Friday, January 26, 2007

TOP STORY >>Air base education center hits funding snag

IN SHORT: Military money for joint education center in front of LRAFB still awaits appropriation because Congress failed to pass a defense budget before it adjourned.

Leader staff writer

Because the Republican-dominated 109th Congress adjourned last year without approving the 2007 budget, $9.8 million earmarked for the Little Rock Air Force Base-Jacksonville joint education center is on hold and work cannot begin, according to Mike Wilson, a local attorney.

“The Congress has not yet enacted defense authorization bills, along with other major authorization bills,” Wilson said.
Normally, all appropriation bills are enacted and become effective Oct. 1, he said.

Meanwhile, the entire government is funded by operating on a continuing resolution.

Specifically, the last Congress never approved the military construction bill, said one man familiar with the process. It was authorized by Congress, but not appropriated.

“It has to be specifically appropriated,” he said.

Jacksonville’s $5 million share of a new, $15 million Community/Little Rock Air Force Base Education Center will be added to the Air Force’s $10 million share and the construction and expenditures will be overseen by representatives of the Secretary of Air Force and Mayor Tommy Swaim, once the authorization problem is resolved.

Wilson hopes construction of the approximately 80,000-squar-foot center—to be located on the base, but outside the fenced security perimeter—will begin this spring.

In 2003, Jacksonville voters overwhelmingly voted a two-year, one-penny sales tax to raise the city’s share of what was then thought to be a $10 million facility.

The education center already exists on the base, but access to it has become much more difficult for civilians in the wake of heightened security after Sept. 11, 2001.

The new education center, to be located near the intersection of Vandenberg Boulevard and John Harden, will be more accessible to civilians and airmen not living on the base.

It also affects many millions of dollars worth of BRAC construction earmarked for the base and bases across the country.
The current continuing resolution runs out in February, and it’s possible that when reenacted, language could be added to say “all things specifically authorized are deemed to be appropriated,” he added.

The “deeming” as it as known, would allow the military construction projects to move forward. Typically, they must be completed within five years of the authorization.

Passage of the 2007 appropriation bills is further complicated because of the new Democratic-controlled Congress.

TOP STORY >>Are our children safe?

Leader staff writer

A parent who witnessed the aftermath of a wreck involving a school bus, a tractor-trailer rig and a van on Hwy. 31 in Austin Wednesday told The Leader she doesn’t let her children ride a school bus because she fears for her children’s safety.

“When I was a child I always went to school on a bus,” the parent said. “I know all too well what children do on buses when they cannot be watched closely. I worry about my kids getting hurt by older kids or worse, being killed by people who do not obey the laws requiring them to stop when buses are letting children on and off.”

Many parents don’t have the luxury of driving their own children to school. On their behalf, The Leader asked local school districts how they handle bus safety.

In Cabot there are approximately 9,006 children enrolled in the district with almost 5,500 riding school buses to and from school.

Jim Dalton, assistant superintendent of the district, says a child’s safety is both a parental and school official issue.

“We cannot be held responsible for a child before they get on our bus, of course,” he said. “We encourage parents to stay with their children at all times before they get on a bus in the morning and be there with them when they get off in the afternoon. A child should never be allowed to stand at a bus stop by themselves.”

Dalton also encouraged community monitoring.

“Some parents must leave before their children are picked up and we understand that but they still need to take responsibility,” he said. “I think it is a good idea for a group of neighbors to get together and identify at least one person who can monitor children at a bus stop to help keep them safe. This way children are never alone and it reduces the chances of abductions and injuries.”

Dalton said parents need to be very active in teaching their children safety rules. “Parents should talk to their kids about how to cross a road and to watch for their bus driver’s signal before crossing a road,” he said.

Janis Ellis, who has been testing school bus drivers from around the state since 1999, has been with the Cabot School District since 1991. She drove a school bus in the past but now handles maintenance and construction for the Cabot district in addition to testing bus drivers.

“Our drivers must undergo a four-part written test and then 24 hours of driving tests,” Ellis said. “If a driver seems weak in one area we will give more training until we know they can handle the job. They also must ride with another driver to learn stops and such before they are allowed to get out there by themselves.”

Ellis said there are things drivers learn to help keep children safe while in their care.

“We train bus drivers to count each child who gets off a bus so if they don’t see one of them cross they know to stay there until they see the child,” Ellis said. “Also all children are required to stay seated and never get up until the bus comes to a complete stop and the driver is never to take off until every child is seated.”

Ellis said all Cabot drivers are supplied with cell phones in case a situation arises with unruly children or an accident occurs.
Charlie Donham is the transportation director with the Cabot district. He plans to hold a special safety meeting dealing with emergencies on Tuesday for school bus drivers. He said it is important to cover these issues and that he holds regular safety meetings.

“If you interview any parent they will say they want safety first out of the school district,” Donham said. “We are in the process of changing some routes right now to make them safer.

“We are deciding where the safest place is to stop for children to get on and off a bus. Then we will make adjustments as needed.”

Donham said the Cabot district has great bus drivers who care about their riders and that for the most part the parents all support them and do their part to keep things safe too.

“If we do have an issue with a child we call the parents,” he said. “They are generally helpful. But if a child needs more discipline we can kick them off the bus or even give licks.”

Gina Hicks, who drives bus No. 113 in Cabot, recently observed a fatal accident and she says people should pay closer attention to signal lights and signage while on the roadways.

“I think if people would stop and think when they see a bus, ‘That could be my child getting on that bus’ they might slow down and even stop and have more concern for others than they show,” she said.

She said one parent in the district is trying to get the state to put up school bus stop signs to help warn motorists of the stops. She hopes to see these in the near future, she said.

Pulaski County Special School District
Pulaski County Special School District buses run about 272 routes and it takes about 400 people to keep that many routes in place, according to Brad Montgomery, director of transportation for PCSSD. He said earlier that his department has a shortage of seven to 10 employees in the Jacksonville area.

Still Montgomery strives for safety. “We’ve done a lot over the past two years,” he says.

PCSSD employees attend an annual seminar focusing on the latest techniques in school bus safety.

Another way of keeping safety first is a recently mandated school bus inspection statewide. Those inspections are conducted randomly, not by scheduling a date and time, he said.

School bus drivers’ jobs were recently made easier with a change in reporting “stop-arm” crossing violators. Instead of having to go to the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney’s office to swear out a warrant against violators, bus drivers are supplied with forms to fill out with information about the violators. The forms are sent by fax to the prosecutor’s office which can send out a letter to violators warning them of the consequences for failing to stop and wait until the stop-arm crossing guard is rescinded.

In February, the PCSSD will conduct an in-service focusing on safety issues confronted by school bus drivers. The four-hour meeting is held twice during the school year, according to Montgomery.

Montgomery remembered a student who was recently killed while crossing a roadway after getting off a school bus. “Every time something like this happens, it is so sad,” he said. On Jan. 12, Elizabeth Cimprich, 14-years-old, lost her life while crossing the road near Pine Bluff. According to the Arkansas State Police fatality summary, the accident took place along Hwy. 79 South after she had exited a school bus.

Lonoke School District
In the Lonoke School District, where the bus supervisor was driving a route to replace a driver out sick, the only recent accident was a minor one when a bus coming around a curve collided with a car, but there were no personal injuries, according to Kathy Halford, the district secretary.

She said she didn’t know of any personal-injury accidents in recent years.

After a pre-K child was left on a bus about two years ago, the district installed child-alert buzzers on all buses. At the end of the route, when the driver turns the bus off, an alarm goes off and the driver must walk to the back of the bus to turn it off, ensuring that no children are left behind, Halford said. She wasn’t sure how many of the district’s 1,850 students ride the bus, but the district maintains 18 bus routes. The district uses seat belts only in its special-needs buses, she said.

The district doesn’t have much turnover among bus drivers either. They are experienced and have gone through training and testing. The state does at least one in-service safety workshop a year that these bus drivers attend.

Drivers inspect their buses daily and all buses are on a regular maintenance schedule.

“The state just finished inspecting our buses,” she added.

Beebe school district
Beebe School District has 2,700 students and counting the 450 or so who are shuttled to the middle school at McRae every day, 2,500 of them ride buses.

Hal Crisco, the assistant superintendent who oversees transportation, said this week that safety is his main concern.
“School buses are one of the safest places to be. It’s the loading and unloading that’s the concern,” said Crisco, who also drove a bus for many years.

Drivers for Beebe School District are instructed to never open the door to let children off until they are certain that traffic is stopped in all directions, he said.

Recently, the bus that runs the Highway 64 route was equipped with extra flashers to make it more visible.

Additionally, drivers won’t let small children off the bus when it is apparent that no one is home to look after them.
Most of the time, the children alert the driver that no one is home, he said. But sometimes the drivers will notice the absence of cars and take the children back to school instead of letting them off.

John Hofheimer, Peg Kenyon and Joan McCoy contributed to this story.

TOP STORY >>School will be built on air base

IN SHORT: New elementary for LRAFB No. 1 on the master plan after officials lobby for it.

Leader staff writer

With friends in high places, Little Rock Air Force Base’s Arnold Drive Elementary School is suddenly on deck for replacement with a new $15 million facility, according to the Pulaski County Special School District facilities master plan reviewed at a barely attended public hearing Thursday night.

The new school, which would also be on the base, is listed on the master plan for funding and construction during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.

Charlie Wood, one of three school board members at the meeting, ex-pressed surprise that Arnold Drive had moved to the top of the list, in part because there had been no discussion at any of the school board meetings.

Arnold Drive Elementary School’s emergency might be less surprising given that Brig. Gen. Kip Self has been lobbying not only the school board, but Cong. Vic Snyder and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, both of whom have recently toured the school with him.

“Arnold Drive was just added (to the master plan),” said Supt. James Sharpe. “It was put on the list because of all the attention drawn to Arnold Drive, especially input form the general.”

He added that Snyder, Lincoln and leaders in the state had told him that a new elementary school would add to the future and viability of the base.

Sharpe said no board action was required at this point, but would certainly be required before actually proceeding to build the new school.

Depending on the school count at that time, it is possible that some or all Tolleson Elementary School students also would attend the new school.

Self has said the base could make available land for the new school, perhaps “outside the wire.”

