Wednesday, March 14, 2007

OBITUARIES >> 3-14-07


James Franklin Askew, 66, of Jacksonville went to be with his Lord and Savior March 9 in Little Rock. He was born Nov. 11, 1940 to the late Otis and Irma Adams Askew in Twin Falls, Idaho. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Lou Ella Askew.
Mr. Askew served his country in the Army, retiring as a chief warrant officer. He also served in the Vietnam War and later retired from Lockheed Martin as well as various other government agencies.

He played lead guitar for the gospel group “The Gospel Tones” but most importantly he was a devout Christian and an outstanding grandfather, dad and brother.

Survivors include his son, Samuel B. Askew and wife Salli of Indianola, Wa.; daughter, Stacee Martin and husband Marcus of Jacksonville; brother, Erwin Askew and wife, Sis of Paris; sister, Marion Barco of San Antonio, Texas; seven grandchildren and numerous other family and friends including all the Gospel Tones.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 14 at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville with Rev. Cliff Hutchins officiating. Burial will follow in Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.


Ruth Janine Robinson, 70, of Austin passed away March 10 in Jacksonville. She was born Aug. 29, 1936 in Bunker, Mo., to the late John F. and Montine Cotton Farrar.

Her husband, Bobby Gene Robinson, preceded her in death in 1998. Ruth was a member of the Women of the Moose and of First United Methodist Church of Cabot. She is survived by one son, John Robinson and his wife Kim of Austin; one daughter, Keli Crowder and her husband Howard Lynn “Red” of Ward; and three grandchildren, Jessica Gardner, Andrew Catlett and Autumn Robinson, all of Austin.

Graveside funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 14 at Mt. Springs Cemetery on Hwy 5.
Funeral arrangements are by Moore’s Cabot Funeral Home.


Raymond F. Alvers, 73, of Jacksonville passed away March 8. He was born in Evansville, Ind., on May 19, 1933 to Sherman Alvers and Gertrude Tucker. He retired from the Air Force after 21 years of service.

He loved traveling and meeting new people. He was known as Al Dutch, grandpa Al and Pa. He was always telling jokes and going to junk shops and looking for a good deal. He enjoyed every day of his life, he truly lived life to its fullest.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Peggy J. Alvers; one brother, Delbert Alvers; a grandson, Christopher Michael Harvey and a granddaughter, Heather Michelle.

He is survived by his companion, Karla Huntley; two daughters, Kathryn Black and husband Derrick Black of San Antonio, Texas, and Sheryl Roberts and husband Tommy Roberts of Hensley; one son, Russell Alvers and wife Melisa Alvers of Ward; three sisters, Rosalie Scalf of Hendersonville, N.C., Ruth Gorman of Evansville, Ind., and Nelda Brandsasse of Harrisburg, Ill.; two brothers, Theodore Alvers of Colton, Calif., and Carl Alvers of Evansville; and five grandchildren, Katie Roberts of Hensley, Ryan Black and Jessica Black of San Antonio, Tonya Lovell of Ward and Ashley Alvers of Ward.
Funeral service were March 13 at Griffin Leggett Rest Hills Chapel in North Little Rock.


Emma Avelin Lucena, 2 months and 27 days passed away March 8.

She is survived by her parents, Colin and Brandie Lucena of Jacksonville; two sisters, Miranda Lucena Wagnon of Oklahoma and Caitlin Mae Lucena; brother, Carson Lucena; grandparents, Kelly and Leon Davis, all of Jacksonville and Margaret and Diosdado Lucena of New Mexico; also great-grandparents, Chuck and Shirley Mallonee, Nancy Gullick, all of Jacksonville, Ruben Lucena of Hawaii, Esther Fernandez of Montana and Dick Mulldoon of New Mexico.

Memorials may be made to Emma Lucena Memorial Fund at any Regions Bank. Funeral services were held March 13 at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel.

SPORTS>>Lonoke falls late, loses title to CAC

Leader sports editor

The state title was so close, it’s hard to imagine how it got away, but it did somehow manage to escape the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits Saturday afternoon. The Lonoke ladies lost 50-45 to two-time defending state champion Central Arkansas Christian in the girls Class 4A state championship game at the Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

The Lady Jackrabbits controlled every aspect of the second half until the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter. They held the vaunted CAC scoring machine to just seven points for the first 11 minutes of the second half, but gave up 18 in the final five.

Lonoke pushed its lead to as much as 42-32, but only managed three more points. Some of that had to do with what Lonoke coach Nathan Morris felt was a bit too-physical defense by the Lady Mustangs, and his expression of that opinion aided CAC’s comeback.

Morris was hit with a technical foul after CAC senior guard Kelsey Hatcher was fouled and sent to the line after a layup that gave the Lady Mustangs their first lead of the half. The layup and two free throws gave CAC a 46-43 lead with 2:06 left in the game. Calisha Kirk cut it to 46-45 with a bucket with 1:35 left, but Lonoke could not score again.

Lonoke senior guard Kristy Shinn stripped Hatcher of the ball after Kirk’s bucket, but Haley O’Cain missed a three pointer that went out of bounds to CAC. Hatcher hit two free throws to make it a three-point game with 18 seconds left, and Lonoke lost the ball with eight seconds left. Hatcher scooped up the loose ball at halfcourt and added an uncontested layup at the buzzer to set the final margin.

CAC coach Steve Quattlebaum was relieved and excited to win his third state championship, but was impressed with the team he said gave his team its most challenging title match.

“First off I have to say that I am impressed with Lonoke,” Quattlebaum said. “I knew they were a good team to get this far, but they’re better than I thought. I thought maybe with a freshmen point guard that our pressure would get to them, but couldn’t do anything with Brown the whole game. We were trying to deny her the ball the whole game, and we couldn’t keep up with her. Their post players aren’t just big, they’re strong and aggressive. I’m just so proud of my kids for finding a way to win.”
Quattlebaum reached back into history to motivate his team when it was down by 10 in the fourth quarter.

“I counted it up and I think we’d played Lonoke 21 times over the last five years, and we had won 19 of them,” Quattlebaum said. “A lot of them were just like this one, so I just told the kids, keeping fighting and something good is going to happen.”
Zachariason led all scorers with 30 points on eight of 11 field goals and 14 of 17 shooting from the foul line.

Kirk led Lonoke with 14 points and eight rebounds. Shinn added 10 points and five steals. Lonoke finishes the season with a record of 26-9. They were the outright conference champions and regional tournament champions this season.

SPORTS>>Cabot and Beebe win two, lose one

Leader sportswriter

Cabot and Beebe took part in the annual Mt. Saint Mary’s tournament in Little Rock over the weekend, with both teams posting 2-1 records for the three-day event.

The Beebe Lady Badgers started out tournament play with a 3-0 shutout over Clarksville. Callie Mahoney was the winning pitcher for the Lady Badgers, allowing two hits while striking out six batters. Ashley Watkins took the mound for the second game against Conway on Saturday. The junior threw well, giving up only three hits, but the Lady Wampus Cats made their own luck in the game with a squeeze play in the third inning that would score what ended up as the winning run.

Beebe played its final game in the consolation bracket against Atkins, beating the Lady Devils 8-1. Mahoney again pitched a two-hitter for the Lady Badgers, while striking out eight batters.

Offensively, the Lady Badgers had solid efforts from several different players throughout the tourney. Senior Brandi Birkhalter had a 2 for 3 performance at the plate against Clarksville, and went 1 for 2 against Atkins. Chelsea Sanders came away with two RBIs in the opener when she doubled to left field.

Ashley Watkins went 2 for 3 with a double against Atkins, while Emily Bass was 2 for 3 with a triple. “We have a lot of basketball players in our lineup,” Lady Badgers coach Terry Flenor said. “We didn’t get them back until last week. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to come and play in this tournament, so we could get some games in before we have to start our conference schedule. I feel like we competed pretty well, obviously we would have liked to gone further, but I was satisfied.”
The Lady Panthers didn’t get to the finals, but did improve their record to a winning one with a 2-1 overall performance in the tourney. Cabot edged out Malvern 1-0 in a defensive struggle in the opening round on Friday, before beating Sylvan Hills 6-0 on Saturday. With a three-game guarantee in the tournament, the Lady Panthers ended their run in the third game with a close 3-2 loss to the Vilonia Lady Eagles.

“It was kind of a strange bracket,” Lady Panthers coach Becky Steward said. “Because you had a three-game guarantee, But if you won the first two and lost your third one it was too bad, so sad. It was a good tournament, though; there were a lot of quality teams there. We played pretty good up until the third game, and then we just did not execute defensively.”

Sophomore pitcher Cheri Barfield had a good tournament from the mound, throwing one-hitters in the first two games. She had three strikeouts against Malvern and four against Sylvan Hills, but took the loss to Vilonia in game three. Steward was especially pleased with her young hurler’s performance in the opener.

“She may have only had three strikeouts against them,” Steward said. “But Malvern is known for their short game; they put the ball in play. So for her to only allow one hit against a team like that is pretty good work.”

The two wins and one loss in the tournament gives the Lady Panthers a record of 3-2. Cabot kicked off league play by hosting Mt. Saint Mary in 7A-Central Conference action yesterday evening after Leader deadlines, and will host North Little Rock in another conference matchup on Friday.

SPORTS>>Raiders win state championship

Leader sports editor

The Riverview Raiders are the state basketball champions. In a year in which the team was supposed to be “pretty good”, the team turned out to be the best. It proved it Saturday night in the Summit Arena in Hot Springs when the Raiders beat the Hughes Blue Devils 71-60 in the Class 3A state championship game.

Hughes started hot and ran out to an 8-2 lead, and rallied late in the fourth quarter to make it interesting for a brief period, but Riverview controlled everything in between, as well as the waning moments, leaving little doubt who the state’s best 3A ball team was in the 2006-07 season.

After the Blue Devils took their early lead, Riverview took control. The Raiders finished the first quarter with a 14-1 run to finish the frame holding a 15-9 lead. After Dominique Baker’s three with 2:46 left in the quarter put Riverview up 9-8, the Raiders never trailed again.

Hughes was favored, but Riverview was actually better. Time and again the Raiders proved they weren’t really underdogs to anyone they played this year. After the game, an emotional Riverview starting five lined up along press row in the conference room, each one teary-eyed, because of what their team had accomplished, not only for themselves, but for their communities.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “Riverview is proud.”

