong. Vic Snyder.

Local Republicans also did well in White County, where they elected Michael Lincoln the new county judge and Ricky Shourd the new sheriff. Republican Dale Brewer edged out Searcy Mayor Belinda LaForce, but because it was a three-way race, there will be a runoff on Nov. 28. (Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain is also in a runoff against Barry Weathers III.)

Several other mayoral races were decided in the area on Tuesday: Mike Robertson won in Beebe and Tommy Swaim was re-elected to a sixth term in Jacksonville (both were unopposed), and Dan Stedman will succeed Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon, who is retiring.

There were several spirited contests in our area, but, amazingly, none in Jacksonville, which makes you wonder why we’re trying to spread democracy abroad when it doesn’t always thrive here. While candidates duked it out in every other community around us, no one challenged the incumbents in Jacksonville.

To paraphrase the late Chicago Alderman Paddy Bauler, Jacksonville ain’t ready for change.

TOP STORY >> Three runoffs in Lonoke County

IN SHORT: Alderman, mayor and constable races won’t be settled until Nov. 28, when a runoff will take place to decide the winners.

Leader staff writer

Early voting starts Monday in three Lonoke County races that won’t be settled until after the Nov. 28 runoff election, according to Jean McCanliss, chairman of the county election commission.

In the race for Lonoke’s District 4 alderman, Kenneth Pasley, the Democrat, and independent Wendell Walker will resolve a virtual dead heat. Pasley received 64 votes (35 percent), Walker got 63 votes (34 percent) and Republican Robert Bob Combs got 58 votes.

Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain got 105 votes in a three-way race, but at 44 percent of the votes cast, she faces a runoff against Barry D. Weathers II, who got 85 votes, or 35 percent. Jeremy C. Reed got 51 votes.

In the constable’s race for Ward Township, Mike Reveley-R received 284 votes, Michael E. Kindall-D got 259 votes and independent James W. Williams Sr. got 117 votes.

Samuel Smith was voted county surveyor, not coroner as previously reported.

Early voting will be possible only at the Lonoke County Courthouse and on election day, there will be one polling place open in Austin, Lonoke and in Ward Township, McCanliss said.

All early voting will be at the Lonoke County Courthouse from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 27, but closed Nov. 23-26 for Thanksgiving, McCanliss said.

Voting on Nov. 28 will be from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the following three locations:

- The Austin Station Baptist Church, 1482 E. Main St., Austin.

- The Lonoke Depot, 102 front St., Lonoke.

- The Ward Chamber of Commerce, 80 W. 2nd. St., Ward.

TOP STORY >>Another vote set Nov. 28

IN SHORT: Several posts in White County, including county judge, will be settled in a runoff.

Leader staff writer

White County voters will pick a county judge when they return to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 28 or start Monday if they prefer to vote early.

Dennis Gilliam, an independent, and Republican Michael Lincoln face off in the runoff for the county judge’s seat while several municipalities pick mayors, constables and aldermen.

Lincoln led Tuesday’s White County judge’s race with 36.9 percent of the ballots cast followed by Gilliam’s 32 percent. A third candidate, Democrat Waylon Heathscott, got 31 percent of the votes.

Most prominent among those races, incumbent Belinda LaForce and former Alderman Dale Brewer will settle the Searcy mayor’s race.

Early voting for the runoff will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays beginning Monday at the White County Courthouse. There will be no early voting Thursday, Nov. 23 and Friday, Nov. 24 due to Thanksgiving.

Voter turnout in White County was strong during Tuesday’s general election with 21,540 ballots being cast, a little less than half of the county’s 43,166 registered voters. Lincoln said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome in Tuesday’s election.

“I knew there were three strong candidates and that it would end in a runoff. Typically people don’t get out and vote during a runoff but I think the Searcy mayor’s race is going to help; I had a strong voter base in Searcy,” Lincoln said.

While the campaigning goes on for two-and-a-half more weeks, Lincoln says he plans to canvass the county in hopes of picking up votes from the Heathscott side.

“I think I can pick up a few votes from Heathscott supporters in the high Democrat areas of Bald Knob, Judsonia and Beebe,” Lincoln said.

Lincoln serves as the executive director of Camp Wyldewood, a Christian camp and retreat center just north of Searcy. Both candidates say county roads, the sheriff’s department and economic development are the key points in the judge’s race.

“I think Mr. Lincoln got all the votes he’s going to get. I’m going to continue to define the difference between us. I’m progressive leadership without partisan politics,” Gillam said.

“We have a new sheriff in the county and I think he needs to be able to run that department without interference. The county judge should protect the rural area by funding the sheriff’s department without interefering in the daily operations of it,” Gillam said, referring to public disputes between White County Judge Bob Parish and Sheriff Pat Garrett. Garrett was defeated in Tuesday’s election by Republican Ricky Shourd.

