Wednesday, May 09, 2007

SPORTS>>Bad luck buffets SH Bears

Leader sports editor

Things started poorly for Sylvan Hills Saturday in their Class 6A baseball quarterfinal matchup with West Memphis, and they stayed that way for three hours as the Bears were the victims of the tournament’s biggest upset, losing 10-2 to the Blue Devils at Harding University.

They went down 2-0 in the top of the first inning, as the Bears gave up two runs right off the bat. Things went just as poorly for Sylvan Hills at the plate early in the game. Three-hole hitter Hunter Miller had a pitch behind his back hit the bat and roll fair, where it was scooped up and thrown to first almost before Miller realized the ball was in play. Amazingly, it was only the first of two wild pitches in the game that careened of Bear bats.

“We got off to a bad start and just never could catch a break,” Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton said. “I still wasn’t really worried though until the Jackson kid hit that home run that put them up 7-1. I started thinking we might be in trouble then.”
Leading 4-1, West Memphis added three more runs on a three-RBI dinger by Jackson Smith. The three were runs were unearned, as a two-out error at short kept the inning alive. Stewart Warner reached with a two-out single to start the fourth-inning rally before Scarborough reahed on the E6.

The lead grew to 10-1 in the top of the sixth, but the Bears got out of what was almost a mercy rule ending. Jackson Smith, TJ Holt and Hardage walked the bases loaded with no outs. Harrell then hit a fly to shallow right field that wasn’t deep enough to score Smith from third, but Quentin Smith singled to right to drive in two runs.

The Bears threatened to rally in the bottom of the sixth, but managed just one run despite putting runners on second and third with one out and running Hardage off the mound.

Tony Pavan led off with a triple down the right field line and scored on a single by Thornton. Nathan Eller and Roark then walked and moved up a base each on a wild pitch. That drove starting pitcher McCully Hardage off the mound and to third base, where he would prove just as instrumental.

Turpin then struck out, and bad luck again reared its ugly head for the Bears. Miller pulled a hard line drive down the third base line that was snagged by Hardage, who turned and stepped on the bag to double up Eller and end the inning.
“If that’s one foot either way, we score a couple of runs have a runner on,” Tipton said. “You never know what could happen from there. It just wasn’t our day, and give West Memphis credit. They’re playing good baseball right now and they made plays when they needed them.”

Roark took the mound in the seventh and sat the Devils down in order, but the Bears couldn’t score in the bottom half of the frame, despite putting the first two batters on base.

West Memphis took the lead in the first when Dylan Scarborough reached on a fielder’s choice after leadoff hitter Stewart Warner walked. Scarborough scored on catcher Jackson Smith’s double to left field. Three batters later, a single by Charlie Harrell drove in Smith to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.

West Memphis added two more in the top of the third after the Bears managed just one base hit in the first two innings.
This time the Devils got some help. Bogard gave up a hit to Scarborough and threw a wild pitch to move the runner to second to start the inning, prompting Tipton to pull him and insert Blaine Sims on the mound.

Sims inherited a 2-0 count to Smith, who then reached on an error at shortstop. Sims got the next batter to pop up to second, but another error at short scored Scarborough.

After a strikeout, a base hit to centerfield by Quentin Smith scored Jackson Smith, an error in center then prompted Hardage to try and score, but he wasthrown out at home to end the inning.

The Bears scored in the bottom of the third. Nathan Eller was hit by a pitch and scored two batters later on a double to right field by Mark Turpin, but the momentum was short-lived. The Blue Devils posted another run in the top of the fifth on three successive base hits by Harlen Bell, Tucker Holder and Warner.

Sylvan Hills left 13 runners on base and had two runners caught on the base paths in the game. West Memphis doubled Sylvan Hills hit total with 12 base raps, and committed no errors compared the Sylvan Hills’ three miscues.

“I thought my kids never quit, they just couldn’t get a break” Tipton said. “I thought we had a great year. We won conference with a lot of new faces and a lot of people picking us not to win it this year. I told them to not judge their season on one game. We had a great year, we’re conference champs and we did a lot of things that we can build off of next season.”

SPORTS>>Badgers off to title game

Leader sports editor

Nashville – Seniors stepped forward for the Lady Badgers Monday night in the semifinal round of the Class 5A state fastpitch tournament in Nashville. Beebe senior second baseman and leadoff hitter Brandi Burkhalter went 3 for 3 and senior pitcher Callie Mahoney tossed a no hitter to lead the Lady Badgers to a 2-0 victory over Malvern and their second state championship appearance in three years.

“The seniors have really stepped up,” Beebe coach Terry Flenor said. “All through conference and this tournament, they’ve all three (including senior catcher Sara Flenor, who drove in the game’s first run) really played well and been leaders for us.”
After advancing to the title game two years ago and losing to Batesville, Beebe was upset in the second round of state last year. The sting of that loss hasn’t left the team, and the starting pitcher believes it has helped her focus through this tournament.

“It’s not so much just me, but the whole team has been more focused,” Mahoney said. “When everyone is playing well I’m more relaxed and focused, so they’re a big part of it too.”

Beebe wasted little time getting something started. Burkhalter slapped a single into shallow left field to open the bottom of the first. She stole second with one out and moved to third on a sacrifice by Chelsea Sanders. Cleanup hitter Flenor then hit a grounder into the gap in the infield. Lady Panther shortstop Sydney Holyfield knocked it down, but couldn’t corral it in time to get Flenor at first.

Beebe pitcher Callie Mahoney cruised through the first three innings, giving up no hits while throwing only 16 pitches.
The Lady Badgers got back in business in the bottom of the third, but failed to score when Malver turned in impressive 5-3-6 double play.

Burkhalter reached with a one-out infield single to second base. Emlly Bass then hit a grounder to third and was barely thrown out at first base. Burkhalter tried to sneak into third, but an alert Malvern first baseman Erin Crumby spotted the runner and threw to Holyfield, who was covering third and applied the tag.

The Lady Panthers kept the momentum going early in the top of the fourth with their first base runner. Leadoff hitter Bree Clayton reached with a walk, but two groundouts and a flyout followed and Beebe’s 1-0 lead remained intact. Malvern paid for not capitalizing on its first opportunity when Beebe went up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Panther pitcher Jennifer Meaks struck out the side in the frame, but a crucial error and a base hit amid the strikeouts put the Lady Badgers up by two runs.

Sanders reached to lead off the inning on an error at shortstop. After Flenor and Mykia Cox struck out, first baseman Ashley Watkins singled to right field to drive home the runner.

Beebe’s first big mistake came in the top of the sixth inning when Mahoney walked nine-hole hitter Stephanie Kirk after getting ahead 1-2 in the count.

It didn’t prove a costly mistake due to the physical gift of height possessed by the six-foot Watkins. Clayton followed the walk with a high line drive down thefirst baseline, a shot that Watkins stabbed out of the air and subsequently turned to touch first base and complete the double play.

“We needed all of her six feet on that play didn’t we,” Flenor said. “A 5-10 girls may not have made that catch.” Amanda Draper then walked, but Mahoney got three hitter Ashley Boyks to ground out to second base to get out of the inning.

Burkhalter got her third hit of the game in the seventh, but didn’t come round, and Mahoney saved her best inning for last.
The senior hurler struck out cleanup hitter Scarlett Riley to start the inning. She then threw an inside pitch to Erin Crumby that appeared to bang off the handled of the bat, but was ruled a hit batter by the umpire. Mahoney then fanned Meaks and got Holyfield to chase the first pitch, which she grounded harmlessly to shortstop where Bass scooped it up and threw to Watkins to seal the victory.

Mahoney finished the game with three strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter while the defense committed one error behind her.

Beebe got five hits, three by Burkhalter and one each by Flenor and Watkins.

The Lady Badgers will play West champion Vilonia at 12 p.m. Friday in the state championship game. The Lady Eagles beat the Southwest champion White Hall 4-0 in the other semifinal game.

That game will take place at LadyBack Yard on the campus of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

SPORTS>>Owls dominate semifinal

Leader sportswriter

Harrison – The Abundant Life Owls will make their second consecutive trip to the state baseball finals in Fayetteville this weekend after routing Harding Academy 14-0 in the Class 3A semifinals at Jack Williams Field in Harrison Monday night. The Owls went up by eight in the bottom of the second inning when a rainstorm hit, delaying the game for over two hours.
Abundant Life pitcher D. J. Baxendale ended up only two batters away from a perfect game, striking two HA players with pitches in the top of the first inning. J. T. Fisher also reached after a passed ball on his third strike in the first inning, but the Wildcats’ early threat faded, and they would not find their way to the bag for the remainder of the game.

The Wildcats held Abundant Life in the first inning, but the Owls got busy in the bottom of the second inning. The entire order was run through before Harding Academy could even get the first out of the frame, as they went from Chris Cain on the mound to a brief stint for Braxton Bennett before putting Matt Lincoln on to finish things off.

Owls coach Wes Johnson says that seeing the Wildcats on two previous occasions was beneficial in preparing for the showdown.

“We had seen every arm they had,” Johnson said. “And we were able to come up with a good plan on how to attack them. We just relied on the kids to understand the count and know where to put it. That sounds easy, but we actually talked about it a lot. The guys were just focused; they really executed out there.”

As for Baxendale’s performance at the mound, Johnson said the rain delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “He was electric tonight,” Johnson said. “If anything, that rain delay helped him out. Before the delay, he had only thrown 31 pitches. He even told me later that he thought being able to loosen up all over again made the difference, it made him able to throw his slider better when he came back.”

