Friday, January 12, 2007

OBITUARIES >> 01-13-07

Donald Seever
Donald Lee Seever, 43, of Jacksonville passed away Jan. 9.

He was born Oct. 14, 1963 at Tyndall Air Force Base in Fla.
He was the son of Orrin C. Seever and Jo M. Young Roberts. 

Survivors include his father, Orrin C. and stepmother Nelda Seever; mother, Jo M. and step-father Joseph Roberts; brothers, David Seever and his wife Tina of San Marcos, Calif. and Douglas Seever of Jacksonville; nephews, Kyle and Zach Seever; dog, “Lucky” and numerous aunts and uncles. 

Memorial services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville. Donations may be made to your favorite charity.

Thomas Brewer
Thomas “Jack” Brewer, 77, of Brownsville, Texas, died Jan. 9.

He was born March 15, 1929, to the late Tom W. and Evelyn Brewer in Lonoke County.

He was a U.S. Navy veteran of 24 years, retiring in 1969 as a LCDR. As a Naval officer he flew fixed wing transport planes initially and later search and rescue missions as a helicopter pilot. He was also a meteorological officer when not flying.
Upon retiring, he completed a master’s degree in math and set about a second career in teaching, both at the high school and college level before retiring again in 1994.

He is survived by three daughters and a son; Pamela Brewer Kerr of St. Louis, Thomas W. Brewer of Belleville Ill., Beth Brewer Nicholas of Allen, Texas, and Yolanda Gail Brewer of Corpus Christi, Texas; and his brother, Gene Brewer of Miami, Flo.; also five grandsons and one granddaughter and two nieces.

Visitation will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe followed by graveside service at 3:30 p.m. in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens.

Sheila Mettler
Sheila K. Mettler, 55, of Cabot passed away Jan. 10 in North Little Rock.   

She was born Aug. 27, 1951 in Hays, Kansas.  

Sheila was an avid shopper, loved to spend time with her family and cherished her cat “Flops.”

She was preceded in death by a brother-in-law, Larry and wife Joreen Mettler Survivors include her husband, Charles J. Mettler and son, Christopher L. Mettler, both of Cabot; sister, Karen Legleiter-Viergever and husband David of Morton, Ill. and their children, Katrina M. Pender and Jessica Pender of Pekin, Ill. and nephew, Andrew Viergever of Morton, Ill.; parents, her father Gilbert and step-mother Freada Legleiter of Winfield, Kan., and mother Flora Mae Korbe Harris of Morton, Ill. and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Herman and Bernadine Mettler of Nicollet Mn.; brothers-in-law; Jim, Joe and wife Judy, Denny and wife LaNae, Rick Mettler, all of Nicollet, Minn. and Doug and wife Cherri of Converse, Texas; sisters-in-law, Kathy, Sandy Mettler, Deb and husband Randy Hulke, Shirley and husband Wayne Meurer of Nicollet, Minn. and Liz and husband Larry Kahout of Redwood Falls, Minn. and many nieces and nephews.

Private services are being performed. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Donnie Baxley
Donnie Alan Baxley, 53, of McRae went to be with our Heavenly Father on Jan. 8.

He was born at Memphis, Tenn. on April 19, 1953 and was a farmer and retired Wal-Mart truck driver with his CB handle of “Tennis Shoe.”

He graduated as salutatorian from McRae High School in 1971 and went to Arkansas State University at Beebe. He was a member of the McRae United Methodist Church.

He was preceded in death by his father, Clinton LeRoy Baxley, Jr.; grandparents, John and Floy LaFerney, Alma and George Dandridge, and Clinton LeRoy Baxley, Sr.

Survivors include his son, Clinton Alan Baxley of Romance; his granddaughter, Serenity Laine Baxley; his mother, Arline Baxley of McRae; two brothers, Dariel Baxley of McRae and John Derek Baxley of Bradford; three sisters, Darcy Baxley and Dianna Baxley, both of McRae and Debbie and husband Baxley Morgan of Judsonia; stepson, Eric Tway of Romance; aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, longtime friends Terry Baker, Jerry Linder and Mike Britton; and man’s best friend, his dog, Fancy.

Funeral was Jan. 11, at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Lebanon Cemetery.

Mary Gentry
Mary Lynn Schwedic Gentry, 71, went to meet her Heavenly Father on Jan. 7.

She was of the Baptist faith.

Survivors include her children, Sheila Davis and husband Dick of Smackover, Carol McKay and husband Jim of Jacksonville, Marilyn Miller and husband Billy Wayne and Michael Schwedic and wife Barbara of Lonoke, Judy Criner and husband Billy of North Little Rock and David Schwedic and wife Gayle of Newport News, Va.; 14 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Sylvia Dean Elliott of Jacksonville and Betty Southerland of Oklahoma and many nieces, nephews and other relatives.

Funeral services were Jan. 10 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke with burial in Wattensaw Cemetery.

Raymond Holden, Jr.
Raymond Holden, Jr. died Jan. 7.

He was born Sept. 13, 1935 to the late Maggie Bankhead Jackson and Raymond Holden.

He confessed Christ as his Savior at an early age. He joined the Army and after 20 years of dedicated service, he returned to Arkansas where he joined the Belle Grove Baptist Church. He would get up early, wait for his favorite cousin Richard Young and off they would go in that blue truck for a day of worship. His health failed him later and he was not able to attend church but Christ never left his heart.

Raymond leaves a host of family members and friends to cherish his life, a one son, Aaron Holden of New Jersey; a daughter, Avis Holden Clinton of Maryland; two grandsons, Jerry Clinton, Jr. and Christopher Holden; two sisters, Doris and husband Glasgow Pleasants of Columbia, S.C. and Patsy Dyer Powell of Disputanta, Va.; three nieces, Myrain, Carla and Rosalin; three nephews, Carl, Anonthy and Terrance; two very special relatives, John Holden and Herman Ball and a host of cousins and great nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were Jan. 12 at Union Valley Baptist Church. A committal service followed in Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock.

Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Sam Peeler
Sam Peeler, 90, of Jacksonville died Jan. 6, in Bryant.

He was born June 12, 1916 in Benton to the late William Alfred and Lou Elizabeth McPherson Peeler.

He served in the United States Army during the Second World War and later worked for the Bayou Meto School. He also attended Little Bethel Assembly of God Church.

He is survived by one brother, Duel Peeler and many nieces, nephews and friends.

Funeral service were Jan. 9 in the Chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home with Bro. Mike Douglas officiating. Burial followed in McPherson Cemetery in Benton.

Leo Miller
Leo “Fat” Miller, 67, died Jan. 6. He was preceded in death by his father, Willie Miller; a son, Derwin Miller and two brothers, Willie Lee Miller and Robert Miller.

He is survived by his wife Inella Miller; sons, LeMar Miller and wife April of North Little Rock, Frederick Reddy of Lonoke and one daughter, LaSonja Heard, of Lonoke; his mother, Edith Miller of Lonoke; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; six sisters, Ardatha Allen and Willie Jean Cole of Lonoke, Emma Curlett of Hazen, Mary Hicks of Lonoke, Minnie Rasberry of Pine Bluff and Cynthia Miller of Lonoke and one brother, Cleo Miller of Lonoke.

Funeral services were Jan. 9 at Palm Street Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Funeral arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Rex Henley
Rex Carthel Henley, 79, of Cabot passed into eternity at Baptist Springhill Hospital on Jan. 4.  

He served his country in Second World War with the U.S. Navy and was a member of the Masonic Lodge.  He retired from Franklin Electric and Parts Warehouse.  

He was preceded in death by his parents William F. and Ethel Lovell Henley; two sisters, Ethel Wickett and Thelma Plemmons.  
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Billie Jo Collins Henley; brother Pete Gianaris of Kansas; his mother-in-law Cleo Collins of Cabot; his sister-in-law, the twin sister of his wife, Bobbie Ann Buck,  numerous beloved nieces and nephews,  extended family members and friends.

Funeral services were Jan. 8 at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel.  Burial was in Chapel Hill Memorial Park in Jacksonville.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Dorothy Rich
Dorothy “Dot” Jean Rich, 66, passed from this life Jan. 10.

She was a member of New Testament Baptist Church and was Co-Owner of Rich’s Auto Repair and Wrecker Service in Lonoke.
She is preceded in death by a son, Jimmy; her parents, Houston and Louise Hill and sisters Mary and Sandy.

Survivors include her husband of 52 years, Martin Rich; sons, Jacob Rich and wife Leanna of Jacksonville, Steve Rich and wife Jeri and George Rich and wife Mary of Lonoke; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; her sisters, Edna Ford of Lonoke and Kathy Scaife of Benton.

Funeral services were Jan. 12 at New Testament Baptist Church.

Burial followed in Lonoke Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.

Almeda Sullivan
Almeda Sullivan, 82, passed away Jan. 9.

She is survived by her husband, Lewis Dale Sullivan; daughters, Patsy Fritz of Hot Springs, Sherry Anderson, Vickie Bednar and Debbie Cash, of Cabot; one son, Jim Sullivan of Gregory; nine grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; a sister, Lizzie Underwood of Cabot and a sister-in-law, Mary Justice of Lonoke.

Graveside services were Jan. 11 in Concord Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke. The family wishes to express their appreciation to the Staff at the Fort Roots Unit of Arkansas Hospice.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Favorite jazz, blues from ’06

While talking to Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Larry Odom, who could pass for drummer Levon Helm’s brother, I remembered I still hadn’t listed my favorite CDs and DVDs of 2006:

Andrew Hill’s Time Lines (Blue Note) was on almost every jazz critic’s list of favorites: This is the Chicago-born pianist’s comeback album for Blue Note, where he’d recorded a series of trail-blazing LPs in the 1960s, both as leader and sideman.

One of Blue Note founder Alfred Lion’s discoveries, Hill was among the artists who made the label special. The mid-60s LP “Out to Lunch,” led by reed man Eric Dolphy and accompanied by Hill, is considered one of the great jazz records of all time.
Hill left Blue Note when it floundered in the late 1960s and made several impressive recordings for smaller labels. But Blue Note has come back in the last 20 years, and “Time Lines” is a jewel from the label’s current management. The CD equals anything Hill recorded in the 1960s. What’s more, the late Eric Dolphy’s old role is filled here by Greg Tardy, who plays tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet about as well as his great predecessor.

“Time Line” also features Charles Tolliver on trumpet. He’s another great musician from the 1960s, and it’s good to know he’s still going strong. Tolliver is also heard on Hill’s “Dance with Death,” a 1968 recording that Blue Note recently reissued. A three-CD set of Tolliver’s early 1970s recordings is available from Mosaic Records. Maybe it’s time Blue Note let him record as a leader again.

Joe Lovano, who’s a generation younger than the 1960s Blue Note artists, keeps the flame going with his Ensemble Streams of Expression: Featur-ing the Birth of the Cool Suite, also from Blue Note.

It’s a wonder that record companies still issue serious music, especially a CD like “Ensemble” that must have been expensive to make. We counted at least 15 musicians on this record, including Tim Hagans on trumpet, Joe Farrell on tenor saxophone, Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone, Charles Russo on clarinet, the late John Hicks on piano, Lewis Nash on drums and others.

