Friday, January 05, 2007

OBITUARIES >> 1-06-06

Lou Cash
Lou “Mama Lou” Cash, 85, died  Dec. 31. She was born March 26, 1921.  Mama Lou, as she was known by so many friends and family members, was born and spent her entire life in Lonoke.

She was a member of the staff of First State Bank in Lonoke for many years and her work station was the one sought out by the children who visited the bank because she always had treats for them.  As many of those children grew to adulthood they continued to return to her bank station, sometimes for the treats, but more often because she always made time to visit with them about what was happening in their lives.

Mama Lou was a devoted member of First Baptist Church in Lonoke for 60 years and was active in the church’s programs until the end of her life. She was an avid reader who spent countless hours with her books but she was not a solitary individual and always enjoyed social interactions with other people. She loved flowers and had the extraordinary “green thumb” ability to grow plants of all types.  This aspect of her life gave her a great deal of pleasure when she made summer visits to family in Michigan and could spend time working in the flower gardens but the abiding passion in her life was her family.  

She was preceded in death by her husband and the love of her life, Neal Cash who died much too young, her mother and father and six brothers and sisters.  

She is survived by a son, Dr. Jerry and wife Stella Hall Cash; a daughter, Judy and husband Stephen Cheney;  sister, Josephine Cash;  brothers, Raymond and John Gilliam; six grand-children,  Shannon Kopke, Kelly Turner, Stephanie Halfmann, Kyle Cheney, Kasey Cheney and Kris Cheney; 11 great grandchildren, a number of nieces and nephews; her wonderful friend of 40 years, Irene Aukes. and Brenda Kees, a special niece who gave so much time and effort as a caregiver in the last years of Mama Lou’s life.

A memorial celebration of Mama Lou’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 12 at First Baptist Church of Lonoke with pastor Jimmy Wallace presiding.

The family would like to thank everyone for their support and extend a very special thanks to the medical personnel and caregivers at the St. Lawrence/Sparrow Hospice in Lansing, Michigan,  who provided so much comfort and peace to Mama Lou during the last days of her life.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Lonoke First Baptist Church 21st Century Building Fund. Funeral arrangements are by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.   

Bennie Finch
Bennie Finch, 82, also known to many as Uncle Bennie, died Jan. 2 after a long battle with bladder and lung cancer.

He was born to the late Bead and Jewell Finch July 29, 1924.  

He was a member of Concord United Methodist Church and was the teacher for the adult Sunday school class. He was a dedicated song leader for many years and loved to sing the old hymns. He served as sergeant at arms for the state Senate for several years. He loved politics and was a Yellow Dog Democrat. Bennie was loved by everyone and never met a stranger.  
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Pat Finch and sister, Ruth Martineau.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Maxine McGarity Finch; daughter, Janice McCall and husband Bob, and granddaughter, Molly McCall; brothers, Burton Finch of North Little Rock and Ellis Finch of Lonoke; sister, Anna Woody of Little Rock; brother-in-law Ellis Martineau and sister-in-law Kathryn Haury and many nieces and nephews.  

A memorial service was held at Concord United Methodist Church, Jan. 5. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Hospice Foundation, 5600 W. 12th, Little Rock, Ark. 72204-1717; Concord Cemetery Association; Arkansas Children’s Hospital. or Arkansas Ostomy Association. The family will be at 319 W. Pine, Lonoke. Cremation arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home of Lonoke.

Buford Latta
Buford Latta, 80, of Mountain Home died Jan. 1, at Hospice House in Mountain Home.  

He was born April 12, 1926, in Jack-sonville to the late Robert and Kate Andrews Latta.  

He was also preceded in death by two sisters.  

He married Faye Dean Matheny on March 6, 1948, in North Little Rock. They were married for 58 years. He retired after 30 years service as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the V.A. Hospital in North Little Rock.  Mr. Latta was an Army Veteran who served in the Philippines during the Second World War. He lived in Jacksonville before moving to Mountain Home in 1998. He was of the Baptist faith. 

Survivors include his wife, Faye Dean Latta, of Mountain Home; two daughters; Karen and husband Robert Troeger, of Mountain Home, and Susan and husband James E. Toburen, of McAlester, Okl.; one sister, Louise Bostic, of Jacksonville; six grandchildren, Kimberly and husband James Harris, of Titusville, Flo., Christopher Troeger, of Little Rock, Michael Troeger of Little Rock, Jennifer and husband Andrew Schafer, of Ankeny, Iowa, James R. Toburen, of McAlester, Okl. And Charles Toburen, of Norman, Okl. and five great-grandsons.

 Funeral services were Jan. 5, at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.  Burial was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville. Memorials may be made to Hospice of the Ozarks, 701 Burnett Drive, Mountain Home, AR 72653.  Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Helen Lokey
Helen Marie Lokey, 65, passed away Jan. 1. She was a member of Carlisle Pentecostal Church of God. 

Survivors include her husband, Bill T. Lokey; a son, Charles Lee and wife Evelyn Lokey of Mayflower; a daughter, Leanna and husband Joe Cromer of Jacksonville; her mother, Alberta and husband Bill Knowles of Carlisle; three brothers, Vernon and wife Beverly Herring of Alexander, Charles and wife Dianne Herring of Little Rock and Danny and wife Joan Herring of Stuttgart; one sister, Shirley and husband Bill Walker of Lonoke; three grandchildren, Scarlett Lokey, Charlotte Cromer and Chase Cromer; brothers-in-laws, Jim and wife Nancy Wood of Stuttgart and Paul and wife Betty Wood of Bruce, Miss.; sisters-in-laws, Carolyn and husband Glen Lawson of Hamburg, and Faye and husband Robert Barth of Alamogordo, N.M., and several nieces, nephews and other relatives.  

Services were Jan. 3 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke with burial in Flynn Cemetery.

Mary Pederson
Mary Frances Pederson, 81, of Jacksonville died Jan. 2 in North Little Rock.  

She was born Jan. 8, 1925 in Hartman to the late Roland C. and Lela M. Parker Higgs.  

She was preceded in death by her husband, Floyd R. Pederson, Sr. and a brother, Roland Charles Higgs.  

Mrs. Pederson formerly worked as a registered nurse and was a member of First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. 
Survivors include three daughters; Sharon Ashcraft of Sherwood, Karen Hearn and husband Robert of Batesville and Joanne Holland of Cabot; son, Floyd R. Pederson and wife Rena; six grandchildren, Cliff farmer, Corie Farmer-Rowe, Allison Petters, Melisa Gibbons, John Daniel Holland and Kiley Pederson and her faithful schnauzer ‘Sadie.’ 

Funeral services were Jan. 5 at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Don Hall officiating.  Burial was in Oakland Cemetery in Clarksvill.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Pulaski County Humane Society. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Wilmer Taylor
Wilmer Eugene “Gene” Taylor, 78, of Ward, went to be with the Lord Jan. 1.

He was born June 19, 1928, at Hazen, to the late Walter and Mamie Denson Taylor.

He was a member of Hickory Plains Missionary Baptist Church. He was a farmer and mechanic most of his life. He loved music and all his friends at the musical gatherings.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty; a son Kenny; two sisters and one brother. Survivors include his daughters, Sherry and husband Teddy Jones, Brenda and husband Jimmy Graham, Susan Green of Cross Roads and Carol and husband Herb Snider of Hazen; 16 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; sisters, Jackie and husband Gordon Tarter of Carlisle, Evelyn Pate of Hazen, Wecona and husband Joe Bednar of Slovak; his loving mate, Dorothy and her sons, Billy Elliott, David Elliott, Max Elliott, Scotty Williams, and many other friends and relatives.

Funeral services were Jan. 4 at Westbrook Funeral Home at Beebe with Pastor Tony Crye and Pastor Mark Eisold officiating. Burial was in Center Point Cemetery near Hazen.

Pallbearers were his grandsons, Timmy Jones, Jeff Jones, Randy Munnerlyn, Brad Graham, Derek Graham, Scott Green, and Taylor Green. Honorary pallbearers were Robert Phillips and Darren Elliot.

EDITORIALS>>He's out of here

Let us hope that Gov. Huckabee plans a graceful and gracious exit from office Tuesday, when he hands the reins to Mike Beebe: maybe a solicitous gesture to his critics, a compliment to lawmakers who sometimes did not go along with him, anything to erase the memory of the past five days. The state has seen Mike Huckabee at his worst, petulant, spiteful, imperious — and wrong.

Early in the week, if you remember, the governor announced that he was switching some $2 million of taxes around among state universities to achieve a couple of things that he and the legislature never got around to doing.

He wanted to reward the doctor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who told him that he had diabetes and advised him to diet and exercise by settling some $800,000 on the good doctor for an endowed chair in endocrinology so that he could do more obesity research.

Huckabee also wanted to give about $1.2 million to the medical center for what one day may be a cancer research center, if the state can find the other $125 million or so. By announcing before leaving office that he was providing “seed money,” paltry as it was, for what someday could be a world-class cancer institute, the whole project could one day be his legacy, not some future governor who had to find the real money to do it.

The trouble was that both acts were illegal, as his own chief fiscal adviser, many legislators and higher education officials more or less discreetly advised him once he had made the announcement.

You see, the Constitution says that every dime that every state agency spends must first have an appropriation authorizing that money to be spent for that purpose. Otherwise, bureaucrats could spend your taxes on anything they wanted. Instead, there has to be a law first. The legislature passed a couple of thousand appropriations for the current two-year run and Huckabee signed them, but not one of them was for either of those purposes.

The governor said that no matter what his cabinet and legislators said, he had the power to transfer money from projects that were authorized by appropriation acts to projects that were not.

What he wanted to do was release some $2 million for projects at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and Little Rock that did have appropriations. But when the University of Arkansas system got the money, it was supposed ignore the projects that were to be funded and instead transfer money from some of its accounts to the medical center for the governor’s projects that had no appropriations. In five days, Huckabee never explained how he and the University of Arkansas could do that legally. He just wanted to do it.