The Arnold Drive project may have jumped ahead of the proposed new Jacksonville Middle School building discussed publicly by Sharpe and Jacksonville board member James Bolden III a few weeks ago. It is not currently on the 10-year plan.

The district already is committed to build three other schools first. The $13 million Chenal Elementary School already is in the $2 million design stage, with construction due next school year and occupancy for the 2008-2009 school year.

A new, $25 million Sylvan Hills Middle School will be funded for $2 million worth of design work next school year, with construction through 2010-2011 and occupancy in 2011-2012.

The new $40 million Oak Grove High School is on the same schedule, and is slated for $4 million worth of design work.
Wood, who also is on the site-selection and planning committee for the new Sylvan Hills school, is the most vocal proponent of building a new high school instead of a new middle school, then moving middle school students to the current high school.

The district at this point is proceeding on the assumption that it is building a new middle school, according to Sharpe.
Other local projects on the facilities master plan include re-roofing Homer Adkins Elementary School, completed; Homer Adkins asbestos abatement, slated for next year; re-roofing the Sylvan Hills Middle School field house, set for this year; re-roofing the Jacksonville Middle School for Girls and the Jacksonville High School auditorium and media center next year; and completion this year of the Pinewood Elementary School heating and cooling system and replacement of electrical service at Harris Elementary School and Homer Adkins.

Each district will review its state-mandated 10-year facilities master plan again in two years.

Currently, the PCSSD master plan calls for spending about $193 million over the next eight years.

The district’s wealth index is 87, meaning it will have to pay at least 87 percent of those costs, with the state kicking in 13 percent of eligible costs.

Larry O’Briant, the district’s chief financial officer, said that more realistically, the state would pay about 10 percent of the total, with the district paying the balance.

TOP STORY >>Budget in Cabot gets easy approval

IN SHORT: $8.4 million spending measure calls for reducing the city’s workforce.

Leader staff writer

The Cabot City Council passed an $8.4 million operating budget Wednesday night that includes $7.4 million for the general fund and $1.1 million for streets.

The general fund pays for fire and police protection, the cost of running the mayor’s office, city attorney’s office and the salaries of council members, the public works director, code enforcement officers, building inspectors and animal control officers.

The street budget pays wages for the people who work on the streets and for any repairs they make to streets. There is no money in the budget this year for street overlays, but workers are cleaning ditches to help control flooding and filling potholes.

The budget shows a reduction in city staff from 172 to 148 which helped make possible the 5 percent raises most will receive. However, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ salary is increasing by only 3 percent from $56,924 to $58,695, making him the second highest paid city employee. City Attorney Jim Taylor will be paid $66,621 in 2007.

City council members, who are being asked for the first time to meet in committees to approve all ordinances and resolutions before they go before the full council, will get pay increases of about 20 percent. In 2006, they were each paid $5,757. This year they will be paid $7,200. The budget also shows that the human resources department no longer stands alone. It has been consolidated with the mayor’s office. The engineering department no longer exists as of Wednesday night. The city engineer and the computer aided drafting specialist have been dismissed.

Three positions also were cut in public works, two building inspectors and one safety/code enforcement officer.

Former Public Works Director Jim Towe turned in his resignation in December and his position has been filled by Jerrel Maxwell, who worked as a building inspector under Towe, but ran the department before Towe was hired four years ago.
Maxwell’s salary is $45,050 compared to Towe’s $60,286.

The rationale behind the pay cut is that for three of the four years Towe worked for the city, he also was responsible for oversight of water and sewer, which are now under an autonomous commission.

The $2.3 million for the police department does not include anything for new cars or other major equipment purchases. The $1.6 million for the fire department also does not include any major purchases. Neither department will be allowed any new hires in 2007, and no positions may be filled if an employee resigns.

Although the 2007 budget shows the actual deficit spending for 2006 was $89,756, Williams said the city had unpaid bills totaling more than $300,000 when he took office in January.

So he has included in his budget a savings account of $672,297 to be used for emergencies and to carry the city into 2008.
He said he has told department heads to not expect the purse strings to be any looser in 2008 because that is when he will start setting aside money for capital expenditures like roads and the new fire station the city needs.

TOP STORY >>Bancroft owner: Prove my caps bad

IN SHORT: The head of the Cabot firm says the military hasn’t convinced him that the hundreds of thousands of berets it has rejected contain foreign materials in violation of his contract, and he’ll reopen with 25 workers Monday.

Leader editor

The embattled owner of Bancroft Cap Co. in Cabot said Thursday that the military hasn’t convinced him that the 340,000 berets he sold the Defense Department contain foreign materials in violation of his contract.

The Defense Department, which paid Bancroft some $2.9 million for the berets, is demanding repayment because of the alleged violation. Bancroft filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 16 and will amend its filing to show it has about $4 million in debts, which includes the disputed $2.9 million the military wants returned.

But Barry Goldman, Bancroft’s president, says he will reopen his plant Monday with 25 workers — down from more than 100 a decade ago — and he will keep making berets for the military and the commercial market.

“We still owe them 36,000 berets,” Goldman says about his contract with the military, and he intends to start making them next week.

Goldman said his company can produce about 4,000 berets a month even with a skeleton crew.
Bancroft is the only U.S.-owned manufacturer of military berets in the country and charges the Defense Department $8.64 per beret — 55 cents less if the Pentagon supplies the patches for them.

In the meantime, Goldman wants the Pentagon to make its case about the foreign wool in the berets.

“They say there’s foreign material, but they haven’t been able to prove it to us,” Goldman told the Leader in an interview.
He said all the materials he has bought have been certified as being domestic and in compliance with the Berry Amendment, a six-decade old rule that military clothing must be American made.

“What more could I do?” Goldman asked, referring to the certification he passed on to the military.

“It was news to me,” he said about the military’s accusation that the berets contained foreign wool. “I was quite surprised.”
According to one Bancroft employee, the supplier had sent Bancroft wool from South America when it became unavailable from his main supplier, which Bancroft didn’t know about.

But Bancroft has changed suppliers since the allegations were made about the foreign materials.
Bancroft will use Crescent Woolen of Wisconsin, instead of the previous supplier, R.M. Ott of Boston.
If Ott used imported wool, it was without his knowledge, Goldman insists.

What’s more, the military had not complained before about the materials in the berets, he said.
“We went over all our purchasing agreements,” he said. “They signed off on them.”
He doesn’t know why the military started examining the contents of Bancroft’s berets, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility of a whistle-blower turning him in.

He blames much of Bancroft’s problems on the military, which ordered more berets than it needs.

The Leader reported this week that the military has a year’s supply of berets. Including Bancroft’s disputed 340,000 berets, plus the 36,000 he intends to produce this year, Goldman thinks the military may have four years of berets.
He said the war in Iraq has hurt his business because the military needs more helmets than berets.

Bancroft has been making berets in Cabot since 1976. He said despite a for-lease sign in front of the plant on Hwy. 367, he had no intention of shutting down but only leasing part of the building while his business was in a slump.

Speculation that Bancroft had shut down was fueled by an absence of workers at the plant in December.
“We always close for Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” Goldman said.

EVENTS>>Winter 2007

The first meeting for the Cabot Mayor’s Fitness Challenge will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb.1 at the Veterans’ Park Community Center, 508 North Lincoln. No meeting will be held Feb. 22. Fitness Challenge meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month.
The Mayor’s Fitness Challenge costs $1 per month, and it is a program set up to offer support to those who would like to make healthier choices. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate.
For more information, contact Karen Davis at 843-3566.

There will be a meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1 at Cabot Community Center for those interested in helping to plan Cabot’s next Christmas parade. The purpose of the meeting will be to form a new group made up of citizens of Cabot who want to have a great parade.

The Community Bank Concert Series at Arkansas State University-Beebe will host Ain’t I a Woman! on Friday, Feb. 2. Ain’t I a Woman! celebrates the life and times of four powerful African-American women: renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer. The show tours throughout the U.S. during Black History Month and Women’s History Month.
Ticket prices are $10 per concert event. Senior citizens tickets are $8, and student ticket prices are $3. Alumni Association members may purchase tickets for $9 per event. All concert series events begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the Owen Center Theater on the Beebe campus at the corner of Orange and West College Streets. The Theater Box Office will open at 6:45 p.m. for 7:30 p.m. events, with seating beginning at 7 p.m. Season ticket holders may be seated in rows 1-11 of the center section. All other seats are general admission. Vacant seats will be released to the public 10 minutes before curtain time.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call the ticket office at (501) 882-8351.

The youth of Cabot United Methodist Church are selling tickets for smoked pork butts. The cost is $20 and they may be purchased through the church office. The pork should be picked up immediately following the 8:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. worship services on Sunday, Feb. 4 (just in time to feed your Super Bowl party!) Proceeds from the sale will go toward Ozark Mission Project and youth retreat scholarships. For more information, contact Denise Wilson in the church office at 843-3541.

Simply Delicious Restaurant at North Pulaski High School is taking orders for Valentine Sweetheart cakes available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry and iced with buttercream frosting for only $5 each.
Cakes can be personalized with a message with up to 12 letters.
To place an order stop by the restaurant during school hours or call 241-2260. The deadline to order is Friday, Feb. 9.

Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) is sponsoring an essay contest for seventh- and eight-grade students in Pulaski County in celebration of the River Rail extension to the Clinton Presidential Library and Heifer International.
The title of the essay is “How Public Transportation Benefits My Community.” The deadline to submit essays is 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12. Entry forms and essay rules may be obtained by going to CAT’s Web site,, or by calling 501-375-6717.
Essay winners will be awarded $100 for first place, $50 for second, and $25 for third. Each winner will also receive 10 River Rail passes. Winners of the contest will be recognized on Feb. 16 when city and county officials dedicate Phase II of River Rail service at the new streetcar stop located at World Avenue and Third Street.

The Miss Lonoke Pageant will be held Saturday, March 3. Deadline for entry is Feburary 16. Miss Arkansas Amber Bennett will be MC and entertainment. Applications are available at Lonoke Schools and Lil Hair Hut. For details contact Janette Boyles @ 676-0138 or Crystal Payne @ 676-0434.  

EDITORIALS>>A victory for free speech

The Arkansas Supreme Court handed a big victory to Appeals Court Judge Wendell Griffen Thursday and a small one to the people of Arkansas. Or we may have it reversed.