The Owls scored every way imaginable in the second inning. RBIs, fielding errors, passed balls and aggressive base running led to an 8-0 lead before the skies opened up, but once play resumed, Abundant Life still had two runners on with only one out.

The bottom of the second started out with a single for Jerry Lawson, but an error in center allowed Lawson to take three to put a score in position. He came in on a single grounder by Thomas Garrick for the first run of the game, but the Owls were far from done.

Colby Woolverton reached with an error, and helped the second run score when he conned the HA infield into trying to pick him off at second, allowing the courtesy runner home. Woolverton then scored on a single by Seelinger, prompting the Wildcats to pull starting hurler Cain for Bennett.

Bennett was soon in even more hot water, with a 5-0 deficit and bases loaded with no outs. A single for DH Josh Selby scored two more, and Lawson’s second trip to the plate in the inning generated run number eight.

A two-hour break did little to slow the Owls’ momentum once the game resumed. New pitcher Lincoln did finally manage to get two outs on Abundant Life, but the Owls still came away with a hit by Justin Treece that scored Garrick and 12, with another run scoring on a passed ball for an 11-run lead after two innings.

Jake Chambers added another run in the bottom of the third when he came in on an error at shortstop, and Lawson scored on a passed ball. Treece added the final run for Abundant Life in the bottom of the fourth inning on a hit by Austin Crabill.
Baxendale ensured there would be no late Harding comeback this time, striking out five of the final nine batters he faced. A pop up to right field by Lincoln was the Wildcats’ final opportunity to stay alive, but the catch was made, and the celebration began for the Owls.

Lawson, Baxendale and Lawson all finished 2 for 3 at the plate. Treece was 2 for 3 with a triple, and Crabill finished 3 for 4. The Owls will play for the 3A state championship Friday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville against Horatio, an 8-7 winner over Pea Ridge in the late semifinal game Monday.

EDITORIALS>>Will we know?

Before Congress is through, we may finally know why President Bush wanted to fire his own chief law enforcement agent for eastern Arkansas and install a fire-breathing partisan from the White House political staff. The fired attorney, Harry E. “Bud” Cummins, is just as interested as the rest of us.

It was obviously political all along, but the conflicting accounts of Attorney General Roberto Gonzales and his aides were not satisfying. More clues keep creeping out.

Cummins went to Missouri one year ago to investigate fraud allegations against the administration of Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican. Cummins got the task because the U. S. attorney up there was hip deep in the scandal himself and had to pass the job to someone outside the state. Family members and associates of the U.S. attorney, who was another Bush appointee, got juicy no-bid contracts for a new state program undertaken by the governor. Cummins quickly began to get pressure — telephone calls from a big Texas law firm with White House connections that was representing Gov. Blunt. The lawyer wanted Cummins to give his man a public clean bill of health. A big and close election was approaching. Cummins said he couldn’t under Justice Department rules and — surely only coincidentally — he was soon notified by Washington that he was being fired.

Now a new wrinkle. While Cummins was investigating the contracts, the Missouri U.S. attorney announced that he was quitting. The president appointed an aggressive Justice Department political operative to the interim job in Missouri. He rushed to Missouri and filed a lawsuit against Democrats before the election alleging voter fraud, flouting established Justice Department protocol in the process. After the election, a federal judge said the suit made no case whatsoever. Congressional investigators want to know if the troubled U.S. attorney who quit had another problem with the White House besides his crony relations with the governor. Was he caviling at filing the politically motivated but phony case? Cummins said he never unraveled Missouri politics. It is probably healthy for him that he didn’t. Maybe subpoenas and the required oath will finally unravel it.

EDITORIALS>>Excited over gas prospect

From Bentonville to Helena, people are starry-eyed at the prospect of riches from the prospecting for natural gas in what is known as the Fayetteville Shale. Thousands of people are already depositing checks for gas leases, and communities down through the impoverished Delta are investing hope in gas for an economic turnaround. The gas boom is to bring royalty checks, jobs and commerce.

Like all booms from the exploitation of resources, the prosperity will never live up to the exuberant hopes, and there will be as many losers as winners — maybe more. Already, the environmental consequences are becoming apparent in some areas: degraded land, despoiled and vanishing water. Drilling in shale is more complicated than drilling in, say, the Arkoma Basin of western Arkansas and the environmental perils are far greater. It requires unusual technology and millions of gallons of water at every well site. Arkansas has a long and sad history as an economic colony. From the early days of the railroad forward to the Fayetteville Shale, Arkansas’ abundant and sometimes rare natural resources have been mined and taken away with little compensation, leaving ravaged land behind. It is the story of bauxite, oil, natural gas, other petrochemicals, coal and timber. So eager has the state been for development that it has taxed the removal of resources lightly and regulated the exploration weakly. States similarly rich in valuable minerals have done much better. Neighboring Texas and Oklahoma are good examples. Western states have demanded better stewardship.

Severance taxes are only an example but they are symptomatic. Texas, a state known to be extremely friendly to the big energy interests, nevertheless demands a heavy severance tax on the removal of any mineral. You pay Texas a tax of 7.5 percent of the market wellhead price of natural gas pulled from its soil. That pays for environmental regulation and a great university system. What does Arkansas charge? An exploration company does not even notice the tax because it is so invisible. The tax is a grand total of three-tenths of one penny per thousand cubic feet of gas, regardless of the market price. The Texas tax is hundreds of times greater. Every state demands that commercial exploiters pay far more back to the public than does Arkansas.

But the legislature this year did not want to take up the tax while the big rigs were rolling into the state. You might discourage them. Fat chance that they would give up vast riches over a few dollars of taxes. Governor Beebe said he did not want to try to raise a tax at this time. Maybe later. The politically potent Stephens family, which owned vast energy deposits and exploration interests, made sure the tax was virtually non-existent for half-a-century while all the exploration occurred. Things have not changed.

Our pollution and mining laws were largely written in the 1950s. We need a thorough and thoughtful environmental code to protect landowners and the general public. The only effort in the legislature that just adjourned was to actually reduce the liability of the drillers and make it harder to sue them for damages to land. Mercifully, it did not pass, but it is the kind of economic regulation that companies have come to expect of Arkansas. Shale gas can provide a modest economic infusion for Arkansas, but we should see to it that it is developed responsibly with a concern for the condition of the land and streams and for the well-being of all the people of the state as taxpayers and stewards of the earth.

OBITUARIES >> 5-09-07

Alvia Fowler

Alvia “Granny” Faye Fowler, 92, of Beebe went to be with her Saviour Jesus Christ May 7. She was born Jan. 19, 1915, at Heber Springs to the late Kit and Bertha Bowers. She was preceded in death by her husband, Humbert Fowler; two brothers and two sisters.

She is survived by one daughter, Linda and husband Doyce Owens of Beebe; three grandchildren, Ricky and wife Trudi Owens of Austin, Angie and husband David Rowden of Merriam Woods, Mo., and Cindy and husband Andrew McColgan of Beebe; seven great-grandsons, Matt, Rick, Jr., Justin, Zack, John, Jeremiah and Houston; three great-granddaughters, Linda, Tosha and Emily; five great-great-granddaughters; four sisters, Eva Mann of California, Pauline Parrish of Little Rock, Reva Kelley of Beebe and Patsy Wilson of Floyd.

Funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 9 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Beebe Cemetery.

Dorothy Griffin

Dorothy Griffin, 78, of Austin went to be with her Lord and Savior May 7.

She was born May 18, 1928, in Searcy to the late Earnest Willie and Nellie Beakley Norman. She was a member of Austin Station Baptist Church where she was active in Women on Missions, music programs, vacation bible school and was a sunday school teacher.

She was preceded in death by husband, Cecil Herbert Griffin, and her sister, Wanda Griffin. She is survived by two sons, Mickeal Griffin and wife Robin of Cabot and Norman Griffin and wife Brenda of Ward; two brothers, Richard Norman of Texarkana and E. W. Norman, Jr. and wife Twilla of Austin; one sister, Alice Davis and husband James of Austin; four grandchildren, Joshua Griffin and wife Monica, Amy Johnson and husband Jeffery, Tim Griffin and wife Jenilee and Amber Teague and husband Brian; five great-grandchildren, Mason Griffin, Jeffery Ethan Johnson, Hoyt Griffin, Levi Griffin and Ava Griffin.

Funeral will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 at Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe with burial in Old Austin Cemetery at Ward.
Memorials may be made to Alzheimer’s Arkansas, 10411 West Markham, Suite 130, Little Rock, Ark., 72205-1409 or a charity of choice.

Davio Barrosa

Davio Ruben Barrosa, 37, died April 28. He was born Aug. 29 to Alberto J. and Noemi S. Barrosa. He proudly served his country for 18 years.

He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Romulo DeLuca; grandmother, Experanza DeLuca; aunt, Alicia Pawlak and uncle, Juan Sturiza.

He leaves behind his wife, Rose and two sons; Vincent and Aurelius. He is also survived by his uncle, Hector DeLuca; cousins, Daniel and Patrica Santone, Ricky Barrosa, Christina Barrosa and Robert Barrosa, Maria Alejandra, Andrea Sturiza and numerous friends and extended family.

“He was a beloved husband, father, son and airman. We all have been blessed to have known him and how he touched our lives with his sense of humor, warm smile and twinkling eyes. Our lives will never be the same. He will be greatly missed,” according to his family.

Funeral arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

Duane Beck

Duane Len Beck, 48, passed away on April 29.

He was born March 18, 1959 in Oklahoma City, Okla. He graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood in 1977. He attended Henderson University in Arkadelphia as a music major for four years.

He moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex in the fall of 1981. He worked for Teter’s Faucet Parts for 22 years. He had recently worked for a courier service in the metroplex.

He was a loving and good son, brother, and uncle. He was a good friend to many. He was a very special best friend to Holly and Nina.

He was preceded in death by his grandmother, Elva Adams of Searcy; and his parents, Ranford R. “Pete” Beck and Myrtice Beck of Jacksonville.

He is survived by his sister, Dureta Sharp; brother-in-law, Mike Sharp; and nieces, Bethany Sharp and Katie Sharp Johnston, all of Jacksonville. Burial was May 6 at Honey Hill Cemetery in Searcy.

Joseph Ford

Joseph Charles Ford, M.D., 74, of Belton, Texas died April 30 at his home.

He was born in Beebe to Cleo and Guy Ford.

After graduating from Beebe High School, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College on a football scholarship, where he achieved a double major in English and Biology. He went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. After medical school, he began an internship at Scott and White Hospital, where he met his wife, Mary Anne.
Upon the completion of his internship, he started his practice in Moody, Texas. After one year, he entered the Army, where he was honorably discharged as a captain. After one year of surgical residency at Scott and White, Joe and Mary moved to San Antonio where they raised five children. While in San Antonio, he became board certified in both surgery and plastic surgery. After 30 years of a successful private practice, they moved to Belton.

He went on to establish a plastic surgery residency program at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Temple, where he taught the art and science of his craft. He loved the practice of plastic surgery. It was his mission in life. He always taught his students to listen to their patients. He said, “They’ll tell you what is going on with them.” He never gave less than a “savage effort” in whatever he did.

He was a 32nd degree Mason of the Moody Lodge where he had been a member for almost 50 years. He received the Golden Trowel Award, the highest award given to an individual member. Though he suffered a massive stroke, which left him in a wheelchair for three-and-a-half years, still he lived with determination and dignity. “He never let us down. He was the strongest, most imaginative person we’ve ever known,” his family said.

He leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Mary Anne; sister, Margaret Ford; and children, Frances, Joanne, Joe Jr, Guy, and Mary; and grandchildren, Joe III, Jessica, Andrew, MaKayla, Reagan, and Cora.

Services were May 5 at the Little River United Methodist Church at 104 N. Kings Trail, Little River, Texas, with the Rev. Linda Mitchell officiating.

Graveside service were May 6 at the Beebe Cemetery in Beebe where he was raised.

Barbara Marino

Barbara Ann “Nanny” Marino, 68, of Hot Spring, departed this life May 3.

She is survived by two sons, Robert Marino Jr. and George T. Marino Sr.; six daughters, Patricia J. Terrero, Theresa Ann Fawcett, Chickie Terrero, Barbara J. Marino, Judy L. Orsatti, and Christina J. Blankenship; two sisters, Theresa Moustakos and Pattie Volivar; two brothers, Edward Cone and George Cone; 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held May 4 at North Jacksonville Church of Christ by Minister LeRoy Wood. Funeral arrangements were by Wood Funeral Home of Jacksonville.

Newman Smith

Newman Smith, 91, of Griffithville, died May 4. He was born March 20, 1916, to James and Grace Smith. He was a retired farmer and sawmill operator. He was preceded in death by his wife, Bertha Smith, and is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Graveside services were May 7 at Welcome Home Cemetery near Des Arc.

James Mitchell

James Darren Mitchell, 36, of Cabot passed away Tuesday, May 1. He was born Dec. 19, 1970 in Brinkley to Gary David Mitchell and Eva Florence Norman.

He was preceded in death by his father, Gary Mitchell; two grandmothers, Dorothy Norman and Mary Mitchell.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly Mitchell of Cabot; two sons, James Brandon Mitchell and Ryan Mitchell; and three daughters, Kim Mitchell and Kayla Mitchell of Cabot and Tiffany Petty of Des Arc; mother and stepfather Eva and Jim Lipe of Cabot; brother, Rev. Gary Mitchell of Clarksville; sister, Loretta Sisco of Ok-lahoma; and stepsister, Sandy Anderson of Cabot; grandfather, James Norman of Cabot; one granddaughter, Takiah Murray of Des Arc; father and mother-in-law, J.L. and Ethel Wood of Cabot; and several nieces, nephews, and many other family members and friends.

Funeral services were May 4 at Calvary Pentecostal Church of God in Beebe with burial following at Evans Cemetery in Cabot. Funeral arrangements by Thomas Funeral Service.

TOP STORY >>Millage passes vote Tuesday in Beebe

Leader staff writer

Voters in the Beebe School District have approved a millage extension that will help pay for construction of an early childhood building. The unofficial Tuesday vote to extend the millage was 386 for and 105 against.

The extension will allow the school district to pay $500,000 for eight acres and a 42,000-square-foot sewing factory on Holly Street. By using the steel and concrete in the building, district officials hope to save about $1.5 million over the cost of building from the ground up.

Steve Elliott, the architect who frequently works for the district, has estimated that by using the existing frame and concrete slab, the new school will cost $100 a foot instead of $135. Not counting McRae, which became part of the district by consolidation, the new school will be the first in Beebe to be built off the main campus.

The project is expected to cost about $10 million, with the district paying 37 percent and the state paying 63 percent.
The millage extension will support a $12.2 million bond issue. Of that amount, $6.6 million will be used to retire existing bonds. The new bond issue will be retired in 2037, about 16 years after those it will replace.

Dr. Belinda Shook, superintendant for the district, waited at the courthouse for the results and said she was grateful to all the volunteers who helped promote the extension.

“I’m obviously very pleased that our community supports our schools as much as they do,” she said.

TOP STORY >>Gas prices near $3 mark

Leader staff writer

About a dozen stations in Northwest Arkansas were selling their “cheap” gas at $2.99 a gallon late Tuesday, trying hard not to break through the $3 mark like the national average has done.

On the national level, nearly half of the states, 24 out of 50, are averaging more than $3 a gallon, with California leading the pack at $3.49 a gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. The national average is $3.04 a gallon, while in Arkansas it’s at $2.87 a gallon, up 21 cents in the past month.

While the Springdale and Fayetteville stations were one-tenth of a cent away from $3, a number of stations in Russellville were at $2.73 Tuesday, some of the lowest prices in the state.

Locally, prices ran from a high of $2.92 per gallon of unleaded at a Sherwood station down to $2.76 at three Cabot stations.
Mike Right, with AAA, which daily surveys 85,000 stations to determine price averages, said the major problem is with refineries at the moment. “Many of them either have been down for maintenance or still are and it will take time before they are running at full capacity,” Right said.

Locally, Cabot had the cheapest gasoline prices late Tuesday, with an average of $2.81 for a gallon of unleaded gasoline.
Jacksonville was at $2.83, followed by Beebe at $2.85 and Sherwood with an average of $2.87 per gallon of unleaded.
According to the AAA survey, Pine Bluff and Texarkana have the lowest averages in the state at $2.84 for a gallon of unleaded, Fort Smith, along with central Arkansas, is at $2.86 and northwest Arkansas is at $2.94.

For the local figures, nine stations were surveyed by the Leader in Jacksonville and Cabot, eight in Sherwood and four in Beebe.

Other states averaging more than $3 a gallon include California, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

The states with the cheapest gas are Mississippi and Tennessee at $2.84.

TOP STORY >>Chapter 2 of Lonoke trial is set to resume

Leader senior staff writer

It’s too early to know whether or not he will charge bail bondsmen Bobby Junior Cox and Larry Norwood with solicitation for capital murder in regard to their alleged attempts to hire a hit man to kill a prosecutor and a star witness, Special Prosecutor Larry Jegley said this week.

Jegley said he had just received a copy of Special Judge John Cole’s order appointing him to prosecute the two men, who were codefendants of former Lonoke Police Chief Jay Campbell and his wife Kelly until Cole severed their trials from those of the Campbells.

“I’ve pretty much got a clean slate on this,” said Jegley. “First I’ll evaluate speedy trial issues and get with the judge.”
Without the jury in the room, Ron “Bear” Tyler testified in the recent Campbell trial that Cox tried to hire him to kill Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain and meth cook Ronald Adams, and that Norwood was in the car when they scoped out the homes of the purported victims.

Since McCastlain was an alleged victim, Cole assigned the trials away from her office to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Until Tyler’s testimony, Cox was a co-defendant with the Campbells, but because of Tyler’s testitimony, Cole declared a mistrial regarding Cox and severed his trial from that of the Campbells.

Even if results of the current state police investigation don’t warrant the murder solicitation charges, the two men are charged with conspiring with Jay Campbell to manufacture methamphetamine.

Cox also is charged with terroristic threatening and participating with Campbell in an ongoing criminal enterprise.
Cole sentenced Jay Campbell to 40 years in prison May 2 after a jury of six men and six women convicted him of 23 charges, including running a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, numerous charges of residential burglary, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, theft by receiving, hindering prosecution and theft of services. End to end, his terms added up to 315 years, but with good behavior he can work off his 40-year term in 10 years.
The most sensational charge against Kelly Campbell—having sex with inmates in her husband’s custody—were dropped, but she was convicted of 26 crimes, including multiple counts of residential burglary and obtaining a controlled substance by theft.

The jury found that in case after case the Campbells would go to the homes of friends from church and the neighborhood and he would visit with them while she would excuse herself to the restroom and rummage for painkillers and other controlled substances, which she would steal.

At sentencing, Cole ruled that the Campbells could be free on an appeals bond, but changed his ruling a week later, leaving them unexpectedly in jail, perhaps for the duration of their sentences.