That was evident all game long. The 3A boys game was the last of 14 state title games stretched over three days at the Summit. The crowd for the nightcap that ended at approximately 10 p.m., was, however, one of the loudest and rowdiest of all the games. The tone was set for the team as they prepared to leave for Hot Springs early Friday evening. A makeshift red carpet was rolled out for the players from the Riverview gym to the bus. Instead of going straight to Hot Springs, the team bus took detours to its two communities, with stops at Judsonia and Kensett elementary and middle schools. The atmosphere at both communities was one of joy and pride.

“First we went to our elementary and everyone was there, outside cheering for us,” Starkey said. “Then we went over to Kensett and it all happened there too. When they saw all the people, they realized it had really turned into a community thing. So I think the emotion after the game came from understanding that what they had done wasn’t just a team winning something. They had done something for their community, something that many more people than just themselves could be proud of.”

Senior all-purpose player Tony Hall was the MVP, scoring 35 points and having to play everything from post to point guard when starting point man Bo Banks picked up his third foul early in the second quarter.

But it was junior forward Josiah Overstreet that best exemplified the attitude of the team. Overstreet was only one of all the players that got on the court that played his heart out, but overcoming sickness during almost every break in the action, and getting back out there, is a good analogy for his team, according to Starkey.

“My goodness did Joe not run his guts out,” Starkey said. “He was sick all week, he was throwing up during timeouts, but he never asked to sit down. That was the kind of determination this team had. They brought an attitude into this game that said, ‘we are not going to lose this thing’.”

Further evidence that Riverview simply wanted it more was in the rebounding category. The vastly size-disadvantaged Raiders out-rebounded Hughes 37-28.

Spot-on shooting was a good sign the team was focused. The Raiders shot 51 percent from the floor for the game, but were nearly 70 percent in the second half, hitting 13 of 19 attempts, despite being completely out of gas late in the game.
Hughes rallied from a 60-46 deficit to within four at 62-58 with 1:11 left in the game. During the Blue Devil run, Riverview missed three of four free throws, including two front ends of one-and-one trips, and every miss was short. Starkey spotted the fatigue, and had the luxury of still having four timeouts left with 2:14 remaining in the game. He used three of them over the next 49 seconds.

After Hughes cut the margin to four, the rally ended with a horrible break for the Blue Devils.

Hughes fouled Overstreet, and got what it wanted when he missed the second of two free throws. The turning point came when Hughes post Katravis Anderson, under no pressure, inexplicably lost the rebound out of bounds.

The Blue Devils fouled Hall, who hit both shots to make it 65-58 with 60 seconds left. Hall hit eight of eight free-throw attempts in the final minute to seal the win.

Riverview took a 29-22 lead into halftime, and started the third quarter with a 9-0 run to make it 38-22 with 5:21 left in the third. The margin stayed in the 12-14-point range until Hughes started its rally late in the fourth.

Baker, who along with Hall played all 32 minutes of the game, finished with 12 points. Overstreet added 11. Lamarcus Banks scored seven, Bo Banks four and Thatcher Cooperwood two to round out Riverview’s scoring. Hall added a game-high 12 rebounds to his game-high 35 points.

Hall missed his first free-throw attempt of the game, but made 13 in a row the rest of the way. The 13 free throws made ties a state championship game record. Riverview finished the season with a 27-6 record, an undefeated conference record and conference championship, a regional tournament championship and state title.

EDITORIALS>>Save a few trees

To the editor:
These days, when you drive in any direction, before long you pass a plot of ground where all the trees have been bulldozed down and piled in the center of it to be burned.

Do people not understand that trees are important to our well being? Not only are they beautiful (pleasure), they help control the climate (shade) and act as wind breaks (breezes). They provide a place for birds and small animals (shelter).

The roots of trees help water to soak deep into the ground and control soil erosion. One very important action of trees is to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen to release back into the air. Humans need oxygen to survive!
Perhaps city planners should suggest (insist?) that developers leave one or two lots in their housing developments for hardwood trees to grow.

Individual lots are usually large enough for a house and a tree, too. It seems with the concentration of people in subdivisions more oxygen would be very beneficial. Recycling newspapers and cardboard is also a helpful way to save trees and take care of this earth. It is the only one God gave us.

Theresa Yandell

EDITORIALS>>Can’t trust people

To the editor:
Support for democracy in the United States recently suffered a disappointing setback with Arkansas’s 86th General Assembly. District representatives voted against allowing the people of the United States to elect the President.

Of course, the U.S. Constitution says nothing about “the people” electing their president, anyway. Only a select group of party electors have such privilege. The votes are counted in early January by the U.S. Congress, well after the people’s poll in November of the election cycle.

In fact, voters in general were never meant to be polled. “The people” were not allowed to participate until the 1820’s.
Today, the best Arkansas can do is continue to undermine democracy with the state’s support of the Electoral College voting method.

Sen. Gilbert Baker expressed his distrust of the majority on the East and West coasts. Baker wished to discriminate against the majority based upon regional location. Unfortunately, the struggle between democracy and party dominance is over. One decade from now, democratic decisions will be made by software engineers and those who control online information transfer.
Democracy will be reduced to a virtual reality program, with virtual results. No need to bother the 86th General Assembly, democracy is finished in the U.S. Who trusts the majority, anyway?

Gene Mason

EDITORIALS>>Support seniors

To the editor:
Again this year, we want to thank you and your organization so much for participating in our 12th annual Roast and Toast on Feb. 22.

Without your help and dedication, we would not have been able to hold such an enjoyable event. Everyone seemed to have had a really grand time.

We raised about $10,000 and these dollars will enable us to provide more services for our members and increase our present programs.

As you already know, fund-raising monies are used by us to help fund programs as “Meals on Wheels,” daily hot meals for our members in a congregate setting, social and educational programs, health-related programs and activities, homemaker services, transportation, respite care, case management, and other worthwhile programs in the Jacksonville, Sherwood, and other north Pulaski County areas.

Senior centers across the country have proven that the type of services we provide truly enhance the quality of life for senior citizens, and we feel that our many activities enable our seniors to stay active, both mentally and physically. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for senior citizens with a primary emphasis on the prevention/postponement of the need for nursing home care.

Again thanks to you for a most successful, fun-filled evening.

Nikeba R. Davis
Executive Director of Jacksonville Senior Center

EDITORIALS>>Stop attacking payday lenders

To the editor:
The recent editorial “Payday stooges” is an example of yellow journalism that indicates a clear lack of understanding about the payday industry and its critics.

In describing “…hefty profits by charging interest rates that would make a mobster blush,” the writer shows a careless disregard of the facts.

Those facts show that one of the payday industry’s most vocal critics—the Center for Responsible Lending—(CRL), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Self-Help Credit Union which earns 18 cents in net income for every dollar of revenue.
In contrast, five of the publicly traded payday loan companies earn an average of 7 cents in net income for every dollar of revenue. So just who is really making the “hefty profits”? Not only that, but payday lenders also earn far less in profits than the nation’s major banks.

The average profit margin of the top ten banks is 26.52% compared to the 6.6% profit earned by the five publicly traded payday lenders. Once again, just who is really earning the “hefty profits”? The name-calling and insulting adjectives used by the writer to describe payday lenders are not worthy of comment. Suffice to say, the writer obviously believes—like many industry critics—that it’s easier to sling mud than to understand the issue. After printing such an ill-informed and fetid diatribe, perhaps it is the editorial writer who should be blushing.

Judy Powers
Communications Director
Check Into Cash, Inc.
Cleveland, Tenn.

EDITORIALS>>U.S. attorney scandal widens


A sheaf of Justice Department memos that arrived on Capitol Hill Monday confirmed what had only been a strong suspicion: The White House intended to fully consolidate the entire federal criminal justice system into its political operation. The primary duty of every United States district attorney was to move along the Republican political agenda and see to it that Republicans were elected in the next election.

Not even lip service was given to the faded ideas of the independent prosecutor and impartial justice under the law. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff, whose name appeared most often on the telltale correspondence with the White House, promptly resigned.

White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers, who it turned out had told Gonzales two years ago that President Bush wanted him to fire all 93 district attorneys, each of them appointed by Bush, and install more loyal Republicans, had resigned in January soon after the purge of “disloyal” Republican prosecutors but before her role was known.

Even Republican senators were hinting that Gonzales himself should resign, and yesterday he took the blame for the mess but said he would stay on and fix things. He had one small defense.

He had spurned Bush’s desire to fire all the district attorneys in the United States. Indeed he did, but his explanation at the time was that it would be “disruptive,” not that it would be unconscionable. It is hard to see how Gonzales and the Department of Justice can recover a semblance of trust that they will be the impartial tribunes of justice across the land.
One other resignation or dismissal ought to be imminent: Tim Griffin, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas, a former political operative for Karl Rove and a mastermind of Republican voter suppression activities in Florida and elsewhere in 2000 and 2004.

Miers had told the Justice Department last year that she and Rove, Bush’s political director, wanted Bud Cummins fired and Griffin installed in his place. Griffin and seven other men dedicated to the White House agenda were appointed in December under an until-then-unknown provision of the USA Patriot Act that allowed the White House to appoint district attorneys on an emergency basis and bypass the Senate, which historically has confirmed the prosecutors.

A memo said the White House wanted to avoid having Arkansas Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor review Griffin’s credentials. “Getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.,” the memo said.

The correspondence between the White House and Justice Department suggested that Bush was mad because his chosen D.A.s were not trying to purge Democratic voters whose registrations might be illegal and prosecuting Democrats for it.
Several of the eight U.S. attorneys who were fired had been prosecuting Republican congressmen and friends for bribery and other crimes, and one was blamed for not speeding up an indictment of a low-ranking Democratic official in New Mexico in order to give Re-publicans a talking point before the close 2006 election there.

Tim Griffin apparently was the prototype of the men the White House wanted. Emails from Griffin to the Bush re-election campaign in 2004 about suppressing Democratic votes in Florida found their way into the wrong hands because he typed in the wrong domain.

The BBC network did a story about Griffin’s “caging” lists to discourage Democratic voters. Griffin has refused to answer questions about his activities and told the White House that if it was going to send the new attorneys to the Senate for confirmation after all, it should not submit his. He insisted again this week that he would not answer questions.

Until 2001, the Justice Department and its district prosecutors worked under the creed so eloquently expressed in 1940 by Attorney General Robert Jackson, later the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and a great justice of the Supreme Court. All the district attorneys were assembled, and he told them what the great American mission of equal justice expected of them.

“The federal prosecutor has been prohibited from engaging in political activities,” Jackson said. “I am convinced that a good-faith acceptance of the spirit and letter of that doctrine will relieve many district attorneys from the embarrassment of what have heretofore been regarded as legitimate expectations of political service. 