Judge Griffen has been fighting to preserve his good reputation, which he thought required the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to give him an open hearing before it charges him with violating judicial ethics, a hearing that he and all the people of Arkansas who elect judges might be able to follow.

The Supreme Court finally said that Griffen deserved it. Not everyone necessarily, but at least him. If he wants the public to hear it all, the justices said, then he’s entitled to have that happen, too.

The commission and its executive director, James Badami, have been trying for years to pin a formal rebuke or worse on Judge Griffen’s resume because on a few occasions in the 10 years that he has been on the Arkansas Court of Appeals a remark that he made about some national or state issue got into the public prints somewhere. The commission’s first rebuke, years ago, was overturned by the state Supreme Court.

The state canon of ethics for judges said judges or candidates for judge should not take public stands on political matters, but the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that such canons violate the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. It said freedom of speech applied to judges as well as everyone else.

Badami wanted to make another pass at formally rebuking Griffen in spite of the rulings of the state and federal high courts so he undertook a fresh investigation last year while Griffen was running for a seat on the Supreme Court. The splash of publicity about his being under investigation for judicial misconduct helped torpedo that campaign.

The commission and its director wanted to hold a preliminary hearing on the accusations against Griffen in secret, citing its own rules that the proceedings were to be confidential.

But the purpose of the confidentiality is to protect accused judges from harsh publicity if the accusations later turn out to be false. Griffen waived the confidentiality.

He revealed that the commission was investigating him and he wanted people to know everything that he was accused of and exactly how Badami, the commission and he handled the issues.

There seemed to be a fundamental principle at stake: a man’s right to have people see what the government was doing to him. High station should not mean forfeiture of that right. You would think that an agency bound to enforce ethical conduct in public office would be most eager to honor that principle.

The Supreme Court did not rule on the basis of such a cherished doctrine. Rather, it said, if the commission and Badami had given any reason whatever for maintaining secrecy in the matter the court might have entertained it.

But they provided no justification, not even a hint of what benefit might be advanced or what right might be protected by closed doors.

It was a sweet victory for Griffen, who has already been savaged repeatedly by the editorial page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette over the investigation. At a religious forum (he is a Baptist minister) or another over the past three years, Griffen had criticized President Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq, the U.S. Justice Department’s interference with the privacy of Americans and the government’s handling of the crisis after Hurricane Katrina, and he mentioned early last year that he would like to see a higher minimum wage for Arkansas workers.

Like Badami, the newspaper thought Griffen should be punished for uttering those ideas. Censure would be tantamount to ending his judicial career.

Griffen and free speech are still in jeopardy, but we may thank the honorable justices for preserving this small vestige of it, the right to a public airing of an overreaching government’s case against a public servant.

OBITUARIES >> 01-27-07

James Deweese
James A. “Jimmy” Deweese, Jr., 42, of Romance died Jan.24 as a result of an automobile accident. He was born June 5, 1964, at Winchester, Tenn., to James and Estella Helphingstine Deweese.

He was a construction engineer for Entergy, and a member of Lighthouse Pentecostal Church where he served on the church board.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Teague Deweese; one daughter, Emily Deweese and one son, Gabriel Deweese of the home; his parents, James A., Sr. and Estella Deweese of Beebe; two brothers, Jeremy Deweese of Searcy and Stephen Deweese of Beebe; one sister, Michelle Day of Beebe; three nieces, five nephews and a host of other family and friends.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 at the church, with burial in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. Arrangements are by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Margaret Thompson
Margaret Mae Uhrich Thompson, 78, of Little Rock died Jan. 21. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard Thompson.

Survivors include her daughter, Sharon and her husband Paul; grandchildren, Jeff, Bob, and Stephanie; and great grandchildren Alissa, Aaron and Zachary; four brothers, Lawrence, Norman, Ray, Roger and three sisters Delores, Clara, and Catherine.

The family wishes to thank Southwest Homes Residential Care Center staff for the love showed to Margaret.

Memorials may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, 7509 Cantrell Road, Suite 100, Little Rock, Ark., 72207.

Funeral services were Jan. 24 at North Little Rock Funeral Home. Burial was in Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

SPORTS >>Four local athletes honored with postseason selection

IN SHORT: Norvel Gabriel, Colin Fuller, James Kee and Luke Tribble were picked by the East All-Star coaches to play in the All-Star football game later this summer.

Leader sports writers

Four local football players have been named to the 2007 Arkansas High School All Star team.

Jacksonville defensive end Norvel Gabriel was an automatic selection after being named the 6A-East’s Outstanding Lineman. Cabot all-purpose player Colin Fuller and a pair of Harding Academy Wildcats joined Gabriel on the East All Star team. Wildcat quarterback Luke Tribble and All-State lineman James Kee were also selected to compete with the East squad.

Fuller did everything for Cabot in his senior season. He was the team’s leading rusher while also playing a pivotal role on defense and handling much of the punting and kicking duties for the Panthers. He was also the team’s main return man on punts and kickoff returns.

He carried 168 times for 836 yards and 11 touchdowns as a halfback and fullback in Cabot’s Dead T offense. He also caught 14 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

He had a phenomenal 12-yard punt return average, returning eight punts for 97 yards. He returned 14 kickoffs for 302 yards for a 21.6 average.

He averaged 32 yards per punt this season and made his only field-goal attempt, a 36-yarder.

On defense he finished the season with 30 tackles and three interceptions.

Norvel Gabriel was the league’s dominant defensive linemen, and his statistics prove why he was an automatic selection.
He recorded 119 total tackles that included 72 assists and 47 solo take-downs. He forced four fumbles and recovered three, deflected four passes and intercepted one. He blocked two kicks, had seven quarterback hurries, sacked the quarterback six times for –28 yards, had nine other tackles for –32 total yards lost.

He also made three tackles on fourth down short of first-down yardage.

His offensive totals weren’t immediately available, but Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said he caught five or six passes. None was bigger than a pivotal fourth-down reception in Jacksonville’s come-from-behind win over West Memphis.

James Kee had a dominant year as Harding Academy’s nose guard in 2006. Kee had 52 solo tackles, including 12 tackles for a loss, along with one fumble recovery.

Kee’s defining moment of the season came in the final seconds of regulation in round two of the 3A state playoffs against Hector, in which he led a goal-line stand for the Wildcats. Kee got past the Hector front line to stop the runner just short of the goal to prevent a go-ahead touchdown. The Wildcats went on to advance with a double-overtime win thanks to Kee’s effort at the goal line.

Luke Tribble led the Wildcats offensively during the 2006 season as starting quarterback. Tribble took over the job from departing older brother Zack, who is now a Harding Bison.

Tribble completed 211 of 360 pass attempts for 33 touchdowns. He passed and rushed for a combined 2,874 all-purpose yards en route to a 13-1 semifinal year for Harding Academy.

The East team will be led this year by Wynne head coach Don Campbell. Campbell’s assistants will be Paul Calley of Bryant, Mark Uhiren of Marion, Dave Williams of Pocahontas, Harrisburg’s Keith Davis, Mark Tree’s Tim Branum and Campell’s assistant from Wynne, Ray Shempert.

They will be taking on a West squad led by Rogers head coach Ronnie Peacock. Peacock will bring his assistant Brian Little along, as well as Bill Keopple from Texarkana, Buddy Greason of Morrilton, Ozark’s Michael Johnson, Mark Headley of Lavaca and D.J. Crane of Danville.

SPORTS >>JHS siblings going to college level

IN SHORT: Somer Grimes and sister Whitney Grimes signed to play college softball.

Leader sports writer

Jacksonville High School softball standouts Whitney and Somer Grimes will continue their educations and softball careers to the east and west of Arkansas starting in the fall. Somer will be heading west to attend Mid America Christian University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as part of the newly re-vamped Lady Evangels softball program.

Whitney will attend Southwest Tennessee Community College, where she will play as a Lady Saluqi.

The two signed their letters of intent Thursday afternoon in the JHS library in front of classmates, faculty and media. Lady Red Devils softball coach Tanya Ganey addressed the full room prior to the signing, giving insight to the significance of the sisters’ big day.

“We’re making history today at Jacksonville High School,” Ganey said. “These will be female scholarships number 52 and 53 from the athletic department. We are happy that these young ladies have been a part of our program, and we are very excited to see them have the opportunity to become better persons, better students, and better athletes.”

MACU coach Jerald Lewis and SWTCC coach Keith Genty both addressed the audience briefly on their excitement over their pickups before Ganey instructed the girls to “sign their lives away.”

Although they are headed in different directions geographically, both Whitney and Somer are walking into similar situations with the up-and-coming programs. Gentry, now in his fourth year as Lady Salukis head coach, has had to virtually build the program from the ground up. He says the addition of Whitney will be a great asset to his program.

“I am already excited about next year,” Gentry said. “Having a player of Whitney’s caliber will be very beneficial to us. The fact that she can play at several positions is a big plus for us. We need players with versatility, and Whitney will be a big boost for our program.”

Whitney is listed as an all-around utility player, with her primary position at short stop. She has been a four-year starter for the Lady Red Devils, earning All-Conference honors her ninth and 10th grade seasons. Whitney’s batting average at JHS was .450, and she was a part of the 2003 USSSA world championship fast-pitch team.

“The coach is a really awesome guy,” Whitney said. “We just talked, and he showed me around the campus. The campus has a beautiful atmosphere; it’s one of the first things that caught my eye. It is a big campus.”

Somer’s future coach says she is a perfect fit for his program, not just on the field, but in the classroom as well. The Lady Evangels softball program actually came to a halt a few years back, but Lewis was brought in to start the program over last season. Somer is actually his second signee for the season, and the third female athletic scholarship recipient in the school’s history.

“We are trying to find people who are great students first and great players second,” Lewis said. “And Somer is that person. We are proud and honored to have Somer come and be a part of our program, and her family as well.”

Somer has been All-State in her sophomore and junior years, as well as a member of the National Honor Society academically. The southpaw has primarily been a catcher, but has also seen time at first base and centerfield. Her high-school batting average is .478, and she has also played on five USSSA world championship teams.

“I chose MACU for its Christian environment,” Somer said. “I love the opportunity to be with a small group of people, and coach Lewis is really nice guy.”

Although Whitney’s high school career is over, Somer and the Lady Red Devils will take to the field in the coming weeks to bid for the 6A-East title. Both Somer and Whitney were a big part of the conference runner-up teams of the past two seasons.