Wednesday, the meek and mild-mannered president of the University of Arkansas, B. Alan Sugg, said the governor surely must know what he was doing but that he would really prefer to wait until the legislature passed specific appropriation bills for those purposes so that everyone would be satisfied that it was legal.

Thursday, the governor exploded. If the University of Arkansas does not want the money, he declared, he would give it to his good friend and chief cheerleader, Lu Hardin, the president of the competing University of Central Arkansas at Conway and to another state agency.

That would show the University of Arkansas. UCA had several appropriations that had not been funded. Hardin said he loved getting the windfall, $621,225, at the end of Huckabee’s reign and that he would consult with his staff about how they should spend it. The appropriation for UCA says the money must be spent for maintenance, equipment and library purchases.

Huckabee proceeded to attack poor Dr. Sugg, whom he accused of backpedaling on what he had told the governor privately, and then delivered a personal screed against one of the numerous members of the legislature and its staff who had said money should not be spent in violation of the Constitution and statutes.

Though it had absolutely nothing to do with the university appropriations, Huckabee asked why no one was objecting to Sen. Percy Malone, D-Arkadelphia, doing business with some government agencies. (They had objected, though the arrangements were perfectly legal.)

We half expected the governor to fire his top cabinet officer, Richard Weiss, for daring to suggest publicly that the governor once again did not know what he was doing and for revealing that the governor never asked him in advance about the fund transfers, although for much of the past 20 years that has been Weiss’ job. Only weeks earlier, Weiss had revealed that Huckabee was not telling the truth about a veto that was being disputed in the campaign for governor.

Maybe we should accept that as the governor’s magnanimous gesture. He did not fire the man who had twice pointed out that the emperor has no clothes. At noon Tuesday, Weiss begins plying his trade for the new governor, Mike Beebe, who we assume will have less need for his frankness.

EVENTS>>Winter 2007

The Lonoke County Extension office has planned an AG Day Program beginning at 8 a.m. Monday which concludes with a complimentary lunch at noon. This meeting will be held at the Lonoke Agricultural Center on Highway 70 just east of Lonoke.
The meeting is open to all regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and those who need special assistance in order to attend this meeting should call ahead.
Topics for this year’s program include soybeans and rice insects, Asian Rust and soybean diseases, rice and soybean weed control, salinity solutions for soybeans and rice, rice disease update, and water management for rice and soybeans.
This is an excellent opportunity for Lonoke county producers. For additional information, contact the County Extension Office at 501-676-3124.

Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) will begin accepting applications for the Winter Home Energy Assistance Program Monday. The program assists households with home energy and heating bills. The eligible household must meet income guidelines and furnish proof of all household income for the month prior to month of application. Other eligibility guidelines will include residency and resource guidelines. All households receiving food stamps are potentially eligible to receive this assistance; however, the program is not limited to food stamp recipients.
To apply for assistance the household should bring a copy of the current utility bill, social security numbers, and date of birth for all household members. Failure to provide verification requested may result in delay or denial of services. For more information call the Lonoke County CADC agency. Also, those living in the Jacksonville area may apply in Jacksonville. Applications will be accepted Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon at 117 S.E. Front Street in Lonoke. Contact Mary Abshure at 501-676-0019 for information.

The Lonoke County Republican Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Cabot City Annex. New officers will be elected. For more information, contact Janet Hutton at 941-1994.

Autism and Developmental Disabilities Support of Searcy, a chapter of The Arkansas Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, Inc., will hold its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Simmons First Bank on Main Street in Searcy. Anyone who has a child or knows a child with developmental disabilities is invited to attend.
For more information contact Suzanne Modlin at 593-5399 or send an email to

Jacksonville’s Community Development and Consumer Credit Counseling Service is sponsoring “The Nuts and Bolts of Home Buying,” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 9, 11 and 16 at the Jacksonville Community Center.
The three-part class offers information to first-time and potential homebuyers interested in buying a home for the first time.
Upon completion of the classes, a certificate will be issued to qualified participants. The certificate will be valid for one year and can be used when purchasing a home anywhere in Arkansas.
Attendance is required at all three sessions to qualify for assistance.
For more information or to register for the class, contact Vicky Reeves at 501-982-0026.

Young cancer survivors preparing for higher education may be eligible for scholarships from the Mid-South Division of the American Cancer Society. For the fourth consecutive year, the Society will award $1,000 scholarships to eligible individuals who have fought cancer and are attending an accredited university, college or vocational/technical school.
To be eligible, applicants must be under 25, have had a cancer diagnosis before age 21 and be a resident of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, or Floyd or Clark counties in Indiana and a United States citizen. Candidates must also have a GPA of at least 2.5 and been accepted to an accredited school.
Applications are due by February 1, 2007. Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need, leadership, academic achievement and community service. For more information on the scholarship program or to obtain an application, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

The Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, CASA of Lonoke County, a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization committed to serving abused and neglected children in Lonoke County will hold its first training class for 2007 in late January.
CASA workers are trained community volunteers appointed by a judge to speak up for abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers are ordinary citizens, no special legal background is required. Volunteers must be 21 years of age and are closely screened for objectivity, competence and commitment. Each volunteer must have a criminal background check, a child abuse central registry screening, complete an orientation and a 30-hour training program. Additionally, each volunteer must be willing to commit to at least one year of service and continued education training throughout their CASA assignment.
An application package must be submitted prior to training. For more information on CASA or to participate in the upcoming CASA volunteer training, contact Delyce Palik at (501) 676-6533 or by email at

The Jacksonville Chapter No. 1597 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) will host its monthly meeting at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at the Bar-B-Que Shack, 1000 S. Hwy. 61 in Jacksonville.
The installation of officers will be held. District 2 Vice-President Robert Kumpe will be the special guest.

Election of officers for the Lonoke County Fair board will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Ag Head House directly behind the Lonoke County Agriculture Center, Hwy. 70 east of Lonoke.
Anyone interested in the county fair is welcome to attend.
For more information, contact James Smith, board president, at 843-3477.

SPORTS >>Bears get win to open play in conference

IN SHORT: Sylvan Hills won its first 6A-East game of the season Tuesday against Mountain Home.

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills jump-started its first winning streak of the season, and got conference play off to a positive start by defeating Mountain Home 46-41 Tuesday night in “The Hangar” at MHHS.

Sylvan Hills managed just 14 points in the first half and trailed by five points at the break. The Bears came out of halftime with more fire, and topped their first-half total in the third quarter while stifling the Bomber offense. The Bears outscored their hosts 16-5 in the third quarter, including a 12-2 run midway through to take a 30-24 lead into the final period.

PJ Ross gave the Bears their first lead at 22-21 and they never trailed again for the duration of the contest. Any hopes of a Mountain Home rally in the late going would be dashed by Sylvan Hills.

The win was only the third for Sylvan Hills this season, but the second consecutive after beating Warren last week, and gives them a 1-0 mark in the tough 6A-East Conference.

Senior post player T.J. Shelton was the only Bear in double figures with 10 points. The balanced Sylvan Hills attack also saw Deyonte Davis and Harper score eight each.

The Lady Bears were buried early and never recovered. Mountain Home led 18-7 after one quarter and 37-14 at halftime en route to a 61-37 victory.

Brittany Richardson scored 18 and Caitlin Marting scored 15 to lead Mountain Home. Amanda Condrey added 10 for the Lady Bombers, who improved to 9-4 and 1-0.

Brianna Austin led Sylvan Hills with 12 while Rochelle Dobbins added 10 for the Lady Bears, who dropped to 4-8, 0-1.

SPORTS >>Cabot ladies top Tigers, boys beaten by late rally

IN SHORT: The Panther basketball teams split their 7A-Central openers Tuesday at LR Central.

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Lady Panthers pulled away in the second half of a close game, while the boys fell behind late and couldn’t recover in the 7A-Central Conference opener for both teams at Little Rock Central Tuesday night.

The girls 56-45 win was extremely close for a little more than a quarter. The Lady Panthers raced out to a big lead in the first half of the first quarter, only to find themselves leading by one point, 12-11, by the time the quarter ended.

Senior point guard Maddie Helms and senior forward Jamie Sterrenberg picked up three steals each, junior forward Lauren Walker got two and Helms and Walker scored six points each to lead the Lady Panthers in a first-quarter onslaught that almost ended the game as soon as it started.

The Lady Tigers had no answer for Cabot’s defense, be it extended pressure or of the half-court variety. Cabot forced 13 Central turnovers in the first period, including four before the Lady Tigers could take a shot.

Somehow Central weathered the storm and came back, and with a vengeance.

It began midway through the first period with Cabot leading 12-4 and seemingly dominating the game. Central had taken only two shots and committed six turnovers when Helms went to the bench with her second foul and Central began to come back. The Lady Tigers scored 11 straight points over the next few minutes to take a 15-12 lead early in the second quarter.

Central finally ended the 15-2 run holding a 19-14 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first half. The Lady Panthers tied it at 19 with 2:23 left. The two teams traded buckets for the last two minutes and went into intermission still knotted at 23-23.

Helms sat out the last few minutes of the half, but made her presence known again immediately in the third quarter. She quickly picked up three more steals to spark a 9-2 run that put Cabot up 34-27 with 2:16 left in the third.

Central called timeout and regrouped, but could never mount the same rally as in the first half. The game hovered around an eight-point margin for the next several minutes, but Cabot extended the lead to 10 early in the fourth and never allowed Central to get back into the game.

A three pointer by Helms and an inside bucket by junior Rachel Glover were the only field goals Cabot needed in the fourth quarter. The Lady Panthers did the rest from the foul line, hitting eight of 10 in the final frame to secure the win.

Helms led all players with 16 points and six steals. She also had five rebounds and four assists. Walker finished with 12 for Cabot while Glover chipped in nine.