The music covers much of the history of jazz, especially the works of Gil Evans, Miles Davis, John Lewis and composer-conductor Gunther Schuller, who arranged the music on this CD and worked with Lovano before on “Rush Hour,” a remarkable 1994 recording from Blue Note.

Delmark Records issued two important blues CDs last year: All Your Love I Miss Loving: Live at the Wise Fools Pub by Otis Rush and Live at Theresa’s by Junior Wells. Both are from the 1970s and were originally broadcast on radio, capturing the musicians at the height of their powers.

The sound is fine and both CDs have been nominated for Handy awards for best historical record. Let’s hope they both win.
Rush never sounded better than on this CD, and Wells was having a good time performing and talking to his audience in the tiny basement bar where the music was recorded.

The West Memphis native was pure Arkansas Delta: Down home, funny and maybe helped himself to Theresa’s libation, but when the music started, he was all business.

Our favorite musical DVD from last year is Hard Times from Cat Head, a tribute to the great bluesman Big George Brock, who is seen playing in a club in St. Louis, where he lives, and in Clarksdale, Miss., where he grew up.

Brock even picks cotton at a plantation outside Clarksdale, where he worked in the 1940s and 1950s.

Big George sings and plays the harmonica like the classic Chicago bluesmen who gave up the cotton fields for the bright lights of the big city. He plays his music and tells his life story on the 60-minute DVD, and you realize we might never see another one like him again.

EDITORIALS>>Slow jobs growth

The U. S. Labor Department Bureau of Labor Statistics surrendered — yes, that is the best word — the figures on job growth of the current administration this week. As everyone knows, jobs have not been bountiful. But the news stories proved once again that the best leverage on history is to be in power. History, at least for a time, gets to be what you say it is.

In the first six years of President Bush, the U. S. economy grew by 3.7 million new jobs. How did that compare with the first six years of the other two long-running administrations of recent times, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton? They grew at almost triple the Bush pace under Reagan: 9.5 million. Under Clinton, they grew almost five times as fast: 17.6 million.

Those figures mislead, the president’s commerce secretary, Carlos Guttierez, explained in the Associated Press story. You see, he said, when President Bush took office he had to first drag the country out of the recession that he inherited from Clinton. They have been saying that for five years without challenge.

But there happen to be records on this stuff. Treasury’s records show that the country slid into a very mild recession about three months after Bush took office, not before. That was the period when the administration was putting its bold new economic plan into place.

Then, Guttierez continued, the economy was torpedoed by the terrorist attacks in September 2001. Not according to the records. The country emerged rather strongly from the recession one month after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Sept. 11 was a mighty blow against the country’s psyche and confidence and altered the course of history, but the resilient American economy hummed along quite well, thank you.

Something else accounts for the drastic and sudden decelerated growth in jobs in the middle of 2001, which continues even as corporate profits and the stock market soar to record heights. So far, we have only partisan theories explaining that sad paradox. The prize will go to the ones who figure it out and try to fix it. Distorting history is not the path to truth.

EDITORIALS>>Beebe wants secrets out

Forty years ago this week, on the eve of his swearing in, Winthrop Rockefeller said his first act as governor would be to make public a State Police investigation of evil conditions inside the state penitentiary, which caused outgoing Gov. Orval E. Faubus to hand over the long-secret report almost literally as he was walking out the door. The bombshell made national news and set off a full decade of reform in the prisons.

Gov. Huckabee showed no such weakness as Faubus’ when it came to the Zeno report. Huckabee sat on it until the end. Neither will the repercussions be so far-reaching as the prison investigation. But it is no less heartening that Gov. Mike Beebe had the same admirable impulse as Winthrop Rockefeller: Let the truth shine.

Lary Zeno was a Huckabee friend whom the governor appointed in 2002 to a $75,000-a-year position on the state Parole Board. He resigned last year after an internal affairs investigation of his conduct by the Department of Community Correction. When the media sought the report to see what Zeno had done, Huckabee had the file sent to his office, where he claimed executive privilege. He has maintained that any file in his office is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act as “working papers of the governor,” and that includes embarrassing or incriminating files in any office in the whole realm of government once he pulls it inside his office walls.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sued and the trial judge ruled that the governor’s act was illegal. Huckabee appealed the decision to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which had the effect of keeping the file secret until he left office. As attorney general, Beebe had to represent Huckabee in the case, but he said Thursday he always knew that the governor was wrong.
As the new plaintiff in the case, Gov. Beebe directed the new attorney general to drop the appeal. He told a Democrat-Gazette reporter to tell the newspaper’s attorneys to stop billing the paper because the case was closed. And there will be no more cases like it, he said. He will not try to hide public documents by pulling them into his office.

What a good message to send on your third day in office: Government will be open and accountable. How refreshing. And what of the Zeno file? All that Huckabee had said last year was that he saw nothing in the investigative report that was “an issue for me.” He would not have fired Zeno over any of it, he said.

The report carried allegations and “disclosures of fact” from female staff members that Zeno had harassed them sexually. He told one new female worker that he had two favorite things, “p***y and p***y.” He patted buttocks. His office computer had pictures of naked women and a man and off-color jokes. He abused the families of prisoners, sometimes shouting at them to “shut up,” and became furious with the staff when snacks were not brought to Parole Board meetings that he could box up and take home with him. He assured families that he would release their family members from prison although he did not have power to release them, which caused problems for parole officers when the prisoners were not released.

But the Rev.-Gov., as humorist Bob Lancaster used to label him, found no issues in the report that bothered him. No wonder then that he wanted to keep the report secret. Let us hope that this new broom Beebe continues to sweep so clean.

EVENTS>>Winter 2007

Residents who want to learn how to save money for home ownership or improvement, expand a small business, or fund post-secondary education should come to the Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) IDA (Individual Development Account) orientation meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the CADC Lonoke Office located at 117 S.E. Street in Lonoke.  For more informaton, call Angel Clingmon at 501-676-0019.

There will be a open house at Cabot’s Veterans Park Community Center from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tour the new state-of-the-art facility and equipment. Refreshments and door prizes will be given out.

Cabot will hold its annual Chamber Banquet hosted by the board of directors Friday at the new Veterans Park Community Center. A reception and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. with awards and the Citizen of the Year presentation. Dinner follows at 7 p.m. For additional information, call the chamber at 843-2136.

On Jan. 27 the Miss Sweetheart Pageant will be held at the Beebe Auditorium. The pageant is sponsored by the Beebe Reach program and is a fundraiser for students to travel to New York city in May.
First, second, and third place winners will be awarded in each division. In addition, a Most Photogenic award will be awarded for each age division. Age divisions for the pageant are: 0 - 12 months, 13-23 months, 2 - 3 years, 4 - 5 years, 1st - 2nd grade, 3rd - 4th grade, 5th -6th grade, 7th - 8th grade, 9th - 10th grade and 11th-12th grade.
Cost for pageant entry is $25 with an additional $10 for those participating in the photogenic competition. Those interested in participating in the pageant may pick up applications at any Beebe School office, Beebe’s Central Office, or they may be mailed upon request by contacting Lorrie Welch Belew at 501-231- 9085 or Karla Tarkington at 501-882-5463. All entries must be received by Friday, Jan. 19.

There will be two AARP driver safety programs offered in January.
The first will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Jan. 17 at First Arkansas Bank and Trust, 600 W. Main Street, in Jacksonville. Call 985-4068 to register for this daytime class. The second class will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Jan. 18 at Rebsamen Medical Center’s Health Education Building. To register for the evening class call 988-4844 or 988-4553. The cost is $10 per person for each class.  

There will be a celebration and parade in Cabot on Saturday, Jan. 20 for Gen. Robert E. Lee’s 200th birthday observance. For more information, call E.J. Hart at 501-743-8315.

The Lonoke County Hometown Health Coalition will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cabot City Annex.

First Presbyterian Church, 1208 West Main Street in Jacksonville will hold its annual birthday celebrations/potluck meal at noon Sunday following morning worship service. A birthday cake provided for each table will reflect a special theme for a specific month. Sunday School begins at 9:45 a.m. and service begins at 11 a.m.

Sherwood will have a Keep Sherwood Beautiful certification campaign at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bill Harmon Recreation Center. Call 835-7600 for more informaiton.

First Presbyterian Church, 1208 West Main Street in Jacksonville will hold its annual birthday celebrations/potluck meal Jan. 14, at noon following morning worship service. A birthday cake provided for each table will reflect a special theme for a specific month. Sunday School begins at 9:45 a.m. and service begins at 11 a.m. Visitors are welcomed.

TOP STORY >>Jacksonville Housing Authority picks new director

IN SHORT: Board hires special projects manager from the Morgan City Housing Authority in Louisiana.

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Housing Authority Board on Thursday selected Phillip Nix, who lives in Louisiana, as the authority’s new executive director.

“It was a unanimous decision,” said Jim Durham, chairman of the Jacksonville Housing Authority Board. Each interview with the two applicants lasted more than an hour, and it took about 45 minutes of deliberations before we came out of executive session (at Thursday’s board meeting).”

For the past few months, the JHA board sought out applicants who had a working knowledge about the day-to-day operations of the housing authority as well as the methods and terminology used by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Durham expressed his satisfaction in possibly finding not one but two applicants who meet all the requirements addressed in the advertisement, which ran in newspapers and a magazine geared toward professionals in this field last week.

One of the two applicants was Nix, who now serves as a special projects manager for the Morgan City Housing Authority in Louisiana. His career background includes being the executive director for the Lee County Housing Authority in North Fort Myers, Florida, in 2005. He was also a former executive director with the Clay Center Housing Authority in Kansas between 2003 and 2005.

Nix graduated from Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama with a grade point average of 3.9 in 1999. He also possesses a public housing manager certificate as well as other certificates in capital fund program, advanced procurement and contract administration.

Nix’s initial base salary will be $57,000 plus basic benefits, according to Durham.

After completing the steps mapped out in a “memorandum of agreement” by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to obtain its approval, that salary could reach up to $62,000. The memorandum of agreement deals with scheduled tasks needing to be done and/or corrected to get the beleaguered JHA back on track. The timeline goes through August of this year.

The need for a new executive director arose this past summer after HUD initiated a review involving the JHA. The local housing authority oversees the Max Howell Place, a low-income housing complex comprised of 100 units located off Quince Hill Road as well as disbursements involving hundreds of thousands dollars in rental housing vouchers.

While most tenants at the Max Howell Place had to pay for their own window air-conditioners or do without, the salary of Virginia Simmons, the then executive director at JHA, was set at about $50,000. Simmons resigned this past summer and members of the JHA Board of Directors began to follow suit.

The then JHA Board of Directors, which already had one vacant slot, began to crumble as three of its four remaining members resigned. The fourth member ultimately resigned.

In mid-June, the federal agency asked for records of contracts and work orders for more than $132,000 spent by the housing authority. HUD officials wanted to scrutinize all contracts and purchase orders. They also requested those documents to be pulled and made available on June 28.

On June 27, a JHA employee informed HUD that Simmons had directed her to create four contracts and to call contractors to come to the office and sign the contracts.