SPORTS >>Lady Badgers, Falcons cruise to 5A-East wins

IN SHORT: The NP Falcons beat Beebe at home Tuesday for their third league victory.

Leader sports writer

Local 5A-East teams Beebe and North Pulaski squared off Tuesday night in Jacksonville, resulting in a 72-52 win for the Lady Badgers and a 62-35 rout for North Pulaski in the boys game.

Youth was king on Tuesday at the North Pulaski gym, as sophomore Ty O’Neil led the Lady Badgers to the win with a 22-point performance, and NP freshman Aaron Cooper had a near-flawless shooting percentage from the outside to lead the Falcons with 18 points during their easy win.

The younger of the Cooper brothers went four of six from three-point range in the contest, doing most of his outside damage in the opening minutes of both halves. Fellow freshman Da Quen Bryant also turned in a solid performance for North Pulaski with seven points and nine rebounds.

Bryant had trouble containing Beebe senior post Jordan Geirach, but held Beebe’s other big guy, Dante Miles, without a single point. Geirach finished with 16 points to lead Beebe, but any further offensive highlights for the Badgers were few and far between.

NP coach Raymond Cooper attributed the improved performance to his team sticking to their proper assignments, something he voiced displeasure over after the loss to Greene County Tech.

“The last time out, we had guys playing outside of their roles,” Cooper said. “You have guys that rebound, guys that shoot, and guys that pass, and we had to get that defined. I think we have that pretty much straightened out now.”
Cooper was much happier with the overall effort, but says he is still looking for more effort from the subs.

“When we put the bench in, those guys are going to have to come in and at least maintain,” Cooper said. “That’s one point we are going to have to look at before the next game, but overall, I thought our focus and intensity were much better, as well as our execution.”

Bryant used his unusually large frame for a ninth-grader to out-board both Geirach and Miles, often holding the Badgers to a single shot attempt during their possessions. Bryant’s control of the inside mixed with Aaron Cooper’s hot hand and older brother Quinn’s floor leadership proved too much for Beebe, as the Falcons had taken over with a 48-29 lead by the end of the third quarter.

“I didn’t envision having to use two freshmen this much at the start of the season,” Cooper said. “They have both done a good job of sharing and stepping up when we’ve needed them to. Part of it was out of necessity, but they have done well. They’re just like any freshmen, kind of up and down, but tonight they played with confidence, and hopefully that will continue.”

The only real threat from the Badgers came in the second quarter. North Pulaski gave most of the starters a rest, and Beebe took advantage with a 10-0 run in the final 4:49 of the first half. Beebe sophomore Zack Kersey scored all of his total seven points in the final two minutes of the period, along with an inside basket and free throw from Geirach. The strong run late in the first half allowed Beebe to pull within six at the intermission, 31-25, but when the NP starters returned to start the second half, the rout was on once again.

Other double-digit scorers in the game included Quinn Cooper with 13 points for North Pulaski, and Charlie Spakes with 10 for the Badgers. The win gives the Falcons records of 8-7 overall and 3-2 in the 5A-East, while Beebe fell to 3-12 and 0-5 on the season.

The girls game was controlled by the Lady Badgers from start to finish, with a steady lead-increase through the entire 32 minutes. Beebe shut down the entire NP squad in the final quarter with the exception of junior guard Neshia Ridgeway, who scored eight of her total 24 points in the last frame. Ridgeway also gave an impressive performance at the free-throw line with 11 of 14 attempts made.

Senior forward Tamara Rhodes also finished with double-digits for the Lady Falcons with 12 points. Along with O’Neil’s 22-point performance, Emily Bass added 16 points for the Lady Badgers.

Lady Badgers coach Lara Jackson had mixed feelings about her team’s performance on the night.

“Overall, I’m disappointed that our defense allowed 52 points,” Jackson said. “We’ve been holding our opponents to 35 and 40 points a game. Offensively, I felt like we did what we needed to do, we pushed the ball down the floor and made them play faster.”

It was the fourth straight league win for the Lady Badgers, moving their record to 8-7 overall and 4-1 in the 5A-East. The loss gives the Lady Falcons records of 2-15 and 0-5.

Beebe played Blytheville at home last night, and will host Batesville on Tuesday. North Pulaski traveled to Nettleton last night, and will also be on the road Tuesday against Wynne.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Murphy Oil giving back

Talk about corporate citizenship. Murphy Corp., the global oil company headquartered at El Dorado, defined it this week when the company announced that for the next 20 years it would pay college tuition and fees for every son and daughter of the city, rich or poor, black or white, scholar or struggler.

People in the old oil town — now bust town in some respects because the nearby sands are about depleted of oil — cheered and wept when the company made the announcement. We confess to fighting a tear or two ourselves, although we know none of the thousands of beneficiaries of Murphy’s philanthropy. So many Arkansas towns need hope. How do you infuse a whole community with hope?

This is how. Surely the next morning every child in every class was told, your future is assured and starting today it’s up to you. We do not call Murphy’s gesture charity for it is not that. It is both payback and investment. Murphy, although it is not a giant among the energy companies, is a very profitable company, 193rd among the Fortune 500, and it got its start in the woods and fields around El Dorado and northern Louisiana and thanks to the toil of generations of roughnecks, pipefitters, clerks and accountants. Their grandchildren will now get a free college education.

There is a story behind these scholarships that we can only surmise because the announcement did not tell it. Charlie Murphy, the elder, started a lumber company in the first years of the 20th century and drilled a well across the border in Louisiana in 1907. Murphy began oil exploration in earnest in the late 1930s after H. L. Hunt had bagged his first fortune in the south Arkansas oil fields. Soon afterward, Murphy was felled by a stroke and turned the company over to his son, Charles H. Murphy Jr., then only 21. The younger could not go to college, so he educated himself in foreign languages and the classics. Meantime, he built the company and took it public in 1957. He took the company’s rigs to the North Sea, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, New South Wales and the Louisiana and Mississippi offshore.

Though largely self-educated, Murphy regretted his inability to get a college education when the burdens settled on him at such an early age, and he came to prize it above nearly all else. He served a decade on the state Board of Higher Education, where he championed a liberal education, tolerance and broad opportunities for kids to get a college education. Murphy died five years ago. This, we imagine, is how he would have wanted his legacy to be defined.

“The El Dorado Promise” is patterned on a program in Kalamazoo, Mich., where a few anonymous donors set up a scholarship program for Kalamazoo kids to attend public universities in Michigan. Murphy is going to pay for kids to go anywhere in the world for a degree up to the limit of the cost of tuition and fees at the most expensive Arkansas public university, now about $12,000 a year.

Bob Watson, the superintendent at El Dorado, described the Murphy promise as “absolutely the best thing that could happen to public education.” It would be hard to think of anything that should matter more. We predict that standardized test scores in El Dorado public schools will begin to rise. Watson expected the college-going rate to rise 20 percent or more. Murphy’s perpetual good deed is an example for the other titans who express a concern for public education but who invest their money in false schemes that harm the public schools and minimize learning: charter schools, private-school vouchers and incentives that force teachers to drill children all year long on standardized tests so that the teachers might claim a small bonus at year’s end.

Would that every town in Arkansas, especially in the poverty-ridden Delta, had a Murphy Corp. or a few worthy corporate citizens who had a similar vision about what to achieve with their extra fortunes. The legislature could go home and the Supreme Court could declare Arkansas schools constitutional.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >>Charge Atilla the Huck for his vandalism

The national media will one day catch up with Mike Huckabee’s vandalism during his last days in office, when the former governor ordered underlings to smash computer hard drives costing Arkansas taxpayers thousands of dollars. “None of it passes the smell test,” Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley told us Tuesday. “That’s public property. Why would you have to overwrite it seven times and then destroy the hard drives?”

Jegley doesn’t know if a crime has been committed, but he said, “I don’t like our hard-earned tax dollars spent that way.”
He said no one has asked him to investigate, but he thought the appropriate agencies would be the Little Rock Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police. “If the appropriate predicates are in place, we’ll pursue it,” the prosecutor said. “We’ll call it as we see it.”

Jegley, who criticized Huckabee in the past for his wanton pardons and clemencies, is worried there will be gaps in the public record because Huckabee wiped out so much information. The suspicion is the former governor had something to hide, and he didn’t want his successor to find out. Many government officials think computers they’ve used and abused over the years should be theirs for the taking — look at how former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh’s staff erased vital information from his computers — but the damage Huckabee did is more serious and deserves at least a preliminary police investigation.

Here’s hoping Jegley, once he has enough to go on, has the guts to pursue Huckabee for destroying state property. Apart from squandering hundreds of thousands of dollars, Huckabee made some of the worst appointments to state agencies. In addition to the notorious Larry Zeno, who had to leave the state parole board for harassing women on the job and storing pornography on his state computer, Huckabee appointed two unqualified people to one of the most important state agencies, the Department of Emergency Management: Bud Harper, who was let go for goofing around on his office computer, and his successor, former Jacksonville Police Chief Wayne Rutheven, who quickly left the agency to pursue “a new professional opportunity.”

Huckabee is running as a niche candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, hoping to capture the religious-right vote, which will probably go for Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who is much better known than Huckabee and has shown more character than our ex-governor.

When the Republican faithful across the country find out about Huckabee’s record in Arkansas — computers smashed, office furniture stolen, lavish payoffs to special-interest groups, midnight pardons and paroles — primary and caucus voters in New Hampshire Iowa will wonder just what religion it is that he represents. It’s not one they would join.

SPORTS>>Lady Panthers win Ortho make-up

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers lost another close game in 7A-Central Conference play on Friday with a 54-52 loss to Bryant. The Panthers trailed the entire distance in the contest, but stayed within striking range. Bryant took its biggest lead after the opening quarter 15-9, and kept the interval at six points through the second frame to take a 26-20 lead at the intermission.
Cabot closed the gap in the third quarter, and held on to a one-score deficit for most of the remainder.

“The hump was really three points most of the second half, but we had a hard time catching up to them,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said. “I thought we gave a good effort and played well defensively, which is something we know we have to work on.”
The sophomore combination of Adam Sterrenberg and Austin Johnson led the way in scoring for the Panthers in the game. Sterrenberg led with 18 points, followed by Johnson with 10. Both players grabbed eight rebounds in the game. Sam Bates had eight points in the game, with senior post Alex Sharp adding six points for Cabot. The loss gives Cabot an 8-10 overall record and 1-4 in the 7A-Central Conference.