“There can also be no doubt that to be closely identified with the intrigue, the money raising, and the machinery of a particular party or faction may present a prosecuting officer with embarrassing alignments and associations.”
He warned of the danger of picking targets based on their ideas or politics and looking for wrongdoing by people who hold “the wrong political views.”

One may only look at the record of recent Arkansas D.A.s to see how they adhered to Jackson’s creed. Paula Casey, a Democrat appointed by President Clinton, zealously prosecuted a half-dozen Democratic state lawmakers and their allies for fraudulent dealings with the state prison or a legal advocacy program.

Her predecessor, Republican Chuck Banks, rejected White House pressure to publicly start an investigation of Gov. Bill Clinton weeks before the 1992 presidential election to tarnish him in that race.

Now a study of 375 federal prosecutions of elected officials in the United States since 2001 shows that almost 80 percent of them were of Democrats, only 18 per cent were Republicans and 2 percent were independents. Sadly, that was not high enough for the White House and, sure enough, Republicans took a drubbing in the general election.

In Arkansas, Cummins in six years had nailed only two Democrats, a couple of black city council members at Pine Bluff. You can bet that Tim Griffin, given any chance, will get those numbers up, sharply, by 2008.

The Justice Department said last month that it would be nominating someone to replace Griffin, and he said that he would serve until then. But White House and Justice Department emails that were revealed yesterday prove that they were lying. They plan to drag the process out by seeking candidates and slowly considering all the recommendations — gumming it to death was the phrase — and keep Griffin in office through 2008. Griffin is cooperating in the deception.

Whatever integrity can be mustered in the Department of “Justice” should be marshaled today to fire Griffin and assure the people that pure and evenhanded justice will be the creed in the eastern district of Arkansas.

TOP STORY >>Cabot annexation hitting roadblock

Leader staff writer

The first step in annexing the Gateway commercial subdivision on Hwy. 5 into Cabot will be to ask its owner if he will come into the city voluntarily. The city wants the property because the area where it is located is prime commercial and industrial property, which brings in more tax money.

Owner Toby Troutman apparently wanted it to be part of the city 10 years ago but changed his mind when city officials insisted that he build to city specifications. The decision to ask if he might change his mind again was reached Tuesday night during a meeting of the Cabot City Council’s public works committee that was also attended by the mayor, and representatives from the planning commission and water and wastewater commission.

Those who attended the meeting discussed other options if diplomacy fails. But Alderman Ed Long, chairman of the public works committee, said he had known Troutman, son of Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman “since he was in short pants,” and it couldn’t hurt to try.

Unlike when Stubby Stumbaugh was mayor, the city and county are working well together. Troutman is replacing the one-lane bridges on First Street with culverts the city can afford, and the city is paying for a bridge and some blacktop on the new service road that will take shoppers from Hwy. 5 to the new Wal-Mart.

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Good guy decides he won't run

It must have come as a relief to the already crowded field of presidential candidates when Sen. Chuck Hagel announced Monday he won’t seek the Republican presidential nomination, at least not just yet. Sure, Hagel’s candidacy would have been a long shot: He’s a decorated Vietnam combat veteran who says what’s on his mind, doesn’t smile much for the cameras and doesn’t have a long list of donors who expect big payoffs when their candidate gets into the White House.

Hagel probably hasn’t even tested his candidacy among focus groups or hired expensive advisers to tell them what he should be saying if he wants to be a credible candidate. He’s probably one of the most thoughtful people in the U.S. Senate, but that’s hardly a plus in our image-conscious political culture. He doesn’t even dye his hair, unlike most of the presidential candidates.

He probably doesn’t even kiss babies, unless they’re family. In a New York Times-CBS poll released this week, 6 in 10 Republicans say they’re not happy with the announced GOP presidential candidates. As many as 40 percent think their party will lose the presidential race next year. Among Democrats, only 12 percent think they won’t win back the White House.
If the presidential race were held now, Democrats would win by 20 percent with whoever their candidate might be.
Support for the war is dropping among Republicans, with 58 percent saying they want more flexibility in Iraq and 39 percent saying they want us to leave.

The good news for the administration: Bush’s approval rating is at 34 percent, up from 29 percent. Not great, but it could be worse and probably will be before too long. Hagel, Nebraska’s senior senator, doesn’t put on a happy face these days for good reason: He thinks our Iraq involvement is the biggest blunder since Vietnam, and many people respect him even if they don’t necessarily agree with that grim assessment.

But he’s that rare person in Washington who reaches out to politicians in the other party and hopes their sense of patriotic duty would bring them together and help make sense of the chaos we’re in. Hagel thinks he could accomplish more in the Senate than run around the country, sucking up to potential voters and donors.

This is what’s become of our political process: Candidates changing their positions on issues, dialing for dollars, oozing insincerity and listening to special interests and advisers instead of the American people.

Hagel said he might jump into the race, depending on circumstances in the fall. But in today’s political environment, a presidential candidate must plan two years ahead if he’s to be credible. Not long ago, 15 years to be exact, a youngish Bill Clinton could announce his candidacy in front of the Old Statehouse in Little Rock 12 months before the election. John Kennedy waited even longer.

But today, Chuck Hagel — who is Bill Clinton’s age and a year older than Sen. Clinton — may be seen as indecisive for not making up his mind sooner. But at least he has kept his dignity and can speak out on the issues and bring moral weight to the debate on Iraq.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads the Republican field in the latest New York Times-CBS News presidential poll, although that could change dramatically when his personal problems (three marriages, estranged children) and views on social issues (pro-choice, anti-gun) become better known.

Mike Huckabee is at the bottom of the pack and will probably stay there until he drops out and runs against Sen. Mark Pryor next year. Pryor takes the challenge seriously: He raised $800,000 last weekend for his re-election campaign.

Democrat Bill Halter, the lieutenant governor, is said to be considering a race against Pryor, but more likely Halter will run for governor when Mike Beebe is term-limited in eight years.The other political question of the day: Will Cong. Vic Snyder run for re-election next year or decide to spend more time with his family?

TOP STORY >>Dream trip turns into a nightmare

By Heather hartsell
Leader staff writer

A Cabot couple’s dream vacation to Hawaii has led to funeral services for the wife tentatively planned for Saturday at Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

James (Jay) and Teri McCarty of 808 Spring Valley Road had dreamed of their Hawaii vacation for years; for them, the romantic getaway was the trip of a lifetime. But that dream vacation turned into a nightmare when the couple’s sightseeing helicopter they were traveling in crashed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai last Thursday afternoon. Teri McCarty, 47, was killed in the crash; James, 48, a claims adjuster for Allstate Insurance Company, remains at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, where he has undergone surgery.

The McCartys were with two other couples aboard the helicopter. A spouse from each couple was killed, as well as the pilot: John O’Donnell of Rockaway, N.Y.; Magriet Inglebrecht of Santa Maria, Calif., and the pilot, Joe Sulak, of Hawaii.

According to reports from KGMB-TV in Honolulu, the crash occurred as the pilot made a desperate attempt to get back to the airport after the chopper developed hydraulic problems. The A-Star executive helicopter, operated by the Heli USA tour company, crashed about 200 yards from its normal landing pad at Princeville Airport on the north shore of Kauai.
The McCartys’ niece Shelley said her aunt had waited her entire life to go to Hawaii.

“What a wonderful vacation for them – she lost her life and he lost everything in his life,” the niece said. She also said her uncle was undergoing surgery at Queen’s “to look like himself again,” and had several broken bones. Queen’s hospital would not provide any update on the crash victims’ conditions, but did confirm the victims were under its care. A friend of the McCarty’s left a message on the Honolulu Advertiser’s Website following an article about the accident in the newspaper.
“Falakhi5” wrote: “God rest the victims of the HeliUSA copter crash in Princeville Thursday, especially Teri McCarty of Cabot, Arkansas, and God speed the recovery of the injured. Get better and come home soon Jay. We love and miss you.”

The helicopter was giving a scenic tour, which cost $240 per person, across the island to see waterfalls, canyons, the rugged Na Pali coastline and humpback whales in the ocean. Nigel Turner, chief executive of Las Vegas-based Heli-USA, said the helicopter was one of six in his Hawaii fleet. A second tour helicopter crash occurred Sunday, killing one and injuring four others.

That helicopter was operated by Inter-Island Helicopters and was almost halfway through a tour when it hit problems. A loud bang was heard while in the air, the pilot lost control, and the helicopter struck some trees; it landed next to a YMCA camp.
One man is in critical condition, and two women and the pilot are listed in fair condition.

The Honolulu Advertiser contributed to this article.

TOP STORY >>Will the golf course become a subdivision?

Leader staff writer

“It’s a done deal,” banker Al Harkins told more than 150 Sherwood residents meeting Monday night over concerns that the North Hills Country Club and Golf Course would be turned into a high-end housing development. Harkins, president of National Bank of Arkansas, said his bank is providing the financing to the group led by a businessman in Little Rock and one in Searcy.
“The sale will go through, but the buyers are open to listening to the residents. The buyers are buying the property as an investment, and even though they have drawn up plans to build a gated community, they are willing to listen.”

Homeowners who abut the golf course are upset at the thought that the 100-acre property could be turned into housing and feel the deal is violating their bill of assurances. The meeting, set up Dalton Davies and Mike Corker, was to get feedback from residents. “This meeting is the first in a long process,” said Corker, “to see if we can save the golf course.”

“But once that bulldozer comes off the trailer and the blades go down, the party is over,” said resident Greg Meador.
Harkins said that, in dealing with the buyers, “I told them I’d like to see it stay a golf course.”

He said that a residential subdivision financially would be a better deal because it would bring tax money into the city, but as a golf course that’s something “you can’t put a dollar figure to.”

“Sherwood needs to have a golf course,” the banker reiterated, and the crowd readily agreed. One option discussed was to have the city buy and operate it. “I’d be happy to change the name on the paperwork and loan the city the money,” Harkins said.

Former Mayor Bill Harmon said the city couldn’t buy the property directly, but it could be purchased through the city’s facility board. “That’s how we bought Woody’s Sherwood Forest. The facility board bought it, and the city paid the board back,” the former mayor said.

Alderman Becki Vassar, one of six aldermen at the meeting at the Bill Harmon Recreation Center, told the crowd that the area is zoned R-1 for residential, meaning it would be hard to stop anyone from building single-family homes on the acreage.
“One of our concerns is that if the high-end lots don’t sell, then the developer could come back and ask to build apartments or condominiums, and many think we already have too many apartments.”

The new owners, according to Harkins, would also like to build a commercial strip facing Highway 107. “That could not be done without council approval,” Vassar said. Harkins added that the buyers would be willing to meet with a committee of city officials that Mayor Dan Stedman organized to look into different options.