Their new lawyers are expected to appeal first Cole’s ruling on the appeal bond. Otherwise, the Campbells will remain in prison for the 18 months or so until the state Supreme Court rules on their appeal. Jay Campbell is currently being evaluated at the Diagnostic Unit at Pine Bluff and Kelly Campbell is locked up at the women’s McPherson Unit at Newport, a Correction Department spokesman said Tuesday. After their motions, Cole excused defense lawyers Patrick Benca and Mark Hampton from further representation of the Campbells for purposes of appeals.

The Lonoke County Prosecutor’s Office will not be involved in the Campbell’s appeal, according to Stuart Cearley, the chief deputy. That task falls to the state attorney general’s office. Cearley said Tuesday that no court dates have been set for the trials of former Lonoke Mayor Thomas Privett and former Lonoke police dispatcher Amy Staley.

Privett is charged with theft of services, a misdemeanor, for having Act 309 prison trustees assigned to the city hang his Christmas decorations and repair his home air conditioner.

Privett has never disputed the charge, saying he didn’t know it was improper. Staley is charged with sexual assault for allegedly having sexual relations with one of the inmates.

TOP STORY >>Contract for center in Cabot too vague

Leader staff writer

The budget committee of the Cabot City Council said Monday night that the contract for building the community center was vague and probably had not been properly followed, so the city arguably does not owe the $74,382 that remains unpaid to the architect and construction manager. Still, most agreed with the city attorney that not paying would land the city in a court battle that would almost certainly be lost.

“I think the city needs to pay whatever bills we need to pay and move on,” said City Attorney Jim Taylor. When committee members asked why, he responded, “Because we’d be digging in a mud hole.”

Alderman Eddie Cook, chairman of the committee, agreed. “We just need to pay our bills and move on,” he said. At issue are the changes in construction plans, called change orders, which led to cost overruns. The change orders totaled $97,572. Of that amount, $29,619 is still owed to Kullander Construction. Additionally, the city owes architects Taggard, Foster, Currence & Gray $44,761.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams received the bill for the change orders in January shortly after he took office. The building account was emptied to pay all but the $29,619. Then, Williams turned the matter over to the budget committee, say ing the bill was more than his $20,000 spending limit.

What surfaced as the matter discussed, however, was that all the change orders were verbal. Nothing was in writing. The contract with the architects gave them authority to approve change orders for the city, but it said they were to provide written copies of the change orders and proper documentation as to the necessity of the change orders. However, the contract didn’t specify when the city should receive the paperwork.

In this case, the change order was prepared in April after Taylor asked for it, and there was no supporting documentation.
“We paid a bill before we had the change order,” Alderman Teri Miessner said during the discussion Monday night. “I’m not OK with that.”

But Alderman Becky Lemaster, who deals with contracts in her used car business, said the city had voided the contract anyway when Williams paid the $67,953 without the proper paperwork. Lemaster said the city should pay the remaining bills and try to collect from the company that prepared the site instead.

A problem with the dirt work was discovered during excavation for the pool. The remedy for that problem cost the city an additional $37,073.

Since Williams took office, all ordinances and other council action must go before one of the three council committees he created before being considered by the full council. In theory, if the five members of a committee approve an action, it will pass with little discussion when it goes before the full council.

But only three committee members attended the Monday budget committee meeting and Miesser said she would not vote to pay the bills on the community center. So instead of voting to approve paying the bills, the committee voted to send the matter to the full council when it meets May 21.

TOP STORY >>22 applicants for Cabot school job

Leader staff writer

Five of Cabot’s own have applied for superintendent of Cabot Schools, a position the Cabot School Board has been trying to fill since Dr. Frank Holman, the current chief, announced his resignation back in March.

Dr. Tony Thurman, principal at Cabot High School; Teresa Chance, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment; June Elliott, director of federal programs; Charlie Donham, director of transportation; and Robert Martin, director of career and technical education, were among 22 applicants who submitted resumes to the school board showing their interest in the position.

Although it has been rumored that the school board had chosen a replacement, board president David Hipp said that rumor was false.

“Nothing has been decided yet,” Hipp said Tuesday. “We haven’t sat down and discussed who our top choices are to narrow it down.”

The last interviews will take place this evening, and then the board will discuss the person each member has in mind to fill the position, or continue with a second round of interviews. The board hopes to have the new superintendent selected in time to announce at Tuesday’s school board meeting, but it might take longer.

“If we don’t have someone clear in our mind by the 15th, we will do second interviews and call a special meeting of the school board to make the announcement,” Hipp said.

He added that board members have been keeping their thoughts to themselves during the interview process, so he doesn’t know which way the other members are leaning.

“I can’t feel what the others are thinking. I wish we knew who the top candidates were at this point. It’s gone longer than I would have liked to see it go,” Hipp said.

The five in-district applicants all want to help Cabot schools continue its legacy as an excellent school system. Dr. Thurman said he sees applying for the superintendent’s position as a great opportunity to stay in a district he loves. “I see this as a position to work with all the students in the district. My family enjoys being part of the Cabot community and we would like to be here for a very long time,” said Thurman, who has also been a Cabot middle school principal.
Chance wants to see Cabot continue to grow and remain at the top in education.

“I want us to provide a quality education for all students and prepare them for the future we don’t see right now,” Chance said. Martin, who spent seven years as the Cabot High School principal, seeks a genuine commitment between the school and the community.

“It’s a great district and the opportunities the past administrations have created have been good ones. I want us to continue to grow and continue the level of education we provide,” Martin said. Donham, who has spent 26 years in Cabot as a teacher, coach and administrator, envisions improving an already great school system.

“I applied for this position because I want to make the district even better. I am dedicated to the Cabot community. Anything I can do to make Cabot a better place is my goal,” Donham said. Elliott was out of town for a conference and unable to provide a response.

Cabot advertised the superintendent’s position with the Arkansas School Boards Association and the National School Board Association and posted it on the district’s Web site.

Those postings paid off, bringing in 11 resumes from within Arkansas and six from out of state. In-state applicants include: Wayne Fawcett of Bald Knob, Bruce Evans of Piggott, Randy Byrd of Brinkley, Joseph Cornelison of Horatio, James Simmons of Conway, Michey Billingsley of Bauxite, Larry Bennett of Green Forest, Rhonda Bradford of Mayflower, Richard Wilde of Castle Rock, Jim Loyd of Paris, and Gary Masters of Marked Tree.

From out of state, applicants include: Pat Travis from Detroit, Texas; Jake Honea from West Columbia, Texas; Bob Biggs from Pleasant Hope, Mo.; James Dubus from Pittsburg, Texas; Michael Mitchell from Corsicana, Texas, and Chris Carem from Gastonia, N.C.

Whomever the board chooses as the next chief of the almost 9,000-strong district will make between $135,000 to $175,000, depending on prior experience, education level and the size of the district the successful candidate comes from. The new superintendent, who would receive a three-year contract and start work July 1, will also receive $5,000 for moving expenses if necessary.

Holman’s last day is June 30, when he leaves to take the superintendent position with the Lincoln Consolidated School District near Fayetteville, where he previously worked for 16 years.

Monday, May 07, 2007

SPORTS >>Owls walk to Region 2 title victory

IN SHORT: Abundant Life wrapped up a No. 1 seed for this weekend’s 3A state tournament with a run-ruled 13-3 win over Magnet Cove.

Leader sports editor

In the first inning it appeared that a blowout was imminent and coming early. The blowout didn’t happen early, but it was indeed imminent as Abundant Life strolled its way to a 13-3 victory over Magnet Cove and the class 3A Region 2 tournament championship Tuesday night at Harding University.

The Owls turned a 5-3 lead into a mercy-rule ending in the bottom of the fifth with nine walks and two base hits. Magnet Cove used its two best pitchers as much as it could, which turned out to be for three innings. The lack of depth in the mound caught up to them in the fifth, and the Panthers couldn’t get one across the plate.

Owl coach Wes Johnson suspected things might get easier for his squad after the early innings.

“They have two pretty good arms,” Johnson said. “But we knew they didn’t have much left because they went seven innings in round one and then had to go eight innings Monday. We’re blessed to be very deep in pitching, and we only had to go five innings in the first two games, so we felt like we’d have a pretty good advantage as the game progressed.”

The Owls threatened to bust the game open in the bottom of the second inning. Josh Selby led off with a single to centerfield, but was thrown out at second when Thomas Garrick hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Garrick took second on a passed ball and scored on an RBI single by Carson Seelinger. Starting pitcher Trey Moss then aided his own cause with a home run just over the fence in left field. Colby Woolverton and Dylan Eberle hit back-to-back singles and Justin Treece walked to load the bases with just one out, but Abundant Life got just one more run. DJ Baxendale hit a sacrifice grounder to score Woolverton before Selby struck out his on his second at bat of the inning.

The rally left the Owls up 5-0, but the cushion didn’t stay comfortable for long.

With one out in the top of the third, Panther leadoff hitter Jake Stevens reached on a throwing error at third by Baxendale, and Trevor Stone followed with a deep shot over the fence in left.

Abundant Life was in business in the bottom of the third when Garrick reached on an error at third to start the frame. Seelinger and Moss then struck out before Woolverton walked, but Woolverton was picked off by the pitcher when he broke for second too early.

The Panthers made it 5-3 on the first pitch of the fourth inning when Tyler Senn sent the pitch over the fence in left-center.
The Owls finally did put the game away in the bottom of the fifth when the Magnet Cove pitching staff lost control. Baxendale walked to start things off, and it was just the first of nine walks in the inning.