“A county judge is like the chief executive officer of the county, handling the finances fairly regardless of party affiliations and leading without partisan politics,” Gillam said. Gillam was the Craighead county judge from 1976 to 1980.

In the Searcy mayor’s race, Brewer, a Republican, led with 43.6 percent of the votes followed closely by LaForce, a Democrat, getting 42.4 percent. A third candidate, Philip Williams got 14 percent running as an independent.

Pangburn voters will also be picking their mayor in the runoff, choosing between independents Farris Wood and James H. Williams. Wood got 44 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s general election followed by Williams with 38.5 percent. Another independent, Gary F. Sharp got 17 percent of the vote.

Other local races in White County include the Bradford alderman runoff between independents Renee Barron who got 40 percent and Russ Durham who got 31.5 percent of the vote. A third candidate, Jimmy R. Edens received 28 percent of the vote.

Rose Bud voters will choose between two women for the Position 2 alderman race.

Independents Lisa Baldridge Wolf and Debbie Gorham each got 40.6 percent of the vote in the general election. The third candidate, J. Tim Barley got 18.8 percent of the vote.

South of Searcy, voters in Gum Springs Township can go to the polls to pick a constable during the runoff.

In Tuesday’s election, Democrat Wayne McKown got 41.7 percent of the vote and Republican Bruce Pearson got 37.5 percent. An independent candidate Steven Stray-horn got 20.8 percent of the vote.

TOP STORY >>With elections over, officials look ahead

IN SHORT: In Jacksonville it’s the library and useable land, while Sherwood will have a new mayor and looks to ease its traffic woes.

Leader staff writer

Even though the political season was very quiet in Jacksonville—all the aldermen ran unopposed—and Sherwood had just a little bit of action, voting in a new mayor and one new alderman, both cities are gearing up for the future.

For both cities, the election meant the start of staggered four-year terms for aldermen.

Aldermen in Position 1 seats were elected to four-year terms, while those in Position 2 seats will serve two-year terms.
In Jacksonville, Kenny Elliott, Reedie Ray, Gary Fletcher and Avis Twitty hold the Position 1 seats. Marshall Smith, Terry Sansing, Linda Rinker, Bob Stroud and Bill Howard occupy Position 2 seats.

In Sherwood, Position 1 aldermen include Becki Vassar, Butch Davis, Sheila Sulcer and Keith Rankin. Position 2 aldermen include Charlie Harmon, David Henry, Marina Brooks and Steve Fender.

In the 2008 presidential election, only aldermen in the Position 2 seats will be running for election, and those winning will serve four-year terms.

Jacksonville’s Howard, finishing up his 10th year on the council, is looking forward to the next term.

“I’m ready to get started on our new library, and then after that our community college. We need both of those,” he said, and added, “In the long term, we still need to get our own school district. When I graduated from high school here in 1959, the buildings were in great shape, but here it is 2006 and we still have some of those same school buildings being used.”

Howard said the city was in great shape and financially sound, but hoped they would be no lingering bad feelings from a recent townhouse rezoning issue which deeply divided the council.

Sansing, reelected for another two years, said Jacksonville has to reevaluate what it is.

“We are not going to be that industrial center that many think. We are a bedroom community for Little Rock and the Air Force base. The quicker we accept that, the better we’ll be. Sherwood and Cabot are growing because they have embraced what they are. We haven’t.”

In that vein, Sansing says he’d like to see the city release some of the industrial land it is sitting on for residential developments. “We are sitting not only on too much land, but prime land, forcing developers to try to come up with plans for undesirable land. We are too inflexible,” he said.

Once the council is sworn in it will have to deal with a vacant seat. Kevin McCleary was appointed earlier this year to fill the Ward 2, Position 1 seat after the death of longtime Alderman Robert Lewis. He or someone else will have to be reappointed to fill that seat for the next four years.

In Sherwood, Alderman Dan Stedman will be replacing retiring Mayor Bill Harmon in January. Stedman defeated Mike Presson for the job of running the city. Even though Harmon is retiring, there will still be a Harmon in Sherwood city politics as Harmon’s youngest son Charlie defeated Greg Chastine for the open Ward 1, Position 2 seat being vacated by Stedman. In the only other contested Sherwood race, veteran alderman Becki Vassar defeated Robert Walla. In January, Vassar will start her 15th term in office.

“I’m looking forward to serving the people of Sherwood. I believe in teamwork and with teamwork, we’ll bring Sherwood to new heights,” Vassar said.

Stedman said his number one concern is traffic flow, especially on Brockington, Maryland and Highway 107. “We need to widen Brockington and plan to work on our infrastructure in advance of our growth.”