“We can meet with them tomorrow,” Vassar said. Bob Franks, a former president of the North Hills Country Club, said that when the Matthews family deeded over the land in 1926 it was guaranteed to be a country club and golf course for 100 years. “We’ve got another 19 years. Who changed the bill of assurances?”

Franks and others are meeting with a real estate lawyer later this week to see what happened. He said city residents have used the clubhouse for 82 years. “Everyone has been touched by the country club in one fashion or the other.” Franks said the club was purchased about a dozen years ago by a country club management firm out of Dallas.

“They did a good job and then the oil industry went in the dumps and they sold the club along with a few others that weren’t making enough of a profit,” he said. A group came in, and, according to a number of residents, paid so little for the club that they in effect “stole it.”

The current management is losing money on the facilities. “If I ran my business the way they run the club, I’d sell it too, “ said resident Steve Winchester. Harkins said even if the buyers back out, which he said they wouldn’t be doing, the club would still close. “The owners say they can’t keep feeding this thing,” Harkins said.

Television personality Matt Moser, who also lives in Sherwood, said, “Most of you would agree a municipal golf course is better for all the citizens than an exclusive community of $400,000 to $500,000 homes. My question is can we stop it?”
Mayor Stedman was in Washington for a National League of Cities meeting and was unable to make the citizens meeting, but he did appoint a committee to meet with the buyers.

The committee includes the mayor; Vassar; City Attorney Steve Cobb; Keith Rankin with the parks and recreation committee; Linda Nickle, director of economics development for the city; Sonny Jannsen, director of the parks and recreation department, and City Engineer Mike Clayton.

TOP STORY >>Airlifts saved lives in Iraq

Leader staff writer

Lt. Col. Mark Czelusta, 463rd Operation Support Squadron commander, was presented the Bronze Star by Gen. Duncan McNabb Tues-day following the arrival of Little Rock Air Force Base’s first combat-ready C-130J.

Czelusta was awarded the medal for his exemplary performance commanding the only hub-and-spoke airlift squadron in Iraq while deployed from June 14 to Oct. 15, 2006.

The combined 129 active-duty and reserve personnel and 10 aircraft from five squadrons into an effective combat unit that delivered more than 19,000 passengers and 10,800 tons of cargo to numerous forward-operating bases.

The deliveries eliminated more than 1,675 convoy vehicles and saved countless lives from the treacherous roads of Iraq.
McNabb said Czelusta had done “a superb job” and “made the magic happen” with setting up the hub, helping get others out of harm’s way.

“I might be wearing this medal, but you are the ones who earned it,” Czelusta said to the members of the 222nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, which he commanded while deployed.

“Your drive, dedication to excellence and the incredible effort that you all put out over this deployment and your continuing to do that is awe-inspiring,” he said, adding he is “very honored and proud” to have served with the men and women of the 222nd.

LRAFB is his eighth assignment in 18 years of commissioned service.

TOP STORY >>Campbell witness reluctant to testify

Leader staff writer

Special Judge John Cole found inmate Anthony Shane Scott in contempt of court Tuesday for refusing to testify in the corruption, theft, drug and sex trial of former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and two codefendants. Campbell is accused of running a continuing criminal enterprise, while his wife Kelly Campbell and bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox are charged with participating in the enterprise.

The Campbells, between them, are charged with about 72 crimes, most of them residential burglary, theft of property or theft of drugs. Jay Campbell, Cox and fellow bail bondsman Larry Norwood are charged with conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine. Norwood will be tried separately.

Scott, 31, a former Act 309 state prison trustee assigned to the Lonoke jail, was originally expected to testify to engaging in sex about two dozen times with Campbell’s wife, Kelly Campbell, and receiving contraband from her while housed at that jail.
Cole sentenced Scott to 90 days for contempt and the prosecution subpoenaed Scott to be returned to court Wednesday morning in Cabot, where he will face an additional 90 days if he again refuses to testify, according to deputy pro-secutor Jack McQuary.

The prosecution will ask that Scott’s contempt convictions, which could total one year, be served before resumption of the sentence he’s serving at the Correction Department.

Scott is serving 20 years on a 2003 robbery conviction in Mississippi County and would have been parole eligible in August 2008. But Scott, through his court-ordered attorney, Larry Cook, demanded full immunity and reassignment from his current Correction Department location, where he said he was being threatened and harassed by guards.

Prosecutor Lona McCastlain offered Scott immunity for anything but perjury in his testimony, but she said that the prosecution couldn’t make Correction Department inmate-housing as-signments. Scott, who took the stand only to identify himself and defer to his lawyer, seemed alternately agitated, bored and defiant, looking sometimes toward Kelly Campbell, drumming his fingers on the witness stand while the lawyers argued around him.

Toward the end of Tuesday’s testimony, prosecutors called another inmate, Ryan Childress, who testified that Campbell and the Lonoke police confiscated $15,000 from him when he was arrested for possession and delivery of methamphetamine, but logged in and returned only about $600.

“I walked out with nothing,” said Childress. “No money and no receipt for money.”

The $600 he got back about 30 months later, he said. The state maintains that Jay Campbell diverted that money to his own use, while the defense is expected to show Wednesday that Childress testified to investigators several times before mentioning the missing money.
Jewelry previously identified as having been stolen from the Lonoke home of Jackie and Donna Moore, at the time friends of the Campbells, was re-identified by officers Monday as having been found at the Campbell home during the execution of a search warrant. Among those pieces were Donna Moore’s 1977 Lonoke High School class ring with her initials inside and a gold-nugget bracelet.

During a Monday hearing, with the jury adjourned, Cole ruled that the prosecution could introduce as evidence anything found in Kelly Campbell’s purse the day she was arrested, but not the statements she made after asking for a lawyer.
The purse included a pen barrel allegedly used for snorting or smoking drugs, and the makings of a makeshift pipe, four letters from inmates, two driver’s licenses and an ID for her police chief husband.

Again in the absence of the jury, a state Crime Lab DNA specialist testified that the DNA samples on a drinking straw that prosecutors say has methamphetamine residue on the inside, belongs to Kelly Campbell and to Jay Campbell or a close male family member, apparently shooting down the defense that one of Campbell’s young daughters could have left the DNA while drinking a beverage. Scott also had been expected to testify that he got the straw with Jay Campbell’s DNA on it from Kelly Campbell so he would have some leverage over her husband.

That straw was found wrapped in a paper towel in Scott’s VCR, which was being held in inmate property. Scott’s DNA was not found on the straw. Also this week, the prosecution set the stage for its charge that Jay Campbell diverted $240 from improper cash accounts at the jail and also that his captain, Sean O’Nale, took $1,700, which he later paid back. McCastlain said earlier that O’Nale had been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony. While there were other irregularities with the two cash accounts at the jail, many were typical of the kinds of things revealed in routine annual legislative audits, like money being spent for things like Special Olympics tee shirts or the flower fund. Much of the testimony this week has been the slow and laborious crossing of “t”s and dotting of “i”s as the prosecution pieced together evidence and chain of custody.
During the search of the Campbell residence, about 20 bottles of medication were confiscated, according to witnesses, but state Crime Lab chemist Benjamin Peacock identified them one at a time for the prosecution, finding that while several required prescriptions, only one was a controlled substance. Court will adjourn for the week Wednesday afternoon because of a scheduling conflict, and again next week for three days, Cole ruled.

TOP STORY >>C-130J makes LRAFB landing

Leader staff writer

Fifty years after the 463rd Airlift Group received the Air Force’s very first C-130, the 41st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base received the first active-duty, combat-ready C-130J at a ceremony on base Tuesday afternoon. The 41st Airlift Squadron, which moved here from Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina as part of base realignment, is now part of the 463rd Airlift Group.

Aircraft No. 06-4631 will be used in combat operations around the world. Seven other ultra-modern C-130Js with 314th Airlift Wing are used for training at the base. Gen. Duncan McNabb, a four-star general and commander of Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, presented the “super Hercules” to the base, adding to LRAFB’s legacy of providing worldwide support capability when and where it is required.

The 41st AS, along with the 463rd Airlift Maintenance Squadron, will be home for the new aircraft, which cost $65 million each.

McNabb piloted the new aircraft from the Lockheed Martin plant in Mariana, Ga., aided by the pilot, Lt. Col. Orlando Martinez; co-pilot, Lt. Col. Timothy Lambert; loadmaster, SSgt. Francessco Ventura, and flight crew chiefs, TSgt. Terry Fitzgerald and Senior Airman John Wetta.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” McNabb asked those in attendance about the new J model. “I don’t think I screwed it up, but any problems were from before I got in it and are Lockheed’s,” he joked. McNabb presented Fitzgerald with the key to the plane, saying it was the crew chief who really owns the aircraft and keeps it flying.

LRAFB has seven C-130J aircraft in the 314th Airlift Wing, but they are used solely for training. McNabb said Tuesday was a big day not only for Little Rock, but was also a big day for Air Mobility Command. “What a difference the J has made with its capabilities in the global war on terrorism,” he said.

Col. John Gomez, commander of the 463rd Airlift Group, called the ceremony “a momentous occasion.” “It doesn’t take long for me to point out that no one has more experience operating the C-130 Hercules than the organization that took the liberty of the very first production aircraft more than 50 years ago,” Gomez said.

“No one has a stronger track record at expanding the envelope and increasing our theater airlift capability to support the war effort than Little Rock Air Force Base,” he added. Gomez said the “quantum leap” in capability provided by the J model allows the Hercules to go higher, faster and farther, with more cargo, as the Air Force continues to respond to crises around the world.

“There are challenges ahead, and our determination will undoubtedly be put to the test, but with the proof of the C-130 Hercules and the new C-130J Super Hercules, the 463rd Airlift Group looks forward to the future,” Gomez said. The 463rd Airlift Group has been the Air Force’s premier C-130 airlift wing for more than 50 years, and with the arrival of Air Mobility Command’s first C-130J, the men and women of the 463rd AG are now poised to continue the strong tradition of the Hercules’ excellence, said MSgt. Timothy Bonnoitt, ceremony narrator.

The 41st AS will stand up April 5 under the command of Lt. Col. Dan Tulley. The 463rd AG is a primary component of the global war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. It is are credited with taking more than 5,200 convoys off the Iraqi roads.
There are 2,300 Hercules at locations around the world. McNabb said.