Point guard Breanna Barnes led Central with 12 points.

The boys led for most of the first half, but couldn’t hang on to the ball in the third quarter as the Tigers pulled away for a 66-47 win.

Cabot dominated the paint and the boards in the first half while Central struggled from the field. The Panthers’ size may have intimidated the smallish Tigers into settling for outside shots early. Central attempted 11 threes in the first half and only made one.

Cabot attempted only five, but made three while seniors Alex Sharp and Sam Bates controlled the inside.

Central still managed to take a 25-23 lead into halftime, thanks partly to a dubious charging call and a little luck.

Cabot forward Austin Johnson was called for a charge on a spin move and bucket with eight seconds left that would have given Cabot a 25-23 lead. Instead, Central’s Melvin King missed a three, but the rebound bounced long off the back of the iron where Eric Brooks caught it in midair, released and hit the shot right at the buzzer.

Central went into halftime with the lead and momentum, and came out of it with a revised game plan.

The Tigers were no longer willing to settle for outside shots, and the Panther defense did not do well in stopping Central’s penetration.

The third quarter started well for Cabot. Bates and Johnson combined to score the first five points of the period and gave the Panthers a 28-25 lead, but from there it was all Tigers. Central scored seven straight to take a 32-28 lead before Cabot cut it back to two at 34-32 with a little less than five minutes left in the third. Then the run started in earnest.

King and teammate Keith Freeman hit back-to-back three pointers just before a King steal led to a Freeman layup. In a flash, it was a nine-point margin and Cabot never fully recovered.

The Panthers committed nine turnovers in the third quarter under the pressure of Central’s defense. That paved the way for a 16-3 run that gave the home team a 50-35 lead by the end of the period.

Brooks led all scorers with 20 points. Anthony Hurvey added 15 and King 14 for the Tigers.

Sharp led Cabot with 12 points while Johnson came off the bench to pitch in 11.

Cabot traveled to Conway last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >>North, South split matchups

IN SHORT: The South girls and North boys won their junior battles with their crosstown rivals Thursday night at CJHS.

Leader sports writer

Cabot North and Cabot South split a pair of Central Arkansas Jr. High Conference games on Thursday night at the South gym. The South girls topped North 38-30, but North pulled away late in the boys contest to take a 36-23 win.

North led the entire way in the boys game, but could never put South away until the fourth quarter. Post player Spencer Neumann gave North a size advantage inside, and they would use that advantage to keep a double-digit lead throughout the second half.

“We worked on spreading the game out,” North coach Keith Watkins said. “They are a little stronger than we are, so it’s kind of a cat-and-mouse game. The first time we played them, we didn’t hit our free throws down the stretch. Tonight, we were able to hit free throws towards the end.”

Neumann came out swinging for North in the first quarter. The multi-sport standout scored the first points of the game with a three-point shot at the 3:58 mark of the opening period, followed by a free throw on the next possession. After a goal by South, Neumann drove it inside for the score to make it 6-2. South was able to rally before the end of the first quarter, cutting North’s lead to 7-6 heading in to the second frame.

North extended their lead to 16-8 by halftime. North only allowed a pair of free throws from South in the second quarter, while adding nine points of their own with shots from three different North players.

North began to slowly pull away in the second half. They took their first double digit lead of the game at the 1:22 mark of the third quarter, and never looked back. Neumann led all scorers in the game with 16 points, including five of six free throws in the final two minutes of the game, when South began to foul to stop the clock.

In the girls game, North cut into South’s lead in the final quarter, but could never make up the remainder of the deficit. South led 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter, but soon found themselves up by only four points by the 3:18 mark. The final minute and a half of the game turned into what was basically a free throw shooting contest, with South coming out on top when it was all said and done.

Marisa Siever was the first South player to go to the charity stripe in the final two minutes at the 1:53 mark of the fourth quarter. She hit the first, but the second shot was short. Taylor Rosel scored the next four South points with a pair of free throws and steal taken coast-to-coast.

South hit five of eight foul shots in the late going to prevent a North comeback. North did their job at the line, going 4 of 4, but two late steals taken in for layups by South put the game out of contention for North.

South’s Amber Rock led all scorers with 14 points. Pete Reed added eight points for South. For North, Sarah Moore led with 11 points, and Erin Shoemaker added 10 points.

SPORTS >>The Red Devils' quiet man

IN SHORT: Jacksonville senior forward Kajuan Watson has never said much, but is beginning to say more and leading by example for the ‘07 Devils.

Leader sports editor

He speaks in a voice that gives the impression of shyness. Lately, though, on the basketball court, he’s behaved rather boisterously, boisterously at least, for a soft-spoken young man who, in the past, always played the game with such a placid expression one could hardly tell if his team was winning or losing.

Perhaps the reason that Kajuan DeAndre Watson, starting senior forward for the Jacksonville Red Devils, is expressing himself a little more on the court is because he was the clear-cut team leader heading into this season. While maybe not far and away the best player, Watson is the one who has some experience to lend to a team ripe with youngsters that have never been through the rigors of a 6A-East schedule.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner explained earlier in the season, “Kajuan is really the only one on the team that’s been through all those wars,” Joyner said. “He is our floor leader. He has to be because he’s the only one that really knows what to expect.”
Watson is the only three-year starter, one of only three players that saw considerable minutes last year, and the only player returning that started the majority of games last season. That inexperience doesn’t deter the goals Watson has in mind for this year’s Red Devils.

“I want a conference championship, a run in the state tournament and a state championship,” Watson said.
Those are tall orders for a young team, and orders Watson knows won’t come without some improvement, personally and team-wide.

“We have to get tougher on defense and execute better on offense,” Watson said. “Mostly we have to execute on offense. We turn it over too much and don’t run the offense. We’ve got to shoot better too.”

Watson is currently just as mired in the shooting woes as the rest of his team. The Red Devils have made only 27 percent of their field goals in the last two games, which is also about Watson’s percentage. But like his coach, he’s not discouraged by the slump.

“We just keep shooting because we know we can shoot, but we also have to be smart and work harder to get it to the big guys when the outside shots aren’t going in,” Watson said.

Joyner said he got that from his coach.

“That’s what we’ve been working on the last three days,” Joyner said Friday morning. “If you’re behind late, if you don’t get a bucket you need to get to the free-throw line, and you don’t get to the free-throw line shooting threes. I bet you we’ll get the ball inside more now.”

Getting inside is something that Watson has been working on since the summer. He knows he’ll have to be more of a slasher to get the looks from the big schools that he wants. That’s been his focal point for improvement, and it’s showing this season. One of the most exciting plays of the year so far came in Jacksonville’s last game when Watson went baseline out of the halfcourt set and threw down a dunk among the quartet of trees that made up 80 percent of the Olive Branch starting lineup.

“I’ve been working on that and I think slashing is one of my strengths,” Watson said. “I know, as one of the leaders of this team, that I have to be more aggressive.”

Joyner says that he’ll not only need to be more aggressive, he’ll need to be calm as well. With the conference season just beginning, and the 6A-East being the most grueling league in the state, there will be times when the Red Devils will be in tight spots late in games. Joyner plans to give the ball, on many of those occasions, to the one who has been there.

“He knows that,” Joyner said. “You can actually say he’s the only experienced player on the team. He knows the ball is going to be in his hands at crunch time a lot of times. I think he can handle it because he’s just laid back anyway. He’s a quiet leader on this team and he knows that too.”

This year’s Red Devils are much more galvanized than recent ones, especially last year’s, Joyner’s first at Jacksonville. Team chemistry is better and locker-room tensions are much lower. Joyner gives Watson some of the credit for that, and therein lies the real reason Joyner calls him the quiet leader.

“He’s just a laid back, easy going person,” Watson said. “He’s about the team and he doesn’t get jealous if someone outshines him on a play or in a game. As a leader on this team, that attitude has filtered down. It’s not all him. This whole bunch just gets along better. It’s a fun group of kids to coach because they’re team oriented and they get along. Kajuan is just a big part of that.”

Watson doesn’t even know what schools are interested in him, mainly because his coach hasn’t told him. Joyner said no solid offers have come through, that’s why he hasn’t mentioned any names, but there are several schools, mostly junior colleges right now, that have expressed interest.

“It’s real early in the game and people are just putting feelers out and seeing what’s out there,” Joyner said. “He’s not a standout All American, so people aren’t popping out of the sky begging for him, but he’s getting some looks. I know how to play the game with ‘em and I’m going to do everything I can to help him.”

Watson is also unique in that, if pro basketball is not an option after college, he’s already resolved to leave athletics behind.
“I’d like to play overseas if there’s an opportunity there,” Watson said. “In college though, I’m going to study criminal justice. I want to take the pre-law classes and go on into law school.”

Whatever endeavor Watson takes up, his coach is certain that he’ll succeed, at least if he shows the same character he has for Joyner.

“I love coaching the kid,” Joyner said. “He’s a great kid from a strong family. He works his butt off and does everything you ask him to do. He’s the kind of kid you want to see achieve his dreams.”

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

SPORTS>> Jackrabbits fall to CAC for Badger tourney title

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke teams fared well in the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center Christmas Classic over the weekend. The Lady Jackrabbits fell to Beebe in the semifinals of the tourney, but took third place on Saturday with a win over a flat River-view team. The boys made it all the way to the tournament finals, losing in a 49-45 heartbreaker to CAC.

The Jackrabbits opened the tournament with a first round win over Drew Central, setting up a semifinals rematch against host team Beebe. The second meeting went much like the first one, with the ‘Rabbits pulling away after the first quarter to dominate the rest of the contest. Senior Kylon Boyd led all scorers with 16 points in the game to propel the Jackrabbits to a 63-38 win over the Badgers, setting up a championship showdown with former conference mates CAC in the finals on Saturday.