Bridges says the three close conference losses so far have been somewhat aggravating, but in no way has dampened the spirits of his team. “It’s been very frustrating,” Bridges said. “We’ve lost two of them by a point and this one by two points, but we’re not giving up. We’re there, we just improve on our defense, which has really been the biggest problem for us. The good thing about the conference is you get to see everybody twice. We’re hoping that we can steal some games and get into one of those playoff spots.”

The Cabot ladies got not jut one, but two big wins over the weekend. The Lady Panthers downed Bryant 65-49 Friday with a 17 point performance from Jamie Sterrenberg and 14 points for junior Lauren Walker, but the most noteworthy performance for Cabot on the weekend was Leah Watts’ 12 points against CAC in the make-up game of the Ortho finals. Cabot went into the final game against the Lady Mustangs looking for redemption after last year’s close loss to CAC in last year’s finals. Watts scored 11 of her total 12 points in the final minutes of the game to lift the Lady Panthers to a 64-62 win to take the tournament title. Watts hit a trio of three pointers in the late going, and a pair of free throws to seal the game.

Cabot ended up with four players in double figures in the well-rounded effort. Sterrenberg had her second 17-point performance in as many days against the Lady Mustangs, but it would be Walker who led the team this time with 18 points. Sophomore post Shelby Ashcraft finished with 11 points despite fouling out early in the fourth quarter. Although Razorback signee Whitney Zachariason finished with 29 points in the game for CAC, she would be the only Lady Mustang to finish in double figures. Lady Panthers coach Carla Crowder says there was no concentrated effort to shut down the high-profile player, but rather a game plan that entailed containing the remainder of the CAC squad.

“She gets most of her points at the foul line,” Crowder said. “The best you can do is try to not foul her, but it’s hard not to. We just let her get her points and didn’t let the rest of the team score.” Crowder says after a tough pair of conference losses early, the team is starting to regain its powerhouse status that the Lady Panthers enjoyed through last year’s conference-winning run.

“We’ve played well as a team these last two days,” Crowder said. “We’ve been improving on our defensive rebounds and our assists, that’s been a big key for us. They have really played well together; they have all done unselfish things.” The two wins give the Lady Panthers an overall record of 14-4 and 3-2 in the 7A-Central Conference. Cabot played at Pine Bluff last night, and will host Russellville Friday.

SPORTS>>Jacksonville upset by West Memphis

Leader sportswriter

Perennial powerhouse West Memphis had lost its first four conference games, and looked to be an easy road opponent for Jacksonville. That wasn’t the case. The Blue Devils completely overhauled their system in an attempt to improve a spiraling season, and caught the Red Devils off guard en route to a 60-57 overtime victory. Jacksonville was not expecting the kind of slow, deliberate pace that West Memphis ran Friday night and had trouble adjusting. Making matters worse was the fact that leading scorer Kajaun Watson sat more minutes than he played due to foul trouble.

“They probably threw 20 passes per possession,” Jacksonville coach Victor Joyner said. “Sometimes I bet it was 30. They were running a lot of that Princeton stuff, a lot of cutters and backdoor screens. We were the first ones they did that too, so the rest of the conference is going to have to get ready for a different team from now on.” The Red Devils tried to increase the pace of the game, but fouls hindered them all night. Jacksonville was called for 27 fouls, but good team depth left only one player, Watson, fouled out at the end.

Even with the different offense and the foul trouble, Jacksonville had its chances. The best one came with 15 seconds left and the game tied at 49. Jacksonville guard Terrell Eskridge had two free throws for the lead, but missed both. West Memphis missed a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Jacksonville trailed by three with 14 seconds left in overtime when West Memphis lost the ball out of bounds, but two three pointers missed the mark leaving the Blue Devils with their first conference win of the season, and dropping Jacksonville to 2-2.

Early in the third quarter, Jacksonville succeeded temporarily in increasing the pace. The Red Devils forced a couple of quick turnovers and briefly took a two-point lead. A third steal by LaMarcus Trask left him set up for a layup, but the ball was knocked loose as Trask was shoved forward. West Memphis took the ball the other way, hit a layup and got a foul to reclaim a one-point lead. Jacksonville never led again.

“That play sort of took the wind out of us for a little bit,” Joyner said. “After that we never could get it sped back up because the game was being stopped to shoot free throws every minute. “We didn’t handle that very well. We weren’t shooting well from the outside, but we weren’t throwing it inside again for some reason, I think we threw it in there maybe six times. This team, because of the inexperience, just isn’t patient enough. We got behind, so they started shooting and rushing shots.”
That’s not to say Joyner didn’t find a few things to brag about. Joyner was pleased with the play he got from two sophomore guards, Antonio Washington and LaQuentin Miles.

“They still have to learn to be more patient, but they played pretty well,” Joyner said. “Washington didn’t go crazy out there and throw the ball away. He played under control and did a pretty good job. LaQuentin took some good shots and penetrated well. They just weren’t going in for him. It’s good that guys are stepping up because we’re going to need them.”
Jacksonville has won just one game away from home all season, and that must change this week if it hopes to stay in the conference race.

Due to new bleachers being installed in the Devils’ Den at Jacksonville, the Red Devils won’t play another home game until Feb. 3. “We’re going to have to learn how to deal with being away from home, how to deal with calls on the road. It’s just different. Nothing’s familiar and we’re going to have to learn how to deal with that.”

West Memphis shot more than twice as many free throws as Jacksonville, but the Red Devils did themselves no favors with the opportunities they had. The Blue Devils hit 24 of 35 attempts while Jacksonville made just nine of 17. Eskridge led a balanced scoring attack for Jacksonville with seven points. Six others finished with six for the Red Devils, who are now 9-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

Smith’s 17 points led West Memphis, 6-10, 1-4. The Lady Red Devils had no answer at all for the 16-3 Lady Blue Devils. West Memphis was already up by a mercy-rule margin by halftime at 46-13, and went on to win 84-31. Tarneshia Scott led Jacksonville with 18 points. Jacksonville was at Mountain Home last night after Leader deadlines. They will travel to league-leading Jonesboro Friday.

SPORTS>>Raiders escape Academy

Leader sports editor

The Riverview Lady Raiders pulled off their biggest win of the season, beating Harding Academy 55-39 to move into a second-place tie with the Lady Wildcats in the 3A-2 Conference standings. The win avenged an earlier loss to Academy, and leaves both teams 8-2 in conference play and a game behind Pangburn for first place. The Riverview boys also won to remain undefeated in league play at 10-0 with a 58-46 come-from-behind win. The girls game was close until the fourth quarter, when Riverview outscored Academy 18-4 to turn a 37-35 lead into the 16-point win.

Friday’s game started much the same way as the first meeting back in December. Academy jumped out to an early lead, and took a 14-11 advantage into the second period. That’s about where the similarities ended. Instead of Academy pushing its lead into double digits in the second quarter, Riverview kept it close, and the game went into halftime tied at 25-25. After a nip-and-tuck third quarter, the Lady Raiders exploded in the final frame to seal the victory.

Harding Academy coach Rusty Garner offered no excuses, he simply praised Riverview. “In the fourth quarter, Riverview looked like we were all afraid they could look.” Garner said. “At the same time, we looked about as bad as we were afraid we could look. But I give most of the credit for that to Riverview. They were executing extremely well. They made the extra passes. They just turned it up a notch that we didn’t have that night in the fourth quarter.”

.Riverview coach Russell Stumpenhous was as complimentary as Garner, but was pleased with the effort he got from his team. “I don’t know if we had a notch above them as much as we just had a different notch,” Stumpenhous said. “They’ve got a lot of size and shoot well, so we have to try to play the game out on the court. We were able to do that well in that last quarter. They gave a great effort and they focused well on executing at the same time. I was pleased with it.”

Courtney Webster led the way for the Lady Raiders, scoring a season-high 18 points. Jasmine James added 12 and Kori Meachum 11 for Riverview. Liz Ashley led Academy with 17 points. The Raiders had to climb back from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to make a game of it, and they too pulled away in the fourth to secure the win.

Academy led led 15-10 at the end of the first quarter and led 24-15 with about three minutes left in the half when Riverview went on a 9-0 run to tie it at halftime. The league’s two leading scorers, Riverview’s Tony Hall and Harding Academy’s Alex Beene, were each held in check fairly well, but the Raiders got a lift from point guard Bo Banks, who pitched in 15 points to lead the team. “Tony got into foul trouble and had to sit down a lot,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “That wasn’t the main problem though, we just didn’t play very well, especially early. We played like were tired or something.”

Starkey lamented his team’s slow starts in the last two games, but is relieved his team still found a way to win. “I’ll take it without any doubt, but just kind of don’t like it much,” Starkey said. “I’m not saying we have to beat everybody by 20. I’d just like to see us start better and not put ourselves in a situation where we have to dig out of a hole.” Not everyone started slowly for Riverview. Point guard Bo Banks scored eight of the Raider’s 10 points in the opening frame.

With Hall on the bench late, Dominique Baker scored seven of his nine in the fourth period. “We’re not playing like I’d like for us to, but people are stepping up when we need them to,” Starkey said. “That’s something we need for the time being. Hopefully we’ll get past this little stumble here and start getting back to playing really well in time for the playoffs.” The Riverview defense held Beene to 17 points, which is ok considering his 25-point average.

“I thought we did ok,” Starkey said. “He just has a way of scoring. He didn’t get anything easy, He hits some shots that just make you shake your head.” Senior guard Luke Tribble scored 14 for Academy. Hall followed Banks’ lead with 14 points for Riverview. Ben Jones came off the bench to score six points on six of six foul shooting. The Raiders, 18-4 overall, made 18 of 21 free throws in the game.

The loss dropped Academy to 8-9 and 5-5. The Raiders went to Brinkley last night and will host Rose Bud Friday.
Academy hosted Abundant Life last night and will host Brinkley Friday.

TOP STORY >>Air Force officers face reductions

Leader staff writer

It’s too early to know how the Air Force’s current reduction in force for officers will affect Little Rock Air Force Base, according to Capt. David Faggard, public information officer. “We don’t know until early February what career fields and what people will be affected,” he said. “Right now, it’s just a message for people to be prepared, for people thinking about voluntary early retirement. He said the reduction in force board will consider officers with six to 12 years of service and determine “where the (jobs in question) will be racked and stacked.”