Monday, March 12, 2007

EVENTS>>Winter 2007

The third annual Junior Auxiliary of Cabot Bunko Bash charity fundraiser will be held March 17 at the Cabot High School cafeteria. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and games begin at 6 p.m. Cost to play is $25 in advance or $30 at the door.
Those interested in playing can register at Knight’s Grocery Store in Cabot or by mail to J.A. Bunko Bash, P.O. Box 267, Cabot, Ark., 72023. Make check payable to J.A. of Cabot. Deadline for mail-in entries is March 10; must be 18-years-old to play.
Prizes will be awarded for most wins, most bunkos, and most losses.
Bunko Bash is a charity fundraiser that enables the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot to help the needs of children in the Cabot School District.
For more information, call Paula at 501-843-6274 or email

Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) will distribute USDA commodities beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday at these locations in Lonoke County: Austin City Hall, Cabot Church of Christ, the old city gym in Carlisle, Lonoke County Fairgrounds, Ward Chamber of Commerce, Allport City Hall, the old ambulance station in England at 120 N.W. Second St., Humnoke City Hall, Woodlawn Providence Methodist Church.
Available food items may include canned vegetables, canned meats, canned fruits and dry staples such as rice, cereal, peanut butter, beans, potatoes and powdered milk.
Eligibility requirements for the emergency food assistance program must be met based on 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For more information, contact Mary Abshure at 501-676-0019.

A new Civitan Club is forming in Jacksonville. Meetings will begin Tuesday at noon at the “Smoking Cannon” Bar-B-Que Shack, 1000 South Hwy. 161 in Jacksonville (just past the railroad trestle).
Civitan ( is an all-volunteer international service organization of more than 55,000 members in 23 nations working together in local community clubs to help those less fortunate than themselves. Civitan clubs provide critical and needed volunteer services in their communities with emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities, youth leadership development and good citizenship.
Club organizers invite community residents to attend organizational meetings to be held on the following dates at the Bar-B-Que Shack on March 20 and 27; April 3, 10, 17 and 24 and May 1.
For more information about the Jacksonville Civitan Club, contact C.W. Miller at 815-4282 or or Fred Norman at 975-9815 or

OBITUARIES >> 03-10-07

Virginia Ballard
Virginia Carol Ballard, 69, of Cabot passed away March 6 in Searcy.

She was born May 22, 1937 to the late Charles McMillan and Vida Wetherington McMillan in Barlow, Fla.

Virginia was preceded in death by her husband, Charles D. Ballard; a daughter, Karen C. Ballard; and a brother, Bobby McMillan.

Survivors include her sons, Charles D. Ballard and wife Donna of Cabot, Mark Ballard and wife Annie of Jacksonville, Fl., and Eric Ballard of Cabot; daughter, Wanda Callahan and husband David of Cabot; sister, Sandy “Cricket” Hardgrove of Florida; brother, Michael Bryan of Florida; and eight grandchildren, Michael Ballard and wife Jennifer, Raymond Ballard, Daniel Patterson, Robert Victor Callahan, Kristen Amber Callahan, Debra Ballard, Bryan Ballard and Shae Ballard, as well as her faithful companion and pet, “Bookie”.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 10 in the chapel of Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 12:30 until service time the day of the service.

Helen Starkey
Helen Virginia Starkey, 70, of Jacksonville passed away at her home March 5.  

She was born in Clarendon Nov. 17, 1936 to the late Lee and Alice Wilkerson.  

She was also preceded in death by her husband, Harold ‘Tex’ Watts and a sister, Lottie Smith.

Survivors include her children; Margaret and husband Wesley Perkins of Ypsilanpi, Mich., Brenda  and husband Tom McElmurry of Ward, Bill ‘Bubba’ Watts of Jacksonville and Cheryl Watts and husband Mike Burns of Jacksonville; brother, Gene Wilkerson and his wife Judy of Clarendon; sisters, Betty and husband Bill of Caldwell, La., and Judy Mitchell of North Little Rock; 16 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Sat-urday, March 10 at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.  

June Henderson
June Rebecca Henderson, 90, of Carlisle passed away at her home March 4.

June was born June 5, 1916 at Cripple Creek, Col.

She was the daughter of Perry Monroe Smith and Violet Walter Smith.

She graduated from Stuttgart High School and later attended Arkansas State University at Beebe and was a lifelong member of the Methodist church.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 67 years, A.L. “Toad” Henderson; her parents; and her brothers, Perry Smith and Bill Smith.

June enjoyed gardening and being outdoors. She grew pecan trees and was an avid bird watcher.

Music was an important part of her life. June especially enjoyed going places in her truck. She loved her family, neighbors and many friends.

June was active in many clubs and organizations. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Marson EH Club, the Builders Class of the Carlisle Methodist Church and she was also a member of the Eastern Star.

She was dedicated to the farming community and served on many committees to ensure the continuance and betterment of agriculture.

Survivors include three sons, Leslie and his wife Donna of Berryville; Bill and his wife Jill of Adamstown, Penn., and Bob and his wife Faye of Pine Bluff; five grandchildren, Ryan and Rachel Henderson of Berryville, John Henderson of Pine Bluff, and Jordon and Tyler Henderson of Adamstown, Penn.; one brother, Kenneth Smith of Tichnor, and several nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.

Visitation will be held from 1:15 to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at Carlisle United Methodist Church in Carlisle. A celebration of her life will follow at the church at 2 p.m. with burial at Carlisle Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church of Carlisle or to Carlisle Cemetery.

Herbert Beard
Herbert Cecil Beard, Jr., 79, of Jacksonville passed away March 8. He was a member of First Pentecostal Church of North Little Rock.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Herbert and Bertha Beard; one sister, Hoy Lee Beard; and two brothers, Troy and Thomas Beard.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Tucker Beard; three sons, Bruce Beard, Sr., Jessie Beard and wife Delaine, and Jack Beard and wife Louise, all of Jacksonville; 16 grandchildren; 42 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren; two brothers, Johnny Beard of North Little Rock and William Floyd Beard, of Vilonia; six sisters, Marie Dodson of Little Rock, Inez Quattlebaum of Greenbrier, Lena Davis of Corsicana, Texas, Mary Ann Robinson of North Little Rock, Wanda Sue Yarberry of North Little Rock and Linda Dillon of Jacksonville.

Memorials may be made to First Pentecostal Church Building Fund, 1401 Calvary, North Little Rock, Ark., 72116.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 13 at First Pentecostal Church. Burial will be in Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

Family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 12 at North Little Rock Funeral Home Chapel.

Dixie Talley
Dixie Talley, 83, of Cabot died March 5.

She was born April 9, 1923, at Beebe, to John and Annie Burnett Fields.

She was a member of Cabot First Baptist Church, a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to her husband of 68 years, Edward Talley; her son, Lynn Talley and wife JoAnna of Williston, Tenn.; her daughter, Doris Ann McCarter and husband Ronald of Olive Branch, Miss.; her brothers, Charles Fields of Louisiana and J. E. Fields of Alexander; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were March 8, at Westbrook Funeral Home with burial in Sylvania Cemetery.

Margaret Benafield
Margaret Beggs Benafield, 80, passed away March 6.

She is the widow of Lonoke County Judge Charles H. Benafield of Lonoke.

She was born April 19, 1926 in Carlisle, a daughter of Jim and Ada Cook Beggs. She was a member of Lonoke First United Methodist Church and was retired from Lonoke County and state government, and was a devoted mother, grandmother and volunteer.

She was preceded in death by a son, Julius D Benafield; brother, James Beggs; and sister, Frances Moore.
Margaret was a former Sunday school teacher, American Cancer Society board member, member of AARP, Extension Homemaker Club, Lonoke County Historical Society, Arkansas Genealogical Society and a charter member of the Lonoke Lioness Club.

She is survived by two sons, Larry Holler of Little Rock and Danny and wife Iretta Benafield of North Little Rock; four daughters, Nita and husband Johnie Ray Wilson, Gayle and husband Ronnie Hill of Lonoke, Rita and husband Randy Henard and Lynda Kinsey of Little Rock; 14 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren.

Also brothers, Dan Beggs of Hughes and Lewis Beggs of Lonoke; two sisters Sandra Anderson and Joyce Butler of Lonoke.
Funeral services were March 9 at First United Methodist Church in Lonoke with burial in Lonoke Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Lonoke First United Methodist Church, S. Center and Pine Streets, Lonoke, Ark. 72086; Arkansas Hospice, Inc., 5600 W 12th St., Little Rock, Ark. 72204, or; American Cancer Society or a charity of your choice.

SPORTS >>Falcons start 5A-East with sweep of Chicks

IN SHORT: North Pulaski’s baseball team won both ends of a conference double dip.

Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski baseball team got 5A-East play off to a good start Tuesday night, pulling off a doubleheader sweep of Blytheville to open league play 2-0. The two wins also pulls the Falcon to .500 on the season at 4-4. NP beat Blytheville 5-4 and 7-6, holding off Chickasaw rallies late in both games.

“We tried to give both of them away, but we found a way to hang on,” North Pulaski coach Robbie Walker said. “We’re so young this year, we’re looking for positives. Getting back under control and hanging on for those two wins was a big positive for us.”

In game one, the Falcons grabbed a small early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. They added two more runs in the fourth, but saw the lead disappear when the Chickasaws scored three runs in the top of the fifth.

The Falcons added a run each in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings, and staved off another Blytheville rally in the seventh to secure the win.

With North Pulaski leading in the seventh inning, disaster struck momentarily for the Falcons.

The Chickasaw leadoff hitter walked. A base hit moved the runners up with one out, and an error allowed a run to score and left runners on first and third.

Senior starting pitcher Shane Graham got out of the jam, but not before a brief scare. Graham got the next batter to pop up to first base. The next hitter lined a hard shot to shortstop, where it was snagged to end the game.

North Pulaski took the lead in the bottom of the first when Shoin Hand scored on a sacrifice grounder by A.J. Allen. Hand had reached on an error, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball.

In the fourth inning, Graham started things off with a comebacker that the Blytheville pitcher mishandled. Brian Thurman singled and D. Thurman doubled to drive Graham home. Brian Thurman tried to steal home, but was called out. Daniel Thurman advanced to third on the play, and scored in a wild pitch to give North Pulaski a 3-0 lead. After Blytheville tied it with three runs in the top of the fifth, NP took the lead back in the bottom half of the same frame.

Again Hand got the run. He was hit by a pitch, stole two bases and scored on another passes ball.

Daniel Thurman scored the final run for the Falcons in the sixth inning. He walked and moved to third on a double by Brandon Roberts. S. Winer then hit a dribbler that was fielded by the catcher. The throw went to first for one out, but Thurman beat the throw back home to give NP a two-run cushion at 5-3.