The two teams picked up on the old rivalry rather quickly. The Mustangs took a big lead early, shutting down Lonoke’s offense to rush out to an 18-8 advantage at the end of the first quarter. It was Lonoke that would have the advantage in the second frame, holding CAC to only seven points while racking up 17 of its own to only trail at halftime 27-25. The Mustangs had trouble with the ‘Rabbits’ defensive adjustments the second quarter. They only got six looks at the basket in the entire period, and only got two of them to fall late.

Lonoke finally worked itself into the lead at the 3:06 mark of the third quarter. Post player Jordan Lambert had tied the game at 33-33 moments earlier with an inside basket at the 5:04 mark, but a three from Boyd put the ‘Rabbits up by three, followed by a basket and foul by Sammy Coleman. Coleman did not convert the free throw, but his goal helped Lonoke go up by five. The Jackrabbits still held the lead with less than four minutes left in the game, but a three pointer from Mustangs guard Paul Holderfield cut the advantage to one at 41-40. A pair of free throws by Joe Adams at the 3:13 mark gave CAC its first lead of the fourth quarter at 42-41.

Bradley Spencer put the Jackrabbits back in front in the final minute with a pair of free throws, but David Williams answered from the charity stripe for CAC. Williams’ foul shots put the Mustangs back in front 46-45,and a pair of Holderfield free throws in the last eight seconds of the game would set the final margin. Boyd led scoring for Lonoke in the finals with 19 points, including three shots from three-point land. Stanley Staggers only finished with one basket on the night, but his perfect 10 for 10 performance from the free throw line put him with 12 points at the end of the night. NO 23 rounded out double digit scorers for Lonoke with 10.

After a less than stellar performance against Beebe in the semifinals, the Lady Jackrabbits closed the tournament out strong with a 48-16 mercy-ruled win over Riverview in the third-place game on Saturday. The Lady Raiders led early on, but Lonoke soon turned up the heat. Calisha Kirk tied the game 9-9 in the final seconds of the opening frame on the put back of a Jenny Evans miss. Though Kirk and Evans have been the big scorers for the Lady ‘Rabbits throughout most of the early season, on this night, it would be the third Lonoke senior who would take those honors.

Senior guard Kristy Shinn came out of the scoring shadows with 18 points in the game. Shinn, normally regarded as a defensive player, found the basket from all directions, including a pair of three pointers. Kirk and Evans still turned in their typical performances, with Evans scoring 12 and Kirk finishing with nine points. The Lady Raiders struggled from the floor and then some in the contest, only coming away with four combined points through the second and third quarters. Riverview shooting ace Kori Meachum was a non-factor through the entire event, with a three-point basket at the 5:03 mark of the opening quarter as her only points in the game.

“We definitely played a lot better than we played last night,” said Lady ‘Rabbits coach Nathan Morris, referring to the semifinals loss to Beebe. “We played with a lot more intensity, and that was a good ball team. I don’t think we came out last night and matched Beebe’s intensity. We came out and tried some different things defensively, and I think that helped get them off-balance a little bit.”

The Jackrabbits and Lady Jackrabbits will pick back up on conference play this week with games

SPORTS>> Falcons and Lady Devils fight hard, fall short

Leader sports editor

The 17th annual Community Bank Red Devil Classic is in the books, and although no local team went home with a championship trophy, there were some positives that each team could take away. The Jacksonville ladies and North Pulaski boys each finished in fourth place, and got good efforts in their respective third-place losses. The Falcons were undersized and overmatched on the inside, but scrapped and clawed to make a game of their 65-56 loss to Memphis Overton. The brothers Cooper led the way offensively as NP was unable to get much done on the inside. Freshman Aaron Cooper led the way with 13 points while senior Quinn Cooper scored 11.

The Lady Devils were without leading scorer Tarneshia Scott who went down in Thursday’s second-round game, along with all the other players that were out before the tournament began, but played tough in a 58-38 loss to Little Rock Central.
The Lady Tigers had mercy ruled Jacksonville twice this season, but got a tougher scrap from the Lady Devils Friday. Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms had to move center Marie Livings out into the open court for press break, which cost her some shots when the press was broken, but Mimms was more concerned with the overall effort of her team.

“We played hard against Central and we needed to do that,” Jacksonville coach Katrina Mimms said. “We had to bring Marie out of position a little bit to handle the pressure, but that took away a lot of her touches inside, usually because we had already shot it.” With Livings limited and Scott on the bench, the Lady Devils got a scoring lift from senior guard Marleka Bell. Bell finished with a team high 10 points. “That was good to get that from her,” Mimms said. “It’s always good to have as many scoring threats as possible.” Jacksonville will have its main one back by Friday when it hosts Marion to open conference play. It could also have last year’s starting point guard Morgan Waits back. She expects to be cleared on Thursday to return from the torn ACL she suffered over the summer.

The West Memphis Lady Blue Devils won the tournament without much trouble. After mercy ruling Ruston, La. in the first round, West Memphis beat Central by 20, and knocked off Helen-West Helena 70-45 in the championship game. The fifth-place game saw Ruston knock off Little Rock McClellan 44-38, while Melbourne beat Olive Branch in the eighth-place game.
To round out the boys half of the bracket, Hughes beat Little Rock Catholic 49-45 for fifth place, while Woodham, Fla. Defeated McClellan 54-46 for seventh place.

SPORTS>> Shots won't fall, Devils do

Leader sports editor

The Christmas season brings joy and magic to many, but the final round of the Red Devil Classic wasn’t a magical event for the Red Devils in Friday night’s championship game. It was still a good run for Jacksonville, although it lost 49-39 to Olive Branch, Miss., in the title matchup. Jacksonville trailed the towering Conquistadors throughout the game. The margin through the first half stayed between six and 10 points most of the time. After falling behind 30-20 early in the third quarter, Jacksonville roared back with a 14-4 run that tied the game at 34-34 with 1:32 left in the quarter.

Brian Washington sparked the run, hitting a bucket and getting two steals, one of which led to the three pointer by Antwan Robinson that tied the game. OB called timeout, and from there Jacksonville couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Jacksonville managed just one free throw the rest of the quarter, and didn’t score at all in the fourth for over four minutes. The Red Devil defense was still very effective, and when Damien Akins hit his three pointer with 3:45 left in the game, it cut the Conquistadors’ lead to 39-38. Unfortunately, Akins’ shot was the only one Jacksonville would make for the rest of the game while OB finally began to find the range.

Jacksonville’s strategy to foul would have worked if the Red Devils could have made a shot from the floor. OB made just two of six attempts at the line in the fourth quarter when Jacksonville resorted to fouling, but the Red Devils hit just one of 15 field goal attempts in the final frame. They made just 14 of 57 shots the entire game Friday, a 24.5 percent shooting effort.
It was the second straight game that Jacksonville shot under 30 percent. The Devils managed to beat Memphis Overton despite a 29-percent effort, but Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner isn’t worried too much about the shooting woes continuing.
“I see them shoot every day in practice and I know they can shoot the basketball,” Joyner said. “We executed. When you get your shooters wide open looks, you’re executing your offense. I don’t think it was a matter of not being able to play in the big moments. I watched the tape and they weren’t rushing shots, they weren’t forcing anything. They just weren’t making them. And it they weren’t missing my much. Almost everything was rattling around and coming out. They were off by millimeters.”

Jacksonville was also on the wrong end of the rebounding totals, a category the Red Devils usually dominate, but the height and athleticism of the Conquistadors gave them a 34-19 advantage on the boards. “They were prepared for how we attack the boards,” Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner said. “Their coach told me he noticed that watching us, and they got a bunch a tall, aggressive guys. Our big guys were still in position, but they just had more of them and they got higher than ours did. We also didn’t have any guards down there rebounding like we have been. Their big guy turned a few shots away early when they went in there, and I think we got reluctant to get in there some more and became a perimeter shooting team.”

Joyner was still pleased with the defense, and with the overall effort.“We held them to 10 points in the fourth quarter,” Joyner said. “They played hard. They busted their butts out there and gave us an opportunity to win. That’s all you want, is an opportunity to win the game.” Jacksonville’s big men played well throughout the tournament. Norvel Gabriel would likely have been the tournament MVP had Jacksonville won. Gerron Riddles showed improved movement and footwork in creating his own shots on the block, and sophomore Antwain Lockhart held his own against the biggest team Jacksonville will face this year.

It all just happened to coincide with the worst shooting slump the team has seen this season. “I feel good about how we’re playing,” Joyner said. “We need more points from our two spot. We only got 23 points in three games from there in the tournament, and we run a lot plays for that position. I think Lockhart played very well for a sophomore against those big guys. Norvel had an excellent tournament. We just have to shoot better.” OB’s Chucky Tungstall led all scorers and rebounders with 16 points and nine boards. Rod Pegues was the only other player in double figures with 10 points.
Gabriel led Jacksonville with eight points. The Red Devils will begin conference play this Friday at home against Marion.

EDITORIALS>>Tell courts to stop TIFs

Once tiresomely again, the courts will have to save us from the folly of our public servants. This time, they will have to protect us from city fathers who want to take tax dollars that people voted for the public schools and use them to fatten the pocketbooks of private developers. The North Little Rock City Council last week created not one but two special districts that will pledge future growth in property taxes to benefit developers, a scheme called tax-increment financing, now shortened to TIFs.

One district would embrace much of Dark Hollow, the pristine wetlands east and south of the Interstates 30 and 40 intersection, where developer Bruce Burrow of Jonesboro plans another big shopping center anchored by a Bass Pro Shop. Another would cover the lower Baring Cross neighborhood on the north bank of the Arkansas River, where a residential development is planned.

TIFs work this way: The city will borrow money on long terms and build streets, sewers, gutters and other infrastructure so that the developer will not have to spend his money on those things. The bonds then are repaid from future property tax growth in the TIF district — money that ordinarily would go to the schools and city and county governments for police, streets, roads and other services.