On the same day, Simmons “admitted to Mr. Jesse Westover, Public Housing director, Little Rock, Field Office, that she had falsely reported program obligation under the FY 2003 Capital Fund Program on Sept. 15, 2005, in the amount of $132,788.11,” according to the HUD review, which found that no application had been made for the grant, making the authority ineligible.

HUD officials concluded that these actions were taken in an attempt on the part of the then executive director to document evidence to support contracts had legitimately been entered into before the obligation deadline of Sept. 26, 2005.
The review also alleges that the housing authority “did not properly advertise for bids in the excess of $25,000” or adequately keep documentation of solicitations.

The new JHA board quickly went to work and completed a bid award for the installations of new air-conditioning units for the entire Max Howell Complex as well as launching a search for a new executive director.

This week, Durham revealed that a possible salary range between $50,000 and $70,000 for the right applicant whose education and experience matches the advertised job’s requirements. A letter written by Durham to Westover, reads, “None of the other applications meet all of the advertised requirements.”

By mid-November, 17 people initially had sent their applications into the City of Jacksonville’s human resources department. Those applications were then turned over to the JHA Board.

At Thursday meetings, the JHA board also approved two resolutions. One implemented a drug-free workplace policy.
“It is identical to the City of Jacksonville’s,” Durham says.

The other dealt with compensating Barbara Boyd, a JHA employee who has been overseeing the facility for the past few months. JHA board members settled upon an additional amount of $3,800.

TOP STORY >>Plans to drop grocery tax an easy sale for shoppers

IN SHORT: Customers at local grocery stores say they’re glad Gov. Beebe has proposed to phase out at least part of the state’s 6 percent sales tax on groceries.

Leader staff writer

ercent in taxes every time they purchase groceries, but if Gov. Mike Beebe’s proposal to phase out the state’s 6 percent sales tax on food is passed, shoppers could be paying as little as 2 or 3 percent, a decrease that many local residents are happy to hear.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea,” Tressie Shirley said, while shopping at Kroger in Jacksonville. “You’d be surprised how much it saves.”

Shirley, a Jacksonville resident, said she has been to states without a tax on food purchases and they do well without it. Arkansas is one of 20 states that tax groceries, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

Weekly shopper Juliet Smith of Jacksonville said it is a good thing that Beebe is trying to do. “I buy groceries every week, so it would really help me out,” Smith said.

“I like it myself; my bill will be cheaper,” Lisa Johns of Jacksonville said. “I don’t see anything bad about it, we’ve got enough taxes already,” Johns added.

Beebe has called the 6 percent sales tax the most regressive tax in the state, and said eliminating it will not only help the economy but also is “the morally right thing to do.”

Other shoppers also said getting rid of any tax would be a good thing, but some shoppers were leery of another tax taking its place.

Marty and Judy Jones of Jacksonville said they are worried that if Beebe does do away with the 6 percent sales tax the state might put replace it with another tax.

“It’s the politician’s way not to give up a tax they already have,” Marty Jones said.
The new governor stressed his proposal in his debut speech to the Legislature on Wednesday, calling for an immediate reduction by half.

Beebe promised during his gubernatorial campaign to phase out the food tax, which generates about $224 million annually in state revenue, helping fund education and a variety of other programs.

Of the 6 percent, 4.5 percent goes directly into general revenue, 0.875 percent is dedicated to education improvements, 0.125 percent is a conservation tax adopted by voters in 1996 and 0.5 percent was imposed in 2000 to make up revenue lost to a homestead exemption to the state property tax.

Beebe voted for legislation to eliminate the tax while he was a state senator; the bill passed the Senate but died in the House.
Three bills on how to rid Arkansans of the sales tax are already pre-filed, including one by Rep. Horace Hardwick, R-Bentonville, which would phase out most of the sales tax on groceries over time.

The proposal would remove 4.5 percent of the 6 percent tax by July 1, 2010. The proposal would keep 1.5 percent to fund education, conservation and revenue lost to the homestead exemption.

Sen. Bobby Glover, D-Carlisle, has pre-filed two proposals. One would phase out 4.5 percent of the 6 percent sales tax by July 1, 2010, and keep the remaining 1.5 percent, which is already obligated.

Glover’s other proposal would reduce the tax to three percent by July 1, 2007, and then eliminate all of the tax except the 0.125 percent conversation tax by July 1, 2009.

Shoppers pay different amounts in sales tax city to city because of state, county and city taxes.

In Jacksonville, Cabot and Lonoke, shoppers pay a total of nine percent; six percent for the state, one percent for the county, and two percent for the city.

In Sherwood, shoppers pay a total of 8 percent; 6 percent for the state, 1 percent for the county and 1 percent for the city.
In Beebe, shoppers pay a total of 8.5 percent; 6 percent for the state, 1.5 percent for White County, and one percent for the city.

TOP STORY >>Two gone as mayor starts his cleansing

IN SHORT: Mayor turns out two long-time Lonoke employees from important positions.

Leader staff writer

Rumors were flying in Lonoke Thursday in the wake of the sudden firings of Administrative Assistant Gwen Pauschert and Water and Street Supervisor Tony Scroggins by Mayor Wayne McGee, who took office Jan. 1.

Also fired was Scroggins daughter, Crystal Scroggins, the city’s water and sewer clerk.
Dispelling rumors, McGee said no special meeting was set for Thursday night, he wasn’t trying to replace City Clerk Billy Uzzell and he didn’t expect to make any further changes among department heads. McGee laughed and said Uzzell was an elected city official and that only the voters could fire her.

Although Pauschert arrived at work Thursday to find her personal possessions packed in boxes, she said she remains deputy city clerk unless Uzzell fires her or she resigns.

“She’s still my deputy,” said Uzzell. “I don’t want her to go. The state (of health) my husband’s in, I can’t stay eight hours a day. I swore her in and until I take oath the away from her, she’s still the deputy clerk.”
Pauschert, who served as assistant and deputy city clerk to five mayors since 1983 is the institutional memory of the city.
“She takes care of all the bookwork,” said Uzzell.

Scroggins said his firing came out of the blue, because he thought he had received assurances from McGee that his job was secure.

Scroggins, who said he had met with the mayor on city business only 30 minutes earlier, said the mayor came to the city shop with Police Chief Michael Wilson, handed him a letter saying he was fired, took the keys and waited while he cleaned out his desk.

“I’ve worked for four mayors over 14 years,” said Scroggins. “I don’t see any reason.”
His replacement or replacements will have to have at least a Class 4 water treatment and distribution license, a Class 3 wastewater license, an HVAC license, plumbing inspection license, a building code enforcement license, a back-flow certification and road construction knowledge.

Scroggins said he would talk to a lawyer, apply for unemployment compensation and start looking for work, but he will have to move.

McGee said he would advertise for a replacement for Scroggins.
Meanwhile, employees who stood in for Scroggins when he was out for medical purposes have the certification and knowledge to take care of the water, sewer and streets, McGee said.“We’re just going a new way.”

Scroggins’ letter from McGee read in part, “I feel it is necessary to ensure that I am surrounded with employees with whom I have total and complete confidence. This is especially true in the case of department heads with whom I will be required to work closely. While your service to the city for the last several years is greatly appreciated, I feel that to ensure the proper functioning of my administration and, thus, the city, it is now time to make a change.”

McGee said those were the only department head changes he would be making. “There will be a lot of changes in the way we do things — faster, more thorough in our job.”

Scroggins counted among his accomplishments ensuring that the city would have emergency water from the Grand Prairie Regional Water Association, running water and sewer lines across the interstate to serve customers in the industrial park and installation of a new water clarifier.

“We won two EPA Region 6 excellence awards, competing in a six-state region.

“We’ve upgraded our facilities, improved streets and drainage, got the Dale Bumpers Rural Water Center out here—all with the same number of employees,” Scroggins said.

“He has every right to terminate my employment,” said Pauschert of the new mayor. “When he asked if I would vote for him if he ran, I said my loyalty is to the man sitting in the chair. That is my job. When you become mayor, my loyalty will be to you.”
She has been deputy city clerk since 1985. She has stayed through the administrations of mayors Jack Smith, Jack Wheat, Jim Key, Jim McLoud, Lenville Evans and Thomas Privett.

“My job was to protect the mayor and the council and that’s what I’ve always done until this morning,” she said. “They had packed my stuff.” Pauschert said she would look for a new job and already had one offer.

TOP STORY >>Cabot fears state might pull plug on cheap water

IN SHORT: City is concerned that if it asks for permission to increase production it might be told to shut down the wells because of falling aquifers.

Leader staff writer

A well field located between Beebe and Lonoke currently supplies Cabot with inexpensive water, and the commission that now runs water and wastewater would like to keep it that way for many years to come.

But recently uncovered information has the members worried that when they ask the state for permission to increase production, the answer could not only be “no” but “no and hurry up and shut the wells down.”

The Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission has searched for almost two years for documentation that the city is obligated to pull out of the well field by 2010 as the neighbors of the well field were told by city leaders eight years ago.

Finding none, they went forward with a study by the United States Geological Survey to hopefully show that the aquifer where the wells are located is not being drawn down to an unacceptable level. The current state permit to take water from the aquifer is for three million gallons a day, which is inadequate especially in the summer. The results of the USGS study are expected soon, but meanwhile Bill Cypert, commission secretary, has taken a closer look at the state permit to take water from the aquifer and discovered the documentation that had eluded them.

While the permit does not specify a year when the city is required to pull out of the well field it does clearly say the well field was intended an interim water source until the Lonoke/White Water Project is completed.

That project failed because Cabot pulled out. It has recently been revived by many of the old participants and some new ones who hope to build a water line from Greers Ferry Lake to supply their needs and possibly sell to Central Arkansas Water.

Cabot left the project about five years ago in favor of buying water long term from CAW. Tad Bohannon, the commission’s legal counsel, told the commission Thursday night that the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (formerly Soil and Water) which issued the permit, would likely see little difference between connecting to CAW and connecting to Greers Ferry Lake through the Lonoke/White Project.

Either way, the city well field was supposed to be operating on an interim basis until another source was available.
The longer Cabot can produce its own water, the more money can be saved toward the $32 million estimated cost of connecting to CAW, which will supply the city with water in the future.

Ideally, the commission would like to keep using the wells for the next 43 years and pump as much as 8 million gallons a day. But realistically, the treatment plant and water lines are only capable of producing about 6 million gallons a day, so the commission is hoping to stay in the fields until the system reaches capacity in 2020.

Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said the commission has met twice with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and he is hopeful that Cabot will be allowed to keep pumping water.

“They understand completely where we’re coming from,” Joyner said. “We need to pump as much water as we can for as long as we can to offset this cost.”

Joyner said Cabot will still connect to CAW even if the state gives permission to stay in the well field. But by purchasing the least amount allowable under the contract with CAW and continuing to pump water from the wells, Cabot would have to borrow less to pay for the connection.

TOP STORY >>Cabot fears state might pull plug on cheap water

IN SHORT: City is concerned that if it asks for permission to increase production it might be told to shut down the wells because of falling aquifers.