Graham went the distance, giving up three earned runs on seven hits. The two by Daniel Thurman and one by Brian Thurman were all the base hits the Falcons needed for the victory. Blytheville, who doesn’t have a senior on the roster, committed five errors to aid the Falcons’ cause.

“I thought we hit the ball pretty well,” North Pulaski coach Robbie Walker said. “We just hit it right to people. I’ve been pretty pleased with how we’re hitting the ball considering we have such a young and inexperienced team. We’ve got to get better at catching it though. We’re committing way too many errors.”

The Falcons’ game two win saw Blytheville score three runs in the sixth inning to turn a 7-3 deficit into a 7-6 game heading into the last inning. Hand came on in relief of starting pitcher Brian Thurman to close out the seventh inning in just four batters. Thurman went six and a third, giving up just four hits, but NP committed nine errors in the game.

Allen went 2 for 3 with doubles and two RBIs in the win. Graham and Roberts also posted two hits each to lead NP’s offense.

SPORTS >>Sylvan Hills wins its second classic title

IN SHORT: The Bears beat Cabot to win the Jacksonville baseball tournament Thursday.

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills stopped Cabot’s streak of Red Devil Classic championships last year. This year the Bears started a streak of their own by beating the Panthers 4-3 in the tournament championship game Thursday night at Dupree Park.

Cabot pitching held Sylvan Hills to just three hits, only one of which got out of the infield, but a poor inning of fielding along with patient and timely hitting were enough to lift the Bears to victory.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces this year and we’re not hitting it consistently right now, but Cabot’s a good ball team,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “(Cabot starting pitcher Justin) Haas did a great job. We like the fast ball and he brings it up there about 74, 75 miles per hour. He places it real well and did a great job tonight.”

Sylvan Hills got on the board first with no outs in the top of the second inning with Hunter Miller’s third home run of the tournament. It came in the wake of a walk drawn by Garrett Eller, and carried all the way over the light pole in left-centerfield to lift the Bears to a 2-0 lead.

Haas regrouped, and struck out the side to end the inning.

Cabot answered with a run in the bottom of the same inning, but missed an opportunity to do a lot more. The Panthers had the bases loaded with one out, but only managed the single run on a fielder’s choice grounder to third base by Corey Wade.

Shayne Burgan started the inning with a single to right field, and moved to second on a passed ball. Justin Free hit a deep fly to right that moved Burgan to third. Logan Lucas was hit by a pitch and Daryl Murphy walked to load the bases. Wade then hit the grounder that drove in Burgan, and Sylvan Hills pitcher Blaine Sims got leadoff hitter Powell Bryant to pop out to second base to end the threat.

Cabot took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with the help of two Sylvan Hills errors. Sam Bates got the rally started with a one-out walk. Colin Fuller then hit a shot to third base that was mishandled. After Burgan lined out to right, Justin Free singled to centerfield to score Bates. Another error at third off the bat of Logan Lucas allowed Fuller to score and give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.

It was Sylvan Hills’ turn to reclaim the lead and blow a grand opportunity for a huge inning in the top of the fifth. The Bears also got their runs with Cabot’s help. Nathan Eller reached second base to lead off the inning when shortstop Sam Bates threw wild to first base. Shod Neely layed down a sacrifice bunt to move Eller to third. Eller then scored on a wild pitch by Haas.

After Haas walked Mark Turpin, he was pulled for Sean Clarkson, who walked Taylor Roark. Tony Pavan then hit a grounder to short that turned into the second Cabot error of the inning.

Clarkson then committed a mental error after making a nice play to field a hard grounder back to the mound. With the bases loaded, Garrett Eller hit the shot back to the mound, Clarkson turned to go for the double play, but changed his mind, whirled to try to get Turpin at home, but was too late and had to hold the ball.

With Miller stepping to the plate with the bases still loaded, Cabot coach Jay Fitch went with Josh Brown, who got Miller to hit into a 4-3 double play to end the rally with the Bears leading 4-3.

Fitch lamented the mistake-ridden fifth.

“We come into this game and hadn’t made hardly an error in the last three of four games,” Fitch said. “We should just be playing better than that. You can get away with mistakes like that against average teams, but you’re not going to get away with them against good ball teams. Sylvan Hills is too good to be doing things like that.”

The Bears improved to 6-3 while Cabot dropped to 7-2.

Sylvan Hills starter Blaine Sims threw well, but Taylor Roark got the win in relief duty. Sims pitched four innings, giving up three hits and only one earned run. He struck out three and walked three. Roark threw the last three, giving up one hit while fanning four and walking two.

Haas also went four innings. He gave up two hits, both to Miller, struck out seven and walked three.

SPORTS >>Riverview matches with Hughes better than many realize

Leader staff editor

Three days of championship basketball will close Saturday night with one of the least known teams in the tournament taking on a perennial contender when the Riverview Raiders challenge the Hughes Blue Devils in the Class 3A state championship game at 7:45 p.m. at the Summit Convention Center in Hot Springs.

Hughes is considered a preseason contender for the title every year, while Riverview is one of those schools people are pretty sure they’ve heard of, but couldn’t quite locate on a map.

The Judsonia-Kensett consolidated school on the outskirts of Searcy has made a name for itself recently, but still faces a heavy favorite in the Kevin Brown led Blue Devils, who are 26-4 on the season.

Hughes has not lost to a 3A team this year. Three of their losses have been at the hands of Class 6A semifinalists, including two to finalist Jonesboro. The other two losses were to Jacksonville in the Red Devil Classic, and to Earle, a heated rival who advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals last week.

Riverview is 26-8 against tough competition, but not quite as tough as the non-conference schedule the Blue Devils played. Don’t expect to hear any Blue Devils bragging about being the favorites.

“We really try to discount that,” Hughes coach Jason Carmichael said. “I don’t feel as though we’re the favorites in any way. We do have some size that could benefit us, but their perimeter strength is what we’re going to have trouble matching. Bo Banks is like greased lightning out there, and they have some other pretty quick guards that could give us some trouble. We were at a big size disadvantage when we won it back in 2001 too, so we know that can be overcome.”

The Raiders are aware that the Hughes program has more experience in the postseason, but doesn’t believe it’s as big a factor as some may indicate.

“They definitely have a lot of tradition,” Riverview coach Danny Starkey said. “You’d have to give them the advantage as far as experience in games like this. None of the ones they have now have been here, so maybe it’s not as much as people think.”
Some have reduced the game to a battle between Brown and Riverview leading scorer Tony Hall. Starkey and the rest of the Raiders are quick to point out that might be a mistake.

“We’ve had games where teams have done great job on Tony, and still found a way to win,” Starkey said. “I’ll tell you something else, they’ve got a couple of players that you have to stay aware of besides Brown too. If they were to try to key totally on Tony, I’d feel pretty good actually.”

Starkey probably won’t feel good because Carmichael is concerned about a great deal more than Hall.

“Rose Bud did a great job on Hall and I talked to coach Taylor about it,” Carmichael said. “You’d think you hold him to nine points you’re going to win. But as I look at some of their other box scores. You have Banks step up in one game and score 17. They play the same team a month later, he only shoots the ball once and doesn’t score at all, they still win the game. Riverview is not a team that’s easy to prepare for. “

“In fact, I think I’d much rather be preparing for Shiloh this week. They probably have more talent than anyone in our classification, but you pretty much know what they’re going to do. Riverview isn’t that way. Coach Starkey does a great job of customizing his game plans for specific matchups. It’s a very difficult team to prepare for.”

The rest of the players are keenly aware of the advantage their opponent will have in the size department, but aren’t intimidated by it.

“Their size is definitely a factor for them,” junior Josiah Overstreet said. “They’re definitely one of the biggest teams we’ve faced, but I’m not going to say it’s the best team we’ve faced. We’ve played a pretty tough schedule. It’s one of the best teams, but I’m not going to say the best.”

Forward LaMarcus Banks recalled facing the Blue Devils in a team camp over the summer. Hughes won that game by one point, but Banks feels it proves his team isn’t that much of an underdog.

“That was a long time ago and I know we’re much better than we were,” Banks said. “They’re probably better too, but I think we proved we can compete with them in that game.”

Sophomore guard Ben Jones, who has seen his playing time increase dramatically in the latter part of the season, has a firm grip on what his team will have to do to bring home the state title.

“They’re big and athletic,” Jones said. “It’s probably the biggest team we’ve played, so we’re going to have to play smart and take care of the ball.”

Underdog is a role the Raiders have relished recently, but while many people may be counting Riverview out, the Blue Devils have enough experience as the underdog to know not to underestimate anyone.

Hughes’ state title came in 2001 against a Clarksville team that was heavily favored and had the same kind of size advantage Hughes will enjoy tonight. More recently, the Blue Devils were not supposed to get past the Shiloh Christian Saints in the semifinals last Saturday.

Riverview’s players are still playing the “no respect” card, and why not?

It’s worked well since the Raiders lost in the semifinals of their district tournament to Harding Academy.

Whispers were going around that the Raiders had peaked. The 12-15 point wins of midway through conference play were suddenly one-point overtime victories and finally, a loss on their home floor in the conference tournament.

The Raiders carried the sting from that loss, along with a disappointing No. 3 seed, into the regionals at Rose Bud. After beating Atkins with little trouble in the first round, Riverview was supposed to lose to Rose Bud in the semis, and then to Conway St. Joseph’s in the title game. They won both, then moved to state, where they pulled off their biggest upset of the season in the quarterfinals.

The Raiders drew the unenviable task of playing host Valley Springs, who had given Hughes all it could handle in the championship game of its regional, but that wasn’t in Valley’s backyard. The 46-43 win in a hostile environment was an experience that many of the Raiders feel will help them when they played the biggest game in school history.

It was the loss to Harding Academy, however, that point guard Bo Banks believes was the turnaround, not any of the subsequent wins.

“That game hurt bad,” Banks said. “We never doubted though. We knew right then that we were going to come back up.”
Hughes’ Kevin Brown is one of the state’s most high profile players. At 6-foot-6, good post moves, the ball handling skills of a guard and some of the best ups in the state, his profile is deserved.

Brown shocked many people when he chose to sign with Riverview’s neighbor Harding University, but his commitment to the Raiders’ hometown college doesn’t dampen their desire to shut him down.

“He’s the main key for us defensively,” Baker said. “He’s good at so many things we have to make sure we’re where we’re supposed to be and not make any mistakes defensively.”

Hall expounded on the keys to victory that seemed to be unanimously agreed upon by the players.

“We don’t have a lot of height, so teamwork and defense is going to be a key like it has been all season,” Hall said. “The key for us all year is doing all the little things, and we’re going to have to keep it up.”