The argument for wresting the advalorem taxes away from schools and municipal and county services is that without the development there might not be much growth in the districts and therefore little growth in taxes. But that could be true of every development: every new home, every service station, every apartment building, store or clinic. They never got a big government subsidy and most still will not get one. TIF subsidies go to the very few, giving them a big advantage over competitors. TIF schemes originally were supposed to be for very depressed neighborhoods that would otherwise not be appealing to private development capital.

But since Arkansas awakened in 2001 to find that a murky constitutional amendment that voters had approved on entirely different premises included language allowing school taxes to be siphoned off for private commercial development, its use has been almost exclusively in very prosperous growth areas. Dark Hollow doesn’t fit either description. It is not blighted; it is simply undeveloped for the simple reason that it is a natural wetland where any kind of development will require huge sums for infill and stabilization for streets, building and parking. The metropolitan area should not feel blighted by having a large wetland in its heart. It is a good thing.

Sure, if the taxpayers pay for all that work, the mammoth Shoppes at North Hills will be a bonanza for the developer and the merchants, who will have a big advantage over regional competitors. It will be at the heart of the metropolitan area along the most traveled thoroughfares in Arkansas. (Make it also one of the most dangerous thoroughfares after the mall is added to the web of interchanges right at the heart of the state transportation network.)

But that is North Little Rock’s business, right? Why should anyone else care?
It is everyone’s business. The future taxes that would be siphoned away from North Little Rock schools will be siphoned away from every school in Arkansas be-cause of the intricate state school-finance system. Because North Little Rock will be slightly more impoverished, the other 210 school districts in Arkansas, including schools in the Pulaski County Special School Distric, will step in and make up most of the difference. We think the transfer of tax receipts for TIF developments violates the Arkansas Constitution, which says that taxes raised for education may not be used for anything else. The attorney general has already opined that the growth in receipts from 25 mills of local school taxes in each district may not be co-opted by TIFs because it is now considered state money, not local, under Amendment 78.

That issue is making its way to the Arkansas Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules on all the constitutional issues, the city council’s actions may be moot by late this year. But the high court has a pattern of avoiding constitutional judgments if cases can be decided on other premises. To be sure that this madness is put to rest, North Little Rock should be taken to court, too. Right away.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Time of year bringing out best in folks

Marti Frederick of Cabot returned home around 7 o’clock Christmas night from family gatherings in Little Rock. “I had offered to take care of two of my neighbors’ mail, etc. while they were out of town for the holidays,” she recalled.  “Having gone to one home and taken care of their pets, I pulled into the driveway of my next-door neighbor to give him his mail and papers.  
“As I exited the car, I locked the door, only to realize that the keys I had in my hand were not mine, but the key to the first neighbor’s home. It was cold, windy and raining and it was Christmas night. The only choice I had was to call a locksmith.
“After Sylvia Smith of Smith Wrecker in Cabot unlocked the door, I reached for my purse to write her a check. When I asked her how much I owed her, she replied, ‘This is what you owe me.... a Christmas hug....Merry Christmas!’

“I appreciate so much that she came out on such a nasty night, but to leave her family on Christmas and then be so kind deserves some special recognition.” “I had received so many reports of sad news over Christmas weekend that Sylvia Smith’s kindness on Christmas Day was especially sweet,” Mrs. Frederick said. “I work at Metropolitan National Bank in Cabot and received a call on Saturday, as my family sat down for our Christmas meal together, that (teller) Jim Garison had been killed in the robbery at our Colony West branch.”

Mrs. Frederick’s neighbors help each other all the time. “My neighbors are wonderful about taking care of my dog, getting my mail and even taking care of my lawn when I am out of town,” Mrs. Frederick continued. “My next door neighbor had been gone for five days and the other neighbor had left for a one week trip to California. “As far as the goodness of other people, I could go on and on. I was widowed at the age of 37 with three children still at home. My husband died from a malignant brain tumor at the age of 40.

“He was 6’2” tall, a strong, active, healthy man until the cancer struck. He only lived 4 1/2 months after his diagnosis. During that 4 1/2 months, he and all three of our children celebrated their birthdays. Jim turned 40, our oldest son turned 19, our daughter turned 12, and our youngest son turned 8. “Jim passed away in February 1987. During his battle with cancer and after his death and the years since then, we have experienced the tremendous, overwhelming outpouring of love and support from friends, family, neighbors and our church.

“One of the most generous acts of kindness came just a few years ago from our newly elected mayor of Cabot. Eddie Joe Williams and his family have been friends of my family for about 15 years. “About seven years ago, I came home from work on my lunch hour and discovered water pouring down my driveway. I opened the front door to discover that a water hose to my washing machine had burst. “Water was approximately six inches deep throughout my house. My oldest son was stationed elsewhere in the Navy, my youngest was in college at ASU in Jonesboro and my daughter was married, so I had the task of dealing with the mess by myself...or so I thought.

“Eddie Joe and I attended church together at McArthur Assembly of God in Jacksonville. When he heard of my plight, he came over and offered to help. “Eddie spent not just hours but days turning into weeks, cleaning, painting, and carpeting my house. I had homeowners insurance that covered part of the work, but Eddie out of sheer kindness did more than the insurance would cover. He solicited help from other church members and together they did an amazing job on refurbishing my home.

“I hesitate to name those who helped Eddie Joe with the work, because there were so many that I know I would miss someone, but I have always wanted a way to express my deep appreciation for the goodness of my friends and family over the years. “Perhaps this is the way. Thank you!”

TOP STORY >>Deal in works to phase out sales tax on groceries

Leader staff writer

Before he even takes office, Gov.-elect Mike Beebe already has struck a deal with Arkansas Farm Bureau that would grease the skids for repeal of the state sales tax on groceries, according to state Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle. Glover, who has pre-filed three different bills aimed at taking the sales tax off groceries, called them “trial balloons” Tuesday, but said he and other legislators await the new governor’s pleasure on the issue.

Beebe will be sworn in as the state’s 45th governor on Tuesday, then address a joint session of the General Assembly before making his inaugural address to the public at noon on the state Capitol steps. Glover said he expects the new governor to announce his intentions then. Glover said he has told Beebe that he would appreciate consideration as primary sponsor for the bill in the Senate. Beebe has apparently promised Arkansas Farm Bureau, which has one of the most powerful lobbies in the state, that he would not touch sales tax exemptions that farmers currently get on feed, seed, chemicals, fertilizer and farm equipment to make up for the revenues lost by eliminating the grocery tax.

Although Beebe and virtually all gubernatorial candidates campaigned on removal of the state tax on groceries, Glover said Beebe had never said exactly what he’s going to recommend. “It’s just a wait-and-see proposition,” according to Glover.
“It appears he wants to knock as much of it as he can out as soon as he can,” the senator added. “Whether or not we can do it that fast I don’t know,” Glover said, “but we have a large surplus in revenues and it’s increasing. We are one of 11 states that still has full sales taxes on groceries.”

“My favorite bill takes off half (the tax) immediately and the balance half in each of the two following years,” Glover said.
The senator said he has favored a grocery tax repeal or relief for 20 years, but “this is the first time I can remember since 1973 we’ve had a governor going on record saying he was going to do everything he could to repeal it.”

Currently customers at Arkansas grocery stores pay 6 percent sales tax. That includes a 4.5 percent general sales tax, 7/8ths percent tax dedicated to educational adequacy, 1/8th percent dedicated by constitutional amendment to fund the state Game and Fish Commission and Department of Natural Heritage and ½ percent to pay for the $300 homestead exemption, Glover said. In addition, various counties and cities have their own sales tax on groceries that the General Assembly has no power to change.

But of the state’s 6 percent sales tax on groceries, all could be removed except the 1/8 percent tax. Glover warns, however, that the state would need about $225 million a year from general revenues to pay for the educational adequacy fund and the homestead exemption.

TOP STORY >>Cities see change of guard in new year

Leader staff writers

Beebe Mayor Mike Robertson was sworn in New Year’s Day and spent much of the next day working with the former mayor’s assistant drawing new ward lines so the newly annexed residents will be able to vote and working on the agenda for the special council meeting he has called for 6 p.m. Thursday. Robertson said the council will go into executive session since he needs to hire someone to head the street department and he wants the council’s input. The rest of the meeting will be spent on the $2 million general and street fund budget that he says will likely pass as former Mayor Donald Ward drafted it. Then, over the course of the year, it will be amended to reflect what he plans will be cuts in some areas to make more money for street maintenance.

Also on the agenda is an ordinance that if passed will allow city police officers to sell their vacation time back to the city.
Robertson said Police Chief Don Inns complained that he is understaffed. Allowing officers to sell back their unwanted vacation time would be one way to keep more on the street, he said. This is Robertson’s second term in office. He was first elected 12 years ago. He served one term before he was defeated by Ward who served two terms then announced he would not seek a third after Robertson announced he was running again for a second. But this time he was unopposed.

Robertson said the transition from Ward’s administration to his has been a smooth one. “Everything was just fine,” he said. “Donald made every effort to have me informed on everything that is coming up. The transition went as well as it could have. No one was distant at all.” In Sherwood, former Alderman Dan Stedman said he’d been in staff meetings with department heads, meeting some of the city’s employees and “learning the phone system.”

“I gave them some ideas for the future,” said Stedman, who succeeded long-time mayor Bill Harmon, who retired. “We want to continue to improve the way that we do our city business,” he said. “We are looking for innovations and best practices in every department.” He said employees would focus on customer service, with Sherwood residents being the customers.
He said none of Harmon’s department heads asked to be released and that for now, everything is “pretty static.”

“There could be some changes over time,” he added.” In Lonoke, former Alderman Wayne McGee said he hoped to make appointments to committees by the end of this week. Meanwhile, he’s been going over old papers, getting everything organized and trying to make a list of everything he needs to do. McGee was unopposed in the November election after winning a runoff in the four-man Democratic primary in June.