“While the goal has been to reduce active-duty end strength through voluntary programs where possible, if at the end of the extended Voluntary Separation Pay application window the (fiscal year) 2007 goal has not been reached, the remaining losses will be achieved through an officer RIF board in June 2007,” said Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.

“Those who are not eligible for the VSP are not susceptible to the RIF,” said Maj. Jackie, 314th Airlift Wing Military Personnel Flight commander. “Commanders should have an honest, frank discussion with their officers on the reality of promotion and retention in the Air Force.” Bieker also said more details would be coming out in early February, but encouraged all officers to review the Air Force Personnel Center’s Website to see a list of potential overage career fields. “The window for officers to voluntarily separate was extended from January 31 to March 31, 2007,” Major Bieker said.

As of Dec. 28, the service had approved just over 1,800 applicants for the program. The RIF board process is expected to achieve approximately 1,000 officer reductions. Officers not selected for retention will be separated by Jan. 29, 2008.
“Officers meeting a promotion board during this time are not eligible,” the major said. Force shaping is not simply about reducing numbers, however.

“The Air Force is in transition and we must focus on optimizing our force structure,” Brady said. “Through voluntary separations, attrition, adjustments to accessions, retraining, and a RIF board, we can ensure we have the number of officers we need, in the right career fields, and with the right level of expertise. I encourage all commanders to conduct frank discussions with their officers concerning their vulnerability for the RIF board.” In 2004, the Air Force had 372,000 active-duty Airmen. Today, the service has about 347,300. Through force shaping, the goal is to reduce that number by another 31,000 to about 316,000 by fiscal year 2009. In fiscal year 2007 alone, the Air Force has over 5,500 projected officer losses (about 70 percent of the goal) and 16,500 projected enlisted losses (almost 50 percent of the goal).

These losses reflect the combination of targeted force shaping and normal attrition, which total over 30,000 each year.

TOP STORY >>Austin council passes budget

Leader staff writer

The Austin City Council approved the city’s $314,550 budget for 2007 Monday night, which Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said was just a “guestimate” right now and amounts could be changed later. The budget includes a 5 percent pay raise for city employees, except for police officers. The police officers were given a raise of about 40 cents. Pay rates for the lowest-paid officers went from $7.50 an hour to $8.50 an hour; that will also be the starting pay for any new officers.

The highest-paid officer will now make $10 an hour. Austin’s water and sewer in-spectors will also receive an additional 35 cents per license on top of the 5 percent raise. The city’s expenses, including all salaries and insurance, are estimated to be $303,500. A motion was also passed to allow the police department to make two full-time officer slots available. The Austin Fire Department was presented a resolution from the city of Cabot and Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson for their assistance in battling the Aug. 10 fire that destroyed Cabot Junior High North.

Trying to function without a city recorder and treasurer is a tough job, just ask Mayor Chamberlain. She’s had four and the position is currently vacant. “One was never sworn in…too many,” Chamberlain told the city council during Monday night’s meeting. Alderman Laurel Carnes served as recorder during the meeting. The council was in agreement that a recorder/treasurer was needed and approved splitting the responsibilities between two people – a recorder/treasurer and an hourly bookkeeper.

The recorder/treasurer, who must live in Austin, will have to attend all council meetings, sign the city checks and supervise the bookkeeping and will work no more than 10 hours each month and be paid $100 a month. The bookkeeper, who does not have to be an Austin resident, will work a maximum of 30 hours a week at $8 per hour; the hours will be cut back once the city’s books are up-to-date.

TOP STORY >>Panel recommends $8.4M Cabot budget

Leader staff writer

It took a committee of five Cabot aldermen just one hour Monday night to unanimously approve Mayor Eddie Joe Williams’ proposed $8.4 million budget for 2007. By Tuesday morning Williams had called a meeting of the full council for 6 p.m. Wednesday to pass his spending plan, which includes five percent raises for most employees, a three percent raise for himself and a $672,297 savings account for future capital expenditures.

As for 2007, there will be no new police cars or fire trucks and no new employees in either fire or police. Alderman Eddie Cook, who chairs the council’s budget and personnel committee, praised the new mayor for presenting the committee with a budget that needed no work, only a quick review. Cook explained to the committee that Williams told his department heads to either make cuts in their own budgets, or the committee would do it for them. The result was a balanced city budget that would not require hours and hours of work before the council could accept it.

But by Tuesday morning, the goodwill was beginning to disintegrate. Alderman Becky Lemaster, one of the members of the budget committee, said she regretted her “yes” vote for the proposed budget. Lemaster said unlike other members of the committee, she did not get a copy of the proposed budget before the meeting. And she learned only after she reviewed it Tuesday morning that several positions were being cut in public works. Among those who will be dismissed, she said, is Jack McNally, who was hired by former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh as a combination safety officer and code-enforcement officer.
Lemaster said as she understood it, there would be no cuts. But Williams says he has always known he would have to cut positions to reduce expenses enough to save money for future projects like streets and a new fire station.

“This city is in trouble financially,” Williams said. McNally, who was Stumbaugh’s campaign manager when he ran for mayor, came under fire last year after two former residents said they believed McNally overstepped the bounds of his job as code enforcement officer and in the guise of cleaning up, took possessions from their homes. A police investigation essentially showed that McNally committed no criminal act, but residents might have cause for civil lawsuits.

Lemaster, who replaced Alderman Odis Waymack, the council member who brought McNally’s questioned activity to light, said she has observed McNally while he worked and she can attest that he has done a good job and provided a valuable service to the city. A city of 22,000 people needs more than the one code enforcement officer that will be left in public works if Williams’ proposed budget passes, Lemaster said.

Lemaster said the city had several safety violations when McNally was hired in 2003, but working conditions are much improved now. “We’re cutting the safety guy who is responsible for digging us out of the hole,” she said. “It looks like it’s vindictive to me. I want what’s best for the city, and I don’t think this is it.”

“It had nothing to do with Jack McNally. It was by seniority,” Williams said Tuesday afternoon in defense of his budget cuts.
The mayor said he has looked at other cities the size of Cabot and most don’t have more than one code-enforcement officer.
To take up any slack, he is requiring building inspectors to cross train in code enforcement, he said. Williams said that even though public works will lose the most employees if his budget is approved, all departments except police and fire will lose some and all who are cut will be the employees with the least seniority as recommended by the Municipal League, which advises the city on legal matters.

Williams said he has chosen not to cut police and fire personnel because it costs so much to train them. However, if people quit, their positions won’t be filled this year.

TOP STORY >>Mayor removes graffiti

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams was out Saturday painting over the racial slur that was spray-painted on the Highland Boulevard home of a military member stationed in Iraq. “It’s despicable,” the mayor said. “It doesn’t represent the heart of Cabot, and we are not going to tolerate it.” “It’s sad that at this time in the world people still hang on to those ideas,” the mayor added. After the mayor painted over the derogatory phrase, he said Monday a professional painter was hired to go out and repaint the door.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter, along with another incident that may be considered hate crimes. Marcel Williams, who was stunned after she found her home vandalized, said when she stepped outside with her 11-year-old son for the school bus last Friday morning, he told her something was painted on the garage door. Because of a disability, he could not tell what it said, but Mrs. Williams could not believe what she saw – “move nigga” in black spray paint.
She went inside and called 911.

“If it was a prank, it’s not funny,” Mrs. Williams, who is an African-American, said. “It’s not funny whatsoever. I don’t know who did it or why, but I’d like the people who did it caught.” Mrs. Williams and her family — including her husband, TSgt. Henry Williams, a crew chief with the 332nd Electronics Maintenance Group, who arrived in Iraq over the weekend — moved to Cabot last May and have never had any problems with others about their being black, she said. “This doesn’t make me have second thoughts about living in Cabot. It doesn’t matter where you live, if someone violates your home. A crime is a crime,” Mrs. Williams said. “I like my house, I like the area we live in,” she added.

Mrs. Williams said she told both Mayor Williams and Police Chief Jackie Davis that she wanted the crime solved and “not pushed under the rug.” “I hope something can and will be done about this,” Mrs. Williams said. Mrs. Williams said her neighbors had been absolutely supportive since the ordeal and that she had also received support from the local Little Rock Air Force Base community. While canvassing neighbors Saturday for information about the vandalism of the Williams’ home, a Cabot police officer learned of a second incident.

Erica Baker, on active duty with the Army who lives on North Hills, a block away from Williams’ home, told the officer she found a noose hanging from a tree in her front yard Friday morning when she was leaving her house. In the loop was a newspaper article about Martin Luther King, Jr., and segregation. Baker also told the officer that she was unable to get heat at her home and after contacting the gas company found that someone had turned off the gas to her residence, according to the police report.

The investigation is ongoing for both reports and extra patrol has been added to the neighborhood. According to Sgt. Brent Lucas with the Cabot Police Department, officers have not found any connection between the two incidents. “Nothing has been found yet to give the officers any leads,” Lucas said.

TOP STORY >>Pentagon will need new beret supplier

Leader staff writer

Bancroft Cap Co. in Cabot, the only company currently under contract with the Department of Defense to supply the U.S. military black berets, has dropped the hat and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court, forcing the Pentagon to look for a new domestic supplier. There may not be another U.S. company that can supply the military with 100 percent domestic materials, which was Bancroft’s downfall: It got caught mixing domestic and foreign wool and leather, which is in violation of U.S. law.

But the Pentagon has enough berets to last till the end of the year, a military spokesperson told The Leader. When the Pentagon demanded return of more than a million dollars that it had paid Bancroft for berets with foreign materials — as The Leader reported earlier this month — the troubled company realized it had no choice but to file for bankruptcy protection. On Tuesday, Christina DiMemmo, a military spokesperson, said the procurement agency was aware of the bankruptcy. Asked who will supply the required two black berets for every member of the Army and Air Force if Bancroft goes out of business because it can’t pay its debts, DiMemmo said she didn’t know, but she would find out if there are other companies that can gear up for production.