Leader staff writer

A well field located between Beebe and Lonoke currently supplies Cabot with inexpensive water, and the commission that now runs water and wastewater would like to keep it that way for many years to come.

But recently uncovered information has the members worried that when they ask the state for permission to increase production, the answer could not only be “no” but “no and hurry up and shut the wells down.”

The Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission has searched for almost two years for documentation that the city is obligated to pull out of the well field by 2010 as the neighbors of the well field were told by city leaders eight years ago.

Finding none, they went forward with a study by the United States Geological Survey to hopefully show that the aquifer where the wells are located is not being drawn down to an unacceptable level. The current state permit to take water from the aquifer is for three million gallons a day, which is inadequate especially in the summer. The results of the USGS study are expected soon, but meanwhile Bill Cypert, commission secretary, has taken a closer look at the state permit to take water from the aquifer and discovered the documentation that had eluded them.

While the permit does not specify a year when the city is required to pull out of the well field it does clearly say the well field was intended an interim water source until the Lonoke/White Water Project is completed.

That project failed because Cabot pulled out. It has recently been revived by many of the old participants and some new ones who hope to build a water line from Greers Ferry Lake to supply their needs and possibly sell to Central Arkansas Water.

Cabot left the project about five years ago in favor of buying water long term from CAW. Tad Bohannon, the commission’s legal counsel, told the commission Thursday night that the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (formerly Soil and Water) which issued the permit, would likely see little difference between connecting to CAW and connecting to Greers Ferry Lake through the Lonoke/White Project.

Either way, the city well field was supposed to be operating on an interim basis until another source was available.
The longer Cabot can produce its own water, the more money can be saved toward the $32 million estimated cost of connecting to CAW, which will supply the city with water in the future.

Ideally, the commission would like to keep using the wells for the next 43 years and pump as much as 8 million gallons a day. But realistically, the treatment plant and water lines are only capable of producing about 6 million gallons a day, so the commission is hoping to stay in the fields until the system reaches capacity in 2020.

Tim Joyner, general manager of Cabot WaterWorks, said the commission has met twice with the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission and he is hopeful that Cabot will be allowed to keep pumping water.

“They understand completely where we’re coming from,” Joyner said. “We need to pump as much water as we can for as long as we can to offset this cost.”

Joyner said Cabot will still connect to CAW even if the state gives permission to stay in the well field. But by purchasing the least amount allowable under the contract with CAW and continuing to pump water from the wells, Cabot would have to borrow less to pay for the connection.

TOP STORY >>Pentagon to keep buying C-130Js

IN SHORT: Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England orders more planes, reversing Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to kill the carrier.

Bloomberg News

The U.S. Defense Department has reversed its decision to stop production next year of the Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130J transport plane.

(Seven C-130Js have been assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, and several more are expected here now that the plane’s future is no longer in doubt.)

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, in a budget directive sent to the military service secretaries, chiefs of staff and acquisition officials, added $2.6 billion to the Air Force fiscal 2008-2013 budget plan to purchase 30 C-130Js for the Marine Corps and Air Force, starting with six in 2009.

England’s decision is good news for the world’s No.1 defense contractor because it allows Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., production line to remain open beyond 2009, when the last plane in the current backlog would have been produced. The C-130J, costing more than $60 million each, is one of Lockheed’s top three military aircraft programs.

England reversed a decision former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made two years ago after the Air Force made the case that more of the modern transports were required, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based research institute.

“With Donald Rumsfeld now departed from the Pentagon, the services are beginning to reverse decisions made on his watch that they considered ill-conceived,’’ Thompson said. “In the case of the C-130J, the Air Force feels it must replace aging cargo planes that are becoming too dangerous to fly, and the C-130Js the only suitable replacement.’’

186 Sold to Date
Secretary England added $1.77 billion through 2013 to buy 20 C-130Js at the rate of four per year for the Air Force Special Operations Command and $863 million more though 2013 to buy 10 KC-130J aerial refueling tankers for the Marine Corps, at the rate of two per year, over the 34 already on order for the Corps.

To date, Lockheed has sold a total of 186 C-130J to the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and foreign customers.
England’s “Program Decision Memorandum,’’ signed Dec. 13, is one of four directives sent to the U.S. military service secretaries, chiefs of staff and acquisition officials that spell out spending priorities through fiscal 2013 for space, aircraft, special operations, health care and defense intelligence programs.

England’s directives will be reflected in the Defense Department’s portion of the fiscal 2008 budget that President George W. Bush will propose next month and in the Pentagon’s long-term spending plan.

England spokesman Kevin Wen-sing had no immediate comment.Thomas Jurkowsky, spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, said the company was not aware of the details of the budget but “we are able to say, however, that the aircraft is performing exceptionally well in two combat theaters and is exceeding all expectations.’’

Rumsfeld’s Opposition
Rumsfeld sought to end the C-130J program in late 2004. As part of a major budget-cutting proposal, he ordered it terminated in fiscal 2006, stopping two years early what had been a signed five-year contract for 60 aircraft.

Rumsfeld reversed that decision amid intense congressional opposition after budget analysts determined it would cost almost as much to end the contract early than to buy all the aircraft.

Still, he made clear the program would end after 2008. In a February 17, 2005 congressional budget hearing, he defended that decision saying that, at $66.5 million apiece, the C-130J “has become increasingly expensive to build and to maintain, especially given the ability to modernize existing C-130s” with new technology upgrades.

Lockheed has C-130J subcontractors in 23 states, including Florida, Utah, Colorado, South Carolina, Kansas, New Jersey, Texas and Mississippi.

SPORTS >>Senior Lady Owl signs on with Central Baptist

IN SHORT: Abundant Life’s Sierra Durham will be a Lady Mustang next year.

Leader sports editor

Abundant Life senior Sierra Durham will go from the red and black of the Lady Owls to the white and blue of the Central Baptist College Lady Mustangs next year. Durham signed her letter of intent to play at CBC Thursday morning at the Abundant Life gymnasium.

Durham is a four-year starter for the Lady Owls.

She was named All-Conference in her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. So far this season, she averages 18 points per game for the Lady Owls, along with five rebounds and three assists.

Sierra is the daughter of Jim and Darlene Durham of Jacksonville. Her career high for a game was 30 points last season, and lists accumulating over 1,000 points in only two years as one of her greatest athletic accomplishments.

On hand for the signing was Lady Mustangs basketball coach Lyle Middleton. Middleton says that he hopes for Durham to make a difference on his budding team in more ways than one.

“Sierra is not afraid to take it inside the paint and play with the big girls,” Middleton said. “We think she will help us be more aggressive defensively than what we have been, but we know she can put it on the floor and score as well. She’s just a scrappy player.

“We are a young program, mostly freshmen and sophomores. We only graduate one senior this year, so we are looking to bring Sierra and some of the younger girls in and have an immediate impact on our program.”
Lady Owls coach Justin Mosely says Durham’s impact on her high-school team has been second to none during his tenure at Abundant Life.

“Her freshman year, we won one game,” Mosely said. “We won a few more each successive year, and last year, we won 16 games. We’re on track to win about 18 or 20 games this year. We’re on the increase, and Sierra has played a big role in that. She has been a consistent player. We’ve had some girls that would score 15 points in one game, and then maybe not score at all for the next three games. With Sierra, we get a 15-point game out of her every night, if not more. I think being able to depend on her like that has helped us build up our program.

“She never misses an open practice, which is something you rarely see. I’ve had to cancel a couple of them before because I was out of town, and she got mad at me.”

Durham’s list of accomplishments through her high school career is even more impressive with the fact that she did not start playing basketball at all until the eighth grade.

She has also won team awards for most points, most steals and best free-throw percentage.
Durham says the decision to go to CBC was not a tough choice at all. One visit to the campus was all it took for her to decide that she wanted to be a Lady Mustang.

“What initially attracted me to the college was that it is a Christian school,” Durham said. “I go to a Christian school now, and I want to stay in that type of environment. I wasn’t really trying to go anywhere big, like a D1 school or anything like that. It is a small campus; it just felt like home. I think the program there will be a good fit for me.”

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers dismantle 'Jackets

IN SHORT: The Beebe ladies picked up an important road win in the 5A-East by beating Wynne Tuesday night.

Leader sports writer

After a disappointing conference-opening loss last Friday to Greene County Tech, the Beebe Lady Badgers bounced back on Tuesday with a 59-41 road victory over Wynne. The Lady Badgers led the entire way in the contest, with strong runs in the first and third quarters to negate the second and fourth quarters in which the Lady Yellowjackets controlled.

The Lady Badgers shot well from the floor the entire game, but it would be Wynne turnovers that would make the biggest difference in the game. The sophomore duo of Neshia Upchurch and Ty O’Neil came up with 10 combined steals, with each player picking the Wynne ball handlers five times.

Those steals were converted into quick points for Beebe, allowing the Lady Badgers to run their advantage up to 53-29 heading into the fourth quarter.

“We were able to convert a lot of steals,” Lady Badgers coach Lara Jackson said. “We managed our breaks well, and got a lot of quick baskets.”

Jackson said after last Friday’s somewhat flat performance, she was pleased to see her team renew the sense of urgency they possessed during the Christmas tourney.

“The intensity picked up for sure,” Jackson said. “They started to feed off of each other, and once they got rolling, we got into a decent rhythm. Once they start feeding off that intensity and get momentum, it doesn’t seem to drop much.”

The Lady Badgers outscored Wynne 20-9 in the pivotal third quarter. The Lady Yellowjackets had trailed 33-20 at the half, but the big run from Beebe in the third proved to be too much for them to rally from. Wynne made up six points of the deficit in the final frame against a mostly-subbed Beebe team, but it would be far from enough.

O’Neil led all scorers in the game with 15 points. Senior Tristan Rettig added 14 points, and Ashley Watkins finished with 13 points. O’Neil also added five steals and five assists to her totals, and Upchurch was a perfect four for four from the free-throw line.

The Lady Badgers shot well from the charity stripe as a team, going 11 for 13. The rebounding for the team was spread fairly evenly among the five starters.

The win gives the Lady Badgers an overall record of 5-7, and puts their league record at 1-1.

The Badgers were not as fortunate on Tuesday, falling 56-39 to the Yellowjackets. Beebe kept things close during the first half, trailing 29-25 at the intermission. Things would go south for the Badgers in the second half, as Wynne slowly pulled away during the final two quarters to take the win.

“We’re good for about 20 of the 32 minutes right now,” Badgers coach Chris Ellis said. “It’s a product of having young athletes. We’re not as strong or as big as a lot of the teams in this conference.

“We’ve made slow improvements every game, but unfortunately, the scoreboard doesn’t reflect slight improvements. Basketball is a bottom-line business; either you win or you lose, none of that other stuff matters.”

Zack Kersey led the Badgers in scoring with 12 points. Charlie Spakes added 11 points, and senior Jordan Geirach finished with 10 points.

The loss moves the Badgers’ record to 3-9 overall and 0-2 in the 5A-East Conference.

The Beebe teams played at Nettleton last night, and will take next Tuesday off before taking on Paragould at home next Friday.