Despite a record of accomplishment, voters turned out Mayor Thomas Privett for his close association with former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell, who stands accused of nearly 40 felonies. Privett himself was charged with misdemeanor theft of services for having work done at his home by Act 309 inmate workers on loan to the city last year.

“We’re still working on some of the projects in town,” McGee said. “We’re still waiting on the contract for engineering a new I-40 interchange with state Hwy. 89 on the west side of the city. “We had hoped to have it signed by the end of the year,” he said. McGee said he would meet soon with department heads to tell them what he expects. He said he didn’t anticipate any immediate changes among city department heads. McGee, who is a partner in an auction business, a used car lot and a furniture business, has said he would treat the position as a full-time job. “I’m trying not to make any hasty decisions I may regret,” he said. “I’d rather take my time.

OBITUARIES >> 1-3-07


Billie Jean Harris, 62, of Ward, was born May 29, 1944, at Griffithville to William Clark and Othema Frances Jameson Weatherly. She died Jan. 1. She loved the outdoors and didn’t miss a grandchild’s ballgame. She was preceded in death by her parents.

She is survived by her husband, Don Harris; four sons, Donnie Harris and wife Barbara of Bryant, Alvin Harris and wife Linda, John Harris and wife Connie, both of Ward, and Greg Harris and wife Cheryl of Beebe; one daughter, Stephanie Breedlove and husband Ken of Beebe; grandchildren, Jeff and Jennifer Harris, Brooke, Johnathon and Michael Harris, Brittany, A. J. and Joshua Harris, Megan and Holly Harris, Chris Harris, Matthew and Alli Breedlove, Misty Jackson, Sheryl Kindall; one great-grandchild, Jacob Harris; two brothers, Ronnie Weatherly and Junior Moore, both of Little Rock; and one sister, Wilma Smith of Mabelvale. Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5, at Westbrook Funeral Home, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.


David J. Newman, 65, of Beebe, went to be with his Savior Jan. 2. He was a truck driver for 42 years.
He was preceded in death by his father, Porter Newman; his mother, Faye Strayhorn Smotherman; and his son, Scotty Newman.

He is survived by his stepmother, Frances Rettig; four daughters, Pam Lee and husband Ward, Tammy Lynch and husband Randy, Tracy Wilson and husband Scott, and Patricia Pruitt and husband David; two sons, Donnie Joe Newman and wife Ana and Chad Newman; 12 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; six sisters, Martha Caldwell, Louise Payne and husband Tootsie, Virginia Lott and Braxton, Ann May and husband Bob, Mary “Nuggett” Fritz and husband Jimmy and Nell Wixon and husband Kevin; one brother, Porter David Newman, Jr. and wife Rhonda; and a host of nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4 at Westbrook Funeral Home, Beebe, with burial at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.


Paul Lynn Hancock, 64, of Jacksonville went to be with the Lord Dec. 21. He was born April 1, 1942 in Little Rock to the late Burrell H. and Mary E. Ahern Hancock. He was a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church. Survivors include his sister, Madelynn Phillips of Jacksonville; an aunt, Dorothy Hager of San Antonio, Texas; as well as two nephews and one niece. Graveside funeral services were held Jan. 2 at Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville with Father Les Farley officiating. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Johnnette Wilson, 81, of Jacksonville passed away Jan. 1 at Fort Roots Hospice in North Little Rock. She was born Feb. 20, 1925 in Dermott, to John Perry and Willie Pearl Hardin. In 1944, she married James Edward Wilson in Vicksburg, Miss.
They moved to Arkansas in 1973. She graduated from UALR School of Nursing in 1977. Mrs. Wilson was a registered nurse at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital for over 15 years until she retired in 1993. She was a member of Pleasant Valley Church of Christ; Arkansas Nurses Association; Arkansas Chemotherapy Certified Nurses Association. Mrs. Wilson was preceded in death by her husband in 1990.

She is survived by four children and their spouses, Mary and Melvin Duda of Alton, Ill., James and Janet Wilson of Jacksonville, Shannon and Michael Hall of North Little Rock, Melissa and Robert Hall of Jacksonville; five grandchildren, Michael Duda, Kimberly Wilson, Marisa Duda, Justin and Jason Wilson; three great-grandchildren, Shannon Michelle Duda, Lee Michael Duda, Alan Michael Duda; two brothers, Mark Henry Harden of Nesbitt, Miss., and John Harden of Houston, Texas.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 6 at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Chapel with Rev. Bonnie Johnson Gross officiating. Interment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Park. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. The family suggests memorials be made to Alzheimer’s Foundation or Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

TOP STORY >>Ex-mayor of Cabot empties out files

Leader staff writer

Eddie Joe Williams, the new mayor of Cabot, walked into a clean office Monday morning after receiving the keys to city hall from his predecessor the evening before. The filing cabinets were empty and the computer on the mayor’s desk had been purged. Williams said he soon learned that the working files were where they had always been, in the office of Operations Director Karen Davis, and that former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh probably had nothing in his computer that was critical to the operation of the city.

But Jim Towe, the public works director who was hired by Stumbaugh and resigned before Williams took over, also had dumped everything in his computer – word documents, Excel files and computer-aided drafting files. What the files contained is unclear, but Williams wanted them back and by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday Jay McMahan, the city’s information-technology specialist, had restored everything deemed necessary by Norma Naquin, who works in the office. Missing files are arguably the least of Williams’ problems as he takes over the job of running the second-fastest growing city in Arkansas.

Until Bill Cypert, secretary of the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, presented him with a $240,000 check Tuesday morning, the city had only $100,000 in the bank and about $200,000 in bills. All but about $10,000 of the money from the commission, which was paid in lieu of property taxes, was money the commission is allowed by state law to voluntarily give the city for police and fire protection. Dale Walker, the city finance director, said some of the bills may be paid in installments, so the city will survive the lean month ahead.

But Williams said he already knows how he will make sure 2008 gets off to a better start. He intends to have his budget ready to present to the full council by the Jan. 15 council meeting. It will contain no money for new vehicles or other capital expenditures, no money for additional personnel and department heads will be required to cut 10 percent from their budgets. “I want to know the bottom line in your department has been reduced 10 percent. How you do that is up to you,” Williams said he told department heads during a Tuesday morning staff meeting that lasted almost two hours.
“They’re going to have to actually manage their budgets this year,” he said.

Williams said department heads have until Monday morning to bring their spending plans back to him, which will give him time to get the budget ready for the council meeting. This year’s projected revenue for the city is $7.3 million for the general fund and $1.1 million for the street fund. Of that combined $8.4 million in revenue, Williams said he intends to hold 4 percent, about $500,000 in reserve.

“We’ve been taking a hit from the state auditors for not having anything in reserve,” he said. Whether saving that money will require laying off workers is unclear. Williams said he believes the city has 157 employees now, compared to 152 four years ago, and that 152 included employees in water and wastewater, which now work for the independent commission that gave the city the money it will operate on for the first few weeks of this year. The budget, not the mayor, will determine whether all 157 get to stay, he said.

Williams said the new public works director will be Jerrell Maxwell, who ran the department before Towe took over and then worked for Towe as a building inspector. Since water and wastewater are no longer part of public works, Williams said he will probably pay Maxwell $45,000 instead of the $55,000 Towe was paid. He is combining Human Resources, headed by Peggy Moss, with the city attorney’s office.

Although Jimmy Taylor is the elected city attorney and therefore the head of the city attorney’s office, Williams says Moss would work with Taylor, not for him. The finance department, which was under the mayor, will be eliminated. Walker will work for Marva Verkler, the city clerk-treasurer. “My philosophy is if you watch the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves,” he said. “That’s what my dad taught me and that’s what we do at the Williams’ house. “I think we’ve got some good people to run the city, but I do think we have some challenges ahead,” he said.

TOP STORY >>Murders, military and more make year

Leader staff writer

Four murders—the most in at least a decade—a new community center for Cabot; land cleared for a new library in Jacksonville, and local soldiers and airmen serving in Iraq are all part of our month-by-month look back at 2006.


Businessman Gary McMillan is named Cabot’s citizen of the year.

The Cabot School District approves funding for a new $6 million elementary school on 20 acres of land near Stagecoach and Campground roads.

Pulaski County Special School district seeks release from almost 20 years of federal court monitoring. By the end of the year, they were still under court supervision.

Cabot School Superintendent John Holman’s salary package of $181,329 has him ranked fifth highest paid superintendent in the state.

Sherwood, Cabot and Jacksonville are all told to repay the state for extra taxes they collected. The decision cost Cabot $46,142, Sherwood $66,547, and Jacksonville$42,090.

Little Rock Air Force Base officials discourage its members from using payday lenders. Through fees and other charges, these companies often charge lenders more than 300 percent on loans.

Remington Arms in Lonoke celebrates its 35th year in business by producing nearly a billion rounds of shotgun ammunition.

Jacksonville Rep. Will Bond loses his bid to become speaker of the state House of Representatives to Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart.


A deadly highway crash on Highway 67/167’s Main Street overpass in Jacksonville involves a gravel truck and a number of pickups. The gravel truck pushed one of the pickups over the guardrails down to Main Street and dumped a ton of gravel on top of it. The driver of that vehicle, Jerry Justice, of Ward, was pronounced dead on the scene. His wife and mother were seriously injured.

Nearly 200 members of the Arkansas Army National Guard deploy to Kuwait and Iraq on an 18-month assignment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

•Tavaris Bone, 25, of Jacksonville, turned in himself in the shooting death of Anthony Parker, 20, of 1705 Redmond Road. It was the city’s first murder of the year.

•About an inch of snow hit central Arkansas on Feb. 10, causing a run on essentials at area stores, but didn’t affect local schools.