The company opened for business in 1967 and closed its doors a month ago. In filing Jan. 16, the company listed assets of $3.9 million and liabilities of $1.9 million. Among its creditors are Cabot businesses like Alarm Works of AR, Inc., Arkansas Auto Sprinkler, Cabot Handy Hardware and Express Printing, which are owed from $10 to several hundred dollars. Shippers like UPS (owed more than $11,000) are also included, as are the suppliers of the materials the company needed to make its berets, caps and other products, such as insulated cloth coolers and embroidered clothing. If the court grants Bancroft Chapter 11 protection, creditors will not be allowed to collect what is owed them except through the court. Generally, companies keep operating through the except through the court. Generally, companies keep operating through the bankruptcy.

Not listed among the creditors is the Department of Defense, the company’s biggest customer, which alleges that Bancroft owes the government repayment for 340,000 black berets at about $4 each which were shipped before March 2006. Those berets were paid for and then later found to contain either foreign wool or leather and therefore unacceptable. Whether Bancroft concedes that its berets contained materials not produced in the U.S. is not known because repeated attempts to contact owner Barry Goldman have failed.

Diana Stewart, chief of corporate communications with Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, a procurement agency for the Department of Defense, said earlier this month that Bancroft has not been paid for 4,992 berets delivered in March 2006 that did not contain foreign components. The payment for that shipment was applied to the debt the DOD says Bancroft owes the government, Stewart said.

The DOD has not received the 354,504 berets that were supposed to be shipped in July, she said, so Bancroft’s contract is in default. The July shipment was to be the company’s last of a $14.8 million contract for up to 3.6 million berets which started in 2002. Stewart said the company has enough black berets for a year.

Stewart said even without the last shipment from Bancroft, the DOD has enough black berets stockpiled to meet its needs for a year.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

OBITUARIES >> 1-24-07


Capt. Daryl Mutton, 47, of Cabot passed away Jan. 19. He was a member of the North Pulaski Fire Department since 1987.
He is survived by his wife, Lynn Mutton; two sons, Russ and Kenny; two daughters, Crystal and Michelle; seven grandchildren; and two brothers, Sam and Doug. Family wishes to ex-press a special thanks to all the people at the North Pulaski Volunteer Fire Dept.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Life Tabernacle. Burial will be in Bethel Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are by North Little Rock Funeral Home.


Mabel Ketchum Watson, 87, died on Jan. 21. She was born to the late Carroll and Audrey Ketchum on Feb. 11, 1919.
She was preceded in death by her husband Robert Lynn Watson and three brothers, Hoyt, Jab, and J.B. and wife Bee Ketchum.
Mabel was a Christian and a member of the Palm Street Church of Christ. She is survived by two sons, Larry Watson and wife Connie of Wichita, Kan., and Jerry Watson of Reno, Nev.; two daughters, Bobbie McKinley and husband Larry of Wichita, and Marty Hirsch Heider and husband Glenn of Lonoke; nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

She was a devoted and loving Mama to her four children and will be greatly missed. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the Palm Street Church of Christ with burial following in Lonoke Cemetery. Funeral arrangements by Boyd Funeral Home in Lonoke.


Patricia Louise Schwartz Owens, 62, of Sherwood died Jan. 17. She was born Jan. 29, 1944, at Wichita, Kan., to M. Eberhardt Schwartz and Mary Teresa Sparks Schwartz. She had a strong Catholic faith. She was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Harry J. Schwartz and a sister, Janie Becker. She is survived by her husband of 37 years, John Owens; her son, Chris Owens and wife Karen of Little Rock; her sister, Phyllis Londino of Fort Smith; two dearly loved nieces, one nephew and their seven children.

Funeral services were Jan. 23 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Little Rock with burial in Beebe Cemetery. Funeral arrangements were by Westbrooke Funeral Home in Beebe.


Lonnie Kennedy Jr., USAF retired, 68, of Cabot passed away Jan. 15, in Jacksonville. He is survived by his wife, Barbara L. Kennedy of Cabot; two daughters, Alicia McCollom of Sumter, S.C., and Lori Williams of Russellville; two sons, Steve Kennedy of Sumter, S.C., and Lonnie Kennedy III of Beulaville NC; four sisters, Novella Bell of Wilson, N.C., Prandy Chamblee of Raleigh NC, Frances Tyndall and Phoebe Foy both of Kingston, N.C.; one brother, Bill Kennedy of New Orleans, LA and 11 grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his son, Mark Alan Kennedy. Funeral services were Jan. 18 in Beulaville, N.C., with burial in East Duplin Memorial Gardens in Beulaville. Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Monday, January 22, 2007

SPORTS>>Jackrabbits come back on Southside-Batesville

Leader sports editor

Lonoke got a pair of 16-point wins over Southside-Batesville Tuesday night at Lonoke High School. The Lady Jackrabbits started the evening with a 47-31 win and the boys followed with a 64-48 victory. The boys started hot and never trailed, although they did allow the Southerners back into the game in the third quarter after extending their lead well into double figures. On the heels of what head coach Wes Swift called his team’s “worst effort in a long time” against Heber Springs the previous Friday, Swift was much more pleased with Tuesday’s performance.

“We’re still not playing as well as I think we can play, but I think there was just a lot more effort out there tonight,” Swift said. “They played hard and that rebounding total is what happens when you play hard. We were killed on the boards against Heber and that was only because they were playing harder than we were.” The Jackrabbits grabbed 27 boards to the Southerners’ 17 Tuesday night. Lonoke raced out to an 18-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Bradley Spencer and Tyrone Dobbins combined for 14 of those points, forcing Southside to adjust in the second quarter. The adjustment was effective, and allowed the visitors to climb to within six points at 30-24 by halftime.

Lonoke’s Clarence Harris scored nine of Lonoke’s 12 points in the second quarter. The only non-Harris bucket in the second frame was a three pointer by Pat Smith. Early in the third, Lonoke continued to struggle to penetrate with the same effectiveness as in the first quarter. The Southerners completed a 7-2 run to start the second half when post player Mikey Fulcher banked in a three pointer from the top of the key to cut Lonoke’s lead to 32-31. That’s when Spencer and Dobbins began to get back into the game.

Spencer answered Fulcher’s three with his own three pointer. Dobbins then got a steal and fed Sammy Coleman for an easy layup to quickly push the lead back to 37-31 and force a Southerner timeout. The break didn’t seem to help any. Right out of the timeout, Dobbins and Coleman got two more steals and two more layups to make it 41-31. Batesville finally broke the run, but when a Dobbins three put the Jackrabbits up by 11, the Southerners never got it back within 10 points.

The fourth quarter was a seemingly endless array of fouls and free throws by both teams. Lonoke shot 18 free throws in the fourth quarter, but made only nine. The Rabbits were 11 of 20 for the game. Southside hit 14 of 22 free throws in the contest. Lonoke nearly doubled SS-Batesville in shot attempts. The Jackrabbits were 23 of 57 from the field while the Southerners were 15 of 31. Spencer led Lonoke with 19 points while Dobbins added 17 and Harris 10. Dobbins also got seven rebounds and six steals, and hit all four of his free-throw attempts. Southside’s Daniel Martin led all scorers with 21 points.

Lonoke’s girls started slow, but went on a 22-0 tear in the seconds quarter to claim control of the game. Southside led 9-7 after one quarter and 15-13 at halftime as the Lady Jackrabbits simply couldn’t find the range from the field. Lonoke came out in a press to start the third with 6-foot-1 freshmen Asiah Scribner at the top of the formation. After Southside hit a three to take an 18-13 lead in the first few seconds of the third, Scribner got three steals to kick off the run that didn’t stop until Lonoke led 35-18 with 36 seconds left in the quarter.

Scribner dished to Kristy Shinn after her first two steals, and Shinn converted both into layups. She then got a steal and converted it herself. Post players Crystal Kirk and Jenny Evans then scored 11 straight points out of the offense, with Evans pouring in seven of those 11. Scribner then got a bucket and a free throw before Evans capped the run to give Lonoke a 17-point lead. Southside didn’t quit. They managed to end the quarter with a 5-0 run in the final 22 seconds to make it 35-23 by the start of the fourth.

The Lady Southerners didn’t stop there. The extended to 12-2 into the fourth quarter trimmed Lonoke’s lead to 37-30 by the 6:02 mark. Lonoke coach Nathan Morris called timeout and his team responded with a 10-0 run that put the game away.
“I don’t think we were that bad early,” Morris said. “I give Southside the credit for that. It helps us a lot to be able to put a six-footer that’s athletic like Asiah Scribner out at the top of the press. It created a lot of problems for them and we fed off that in the second half.”

Evans led all scorers with 21 points while Kirk added 12 for Lonoke, who improved to ?? overall and 9-0 in conference play. Southside dropped to 8-9 overall and 5-4 against league competition.

SPORTS>>Prayer falls, lifts Raiders to win

Leader sports editor

A phenomenally executed game plan almost garnered Abundant Life their biggest win of the season Tuesday night at Riverview. But a late turnover and an improbable shot at the buzzer turned it into a gut-wrenching 66-63 loss. Abundant Life hit a shot to tie the game at 63 with seconds remaining. Riverview coach Danny Starkey called a timeout with 8.4 seconds on the clock to set up the final play. Abundant Life coach Tim Ballard called two straight timeouts after seeing how Riverview set up. Starkey changed his play after the first timeout, but decided to stick with the second call. It didn’t work.
Thatcher Cooperwood took the inbound pass and hit Tony Hall inside. Hall’s shot didn’t fall and Abundant Life got the rebound with four seconds left. Having no timeouts, the Owls passed the ball out of the lane, where it was deflected and rolled loose out into the middle of the floor, and straight to Riverview’s Dominique Baker. Baker scooped it up and let it fly in a single motion from about 22 feet. The buzzer sounded as he shot. The ball bounced high off the front of the rim, kissed the backboard and fell through, giving the Raiders the victory and keeping them undefeated in conference play. Ballard said his team was deflated by the loss.

“It was like a funeral afterwards,” Ballard said. “It’s a shame that a few breaks determined the outcome. They worked their hearts and guts out. They were sick about it.” Starkey also thought his team was out-played. “They did everything but win the ballgame,” Starkey said of the Owls. “They out-played us, I was out-coached, we were out-executed and all that. We feel very fortunate to get out of that one with a win.” Starkey didn’t attribute the struggles his team endured in the game to a lack of focus, only to Abundant Life.