Selby hit a double to left field after Baxendale’s at bat, and the next five consecutive Owl batters got free trips. Treece then hit a sacrifice fly deep to centerfield that scored Moss, but it was the first and only out of the inning. Chambers then walked to reload the bases, and Baxendale hit a two-RBI single down the right-field line to make it 12-3. Selby then walked to load the bases again, and Garrick walked to drive in Chambers and end the game on the mercy rule.

The Panthers didn’t take long to make some noise in the first, but were unable to produce any runs. Stevens sent the first pitch of the game deep into left field for a double. Magnet Cove thwarted its first scoring opportunity though when Stevens was thrown out at third trying to sneak an extra base after Stone popped up to first base. A little patience would have resulted in a run, as Bobby Whillegar sent the next pitch to the same spot as Stevens’ hit for another double.

Moss then fanned Joe Efird to get out of the inning unscathed.

Abundant Life faced Lincoln at Harrison High School in the first round of state last night after Leader deadlines. Lincoln is the No. 4 seed from Region 1. A win in that game pits the Owls against the winner between East Poinsett County and Camden-Harmony Grove at 2:30 today.

Also from Region 2, Harding Academy took on Shiloh Christian yesterday at 2:30. The Saints, along with Abundant Life, Prescott and Pea Ridge, are among the favorites to make a run at the state title.

Should the Wildcats beat SCHS, they would face the winner between Prescott and Cotter at noon today.

SPORTS >>Beebe favored in first round

IN SHORT: The Lady Badgers won the 5A-East Conference outright, now they hope to repeat that success with a sweep of the state tournament.

Leader sportswriter

Yesterday’s first round 5A state playoff game between the Beebe Lady Badgers and the Camden-Fairview Lady Cardinals was a bit of a mismatch, with two different teams on two completely different agendas.

The Lady Badgers have been to the finals and semifinals the past two years respectively, and are going after the state title they feel is rightfully theirs. They also wrapped up their third-consecutive conference title this season to earn the No. 1 seed out of the 5A-East Conference.

The Lady Cardinals are the No. 4 seed out of the 5A-Southwest Conference. They finished up with records of 13-14 overall and 6-8 in conference. Lady Cardinals coach Crissy Klober says that while their opponents are fighting to complete a dynasty, her squad is simply trying to earn respect in their first-ever playoff appearance.

“Our team has a different motivation,” Klober said. “Nobody thinks we deserve to be here. That’s our motivation, to prove to people that we are worthy of being in this position.” Klober says that her team has the ability to compete with anyone on any given day, but she also understands the potency of their first-round opponent.

“I have family in the Beebe area, and I know how rich their tradition is when it comes to softball,” Klober said. “They are elite competition. All I can do is prepare the girls and let them know what a great squad we are going to face. It’s a newseason; the records are wiped clean, so we are just going to go out there and play the very best we can.”

Beebe coach Terry Flenor says this is the moment his team has been waiting for, but not the be-all-end-all of what determines their success as a team.

“This is a team that went 40-2 in conference the past three years,” Flenor said. “That achievement, I believe, is bigger than any state championship at the end of the day. The state title measures how good you were for that one weekend, not over a long period of time. You have to be good to get there, but there are so many variables that you can’t control. Someone gets sick or gets injured, the weather, or you can get stuck with a bad umpire. All these things can take you out just like that, and my speech to them before they take the field will be about how proud we are of their efforts over the past three seasons.”
A win over Camden yesterday would put the Lady Badgers in a game today at noon with the winner of yesterday’s game between Alma and Monticello.

Other first-round games included Malvern against Greene County Tech, and Crossett vs. Greenwood in the top half of the bracket.

Southeast champion White Hall faced Siloam Springs, Hope took on East No. 3 seed and defending state champion Nettleton. Nettleton won the state title with the same seed a year ago. West winner Vilonia took on Pulaski Robinson and Wynne faced Hot Springs Lakeside.

The tournament semifinals will be Monday beginning at 4 p.m. to set up the championship game at the University of Arkansas’ Lady Back Yard in Fayetteville on May 11.

SPORTS >>NP point man signs with Lyon

IN SHORT: Quinn Cooper will take the next step at Batesville’s Lyon College later this year.

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski senior Quinn Cooper is trading in his maroon and gold for the red and white of Lyon College beginning in the fall. Cooper signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the Batesville-based university on Wednesday afternoon at the NPHS library.

North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper could hardly hide his enthusiasm on Wednesday. As both Quinn’s head coach and father, he addressed the audience prior to the signing. His brief speech concerned the team effort involved with drawing attention to Quinn. The Falcons were dramatically improved this past season, making the 5A state playoffs after only winning two games the year before. Raymond Cooper said that without the success the Falcons shared last season, the chance for any of his players to move to the next level would most likely not have been there.

“If it wasn’t for the efforts of this team, it would have been hard for Quinn to have this opportunity,” Raymond Cooper said. “I’m excited because of what’s happening for him, but I’m also proud of the great strides this program has made.”

It wasn’t athletic prowess alone that aided Quinn to become a future Scot. His 3.1 GPA and ACT score of 25 were also major selling points to Lyon coach Kevin Jenkins. Jenkins, now in his 12th year as head basketball coach for the Scots, said that he’s looking for Quinn to be a scorer right off the bat and a leader further down the road.

“That’s something we really need, is a point guard who’s going to lead,” Jenkins said. “We think that Quinn is going to be a kid that can do that. We need someone who can step up into a leadership role, and also do what he needs to do on the floor. I feel like he fits into our program perfectly.”

Quinn will be the fourth Scot of local connections when he arrives on campus in the fall. He will join Lonoke’s Jeremy Brown, Beebe’s Johnathon Donaldson and Cabot’s Chad Glover on the team.

Lyon College has a reputation as a top-notch institution, ranked in the top 20 academically in the nation. Raymond Cooper says improvement in the classroom was another factor that made this past season a better one for his team, and one that helped Quinn go to the next level.

“He made great strides in the classroom,” Raymond Cooper said. “All of our kids have a 2.0 or better. We try to encourage all of them to go to college, whether it’s trying to get a scholarship or going to a community college, or even as a walk-on. They all bought into going to class and making the grade, and we will keep trying to get them to buy into college.”

Quinn himself was humble over the signing. The senior gave credit to his teammates before discussing his future plans, which include majoring in business administration.

“I just want to thank them,” Quinn said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten this. We were committed to being a team this year; there wasn’t anyone that didn’t pull their weight. We did this together.”

EDITORIALS>>Huck tries to impress

The first big cattle show of the 2008 season for Republicans, which was promoted as a debate but wasn’t, left the pastoral scene of presidential politics unchanged as far as we could tell. For our favorite son, Mike Huckabee, that is good news and bad news.

It is good news that he did not stumble and he proved to be as facile on the big stage at the Reagan Presidential Library as he was in a south Arkansas pulpit or on a Don Imus radio show. He exhibited flashes of wit and delivered the by-now well-rehearsed lines on the familiar issues as well as any of the other nine contenders, and better than John McCain.

But the bad news is that Mike Huckabee did not break out of the also-runners, and time is running short. He seemed after 90 minutes to have been almost an afterthought. Everyone was still talking about the big three — McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani — and you had the vague feeling that Huckabee got less face time than any of the candidates with the possible exception of the truest conservative of them all, Congressman Ron Paul. Could that be true or was our former governor just that bland?

It is hard to declare anyone a winner when 10 middle-aged to aging white men all clad in cool dark gray strive for 90 minutes to exceed each other in encomiums to conservatism.

Romney, the square-jawed former governor from the country’s liberal commonwealth, Massachusetts, looked and sounded the most presidential, if you pay little attention to content. He tried to explain the dramatic reversal of principles that now characterize his persona as honest changes of conviction rather than of convenience.

Everyone now, including the social liberal Giuliani, is recasting himself as both a classical conservative and a religious fundamentalist. Giuliani, the frontrunner, struggles peculiarly in these venues, and his fortunes could not have been helped Thursday by his painful efforts to explain himself on abortion, or his multiple marriages.

Senator McCain, who seemed unbeatable a year ago, looked panicky at the beginning and terribly rehearsed throughout. After a year of being a yes man to the president whom no one in the room wanted to embrace, McCain is reverting now to the straight-talk express to revive his sagging fortunes. He was the most critical of the president, but it seemed somehow hollow.

We said Huckabee did not stumble. He had ready and familiar answers to all the predictable questions. On the one that was new — would he support a constitutional amendment to allow people born outside the United States, like the governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who sat on the front row, to serve as president of the United States? — Huckabee got a big laugh when he said he’d be happy to support the amendment, after finishing his own two terms as president.

Chris Matthews, the frenetic loudmouth TV commentator who emceed the show, trapped Huckabee on a little bit of a straddle.

Asked about his remarks on an earlier TV show where he seemed to derogate Romney for his insinuation that the Mormon church would not influence his policies, Huckabee said he was only saying that his own faith would guide his policies and that he never intended to criticize Romney.

Matthews did not buy it, but Huckabee can claim that he did not mention Romney in the sentence where he condemned those who said their religious faith would not dictate their policies.

The governor was not called to account for his one outrageous claim, a boast that he has repeated at almost every political event.

All the candidates got a few seconds to proclaim their hostility to taxes. Huckabee said that he had a consistent record of tax cutting and that he had slashed taxes in Arkansas “94 times.” His record is this: He signed one big tax cut, a 1997 income tax revision drafted and passed by the other party. He supported two other smaller tax cuts that became law.