SPORTS >>Riverview cruises by Episcopal Collegiate

IN SHORT: The Raiders moved to 7-0 in the 3A-2 Conference by easily beating Episcopal Collegiate Tuesday.

Leader sports editor

Riverview completed its sweep through the first conference roundrobin Tuesday night in Searcy, knocking off Little Rock Episcopal 65-41. The Raiders started with a 9-0 run before easily out-running the Wildcats the rest of the way.

Junior point guard Bo Banks hit two fast-break layups to start the game as the Raiders raced out to a 22-6 lead by the end of the first quarter. Episcopal tried to hurry back into the game by lofting three pointers on nearly every possession, but the strategy backfired when the shots refused to fall.

Riverview’s run didn’t really stop until the end of the third quarter. By then, the Raiders held a 32-point lead, 59-27, and the mercy rule was in effect.

The Wildcats lost two players over the Christmas break that had been displaced for the past 15 months by hurricanericane Katrina. One was a 6-foot-11 post player that was sorely missed Tuesday night.

“They’ve definitely lost their Louisiana connection and you could tell they’re sort of trying to figure out what kind of team they are now,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “They’re still a pretty athletic team with some good talent out there. It’s the kind of team I look at and worry that they could give us some trouble when we go there.”

One point of concern for Starkey was the lack of defensive intensity in the second half, something he felt carried over into Wednesday’s practice.

“We didn’t play that much defense in the third quarter, then didn’t play a lick of it in the fourth,” Starkey said. “I took all my starters out to start the fourth, and got no defense from them at all. The third quarter with my starters wasn’t much better, but it doesn’t look as bad when you score 21.

“I think we had started losing some consistency. We would turn it on and turn it off, and I brought that to their attention. Thursday we had a really good practice, so that tells me they responded to what I asked of them. I’m pleased with that.”
Senior Tony Hall led the way for Riverview, scoring 22 points, while Dominique Baker added 10.

The Lady Raiders also got an easy win, knocking off the Lady Wildcats 72-52 to improve to 16-7 overall and 5-2 in league play.

Senior Kori Meachum turned in one of her best performances of the year, scoring 32 points to lead all scorers.
Jasmine James added 17 while Courtney Webster scored 12.

Finishing the game was a bit harder than it needed to be. Episcopal trimmed a 24-point deficit to 10 early in the fourth quarter before the Lady Raiders reclaimed control.

The Raiders played at Barton last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that matchup in Wednesday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS >>Cabot splits pair with LR Catholic

IN SHORT: The Lady Panthers defeated Mount St. Mary’s to improve to 2-1 in the 7A-Central, but the boys lost an important home game to the Rockets to fall to 1-2 in conference play.

Leader sports writer

The Cabot Panthers suffered their second conference loss of the season to Catholic on Tuesday at the Panther gymnasium in a hard fought 41-40 decision. The Lady Panthers took their second league win earlier in the night with a 66-49 victory over the Mt. Saint Mary’s Belles.

The boys game was evenly matched from the start. The lead swapped hands eight times in the first quarter alone, with each team taking turns holding a one-point advantage until the other team took it away.

For all their early battles, the two teams came away tied 12-12 at the end of the opening frame, and the score would remain the same until the 4:52 mark of the second quarter when Catholic guard La’Norris Dukes took it in for two.

Sophomore Austin Johnson answered for Cabot moments later with a three pointer to put the Panthers up 15-14. Catholic then had two unanswered baskets to go ahead 18-15, but Adam Sterrenberg cut it to one with 1:33 left in the first half.

The biggest advantage the Panthers held in the third quarter was a 25-22 lead at the 2:43 mark off a basket by Sterrenberg. Catholic rallied with a 7-2 run in the final minute to go from trailing to a two-point lead heading into the fourth.

Cabot recaptured the lead in the final two minutes off a three from Jacob Trammell, and tried to stall out the last minute. That strategy backfired for the Panthers when the ball traveled off Sterrenberg’s foot, giving possession back to the Rockets.
Dukes hit the winning basket with 11 seconds remaining, setting the final margin. Cabot had one last look as time expired, but Trammel’s three-point attempt was just off, bouncing off the back of the rim to give Catholic the win.

Sterrenberg led the Panthers with 11 points, nine of which came in the second half. Alex Sharp added 10 points, including a dunk to start the third quarter. Trammell had nine points, all of which came from three-point shots. Johnson added eight points for Cabot. For Catholic, Jake Bequette led all scorers with 13 points. The loss moves the Panthers’ record to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the 7A-Central Conference.

The Lady Panthers never blew out the Belles, but never really had to sweat a potential comeback in the game. After falling behind 11-4 early, MSM mounted its strongest rally in the final minute of the first quarter, scoring three unanswered baskets to cut Cabot’s lead to 13-10 with 24 seconds remaining in the frame.

Senior guard Maddie Helms stretched the Lady Panthers’ lead back out to six before the first quarter buzzer with her second three-pointer of the night. Helms went on to hit five of six attempts from behind the arc, her best average of the season.

Although MSM controlled much of the play inside during the game, they simply could not match Cabot’s accuracy from the outside. The majority of the Belles’ scoring in the game was courtesy of driving shots from post players Lauren Stough and Lauren Ramsey. Forward Meagan Vekman provided the only outside threat for MSM, leading the team in scoring along with Ramsey.

The other Cabot senior developed a hot hand in the early stages of the second quarter. Jamie Sterrenberg scored eight points in the first two minutes of the frame to extend the Lady Panthers’ lead to 24-15. After another three from Helms, Lauren Walker hit a free throw and a basket to put the advantage at 30-17 by the 3:28 mark.

The last four minutes of the first half saw a number of Lady Panthers hit shots. Leah Watts hit a pair of free throws at the 1:15 mark, followed by baskets from Shelby Ashcraft and Walker. Rachel Glover came away with the final Cabot points of the opening half with a Helms-assisted basket in the final 30 seconds.

The Cabot lead was 38-23 at the half, and the margin would never go below 11 points in the second half.

“We were overmatched size wise,” Lady Panthers assistant coach Charles Ruple said. “Maddie had five three-pointers that helped us out scoring wise, and Jamie and Leah helped to open it up a lot also. I thought Rachel Glover gave us a great spark; she had a lot of great passes that created opportunities. It’s going to be like a state tournament game every night in this conference, and we were lucky enough to survive this one.”

Helms led all scorers in the game with 19 points. Sterrenberg finished with 17 points, and Ashcraft had 15 points. For MSM, Ramsey and Vekman led with 12 points each. The win gives the Lady Panthers a 12-3 overall record and a 2-1 record in the 7A-Central Conference.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

TOP STORY >>Council gets schooled in city matters

Leader staff writer

Problems with city finances and traffic congestion were just two of the topics covered by the speakers at an eight-hour workshop Saturday in Cabot that Mayor Eddie Joe Williams hosted for the city council. Williams has promised to make getting both under control a priority and used the workshop to introduce his plans to do so. Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler, who is back in control of city finances after being stripped of her duties by the former mayor and council, thanked Williams at the end of the 20 years with the city, she had never attended a meeting that was more helpful, she said. Williams, who is well aware that he is in the honeymoon phase of his administration when almost everyone is willing to listen to his ideas, also used the workshop to promote working together as a team, a concept that he intends to foster in part by appointing council committees to work on the issues that will go before the council as proposed ordinances. Since each committee is made up of five council members, an ordinance that leaves the committee with unanimous approval of its members will pass the full council.

Getting the council to help identify the top five priorities the city government should address now and in the next four years during a slot of time near the end of the workshop did not go as smoothly as it was clear the new mayor wanted it to. But after some hesitation, the council finally produced a list that included all the problems that he says he intends to work on: traffic and streets, accurate financial reporting, drainage and potholes.


Finance Director Dale Walker used the word “broken” to describe the city’s purchasing and financial programs. Spending in November and December was out of control, he said, the extent of which is still being discovered. Walker now works for the clerk treasurer instead of the mayor, a change that he told the council he is pleased with. “Marva and I have been working together undercover for a year now, anyway,” he said, adding that together they will identify and fix the problems. So far, they have found one $50,000 payroll that came out of the human resources department that was not recorded, so the $150,000 deficit he had earlier identified is actually $200,000 and growing. In addition to excessive spending, Walker said he and Verkler had found several purchases of more than $1,000 that were not approved.

Walker’s disapproval of the past administration drew criticism from Alderman Teri Miessner, who said that was in the past and it was time to move on. Verkler stood up for her new employee saying the actions are past, but her department must now deal with the results. Alderman Ed Long, who is back on the council after a two-year absence, commended Miessner for her comments. Walker was responsible for overseeing the finances during Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s administration and therefore must bear some of the responsibility for problems, Long said.


Two projects that stalled last year will move forward in 2007, Williams told the new council. The access road built by Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman to take shoppers from Highway 5 to Wal-Mart will open sometime in the spring. The city has $2 million in bond money to work on roads and Williams says some of it will help pay for 1,300 feet of pavement inside city limits and for a bridge over the ditch where the road now ends. The city also will work with Troutman who offered last year to replace seven old and dangerously narrow bridges on First Street with culverts for about $7,500 each. Williams told the council members that he would have Troutman replace one bridge and if the culvert worked well, he would ask him to replace the others. Williams said he believes some relief from traffic congestion is attainable at no cost by changing the timing of traffic lights. He also wants big ticket improvements like the reconfiguration of the access ramps onto the freeway and the extension of Willie Ray Road to Austin. But the cornerstone of his long term plan to ease traffic congestion is a railroad overpass near Polk Street paired with a north interchange between Austin and Cabot.

Critics of the plan, including a Lonoke County traffic committee, say an interchange in that location will do little to ease traffic congestion. But Williams says it will keep school buses off the railroad track and it will help with traffic in downtown now and with future growth on Highway 38. And he intends to move forward especially since the overpass has been approved for federal funding and $400,000 already spent would have to be paid back if it is not built. A $28 million bond issue approved by voters and financed by the continuation of a one-cent sales tax includes $800,000 for the city’s part of the overpass that was estimated at $6 million, but Williams said that price has gone up 30 percent and the city doesn’t
have enough to pay for it now.

Jim McKenzie, executive director of Metroplan, which distributes federal highway money, spoke during the workshop about federal funding for road projects. The big news he brought is that there is not nearly as much federal money available as there once was. So growing cities like Cabot will need to get behind proposed state legislation that would allow counties to levy up to 10 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. “If the infrastructure is inadequate, people are going to choose to live elsewhere,” McKenzie warned. Williams said later that what cities will have to do is choose projects that will give the most relief with the federal money that is available. “We have to get the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.


Jerrell Maxwell, the city’s new public works director, told the council that he is already working on major drainage problems with simple fixes like cleaning ditches, and that filling potholes is next. “We must work smarter and be better stewards of the city’s money,” Maxwell said.


To ensure that every council member is included in the decisions made for the city, Williams has assigned all eight to three different committees. The committees are to meet twice a month for a total of six committee meetings and one full council meeting every month. Since traffic is the problem that every resident of Cabot faces, the Public Works Committee is arguably the most important. Alderman Ed Long, who has six years of experience, will chair that committee, and Alderman Eddie Cook will be one of the members.