•Lonoke is hit by the arrests of its mayor, police chief, his wife and two bondsmen. Mayor Thomas Privett was charged with using prison labor for his own personal use, while Chief Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly were arrested on theft, sex, and drug charges. The bondsman, Bobby Cox and Larry Norwood were charged with drug counts. Charges would continue to mount throughout the year.

•Pulaski County Special School District picks interim superintendent James Sharpe to lead the district.

•Members of the 50th and 61st Airlift Squadrons and the 463rd Airlift Group are deployed to the Middle East in support of the war on terror.


•Three candidates sign up to take on the embattled Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett in the primary elections.

•Jacksonville attorney Mike Wilson went to court in his efforts to declare pork barrel projects funded through the state legislature’s general improvement fund illegal. Part of his efforts were blocked in Pulaski County court, but the court did decide with him on two Jacksonville projects: $20,000 set aside to the city for undesignated use and $20,000 set aside for the Boys and Girls Club.

•Four inches of rain hit the area in less than four days ushering in Flood Awareness Week and causing minor problems. A week earlier high winds blew through the area taking a number of trees and rooftops with it.

•Air Force officials estimate it will cost about $9 million per plane to make repairs to 82 aging C-130 aircraft suffering wing cracks, including 33 assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base.

•A $1.2 million town hall at Little Rock Air Force Base was dedicated as part of a multi-million housing privatization program on the base.

•Almost four years after its construction was announced a new $1 million section of Cabot’s Main Street was opened.

•Ten more charges are added to the growing list of counts against former Lonoke police chief Jay Campbell and his wife. Former police dispatcher Amy Staley is also arrested as the sex, drug, and corruption investigation continued.

•Consultants tell Jacksonville it would take $50 million for the city to have its own school district, and questioned whether the city had enough tax base to support its own district.

•After 25 years of serving Sherwood as alderman and mayor, Bill Harmon, 80, announces that he would be stepping down at the end of the year, saying the next mayor would take the reins of a community that is thriving.

•On March 1, The Leader began its 20th year of publishing and has become the largest paid non-daily newspaper in Arkansas.


•Lonoke gets a new police chief to replace Jay Campbell, who was arrested back in February on multiple drug, theft and corruption charges. The city picks Rick Sliger of Eagle, Colo., to lead the police force. However, Sliger resigned without reason before the year ended.

•Pawn shops see a rise in business as gas prices close in on $3 a gallon in the local area.

•The cost to bring future water to Jacksonville, Cabot and northern Pulaski County doubles in cost, going from $14.8 million to $30 million.

•Study shows new impact fees could bring in $2.3 million annually into Cabot’s coffers.

•Plans for an avionics upgrade of C-130E aircraft, many of which are assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base is scrapped by the military. The upgrade would have cost about $10 million per plane.

•Five of eight Cabot aldermen decide not to seek re-election to the city council. U.S. Rep. Marion Berry also kicks off his re-election campaign to keep his District 1 seat.

•Peggy Anderson is named Lonoke’s citizen of the year.

•Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim announces for an unprecedented sixth term. He ends up unopposed and wins the job again.

•Pulaski County looks at taxpayers to help fund county jail, which is used by Jacksonville, Sherwood and the state as well. It could take as much as an additional $20 million to keep the necessary jail beds open.

•Officials place the economic impact of the Little Rock Air Force Base on the local economy at $600 million.


•After the primary votes were counted, the Lonoke sheriff’s race ended up as a three-peat rematch of current sheriff Jim Roberson, Democrat, and former sheriff Charlie Martin, Republican.

•Rebsamen Medical Center made plans to open a $3.5 million medical facility on Main Street in Cabot.

•Little Rock Air Force Base sends a C-130 aircraft to Mexico to star in the Transformers movie.

•Beebe names Jim Wooten as citizen of the year, and Bill Pruitt as educator of the year.

•Lonoke County has problems tallying primary vote totals and is one of the last counties in the state to report results—almost a full day after the election.

•Jacksonville starts the process of buying land on Main Street for its new $2.5 million library. The city purchased the property housing the old Schaeffer Texaco station just west of the Walgreen’s.

•Jacksonville’s Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. was sold to Texas Pacific as part of a $1.04 billion deal. The local plant turns about 3,000 tons of paper a month into various types of bags.

•Beebe’s Mary Garner was named Volunteer of the Year by the White County Community Foundation.

•The House Armed Services Committee approved funding for the joint education center to be built in Jacksonville for both civilian and military educational use. Jacksonville is providing $5 million for the $14 million project through a tax that voters approved in 2004. The base will donate land for the facility just outside the main gate.


•Sherwood gives its city employees a two-percent raise to go with a three-percent raise they received in January.

•The Leader wins 31 awards and honors from the Arkansas Press Association.

•Carlisle’s Amber Elizabeth is crowned the new Miss Arkansas in ceremonies in Hot Springs.

•U.S. Census Bureau numbers show that Cabot is the second-fasting growing city in Arkansas, just behind Bentonville, and ahead of Maumelle.

•Jacksonville passes a tougher dog ordinance with stiffer penalties for owners of vicious animals.

•Jacksonville and Sherwood go to court over Sherwood’s plans to annex 2,000 acres of raw land taking that city’s limits nearly to the southwestern edges of Little Rock Air Force Base.

•Aldermen Wayne McGee beats former aldermen Jim Parks in a run-off to become Lonoke’s new mayor. Mayor Thomas Privett, who is entangled in a corruption investigation, was bounced out in the May Democrat primaries. Republicans fielded no candidate for the position, meaning that McGee automatically took over Jan.1.

•Beebe city council decides to try to double size of city again through annexation. Voters said no to the first effort almost a year ago.

•The funeral of Army Specialist Bobby West, of Beebe, who was killed in Iraq, is marred by protests from a religious group that says West’s and all soldiers deaths re retribution for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. A group of bikers, the Patriot Guard Riders, showed up to protect the funeral procession from the anti-gay group.

•Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh by-passed another chance to run Cabot and instead announced his candidacy for Congress, taking on incumbent Marion Berry for the District 1 seat.


A new 7,000-square-foot animal shelter, costing $425,000, opens in Cabot.

Smokers across the state had to adjust to a new law banning smoking in most public places.

A 203,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter opens in Cabot just south of the old Wal-Mart Supercenter, west of Highway 67/167.

Christopher M. Johnson, 27, of north Pulaski County is sentenced to 18 years in the smothering death of a 3-year-old. He was convicted of manslaughter in the incident and pleaded “no contest.”

Cabot accepts $10 million bid to build a new wastewater treatment plant that the city needs to stay out of hot water with the Arkansas Department of Environ-mental Quality and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

A $1.3 million fine forces one businessman to close some of his payday lending operations. The businesses are under fire for making lenders pay back loans at interest rates of 300 percent or more.

About 100 members of the Arkansas National Guard head south to help patrol the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
A Sherwood woman, Carolyn Cooper, 53, is charged in the shooting death of her husband at their Sherwood apartment. It was the first murder in the city in almost three years.

A yearlong report recommends that the beleaguered Pulaski County Special School District be split up into at least two districts and giving Jacksonville its own school district.


Charges against former Lonoke Sheriff Jay Campbell, his wife, Mayor Thomas Privett and others escalate to almost 80 counts.

Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain asked that all defendants be tried in a single month-long trial.

Five new subdivisions bring 500 additional homes into Ward.

Sherwood is taken for $100,000 as contractor cuts corners on roadwork. The city looks at ways to recoup the loss and make necessary road repairs.

Worley’s Place, a new three-story $2 million apartment complex for seniors, opened in Jacksonville. The complex will help dwindle down the two-year waiting list for the city’s only other senior apartments, Jacksonville Towers.

Annual audit shows Jacksonville is worth more than $1 billion.

Three suspects were arrested in the shooting of Justin Davis, 18, of Cabot, outside of Jacksonville High School. Davis was apparently killed when a gun battle erupted after a drug deal went sour.

An Aug. 10 electrical fire destroys the eight-year-old Cabot Junior High North. Firefighters battled the blaze for more than seven hours. There were no injuries.

An 11-year-old boy is charged with arson for causing a fire that caused about $400,000 damage to a Jacksonville apartment complex.

Thunderstorms hit the area on Aug. 4 and dropped more than two inches of rain in the area, setting a new precipitation record for that day.


A traffic accident involving a tractor-trailer rig and another vehicle on Highway 67/167 between Jacksonville and Sherwood injures seven.

The threat of a massive thunderstorm halts Beebe’s Fallfest after just two hours.

Robert Todd Burmingham, known as the Blue Light Rapist, files for clemency after serving one-tenth of his 80-year sentence.
Military officials announce more than $50 million in new construction is planned for Little Rock Air Force, along with more planes and personnel.

The executive director of the Jacksonville Housing Authority resigns amid federal claims that the group mismanaged $132,000 in grants.

A quarter-cent sales tax, projected to raise $17 million to fund a new county jail, was soundly rejected by Pulaski County voters.

Parole of murderer Michael Webb, 33, who served just 11 years of a 46-year sentence upsets the parents of the Sherwood teen that Webb killed in 1993. The parents fought against Webb’s release, but the state parole board voted against them.
Cabot Junior High North students started school Sept. 5, almost three-weeks late, in a campus of 40 trailers after an Aug 10 fire destroyed the junior high.

About 70 more member of the Arkansas National Guard deploy to Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. In all, the Guard has about 1,700 members deployed overseas.


An insurance inspection should that Cabot has outgrown it fire protection and that could mean higher insurance rates for some residents. Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson said he was looking at stopgap measures to prevent the insurance increase while permanent solutions could be worked out.

Plans for townhouses on Jacksonville’s Main Street were taken to the city council after being turned down by the planning commission. Aldermen were split on the issue, keeping the usually toned down council divisive until the plans were dropped later in the year because of a technicality.

Cabot City Council approved continued commercial development on its Main Street despite objections over area residents
Construction started on Sherwood’s first hotel, a two story Best Western, just south of Kohl’s off Highway 67/167.