He fought elimination of the sales tax on groceries. He raised taxes far more than he cut them. He raised them so much that treasury surpluses set records his last two years in office.

If Huckabee can fashion himself into a major candidate — the Iowa straw poll in August is his goal — his dissimulation as a world-class tax cutter will not be permitted to pass.

No one cares to set the record straight now, but you can be sure that his rivals will pin him if he becomes a threat.
Huckabee’s best bet is to be honest about his values and his record.

In a state with the poorest education and weakest public services in the country, he worked practically with Democrats to get things done, even when his own party was not much help and even when they required more taxes.

If he cannot win on that record and on straight talk, he cannot win on anything. Too bad the first big debate did not help him see the light.

OBITUARIES >> 05-05-07

Joseph Ford
Dr. Joseph Charles Ford, 74, of Belton, Texas, died April 30 at his home.

He was born in Beebe to Cleo and Guy Ford. After graduating from Beebe High School, he attended Arkansas State Teachers College on a football scholarship where he achieved a double major in English and biology.

He went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. After medical school, Joe began an internship at Scott and White Hospital where he met the love of his life, Mary Anne.

Upon the completion of his internship, he started his practice in Moody, Texas. After one year, he entered the U.S. Army, where he was honorably discharged as a captain. After one year of surgical residency at Scott and White, Joe and Mary moved to San Antonio where they raised five children. While in San Antonio, he became board certified in both surgery and plastic surgery.

After 30 years of a successful private practice, they moved to Belton. He went on to establish a plastic surgery residency program at the V.A. Hospital in Temple where he taught the art and science of his craft.

He loved the practice of plastic surgery. It was his mission in life. He always taught his students to listen to their patients. He said, “They’ll tell you what is going on with them.” He never gave less than a “savage effort” in whatever he did.

He was a 32nd degree Mason of the Moody Lodge where he had been a member for almost 50 years. He received the Golden Trowel Award, which is the highest award given to an individual member.

Though he suffered a massive stroke, which left him in a wheelchair for three and a half years, still he lived with determination and dignity. He never let us down. He was the strongest, most imaginative person we’ve ever known.
Joe leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Mary Anne; his sister, Margaret Ford; and his children, Frances, Joanne, Joe Jr., Guy, and Mary; and six grandchildren, Joe III, Jessica, Andrew, MaKayla, Reagan, and Cora.

Graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at the Beebe Cemetery in Beebe, where he was raised. Funeral services by Westbrook Funeral Home in Beebe.

Charles Milbrad
Charles Milbrad, 77, of Jacksonville passed away May 3. He was born Jan. 20, 1930 in Fairmont, W.V.
He retired with the rank of master sergeant after 26 and a half years of service in the Air Force. Later he worked at the VFW as quartermaster.

He is survived by his mother, Sarah Beard Milbrad; three step-sons, James Merritt and his wife Alana of Little Rock, Rich Merritt and his wife Ashley of Jacksonville and Everett Merritt and his wife Jackie of Boaz, Ala.; and four grandchildren, Terry, Paul, Kristena and Michael.

Memorial services were May 4, at Moore’s Funeral Home Chapel in Jacksonville.  

Susan Lang
Susan Alice Lang, 90, of Jacksonville passed away April 28 at her home.  She was born Aug. 20, 1917 to the late Coatnie Moore and Everette Griffin.  

She was a homemaker and babysat many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren through the years.
She was a member of The Church of God of Prophecy for 58 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 73 years, Uriah Lang; one son, Uriah Lang, Jr.; and five brothers, Coy, Ceicle, Curtis, Clark and Aubrey Griffin.

Survivors include two sons, Burnice Eugene Land  and wife Wanda of Cabot, John E. Lang and wife Shela of Jacksonville; three daughters, Frances Smith and husband C.L., and Priscilla Louise Armstrong and husband Roger of Beebe, and Barbara Taylor and husband Jack of Jacksonville; two brothers, Floyd Griffin of Dallas, Texas, and Pat Griffin of Sherwood; 13 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral was May 4 at McArthur Assembly of God with Rev. Larry Burton officiating.  Burial was at Sixteenth Section Cemetery. Arrangements were by Moore’s Jacksonville Funeral Home.

EVENTS>>Spring 2007

The Jacksonville Senior Center will host Jax to the Max, a free event from 9 a.m. till noon Monday in celebration of Older Americans Month. Activities will include a cookie cook-off, bean bag baseball, ceramics, dominoes and games. Everyone over age 60 is invited. The theme for this year’s observance, “Older Americans: Making Choices for a Healthier Future,” is a call to think differently about health and long-term care for older people now and in the future.

The Cabot Relay for Life Team, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, needs help to “Paint the Town Purple” by placing purple ribbons on the doors of businesses and homes during the week of May 11. Participants may purchase a purple ribbon for their businesses for $10 and $7 for their homes. Orders can be placed early by contacting Teri Miessner or Peggy Clark at 501-533-2310 or 501-533-2201.

The Department of Workforce Services in Jacksonville will be hosting a Job Fair and Career Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 15 at the Municipal Building, 1 Municipal Drive in Jacksonville. Business owners are encouraged to participate, as well as seniors considering going to college or finding employment. For more information, call Virginia Cox at 982-3835.

Arlene Cherry Memorial Library located at 506 N. Grant St in Cabot is holding Super Hero Saturday today. This free event will begin at 9 a.m. with a special appearance by Spiderman and comic book reading at 10 a.m. Free comic books will be given out. This celebration is in observance of National Comic Book Day. The library will be open until 1 p.m. today.

Jacksonville Chapter #1597 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees monthly meeting will be Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at Western Sizzlin in Jacksonville. The guest speaker will be Joanne Zeitler, a well-known Tai Chi instructor.

Fellowship Bible Church, 12701 Hinson Road off Napa Valley Drive in Little Rock, will be hosting a juried festival of artists’ depictions of the story of Jonah.
Jonah Arts Festival and Sale Exhibition opens Saturday, May 12. Times to see the show are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 12 and 13 and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 14, 17 and 18.
Marty Smith of Cabot will exhibit a painting titled “Storm” (left).
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform “Jonah” by award-winning conductor David Itkins, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18 and at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 19. To purchase tickets go to

The first annual Thunder Roads Arkansas Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial Poker Run will kick off on Saturday, May 12 with breakfast and registration at 8 a.m. at South Bend Fire Station, 4421 Highway 294 (Military Road) in Jacksonville.
First bike out will be at 10 a.m. and last bike out at 11 a.m. Lunch will be served at the end of the ride. The run is sponsored by South Bend Fire and Rescue, Ward Fire Department, Vilonia Fire Department and North Pulaski Fire Department. A $20 ticket includes a poker card, T-shirt (to the first 200 people who register), door prize ticket and meal ticket. Co-riders pay $10, which includes a poker card, door prize ticket and meal ticket. For more information, contact Brenda at 501-276-0244, Kenny at 501-944-4856, Tim K. at 501-650-5059, Tim T. at 501-454-3170 or emai

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot is sponsoring Spring on the Green Saturday, May 12 at the Rolling Hills Country Club. The event will begin at 7 p.m. There will be an outdoor dinner with entertainment by the band Superlow.
Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple. There will be a cash bar available too. All sales will benefit the children of the community. For more information or to purchase tickets call Natalie Berry at 501-605-0238 or Becky Helton at 501-944-8862.

The Cabot Fire Department will be conducting a fundraising drive to help raise funds for the purchase of a new fire station and needed supportive equipment. For the next several weeks, representatives will be going door to door offering an 11X14 family portrait for only $30.

TOP STORY >>Deal to build subdivision not dead

IN SHORT: Developer believes he will eventually become the owner of the property and build a gated community on the site.

Leader staff writer

“The contract deadline has not passed,” said Ron Campbell, the businessman trying to buy the 100-acre North Hills Country Club and golf course and turn it into a gated community of high-end homes.

Campbell had worked out a $5.1 million deal to buy the Sherwood course from James Rodgers.

“I was very surprised to see the media reports that the deal was dead and that Rodgers was offering to sell it to the city,” he said, adding, “no one told me.”

Campbell talked to James Rodgers, the current owner Thurs-day. “We’re still talking about the fate of the property,” Campbell said.

“Sometime in the future we will be the owners of the property,” Campbell said.

But Rodgers says the due date on that agreement has come and gone and put the property back on the market.
Also, Rodgers has said he plans to cease club operations after this weekend, and if the city wants to save the golf course, it will have to work out an agreement with him to maintain the greens.

“The city is putting together a proposal for us to look at. It’s just a matter of working things out,” Rodgers said.
How long the greens will last without care, Rodgers said, is unknown. “There are a number of factors including the weather. They could die out in a matter of hours or a month, but they really do need daily care,” he said.

At a Sherwood City Council meeting in late April, aldermen approved the first reading of a resolution calling for a six-month moratorium on any and all building permits, rezoning requests or any other work projects for the 100-acre golf course on the corner of Hwy. 107 and Country Club Drive.

Mayor Bill Harmon explained that the moratorium was necessary to give the city time to complete its feasibility study, get an appraisal and “decide on how to pay for it and bring it before the people for a vote.”

 The city has issued a moratorium before when Chapel Links Apartments wanted to build in the city. The apartment builders took the city to court over the moratorium. The city eventually pulled the moratorium and the apartments were built.
Campbell said he talked to Rodgers Thursday and “we both feel the city could be in for a lawsuit because of their interference.”

 Campbell said his plan for the golf course property is to turn it into a very nice single-family home subdivision. “Much like Osage Falls in Maumelle,” he said.