“We’ve lost a couple of games this year because we just weren’t ready to play, but I don’t really think that was the case this time,” Starkey said. “I think we were very focused and very ready to play. If we hadn’t been, Abundant Life would’ve beat us by 30.” The Owls led by as much as 13 points in the third quarter before leading scorer Colby Woolverton went to the bench with four fouls. Thomas Cheney and Josh ?? also picked up their fourth foul in the third. Meanwhile, Riverview’s Tony Hall went to work to pull his team back into the game.

Hall scored 11 of his team’s 15 points in the third quarter as the Raiders turned that 13-point deficit into a four-point deficit by the start of the fourth. Hall finished with 36 points to lead all scorers. “That Tony Hall is just unstoppable,” Ballard said. “Coach Starkey’s team has a ton of athleticism and Hall is outstanding.” Starkey doesn’t think his team has any advantage in athleticism over the Owls, and attributed their better play to their speed.”

“We’ll push it up the floor, but we don’t run anything like that. We’re not as fast as they are and the way they executed their fastbreak, we just couldn’t do much about it. For us it was kind of like, let’s try to hang on and see what happens.”
Abundant Life dropped to 6-4 in league play. Fowler and Cheney led the Owls with 17 each while Woolverton added 15. Baker added 13 for Riverview. The win lifted The Raiders to 9-0 in conference play and two games ahead of second-place Rose Bud with four remaining.

The Lady Raiders didn’t have as much trouble, racing out to an early lead and cruising to a 53-35 victory. Riverview led by as much as 46-22 by the end of the third quarter. Kori Meachum led the way with 11 points while Jasmin Washington added 10 for the Lady Raiders. Riverview’s girls are now 8-2 in conference while Abundant Life dropped to 2-8.

SPORTS>> Jacksonville sweeps Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville has been strong during county rivalry games this season, and Tuesday night was no exception. Both the Red Devils and Lady Devils came away with big wins against Sylvan Hills at their own Devils Den, grabbing a 6A-East Conference sweep. Senior post Marie Livings helped the Lady Red Devils to a 59-47 win with a dominant performance on the low block. The Red Devils got a similar performance out of Kajuan Watson during their 62-51 win over the Bears. The senior finished with 17 points to lead Jacksonville, and put on an entertaining show offensively while doing it.

Watson scored from almost every spot on the floor, with three straight shots behind the arc in the second quarter, and a strong inside performance in the second half, as the Red Devils slowly stretched their lead to as much as 17 points near the end of the third quarter. Deyonte Davis did a good job of damage control for Sylvan Hills in the final minute. Davis hit a pair of threes before the final buzzer to turn a potential rout into a more respectable margin by game’s end.

Watson’s performance in the opening quarter was a little shaky, with his first three attempts from the floor falling short. His accuracy improved dramatically during the second frame. Watson hit a three-pointer at the 6:31 mark of the second quarter to put Jacksonville up 16-8, and he backed that shot up with two more tres during the next minute to bump the lead up to 22-8.

Sylvan Hills made its strongest run of the game in the final four minutes of the second quarter, recovering from the early double-digit deficit to close to within five points with 1:09 left in the half. Their first break came when Watson fouled Bears guard Tony Robinson as he went up for a three. Robinson hit all three foul shots to make it 24-13, followed by a shot from sophomore P.J. Ross and a three pointer from T.J. Shelton to close to within seven, 26-19. Jacksonville went into the intermission with a 28-21 lead, but shut the Bears down in the third quarter to take over the momentum for the duration of the game.

Sylvan Hills only managed nine points in the third, while Jacksonville increased its advantage back to 11 by the end of the frame. La Quentin Miles set the tone for the Red Devils with the first goal of the second half, followed by a put-back dunk from Watson that put Jacksonville up 32-21. Bears junior post Julian Bassett enjoyed an easy time under the boards last Friday against West Memphis, but found the paint inside the Devils Den much harder to penetrate. Jacksonville senior Norvel Gabriel came away with 10 rebounds, six of them defensive during the game that denied Bassett and the Bears offense of several second chance opportunities.

Jacksonville held a slight edge with shooting and rebounding, but it was the difference in depth from the bench that would prove to be the Red Devils biggest advantage. Devils coach Victor Joyner kept fresh legs on the court at every opportunity, making wholesale lineup changes during foul breaks that kept the more volatile SH lineup on the run for most of the final half.

When Watson and the remaining starters rested on the bench, the underclassmen took up the slack impressively. Sophomore post Antwan Lockhart had a strong second half, with a pair of blocked shots and two jams that lit up the spirited Jacksonville stands. Watson’s 20 points led all scorers in the game for Jacksonville. Gerron Riddles finished with 10 points. Gabriel pulled down 10 rebounds to lead on the boards for the Red Devils. For Sylvan Hills, Davis’ late threes pushed his game total to 18 points, and Shelton added 12 points for the Bears.

The win gives Jacksonville a 10-5 overall record and 2-1 in conference. Sylvan Hills’ record now stands at 5-12 and 2-2 in the 5A-East. The second half also belonged to Jacksonville in the girls game. The Lady Bears took a 26-24 lead at the half with strong outside shooting from Kierra Johnson. Johnson hit a pair of threes in the first quarter for Sylvan Hills, finishing the first two quarters with 10 of her total 19 points. Johnson went cold in the third quarter, and the Lady Red Devils took advantage with eight points from Tarneisha Scott. Johnson started hitting again for the Lady Bears at the start of the fourth quarter, but Jacksonville had built up a 44-32 lead by that point, and Livings kept up the advantage inside with five points in the final 4:37 of the game.

Livings finished with 20 points and the majority of the Lady Devils’ rebounding. Scott had 17 points for Jacksonville, and sophomore Tyra Terry added 10 points for the Lady Red Devils. For Sylvan Hills, Johnson had 19 points and Rachele Dobbins had eight points. The win improved Jacksonville’s record to 5-10 and 1-2 in conference. Sylvan Hills now has a 4-11 overall record and a 0-4 league record. Sylvan Hills played at Forrest City last night, and will host Searcy on Tuesday. Jacksonville faced West Memphis at home last night, and will travel to Mountain Home to take on the Bombers Tuesday.

EDITORIALS>>Huck picks our pockets

Mike Huckabee’s unstylish leavetaking from the Capitol, in which he almost literally took everything with him, seems almost calculated to make him unmissed by the body politic. On the other hand, there’s a loud claque that wants to form a posse and go bring him back.

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s Capitol reporters Friday expounded on still another siege of outrages by the ex-governor in his last days in office. Huckabee completely emptied the state fund for emergencies by distributing its $500,000 among a bunch of pet projects, not one an emergency, leaving the new governor shorn of any way to help in a real emergency the next months.

To keep prying eyes from his official activities as governor, Huckabee paid (from the same emergency fund) to have the hard drives of 83 state computers yanked out and hammered into pieces, then spent $335,000 from his successor’s office budget to replace a few of the computers. He dismantled lights, sound equipment and some furniture from the governor’s offices and conference room and took them with him, or somewhere.

The week before he left office to go promote sales of his book and to campaign for president, you will remember, Huckabee directed his fiscal agency to illegally transfer money appropriated to University of Arkansas campuses to a couple of pet projects at the medical sciences campus, including a richly endowed chair for the doctor who told him that he needed to diet and exercise to avoid an early death. When his own state fiscal employees and the universities demurred, Huckabee rescinded his orders and gave money instead to his friend, the president of the University of Central Arkansas, which did have legal authority to spend any money that it got.

Huckabee did not want his successor, Mike Beebe, to take office with anything to spend if he could help it — not from the governor’s emergency fund, not from his office budget and not from the General Improvement Fund that was allocated to the governor’s office for fiscal 2007. Mike Huckabee is not the first bitter officeholder to act so spitefully upon his leavetaking. Secretary of State Bill McCuen did the same a few years ago, almost depriving his elected successor of a place to sit in the secretary of state’s suite. He sold the furnishings. McCuen subsequently went to prison for some of his fraud. County and municipal officeholders have been known to empty the fisc on their departure to reduce their successor’s chances for success. Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, like Huckabee, had the hard drives of the office computers crushed on his way out.
But Huckabee’s behavior was especially churlish and costly. He had the hard drives of 83 computers and four servers not simply wiped clean of their memories but destroyed so that no one could find something embarrassing or incriminating. Among them were the computers at the Little Rock airport where the State Police operates its fleet of airplanes.

The Arkansas Times, the weekly public affairs newspaper that has dogged Huckabee’s personal spending and fund-raising habits, had been critical of the frequent use of law-enforcement aircraft for his political travel and his family’s personal jaunts. The last $13,000 expended from the governor’s emergency fund was to supervise the destruction of the 83 hard drives. That seems a little exorbitant, too. Destroying a computer hard drive is a simple and inexpensive labor. You hit it until it falls into pieces. All that is required is a hammer and a hard surface.

The media observed the missing lighting and sound equipment. At Gov. Beebe’s first press conference reporters noticed that it was dim in the conference room and the sound tinny. Inquiries revealed that Huckabee or his staff had taken the equipment because, one aide said, it belonged to them or the Republican Party. The executive director of the Republican Party said he was unaware that the party had ever furnished any equipment or furniture to the governor’s office.
Depleting the emergency fund was more than wasteful and spiteful. It was mean. Gov. Beebe asked lawmakers last week to appropriate a new emergency fund in case there happen to be real emergencies before the fiscal year is out; they said it was not their problem that Huckabee had spent it.

Here is how the governor spent the rest of the fund, according to the Democrat Gazette examination: He gave $10,000 to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute to buy a car. He gave the state Game and Fish Commission, an agency that is flush with tax funds from a special sales tax, $97,000 for its “Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs” program. He gave $100,000 to a program to provide used musical instruments to youngsters. He gave the Arkansas Chapter of the American Red Cross $15,000 to “help prepare young people to deal with disaster situations.” It was a feather in the cap of his wife, Janet, who recently went to work for the Red Cross. (Good hire, Red Cross!) And he gave $10,000 to help develop a Mexican consulate office in Little Rock. (Is that a state obligation?)

All those, and thousands of others we could list, are worthy causes. But they are not emergencies. But Gov. Huckabee considered the appropriation “his” money to spend as he wished. A better alternative no doubt would have been to take the cash with him, but it cannot be done. If Huckabee wanted to leave in such a way that Arkansas hearts would not be yearning for him, he succeeded wildly.