Riverview junior Thatcher Cooperwood expresses best, perhaps, the team’s attitude heading into tonight’s showdown.

“A lot of people were saying we were going down late in the year, but that was nothing but motivation,” Cooperwood said. “We came in after losing to Harding and had a few really hard practices. We turned up the intensity and carried it to the games. We’re just going to keep doing what got us here.”

SPORTS >>Lady Jackrabbits relish underdog role in title game

Leader sportswriter

It is a term that has been hurled at the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits the entire week in preparation for the 4A state championship game with Central Arkansas Christian today at the Summit Convention Center in Hot Springs.

Regardless of the chances people are giving them to win, the quiet town is decked out in Lady ‘Rabbit purple to celebrate their first trip to the finals since 1978, when Lonoke took runner-up for what was then the AA state title. The year before, the Lady Jackrabbits won their only state championship, leaving two small banners on the girls’ side of the gymnasium wall.

Lonoke High School does not post banners of conference or regional titles, only state championships. An addition to that wall has not been added in exactly 30 years, but Lady Jackrabbits head coach Nathan Morris hopes to change that with a win over the heralded Lady Mustangs.

“When you have something to hang on these walls, it really means something,” Morris said. “We talked from the very first of the year about hanging something up on that wall. We talked about it last year and kind of blew it, but now we have our chance.”

As for the heavily-favored Lady Mustangs, Morris says not having the benefit of the doubt will hopefully work to his team’s advantage.

“Anytime you’re the underdog, you have to be relieved that the target is not on your back,” Morris said. “We found that out during our conference season. We beat everyone the first time through, but when we played everyone again, we had to take everyone’s best shot, and there were a few bumps in the road. With CAC, what a great team that we get to go up against. Anytime you are the two-time defending champions, you’re definitely going to be the favorite.”

An obviously large part of CAC’s arsenal is Lady Razorback signee and senior post Whitney Zachariason. Hardly much girls basketball in this state has been discussed over the last two years without her name popping into the conversation at some point. While the Lady Mustangs may possess the most celebrated player, Morris says the common strategy of giving Zachariason free reign while shutting down the remaining four CAC players is not one that appeals to the second-year Lonoke coach.

“A lot of people do that,” Morris said. “But I hate to know that I’m just going to give up points to someone. What I don’t want to give up is our inside game. She is certainly a great player, and capable of getting us in foul trouble, but what we want to do is limit her touches in there.”

Logistically, there is little reason for CAC to be considered such tremendous favorites other than reputation. Both teams have had impressive runs through the post season, winning conference, district and regional titles. Lonoke comes into the final sporting an overall record of 26-8, while the Lady Mustangs tote a 25-5 record.

One Lonoke player that is glad to wear the underdog logo is senior post Jenny Evans.

“They’re the favorites, that means the pressure is on them,” Evans said. “We have nothing to lose. They are the ones that are supposed to win, so if they lose, they haven’t lived up to what people expected.”

Senior guard Kristy Shinn welcomes not being favored as a point of motivation.

“I think it makes us play harder,” Shinn said. “Because we know we’re supposed to lose. For me, it makes me play harder just to prove somebody wrong.”

The Lady Mustangs understand that the underdog role will serve as motivation for Lonoke, but believe their track record against the Lady Rabbits will provide some confidence heading into the game.

“We’ve won some close games against them,” CAC coach Steve Quattlebaum said.

“I think that gives us a little bit of confidence. At the same time, we’ve had to go through some knockdown drag-outs to get those wins. We know their personnel and how big they are, and we know they come in really wanting to beat CAC.”

The trip to the championship is not only one of tradition for the Lady ‘Rabbits, but also of legacy. When Evans takes to the court today at 2:30, she will be the only second-generation girls player in the school’s history to compete in the state basketball finals. Her mother, Jacquie, was part of the ’77 and ’78 teams.

“The talk all week has been who knows somebody from those teams,” Morris said. “They aren’t even aware that in another 30 years, people that know them will be talking about the team from 2007, and what they did.”

At Thursday’s practice, the mood resembled preseason practice as opposed to a late-season workout. Different drills were going on at all points of the gymnasium floor. Some players worked on shooting, while others were receiving instruction on defending, and a number of the first and second team players scrimmaged. Members of the boys team were even brought in to simulate the physicality of CAC on the court in scrimmages.

Win or lose, the Lady Jack-rabbits have put themselves on the map as one of the most consistent teams in the state. The unfinished business with their former conference rival could make for high drama today, and a win for Lonoke would put an end to one of the most dominant runs by a team in recent memory.

Senior Calisha Kirk’s comments about the game seem to sum up the mentality of the Lady Jackrabbits the best.

“I’m ready to play,” Kirk said. “It’s not like those girls are unbeatable. They are a great team, but we can play against them.”

TOP STORY >>Early time change baffles many here

IN SHORT: Will an earlier daylight savings time create chaos or will it pass unnoticed? How many will be late for church tomorrow?

Leader staff writers

Thanks to Congress, Daylight Savings Time has been moved up to begin at 2 a.m. Sunday rather than the first Sunday of April in order to help conserve electricity.

But Mike Right with the American Automobile Association says the clock change could inadvertently make gasoline prices go up.

And rolling the clocks forward three weeks earlier than usual could mean technology lags behind, something local cities, businesses and organizations have had to consider.

The three-week earlier time change will end on Nov. 4, one week later than usual, resulting in a Day- light Savings Time (DST) period that is four weeks longer than in previous years.

Paul Mushrush, Jacksonville’s finance director, said, it shouldn’t affect the city much as city computer operators had already downloaded a Microsoft program to correct the date change.

Barbara Daniels, the city’s systems administrator, was at the 911 center Friday after inputting the Microsoft program to make sure the time stamps on the calls are unaffected.

Mike Hutton, with Sherwood’s computer services, expected no problems in Sherwood. “It’s a simple fix, and we’ve been on top of it.

“If it affects anyone, it will be those more time-sensitive machinery such as bank time vaults,” Hutton said.

At First Arkansas Bank and Trust, the computers have already been adjusted and are running fine.

The bank’s online banking site, however, had been out of commission for 24 hours from Thursday to Friday, but the problem is not related to the DST adjustment, Roger Sundermeier, vice president of marketing, said.

Sundermeier said all of the bank’s computers and daily-operating systems would work fine after the time change, having addressed any possible problems earlier on.

He also said the main bank’s time and temperature display sign would not have any problems come 2 a.m. Sunday, adding that anytime it is wrong he hears about it.

“That sign we purchased recently came equipped with software to accept the change,” he said.

The signs at the Heber Springs and Greenbrier branches would have been wrong because they were older models, but Sundermeier said they were taken down and sent off last week for a new software chip.

“They will be up and running next week,” he said.

Rebsamen Medical Center does not anticipate any problems with the 21-day-early change.

“We have a master clock that we submit the change to and it resets all the clocks, lights and locks,” Kristen James, marketing coordinator for Rebsamen, said. “We don’t foresee there being any issues,” she added.

Some people say extra daylight hours provided by changing to daylight savings time provides more opportunities for families to be on outside and on the go.

Home Computers
Unless certain updates are applied to people’s home computers, the time zone settings on their computer’s system clock may be incorrect during the extra four weeks of DST, but both Microsoft’s and Apple’s Web site offered updates to prepare.
For home users with Windows Vista or automatic updates turned on, you may not be affected by the change.

But if you use any other Windows operating system, you will first have to download an update – available on Microsoft’s help and support Web site – before DST changes will be applied to your computer.

Apple is also providing software updates for computers with Mac OS X 10 and later.

If you’re a Mac user and still on Mac OS 9.2 or earlier, you will have to use the date and time control panel to manually enable DST.

Outdoor activities
Now that DST will begin in March every year rather than April, we have more daylight to enjoy outdoor activities.

Area golfers will now have more opportunities to play a few holes after work before it gets too dark to see.
“This time of year, we have lots of people that like to play after work and this will give them more opportunity,” David McKinney, general manager of Greystone’s Cypress Creek Golf Course in Cabot, said.

“We will definitely benefit from the earlier time change; it will be great for business,” McKinney said.

“They still might not be able to play a full 18 holes before it gets dark, but they should be able to get in nine holes,” McKinney said.

The extended daylight after 5 p.m. will also allow parents time to play outside with their children without dinner and bedtime looming near.

“Personally, I like it (the change) better coming earlier,” Dr. Randy Walker of Counseling Services of Jacksonville, said. “I can work off the stresses of the day this way,” he said.

People will be able to stay out on their patios and porches longer, and more families will be seen at the ballpark, in their yards and on bicycles thanks to the earlier time change.

For those that suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that tends to occur and reoccur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter, the earlier time change could come as a welcome relief.

“I would think that with more daylight it would help their attitude,” Walker said, adding that was not something he dealt with often.

SAD symptoms (which include tiredness, depression, overeating, body aches, irritability and poor sleep) typically tend to begin in the fall each year and last until spring.

TOP STORY >>N. Pulaski district gets boost

IN SHORT: A bill that would help clear way for Jacksonville district, and help end court desegregation monitoring passes House and now moves to the Senate.

Leader staff writer

A bill requiring the state Education Department to hire consultants to guide Pulaski County school districts from their sprawling-but-well-intentioned desegregation consent decree to the promised land of unitary status — free from court supervision — passed the state House of Representatives Friday 93-1.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

The handiwork of state Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, House Bill 1829 could clear the way for an eventual standalone Jacksonville school district, but regardless, it is designed to bring to an orderly close the expensive 18-year-old consent decree under which the Pulaski County Special School District and the North Little Rock and Little Rock districts have operated, Bond said Friday.

Federal District Judge Bill Wilson ruled about two weeks ago that Little Rock had in fact achieved unitary status, though that district will continue to receive a share of the supplemental $60 million a year provided by the state, Bond said.

Over the life of the decree, the state has supplemented the three districts to the tune of about $700 million, Bond said.

He said the bill, which is expected to go to the Senate Education Committee perhaps as early as Wednesday, puts the state Education Department in a position where it can go to court and it offers districts a carrot by providing opportunities to recover attorneys’ fees and costs and also a gradual phase out of the extra state monetary support.

“We need to figure out a way to phase out 15 years of desegregation funding,” he added.

Bond said he hadn’t yet lined up a Senate sponsor because everyone had been consumed with bills increasing the funding for state foundation aid to schools—aid based on the number of students in each district.

Bond said the Jacksonville area was “ready for autonomy, especially regarding facilities, ready to make decisions for their kids.