Stedman also wants to bring residents, business owners and others together to strategically plan for the city’s future. Vassar, in her 28th year, said after her win, “I guess this makes me the dinosaur. But I’m as excited about this term as I was my first one. I see a bright future for Sherwood.”

TOP STORY >>With elections over, officials look ahead

IN SHORT: In Jacksonville it’s the library and useable land, while Sherwood will have a new mayor and looks to ease its traffic woes.

Leader staff writer

Even though the political season was very quiet in Jacksonville—all the aldermen ran unopposed—and Sherwood had just a little bit of action, voting in a new mayor and one new alderman, both cities are gearing up for the future.

For both cities, the election meant the start of staggered four-year terms for aldermen.

Aldermen in Position 1 seats were elected to four-year terms, while those in Position 2 seats will serve two-year terms.
In Jacksonville, Kenny Elliott, Reedie Ray, Gary Fletcher and Avis Twitty hold the Position 1 seats. Marshall Smith, Terry Sansing, Linda Rinker, Bob Stroud and Bill Howard occupy Position 2 seats.

In Sherwood, Position 1 aldermen include Becki Vassar, Butch Davis, Sheila Sulcer and Keith Rankin. Position 2 aldermen include Charlie Harmon, David Henry, Marina Brooks and Steve Fender.

In the 2008 presidential election, only aldermen in the Position 2 seats will be running for election, and those winning will serve four-year terms.

Jacksonville’s Howard, finishing up his 10th year on the council, is looking forward to the next term.

“I’m ready to get started on our new library, and then after that our community college. We need both of those,” he said, and added, “In the long term, we still need to get our own school district. When I graduated from high school here in 1959, the buildings were in great shape, but here it is 2006 and we still have some of those same school buildings being used.”

Howard said the city was in great shape and financially sound, but hoped they would be no lingering bad feelings from a recent townhouse rezoning issue which deeply divided the council.

Sansing, reelected for another two years, said Jacksonville has to reevaluate what it is.

“We are not going to be that industrial center that many think. We are a bedroom community for Little Rock and the Air Force base. The quicker we accept that, the better we’ll be. Sherwood and Cabot are growing because they have embraced what they are. We haven’t.”

In that vein, Sansing says he’d like to see the city release some of the industrial land it is sitting on for residential developments. “We are sitting not only on too much land, but prime land, forcing developers to try to come up with plans for undesirable land. We are too inflexible,” he said.

Once the council is sworn in it will have to deal with a vacant seat. Kevin McCleary was appointed earlier this year to fill the Ward 2, Position 1 seat after the death of longtime Alderman Robert Lewis. He or someone else will have to be reappointed to fill that seat for the next four years.

In Sherwood, Alderman Dan Stedman will be replacing retiring Mayor Bill Harmon in January. Stedman defeated Mike Presson for the job of running the city. Even though Harmon is retiring, there will still be a Harmon in Sherwood city politics as Harmon’s youngest son Charlie defeated Greg Chastine for the open Ward 1, Position 2 seat being vacated by Stedman. In the only other contested Sherwood race, veteran alderman Becki Vassar defeated Robert Walla. In January, Vassar will start her 15th term in office.

“I’m looking forward to serving the people of Sherwood. I believe in teamwork and with teamwork, we’ll bring Sherwood to new heights,” Vassar said.

Stedman said his number one concern is traffic flow, especially on Brockington, Maryland and Highway 107. “We need to widen Brockington and plan to work on our infrastructure in advance of our growth.”

Stedman also wants to bring residents, business owners and others together to strategically plan for the city’s future. Vassar, in her 28th year, said after her win, “I guess this makes me the dinosaur. But I’m as excited about this term as I was my first one. I see a bright future for Sherwood.”

TOP STORY >>Outgoing mayor is hunting new job

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh will need a new job Jan. 1, and he says he’s looking for one that pays a little more than he is accustomed to earning.

“I’ve been a public servant most of my life,” he said. “I’m going to try to find something that pays better.”

He isn’t ruling out anything, he said, with the exception of returning to the Little Rock Police Department, where he worked before he was elected mayor, but he says there are other opportunities for people with his background and experience.

Stumbaugh, a Republican, was in the third year of his first term as mayor when he announced he was running against First District Congressman Marion Berry, the Democrat who had held the seat nine years.

He said two days after he lost the election to Berry 82,914 to 36,895, that because of the war in the Middle East, Republicans couldn’t get elected for national office this year. With his background in law enforcement he could move into private investigation, a growing field in the central part of the state, he said. He isn’t ruling out a future in the Republican Party, though he said that is not a real consideration at this time.

He owns a home in Cabot and has no plans to leave, but that too is subject to change.

“There could be opportunities outside the state,” he said.