Cook asked last year, when the city council was considering replacing the bridges on First Street, who
had made that project a priority. The mayor said from now on, Cook will know the answer to that question. Other members of the committee are Becky Lemaster, Virgil Teague and Tom Armstrong. Cook, who has an interest in finances and was the unofficial chairman of the budget meetings late in 2006, is chairman of the budget and personnel committee. Also on that committee are Miessner, Lemaster, Ken Williams, Lisa Brickell. The mayor chose Ken Williams, a former city attorney to chair the Fire and Police Committee for his legal expertise. Other members are Armstrong, Brickell, Teague and Miessner.

TOP STORY >>City planning upgrades to emergency calls

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s 911 Communication Center is spending $100,000 more than it had originally budgeted to upgrade its phone and computer system, but with the upgrade the system will be able to pinpoint and track most cell phone calls. In 2005, the center dealt with 28,665 police calls, 1,988 fire calls and 2,346 ambulance calls—about 90 calls a day. The $220,000 upgrade approved by the city council Thursday night also gives the center access to a “live” 911 unit that is ready to roll if the center goes down, and that’s important because the center has gone down before. Two lightning strikes over an eight-day period in July 2002 shut down the center on Harris Road for a period of time. “We were down at least overnight after the second strike,” said Brenda Skinner, director of 911 Communications.

The lightning strikes destroyed a server in the building and then followed a cable and blew a laptop modem off the wall, charred the wall, spewing smoke and bits of plastic and metal. The lightning also exploded the keypad off the security gate and a plastic faceplate on a related piece of equipment, hitting one of the two dispatchers on duty. The strike also destroyed the computer that operated the center’s phones and radio. “Since then we’ve spent a bunch of money grounding our building, equipment and the area around us,” said Brenda Skinner, director of the 911 center. “Lightning won’t be a problem anymore, but we are the highest point in the center and you never know about tornadoes or other disasters.”

She said it was just good practice to have the back up unit available. “If something were to happen, the unit could be set up in just a matter of hours,” Skinner said, adding that until the back up was on line, calls would be routed to Pulaski County.
“And we would be in contact with them through cell phones, computers or by whatever means possible,” she said. As part of the upgrade, the center will also be able to better zero in on cell phone calls, even the pay-as-you go phone which usually aren’t registered. “We be able to locate the cell phone caller and even tract any movement,” Skinner said. She said this element of the upgrade was very important with the influx of cell phone calls the center receives. Citing past examples where this would have been helpful, Skinner tell s of a teen who tried to take a shortcut through the woods at the end of Cory. The teen ended up lost in a knee-deep swamp with snakes. He called 911 on the cell phone, but the center didn’t have the ability to locate him. Police had to go to where the teen entered the woods and use an air horn to lead him to safety.

Another time dispatchers received a call from a panicky young woman who said she was being held kidnapped in a trailer somewhere in Jacksonville. The cell phone went dead after that and the dispatchers were just left wondering if the call was a prank or an authentic plea. Skinner said the city and AT&T are still working out some off the particulars of the contract and upgrade, but she expects the work to take five or six weeks and be done by the end of March.

And how does other are police forces receive 911 calls:

•Calls made to 911 in Ward are automatically sent to the Lonoke Sheriff’s Office first because Ward does not have a 24-hour dispatch. Lonoke then transfers the calls to Ward PD. If on a cell phone in the Ward area and the tower giving you a signal is just inside the White County line, your call will go to White County. Brooke Strain, dispatcher with the Ward PD, said dispatch at Lonoke Sheriff’s Office has an alarm on the wall that goes off if something happens to the line. If the cord gets unplugged, power goes off, whatever, the alarm sounds. Brooke said she worked there when the bad ice storm came in 2004 and the system didn’t have any problems. It worked very well, she said.

•According to Billie Curtis, dispatch supervisor for the Beebe Police Department, a 911 call never comes in directly to them. All calls are routed to the White County Sheriff’s Office first, and then transferred over to Beebe.

•All 911 calls made to Cabot Police Department are routed directly to dispatch at the Cabot Police Department, they do not go to Lonoke Sheriff’s Office first, they go straight to Cabot Police Department, a dispatcher with the sheriff’s office said.

TOP STORY >>Holman's contract extended in Cabot

Leader staff writer

The Cabot School Board has voted unanimously to extend Superintendent Dr. Frank Holman’s contract for an additional year, through 2009-2010. Holman is paid more than $163,000 a year, plus about $20,000 in benefits. He has been superintendent of Cabot schools since 2002, and in 2003 was one of the highest paid superintendent in the state at $150,000 a year.

According to David Hipp, school board president, Holman’s contract extension was routine: As a rule, most superintendents, when they are hired, have a three-year contract; after each year it rolls over into another year to keep a three-year contract.
“The board feels pleased to have him,” Hipp said of Holman. “He is a big asset to us, really admired by his peers, and is a good man to have, especially in this time with all that is going on with the insurance and Cabot Junior High North. He has been outstanding working with them to get something done.”

Holman was also given an $812 raise at the Dec. 19 meeting, as were all other administrators in the district, Hipp said.
According to Kelly Hayes, comptroller for the Cabot School District, the administrators re-ceived a raise of between $580 to $812 per year, depending on the degree level they hold, using the same concept used for teachers’ raises given earlier in the school year.
“We added $450 to the base of the schedule for 190-day teachers, making their raise between $450 and $630 depending on the degree level they hold. We did the same for the administration that works a 245-day contract,” Hayes said. “The administrators got more of a raise because they work more days than teachers,” he added. Assistant Superintendent Jim Dalton reported the progress of the district’s current building projects – the Fine Arts Complex, CHAMPS Hall and Stagecoach Elementary.

Dalton said last week that the Fine Arts Complex should be completed within the next week or two, and would then be turned over to the custodians for a good cleaning up. “We should be in within a month,” Dalton said of the $1.8 million, 28,000-square-foot Fine Arts addition. The addition includes two art classrooms with an outdoor patio facing Panther Stadium, a computer lab, choir room with built-in risers, a band rehearsal hall, three practice rooms, a storage room for instruments and uniforms, two large classrooms and a “black box” theater for small plays. At Stagecoach Elementary, the district’s new 83,313-square-foot, $6.6 million elementary school near Campground and Stagecoach roads, the building footings have been poured and the utilities wired to the site.

“They’ve started pouring the slab, but each day of rain delays the pour,” Dalton said. Exterior work on CHAMPS Hall is almost completed, Dalton said. “The company is short on metal and has been dragging their feet on getting more in,” Dalton said.
In other business:

The board approved the Academic Center of Excellence Charter Renewal that will be presented to the State Board of Education this month.

The district will need to rezone the schools because of growth. Dr. Holman said that preparation has begun and more information would be provided monthly.

Dr. Holman also told the board in December that the insurance company was stalling on moving forward with replacing Junior High North and went over all the steps taken since Aug. 10 for resolving the stalemate.

TOP STORY >>Inaugural ushers in a new era for state

Associated Press writer

Mike Beebe of Searcy was sworn in as Arkansas’ 45th governor Tuesday, completing a journey that took him from tiny Amagon (Jackson County) to a 20-year career in the state Senate and finally the office to which he ultimately aspired.
In an inaugural address on the state Capitol steps, Beebe said he refused to believe that Arkansas, which faces on an ongoing battle over how it funds its 450,000-student school system, must continually face economic and educational hardships.
“I refuse to accept that hard times or perennial problems are our lot in life,” Beebe said. “We Arkansans are imbued with a spirit of persistent hope.”

Beebe, a Democrat, offered few specifics on his policy proposals — those are to come Wednesday, he said — but he said his term will mark a new course for the state. “Where others have seen obstacles, let us see a path to a new day, a new way in the history of this state we love,” Beebe said. “Where others have witnessed history repeating itself, let us seize our opportunities and create a new awakening to the possibilities of change and the promise of success in our state now, today.”

Beebe, 60, had never had a political opponent until last year’s race for governor and was a near-sure bet for a second term as attorney general, but in 2005 entered the contest to replace Republican Mike Huckabee in the governor’s office. In a brief address to the Arkansas House and Senate on Tuesday, Beebe recalled sitting in the well of the House for past inaugurations and enjoying himself. “It’s fun on this end, too,” Beebe said. And he reminded legislators that it would be time to work Wednesday.

“We are in this together. Rise or fall, win or lose — we are in this together,” Beebe said. “Tomorrow we begin that process to do all we can do to improve the quality of life for all our people.” Beebe grew up in Newport, but he and his mother lived in various cities, including Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis before he reached high school. He graduated from Arkansas State University, paying for his education with loans, summer jobs and part-time work. He has a law degree from the University of Arkansas.

In the days following his victory over Republican Asa Hutchinson in the November election, Beebe repeatedly has referred to himself as a partner with the Legislature. But as he approached his Tuesday inauguration, he began to refer to that relationship as a partnership, with leadership. “I have to respect those co-equal branches, but I also have to recognize that as chief executive of the state I have an additional responsibility above being a partner,” Beebe said in an interview before his inauguration. “I have to provide leadership.”

Legislators have touted Beebe’s long experience with state government, dating to his 20 years as a state senator before he was elected attorney general in 2002. Though he was still frequently seen around the Capitol as attorney general, Beebe’s offices were located in a separate office building downtown. Beebe has indicated he won’t be a stranger in the halls during the session but says he may have to distance himself at times. “I’m sure we’ll have fights. I’m sure we’ll have things we’ll disagree on,” Beebe said. “The key is to do it with civility and do it professionally and do it with an attitude of not burning your bridges.”

TOP STORY >>Ready to work with governor

Leader staff writer

For the first time since 1941, when Jack-sonville’s Homer Adkins was elected governor, a central Arkansan from north of the Arkansas River took the oath of office Tuesday as the state’s top officer. That’s good news, not just for the White County-area residents Mike Beebe represented as a state senator for 16 years, but for all Arkansas residents, according to state Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy. Beebe, born in Jackson County, grew up in several states before settling in Searcy to practice law in 1972. Although Sen. Dist. 29 has been redrawn and now includes Jacksonville, Capps today represents many of the same people once represented by Beebe.

“I was thinking this morning what a wonderful opportunity this is to come together and do some great things for the state,” Capps said. “He has the type of personality that embraces people and brings them in,” said Capps, who was speaker of the house when Beebe was first elected in 1983. “The old hands know, and the new ones will quickly understand.”

“We’re going to see so much difference it will be remarkable. He won’t be petty or vindictive, and won’t hold grudges,” said Capps alluding to former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s notoriously thin skin. “I’m looking forward to getting away from the bickering in the capitol and getting back to civility and pure honest debate,” Capps said. “Beebe will be an excellent ambassador for the state.” “We worked together on the same issues as related to our districts and people,” the senator continued. “We had a fine, cordial working relationship. We were good friends. It was a pleasure to work together.
Capps said he thinks Beebe always had his eye on higher office, but he didn’t let that dominate what he was doing.
He said Beebe, like former Gov. Bill Clinton, will be a hands-on policy wonk, walking the halls, sitting in committee meetings and working the room.