Rodgers said he has suggested to the city to buy the golf course three or four times over the past few years. “I don’t think they thought we were serious until the for sale sign came out,” he said.

Rodgers added that every time he went to the city and talked to either Mayor Bill Harmon or Mayor Danny Stedman about buying the property, the talks have always been very friendly and positive.

But the city never pursued the property until Campbell made an offer on the property earlier this year.

TOP STORY >>Project could bring water to farmers

IN SHORT: A dream for 50 years, area farmers could be plumbing the depths of the Arkansas River for irrigation within seven years.

Leader senior staff writer

Farmers in Lonoke and neighboring counties could be irrigating with Arkansas River water by 2015 if Assistant Secretary of the Army John Woodley signs off on the $530 million Bayou Meto Basin Irrigation Project, which could happen within the next 30 days, says Gene Sullivan, executive director for the project.

“We’re asking for construction funding starting Oct. 1, 2007,” said Sullivan. “What we’ve requested is $25 million. That would get us started with the road and the channel to the pumping station near Scott, get final designs completed on the first phase and start some work in the wildlife management areas,” Sullivan said.

Of the $530 million price tag, agricultural water supply will cost about $402 million, flood control $40 million and waterfowl habitat $88 million.

Of that, the federal government will pay about 65 percent, with most of the balance coming from a bond issue to be paid off with money the farmers pay for their share of the irrigation water and an assessment of benefits.
“We could build it in seven years, if we get the funding,” he said.

That means that by 2015, six giant pumps just above Lock and Dam 6 near Scott could be sucking 1,750 cubic feet of water a second from the Arkansas River, diverting it through a system of canals, pipes and ditches largely to the benefit of farmers in Lonoke, Jefferson and to a lesser degree, Prairie and Arkansas counties, but also to the benefit of thousands of acres of duck and wildlife habitat.

At that rate, the pumps will move enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 12 minutes.
It will help irrigate about 300,000 acres, or about 470 square miles of cropland.

A second set of pumps, to be located where the Little Bayou Meto meets the Arkansas River Levee in Jefferson County, will be available for flood and habitat control, able to move 1,000 cubic feet a second back into the river.

A similar project, the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project, has met stiff opposition from sportsmen and environmentalists concerned about its effect on the more pristine White River.

“We formed a legal entity, the Bayou Meto Improvement Project District,” Sullivan said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will construct a network including 465 miles of pipeline, 107 miles of new canals and tie into 132 miles of existing streams and ditches, moving water to the farms.

The on-farm part includes construction of tail-water recovery ditches to collect runoff from farm fields, including the water farmers use to flood their rice fields.

Water from those ditches would be pumped into large on-farm reservoirs. From the reservoir, the farmers can direct the water, usually through underground pipes, to any of their fields.

When the reservoir needs refilling, they could pump water from their wells or import it from the river.
Without the Bayou Meto project, annual farm receipts could fall an estimated $46 million by 2015, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

This is important not only to the economic well-being of area farmers and nearby towns, but also to larger cities that draw some of their drinking water from the deep, high-quality water in the Sparta aquifer.

In Lonoke County, use of the Sparta increased 700 percent in 10 years, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, completed last year.

Pumping Arkansas River water for irrigation will preserve the higher quality Sparta water for municipalities and fish farms.
The shallower alluvial aquifer has been dropping at a faster rate over the past decade, and farmers are pumping water out faster than it can recharge.

“Our water use has been increasing for decades and has been above safe yield for 20 years,” according to Todd Fuggitt, geology supervisor and hydro-geologist for the state Soil and Water Conservation Commission. “We’re mining our aquifers,” he said.

Fuggitt said farmers were pumping the aquifer at a rate 43 percent over the sustainable yield in the state.
“We can achieve sustainable yield by reducing the current (use) by 57 percent,” which he said was doable if the Bayou Meto project is built.

Congress originally authorized the project in the 1950s, Sullivan said, deactivated it in the early 1990s and reauthorized it, subject to review of the economic, environmental and engineering aspects, in 1998.

TOP STORY >>City puts final touch on design for library

IN SHORT: Jacksonville is moving foward with its plans for a high-tech media center in middle of downtown.

Leader staff writer

The final design for a larger, more hi-tech library in Jacksonville is nearing completion thanks to a $2.5 million bond issue previously approved by local voters.

Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said Wednesday, “It’s getting close.”

Swaim added that a bidding process could begin by June and the actual start date of constructing the new building near Walgreen’s Pharmacy off Main Street could begin by August.

“We’ve needed a new library for some time now,” Swaim said. “The existing library is outdated.”

As previously reported, the new library will be housed in a 13,500-square-foot facility. This facility will be more than just a library.

According to Swaim, the new library will be in a park-like setting with a pavilion on the front east corner of the 2.7-acre plot of ground. The cost of the land and the demolition of other buildings as well as appraisal fees totaled to $880,729.
“The money to purchase the land came mostly from private donations,” Swaim said.

Swaim envisions that the pavilion could be used for weddings and the large meeting room could also be rented out for wedding receptions as well as other events.

A green space will also be directly in front of the library. According to preliminary plans, parking will be to the west side of the building as well as in the rear.

The building will be constructed with pre-cast concrete and brick.
Its metal roof will not be flat. Swaim indicated that since he became mayor, there has never been a city building constructed with a flat roof.

A leaky roof at the current Esther D. Nixon Library prompted the need for a new library.
Bobby Roberts, director of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), expects “several hundreds of thousands” of dollars will go to furnish the new library.

The money will come from CALS funds.
The Jacksonville library has thrived because of a long-standing partnership between the city and CALS.
The city is responsible for providing a building and its upkeep. CALS provides the books and staff.

“We’ve been partners for about 32 years,” Roberts said.
More books and audio-visual materials will be available at the larger library as well, and more staff may be needed in the future because of increased usage. Ex-panded services generally lead to more use, Roberts explained.
“There will be more computers,” Roberts said.

A wireless connection will allow the public to bring its own laptop computers to access the Internet in the parking lot or in the park area—even after hours at the new library.

“The current library building now is pretty much at capacity,” Roberts said.
Meanwhile, a search for a new manager at the existing Nixon Library is underway. Kate McKinney, its manager for several years, has apparently decided to go elsewhere, according to Roberts.

A Nixon Library employee told The Leader that McKinney is on maternity leave.

TOP STORY >>Rezoning map for Cabot is finalized

IN SHORT: Many pupils will go to different elementary schools after Stagecoach opens.

Leader staff writer

The first draft of attendance zones for Cabot elementary schools was thrown out Wednesday and a new version was approved for the upcoming school year.

The Cabot School Board, following a recommendation from the buildings and grounds committee during a special meeting of the board, unanimously approved the new rezoning map, which accommodates the Autumnwood and Pinewood subdivisions and the Butlerville community.

The district’s buildings and grounds committee met prior to the school board meeting and went over the adjustments made, voting to accept those changes for the start of the school year and get the new map out to Cabot’s elementary campuses as soon as possible.

Elementary school secretaries will have the final rezoning map available Monday morning for parents to check if their zone has moved.

“It was a tedious process and a hard process,” Brooks Nash, head of the buildings and grounds committee, told the school board when making the recommendation. “We had two community meetings, listened to parents’ concerns, moved lines and made adjustments and have redrawn the lines,” he said.

School board member Wendel Msall seconded the recommendation, adding, “Kudos to those who spent time working on it.”
The district’s technology director, Kendall Wells, and assistant superintendent Jim Dalton spent countless hours working on the rezoning map to allow for the opening of Cabot’s eighth elementary, Stagecoach Elementary, the district’s $6.6 million campus that will be completed by August.

Using parents’ comments and suggestions, boundary lines were changed in some areas resulting in significant changes in the Eastside, Ward Central and Stagecoach elementary school zones.

The Butlerville community, which has been attending Ward Central Elementary, will remain at Ward Central and not go to Stagecoach in the fall.

Children who live in the Pinewood and Autumn-wood subdivisions, currently attending Central Elementary, will move to the new Stagecoach Elementary in August.

Austin’s elementary students will attend school at Eastside Elementary, not Ward Central unlike the first draft showed.
Other changes in the final version include students who live on County Road 294 and 261 will attend Southside Elementary and Cabot students living along John Harden Drive to the county line, Gateway Drive, Grayhawk Road, CR 264 and CR 1232, all off of Hwy. 5 at Hwy. 67/167, will attend school at Westside Elementary.

Westside Elementary’s finalized boundary lines begin at Hwy. 89 at the high school campus and head east to Hwy. 67/167, excluding the subdivision behind Kroger. They continue to Hwy. 5 in an almost horizontal line, and follow the Lonoke-Pulaski County line down to Hwy. 67/167.

Elementary students living along John Harden Drive, A.J. Patton Road, Gateway Drive, South Rockwood and Grayhawk Road will attend Westside Elementary in the final version; the first draft showed those students going to Southside Elementary.

Central Elementary’s boundary lines will include anyone living inside of an almost triangular-shaped piece that runs south along the railroad tracks, follows Hwy. 89 from the high school over to the intersection of Glenwood Drive and then cuts down and across behind Middle School South, following Kerr Station Road down to Hwy. 321 and back to the railroad overpass.

Eastside Elementary’s attendance zone now includes all of Austin, Omni Farm Road, Busters Lane, and Ed Hamyes Road up to its intersection with Williams Road., as well as within Cabot to the east of Hwy. 89 and down to the intersection of Hwy. 89 and Campground Road.

It then cuts across over to Linda Lane, cutting the Countrywood subdivision in half as it makes its way to the intersection of S. Stagecoach Road and Honeysuckle Lane.