Gasoline prices, for the first time in more than a year, fell below $2 a gallon in the local area, hitting as low as $1.93 before moving back over the $2.10 mark by the end of the year.


Sherwood approves plans for a new Wal-Mart supercenter to be built of Highway 107 near Maryland Avenue. The retail giant made a number of concessions on the building design, lighting, traffic signals and land preservation before the city gave approval.

Lonoke picks its third police chief of the year. It started with Jay Campbell who was arrested in February on multiple charges.

Rick Sliger from Colorado was then hired, but resigned about five months later. In November, the city hired
Michael Wilson, a sergeant in the department, to run the force.

Hunters found the body of woman in the woods near West Mountain Springs and Longboth-am roads in Cabot. The body was later identified as that of Cabot resident Debra L. Roach, 47, who was first reported missing Oct. 24.

Cabot opens new 194,000-square-foot high school. The new facility was built at a cost of $17 million.

In mid-November, the state set a January trial for Don Baker, of the operator of a Sherwood mobile home dealership, who was arrested in June on multiple charges of defrauding customers.

After the election dust settled Cabot ended up with six new aldermen and a new mayor.

The Airpower Arkansas open house show at Little Rock Air Force Base set attendance records as more than 220,000 came to see the Blue Angels perform.

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh loses his bid to unseat Cong. Marion Berry. Lonoke Sheriff retains his title after another challenge by former sheriff Charlie Martin. Sherwood picks Alderman Dan Stedman to be its new mayor and there are no changes to Jacksonville’s council.


Rebsamen Medical Center considers building a new hospital further north after losing $800,000 this past year at its current location.

A consultant tells Jacksonville that it has little to offer tourists and needs to focus on its military history and a district or area to increase tourism.

Cabot’s Water and Wastewater Commission advances the city $240,000 so Cabot can meet its payroll and other bills.

Legislators plan to look at a bill that would limit the amount of interest payday lenders can charge its customers to 17 percent instead of the 300 percent and more the firms normally charge.

Construction starts in earnest on a 12,000-square-foott field house for the boys’ campus of the Jacksonville Middle School.

Pinnacle Structures, a Cabot-based firm, is donating the building, and the school’s booster club is funding the rest of the construction.

Cabot city council says no to a planned facility for abuse victims.

Suspect Ezekiel l. Williams, 28, turned himself in and is charged in the shooting death of Shoney T. Allen, 27, of Little Rock. The incident took place Dec. 12 in an apartment complex off Quince Hill.

A special census shows Cabot has grown by about 8,000 from the 2000 census. The extra growth means extra money for the city.

Cabot’s $4.1 million Veterans Park Community Center opened. The facility includes a community pool, a therapy pool, a walking track, meeting rooms and two basketball courts.

Sherwood signs a multi-year contract with Little Rock’s Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services to provide ambulance service to the city.

Christopher D. Copeland, 25, is killed after a car strikes him as he walked along John Harden Drive and is dragged more than a mile before the driver stopped. Lonoke and Pulaski county officials are discussing who has the authority in the case and if any charges will be filed against the driver.

Annexation vote does double size of Beebe, and city council now looks at how to provide city services to the new area.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

SPORTS >>Sterrenberg leads team with friendly examples

IN SHORT: Three-year starter Jamie Sterrenberg and the Cabot Lady Panthers are off to another strong start during the ‘06-’07 basketball campaign. The All-State player also has much college interest.

Leader sports writer

Lady Panthers’ senior guard Jamie Sterrenberg has been a staple of the Cabot girls athletic program for over three years now, as a three-year starter not only in basketball, but also softball. The 17-year-old entered her senior year on the Lady Panthers basketball team as one of only two seniors to start on the squad.
The definition of a glory hog is someone who only cares about their own stats and performances, with the team’s interest a distant second. The easiest way to describe Sterrenberg would be to say that she is the exact opposite.

Sterrenberg, along with Maddie Helms, provide the senior leadership for the somewhat young team. While she is more than happy to help the younger players along and lead by example, she leaves the more tough-love aspects of the leadership role to Helms.

“Maddie is a lot more vocal type of leader,” Sterrenberg said. “I don’t like to yell at people. I would rather be their friend.”
Sterrenberg has been All-Conf-erence during both her sophomore and junior years, also receiving an All-State nod last season.

After last year’s disappointing loss to eventual state champion North Little Rock in the state semi-finals, Sterenberg says the pre-season talk of the ‘06/’07 season being a down year for the Lady Panthers was unacceptable to herself and the rest of the Lady Panther seniors.

“Everyone said that this was going to be the boys’ big year, and that it would be a rebuilding year for us,” Sterrenberg said. “We kinda blew it last year, but we came out a lot better than people expected this year. We have beat teams we weren’t supposed to beat, and we have kept up with teams we were not supposed to keep up with.”

Sterrenberg is caught up in the exitement of her senior year of basketball, but also has a firm grip on her future. Her GPA stands at a near-perect 3.95, and her ACT score was a 30. Not only are her college prospects promising, she has the luxury of watching offers pour in from schools for two different sports.

Hendrix college has expressed interest in Sterrenberg for both basketball and softball. Southern Missouri, Ole Miss and Missis-sippi State have sent letters of interest regarding softball, and Tulsa and Harding University are interested in her as a basketball player.

She says that at the moment, she is leaning towards Hendrix because of the opportunity to play both sports and the university’s engineering program, but says it is “subject to change.”

Her interest in engineering leans toward the medical side, in chemical engineering and re-search. Finding a cure for cancer interest Sterrenberg, whose gran-dmother passed away from breast cancer. If she doesn’t go into engineering, she says she will be in the medical field in some capacity.

Sterrenberg was very informative about her own career and future plans, but the excitement in her voice reached a higher level when the conversation turned to her younger brother and her teammates.

Jamie’s brother Adam is a starter for the Cabot boys team as a sophomore, a feat that big sister says was well-deserved.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how hard he has worked. He has practiced with three different AAU teams, he’s never been part of just one. It’s fun to watch him play as a sophomore, taking on these big, huge guys. He deserves this.”

Lady Panthers head coach Carla Crowder says Sterrenberg has been an invaluable asset to her team since her sophomore season.

“She’s a great competitor,” Crowder said. “She is an excellent student, also. She works very hard. I am proud of her.”
As far as her teammates go, Sterrenberg says that one of the things that sets the Lady Panthers apart from your average high school girls team is the closeness of the players.

“I think I have maybe one friend who is not on the basketball team,” Sterrenberg said. “I know it sounds kind of cliche, but we really are like a huge family. We are together all the time, even in the off season. We do everything together.”

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers maul Wildcats in tourney

IN SHORT: The Beebe Lady Badgers destroyed an uncharacteristially flat Harding Academy team during the first round of the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center Christmas Classic.

Leader sports writer

It was the surprise of the first round of the First Security Bank/White County Medical Center tournament. Most people expected an improved Beebe Lady Badgers team to give powerhouse Harding Academy a good game, but no one anticipated the 61-29 shellacking the host team handed to the Lady Wildcats during Thursday’s first round.

Beebe senior guard Tristan Rettig could not be stopped in the first half. Rettig has been relatively quiet during the first few weeks of the season, but made her presence known at Badger Arena Thursday night. She finished with 17 points to lead Beebe, with 13 of her points coming in the first half.

For the first time all season, the Lady Wildcats were faced with a deficit so large that the clock ran continually through the fourth quarter. Harding Academy head coach Darren Mathews took out his stunned starters at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter, conceding the game to Beebe early.

The Lady Badgers’ inside play was flawless in the second quarter. Five different Beebe players found their way to the hoop in the paint during the frame, extending a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter to a dominating 39-14 lead by halftime.
Any chances of a Harding Academy comeback were gone by the middle of the third quarter. Beebe continued to control the game inside during the second half, keeping senior HA post Jennifer Kee off the boards and allowed very few second chance shots for the Lady ‘Cats.

“We pulled down a lot of rebounds that we were able to take the length of the floor,” Beebe coach Lara Jackson said. “This is a big win for us; I felt like we played with a lot of intensity, and took advantage of our opportunities.”

Jackson says the prospect of a rematch with unofficial sister school Lonoke was a big motivational tool for her team. After losing to the Lady ‘Rabbits a few weeks ago in a game that saw Beebe up by 14 points at one point, Jackson said her girls were anxious for a chance to redeem themselves.

“They were happy to see Lo-noke on our side of the bracket,” Jackson said. “We played well the first time, and had a little bit of a let down. We’re glad to have the opportunity to play them again.” Lonoke set the first part of the rematch earlier in the day with the other mercy-ruled game of the first round, beating Hazen 45-14.

The Lady Wildcats jumped out to an early 5-2 lead with a basket and foul shot from Liz Ashley and two more free throws from Kee, but sophomore Ty O’Neil scored the first four Beebe points to make it a one-point game.

O’Neil started to struggle from the floor at that point, but Rettig was more than prepared to take up the slack. She swished a three pointer at the 5:31 mark for her first points of the game, giving the Lady Badgers their first lead of 7-5.

They would never trail again.

Beebe held a modest 13-6 lead at the end of the first, but turned their advantage into an overwhelming one in the second. The Lady Badgers only missed three shots from the floor in the second quarter, while Harding Academy only came away with a pair of baskets from Ashley in the entire frame. The other four HA points came from free throws, allowing Beebe to run the score to 39-14 at the intermission.

Rettig led the Lady Badgers with 17 points; O’Neil added 12 points for Beebe.

Starters Emily Bass and Ashley Watkins did not finish in double digits scoring-wise, but both had a number of perfect assists to Rettig in the second quarter, Along with a number of key rebounds on the defensive side.

The win improved Beebe’s record to 3-6 on the season, and put them in the winners bracket for last night’s coveted rematch against Lonoke.