The senator said he looked forward to working with Beebe on issues like removing the state grocery tax, improving education and higher education in the state, prisons, human services. The way legislators appropriate money from the General Improvement Fund, which has typically been used to fund local projects around the state, will also be affected by a court decision last year that labeled as unconstitutional the $400,000 provided to Bigelow for street improvements. The street money, justices said, violated the Arkansas Constitution’s ban on state funding for strictly local projects. Former state Rep. Mike Wilson of Jacksonville, who had challenged the Bigelow funding and other projects, said he believed the ruling would end the practice of funding local projects through the General Improvement Fund.

“They blew $52 million two years ago,” Wilson said. “They won’t be able to do that any more.” Lawmakers have spent weeks since the Dec. 14 ruling reviewing what projects would be considered appropriate by the court, and ways to change the system to avoid money going to strictly local projects. Incoming Senate President Jack Critcher, D-Batesville, has said legislators will have to keep that ruling in mind when looking at the fund. “I think they’ll ask themselves if it’s going to pass muster with the court now,” Critcher said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SPORTS>> Cabot boys top Conway, pull even in conference

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers got an important win over Conway Friday night to pull even at 1-1 inside the 7A-Central Conference race. The Panthers traveled to the Faulkner County capital to knock off the Wampus Cats 47-44. The Lady Panthers did not fare as well. They fell to 1-1 after losing to the Conway ladies 60-49.

The Panthers came out blazing in the first quarter, taking a 9-1 lead in the first three minutes. That lead eventually grew to 20-8 early in the second quarter, but Conway surged before the end of the half and cut that margin to 22-19 with an 11-2 run. Cabot still managed to get into intermission with the momentum by scoring the last six points of the half and take a 28-19 lead into the break. “I thought we got there ready to play and started off real good,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “We struggled a lot there in the fourth quarter, but we found a way to hang on and win. I’m real proud of them.”

The Panthers managed just six points in the fourth quarter after leading 41-31 at the end of three, and only had one field goal. They hit free throws at big moments, though, and sealed the win from the line. “We had a couple of sophomores step up and make four huge free throws for us in the last minute, and that’s big,” Bridges said. Conway went on a slow and gradual 10-2 run to make the score 43-41 with 56 seconds left in the game. Cabot sophomore Austin Johnson then hit a pair of free throws, but Conway’s Alex McKnight hit a three pointer with 21 seconds left to make it 45-44. The Wampus Cats then fouled sophomore Adam Sterrenber, who stepped up and hit both of his foul shots to set the final margin.

Conway’s last shot was not a good look and missed everything. Sterrenberg’s two free throws made him the team’s leading scorer in the game with 16 points. Senior post player Alex Sharp finished with 14 while Sam Bates totaled 10 for the Panthers, who improved to ?? on the season. Conway sophomore Terry Tidwell led the Wampus Cats with 17 points. McKnight added 12. The Lady Panthers’ offense struggled worse than the boys’ in the final quarter of their loss Friday night. Cabot trailed by three at 44-41 to start the third, but started the final period with a 6-2 run to take a 47-46 lead with five minutes left in the game. They managed just two more points the rest of the way as Conway closed with a 14-2 run.

Sophomore Shelby Ashcraft led the Lady Panthers with 16 points while Jamie Sterrenberg and Lauren Walker added 12 apiece for the now ?? Lady Panthers. Conway improved to 11-3 and 2-0 in league play. Cabot played Catholic-Mount. St. Mary’s last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that matchup in Saturday’s edition of the Leader.

SPORTS>> Lady Jackrabbits stay perfect in league

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke ladies pulled a step closer to completing their first run through the conference schedule with a perfect record by downing Bald Knob on the road Friday night 44-26. The Lady Jackrabbits had to come from behind to get the win, but they didn’t trail for long. Bald Knob started hot, hitting a pair of three pointers to start the game and taking an 11-9 lead by the end of the opening frame. From that point, Lonoke’s defense dominated the action.

“We played a tremendous defensive ball-game for the last three quarters,” Lonoke coach Nathan Morris said. “I thought we came out ok, they just hit a couple of threes and we got into a little foul trouble. They called some fouls we weren’t used to having called. We adjusted to that and really played well.” Lonoke outscored its host 17-8 in the second quarter, and took a 28-19 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Lady ‘Rabbits gave up just seven points on two field goals, both of which came in a six-point fourth quarter. The Lady Bulldogs’ only point in the third period came on a free throw with less than one second showing on the clock. Bald Knob’s shooting percentage was bad, (23.3 percent) but they didn’t get many opportunities. Lonoke held the Lady Bulldogs to just 30 attempts.

“We limited their shots,” Morris said. “The ones they got, most of them weren’t real good looks, especially in the second half. It was great team defense. Bald Knob is a good team, we just played one of our best defensive games of the season.” Jenny Evans led Lonoke with 14 points. Calisha Kirk and Christy Shinn scored 11 each while Asiah Scribner added eight for the Lady ‘Rabbits.

The win lifted their record to 12-6 overall and 7-0 against 4A-2 competition. The boys fell way behind early, battled back in the fourth quarter only to fall short in a ?? final. The Bulldogs couldn’t miss all night. They shot 80 percent from the field in the first half and finished 20 of 28 for 71-percent shooting for the game. Lonoke trailed by as much as 12 in the third quarter, and trailed by 10 with about five minutes left before rallying to take a one-point lead with 1:45 left in the game.
Bald Knob hit two free throws to take back the lead, and Lonoke missed three opportunities to score the rest of the way.
A three pointer wouldn’t fall, nor did the stickback attempt after the Jackrabbits’ 13th offensive rebound of the game. Bald Knob got it back and was fouled.

After hitting one of two with five seconds left, Lonoke got the ball up the court and got an open look from about 12 feet, but it didn’t fall, leaving the host team victorious. “We just didn’t play well,” Lonoke coach Wes Swift said. “We got after ‘em. We forced 25 turnovers, but we played “all or nothing” defense, as I like to call it. We’re forcing tempo and when you do that, rotations have to be sprints. If they’re not sprints, you give up layups. We tried to turn it on and win it in one quarter, and we just came up short.”

Lonoke dropped to 5-2 in league play. The Rabbits and Lady Rabs played at Stuttgart last night after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that encounter in Saturday’s edition of The Leader.

SPORTS>> Red Devils down Pats in East opener

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville got a big win to start conference play in the 6A-East, beating visiting Marion with relative ease 73-51 Friday night at Jacksonville High. The Red Devils never trailed, and gradually extended their lead throughout the game. One major improvement the team made against Marion over recent games was shooting percentage. The Red Devils shot a combined 27 percent in the two games prior to Marion. Against the Patriots, the Red Devils hit for 47.4 percent, making 28 of 59 attempts from the field, including five of 10 from three-point range.

The game could have been put away a little earlier, but the Red Devils made just eight of 18 free throws. Foul shots notwithstanding, Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner was pleased to see his team shooting the ball like he feels they are capable, and glad to see hard work pay off. “I am hoping beyond hope that those last two games were just flukes,” Joyner said. “I know this team can shoot. I don’t know how good this team is going to turn out to be, but let me tell you something about these guys. When they saw those shooting percentages in that tournament, you should have seen ‘em. They were coming in here on breaks, during lunch, whenever they had a chance, and shooting. They want to get better and they’re willing to work to do it.”
Much of the reason for better percentages was the many shots from close range. Post players Gerron Riddles and Antwain Lockhart took a combined 18 shots. A lot more than recent games, but still not enough for Joyner. “That’s more shots than they’ve had in the last three games combined, and we’re going to get it in there more than that,” Joyner said. “I knew we would get it inside more in this game because that’s all they’ve been hearing for a week. We have to keep that up because it doesn’t just get the big guys more points. It opens things up on the outside, and you can play inside-out, which could be a big strength for this team.”

The Red Devils got a boost from the bench in the first quarter. Starting point guard Terrell Eskridge picked up two fouls in the first minute of the game, forcing sophomore Antonio Washington into early action. Washington got two buckets in traffic off dribble penetration, and dished out two assists in the first quarter. Lockhart also came off the bench for four points in the opening frame. Senior forward Kajuan Watson hit for five points and the Red Devils raced out to a 15-5 lead.

Jacksonville stayed aggressive offensively in the second quarter, but were maybe a little too eager to put the game away defensively. Marion began making frequent trips to the line and stayed with striking distance by scoring half of their 20 points in the period from the charity stripe. Jacksonville was able to maintain a 10-point advantage at halftime, 37-27, and did it largely from the outside. Watson, along with guards Antwan Robinson and Damien Akins, hit buckets from the outside to keep the Red Devils in front.

Jacksonville went back to the inside in the third quarter. Riddles, Lockhart, LaMrcus Trask, Terrell Eskridge and sophomore Cortrell Eskridge all hit buckets from inside the paint out of the half-court offense in the third quarter. Jacksonville took a 50-34 lead into the final period and guard Brian Washington came off the bench to put a stamp on the win. Brian Washington’s eight points in the final quarter helped close the door on any attempt at a Patriot comeback. While the overall free-throw percentage was poor, Jacksonville hit five of seven in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Watson led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds. Riddles contributed 12 points and also had eight boards. Brian Washington finished with eight while four other Red Devils scored six points.

The win lifts Jacksonville to 9-5 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The Lady Devils were in the hunt until a collapse in the fourth quarter. Marion held a three-point advantage with five minutes remaining in the game, but ended up with a 53-41 victory. Marie Livings led the Lady Devils with 14 points while Marleka Bell added 12. The loss dropped Jacksonville to 4-9 overall and 0-1 in conference play.

EDITORIALS>>Beebe takes center stage

Mike Huckabee was governor for 10 ½ years, the third longest tenure in Arkansas’s 170-year history, and it seemed even longer. Mike Beebe took the oath Tuesday and gave the impression that whether he serves for four or eight years it will seem much shorter. Absent were the stentorian tones, the lavish rhetoric and, tripping off the glib tongue, all those words, words, words that we have come to expect on these grand occasions, and not-so-grand occasions. Beebe took the oath officially before assembled lawmakers in the House chamber, uttered a few words of thanks to supporters and encouragement to legislators, nearly every one of whom it appeared were personal friends, gave the thumbs-up a few times and led his wife away.

But outside for the public ceremony an hour later, under a fierce midday sun and surrounded by flapping bunting and flags, choirs, trumpets and a throng of supporters, Beebe rose to, well, the same heights. Reading from a script, he raced through the ritual calls for everyone to strive together to overcome old unscalable problems, invoked a little John F. Kennedy rhetoric, waved and said let’s go to work. Crowds are tuned to respond to even tentative applause lines on these occasions, but Beebe never gave this crowd a chance. Ten minutes and he was through. With Mike Beebe, you knew that it was not stage fright or an inability to grasp the dynamics of the occasion.

He knew what he was doing. As a senator for 20 years, he had heard enough good ceremonial speeches. He may have simply recognized his own limitations — he is not a stem-winding orator — and chosen not to be judged inferior by trying to imitate Clinton, Bumpers, Tucker or Huckabee. We think it was more calculated than that. Mike Beebe is not going to be a showman but a doer, and he wanted to get that across. He did, perfectly. His one theme was that distinct change was possible and that it was sure enough coming. A lot less bloviating and more hard work is the first welcome signpost of change.