“The county has realized Jackson-ville is better suited to deal with its own facilities issues,” he said.

He stressed that the bill doesn’t mandate a Jacksonville district, but would remove current impediments.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” state Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy, said Friday. “I’m really glad that he did that. He’s been real courageous.”

Capps said he would support the bill in the Senate “in every way possible.”

“It has immense possibility for Jacksonville to eventually have its own school district. Jacksonville must have its own school district if it’s going to grow economically and culturally.

“If these two districts will get out of court, so much more money can be used for education,” Capps said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Bond said that the districts have said they’ve met unitary, or desegregated, status but said the threat of losing extra state funding has created a “disincentive” from asking a federal judge to end monitoring.

Currently the state kicks in about $60 million a year for desegregation-related expenses like busing. Pulaski County’s share of that is about $15 million—about 10 percent of the 18,000-student district’s annual budget.

The bill would require the state Education Department to hire a qualified desegregation consultant by October 1 and to seek federal court review and determination of current unitary status and also to seek modification of the current consent decree so that the state could craft a post-unitary agreement, phasing out the desegregation funding until all such funds were spent by an agreed-upon date. Bond’s companion bills, still in committee, would provide $500,000 to reimburse the attorney general’s office for legal fees spent seeking unitary status and $1 million to hire desegregation consultants.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

TOP STORY >>Residents may sue council over vote

Leader staff writer

A group of citizens that a former mayoral candidate called a “small disgruntled group” is looking at filing legal action against the Sherwood City Council.

The council made it clear in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night that they wanted the mayor to terminate the new head of the public works department that the mayor had just hired.

“How did they know that they had the votes in advance, unless they met in violation of the Freedom of Information Act,” said resident Doris Anderson. “Charlie Harmon, who typed up the letter calling for Tuesday’s special council meeting, took that letter to each alderman, that’s a circular meeting,” she said.

“I’ve received a number of calls and emails and all the people I’ve talked to are upset with the council and the strife they are causing. It’s amazing the number of people that have come forward and said the council acted in bad faith,” Anderson said. “The citizens expect aldermen to be better than bullies on the playground.”

Alderman Butch Davis talked with the Municipal League Thursday to make sure the council had not done anything wrong. “We would not intentionally break the law,” he said, “and according to the Municipal League we did not.” She and other citizens will be meeting next week to determine if they will file a criminal complaint with the Pulaski County prosecutor or look at other court action.

Anderson said her group is also talking about putting aldermen back on two-year terms or on term limits.

“He is no longer running the department,” Mayor Dan Stedman said Friday. “I’m currently filling in.”

The mayor said the employee, Lee Church, is still on the city payroll as a temporary employee helping the mayor.
Even though the council voted to have Church terminated, they voted unanimously at a Jan. 22 board meeting to make him the city’s representative to the Joint Emergency Medical Services Board, which oversees the operation of MEMS.

“Church is a good man,” Davis said, “but I just felt he didn’t have the leadership qualities needed for the job of running a department of 40 people. I had leadership concerns with him.”

Davis added that it is the mayor’s prerogative to make department head appointment, but that the council has the right to accept or object to the decision.

“I’m hoping things will now get back to normal,” Davis said.

The mayor concurred.

“I just want to leave the situation alone and get turned in the right direction of doing a good job for the people of this city,” Stedman said, adding, “I hope the council will see fit to do their job of legislating and let me make decisions and run the city.”

The council called for the Tuesday meeting, in a March 5 letter to the city clerk, and after listening to the mayor and a full room of residents who mostly supported him, aldermen quickly voted against the mayor without publicly offering any reason.
Once the meeting opened, Alderman Charlie Harmon, the son of former Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon, quickly made a motion to rescind Stedman’s hiring of Lee Church as the public works director.

No one was fired to make the hiring of Church possible. The person who had been temporarily filling the position since it became vacant last year was moved to another city position.

The mayor started his defense, saying he was voted in by 62 percent of the residents, and carried every precinct, to run the city.

Harmon interrupted, “Is any of this relevant ?”

“Yes, it is,” Stedman said, adding that the alderman would have an opportunity to respond. But when it came time for Harmon to respond, he along with the rest of the council sat quietly, waiting to cast their vote.

Stedman told the council that in the 65 days that he had been mayor that he had worked every day. “I’ve been in the day-to-day trenches,” he said. “I have the authority to hire my own department heads.”

“Church has all the qualifications. I did all the interviews and he was the most qualified,” Stedman said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, he called the council’s decision “government at its worse. Neither I as the mayor, or Lee Church, have been given the opportunity to succeed or to fail. This is a sad day for the city.”

TOP STORY >>DNA results aired at trial

IN SHORT: Defense challenges drug evidence on Jay Campbell found on a straw and fights off testimony that inmates were intimate with his wife.

Leader staff writer

The defense Friday moved to suppress part of a lab report that found the DNA of Jay Campbell or a close blood relative on a straw that had methamphetamine residue on it.

Special Judge John Cole had already dismissed the Cabot jury for the day in the corruption, drug, theft and continuing-criminal-enterprise trial of the former Lonoke police chief, his wife Kelly Campbell and bail bondsman Bobby Junior Cox when attorney Patrick Benca asked the judge to suppress that finding.

Benca is Jay Campbell’s lawyer.

The report said that Kelly Campbell’s DNA was the primary sample on the straw and that there was a 99.9 percent chance the second DNA was Jay Campbell’s—unless it belonged to one of his young daughters.

Benca said Campbell or his daughters could have used the straw to drink a beverage.

Cole did not rule on the suppression motion, but ordered Lonoke Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain to have the lab results, the report and any remaining DNA samples available for inspection by the defense.

Benca said he would like another lab to test the subordinate DNA, alleged to be Jay Campbell’s.
McCastlain said there might be no DNA left on the straw.

Benca questioned the straw’s chain of custody. Benca argued that Jay Campbell is not charged with using methamphetamine and that introduction of the DNA evidence suggesting he used the drug would prejudice the jury.

He is charged with conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine with Cox and bail bondsman Larry Norwood, but no one has yet testified that they saw Jay Campbell use drugs.

Anthony Shane Scott, one of two prisoners who say they had sex with Kelly Campbell while they were state Act 309 inmates in Lonoke, is alleged to have asked her to get incriminating evidence—such as the straw—so he would have leverage over Jay Campbell should the chief try to harm him in some way.

Kelly Campbell’s lawyer is expected to question why she would have provided Scott with evidence that implicated her.
The head dispatcher, Lisa Marty, testified Friday morning about various financial records, incidents at the jail and as custodian of the records, verified recordings of telephone calls to the jail from the Campbells.

Marty also testified that when she redirected security cameras at the Lonoke jail to better keep an eye on Scott, Jay Campbell became “very angry.”

She testified to seeing Kelly Campbell straddling Scott while she treated an arm he injured.

Testimony ended at about 10:30 a.m. to allow time for the DNA hearing before a planned noon adjournment for the day.

In testimony Thursday, a Correction Department inmate who served for a few months as an Act 309 trustee in the Lonoke City Jail testified about an affair he had with Kelly Campbell. (Act 309 inmates were assigned to the jail to relieve overcrowding in state prisons.)

That inmate, Tim Ainsworth, testified that he had intercourse with her five times, sometimes twice a day. He said they had sex in her husband’s office, in the alley behind the jail, in the Panda House restaurant parking lot, in a recreational vehicle parked at the jail and in her bedroom during a cookout at the Campbell home.

Ainsworth’s testimony was slated for Wednesday, but Kelly Campbell reportedly was sick and court was cancelled that day.
She wore a scarlet jacket Thursday when he did testify and she rushed up the aisle and briefly out of the courtroom once in tears.

Ainsworth testified that had himself transferred back to prison because he feared the affair and the drama surrounding it would bring down not only himself and Kelly Campbell, but also the entire Act 309 program at the Lonoke jail, affecting the lives of about five trustees.

Ainsworth testified that Jay Campbell had challenged both him and Kelly Campbell about the nature of their relationship. Both told him they were just friends, but Ainsworth said he decided it was time to go back to prison.

On cross-examination, Kelly Campbell’s lawyer, Mark Hamp-ton, asked him, “Did Kelly ever ask you to lie?”
“No,” he said.

Did she force him or threaten him to have sex with her?

“No,” said Ainsworth.

He identified a stack of letters he and Kelly Campbell exchanged after he returned to prison.

Ainsworth also identified about a dozen photographs of Kelly Campbell as pictures that she sent him after he returned to prison.

ADC inmate Andrew Baker identified about 10 pictures of Kelly Campbell and another inmate, Anthony Shane Scott, embracing, standing together or with her sitting on his lap.

Baker said he took the photos with Kelly Campbell’s camera at her request.

Scott is the other inmate Kelly Campbell is accused of having intercourse with. He has not yet testified.

Kelly Campbell averted her gaze when Baker and Ainsworth testified and looked down while the photos of her with Scott were displayed on an overhead projector. Jay Campbell looked at the pictures.

As he has throughout, Benca, Kelly Campbell’s attorney, elicited testimony from Baker, Ainsworth and others that they felt they were treated like human beings by Jay Campbell and that they never saw him use or sell any drugs or do anything they knew to be illegal.

Other testimony placed Kelly Campbell at the city baseball field pretty regularly when Scott was working there as an Act 309 trustee.

Trustees testified that the Campbells took them four-wheeling, fishing or swimming on occasion.

They also testified that they had worked for Jay Campbell and Mayor Thomas Privett at their homes or on their private property, and that they were paid for their labor, at least sometimes.

Lonoke Parks Director Roy Lewis and his assistant, Richard Johnson, testified that Scott—Kelly Campbell’s other alleged inmate lover—had been a good worker until he became involved with her. She visited him at the ball field frequently and he talked to her from the ballpark phone for long periods of time.

Tried Bluff
Correction officer Arkemia Johnson testified that when Scott was sent back to prison from the Lonoke Act 309 program, Kelly Campbell drove down to the diagnostic unit’s main gate the same day, identified herself as Chief Campbell’s wife and tried to bluff her way into the prison to see Scott.

“She was crying and emotional,” testified Johnson. Her lieutenant told Johnson to send Campbell away, but Johnson said, “She wouldn’t go.”

She said Scott was sent back by the Lonoke police captain but that her husband, the chief, hadn’t authorized it.

She left and returned later, saying Scott was there because of a mistake Capt. Sean O’Nale made and that also Scott had a dying relative and she was there to help him through his crisis.

The trial resumes Monday, but will not meet Thursday and Friday, when John Wesley Hall, Cox’s lawyer, has to be out of state, Cole ruled.