He said he didn’t want to dwell on the things he wished he had done differently. But he is proud of his accomplishments while in office. He was instrumental in building a much needed animal shelter and community center.

Both buildings were made possible in part by the continuation of a one-cent tax, which he opposed, but they were started at his urging.

Stumbaugh asked the council to create the positions of public works director, finance director and operations director shortly after he took office. Eddie Joe Williams, the Republican candidate who won 52 percent of the vote in a four-man race for mayor, could ask the council to do away with them when he takes office in January. But Stumbaugh says he counts the creation of the positions among his accomplishments because now there are people who are keeping up with where the money is going as well as the status of various city projects.

Early in his administration, Stumbaugh limited access to city employees. A memo to employees said they should not talk to the press. Later, council members were asked to not waste employees’ time. If they needed information they could come to him, he told them.

But even though he limited access to his employees, this reporter can attest that he always returned phone calls even when the topics he was asked to discuss were controversial or unflattering to his administration. And he never failed to provide access to those key employees who might have more answers than he could provide.

Stumbaugh won his first political race four years ago when he took the job away from two-term Mayor Joe Allman. He said Allman gave him virtually no access to the people and records he would need to do the job, but he will do better by his successor. Stumbaugh said he will submit his budget as required by law, but it will be only a working document for Williams and the seven new members of the eight-member council who will be responsible for running the city in 2007.

Williams confirmed Friday morning that Stumbaugh has given him access to everything he needs to begin setting up his administration.

TOP STORY >>Cabot City Council given an overhaul with six new faces

IN SHORT: Only one incumbent lost his position, two were retained, but open seats bringing on new aldermen to work with a new mayor.

Leader staff writer

Only one incumbent lost his race for the Cabot City Council Tuesday, but the eight-member council will still have six new members on Jan. 1.

It’s not a riddle, but a fact that becomes even stranger when this bit of trivia is thrown into the mix: Of the nine elected officials who will soon take their seats at the council table, three have been elected before. The new mayor, who will sit in the middle of the table, was once on the city council.

One new council member is a former city attorney and one former council member is returning after a two-year absence.
Even more confusing, three of the nine at the table are named Eddie, including Mayor-elect Eddie Joe Williams who won his four-man race with 52 percent of the votes. And two are named Williams.

The loss was Alderman Odis Waymack’s, an independent candidate, who is completing his third two-year term on the council. The Ward 4, Position 1 seat he holds will go to Becky Lemaster, also an independent, who defeated Waymack by 101 votes, 2,280 to 2,179.

The council has had no women for two years, but Lemaster is one of three who won seats on Tuesday.

The returning council members are Eddie Cook, who is completing his first two-year term in Ward 1 Position 2 and ran unopposed for a second, and Ward 3, Position 1 Alderman Tom Armstrong who is in his second term. Armstrong won over Ernie Ernst 2,767 to 1,444. Armstrong and Ernst both ran as independents.

Two of the current council members, David Polantz and James Glenn, didn’t run for reelection because they filed for the mayor’s position instead against Williams, a former council member and Kenny Ridgeway, a former member of the Lonoke County Quorum Court. The count Tuesday night was Williams, 2,574; Ridgeway, 1,089; Polantz, 887; and Glenn, 390. Williams is a Republican. The other candidates are independents.

The seats held by Polantz and Glenn will go to former Alderman Eddie Long, and Lisa Brickell. Long, also called Ed, lost his Ward 1, Position 2 seat two years ago to Eddie Cook, but easily won the Ward 1, Position 1 seat Polantz is vacating over John Johnson 2,414 to 1,842. Both ran as independents.

Brickell won Glenn’s Ward 4, Position 1 seat over two other candidates. The vote was Brickell 2,559, Robert Helton 1,108 and Thomas Standley 653. The candidates ran as independents. Bob Duke, who has held his Ward 3 Position 2 seat for 30 years, did not seek reelection. Neither did Jerry Stephens, who has held his Ward 2 Position 2 seat for one term.

Former City Attorney Ken Williams filed as a Republican for Stephens’ seat and ran unopposed.

Duke’s seat will be filled by Teri Meissner, a Republican, won over independent candidate Nancy Cohea 2,712 to 1,838. The Ward 2, Position 1 seat currently filled by Alderman Patrick Hutton, who lost his bid for the Lonoke County Quorum Court during the Republican Primary, will go to Virgil Teague, a Republican, who won over independent candidate Michael Burton 2,627 to 2,004.

The mayor-elect said Friday that outgoing Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh is making the transition a smooth one. The new council members are invited to sit in on budget sessions and Stumbaugh is providing a place in the bank building next to city hall that he city is buying for the finance director and city clerk to talk to the new members about the budgeting process.