We like this administration already. Beebe said his legislation would begin to pour into the Senate and House today and he expected all of them to dive into the gritty work of making prudent budgets and effective laws on the first day. If knowledge is power, Beebe comes as the best prepared for leadership in our time. He knows the Constitution and laws and for two decades he put together every major bipartisan piece of legislation. Mike Huckabee was the master of the gibe and the flout; Mike Beebe is the master of the hug and the squeezed elbow. He won’t be whining about how the Republicans are mistreating him. They won’t be.

Beebe is not the first new governor to invoke togetherness as the chief striving of his administration. In fact, we cannot think of a one who skipped that virtue as far back as the last governor from the northern metropolitan area, Homer M. “Holy Homer” Adkins, who was reared on a farm near Jacksonville. Gov. Adkins, a Klansman, was not quite so inclusive in practice. He fought to keep blacks from voting in Democratic primaries.

The symbolism was starkly different Tuesday. The master of ceremonies was the black civil rights lawyer Richard Mays of Little Rock, and the inaugural had an overwhelmingly African-American hue, from the invocation to the musicians.
In his short tug at bombast, Beebe said he would try to strike down barriers to everyone and he called for people to join hands to “protect the vulnerable and empower the powerless.”

“Join me in this journey,” he said. “We have a future to create. We will do it together.” Other than ratcheting down the state’s 6 percent sales tax on groceries over the next several years, we do not have a clue yet what he expects to do help everybody reach their dreams. But we do think he means it. For now, that is change enough.

OBITUARIES >> 1-10-07


Walter D. England, 87, of Beebe departed this life on Jan. 2. Born Oct. 10, 1919, he was the third of nine children born to Marion and Dora Hall England at Elm Store just south of the Missouri line. He was a member of First Baptist Church, where he was a greeter, deacon emeritus and church trustee. His 42 years in the field of education were spent in Missouri and Arkansas. He started his career right out of high school in a one-room school and progressed to principal, school superintendent, and retiring as the dean “chancellor” at ASU-Beebe.

He established the England Challenge Scholarship at ASU-Beebe, where the Math-Science Building has been named in his honor. He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Hanford England, Dr. David England and Clifford England, and one sister, Ella James. He is survived by three brothers, Dr. Noah England and Gordon England, both of Missouri and Dr. Daniel England of Magnolia, and a sister, Lula Lamere of Alton, Ill., also by his wife of 55 years, Louise Horner England, and three special daughters, Cindy Wright and Abbie Covington and husband Larry of Beebe and Janie Byard of Vilonia; seven grandchildren, Tasha Clark, Diana Porter of Grants Pass, Oregon, Carissa Gullett of Vilonia, Jason Byard, Mackenzie Kooyer, and Malorie Covington of Beebe, and Marcus Covington of New York; 12 great-grandchildren and many loyal friends. Funeral services were held Jan. 4 at Beebe First Baptist Church with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrook Funeral Home at Beebe. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, 101 Hwy. 64, Beebe, Ark. 72012, or to the England Challenge Scholarship at ASU-Beebe, P.O. Box 1000, Beebe, Ark. 72012.


Eva Louise Bouse, 90, of Ward died Jan. 7 at her home. She was born on June 7, 1916 to the late George and Virgie Thompson Fiedler in Vilonia. She was a graduate of Cabot High School. Eva enjoyed farming and sold produce at Little Rock Farmers Market. Eva was also preceded in death by her husband Roy Bouse in 1991; two brothers, Clifford and Leslie Fiedler; two sisters, Lodema Sherlock and Ada Fiedler and one nephew, Leslie Charles Fiedler. Eva is survived by three children, Emma Lou Morrow and Virginia West, both of Ward and Charlotte Hirsch of Pasco, Wash.; one sister, Victoria Reece of Jonesboro; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; two nieces and three nephews. Visitation will be Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Funeral service will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at Victory Baptist Church in Cabot with Pastor Ted Patterson officiating. Burial will follow in Mt. Carmel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Baptist Hospice. Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Mary Elizabeth Fowler Neill, 82, of North Little Rock passed away peacefully Jan. 7 at the home of her daughter, Missy Land in Vilonia. She was born Jan. 25, 1924 to the late Mary Elizabeth Scott and George Mack Fowler. She was preceded in death by her husband, SMSGT. (Ret.) James B. Neill, USAF, and two of her brothers, George Robert Fowler and James Burton Fowler. She is survived by her three sisters, Genelia O’Gara of Apopka, Fla., Helen Coleman and husband Tommy of Zellwood, Fla. and Anne Charlton and husband James of Finger, Tenn.; her brother, Maxwell Fowler and wife Mary of Norfolk, Va.; four children, Jammie and husband Stephen Ziller of Little Rock, James Patrick Neill of Taunton, Mass., Michael Neill of Cabot and Margaret and husband Larry Land of Vilonia; as well as seven grandchildren, Justin and Peyton Land of Vilonia, Mitchell and Morgan Neill of Taunton and Stephanie, Catherine and Allison Ziller of Little Rock and numerous nieces and nephews.

Mary was very active in many organizations throughout her life such as the Non-commissioned Officers Wives Club, where she held many offices, including president; the Protestant Women of the Chapel; the American Red Cross Gray Ladies; the Moose Lodge in Sherwood and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She also enjoyed the company of her many friends and the Sherwood Seniors. Visitation will be Wednesday, Jan. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Funeral Home in North Little Rock. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at the funeral home officiated by Ken Jordan. In lieu of flowers the family asks to consider a contribution to the Alzheimer’s Association, 10411 West Markham, Suite 130, Little Rock, Ark. 72205 or a charity of your choice.


Pat Canoy, 57, passed away Dec. 29. “Mr. Pat’s” hobbies included riding his motorcycle for pleasure and charities. He also enjoyed spending time with all of his grandchildren and numerous friends. He drove for Pat Salmon and Sons for a number of years. He is survived by his wife, Annette Canoy; two daughters, Wanda Napier and Angel Tucker; his Mother, Ellen Smith; five brothers and four sisters; his grandchildren, Lance, Kyle, Megan, Lori, R.J. and Raylon. Pat was preceded in death by his father, brother and one daughter. Funeral services were held Jan. 2 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke with burial in Old Carlisle Cemetery.


Larry Eugene Cavender, 58, passed away Dec. 29. Survivors include his wife, Ruth Canoy Cavender; two sons, Joe and Michael Cavender; three grandchildren, Kyle, Brianna and Erin; his brothers, Jerry, Terry and Donald and his sister, Diane. Larry was a friend to everyone he knew, and feared by fish everywhere. A funeral service was Jan. 2 at Boyd Funeral Home Chapel in Lonoke.


Odell Staggs Havens, 90, passed away Jan. 6. She is survived by a daughter, Phoebe Young of North Little Rock; grandsons, Lee Young of North Little Rock and David Young of Van Buren; their father, Don Young of Oklahoma and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husbands, Shuford Staggs and Emmett Havens. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Boyd Funeral Home with burial in Carlisle Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alzheimers of Arkansas.


Adele R. Duvall, 77, of Jacksonville died Jan. 5. She was born Dec. 15, 1929 in Prum/Eifel, Germany to the late Daniel and Margarete Peters Rodermann. In addition to her parents, Mrs. Duvall was preceded in death by three brothers Mathias, Heinrich and Wilhelm Rodermann and one sister Johanna Leuschen. She was a member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville and a member of the choir for 31 years. She worked as a cook for the Pulaski County Special School District for 26 years. She is survived by her husband, Gordon Duvall of the home; daughter, Yolande Bell and her husband, Larry of Jacksonville; son, Carl Duvall and his wife Diane of Austin; sisters, Alwine Rodermann and Elfrieda Stein of Germany; three grandchildren, Bryan and Lindsey Bell of Jacksonville and Casey Duvall of Austin. A Rosary was Jan. 7 at St. Jude’s. Funeral Mass was Jan. 8 at St. Jude Catholic Church with Father Les Farley officiating. Entombment followed in Chapel Hill Mausoleum.

Memorials may be made to St. Jude’s Catholic Church, 2403 MacArthur Dr., Jacksonville, Ark. 72076 or Arkansas Hospice, 5600 W. 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. The family would like to thank the staff at Woodland Hills Nursing Home and Arkansas Hospice for the special care given to Adele in her final days. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Vernell Ellinger, 68, of McRae died Jan. 5. She was born Nov. 8, 1938, at Romance. She was a good homemaker and a wonderful grandma. She was preceded in death by her father, Jessie Covington. She is survived by her husband, Larry Ellinger of McRae; mother, Lorene Ostrom of McRae; two sons, Ronnie Miller and wife Brandi of Searcy and Kevin Ellinger and wife Shelly of Beebe; one daughter, Martha Miller of Copperas Cove, Texas; 11 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one brother, Thomas Lee Covington; and two sisters, Alice Strayhorn and Pam Harris. Funeral services were Jan. 8 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Romance Cemetery.


Johnny Ray Ellison, 66, of Vilonia died on Jan. 5. He was born Aug. 4, 1940, at Heth. Johnny was a kind-hearted man who worked hard to provide for his family. He would always lend a hand to help others in need. He loved hunting, fishing and spending time with his family. The proudest moment of Johnny’s life was the birth of his precious son – Justin. He loved his son dearly. Johnny was preceded in death by his parents, John and Alta Ellison of Stuttgart. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Ruby Sumler Ellison and his cherished son, Justin Randall Ellison. He is also survived by his daughter, Jera Rae Houghtaling. Other survivors include his two brothers, Thurman Ellison of Quitman and Jesse Ellison of Cabot; four sisters, Millie Harp of England, Glenda Stokes of Roe, Pamela Harris and Debra Hammerly, both of Stuttgart. The Ellison family would like to thank Dr. Alan Storeygard for his friendship and for the excellent care he has given Johnny over the past 20 years. Johnny leaves behind many friends and family members who will miss him greatly.

Funeral services were held Jan. 7 at Sixteenth Section Methodist Church in Austin with burial in Sixteenth Section Cemetery near Austin. Arrangements were by Westbrooke Funeral Home in Beebe.


Cornealious Earl Laws, 75, of Flippin died Jan. 6. He was born March 10, 1931 in Sparkman to the late Henry Jackson and Mamie Lee Nutt Laws. He was employed by AT&T for many years in the maintenance department. In addition to his parents, Mr. Laws was preceded in death by one son, Jerry Earl Laws.

He is survived by one daughter, Karen Stills of Harrison and two sisters, Dorothy Vails of Jacksonville, Edna Andrews of Pine Bluff and Reatha Laws, caregiver and friend. Three grandchildren; Jerry Earl Laws, Jr., Amanda Jordan and Erin Copeland as well as two great grandchildren, Jacob and Preston Laws also survive him. Graveside services were Jan. 9 in Chapel Hill Memorial Park at Jacksonville with the Rev. Jerold Posey officiating under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.