It continues east out to the intersection of Seven Gables Drive and Dogwood Lane and then dips down to include Jack Faucett Road and Allison Road, up to the intersection of Seaton Road and New Horizon Road, including Lenderman Lane.
It borders Ward Central Elementary’s zone to the north, with a peak at the intersection of Jones Road and Hwy. 38 before dipping down and going back to Hwy. 38 at the intersection with Hwy. 321, and then follows Hwy. 38 back to Cabot.

Southside Elementary’s zone will now include an area from the Pulaski County line north to Bill Foster Memorial Highway, with Hwy. 67/167 its border to the west.

From the intersection of Hwy. 89 and Glenwood Drive and everything to the south is included at Southside, including half of Diederich Lane, half of New Country Road and CR 294 before going down to Hwy. 321 and stopping at the intersection of Hwy. 321 and Burgess Lane.

It heads north to include CR 323 up to its intersection with Dogwood Meadows Lane; Oasis Road is included, as well as Taffy Lane; Woody Lane and CR 267 is not included.

Stagecoach Elementary’s zone will include Campground Road and the Pinewood and Autumnwood subdivisions, residents behind Cabot Patch daycare, S. Stagecoach Road up to its intersection with Honeysuckle Lane, CR 302 at Dogwood Lane, Burgess Lane at Hwy. 321, and Mt. Tabor Road at Sandhill Road.

Its boundary stops at the Cabot district boundary, butting up against the Carlisle, Des Arc and Lonoke school districts.

Northside Elementary will include elementary students from the center of town and behind Kroger out to those living along Mt. Springs Road up to the intersection with Thompson Drive.

It will include Seven Point Lane, down to Hwy. 89 stopping shy of the fire station and Oak Brook Drive.
Northside’s boundaries travel east to include along Hwy. 367 to Austin, including Berry Lane, Park Drive, Polk Street, down to Hwy. 89.

Magness Creek
Magness Creek Elementary is set to include Paula Lane, the West Oaks area, Griffin Road and High Point Drive; its boundary with Ward Central will be at the intersection of Lewisburg and Waters roads, and Hwy. 319 and Griffin Lane.

Ward Central
Ward Central Elementary has grown to include Williams Road, Waters Road, Revely Road and Sandy Lane; it ends at Hwy. 13 out to the east to include Butlerville.

Deer Meadows Lane, CR 715 and Alvin Smith Road are also included in Ward Central.

TOP STORY >>Schatz named commander

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base will have a change of command May 16, when Brig. Gen. Kip Self hands the reins over to Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., a former base squadron commander.

Self is leaving central Arkansas to take command May 23 of the Air Force Expeditionary Center, Air Mobility Command at McGuire AFB, N. J., a role he said he was meant to have and one that will once again offer him a new experience.

“It was a good move for the Air Force. I’m the right guy for the job,” Self said, crediting the experience he’s gained from past assignments and deployments.

He’s been special operations mission commander in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, director of mobility forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and commander of Expeditionary Air Forces in southwest Asia during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He has also served as a special assistant to the 21st Air Force commander for the Global Mobility Task Force at McGuire AFB and deputy director of operations at Headquarters AMC at Scott AFB, Ill.

“McGuire develops the expeditionary culture and makes it more successful to the mission, which makes my new command exciting. I’ve been doing that kind of thing before it was cool,” Self said.

One who looks forward to new challenges, Self said he has done things he has never done before at each of his previous assignments.

“It’s exciting to start something new,” Self said, who never flew a C-130 before coming to LRAFB. Serving for the past 29 years, Self said he and his wife Sue agreed he would stay in the military “as long as it’s fun and we’re contributing.”
“I’m fortunate to not be in a job I hate,” Self said. “It’s been a terrific ride and I’m not ready to get off yet.”
He said he was especially not ready to get down from his ride as commander of LRAFB when he learned he would be leaving before his two-year assignment was over.

“At first I was disappointed because I’m not finished here,” the one-star general said, adding his goals while at Little Rock were to prepare the base for the future.

“It was in great shape when I got here and it’s just continued to solidify the great things going on. My goal was to think five to 10 years down the road and would LRAFB be prepared for 2010,” Self said.

During his tenure, LRAFB completed several construction projects, thanks in part to congressional leaders such as Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Vic Snyder, who have made sure LRAFB received funds for base improvements. Self said the recent focus was on projects that would ensure the mission is well executed.

“The number one thing is the 50-year-old airfield and making sure it is able to handle the load in five years,” Self said.
“The commissary and BX will receive improvements in their quality-of-life features. Construction of a new BX will begin in 2008; it will be 2014 before members see a new commissary, but the current one will be renovated to improve services and the selection of products will be increased,” he said, adding $150,000 a year will be spent to replace equipment in the gym due to frequent use.

There are 14 ongoing construction projects at the base – a new child development center, a new football field with lights, a new dining facility, renovations to the medical center and new base housing to name a few.

“Seventeen houses in the new base housing are occupied; another 83 will be by the end of the calendar year,” Self said. “We’ve had $4 million in medical group updates – it’s a first-class facility and it’s only getting better.”

Also in the works is combining the Deer Run Golf Course with J.R. Rockers and Consolidated Club and turning it into a new facility called Hangar 1080, creating more of a country club feel, which Self said will “make the building more appealing and save the taxpayers money.”

“We’ve done creative things to maximize the money our congressional leaders have gotten for us,” he said. “We have made LRAFB a center of excellence, and with that comes the money to continue doing so. We’ve been very successful in the forefront (of construction projects) because of our congressional leaders,” Self added.

Base-wide improvements bring about improvements in service members’ quality of life, which Self believes keeps people on base.

“If we can keep the quality of life at the forefront, then people will stay. If we have happy spouses, the members will be happy and will be able to continue the mission,” he said.

Although he hates to leave before his time is up, Self said what he will miss most about his time in central Arkansas is not being the face of LRAFB when he steps down as commander.

“The last year and a half I’ve met fantastic people and I’ll miss that. I was able to get out and meet people of the surrounding communities and people of influence and tell them about what the Air Force is about, and it’s been fun,” Self said.

But regardless of the location of a military assignment, he said it’s the people who make a difference. “They give you a sense of worth and there are none better than those in the Air Force.”

Schatz commanded the 50th Airlift Squadron at LRAFB when it won the 1998 General Smith Trophy as the best airlift squadron in Air Mobility Command.

He most recently served as the deputy director of Operations and Plans with the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

He has also been the executive officer to the commander of U.S. Transportation Command. Other past commands for Schatz, a command pilot, include the 62nd Airlift Wing at McCord AFB, Wash., and the 437th Airlift Wing vice commander at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

TOP STORY >>Self: Base well positioned till 2025

IN SHORT: The outgoing commander says LRAFB, which has seen major physical improvements, should keep its key missions and even see growth, but the base closure and realignment process remains a challenge.

Leader editor

Brig. Gen. Kip Self, the outgoing commander of the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, told a group of community leaders Thursday the base is well positioned to continue its missions for at least a couple of more decades because of infrastructure improvements and it has great potential for continued growth.

In one of his last public appearances before he leaves May 23 to take command of the Air Force Expeditionary Center, Air Mobility Command at McGuire AFB, N.J., the general gave an upbeat assessment of the future of the local air base.

“The base is postured for 2025,” Self said at a meeting of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council.

The general said he’s leaving the air base in good hands when he turns over his command on May 16 to Brig. Gen. (Select) Rowayne A. Schatz, Jr., a former squadron commander here.

Self pointed out the base is situated on 6,600 acres, but only about two-thirds of the land is being used. Some 2,200 acres of land could accommodate several new missions, Self said.

“We can add more missions,” he said, including the continued replacement of old airplanes with the new generation of C-130J transport planes. “We have great potential.”

In addition to a growing number of C-130Js at the base — it has seven, and that number could grow — construction continues at a rapid pace. Self pointed to $44 million in building projects. The base clinic is getting $10 million in improvements and the aging communications system, which dates back to the 1950s, is being updated with fiber optics at a cost of $5 million.

The base is doing so well, he said, that the Air Force cancelled last year’s operational readiness inspection, a regularly scheduled review of military installations to ensure they’re combat-ready.

Self said, “A four-star general told me, ‘There’s not much more you can do. You are efficient, you are ready,’” so the inspection was cancelled.

“When you’re in the combat zone,” Self added, “you have to be ready.”
Air base crews are “100 percent on time in combat,” Self said.

As they have for more than 50 years, the men and women at LRAFB are “doing Herculean things,” carrying out their missions in combat zones and doing humanitarian work, he said.

But the general cautioned that the base closure and realignment process will continue for many years and urged community leaders to be on guard and ensure the the air base stays open.

“BRAC will remain a challenge,” Self said, adding that the Air Force wants to eliminate 12 percent of its bases.
When he came here almost two years ago, he said he faced numerous seemingly insurmountable problems, including the need to house and feed thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees in August 2005.

“We were overwhelmed,” the general said. “Thirteen thousand people were headed our way. We were ready to put people on the (base) golf course.”

But that wasn’t necessary as local residents and people from everywhere responded. Supplies were flown in from around the world. “After Katrina, you proved your worth,” the general said.

Self had high praise for Schatz, his successor.

“The new commander is fantastic,” Self said. “He’s bright and he’s an LRAFB alumnus,” having previously commanded the 50th Airlift Squadron.

Self said he’s looking forward to taking command of the Air Force Expeditionary Center, an advanced training installation that helps the Air Force reach worldwide locations with pinpoint accuracy.